Archive for June, 2014

Natural Ways to Control Summer Allergies

Early summer brings waves of pollen to much of the United States. Ragweed, purple loosestrife and other plants bloom and fill the air with allergens, as they have for centuries. More recently, though, the severity and pervasiveness of strong allergic reactions in this country has increased according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. When experiencing allergens, the body releases histamines that can trigger sneezing excess mucus flow, congestion and swelling of membranes and tissues.

Rather than using nasal sprays—many containing steroids or other synthetic chemicals—to attempt to prevent this response, a more natural spray can work instead. A decoction of herbs like yarrow leaf, horseradish root, elder flower and/or eye bright, when absorbed by the membranes of the nasal passageways, can enter the cells and cause them to produce their own antihistamines. This breaks the cycle of overt symptoms without the user becoming dependent on an unhealthy spray. The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine states that all these herbs along with calendula and aloe applied topically for soothing, can bring natural congestion relief.

Another approach is to use a spray consisting of an enhanced aqueous silver colloid solution, which can constrict micro-capillaries and reduce bleeding. Shrinking nasal tissues reduce swelling and congestion while killing bacteria and fungus. This can support a beleaguered immune system and help prevent a sinus infection—a natural gift of health for the allergy season.

Steven Frank, the founder of Nature’s Rite, is also an innovative herbalist. For more information, email SteveF@NaturesRiteRemedies.com or visit MyNaturesRite.com. 

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Live Your Song

It Keeps Us in Tune with Ourself

by Jill Mattson

Listen to a traditional West African Griot story: When a tribal woman knows she is pregnant, she goes into the wilderness with a few friends to pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return and teach it to everyone else.

When children are born into the tribe, the village community gathers and sings their song, one unique melody for each unique child. Later, when children begin their education, the village again gathers to chant each child’s song. They sing upon the initiation of adulthood and at the time of their marriage. If at any time someone commits a crime or aberrant social act, the villagers will circle the individual and chant their song, recognizing that the proper correction is love and the remembrance of identity, because when you recognize your own song you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another. Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, family and friends gather at the bedside, as they did at birth, and sing the person to the next life.

In any culture, a friend is one that knows our song and sings it to us when we have forgotten it. Those that love us are not fooled by the mistakes we’ve made or the dark images we hold about ourself. They remember our beautywhen we feel ugly; our wholeness when we are broken; our innocence when we feel guilty; and our purpose when we are confused.

Life always reminds us when we are and when we’re not in tune with ourself. When we feel good, we are matching our song. We may feel a little wobbly at times, but so have all the great singers. If we just keep singing, we’ll find our way home. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well.

Modern pioneers in vibrational energy like Sharry Edwards (bioacoustic biology) and Donna Eden (energy medicine) have independently detected that each of us has a fundamental signature frequency that can be equated to our unique song that persists throughout life. We innately seek natural sounds that reinforce and strengthen our song such as the surf, wind or birds. Even the stars and heavens offer songs out of our hearing range that benefit cell-to-cell vibrations within that we intuitively feel as the magic of a midnight sky.

At one with the universe, our song contributes its part in the infinite chorus of creation.

Jill Mattson is an author, artist, musician and sound healing composer. Her books and CDs, based on 20 years of studying ancient civilizations, support healing and personal growth. Connect at JillsWingsOfLight.com.
The Griot story is based on an interpretation by Jane Maluka and Dan Millman.

Wilderness in Sidewalk Cracks

Small Nature Reaches Out to City Kids

by Greg Hanscom

City kids are often taught that nature is out there beyond the city limits, but one science educator and photographer shows how everyday nature has the power to transform.

You can take Molly Steinwald out of the city, but you’ll never get the city out of her. Growing up as a free-school-lunch kid on the outskirts of Manchester, New Hampshire, she notes, “I didn’t do the skiing and mountain climbing thing.”

Instead, she found solace watching ants parade across the sidewalk or tracing the intricate lines on a leaf. Yet when she graduated from high school, Steinwald traveled as far as she could from those city streets, earning a degree in biology, and then a master’s degree in ecology researching kangaroo rats in Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains.

Still, the city always tugged at her. “I was really excited about big nature,” Steinwald says. “But I kept coming back to small-scale, mundane nature that I knew as a kid. I felt I needed to get back to help people who never see this stuff.”

Today, Steinwald is doing just that. She is now pursuing a Ph.D. researching human interactions with nature in built environments. As director of science education and research at the Phipps Conservatory, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she has been charged with reimagining urban environmental education and reaching out to at-risk youth. Her basic assumption is: One doesn’t have to go to a national park, or even a city park, to connect with the natural world. It’s crawling past us on the sidewalk or drifting through the air right under our nose.

That, she says, is where city kids can forge a lasting connection with nature— if they’re paying attention. As one of the many ways to get kids to tune in, Steinwald directs programs that arm them with digital cameras and challenges them to take pictures of the fragments of nature they find on the streets. The approach is a departure from the belief held by some that “nature” is defined as parks or green spaces—places apart from our everyday lives.

Lisa Graumlich, dean of the University of Washington School of the Environment, in Seattle, Washington, says Steinwald is making waves in environmental education circles: “She was an urban kid. She brings the voice of someone from a different economic class to the table.”

Graumlich says it makes intuitive sense that connecting with street-level nature will help build a lasting bond with the natural world. The next challenge is figuring out how to provide kids with more of these experiences: “It may be as simple as a mom walking home from the bus stop with bags of groceries and two children in tow, feeling like she has time to look at a sidewalk crack with them.”

“A lot of nature in the city is really small,” Steinwald observes. “I want to show these kids that even if their nature is small, it’s still darned good nature.”

Greg Hanscom is a senior editor for Grist.org, in Seattle, WA.