Botanical Nutrition

by Rob Seeman official blogger of the health food movement


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CannaVest releases letter to stockholders addressing ‘Hustlers of Hemp’ smear article

CBD (cannabidiol) seems to be such a promising new dietary supplement, especially as a super-critically extracted compound from industrial hemp. The pioneering health food store brand Super Hemp CBD, made with Plus CBD Oil from CannaVest and exclusively distributed by the Food Movement Co. in Illinois, has been very well-received due to the purity and 0.00% THC content of the product.

So, the letter to stockholders and customers just released by CannaVest’s CEO Michael Mona, Jr. may seem somewhat surprising.  In the letter he officially responds to a recently-released smear article titled ‘Hustlers of Hemp’ by saying “Our industry as a whole is subject to numerous attacks, and typically we do not merit such attacks with a response. In this instance, where the quality and safety of our products is attacked, we owe it to our customers and stockholders to respond.” Read the full text of the letter here.

From my work on CBD with the Hemp Movement, I can tell you that Super Hemp CBD, made with Plus CBD Oil is substantiated by very reputable cutting edge testing methods.  This is why we can assure that the product is indeed solvent-free because of the superior super-critical extraction method. Project CBD claims to be a third-party project, but according to Mona’s letter evidence indicates that Project CBD is little more than a marketing ploy by competitive products; in particular some which are marketed through multi-level networking channels or ‘pyramid schemes’; and have be known to slander competitors with similar smear campaigns and dirty business tactics.

In the end, I personally feel that those of us taking the ‘higher road’ of making products which pass credible third-party standards have already risen to the top as the product which belongs in the hands of the discerning consumer or health food store.  In the short run, we give some attention to these attacks by responding.  Ultimately, customers deserve to know the truth and products like Super Hemp CBD with a product that is guaranteed to be safe and legal, as opposed to the ‘whole Cannabis only’ platform which Project CBD claims to represent.  Certainly in the interest of natural medicine, and particularly in states where medical marijuana is not an option, the non-psychoactive CBD seems to hold promise for many families and individuals.

hempmovement


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A Brief History of the Hemp Movement in America

hemp-for-victory-movie-poster

Let’s take a minute to look at the numbers. Hemp History Week happens every year from June 1-7th.  With all the renewed focus on this important plant, it is worthwhile to take a moment to explore this interesting history even in the other 51 weeks of the year!  While it is a much more sustainable crop than say, trees being grown for paper mills, Hemp has gotten a bad rap over the last 57 years due to an interesting mix of industry and politics.

Take a look at this Hemp History Timeline on the Hemp History website.  As you can see things start off well in the 1700s with the Declaration of Independence being written on hemp paper, and almost all of the founding fathers growing it.  President Abraham Lincoln uses hemp seed oil to light his house. While ‘Hemp for Victory’ is a rallying cry in World War II, by 1957 Hemp is no longer grown in the US due to “confusion over hemp and drug varieties of the plant, while new government incentives for industry replace natural fibers with plastics, ultimately bankrupting key hemp processors.”

Then in 2004, the Ninth Circuit Court decision in Hemp Industries Association vs. DEA permanently protects sales of hemp foods and body care products in the U.S.  But yet still no Hemp is grown in the US.

Fast forward to 2014 – and we find the Kentucky and Colorado Departments of Agriculture are fighting with the federal government for the right to grow industrial hemp in their states. BACKGROUND HERE Now, just recently we see that the Federal Government and the state of Kentucky have settled their differences, and the state of industrial Hemp appears to be turning a corner.

Say it with me – Hemp Hemp Hooray!  This beneficial source of human nutrition and sustainable industrial applications could just yet be America’s latest bumper crop all over again.


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Philosophy is Alive and so is the Ocean (So Eat Seaweed)

Stephen Hawking has recently been quoted as saying “philosophy is dead” (or at least that little machine he speaks through did) and I couldn’t disagree with him more.  Philosophy is alive and well in natural medicine; in order to believe in vis Medicatrix naturae (Latin for “by the healing power of nature”) one must believe in the wisdom of nature.  We may need science to understand more about it; but when we can point to a long tradition of safe use that is a philosophical kind of data (more in the realm of say -ethnobotany) that we should not ignore.

Science seats itself on a lofty perch, the sometimes overly-haughty halls of academia.  While I love a good double-blind study as much as the human or herbalist – give me the good ole common sense parameters derived from hundreds, even thousands, of years of safe and effective use over a narrow study that can be spun and reinterpreted ad nauseum.

