Browsing articles in "medicinal herbs"
Feb 23, 2014
Justine Crono

Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week

Diver wrestles giant octopus

p/pp A new video has captured a man’s epic undersea battle — with a giant octopus./pp A scuba diver, 56-year-old Warren Murray, and his diving buddy, 34-year-old David Malvestuto, were exploring a cove off Carmel, Calif., when they spotted an elusive 8-foot-long (2.4 meters) giant Pacific Octopus that blended in with the surroundings. Murray took out his camera to capture the rare sight when the undersea giant snaked a tentacle out, wrapped it around the camera, and tried to yank it away./pp[Full Story: a href="" target="_blank"
Video: Diver Wrestles Giant Octopus, And Wins/a]/p

Feb 22, 2014
Justine Crono

The vaporizer that marijuana users will spend $600 on, and the health …

With marijuana legalization spreading in the US, the cannabis industry is booming. One company set to reap the benefits is VapeXhale, makers of a high-tech vaporizer, a device used to extract the active ingredients in marijuana and other smokable substances—medicinal herbs like chamomile, for instance, or tobacco.

When people smoke, most of the carcinogens are released by the combustion of the plant material. Vaporizers theoretically avoid setting the weed aflame by heating it just enough to produce vapor, not smoke. They can work by either conduction—a direct heating source—or convection, where heated air is pushed up to the plant material. While the former is cheaper and simpler, the latter has less risk of accidental combustion, so should produce a cleaner vapor. This infographic explains the difference.

Just how high-tech can a vape get? The simplest are vape pens (or electronic cigarettes) which can cost as little as $10. But most devices, using a combination of conduction and convection, cost a couple hundred dollars. VapExhale’s Cloud EVO costs $600. But its creators say that its design—all-glass insides, circulating air, and water pipe head—provides the cleanest, most efficient vapor on the market.

VapExhale is located in San Francisco, where medical use of marijuana is legal, but after a successful crowdfunding campaign over the summer, the Cloud EVO is being sold to medical—and, let’s face it, recreational—users all over. We spoke to founder and CEO Seibo Shen about where the industry is going and why he thinks giving consumers a higher high is more fulfilling than working for Yammer.

Q: You started out in the software industry—sales for Jigsaw, Successfactors, E2open, and Yammer—so why vaporizers?

Seibo Shen: Well, I’ve been vaping since 1997. I’m allergic to alcohol, so when I first discovered pot, I was like, this is awesome! Except for the smoking part. I’ve always been a health nut. I got interested in vaporizers because they’re healthier than the alternative. Selling software was great, but I was pushing products that replaced human workers. People were getting fired.

When I first started this, people said I was an idiot. I’d worked at four different companies with successful exits. That’s supposed to be the dream, but I was getting less joy out of it every time. Now I feel like I’m doing some good.

Q: So who’s going to buy a $600 device for getting high? And is that changing with legalization?

SS: There’s going to be a much more vocal demographic of cannabis users. The landscape is really changing. A lot of our customers are actually 50 or older—they’re medical users, and they want the highest, healthiest dose in the shortest period of time, which is what we offer.

I’m excited to see the stigma decrease. You’ll see more people like me—suit and tie cannabis smokers. Of course there will be a lot of recreational users, but if we’re going to point fingers at the dangers of recreational pot, let’s point fingers at big pharma and tobacco, too. I dose twice a day, and it’s helped me a lot. I have problems with low appetite and back pain, and this makes my life better. That’s true for a lot of people—lives are improved.

Q: But can inhalants ever really be healthy?

SS: Obviously, the best thing for your lungs is clean air. But studies have shown that a lot of the toxins and carcinogens associated with smoking are avoided with vaporization—98% of carcinogens don’t show up. We’re hoping to sponsor some more scientific studies that use our device specifically, because we think we’ve improved on those figures a lot. In a lot of vaporizers, for example, the air path isn’t separated from the electrical components, so you have to worry about fumes and particulates when you get to a certain temperature. We fixed that, and we also use a glass heater in the device. Most vapes use ceramic, but glass is inert and nonreactive. It’s more expensive, but it’s a better choice. I mean, think about drinking fine wine. You put it in a glass because it won’t react with the wine and change the flavor. Cannabis has flavor too!

