Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Rose for your Love




As the monsoon has receded a white rose bush has suddenly come to bloom at home. My experience with plants and bushes are that they are sensitive beings and choose the time and place to thrive and bloom. Some are more sensitive than others and the rose is one such. To me all roses are symbolic of love, different colors for different kinds of love. Thus whereas the deep red rose signifies romantic love the white one is for spiritual love, the yellow for friendship and the pure pink for grace and regards. Thus if one were to gift a bunch of roses to a friend, the yellow roses would be most appropriate, whereas if one were to gift a bunch to the queen the pink would be the best. There is a peach pink too, pink with a tint of yellow and this is best for the king or your boss on his birthday. Definitely avoid gifting him a red lest he misunderstand :)  There are also other colors signifying different less common types of love. Thus there is a deep violet, blackish rose and that to me signifies an obsessive romantic love best avoided. There is also the light colored bright red rose for a love that is budding, not yet matured or for some flirting or sexual interest in a friend.


When gifting someone a rose make sure that it is a tea rose (a single rose on a stem) and that there are a few leaves at least on the stem that should be a minimum of nine inches in length. Floribunda (multiple roses on a stem) are for your own use, flower vases or children.  A bunch of roses is gifted along with some fern like foliage or some other flowers but single roses on a long stem may be gifted alone.

The Iceberg Rose photo on top is adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rosa_Iceberg_1.jpg 



Yamabuki (Japanese) Yellow Rose by Keiko Amano

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Coconut Tree – A Gift of the Ocean Goddess


Green Coconut
Ever since humans began to cultivate land for food-grains such as wheat and rice their gaze has been towards the land for most food needs. In doing so, another source of food - trees- have not been fully utilized by mankind yet. As deforestation accelerates on the planet and a need is being felt to plant more trees to stabilize  climate e.g. this post  it is worth considering trees as a food source too in order to take pressure off agricultural land. Indeed food from trees can have a magical effect in treating diseases that have become chronic in the modern age, some for which no modern treatment is available yet, such as Alzheimer’s disease or others such as undesirable cholesterol accumulation that are treated at the cost of severe side effects by medicines such as statins. Modern vegetables grown on land are not as healthy anymore as in the distant past because repeated farming has drained the land of essential nutrients. Trees on the other hand can dig deep with their roots and bring out essential nutrients like selenium from the ground that ends up in things like almonds and massively in Brazil nuts to the point that if you ate too many you would get sick. In any case, a tree once planted does not have to be planted over and over gain every year.

Some years ago, when a media report appeared that one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffet was suffering from a problem of the prostate, I rushed him an email through a common friend, suggesting that he drink the water of a fresh green coconut everyday and if he has a shot of scotch every evening then he can use it instead of soda water for the mix, not to replace the excellent treatment he was already undergoing, but to support it and make it more effective. 

Through many of my posts you would have discovered that I am not very fond of persons who go in for an excessive collection of wealth, but those who indulge in substantial philanthropy besides are exceptions and Warren Buffet is one such. I do not know him personally but like him from the media, for his simplicity and cheerfulness too. I do not know if my recommendations about coconut water reached him because there was no return message.

Coconut water is good for conditions of the prostate, cancer and also as a general tonic for any one suffering or recovering from an illness. It is a gift from the Ocean Gods. It does not grow inland but when one is rich like warren Buffet one can have it flown in.

