Popular Posts

Thursday, November 4, 2010


What's softest in the world
rushes and runs
over what's hardest in the world.

The immaterial 
the impenetrable.

I have to remind myself that water will defeat stone, given time. I have to accept that time, as we measure it, is merely an artificial attempt to contain what has no boundary, to measure what has no dimension. If it takes another planet 10,000 years to move around the sun, then a minute can be 10,000 minutes. Therefore, I have to be patient. My patience should not be measured by the day or the month, and although I feel weary,  any impatience adds to my weariness. My patience has to match the cadence not of the hour, but of the seasons. Its measure is the time it takes for a drop of water to evaporate, congregate in the clouds until it falls back as a drop of water on the ground. Let my patience be 10,000 drops.

If the key word is patience, then Marigold is doing relatively well. We have been able to re-open the front store and return to business-as-usual, as best as we can manage. The pharmacy department is still closed. Our hours have been slightly changed: open at 10 AM and close at 6PM from Monday to Saturday. We have made three specific changes to our practice and you will notice when you come in the store that there is now a service counter, behind which you will find many of the Marigold products. These are all the products with any health claims and this is necessary so we can provide proper advice on what product will work best for you. Also, if it is the first time you are returning to the store. you will be asked to complete a  patient information sheet. This makes you a registered customer of Marigold and we can better keep track of all the Marigold products you use. It also formalizes the patient-professional relationship which is a requirement of Health Canada. Thirdly, our products are now identified with a label indicating the expiry date and the batch number. These changes are necessary in order to improve and continue the services that we provide.

We are expecting the pharmacy to re-open in the near future and we appreciate your patience. Our discussions with the BC College of Pharmacists have been positive and together, we are working towards the re-opening of our pharmacy. 

We are also pleased to announce the opening of our herbal dispensary which will provide herbal tinctures, teas, dried herbs, essential oils and functional foods. Our staff herbalist Janette Cormier, R.Ac, RH has carefully selected medicinal Eastern and Western herbs and will be happy to assist you. She will also be able to do custom herbal formulations for patients and practitioners. She is also a registered acupuncturist and is available for drop-in acupuncture. Her acupuncture treatments have been effective for a variety of ailments such as gall bladder issues,  bed-wetting, pain,  stress and tiredness and low immunity. She offers a free 15 minute consult and can discuss if acupuncture is a good alternative for you.

Dr. Erica Kneeland is accepting new patients. She is a Naturopathic Doctor with a special interest in women's health and pediatrics. She will assist in hormone balancing, prenatal and postnatal care and thyroid issues. She is currently studying to get her pharmacology designation. Naturopathic Doctors are now allowed prescribing privileges in BC and she will have this included in her practice in the future.She also administers Vitamin B12 shots on a drop-in basis.

We now have three nutritionists on our staff: Kira Neumann, Kim Mutchler and Cathy Riopelle. They will assist you in selecting any vitamins and supplements that you will need as well as establishing a solid foundation based on lifestyle and food. They are available for consultations as well.  Kira is a long time resident of the valley and has been busy replenishing our shelves with new lines of  supplements. We are introducing the new line of Mega Foods supplements, which deliver a food-based form,  allowing the preservation of native intelligence which can be easily destroyed by heat, pressure and the addition of  extra ingredients. Kim is a new addition to our staff, having recently moved back to the valley after working at Pure Pharmacy in White Rock. She has an expertise in the use of alkaline water and will be glad to give you a free sample of alkaline water  which will have tremendous health benefits as it adjusts your acid-alkali balance. Kathy is well known in the valley and is currently getting her accreditation in the interesting field of Metabolic Typing. This is a diet based approach to long lasting  relief from food cravings, low energy, weight gain and low immunity.

So please drop by and  visit us. We thank you for all the support and notes for encouragement. They have been invaluable as far as advancing our case with the  authorities and in fact, they have been very powerful and influential.  There have been hundreds of letters that relate true and heartfelt Marigold stories and all of these have been compiled.

The softest in the world overcomes the hardest.
 tt, given time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Generative Force

It has been 15 days since the raid and the store is still closed. Each day in a small business such as ours is a lifetime. The expenses continue and the cash flow stops. It is a bit like drinking through a straw and the glass is almost empty. The slurping noise is the sound of the bank account drying  up.  There are days when I feel depleted. There are nights that my thoughts are filled with impossibilities. I find that my meditations are frequent, deep and necessary.

