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Hi <<First Name>>,

Yesterday (9/1 as I write this) in Olympia, the seasons changed. Sometimes you can feel a quick turning, like someone's snapped their fingers and the air shifts. Just like that: rain returns, maple leaves golden, the last blackberries ripen, salmon run, and the air chills.

Looking for new music this season? Here's my Spotify playlist. 

Read below for:
  • IM4US recap
  • herb research news
  • Book of the month: Women in Science!
  • Good reading elsewhere on the web
  • Art I love
  • Terrible, horrible, no-good very bad health memes (aka a plea to stop sharing this stuff on social media)
And don't forget to register for the Dandelion Seed Conference in Olympia October 7-9 2016!
Integrative Medicine for the Underserved - recap

I recently attended and presented at the Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US) conference in Irvine CA. I have been following the work of IM4US for years, with incredible respect for its mission and members. I got to meet I viewed Michelle Sternberg’s film Beyond Recognition, which tells the story of Indian People Organizing for Change and the creation of the first women-led urban Native land trust. Her next film, Met(t)a, will concentrate on universality of trauma and resilience through the eyes of refugees and immigrants navigating the health care system, highlighting inspiring models of culturally responsive, integrative medicine. Brilliant work.

Kara Parker led a series of sessions on functional medicine for underserved populations- a much-needed perspective. Functional medicine draws from herbal medicine, and offers a systemic perspective of the body and mind for the treatment of chronic disease. However, this is often costly. Thank you Dr. Parker! One of my favorite presentations was by Misha Cohen OMD L.Ac. titled Integrative Treatment of Infectious Disease in Underserved Populations. I appreciated the attention given to context as opposed to formulas and treatment strategies. 

That’s what I loved about this event. All the participants truly have their boots on the ground. They come from very different areas of medicine and healthcare, anchored with core values and a strong mission. As presenters we were asked to make presentations practical, yet there was no lack of context in this kind of community work. 

I commend the organizing committee for including herbalists. I have observed several examples of ‘herbal appropriation’ by medical professionals in recent years. One conference I attended last year admitted no herbalist presenters (they wanted licensed professionals only!). The only herb class was given by an MD with minimal herbal training, materia medics-style. The first herb discussed? Mayapple. This extends to the supplement industry- there are botanical supplement companies run by naturopaths who do not permit herbalists to purchase product. (Looking at you, Apex Energetics.)

But that’s the gist of appropriation: “We want your knowledge but we don’t want you.” Herbalists should teach about herbs as opposed to people with minimal training. And I tip my hat to IM4US for including these voices, because we have a lot to share about community health and accessible care. 

If you’re working in community healthcare or with underserved patient populations, consider joining the organization and attending next year.  

Herb research news 

Premenstrual syndrome and its association with inflammation: Blog post by Tori Hudson ND. 

"
The current study used data on PMS symptoms from a much larger study called the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), a racially and ethnically diverse study of midlife women from five racial/ethnic groups and at seven clinical sites nationwide. The goal was to determine if hs-CRP was associated with PMS. The proportion of women who reported each PMS symptom, except breast pain or headaches, was significantly increased (26%-41%) for women who had hs-CRP values > 3 mg/L. A hs-CRP level > 3 mg/L in women with PMS was associated with mood symptoms, abdominal cramps, back pain, appetite cravings, weight gain, and bloating, but not with headaches, breast pain for women with three or more PMS symptoms."

Ellen B. Gold, PhD, Craig Wells, BA, and Marianne O’Neill Rasor, MA. The Association of inflammation with premenstrual syndrome. J Women’s Health 2016; May on line ahead of print


Glycyrrhizic Acid Decreases Gentamicin-Resistance in Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci.

"Glycyrrhizic acid at the subinhibitory concentration of 2.4 mM was found to reduce the minimal inhibitory concentration of gentamicin in intrinsically resistant E. faecium strains down to 6.25 % of the minimal inhibitory concentration of gentamicin alone, whereas relatively low concentrations of glycyrrhizic acid (18 µM) resulted in increased susceptibilities for some E. faecium isolates to gentamicin."

