1.What happens when the gut flora is disturbed

After struggling for many years with gut problems I finally spent two weeks in a wonderful Health & Wellness retreat and I discovered (through several tests) the reason for all of the health issues that plagued me. I had multiple problems including, leaky gut/malabsorption, adrenal stress, lymphatic congestion, candida, a parasite, heavy metal toxicity, low B12, liver congestion, acidic body and underactive thyroid. All these problems were caused by an unhealthy gut. 

It’s been nearly 6 months now and I’ve faithfully continued with a prescribed diet and supplements. My gut has healed (I’ve been re-tested), I’ve lost 15kg and I’m feeling energetic and healthy. The most noticeable change, apart from the weight loss is that my brain fog has disappeared and I have clarity of mind. This knowledge has changed my life.

I discovered this article below by Kale Brock and I wanted to share it because it took me 70 years of life to understand fully the impact of an unhealthy gut and how it caused myriad health issues for me. 

5. All Disease Begins in the Gut

The Gut-Brain Connection
Kale Brock

The gut-brain connection is something that’s been talked about for thousands of years since Hippocrates said ‘all disease begins in the gut’. However, it’s only been in the last two decades, if that, that we’ve really seen science come to the table with strong evidence of the positive effect that probiotics & improved gut health can have on the functioning of the brain. 

As I’m often fond of saying, your gut is like a central dashboard within the body, communicating constantly with various extensions such as your immune system, your nervous system, your skin, your heart & of course your brain. If you have imbalances or malfunctions in that central dashboard, you can expect malfunctions in the parts reliant on the proper functioning of it (i.e. the aforementioned list). Correct the initial malfunction at the source & expect better functioning along the line, so to speak. 

Now, with so many studies pointing to the gut as the source of our ailments, it is important to put into perspective why this seems to be the case. And it would seem, through logic, that if so many people (supported with studies) are benefiting from taking probiotics or making positive alterations to gut function, it would suffice to say that so many people are out of balance in the gastrointestinal tract. Remember that nature always strives for balance in the first place so arguably depression, anxiety & mood swings are not intended in any way but rather come as a result of an imbalance somewhere in the body. This begs the question then, why are we so out of balance? 

One could not look past our frivolous use of antibiotics over the past 80 years as being the main culprit of such an imbalance. Antibiotics, as we well know, not only kill off pathogenic microbes but also beneficial ones – the first to grow back in most cases? The pathogenic species. The unfortunate thing about antibiotics (which have been life-saving in many cases) is that we now have a population who’s microbiomes (those microbes we talked about) are completely & permanently altered. We don’t really know what an ideal microbiome is anymore – all we know is that ours have changed completely since the use of antibiotics & we are seeing a huge rise in disease as a result.

When it comes to microbes & our brains the science is quite clear – microbes manufacture our brains most important chemicals known as: neurotransmitters within the gastrointestinal tract – up to 90% of them in fact. So that serotonin you’ve been wanting, that dopamine to help you feel happy & that all important melatonin to help you fall asleep is all dependent on gut microbes – interesting huh? 

Another factor in the gut-brain connection, it seems, is the management of inflammation by the actions of gut microbes & the immune system. Our gut bugs are literally talking with our immune cells, teaching them from the first time you enter the world how to behave cordially & appropriately. Naturally, if our gut bugs are imbalanced, we can experience numerous immunological challenges. This, according to the research, seems to stem from increased intestinal permeability, a situation where the thin membrane of the gut (used for diffusing nutrients from the gut into the blood) becomes too leaky & open. This is akin to a fly screen with large holes & tears in it; it doesn’t exactly work. Alongside macromolecules of food, pathogenic microbes & other such intruders now in the bloodstream, a specific marker has been noted to be particularly damaging on the body and brain & that is LPS – lipopolysaccharide. LPS has been found to be in extremely high levels in Alzheimer’s disease & is known to cause neuron damage in the brain. 

These factors may be extremely instrumental in the development of such mental illnesses as depression, anxiety & mood swings as the brain becomes inflamed & less capable of processing information. In fact this has been supported with studies where researchers have administered probiotics to mice & noted striking differences in behaviour – mice who receive probiotic treatment & then experience stressful situations report less cortisol development (a stress hormone) & behaviourally seem to be ‘more chilled’. Further, this experiment has been replicated in humans where probiotic treatment regularly reduces qualitative anxiety scores.

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride goes as far as saying that Autism is the manifestation of a gut that has become a source of toxicity instead a source of nutrition during developmental years. According to her, if the condition is treated early enough the autistic symptoms can be reversed. This opinion is supported by research that shows that autistic children are regularly found to have different gut microbes to their healthy counterparts, specifically having higher levels of microbes like E.coli & clostridia.

So what does all this mean?

It means that if we want to experience great mental health, then considering an approach that looks at the gut might be a good move. By taking a sensible, long-term approach such as taking probiotics regularly & eating a wholefoods, high fibre diet, both of which support gut-health, may be the key in attaining a more balanced brain.

I would also say that this research suggests that we may heighten our respect for the human body that seems to respond well to holistic treatment available from nature. As science continues to uncover the specifics of disease & the microbiome, & how we can pinpoint specific bugs for specific conditions, expect huge improvements in the symptom-based approach of western medicine.

But also expect some interesting products entering the market from big-pharma…because you can’t patent naturally occurring microbes ?

About Kale Brock

Kale Brock is an award-nominated journalist, researcher & professional speaker. With qualifications as a Health & Exercise coach, Kale has worked in the health and wellness industry since 2007 alongside some of the best naturopaths and health personalities in Australia. Now specialising in the areas of gut health & the microbiome, Kale shares a well-rounded & comprehensive message on these areas to the general public.

Below are some suggestions for books and URL links that I’ve found useful in the healing of my gut and my health. These are not part of this article.

The Good Gut
Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long Term Health
 By:Justin;Sonnenburg, Erica; Sonnenburg

The Body Ecology Diet
Book by Donna Gates
Dr. Axe
Link to Article by Dr. Bush on Restore for Gut Health

card and book2

NATURE’S CREATION – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants – Book & Cards

A wonderful book and card set for those who are passionate about medicinal plants. Use the book and cards to learn about over 40 medicinal plants, their history, myths and, most importantly, their healing properties. Discover how to utilise the plants’ medicinal qualities through a variety of herbal preparations. Tinctures, decoctions, flower essences, essential oils and herbal teas can be powerful tools in healing on all levels…physical, mental and emotional.

Each card has also been designed to provide insight and to aid in recognising an issue and facilitating its release or simply in using a particular plant for personal support. Choose a card daily or whenever you need guidance and support. Browse the corresponding chapter to get a feeling for the plant and what it’s offering you and to reflect on the gentle lesson it teaches.

Many of the insights in the book embrace spiritual practices for personal growth and balance. Yoga, meditation, fire ceremony and other modalities can be used to strengthen the plants’ healing abilities and assist in transforming, aligning and bringing balance.

The perfect Christmas gift!

Buy the book/cards on the website: www.naturescreation.biz    



Sugar photo quote



















This blog isn’t just about the damage sugar does to the human body and the gut. It is about my journey to find out why I wasn’t able to lose weight no matter what I did and seeking to make changes in my life to cure painful osteoarthritis. I have a great deal of knowledge about health and wellness. I know my body and I knew what was causing my weight issue and arthritis. I’ve known my gut was the main issue for many years now. I tried every alternative method to heal my gut, alkalise my body, lose weight and get healthy. So…what was I doing wrong??? If I was doing all the right things, then why was I unable to change the outcome??? The answers eluded me. I finally found the answers but they were not what I expected at all. I hope what I’ve discovered can ultimately help others. 

Firstly, let me say and positively clarify that this blog is NOT an advertisement for Chi of Life. However, I do attribute my new found wellbeing to Chi of Life and I feel extremely grateful for the guidance that directed me there. I trusted my intuition to guide me to the right Health & Wellness retreat to find the solution. I did heaps of research on the internet looking for the ‘right’ place. Only one retreat kept coming up and every fibre in my body was telling me…Chi of Life is the place to go. All the other retreats I researched, except Chi of Life, focused on a weight loss and boot camp scenario with no mention of finding THE CAUSE of the weight/health problem. What made Chi of Life different? They focused firstly on “the cause”. They take only 6-8 people at a time and each person is treated as an individual with their own specific issues. All participants take a “Metabolic Typing” Test so that Chi of Life can fine tune each person’s individual diet. You learn exactly what foods are compatible with your body chemistry and how to combine proteins, carbs and fats in a ratio that is just right for each person. Most people don’t consider that eating healthy, organic foods might not be enough for their highest level of wellness. They could actually be eating an all-organic diet and still be missing the mark. This was exactly my issue. Most of us have a friend or family member who did super well and lost all kinds of weight on a particular diet and when we tried it (and stuck to it religiously), we gained weight and our health declined.

