Dead Sea Scroll For Sale; Fragments Of Earliest Bible Ever Found Offered To Highest Bidder .


JERUSALEM — Parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are up for sale – in tiny pieces.

Nearly 70 years after the discovery of the world’s oldest biblical manuscripts, the Palestinian family who originally sold them to scholars and institutions is now quietly marketing the leftovers – fragments the family says it has kept in a Swiss safe deposit box all these years.

Most of these scraps are barely postage-stamp-sized, and some are blank. But in the last few years, evangelical Christian collectors and institutions in the U.S. have forked out millions of dollars for a chunk of this archaeological treasure. This angers Israel’s government antiquities authority, which holds most of the scrolls, claims that every last scrap should be recognized as Israeli cultural property, and threatens to seize any more pieces that hit the market.

“I told Kando many years ago, as far as I’m concerned, he can die with those scrolls,” said Amir Ganor, head of the authority’s anti-looting squad, speaking of William Kando, who maintains his family’s Dead Sea Scrolls collection. “The scrolls’ only address is the State of Israel.”

Kando says his family offered its remaining fragments to the antiquities authority and other Israeli institutions, but they could not afford them.

“If anyone is interested, we are ready to sell,” Kando told The Associated Press, sitting in the Jerusalem antiquities shop he inherited from his late father. “These are the most important things in the world.”

The world of Holy Land antiquities is rife with theft, deception, and geopolitics, and the Dead Sea Scrolls are no exception.

Their discovery in 1947, in caves by the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, was one of the greatest archaeological events of the 20th century. Scholarly debate over the scrolls’ meaning continues to stir high-profile controversy, while the Jordanian and Palestinian governments have lodged their own claims of ownership.

But few know of the recent gold rush for fragments – or Israel’s intelligence-gathering efforts to track their sale.

Written mostly on animal skin parchment about 2,000 years ago, the manuscripts are the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible ever found, and the oldest written evidence of the roots of Judaism and Christianity in the Holy Land.

They are also significant because they include the Hebrew originals of non-canonical writings that had only survived in ancient translations, and because they prove that multiple versions of Old Testament writings circulated before canonization around 100 AD. While some of the scrolls are nearly identical to the traditional Hebrew text of the Old Testament, many contain significant variations.

The scrolls were well preserved in their dark, arid caves, but over the centuries most fell apart into fragments of various sizes.

Israel regards the scrolls a national treasure and keeps its share of them in a secure, climate-controlled, government-operated lab on the Israel Museum campus in Jerusalem. Pnina Shor, who oversees the antiquities authority’s scroll collection, said the trove of fragments is so numerous – at least 10,000 – that staff haven’t finished counting them all. Israel has been criticized for limiting scholarly access, but is partnering with Google to upload images of scrolls online.

How most of the Dead Sea Scrolls ended up in Israeli hands is a tale that begins with a Bedouin shepherd who cast a stone inside a dark cave and heard the sound of something breaking. He found clay jars, some with rolled-up scrolls inside. After a return visit, he and his Bedouin companions had found a total of seven scrolls.

 They sold three of them through an antiquities dealer to a Hebrew University professor, and four to William Kando’s father, a Christian cobbler in Bethlehem who in turn sold them to the archbishop of the Assyrian Orthodox church.

On the eve of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the archbishop smuggled the scrolls to the U.S. and advertised them in a Wall Street Journal classifieds ad. Yigael Yadin, Israeli war hero and later one of Israel’s pre-eminent archaeologists, bought them through a front man.

For the next decade, archaeologists dug up thousands more scroll fragments in Dead Sea area caves and began to assemble them, like a jigsaw puzzle, in the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in east Jerusalem, then ruled by Jordan. Bedouins also found fragments and sold them to Kando, who in turn sold most of them to the museum. Other fragments went to Jordanian and French state collections, and universities in Chicago, Montreal and Heidelberg, Germany.

In the 1967 Mideast war, Israel seized the Rockefeller collection, and sent soldiers to Bethlehem in the West Bank, 8 kilometers (5 miles) south of Jerusalem, where Kando was rumored to hold another important scroll. After a brief imprisonment, Kando revealed the parchment scroll in a shoe box under a floor tile in his bedroom, and sold it to Israeli authorities for $125,000, according to a written account by Yadin.

It is called the Temple Scroll, because it partly describes the construction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. At 8.15 meters (26.7 feet) long, it is the longest ever found.

But Kando held much more than he surrendered to Israel. William, his son, said his father had fragments tucked away which he eventually transferred to Switzerland in the mid-1960s.

In 1993, just as scholars finally began publishing research of Israeli-held scrolls, and the world was abuzz with Dead Sea Scroll fever, Kando died, bequeathing his secret collection of fragments to his sons.

It was the perfect time to sell.

Norwegian businessman Martin Schoyen, a 73-year-old collector of biblical manuscripts, purchased his first Dead Sea Scroll fragment a year later, said Torleif Elgvin, a scholar with the Schoyen Collection. He eventually purchased a total of 115 fragments, many of them from Kando and some from an American scholar and a British scholar who kept them as souvenirs in the early days after their discovery.

A few years ago, Schoyen suffered financial losses in a business investment and could not afford to continue collecting scrolls, said Elgvin.

William Kando then took his business to the U.S., startling manuscript collectors who didn’t know there was any scroll material still available for purchase.

“These were the hurdles I had to pass with collectors in America,” said Lee Biondi, a California dealer who sold pieces on behalf of Kando. “The impossibility of it; people saying, `you can’t get a Dead Sea Scrolls fragment. That’s impossible.'”

