All posts by The Reactive Body Handbook

Hush up and Eat Your Shea Butter!

The latest research on shea butter, the African tree nut oil that is used as a moisturizer in everything from lotions to shampoo, shows that it may be even more beneficial to EAT YOUR SHEA BUTTER rather than simply slathering it onto your dry irritated skin. Now don’t get me wrong; I am a huge fan of shea slathering. Especially for dry cracked area around your fingers, and to keep your face younger looking as you age (Cleopatra’s beauty secret).

It turns out that shea butter is so special (in part) because it contains molecules that turn OFF the enzyme that causes inflammation response AND THEN they tell your body to get into gear and heal up the irritation. They are called shea triterpenes and they are my new best friend. But wait there’s more… Twenty minutes on Google revealed:

  • Ten animal and human studies indicating that shea butter lowers cholesterol.
  • Forty-four studies indicating shea butter is effective for inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Six studies showing moderate anti-tumor effects against cancer.

Before you rush out and start eating your hand lotion one warning: Only eat FOOD GRADE shea butter. Raw shea butter contains latex and other impurities that you don’t need to be eating. Food grade shea butter is winding its way through the regulatory process as you read this. Expect to start seeing it on the shelves in about a year. Shea butter supplements are also clearing regulatory. You will be able to start buying them on line in another four months or so.

In the meantime shea butter is a great WINTER SKIN remedy. Shameless Promotion: www.vermontsoap.com is a great place to go for latex free topical shea butter. Or stop by the Vermont Soap Discount Factory Outlet and Soap Museum for great deals on shea butter, shea butter soap and gifts for everyone on your list. ESPECIALLY if they have sensitive skin.

This is the Soapman wishing you and yours a Happy Healthy Season.

Sleeping on the Job

You work hard in your busy day doing what you do. Work, chores and everything involved in keeping the rain off your head the wind off your back and the wolves from your door. And then we drop off to sleep.

And we wake up and do it again.

For years (most of my life actually) I took it for granted that we slept to recover and rest up for our next busy day. Work and rest. Work and rest. For maybe 100 years if we are lucky.

But what if I had it all wrong and the reverse is actually true?

What if we work all day to set ourselves up to then do the REAL work of living? And what if that real work occurs while we sleep? In other words; do we work all day to sleep? Or do we sleep just to wake up and work?

This is not a trick question. There are unanswered mysteries in the realm of sleep, just as there are unanswered mysteries in the realm of the awake. And it is extremely hard to gather all the data because sleep comes with a built in amnesia mechanism. We awake and have already forgotten most of the lands we traveled when our eyes shut tight. And so I have to wonder…

Did I dance and play and learn from my friends in the lands of dreams? Do the people I meet by accident in the awake times actually make an appointment to get together while we slept; to learn, share stories and to celebrate being alive? How many times have YOU changed course, turned left instead of right and met someone whose words and actions changed the course or tone of your daily life?

Coincidence? Happenstance? Or Appointment?

I do not have all the answers. Like nearly all of us I have way more questions than actual answers. But I ask you to practice questioning the current basic Western Civilization tenets of human life and existence. We may in fact have been looking at it all wrong.

Time will tell. Maybe we should sleep on it.

This is the Soapman reminding you to take time out to enjoy the warm season; and to keep thinking about the molecules!

I Dreamed I Was the Last of My Generation

I dreamed I was the last of my generation. Old beyond years I sunned myself on a bench and watched the children play.

“Great grandpa! Great grandpa! Tell us about the old days. What took out all the people?”

“Well, children. Many people back then were concerned about the radiation. We made electricity from radioactive elements back then. Sometimes it would leak out and poison huge swaths of the planet. But that is not what did it.

Then there were all the chemicals in the food supply. Herbicides, insecticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, artificial fertilizers. You are lucky that we stopped doing that before you were born. A lot of people worried about those, but that is not what killed us off.”

“What was it? What was it then?”

“We started messing around with genetic modification. We created life forms without ecological controls. But that is not what did it.

We also had a lot of trouble with metals. Metals are found in nature, but rarely in pure form. We used electricity to purify the metals. Then they leached into the food and water (through pipes) and effected people’s brains.”

“Is that what did it?”

“That was bad but metals didn’t do it”.

