Herb of the Day for February 3rd – Stevia

Herb of the Day for February 3rd


Stevia – Sweet Herb

The Herbal Sugar Substitute

Stevia Sweet Herb Plant – Source: Reader’s Digest, Magic and Medicine of Plants

  • 30 times sweeter than sugar
  • Helps to keep the body’s blood sugar in balance
  • Placed directly in cuts and wounds, more rapid healing, without scarring, is observed
  • Low caloric, aids weight management
  • Improved digestion
  • Effective results applied to acne, seborrhea, dermatitis, eczema, etc.
  • Beneficial for hypoglycemics
  • Increases energy levels and mental activity
  • Reduces desire for tobacco and alcoholic beverages

FDA’s Position on Stevia

In December 2008 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Stevia product rebaudioside A (rebiana) as a general purpose sweetener. Rebiana is an ingredient derived from the leaf of the stevia plant.

Stevia Zero-Calorie Products

Companies are marketing products featuring zero-calorie sweetener made from rebiana. Trademarked stevia sweetners are Truvia™ (Coca Cola and Cargill) PureVia™ (Whole Earth Sweetener Company LLC and PepsiCo).
Sources: Marketwatch.com, npr.org

Previous FDA Reports

In 1995, the FDA revised an earlier 1991 import alert to allow Stevia and its extracts to be imported as a food supplement but not as a sweetener. Yet, it defines Stevia as an unapproved food additive, not affirmed as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) in the United States. The following is a portion of this revised alert:

If stevia is to be used in a dietary supplement for a technical effect, such as use as a sweetener or flavoring agent, and is labeled as such, it is considered an unsafe food additive. However, in the absence of labeling specifying that stevia is being or will be used for technical effect, use of stevia as a dietary ingredient in a dietary supplement is not subject to the food additive provisions of FD & C ACT.


Crystal of the Day for Feb. 3rd – Kyanite

Crystal of the Day


Spiritual and Healing Properties of Kyanite:

Kyanite opens and clears the body’s communication centers. For channeling or meditation purposes it works best when it is worn near the throat chakra. Kyanite never needs cleaned or charged because it is self-caring, self-sustaining. It carries a very “light” energy that attracts light beings (angels, spirit guides, extraterresterials). Wonderful manifesting stone.

Remedy Benefits of Kyanite:

  • Balances chakras
  • Aids communication
  • Promotes telepathy
  • Brings tranquility
  • Boosts immune system
  • Manifesting properties
  • Induces dream recall

Today We Honor The Goddess Morrigan

The Goddess Morrigan

The Morrígan (“phantom queen”) or Mórrígan (“great queen”), also written as Morrígu or in the plural as Morrígna, and spelt Morríghan or Mór-ríoghain in Modern Irish, is a figure from Irish mythology who appears to have once been a goddess, although she is not explicitly referred to as such in the texts.

The Morrigan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. She sometimes appears in the form of a crow, flying above the warriors, and in the Ulster cycle she also takes the form of an eel, a wolf and a cow. She is generally considered a war deity comparable with the Germanic Valkyries, although her association with cattle also suggests a role connected with fertility, wealth, and the land.

She is often depicted as a triple goddess,although membership of the triad varies; the most common combination is the Badb, Macha and Nemain, but other accounts name Fea, Anann, and others.

The Morrígan is often considered a triple goddess, but her supposed triple nature is ambiguous and inconsistent. Sometimes she appears as one of three sisters, the daughters of Ernmas: the Morrígan, the Badb and Macha. Sometimes the trinity consists of the Badb, Macha and Nemain, collectively known as the Morrígan, or in the plural as the Morrígna. Occasionally Fea or Anu also appear in various combinations. However the Morrígan also frequently appears alone, and her name is sometimes used interchangeably with the Badb, with no third “aspect” mentioned.