In 2009, Asuza Pacific University, an evangelical Christian college near Los Angeles, bought five fragments, along with biblical antiquities, for $2,478,500, according to Azusa’s 2010 tax form. The college said it had purchased the fragments through Biondi and a private collection. Kando told The Associated Press he was the source of all the fragments.

Between 2009 and 2011, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, negotiated with Kando for the acquisition of eight fragments kept in the Kando family’s safe deposit box at UBS Bank in Zurich, according to a book published last year by the seminary president’s son, Armour Patterson.

The Seminary did not disclose the sum of the acquisition, but one family said it donated $1 million for the exhibit, and another family said it donated $500,000 for the purchase of a Leviticus fragment, according to the Houston Chronicle.

That scroll fragment includes passages from chapters 18 and 20 concerning the laws of sexual morality, and carried a special price tag because of the text’s significance, said Bruce McCoy of the Seminary.

“The particular passage is a timeless truth from God’s word to the global culture today,” said McCoy.

In 2009 and 2010, the Green family, evangelical Christians in Oklahoma City and owners of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts retailer, bought 12 fragments for its private collection, the world’s largest of rare biblical manuscripts. Jerry Pattengale, who oversees the scrolls in the Green Collection, would not say who sold them and for how much, and Kando denied they came from his collection.

Representatives of the collections in Norway and the U.S. say they will publish their research on the writings in a few years.

Pattengale would only provide a basic inventory of the Green Collection’s fragments: it includes material from Genesis through Leviticus; Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Micah, Daniel, and Nehemiah; a Psalm and a mysterious extra-biblical Hebrew document known as an Instruction text.

“They are really small pieces, but they are important because you may have two or three lines that may have not been found anywhere else. And suddenly it adds a lot to the history of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Pattengale said. “There is at least one rather amazing discovery in one of them.”

He said a non-disclosure agreement bars him from revealing the finding until it is published. He estimated it would be released in about 18 months and published by Brill, the leading publishing house of Dead Sea Scroll scholarship.

For decades, scholarly access to the scrolls was tightly controlled by a small circle of researchers. Access is freer now, but digital sharing of the artifacts among Israel, Schoyen, and U.S. institutions is limited.

Governments have also jockeyed for ownership of the scrolls, a dispute rooted in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the redrawn borders that changed control of the desert region where the scrolls were found.

Palestinian officials claim rights to the material because it was found in today’s West Bank, Jordan claims rights because the material was discovered when it ruled the territory, and both have unsuccessfully petitioned to seize scrolls when they were displayed abroad in Israeli government-sponsored exhibitions.

Israel considers the scrolls its national patrimony, and says all fragments should be in its large repository for best preservation and research.

Ganor of the antiquities authority said under Israeli law, all scrolls located abroad were removed illegally. “Whoever buys these takes a risk that the State of Israel would sue,” Ganor said.

But Kando said his father transferred fragments to Switzerland in the mid-1960s – before Israel passed its 1978 law preventing the unauthorized removal of antiquities from the country.

Biondi, the California dealer, said if it weren’t for private collections able to pay large sums, fragments would still be languishing in the Kandos’ safe-deposit box, and important historical discoveries would not see the light of day.

“It was kind of like a rescue operation, to get this stuff out of the vault,” said Biondi.

Kando would not say how many more fragments are in his family’s collection. But since 1995, Israeli officials have been keeping tabs on his attempted sales – and the correspondence of dealers and middlemen – in an effort to determine what Dead Sea Scrolls his family has left. They estimate that the Kandos are still holding onto around 20 fragments.

The Associated Press was given partial access to the contents of a classified Israeli dossier – a thick red binder which includes photocopies of foreign passports, photos of tiny scroll scraps, letters written by Kando to prospective buyers, and testimony from informants on attempted sales.

One such testimony alleges that in 2007, a well-known professor in Jerusalem offered to facilitate the sale of a Deuteronomy fragment to a U.S. dealer for $250,000. A document dated May 17, 2012, marked “confidential,” listed eleven scroll fragments and their sizes, only a few centimeters large.

Israel is keen to obtain one scrap in particular from Kando: a well-preserved Genesis fragment shaped like a butterfly and about the size of a cereal box – “The largest fragment in private hands,” Kando claims.

About 5 years ago, Israeli diamond billionaire and antiquities collector Shlomo Moussaieff offered to buy the piece and donate it to the country. Ganor, of Israel’s antiquities authority, said Kando’s price of around $1.2 million was too high.

The fragment includes passages that tell the story of Joseph, and is written in Paleo-Hebrew, an ancient Israelite script pre-dating the Hebrew block characters adopted by Jews around the 5th century B.C. and still in use today.

The Kando family agreed to display the Genesis fragment, for the first time, in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s exhibit. After the exhibit closed in January, Kando said the fragment returned to his family’s Swiss safe deposit box, still mounted in the glass frame in which it was displayed.

Kando is said to be asking for about $40 million for the Genesis piece, according to Pattengale of the Green Collection. Kando would not disclose financial details of his dealings, and said his family is currently not participating in any new negotiations for additional scroll sales.

Scholars consider Kando’s fragments to be authentic because his father was directly involved in the sale of scrolls when they were first discovered.

New scroll fragments from the Dead Sea region have surfaced in recent years from different sources.

In 2005, Israeli police raided the home of Hanan Eshel, an Israeli scrolls scholar, after he facilitated the purchase of scroll fragments from a Bedouin man who said he discovered them in a cave a year before. The fragments were unrelated to the Dead Sea Scrolls trove, but were found in the same region and dated to the 2nd century A.D.

