health

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Bark is Essential for Landscaping

Tree and Plant Health: The Essential Role of Bark in Landscapes

Bark 1 from Tahoe National Forest

Bark decays to create mycelium. Mycelium assists plant roots in absorbing nutrients from the dirt; similar to the way that your gut bacteria help you to digest your food. Mycelium actually will augment your innate immune system: “Testing by NIS Labs confirmed that these three mycelium-centered products: increase innate immune cells for protection* activate white blood cells for immune strength* regulate immune cell compounds for a balanced immune response.” Check out my article on the “Health benefits of Mushrooms“.

I am constantly reminded of how powerful nature is; my friend Stella hosted a nature walk last week and taught that willow trees are actually the source for aspirin. It’s always fun to remember that we are generally ‘discovering’ science, rather than inventing things from nothing. It reminds me of recent advances in machine learning and AI; we are limited by our knowledge of ourselves!

In the intricate tapestry of a garden, every element plays a pivotal role in creating a harmonious and sustainable ecosystem. From the trees, to the flowering shrubs and overhanging evergreens to the dirt that supplies the plants with nutrients to the rocks that shade the plants and the movement of the sun’s warmth and rays through the canopy. Everything becomes harmonious. Bark—an often overlooked component—holds a unique place in contributing to the health and vitality and aesthetic of a landscape. Its journey from the protective outer layer of trees and shrubs to the ground to become dirt as it decays; bark is a critical component of the soil ecosystem underscores its importance in landscaping practices and maintenance. Trees need it. It’s how forests propogate.

Bark’s Initial Role and Its Breakdown Process

Bark serves as the skin of trees, protecting them against physical damage, pests, and diseases. Its chemical composition remains relatively consistent as it breaks down and makes its way, eventually, to the ground. Its role in the ecosystem undergoes a remarkable transformation once the bark touches the earth. As bark degrades, it embarks on a complex process of breaking down into smaller organic components. This decomposition is facilitated by a host of organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and invertebrates, which collectively contribute to its gradual transformation into nutrient-rich soil, also known as humus.

The Formation of Mycelium

One of the key players in the decomposition of bark is fungi, particularly through the formation of mycelium—a dense network of fungal threads that penetrate the soil and decomposing organic matter. Mycelium acts as nature’s recycling agent, breaking down complex organic compounds in the bark into simpler molecules that plants can easily absorb. It also creates communication channels for the trees in complex underground networks that can stretch for miles. This breakdown process not only enriches the soil but also improves its structure, enhancing its water retention and aeration qualities.

The presence of mycelium in the soil is a hallmark of a healthy ecosystem. It forms symbiotic associations with plant roots, known as mycorrhizae, which are crucial for the absorption of water and nutrients. Through these symbiotic relationships, mycelium extends the root system’s reach, allowing plants to access a larger volume of soil nutrients than they could on their own. This mutualistic interaction significantly boosts plant health, vigor, and growth. This is the biggest reason why bark is necessary for larger plants in a landscape.

Bark Mulch: A Catalyst for Healthier Landscapes

Incorporating bark additions into the landscape often mulch accelerates and emphasizes these ecological benefits. Bark mulch not only suppresses weeds but also maintains soil moisture and temperature, creating an ideal environment for mycelial growth and activity as well as root homeostasis and water retention capability in the soil. As bark slowly breaks down, it continuously feeds the soil ecosystem, promoting the development of a robust mycelium network.

The gradual degradation of bark mulch into soil enriches the microbial diversity of the soil, which is essential for nutrient cycling and disease suppression. This rich microbial ecosystem supports the growth of healthier plants, more resilient to pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Conclusion

Bark, in its journey from tree armor to a foundational component of the soil ecosystem, exemplifies the cyclical nature of life and the interconnectedness of all living things. Its degradation into dirt, transformation into mycelium, and interaction with plant roots illustrate a natural process of recycling and regeneration that is completely natural and extremely efficient. By understanding and harnessing the ecological roles of bark in landscapes, gardeners and landscapers can create more sustainable, healthy, and vibrant gardens that thrive in harmony with nature’s processes. Perhaps in the larger picture; we can learn to better manage our forests. I’ll end this article with a quote:

“Fungi not only cycle soil nutrients, but may deposit large amounts of recently fixed carbon in soils, building large pools of carbon in the form of complex molecules that contribute to long-term ecosystem carbon sequestration.” – Science Direct[1]

Bark is essential 2
References:
  1. Science Direct – Mycelium enhance forest nutrient dynamics
  2. Fungi.com – the Benefits of Mycelium
  3. Wikipedia – Mycelium
  4. PubMed – The effects of different types of mulch on soil properties and tea production and quality
  5. PubMed – Transformation of soil microbial community structure and rhizoctonia-suppressive potential in response to apple roots
  6. PubMed – Influence of Biochar on Soil Nutrients and Associated Rhizobacterial Communities
  7. Research Gate – Tree influence on soil microbial community structure
  8. Springer – the seed microbiome
  9. Learn more about Fungi @ Fantasticfungi.com

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The Human Lymphatic System (The Immune System)

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Lymphatic system (aka the ‘immune system) – organs, tissues, and vessels work as a team to transport lymph (excreted fluid from cells or tissues in the body) back into the bloodstream.

This immune “system” of organs remembers every microbe it has ever fought and defeated.[1] It works in unison to prevent pathogens from invading the body.

Lymph fluid plays an extremely important role in the immune system and evolves over the course of a lifetime. The current body of research suggests that hydration is essential for overall health and can support various bodily functions, including the immune system and definitely cognitive functions including memory, attention, and concentration[10]. However, more targeted research is needed to fully understand the direct impact of hydration on adaptive immunity. The role of hydration in the immune system, particularly its impact on adaptive immunity, remains an area that could benefit from further exploration and research.

The immune system is separated into two parts: Innate (genetic, including phagocytes (macrophages and neutrophils), dendritic cells, mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, natural killer (NK) cells and innate lymphoid cells) and Adaptive (characterized by specificity, immunological memory, and self/nonself recognition). T cells and B cells are the two major components of adaptive immunity[2].

Human Lymphatic System from BioDigital.com

Lymph is a clear fluid that contains a high concentration of white blood cells and plays an important role in the immune response. Lymph nodes and organs filter and transmit nutrients, lymph fluid, and waste between the body’s tissues and the bloodstream. Humans have over 4 million exocrine sweat glands and all of them are involved in immune function.

Sweating and the Lymph System

Perspiration[3] is the process of sweating and comes from the Latin word spirae which means to inspire, exhale, blow, breeze, breathe, or emanate. “Physiologists have long regarded sweating as an effective and safe means of detoxification, and heavy metals are excreted through sweat to reduce the levels of such metals in the body.”[6] Heavy metals are excreted through dynamic exercise moreso than simple exposure to a heated environment (saunas, steam rooms, etc). Certain heavy metals are excreted far more effectively through sweating such as Nickel (ni), Lead (pb), and Chromium (cr).[6] Mercury and arsenic can also be added to the list. There is a specifically higher rate of toxicity release through sweat during extreme forms of exercise. One can imagine that a heated yoga room can be extremely effective for the waste removal of heavy metals.

