Are drugs to blame for mass tragedies?

In light of the most recent tragedy in Santa Barbara there is an article that has seen an increase in circulation titled, Nearly Every Mass Shooting in the Last 20 Years Shares 1 Thing in Common.. . In reading through the version that I clicked on the article list tragedies starting with the two perpetrators of the tragedy at Columbine High School and that they were both prescribed a psychotropic drug. It goes on to list other tragedies and the common thread of psychotropic drugs. I have not taken the time to research each perpetrator nor do I plan on doing so, what I do know is that if you read the side effects of any of the medications prescribed for ADD, ADHD or depression, aggressive behavior or suicidal tendencies are listed

One thing that I have experienced and think is unfortunate is the desire for our young to fit into an educational and behavioral box. All children are not built the same, not everyone can sit for 8 hours and soak in everything that a teacher is required to teach. While I won’t delve into the challenges that our education system has I do want to speak of my experience of the school pressuring me to put my son on a psychotropic drug because they felt he was ADD. When he was in second grade his teacher was concerned that my son was not keeping up with the rest of his class and felt that medication could help him focus. I took him to his pediatrician at the time to find out about how they diagnosed ADD and was shocked when he handed me two questionnaires, one for me to fill out and one to have his teacher fill out. When we returned to the doctor to have him explain the evaluation he said based on the responses he could call in a prescription right away. Really, you mean based on how we answered 30 questions each you are going to put my son on medication that could change him for the rest of his life, needless to say we never returned to that doctor again! Instead of turning to drugs I began to monitor our diet and tried to eat as much natural unprocessed food as we could. To help my son get caught up in school I also invested in one on one tutoring. Although it wasn’t an easy process these two changes made a major difference and by the next school year my son was caught up to his classmates. As he got older monitoring his diet got more challenging and he continued to have “behavioral” issues in school, but when he was eating healthy his issues weren’t as pronounced. I accept that there are times when medication is needed, but I also think it has become an easy solution to a complex problem. I truly believe we are so busy with external impressions that we have become blind to the things we can do to change our own life and those close to us.

There really is no way to make sense of any tragedy whether it is a mass shooting, a suicide or one individual killing another there is still loss of a life. Each of us deserves to live a long life of pursuing our own happiness. As parents make sure you are fully educated on all medical decisions. Most importantly, take time to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the world around us and enjoy each other. Show compassion and empathy to a stranger every day and maybe we won’t hear of so many angry incidents happening in our world.

Herb Gardening – Sage

Sage plant in bloom

I have had great success with sage both in the ground and in a container. When I first planted my garden I put sage in the corner of the garden with the intention of it being a companion plant to benefit the vegetables. Due to an extremely wet season the first year it was in the ground it grew very large, very quickly and took over the space that I had allotted for it. The next spring we decided to move it into a container to free up the space in my raised bed. Although I was nervous that it wouldn’t survive the transplant it seemed to do just fine. Now a year and a half later my sage bloomed with beautiful bee attracting purple flowers.

Sage is an herb that is great to have in your garden to help repel insects, cabbage seems to benefit best since it will repel cabbage moths, but it also repels other flying insects. It is a perennial that grows best from starts. Keeping my sage trimmed has been encouraging new growth and my plant has thrived since its transfer into a pot. A huge advantage of having it in a pot has been the ability to move it around to my different raised beds depending on what I am growing.

This herb is a superstar when it comes to the medicinal qualities; it has antibiotic and antiseptic properties. It has been used by herbalists as an expectorant to help expel mucus experienced with the common cold. The stimulant properties help increase circulation which can increase energy and has helped some women experience a decrease in night sweats experienced during menopause. Sage also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat sore throats and other inflammation within the mouth. Creating toothpaste with sage can also help with gingivitis. Similar to rosemary you can spray a mist of sage in your hair both herbs may help darken greys for anyone with darker hair. (The New Age Herbalist, and The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth)

A couple of years ago The Chew did an episode with a Lemon Sage Turkey that quickly became a favorite in our house. The compound butter used in that recipe has become a constant in my freezer. Sage pairs well in turkey, chicken and pork dishes. It has a slightly pepper taste that works well in sausage and stuffing.

Compound Lemon Sage Butter

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature 1/2 of the fresh sage (minced) 1 shallot (finely minced) 1 clove garlic (finely minced) zest of 1 lemon juice of half a lemon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine room temperature butter, shallot, garlic, minced sage, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Stir together with a rubber spatula.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Every day I am learning more about the joys of gardening and the benefits of using the things that I can grow to keep my family and I healthy and well fed. I would love to hear about your favorite herb, what do you enjoy most?

Are we our own worst enemy?

Sunset in the West

Last month I wrote about the UN study that warned of the continued risk of global warming, climate change and my surprise that this issue wasn’t being taken more seriously. Since then we have heard from the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the overuse of antibiotics and that it has created resistance globally. We have seen several celebrities promoting books or their own documentaries on healthy diets or the diabetes/obesity epidemic. Then finally on May 6th the White House released their report on climate change and how it will affect the different regions of our country. I view all of these issues interconnected and related to the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution made its way to America approximately 150 years ago. During this time we saw advancements in every area including transportation, medicine and technology. Within the medical realm Edward Jenner and his work on an immunization to eradicate the small pox virus began what became the foundation of today’s immunology. Later in the 1800’s scientists began to discover and implement the use of different antibiotics including the widely known and accepted penicillin. Around this time we saw major growth in transportation as well with the growth of the railway. The railway changed the way people and foods were able to move about the country. This new way of transporting food changed how and what people living in urban areas were able to consume. There were also the technological advances with machinery being able to complete tasks that were done by hand, many of these advancements continue to happen today. Don’t get me wrong I am grateful for the Industrial Revolution, if it hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be able to sit here typing this on a computer while being able to stay at home and take care of my child in an air-conditioned home. I do think that the Industrial Revolution is what has caused a nation and world of connected yet disconnected people. Let me explain.