Eshel had already given the fragments to Israeli authorities before the raid, and had said it was never his intention to purchase them for himself, but Israel’s antiquities authority said he had acted illegally. Eshel died in 2010.

In mid-2010, a team of 30 Israeli undercover agents and officers staged a stakeout at Jerusalem’s Hyatt Hotel, posing as interested buyers, and seized a papyrus fragment dating to the 2nd century A.D. The Palestinian dealers offering the papyrus for sale were arrested.

It is likely more ancient manuscripts, and even Dead Sea Scrolls, remain hidden in caves next to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, waiting to be discovered.

Many cave entrances are hidden by vegetation and rock falls, or their approaches are eroded, said Lenny Wolfe, a Jerusalem manuscripts dealer.

“I would not at all be surprised if more material were to be found,” Wolfe said.



The Museum of Science in Boston is currently offering a temporary exhibit of 20 Dead Sea Scroll fragments held by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, including some fragments never before displayed to the public.






Weird Word Salad: The Terminology of the Unexplained.

Paranormal investigators say they look for evidence of paranormal activity. That phrase always confounded me. I don’t quite get it. What does it mean when someone says they have evidence of “paranormal activity”? And, how do you know it’s not normal activity that you just couldn’t ferret out?

There is a problem with how the word paranormal is used because it is often utilized in a way that is perhaps not consistent with the original intent.

Language evolves. Let me take a shot at unpacking some of these definitions about unexplained phenomena. See if it makes sense.

“Paranormal” and other terms for strange goings-on have changed over time. The wordparanormal was coined around 1920. It means “beside, above or beyond normal.” Therefore, it’s anything that isn’t “normal” — or, more precisely, it is used as a label for any phenomenon that appears to defy scientific understanding. Ok, right there is a tripping point. Whose scientific understanding? The observer who is calling it “paranormal”? If so, that is problematic as a theoretical physicist sees things a lot differently than a dentist or a police officer. So, it appears too subjective to be precise. Each person may have their own idea of what constitutes “paranormal activity”.

The term “paranormal” used to just mean extrasensory perception and psychic power but, since the 1970s in particular — thanks to TV shows and proliferation of the subject in popular culture — the term expanded in scope to include all mysterious phenomena seemingly shunned by standard scientific study. It was a convenient way to bring many similarly peculiar topics under one heading for ease of marketing. So today, it can include everything that sounds mysterious: UFOs, hauntings, monster sightings, strange disappearances, anomalous natural phenomena, coincidences, as well as psychic powers.

Not everyone agrees that fields of study such as UFOlogy or cryptozoology (Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster and the like) should be considered paranormal but, if we think about the fact that after all this time, we have yet to document what these things actually are, that isbeyond normal. Therefore, paranormal (arguably).

What appears as paranormal could essentially one day become normal. This has happened before with meteorites and still mysterious but likely explainable earthquakes lights and ball lightning. Or, we might not have developed the right technology or made the philosophical breakthrough yet to provide an explanation for some seemingly paranormal events. Perhaps we may find an instrument that can measure whatever it is that results in “hauntings” of a particular type. (Notice that I didn’t say an instrument that detects ghosts — an important distinction.)

Contrasted with paranormal is “supernatural.” To say something is supernatural is to conclude that the phenomenon operates outside the existing laws of nature. We would call such phenomena miraculous, a result of religious, occult (or magical) forces that are outside of human doings. These forces don’t adhere to boundaries of nature, which are waived. Perhaps the entity decides not to be detectable, for example. When that happens, we can’t test it, capture it or measure it. We just broke science. Our understanding stops if the explanation allows for supernatural entities to suspend natural laws on a whim. We end up with a form of “[Insert entity name here] did it.” Game over.

Paranormal events can appear to be supernatural but that in no way is proof that they are. Some unaccounted for natural explanation can be the cause. There is really no way to have excluded all natural possibilities in an investigation. We just may not have all the information. So to say something is the result of “paranormal” or “supernatural” activity is faulty logic. It can appear to be but you can’t say that it is for sure.

If you look at older anomalistic literature, you’ll find the word “preternatural” — a perfectly cromulent word — in place of paranormal. It’s not used as much anymore but it denotes a situation where the phenomenon appears outside the bounds of what we consider normal. It’s not supernatural, just extraordinary.

An even better word to use for weird natural phenomena — like strange falls from the sky (frogs, fish, colored rain), mystery sounds and lights, odd weather phenomena, etc. (things that might also be called Fortean) — would be paranatural. Events seem beyond natural because they are rare, unusual and we can’t quite pinpoint how they happened, but we need not revoke natural laws to have them occur. It’s similar to preternatural but sounds more modern.

Sorry about the word salad in this post but terminology is rather important for effective communication in order to avoid being misunderstood. These various words reflect the degree to which you want to go beyond observable, experimentally derived evidence. They get progressively LESS likely to be the correct designation: Paranatural -> paranormal/preternatural -> supernatural (which we can’t actually “prove”).

Source: Huffing post



Do What Makes You Happy Before You Are Too Old.


In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. ~Lao Tzu

We spend most of our natural lives planning. Planning the day, the evening, the working week, the weekend. After two months most of us plan a vacation. We are so busy doing the things weshould be doing that we often forget to do the things we want to do.

For instance, all my life was planned well before I had a chance to pretty much learn what I wanted. School, then college, a master degree- till here I did exactly as I had planned. Next I wanted to work before I went on to do my PhD. Half of that plan did come to life. I worked for seven years, sometimes even holding four jobs at a time. Because I thought yes that is a way to be ‘successful’.