Schmidt, S., Heymann, K., Melzig, M. F., Bereswill, S., & Heimesaat, M. M. (2016). Glycyrrhizic acid decreases gentamicin-resistance in vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Planta Medica. doi:10.1055/s-0042-11478.



Camellia sinensis Ameliorates the Efficacy of Last Line Antibiotics Against Carbapenem Resistant Escherichia coli.

"
The synergistic effects implied that the antibacterial combinations of PTRC-31911-A [a green tea extract] and ertapenem, meropenem, colistin, tigecycline or augmentin would be more effective than a single monotherapy with either of the antibacterial agent"

Thakur, P., Chawla, R., Chakotiya, A. S., Tanwar, A., Goel, R., Narula, A., Sharma, R. K. (2016). Camellia sinensis ameliorates the efficacy of last line antibiotics against carbapenem resistant escherichia coli. Phytotherapy Research : PTR, 30(2), 314-22. doi:10.1002/ptr.553

Reflections in general chemistry


When I began my premedical studies at the University of Washington, I was honestly determined to avoid chemistry as long as possible. All premed students must pass through the gates of general and organic chemistry. These are challenging subjects, especially for someone such as myself. I wanted to “warm up” to being in school again by taking biology. But I could not, and wstarted with general chemistry. 

This course covers the basics of chemistry, like the composition of atoms, their interactions with other atoms, properties of different phases, thermodynamics, lab skills. It’s conceptual yet quantitative. I attempted chemistry years ago, and it was a terrible horrible no good very bad class. I didn’t do well. I was tormented with a crippling self doubt about my academic abilities, especially in STEM subjects. As a young student, I turned my attention to anthropology and social subjects instead. 

But I had an amazing experience this time. Perhaps I gained enough distance from hurtful academic experiences and negative messages. Maybe I just have more life experience to not care so much about the opinions of others. Whatever it is, this recent dive into academics has been liberating, not constricting. I learned so much about why our physical world behaves the way it does. And my medicine making skills leveled up from my lab training. 

Here are some of my conceptual take-aways from this year. 

Water is a very magical molecule

I’ve always had a reverence for water. Call it an elemental attraction. I’ve always lived by water and streams, and exalted water as a life-giving element. And that is also truth on a very chemical level. 

Oxygen is a very reactive atom, and it forms a type of bond called hydrogen bonds with the hydrogen atoms. The molecule formed is a “bent” shape, with a negative charge at one end and a positive charge at the other. This is termed a “polar” molecule. These water molecules love to stick to one another - a positively charged end bonding to a negatively charged end - and this allows the water to stick together and flow. This is what makes capillary action possible. This is also responsible for the high heat capacity of water, or how much energy it can hold before you see a temperature increase. So it can absorb heat slowly and hold onto it for a long time. Water has an unusually high heat capacity, which makes it an excellent temperature regulator in bodies and ecosystems. 

The polarity of the water molecule is what makes it an incredible solvent - the negative end can solubize the positive end of another molecule, and vice versa. 

Life we know is built on a scaffolding of carbon floating in bags of water. There’s a reason that NASA’s search for life in the universe relies on discovering water. 

Elizabeth Gilbert recently wrote: 

Years ago, when I was going through a really hard time, a friend of mine who was a naturalist gave me some beautiful advice about how to best take care of myself. 

He told me, “When an animal in the wild has been injured, it has only two strategies for how to heal itself: It can rest, or it can go to the water. Right now, try to do as much of both as possible.”

Rest.

And then go to the water.

Drink the water. Submerge yourself in the water. Touch the water. Look at the water.

Then go back to sleep. 

Repeat as necessary, until healing occurs.