Upon arrival, as most health retreats do, we were weighed and measured. Then, the next day we were taken to have live and dry blood analysis done. I was familiar with live blood analysis but I discovered that it’s the dry blood analysis that truly brings the whole health picture together. Only two people in Australia do the dry blood as it is very specialised. Live blood analysis allows you to view the red and white blood cells in the blood, the platelets, and the blood plasma. Imbalances seen in the blood will affect organs and tissues leading to malfunction and eventually illness. If our red blood cells are not perfectly shaped, with a proper structure, flexibility, and fluidity, their ability to travel around the body and do their job is severely compromised. This leads to tissue levels of oxygen and nutrients failing, which translates to low energy, fatigue, and a general sense of feeling unwell as well as potentially serious health problems developing. Similarly, dried blood analysis can show levels of oxidative stress and toxicity in the body (particularly the adrenals). Check out the short video (link below) for further explanation.


Once they have the results of the live and dry blood analysis Chi of Life can access what is needed to make changes in diet and lifestyle to achieve total wellness. I wasn’t shocked by my results but relieved because I could now finally confront the obstacles head on and go forward with the healing my body. My results showed chronic digestive issues (no surprise) and leaky gut causing malabsorption and poor digestion (also not a surprise). As a consequence, I was not absorbing nutrients from food or supplements, hence…none of the supplements I was taking were absorbed by my body. I was like a hamster going around and around on a wheel and not going anywhere. It became clear that I needed to heal my gut first and foremost. I also had lymphatic congestion, chronic adrenal stress, candida, low B12, and underactive thyroid. Further testing showed heavy metal contamination that turned out to be from mercury and cadmium. These toxic metals seriously affect the nervous system along with the kidneys, blood, spleen, brain, liver, bones and fatty tissues. No wonder I had gut issues, arthritis, and problems with weight loss. 

I stayed at Chi of Life for two weeks. We were kept so busy with exercise (bike rides, beach walks, hikes, kayaking, water aerobics, gym workouts, saunas, chi machine, tennis) that the two weeks flew by. I learned that most people overeat, myself included. I had no idea I was overeating. And…I found out that I was eating way more (hidden) sugar than I even imagined. I have now eliminated all sugar from my diet, even honey and most fruits. I have cut out all grains and I now only eat seeds such as quinoa, chia, and buckwheat. I’ve eliminated all dairy, gluten, and caffeine. This all sounds quite radical but truthfully, it wasn’t difficult and I’m not hungry in between meals and I’m never really craving snack food or sweets anymore and the best outcome is that I’ve lost 11kg over the past 2 months since Chi of Life. 

I’m taking specific supplements to heal my gut, get rid of the mercury and cadmium, cure the candida and the other issues and I feel wonderful. My day begins with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water to alkalise my gut followed by a big glass of fresh green juice. My arthritis pain has improved and my brain fog (that I blamed on senior moments) has gone. I feel really clear and so much lighter (figuratively and literally). I will continue on this healthy, healing diet and way of life because it works. 

A video that I recommend for everyone to watch is The Sugar Film (thatsugarfilm.com). Sugar is the number one culprit of disease in the body…causing obesity, gut issues and possibly cancer. I didn’t realise how unhealthy I was until I got healthy!

If anyone is interested in The Chi of Life their website is: www.chiofliferetreat.com.au

For more information and comments please go to my Facebook page: Nature’s Creation Book


A Vegan Doctor Addresses Soy Myths and Misinformation

By Holly Wilson MD | January 14, 2014 | Categories: Health and Nutrition


Soy has long been recognized as a nutrient-dense food and as an excellent source of protein by respected dietitians and clinical nutritionists. (1) The soybean contains all of the essential amino acids, as well as an impressive list of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Micronutrients in rich supply in soy include: calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C and zinc. Fiber and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids are also present in soy. The composition of these nutrients varies among preparations, but is in the highest quantity in whole soy foods such as edamame (whole soy beans), soy milk, tofu and tempeh.

Yet despite the powerful health benefits of whole soy foods, myths and misinformation regarding the ‘dangers’ of soy consumption are being widely circulated and presented as fact. I will address a few of these myths by taking a closer look at some of the sources of confusion and controversy.

“All soy is GMO!”

Pic of tofu in packet


I would like to begin by explaining that the largest consumer of commercially grown GMO soybeans, both in the US and globally, is farmed animals. GMOs are genetically modified organisms, and their safety for human consumption is a hot topic of debate; many European countries have banned GMOs. While long term studies and conclusive data on the health effects of GMOs are lacking, GMOs are ubiquitous in our food supply. Soybeans are one of several major food staples now dominated by genetic modification. Currently, 81% of the global soybean crop is genetically modified, and approximately 85% of all GMO soybeans end up in farmed animal feed. The GMO soy consumed by farmed animals is utilized as a source of protein by them, and does not just magically evaporate in the slaughterhouse or the milk processing plant. It ends up on your plate.

But while an alarming percentage of soybeans are genetically modified, the claim that “all soy is GMO” is one of the great soy myths. Of the soy directly consumed by humans, non-GMO soy foods such as tofu, tempeh and soy milk are widely available in stores which offer soy products, and they are clearly labeled non-GMO.



“But I heard soy causes cancer!”

Misinformation regarding soy’s relationship to cancer largely stems from confusion around the presence of phytoestrogens in soy. Phytoestrogen is not estrogen. Estrogen and testosterone are steroid hormones, and occur naturally in both sexes of humans, as well as in animals used for food. They help regulate sexual function and secondary sexual characteristics, in addition to nonsexual cellular functions. While estrogen plays many important beneficial roles in humans, it also naturally promotes proliferation of cells, and, at high levels, can increase risk of some cancers by encouraging cells to multiply more than they usually would. Hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women (specifically, taking only estrogen) has also been implicated in cancer growth. (2)

While soy does not contain estrogen, animal foods do. Many consumers are aware that animals used for meat and dairy are commonly supplemented with synthetic growth hormones, but what they don’t consider is that animal flesh and cow milk also contain their own naturally occurring estrogen— and this is true even of “grass-fed” and “organic” animals. Furthermore, meat, dairy and eggs all contain phytoestrogens; they are pervasive in our food, both plant and animal-derived, and you are not avoiding them entirely by avoiding soy.  

Phytoestrogen is just a catchall term for numerous naturally occurring plant compounds which are structurally similar to mammalian estrogen, and functionally are weakly estrogenic (weakly mimicking estrogen) or antiestrogenic (blocking estrogen’s effects). The metabolism and functionality of phytoestrogens are incredibly complex, and vary between individuals. The concern over soy and cancer stems from the fact that soy-based foods contain phytoestrogens (specifically, isoflavones) in varying amounts (depending on the preparation), and these react with the estrogen receptor. There are two types of estrogen receptors in humans: alpha and beta. Alpha are distributed widely throughout the body, whereas beta are localized in the ovary, prostate, lung, and epididymis (testicle). While isoflavones, like estrogen, bind to both alpha and beta receptors (preferentially to beta), isoflavones do not have the estrogenic effect of inducing tumor growth. In fact, isoflavones have demonstrated a protective benefit against hormone-dependent cancers.

The inverse relationship between soy consumption and risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer has been clearly established. In other words, higher rates of soy intake are associated with lower rates of breast cancer. (3) However, large clinical trials have not yet been conducted regarding the effect of phytoestrogen consumption on tumor growth in established cancer patients. (4) To date, such studies have utilized small sample sizes, and the methods for obtaining data were highly variable. There have been ‘promising’ results from multiple animal models, demonstrating a reduction in tumor size with consumption of soy protein. Yet, aside from the immorality of artificially inducing cancer in unwilling participants, it is dangerous to compare laboratory animals to humans. We are not mice. Even within our species, there is tremendous variability in the metabolic processing of phytoestrogens and pharmacological agents, thus establishing the difficulty and complexity of this area of research. Instead, attention should be placed on the already available mass of epidemiological data which compares Asian cultures to those consuming a Western diet.

Lessons from Asia

Older Japanese man exercising

Soy has been a major staple in Asian cultures for centuries, and their incidence of coronary artery disease, hypertension, ischemic stroke, hormone-dependent cancers, osteoporosis, postmenopausal hip fracture, diabetes, and obesity are all markedly lower than what is seen here in the US. However, when sectors of these populations begin to consume foods based more on the Western diet, not surprisingly, their patterns of disease begin to mimic ours as well. I recall this point being made in medical school. The terms ‘vegan’ and ‘plant-based’ were not yet widely in use, yet there was at least recognition of the association between geographic variability in diet, and health conditions. During this time, the human genome project was completed. I had made the connection that independent of the mass of genetic information all humans share, how we live and what we eat will have a huge and direct impact on our health.

