virginia woolf

Liver Health

So… my husband has some liver issues. I’ve been doing research and wanted to share how important our liver is and how we can care for it. I’m also really interested in review of this Dr. Axe product: Leaky Gut Support

“Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver.” -William James, American philosopher



When you think of your body’s health, what comes to mind?

Strong muscles, flexible joints, and a quick-thinking brain, most likely.

However, there’s a contender for the top of this list that most people haven’t even considered – the liver.

Your liver is an unsung superstar.

It’s responsible for so many things, and a small change in your liver’s health can have an effect on every other system in your body. It’s also one of your largest organs, weighing in at over three pounds!

Your liver, along with your pancreas, gallbladder, and intestines, is responsible for digesting, absorbing, and processing all the energy and nutrients that enter your body.

Its main job is to filter the blood coming from your digestive system. The liver is where all of the newly digested nutrients are sorted, broken down, and distributed to every other organ in your body. It’s also where drugs are metabolized and where toxins are filtered out.

As you can see, your liver has an extremely important role!

“Every chemical that makes it into your bloodstream – be it through your lungs, stomach, or skin – meets up with your liver at some point. Since your liver is your body’s best defense when it comes to filtering out all those toxins, you need to treat it well.” -Suzanne Somers, actress and New York Times best-selling author



When you eat food, you masticate it in your mouth with your teeth, after which point stomach acid partially digests it before it is passed on to your small intestine.

There, it mixes with bile, an alkaline mix of digestive agents that your liver continually produces and stores in your gallbladder until you eat. Then, the stored bile enters your small intestine, where it (along with enzymes from your pancreas) digests fat and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), allowing them to be absorbed.

Digestive System signs and symptoms of liver damage factor 75

The liver is also essential for regulating cholesterol levels in your body. It oxidizes the cholesterol into a variety of bile acids which are then “pulled into the liver,” carried into the bile ducts, and then on out through the intestines.

Bile acid is recycled through your liver several times each day – that’s a lot of work for one organ!

Blood filtration

Your red blood cells carry oxygen – and I don’t have to tell you how essential that is.

Oxygen is bound to a four-part protein called hemoglobin, which is responsible for the red color in blood. With an average life cycle of three months, red blood cells are recycled by your lymph nodes, spleen, and – you guessed it – your liver.

They can also be damaged due to illness or injury. The broken down fragments are filtered out by your immune system. The hemoglobin breaks down into iron and bilirubin – the chemical responsible for the yellow color in bruises and jaundice (yellowed skin) and the brown in poop – and are then filtered out by the liver and excreted back into the intestine.

Your liver is also responsible for manufacturing important molecules.

It makes the clotting protein prothrombin and albumin, the main protein in blood sera, which is the liquid portion of blood that carries hormones, drugs, and fatty acids throughout your body.

What happens when your liver gets damaged?

Your liver can become damaged in several ways.

Normally, the liver contains between 5 and 10% fat. More than that is called steatosis, or fatty liver disease. When too much fat accumulates in cells, they can’t function properly, and in severe cases they can even burst, causing scarring.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most common form of liver disease in the USA, with between 75 and 100 million cases. As its name suggests, it is the buildup of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol.

NAFLD is caused by:

It’s also linked to diabetes. It is considered a lifestyle disease.

Most people have no symptoms – those who do have moderate to severe fatigue and a tender abdomen. Left untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis and permanent scarring.

signs and symptoms of liver damage cirrhosis factor 75

Fortunately, if caught early, it is a reversible disease – a change in diet and an increase in exercise are all it takes to ensure your liver functions at peak performance.


(NOTE: If you are looking to change your diet but don’t know where to start or don’t feel like cooking, you can eat healthy without having to lift a finger using Factor 75. Our produce is organic, the meats are grass-fed and free-range and all of our meals are free from herbicides, pesticides, GMOs and antibiotics. Find out more here.)


“While there are diseases like hepatitis, as well as bacteria and viruses which can directly affect the liver, the most damage done to the organ is usually a reflection of our lifestyles. It is important to protect the liver, and the best and easiest way to do this is to focus on ways to improve your lifestyle,” says Dr Manny Alvarez, Chairman of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center, NJ.