The Morrígan is usually interpreted as a “war goddess”: W. M. Hennessey’s “The Ancient Irish Goddess of War”, written in 1870, was influential in establishing this interpretation. Her role often involves premonitions of a particular warrior’s violent death, suggesting a link with the Banshee of later folklore. This connection is further noted by Patricia Lysaght: “In certain areas of Ireland this supernatural being is, in addition to the name banshee, also called the badhb“. Her role was to not only be a symbol of imminent death, but to also influence the outcome of war. She did this by most often appearing as a crow flying overhead and would either inspire fear or courage in the hearts of the warriors. There are also a few rare accounts where she would join in the battle itself as a warrior and show her favortism in a more direct manner.

It has also been suggested that she was closely tied to Irish männerbund groups (described as “bands of youthful warrior-hunters, living on the borders of civilized society and indulging in lawless activities for a time before inheriting property and taking their places as members of settled, landed communities”) and that these groups may have been in some way dedicated to her. If true, her worship may have resembled that of Perchta groups in Germanic areas.

However, Máire Herbert has argued that “war per se is not a primary aspect of the role of the goddess”, and that her association with cattle suggests her role was connected to the earth, fertility and sovereignty; she suggests that her association with war is a result of a confusion between her and the Badb, who she argues was originally a separate figure. She can be interpreted as providing political or military aid, or protection to the king—acting as a goddess of sovereignty, not necessarily a war goddess.

There is a burnt mound site in County Tipperary known as Fulacht na Mór Ríoghna (“cooking pit of the Mórrígan”). The fulachta sites are found in wild areas, and usually associated with outsiders such as the Fianna and the above-mentioned männerbund groups, as well as with the hunting of deer. The cooking connection also suggests to some a connection with the three mythical hags who cook the meal of dogflesh that brings the hero Cúchulainn to his doom. The Dá Chich na Morrigna (“two breasts of the Mórrígan”), a pair of hills in County Meath, suggest to some a role as a tutelary goddess, comparable to Danu or Anu, who has her own hills in County Kerry. Other goddesses known to have similar hills are Áine and Grian of County Limerick who, in addition to a tutelary function, also have solar attributes.


NASA Photo of the Day for February 3rd

 Panorama of the East Coast

Panorama of the East Coast

This Jan. 29 panorama of much of the East Coast, photographed by one of the Expedition 30 crew members aboard the International Space Station, provides a look generally northeastward: Philadelphia-New York City-Boston corridor (bottom-center); western Lake Ontario shoreline with Toronto (left edge); Montreal (near center). An optical illusion in the photo makes the atmospheric limb and light activity from Aurora Borealis appear “intertwined.”

Image Credit: NASA

Astronomy Picture of the Day for February 3rd

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 February 3
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Inside the Eagle Nebula
Credit: Far-infrared: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/Hill, Motte, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium;
X-ray: ESA/XMM-Newton/EPIC/XMM-Newton-SOC/Boulanger 

Explanation: In 1995, a now famous picture from the Hubble Space Telescope featured Pillars of Creation, star forming columns of cold gas and dust light-years long inside M16, the Eagle Nebula. This remarkable false-color composite image revisits the nearby stellar nursery with image data from the orbiting Herschel Space Observatory and XMM-Newton telescopes. Herschel’s far infrared detectors record the emission from the region’s cold dust directly, including the famous pillars and other structures near the center of the scene. Toward the other extreme of the electromagnetic spectrum, XMM-Newton’s X-ray vision reveals the massive, hot stars of the nebula’s embedded star cluster. Hidden from Hubble’s view at optical wavelengths, the massive stars have a profound effect, sculpting and transforming the natal gas and dust structures with their energetic winds and radiation. In fact, the massive stars are short lived and astronomers have found evidence in the image data pointing to the remnant of a supernova explosion with an apparent age of 6,000 years. If true, the expanding shock waves would have destroyed the visible structures, including the famous pillars. But because the Eagle Nebula is some 6,500 light-years distant, their destruction won’t be witnessed for hundreds of years.