IrishMoss

One possible victim of that spinful extrapolation is a sea vegetable called Irish Moss, also called carageenan moss, which grows abundantly in the Atlantic ocean. Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus) is a type of red algae, used in traditional cultures as a food and a medicine.  It is also best known commercially as a source for carageenan (a polysaccharide fraction naturally occuring in the plant) to be extracted from.

Carageenan is used in industry as a plant-based alternative to gelatin, and as a thickener and stabilizer in processed food products.  Somewhat alarmingly, in animal studies a high dose of carageenan injected in vivo has been shown to cause severe inflammation.  This kind of animal study data on the carageenan polysaccharides is distrurbing, if not altogether damning.

Irish Moss on the other hand, is now being condemened – apparently based almost solely conjecture from scientists – because it contains carageenan.  This seems to me to be a leap of faith that defies both philosophy and science; and a big extrapolation that is contradicted by thousands of years of cultural use of Irish Moss.  It is what is commonly knows as discarding the baby along with the bath water.

In Ireland (not surprisingly) Irish Moss is mixed with whiskey and spices to make a type of pudding.  In Jamaica it is used medicinally as an aphrodisiac.  In Venezuela it is boiled in milk and used a home remedy for sore throat and chest congestion.

These traditional uses support the huge difference between Irish moss and carageenan.  It would be presumptuous to assume that a food with hundreds if not thousands of years of culinary and medicinal use is in fact dangerous and worth avoiding.  We need to learn how to properly weigh the information in modern scientific analysis, rather than being reactive to it.  Always put food first.


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Asian demand for Maca root disrupts international natural products trade

It really pains me to type that title, folks. I’m a big fan of Maca.  It is one of the best ‘tonic’ super foods – meaning that it is safe enough to eat every day and provides continual body strengthening benefits.  It is a member of the Cabbage family that only grows in the Andes mountains on the coast of South America.

When the Food Movement project first began bringing Red and Black Lepidium preuvianum (Maca root) from Peru into the US health food store market, I was ecstatic that we were able to bring this international superstar to folks at a fair price, and were able to work with our supplier partners to obtain verifiable certified organic plants in a raw form.  Now international demand has pushed prices sky high and made good materials more scarce.

So here’s the long a short of it; if you see a Maca you like on the shelves right now – especially at prices consistent with what they were earlier in the year – buy it all.  If you liked Maca at $13.99 for an 8 oz (retail price on TFM Red Maca before the recent disruption) you can expect to buy quite a bit more as the overall market absorbs supply-side price increases of 400 to 500%!

Consider this recent report from America TV

While price increases can cause problems for retail and wholesale suppliers, as well as importers (not to mention consumers!) the real problem may end up being one of supply. For a crop that only grows properly in a certain part of the world, there can be only a certain amount of supply without sacrificing quality.  At this moment I’d rather pay too much for Maca than have none at all!  It seems that it may be the only option we have.

As far as blaming Asian markets for this problem – if anyone is to blame it  might just be the Chinese government.  Because they had state-controlled limits on birth rates, recently lifted, their people were not concerned with procreating at the rate they are in the free world.  China’s one-child policy from 1979 to 2009 may have averted as much as 200 million births, although ethnic minorities within China were not limited by the single child rule and other exceptions were actually made to this limit.  Even so, since the change in China’s family planning policy, their demand for products ranging from Prenatal Vitamins and EFAs to aphrodisiacs such as Maca root, have skyrocketed.  As these pressures impact our global market, we can only do our best to keep our eyes on the prize in regards to sustainability, fair trade principles, and environmental footprint.  Good Maca will likely continue to be available, but we will always struggle with increased levels of inferior products as Maca poaching and other tactics become more profitable than ever.


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White Mulberies : an impressive nutrient-dense super food

If you haven’t yet heard of White Mulberries, botanical name Morus alba, you probably will.  They have recently been getting a lot of attention including an over-the-top proclamation from Dr Oz that these berries will “change peoples’ lives.” !!

You will be happy to know, that there is indeed some science behind these amazing claims. (People, at least here in Chicago, LOVE Dr Oz, and that gives him a lot to live up to, right?)  I decided to delve into the science on White Mulberries to examine what some of the well-documented benefits are.

whitemulberries

First, lets look at some of the research that has been done on the potential health benefits of the White Mulberries, the actual fruiting berries. (There is other research done on the leaves for some of the same benefits.) If you want to see an abstract of these studies visit http://www.pubmed.gov and search for the PMID listed.  These are just a  few of the most interesting studies done on Whilte Mulberries

