Triclosan, formaldehyde, parabens and other artificial ingredients are found in many soaps, shampoos, toiletries and cosmetic products. They are used to give scents, to maintain the shelf-life, or for other purposes. Many perfumes are based on synthetic aromas. It is nauseous for some people to be surrounded by synthetic perfumes. Your nose and your skin are sponges that can absorb the toxins from these products, even in small quantities. Essential oils are an alternative that make it possible to avoid these artificial ingredients and to benefit from their subtle energy.
The essential oil of ylang ylang is a specific alternative to perfume, much of which makes me nauseous.
Essential oils were used in ancient Egypt, India, Greece, and Rome, though most oils were vegetable oils infused with herbs. Arab traders starters to distill essential oils in the nineth century. In 1910, the French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefossé was severely hurt in a lab explosion. His hand began developing gangrene (a deadly disease). According to his journal, “Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped the gasification of the tissue.” This then caused him to sweat profusely, and healing began the next day.” The therapeutic use of essential oils is known as aromatherapy. In France, Gattefossé is sometimes called the “father of aromatherapy”.
Essential oils are usually obtained by steam distillation from certain plants. You can inhale them, put them on your skin, or diffuse them in the air. Some people put some of them, such as peppermint, orange, lemon, or rosemary, in their food (in very small amounts). They are very potent. Often, one or two drops is enough. True to their name, they are the essences of the plant. They contain the volatile (temporary) fragrances, like the scent of a rose. They vary in quality. Know your supplier.
Due to biochemical individuality, no essential oil works for everybody. The same oil may have different effects on different individuals. What works for you today may not work for you tomorrow. Some essential oils can irritate the skin of some people. One way to test this is to put one drop on your wrist. It is better to use one drop at a time to start. The fact that one drop is good does not mean that two is better. One drop of good-quality peppermint oil can add taste and a pleasant flavor to a smoothie. Essential oils represent a vast subject. I intend to try to reduce it to simple concepts and practical terms. A reading list is here.
Diffusers are ultrasound are nebulizers. Always ventilate the room. Beware that essential oils can have unpredictable effects on pets and children. Some people can have distant memories, either pleasant or unpleasant, restored by inhaling essential oils.
A list of essential oils, including references to research is here. You can listen to podcasts about essential oils here. The least expensive essential oils are lavender, lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, peppermint, ginger, eucalyptus, oregano, and tea tree. They vary in effect. Specific results depend on the oil and the individual. On the other hand, patterns have been noticed. Again, your specific results may vary.
Peppermint tends to improve respiration and digestion. It is also used to relieve nausea and to repel insects. Tea tree can control mold and fungus. Especially for women, ylang ylang can relax gently. To relieve sinus headaches, you could possibly use coriander, eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint.
Dr. Eric Zielinski DC wrote an excellent reference on essential oils, “Healing Power of Essential Oils: Soothe Inflammation, Boost Mood, and Feel Great” (available here). He also has a sixty-four minute video here and a series of podcasts here. According to Dr. Zielinski, citrus oils and peppermint oil can decrease appetite. Peppermint can increase energy. Peppermint, orange, frankincense, and neroli can reduce pain. Orange and vanilla can reduce depression. It is also possible that certain foods can get rid of or reduce mild depression.
Other oils that can booost mood include lemon, lavender, lime, bergamot, and ylang ylang. Clary sage can decrease cortisol. Rosemary can increase memory. Lemon oil can decrease nausea. Ylang ylang can increase the heart rate but reduce blood pressure at the same time. If this seems contradictory, essential oils create balance. Again, according to Dr. Zielinski, frankincense, myrrh, lemongrass, citrus, lavender, thyme, and others can be used therapeutically against tumors and cancer. He also recommends certain essential oils in case of anxiety and panic attacks.
Beware the citrus oils, such as lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. They make your skin more photo-sensitive. Some people can become sunburned or more sunburned in the sun, if they have one of these oils on their skin. Some oils, such as lavender and tea tree, can mimic estrogens, so it is better to be careful with use by men and those with estrogen-induced tumors.
The food and flavor industries are the main users of essential oils. The most popular culinary oils are peppermint, orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime, clove, ginger, cinnamon, basil, rosemary, and coriander. One teaspoon of herb equals two to three drops of essential oil. In other words, use at most two to three drops of essential oils per dish. Beware that oils do not mix with water. If you add a drop to water to flavor it, shake or stir the water before you drink it. Keep them in the dark with the lids closed.
Dr. Eddy Betterman, MD, a German doctor and advocate of live blood analysis, describes how you can make a DIY survival pain relief salve using essential oils.
Jodi Cohen wrote “Essential Oils to Boost the Brain and Heal the Body“, another recent reference.
PubMed, a database of published research, includes more than twenty thousand studies about essential oils. The Tisserand Institute offers online courses about aromatherapy.