When we were seeking financing for the business, I was approached and was offered seed money from a retail drugstore chain. They were very impressed and interested in our concept and offered "no-strings attached" financing, enough to open several stores. They assured us that we would call the shots. 

"Will you let me paint the store a bright pink?" I asked.
"Why would you do that?" was the reply from the company representative. He was confused.
" Well, you say we call the shots. I really, really like pink. Fuschia-bright pink, to be exact." I said. Of course I was joking, but he was still confused by the question.
" I don't think that will fit our corporate guidelines," was the final answer.

We have somehow managed, still independent, not affiliated with any drugstore chains or banners or buying groups. Also, not pink. But: we could be; and that is the difference.

The human body can survive on about 1200 calories a day. Fish, rice, water. The human spirit, that is a little more complicated. Your many letters and emails  provide us all here at Marigold with  the sustenance for our spirit.  They are very much appreciated.

We thank you for caring, we thank you for your support.

When this event started, Gaylene noted that this is merely a different manifestation of our mission. We have all been focused on providing reliable, dependable and complete natural medicine through our practice and our store. We felt that this was taking shape, that we were emerging through the initial phase of growth.

Vis Curatio Intentio (To Heal as Nature Intended) is our motto.

What is happening now a different sort of healing. To heal the rift, to heal the intransigence, to heal the inertia of stuck. To allow the message to spread; to start the generative force that fuels true and lasting change. Maybe this is what this is. Maybe this is just as important. Maybe this is the true mission.

There are many letters from people that are just discovering the current issues  surrounding natural medicine. People who have never heard of us. They are interested, curious, supportive. We appreciate that. We want all  of you to be engaged. This is not just Marigold. This affects health food stores, supermarkets, practitioners, manufacturers, sales reps, growers, bee keepers and many more involved in the production and delivery of natural health products.

Write in with a letter of support,  do at least that. We are collecting these letters and will use these as our tools to affect the change. 

These letters are the arrows of change. Let us have 100,000 arrows. Address the letter to your elected official, as this shift has to come from our leaders.  The leaders have to have the will, just as we have to have the will.

Your MP can be found through your postal code at www.canada.gc.ca. 
The MP for the North Vancouver Island is John Duncan and his email is duncan.j@parl.gc.ca.

Anything that matters is never easy and demands of us three things: commitment, impetus and belief. Commit to writing a letter today. If 80% of the natural supplements disappeared from the shelf today, how will that affect you? Let this be the impetus for your own initiative to learn more, to act with integrity and to care. As in nature, the generative force starts with the smallest seed.

Most importantly, believe this simple truth: the change is you and I.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Acting Without Action: The Art of Falling

On the day of the raid from Health Canada and the College of Pharmacists, there came a point when it became hard to see through the frustration, disappointment, and  simmering anger.

Over time, I had to learn the lessons of falling. Only by  doing so. was it possible to accept the events as part of a greater unfolding. 

Acting without Action

Taking no action is anathema to the extreme sense of urgency. In an immediate crisis, the natural response is to do something; to act upon, to react. The next obvious step to take is not necessarily the best one. The next step might be to step back, allowing one to notice the subtle lay of the grass which may well be the path. But, this takes clarity, concentration and resolve. It requires a stutter: to stop and not do anything .

Take a step back, then another step back, then another. 

When everyone else is saying take action; take no action. Accept inaction as a form of action.

As the inspectors started to act on their mission , it became very hard to watch. They started emptying shelves of products, throwing them into boxes. There was no attempt  to keep jars upright, or use packing material. The bottles of tinctures clang together in protest. ( We don't want to go. Let us stay on the shelf, all in tidy rows!) 

The boxes filled and soon littered the floor of the store. Boxes all in a row, waiting for the pick up. The inspectors had to walk around them as they were too heavy to move when they tried to push them with their feet.The boxes lay there in curvy rows, like the hay bales on a Merville field.  As the inspectors completed filling one box, they then filled up the next. The strapping tape made a loud sound as the boxes were taped shut. Raackk. Raackk.  Another box finished. 

The movements of the inspectors were brisk and methodical. They were working hard. They might as well be baling hay. There were boxes filled with over $5,000 worth of inventory per box. It reminded me of moving day. 

The boxes were loaded into a u-haul truck parked outside. Sad, NPN-less, bales of hay.


I could not stay in the store and watch. It was heart-breaking. The staff and customers had immediately been asked to leave, so I was the only one in the store with the six inspectors and two RCMP officers. My throat was getting dry and my legs felt bloodless. I  decided to go home. I gave them my phone number and told them I would be returning at the end of the day.