To cite just one example, the Okinawa Centenarian Study analyzed the health and dietary patterns of over 900 centenarians (individuals of 100 years of age or older) living on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Individuals in their 70s, 80s and 90s were evaluated as well. The Japanese Ministry of Health has been maintaining a family register for the entire country since the 1870s, and it is updated every 5 years. The world’s highest known concentration of centenarians live in Okinawa. Regular physical activity, lean BMIs (body mass index), and high consumption of fruits, vegetables and soy are all a part of traditional Okinawan lifestyle. Their aging population enjoy healthier lives and much lower rates of cancer (breast, ovarian, prostate and colon) as compared to those in the U.S., and even to those on the Japanese mainland. Their rates of dementia, osteoporosis, and coronary artery disease are also impressively low. By comparison, based on my 10 years of clinical experience, I can attest to the fact that our aging population suffers a high incidence of debilitating disease, dependency on pharmaceuticals, depression, and difficulty with mobility and physical activity.

The myth of ‘moobs’ (man boobs)

“Moobs” is another of the heavily circulated soy myths with no actual basis in scientific fact. I am reminded of the fear I had of swallowing bubblegum as a child — “because it will take 7 years to digest!” Gynecomastia is the medical term for developed breasts in men. Fetal sexual organ formation and secondary sexual characteristic development are essentially hormone driven. The ‘soy causes man boobs’ urban legend is thus likely rooted in the confusion between estrogen and phytoestrogen, but, as previously explained, phytoestrogen is not estrogen. If indeed this were the case, there would be a lot of men in need of bras.

In reality, clinical studies in men show that isoflavones do not affect testosterone levels or circulating estrogen levels. Even at levels of isoflavone exposure significantly higher than those of a typical Asian male consuming a soy rich diet, isoflavones have not been found to have feminizing effects. (6)

Soy myths and hysteria from the Weston A. Price Foundation


Soy myths and hysteria and the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) are inseparable. Much of the fear-mongering around soy is a direct result of misinformation disseminated by the WAPF’s relentless anti-soy campaigns. The WAPF, registered as a nonprofit organization, is a multimillion dollar operation that lobbies for raw milk and grass-fed beef. Its members (often farmers) make financial contributions and in turn benefit from WAPF promotion. One of the WAPF’s ongoing strategies for promoting animal farming interests is a concerted effort to discredit veganism in general, and soy in particular. Soyfoods sales have climbed from $500 million in 1992 to $5.2 billion in 2011. The soy industry is expanding exponentially, thus posing a potential threat to the products the WAPF are trying to peddle. In response, the Weston Price Foundation actively publishes articles which propagate the supposed dangers of soy consumption, citing clinical and medical journals in an attempt to appear credible.


To give one example, there is a recent blog entry on the WAPF website from board member Kaayla Daniel, who attempted to interpret an article from the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in a way that would promote the WAPF’s anti-soy agenda. On July 10 2013, JAMA published ‘Effect of Soy Protein Isolate Supplementation on Biochemical Recurrence of Prostate Cancer After Radical Prostatectomy’. (5) The study was well conducted (randomized and double-blind), and aimed to analyze whether or not soy intake would have any effect on patients being treated for advanced prostate cancer. Oncologists measured PSA (prostate specific antigen) in the blood at specific time intervals to assess response. It is not surprising that in patients with a lifetime consumption of foods high in animal fat and protein, pesticides, preservatives and antibiotics, and after a diagnosis of advanced cancer — that the biochemical markers were not affected by soy ingestion. The study could yield no solid conclusions about soy, except that with advanced prostate cancer, the consumption of soy will not reduce biochemical markers. Yet, the WAPF skewed data and selectively interpreted the study to support claims that further their anti-soy agenda.

 It’s also worth noting: Dr. Weston A Price (1870-1948) was a dentist, not a physician or a dietician. He studied teeth from primitive cultures and formulated dietary recommendations for modern society based on dental decay observations.

 Soy and thyroid function













The thyroid gland has the essential function of controlling metabolism. There are multiple dietary nutrients required for the production of thyroid hormone, iodine being the most widely recognized. The relationship between soy consumption, iodine deficiency and goiter (enlarged thyroid) was first described in 1960 in The New England Journal of Medicine. Infants consuming nonfortified soy-based formula developed goiter, yet the exact nature of the relationship was unclear. Since then, there have been numerous studies which have disproven the causal relationship between soy and thyroid toxicity. (7)

Source: National Institutes of Health

TPO (thyroid peroxidase) is an enzyme located in the thyroid gland that catalyzes the necessary reactions to formulate thyroid hormone. Studies involving rats, pigs and humans demonstrated decreased TPO activity when fed isolated genistein and daidzein (the isoflavones in soy that react most strongly with TPO). Although some TPO activity was lost, there was no overall negative effect on thyroid function. Thyroid hormone levels measured in the blood of both experimental and control groups were the same. Furthermore, humans (as well as rats) only demonstrated hypothyroidism if their soy diets were iodine-depleted. Please see table for National Institute of Health recommendations.

 What types of soy foods are healthiest?

In discussions of soy foods, the assertion is sometimes made that only fermented soy foods are safe and healthful to consume, with the eating habits of traditional Asian cultures cited as support for this claim. In fact, contrary to this common misconception, the soy products regularly consumed in Asian countries are not all, or even primarily, fermented. According to research from Ginny Messina, R.D., “In Japan, about half of soy consumption comes from the fermented foods miso and natto, and half comes from tofu and dried soybeans. In Shanghai, most of the soy foods consumed are unfermented, with tofu and soymilk making the biggest contributions. In fact, even in Indonesia, where tempeh is a revered national food, unfermented soy products like tofu account for around half of soy intake.”

Personally, I enjoy a wide variety of healthful foods. I frequent my local farmers market, and buy locally grown, organic produce that is in season. When it comes to soy foods, I am always careful to buy non-GMO products, which are easy to find and are clearly labeled. Thai-style stir fry and tofu scramble are among my favorite tofu dishes; they are easy to prepare and can be made in one pan. I also season and bake firm tofu, then place it in a wrap for a quick lunch. In the winter months, I make creamy vegetable soups with a soy milk base, and grilled tempeh is great on sandwiches and crumbled over salads. There are numerous websites and cookbooks which offer delicious soy recipes, ranging from super-easy to gourmet.

Whole soy foods are safe and nutritious. I recommend incorporating them into a diet which contains a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes. For more on plant sources of protein, please see my article, “A Vegan Doctor Addresses the Protein Question.”

(1) Tucker, Katherine L. et al. “Simulation with Soy Replacement Showed That Increased Soy Intake Could Contribute to Improved Nutrient Intake Profiles in the U.S. Population.” The Journal of Nutrition, doi: 10.3945/jn.110.123901; 27 October 2010

(2) Morito, Keiko. et al. “Interaction of Phytoestrogens with Estrogen Receptors Alpha and Beta.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, Vol. 24, Issue 4, pp. 351-356, April 2001

(3) Lee, Sang-Ah. et al. “Adolescent and Adult Soy Intake and Breast Cancer Risk: Results from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 89, Issue 6, pp. 1920-1926, June 2009

(4) Wu, A H. et al. “Epidemiology of Soy Exposures and Breast Cancer Risk.” British Journal of Cancer, Vol 98, Issue 1, pp. 9-14, 15 January 2008

(5) Bosland, Maarten C. et al. “Effect of Soy Protein Isolate Supplementation on Biochemical Recurrence of Prostate Cancer After Radical Prostatectomy: A Randomized Trial.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 310, Issue 2, pp. 170-178, 10 July, 2013

(6) Messina, Mark. “Soybean isoflavone exposure does not have feminizing effects on men: a critical examination of the clinical evidence.” Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 93, Issue 7 , pp. 2095-2104, 1 May 2010

(7) Chang, Hebron C. et al. “Dietary Genistein Inactivates Rat Thyroid Peroxidase in Vivo without an Apparent Hypothyroid Effect.” Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Vol 198, Issue 3, pp. 244-252, 1 November 2000

Fire Ceremony and Ecology – Heal the Environment & We Heal Ourselves

















Fire awakened the human consciousness millions of years ago and brought us to our present level of awareness. The tradition of havan (sacred fire ceremony) evolved thousands of years ago in order to bring balance and create harmony at all levels in the manifest as well as the un-manifest realm, on the individual as well as the universal plane. It is the worship of Nature in her most primordial form. That is what the ancients who worked for the progressive evolution of mankind prescribed.