You may have heard of cirrhosis – it killed 1.2 million people worldwide in 2013, and numbers are rising.

Severe scarring caused most commonly by chronic, long-term NAFLD, alcoholism, or hepatitis (both viral and inflammatory), its symptoms include fatigue, itching, high blood pressure, and jaundice.

Left untreated, it can lead to liver cancer, hepatic encepalopathy (liver failure and potentially coma), and kidney disease.


Signs and Symptoms of Liver Damage

Liver disease affects your whole body, not just your liver. It can lead to gallstones, vitamin deficiency, and overworked organs.

As you can see, a poorly functioning liver can really affect your overall health.

signs and symptoms of liver damage chart factor 75

Usually caused by gallstones or inflammation, cholestasis is the blocking of your bile duct between your liver and intestines. If your bile has too much cholesterol or bilirubin, usually from cirrhosis, drugs, or infection, or if your gallbladder is not emptying completely, gallstones can form, and they can be extremely painful.

Splenomegaly is the enlargement of your spleen, often caused by increased blood pressure (hypertension) in the portal vein (part of the main blood supply for your abdominal organs), which is in turn caused by liver damage. It often occurs when the spleen is overworked, destroying damaged red blood cells, and it causes abdominal, chest, and back pain.

Portal vein hypertension is also responsible for another common symptom of liver dysfunction – abdominal swelling, or ascites. Because fluid collects in the abdominal space, blood pressure drops in the rest of your body, causing the kidneys to retain more water. This exacerbates the problem, stresses the kidneys, and in extreme cases can cause kidney failure.

A lack of fat-soluble vitamins can also cause major problems:

  • Vitamin K is important for blood clotting
  • Vitamin D is essential for bone and muscle development
  • Vitamin A is required for eye health
  • Vitamin E deficiency causes nerve problems

Nick Giordano, marathon runner and NAFLD patient ponders,

“They say everyone has a moment in their life where they begin to view their lives differently and I believe that being diagnosed with liver disease was mine. Several years ago while reading Lance Armstrong’s book ‘It’s not about the bike!’ he made reference to a statement that he would say to himself on a daily basis while battling cancer and that statement stuck with me. ‘Get up….keep moving…..I’m alive!’ Now by no means do I intend to compare myself to someone with cancer, but my hope is that I can take my experience with liver disease and help educate others about it. Because I can get up….I can keep moving….I’m alive. I’m alive and able to make a difference.”


How do I look after my liver?

  • Love your liver Factor 75Avoid foods containing regular or high fructose corn syrup
  • Maintain a healthy weight – a BMI under 25, without excessive abdominal fat
  • Limit your alcohol consumption – the FDA recommends one drink per day for women and two for men.
  • Easy on the medication – take the minimum amount of medication, and ask your doctor before taking anything new, including supplements.
henna plant left cassia senna obovata plant left

Henna For Hair 101


Product: Godrej Nupur Mehendi Henna Powder 9 Herbs

nupur henna 9 herb

By Grow It Girl Tiki

Nupur Henna is one of the most popular brands of pre-blended henna powders. The product contains multiple Ayurvedic powders that are said to help with hair grow, hair loss, and overall hair health. Henna alone is great for strengthing hair and I have seen an improvement in my hair from using it over the years. Most people love the convenience of not having to purchase multiple powders separately to blend their own treatment mixture. With Nupur

Most people love the convenience of not having to purchase multiple powders separately to blend their own treatment mixture. For most, it’s simply more economical to use Nupur. With Nupur Henna you can simply add water and you are able to use the product with no further blending needed. However, there are some who like to add other powders with the package or who prefer to blend their own henna pack. So, I decided to do

I decided to share a few recipes and tips on mixing Godrej Nupur Mehndi Henna or pure henna. You can use the recipes below to mix any brand of henna and not solely for Nupur Henna. All henna recipes are usable on all hair types: relaxed, texlaxed, natural, fine, curly, straight. Hope you enjoy them!