Cohen, Jodi, “Essential Oils to Boost the Brain and Heal the Body“, Ten Speed, 2021
Cohen, Jodi, “Healing with Essential Oils“, Kindle, 2017
Cohen, Jodi, “Enhancing Dopamine for Resilience“, article, lemon,rosemary, oregano, thyme
National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) – most common essential oils & uses, Pocatello, ID, USA
“Free Guide to Essential Oils“, herbs-info.com
Crow, David, “Ayurvedic Use of Essential Oils“, video
Crow, David, “Top 10 Essential Oils for the Home Pharmacy“, 1:06 video
Axe DC, Dr. Josh, “Dangers of Essential Oils: Top 10 Essential Oil Mistakes to Avoid“, :11 video
Ayaz M, Sadiq A, Junaid M, Ullah F, Subhan F, Ahmed J., “Neuroprotective and Anti-Aging Potentials of Essential Oils from Aromatic and Medicinal Plants“, Front Aging Neurosci. 2017; 9:168. Published 2017 May 30. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00168
Pancreatic enzymes, also known as proteolytic enzymes, are found in certain foods, such as apples, pineapples, and papaya. They have been researched therapeutically and reported years ago by Dr. John Beard MD in his book, “The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer” and by Dr. William Kelley DDS in his book “One Answer to Cancer“. More recently, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez MD described his protocol and use of enzymes in his book “Conquering Cancer“. For details, read the history by Dr. Gonzalez here. Another reference is “Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept” by Dr. Edward Howell, a summary of which is here.
This article is to review and summarize these books.
Mushrooms have vitamin D, but they also have other nutrients, such as polysaccharides and beta-glucans. Your natural immunity may be stimulated by these nutrients. Some mushrooms have certain minerals, such as zinc, or other nutrients that can be healthy for some people. Some mushrooms are poisonous.
Mushrooms absorb any toxic heavy metals in the soil where they are grown, so know your supplier and look for organic mushrooms only. Do not pick wild mushrooms, if you do not know what you are doing, or if you do not know the local area. Not all healthy mushrooms are healthy for everybody. I intend to research mushrooms and then to write it up in practical terms.
Reishi – scientific overview
Reishi and gene expression
Reishi and immune system
Reishi and immune system 2
He shou wu (Polygonum multiflorum Thunb) has many uses and a long history in ancient Chinese medecine. Look for a reliable souce. You can add its powdered form to smoothies. A summary of medicinal mushrooms is here.
The maitake mushroom may be healthy for blood type O, according to Dr. Peter D’Adamo and blood type eating, while shitake is not healthy for blood type O.
Hyperion Herbs, a supplier, lists mushrooms that they claim increase the immune system.
Psychology of routines
Why do you eat what you eat? Do you eat to satisfy your cravings? Do you have an emotional attachment to certain foods? Are your eating habits part of your identity? Do they remind you of happy moments of your childhood?
Do you eat to nourish yourself? For your health? Without shame, judgement, nor guilt, you might ask yourself these questions and think about it. I intend to research this subject, of which there are many opinions. Philosophies and religions there are many, but the truth there is only one, and it is inside you, if you look for it.
Wendy Wood is a researcher at the University of Southern California and author of the book “”Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick“. Context, repetition, and reward are keys to making changes that last, according to Brian Vaszily, editor of the site, TheArtOfAntiAging.com. For example, if you decide to stop eating a certain food that you regularly eat, such as sugar, then it would be better to remove it from your refrigerator and kitchen shelves completely (the context). If you avoid this food for at least three weeks, then you are much more likely to succeed (repetition). If you reward yourself gently, such as drinking a cup of coffee or tea, each time you make change, then you are also much more likely to continue the change of habit.
If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, then changing your eating habits may be an answer.
“The Power of Habit” is to be reviewed.
The subconscious can block the intuition to eat for nourishment. Bruce Liption can be insightful about the power of the subconscious.
Marc David describes the psychology of eating for weight loss in this forty-five minute video. He suggests trying to avoid falling into the traps of binge eating, emotional eating, and overeating.
Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman describes how to change your brain in his 2:12 video. Dr Gabor Maté describes “Breaking Free of Old Habits, Addiction, and Past Traumas” in this 1:04 video.
Entheogenics are controversial, but they can be soul food for some people at some moments. These are natural substances, herbal brews, that can be used by some people to reach a state of inner peace and self-awareness. They can be used to free troubled souls from the effects of turmoil and anguish from psychic suffering or emotional trauma, such as severe traffic accidents or other early trauma. Some medical doctors report using entheogenics to prompt alcoholics and heroin addicts to walk away from their habits without the symptoms and agony of withdrawal.