Sometimes I forget these two magical principals — how to rest, and how to go to the water. Then I get overwhelmed by life’s challenges, and I trick myself into believing that I need a much more complicated cure than your average wounded animal. And sometimes I do need a more complicated cure, I guess. 

But not usually. 

Usually sleep and water will do the trick.

It always reminds me of that Isak Dinesen quote: “The cure for everything is salt water: tears, sweat, or the sea."

This morning — after a good night’s sleep — I went to the water. Here’s a photo I took this morning of my feet dipping into my old friend the Atlantic Ocean. She has never let me down yet, and she didn’t let me down this morning, either. 

(That said, when the ocean isn’t available, a long hot bath will work. Or a cold shower. Or standing naked under the garden sprinkler, which has been known to change the energy of a day, as well! As a final resort: Just drink 8 ounces of the stuff...whatever it takes! Get thee to water, people.)

Just rest, and go to the water. 

It’s all gonna be alright.

That’s what the water always tells me, anyhow. And I believe in the water.

:)


Attractions and repulsions are fundamental forces

It all comes down to the basic charges in the atom- positive protons in the nucleus, negatively- charged electrons whizzing around it. All bonding between atoms is a dance between attraction to the nucleus and repulsion by other orbiting electrons. Forces between molecules are governed by this polarity.

Particles seek freedom

A lot of chemical behavior is governed by entropy. We think of entropy as the “tendency towards disorder”. This is somewhat of a misconception- entropy articulates the desire for particles to seek more freedom and range of motion. For example, when I am stuck in traffic on my commute, I definitely seek more freedom and range of motion. We pursue freedom, on a macro- and microscopic level. 

##A system’s total energy is potential plus kinetic energy
We tend to characterize people as “high energy” and “low energy”. But total energy is the sum of what’s in motion and what’s potential. 

Patterns are marvelous, and we’re still figuring it all out

The best science teachers and educators acknowledge the ever-present mystery of the universe. We don’t know everything, and we never will. Science as a method of inquiry can shine lights on things, and we try to piece together an understanding of how our world works. 

If you haven’t studied chemistry: try it! The topics are extraordinary, and the lab training is incredibly fun. There are also a few great books on the subject, including:

Book pick: Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky


I'll let the preview speak for itself :)

Art I love: Étienne Léopold Trouvelot’s 19th-Century  Drawings of Celestial Objects and Phenomena


I spent a good amount of my free time reading about the stars and cosmos. The fact that I spend so much time considering the Earth and its people makes the cosmos - the universe beyond our world - so alluring. I love Lisa Randall and Janna Levin's work for broadening my understanding of our place in the vast expanse of space. As someone who is interested in the human experience, I'm fascinated by space exploration and the implied next steps in our evolution. 

And I love art that brings the cosmos a little closer to our hearts. And Étienne Leopold Trouvelot’s drawings gripped me. From BrainPickings

Hardly anyone has championed the role of beauty as a catalyst for cosmic enchantment more powerfully than the French artist and astronomer Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (December 26, 1827–April 22, 1895).

Trouvelot published more than fifty scientific papers in his lifetime, but remains best known for his exquisite astronomical illustrations. He created more than seven thousand, among them some of the most beguiling contributions to our long history of visualizing the cosmos.


The planet Jupiter, observed November 1, 1880, 9:30 P.M.


The great comet of 1881, observed on June 26, 1:30 A.M.


Aurora Borealis, observed March 1, 1872, 9:25 P.M.

Read more about Trouvelot on Brain Pickings, my all-time favorite blog. 
Terrible health memes
Elsewhere on the Web
Register Now
Click here to register for the 5th Annual Dandelion Seed Conference: Herbal Medicine for Community and Social Healing-- October 7th-9th at the Evergreen State College. I will be presenting Herbal Medicine for Chronic Infections. See other presentations here. 
Book Now
Interested in booking a session? It's easy! I see clients locally in Olympia, WA and over phone/Skype. Email me at renee@goldrootherbs.com to get started.
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