Feb 21, 2014
Justine Crono

Eco-friendly Movers Think Outside the Box – Press

A young Murrieta couple has launched a business by thinking outside of the box – or more precisely, out of the cardboard box. Shane Cheek, 32, and his wife Erica, 31, are founders of their home-based EnduroBox, a paper-free, no waste, eco-friendly rental moving box company. The containers, which can be stacked 20 feet, are made of reusable, recyclable plastic. “Like Tupperware,” Erica said, “only much stronger.”

The concept is simple. Customers call or visit the website for rentals. Within a 50-mile radius, from Lake Elsinore to San Diego, the Cheeks will drive door to door for deliveries and retrievals. EnduroBox’s most popular package offers 50 boxes for a week at $118, which includes delivery, pickup, dolly and taxes. Two weeks costs $177.

“We’re finding that most people aren’t moving far, but mostly down the street,” Erica said.

For information, call 1-888-365-5370.


I don’t have a dog, but I’m smitten with columnist Dan Bernstein’s furlicious live-ins, Marvin the elder and Sherman the pupster. Even though they’re Old English sheepdogs, they often visit the newsroom, which I guess makes them news hounds. But Marvin, our “therapy dog,” pads around most Friday afternoons to suss out our waste baskets and soothe us like a giant plush toy. Sherman, more comedic than calming, turns me into a goofy face-making, baby-talking aunt.

There’s a less empirical way — but admittedly not as much fun — to discover that sheepdogs are sweet, gentle and clownish. Juan Garcia, 24, a Colton resident and owner of two pooches, has come up with an app. It’s, a landing site for Iphone/iPod and Android platforms.

Garcia began barking up that tree three years ago in his design school marketing class. “I liked the idea that if you know nothing about dogs, you’d have everything at your fingertips all at once on more than 250 breeds,” Garcia told me.

The app’s development cost him $3,500. Garcia, a fulltime graphic designer for a marketing company in Upland, considers PetPlex more comprehensive than competitors’ offerings. “They don’t tell you which breeds are good with children, which dogs need more exercise or grooming,” he said. “On my app you can find out that Tibetan mastiffs can grow to over 200 pounds and aren’t good for first-time dog owners.”


Working more than two decades for Acura, Tom Yost was making nearly $200,000 a year. A broken neck from a car accident in 2008 ended that career. “For two years I was mean and angry and couldn’t function,” said Yost, 55. He decided to get his hands dirty after his wife Linda, a fabulous cook, hunted down dill at four local markets in about as many hours. “I could grow dill in the time you were gone,” Yost told her. Intrigued by the challenge, he planted the herb himself. “God had other plans for me,” he said.

Soon the former Marine was cultivating 10 herbs in his garden on the quarter acre of their Riverside home. At first, he gave everything away. Yost became an organic certified producer of culinary, cosmetic and medicinal herbs and launched Carol Gardens four years ago. The name pays homage to his mother, Carol Yost, who died 25 years ago at 50 of ovarian cancer.

Today Yost grows about 80 plants, including cardamom, ghost pepper, Carolina reaper and seasonal vegetables. You can find Yost from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays at Main Street at Williams-Sonoma in Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at the Riverside Certified Farmers Market, 3537 Main St.; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays at Second Street and Indianhill Avenue in Claremont Village.

Even though in a good month, he can pull in lots of lettuce, “it’s not about the money,” he said. “It’s my passion. It’s the most wonderful thing inspiring people to grow gardens. It’s my passion. Fifteen minutes working in the garden is the best mental therapy.”