The package contains 100% pure Rajasthani Henna mixed with 9 Herbs:

Shikakai – Leaves hair clean & shiny
Aloe Vera – Moisturizes hair & makes it silky
Methi (Fenugreek) – Conditions, nourishes and revitalizes hair
Bhringraj – Makes hair luxurious
Amla – Darkens hair color while adding shine & luster
Neem – Fights scalp infection and prevents dandruff
Hibiscus – Rejuvenates hair while making it silky and shiny
Jatamansi – Prevents graying of hair
Brahmi – Promotes hair growth

Also see



Iced Turmeric Latte


If you’re not seeing turmeric everywhere, you’re either living under a rock or are very good at getting out stains (seriously, that stuff makes everything yellow). We’re fans of the vibrant, healthful spice, and the evidence is in our newest recipe for an ice-cold, just-sweet-enough, non-dairy turmeric latte.

The latte calls for cashew milk, freshly grated turmeric, and palm sugar. The ingredients are worth searching for; they make it taste extra-special. But if you’re all, “Oh hell no, there is no way I’m finding fresh turmeric root at my supermarket” we’ve got you. Here are three ways to customize this *highly Instagrammable* drink.

Instead of palm sugar, use a liquid sweetener, like honey or maple syrup (granulated sugar won’t dissolve in cold liquid). Just mix the sweetener into a glass of milk (any dairy or alt-milk your heart desires) with a teaspoon each of ground ginger and ground turmeric. Stir it all together and pour over ice.

Cashew milk has a luxurious, creamy texture thanks to its high fat content, which makes it an obvious choice for an upgrade. But it has another benefit: It plays well with a squeeze of lemon juice, which helps brighten the drink. If you can’t find cashew milk, you can use another milk, bearing in mind that citrus will make dairy milk curdle. Use your favorite liquid sweetener and the ground turmeric/ginger combo. Bonus points if you have ground cardamom—add a pinch of that in, too; it will add a subtle perfumey fragrance to the drink.

Digital associate food editor Rick Martinez developed our recipe with fresh turmeric and ginger, because just-ground spices (technically, they’re both roots) have a much more intense flavor. Use a microplane zester to grate them into store-bought or homemade cashew milk. Word to the wise: Wear latex gloves to guard your fingers against stains. Use 4 teaspoons of turmeric and 1 teaspoon ginger for 1 cup of cashew milk. Martinez loves the floral sweetness of palm sugar, which is sold in bricks or blocks, so he grates 2 teaspoons of that into the cashew milk. If you can’t find palm sugar, you can substitute raw sugar, as it will be strained, leaving behind any granules or grit. Stir it all together with a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and a pinch each of sea salt and cardamom. Let it steep for 5 minutes so the flavors infuse, then strain out the solids. Serve over ice with a lemon wedge.

Not for nothing, but this super-healthy latte is also delicious heated up.



  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated fresh turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated palm sugar or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 pinches of ground cardamom
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt
  • Lemon wedge (for serving)


  • Whisk milk, turmeric, palm sugar, ginger, lemon juice, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl until sugar and salt have dissolved; let sit 5 minutes to let flavors meld. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract juices; discard solids.
  • Fill a glass with ice. Pour latte over and serve with lemon wedge.



Recipe by Rick Martinez

Photograph by Alex Lau


Lovely Quartet of Houses on Burthe Street

By R. Stephanie Bruno

THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Carrollton, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, bounded roughly by Earhart Expressway on the north, the Mississippi River on the south, Broadway on the east (technically, Lowerline Street), and the Orleans-Jefferson Parish line on the west.

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My very favorite feature here is the gable: A crisp triangle of fish-scale shingles forms the top third, then a wide band of straight-edged shingles curves inward from the plane of the triangle to showcase the gable window.

Spurred by the advent in 1836 of the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad (today’s streetcar), development of the area blossomed in the mid-19th century and continued after being annexed by the city of New Orleans in 1874.