16 Ways to Stop a Cold

16 Ways to Stop a Cold

  • Caring.com, supporting caregivers


Sometimes it seems like winter is just one long case of the sneezes; we all know what it’s like to go around for weeks with a cold we just can’t shake. Yet some lucky folks seem to get through the cold and flu season with nary a sniffle. How do they do it?

As it turns out, it’s not really luck. Although it’s true that some immune systems are more robust than others, just about anyone attacked by a cold virus is going to get a cold. The secret: Prevent the cold virus from breaching your defenses. And at the first sign of exposure or symptoms, mount a full-bore offense to stop it in its tracks.

How to stop a cold before it starts
The germs that cause colds have a preferred route of travel. Unlike various strains of influenza virus, which tend to travel in airborne droplets, cold viruses prefer a physical transmission route: from your hands to your nose or eyes, and then to the nasopharynx — where the nose meets the mouth at the back of the throat (and where most colds begin). Studies have shown that most cold viruses can survive for up to three hours on nonporous surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, and coffee cups. They can also survive on people’s hands for several hours if they don’t wash them.

That’s why hand washing — after you shake hands, after you open a door, after you push a shopping cart — is item number one in your anticold defense manual. If you kill cold germs on your hands before you transfer them to your nose or eyes, you stop a cold before it can start.

Few of us can wash our hands as often as needed, though, so be sure to follow these other strategies as well:

1. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes and nose. There are hundreds of viruses that cause the common cold, and most of them are rhinoviruses, which need to get into the mucous membranes lining the nose or into the tear ducts in order to cause infection. That means touching your face — specifically your nose and eyes — is the primary way people give themselves cold germs. The nasopharynx, where the nose meets the mouth, is the “sweet spot” for cold viruses. If they can reach this spot, it’s very likely you’ll get sick; if you prevent them from getting there, you won’t. And a virus deposited at the base of the nose can easily be inhaled higher up into the nose.

So your mother was right: Don’t pick or touch your nose. The tear ducts provide another pathway; rub your eyes and the cold virus can easily drain through the tear ducts into the nasopharynx. Don’t rub them, and you avoid another possible cold.

2. Try not to touch public surfaces. Studies show that teaching children to sneeze into their elbow, rather than cover their mouths with their hands, has been very effective at reducing the incidence of colds in schools. Why? Because then the virus isn’t on their hands, where it can be passed to others via shared surfaces such as doorknobs, chair backs, books, and toys.

Here’s the surprising-but-true example doctors use: Did you know you’re far more likely to catch a cold from touching an infected person’s water glass and then wiping your eye or picking your nose than you are from drinking a sip of the sick person’s water?
Knowing this, medical personnel recommend being as ingenious as possible in your efforts not to touch surfaces that many other people have also touched. One internist reported that she trained himself to push elevator buttons with her knuckles; a nurse mentioned he’s learned to open doors by pushing them with his elbow or forearm.


3. Be finicky about sanitation. Dispose of dirty tissues promptly; the cold virus can live on them for several hours. Use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands right away; a recent study found there was less spread of colds in families using alcohol-based hand gels frequently.

4. Don’t skimp on sleep. The studies are clear: Those who sleep less are much more susceptible to the cold virus once they’re exposed. In one study published in the January 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine, people who slept fewer than seven hours a night were three times more likely to develop a cold when exposed to a rhinovirus compared to those who slept eight or more hours a night.

How to get over a cold fast

Even when you try your hardest, you might still get an occasional cold. Fortunately, most colds begin to fade on their own after about a week, but sometimes it takes two weeks before you feel better. If more than two weeks has passed and you’re still coughing, it may be that tissues in the lungs have become irritated. These “rhinovirus-induced changes” can last up to four weeks.

Is there anything you can do to shorten the downtime? In a word, yes. Here’s what helps:

5. Go to bed. Rather than getting in the car and heading to the drugstore, get into bed and go to sleep. While you sleep, your body recharges your immune system, which is what fights off a cold. Studies show that people who get eight or more hours of sleep increase their resistance to cold viruses — and get better faster if they do catch a cold.