However, during all those years I put off the things I really wanted to do. Like, I always wanted to read theology and philosophy. I always wanted to paint, not just doodle on bristol paper but actually paint on a fine canvas. I wanted to spend time with my family- quality time.

And not just limit my conversation with them to only saying ‘morning’ and ‘goodnight’. I wanted to be there for my friends when they needed me, and not just give a short call spending 80% of the time explaining how important my work was, and the remaining 20% apologizing why I wasn’t there for them on their big day.

So till about a year ago, I planned my life like this: work, hang out with friends, concentrate on my diet, sometimes workout, and then go home to sleep. I don’t want to brag but yes I was successfully able to balance all the spheres of my life. But that didn’t make me happy, time management to the core, yet there was neither ‘peace’ nor anything called remotely ‘happiness’.

I thought or in fact I had ‘planned’ that when I’ll be done and over with my life, meaning when I had done all that I was expected to do, as many of are conditioned to do so, I will do the things I really like before I die. Things like blogging, writing my book, painting, studying philosophy and mysticism, and including spending quality time with those I love. According to my calculations, this list of things to do fell approximately well after the age 60 years.

Last year, you can say I had an epiphany. And instead of running forward like the human race who wants to do be better and become better all within a tight circle of ‘success’, I started running in the opposite direction.

Why do I have to wait until I am old to do the things I want to do? Running back home felt good. The important things surfaced that I had forgotten about. The cultural conditioning started to thin away too. Mankind was never asked to run a marathon so that they could get a shiny medal around their neck. We were and are required to just ‘be’.

So in my new life I do what I love to do now, at age 29, not waiting to be toothless and blind and then after do the things I enjoy most. My time is now. When is yours?  Share your insights by commenting bellow or by posting your comments on the PurposeFairy Facebook Page.


Source: purpose fairy


e not eL�hl�ْ �� self out, you’re just taking on extra baggage.


Helping or Hindering?

Everyone needs to work out their own journey through life.  It is your responsibility to love and respect them enough to give them space and to only help out when you are asked to.  Get it?

You are disempowering another human being when you try to seize control or mold them into how you want them to fit into your life.

You are not responsible for any other human being but yourself (barring minors under your care, of course).  Focus on yourself and be the best person you can be so that you can be that shining example to others.  That is the only way you will make a positive change in someone’s life.  You can’t go into their space and try to effect change.

The Prime Directive

You are responsible for your life.  Your main responsibility is to be happy — you could even call this your ‘prime directive’or ultimate goal.  If you are not happy it is your responsibility to sniff out the causes as to why you are not living in joy.

So, now say you have found your bliss but it hurts you when you see other people suffer and you want to help.

Keep Your Nose on Your Face

The stark truth is that they need to take responsibility for their life and choices.  You can always help another human being but you should never force yourself or your way of life onto someone else.

To truly love someone is to accept them as they are and respect their life path.  Can you do that?

Can you step into owning your life and taking responsibility for your choices today?  If you do, the weight of the world will be lifted from your shoulders and you will experience a freedom like no other.

It’s okay to be here, it’s okay to be you and it’s okay to let other people be themselves.

You are only responsible for you.  And thanks to the wise words of Gandhi, try to be the change you want to see in the world.


Source: purpose fairy

The Human Checklist – What Every Human Being Needs to Know.


The Weight of the World

Hello Earthling! How nice of you to have dropped by this titillating planet filled with such great diversity and beauty.

What was that you said?  Did you say that you:

Feel burdened by society and all that is wrong with the world?

You feel an overwhelming pressure to change the world?

Did I hear you right?  Did you say that you even feel guilty or responsible for the state of the world?

What an awful burden it is to bear when we decide to take on the weight of the world, or on a lesser degree, the weight of another person’s choices or life.

Are you guilty of this?  Yes…no…perhaps a little?

Are You Suffering From Mad Cow Disease?

Let me get clear on this.  Sit down and make yourself comfortable because I need your undivided attention.

Holy cow!  I only recently realized that I’ve been a complete idiot — a buffoon of the highest degree.

In what textbook did I read that I need to change the world, take over if I saw someone else suffering along their path or put every effort into making people see the world the way I see it?

Nope, can’t think of the name of that book so I must have somehow imagined it.  But how many of you can say you feel the same way?

You may feel responsible for your partner, your grown up children, your friends and other members of your family.  You may even take on the responsibility of complete strangers.

Light Bulbs and Cricket Bats

Let’s get straight to the juicy bit of this article — either you’re going to have an ‘a-ha’ moment or you are going to have to beat yourself over the head a couple of times with a bat to whack the sense home.

You were born here on planet Earth and the global problems were here, social structure (no matter how much you may dislike it) was already in place.  Thanks to our ancestors, the worlds configuration was in place the moment you catapulted into reality — the good, the bad and the ugly.  You are not responsible for what came before you.  However, you ARE responsible for how you affect the world with your presence from this moment onwards.  Every choice you make is part and parcel to your responsibility.  Own it.

You were born on planet Earth and you needed to work out some of your own lessons and you’re doing great.  When you decide to shift your focus onto another person’s lessons and try to tamper with their version of reality — you have made a crucial mistake.  You don’t think the other person is capable of handling their own lives so you intervene.  You may think you need to because your version of reality and what you think is the right way as it is working so well for you.  True?

Nope.  It is YOUR truth but it may not necessarily be another’s.  When you try to control another individual or their path you are basically saying that they are weak and you are strong.   Oops…not very nice.  What’s more is you’re not even helping yourself out, you’re just taking on extra baggage.