The ritual of havan, also known as yajna, homa or Agnihotra, is one of the most ancient Vedic rituals. It consists of the kindling and consecration of a sacrificial fire, the invocation of one or more divinities, and the placing of offerings such as ghee, samagri (fragrant medicinal herbs) or grains into the flames. Sanskrit mantras and prayers are recited during the ceremony, which is often performed during an auspicious or astrologically aligned period. In modern Hinduism, fire ceremonies still play an integral part in daily worship, and are used as a symbolic form of communication with and honouring of the Divine. In many yogic traditions worldwide the havan is performed several times a week on specific days, at regular times.

Who benefits from Havan?


  • All who take part in the havan.


  • The household.


  • The veggie garden or organic farm, including the animals.


  • The neighbourhood within the ¾ km area.


  • It has been observed that crime rates drop in areas where havan is performed regularly.


  • The planet: Havan detoxes nature and helps to keep the energy cycles of the planet in harmony.


We have forgotten how to give back to Nature. We consume and consume – air, water, the plant, animal and mineral kingdom – for food, shelter and energy resources. This is only natural. What is not natural is the over-consuming and polluting at the same time. We have forgotten how to grow food naturally. The use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides is destroying the delicate ecosystems of nature, creating disturbance in nature and us as we daily accumulate the chemicals in our body from the food we eat. And now with the growing of genetically modified crops we are disturbing the very fabric of life itself.

Today there is a great deal of talk about ecology and the importance of ecological balance for the survival of this planet. We talk of planting more trees, of reducing our usage of petroleum products, of eliminating gas emissions resulting from industrial growth…reducing our carbon footprint. Apart from the external ecology there is also the internal ecology, our own individual nature that requires balancing. Thoughts, emotions, feelings, dreams, ambitions, passions, fears, neuroses, psychosis, depression, disillusion and anxiety often grow out of proportion and overwhelm us. The inner ecology reflects on our outer ecology.


For inner and outer ecology we have to consider the food we are consuming…the soil and how the food is grown. If the food we eat is impure then our mind and thinking will be impure also. Food has a tremendous influence on our mind. It forms the mind as well as the body. If our environment is sick and depleted, we will become sick and depleted also.

Through Permaculture (sustainable agriculture) we can learn to heal the earth and bring balance to everything that exists around us and through yoga and yogic practices like havan, we realize that it is our duty and responsibility to look after the two gifts we have been given, namely, the environmental complex upon which we depend for our survival, and the body-mind complex in which we live.

Havan is a super science known to heal Nature. When Havan is performed regularly it will reverse pollution, balance ecological turbulence and purify everything around it. Due to pollution, the planet is deteriorating rapidly. The 2005 Stern Report revealed that 2/3 of the planets ecological systems are disturbed and out of balance. Such reports leave the public feeling powerlessness and not knowing what to do or how to feel. The good news is that Havan is a solution…easy to apply and with fast results.

Come and join us at Anahata Yoga Retreat in magnificent Golden Bay, South Island for a unique Permaculture Design Certificate course with integrated yogic practices focusing on the internal and external ecology…including havans.


Permaculture poster 

Anahata yoga1

Anahata building greenhouse












The outer environment is in danger from global warming, pollution and myriad chemicals. As our toxic outer world spins out of control we become aware of the environmental dangers of disturbed emotions, disease, negative and aggressive thinking.

The external environment is a reflection of the environment within our bodies. When the external environment and ecology is out of synch, our inner ecology is also affected. The mental and emotional pollution within us needs to be restored and harmonised just as the outer pollution does. Yoga practices can restore the inner ecology and Permaculture practices can restore the outer environment and ecology…bringing back harmony and balance internally and externally. The two are intricately connected.

For inner and outer ecology we have to consider the food we are consuming…the soil and how the food is grown. If the food we eat is impure then our mind and thinking will be impure also. Food has a tremendous influence on our mind. It forms the mind as well as the body. If our environment is sick and depleted, we will become sick and depleted also. Through yoga we realize that it is our duty and responsibility to look after the two gifts we have been given, namely, the environmental complex upon which we depend for our survival, and the body-mind complex in which we live.

Combining Yoga & Permaculture is a foundation for complete approach to living a sustainable and healthy life. Anahata Retreat in NZ invites you to join us in November for a unique Yoga & Permaculture Design Certificate course to learn how to balance these two important aspects of a sustainable, healthy life.

Permaculture poster 

food drink organic foods organics health foods pesticides no pesticides mban1414 low


I found this article very interesting as I’m one of those organic minded consumers who have never really questioned organic status and growing methods. I’ve put my entire trust in the organic industry standards believing that I was eating food that was chemical free and non-carcinogenic. I’m in Australia and this article was written about USA standards, therefore I’m not sure if Australian Certified Organic standards differ from US standards!

Reading this article has made me now question the organic standards and safety of ‘organic pesticides’. I still believe that organic is by far the best way to go as long as I know where my food comes from and how it’s grown. I buy all my fruit and vegetables at the local weekly farmer’s market. Next week when I do my shopping, I will be sure to ask the growers some questions. This has made me realise that I need to become fully informed and aware of how my food is grown whether organic or non-organic.

In saying this, I know that there are safe organic pesticide free sprays that we can all use…at least on our home gardens. Here is one I’ve used successfully:Take a spray bottle and fill with water. Add a good squirt of dish soap, some garlic juice and for those gung ho gardeners…soak some cigarettes in water overnight and add the tobacco juice to the mixture. Of course, this mixture doesn’t discourage all pests. I know of organic growers who use beneficial insects very successfully. Food can be grown organically using many different methods of insect control but it is well worth the effort o do some research on this subject. Using Roundup is definitely way more dangerous than using an organic spray…of this I have no doubt.


 Organic Pesticides verses Synthetic

Organic Pesticides

Organic produce has become increasingly popular in recent years, as consumers have grown more health conscious and environmentally aware. Many stores and supermarkets now have large sections devoted to organic fruits and vegetables.


Contrary to what most people believe, “organic” does not automatically mean “pesticide-free” or “chemical-free”. In fact, under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops.

 So what does organic mean? It means that these pesticides, if used, must be derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured. Also, these pesticides must be applied using equipment that has not been used to apply any synthetic materials for the past three years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for that period either.

Most organic farmers (and even some conventional farmers, too) employ mechanical and cultural tools to help control pests. These include insect traps, careful crop selection (there are a growing number of disease-resistant varieties), and biological controls (such as predator insects and beneficial microorganisms).


When you test synthetic chemicals for their ability to cause cancer, you find that about half of them are carcinogenic.

Until recently, nobody bothered to look at natural chemicals (such as organic pesticides), because it was assumed that they posed little risk. But when the studies were done, the results were somewhat shocking: you find that about half of the natural chemicals studied are carcinogenic as well.

This is a case where everyone (consumers, farmers, researchers) made the same, dangerous mistake. We assumed that “natural” chemicals were automatically better and safer than synthetic materials, and we were wrong. It’s important that we be more prudent in our acceptance of “natural” as being innocuous and harmless.

systemic pesticides health risks


Clearly, the less we impact our environment, the better off we all are. Organic farming practices have greatly advanced the use of non-chemical means to control pests, as mentioned earlier.

Unfortunately, these non-chemical methods do not always provide enough protection, and it’s necessary to use chemical pesticides. How do organic pesticides compare with conventional pesticides?

A recent study compared the effectiveness of a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture versus a synthetic pesticide, imidan. Rotenone and pyrethrin are two common organic pesticides; imidan is considered a “soft” synthetic pesticide (i.e., designed to have a brief lifetime after application, and other traits that minimize unwanted effects). It was found that up to 7 applications of the rotenone- pyrethrin mixture were required to obtain the level of protection provided by 2 applications of imidan.

It seems unlikely that 7 applications of rotenone and pyrethrin are really better for the environment than 2 applications of imidan, especially when rotenone is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

 It should be noted, however, that we don’t know for certain which system is more harmful. This is because we do not look at organic pesticides the same way that we look at conventional pesticides. We don’t know how long these organic pesticides persist in the environment, or the full extent of their effects.

When you look at lists of pesticides allowed in organic agriculture, you find warnings such as, “Use with caution. The toxicological effects of [organic pesticide X] are largely unknown,” or “Its persistence in the soil is unknown.” Again, researchers haven’t bothered to study the effects of organic pesticides because it is assumed that “natural” chemicals are automatically safe.


For obvious reasons, organic farmers have done little, if anything, to dispel the myth that “organic = chemical/pesticide-free”. They would only stand to lose business by making such a disclosure.