6. Drink a lot of water. And tea, and juice, and clear broth. Fluids help your body heal from a cold by loosening congestion and preventing dehydration. Water, juice, clear broth, or warm lemon water with honey are the best fluids to rely on; alcohol, coffee, and caffeinated sodas only make dehydration worse.

7. Cheer up with chicken soup. Recent studies that tested the effectiveness of chicken soup discovered that it does seem to relieve cold and flu symptoms. Scientists believe chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils, the cells of the immune system that mount the body’s inflammatory response. Hot chicken soup also temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the lining of the nasal passages.

And no, it doesn’t need to be homemade. Researchers at the University of Nebraska compared homemade chicken soup with canned versions and found that many, though not all, canned chicken soups worked just as well as soups made from scratch.

8. Gargle a sore throat. Dissolve a half teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water and gargle with it to temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat. The reason this time-honored home remedy works is that a sore throat occurs when the throat tissues become inflamed by bacteria and germs. This inflammation takes the form of tiny fluid-filled bumps called edemas. The dehydrating action of salt draws out the edema fluid, killing the bacteria, which require a warm, moist environment to survive.

9. “Irrigate” your nose with saline. Studies show that over-the-counter saline nasal sprays work to combat stuffiness and congestion and also reduce the amount of time that virus particles are in the nasal passages. And unlike nasal decongestants, saline sprays don’t lead to a rebound effect — a worsening of symptoms when the medication is used for too long. A neti pot, an alternative therapy gaining in popularity, is basically another nasal irrigation technique that puts the saline solution directly into the nasal passages.

10. Moisten the air with a humidifier. Cold viruses are happiest in dry conditions, which is one reason colds are more common in winter. Dry air also dries out the mucous membranes, which can both contribute to a stuffy nose and scratchy throat and lessen the body’s ability’s to fend off cold viruses in the first place. Run a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air. It doesn’t matter if it’s cool or warm mist; both are effective. But be careful: Running a humidifier can also add mold, fungi, and bacteria to your environment, especially if the humidifier hasn’t been cleaned properly. Change the water in your humidifier daily, clean the humidifier with soap and water once every three days, and air out the rooms in which you’ve been running the humidifier once you’re over your cold.

11. Don’t overuse over-the-counter cold remedies. Nonprescription decongestants and pain relievers are useful for relieving symptoms when you just can’t stand them anymore, but they won’t make your cold go away any faster. And they can have side effects. Decongestants, for example, can have a “rebound effect” — they can actually make a runny nose come back worse than ever if you use them for more than a few days.

The most effective decongestants are the ones that contain pseudoephedrine (brand name: Sudafed), but nowadays they’re kept behind the counter and you have to ask for them. That’s because pharmacies are restricting the availability of pseudoephedrine, which can be used to manufacture methamphetamine. But do take the trouble to ask, because the decongestants that contain phenylephrine instead don’t work nearly as well. And antihistamines, such as Benadryl, not only don’t work as well but can be dangerous because they cause drowsiness. In fact, older adults shouldn’t take Benadryl at all, since it can cause dizziness and falls.

Be sure, too, not to double-dose on acetaminophen (Tylenol). Most combination cold remedies contain acetaminophen, so if you take a combination remedy when you’ve already taken acetaminophen for fever or pain, you’ll inadvertently take too much. Read the labels of any cold medication carefully to make sure you’re not overdosing.

12. Use alternative remedies cautiously. At the first sneeze, cough, or sniffle, many of us reach for the vitamin bottle or rush to the drug store for an herbal remedy. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence to show that these work. Although some studies of vitamin C, garlic, echinacea, zinc, and the herbal combination in Airborne have suggested promising results, most have shown little or no effect. In most cases they can’t hurt, either.

However, sometimes a natural remedy that’s powerful enough to affect your health can have serious side effects. Recently, for example, a zinc nasal solution (brand name Zicam), which is sold at health food stores and some pharmacies, has been reported to cause permanent changes to some people’s sense of smell. Some researchers think that zinc lozenges could have the same effect. In June 2009, the FDA issued an advisory regarding some zinc products, so be careful about using them.