Another condition that appears to be helped greatly by coconut oil is Alzheimer and there have been recorded cases of amazing recovery by its regular consumption. It is easy to consume. Just replace your other cooking oil and salad oil with coconut oil and for lunch fry two slices of bread in a couple of tablespoons of it until light brown before making your favorite hot sandwich. If you sprinkle on a little turmeric while frying it is even better for treating AD. Do remember though that when food is used as a medicine it takes a few days, even weeks to show its effect rather than tomorrow. Use of coconut oil in food does not mean you should stop the use of other good fats and oils such olive oil, butter and mustard oil completely, just make sure that you get some every day once you begin to confuse between your wife and the lady next door :)

Aside from an aid to problems of the prostate, virgin coconut oil reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol levels and increased HDL cholesterol in serum and tissues of experimental rats. Do not think that we are very different from these creatures. More than 95 per cent of our genes are probably identical. just a few additional genes have changed the rat into a tiny monkey, then a large one, an ape and us finally so that the chemistry is not very different. The hexane fraction of coconut peel as well as other parts may contain novel anticancer compounds. Young coconut juice has estrogen like characteristics. Coconut water is sterile until a coconut is opened. It mixes easily with blood and was used during World War II in emergency transfusions. The information in this paragraph is from wikipedia that has given references too but over here there is no intention of making the blog boring by including references, footnotes and the works. For that kind of stuff there are other places.

When a meat eater becomes a vegetarian there is a feeling of weakness. Edgar Cayce, the Christian mystic advised consuming a few almonds as a way to overcome that. There is a whole post on that in this blog. Almonds are fine in cooler drier regions where the almond tree grows, but if you live by the sea then coconut flesh serves the same purpose much better.

Coconut palm is a member of the palm family. It is found throughout the tropic and subtropics. Coconut trees can grow to be 50-80 feet tall but there are varieties of dwarf palm too. They all have tall graceful trunks topped by a crown of light feathery leaves that are several feet long. Coconuts are a unique fruit because they contain a large quantity of water and when immature may be harvested for drinking. It is a natural desalination plus purification plant full of beneficial nutrients and sweetness to quench the thirst of weary seafarers and those who live near the oceans. When mature, they still contain some water and can be used as nuts or processed to give oil from the kernel, charcoal from the hard shell and Coir from the fibrous husk. The husks and leaves can be used as material to make a variety of products for furnishing and decorating. Shelled nuts can be dried and stored for long periods as copra

Coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and is highly tolerant of salinity. That puts to rest the myth that stuff does not grow in saline conditions. There is a whole post on that topic elsewhere in this blog. Coconut prefers areas with abundant sunlight and regular rainfall which makes colonizing shorelines of tropics relatively straightforward. Coconuts also need high humidity for growth, which is why they are rarely seen in areas with low humidity like the Mediterranean (where olives are the tree of choice) or inland saline areas even where temperatures are high enough above 24°C . Kerala state in India has the largest number of coconut trees and it is famous for its coconut-based products like coconut water, copra, coconut oil, copra cake, coconut toddy, coconut shell-based products, coconut wood-based products, coconut leaves, and coir pith. The tall trunks are used in construction of homes, furniture and boats.

Coconut floats easily in ocean currents and travels to remote islands all over our blue planet so that wherever humidity is conducive and temperature not too cold, it takes roots and grows into a handsome tree, ready to quench the thirst and hunger of the next marooned Robinson Crusoe. Truly the tree is a gift from the Ocean Goddess.


Image (before enhancements)  with thanks from http://en.wikipedia.org
/wiki/File:Coconut_green.JPG

Note: If your interest in this lovely tree is aroused do check up the work of Dr. Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D., He is the President of the Coconut Research Center,  whose purpose is to educate the public and medical community about the health and nutritional aspects of coconut and related foods. Dr. Fife is considered one of the world's leading experts on dietary fats and oils. Check out this link http://www.amazon.com/Bruce-Fife/e/B0034PGFKW

Note 2 : For an excellent recipe of coconut - The Mother's Bounty Chutney - a great health supplement for all and especially good for aging persons suffering memory lapses or AD check out this other post here 

http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2013/10/good-health-fighting-alzheimers-disease.html 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Mantra par excellence