The Organs of the Lymphatic System

Kidneys (Dall-E)

However, this sweating hypothesis doesn’t portray a complete picture of the excretion of toxins from the body because there are several very specific organs that are also involved in this process which include:

Primary Organs of the Immune/Lymphatic System:

Bone Marrow (Dall-E)
  1. Bone marrow: The soft, spongy tissue found in bone cavities. Bone marrow produces all the cells of the human body, including lymph and blood cells and are primary immunological organs.
  2. Lymph nodes: Small organs shaped like beans, which are located all over the body and connect via the lymphatic vessels. This is where Killer T cells mature and differentiate.
  3. Kidney’s: play an underappreciated role in the immune system. While it’s primarily known for its functions in filtering blood, removing waste products, and regulating electrolytes, the kidney also has several key roles in immunity including: barrier function, Innate Immunity, Adaptive Immunity, Cytokine Production, Interplay with Systemic Immune Responses, and Resistance to Infection and Autoimmune Diseases.
  4. Lymphatic vessels: A network of channels all over the body that carries lymphocytes to the lymphoid organs and bloodstream. They play a key role in maintaining fluid balance in the body and in immune surveillance
  5. Thymus : Two lobes that join in front of the windpipe (trachea) behind the breastbone. The primary role of the thymus is in the development of T-lymphocytes (T cells), which are a type of white blood cell crucial for the adaptive immune system. These T cells are responsible for fighting off pathogens and are central to the body’s immune response.
  6. Adenoids : Two glands located at the back of the nasal passage. Infection of the adenoids is called adenoiditis. This can cause symptoms like a sore throat, stuffy nose, swollen neck glands, difficulty swallowing, and breathing problems. Adenoids are more prominent in children. They begin to grow from birth and reach their maximum size between the ages of 3 and 5 years. After this, they usually start to shrink and may nearly disappear by adolescence. Adenoids are part of the Waldeyer’s ring, which includes the tonsils and other lymphatic tissue in the throat and nasal cavity. They help detect and fight off pathogens that enter the body through the nose or mouth.
  7. Spleen: A fist-sized organ located in the belly (abdominal) cavity. One of the spleen’s primary functions is to filter blood. It removes old and damaged red blood cells from the bloodstream. This process is crucial for maintaining healthy blood cells in circulation. The spleen is an integral part of the immune system. It produces lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that fight infection. The spleen also helps identify and destroy bacteria and other pathogens in the blood. When the spleen breaks down red blood cells, it recycles the iron contained within them. This iron is then used to make new blood cells.
  8. Peyer patches: Lymphoid tissue in the small intestine. These patches are rich in B and T lymphocytes. B cells within Peyer’s patches can differentiate into plasma cells that produce immunoglobulins (antibodies), particularly IgA, which is crucial for immune functions in the gut.
  9. Tonsils: Two ovular masses in the back of the throat. Tonsils are part of the body’s lymphatic system and contribute to the immune defense. They act as a first line of defense against pathogens that enter the body through the mouth or nose. Tonsils contain immune cells that help fight infection. This is most likely WHY breathing through the nose can be so beneficial and stimulating for the immune system.
  10. Skin: Often overlooked as part of the immune system, the skin acts as a physical barrier to prevent the entry of pathogens. It also contains specialized cells of the immune system, such as Langerhans cells, which help to detect and fight infections.
  11. Liver: The liver contributes to immune defense by producing acute-phase proteins that increase in response to inflammation and by removing pathogens and toxins from the blood. The liver plays a crucial yet often underappreciated role in the immune system. It’s known primarily for its functions in metabolism, detoxification, and nutrient storage, but its immune-related roles are equally significant. The liver has a unique role in promoting immune tolerance, particularly to food antigens and gut microbial antigens. The liver contains Kupffer cells that are a type of macrophage, which means they can engulf and destroy bacteria, damaged cells, and other potentially harmful substances. Kupffer cells play a vital role in removing debris and pathogens from the blood. In summary, the liver’s role in the immune system is multifaceted. It acts as a sentinel for pathogens, produces vital immune proteins, helps regulate immune responses, and plays a unique role in promoting tolerance to food and gut microbes. This underscores the liver’s importance not just in metabolism and detoxification, but also as a key player in the body’s defense mechanisms.
Liver (Dall-E)
References:
  1. John Hopkins – The immune System
  2. Science Direct – Adaptive Immunity
  3. BioDigital – Lymphatic System
  4. Wikipedia – Spirae
  5. Biology Corner Anatomy
  6. BJD – Sweat Glands
  7. Taylor Francis Online – Physiology of sweat gland function: The roles of sweating and sweat composition in human health
  8. Pub Med – Excretion of Ni, Pb, Cu, As, and Hg in Sweat under Two Sweating Conditions
  9. Science Direct – Sweat and the Skin
  10. PLOS – The impact of water consumption on hydration and cognition among school children
  11. Science Direct – Waldeyer’s Ring
  12. Chat GPT – research
  13. DALL-E (OpenAI’s Image Generation Model)
  14. Artiphoria.ai – Image creation

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The Anatomy of Breath: A Yogi’s Guide

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To sustain life, a body must produce sufficient energy through aspiration. Breathing is perhaps the only system of the body that is both autonomic and conscious depending completely on the awareness and focus of the breather.

Breathing through the nose, all the time, is part of the true yogi’s path. I can remember 6 months into practicing yoga, I attained the ability to breathe through my nose and it complete changed my yoga practice and my life. I got hooked on the feeling of yoga (call it a healthy addiction) and never looked back.

In Yoga, the energy of breath is called prana (प्राण, prāṇa) which can be described as solar wind in the atmosphere, or liquid light[6]. Through ventilated aspiration, the yogi ingests the prana into the nervous system. In Hindu literature, Prana is described as originating from the Sun and connecting the elements through the Chakras of the human nervous system and conscious awareness.

Yousun Koh

The nervous system is completely dependent on your breathing to function: The parasympathetic system slows your breathing rate. It causes your bronchial tubes to narrow and the pulmonary blood vessels to widen. The sympathetic system increases your breathing rate. It makes your bronchial tubes widen and the pulmonary blood vessels narrow.[4] This process of is also known as the “fight or flight” response. This happens through ventilation, or respiration as the body mobilizes itself to a threat. However, this system is over-active in our cultures because of our stress responses to non-life threatening stimuli. It is healthier for a human to regularly breathe through the nose.

The Nasal Cavity

“The function of the nasal cavity is to warm, moisturize, and filter air entering the body before it reaches the lungs.[1]” Here are the additional benefits:

Nose breathing is beneficial primarily because it allows your nasal cavities to:[2]

msdmanuals.com/home/lung-and-airway-disorders
  • reduce exposure to foreign substances.
  • humidify and warm inhaled air.
  • increase air flow to arteries, veins, and nerves.
  • increase oxygen uptake and circulation.
  • slow down heart rate.[3]
  • improve lung volume.
  • help your diaphragm work properly.

In essence, hairs and mucus lining the nasal cavity help to trap dust, mold, pollen and other environmental contaminants before they can reach the inner portions of the body and the lung’s organic tissue. Air exiting the body through the nose returns moisture and heat to the nasal cavity before being exhaled into the environment.[1] The mouth, also known as the oral cavity, is the secondary external opening for the respiratory tract. The mouth is mostly for filtering in eating and drinking.

Oblique muscles (accessory breathing muscles)

Focus on the Exhale

Nasal exhalations are an extremely important focus in yoga. The muscles in your chest and abdomen tighten or contract to create a slight vacuum around the lungs. This causes air to flow in. When you exhale, the muscles relax and the lungs deflate on their own, much like an elastic balloon will deflate if left open to the air. The lungs are extremely flexible sacks of tissue that have the ability to expand and contract.