What to do when a cold won’t go away
Most cases of the common cold will go away on their own in one to two weeks, though sometimes symptoms such as a cough can linger longer. But if you’ve been sick for ten days or more and aren’t getting better, or are feeling worse, it’s time to rethink your approach.

13. Go over the checklist — have you really been following doctor’s orders? Typically, when people complain that a cold won’t go away, it turns out they’ve been trying to “power through” it and haven’t given their bodies a chance to heal, experts say. Go over the list of treatment options listed above and ask yourself if you’ve been doing all you can. Rest and fluids are the most important – – have you been getting at least eight hours of sleep a night and drinking plenty of water, juice, or tea with honey?

14. Take steps to relieve a cough. The symptom most likely to persist for weeks is a cough. And any time the lungs are involved, it’s important to take steps to avoid bronchitis or pneumonia.

The best way to get a cough to clear up: Take care of it. Gargle with salt water and drink lots of herb tea or hot water with honey, which has an antibacterial and soothing effect. (One study found honey to be more effective than cough syrup.) If a cough is preventing you from sleeping, try using over-the-counter cough syrup, though experts are divided over whether they work. Read labels and choose one with dextromethorphan, which at least some studies have found effective. Dextromethorphan actually works in the brain, rather than having a physical effect on the lungs or throat. It raises the threshold at which you feel like coughing, breaking the cycle of repeated coughing fits to give your lungs and throat a break. And that gives you a chance to sleep, so your body can heal itself.

15. Watch for a sinus infection. If a stuffy nose and congestion persists, you could be getting a sinus infection. That happens when mucus gets trapped in your nasal passages and is unable to drain for a period of time, becoming a safe harbor for bacteria. Sinus infections can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in the early stages before a full-blown infection develops. Be sure, then, to keep your nasal passages well irrigated with saline spray to help avoid an infection in the first place. And keep a lookout for these telltale signs of infection:

  • Facial pain, particularly behind the forehead, cheeks, nose, or between the eyes
  • Headache
  • Persistent fever
  • Nasal discharge that’s green or dark yellow in color

If you suspect a sinus infection, call your doctor. This is one of the rare instances in which you’ll probably need antibiotics.


16. Be on alert for breathing problems. In a small minority of cases, a cold or flu may lead to pneumonia. And if you suffer from asthma, a cold can trigger an asthma attack when the air passages in your lungs overreact to infection by the cold virus. Asthma can be treated with an inhaler or other medication. Pneumonia can be viral or bacterial, so antibiotics may or may not be the treatment of choice.

But if you suspect pneumonia, be sure to see a doctor to get it checked out. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Fast, shallow breathing — the feeling of not being able to draw a deep breath
  • Difficulty breathing, as though you can’t get enough air
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing or wheezing that won’t stop
  • Mental confusion
  • Severe vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration, such as dizziness when standing or decreased urination (or decreased tears, in an infant)
  • Blue or purple discoloration around the mouth
  • Mental confusion that wasn’t present before the illness
  • Convulsions or seizures

It’s best to take seriously any illness that won’t go away. If you’re getting worse instead of better, or are still concerned about symptoms after two weeks, call your doctor.

4 Natural Antibiotics

4 Natural Antibiotics

  • Michelle Schoffro Cook

When it comes to antibacterial agents, natural medicine really shines. While there are hundreds of natural antibiotics of varying degrees of strength, here are some of my faves:

Oregano Oil—The King of natural antibiotics, study after study proves the effectiveness of oregano oil. Of course, like anything, product strength can vary drastically. Some products are actually marjoram and not oregano at all. So, choose a reputable brand backed by research. I like North American Herb and Spice Company’s blend called P-73, which includes wild, high potency oregano harvested in harsh conditions. That might not sound like a big deal but harsh conditions usually spell stronger active ingredients in the plant, since the health-building phytochemicals frequently comprise the plant’s immune system.