“You have to remember that we made plastics from petroleum back then. The plastic got into everything. The food, the water, the ocean. It made a lot of people sick.”

“So it was the plastics that did it?”

“Not really. We also burned coal and oil for energy. And we rubbed petroleum jelly onto our skin. Nasty stuff! But that wasn’t the petrochemicals that killed off all the people.”

“What was it? What was it?”

“It was the adhesives. Took years to figure it out. But in the end, it was the glues and adhesives that took us out. I was allergic to most of those things and avoided them. Now I am the last of my times. That is my blessing and my curse. It was the damn adhesives that did it.”

And then I awoke. And put the duct tape in the garage.

This is the Soapman wishing you a Happy Spring and a better more natural tomorrow for us all.

Molecular Zen: Secrets Revealed!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Molecular Zen this month, which is of course the underlining theme of this column and the basis of my personal world view. And thus, in the tradition of pop science writers everywhere, I must reveal at least one great truth about the universe per article using a paucity of verbiage. So before your rectangle beeps you yet again with an instant message, here it tis:

The crux of the Molecular Zen biscuit is to practice NOT viewing the world-at-large as a bundle of separate objects we find ourselves wandering around in (practicing Wholeness Perception).

Notice that I said “practice”. Buddha knew that all of us are practicing at being ourselves every day. Optimistically we are practicing being the best selves we can be right now. Like everything else in life the more you practice something you more you get out of it and presumably the better you become at it. Practicing not being self-obsessed is ALWAYS a good idea.

Practicing NOT viewing the world-at-large as a bundle of separate objects means (logically) keeping to the forefront of one’s thinking the ones-ness of it all.

Keeping to the forefront the ones-ness of it all means understanding that the Universe has an operating system that is increasingly discernable over time (by practicing Wholeness Perception). Seeing the system of life and interlocking existence as an ocean – rather than a mishmash of waves and currents helps us to understand the basic principles of how life and stuff are put together and behave here at home base.

You see, Nature does not reinvent itself every time it creates something new. Rather it borrows heavily from everything that came before, building off of the previous models. The point is this:

The basic laws and working systems that operate on every level, from atomic system to ecosystem to solar system; all apply equally to human existence and behavior. The distribution of warm water into cooler water is no different from the dissemination of new ideas into a society. The colonizing behavior of penicillin mold on bread is incredibly similar to the colonization of “virgin” land by humans.

Humans are passionate; and so are molecules. They hook up, long or short term and form new families with new properties when they “mate” with other molecules. Every law of Newtonian Physics and Biology can and is applied to human construction and human behavior.

We arose out of the Universe, are made of its stuff, and follow the same principles in our short existence as does the rest of the mess.

Simple! Molecular Zen rules. Now back to practicing…practice, practice……

What are PFOAs?

There’s a lot of talk in the local news about per-flouro-octanoic acid or PFOA in some Bennington County and upstate NY wells. What is PFOA and its half dozen or more cousins? Is it harmful, should you be concerned and what can be done about it? Here’s the abbreviated version:

PFOA is the shiny nonstick surface found on candy wrappers, waxed food service papers, microwaved popcorn, carpets, treated textiles, floor wax and dental floss. Teflon is one of its many cousins that can and will break down into PFOA over time. In fact there are 615 compounds known to break down into PFOA. It is primarily Fluorine, an element humans need in amounts that are measured in parts per million rather than in macro dosages. Your teeth which are mostly calcium and phosphorus need about 5 parts per million of fluorine to stay strong; basically an invisible amount undetectable without specialized instrumentation.

PFOA is one of those invisible chemicals found throughout our civilization, influencing our health without our knowledge or a complete understanding of its impacts. It would take about six years to naturally eliminate the PFOAs in your body right now; assuming you could end all contact with them from this breath onward. Highly unlikely given their dispersion throughout the entire planetary ecosystem. PFOAs bio-accumulate in our bodies faster than we can get rid of them. Not cool. This is the part that really ticks me off. PFOA upside is that your cheap candy bar won’t stick to its wrapper. Downside is it takes six years to pass out the molecules that stuck to your chocolate bar and got eaten in the process. PFOAS are measured in the blood in parts per billion. We are not talking about a lot having a big effect here.

