Archive for the ‘Eight Is Enough’ Category

“No!  Ooooh no you don’t!” Five minutes before I had to walk out the door to attend a music practice I started yelling at my own brain. “Don’t you even think about it!”  A shining, electric splotch of quicksilver began to form on the left side of my visual field.  Like an oil slick, it began to spread its way towards my right eye, bleeding television static snow all over the entire universe.  Forget whatever else was on the schedule for the day.  It was time to hunker down, and wait for this migraine to pass.

Being chemically sensitive, I have relatively few options to combat the lightning storm in my head.  After a couple post brain-battering hours, I scoured the internet for some natural alternatives to prescription migraine medicines.  Here are a few of the most promising remedies:

1.  Butterbur- This plant, found growing in Northern Asia, Europe and areas of North America, can be taken as a tea, extract or capsule.  Studies have shown that 50-75 mg of butterbur extract twice a day decreased the occurrence of chronic migraines.  Side effects were generally mild digestive complaints.  Since the plant is in the ragweed family, those with grass allergies should avoid the drug.  Anyone with kidney and liver disease should seek an alternative remedy.

2.  Feverfew- This European herb has been used as a healer for headaches, arthritis, and fever for centuries.  In the 980’s, it began to be used as a therapy for migraines.  Feverfew should not be taken with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because of its blood-thinning properties.  Due to some of its side effects (gas, diarrhea, vomiting, nervousness) and its close relation to chamomile, ragweed and yarrow, sufferers should consult their doctors concerning any allergies or sensitivities before taking the supplement.

3.  Magnesium- This element is found naturally in green vegetables and helps to regulate blood sugar, as well being essential to muscle and nerve function.  Around 300-600mg each day may reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.  Magnesium citrate may be the most effective form, and it is not recommended taking a magnesium/calcium blend for headaches.

4.  5-HTP- 5 Hydroxytryptophan is a form of amino acid created in the body and used in the production of the neurotransmitter seratonin and the hormone melatonin.  It can be bought as a supplement derived from plant seeds.  At a dose of 600mg a day, 5-HTP may reduce the number of severe headaches.

5.  Niacin-  AKA Vitamin B3, taken right as the headache starts can relieve a good deal of the migraine’s vice-like grip.

6.  Mangosteen-  This fruit has pain-easing and anti-inflammatory properties and can help with dulling sensitivity to stimuli.  Extract or smoothie should do the trick.

7.  Acupuncture-  For those who are not leery of needles, a visit to the acupuncturist could possibly manipulate the body’s electrical signals enough to decrease the number and intensity of headaches.

8.  Aromatherapy- Essential oils are quick and inexpensive ways to combat pain and stress.  Chamomile, rosemary, lavender and peppermint have been noted as some of the most effective for migraines.  The oils can be placed in a diffuser, or applied directly to the temples, head and neck.  Coupled with a cool washcloth, the oils should provide relief from pain and nausea within fifteen minutes.

9.  Biofeedback- Through biofeedback, a person can learn to control and reduce the reactions that are triggered by severe headaches.  By noticing certain bodily fluctuations such as pulse, temperature and tension, a sufferer can bring these under conscious awareness and eventually identify and alter the patterns that appear during a migraine.  Devices that monitor the body’s changes can be used at first in order to make the sensations available to be observed by the brain.  Eventually, biofeedback will aid the patient in preventing the headaches before they start and help lessen the pain through relaxation techniques.  Levels of stress hormones and seratonin have been lowered through biofeedback, affecting the rate and intensity of migraines.

 

 

In honor of San Luis Obispo’s upcoming Native Plant Week (April  17-23), Spring, and the heaps of pollen swirling on the breeze, Bambu Batu presents the top 8 natural ways to beat allergies this season.

1.  Native honey-  Eating locally farmed honey helps to inoculate the immune system by letting the body get used to very small doses of pollen.  For best results, eat 2-3 spoonfuls of native, unfiltered honey each day for for several months prior to the height of allergy season.  Browse your farmer’s market for some sweet relief!

2.  Neti pot- When your head feels like its been stuffed with enough cotton to soak up the Atlantic, drain your sinuses with a saline solution using a Neti pot.  The little ceramic container helps to flush out nasal passages, relieve pressure, and soothe irritation.  The salt rinse works by allowing the small hairs (cilia) in your sinuses to better remove mucus, bacteria and allergens.  Sure, inserting the spout of what looks vaguely like a magic lamp up your nose may take some getting used to, but its a great alternative to taking medications and leaves your head feeling clean and clear.