Visit his website:

Contact Laurie Lucas at 951-368-9559 or

Feb 20, 2014
Justine Crono

Preserving the Natural Resources and Culture of Chinese Herbal Medicine

By Eric Brand, LAc

As the world experiences unprecedented population growth and ever-increasing ecological pressures, the topic of preserving Chinese medicine’s natural resources has attracted steadily increasing attention from practitioners.

The holistic nature of Chinese medicine tends to attract people with a passion for ecological sustainability to begin with, and the constant stream of alarming media reports about pollution in China keeps the topic of TCM ecology in the spotlight for many clinicians and patients. Practitioners are frequently confronted with patient questions and media reports about pesticides, contaminants, and endangered species in the Chinese medicine industry, and all too often we fail to clarify the facts surrounding these issues effectively to the community around us.

Most Western practitioners gravitate towards Chinese medicine because we want to help patients, so our examinations and schools tend to naturally focus on clinical knowledge rather than specialized disciplines such as herbal pharmacy. Although practitioners are often passionately concerned about the quality, safety, and ethics of the herbs they prescribe, the precise origins and growing conditions of the dried, sliced Chinese herbs seen in the pharmacy remain shrouded in mystery for many practitioners. By better understanding where our herbs come from, we can better communicate with our patients about important questions related to herbal safety and ecology.

Preserving Herbal Resources

Protecting the planet’s natural resources is essential for the long-term future of Chinese medicine. In ancient times, wild plants were widely used in Chinese medicine, and many herbs remain primarily collected from wild sources. Although many medicinal herbs remain abundant in the wild, gradually increasing demand and finite limits to wild populations has spurred cultivation for centuries.

In some cases, herbal resources have been inadequate throughout long stretches of history. For example, wild Asian ginseng was originally found across a relatively wide geographic range in China prior to the Song Dynasty, but some of the ginseng production regions that were praised by ancient texts no longer have intact populations of wild ginseng remaining. As Asian ginseng became increasingly scarce, codonopsis and American ginseng emerged as substitutes, and both herbs entered the materia medica literature at the same time in the mid-18th century. Wild ginseng held on by a thread in Northeastern China, largely due to the closure of large forest areas by Imperial decree in the Qing Dynasty. Today, all Asian ginseng used clinically in Chinese medicine comes from cultivated sources, and genuine wild specimens are exceedingly rare.

In the modern day, over 150 common Chinese herbs are primarily derived from cultivated plants. Many herbs have been cultivated for centuries, such as Bai Zhi, Di Huang, and Huang Lian, and abundant ancient records describe their ideal growing regions, features, and processing methods. 

Over time, new cultivation techniques have arisen, such as the use of cell culture to propagate plants that cannot be easily cultivated by seed. Herbs such as Bai Ji, Tian Ma, and Shi Hu are cultivated in glass jars using cell culture, which has brought Shi Hu and Tian Ma back from the threat of extinction and will help preserve Bai Ji’s wild resources. Other herbs, such as Fu Ling, benefit from sustainable harvesting methods utilizing pine trees that are cultivated on terraces and inoculated with the poria fungus, eliminating the need to damage wild pine trees. While most plants that can be easily grown have already been cultivated for centuries, these innovative techniques make it possible to cultivate technically challenging plants that would otherwise be unsustainable based on their limited wild resources.

As practitioners, our patients often ask us about issues of endangered species in Chinese medicine. In the media, our patients read about cases such as the recent six-month endangered species sting that generated a £ 20,000 fine for a prominent TCM company in downtown London, while the real story of how the London police managed to waste six months of endangered species enforcement resources on a few bottles of granules made from obviously cultivated plants goes unnoticed. One can’t help but wonder how much ivory trafficking could have been prevented if some literature review or even a decent Google search was considered before they went after the Mu Xiang granules.

Granted, we can’t solve all the perception problems about Chinese herbs and endangered species overnight, but we can save our patients a lot of trouble and stress by being well informed about the ecological background of the herbs that we use.