According to Wikipedia,” PFOA is a carcinogen, a liver toxicant, a developmental toxicant, and an immune system toxicant, and also exerts hormonal effects including alteration of thyroid hormone levels. Animal studies show developmental toxicity from reduced birth size, physical developmental delays, endocrine disruption, and neonatal mortality”.

Good news is that a carbon filter appears to work well in removing PFOAs from your water. Bad news is that these puppies are literally everywhere on the planet now. Thanks 3M! Thank you Dow!

But the real crux of the biscuit is that there even exists a mindset that allows novel persistent chemicals to be introduced in mind boggling quantities in the first place, AND then disperses those molecules throughout the planet. All this without any long term understanding of their influence upon living systems.

This, in my humble opinion is the definition of complete and utter madness, a dementia that crosses all national borders and appears to be both unending and inexorable in its scope and influence. THIS IS a true evil among us.

The emperor is naked and winter is coming. Time to wake up and smell the molecules.

All the Best,

Soapman

Electronic Crack

We’ve all heard comments that smartphones, which moving forward we will refer to as rectangles, being “electronic crack”. Well the scientific data is coming in, and it turns out that the electronic crack remark is spot on. Here’s why:

You know how good and self-satisfied you feel after completing a task like cleaning your house or organizing your desk? That is because our brains have a built in reward mechanism that gives us a shot of dopamine (as in “why do you think they call it dopamine?”) when we accomplish something. Kind of like getting a treat for being a good girl or boy.

Well, it turns out this reward mechanism is actually quite stupid. It gives out that shot of dopamine whenever YOU feel like you accomplished a task. This applies not only big things like discovering a new nonpolluting energy source, but really little dumb ass little things like deleting spam or forwarding a Facebook post about a cat that can dance on its hind legs (as one example).

Yes, it’s true. Making simple, silly little decisions like deleting, forwarding or otherwise dealing with words on your rectangle, because they involve making ANY type of decision can and most likely will trigger the dopamine reward mechanism.

So there it is. Playing with your rectangle is the brain equivalent of smoking crack cocaine. This is literally true, since cocaine works by blocking one of the dopamine feedback receptors, allowing your own brain dopamine levels to quickly build up beyond normal parameters. It doesn’t matter if your delivery system is a glass crack pipe or a 6” plastic rectangle. The results are exactly the same, though the dosage is smaller.

For Reactive Bodies the stakes are even higher. Many reactives tell me they don’t “like” smartphones, citing vague concerns about microwave radiation or the way their bodies feel after being around them. I feel the same way about digital devices myself, and limit my rectangle use throughout the day below obsessional levels.

But the thing that concerns me the most is the ADHD state that so many reactives fall into triggered by excessive rectangle use. I have friends who get themselves so manic-ed up I can no longer hold a conversation with them and have to walk away until tomorrow.

Tip: Keep ALL digital screened devices away from children and reactive bodies before 11am. The ADHD reaction appears to be cumulative, ie the more the rectangle is in use the faster and more intense the ADHD symptoms appear in susceptible individuals.

Early morning screen time can also have a zombifying effect on the rest of your child’s day, pulling down attention span, memory retention, test scores and effect how PRESENT the child is through their day. If you see any of these behaviors in your children try manipulating morning screen time experimentally.

Remember, most people do not really believe that their consciousness is effected by molecules or by the radiant energy they are surrounded with. It is easier for some of us to believe in astrological influences than it is to believe in molecules and electromagnetic energy!

Hard copies of The Reactive Body Handbook will be out soon. Stay tuned and Enjoy your Summer!

Larry Plesent

Chaga

This blog post goes out to the several hundred people who have downloaded The Reactive Body Handbook. This month we will explore the medicinal mushroom known as Chaga.

Chaga or Inonotus obliquus is an intense immune system boosting mushroom that grows on birch trees. Called the King of Medicinal Mushrooms, chaga is one of the most powerful, health building and anti-oxidant herbal remedies known. It is found around the world in a ring around the Arctic. Everywhere it grows it is revered for its efficacy. Chaga concentrates Betalin into Betalinic acid from birch trees. This is a potent immune system building molecule produced in the bark of the white birch that is normally not absorbable by humans. Chaga also gathers trace minerals like rubidium and cesium necessary in very minute amounts for optimum health. Plus chaga is a major source of melanin supplementation.