Carrollton’s residential blocks and oak-lined streets convey its small-town feel, and monthly arts markets at Palmer Park and festivals on Oak Street add vitality to the experience.

THE BLOCK: The 7700 block of Burthe Street on the odd-numbered, or north, side, between Adams Street on the east and Burdette Street on the west.

Maple Street’s restaurants and shops are a block to the south, and the Tulane University campus a few blocks to the east.

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Burthe is one of those New Orleans streets that has an unpredictable pronunciation. Instead of “Berth,”, according to Tim Lyons’ “A Lexicon of New Orleans Terminology and Speech,” it is “pronounced <BYOOTH> … sounds like ‘youth’ with a B in front of it. … Apparently mail addressed to ‘Buth’ or ‘Buthe’ Street gets delivered just fine.”

Lyman says the street was named for a Frenchman of the same name (perhaps Dominique François Burthe, whose subdivided plantation became Burtheville).

THE HOUSES: Four handsome homes built sometime between 1896 and 1909.

If their styles aren’t enough to convince me of their build dates (they are primarily Neoclassical Revival), the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps do.

Published periodically and showing the footprints of structures in the city, the maps for this block are blank in 1896 but show four houses in 1909.


12_street_burthe_main.jpgView full size
The four handsome homes on the 7700 block of Burthe Street were likely built sometime between 1896 and 1909.

Visiting the Tulane University campus on a Monday morning means parking far, far away. But that’s just fine with me — the sun is shining, and the weather, though brisk, is comfortable for walking.

When it’s time to return to my car, I don’t, and stray instead until I land on the 7700 block of Burthe Street.

Anatomy of the block

What strikes me first is that not one of the four houses on the block looks remotely like the others, even though most share at least a few stylistic elements typical of the period in which they were built.

On the corner of Burdette, there’s a gracious blue house on a huge lot, followed by a fanciful pink house on an equally large lot. Then I spot an olive-hued sidehall shotgun and a blue centerhall house with an inviting screened-in front porch.

The forms are all different, as are the positions of the houses on their lots, some centered, some on the property line.

To take a closer look, I start at the corner of Burdette and walk toward Adams. The first house is a blue centerhall with a front porch that extends across the left side and past the front door. But instead of continuing the full width of the house, as it would on a typical centerhall cottage, the porch ends in a decorative bay that extends forward on the right-hand side.

Tuscan columns (round and tapered so that they are smaller at the top than at the bottom) support the ceiling of the deep front porch and bolster my Neoclassical Revival theory (for they are emblematic of the style). So do the delicately rendered swags and laurels of flowers applied to flat surfaces of the façade, especially above the column tops, over the bay windows and above the front steps.

But my very favorite feature here is the gable: A crisp triangle of fish-scale shingles forms the top third, then a wide band of straight-edged shingles curves inward from the plane of the triangle to showcase the gable window.

I move on, past a carport with a round stained-glass window set near the peak of its gable, and then I reach a pink house set amid a well-tended garden and front yard. The sounds of a fountain attract my curiosity, and I look until I spot it over on the right-hand corner.

Even with bare limbs this time of year, the trees make it difficult to see the house. There is a porch on the left side and a forward-extending bay on the right. The porch roof is supported by stout box columns, and a mini-gable marks the location of the front steps, similar to what is above the front steps on the blue house.

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The prominent gable also presents an opportunity or even a requirement of embellishment, a challenge that the builder of this house responded to by inserting fish-scale shingles, double windows and an idiosyncratic hood and spandrel over the windows.

The bay on the right contains a pair of windows, crowned by a simple flourish of decorative millwork. Where the porch and the bay join the main body of the house, a forward-facing gable appears, distinguished by a round, stained-glass gable window.

The pink house occupies a large lot that includes the carport, plus what looks like an expanse of garden beyond. It snuggles up against its eastern property line.

The olive-colored sidehall house next to it sits close to its western property line, so that the two houses together look like they’re cozying up to one another.

Proximate or not, the olive house couldn’t look more different from the pink house. The olive-colored sidehall has a well-used front porch (judging from the bounty of rocking and other chairs) that extends the full width of the house.