References:
Yousun Koh
  1. InnerBody.com
  2. Dentallogictruro
  3. YogaU Online
  4. National Institute of Health (Govt)
  5. Himalaya Institute – science of breath
  6. NASA – Solar Wind
  7. kenhub.com
  8. Sivananda

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The Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Are mushrooms healthy? Like the kinds that you can find at the grocery store? The overwhelming answer is: yes, they are a ‘superfood’. Mushrooms are healthy and have many nutritional properties that make them an important part of a balanced diet. They help the human immune system to function properly in addition to being a high nutrient value, low calorie sustenance. Mushrooms augment gut health and immune regulation.

Here are some nutrients of mushrooms: Amino acids, B vitamins, trace minerals, and Psilocybin is also being studied for its therapeutic benefits to mental health, which is the psychotropic compound found in “magic mushrooms”. The ‘stoned ape theory’ (Terrence McKenna) states that mushrooms were a primary factor enabled the immense increase in brain power of the human species that separates humanity from other animal species and perhaps gave birth to language as we know it. This theory hasn’t received a lot of attention from the scientific community due to McKenna’s lack of anthropological data and evidence. However, Paul Stamets began to introduce his research on Mycology, which has reinvigorated the subject of debate and helped to bring new understanding the how mushrooms function in nature.

In the United States alone every year more than 940 million pounds of edible mushrooms are bought in grocery stores, farmers’ markets and health food stores.

Mushrooms are “packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.1” There are over 10,000 types of fungi that produce mushrooms, which are actually the fleshy fruiting body of a fungus; hyphae is the term used for the roots.

There are also species of mushrooms that are decidedly unhealthy; even some that are deadly. Don’t eat a mushroom, or anything for that matter, unless you can properly identify it.

Mushrooms are incredible lifeforms; some scientists believe they were some of the first organic life forms on planet Earth. The roots of mushrooms, called Mycelium is a network of hyphae, which can develop from a single spore, produced by the fungus3. Mycorrhiza is the mutual association between the fungus and the plant, which play important roles in plant nutritionsoil biology, and soil chemistry.

The Anatomy of a Mushroom

Mushrooms have common features, though there are several deviations that are very interesting. Here are the major features:

  • Caps – can be scaled, warted, or have areolae, some are moist
  • Margin, containing gills, spines, teeth or pores under the cap
  • Spores are released from under the cap
  • Ring, skirt, or annulus, remnants of reproduction
  • Stipe or stalk
  • Volva or cup
  • Basal bulb – connects the mushrooms to mycelium

The Stages of Growth of a Mushroom

The life cycle of a mushroom can be a couple days to several years, to hundreds or thousands of years. There are several distinct stages to the growth.

  1. Spores drop from mushroom cap, spores are the seeds of a mushroom
  2. Two spores fuse and become a hyphae, long tubular structures with genetics
  3. Hyphae link to Mycelium, to obtain nutrients from mycelium to the fruiting body of the mushroom.
  4. Baby mushrooms are formed in a hyphal knot, pinheads begin to grow out of the Mycelium
  5. Growth and maturity

Mushroom Function in Nature

Catherine N. Jacott, Jeremy D. Murray and Christopher J. Ridout - [1] doi:10.3390/agronomy7040075

Mushrooms are the fruiting body of the mycelium and arbuscules are the site of nutrients exchange between a plant and the fungi. Mushrooms, Mycelia and Mycorrhizae are very important for plant and tree root systems to absorb nutrients surrounding the roots and to create resilience against drought, salt, heavy metals, and pathogens.

Most mushrooms are anti-viral and anti-bacterial, and also fight cancer and aging in various ways by boosting the immune system in humans. In short, they are very good for overall health, in ways that science doesn’t fully understand yet. Many pharmaceutical drugs are made using chemicals and molecules derived from mushrooms. Compounds successfully developed into drugs or under research include antibioticsanti-cancer drugscholesterol and ergosterol synthesis inhibitors, psychotropic drugs, immunosuppressants and fungicides.

Mushrooms as organisms are very unique. Mushrooms with psychoactive properties have long played a role in various native medicine traditions in cultures all around the world. They are rich in vitamins and will absorb the metals surrounding them, as proven by their ability to absorb Cesium after Chernobyl.

They can be bad for the body in ways that the general population doesn’t know yet either. Some mushrooms can cause liver and circulatory toxicity when taken in high amounts over long periods of time. Some cause death when eaten. Some are just dangerously poisonous. There is a lot of research to be done to fully understand how these complex organisms interact with the human body.

The benefits of the mushroom are noted largely by their species; each has different nutritional properties and interacts with the human body uniquely, just as each species of mushroom functions differently in nature. Each will have a different reaction within the body due to the diversity of human microbiomes; cooking is used to reduce toxic chemicals.

Some general characteristics and benefits of mushrooms species are noted below. Please do some of your own research and comment on what you find!

Mushroom Nutrition

Basically, mushrooms are good for the human immune system. They contain polysaccharides, amino acids, minerals, anti-oxidants, and are anti-inflammatory. Various compounds from mushrooms are being studied for their positive effects on heart health, blood sugar levels, digestion, immunity, and cellular regeneration; many compounds are being researched for their ability to fight cancer. In short, mushrooms are certainly part of a healthy diet and are a low calorie alternative to processed foods. In fact, many mushroom species are resilient to commercialism, and are extremely difficult if not downright impossible to cultivate.

Mushrooms Species

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms

These mushrooms are a common edible. They are carnivorous (they eat nematodes and also diesel fuel) and are often used in oyster sauce and various kinds of soup, especially in Asia. It can be found in subtropic and temperate forests. These mushrooms boast high nutrient values (because of their carnivorous nature), high anti-oxidant content, helps to lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and insulin levels. It can also help to improve respiratory tract infections, especially in HIV positive patients. There is also a significant potential for anti-carcinogenic properties and gut health/anti-inflammatory effects. They are also delicious when cooked. More research is needed to understand exactly how the mushrooms interact with the gut and human microbiome, but the general consensus of the scientific community is pretty unanimous to these being a great addition to a healthy diet.

Bolete Mushrooms

Beschreibung: Schale mit Steinpilzen Quelle: selbst fotografiert Datum: August 2006 Fotograf: Karsten Dörre (grizurgbg)

Also known as a porcini or porcino mushroom, these are found all over the world, but was only recently introduced to the Southern Hemisphere. These are difficult mushrooms to commercialize and are mostly foraged. The mushrooms spans root systems and fruit during summer and autumn. It is prized as a culinary edible and is highly regarded for its taste in risotto, pasta, and soup, though it is very difficult to cultivate. It is one of the few mushrooms known for being delicious when pickled. They vary in size. These mushrooms have a tremendous amount of amino acids; more than any other Portuguese mushroom. They contain lots of fatty acids: palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid. They are also rich in dietary minerals: sodium, iron, calcium, magnesium, b vitamins, and tocopherols, as well as trace amounts of bioavailable selenium. It also contains a diverse host of phytochemicals: ergosterol and ergothioneine and polyphenols: rosmarinic acid, oxalic acid, citric acid, succinic, and fumaric acids and alkaloids. Suffice to say that this mushrooms species can have tremendous nutrient diversity; if soil composition is diverse enough to support it.

