The rainforest hums. Tiny feet pitter-patter over wet leaves. In the warm nights animals sing erotic serenades. Life is abundant and competition is fierce. Trees race to reach the canopy, choking out their competition. The fallen quickly rot and rejoin the soil. These hot, wet climates host most of Earth’s species. This rivalry inspires living things to adorn themselves with bright colors. They spread seeds in sweet fruit. They display beauty in movement, color and sound. They protect themselves with piercing points and with poison. This is where you can find some of the most chemically active plants and animals. You can also find intensity of decay.
Leaves spread out evenly across a forest floor will turn into mulch at a consistent rate. If you rake those same leaves into a pile and cover them to retain moisture, they will get hot from all the microbial activity. In some instances, they can get so hot that they catch fire.
In the year 1214, a sea of Mongols was poised outside Zheng Ding’s city gates. The citizens knew that at best it would mean seeing their parents slaughtered, friends tortured, and children enslaved. As the city walls held and the people waited in terror, they began dying. Chinese doctors began to observe that the stress was killing people. They were unable to sleep regularly, digest food and were succumbing to illnesses. At this time Li Dong Yuan needed solutions to the “modern” disorders caused by stress.
Li created new theories of Chinese medicine. His theories eventually formed into a prominent school of thought based on the balance of the digestive system and its relationship to stress. Before that time, disease was thought to come mainly from bugs outside of the system. After the brutal lessons from the Mongols, Chinese doctors better understood the relationship between emotions and digestive health. Since that time, every major formula for digestion has taken the effects of stress into account. Continue reading →
“Fungi are the grand recyclers of the planet and the vanguard species in habitat restoration.”
– Paul Stamets
Fungi are critical to plant life and the overall health of a forest. They break down dead matter and help life to spring anew. They are at once some of largest organisms on the planet and among the smallest.
Fungi are diverse and can eat a wide range toxic materials. Some consume heavy metals, plastic, and toxic waste. After the tragic nuclear fallout in Chernobyl radiotrophic fungi began to restore the environment. They used their pigment melanin to convert radiation into chemical energy.
Fungi are capable or restoring order in ways we are just beginning to understand. They are among the more chemically active substances on our planet. The right fungi can serve as medicines, while having the wrong ones can make you hallucinate or even prove to be fatal. They are powerful and prolific. Their spores are everywhere. Continue reading →
“Qi” (氣) literally means gas in Chinese. The pictograph shows steam coming off of a pot of rice. A more ancient pictograph shows smoke coming off of fire. In either case it refers to gasses or vapors. This is a fundamental part of how yoga, acupuncture and meditation practices work.
Chinese medicine has long recognized that gasses within the body play a role in the warming, holding, energizing and providing communication within the human body. Medically there are names for many kinds of gasses based on their actions in the body. While they lacked the technology to identify and measure the exact gasses, they were keenly aware of how these gasses permeated the body and the points at which they exited the skin.
Gasotransmitters were discovered in the early 1990s and their discovery is redefining the way we think about medicine. They are small molecules of gas such as nitric oxide, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide. They can pass freely through membranes, transmit signals from neurons to target cells.Continue reading →