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Spices: More Valuable than Gold… Then & Now

by Michelle Costantini, BA, ALC, AFNC

In the 1300s, when tariffs were at their highest, a pound of nutmeg in Europe cost seven fattened oxen and was considered a more valuable commodity than gold. By the 1400s, when navigational equipment had improved to the point that long-haul sailing became possible, the kings and queens of Europe set out to change the balance of world trade by funding spice-hunting missions of their own. The search for a cheaper way to obtain spices from the East led to the great Age of Exploration and the accidental discovery of the New World when Christopher Columbus, while searching for a quicker route to India, bumped into the Americas.

THE HISTORICAL USE OF SPICES:

The very first and only true medicines ever used were those derived from the vegetable kingdom. Before spices became money, they were medicines: turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, ginger and black peppercorns. Their healing properties and use date back to the world’s first civilizations.

Sanskrit writings of 3,000 years ago describe the therapeutic uses of spices and ancient medical texts from China are filled with remedies using spices for hundreds of ailments.

Throughout the Middle Ages they were used as both medicines and condiments. Most spices were hot and dry and so they were appropriate in sauces to counteract the moist meat and fish. Inventories and account books of pharmacies show that spices like pepper, cinnamon and ginger were sold in many varieties and in different medical prescriptions. Today spices are not only used in medicine, but religious rituals, cosmetics and perfume production. 

WHAT IS A SPICE?

A spice is the edible, aromatic, colorful and dried part of a plant such as the seed, the fruit, the root, or the bark. They are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems from plants. For example, fresh cilantro is an herb whereas coriander, its seed, is a spice.

Sometimes, spices may be ground into a powder for convenience. Many spices have antimicrobial properties. This may explain why they are more commonly used in warmer climates, which have more infectious diseases, and why the use of spices is prominent in meat, which is particularly susceptible to spoiling.

HEALING POWERS

Spices get their healing powers from their volatile oils. These compounds supply the spices with their pungent aromas, they also contain many unique phytonutrients that aren’t found in fruits and vegetables.

Examples:

Curcumin: contains potent anti-cancer properties found only in turmeric. Studies show it can fight dozens of other diseases

Piperine, the compound that makes you sneeze when you eat black pepper, protects brain cells and has a dozen other healing actions

Eugenol gives clove its distinctive aroma and is a natural pain killer

Rosemarinic acid makes rosemary one of the most powerful antioxidants on earth

Gingerol, a compound in ginger, tames nausea

 

The US has 3 times the rate of colon cancer as India, which is well known for its        spicy cuisine.

India has one of the world’s lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease.

Greece (uses a lot of garlic, onion, rosemary, and marjoram) has low rate of heart disease.

Spain (consumes the most saffron) has low levels of the bad LDL cholesterol that clogs arteries and increases the risk of heart disease.

Exploration continues in the 21st Century as scientific research proves only what has been known for centuries: spices not only enhance flavor but most of all improve health.  If you consider your health “a higher commodity than gold,” then you want spices in your diet. 

Ancient Knowledge for Today’s FOOD l  NUTRITION l  LIFESTYLE

Call for a Private Consultation, Workshops & Lectures

Michelle Costantini at michelle_costantini@yahoo.com, or 720-745-3453

Freedom, Chains and Baby Elephants

by Betsy Wetzig, BA, CCPT

Perhaps you have heard about the baby elephants of India which are trained to stay in one place by chaining a foot to a post on a short chain.  Because of this training, as adults, when placed by a post they just stay there without any chains.

Lots of life coaches and therapists have correctly recognized that people can also have similar internalized chains or blocks to their behavior.  It helps to make positive mental changes, like making “to do” lists.  However, the root of the problem functions in our psychosomatic system, i.e. a system which is both deeply physical as well as mental.

Notice the baby elephant was given physical as well as mental triggers.  He not only learned to restrict his movement a certain way.  He learned that frustration and a bad feeling (physical feelings and reactions) could happen if he moved the “wrong” way.  He patterned his “movement” and linked the safe, good-feeling, way to his specific movement way, by limiting his movement.  He patterned himself (physically and mentally) into his blocking behavior.