Pesticide manufacturers have little concern in the matter. To them, “synthetic pesticides sold” and “organic pesticides sold” are both “pesticides sold”.

As for conventional farmers, they are not really in a position to be critical. It would not be in their interest to draw attention to chemical and pesticide use.


The purpose in writing this article is not to discourage you from buying organic produce.

It is only meant to let you know what you are or aren’t getting when you make such a purchase. Unless you know your grower personally, there is no guarantee that your produce has been grown without pesticides or other chemicals. It’s a point to consider, given the substantially higher cost of organic foods.

There are many choices and decisions that we, as consumers, are asked to make. Hopefully, this has provided some new information that you will find helpful.

* * * * * * *

A formatted MS Word version of this document may be downloaded at:

The data describing the carcinogenicity of natural and synthetic compounds are referenced in Gold, L.S., et al. (1992) _Science_ Vol. 258, pp. 261-265.

Many thanks go to the Organic Crop Improvement Association for their cooperation in this study. The OCIA has chapters in AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, IL, IN, IA, KS, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NM, NC, ND, OH, PA, SD, UT, and WI. Thanks are also extended to the California Certified Organic Farmers, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. (The appropriate information has not yet been obtained from the Natural Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), but it is almost certain that all facts stated here apply to their products as well.) The following state Departments of Agriculture have also been very helpful: AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, HI, IA, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, ND, OK, SC, TN, VA, and WA. States with no laws governing organic products include Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Tennessee.



From: Nature’s Creation – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants – Book and Cards

All the plants mentioned below are available in good health food stores.

Antibiotics have become one of the most over prescribed “medicines” today. As a result, people have damaged their digestive systems and ironically, have lowered their natural immunity to all types of infections in the future. Attack infections with powerful natural antibiotics such as Echinacea and Golden Seal. 



1. Echinacea

Purple coneflower or Echinacea is indigenous to North America.  Well known and extensively used by the Native Americans of the Great Plains, Echinacea became one of the most important medicinal healing plants for all tribes in the areas where various species flourished.  A debt of gratitude is felt towards the Native American healers who introduced the settlers to the healing wonders of this incredible herb.  Word of Echinacea’shealing properties soon reached Europe and the rest of the world, and it has since been widely researched and utilised.

Today Echinacea is best known for its positive effect on the immune system.  It is a mucilaginous herb with cool energy, which means it removes heat from the body, such as the heat of infection. 

Echinacea is considered beneficial for almost all infectious conditions, including upper respiratory infections, common cold, flu, and staph and strep infections.  Herbalists regard Echinacea as one of the best antibiotics and blood purifiers.  Itassists in resistance to disease by activating the immune system.  Research shows Echinacea to be successful in inhibiting tumour growth in rats and confirms it aids in the production of interferon, which increases antiviral activity.  As a homoeopathic remedy Echinacea is used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), indigestion, gastroenteritis and weight loss.  Echinacea has also been successful in treating arthritis.


Parts Used Medicinally

The root, fresh or dried, of either Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea purpurea is mainly used.  A tingling sensation is experienced when the root is chewed indicating the strength of Echinacea’shealing abilities. 

  • The root can be dried and taken by capsule as an immune stimulant. 
  • It can be made into a tincture to treat infections
  • A decoction can be used as a gargle for throat infections.


15.Goldenseal small 2.  Golden Seal

“I remember a young woman near Pineville, Missouri, who was very ill indeed.  The local M.D. said that she had Bright’s disease and held little hope for her recovery.  One of this woman’s male relatives searched the hills for days and finally dug up a root which seemed to do her more good than any of the doctor’s prescriptions.  She was still alive several years later, apparently much improved in health.  I interviewed the man who found the magic root.  He boasted that he had cured the woman ‘after all the doctors done given her up’ but refused to tell me the name of the root that did the business.  A doctor who saw the stuff, however, told me that it looked to him like yellow-root, by which he meant goldenseal (Hydrastis).”  –Ozark Magic and Folklore, by Vance Randolph-

      Goldenseal is a folk medicine staple.  Mainly valued for its root, Goldenseal was used and recognised by physicians from the time of the American pioneer settlers until 1955, when synthetic drugs appeared on the market and began to replace herbal medications.The early settlers learnt the virtues of Goldenseal from the Native Americans, who used the herb medicinally as an antibiotic and antiseptic and prized the roots as a stain and dye.

Commonly known as orangeroot, Goldenseal is characterised by its yellow rootstock.  It is a striking perennial woodland herb in the buttercup or crowfoot family, indigenous to the moist mountainous woodland areas of the North American continent. The Goldenseal plant is native only to the eastern-central United States and southeastern Canada and requires a specific growing environment.  Because it is very difficult to grow if conditions are not suitable and exact, it is generally not a traditional medicine elsewhere in the world.

Powerful bactericidal and antiviral activity has been discovered in Goldenseal during clinical research.  These properties make the herbal remedy useful for a wide range of infections.  Goldenseal ‘s natural antibiotic properties have been utilised by Native Americans for centuries – internally for respiratory infections, liver problems and digestive complaints, and externally for wounds, skin disorders and eyewash.  Goldenseal is recognised today as a potent herbal antibiotic and immune system enhancer.  It stimulates the immune system to quickly identify and destroy pathogens, and if used early enough it is effective for nearly all kinds of bacterial infection.

Important to note:  Goldenseal is such a strong antibacterial that it kills almost all bacteria it contacts, including beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract (a similar action to antibiotics). Therefore, after a therapy of Goldenseal (or antibiotics), it is wise to take an L. acidophilus treatment in order to recolonise the gastrointestinal tract and replenish the beneficial flora.   Be aware that Goldenseal is also believed to interfere with vitamin B absorption if taken long term.  It is best if Goldenseal is used for short periods of time.  A continuous dosage exceeding three weeks is not advisable, and a break of at least two weeks is a must during the dosage regimen.

Parts Used Medicinally

Primarily the rhizome (root)

  • 4-6 grams of powdered goldenseal root in pill or capsule form is the normal daily dose for most patients.
  • For infections and ulcers of the mouth, apply a poultice or tincture made from the root.
  • For sore throats, prepare a decoction and gargle 50 ml 3-4 times a day.
  • As an eyewash, use the contents of one capsule with three ounces of purified water.

Note:  Taken together Goldenseal and Echinacea are highly beneficial.  They become a dynamic wide-spectrum antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal, and strengthen the entire immune system.  Consult a herbalist or naturopath for advice before using.

 14. feverfew copy3.  Feverfew

This underrated herb is native to northern Europe, Feverfew is now common in many countries throughout the world.  The English common name, Feverfew, is derived from the Latin febrifuga, meaning ‘febrifuge’ – a medicine or treatment capable of reducing fever.

According to well-respected English herbalist and physician John Gerard (1545-1612), Feverfew is “very good for them that are giddy in the head.”  In the time of Gerard, Feverfew was most renowned as a successful cure for headache.  As the name suggests it is also an excellent treatment for fevers and can be used to lower the temperature and cool the body.  However, as other herbal medicines were developed, Feverfew lost some of its popularity over the years

All but forgotten, Feverfew regained popularity in 1978 when a British newspaper printed an article about a woman who claimed it had cured her migraines. This claim created interest in doing research on the herb.  In 1985 the well-respected British Medical Journal reported on studies showing that extracts of parthenolide (sesquiterpene lactone) in Feverfew inhibited the release of prostaglandins, inflammatory substances thought to play a role in the onset of migraines and also connected to rheumatoid arthritis.  The research indicated that Feverfew is an effective remedy in preventing migraines or lessening their severity.  Since then, other studies have shown Feverfew to be effective as a preventative for migraines in 80 percent of cases.  In his book The Family Herbal, published a century after Gerard’s time, author Sir John Hill wrote, “In the worst headache this herb exceeds whatever else is known.” 

Feverfew has been found to be more successful if taken over a period of time.  Statistics show that in the United States alone approximately ten million people suffer from migraines and thirty million from arthritis.

Parts Used Medicinally


  • Harvest in summer and dry.
  • For nervousness or pain, prepare an infusion of the flowers and allow to cool.


Contain parthenolide, the key constituent used in the treatment of headaches and migraines.

  • For migraine prevention, two or three leaves can be eaten or made into a tea.  Best with other food.  Adults can take this dosage up to three to four times a day.
  • Tincture – five drops of prepared tincture in water three times a day for prevention of migraines and chronic headaches.

Caution:  Fresh leaves have been known to cause mouth ulcers.  Always check with a naturopath or herbalist for contraindications and directions before taking any medication.  



4.  Nettle

Tender-handed stroke a nettle

And it stings you for your pains;

Grasp it like a man of mettle,

And it soft as silk remains.              