Elsewhere in this blog we have mentioned that chanting of a mantra or divine words is an excellent way to achieve meditative states and commune with the Universal Consciousness. Mantras can consist of a single word or many. However, rather than words it is best to describe a Mantra in syllables. personally I find that a very short mantra may lead to an easy distraction of mind and very long ones though helping one to keep one's focus initially also lead to distraction after some time. Chanting a mantra musically helps to keep the mind in focus. An excellent ancient mantra that is neither too long nor too short is 

Om Mani Padme Hum

Listen to a Beautiful Musical rendition of this mantra from the depths of the Himalayas. You are sure to be enchanted, at

 

It is essential that during recitation of mantra (jap) the breathing remain calm and regular  and not irregular. A mantra that interferes with that is not very effective. The Mantra described here in six syllables is excellent for maintaining and promoting slow even breathing while helping to keep the mind on a divine focus. If you wish to practice it do remain still in a comfortable position preferably with back and head straight and eyes closed. Starting with a few minutes and increasing to around fifteen minutes each morning and evening appears to be good for persons engaged actively in the world. reclusive persons living largely in quiet close proximity of nature may consider longer practices. Literally the Sanskrit words may be taken to imply, the Mother Goddess, the jewel in the lotus, is a part of the One and only Lord of the Universe (Om). To learn more about the mother goddess as worshipped in Asia you can check out my other blog at http://nainitalgoddess.blogspot.in/2012/11/sunanda-goddess.html   

 

Image with thanks from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mune_wall_col.jpg

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Drinks for Health, Beauty and Joy



A human being may survive for many days without food but he cannot survive for long without water. Good clean drinking water that is neither too hard nor too soft is the best health drink. Yet water is often combined with ingredients of food and with health supplements in a manner so as to produce a drink for enhanced health, beauty and joy. The fact that drinks are an ideal delivery system is apparent from the fact that even Nature thinks so. The first food chosen for a new born by Nature is a drink – mother’s milk. As one ages one may add a number of other drinks to one’s daily routine in order to optimize one’s health and well being. Here is a collection of some of the best ones from around the world as discovered by this author in his travels, study and reflection. 

Following is a description of drinks for different times of day some or all of which could become a person's lifestyle if not already so. The really special and unique drinks, the best on the planet, not widely known to the world at large can be accessed through the links at the end of this description


Morning Tea


A nice way to start the day is with a good cup of tea. This is also the time when a human mouth contains the most undesirable bacteria but many persons find it tiresome to start a day with brushing. A good compromise is to develop the habit of a mouth wash with good clean drinking water just as soon as one gets up and visits the toilet (as most should). One is then ready for a morning cup of tea. Some start the day with a cup of coffee instead but in the view of this author that is best left for after breakfast so as to wake up the body in a gentler manner.

Humans have the herding instinct and tend to follow what others are doing. Therefore when a good thing is discovered others tend to follow. Some such thing has happened with traditional black or green tea that most consume. This does not mean that there are not other better ones possible on the planet. Our planet is full of hundreds if not thousands of useful herbs, roots, barks and flowers that in dried form are potential candidates for a good cuppa. One may add some to one’s supply of tea to make a cup that promotes health.  Here are some suggestions. What has been chosen here is a merely a time tested selection many have perceived as beneficial. If you feel intimidated by the list try just one or two additions at a time that appeal to you:

