Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Second Medicine

There are three things the human body requires: Air, water, food.

The body can survive for about 7 minutes without air, 7 days without water and 7 weeks without food. Not easily, or comfortably, but it can survive.

As infants we start out in an enviroment where our every need is supplied even before we understand it. Then we emerge into this odd space where we have to express our needs.

Saying "I need" usually results in something being put in an infant's mouth, resulting in crossed signals--as infants, we learn that "I'm hungry" and "I'm thirsty" are interchangeable. Later, we discover that "I'm hungry" tastes better and "I'm thirsty" is no longer consciously recognized. As adults, for the most part we assume "hungry" when we're thirsty because those first few months of life taught us that they were the same thing. So we eat instead of drink, never satisfied because we're not feeding the correct appetite.

Many diseases, from strokes to headaches and on through some forms of cancer and dementia, can ultimately be traced back to dehydration.

The body relies on a liquid conduction system. Like a wet cell battery, if the liquid level is too low the current drops. When the current drops the body thinks "drought" and goes into survival mode. Everything that is not absolutely essential (skin, digestion, and immunity to name a few) goes into maintenance mode, where the least energy and resources are used.

In the short run, people who do not drink enough are prone to (the short list) muddled thinking, emotional rollercoasters, exhaustion, elimination problems and headaches.

The problem with "drinking" is that many people consider any kind of liquid to fit the bill. So they go for coffee, tea, sodas, all of which increase urination (they're diuretics). Drinking a cup of coffee may actually make you get rid of more water than is in the coffee, so it doesn't work. Same with alcoholic beverages. Any time you add anything to water, it's adding chemicals that are going to have a reaction with your body, either positive or negative.

As we age our bodies fail to adapt to shortages as easily, and the habits of a lifetime catch up to us. Dry skin, brains that don't fire as well as they used to, cell elasticity problems and many others can be traced ultimately back to a lifetime of starving our bodies of one essential nutrient--water.

If you know you're breathing properly and you still have whatever problem you're trying to figure out, drink water. It's not going to be as immediate a solution as breathing correctly. If you're breathing incorrectly it will take about seven minutes for the effects to start showing. If you're dehydrated, it may take a week or more.

Water is the second medicine.

The First Medicine (Air)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Garlic update

When I started this thing I forgot one critical component of any hydroponic system. Oxygen. Most hydroponic systems are flood and drain systems, where the roots are immersed for a few minutes every hour (or every few hours, depending on the situation). I don't have the space or the time to devote to a full hydroponics system, and I don't like using electricity for that anyway, so I make do.

I have the plants in straight water, and until last week I had forgotten to pump air into the water. Blah. Anyway, I've started pumping air into the water on a daily basis, so we'll see what kind of difference that makes.

In this first picture, you can see the difference between the two plantings of garlic. On the left is the first planting. I kept the moss moist until the roots were well developed, and then I let it dry out and let the water level drop. The second planting the moss has remained moist and I've left the water level high. You can see the difference. The other difference is that I stopped adding fertilizer to the water when I planted this batch. I was afraid that the nitrogen level might be getting toxic.

The second picture, below, shows the water level. I keep the plants in a nursery planter tray (the kind with the little hanging baskets) in a plastic tub that I purchased from a craft store. In the spring it (and two more just like it) will be used to start my plants for my garden.

I tried to get a picture of the comparative root-mass, but it didn't work. It's not really visible in this picture, and balancing the tray in one hand while manipulating the camera with the other isn't my favorite thing. So what you see is what you get.

What you don't see is that the roots of the most recent planting are white, thick and strong, the roots on the left more spindly and an odd yellow color where they're not brown and dry. They also tend to grow straight down rather than bunching and spreading.

Garlic usually has a MUCH larger root-mass than this, so I'll have to wait and see how it works. Maybe the larger root-mass isn't necessary with so much water available. Who knows? A few of the bulbs are starting to divide into cloves, so they're almost ready.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The first medicine

Air is something we tend to take forgranted, unless we have some kind of breathing disorder. We hunch over, restricting our lung space. We breathe shallowly (especially when there's some kind of odor in the air, which is when we need MORE oxygen). We hold our breath and deliberately mess with the amount of air we get.

As humans we seem to think that breathing is just a thing we do, without considering the ramifications.

Too little oxygen results in headaches, disorientation, in some cases euphoria or dizziness. Ladies who wore corsets had to breathe more shallowly. They were often ill, they fainted a lot, they were more frail and seemed to have more psychological problems than their contemporaries who didn't wear corsets. There are other reasons, but not breathing enough was probably one of them. Bone problems, digestion problems, mood swings, all may be linked in one way or another to improper breathing over an extended period of time.

Take a deep breath. Let it out.

Breathe in deeper. Let your ribs expand sideways and your belly puff out. This is why your ribs aren't connected, to allow your lungs to expand. Deeper. Breathe in until you can't breathe in any more.

Feels strange, doesn't it? Now breathe in again but keep your ribs in place and don't let your diaphram work. Feel the difference? Probably much more familiar.

Very few people use the full capacity of their lungs. The blood rushes past the lungs, but if we breathe too shallowly there's nothing for it to pick up. If it doesn't pick up any oxygen, it just keeps moving and swings around for another try. Which means that for most people a large portion of the blood is doing nothing but moving in a big loop. Motion without meaning because it isn't carrying any oxygen to feed the muscles and cells.

Next time you feel anxious or worried (or angry), try breathing. Not to discomfort, but full deep breaths. Next time you get dizzy, try to determine if you were breathing correctly. If your eyesight is strange or you're feeling light-headed, check your breathing.

Air is the first medicine we should take, and in many cases a few deep breaths is all we will need.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas Cactus

The topic seems reasonable, for the time of year.

A lot of people have questions about how to make various plants bloom. Amarylis and christmas cactus are two that I hear questions about most often (and aside from that, I have both).

The important thing to remember with christmas cactus is that they are southern hemisphere transplants. They bloom during the southern summer and fall, when the days are shorter.

I have a white christmas cactus (which is actually pale pink) that bloomed for the first time this year. Because of where it grows, half of it is in the sun most of the day and half in the shade. The half that is in the sun is covered with blooms, while the other side has none. The CC beside it is completely in the shade most of the day and only has a few small blossoms on it.

I know from experience that the plants in the shade won't bloom as profusely or as early--I'll get full bloom from them around the beginning of February.

To make either amarylis or christmas cactus bloom, you need to simulate their normal blossoming conditions. The amarylis is a bulb, meaning it needs a dormant period each year. Letting it continue to grow and hoping for a flower (or scape) is usually not effective. Once the plant has bloomed (or after the leaves die back, depending on the variety) put the amarylis in a dark place until the leaves die completely and dry up. Removing the bulb from the soil is not usually necessary, although it will prevent dirt on the floor if the pot falls over. If you have questions of whether your amarylis bulb is still alive--if it's still hard, plant it.

The main point is to trick the plant into thinking it's spring, when the days are longer and the soil starts to warm from the sun.

The christmas cactus, being a lower level cacti (generally living in shaded and very humid areas), will bloom when the light reaches the appropriate level and the days are shorter. If you move a christmas cactus into a more shady area or into a dark closet for a month or so, then move it into the light, that should trigger the blooms.

Just don't forget about it.