The railway* opened up the possibility of moving more people and food throughout the country. It also created challenges for farmers about how to get their food moved around while also keeping it safe to eat. This challenge became an opportunity for a middle man to come in and create a process to keep the foods safe. One process created was refrigeration which kept meat and vegetation fresh longer. Companies also started developing ways of processing foods with chemicals or salt that would help them last longer. This change in the food industry has created a society that is disconnected from the farmer and from the source of our food. How many people know that brussel sprouts grow on a stalk or that basil is a finicky herb that likes specific growing conditions? The majority of society wants to walk into a grocery store and get what they want for the cheapest price they can. There is little thought into the challenges that a farmer might have in growing things. The pressure for farmers to produce large amounts of food at a low cost has also created growing practices that require tilling of the land. Something that few people may realize is that when you till the land it releases carbon dioxide, one of the major contributors to climate change.

As scientists progressed through this revolution, society has enjoyed many advances in medicine which helped us live longer and more comfortably. One of the dramatic changes was the development of antibiotics which helped to keep people alive if they had a major infection, but they also became widely used for minor infections or as protection against getting infections. Also, because of the demand on livestock farmers to produce more for a lower cost they have used antibiotics to help keep animals healthy until they are slaughtered, this means that we are ingesting small amounts through our foods along with anytime we are prescribed them. In the World Health Organizations recent report this overuse of antibiotics has now created a situation where simple infections are no longer treatable. The report sites that gonorrhea is untreatable in 10 countries. Scientists have also worked on chemicals to help farmers combat weeds and bugs to help increase their crop sizes. Just as microbes have changed to avoid destruction by antibiotics, weeds and bugs are adapting to withstand the use of pesticides and herbicides. It seems that humans are the only ones not adapting to our changing world.

Humans have made huge advancements in the world developing faster better ways of transportation, and communication. We have improved our medical opportunities helping people that once would never have a full life be able to experience years of health. Unfortunately we aren’t working with our planet to help us continue to grow. No matter how fast a plane can fly, or a computer can operate they will never replace our need for fresh water and food. The medical community is never going to create a way for us to survive without natural nourishment. It is time to take back responsibility for our health and the health of our planet. We need to help the earth to heal by allowing farmers to use organic practices. We should also try to slow down and grow a garden, spend time in nature. We also need to give our bodies time when we are sick to heal naturally. By working with our environment we can evolve along with the microbes and planet around us.

* Countryside Magazine – Food and the fast track – by Jerri Cook Volume 94 number 5, 2010

Herb Gardening – Rosemary

Rosemary 4-2014

As I shared in my last gardening article Florida has taught me a whole new way of gardening. It is hard to say what my favorite herb is, but if I had to make a list rosemary would definitely be near the top. Rosemary is an herb that grows well in poor soil that likes good drainage. These are conditions that I don’t have in my yard therefore I do a lot of container gardening. Over the last three years Florida has had above average rainfall not ideal for rosemary. It is also fairly tolerant of cold weather being hardy to 20°, which made this a great herb to grow in Northern Nevada.

I found some interesting folklore and legend about rosemary. According to legend rosemary got its name from Mother Mary as she rested during her escape to Egypt she was sheltered by a rosemary bush. While resting she threw her blue cape on the bush to dry and the white flowers turned blue so the plant became known as “the rose of Mary”. Part of Greek folklore includes that a sprig of rosemary placed under a pillow will ward of evil spirits and bad dreams. It is also said that dried rosemary laid in bed will ensure faithfulness.

Since discovering that my older son was allergic to several antibiotics I began studying natural ways to keep us healthy and time and again rosemary was an herb I continued to come across. Rosemary is known to have stimulant, astringent, and diaphoretic properties. It has calcium, diterpenes (plant compounds), antioxidants (vitamin E and flavonoids) as well as caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid. All of these combine to make rosemary mildly antibiotic and antiviral. Research has been done to find many more potential benefits of including rosemary in your diet. (The Way of Herbs, and The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth)

Being in the middle of allergy season my home often smells of rosemary, because of its strong aroma it is great for clearing the sinuses. Whenever a cold is coming on we add a few drops of essential oil to our bath which helps relieve congestion and cough. Due to the stimulant properties you can lift your afternoon “fog” by spraying some in the air near your desk or better yet spray it in your hair, it might stimulate hair growth. Always consult a physician or natural health practitioner before using herbs medicinally.

Rosemary can be added to many of your favorite sauces and soups, because of its distinctive flavor it is general used to enhance meat dishes. With summer quickly approaching you might want to try this chicken salad with rosemary for your next picnic.

Chicken Salad with Rosemary

3 celery ribs, 3 cups, cubed, cooked chicken, ½ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup sour cream, and 1 tbsp, finely chopped, fresh rosemary

Thinly slice the celery and combine it in a bowl with the chicken. Blend together the mayonnaise, sour cream and rosemary then pour over the chicken and celery stirring until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Every day I am learning more about the joys of gardening and the benefits of using the things that I can grow to keep my family and I healthy and well fed. I would love to hear about your favorite herb, what do you enjoy most?