Archive for January, 2012

And still more on bees . . .

January 31, 2012
Our talk on bees really has our group buzzing.  Here’s more information from Carly Erickson, a member of Wellness of Chatham, student in the CCCC Sustainable Ag program, and also very active, herself, in the nutritional and environmental wellness of our community.  Thanks, Carly!
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A brief bee update… a good source for bee supplies would be Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. They are a local North Carolina company and make all their own hives on location. They also have lots of events related to bees.
Another great source is Debbie Roos’s page, growing small farms
Debbie has GREAT local sources, including pollinator day at the Marketplace, info on the Chatham County Beekeepers Association, how and what to plant for a pollinator garden and general ”bee” information.
There is a bee school starting next year in January here in Pittsboro and Orange County has theirs this year, though I believe it already started.
Sources for good local honey I can provide would be from a few of our Chatham County beekeepers such as Pat (last name escapes me), Micheal Almond, Little Flying Cow- Charles who sells at Carrboro market and any of the local retailers you may find at the co-ops.
If anyone wants information on how to start raising bees, I’d say plug in with our local county beekeepers. Busy Bee Apiary in Chapel Hill orders supplies and bees from Brushy Mountain and can be purchased from there on site. They also have a store where you can purchase just about anything

Bees and Honey

January 23, 2012

Wednesday evening’s Wellness of Chatham meeting was incredibly interesting, and I thank our hosts, Lisa Piper and Dave Clark of SMALL Cafe and B&B as well as the participants Chris Bouton, Marilyn Grubbs, Carl Theodore, Steve Sullivan, Barb Tesla, Donna Poe, Nita Dukes, Debbie Orol, Carly Erickson, Jenna Harvey, Rudy Mullis and Judy and Mike Harrelson.  Special thanks to our speaker, Judy Pick, beekeeper extraordinaire for her informative and eye-opening discussion.

I really could not even begin to cover the vast amount of information that Judy shared with us about the life and practices of bees as well as the ways in which the health of our environment here in NC directly affects our bee populations.

I will, however, share with you some information from the “Cooking With Honey” flyer that Judy gave me.

* When using honey in cooking, it’s best to use recipes that are already developed for the use of honey.

* Honey is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar (due to the amount of fructose).

* When using honey in baked goods: – Add 1/2 tsp baking soda for each cup of honey.

– Reduce oven temp by 25 degrees to prevent over browning.

– Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each

cup of honey used.

– Substitute honey for up to 1/2 the sugar in a recipe.

– For easy removal, measure honey in a cup you used for oil or


– Honey can be substituted in most yeast breads in a direct amount (ie. 1/2 cup sugar would be traded for 1/2 honey)

– Honey can be substituted in many recipes that use other liquid sweetners such as molasses or maple syrup.

* Finally, go to, the National Honey Board website, for more infomation about honey and recipes.

I would like to mention a few other bits of information that Judy shared with us.  First, she said that many honeys here in NC will have some Tulip Poplar in them, since this is the most abundant source of nectar and pollen in our area.   Also pesticides and herbicides are soluable in the wax within beehives.  Bees utilize propolis like glue.  It is a resinous mixture that honey bees collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources and is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive.  Nectar is what the bees use for making honey, pollen is a protein source for bees and water is used to dilute honey (to feed baby bees) and to keep the hive cool.

The book Covered in Honey: The Amazing Flavors of Varietal Honey by Mani Niall was donated to the Chatham County library and is available for check out.  In it, chef Niall reveals new culinary uses for honey and brings the story of nature’s oldest

sweetener to life, serving us food history and honey lore mixed with more than 100 delicious recipes to inspire and delight.

Finally, a recommendation by Judy and Mike Harrelson was made to see the documentary, Colony:The Endangered World of Bees.  The documentary looks into the mysterious phenomenon called ‘bee colony collapse disorder.’  Apparently, worth watching.  I know I’ll be checking it out!