Preserving Medicinal Authenticity

The art of identifying genuine medicinal materials has been central to quality control in Chinese herbal medicine for millennia. Although illustrated texts and written descriptions have been used to transmit knowledge surrounding Chinese medicinal identification for well over a thousand years, avoiding misidentified herbs and inferior products has been an issue for herbalists throughout history. As a result, the traditional techniques that developed over the centuries to identify Chinese medicinals based on their macroscopic features remain highly relevant today.

Writing in the 6th century A.D., the physician Tao Hongjing summarized the challenges of the ancient herbal marketplace in the following timeless quote: “Many doctors do not recognize medicinals, and only listen to the vendors; the vendors are not experts and trust those that collect and distribute [medicines]. Those who collect and distribute rely on inherited [knowledge] and cannot distinguish genuine vs. inauthentic, good vs. bad.” As practitioners in the modern era, we have the luxury of having many reliable suppliers with excellent quality control practices to choose from, but we nevertheless must remain proactive to minimize the degree to which Tao’s statement rings true today.

In the modern day, the Chinese Pharmacopoeia serves as the guiding authority on the official botanical origin of most common Chinese medicinal materials, and it also provides the standard testing methods used for their identification. Another fantastic resource is the Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards series, which stands out as one of the most freely accessible and authoritative sources of information on Chinese medicinal authentication; the monographs are available for free online here:

In China, authenticated reference standards of Chinese herbs are provided by the National Institute for Drug Control (NIDC) for use in analytical testing and confirmation of botanical identity. China’s laws on GMP manufacturing for herbal products, like those of the U.S., emphasize the correct botanical identification of the herbal materials that are used, and manufacturers such as granule extract companies routinely use thin layer chromatography (TLC) to identify over 400 individual single herbs.

The importance of authentication of medicinal materials and retention of voucher specimens is emphasized in the current NIH guidelines for herbal medicine research, and numerous U.S.-based groups are currently developing authentication resources. The United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) and the Chinese Pharmacopoeia recently announced an increased level of cooperation to advance quality control standards, and the recent decision of the USP to create monographs on herbal medicines instead of simply dietary supplements marks a historic milestone. Additionally, a number of other U.S. organizations have been very active in the field of botanical identification in recent years, including the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), and the American Botanical Council (ABC).

Preserving Materia Medica Culture

In addition to preserving Chinese herbal medicine’s physical resources, such as wild plant reserves and prime cultivation environments, the culture surrounding Chinese materia medica literature is worthy of preservation. For centuries, encyclopedic materia medica texts have recorded knowledge about herbal quality, processing, growing regions, and clinical applications, and these texts exemplify a cultural tradition of scholarship that lives on to the present day.

We are rapidly approaching the 500th birthday of Li Shizhen, the author of the Ben Cao Gang Mu (Grand Compendium of Materia Medica). The Ben Cao Gang Mu represents the peak of the traditional Chinese materia medica literature, written based on Li Shizhen’s extensive personal travels and deep textual research.  More than just an herbal encyclopedia, Li used the Ben Cao Gang Mu to illustrate a comprehensive and novel approach to the classification of nature as a whole, recording knowledge that remains relevant across many disciplines up to the present day. 

As Chinese medicine increases in popularity in the West, we should endeavor to preserve the tradition of scholarship that lies at the essence of materia medica research, just as we protect the plants themselves.


Eric Brand graduated from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and has extensive experience studying n mainland China and Taiwan. He is a TCM advisor to the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and the co-chair of International Affairs for the AAAOM.


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Feb 19, 2014
Justine Crono

Museveni commissions works for multimillion dollar economic ……

By Vision Reporter

President Yoweri Museveni has called for the protection of government land including that vacated by refugees saying it can be used to attract investors who will build growth centres to attract people from poverty.