  1. Dried leaves of the white mulberry tree. This is generally not available in stores but the tree is widespread and you may be able to locate one near you or better still grow your own white mulberry tree. Pick up some of the newest leaves and spread them out on a clean paper placed on a table at home until they dry up in the shade. After they dry up, crush them with your fingers and store in a tight jar (Good for a year until the next season). There is a post on mulberry tree in this blog that describes in more detail the benefits of these leaves as known to mankind since ancient times (here: http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2011/07/godly-hermit-tree-mulberry.html). This consumption is a contributing cause of  excellence of ancient Chinese civilization. These may be mixed in equal volume with tradition tea to prepare a mix..
  1. Dry leaves of Stevia (there is a post on Stevia too in this blog for more information: http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2013/03/when-food-and-medicine-are-natural.html) and store similarly in a jar. It is the Incas who have contributed  knowledge of this plant to the world and in modern times it is the Japanese who have made most use of it. You may add small amounts to your tea mix going by taste. Besides its health benefits it is a sugarless sweetener.
  1. Crushed Cinnamon sticks. These may be added to the mix according to taste, usually around one fifth by volume of tea. This sweet aromatic tree bark has been an ingredient of ancient Chinese and Indian medicine and it is also an ingredient of Moghul curries. There are many refences to this on the net e.g http://www.naturalnews.com/034260_cinnamon_health_benefits.html  .
  1. Crushed dried roots of the Ashwagandha plant. If you cannot find this then you may easily find tablets of Ashawagandha extract that can be taken, one pill with a cup of tea instead, if you like. Ancient sages in India deciphered many universal spiritual truths by consumption of herbs such as Ashwagandha well into old age long with some others, such as Soma that (or its proper identification) have been lost with time. Ashwagandha and its correct identification has survived because of distinct horsy aroma of this root. These may be mixed into the tea up to an equal volume of tea.
  1. Dried Holy Basil leaves. Mix in sparingly so that there are no more than approximately five dried leaves for a cup of tea.
  1. Dried scented red roses may be mixed into a tea mix by up to one third the volume of tea. The traditional red rose has been an ingredient of the Ayurvedic system of medicine (e.g check http://homeofayurveda.org/tag/red-rose/)

The present selection of six herbs is just a small select list. There are numerous others, some for specific medicinal purpose some that may grow around your home as weeds. It is a great idea to research weeds that grow in ones area for medicinal properties and then dry and use some for your own mix. Do dry any you collect indoors in shade to preserve most value. If you discover some nice leaves and flowers this way, it would be nice if you can share that in a comment to this post. One may keep varying the mix for variety and health over the months and years.

With regular use the roses and basil leaves in tea are believed to add a beautiful healthy glow to skin. Now go ahead and prepare your own special mix of herbal tea by mixing in any or all of the above six ingredients with tradition black, green or mixed black and green tea. Just prepare a cup in the same manner as one would with traditional tea but you would have to use an amount larger than a level tea spoon per cup depending on how much other stuff you have mixed in. A bit of trial and error will yield the best possible quantity to be used per cup for your mix. However, never ever boil the tea together with milk and do not use some other additives that have become popular in recent times such as ginger, cardamom and mint. These latter are merely additives for taste that will ruin this healthy brew and do not use lime/lemon juice in hot tea unless you wish to ruin your teeth. In the past in India and the Arab world many of the ingredients suggested for tea here were added to cooling sweet sherbets to be consumed in day hours. However, that art has more or less disappeared now because of the prevalence of bottled beverages that are high on taste and kick but not on health.


Giving a high degree of respect and importance to consumption of tea has been a major factor leading to excellence of  Japanese civilization as also of the British one during the colonial era. Europeans had their wine and the Japanese  tea but  British excelled because they had both. Both helped along with their sense of discipline and ethics that has fallen short in many parts of the world in modern times especially developing countries. The reader may think that I am making too much out of  influence of food and drink on human behavior and performance but there is an older post in this blog that discusses this in more detail http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2010/08/you-are-what-you-eat-and-drink.html

Breakfast

The best drinks with and after breakfast is something that many around the world already consume - a  glass of lime or other fruit juice and a cup of strong black coffee at the end. However, if your routine includes an additional cup of coffee between breakfast and lunch then you need not make the coffee after breakfast very strong. Children and those under 25 should replace the coffee with a cup of hot milk instead. The importance given to proper consumption of coffee has been a contributing factor in the vitality of American progress in the world. A tea spoon of ground almonds can be added to after breakfast coffee unless you are consuming them in your night cap.