I take chaga on rotation with other adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogenic is a great word and a terrific concept. When something is said to be adaptogenic we mean that it boosts the immune system via multiple pathways. This is EXACTLY what Reactive Bodies need to stay on top of Flare Ups.

Chaga can have profound effects when taken over time. You may find your need for sleep reduced, additional sexual energy, and the ability to quickly shake off colds that seem to grab onto other people. It can help to clear the cobwebs from your head, and is healing to your liver.

Most people like to make brewed tea from ground chaga. You get most of the chaga goodies out this way but I like to tincture it in bottles of Vodka for a month. Mighty tasty! Alcohol releases the oil soluble factions inside which have notable antiviral properties.

The most powerful chaga I ever took was made by boiling it in maple sap until it was reduced to a syrup. The potency was probably triple that of the alcohol extraction but this is a subjective judgement. Some sources do not recommend hot extraction, however I must respectfully disagree based on personal experience.

Mix and rotate chaga with rishi mushrooms. They complement each other well. Many natural healers recommend rotating tonic herbs every six weeks, which is what I recommend in The Reactive Body Handbook. However, in practice, I find myself rotating tonics about every 12 weeks so follow your instincts. Chaga and rishi are particularly useful as a tincture during the winter cold and flu months. But once I am eating fresh organic veggies and herbs from my spring garden, I stop taking winter tonics and rely instead on healthy food grown in mineralized soil to keep the old immune system buffer in tip top shape.

Help other people to take back their lives by passing on the (still) free Reactive Body Handbook link at www.reactivebody.org   Having a sensitive system does not make one a lunatic – nor a hypochondriac.

In Peace,

Larry Plesent

Larry Plesent is a writer, organic gardener, amateur herbalist and CEO of Vermont Soap, a certified organic personal care products manufacturer for people with sensitivity issues. www.vermontsoap.com

 

Molecular Zen: Secrets Revealed!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Molecular Zen this month, which is of course the underlining theme of this column and the basis of my personal world view. And thus, in the tradition of pop science writers everywhere, I must reveal at least one great truth about the universe per article using a paucity of verbiage. So before your rectangle beeps you yet again with an instant message, here it tis:

The crux of the Molecular Zen biscuit is to practice NOT viewing the world-at-large as a bundle of separate objects we find ourselves wandering around in, but practicing Wholeness Perception.

Notice that I said “practice”. Buddha knew that all of us are practicing at being ourselves every day. Optimistically, we are practicing being the best selves we can be right now. Like everything else in life, the more you practice something the more you get out of it and, presumably, the better you become at it. Practicing not being self-obsessed is ALWAYS a good idea. Practicing NOT viewing the world-at-large as a bundle of separate objects means keeping to the forefront of one’s thinking the ones-ness of it all.

Keeping to the forefront the ones-ness of it all means understanding that the Universe has an operating system that is increasingly discernable over time (by practicing Wholeness Perception). Seeing the system of life and interlocking existence as an ocean – rather than a mishmash of waves and currents -helps us to understand the basic principles of how life and stuff are put together and behave here at home base.

You see, Nature does not reinvent itself every time it creates something new. Rather it borrows heavily from everything that came before, building off of the previous models.

The point is this:

The basic laws and working systems that operate on every level, from atomic system to ecosystem to solar system, all apply equally to human existence and behavior. The distribution of warm water into cooler water is no different from the dissemination of new ideas into a society. The colonizing behavior of penicillin mold on bread is incredibly similar to the colonization of “virgin” land by humans.

Humans are passionate; so are molecules. They hook up, long or short term and form new families with new properties when they “mate” with other molecules. Every law of Newtonian Physics and Biology can and is applied to human construction and human behavior.

We arose out of the Universe, are made of its stuff, and follow the same principles in our short existence as does the rest of the mess.

Simple! Molecular Zen rules. Now back to practicing… practice, practice……

Sodium Alginate

MisoOne of my personal top 10 favorite molecules for health and longevity is sodium alginate aka Algin. Faithful readers may recall my mention of it in past articles, and it is so useful, cheap and nontoxic that I finally had to dedicate an entire column to it.

Extracted from brown seaweeds, algin is used in baking to make hard shell custards and long lasting food decorations. It soothes upset tummies and helps to bind up loose bowels. I have never known anyone to react to it negatively. Pharmaceutical companies use sodium alginate in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, to lower cholesterol levels and to soothe irritated throats. It’s most common source in the US is in Miso Soup. Two cups of miso soup a day will have profound effects on your health and you will not need to supplement with pills under normal conditions.