White Button Mushrooms

These are less-mature cremini mushrooms. See below.

Cremini Mushrooms

Cremini or Crimini mushrooms are from the species Agaricus bisporus which includes portobello mushrooms and white button mushrooms. These are all the same type of mushroom, but portobello are the most aged and white buttons the youngest. Age gives them different and more pronounced flavors.

These are the classic mushrooms for fine dining and cuisine and have numerous health benefits, including being anti-inflammatory and reducing blood pressure and alleviating hypertension, which seems to be a characteristic of edible mushrooms. There are B vitamins, D vitamins, Zinc, Iron, Copper, anti-oxidants and some fiber and protein. In short, they are good for balancing gut health; especially when cooked, there are very few side effects.

The presence of selenium in mushrooms is also a huge contributing factor to their health benefits. Selenium is nutritionally essential for humans and is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection. Its important.

Agaritine, which is a carcinogen is present in these mushrooms so eating large amounts of them can imbalance the gut in a big way; but the toxins are degraded when cooked. Plus its only present in small amounts so you would have to eat a large amount of moldy mushrooms in order for it to affect you.

Cordyceps Mushrooms

There are over 600 species of cordyceps mushrooms, mostly in tropical and humid areas in Asia and is a mostly parasitic species of mushrooms, feeding on other mushrooms and insects. The fungus takes over the bodies and brains of its victims forcing their zombified bodies to permanently relocate to the trees and low-lying jungle plants where the conditions are ideal for the fungus to thrive. They are used in traditional medicine across the spectrum of asian religious practices specifically Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, as well as spiritual mushrooms practices.

Table of Cordyceps benefits from the national library of medicine (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Traditional uses of Cordyceps sinensis (Yercha gumpa) in North Sikkim

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These claims are unsubstantiated, but only due to lack of data and testing

Cordyceps is a very interesting mushrooms that we simply do not know a ton about yet. It has been proven to increase stamina and blood oxygen regulation in mice, but beyond that, we don’t have a lot of evidence of how it creates these benefits within the body. However, we do know that it is anti-parasitic.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms – (Trametes versicolor)

This is a common mushroom with a variety of benefits. Paul Stammets sells this mushroom supplement on host defense, due to its benefits for gut health, anti-inflammatory properties, and ability to slow and stop the spread of cancer by enhancing natural killer cell activity in the host body. His mom, after being diagnosed with breast cancer and three months to live went on to live an additional ten years eating eight turkey tail capsules a day. One chemical in the mushrooms, polysaccharide K, is being studied in Japan for its anti-carcinogenic qualities.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms

Originating in East Asia, Shiitake mushrooms are now cultivated all over the world for their taste and are used in traditional medicine. They grow on the decaying wood of deciduous trees, particularly shii and other chinquapinschestnutoakmaplebeechsweetgumpoplarhornbeamironwood, and mulberry. These are more of a culinary mushroom rather than medicinal, however, shiitake mushrooms still are a low carb, low calorie food that increases immunity. It has been known to cause allergic dermatitis reactions, but these are sometimes mitigated by cooking the mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms account for about 25% of all commercially cultivated mushrooms.

King Trumpet Mushrooms

King Trumpet Mushrooms are a off-shoot of the oyster mushrooms genus, and are very similar in their benefits. They have tons of fiber, support bone health, and boost the immune system and energy levels of the host. It also has been shown to lower cholesterol. These mushrooms are believed to have co-evolved with nematodes which they can consume predatorily.

Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelles are some of the most popular wild mushrooms to forage. These mushrooms contain mostly water, but also B vitamins, a little protein and fiber and carbohydrates. They are rich in iron, D2 (from sunlight exposure), and riboflavin, magnese, and potassium.

Porcino Mushrooms

See Boletus Mushrooms, same species.

Enoki Mushrooms

enoki shroom

This mushroom is mostly known for its use in Japanese cuisine, Flammulina filiformis. It originated in China, but grows naturally in Japan, and Korea as well and is used commonly in asian cuisine for soups. Like other mushrooms, it grows on deadwood and is cultivated sometimes with sawdust.

One hundred grams of dry enoki mushrooms provide 346 calories, of which 53% is carbohydrates, 26% is protein, 26% is dietary fiber, and 3% is fat. Vitamins and minerals found in enoki include niacin, calcium, iron, potassium, and riboflavin.

In Asian medicine, enoki mushrooms have been used for centuries to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disease, and stomach ailments.

There are tons of amino acids in Enoki mushrooms, and also lots of trace minerals and some electrolytes and even iron. And the high water content is probably what makes it so beneficial for the stomach and liver.

Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum)

Hedgehog Mushroom

Also known as sweet tooth or wood hedgehog, these mushrooms are mostly identified by the spines that descend from the roof rap instead of gills. The capo is yellow or light orange and the stem is white, mostly with irregular shaping of the caps and spicy/bitter taste. It also has no poisonous look-alike, which is a major concern for some of the mushrooms that are foraged. It is broadly distributed in European woodlands and fruits during summer and autumn.

It has a nutty taste and crunchy texture, and is well recognized for its edibility. Some even say that it is similar to oysters.

The mushroom is full of nutrients, and seems to be extremely adept at absorbing heavy metals including Cesium from the Chernobyl disaster. It is especially high in copper and manganese, and fatty amino acids.

Armillaria (Honey Fungus Mushrooms)

These mushrooms form the largest living and oldest organisms in the world. In Oregon’s Malheur natural forest, one is know to cover 3.5 square miles and is over 2,500 years old. They are often bioluminescent. Armillaria can be extremely destructive to forests; it causes white rot root disease in trees. It is known to consume decaying and dead plant matter, making is parasitic. The only trees known to be resilient are birch and larch.

Their caps are yellow and brown, somewhat sticky or moist, and has at least one look-alike that is deadly poisonous called Galerina. It usually fruits during autumn.

Honey fungus is regarded as one of the best wild mushrooms in many places in Europe, but they must be cooked because they are slightly poisonous raw. They are more poisonous when ingested with alcohol. They are described as being slightly sweet when cooked.

Several antibiotics have been created from Armillaria14. They are prescribed in China for treating a variety of neurological conditions including Meniere’s Syndrome, vertigo, headache, insomnia, epilepsy, neurasthenia and hypertension. It has high levels of polysaccharides and several indole compounds have been isolated from it, including serotonin. It is also shown to be anti-glycemic, an anti-oxidant, seems to enhance brain function, and has powerful immune boosting activities that promote killer T cells, which balance the bodies bacteria and help to prevent illness. Overall, this mushroom is extremely beneficial, but must be cooked and ingested with care, as it is slightly poisonous raw.

Shimeji Mushrooms

This mushroom is native to East Asia but it cultivated in North America and Europe. It should always be cooked and is normally used in soups and stews and stir-fry. It is rich in Guanylic acid, Glutamic acid, and aspartic acid all of which are amino acids.

It is high in B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, fiber and iron. It is also a source of selenium, which is good for skin health. It also is high in copper, which is good for heart health, immunity, and gut balance. It is also well known for its cancer fighting abilities.

Morcella or Morel Mushrooms

These mushrooms are highly prized because they only grow in the wild in North America and Europe and are very difficult to cultivate. Typical fruiting season is spring. They seem to do well in alkalized soils, especially after medium intensity wildfires though they are notoriously difficult to find. They are slightly poisonous so they must be cooked and shouldn’t be eaten in massive quantities or with alcohol.