It was nice to walk in the sunshine. I walked around the block twice and I felt better. I thought of things that I could do in the middle of the day. Normally, I would not be able to leave the store (as pharmacists are required to be in the premises as long as the store was open). Simply walking around in the sun in the middle of the day was a strange enough experience. I watched people walking down 5th Street. I could easily be one of them,  just going about my list of things to do on a sunny downtown Monday. 

What would be on my list? The first thing that I thought of was to get some guitar strings, as my favorite guitar store was closed on my regular day off. I then realized that I did not have a vehicle. 

I decided to take the bus home and caught the 12:20 No.4. I was pretty proud of myself because:
1. I knew where the bus stop was
2. I had change and I knew how much
3. I got on the right bus

Sitting on the bus, I was thankful for how it goes around and around, and back and loop-de-loop, taking its time to go through all the smaller streets.

It gave me time to fall.

Falling is an art. How to fall involves reducing the action to its basics.

Removing obstructions (you do not want to fall into sharp objects, for sure).
Removing paraphernalia (you do not want to fall with a computer laptop in your bag).
Removing distractions (you do not want to be falling worrying about your expensive linen suit).

While I was in the bus falling, I reduced myself to my very very basic being.

Remove the layer of worry. Everything will work out to its natural conclusion.
Remove the layer of responsibility. Feeling responsible for our staff, I knew that we were blessed with dedicated people who truly believe in what we do at a very deep level.
Remove the layer of doubt. What we do is important. Not only important in terms of improving health, but maybe, a new importance in uncovering the politics of health care.  The truth is healthy.
Remove the layer of pride. There will be people who will  question the events and judge, but it does not change me and it does not change what we do. The sky is still blue after the day is gone.
And when everything was removed, I was left only with my belief in myself. 
And that belief is true and it is intact.
And that belief is all I need.
In the bus, I ended up almost whispering: if I am true to that belief, then this too shall pass.

And then, the most frightening thought that ever happens to every married man:
How to explain this to my wife.

My wife apparently, knows the art of falling just fine. She will get big-upset if the kids leave a plate of lasagna in the  living room. But a raid + seizure + lock-down? She was calm and focused. She actually said these words..."You know, this might be a good thing."

The Three Treasures
The three treasures of the Tao Te Ching are restraint, compassion and love. All actions, to be effective, have to be true to these themes  at all times.

If the fight against intolerance is with anger, any victory is hollow. If our actions are driven by the wrong motives (pick any of the three: ego, greed or vanity) and not by love, then any achievement is temporary. We have to love what we do, we have to be compassionate about  each person we deal with. We have to behave with restraint. If we do, then what we do will be honest and true and lasting.

To act without action means that in the end, the obstacles put in our way makes us stronger and more committed. Water will always find its own way: It may take time, but it will find its own way and the only requirement of me is to get out of the way and be ready to see the answer when it presents itself. 

I can not see through the fog. I wait for it to lift.
I can not see through a dirty window. I wash it first.
I can not see with a headache. I sip a drink of tea.
I can not see with my eyes closed.  I open them.

I shall fall with grace.
I shall wait with restraint.

What awaits is beautiful and perfect.


They left the store at 11:30 PM. We heard movement in the lobby and cars starting. They did not say goodbye. They left through the receiving door and the store was suddenly empty. On the counter was a list of the inventory taken. It was 46 pages long.

Ire and Fire: Progressive Pharmacy Draws Attention

The Most Progressive Pharmacy in Canada 


Marigold Compounding and Natural Pharmacy in Courtenay, BC is the first of its kind. It is one of the most progressive pharmacies in North America as far as the scope and the mode of its operation. It is the true integration of pharmacy, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and other modalities at a professional level.

It has been recently caught in the controversy that is affecting the delivery of natural health care and natural products in Canada. As one of the most innovative pharmacies in Canada, it has drawn attention to its role in promoting the legitimacy of complementary alternative medicine alongside conventional pharmacy services. This is a unique environment where you will find products and services from different modalities. 

On June 14, 2010 four inspectors from Health Canada, accompanied by two RCMP officers, and inspectors from the College of Pharmacists of BC raided the pharmacy and seized products   without NPN's (Natural Product Number) and ordered the closure of the store.

The total value of the products taken away by Health Canada was $146,290.85 (valued at cost) 

How is Marigold different?