3.  Spring cleaning- Give your home a good wipe-down and and allow air to circulate.  Dust is composed of a myriad of elements that can cause coughing, sneezing and inflammation.  Some of these appetizing ingredients  include pet dander, mite feces, molds and fungi.  To curb the growth of irritants, maintain a constant low humidity in living spaces, run fans, and vacuum regularly.  While a little tidying can do a lot of good, be careful not to go too overboard!  Vigorous cleaning may eliminate the small amount of allergens on which our immune systems practice.  Some household chemicals may also increase immune reactions, so play it safe by using “green” or environmentally friendly products that easily biodegrade and contain less caustic substances

4.  Quercetin- This plant-derived compound helps to stabilize cells in the respiratory system that trigger the release of histamines and cause allergy attacks.  Quercetin is commonly found in citrus, tea, onions, apples, parsley, lettuce, onions, and wine and can also be bought in supplement form.  Sufferers should take about 1,000 mg each day between meals and start about six weeks before allergy season reaches full bloom.

5.  Allergy-fighting foods-  Recent studies have shown that people with diets rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, (found in fish, walnuts, flaxseed, grass-fed meats and eggs), were less likely to suffer from allergies.  For decongestion, add spicy foods like horseradish, chili or mustard to meals.

6.  Stinging nettle-  As a natural antihistamine, nettle prevents the immune system from over-reacting to environmental irritants.  You can avoid the pain of touching this common weed and find its freeze-dried extract in capsules at your local health foods store.  This supplement does not cause drowsiness or dry mouth like most proscription medications and 300mg a day should provide relief for several hours.

7.  Butterbur- This European plant derivative has been shown to be as effective in fighting symptoms as cetirizine, the active ingredient in the Zyrtec.  Four doses of 32mg each day should alleviate discomfort.  However, Butterbur is in the same family as ragweed, so those sensitive to these plants should show caution before considering this remedy.

8.  Apple cider vinegar-  Good for more than just salad dressings, 1-3 doses of 1/8 cup of vinegar throughout the day can prevent attacks and keep the itching and watery eyes at bay.  Either dilute the vinegar in 16oz of water to form a tonic, or if you are feeling brave, take a shot from the bottle.  Add a a little local honey to buffer the tangy flavor and boost the allergy fighting power!

 

 

 

Right, wrong and on the fence. Sometimes it’s straight forward, right?

Wrong: when you fail to mention your boyfriend to a guy who offers to buy you drink, and then you slip away to “the bathroom” upon receipt of said drink. Wrong.

Right: When you then take said drink to boyfriend waiting for you in another part of the bar. Right.

In between: When you tell your boyfriend you bought it for him. Grey area.

Being green can be similar.

Wrong: Throwing away aluminum cans and taking 40 minute showers. Wrong.

Right: Taking aluminum cans out of the trash and putting them in the the recycling, then only taking a long enough shower to get the trash smell out of your hair. Right.

In between: Buying the occasional plastic water bottle and justifying it because “you recycled it” and then taking a semi long shower because you never do it.

However, it’s impossible to determine right and wrong without some amount of informed decision making. You KNOW that aluminum cans are recyclable. You KNOW that we don’t have enough water to go around. You know that plastic isn’t that bad if you…oh…uh…do we know that? Fact Check? Bueller?

Plastic has its uses and its place in this world. Yup. There are many effective and important uses for plastic. But here are eight facts you may or may not have known about how detrimental it can be to us and to our environment.

“BPA is a synthetic estrogen and commonly used to strengthen plastic and line food cans. Scientists have linked it, though not conclusively, to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike.” (From Raw Earth Living) And you think, what about IV tubes? Aren’t those useful and good? Yeah, they are. However, there is a pretty nasty chemical that goes in to making an IV what it is. Known as di-ethylhexyl, this substance can leech from an IV into the bloodstream, and cause complications in more susceptible members of the population, such as infants. The average American produces half a pound of plastic waste per day. ‘The bodies of almost all marine species, including some of the most vulnerable and wildest species on the planet – animals that spend nearly their entire living far from humans – now contain plastic.” (Mail Online) For every 1,000 plastic bags distributed, 3 wind up in the ocean.  That doesn’t seem terrible, unless you consider that one billion bags are distributed every day. Plastics in the U.S. are made primarily (70 percent) from domestic natural gas. (Earth911.com) More than 260 species have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris. It will take 50 to 80 years for a plastic cup to decompose. (Greenfeet.com)

Do you ever wonder where we come up with all these stories, tips, tidbits, recipes and trivia that we share everyday on our Blog and our FaceBook page? Of course, we pick up an occasional story with our wind-powered radar made entirely from bamboo, which spins around the clock, but what else? Well, truth be told, we actually spend a lot of time searching on the interwebs. Believe it or not, there’s actually quite an amalgamation of useless information lurking inside this invisible media source, but once in a while we strike a nugget of pithy wisdom.