There are 80 different species of Morel mushroom and most are found under trees. Raw morel mushrooms are 90% water, 5% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and 1% fat. A 100 gram reference amount supplies 31 calories, and is a rich source of iron (94% of the Daily Value, DV), manganesephosphoruszinc, and vitamin D (34% DV, if having been exposed to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light).

Matsutake Mushrooms

These edible mushrooms are found throughout East Asia, Europe, and North America and are enjoyed for their aroma as well as their taste. They are becoming rarer, as competition is fierce for their once a year harvest. They are very difficult to cultivate. It is listed as “vulnerable” due to habitat destruction. Similar to other mushrooms, it has high vitamin content, as well as amino acids, fiber, and is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It shares most of the characteristics of the other mushrooms, but perhaps with more protein, and more fiber than most other species.

Maitake Mushrooms – Hen of the Woods, King Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

This mushrooms has considerable health benefits, and grows wild under elm, oak, and maple trees. It has been shown to stimulate the immune system and can also beneficial for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Benefits: Adaptogenic, antioxidant, useful in preventing and treating breast cancer2, suppresses tumor growth2

Maitake Mushrooms are rich in the following nutritional properties:

  • beta-glucans 
  • vitamins B, C, and D 
  • copper 
  • potassium
  • fiber
  • minerals
  • amino acids

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus)

Lions Mane Mushroom

Lion’s mane mushrooms are brain boosters and are implicated in neurogenesis and are getting a lot of attention in reducing Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are being investigated by pharmaceutical companies for Erinancine, which enhances nerve growth amongst other cognitive benefits7. It may help the nervous system to repair itself faster. They typically grow on dead American Beech trees.

Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms contain adaptogens and help the body to combat stress. They are known as the king of mushrooms because of their origins in East Asia and use in traditional medicine. They are immune boosters by improving lymphocyte function and increasing white blood cells counts in a very similar way to most mushrooms, but specifically have high amino acid content, which can help fight infection and cancer. This may occur primarily in those who are ill, as mixed results have been seen in those who are healthy8.

Chaga Mushrooms

These mushrooms typically grow on birch trees and resembled a dark chunk of dirt; scientists are getting increasingly interested in the health benefits because of its ability to fight and prevent cancer through triterpenes, which cause cancer cells to self-destruct without affecting healthy cells4. It is also rich in antioxidants and lowers cholesterol, which can help to prevent heart disease. It is also anti-inflammatory by regulating cytokine production, which can help to combat arthritis.

Here are some nutritional properties of Chaga mushrooms:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • rubidium
  • cesium
  • amino acids
  • fiber
  • zinc
  • iron
  • manganese

Healing Mushrooms, “Magic” and Psilocybin

“It is well known that most of the new drugs discovered in the last few decades have originated from nature. Chemical constituents obtained from medicinal plants and other natural products have been increasingly used to treat many infectious diseases.”

Mushrooms are increasingly studied around the world for their pharmacological health benefits. Lion’s mane is implicated in faster nervous system regeneration after a stroke.

There are 4 different substances that create the hallucinations: psilocybinpsilocinbaeocystin and norbaeocystin. There isn’t a lot known about the substances, however they are psychotropic alkaline analogues to psilocybin, meaning they alter the way the psilocybin is processed to create hallucinatory effects in the brain. Not a lot of data is available due to hallucinogenic mushrooms being illegal in most countries.

Psilocybin and the other hallucinogenic compounds are known to interact with Serotonin and the HTP Axis or stress response. This is the most likely explanation for mushrooms being seen as a cure for depression.

We will wait to discover and understand what the real healing capacity of Psilocybin and the other hallucinogenic compounds can be.

Please leave a comment or share this article if you found it to be useful. I tried to combine as many high quality sources and do as much research as I could.

References

  1. Time Magazine – Are Mushrooms Healthy
  2. Healthline
  3. Micropia
  4. Real Eats
  5. Medical News Today
  6. Rejuvii
  7. Erinacine Wikipedia Page
  8. 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
  9. Draxe.com Cremini Mushrooms – Cremini Mushrooms Benefit the Heart, Gut & Fight Against Cancer
  10. NIH on Selenium
  11. Bolete Mushrooms
  12. Health Benefits of Enoki Mushrooms
  13. The Life Cycle of a Mushroom
  14. Honey Mushroom Nutrition
  15. Shimeji Mushroom Nutrition
  16. Mushrooms Analysis

The Health Benefits of Mushrooms Read More »

nose breathing example

Nose Breathing & the Lungs

The Benefits of Nasal Breathing

Ventilation and The Sympathetic Nervous System

Breathing is a fundamental act of life. In humans, breath represents the gateway between the mind and the body. Also called ventilation, it is the first action we take when we are born, and the last before we die. The lungs are the primary mover of energy within the body; when stressed, the breathing rate elevates. Yogis and practitioners of meditation are particularly interested in breathing as a way of becoming more aware of the body.

Ideally, a yogi can breath in and out through their nostrils ceaselessly. Some people have physical limitations in their ability to do this, so as always, consideration must be taken the unique deviations of an individual skeleton. The physiological difference between breathing through your nose and through your mouth is tremendous. Clearing your nasal and air passageways can be a simple part of daily maintenance, or caring for the body’s optimal organic function. Yoga is the exercise of “stilling the mind” through the restricted the flow of breath. Using the nostrils is key to that restriction.

The “Energy” Organ

The lungs are the primary source of your energy level. They extract oxygen from the air we breathe primarily on the exhale. About 5% more of the oxygen in the air is extracted into our lungs when we exhale through the nostrils as well (air has been measure to enter ~21% and leave ~12% while breathing through the nose | ~21% and leaves at 16% through the mouth).

“When you exercise, carbon dioxide levels increase significantly which alert the chemoreceptors, which subsequently notify the brain’s respiratory center to increase the speed and depth of breathing. This elevated respiration rids the body of excess carbon dioxide and supplies the body with more oxygen, which are needed during aerobic exercise.” (Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz, Ph.D, UNM, “The Science of Breathing”)

Nose Breathing and the Diaphragm

Because the nostrils are smaller then the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates back flow of oxygen during the exhale. It slows the air escape so the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from them. They also increase the humidity of the air that travels into the lungs and Similar to closing the end of a teapot, breathing this way creates pressure in the diaphram and allows for a deeper exhale. A more complete exhale activates accessory breathing muscles to the fullest capacity which includes all of the abdominal muscles. All of this occurs muscularly while the sustained, increased oxygen level affect the muscles and nervous system regenerating it and allow the yogi to continue practicing. The key is slowing down the pacing so that the body can sustain its oxygen level.

Let’s look at the different parts of the anatomy involved with breathing.

Muscles involved with Breathing

  • Sternocleidomastoid
  • Scalenes (neck)
  • TrapeziusMuscles of Respiration
  • Latissimus Dorsi (upper back)
  • Pectoralis
  • Diaphragm – primary breathing muscle
  • Rectus
  • Internal Obliques
  • External Obliques
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Serratus Muscles (ribs)
  • Illiocostalis
  • QL (lower back)
Thoracic Organs

The bottom of the diaphragm is extremely important as it separates the upper portion of the torso from the lower and assists in the ventilation process. This is key to understanding why full capacity respiration is so important to the human body. Most of the organs lie within the Thorax, or chest cavity, so the lungs have a very complex and interesting relationship to the rest of the organs, especially the organs of the digestive tract.