Marigold is no ordinary pharmacy. First of all, the philosophy is based on Vis Curatio Intentio (to heal as nature intended). They do not carry regular drugstore items such as Tylenol, Nyquil, not even Band-aids. Instead, you will find a wide selection of the best quality vitamins and supplements, including professional lines such as Thorne, Seroyal, Metagenics, AOR, and Waiora. They carry functional foods, medicinal mushrooms, Ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, tissue salts and chemical free dermatological preparations. They also have their own line of products which are prepared in the compounding pharmacy.

What is the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD)? 

The NHPR (Natural Health Products Regulations) came into full effect in January 2010. It is federal legislation through which Health Canada would legislate the sale of natural health products as it does drugs through the Food and Drug Act and the Food and Drugs Regulation. With the classification as drugs, the intent is to have all natural products develop a body of evidence based on science. The fact that natural ingredients can not be patented poses a dilemma for manufacturers. Natural ingredients can be isolated and purified and even chemically altered, but does this change the properties? Are they still natural?

For the quarterly reporting periods (2008/2009 and the first three quarters of 2009/2010) which represents 37.9% of the product licensing applications received since the start of the NHPR in 2004, a total of 19,402 applications have been processed of which 11,195 were licensed, 2,493 were withdrawn and 5,714 were refused. (Source: Clash of the Regulatory Bodies by Andrew Waldie, Integrated Health Practitioner, Special Report, Vol 10-2) This represents just a small fraction of natural products on the market. These are products already currently on the shelves, and does not count products in development. Already, many suppliers have stopped shipping to Canada and many small companies who cannot afford to comply are waiting in anticipation of what will happen. Larger companies are caught in the application process for NPN's and there are many products somewhere along the process.

Since 2004, there has been a growing backlog of applications and the CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association) has described the backlog as alarming.

In January 2010, NAPRA, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, of which the College of Pharmacists of BC is a member, issued a position statement advising pharmacies to stop selling any products that do not have a DIN ( Drug Identification Number), an NPN ( Natural Product Number) or a DIN-HM (Homeopathic Medicine DIN). This has been adopted by some provincial College of Pharmacists and is now being implemented through the removal of products at the retail level.

Where does Marigold fit in? 

Marigold does not fit in neatly into any category. Although we are a full service pharmacy with prescription services, we are very different from a traditional drugstore. Our expertise is in natural medicine, but we also understand the language and complexity of pharmaceutical drugs.

Marigold Compounding and Natural Pharmacy creates its own line of chemical- free products. In our formulations, we consciously and carefully select natural ingredients and avoid toxic chemicals. As much as possible, we try to stay close to the natural state of the medicine. We avoid using parabens, petroleum distillates, artificial colours, triethanolamine, magnesium stearate, butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene, PABA, sodium lauryl sulfate, artificial flavours and clay fillers. We formulate our capsules using alfalfa as the filler, rather than lactose or magnesium stearate.

Authorities from Health Canada have advised us in the past that as a compounding pharmacy, we have the ability to prepare products without an NPN registration as long as it fulfills the following criteria: 

1. It is prepared in a proper laboratory with good manufacturing processes. 
2. It is delivered directly to the end-user, the patient. 
3. There exists a professional relationship between a health practitioner and the patient.

Our ability to deliver professional advice is unparalleled in the industry. We have the following ten accredited practitioners on our staff:

Janette Cormier, AA, RH, R.Ac. Registered Herbalist, Registered Acupuncturist

Michel Duhaime, R.Ac,, DTCM Registered Acupuncturist, Transformation Acupuncture, EFT 

Raje Harwood Registered Reflexologist, Auricular Therapy

Dr. Erika Kneeland, B.Sc., ND Naturopathic Physician with a specialty in obstetrics, pediatrics and women’s health

Dr. Lise Maltais, FCAH, ND Naturopathic Physician, Registered Homeopathic Physician, Bowen Practitioner 

Charlese Nan, RMT Registered Massage Therapist, Injury Specialist

Kira Neumann, RNCP Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Nutrition Consultant

Sharon Niscak, M.Sc., RH Registered Herbalist 

Carol Smith, BA Reiki Master 

Rudy Sanchez, B.Sc. Pharm. Consulting Pharmacist, Formulator

Seizure by Health Canada and the College of Pharmacists:

The store was closed and has been closed since, as we comply with the requirements set out by the College and Health Canada. 