Aaron Hill (1685-1750)

Nettle is as well known for its sting as for its medicinal benefits.  Commonly nicknamed stinging Nettle, this hardy perennial is one of the most undervalued plants despite its long history as a home herbal remedy and nutritious green.

Nettle grows in most temperate regions of the world. It is said that first-century Greek physician Dioscorides had several uses for Nettle:  the chopped fresh leaves to cover septic wounds, the cooked leaves mixed with myrrh to stimulate menstruation and the juice to stop nosebleeds.  Today Nettle is used for both its medicinal and nutritional value.

 Medicinally, the constituents of the whole plant can be utilised to treat asthma and dandruff, as a diuretic and as a stimulating tonic.  Nettle is also excellent in the treatment of anaemia, excessive menstruation, haemorrhoids, arthritis, rheumatism and skin conditions, especially eczema and burns.  Being stung by Nettle regularly while gardening is believed to give protection in later life against arthritis and rheumatism.  Native Americans used Nettle tea as an aid in pregnancy, childbirth and nursing.  Research in the United States, Germany and Japan shows the root of Nettle to be beneficial in the treatment of enlarged prostate.

An infusion of Nettle is used as a cleansing tonic and blood purifier for hay fever, arthritis and anaemia.  Nettle tea also cures diseases and inflammations of the urinary system.  It has a slightly laxative effect and is recommended in remedies for eliminating toxins and purifying the system.  Treatment with Nettle teafor diseases of the liver and spleen will last for a number of weeks.  The tea can also be of great help to those who suffer from diabetes because it acts specifically to lower glycaemic response and decrease blood sugar levels.

Nutritionally, Nettle is high in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C, iron, silica and potassium.  Throughout history it has been used as a nourishing tonic and a valuable addition to the diet.  Good gloves must be used for harvesting in summer.  Thoroughly drying or cooking the leaves neutralises the sting and makes them safe to eat.  Young leaves can be added to soups or stews.  Nettles have been used in making beer and cheese while the flax-like fibre in the stems makes excellent string and cloth and good quality paper.  Nettle is an excellent companion plant in orchards and improves the health of fruit trees.

Parts Used Medicinally

Aerial parts – leaves

  • Steam as a nutritious vegetable.
  • Infusion (tea):  Use as a general tonic.  To retain the active substances, steep fresh or dried leaves in boiled water.
  • Ointment:  for skin problems such as eczema


  • Tincture:  for allergies and skin conditions
  • Capsules:  for heavy menstruation
  • Infusion:  similar properties to saw palmetto for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate in men)

 34. Tulsi small5.  Tulsi

Native to India, Tulsi has been praised in Indian scriptures and lore since the time of the early Vedas in the second millennium BC.

In the wild, Tulsi is an annual plant, but it can be kept as a short-lived perennial by trimming before it forms seeds.  It is closely related to the annual culinary herb sweet basil.  With its remarkable heritage, restorative powers and stress relieving properties, Tulsi has been revered in India for over five thousand years as a healing herb for body, mind and spirit.  This most sacred of all plants, worshipped in Hindu temples as a living goddess, has earned the title Queen of Herbs.  A Hindu household is considered incomplete without a Tulsi plant in the courtyard, as it is believed to have a sacred aura and provide divine protection.  According to scientists, the place where Tulsi is planted becomes pollution free.

It might be easier to list what Tulsi cannot do.  This miraculous plant has so many medicinal virtues that a whole book could be written about its healing power.  Tulsi is one of the most important plants in Ayurvedic medicine, a five-thousand-year-old healing science that goes hand in hand with yogic philosophy.  It has the ability to regulate and balance all three doshas (body and mind types), creating purity and lightness in the entire body.  Traditionally Tulsi was used to stimulate and boost the immune system.  Its purifying action, cleansing the respiratory tract of toxins and congestion, has a significant effect in the treatment of colds and flu.  Its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are valuable in the management of arthritis pain.

Western medicine uses the term adaptogen for herbs like Tulsi that help to balance, normalise, strengthen and protect functions in the body.  Results of modern studies of Tulsi show that it …

  • is effective in treating a range of medical conditions from diabetes to cancer; 
  • neutralises free radicals and inhibits the production of inflammatory prostaglandins;
  • is similar to antidepressant medication in its effect on the neurochemistry of the brain;
  • protects against damage caused by toxic chemicals in the blood;
  • limits damage from cancer radiation therapy and protects the heart from damage caused by the chemotherapy drug adriamycin; and
  • substantially lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics who are non-insulin dependent.

The nutritional and pharmacological properties of whole herbs in their natural form, as they have been traditionally used, result from synergistic interactions of many different active phytochemicals.  Consequently the overall effects of Tulsi, like those of other herbs, cannot be fully duplicated with isolated compounds or extracts.  Because of Tulsi’s inherent botanical and biochemical complexity, its standardisation has so far eluded modern science.  Perhaps best known of the many active compounds that have been identified and extracted are eugenol (an essential oil) and ursolic acid.  Although Tulsi is recognised as a general vitaliser that increases physical endurance, it contains no caffeine or other stimulants. 

Parts Used Medicinally

Leaves and aerial parts

  •  Juice:  for skin infections and eczema
  • Decoction (tea):  immune system boost, tonic for fevers and colds
  • Capsules:  300-600 mg dried leaves as preventative therapy, 600-1800 mg as curative therapy


Permaculture poster



Anahata yoga1















Strawbale building Anahata

Anahata building greenhouse

PDC solarhouse













PDC flowform

PDC Swales

Anahata Sadhana hall










This is a truly unique course integrating Inner Ecology (yogic lifestyle) with Outer Ecology (Permaculture).  I will be coordinating and teaching in both areas of the course. As part of this course, I will be introducing the participants to medicinal plants and ‘working co-creatively with Nature”.  


Permaculture Design Course

Combining Outer Ecology (Permaculture) with Inner Ecology (Yoga)

 Starting: Thursday, 12th November

Finishing: Saturday, 28th November 2015


Venue: Anahata Yoga Retreat, Golden Bay, NZ

Permaculture Teachers: Robina McCurdy, Jennifer Divyajyoti Michelsen and assistants

Yoga: Jennifer Divyajyoti Michelsen and Anahata Retreat teachers

The tutors and yoga teachers of this course have extensive experience in Permaculture and Yoga.


 ‘Permaculture’ is an integrated land use design methodology based on ecological principles, with practical application from sustainable household to eco-nation to global restoration.


Permaculture design concept is an abundant, integrated and practical method of developing the external ecosystem. Yoga is the inner ecology of living consciously, spiritually, and harmoniously in the world. Both concepts compliment each other and blend together to develop a sustainable lifestyle within one’s inner self and the outer environment.


This course is the standard residential International Permaculture Design Certificate curriculum, taught in an integrated hands-on way, culminating in a comprehensive land-use design project. Yoga, deep relaxation and meditation sessions will be woven into the daily schedule bringing you a unique course combining inner ecology (yoga) with the outer ecology (Permaculture).

The course includes practical skill building activities, mini-design exercises, and visits to inspirational properties that demonstrate Permaculture in practice. It takes place in an intentional eco yoga community and incorporates the exploration of Deep Ecology, theconnection to nature and element themed yoga practices aimed at enhancing personal sustainability that extends out into the wider community.


Upon completion, a Permaculture Design Certificate will be issued by The Institute of Earthcare Education Aotearoa.


The Permaculture Course Program broadly covers:

·      Permaculture ethics, design principles and implementation

·      Organic growing methods (vegie gardens, herbs, fruit)

·      Rural land management (orchards, pastures, trees, water systems)

·      Integrated animal systems

·      Water harvesting & storage, grey-water & ‘waste’ recycling,

·      Ecological building

·      Renewable energy systems

·      Suburban-scale design.


Anahata Yoga Retreat

Anahata is located in a spectacular natural environment, near the Abel Tasman National Park. Permaculture design certificate courses were among the first offerings at Anahata with the permaculture concepts being integral to its development. Anahata runs on solar power, has four different examples of straw bale and earth buildings, an extensive natural waste water system, organic gardens and orchards. As a work in progress, all who come contribute to the continuing development of this sacred space, whilst learning valuable life skills for the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and society as a whole.


The Yoga Program includes:

·      Hatha yoga

·      Chanting

·      Yoga Nidra- deep relaxation for inner sustainability

·      Guided meditation

·      Kirtan (singing mantras to music)

·      Havan (ancient Vedic fire ceremony to honour the elements)

·      Times of silence

Registrations will be on a “first come” basis upon application and will open 1st May, 2015. Applications are open to NZ and overseas participants.