Herbs and their Benefits

January 23, 2012
I would like to thank Tracie Little again for speaking with us today about herbs, their benefits and ways to incorporate them into our daily regimens.  Tracie also provided some outstanding information about where to learn more about this topic, which I, certainly, will be utilizing. 
I would also like to extend a thank you to the following attendees who braved the cold morning weather to get to our meeting: Christiana Herndon, Brystana Kaufman, Carly Erickson, Diane Swan, Libby Ann Capaldi and Chris Bouton.  It was an extremely interesting and informative discussion, and each of you had something important to add.  This is one of my favorite things about our Wellness of Chatham meetings, we all can learn so much from one another’s passions and expertise.
So, let’s get into the highlights . . . there were many!
First, the list of the herbs discussed:
This shrub grows well here in NC and is similar in taste to the blueberry, but more bitter.
Both its berries and flowers offer health benefits.
It stimulates and supports the immune system and is safe to take on a daily basis.
The antioxidant value of elderberries makes it excellent for strengthening cellular walls as well as our circulatory system.
It is excellent to use for children and the elderly.
The supplement company, New Chapter, has done many studies on the benefits of Elderberry.
It can be made into and taken as syrup, cordial, tea, jelly and juice (usually mixed with other, sweeter juices).
If growing elderberry, it likes “wet feet,” and can be found along water areas and where drainage isn’t as good.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
This herb is native to India, but grows very well in NC.
In India, they have used it traditionally in prayer to uplift their spirits and make offerings to the gods.
It will reseed itself and, similar to mint, can take over an area very quickly.
It is good for mild depression, balancing blood sugar, helping to decrease and maintain cortisol levels and with sharpening memory. 
It is good for balancing the nervous system, the bronchial system and the intestinal tract.
If you juice the leaves of the holy basil plant, you can use it to bring down fever.
It can be made into tea, pesto, used as a spice to flavor foods and as a cordial.
It has a sweet, “bubble gum” scent to it and is especially delicious as a tea.
The tea company, Tulsi, has a tremendous line of holy basil teas that are grown in India under excellent conditions.
Lemon Balm
This herb is native to southern Europe and also grows very well in NC.
Lemon Balm is anti-viral and exibits anti-histamine properties, so it is good for relieving colds, flu, fever and other viruses. 
It has a very calming affect on the body and is great for kids and menopausal women.
It has been used to lower blood pressure and has been found to inhibit the growth of tumor cells.
It can be made into tea, used as a spice to flavor foods and as a cordial.
Kava Root
This herb is a tropical shrub.
The root is beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety.
It settles and calms the mind and nervous system and is great for those going through detox.
The plant contains kavalactones which are natural chemicals that have a positive effect on mood and well being.
Kava extract can be used to treat the stiffness and pain associated with conditions such as arthritis.
It can help to sharpen the senses and provide extra energy.
Proper dosage is imparative with Kava Root, as it can bring the body to such relaxation that one is unable to move.
It can be made into an extract, capsule, loose powder, tea and cordial.
The herb plantain is often considered a weed and grows very well in NC.
It holds powerful skin-healing properties in its broad, heavily veined leaves.
It “pulls” toxins from bites, stings and is effective at treating diaper rash and hemorrhoids.
It offers an all-natural relief from conjunctivitis, also known as pink-eye.
Physillium seed, known as a source of fiber, comes from the plantain plant.
It is best used fresh or dried depending on the ailment.
Stinging Nettles
The herb is a perennial plant that can grow from three to seven feet tall and does grow in NC.
It is best known for its leaves and stems, which are covered with fine spines.
It has been used to treat joint pain and also contains significant amounts of calcium and iron.
The chemicals within the “juice” from a broken nettle spine include histamines and serotonin.
It can be made into teas, salves, creams, extracts and supplements.
In addition to discussing these herbs, Tracie offered information on Medicines of the Earth, a medical symposium put on by Gaia Herbs, an herbal and supplement company out of Brevard, NC, as well as the Southeast Herbal Women’s Conference which discusses the day-to-day use of herbs.
She also defined “allies” which are those herbs that we, as individuals, keep coming back to.  Our bodies will tell us what we need, and as soon as we know the benefits of a given herb, the body can tell if it is something that we need for support and balance. 
Tracie talked, additionally, about the work of Rosemary Gladstar and the United Plant Savers program.  They focus on saving medicinal plants in their environments and help individuals turn their own land into botanical santuaries.  For more information, you can check out
For those looking for a local herbalist, Tracie provided the names of Suki Roth, Kim Calhoon and Wild Will
Also discussed were the two resources for finding good, quality herbs: Botanical Preservation Corps and Mountain Rose Herbs
Finally, we discussed planning some herb walks and a cordial-making workshop.  Tracie explained that cordials are a nice way to be able to take your herbs and were easy to make yourself.  A great resource for making them is Theresa Boardwine and her book Cordially Yours.