“I have brought you these rich people to get you out of poverty. This land used to belong to West Mengo Cooperative society but after the war we bought it for the army. When we got Turkish investors looking for land to invest, I said we have our land here. Our people need weapons, bullets, uniform etc, these people want to put factories here, a modern abattoir, milk and fruit processing plants, a facility for modern agro production and a factory with equipment for textiles. They are also interested in medicinal herbs and aromatic herbs which our local people know. These cost a lot of money abroad. This will become a town for factories, a growth centre to attract people from poverty,” he said.

The President was Tuesday presiding over the ground breaking ceremony for a US$300million, 18 square miles facility that will also house a beef production zone, host a world class abattoir to consume about 400 cows a day, breeding of new strains of livestock, feeding and production areas, slaughter houses, packing facilities and maintenance hall for the cattle depository.

The development follows an earlier meeting in 2012 during which President Museveni held talks with the Turkish investors led by the ASB Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sitki Ayan over business opportunities in Uganda particularly the creation of a special economic zone.

The President warned Ugandans against land fragmentation saying it creates problems and does not attract investments said there is a lot of market in Turkey for products such as coffee which will be produced and processed here before export.

On the issue of compensation for the 149 families displaced by the development, President Museveni wondered why they would be compensated since they are the ones who encroached on government land.

He however said all families should be registered while a solution for them is sought. He pledged to provide two milk cooler trucks for the sub counties of Kanyogoga and Ngoma to collect milk for sell in Kampala.

The President also directed local leaders to investigate and cause to be arrested people involved in bush burning, an activity which has led to the destruction of various pine forests worth billions of shillings. He also pledged to provide two water tankers to large scale cattle keepers who want to transport water for their animals as long as they fuel them.

ASB Group Chairman Sitki Ayan said the project once completed will be the biggest in the world and will provide contract farming for locals, create vast employment opportunities and provide modern technology in environmental and infrastructure development.

He said Uganda has the potential to be the centre for production, distribution and processing for the whole of Africa. Turkey already has its largest textile industry in Ethiopia and with such a big investment in beef production Uganda will have secured a major business development.

According to statistics, trade between Turkey and Uganda has grown in the past decade from about sh4.6b in 2003 to about sh51b in 2009.

The Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, General Charles Angina said the investment will empower them economically and strengthen their means to improve their defence and weaponry systems.

Initially the Uganda Land Commission led by the Chairman Baguma Isoke exchanged agreements with the Turkish investors to cement the deal for the special economic zone programme witnessed by the Minister of state for Finance in charge of planning Matia Kasaija.


Feb 18, 2014
Justine Crono

Spice-dyed healing cloth to hit market

Spice-dyed healing cloth to hit market

T K Devasia / 17 February 2014

The cloth spiced with aroma as well as healing properties has been developed by Kerala-based Spices Board of India.

After ayurveda clothes, spice-dyed fabrics are set to hit the booming garment market.

The cloth spiced with aroma as well as healing properties has been developed by Kerala-based Spices Board of India. The unique eco-friendly product has become a hot topic of discussion at the World Spice Congress going on at Cochin now.

The garments are now available in turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon varieties. Other varieties will be added after the market response to the present varieties is known, said a senior Spices Board official.

The spice clothes are a blend of cloth, spices and medicinal herbs. The official said that the medicinal properties in the cloth will cure different ailments. The healing properties are absorbed by the skin.

The garment costs at least 20-25 per cent more than ordinary cloth. The Spices Board is planning to focus on domestic market initially. The flavoured clothes will be initially available at the board’s signature shop at a leading shopping mall in the port city. Spices Board chairman A Jayathilak said that the strategy for taking the product to the international market will be discussed at the Spice Congress. Many foreign countries and airport outlets have evinced keen interest in the product.

The product is part of the Spices Board’s initiatives to explore new avenues for value-added products. More than 90 per cent of the spice is now used for culinary purposes. Jayathilak said that the board was exploring non-traditional uses in a big way to sustain spices cultivation. The spice chocolate launched by the board last year turned out to be a big hit. The spices board chief said the chocolates were well appreciated in the World Economic Forum in Davos.