Mid Morning

There is time for yet another drink between breakfast and lunch at around ten or ten thirty. During hot summer days an ideal choice is fresh lime/lemon juice with a sweetener such as honey or even sugar if honey is not available and lots of ice . If you can find good honey and use that as the sweetener that would be much better and if you are a diabetic skip both the honey and the sugar and look for stevia extract instead. Another excellent alternative is something called lassi in South Asia. prepared by churning together approximately equal amounts of fresh yoghurt with cold water. It is great lightly salted or sweet.

One of the healthiest of drinks available in nature, easily available to those living in warm, humid coastal regions is the water of green coconut. Others who live inland may attempt to consume a glass a day of this for three or four weeks at least if recovering from an illness. During winter it is nicer to have a hot drink instead of a cold one and the ideal choice is the North American one of a cup of coffee.

Lunch

An ideal drink with lunch is a small cup of yoghurt mixed with water in a glass and a pinch of salt. It is a great health drink. However, if the meal has steamed rice the yoghurt can be mixed with the rice instead followed by a drink of plain water. The Sikhs of Punjab and Hindus of Haryana provinces of North Western India frequently admired for their good health and vitality owe their good health to the consumption of this drink called lassi in the local language.

Afternoon Tea

A good time to have this tea is at 3 pm for those who work from nine to five and at four / four thirty for those who take an afternoon rest or nap. If you are overweight avoid a snack with the tea, otherwise you may have a sandwich, a small cake or a couple of cookies with it. Just as dinner time may be a time to entertain or the family to get together, the afternoon tea can become a time for socializing with neighbors or friends who live nearby too, especially for retired persons.

Dinner

A soup before dinner and a glass of white wine with dinner are ideal drinks for dinner time. It is not possible to go into the various possible soups here but the preference of this author is for white wine rather than red. The health benefits of red wine may have been overplayed in existing literature, and some of them may be due to consumption of olive oil rather than the choice of wine. The wine may be had before dinner with an appetizer instead. Good appetizers are cheese or salad such as cucumber slices, slices of the sweet yellow carrot, sweet young white radishes or hearts of a lettuce (especially the Cos lettuce if available) One may consume the salad with a dip of mayonnaise, hung yoghurt seasoned with a pinch of salt and garlic or sour cream. The dinner drinks mentioned here are consumed regularly in Europe and is most likely a major contributing cause of the excellence of the European civilization relative to that of much else of the world.

Those who are aging and fond of drinking a hard drink or two before dinner, do try and avoid that but if you must go for Pee Johnny, 30 ml of scotch diluted with the water of a green coconut and ice  The drink is called so because it makes Johnny pee forcefully. It is a tonic and good for the prostrate.

Night Cap

Here is a night cap that will give you a sound sleep, sweet dreams and wake you up fresh next morning. As with the morning tea one or more of the ingredients as available can be added to a cup of hot milk before bed time

  1. Finely ground dried almonds stored in an airtight jar. Do not keep for longer than a month but prepare the ground almonds in a grinder every month. Use just a level tea spoon per cup of milk
  2. A pinch of saffron boiled into the milk
  3. A spoonful of coco powder
  4. A spoon-full of sugar (prefer crushed jaggery or honey instead) if you are not a diabetic. If a diabetic consult your doctor first or if a new type two diabetic just get a bit more physical exercise and loose some weight and you may get rid of it.
  5. A tablespoonful of brandy. ( some persons also add a tablespoon of a good whiskey to their afternoon tea;Queen Victoria did that)
The bed time drink suggested here not only promotes good health, it also promotes a good sleep. Ground almonds and milk are a great aid for that.Unfortunately, some of the ingredients suggested in this post are expensive in some parts of the world. In such cases just skip the expensive ones like saffron, even just a cup of plain milk at bed time without the additives will also do a world of good to many a human.

It must also be pointed out that whatever is stated in this post, as most others on food in this blog, is the authors personal experience and opinion. It may not have scientific validation and it is recommended that a reader use his own judgement and discretion before following a recommendation, as indeed one has to frequently when it comes to food and drink.