For people, our way of knowing/being/doing and even habituated stress responses are. embedded in our movement-mind-body’s Coordinating Patterns .  The good news is these Coordination Patterns and their Dynamics are easily utilized for releasing internally patterned chains and blocks.   Simply stated, Coordination Patterns® & Dynamics’ Training** was designed by movement researcher and Twin Ponds own, Betsy Wetzig to utilize this movement-mind-body link and its mechanisms of our style and behavior for health and well-being.

In fact,  this training can help people do all sorts of marvelous things better, like… walk younger, do Pilates or yoga, golf, write a play, prevent pain and injury, forgive, communicate,  handle stress, and create a well-functioning team or family.  Betsy gives workshops, classes and private sessions at Twin Ponds, and even internationally. She recently added work with the Multimaster Pilates Toning Table for power assisted exercise, re-patterning, and rehabilitation. 

*¹Based on the work of researchers and kinesiologists, Valerie Hunt and Josephine Rathbone.

Breaking a Sweat Exercising?

atm_class1[1]Do it Easier and Better with The Feldenkrais Method®           

By Carolyn J. Reese

The best exercise for me, so I thought, was to move fast and push myself as much as possible.  Then I learned how important it is to exercise slowly and gently so that my body/mind system can work together more efficiently. Yes, when the body moves, the mind changes for the better! This new way of exercising has greatly helped with my arthritis and Post-Polio Syndrome. It is called…The Feldenkrais Method.        

WHAT OR WHO IS FELDENKRAIS?  The “who” is Moshe’ Feldenkrais, a physicist, mechanical engineer and one of the first Western black belts. After reinjuring his knee, having surgery and going to rehab, the doctors told him that he might spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

His understanding of how the laws of gravity and motion affected the mechanics of movement allowed him to develop short exercises that helped educate his body in easier, more efficient movement patterns. He eventually used this knowledge to teach patients effective techniques for self-rehabilitation.

THE FELDENKRAIS METHOD, based on the principles of physics and biomechanics, was developed from his experience and understanding of human physiology and the connection between mind and body. 

With this discipline, commands are carried from the brain to the muscles, tendons, joints, and skin, and then reports on their condition are sent back to the brain. The purpose is to improve movement patterns rather than treating specific injuries or illnesses.

The Feldenkrais Method claims to be successful in training the nervous system to find new pathways around areas of damage.

At first, lying on the floor in a relaxed way and moving slowly, I mean really slowly, didn’t make much sense!  Little did I know that the slower I moved, the more my brain was engaged (mindful) and the more my body responded. Even visualizing a movement changes the brain and helps the body!  Being a “senior,” has given me years of incorrect exercising and therapy, but now with the Feldenkrais way of exercising, I don’t have to worry about hurting myself the way I used to and my body is retaining the improvements I made.

The Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes consist of a series of verbally directed and carefully structured movement sequences involving the body and the imagination. The movements are performed in a variety of positions – lying down, sitting, standing – which address a range of functions necessary for the safe, effective and powerful use of one’s body.

This safe and easy way of exercising can help with:

  • Reducing pain, back and neck aches, headaches
  • Re-educating the brain and nervous system to develop new ways of moving and perceiving the body
  • Orthopedic problems in bones and joints (poor posture or habits of movement that may cause pain)
  • Stroke patients, head trauma, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, neuropathy
  • Degenerative arthritis, Fibromyalgia
  • Recovery from surgery
  • Segments of our society: athletes, children, elderly, martial artists, artists, musicians, movement teachers and health care providers

“…the Feldenkrais Method can undo many of the aches and pains that plague us, and I currently recommend it to patients whose movement has been restricted by injury or chronic pain.  I also believe the Feldenkrais Method can help older people achieve greater range of motion and flexibility, and help all of us feel more comfortable in our bodies.”        –Andrew Weil, MD 

This style of exercise is not only revolutionary, but an enlightening experience! 

Attend a Feldenkrais Class or experience a private session of Functional Integration call Carol Siddiqi 610-618-0467