Here are some of the products that were removed from the shelves:

All Natural Sunscreens containing zinc oxide in various concentrations
Buttspackle containing calendula, peru balsam and zinc oxide
Arthrotopik Cream for inflammation, containing devil’s claw, calendula and arnica
Jocamu Ointment containing arnica and Rhus tox
Wild Oregano Oil, pure oil
Arnica Ointment 10% 
Shatavari Ayurvedic Powder 
Oil of Lavender pure essential oil
Grapefruit Seed Extract, pure
Colloidal Silver 
Goldenseal Powder in Manuka 16+ Medicinal Honey

Health Canada has seized inventory which does not bear NPN’s. Part of this inventory are products that we make based on our own formulas. Part of this inventory is from suppliers who have not complied with NPN regulations. The store is closed by the College of Pharmacists of BC pending compliance with regulations. 

These are the steps that are being done at this time: 
1. Institution of individualized professional practitioner consultations prior to sale of products without NPN. This will require that we record patient name, date of purchase and practitioner information, This will allow us to sell these products and continue preparing them if needed.
2. Installation of a service counter to remove public access to Marigold Products.
3. Initiation of the procedure to register a site license for Marigold and allow us eventually to file for NPN’s for our products.
4. Meeting the compliance issues set out by the College of Pharmacists of BC
regarding labeling, compounding registers, etc.

We are using this opportunity to input our inventory into a POS system and make these improvements to allow us to continue serving your health needs.

Marigold is a very unique and progressive pharmacy that happens to be right here in Courtenay. We appreciate your support during this period and ask you to participate as much as you can in the protection of natural health not just for this store, but for all natural health retailers and practitioners. 

1. For more information about Health Canada regulations regarding the requirement of NPN’s, please go to the website for NHPPA (Natural Health Products Protection Association) and watch some of the videos of Shawn Buckley, constitutional lawyer and advocate for protection of natural health products.
website: nhppa.org
2. Visit the site of CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association)
website: chfa.ca 

3. If you want to write a letter of support for Marigold, (especially if you have had a chance to use our services and have a story you want to share about outcomes), please send emails to:

4. All media enquiries are directed to :
250 338 9623 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Crooked Hand of Fate

crooked hand of fate
like me, just bone and sinew
it is arthritic

by Rudy Sanchez, Holistic Pharmacist

Surprisingly, for all the fuss about calcium, we only have a relatively small amount of it. The average female has one kilo of calcium. The average male, 1.5 kilos. You can carry this amount of calcium in a lunch bag. However, what we do with this lunch bag of calcium is amazing: it gives us hard teeth to chew with, bones to karate chop with, nails to scratch an itch with, and it fuels nerve and muscle activity.
Bone is living tissue and is constantly changing, giving up calcium when asked and absorbing calcium when it needs to get stronger. It behaves much like a calcium bank. The health of your bones is relative to the health of this bank account. It is a matter of balance. Most of us treat our bones like we treat our bank account. We don't really know how much is in there, we just know the "look" that the waitress gets when the debit card does not work. By then, we have already eaten the food and we're not in a position to be returning it.
The basic bone health strategy is this: deposits should at least equal withdrawals.

The Top Tip: The best strategy for bone health is to maintain an alkaline body pH between 7.4 and 7.8. An acidic environment is disastrous for bone health, as the body will withdraw calcium to use as a buffering agent to neutralize the acid. You don’t want to use your precious bone as “internal antacid”. 
Tip No. 2: Take Strontium Capsules to boost bone strength. Stontium has been shown to work in two ways. It supports osteoblast activity to reduce resorption (loss) of calcium. It also imparts flexibility to the bone, creating a calcium trap. It has been shown to be able to grow new bone.

Tip No. 3: Vitamin K is important in the formation of Gla-protein (osteocalcin) and Matrix Gla-protein which are essential for calcium assimilation. Vitamin K2 is now available as a supplement and has been showing up in some quality calcium supplements. If relying on dietary Vitamin K, It is important to have good gut bacteria so take a good probiotic.

Tip No. 4: Lecithin, when taken together with the calcium imparts a vehicle for increasing calcium absorption. It has a perfect lyophilic and liphophilic duality. It ensures transport of calcium ions across the gut wall. 