On the other hand, entheogenics are not for everybody. They are to be used with caution, if not extreme caution. One possible reference for reading is “The Way of the Shaman” by Michael Harner. Another is “Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice” by Mark Plotkin.
This article is to summarize and review:
- Schultes, Richard Evans, “Plants of the Gods“, Healing Arts, 1979
- McKenna, Terrence, “Food of the Gods“, Bantam, 1993
- Kilham, Chris, “The Ayahuasca Test Pilots Handbook“, North Atlantic Books, 2014
- Narby, Jeremy, PhD, “The Cosmic Serpent – DNA and the Origins of Knowledge“, Penguin Putnam, 1998
- Tafur, Dr. Joseph, MD, “The Fellowship of the River“, Espiritu Books, 2017
- Ayahuasca – a fifty-two minute documentary by Aubrey Marcus
- The Nature of Ayahuasca, a fifty-eight minute documentary by Gavin Hoffman
- DMT: The Spirit Molecule, seventy-three minute film by Dr. Rick Strassman MD (with subtitles in ten languages)
- DMT – Before and After, seventy-three minute film by London Real,
Plants contain many molecules, of course, but the psychoactive effects of the entheogenics are sometimes attributed to specific molecules and their biochemistry. DMT (dimethyltryptamine) is a molecule found in many plants. It binds to serotonin. When you eat or drink these plants, the enzyme monoamine oxidase in your stomach breaks down DMT to inactive metabolites.
If consumed with a molecule known as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, for example from other plants, then DMT is not metabolized as rapidly. It can reach the brain, inducing hallucinations and a psychedelic experience. Again, beware that this experience is not for everybody. It can release memories of past traumas.
This release can be therapeutic for some people, but dangerous or self-destructive for others. This can also depending on the setting of the experience, the intentions of the people who administered the substance, and the motivation or mindset of the person. For example, if you have a mental illness, or if you are taking anti-depressant pills, then avoid these plants. Is DMT released at death?
This can be a controversial subject for some people. It is thought to be subversive by many governments. In many countries, it is prohibited to make, sell, or use DMT in its pure form. Plants that contain DMT are also regulated in many countries. In other countries, there is a legal limbo where pure, isolated DMT is prohibited, but extracts of plants that contain DMT are not prohibited. These plants have been used traditionally by indigenous people in many parts of the world for many years.
Perhaps the occasional search for an altered state of consciousness is common to all human beings at least some of the time. Why else do so many people drink so much alcohol?
Plants (and their botanic names) that contain concentrated DMT include:
- Psychotria viridis, known in the Amazonian Quechua language as “chacruna”,
- Mimosa hostilis (synonym Mimosa tenuiflora),
- Acacia podalyriaefolia (and other species in the Acacia genus),
- Psilocybin mushrooms, and
Plants that contain monoamine oxidase inhibitors include:
- Banisteriopsis caapi, known as “caapi”, and when mixed with chacruna and brewed, known as “ayahuasca” in the Quechua language,
- Peganum harmala, known as “Syrian rue“,
- Passiflora incarnata, and other Passiflora species, known as “passion flower“,
- Glycyrrhiza glabra, known as “licorice”,
- Ginkgo biloba,
- Hypericum perforatum, known as “St. John’s wort”,
- Panax ginseng, with much research about
How did people in the Amazon find the precise psychoactive combination of caapi and chacruna among the tens of thousands of plants there? Nobody knows. The experience of drinking a brew of these plants depends on the individual.
Professional scientists, such as Dr. Jordi Riba and Dr. Charles Grob MD, are doing more clinical research about how ayauasca and entheogens can be used therapeutically. Reliable sources of more information about entheogens and ayahuasca include Entheonation.com and ICEERS.org
Herbal first aid
Cut, burned, nauseous, or poisoned by food while traveling? There are various options. Beware of the 100 mL limit while passing through an airport. Though not all herbal, my travel kit includes:
- vitamin B complex (for digestion),
- sodium bicarbonate (white powder, aluminum-free, in a labeled bag or container),
- vitamin C (white powder, non-GMO, in a labeled bag or container),
- three- to eight-percent food-grade hydrogen peroxide (liquid used to disinfect water with caution),
- iodine (food grade tincture for disinfection of wounds and in minute amounts for detoxification)
- magnesium chloride (oil to stop muscle cramps or soreness in the form and flakes mixed with water 1:40),
- colloidal silver (for disinfection), interally or externally, or do-it-yourself,
- sodium chlorite (in flakes, else ClO2 in very small amounts – to disinfect water with caution),
- essential oils – ginger, lavender, citronella, eucaplytus, peppermint, and tea tree,
- activated charcoal (in case of food poisoning).
The purpose of this article would be to explain why and how these items, specifically, and with what precautions, externally only or internally, and most of all to start low and go slow.