Its prominent gable, detailed in shingles and displaying a millwork flourish above the gable windows, makes a strong impression. Tuscan columns reappear, their slender forms exaggerating the apparent height of the floor-to-ceiling windows and their louvered shutters.

A bookend to the very different centerhall house at the Burdette corner, the house at Burthe and Adams represents an interesting evolution of the genre.

Generally, centerhall houses built in the era when Greek Revival and then Italianate styles were most popular have side-gabled roofs, meaning the roof ridge is parallel to the street. But the centerhall has a front-gabled roof and a roof ridge that’s perpendicular to the street.

The variation means that the volume of the second story moves forward, closer to the street, making the house appear taller than its ancestors — with their side-gabled roofs — would. The prominent gable also presents an opportunity or even a requirement of embellishment, a challenge that the builder of this house responded to by inserting fish-scale shingles, double windows and an idiosyncratic hood and spandrel over the windows.

The same device appears in a smaller gable on the right-hand side of the house. Combined with the metal roof and the screened-in porch, the individualization of the roof components gives the house the personality of a home in the country.

Life on the street

Christian Dawalder is having a perfectly peaceful morning, sipping coffee on the front porch of the pink house, when I stick a camera through the fence. Oops!

“I’m sorry, sir! I didn’t see you sitting there,” I say to him.

Despite the intrusion, he is incredibly gracious and offers to retrieve his wife, Ninette Brierre Dawalder, from inside while I follow his instructions to go take a look at their back garden.

When Ninette arrives, I learn that the two have known each other since 1968 but married just four years ago. Only fairly recently did Christian Dawalder move his possessions lock, stock and barrel from Colorado to Burthe Street.

I thank the Dawalders for their hospitality and comment on the beauty of their garden.

“You should see it in spring!” Christian says, and I promise to come back.

maria teresa vera

My New Favorite Music – Maria Teresa Vera

Five Songs By Cuban Legend Maria Teresa Vera (with lyrics)

 by Azizi Powell

This post presents information about and five sound files of the legendary Cuban vocalist Maria Teresa Vera (available on iTunes here). The content of this post is presented for historical, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes. All copyrights remain with their owners.

From Wikipedia entry on Maria Teresa Vera
María Teresa Vera (Guanajay, February 6, 1895 – Havana, December 17, 1965) was a Cuban singer, guitarist and composer. She was an outstanding example of the Cuban trova movement. Trova is one of the great roots of the Cuban music tree. In the 19th century a group of itinerant musicians known as trovadores moved around Oriente, especially Santiago de Cuba, earning their living by singing and playing the guitar.

Trova musicians have played an important part in the evolution of Cuban music. Collectively, they have been prolific as composers, and have provided a start for many later musicians whose career lay in larger groupings. Socially, they reached every community in the country, and have helped to spread Cuban music throughout the world.

From Amazon Music entry on Maria Teresa Vera
Born in 1895 in Rio de Pinar, Maria Teresa Vera grew up in a Cuba rich in songs born of beauty and conflict. That she became a professional singer was at first an effrontery to the male-dominated music business at the time; that she became a sensation is a tribute to a talent that is now legendary in her country. In the years that she sang and wrote songs, she became famous, made a wealth of recordings, led her own band, and championed the country music of the street troubadour in the years before the son swept the nation.

“The Grande Dame of Cuban Music, Maria Teresa Vera was Not Only the Greatest Female Trova Singer of all Time, She was also One of the Form’s Greatest Singers, Period. Vera Became a Professional Musician and Songwriter — and a Mightily Popular One at that — During the Early 20th Century, When Such a Career was Virtually Unheard of for a Woman. Her Skill at Singing Trova — a Rural Folk Song Style that Predated the Son Dance Craze — Helped Lay the Groundwork for the Explosion of Cuban Popular Music in the ’30s and ’40s, and her Fame as a Trovadora Lasted Well after the Style was Eclipsed by Other Popular Trends. Maria Teresa Vera was Born in Guanajay, in the Province of Pinar Del Rio, on February 6, 1895. She Began Learning the Guitar from Jose Diaz, and in 1911, at Age 15, Performed Publicly in Havana at a Tribute to Arquimedes Pous. Vera Subsequently Formed the First of Several Duos, a Format She Would Favor Throughout her Career, with Rafael Zequeira”.