Three volumes of research by Paul Belaiche found that oregano oil killed 96% of all pneumococcus bacteria, 92% of all neisseria, proteus, and staphylococcus bacteria. Some strains of neisseria are responsible for diseases like gonorrhea or meningitis. Proteus is a type of intestinal infection, and staphylococcus is the culprit in some types of food poisoning. Oregano oil eliminated 83% of streptococcus and 78% of enterococcus, which are linked with strep throat, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, toxic shock syndrome, cystitis, wound infections, and anorexia.

Olive Leaf Extract—Olive leaf, like many other natural antibiotics, is also a good antiviral, making it an excellent choice when the nature of the microbe is not completely known. Drs. O. and B. Lee at the Department of Biomedical Science at CHA University in Korea, found that olive leaf extract was potent against various microbes. Additionally, their research showed olive leaf exhibited free radical scavenging abilities. Free radicals are linked with aging and disease.

Garlic—A natural antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral agent, garlic is a great addition to your diet, particularly at this time of year. While garlic contains potassium and germanium, two minerals that are critical to good health, it is best known for its sulphur compounds, particularly allicin. These are the main phytochemicals that boost immunity and act as natural antibiotics. So, ladies and gentlemen, start chopping—garlic that is. It’s time to throw some fresh garlic into your favorite soup, stew, chilli, stirfry, meat or veggie dish. Forget garlic powder. Most of its health benefits are long gone.

Green tea—One of the active ingredients in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has been identified in research as an effective agent against certain strains of oral bacteria. Since green tea has many other health benefits, including an impressive ability to break down excess fat in the body, it’s a great natural antibiotic to add to your daily diet. For best results, be sure to swish it around in your mouth.

New Moon Report for Feb. 3rd – Neptune in Pisces


 New Moon Report for February 3

by Jeff Jawer


Neptune in Pisces

Friday, February 3, 10:52 am PST, 1:52 pm EST

Spiritual Neptune settles into its sensitive home sign for a 13-year stay that inspires faith and stimulates our fantasies. The planet of compassion in sympathetic Pisces softens the barriers between us, spurring compassion and arousing our charitable instincts. Dreams without borders dissolve differences among individuals and can even unite religions in a growing desire to reconnect with the soul of humanity.

Cosmic Calendar for Friday, Feb. 3rd

In-depth studies and investigations are promoted via a Mercury-Pluto parallel (9:11AM PST). Parallels and contra-parallels are alignments taking place as celestial bodies move north or south of the Celestial Equator. Their potency can be equal to the usual aspects that are calculated via the zodiacal circle. Mercury and Pluto are hooking up as a dynamic duo this morning because they are both 19+ degrees south of the Celestial Equator. Meanwhile, as mentioned in yesterday’s calendar entry, the hard-to-grasp, elusive and far-out planet Neptune enters Pisces (11:04AM PST) for its official 14-year journey in this last, hard-to-understand zodiacal sign. If Neptune in Pisces sounds vaguely familiar, it is because from April 4 to August 4 last year, this planet and sign offered you an introductory lesson on what the next 14 years might contain. Were you listening to and tuning into that solar systemic, galactic and universal dissertation in 2011? If not, you now have a golden opportunity to dust off your old Beatles records (relating to the trip to India and the aftermath) and get back into the Be Here Now vibes of Richard Alpert (aka Baba Ram Dass) in order to comprehend the reality behind all of our many materialistic illusions. Strengthen your creative imagination and psychic sensitivity. Be more compassionate and empathic to the truly needy and disenfranchised. Experiment with a digital or video camera. Sing, dance and make merry as major planetary shifts don’t happen that often. Finish old business later on when the Moon in Gemini is in a void uncertainty cycle from 9:07PM PST to 10:05PM PST. Once the Moon enters its home base of watery Cancer (10:05PM PST), family and nostalgic themes run rampant, and the lunar orb makes an instant, harmonious trine to Neptune in Pisces (10:07PM PST). Keep a notebook by your bed overnight to record nocturnal soul-wanderings.