Ayurveda is ancient “life science” from India. Starting with analysis of the individual and their “dosha” (body type), Ayurveda includes advice about healthy eating for each dosha. Some people have mixed doshas.
Ancient Chinese medicine
There were many different local schools of thought about nature, food, and health in ancient China. How these schools are described today can become a political matter that I intend to avoid. One school of thought in ancient Chinese medicine tried to identify the individual constitution of the person as either “cold” or “hot” and also as either “wet” or “dry”. This leads to certain advice about what foods are healthy or not healthy for the specific person. This fits the concept of biochemical individuality.
Practitioners also had their own philosophies and local availability of foods and herbs even in times of plenty. One school of thought in ancient China excluded grains, even rice, for health. A very brief overview of ancient Chinese medicine is here.
Anatomy – briefly
Your body is attached to your mind. Your spirit may control them all. The best knowledge is self-knowledge. Aware of biochemical individuality, this article is to describe the primary sub-systems of the body briefly:
- central nervous system (brain, nerves, and gut-brain axis),
- bones, muscles, joints, and connective tissue,
- circulatory system (heart, blood, and lymph),
- respiratory system (lungs, oxygen, and carbon dioxide),
- digestive system (mouth, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, large intestine, liver, …)
- urinary system (kidneys, bladder, urine),
- reproductive system,
- immune system,
- endocrine system, and
Physiology – briefly
It is the whole body that is healthy or not. If one part of your body is unhealthy, then other parts are also unhealthy. Blood goes everywhere. This puts a limit on specialization but not on the specialist. You could possibly use food, herbs, and spices to strengthenone or more parts that are weak or impaired. Note that not all foods and herbs work for everybody. Results depend on biochemical individuality. Also note that opinions differ about what defines evidence of efficacy. If you have a medical condition, see a doctor.
These concepts are to be detailed here with references, starting with this list, merely of what seems to work for me, when I tried it for myself (no health claims):
|Physical sub-system||Possible fortifiers, depending on the individual|
|brain, central nervous system, vision||niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B complex, healthy fats and oils (hemp seeds, flax seeds, or omega-3 fatty acids), adaptogens, ginseng, rhodiola, ginkgo, blueberries, herbs for eyes, visual Bates method, mucuna, griffonia (seed extract)|
|bones, muscles, joints||horsetail (silica), magnesium (dark green leafy vegetables), calcium (carob, fenugreek, parsley, sesame), vitamin D (Dr. Sunshine, mushrooms, cod liver oil), vitamin K2 (kale), protein, vitamin C (citrus); herbs & spices to relieve joint pain.|
|heart, circulatory system, blood||garlic, hawthorn, vitamin E, vitamin B3 (niacin), cocoa (second opinion), others|
|lungs, respiratory system, oxygen||ginger, thyme, peppermint, eucalyptus (externally), licorice, cannabis (edibles), oregano, mullein, lobelia (with caution), “herbs for asthma“|
|gut, digestive system, enzymes||apple, pineapple, papaya (non-gmo), ginger, cayenne, peppermint, slippery elm, milk thistle|
|urinary system||milk thistle, cranberry, dandelion, nettle, horsetail, cabbage, beets, citrus, parsley, ginger, marshmallow|
|reproductive system||vitamin C (citrus), guava leaf (zinc), pumpkin seeds, he shou wu (fo-ti), aphrodisiacs (damiana, yohimbe, horny goat weed), magnesium (green leafy vegetables), nutrients to boost progesterone, looking after your prostate|
|immune system||avoiding refined sugar, Brazil nuts (selenium), pumpkin seeds (zinc),
vitamins C, A, and D, iodine (see research by Dr. David Brownstein),
garlic, ginger, licorice, astragalus, adaptogens, other herbs
|endocrine system||kelp, bladderwrack (iodine), chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus), Brazil nuts (selenium)|
|skin, nails, hair||aloe vera, burdock, clay, charcoal, turmeric, horsetail, he shou wu (fo-ti), get rid of warts|
Without offering personal advice, this article is also to list foods, spices, and herbs known by published research to strenghten each of these systems, such as herbs for the eyes, herbs to relieve pain, and others.
Pineapple, banana, and ginger can all be used to stimulate production of melatonin, which can relieve insomnia for some people.
Pathology – briefly
Local and regional traditions
Quality control of herbs
Observed effects of certain herbs in some people
Teas and tinctures
Herbs, spices, and cooking
Growing your own food
Marjory Wildcraft and her website The Grow Network is an excellent reference. Among other things, she describes home-made fertilizers. Also of interest are Food Forest concepts.
I would review these websites and books:
The Grow Network
Mini Faming: Self-Sufficiency in 1/4 Acre
How to Create Healthy Soil with Mercola
How to Use Neem Oil in Your Garden
Weed-free gardening: 4 tips for effective weed control
Your suggestions or requests for research and articles about health via food?