Example #1 Maria Teresa Vera – Veinte años video on YouTube

Veinte Años

Qué te importa que te ame
si tú no me quieres ya
El amor que ya ha pasado
no se debe recordar.

Fui la ilusión de tu vida
un día lejano ya,
hoy represento el pasado
no me puedo conformar.

Si las cosas que uno quiere
se pudieran alcanzar
tú me quisieras lo mismo
que veinte años atrás.

Con qué tristeza miramos
un amor que se nos va
es un pedazo del alma
que se arranca sin piedad.

English translation (thanks to YouTube video commenter clare oleary)

Twenty Years

What does my love mean to you,
if you no longer love me?
We should not dwell on love that is past.
I was your life’s desire one day long ago.
Now I’m history I can’t face the change.
If only we could make our dreams come true .
If only you would love me as you did twenty years ago.
How mournfully we watch a love that ebbs away heartlessly a part of the soul is torn away.


Aunque tu
me has dejado en el abandono
aunque ya
se han muerto todas mis ilusiones.

En vez de despedirme
con Justo encono
en mis sueños te colmo
en mis sueños te colmo
de bendiciones.

Sufro la inmensa pena de tu extravio
lloro el dolor profundo
de tu partida
y lloro sin que sepas
que el llanto mio
tiene lagrimas negras
tiene lagrimas negras
como mi vida.

Tu me quieres dejar
yo no puedo vivir
contigo me voy mi negra
aunque me cueste el morir

Tu me quieres dejar
yo no quiero sufrir
contigo me voy mi santa
aunque me cueste el morir.

 Lagrimas Negras was originally recorded by these guys.

Black Tears © translation of “Lágrimas Negras” by Manuel Garcia Jr.

Although you
have left me desolate with your abandon,
although you
have been death to my every illusion
instead of cursing you now
with justified rancor,
in my dreams I enshrine you,
in my dreams I enshrine you
with benediction.

Immensity of pain I suffer over losing you,
my feelings so profoundly hurt
torn by your parting.
I cry without your knowing
and that lonely crying
weeps out a stream of black tears,
weeps out a stream of black tears
and all my living.

You want leaving me
I can’t suffering be
so with you I go my darling
even it costs me dying.
(3X with 2 short breaks)

Example #3: Maria Teresa Vera – Eso No Es Na on YouTube

The best of Cuban music!
The English translation for this title is “This is nothing”.

Example #4: Maria Teresa Vera – He Perdido Contigo on YouTube

Me quisiste lo sé, yo también te he querido,
Me olvidaste después, pero yo no he podido
A sufrir por tu amor, me condenó el destino
Que le vamos a hacer yo tenía que perder y he perdido contigo /bis
Tantos amores buenos, que con fe me adoraban,
Yo les negué el cariño de inocente quedado
Pero fuiste tan cruel que jugaste conmigo
Que le vamos a hacer yo tenía que perder y he perdido contigo /bis

Tantos amores buenos, que con fe me adoraron
Yo les negué el cariño que inocente quedado
Pero fuiste tan cruel que jugaste conmigo
Que la vamos a hacer yo tenía que perder y he perdido contigo /bis

Here’s the English translation of this song’s Spanish lyrics:

I know you loved me, I loved you too,
then you forgot me, but I haven’t forgotten you,
destiny has condemned me to suffer for your love,
what can I do? I had to lose and I’ve lost to you /bis
so many good loves which adored me faithfully,
and I denied them of my love full of everlasting innocence
but you were so cruel and only played with me
what can I do? I had to lose and I’ve lost to you /bis

so many good loves which adored me faithfully,
and I denied them of my love full of everlasting innocence
but you were so cruel and only played with me
what can I do? I had to lose and I’ve lost to you /bis
Click that same link for the Spanish lyrics.