NZ$ 2050 (shared accommodation)

NZ$ 1850 (camping)

Early Bird discount 10% if paid in full by 15th September.


Limited private accommodation available. Please enquire for prices.

The cost includes registration, tuition, field trips, course materials, vegetarian food, accommodation, yoga classes & practices.


Scholarships and post course work exchange opportunities are available for this course. Please contact us for details and applications.


Enquiries and Enrolment: Anahata Yoga Retreat

Website: www.anahata-retreat.org.nz

Email: yoga@anahata-retreat.org.nz

Phone: 03) 525 9887








USDA Claims Pesticide Residues in Food Is Safe—Here’s Why They’re Wrong



By Dr. Mercola

Research has demonstrated that pesticides and other agricultural chemicals are neurotoxic, capable of damaging your nervous system. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides are also carcinogenic.


All of these toxins are permitted on conventional farms, and any number of them can end up on your plate when you conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables. The increased use of genetically engineered plants and soil insecticides also increases the chemical load in food—particularly processed foods.


The answer, of course, is to limit your exposure as much as possible, giving your body a chance to eliminate the toxins you do inadvertently ingest. Certain foods, such as fermented foods, can also help detoxify (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/16/this-food-helps-you-to-detox-pesticides.aspx) some of these chemicals).


Yet despite all the known risks, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) insists pesticide residues on food are no cause for concern.


According to the agency’s latest report, more than half of all foods tested last year had detectable levels of pesticide residues, but most, they claim, are within the “safe” range. However, there are a number of factors you need to be aware of before you swallow such assurances hook, line, and sinker…


USDA Does Not Test for Glyphosate

Most notably, as reported by Reuters, the USDA does not test for one of the most pervasive and one of the most harmful agricultural chemicals of all, namely glyphosate:


“As has been the case with past analyses, the USDA said it did not test this past year for residues of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide and the world’s most widely used herbicide.


A USDA spokesman who asked not to be quoted said that the test measures required for glyphosate are ‘extremely expensive… to do on an regular basis’…


Many genetically modified crops can be sprayed directly with glyphosate, and some consumer and health groups fear glyphosate residues in foods are harmful to human health, even though the government says the pesticide is considered safe.”


Meanwhile, one of the most recent studies investigating the effect glyphosate on Americans’ health noted that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in both plants and animals.


The researchers also note that previous studies show that glyphosate “disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/14/glyphosate.aspx)... damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.”


The researchers searched US government databases for GE crop data, glyphosate application data, and disease epidemiological data, and analyses revealed “highly significant” correlations between glyphosate applications and the following health problems among the US population:





Lipoprotein metabolism disorder

Alzheimer’s disease

Senile dementia

Parkinson’s disease

Multiple sclerosis


Inflammatory bowel disease

Intestinal infections

End stage renal disease

Acute kidney failure

Thyroid cancer

Liver cancer

Bladder cancer

Pancreatic cancer

Kidney cancer

Myeloid leukemia


According to the authors: “The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects of glyphosate and GE crops on human health should be further investigated.”


Glyphosate May Be Worse Than DDT

According to Dr. Don Huber (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/14/glyphosate.aspx), an expert in an area of science that relates to the toxicity of genetically engineered (GE) foods, glyphosate may be even more toxic than DDT—a devastating chemical that, just like glyphosate, was once proclaimed to be “safe enough to eat.”


Just last year, new research implicated DDT in the development of Alzheimer’s (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/13/glyphosate-ddt-alzheimers.aspx), decades after exposure, and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re heading down the same road with glyphosate.


Dr. Seneff’s groundbreaking research (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/09/monsanto-roundup-herbicide.aspx) published in June 2013 suggests that glyphosate may actually be the most important factor in the development of a wide variety of chronic diseases, specifically because your gut bacteria are a key component of glyphosate’s mechanism of harm. 


Monsanto has steadfastly claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because the mechanism of action it uses (which allows it to kill weeds), called the shikimate pathway, is absent in all animals. However, the shikimate pathway IS present in bacteria, and that’s the key to understanding how it causes such widespread systemic harm in both humans and animals.


Dr. Huber has also presented evidence linking glyphosate to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and honeybee starvation. Glyphosate has also been found to be highly toxic to the soil surrounding a plant’s roots (known as the rhizosphere), woodland plants, amphibians, fish, aquatic environments, and mammals–causing reproductive problems and disrupting the endocrine system.


Why Even Non-GMO Crops Are Also More Toxic These Days

Many leading authorities like Dr. Huber and Dr. Stephanie Seneff have started bringing attention to the practice of desiccation—a practice in which glyphosate is applied to the grain shortly prior to harvesting. Interestingly enough, this causes the grain to release more seeds. The Washington Blog recently ran an article giving an excellent overview of the process. Desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate began about 15 years ago.


Glyphosate desiccation is also done on barley, beans, peas, peanuts, sugar cane, oats, canola, flax, and lentils, just to name a few. Roundup (glyphosate) is used as a desiccant at harvest on about 160 conventional crops.

Needless to say, desiccated crops tend to be more contaminated with glyphosate. A large percentage of processed foods are made with wheat, and the practice of desiccating wheat with glyphosate appears to be strongly correlated with the rapid rise in celiac disease (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/14/glyphosate-celiac-disease-connection.aspx). Dr. Seneff’s research shows that glyphosate destroys the villi in your gut, which reduces your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals.


Wheat also contains gliadin, which is difficult to break down. Normally, a reaction takes place that builds connections between different proteins in the wheat. But glyphosate prevents that process from occurring, resulting in wheat that is highly undigestible. Dr. Seneff and her co-researcher Dr. Anthony Samsel believe the glyphosate may attach to the gliadin as a consequence of a chemical reaction. The end result is that your body develops an immune reaction. As noted in their study:


“[G]ut dysbiosis, brought on by exposure to glyphosate, plays a crucial role in the development of celiac disease. Many CYP enzymes are impaired in association with celiac disease, and we show that glyphosate’s known suppression of CYP enzyme activity in plants and animals plausibly explains this effect in humans.”


Glyphosate Readily Accumulates in GE Crops

Recent research has also shown that there are significant compositional differences between genetically engineered (GE) soybeans and non-GE varieties, and that glyphosate readily accumulates in the former. Contrary to industry claims, the study also found that they differ in terms of nutritional quality, with organic soybeans having the healthiest nutritional profile.


According to the authors, “This study rejects that genetically modified soy is “substantially equivalent” to non-GM soybeans.”The study in question investigated contamination levels and nutritional contents of three varieties of Iowa-grown soybeans: Roundup Ready soybeans; non-GE, conventional soybeans grown using Roundup herbicide; and organic soybeans, grown without agricultural chemicals, and found that:

·      On average GE soy contained 11.9 parts per million (ppm) of glyphosate

·      The highest residue level found was 20.1 ppm

·      No residues of either kind were found in the conventional non-GE and organic varieties


Similar results were found in a 2012 nutritional analysis of GE corn (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/30/monsanto-gmo-corn.aspx}, which was found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to none in non-GMO corn. When you consider that Americans eat an average of 193 pounds of genetically engineered foods each year, the issue of glyphosate contamination is undoubtedly a very important one. In a 2014 article for The Ecologist, two of the researchers point out that these levels are actually double, or more, of what Monsanto itself has referred to as “extreme levels:”


 “Monsanto (manufacturer of glyphosate) has claimed that residues of glyphosate in genetically modified (GM) soy are lower than in conventional soybeans, where glyphosate residues have been measured up to 16-17 mg/kg (Monsanto 1999). These residues, found in non-GM plants, likely must have been due to the practice of spraying before harvest (for desiccation). Another claim of Monsanto’s has been that residue levels of up to 5.6 mg/kg in GM-soy represent ‘…extreme levels, and far higher than those typically found.’ (Monsanto 1999).” [Emphasis mine]


It’s quite crucial to understand that glyphosate contamination in GE crops is systemic, meaning it is present in every cell of the plant, from root to tip. It’s not just an issue of topical contamination—although that certainly adds to the level of contamination. Normally, you need to thoroughly wash your produce to remove topical residues, but you cannot remove glyphosate from GE produce, as it has been absorbed into the cells of the plant. And neither can food and animal feed manufacturers who use GE ingredients in their products…


Amid Concerns of Safety, EPA Raised Allowable Levels for Glyphosate in Food

All of this points to the importance of testing for and restricting glyphosate residues in food, yet that is NOT being done, ostensibly due to cost. It also brings up another important point, which is that despite rapidly rising concerns about safety, in 2013 the EPA quietly went ahead and raised the allowable levels of glyphosate in food—and by significant amounts to boot. Allowable levels in oilseed crops such as soy were doubled, from 20 ppm to 40 ppm. So all of a sudden, that makes “extreme levels” appear to be on the lower end of the allowable spectrum!  