Low Glycemic Eating

January 23, 2012
Thursday evening’s Wellness of Chatham meeting was educational and fun, and I thank our hosts, Cheryl and Houston Blair of 458 West Bed and Breakfast as well as the participants Tracie Little, Carl Theodore, Jessica Rice and Nita Dukes.  Special thanks to our speaker, Erica Perlow for her presentation about weight loss and low-glycemic eating.
Some of the information that I’d like to pass along about the Glycemic Index (GI) and dietary choices are as follows:
The Glycemic Index was first created by Dr. David Jenkins and a team of researchers at the University of Toronto in 1981 as a way to help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.  It is now the basis for some of the newer and better weight loss plans, since it’s been determined to improve the health of all, not just diabetics.
The Glycemic Index is a ranking system for foods containing carbohydrates, and a food’s GI number indicates how quickly the food triggers a rise in blood glucose, thus affecting an individual’s insulin response.
Foods with a low GI ranking break down slowly during the digestion process, resulting in a gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream.  Foods with high GI numbers break down quickly, causing an undesirable surge in blood glucose, thus resulting in a surge of insulin.
Controlling your insulin is the key to weight loss and weight management, not to mention improving/maintaining your overall health.
Glycemic Load (GL) reflects not only the glycemic index of the food, but the amount of carbs ingested.  The GL of a food is determined by taking the GI and multiplying it by the number of grams of the food being consumed and then dividing that number by 100.  A number of 20 or higher is a high GL.  11 to 19 is medium range and 10 and below is optimal or considered low GL.  The target for good health is to have a daily GL of 80 or less.
The key is to understand how our bodies work from the biological level.  Once we do this, it is easier to make the best choices for our health.  If we don’t know to what extent a food is hurting us, we are less inclined to truly avoid or limit it.


January 23, 2012
Thursday evening’s Wellness of Chatham meeting was incredibly interesting, and I thank our hosts, Ray and Joni Pavlik of Unwined wine shop as well as the participants Libby Ann Capaldi, Megan Huber, Jessica Rice, Christiana Herndon and Judy and Mike Harrelson.  Special thanks to our speaker, Carl Theodore for his outstanding talk and presentation about Neurofeedback, “training wheels” for the brain!
I really could not even begin to cover the exciting information that Carl shared with us about how we can actually retrain our brains and create improvement in everything from our reactions to stress to our physical abilities; memory, attention and focus and even our running times!
I will share with you some information from the flyers that Carl handed out to us.
“Neurofeedback is operant conditioning, using brain neroplasticity, we exercise it directly increasing focus and stability [within the brain].  [With the use of computer images], we reward faster and slower brainwaves [to better balance the functioning of the brain].”
Some of the benefits of Neurofeedback are:
Enhanced attention and focus                        Normalizes sleep
Reduced irritability and mood swings              Encourages ability to openly socialize
Decreased anxiety and depression                  Improves intelligence and test scores
Diminished hyperactivity                              Reduces need and use of medications                      
Optimizes cognitive and motor performance
Carl has extended to anyone who is interested in learning more about neurofeedback a free initial consult.  This holds a $85 value, so it is a wonderful gift for those who may want to do something for their health that they have not tried.  If you would like to contact Carl, you can do so by calling 919.290.9192 or email at