Tip No. 5: Maintain a schedule of weight bearing exercise. If possible, shoot for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity weight-bearing exercise daily: strength training and bouncy activities such as stair-climbing, mini-trampoline jumping or just plain walking. Less popular, but equally effective are: uphill pogo-sticking, moon shoe kick-boxing and unicycle-bouncing-on-a-trapeze-wire-over-the-Niagara. These bone-densifying activities signal the activity of osteoblast cells which act as spackle, gluing the calcium to the bone. In effect, if you need your bones to be stronger, the body will take care of it, no problem. However, if you are sitting on your buttocks and using your thumbs to press the remote, then you will get calcium deposits in these two areas. You asked for it; no problem there too.
Tip No. 6: Choose your calcium as you would choose your friends: not all calcium is equal. Confused about absorption rates? 
                    Calcium bis-glycinate (best) 
                    Calcium citrate-malate ( very good)
                    Calcium citrate (good)
                    Calcium carbonate (not bad, better than milk)
                    Milk (well, it's better than water)
      Magnesium, when taken at the same time as calcium, will work to increase calcium absorption. It acts like Tenille to the Captain, or Herb to the Peaches.If you get the reference, you need calcium and magnesium right about now.

Tip No. 7: Get enough Vitamin D. In the summer, sun exposure for 5-10 minutes on bare skin activates Vitamin D stored in fat cells. Supplements are needed in the winter or if you wear a T-shirt that says "spelunkalot". Vitamin D3, the activated form, is non-accumulative, and is safe even in high doses.  When shopping for Vitamin D, make sure it is D3, the activated, non-accumulating form. Look for super concentrated Vitamin D 3 drops in rice bran oil delivering 1,000iu per drop. 
Tip No. 8: Don’t forget fruits and vegetables. Eat a minimum of 5 to 10 servings of a variety of different colored fruits or vegetables daily. Important for alkalinity and Vitamin K. Avoid the three terrors (not the three tenors): alcohol, smoking and coffee.
This computerized image shows the air pockets in the bone magnified. These air pockets start appearing as the bone loses its integrity. Hormone changes, injury, inactivity and acid-loss all contribute to the acceleration of bone loss.
When bone loses calcium, the air pockets increase in proportion to the calcium. The density of the bone starts to drop. As the supporting matrix collapses, the collagen protein which gives bone its resiliency gives way to soft, brittle bone.
Unfortunately, this happens over time with little warning. It is common to discover osteoarthritis only after a fall which has resulted in a fracture.
Tip No. 9: Eat enough protein: Vegetarians and raw fooders in particular should make sure they are consuming adequate dietary protein. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 56 g/day for adult men and 46 g/day for adult women. Clean protein is hard to find, but consider brown rice protein of hemp protein. 
Tip No. 10: Avoid excess salt: Higher salt intakes increase urinary calcium loss. Keep salt intake below 5.8 g/day (2.3 g/day of sodium). Avoid salty, packaged, processed foods and preserved meat. If you add up all the salt in packaged food, you will soon discover that there is salt in everything. How to know you are not taking too much salt? Eat in a restaurant. Order soup. if you find the soup salty, congratulate yourself, your taste buds have adjusted to low salt.
Free Bonus Tip: Avoid excess Vitamin A (retinol). Look for multivitamin supplements that contain no more than 2,500 iu of vitamin A or choose a supplement with Beta-Carotene instead.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Fear of Kefir

Kira gave me some kefir starter yesterday and I have made my first two batches, using some organic milk that we had in the fridge. From the time she gave me the "babies" yesterday, to this morning, they have grown in volume by 50%. My mutual funds should take note. Kefir babies sounds cute , but they are actually a bit scary. Knowing that this army of many tribes: some bacteria, some yeast, has grown trillion-strong overnight is both impressive and humbling. A kefir horde.

Kefirnology: How do you even say it? Most people mispronounce with kay-fir. Some say kiefer (Hello, I'm Kiefer Sutherland, I was named after bacteria). The correct way: say "veneer". Now put a k in place of the v. Now say keh-feer with the the emphasis on the second syllable. Finish by making it heavy and guttural, as if you have a ball of.. uh, kefir stuck in your throat... keh-fihrr.

This ancient, magical food has been around for along time and was studied as far back as 1907 for the beneficial benefits of the lactobacillus bacteria. Even then, the people of the Caucasus and Bulgaria were living very long life spans and this fermented milk was one of the main reasons. No healthcare, no cold-fx, just kefir. It is interesting that the popularity of the technique grew from a practical means to preserve food without refrigeration. There was no kefir section in the corner market. They just discovered (or their mother told them so) that they did not get sick if they added the white cheesy stuff to their milk. Brilliant in it simplicity, instead of pasteurizing to kill any bacteria, they fermented the food to prevent spoilage. In the process, the fermentation not only preserved the food, it also preserved the foodie.