Helping or Hindering?

Everyone needs to work out their own journey through life.  It is your responsibility to love and respect them enough to give them space and to only help out when you are asked to.  Get it?

You are disempowering another human being when you try to seize control or mold them into how you want them to fit into your life.

You are not responsible for any other human being but yourself (barring minors under your care, of course).  Focus on yourself and be the best person you can be so that you can be that shining example to others.  That is the only way you will make a positive change in someone’s life.  You can’t go into their space and try to effect change.

The Prime Directive

You are responsible for your life.  Your main responsibility is to be happy — you could even call this your ‘prime directive’or ultimate goal.  If you are not happy it is your responsibility to sniff out the causes as to why you are not living in joy.

So, now say you have found your bliss but it hurts you when you see other people suffer and you want to help.

Keep Your Nose on Your Face

The stark truth is that they need to take responsibility for their life and choices.  You can always help another human being but you should never force yourself or your way of life onto someone else.

To truly love someone is to accept them as they are and respect their life path.  Can you do that?

Can you step into owning your life and taking responsibility for your choices today?  If you do, the weight of the world will be lifted from your shoulders and you will experience a freedom like no other.

It’s okay to be here, it’s okay to be you and it’s okay to let other people be themselves.

You are only responsible for you.  And thanks to the wise words of Gandhi, try to be the change you want to see in the world.

Source: purpose fairy

‘Nanogardens’ Sprout Up On The Surface Of A Penny.


April showers bring May flowers. But in this case, the blossoms are too small for even a bumblebee to see.

Engineers at Harvard University have figured out a way to make microscopic sculptures of roses, tulips and violets, each smaller than a strand of hair.

To get a sense of just how small these flower sculptures are, grab a penny and flip it on its back. Right in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial, you’ll see a faint impression of Abraham Lincoln. These roses would make a perfect corsage for the president’s jacket lapel.

Growing the gardens is similar to making crystals with a Magic Rock kit.

The flowers sprout up spontaneously when a glass plate is dipped into a beaker filled with silicon and minerals (specifically, barium chloride). Then Wim Noorduin at Harvard coaxes the salts to spiral and swirl into smooth, curvaceous shapes, like vases, leaves and petals.

He sculpts the stems and blossoms by slightly tweaking the environment in which the crystals grow. Lowering the temperature makes the petals thicker. Bursts of carbon dioxide send ripples through the leaves and blossoms.

The result is thousands of microviolets carpeting the surface of the glass plate.

“Every flower has a unique shape,” Noorduin says. “It is very sensitive. If I just walk by the beaker in the lab, it changes the growth of these structures.”

Noorduin has even seeded the crystals on the back of a penny, creating a garden of nanotulips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“It’s a completely new world that you can make,” he says. “And these flowers last — they don’t go bad. Even after years, you can still see them.”

Noorduin can add color to the flowers by mixing dyes into the solutions. But he still has to colorize the images with Photoshop because the electron microscope only takes photos in black and white. He tries to match the colors in Photoshop with those in the actual flowers, though. “Like the rose structure with the green stem,” he says, “these are the real colors of the sculpture.”

He and his colleagues describe the microgardening technique in the current issue of the journalScience.

So far, they’ve focused only on making aesthetically pleasing structures, but Noorduin says the technique could be used to make any complex shape or architecture you want — at an incredibly small size.

“It’s a little bit similar to 3-D printing,” he says. “Right now there are more options and varieties of shapes available in 3-D printing because it’s 30 years old. We’re just starting.”

Eventually, he and the team at Harvard hope to use the method to create microelectronics, medical sensors and new materials for optics. “At this [size] scale, really interesting things happen with light,” he says.

“When you look around you, nature can make very complex structures almost effortlessly,” he adds. “Now we’ve demonstrated that we can make similar shapes by really doing very little, too.”





Sunshine keeps eyes healthy.


At least 10 hours a week outdoors in the sunshine is beneficial for young children’s vision, find the researchers.

Exposure to sunshine as a small child is crucial to the development of a healthy eye according to results of long-term myopia study conducted by University of Sydney researchers.

Their findings published this week in the American Academy of Ophthalmology‘s professional journal tables data showing children who spend more time outdoors were less likely to become short-sighted or myopic.

The researchers say that evidence suggests that small children under six years of age should spend at least 10 hours a week outdoors in the sunshine.

Orthoptist Associate Professor Kathryn Rose, from the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences says exposure to sunlight at a young age assists in the growth of a normal healthy eyeball preventing it from growing too fast or over – expanding and becoming oval or egg-shaped instead of round.

The Sydney Adolescent and Eye Study, a five-year longitudinal follow-up study from the Sydney Myopia study, examined more than 2000 children from 55 primary and secondary schools for a number of risk factors linked with myopia.

Professor Rose says all children had a comprehensive eye examination. Accurate measurement of refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism) was conducted using an international standard regime of eye drops, similar to that adopted in WHO studies.

A detailed questionnaire gathered information on the children’s ethnicity, general physical activities including hours spent in outdoor leisure such as cycling, outdoor sports, picnics or walking. Researchers also gathered data on near-sighted activities such as computer use and time taken watching television.

Amanda French, PhD candidate and lead author, says:

“The results show that the protective effect of time spent outdoors as a very small child persists even if a child is doing a lot of near work such as reading and studying.”

While the results of the study showed television watching and computer use appear to have little effect on the development of refractive errors in the eye, children with one or both parents myopic had a greater likelihood of developing the condition but even for those children, time spent outdoors had a mitigating effect. Time spent in outdoor light also reduced the likelihood of myopia developing in children of all ethnicities.