1. When it comes to comprehensive eco-news, few sites can rival the Daily Green. As their name implies, this page is worth visiting on a very regular basis to keep up with issues that matter most to the environmentally conscious.

2. The Tiny Green Bubble provides another voluminous source of news from around the world about environmental living.

3. If you thought you were too poor, too lazy or too insignificant to make meaningful eco-conscious lifestyle choices, here’s a site for you: The Lazy Environmentalist.

4. It’s taken a long time to dispel the myth that going Green will put your business in the Red. Check out the Triple Pundit for the green business news that you might not see on Fox or NBC.

5. For green living design and style tips for your home, take a look at the Pure Green Living Magazine.

6. Looking for an off-the-beaten-path blog about green building, check out the well-informed commentaries of Barry Katz, one of Connecticut’s leading proponents of sustainability and green building.

7. Maybe you can’t dismantle your not-so-friendly neighborhood nuclear power plant, but the Lighter Footstep has a host of practical suggestions on how you can reduce your carbon footprint, easily and affordably, and a thousand reasons why you should.

8. Finally, check out these fun DIY project ideas and useful shopping tips on how to upgrade to a greener lifestyle, from the Green Upgrader. (Including the re-used plastic bottle lighting system pictured above!)

Let us know if you have any favorites that we missed, and in the meantime, stay informed and keep it green!

 

 

 

 

So with recent disasters and revolution, some of us find ourselves feeling ill-at-ease in our once comfortable illusions  of an overly secure existence. The “that won’t happen here, or to me, or to my family” subconscious thought process that we operate on more than we care to admit, for some, has been shaken by the aftershocks, tsunamis and nuclear disaster occurring just across the ocean. For others, there is an utter denial about our own vulnerability and lack of control of the world around us.

So somewhere between the media hype, the denial and the panic, we need to look at what we as citizens can learn from other people’s tragedy and misfortune. While it may be a bit absurd for people to build bunkers and stock up on ammo for the impending zombie apocalypse, it is more than reasonable for those of us on the coast of California to look around and think “hey, we’re on a fault line and right next to a nuclear power plant. Maybe I should have some emergency supplies at the ready in CASE something goes wrong?” Here are eight things you can do to keep yourself safe in the event of a major disaster.

Without going overboard, you can keep yourself stocked on some necessary items. It is important to have to canned food and water around, in case things run out, or you’re stuck inside for a while. If you take any kind of prescription medication, it is important to have a surplus on hand.  Extra cans of PBR are always a good idea as well. Depending on what part of the country you live in, it would be a good idea to have some sort of means of creating heat on hand. Blankets, fire wood, etc. They don’t take up much extra space, but a little extra warmth can make a huge difference. Keep the most extensive first aid kit around that you can afford, or have room for. In the event of an earthquake, you never know how badly you and yours could be injured. And while there’s not a whole lot rubbing alcohol can do for a broken bone, and can keep a nasty gash from becoming infected. If you are evacuated form an area near a power plant, it would be helpful to have not only tools in your vehicle, but some of the same things you have in your garage in terms of food/water/heat sources/sleeping and camping goods. It sounds a bit extreme, but really, that sort of thing is more likely to happen than anyone would care to admit. During an earthquake, if you are inside, make sure to stay there. Get underneath a very strong/stable surface. If you are outside, keep clear of objects that could fall or power lines. If you are cooking indoors, be sure to turn of the stove. In the event of a nuclear disaster, only leave your home if you are absolutely certain you have a destination to arrive at, and the means to get there quickly. You don’t want to be stuck in stampede. You’d be safer indoors… provided you’ve stocked up on necessary goods. If you live in a coastal region and survive a major earthquake, it is a good idea to get to higher ground as quickly as possible. A tsunami is likely to follow in the seismic aftermath. If you are driving in an earthquake, be sure to pull over slowly, out of range from power lines and bridges.

While some of these are sort of common sense, it never hurts to have a reminder. We can’t prevent a natural disaster, and we can only try to prevent man made disasters, but we can do our best to avoid personal disaster and loss. If you’re looking for supplies to put in your own personal earthquake kit, come in to Bambu Batu for some sustainable and sturdy camping materials.

 

 

Planting bamboo

UPDATE: In 2018 we published a much more thorough article on selecting the Best Bamboos for Your Garden, as well as a special article on Cold Hardy Bamboo.