How your Lungs Affect your Organ Anatomy

Because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates a back flow of air (and oxygen) into the lungs. And because we exhale more slowly through the nose than we do though the mouth, the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from the air we’ve already taken in. This affects the vital nervous system connections to your lungs and heart. Not breathing well through your nose can alter your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also increase the intensity and frequency of the human stress response. Many researchers have said that mouth breathing can also be misdiagnosed as ADHD. This is why yoga can be extremely important and useful for children and to alleviate the negative aspects of stress response (cortisol release).

That about does it for the known effects of respiration through the nose, although I’m sure the benefits to the organs, specifically the digestive tract are understated. Share what you know below!

References:

  1. Physiopedia
  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Association
  3. Fitbit Blog- 3 Reasons
  4. IFL Science – Increase memory and Recall
  5. Science Direct – Article Aggregate
  6. Rhythm of Breathing Affects Emotions
  7. Pre-frontal and Mouth Breath
  8. Harvard Health
  9. Conscious Health

Nose Breathing & the Lungs Read More »

Femur

Femur Bone Anatomy: Pillars of Support for the Human Skeleton

Introducing the most Massive and Strong (in most ways) Bone in the Human Body

There are 62 bones in the legs: 10 trunk/hip bones, 14 ankle bones, and 38 foot bones. The femur (thigh) is the largest and strongest of these bones. Most land mammals capable of jumping also have femur bones, also lizards, frogs, and other tetrapod vertebrates. Its length on average is 26.74% of a person’s height, a ratio found in both men and women and most ethnicities with only restricted variation.

"80 - Pelvic bones with sacrum and femur" by Knowledge Collector is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0//?ref=openverse.

5 Interesting Femur Bone Statistics

  1. The femur is, on average, about 1/4 of a person’s height. It’s remarkably strong and can withstand forces of up to 1,800 to 2,500 pounds (800 to 1,100 kilograms) of pressure, making it one of the strongest bones in the body.
  2. The Femoral neck sits at a 125 degree angle
  3. Vehicular accidents are the primary cause of breakage
  4. During growth in childhood and adolescence, the proximal end of the femur (the femoral head) has a growth plate, known as the epiphyseal plate. This growth plate allows for longitudinal growth and helps determine a person’s final height when it closes.
  5. Forensic anthropologists often use the femur bone to estimate the age of an individual based on the degree of fusion of the epiphyseal plates, which can help in identifying human remains. It is heavily used in archaeology.

The Greater Trochantergreater_trochanter_grays

The Great Trochanter is a large, irregular, quadrilateral eminence on the upper portion of the femur bone. This portion of the bone has several, extremely important muscle insertions for the thigh and hip bones:

The lateral surface, quadrilateral in form, is broad, rough, convex, and marked by a diagonal impression, which extends from the postero-superior to the antero-inferior angle, and serves for the insertion of the tendon of the gluteus medius.

human_ape_femurs

Above the impression is a triangular surface, sometimes rough for part of the tendon of the same muscle, sometimes smooth for the interposition of a bursa between the tendon and the bone. Below and behind the diagonal impression is a smooth triangular surface, over which the tendon of the gluteus maximus lies, a bursa being interposed.

The medial surface, of much less extent than the lateral, presents at its base a deep depression, the trochanteric fossa (digital fossa), for the insertion of the tendon of the obturator externus, and above and in front of this an impression for the insertion of the obturator internus and superior and inferior gemellus muscles.

Reference: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_trochanter)

The Lesser Trochanter

The Lesser trochanter is on the underside of the femoral head and also has several muscular insertions: The Psoas Major on bottom and the Illiacus on top.

The Femoral HeadFemur_insertion_point

The Femoral Head is the highest part of the femur bone, support by the femoral neck. It inserts as a ball/socket joint into the Hip/Ilium via the structure depicted to the right.

The Femoral Neck

The Femoral neck usually sits at a 120-135 degree angle with some variation. A fracture of this area is known as a hip fracture and happens during aging. This structure supports the head of the femur bone and its insertion into the hip.

femur_pic_grays_2The Femoral Body

The Shaft of the femur is somewhat curved and has a protruding ridge called the linea aspera (rough line). The area of the bone supports the strongest muscle tissue in the body, including the hamstrings, Quadriceps, and thigh musculature. The Vastus Laterallis (outer quadricep) and adductor magnus (inner thigh muscle) connects into the linea aspera.

Lower Portion of the Femur

lower_femur_grays

The Lower portion of the femur bone consists of two condyle (from the Greek word for knuckle), lateral and medial that create the surface for the upper tibia bone and the knee-joint. Coated meniscus tissue layers on top of the bone and provides synovial fluid for frictionless movement within the knee. The medial (inside) condyle is the larger than the lateral due to its increased weight-bearing. 

How the Femur Bone affects your Holistic Health

Femur bone fractures correlate with increased disease in the elderly. It is safe to say that the femur bone is an organ that houses much of the mineral deposits for the body. Therefore, as we age and the bone tissue become more porous, this bone become one of the primary areas of decomposition.

Bone Marrow and the formations of new blood cells

Red Bone Marrow

  • Red bone marrow is the primary site for hematopoiesis, the formation of blood cells.
  • It is located in the cavities of certain bones, including the femur, pelvis, ribs, vertebrae, and sternum.
  • Red marrow consists of a network of blood vessels, various types of blood-forming cells, and supporting tissue called stroma.
  • Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) within the red marrow are the source of all blood cells. These stem cells have the remarkable ability to differentiate into various types of blood cells.
  • Red marrow is highly active in producing blood cells during early life when there is a significant need for rapid growth and the formation of a robust blood cell population.
  • Red marrow plays a vital role in supporting the high demand for red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in growing children.
  • Red marrow primarily produces red blood cells, white blood cells (granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes), and platelets.
  • Red blood cells are responsible for oxygen transport in the body.
  • White blood cells play a vital role in the immune system’s defense against infections.
  • Platelets are essential for blood clotting and wound healing.

Bone Marrow during the aging process:

  • As an individual grows and matures, some of the red bone marrow within the femur and other long bones gradually undergoes a transformation into yellow bone marrow.
  • This transformation involves the conversion of hematopoietic (blood-forming) tissue into adipose (fat) tissue.
  • The shift from red to yellow marrow is part of a natural process that occurs with aging and is influenced by factors such as hormonal changes and the body’s decreasing need for rapid blood cell production.
  • While yellow marrow is predominant in the central cavity of long bones like the femur in adults, red marrow still exists in other locations, such as the axial skeleton (e.g., pelvis, sternum, vertebrae).
  • Red marrow retains its hematopoietic activity in these areas and can be mobilized when there is a greater demand for blood cell production, such as in response to illness, injury, or certain medical conditions.

Yellow Bone Marrow

  • Yellow bone marrow is found in the central cavities of long bones, including the shaft of the femur.
  • It contains fewer blood-forming cells and is mainly composed of fat cells (adipocytes).
  • Yellow marrow stores fat and serves as an energy reserve for the body.
  • In certain circumstances, such as severe blood loss or chronic anemia, yellow marrow can transform back into red marrow to help replenish blood cell populations.

Adaptive Response of the Femur Bone:

  • The femur bone, like other bones in the body, can adapt to changing physiological needs.
  • In cases of severe blood loss, chronic anemia, or other conditions that require increased blood cell production, the femur’s red marrow can become more active, and additional sites within the femur may transition from yellow to red marrow to support hematopoiesis.