French says prevention of myopia is important for future eye health as even low levels of the condition place you at higher risk of cataracts and glaucoma in adulthood.

“Promoting outdoor activity to parents and families, and including more outdoor pursuits in school curricula could be an important public health measure to avoid the development of myopia,” says French.




Is Ketamine the Next Big Depression Drug?


Ketamine, an anesthetic and illicit party drug, is emerging as a fast-acting antidepressant.

For 20 years Joan* quietly suffered from an unrelenting desire to commit suicide. She held down a job as a special-education teacher and helped care for her family in the northeastern U.S. Yet day after day she struggled through a crushing depression and felt neither joy nor pleasure. Except for the stream of psychiatrists recommending different antidepression treatments—all of which failed to provide relief—Joan kept her condition private. She says it was the fear of hurting her students or abandoning her father that kept her alive. “I really don’t know how I survived,” she says.

A few years ago Joan got a break. She came across a clinical trial for a drug called ketamine that had succeeded in treating patients with intractable major depressive disorder. She enlisted. Following one dose, she experienced her first reprieve from suicidal thoughts in two decades. She realized the drug was working while she was sitting outside on a pleasant day and noticed that the leaves on a tree looked bright green and that a spider was building a web. “It sounds crazy, but normally everything was clouded and gray,” she says. “Nothing stirred me.”

In Brief

Defeating Depression

  • Ketamine is an analgesic, an anesthetic and a hallucinogen—yet the drug also seems to alleviate depression.
    • More commonly known as a party drug, ketamine changes the neurotransmitter balance in the brain, thereby affecting consciousness.
    • Deciphering ketamine’s mechanism of action could pave the way for a new generation of antidepressants.



This article was originally published with the title A Trip Out of Depression.






Antibiotics May Relieve Back Pain Symptoms.


Story at-a-glance

  • Taking antibiotics may relieve symptoms in up to 40 percent of people with low back pain, according to a new study that found a link between back pain and bacterial infection
  • With antibiotic-resistant diseases already on the rise, and serious side effects linked to unnecessary antibiotic use, using antibiotics for back pain could have serious repercussions
  • Poor posture and/or improper movement is to blame for most cases of back pain
  • One of the best steps you can take to prevent and manage back pain is to address improper posture and sitting, exercise regularly and keep your back and abdominal muscles strong

In a new study from Denmark, researchers found a link between back pain and bacterial infection, which they say may be treated effectively with a 100-day course of antibiotics.1

It’s estimated that up to 85 percent of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives, while more than 26 million suffer from back pain frequently.2

Back pain is actually the leading cause of disability in Americans under the age of 45,3 but while many seek treatment, spending at least $50 billion annually toward this end,4 relief is often only fleeting.

If you’re among those struggling with back pain, and are growing frustrated when common treatments don’t work, this connection with antibiotics may sound like a welcome new option, but it’s one that comes with a hefty downside.

Are Antibiotics a Good Choice for Back Pain Relief?

Previous research suggests that between 7 percent and 53 percent of patients with herniated discs have a type of bacteria that entered the disc when it was herniated. The Danish researchers similarly found bacteria in 46 percent of slipped discs among patients who’d received spinal surgery for back pain.

The researchers then gave a 100-day course of antibiotics to half of a group of patients struggling with low back pain from a slipped disc. One year later, those who’d taken antibiotics reported less low back pain, leg pain and physical disability than the placebo group.

They were also less likely to have missed days of work due to back pain. Researchers estimated that antibiotics could potentially relieve the symptoms of up to 40 percent of people suffering from chronic low back pain.

The results sound promising, particularly for those who feel they’ve triedeverything and still have gotten no pain relief. But the use of antibiotics, especially long-term for three-plus months at a time, should not be taken lightly…

WARNING: Antibiotics May Promote Fungal Growth, Weight Gain and Chronic Disease

Conventional antibiotics can save your life if they’re necessary, such as if you develop a serious bacterial infection, but it’s important to understand that they come with serious risks. These antibiotics, by design, disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, often killing off both beneficial and harmful microorganisms without distinction.

We now know, however, that your health is intricately tied to, and in many ways dependent upon, a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.

When this balance is disrupted, it paves the way for a number of chronic diseases. According to data analyzed by journalist Maryn McKenna for Wired,5 the US states with the highest levels of antibiotic overuse are one in the same as those that have the worst health status, including the highest rates of obesity, asthma, heart disease, heart attack, diabetes and stroke.

As Doug Kaufmann wrote in his book The Fungus Link, Volume 2:

“ … every time you swallow antibiotics, you kill the beneficial bacteria within your intestines. When you do so, you upset the delicate balance of your intestinal terrain. Yeasts grow unchecked into large colonies and take over, in a condition called dysbiosis.

Yeasts are opportunistic organisms. This means that, as the intestinal bacteria die, yeasts thrive, especially when their dietary needs are met. They can use their tendrils, or hyphae, to literally poke holes through the lining of your intestinal wall. This results in a syndrome called leaky gut.

… In addition to possibly causing leaky gut syndrome, I believe that parasitic yeasts can also cause you to change what you eat in that they encourage you to binge on carbohydrates including pasta, bread, sugar, potatoes, etc. So, it should come as no surprise that weight gain counts as one of the telltale signs of antibiotic damage and subsequent yeast overgrowth. 