It also raised the levels of permissible glyphosate contamination in other foods—many of which were raised to 15-25 times previous levels! Farmers are also ramping up their usage of the chemical due to the proliferation of glyphosate-resistant weeds (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/10/12/herbicide-insecticide-gmo-crops.aspx). It’s worth noting that, for years, pro-GMO advocates claimed that genetic engineering would lead to reduced reliance on toxic agricultural chemicals. Now, the data shows us the exact converse has happened.

Lies, Lies, and More Lies

We were promised that GMOs would result in LESS pesticide use, but as noted in a 2012 article by Tom Philpott, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready technology “has called forth a veritable monsoon of herbicides, both in terms of higher application rates for Roundup, and… growing use of other, more-toxic herbicides.” Philpott’s article includes eye-opening statistics compiled by Chuck Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. Benbrook discovered that:

·      Overall, GE technology drove up herbicide use by 527 million pounds (about 11 percent) between 1996 (when Roundup Ready crops were initially released) and 2011

·      Herbicide use dropped by about two percent between 1996 and 1999, but shortly thereafter, as weeds began developing resistance against the chemical, application rates skyrocketed

·      In 2002, glyphosate use on Roundup Ready soybeans rose by 21 percent. Overall, American farmers increased their use of glyphosate by 19 million pounds that year

·      By 2011, farmers growing Roundup Ready crops (corn, soy, and cotton) used 24 percent more Roundup than farmers planting non-GE versions of the same crop, because by that time, glyphosate-resistance had become the norm. Farmers also began resorting to older, more toxic herbicides like ,4-D (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/12/dow-agrosciences-developed-new-genetically-modified-crops.aspx)

‘Inert’ Ingredients in Pesticides May Also Be Profoundly Toxic

A third issue that is completely ignored by the USDA when they claim pesticide residues in food are within safe levels is the fact that “inert” ingredients in herbicidal formulations are not necessarily inactive. On the contrary, synergistic effects between active and so-called inactive ingredients are a hidden source of toxicity that is widely overlooked.


As discussed in a 2006 paper published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, it’s important to realize that the term “inert ingredient” does NOT mean that it is biologically or toxicologically harmless. When you see “inert” or “inactive ingredients” listed on the label of a pesticide or herbicide, it only means that those ingredients will not harm pests or weeds. This is how federal law classifies “inert” pesticide ingredients. And while a chemical may not kill a pest or weed, it may have a profound impact on human biology.


For example, one 2012 study revealed that inert ingredients like ethoxylated adjuvants in glyphosate-based herbicides are “active principles of human cell toxicity.” (On a side note, an “ethoxylated” compound is a chemical that has been produced using the carcinogen ethylene oxide. The ethoxylation process also produces the carcinogenic byproduct 1,4-dioxane. (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/04/05/carcinogens-found-in-quot-organic-quot-personal-care-products.aspx) The study found that liver, embryonic, and placental cell lines exposed to various herbicide formulations for 24 hours at doses as low as 1 part per million (ppm), had adverse effects.  According to the authors:


“Here we demonstrate that all formulations are more toxic than glyphosate, and we separated experimentally three groups of formulations differentially toxic according to their concentrations in ethoxylated adjuvants.


Among them, POE-15 clearly appears to be the most toxic principle against human cells… It begins to be active with negative dose-dependent effects on cellular respiration and membrane integrity between 1 and 3ppm, at environmental/occupational doses. We demonstrate in addition that POE-15 induces necrosis when its first micellization process occurs, by contrast to glyphosate which is known to promote endocrine disrupting effects after entering cells.


Altogether, these results challenge the establishment of guidance values such as the acceptable daily intake of glyphosate, when these are mostly based on a long term in vivo test of glyphosate alone. Since pesticides are always used with adjuvants that could change their toxicity, the necessity to assess their whole formulations as mixtures becomes obvious. This challenges the concept of active principle of pesticides for non-target species.”[Emphasis mine]


Perhaps most disturbing of all, the researchers claim that cell damage and even cell death can occur at the residual levels found on Roundup-treated crops, as well as lawns and gardens where Roundup is applied for weed control. They also suspect that Roundup might interfere with hormone production, possibly leading to abnormal fetal development, low birth weights, or miscarriages.


FDA Tests Less Than One-Tenth of One Percent of All Imported Fruits and Vegetables

The monitoring of pesticide residue by the FDA and USDA received harsh criticism in a recent report created by the General Accounting Office (GAO). In its report, titled: “Food Safety––FDA and USDA Should Strengthen Pesticide Residue Monitoring Programs and Further Disclose Limitations,” the GAO suggests a number of major changes to the two agencies’ pesticide monitoring programs. Greater sample sizes are needed, the report says, and special attention should be paid to pesticides that already have established EPA tolerance levels, rather than those that do not. The GAO also calls for greater transparency in annual test reports.


As reported by Food Safety Magazine:


“Such changes could eventually reveal whether or not regulatory violations are rampant throughout each agencies’ pesticide residue testing. Over the years, established testing programs have shown few incidences of violation. Also, a helping hand from Congress might be necessary as the suggested changes would require additional funding and resources. Additional findings include:

·      The FDA tests less than one-tenth of one percent of all imported fruits and vegetables. Less than one percent of domestic fruits and vegetables are tested. The small sample sizes suggest that results that may not be ‘statistically valid.’

·      The FDA does not test foods for many pesticides that have strict residue limits set by the EPA. This lack of testing, according to the GAO, should be stated in the FDA’s annual reports.

·      Testing by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Agricultural Marketing Service were found to be statistically valid. But like the FDA, the FSIS also doesn’t test for pesticides with established tolerances.”


Avoiding Toxic Food Is Imperative for Optimal Health

The chemical technology industry, spearheaded by Monsanto, has managed to turn food into a literal poison… Glyphosate, which we now know systemically contaminates the plant and cannot be washed off, has a number of devastating biological effects, including the following:   

Nutritional deficiencies, as glyphosate immobilizes certain nutrients and alters the nutritional composition of the treated crop

Disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids (these are essential amino acids not produced in your body that must be supplied via your diet)

Increased toxin exposure (this includes high levels of glyphosate and formaldehyde in the food itself)

Impairment of sulfate transport and sulfur metabolism; sulfate deficiency

Systemic toxicity—a side effect of extreme disruption of microbial function throughout your body; beneficial microbes in particular, allowing for overgrowth of pathogens

Gut dysbiosis (imbalances in gut bacteria, inflammation, leaky gut, food allergies such as gluten intolerance)

Enhancement of damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins as a result of glyphosate shutting down the function of detoxifying enzymes

Creation of ammonia (a byproduct created when certain microbes break down glyphosate), which can lead to brain inflammation associated with autism and Alzheimer’s disease

Ideally, you’d be best off opting for products bearing the USDA 100% organic label (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/10/01/Which-Organic-Label-Should-You-Trust.aspx) when buying processed foods in order to avoid exposure to agricultural chemicals, which certainly are not limited to Roundup. Don’t make the mistake of confusing the natural” label (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/19/kellogs-kashi-brand-with-ge-soy.aspx) with organic standards however. The “natural” label is not based on any standards and is frequently misused by sellers of GE products.


Growers and manufacturers of organic products bearing the USDA seal, on the other hand, have to meet the strictest standards of any of the currently available organic labels. That said, my personal recommendation is to forgo processed fare altogether. Instead, pick up a good cookbook, and start cooking from scratch using whole organic ingredients. This really is the key to optimal health. Meats need to be grass-fed or pastured to make sure the animals were not fed GE corn or soy feed.


You’d also be wise to stop using Roundup around your home, where children and pets can come into contact with it simply by walking across the area. Here are some great resources to obtain wholesome organic food. Eating locally produced organic food will not only support your family’s health, it will also protect the environment from harmful chemical pollutants and the inadvertent spread of genetically engineered seeds and chemical-resistant weeds and pests.


Do some research for your particular country on the points below.

1.     Alternative Farming Systems Information Center

2.     Farmers’ Markets  In your area

3.     Farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

4.     Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals  (http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home)— The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

5.     Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture.


Finally public opinion around the biotech industry’s contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We’re fighting back.


The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.


Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these corporate giants. So please, fight for your right to know what’s in your food and help support the GMO labeling movement by making a donation today.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

·      Non-GMO Shopping Guide (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/download.html)

·      GMA Boycott List (http://www.theboycottlist.org/)

·      GMA Traitor Brands (http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8959)

Together, Let’s Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption.


Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.