India is currently exporting majority of the spices it produces mostly in raw form. The country is currently producing 2.7 million tones of spices annually. India has more than 50 varieties of spice. 

Spice farmers and handloom workers are upbeat over the new product. Satish Kumar K of the Handloom Weavers’ Development Society said both farmers and the handloom workers would benefit from these products.

The Society, which is already manufacturing the ayurveda clothes, will be producing the spice clothes. The herbal clothes are now available in different forms like kurtas, salwar suits, bedcovers, pillow covers and night gowns.

Roots, flowers, leaves, seeds and barks of around 200 herbs are used to make the dyes for the ayurveda garments. The cloth material is mostly cotton and silk though there are a few sample pieces in wool and jute too.

For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes

Feb 17, 2014
Justine Crono

Nepal’s trade deficit widens to Rs 289.62 billion


Posted on: 2014-02-17 08:47

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Feb 16, 2014
Justine Crono

Home calendar


“Hearts for Hunger” – During the month of February, Pacific Flyway Gallery invites community members to create handcrafted hearts on gallery templates. The gallery will frame the piece and sell them for $20 with all proceeds benefitting Generation Alive, a local nonprofit providing nutritional meals to families in need. The showcase will be Friday, 4-7 p.m. Pacific Flyway Gallery, 409 S. Dishman-Mica Road. (509) 747-0812.

SCC Spring Arts, Crafts and Food Fair – A variety of vendors will sell gifts, garden art and many other unique items designed to welcome spring into your home. March 1, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Spokane Community College, Lair Student Center, 1810 N. Greene St. Free admission and parking. (509) 434-6576.


Cabin Fever: A Gardening Symposium – Presented by the Washington State University Spokane County Master Gardeners. Registration includes continental breakfast, with keynote presentation by Cass Turnbull from Plant Amnesty, four gardening classes, box lunch, parking pass and door prizes. There are 16 gardening classes to choose from covering a wide variety of topics. Information and registration is at Monday, 7:30 a.m., WSU Spokane Campus, Phase I Classroom Building, 668 N. Spokane Falls Blvd. $75. (509) 536-8284.

Advanced Pruning - Cass Turnbull from Plant Amnesty will cover the three main forms of mal-pruning: tree topping, inappropriate shearing of trees and shrubs, and over-thinning. This is an advanced course and those attending should be familiar with principles of selective pruning. The class will end with an outdoor show and tell, live evaluation and pruning demonstration. Tuesday, 9 a.m., WSU Spokane County Extension, 222 N. Havana St. $50. (509) 536-8284.

The Turf, Tree and Landscape Conference – The Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association and University of Idaho Boundary County Extension will offer a conference designed interested in learning about growing and maintaining landscape plants. Pesticide applicator recertification credits and arborists continuing education units will be available. For more information to register, visit Thursday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Templin’s Red Lion Resort, 414 E. First Ave., Post Falls. $80/includes lunch. (208) 681-4769.

Library Spring Gardening Series – Thursday, Fruit and Nut Trees; Feb. 27, Small Fruits; March 6, Perennial Flowers; March 13, Rock Gardens. Programs will be 6-8 p.m., Athol Library, 30399 Third St., Athol. Free; registration required. (208) 683-2979.

Scaling and Marketing Private Timber Workshop – Registration is due by Tuesday. Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., University of Idaho Kootenai County Extension Office, 1808 N. Third St., Coeur d’Alene. $20/includes handouts and refreshments. (208) 446-1683.

Community Seed Swap Sale – Set up a table or come to buy or trade your seeds. Presented by Spokane Permaculture. Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Spokane Public Market, 24 W. Second Ave. Free admission. (509) 276-7636.