One of the primary aspects of bone health is acquiring enough calcium to maintain bone density. Most calcium is available via leafy green vegetables, notably kale, bok-choy, and broccoli. Sodas and carbonated beverages make it harder for the body to absorb calcium and should be avoided by those with osteoporosis (orthoinfo.com). Vitamin D is an important catalyst for absorbing calcium into the bloodstream.

Phosphorus is another vital nutrient to maintain bone health. Nuts, Sesame Seeds, peanut butter, parsley, crab and prawns are all foods high in phosphorus. Don’t feel like you have to eat meat or drink milk to get these essential nutrients.

References:
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femur_neck
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_trochanter
  3. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/calcium-nutrition-and-bone-health

Femur Bone Anatomy: Pillars of Support for the Human Skeleton Read More »

Cold 1936_Pneumonia_prop_strikes_like_a_man_eating_shark

What Does Cold Weather do to Your Body?

Cold Weather and Lower Temperatures Affect the Human Body

The Human Body is made to deal with the Cold

Cold Temperatures stress the body, but the human body is meant to adapt to colder conditions. You see, low temperatures stress the body; but in a way, it is a very psychological phenomenon. It happens in your mind. The way that you react mentally can have a big effect on how the stress of cold affects you. However, for this article we will discuss primarily the physiological response of the human body to low temperatures.

Over time, the body will adapt to colder conditions. Even brief exposure to low temperatures lead to increased levels of norepinephrine and cortisol, lymphocytosis, decreased lymphoproliferative responses, decreased levels of TH1 cytokines and salivary IgA, and increased lactate levels during exercise. It takes time for the body to de-stress itself in the cold.

Does Exercising Help in the Cold?

Exercising in the cold doesn’t seem to help too much. It can for a short period of time though. Just try not to sweat! Exercising exhausts the bodies energy reserves for immediate heat. Though in general, exercising is a good way to keep the immune system strong. Sweating also causes the body to lose heat quickly.

It seems that previous exposure to cold temperatures is one of the few things that helps the body to adapt. But acute exposure of the skin can have a huge effect on the body’s immune response, so be sure to keep your skin covered in colder temperatures until your body has adapted. They say it takes about 2-3 weeks for your body to adapt to those lower temperatures.

The Cold and the Human Heart’s Health

Cold weather and Cardiovascular Health

People die more often of heart and respiratory diseases in the winter. Vasoconstriction increases blood pressure during the bodies cold-stimulus response. The decrease in cellular plasma also creates a lot more work for your heart.

The Body’s Response to Cold over Time

Exposure to cold causes the sympathetic nervous system to heat the body by constricting blood flow to the extremities and superficial tissue. The body then begins to constrict the flow of the immune system, as well as the nervous system. As the nervous system restricts flow, the extremities lose blood flow until frostbite and more serious, permanent damage occurs.

Who do Mammals Shiver?

Why do you Shiver when it’s Cold Outside?

Over time, the blood pressure increases to cope and the body begins to shiver at a certain point. Once you are shivering heavily, you are at the point where you can get frostbite, or even hurt yourself because the body convulses so strongly. But this can also happen well above frostbite temperatures due to the body’s tolerance level. As people get older, they shiver less, which results in a more rapid drop of temperature upon exposure.

Here’s how Shivering works Neurologically:

Located in the posterior hypothalamus (brain) near the wall of the third ventricle is an area called the primary motor center for shivering. This area is normally inhibited by signals from the heat center in the anterior hypothalamic-preoptic area but is excited by cold signals from the skin and spinal cord. Therefore, this center becomes activated when the body temperature falls even a fraction of a degree below a critical temperature level.

Humans heat themselves Naturally by Burning Fat

Humans also have regulatory neurotransmitters and hormones to help the body burn fat for heat when the body is cold. This is primarily how the newborn and elderly bodies create heat. As we get stronger immune systems, the body shiver response gets stronger, apparently.

Injuries from cold temperatures:

frostbite, hypothermia, heart attacks due to decreased blood flow

References

  1. Human Responses to Cold
  2. Cold exposure and winter mortality from ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disease, and all causes in warm and cold regions of Europe

  3. The Association of Cold temperature and low humidity with increased occurrence of respiratory tract infections

  4. Exposure to cold and respiratory tract infections [Review Article]

  5. Cold Exposure Human Immune Responses and Intracellular Cytokine Expression
  6. Acute Cooling of the Surface of the Body and the Common Cold
  7. Immune Responses to Exercising in a Cold Environment

  8. Can Exercise Make Us Immune to Disease?
  9. Cross-Talk between the Immune and Endocrine Systems

Common Cold Wiki

No antibiotics, Cough Meds are BS… eat some candy:

Possible explanations may include temperature-induced changes in the respiratory system,[42] decreased immune response,[43] and low humidity causing an increase in viral transmission rates, perhaps due to dry air allowing small viral droplets to disperse farther and stay in the air longer.[44] The apparent seasonality may also be due to social factors, such as people spending more time indoors, near infected people,[42] and specifically children at school.[37][41]

There is some controversy over the role of low body temperature as a risk factor for the common cold; the majority of the evidence suggests that it may result in greater susceptibility to infection.[43] Herd immunity, generated from previous exposure to viruses, plays an important role in limiting viral spread, as seen with younger populations that have greater rates of respiratory infections.[45]

Poor immune function is a risk factor for disease.[45][46] Insufficient sleep and malnutrition have been associated with a greater risk of developing infection following rhinovirus exposure. Due to their effects on immune function.[47][48] Breast feeding decreases the risk of acute otitis media and lower respiratory tract infections among other diseases,[49] and it is recommended that breast feeding be continued when an infant has a cold.[50] In the developed world breast feeding may not be protective against the common cold in and of itself.[51]

What Does Cold Weather do to Your Body? Read More »

Yoga's Heart Benefits

Five of Yoga’s Heart Benefits (Heart Health)

5 of Yoga’s Heart Benefits

Yoga’s Heart benefits are rather robust, ranging from increased circulatory function to decreased heart rate, to reduced cortisol levels in the bloodstream. Considering modern western yoga’s intensity, I think it is quite obvious that the longer duration vinyasa classes can have aerobic component to them.

Cardio-vascular disease affects more than 1 in 3 Americans, making it the most deadly disease in the United States. 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year. Coronary Artery disease is the most deadly disease in the world.

Breathing through the nose helps to strengthen heart tissue, bronchial tubes, lung tissue, and the valves of the heart. Check out my previous article on breathing through the nose.

1. Cortisol (Stress) Regulation

“Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced and released by the adrenal gland and functions as a component of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in response to stress. Hatha yoga promotes physical relaxation by decreasing activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which lowers heart rate and increases breath volume. We believe this in turn has a positive effect on the HPA axis,” said Curtis. (PsychCentral) Studies differ in talking about the role of yoga in regulating cortisol, but all agree that it helps with the regulation of stress hormones. It also helps in the way that stress is perceived having drastic effects on how stress is processed by the body. Yoga essentially helps these circulatory functions to achieve higher levels of function by increasing flow.

“Cortisol and the stress response have known deleterious effects on the immune system. High levels of perceived stress and increases in cortisol have been found to lengthen wound-healing time in healthy, male adults.”