A host of very beneficial bacteria and yeast have been identified. There are different variations depending on the origin of the strain, but some species of microorganisms are always present. You will find Lactobacilli, Acetobacter, Leuconostoc and yeasts like Zygosaccharomyces, and Saccharomyces. Consider that your puny grocery yougurt tub will have maybe five million cells of bacteria. Kefir can contain 200 times more.

The process produces beautiful "mushrooms" of cheesy kefir clumps, which is strained off from the curdle of solids. (Use a plastic salad strainer) The remaining solid mush is ready to eat. The mushroom pieces are then used to start the next batch. I poured the mushrooms into a two pound jar of 2% organic milk which is right now sitting on my desk at room temperature. It is poised to topple unto my laptop keyboard as I write this. I can feel the kefir army pushing against the wall of the plastic jar in waves, " OK, you ladies...on three, we all surge forward and give this fella a nice little kefir surprise, yeah? Hey you! On the 30- milllionth row... put your psp down for crying out loud. "

Tomorrow, I will repeat the process.

Kira warned me that it is very important to start with a sterilized container, either glass or plastic. No metal should touch the culture (neither vessels, stirrers or lids) and that the culture should be checked after 24 hours, as the rate of production of solids is surprisingly very fast. Better to avoid a blast of kefir splattered into the ceiling and all over my laptop. She recommended using milk, rather than the coconut water that I was planning to use. (Much thicker, faster results)

It looks daunting to first try it. First I smell it. Then I take a gulp. The taste is not unpleasant. It is not pleasant either. It is very...primeval. Primeval yogurt. A slice of banana would easily fix it. I immediately realize that I have been spoiled by the easy texture and pleasing flavour of commercially produced yogurt. An entire civilization is softened by leisure and convenience.

The fact that this bacteria is many centuries old transports me. I am sitting at dawn on the ridge of a minor hill in the Caucasus. I have a three day hike in rugged terrain ahead of me, until I can deliver a package of herbs to my ailing friend Desislav. He has had the misfortune of eating some bad goat at the wedding. I have kefir in my bladderbag and I take a swig of its creamy fetidness. I am now sustained. A mini-cloud floats in the air as I clear my throat. .. aackk...kehfirr.

A yogurt's quality is always measured by the chatter of the digestive tract. It is either quiet (such as when I took bargain probiotics which likely had no live culture left) or market-day lively (my belly sings, as if the commensal bacteria are having a heck of a block party). I would say that the effect of the kefir was evident right away. I am now eagerly awaiting the next batch.

I salute the Caucasus mountains that gave us this amazing food. I get up from my laptop which is very unlikely to outlive the kefir army, swivel around on my man-made-materials-only Staples chair with three (yup, three) adjusting levers and go back to my day. At least my bacteria now makes sense.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Balance Your pH


One of the givens in achieving health, maintaining energy, reaching vitality and increasing immunity is a proper body pH. The surety of this all-in-one season's pass to good health is based on the fact that our body contains about 60% water. Our being in balance is dependent on a large part on the chemistry of acids and alkalis.

Human blood is slightly alkaline, maintained to precision by the body’s systems to operate between a very narrow range of 7.35 and 7.45. If the pH falls below 6.8 or rises above 7.8, it has a very immediate effect: cells die. That is how important acid-alkali balancing is.
Here are the top ten tips in achieving a perfect body pH.

1. Eat more vegetables. Put two hands out, that's how much vegetables. Put one hand out, that's how much carbs. Put the fingers of one hand together, that's how much protein. Stick your thumb out as if hitching for a ride, that's how much fat.

Vegetables are alkaline producing and carbohydrates (starches, breads, sugars) and protein (fish, meat, dairy ) are acid-producing. At every meal, balance alkaline foods to acidic foods at a ratio of 70% to 30%. It does not work if you have a salad for lunch (good) and a KD for dinner (bad), as the neutralizing effect of the vegetables happens if present at the same meal.

2. Avoid coffee. The acidifying effect will last for several hours. Four cups of coffee a day will create an acid storm which can last for the entire day. If you are after the caffeine, then it is better to have an expresso or an americano.

3. Choose carbohydrates carefully, restricting choices to carbs with a low glycemic index. Reduce sugary snacks. This will include chocolate, cookies, doughnuts and cakes, pastries and desserts. Since you’re skipping the coffee anyway, that doughnut won’t be the same.

4. Limit the consumption of dairy products. You may consider switching to almond milk, which is lower in fat, protein and sugar. And: it does not complicate the hormone thing.