Horticulture Workshops – The University of Idaho Extension presents the 2014 Idaho Master Gardener’s Annual Horticulture Workshops, including: Medicinal Herbs to Grow in Northern Idaho, Saturday, 1-4 p.m., $10; Managing Your Backyard Forest, Feb. 24, 6-8 p.m.; $10; Chicks in the City – Raising Chickens within City Limits, March 3, 6-8 p.m., or March 8, 1-3 p.m., $10; Basic Gardening for Northern Idaho, March 10, 6-8 p.m., $10; Registration is recommended; class sizes are limited. University of Idaho Kootenai County Extension Office, 1808 N. Third St., Coeur d’Alene. (208) 446-1680

Backyard Conservation Stewardship Program – This program will feature tips on landscaping with native plants, xeriscaping, soil health, permaculture, trees, organic gardening, composting, attracting pollinators, landscaping for wildlife and more. Register at Registration will not be available at the door. Scholarships are availableWednesdays in March from 5:30-8 p.m., Spokane County Conservation District, 210 N. Havana St. $25. (509) 535-7274.

Feb 15, 2014
Justine Crono

Wine to help you live to be around

Bek Se Ju in the bottle and glass.

A while back I wrote on an update to the claims of resveratrol and that none of the studies can be taken to have any age-defying qualities in resveratrol. In that article, I mentioned what the people of Okinawa might be drinking to produce the greatest number of 100-year-old people per capita.

That got me thinking there must be a wine that is specifically made to lengthen someone’s life. Yes, I found one.

It may be one of the few items found in both North and South Korea as the same product. It’s called Bek Se Ju, a fermented rice wine infused with a variety of spices.

Whole fresh Ginseng, the key ingredient in Bek Se Ju.

Bek Se Ju literally means “100-year-old wine.” But, it is not the age of the wine here. It means you will live to 100 years if you drink it regularly. As with most old fermented and distilled beverages, Bek Se Ju comes with a legend. It is said there was once a nobleman who was riding his horse through a small town. On his passing, there was along the road what looked like a young man beating an old man. The resemblance was clear and it seemed like the young man was beating his own father. The nobleman stopped his horse to scold the attacker saying, “How dare you hit that helpless old man!”

The young man wheeled around to find the nobleman in his saddle and replied, “This is my son who was born when I was 80 years old. I told him to drink the wine but he didn’t listen to my advice. Now he has grown older than I am.”

The nobleman dismounted and bowed down in humility. He looked at the younger-looking man and asked, “What is this miraculous wine you are speaking of?”

The young-looking man told the nobleman that it was Bek Se Ju, a special wine with 12 different oriental herbs and spices that combine to keep you looking young.

You might think this is a lot of posh and propaganda put out like the Traditional Chinese Medicine claims. But, some of the makers of Bek Se Ju are taking the healthy benefits very seriously.

Schisandra fruit.

One maker that produces four different kinds of Bek Se Ju (including Bek Se Ju Dry) has performed tests on how the wine improves the stomach lining and prevents peptic ulcers. They are looking at how the wine relieves high blood pressure and suppresses blood clotting. Their findings have been printed in peer-reviewed journals like the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, and the Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology.

One of those studies was done in 2004 and was published in the Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology. The researchers looked at the comparative effects of Bek Se Ju against three human and two mouse cancer cells. They included white wine, beer, and Japanese sake in the study. They found Bek Se Ju showed cytotoxicity on all the cancer cells, both from mice and from humans. The other products had little or no effect on the cancer cells. (/

Wolfberry fruit.

Korean traditional wine Bek Se Ju is brewed with 12 specific herbs. All of them are Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbs. They are Korean Ginseng, Ginger, Liriopis Tuber, Dioscorea Root, Schisandra Fruit, Cynanchi Wilfordii Radix, Wolfberry Fruit, Cornus Fruit, Hawthorn Berry, Wolfberry Leaf, Astragalus and Acanthopanax Root Bark. All of the ingredients are said to aid the body in some way or another. I’m more of a skeptic when it comes to unproven claims and a lack of scientific testing.