2. Lower Blood Pressure

“Elevated blood pressure is a powerful predictor of congestive heart failure and other Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) outcomes” (Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research). Plaque builds up in the walls of arteries and makes it harder for blood to flow. Yoga helps to relieve this by increasing circulatory function through purifying the blood stream through oxygenation, which also helps with metabolism. Hypertension is one of the leading causes of stroke, which yoga has been clinically shown to reduce.

“Yogic practices significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and orthostatic tolerance.”

3. Improved Circulation

Circulation of hormones and various chemical messengers throughout the body is necessary for new tissue growth, tissue repair, and anti-inflammatory disease prevention. Myokines are excreted during muscle contractions, which could be a major reason why the increased duration of stretches is so beneficial for healing. During yoga, joints are used in full range of motion and articulation helping to soak them in new oxygen, blood, and nutrients, assisting with osteoporosis and arthritis.

“Yoga increases blood flow and levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells which allows for more oxygen to reach the body cells, enhancing their function.”

4. Lowering Cholesterol

Yoga helps to control cholesterol and hypertension. The relationship between the growth of plaque within arteries is still being explore in conjunction with yogic exercises, but several clinical studies have shown that yogic exercises reduce the speed at which the plaque builds-up, a process known as atherosclerosis.

5. Improved Heart Rate Variability

“There is also evidence that yoga practices help increase heart rate variability. Heart rate variability is an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress flexibly.” One of yoga’s heart benefits is the ability to perceive stress differently. This affects the entire hormone system, including the stress response system. We are continuing to learn more about how yoga benefits our bodies in this way.

5 of the Best Foods for Heart Health

  1. Salmon
  2. Blueberries
  3. Dark Chocolate
  4. Citrus
  5. Broccoli, Spinach, and Kale

Quotes about Yoga’s Heart Benefits

American Heart Association

“The more energy you put into it, the more you’re going to get out of it,” she said. “After 12 weeks, you may see a dramatic increase in exercise functionality, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels may decrease.”

American Osteopathic Association

“Between lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, and lowering bad cholesterol, it’s no wonder that yoga helps to lower a person’s risk of heart disease.”

MedicineNet

“Your heart beats approximately 60-80 times per minute at rest.
100,000 times a day.
more than 30 million times per year.
and about 2.5 billion times in a 70-year lifetime!”

References:

  1. http://www.ijcep.org/article.asp?issn=2348-8093;year=2016;volume=3;issue=2;spage=57;epage=58;aulast=Pal
  2. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/743504/
  3. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0066-782X2009000600008&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en
  4. https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/article/38/2/332/299270/Effect-of-respiratory-rate-on-the-relationships
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978938/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415184/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573542/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939525/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/
  10. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000085
  11. https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-016-1286-7
  12. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411017300172
  13. http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/yoga.aspx
  14. http://www.medicinenet.com/aerobic_exercise/article.htm
  15. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Yoga-and-Heart-Health_UCM_434966_Article.jsp#.WYDdWf_yvq0

Five of Yoga’s Heart Benefits (Heart Health) Read More »

human bone anatomy

Human Bone Anatomy | Osteology

What are Bones?

Bones are not inanimate rock like structures in the human body; bones are organs that produce red and white blood cells, store minerals, enable mobility, and provide structural support for the body. They are lightweight, strong, and hard, and function within the body in many different processes, including autoimmune function. , There are two types of mineralized osseous tissue, or bone tissue, cortical and cancellous, and gives the bones rigidity and a coral-like three-dimensional internal structure. Other types of tissue found in bones include marrow, endosteum, periosteum, nerves, blood vessels and cartilage.

Primary Nutrients

Most literature proposes Calcium and Vitamin D as the primary nutrients for healthy bones.

Calcium is important in bone creation and repair. Your muscles, organs, and nerves also need calcium to function properly; nerves use sodium to pump electricity through nerves in the form of action potentials. Calcium helps to keep these actions potentials from excessively firing by working in concert with GABA receptors, most notably in high intensity auditory transduction. (http://phys.org/news/2007-03-calcium-life-death-nerve-cells.html). Leafy greens, fish, and some fruits are great sources of calcium.

Vitamin D is a group of secosteroids responsible for intestinal absorption of primary nutrients such as calcium, iron, and zinc. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin is the primary way that the body produces the nutrient; though it acts as a hormone because the nutrient travels to become active in the liver and kidneys. Vitamin D has a significant role in calcium homeostasis (balancing) and production in the kidneys and liver. It also affects neuromuscular and immune function.

Protein, magnesium, Vitamin K, and phosphorus are also suggested as beneficial nutrients for bone health.

Bone Structure

bone_layer_image

Bone tissue, bone marrow, blood vessels, epithelium, and nerves make up the different types of bone cells. Tissue includes Osteoblasts and osteocytes, which are involved in the creation and mineralization of bone; osteoclasts reabsorb bone tissue. The mineralized matrix of bone tissue has an organic component of mainly collagen called ossein and an inorganic component of bone mineral made up of various salts. Bone tissue refers specifically to the bone mineral matrix that forms the rigid sections of the organ. There are two types of bones: cortical and cancellous. Cortical bone tissue create hard exteriors for protection while cancellous bone is more spongy and allows for the metabolic processes on the interior of the organ; the two are biologically identical, but the expression of their microstructures are specialized.

Bone marrow is flexible tissue and reproduces red and white blood cells as well as lymphocytes that support the immune system. Cores of marrow in the heads of long bones create about 500 billion red blood cells per day in hematopoiesis. 4% of human physiology is bone marrow; so about 5 pounds if you weight ~125. The body creates two types of marrow: red, the only type in the body at birth; and yellow, which increases in proportion during the aging process. Transplants can cure extreme diseases and is one of the primary reasons why stem cells can be so beneficial. The body stores marrow in the femur, hips, vertebrae, and ribs.

Osteo Factshttp://training.seer.cancer.gov/index.html

At birth, there over 270 bones in the body, which during the aging process turn into 206 by fusing together (joining). The biggest is the femur
(thigh) and the smallest is the stapes in the inner ear.  The hard cortical tissue (outer layer) comprises 80% of mass and networks of trabecular marrow comprise the rest. Bones are mineral reserves for the body and marrow stores fat. They are metabolically very active and work in tandem with the digestive system, immune system, and endocrine system in balancing nutrients, defending against disease, and releasing hormones, respectively. 22 bones fuse together after birth to form the skull. 26 aligned, specialized bones called vertebrae make up the spine, protect the spinal cord, and form the primary support structure for the body.

Aging and Osteoporosis

The problems arising from bones occur in osteoporosis, fractures, arthritis, tumors, and infections can affect the organic tissue. Fractures are breaks in tissue, from repetitive force or trauma. Aging causes osteoporosis; the body stops producing the necessary amount of building material for the body and literally means “holey bone” (porosis meaning hole). Tumors and malignancy’s can occur in various forms in bone tissue as well. This makes it much easier for the bones to fracture.

Cancer

Cancer can also occur in tissues structures and is a common site for it to metastisise to. Several primary cancers occur within the bones and some even within the marrow, such as Leukemia and multiple myeloma. The tissue distorted by cancer is normally more prone to fracture and weakness, which becomes particularly painful when it occurs in the spine.

References:

  1. AAOS – http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00317
  2. Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_marrow
  3. ASU Ask a Biologist – https://askabiologist.asu.edu/bone-anatomy
  4. Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroregeneration
  5. NOFG – https://www.nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/
  6. Skelton – http://www.innerbody.com/image/skelfov.html

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