By now you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the many virtues of bamboo — its versatility, its sustainability, its indispensability. And you’ve no doubt admired its beauty, as it flourishes among pagodas in Japanese gardens, on the patios of Thai restaurants and sushi bars, and on-screen in some of your favorite kung fu movies.

But you may have also heard horror stories about people planting bamboo and soon finding it completely out of control. Perhaps a neighbor planted some and within a couple years it was all up in your flower bed choking out your roses and suffocating your award-winning bearded irises. Indeed, bamboo can be aggressive, sustainable in the worst kind of way, downright indestructible.

So how can you ornament you garden with this incredible plant without running into deep regrets 3 or 4 years down the road?

First and foremost, unless you really really know what you’re doing or really really don’t care, keep your bamboo in a container. Bamboo looks great in pots, and in something like an old wine barrel it has plenty of room to prosper, without encroaching on your crocus or tickling your tulips.

Secondly, it’s helpful to realize that there are some 1500 varieties of bamboo, with various personalities and growth habits. People tend to divide them into two groups:  runners and clumpers. Runners are the aggressive ones that run amok in your lawn and garden, whereas clumpers generally stay pretty compact.

This division can be helpful, but dividing 1500 species into 2 groups can also be a very misleading oversimplification. If you plant a clumper alongside a regularly sprinkled lawn, the grassy clumper will quickly gravitate toward the sprinklers and start looking a lot like a runner. Likewise, if you plant a runner in a chilly climate like the high sierras or upstate New York, it might end up behaving more like a clumper.

Also, bamboos are notoriously difficult to identify — thousands of varieties and most of them look very similar. Even nurseries get them mixed up, especially those that don’t specialize in bamboos. And it might take a few years for you to realize that your friendly clumper was really a pathological runner in disguise.

There’s an old saying about bamboo: The first year in sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps. Do not underestimate the eastern wisdom!

With that in mind, here are eight species of bamboo to consider for accenting your garden.

· Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys Nigra) – one of the most highly sought after species, black bamboo is named for the very dark color of its stalks. At maturity this legendary runner can get up to an inch or two in diameter and as much as 30″ tall.

· Mexican Weeping Bamboo (Otatea acuminata) – with its delicate, draping foliage, this clumping variety makes a nice ornamental accent. In a container it’s unlikely to get taller than 6 feet.

· Timber (Phyllostachys Vivax) – like most members of the phyllostachys, this ones a runner. It’s popular for its great size. When planted in the ground and well feed it can get 4-5 inches in diameter and up to 60 feet tall.

· Temple (Semiarundinaria Fastuosa) – a personal favorite of mine, this regal looking bamboo grows very tall, straight and compact. Growing up to 20 or 30 feet high, and about 1.5″ in diameter, it’s about the largest hardy bamboo you can find, for those of you in freezing climates.

· Arrow (Pseudosasa Japonica) – known as a “running clumper,” this makes an excellent privacy screen, tall and dense. It grows up to about 15 feet with thick foliage. Easily recognizable for its unusually large leaves – up to 12″ long.

· Old Ham’s (Bambusa Oldhammi) – another very popular variety, Old Ham’s grows very tall and straight. A giant tropical bamboo, it clumps tightly but grows vigorously.

· Golden (Phyllostachys Aurea) – one of the most popular varieties because it is so widely available. That’s because it’s an aggressive runner that’s easy to propagate. Good for a rapidly expanding privacy hedge, but very difficult to remove. Beware of infestations!

· Square Bamboo (Chimonobambusa Quadrangularis) – especially interesting for its squarish (rather than round) culms. Also unusual because it flowers every few years. But it usually dies after flowering, making it a pretty short-lived variety.

Limericks about Love and Loving

It’s a many-splendored thing, it’s a rose, it’s a battlefield. Love is many things, and today, February 14th, is the day we celebrate it. So we’ve collected eight timeless quotations about love that express all its glory and mystery and hope they resonate as well with you as they did with us!

“So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the suffering of another person.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Wisdom says we are nothing. Love says we are everything. Between these two our life flows.” – Jack Kornfield

“In love lies the seed of our growth. The more we love, the closer we are to the spiritual experience.” – Paulo Coehlo

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” – Mother Theresa

“If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue.” – Dalai Lama

“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think its two hours. That’s relativity.” – Albert Einstein

“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” – Buddha

“Where there is no exaggeration there is no love, and where there is no love there is no understanding.” – Oscar Wilde

To read more about universal love, check out our article on Om is where the Heart is. You might also enjoy our article about Bamboo Folklore.

Photo Credit: The King of Limericks

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