Bek Se Ju is a golden wine with a mellow and distinct flavor. It is brewed and fermented in an exclusive and traditional way. The winemakers follow a unique procedure of grinding raw rice into powders. That is considered the refined fermentation method of the rice wine. What makes Bek Se Ju different from sake, aside from all the herbs, are the explicit timing and amount of yeast used, the no-steaming brewing technique, a special Korean fermentation starter called nuruk, and a special strain of rice called Seolgaeng Rice. Bek Se Ju is typically fermented to have 13 percent alcohol content.

I’m not sure how hard it is to find Bek Se Ju in New Mexico. There are many online vendors that sell the wine. Prices on one of my favorite wine searching sites show regular bottles at $12 and half-bottles at $5.99. If you pick some up, let me know what you think and keep those recipes for Glühwein coming, I’ll share the best in an upcoming article.

Feb 14, 2014
Justine Crono

Gardening club to form seed library

Gardening club to form seed library

Seed-saving workshop at Sawtooth Botanical Garden set for Tuesday

Express Staff Writer

John Caccia is the manager of a newly formed seed library in the Wood River Valley.
Courtesy photo

    A group of passionate gardeners is sharing the fruits of its labors to pick those plant varieties best suited for the Wood River Valley’s local climate and soil conditions. These fruits are actually seeds, collected from local gardens and shared among members of the Wood River Valley’s first seed library.
    “I call us the Green Berets of seed-saving,” said garlic farmer and seed saver John Caccia, who also owns a jewelry shop in Ketchum.
    Caccia is manager of the Rocky Mountain Seed Project, a Ketchum-based seed-saving research and development organization advocating for local and regional seed security.
    “A lot has been going on in the seed world ever since Congress granted the right to patent genetically modified seeds in the mid-1990s,” he said.
    Caccia said a few giant GMO seed-producing corporations now control much of the U.S. food production industry.
    “Establishing grassroots natural seed-saving programs are the best way to insure that locally adapted, robust seed varieties continue to survive and provide nutritious food for the community,” he said.     “We want to make sure we’re not cross-pollinating and that we know how to store seeds. If everybody combines their knowledge and their seeds, we will all have a free source for the very best seeds in this area, ones that have been selected here by gardeners for their robust varieties.”
    Caccia said he has enlisted 20 seed-savers in his organization so far.
    “I get phone calls and emails every day,” he said. “Some people are saving seeds of wild medicinal herbs. One woman has saved traditional seeds from African squashes. Some have saved carrots or kale or something else for 20 years, but they don’t have the scientific names for their varieties.”
    Caccia recently attended the seventh annual Seed Saver’s Conference in Corvallis, Ore., where he did a lot of networking and learned about many innovations in the seed-saving and plant-breeding world.
    “I’m just a hobby gardener, but for those people, it’s their livelihood,” he said. “They talk about the threats of GMOs and policies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
    He also met a member of the Xerxes Society, which advocates for the insect world.
    “They talked about honeybee colony collapse disorder,” he said. “Monarch butterflies are on the edge of extinction. Plants rely on insects to survive.”
Caccia studied three years ago with former Ketchum resident and professional seed-saver Bill McDormand in Cornville, Ariz.
“I guess you could say the seed for this organization was planted by Bill,” Caccia said.
    Caccia has organized a free seed-saving workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 18, by Casey O’Leary, a master seed-saver from the Earthly Delights Seed Co. in Boise. O’Leary will present her one-hour Seed Saving 101 class at 6 p.m. at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, three miles south of Ketchum on state Highway 75.
    “Casey coined the word ‘weed-dating,’ which is when she calls people around Idaho to join her in weeding at her farm in Boise,” Caccia said.
    Cassia said his organization gives seeds out, but also requires that gardeners preserve seeds from their crops and become seed savers also.
    “It’s a pyramid scheme,” he said.
    For more information, call Caccia at 309-8557.    
Tony Evans:

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