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Forest Bathing, Nature Imbibing, Plant Plunging: Where to get your nature fix in the Cities

Exposure to nature is considered a necessity. Twenty to thirty minutes of exposure effects significant reduction in cortisol levels and there's a wealth of other health benefits. However nature--and our time--is often in short supply. Where can one find repose without driving an hour?  We have some beautiful little oases right here in the Cities:

St. Paul's Como Conservatory is my go-to especially in winter or on rainy days.

Lyndale Park Gardens near Lake Harriet has four themed gardens--Annual-Perrenial, Butterfly-Hummingbird, Peace, and Rose gardens.

Roberts Bird Sanctuary  Shares the same parking lot with the Lyndale Park Gardens.

Song of Hiawatha Garden is a gem I just discovered a couple years ago. It's nestled behind the Minnehaha Parkway traffic circle and is home to hummingbirds.

Nokomis Naturescape Garden at the northeast end of the lake.

Loring Park Garden of the Seasons can be a trip combined with the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden & Bird Sanctuary on Theodore Wirth Parkway.

Then, for the tots, there's JD Rivers' Children's Garden, a part of Theodore Wirth.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you can create your own oasis in your back yard. A tree in your back yard can become a personal sanctuary when set up with a comfortable chair, flower pots, and a bird feeder. Enjoy spending time outdoors, however you can.





Ted Meyer's TedMed Talk

Ted Meyer talks about how his suffering as a child informs his art and how he came to bring ailing artists into medical school classes in order to impart the importance of narrative and the power of a framing in healing.


Moving lymph

Lymph circulation is the waste management system of our bodies. It transports waste materials (toxins, dead bacteria and cells, cancer cells, dietary fats from our digestive system, interstitial fluid, etc.) out of our bodies. Lymph travels just under the skin through vessels. It is cleaned in the nodes and eventually returns to the whole blood in the circulatory system. Unlike blood, which has the heart to pump it, the lymph has no pump to keep it flowing. It is entirely dependent on external factors in order to operate optimally. Here are some ways to keep it moving:

  • pumping action of your gastrocs through walking or running
  • massage, particularly the light, directional, rhythmic lymph drainage massage
  • jumping, particulary on a rebounder or trampoline
  • skin brushing
  • hydrate
  • deep breathing
  • hot & cold treatment
  • stillingia tincture
  • Qi machine
It's terribly important not to restrict lymph flow with tight clothing, especially bras. If you wear a bra make sure it's well fitted and doesn't leave long-lasting grooves in your skin when you take it off.

Placebo research by Ted Kaptchuk

Very exciting research this past year by Harvard's Ted Kaptchuk, author of a primer on Traditional Chinese Medicine called The Web That Has No Weaver. He has identified the Placebo Spot in the brain--a region of the frontal lobe--and mapped genetic variations in neurotransmitter pathways that affect individuals' responsiveness to placebos--a system referred to as the placebome. Placebo is a complex neuro response by an individual, involving one's dopamine and/or opioid reward centers, to a caretaker's loving attention. It seems that some people are genetically predisposed to be responsive to loving attention, causing a healing cascade due to changes in neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and opioids. This calls into question decades of research that pulled small sample sizes, perhaps flawed by genetic bias as it is unknown what percentage of the population is prone to placebo effect. While we have always known that placebo works (much to the disappointment of the western medical establishment), its mechanisms have been shrouded in mystery.

Here's a TED Talk that Kaptchuk did on Placebo in 2014.


Recipe for apple cider vinegar water

So many of us have systemic inflammation. It's an underlying factor in chronic pain, chronic stress, weight gain, and aging. If you have systemic inflammation use the vinegar water for a month or two to get your pH balanced and your gut restored. If you needed it, if you really had systemic inflammation, you'll feel a drastic difference in four or five days of drinking the concoction. Discontinue use when your symptoms are under control. Diet and lifestyle changes will keep those changes in place.There are powerful tools you have at home to battle this monster--sleep, exercise, cleaning up your diet, eating greens. None of these are to be underestimated.

Here's an amazing tool for short-term use:


16 oz. water

1 Tbsp Bragg's apple cider vinegar (for the mother)

1 Tbsp lemon juice (not from concentrate)

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch turmeric

The water is an important part of the recipe; you can't put all the other ingredients into a smaller amount of water and think that you will get the results you want. Water is needed for hydrating and flushing. It also dilutes the acids which is critical for your tooth enamel.

I put the question of eroding tooth enamel to my dentist, Dr. Joe Grayden, a professor at the University fo MN Twin Cities campus. He took the quesiton to about a half dozen of his colleagues and here's the consensus:

  • The acidic level and its effects would land somewhere between drinking coffee with sugar (coffee alone, without sugar, is not very worrisome) and sipping on Coka Cola throughout the day.
  • While there's no research on vinegar water, there's a lot of research on caffeinated sodas and carbonated water. Sipping is worse than drinking it down faster. People who drink caffeinated pop tend to sip it thorughout the day while people who drink noncarbonated pops tend to drink it down quickly. Those drinking the caffeinated pop have tooth enamel wear at a much greater rate than those drinking the noncaffeinated pops. Don't sip; drink it down quickly.
  • Your tooth enamel is most vulnerable the hour after eating/drinking. It takes a half hour before you start producing enzymes that will neutralize the acids and they take about two hours to do their job. Don't brush your teeth immediately after eating/drinking, especially acidic foods/drinks. Wait about an hour before brushing.
  • Using a straw does not mitigate the risk of erosion.
  • As a side: Dentists also see tooth enamel loss in bartenders who put slices of lemon in their mouths and in Gen Y-ers who grew up using electric toothbrushes but use them as though they are regular toothbrushes, placing pressure on the brush bristles against the teeth. An electric brush does all the work and there should never be pressure placed on the brush against the teeth.