5. Drink sufficient amount of water and absolutely avoid carbonated soft drinks. It is a very potent combination of sugar, carbonic acid and phosphoric acid. It will essentially deplete calcium instantly. Carbonated drinks have a pH value of about 2.8. Since the pH system is exponential, this is about 100,000 times more acidic than water.

6.Drink lemon water. Lemons maybe acidic, but once digested, they form alkali residues which are left to neutralize acidic foods.

7. Eat fermented foods such as fermented sauerkraut, specially at the beginning of a meal. Bacteria and enzymes create a digestion factory that will neutralize acids. There are now enzyme supplements cultured in yeast for this purpose.

8. Apple cider vinegar taken at the start of a meal supplies a neutralizing agent for acidifying foods. Make sure you choose a brand with at least 5% Acetic Acid. Cider Press in Courtenay makes a beautiful pristine product with 6% Acetic Acid.

9. Take a supplement of colloidal minerals. These will scavenge for acid fragments and comb the landscape for acids. There are many excellent choices made from sea vegetables, algae and plankton that are packed with trace minerals that will do the trick.

10.Reduce stress. Stress produces more acid. Acid will destroy cells. Stress can be very distressful to cell function…so you may be sorry for the worry. OK, I’ll stop now.

If you want more information, we can provide you with a complete list of acid-alkali foods and a recipe list of perfectly tantalizing, but alkalizing meals.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Top Ten Top Ten

The Top Ten of Top Ten Lists

In the next ten postings, I will be listing the top ten of my top ten lists. Of course there are probably books and TV shows devoted to top ten lists, but these are my favorites, and they are topics on natural medicine.

I think that it should really be a Top Six List, because in my experience, interest falls precipitously after the sixth one of anything. I can remember six numbers in my head. My to-do list for each day maxes out at 6. I just can't get to that seventh one. I look at the first six pages of an instruction manual, and figure I'm an expert by that point. A common salutatory conversation should be limited to six words: good to see you...call me. There are six people that I would like to meet. There are six people I would spend the rest of my life with. I was trying to be clever and come up with six points here, but you are far too cleverer and have seen the ploy, I can now see.

So here are the Top Ten of my lists, of which in reality, you will only be interested in the top six, so the last 4 are fodder and if I stop at the sixth, nobody will notice, I think. The lists will appear in sequential order ( as opposed to random ) in the next ten postings. Give yourself a pat on the back if your interest is held until the tenth and last list. Good luck to all of you and remember the rules of long distance running: do not buy new shoes.

The Top Ten Top Ten Natural Medicine Tips
1. Top Ten Tips on Alkalizing Your pH
2. Top Ten Tips on Bone Building
3. Top Ten Tips on Reducing Allergies
4. Top Ten Tips on Stress Busting
5. Top Ten Tips on Sleep
6. Top Ten Tips on Chronic Inflammation
7. Top Ten Tips on Immunity Building
8. Top Ten Tips for GERD Management
9. Top Ten Supplements
10. Top Ten Foods You Have to Eat Regularly

You notice that I have (with difficulty), refrained from some of my personal favorites, such as :

Alternate List:
1. Top Ten Uses For Duct Tape With No Other Tools
2. Top Ten Robin Williams Movies: 5 Dark 5 Light
3. Top Ten Bee Gees Songs
4. Top Ten Guilty Pleasures (the it's-unhealthy-I-know-but-I've-been-so-good type)
5. Top Ten Words That End with Icious, not at all related to No.4

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Blog Commandments

This being my first blog, I will abide by the following rules:

1. I will not backspace. What is written is wrote. No editing.
2. I will first-write. Thoughts will transfer directly from my mind to the keyboard.
3. I will not write about other people, that is gossip.
4. I will offer opinion, that is ... that is conviction...I think.
5. I will do good. Contribute. Participate. Engage.

I think that is it. My thoughts count. My thoughts count. One more time, with conviction:
My thoughts count.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Probiotic Olympics
Marigold Natural Pharmacy offers a wide variety of probiotic supplements. We now carry one of the best probiotic lines on the planet: Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics. Developed by award-winning microbiologist Dr. Ichiroh Ohhira from Okayama University, they contain very specific strains of lactic acid bacteria.

If they held an Olympics for bacteria, these strains would be podium contenders in increasing energy, improving repair mechanisms, supporting immune system and supporting optimal health. The formula will decrease anxiety, improve mood and support restful sleep.