Most importantly, sodium alginate is proven to reduce the buildup of toxic metals in your body, including radiation and it’s by-products like strontium 90, barium, tin, cadmium, manganese, zinc, and even mercury. Algin works best as a metal detox when it is already present in your body at the time of exposure. Radiation for example binds with your calcium. Get enough of a radiation dosage and you will experience severe calcium deficiency ie brittle bones, hair loss with possible death resulting. If you already have algin built up in your body, the radiation (or metals) will bind with it instead and it will pass on out without harm.

Even if you are exposed before it is built up in your body, algin will clean you out over time. Six pills a day for six weeks are recommended for a real de-tox, but even three caps a day can have a positive effect. Repeat the treatment yearly for best results. I leave some caps on the kitchen table so I at least get take some once in a while throughout the week.

Sodium alginate binds with some good stuff too, notably calcium and lucapene. It is best to take your algin with a different meal than one containing calcium and lucapene. Lucapene is what makes tomatoes red so get your algin when you are not eating Italian style!

Algin is of special benefit to people opting for conventional treatments for cancer like chemotherapy and radiation. Once the treatments are done almost killing you, sodium alginate will help to get the poisons out, potentially hastening the healing process and the return to normalcy.

This is the Soapman reminding you that Nature is the source of all healing and that plants are chemical factories with a billion years of practice fighting virus’s, fungus, bacteria and cancer. As humans we learn to concentrate and even synthesize these same plant molecules to fight back against those same opportunivors.

All of nature and physics seeks balance. Why is it so hard for we humans to do the same?

And this month’s special ingredient is… TOLUENE.

Chemical-Plant-FarmIf you have asthma you may already have heard of toluene; 72% of all asthmatics or over 20 million Americans are reactive to it. Toluene, like the other “enes” ie xylene and benzene, cause cancer so it is probably a good thing to be reactive to these dangerous solvents. In fact toluene is just benzene with an extra carbon stuck to it. Not surprisingly the town with the highest liver cancer rate on the planet also hosts the world’s largest toluene processing facility.

Toluene is a nearly universal solvent. It is used as a carrier for many artificial scents and flavors and colors which explains why people who cannot tolerate fake scents react no matter what the actual individual fragrance molecules are. Toluene makes ink dry and used in paint and paint thinners, fingernail polish, some liquid laundry detergents, varnishes, rubber, auto body work and leather tanning; all of which are common asthma triggers.

Fuel injector cleaner blends usually contain toluene too. The fact that toluene changes during combustion to become even MORE carcinogenic has not hindered it’s dissemination upon an unsuspecting and vulnerable populace.

Toluene is one of the hidden cancer causing chemicals that run the width and depth of our most un-natural civilization destroying lives and bringing immeasurable suffering to American families every day. If the day every comes when huge multi-national corporations no longer control the Federal Government, perhaps poisons like these will be clearly labeled and have the same warning graphics that are required when these types of products are sold in 55 gallon drums rather than in consumer packages.

I am sorry that we have built our entire civilization upon a foundation of cheap deadly poisons like toluene and gasoline. Now that we have, and now that the super wealthy and powerful chemical and energy companies have vested interest in their continued production, how will we ever get the petrochemical IV out of our oh-so-civilized arteries?

The answer of course is DON’T BUY THEIR CRAP! And I mean this in the mental emotional sense as well as in dollars and cents. Every time you buy a better, safer product that is NOT made from petrochemicals you are voting for your children and grandchildren’s health and for a more sustainable and natural life for us all.

Certified organic foods and personal care products are the safest bet for you and for your children. Everything else is a chemistry experiment, and THEY have to pay the price for the repeated failures in regulation and oversight that have allowed cancer rates to skyrocket to over 70%.

Depending on where one’s cancer emerges, cancer mortality rates average over 35% five years after treatment (source: Wikipedia). By comparison, the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic which killed over 50 million people world wide, only had a 5% mortality rate.

Rather than treating asthmatics with drugs, maybe we should be paying attention to the molecules that trigger so many of us. It’s not that our bodies our broken, they’re just trying like heck to tell us to stay away from these poisons! How many of us are listening?