While we have gone through the routine drinks that may be a part of the daily lives of many, following are links to some of the most magical drinks on the planet. Check some or all 


MAGICAL HEALTH DRINKS

While we gone through a range of drinks for daily consumption, here are some that are really special and magical that are a few of the best ones on the planet for the healthy to become far healthier and worth trying for those suffering from some condition they have failed to cure so far with available treatments. Check out


UPDATE May 2015
For the most magical of all drinks, virtually the magic potion prepared by the fictional Gaul Getafix in Asterix stories read the recent post here, In the modern world it is most easily accessible to persons in North America because that is where the plant grows
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/05/the-magic-of-soma-closing-three.html

For natural sweeteners in drinks rather than sugar check out

 UPDATE JUNE 2014:
 For summer one requires a quick cool drink several times a day and a nice recipe for it is here:
 http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2014/06/shyam-sherbet-drink-of-gods.html 


UPDATE May 2015: 
Do look up a recent post on Las, wine of the gods

UPDATE July 2015
Las Kumis, drink of warriors
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/07/las-kumis-drink-of-warrior-gods.html


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tree of Life – Moringa or Drumstick


Top of a Drumstick tree between a Jamun (A black berry) tree and grape vine in author's home


This blog has described many useful trees but it appears that a full article on one of the most useful ones, the drumstick tree, has been missed. It is time to make up this deficiency now, especially during the monsoon season when nature lovers in India are busy in tree plantations. The Moringa or the drumstick tree is a fast-growing, drought resistant tree that is native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India. But it grows easily in semi-arid areas too. It can be grown in forests, home gardens, schools, offices, farms or as street side trees in cities. It is also an ideal choice for forestation programs.  Mixed with other trees such as the white mulberry, other trees from the mulberry family and a few other fruit trees common to the area, it virtually produces a food forest of fruits and leafy vegetables. It can be grown from cutting or seed. It is a lovely tree because of its lush light green fern like foliage. A forest of white mulberry (http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2011/07/godly-hermit-tree-mulberry.html) and drumstick surrounding a human habitation can virtually meet the vegetable needs of an entire community for free. There is an article on the white mulberry as a super food in this blog.

Virtually every part of the tree is edible. The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B, C, K, A vitamins, beta carotene, minerals and protein among other essential nutrients.  As with any other edible tree leaf, the new leaves are the best. The leaves may be cooked and used like spinach and you may wish to try your own recipes to suit your taste. The immature seed pods, called "drumsticks", are commonly consumed cooked in a curry until soft. They also make an excellent pickle too. The seeds of mature pods can be used as peas or roasted like nuts. They contain high levels of vitamin C and moderate amounts of B vitamins plus dietary minerals... In seasons its flowers are delicious too provided they are boiled for a few minutes and drained to remove the strong flavor.

Some persons consume the roots too but these are best avoided since they may contain a harmful toxin. It is the defense of this godly tree from unscrupulous humans who uproot trees rather than plant them. Moringa trees have been used to combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers in deprived parts of the world. Its leaves can be dried in shade, powdered and added to other foods, even rice or bread, throughout the year to improve nutritional value.

Mature seeds yield 38–40% edible oil called Ben oil. The refined oil is clear and odorless, and resists rancidity. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water. Moringa seed oil also has potential for use as a bio-fuel. When grown on a farm in cultivation, it is often cut back annually to 1–2 meters and allowed to re-grow especially if grown as forage for livestock

What I love about this tree is that it is very easy to grow. Just stick a six to seven feet feet long green branch taken from a large Moringa tree, about a foot deep in soil in warm, wet weather. In a few months new leaves will shoot out and it will grow rapidly from then on so that you a full fruiting tree in just a couple of years.

UPDATE:  Planting more trees helps the climate as well (http://steamcenter.blogspot.in/2013/07/one-fact-about-climate-change-most.html) besides being a wonderful gift for Mother Earth who nurtures us all.