Example #5: Maria Teresa Vera y Lorenzo Hierrezuelo – Longina on YouTube

Un valioso duo de nuestra cultura cubana y unas vistas inéditas de los carnavales de los años 30’s.
Google Translate gives this English translation for the above comment: “A valuable duo of our Cuban culture and unprecedented views of the carnivals of the 30’s.”



10 Surprising Facts About Frankincense and Frankincense Essential Oil

We use frankincense essential oil in a few of our essential oil blends, so we wanted to highlight a few unusual things about it.

1. Some Believed it Was Protected by Dragons

Perhaps to keep others from encroaching on their livelihood, those who grew the Boswellia trees were happy to spread the rumor that their land was protected by dragons. Ancient Greek writer Herodotus (5th century B.C.) wrote: “Arabia is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, and cinnamon…the trees bearing the frankincense are guarded by winged serpents of small size and various colors.”

Because it was more valuable than gold at one time, legend had it that the trees from which frankincense came were guarded by dragon-like creatures that were happy to fend off any intruders. According to Appleton’s Popular Science Monthly, published in 1896, so precious was frankincense that “the old Sabaean merchants invented marvelous stories of genii and dragons guarding the trees and of the woods exhaling deadly odors, in order to protect them from too curious and enterprising trespassers.”

We can relate. There are days that we don’t want to share our chocolate and feel tempted to warn people that there are cockroaches in our desk. But that’s beside the point…

2. The Resin is Edible

Whether in its hardened state or as oil, frankincense is edible. Ancient cultures chewed it like gum, and used it to treat digestive ailments and to boost the immune system. Edible versions are supposed to be “pure,” meaning of translucent color, with no dark-colored impurities.

3. It Contains a Compound That Kills Cancer Cells

In 2009, for instance, researchers found that frankincense oil activated genes that suppress cancer cell growth and kill cancer cells. Yet it didn’t harm normal cells. “Frankincense oil might represent an alternative intravesical agent for bladder cancer treatment” the researchers wrote.

A more recent study found that a chemical compound in frankincense (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid or AKBA) had the potential to destroy ovarian cancer cells—and that even cells resistant to chemotherapy were more sensitive to this compound. Other studies have shown it to have similar characteristics against colon, prostate, skin, and breast cancer cells.

4. It’s a Natural Bug Repellent

Frankincense has long been used to drive away mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects. Mosquitos don’t like it.

Burning it keeps these bugs away, which is especially helpful in areas afflicted by malaria. The Egyptians fumigated wheat silos and repelled wheat moths with it. In addition to burning it, you can also apply it directly to skin.

5. It May Help Ease Your Anxiety

A 2008 animal study found that burning frankincense activated areas in the brain that helped alleviate anxiety and depression. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, after administering a constituent of the resin to mice, found that it significantly affected areas in the brain known to be affected by current anxiety and depression drugs. We still need human studies to see if the affects are the same, but it’s an intriguing area of research.

Try adding a few drops to your warm bath to relieve stress, or burn a bit of incense in your office.

6. Women Used it to Make Eyeliner

Think makeup is only a modern-day invention? Think again. Ancient Egyptian women used frankincense to create their famous heavy black “kohl” eyeliner. They charred it first, and then ground it into a powder that they applied to their eyelids.

They believed it not only helped them look beautiful, but also protected their eyes from the sun, and improved vision.

7. It’s Great in Toothpaste.

Frankincense was used historically to treat halitosis (bad breath), and chewed to protect the teeth. You can still find frankincense in toothpaste today.

Studies have found that it is an effective anti-inflammatory, and is great for keeping your gums healthy.

A 2011 study, for instance, found that the extract lead to a “remarkable” decrease in inflammation in those with gingivitis. “Frankincense,” the researchers wrote, “a safe and low-cost herbal medicine, may be feasibly applied to improve inflammation-based disease of gingival as an adjust to the conventional mechanical therapy.”

So if you’re making your own DIY toothpaste, consider using some frankincense essential oil in it!