  1. The juice of the Mulberry fruit may be useful in the prevention of foodborne viral infection.PMID:24350883
  2. Pyrrole alkaloids from the fruit have been shown to activate macrophages, an important part of the immune system.PMID:23164765
  3. Researchers identified a number of antioxidant stilbene compounds in White Mulberries, including resveratrol, oxyresveratrol, and mulberroside A. PMID:24023529
  4. Researchers have also examined the antidabetic and antioxidant effects of a number of phenolic phytochemicals PMID:23936259
  5. Another study indicated that the anthocyanins from White Mulberries fruit prevented diabetes in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. PMID:24137248

In just this handful of studies, you can start to see that these little berries have an amazing amount of antioxidant and health-giving potential. They appear to be able to active macrophage immune cells and may have anti-aging and cell-protective abilities. To add to the total package, the dried berries taste delicious!  They can really satisfy the sweet tooth of even the most jaded junk food junkie.

(DISCLAIMER : This writer does not condone animal testing.  In doing research, we are forced to consider the results of animal testing because it is still valid and relevant.  However, many of these same studies could be done in human volunteers or using in vivo modeling if the scientific system at present wasn’t dead set on continuing to use animal-testing as a mainstay of research.  I believe in my heart of hearts that one day we will progress beyond this methodology.)


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Vegan Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) : Myths and Misconceptions

Hey folks, I don’t know where you live, but here in the Midwestern US of A it is about to get a lot less sunny. And you know what that means? Yes, it is once again Vitamin D season.

lichen rock

Now, if you’ve read my blog posts over time you’ve seen me blog about Vegan D3 over the past couple of years.  Back then, an innovative company in the U.K. came out with a lichen-extracted (and therefore animal-free and vegan) form of Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol.  The Food Movement, Nordic Naturals, Country Life and others moved on this great opportunity and brought the product to market. Yet still many myths and misconceptions exist so we are going through them one by one today.

Next time you see a product made with D3 from sheep’s wool lanolin which claims to be 99% vegan (I’m not making this stuff up, folks) please write and tell the nice people how ill-informed they are.  Nothing personal; but misinformation is the enemy. Call them out, give them my e-mail and we will set the record straight.

MYTH #1 – ALL VITAMIN D3 (CHOLECALCIFEROL) COMES FROM ANIMALS

In terms of dietary supplements this was true up until a couple of years ago.  But research by legendary mycologist Paul Stamets indicates that organic mushrooms also contain active D3, not just D2.  So, there are true ‘food’ sources of D3 out there.  However, if you are facing Vitamin D deficiency (which many more people are than realize) you need a therapeutic dose of at least 1000 IU, perhaps 5000.  So you need a dietary supplement.  Many folks have seen dramatic results using the plant-based Vitashine (TM) form.

MYTH #2 – IT DOESN’T MATTER WHICH FORM, AS LONG AS YOU GET VITAMIN D

Evidence, meaning credible scientific research, suggests that not only does the body prefer D3 (cholecalciferol) to D2 (ergocalciferol), but supplementing with D2 may actually INHIBIT the body’s production of D3.  Think on that one for a moment, manufacturers of products!

While many vegan products contain D2 (ergocalciferol), which is not an animal product, they may not be a viable source of absorbable Vitamin D.

The research on Vitamin D3 is truly staggering. Check out some of the studies on deficiency alone!

MYTH #3 – EXPOSURE TO SUNLIGHT GUARANTEES YOUR BODY WILL MAKE ENOUGH VITAMIN D

You know one thing that blocks vitamin D production? Sunscreen.  Now, I’m not telling you whether or not to wear sunscreen  – but I can also tell you anecdotally that I have talked to many folks who live in sunny areas, get out a fair amount, and have gone to the doctor ( a key factor here) and found their vitamin D levels were low.

You can get a great deal on Vegan D3 capsules here and also in a convenient liquid dropper form.


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Moringa documentary drives home ‘The Miracle Tree’s contribution to hunger relief

When I think of ‘food medicine’ (and the arbitrary distinction between what is ‘food’ and ‘medicine’ in the West, as opposed to in the East) I often think of Moringa.  You may know of it because of its reputation as a high source of vitamins and minerals. In fact the freeze-dried biodynamic Medicatrix Moringa has as much Calcium gram for gram as many Calcium isolated supplements such as Calcium Carbonate! Yet it is in a whole plant form and arguably more beneficial, if only because of the broad range of phytonutrients a whole plant can offer.

The video below drives home an important aspect of the plant – its role in alleviating hunger and other afflictions in Africa and other parts of the world.  While the West suffers from diseases of excess, mother Africa still struggles with the fundamentals of survival.  Moringa may be part of the solution for both. Watch the video if you get the chance and support our friends at Trees of Life. Tell them the food movement sent you!