Water Filter Workshop

January 23, 2012
This evening’s Wellness of Chatham workshop on building shower water filters was terrific, and I thank our hosts Mike and Judy Harrelson as well as the participants Libby Ann Capaldi, Zen Shoemaker, Jessica Rice and Rudy Mullis.  Also special kudos to Rudy for providing the outstanding Muscadine Grape smoothies and for updating us on the progress of some of the products in his local nutraceutical line . . . can’t wait for the smoothie packs to be on the market!
As always, the conversation was stimulating and educational.  We learned how easy it was to create and install the best filter for removing unwanted toxins from our shower water.  Since our skin is the largest of our body organs, a typical shower can expose us to nearly ten times more chlorine than we would receive by drinking unfiltered tap water all day long.  In addition, when taking a hot shower, toxic chemicals are liberated from the water and released as gasses, including chloroform (50% more released) and trichloroethylene (TCE) (80% more released) — both known carcinogens!   The best was that our new filters are reusable, and that it will only cost us pennies to fill and reuse them . . . and that won’t be for another year or so!  I couldn’t wait to get home to take a shower!!!
Please pass on to others what we are doing. Again, Wellness of Chatham is a group created to bring the public and wellness practitioners together to learn and grow our knowledge of what we need for optimal health and overall wellness. The more we grow, the more influence and help we can provide to our local community!

REAL Nutrition

January 23, 2012
This morning’s Wellness of Chatham meeting was wonderful, and I thank Angelina Kay, Jessica Rice, Brystana Kaufman, Christiana Herndon, Megan Huber, Libby Ann Capaldi and Nancy Acosta for making the meeting and discussions possible!
We discussed the topic of nutrition and the common disconnects that we find in our society when it comes to how and what we should be putting in our bodies.  Our group’s focus is on educating the public about wellness issues, and nutrition is at the heart of this intention.  Some of the highlights from today’s meeting were:
* The recent studies on the connection between tick-borne illness and red meat allergies
* Weston A. Price and his teachings about basic nutrition, healing and best farming practice vs what we’ve been taught in the US – check out
* CCCC Sustainable Agriculture teachings, Community Gardens, the documentary Greenhorns and Farmer Food Share program – as a group, we are looking to connect local farmers and food growers who have surplus produce with organizations, groups and individuals in need.
* Health benefits of goat’s milk and essential oils
* Finding local homeopathic and holistic vets in PBO – Charles Loops (homeopathic vet) and Perrin Heartway (holistic vet) 919.444.1371 
We also discussed the key importance of practicing good nutritional habits.  It starts with us, and then we need to teach our children about how to take care of their bodies and the significance of making healthful food and life choices for themselves.  It’s not just what we say; it’s our energy, what we do with our time and our attitude that shapes how the children in our lives view their health and wellbeing.
Go forth and BE WELL!

All About Water

January 23, 2012
I cannot thank Mike Harrelson enough for his wonderfully informative talk last night at our Wellness of Chatham meeting!  When it comes to water, I think most of us had done a bit of homework and had what we thought was “best practice” when it came to making sure the water we drink is as pure as possible.  I had NO idea of the facts that Mike shared as well as some very simple and inexpensive ways to get around the challenges.  As a wellness consultant, I put a lot of emphasis on the amount of water that clients are drinking, now I can add a few things that will help them to ensure that the water they are drinking is providing the benefit without the harm. 
Some of the highlights of Mike’s talk were:
* the only water that is, by law, tested regularly is municipal (public) water.  We complain about it, but the fact is, the alternative, bottled water is self-governed by the companies that sell it to us. 
* Artificial sweetners are killing us.  We have not found a way to extract them from our water sources.  
* Use potassium instead of salt for well water softeners.
* the best way to purify water is with activated charcoal.
I can’t wait to have Mike show me how to assemble a homemade shower filter!
I want to thank the following people for their attendance and adding their special gifts to our meeting: Carl Theodore, Barb Tesla, Rudy Mullis, Candace Barringer, Libby Ann Capaldi, Donna Poe and Mike Harrelson.  As I said before, I honor your time, and I am so excited about what we are creating.  It will truly be of benefit to our community . . . one starfish at a time!