8. It May Stimulate Your Memory

Feel like your memory is slowing down? This oil may help. So far, we have only a few studies, but researchers believe the anti-inflammatory action may be what’s creating the results.

A 2015 animal study, for example, found that rats with impaired memory, after receiving frankincense extract, had improved memory retrieval compared to those who received a placebo.

An earlier human study on patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) found that those taking frankincense as a capsule (300 mg twice a day) experienced improvements in visual-spatial memory.

9. It’s Super for Skin

Herbalists prize Frankincense for its healing abilities. Combine it with lavender to treat cuts, scrapes, and burns, and use it on its own to help fade scars. It may also help relieve the itching of some insect bites.

Because it’s a natural antiseptic, it’s also a good option for those with acne—simply dab some on stubborn spots at night before bed to wake up with clearer skin. Combine it with a carrier oil to help moisturize and make fine lines less visible. Some also say it helps to get rid of skin tags and warts—apply several times a day directly on the affected area until they’re gone.

10. It May Ease Your Pain

Chronic, low-level pain is something many Americans suffer from on a daily basis. It may come from joint problems, back pain, fibromyalgia, and more.

Many essential oils contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help, and frankincense is a standout in this respect. It’s been used for centuries to treat a wide range of painful conditions, and new studies have been so positive that in Europe, the extracts have been labeled as drugs for reducing swelling in specific clinical settings. Some studies have found them to be just as effective as our modern-day non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like aspirin and ibuprofen), without the side effects on the stomach.

Hyper Greeters (jumping up – extreme)


A few days ago I posted a blog about teaching dogs to keep their feet on the floor and off of people.  That blog included an excellent video by Chirag Patel.  In my opinion, his approach will work for a high percentage of dogs, especially puppies who are started correctly.  But some dogs are a bit different.  These dogs are not showing normal, thinking behavior patterns when they are in the presence of new people, because they are “hyper greeters.” In the presence of new people, they go over threshold.

“Over threshold” simply means that the dog is no longer able to make good (rational) decisions about their behavior.  And since training assumes a rational participant who is maximizing good things and minimizing bad things, training often fails on dogs that are over threshold.  Sad but true.  The more time a dog spends over threshold, the more easily they end…

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Mayan High Life Pt. 3—The Twelve Hour Breakfast

  Rogue Priest

Last time I offered a little glimpse of what days and nights were like during my time in Valladolid. But as time went on, they seemed to get wilder.

Offerings I placed in an underground lake in Valladolid for my followers. Photo by Andre. Offerings I placed in an underground lake in Valladolid for my followers. Photo by Andre.

Party at Seven

Mario, our local chef-cum-poet extraordinaire, has a knack for creating great parties. Generally, if Mario was planning something everyone wanted in. But one plan seemed to go too far:

A breakfast party.

“Picture this,” Mario said. “We start at dawn. I cook. At seven sharp there is an amazing breakfast laid on the table. And together we share it, and the party starts.”

This proposal earned no shortage of groans. For the banda I ran with, it was just too early of a start. But Mario was relentless. Originally the idea was an overnight party—in one of Alberto’s cenotes, no less—with breakfast cooked over a fire the following dawn. Alberto ruled…

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Mayan High Life Pt. 2—Yucatán Nights

  Rogue Priest

Arianna and Rosalía share a bike near the carousel. Photo by Andre. Arianna and Rosalía share a bike near the carousel. Photo by Andre.

Valladolid looks quiet but there’s a lot going on. Last time I introduced the crazy cast of characters I managed to fall in with. Now it’s time for some misadventures.

Writers Are Boring

Most days were tame. Writers are boring artists: we don’t hop around stage and cast spells like musicians or actors. We don’t even put on a show of furious brush strokes. Furious laptopping just looks like you’re unbalanced, too angry over someone’s comment on Youtube. I spent many days quietly typing at home.

But I felt out of place in the Canada House. There were four bedrooms and just one of me. I mostly lived in the back building, but I preferred to work up front in the outdoor kitchen, surrounded by nature. As a result I spent a lot of time walking back and forth. It felt odd having such a huge place to myself.

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