By altering the normal terrain of the intestines, antibiotics can also make food allergies more likely. An array of intestinal disorders can ensue, as well. Sadly, most doctors claim ignorance concerning their patients’ intestinal disorders rather than admit that the drugs they themselves prescribed actually caused the disorders to begin with.”

Antibiotic-Resistant Disease Is Already a Major Public Health Threat

Antibiotic overuse has already spurred a vicious cycle. Whenever you use an antibiotic, you’re increasing your susceptibility to developing infections with bacteria that are now not only resistant to that antibiotic, but much harder to treat because of it — and as a result, you can become a carrier of this resistant bug, and can spread it to others.

The rise of antibiotic-resistant disease is actually one of the world’s most pressing public health threats. There are already numerous bacteria resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics, and this is a direct result of the vast overuse of antibiotics in both the medical system and conventional livestock farming. If increasing numbers of people begin taking even moreantibiotics, now to treat back pain, the problem could get even worse.

One of the most beneficial steps you can take to combat infection is to maintain a healthy intestinal system by eating a diet rich in natural probiotics, especially naturally fermented foods, such as those described in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS Nutritional Program. If bacteria are in fact involved in your back pain, this may be a good place to start, which will help to heal your gut rather than further harm it.

The other benefit of using fermented vegetables and increasing the volume of beneficial bacteria is that it will help your body produce secretory IgA, which is a powerful stimulus for your immune response. So rather than taking antibiotics, which can disrupt your beneficial flora, optimizing your gut flora will help your own body fight the infection that might be contributing to back pain and also help you avoid the antibiotic side effects.

Drug Companies Are Salivating at the Thought of Coming Up With the Next Back Pain Treatment

When drug companies see a condition that impacts many people and has only limited (or ineffective) treatment options available, they see dollar signs. Not surprisingly, back pain has become a major target for Big Pharma disease mongering.6 The latest example of this is the emergence of ads for ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton, which includes the spine.

“Do you have back pain? Are you dismissing it as resulting from ‘lifting too much’ at the gym or ‘bad posture’?” one radio ad asks. “You might have ankylosing spondylitis.”

The drug advertised is Humira, which has a price tag of about $20,000 a year. It is reprehensible for drug companies to promote this expensive and dangerous drug for an exceedingly rare cause of low back pain, which likely is responsible for less than a tenth of a tenth of 1 percent of low back pain. In the case of antibiotics for treating a herniated disc, drug companies will undoubtedly be thrilled at the prospect. But considering the fact that most cases of low back pain are probably not caused by infection, or certainly not a lack of any drug, you probably do not need drugs to treat it.

Poor posture and/or improper movement is to blame for most cases of back pain, including herniated discs, which means one of the best steps you can take to prevent and manage back pain is to exercise regularly and keep your back and abdominal muscles strong. Many are also finding success using the posture-improvement methods taught by Esther Gokhale, the so-called “posture guru” of Silicon Valley. The NY Times reports:7

“She believes that people suffer from pain and dysfunction because they have forgotten how to use their bodies. It’s not the act of sitting for long periods that causes us pain, she says, it’s the way we position ourselves.

Ms. Gokhale … is not helping aching office workers with high-tech gadgets and medical therapies. Rather, she says she is reintroducing her clients to what she calls “primal posture” — a way of holding themselves that is shared by older babies and toddlers, and that she says was common among our ancestors before slouching became a way of life. It is also a posture that Ms. Gokhale observed during research she conducted in a dozen other countries, as well as in India, where she was raised.

For a method based not on technology but primarily on observations of people, it has been embraced by an unlikely crowd: executives, board members and staff members at some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, including Google and Oracle …”

Gokhale’s approach to treating back pain is in line with others that seek to treat the foundational, mechanical body issues that often lead to pain. Most back, neck, and other muscle pains are related to imbalanced absorption of force throughout your body, created by working and sitting in unnatural positions for extended periods. When you teach your body to establish and repeat correct positioning, the pain often goes away.

Foundation Training Was Developed Specifically to Relieve Its Founder’s Low Back Pain

Foundation Training—an innovative method developed by Dr. Eric Goodman to treat his own chronic low back pain—is an excellent alternative to the Band Aid solutions so many are given. Foundation Training exercises work to gradually pull your body out of the movement patterns that are hurting you. The focus is on strengthening your complete core, which includes anything that directly connects to your pelvis, whether above or below it. Foundation Training teaches all those muscles to work together through integrated chains of movement, which is how your body is structurally designed to move.

Every muscle that directly connects to your pelvis should be considered a piece of your core and this includes your glutes, adductors (inner thigh muscles), deep lower back muscles, hip flexors, hamstrings and all of your abdominal muscles.

Having strong, balanced core muscles is like having a built-in corset that not only holds your gut in, but also stabilizes your spine, vertebrae, discs, and most importantly your pelvis. The program is inexpensive and can be surprisingly helpful, as these exercises are designed to help you strengthen your entire core and move the way nature intended.

In the video below you can see a demonstration of one of the key exercises, called “The Founder,” which helps reinforce proper movement while strengthening the entire back of your body. The Founder is an excellent exercise that can help reverse the effects of frequent and prolonged sitting (i.e. back pain).

Two More Non-Drug Options for Relieving Back Pain

Addressing your posture (or other factors that may be contributing to the strain, such as sleeping in an awkward position) and treating the condition with exercises and movement changes as described above are often effective at relieving the pain and addressing the underlying cause. Two other natural, non-drug options that provide relief to many include:

  1. Osteopathic manipulation: This may involve moving joints back into place, massaging soft tissue and helping relax stressed muscles. In one study, 63 percent of those who’d had osteopathic manipulation reported a moderate improvement in their pain while half said they had a substantial improvement.8
  2. Chiropractic care: Seeing a qualified chiropractor is certainly a wise consideration if you suffer from back pain. I am an avid believer in the chiropractic philosophy, which places a strong emphasis on your body’s innate healing ability and far less reliance on drugs and surgery. One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine even revealed that chiropractic care is often better than medication for treating musculoskeletal pain.9

12 Tips Virtually Everyone With Back Pain Should Know

Back pain is often unique in how it is caused and experienced by each individual, which is why the best treatment for you will likely be unique too. It may take some trial and error and experimentation with different methods before you find what works best, but keep trying before you resort to drugs or other invasive methods like surgery; there are many natural options available, including these tips below.

  1. Exercise and physical activity will help strengthen the muscles of your spine. Make your exercise time count by includinghigh-intensity sessions. You probably only need this once or twice a week at the most. You’ll also want to include exercises that promote muscle strength, balance and flexibility. Remember to build up your entire core to avoid back pain. Always make sure you focus on strong, balanced posture.
  2. Optimize your production of vitamin D and K2, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain, as well as prevent the softening of the bones that can often lead to lower back pain.
  3. If you spend many hours every day in a chair like I do, pay careful attention to consciously sucking in your belly and rotating your pelvis slightly up. At the same time make sure your head is back with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulder blades pinched. This will help keep your spine in proper alignment. You can hold these muscles tight for several minutes and do this every hour you are sitting.
  4. Address psychological factors, which often play a role in back pain. Underlying emotional issues and unresolved trauma can have a massive influence on your health, particularly as it relates to physical pain. Dr. John Sarno,10 for example, used mind-body techniques to treat patients with severe low back pain and has authored a number of books on this topic. His specialty was those who have already had surgery for low back pain and did not get any relief. This is one tough group of patients, yet he had a greater than 80 percent success rate using techniques like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) (he has now retired from practice).
  5. Get regular massage therapy. Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation and relieve pain.
  6. Keep your weight spread evenly on your feet when standing. Don’t slouch when standing or sitting to avoid putting stress on your back muscles.
  7. Always support your back, and avoid bending over awkwardly. Protect your back while lifting – this activity, along with carrying, puts the most stress on your back.
  8. Sleep in a firm bed. Sleeping on your side to reduce curving of your spine and stretching before getting out of bed is also helpful.
  9. Use chairs or car seats that offer good lumbar support. Switch positions often while sitting, walk around a bit and do some light stretching to relieve tension.
  10. Wear comfortable shoes. For ladies, minimize the time you spend in high-heel shoes, particularly those with higher heights.
  11. Drink plenty of water to enhance the height of your intervertebral disks. And because your body is composed mostly of water, keeping yourself hydrated will keep you fluid and reduce stiffness.
  12. Quit smoking as it reduces blood flow to your lower spine and causes your spinal disks to degenerate.



The Scientific 7-Minute Workout.


Story at-a-glance

  • Exercise is a key factor of optimal health; it’s particularly important for controlling your blood sugar and normalizing your insulin levels. When done correctly, exercise can oftentimes act as a substitute for some of the most common drugs used today for things like diabetes, heart disease and depression
  • Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise
  • Not only does it beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, Peak Fitness exercises also provide health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the “fitness hormone”
  • A recent article by the Human Performance Institute shows how you can fulfill the requirements for a high intensity exercise using nothing more than your own body weight, a chair, and a wall
    • Exercise is a key factor of optimal health; it’s particularly important for controlling your blood sugar and normalizing your insulin levels. I often recommend viewing exercise as a drug that needs to be properly prescribed and “taken” at a proper dosage.
    • When done correctly, exercise can oftentimes act as a substitute for some of the most common drugs used today for things like diabetes, heart disease and depression.

      All of these conditions will improve with exercise and the help of an experienced natural health care clinician. High intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a core component of my Peak Fitness program, is key for reaping optimal results from exercise.

    • There are many versions of HIIT, but the core premise involves maximum exertion followed by a quick rest period for a set of intervals.
    • My Peak Fitness routine uses a set of eight 30-second sprints, each followed by 90 seconds of recovery, as taught by Phil Campbell who is a pioneer in this field. Also, while I typically recommend using an elliptical machine or recumbent bike, you can just as easily perform a high intensity routine without any equipment at all.
    • A recent article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal1 shows how you can fulfill the requirements for a high intensity exercise using nothing more than your own body weight, a chair, and a wall.
    • Best of all, this science-backed routine only requires a seven minute investment, as the program calls for as little as 10- to 15-seconds of rest between each 30-second exercise, which should be performed in rapid succession.
    • As reported by the New York Times2:
    • “’There’s very good evidence that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,’ says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new article.”
    • The health benefits of high intensity interval training are well-established at this point, and include:

·         The Scientific 7-Minute Workout

Significantly improving your insulin sensitivity, especially if you’re on a low-processed food-, low-sugar/low-grain diet Optimizing your cholesterol ratios, when combined with a proper diet Boosting fat metabolism and optimizing your body fat percentage (as a result of improved conservation of sugar and glycogen in your muscles)
Virtually eliminating type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure Naturally boosting your levels of human growth hormone (HGH) Increasing your aerobic capacity
  • One of the added boons of this 7-minute program is that since you don’t need any equipment, you can easily take this routine with you when traveling. You’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel room that doesn’t at least have a chair in it. When done at the appropriate intensity, which should hover around 8 on a scale of 1-10, the following 12 exercises, which are outlined in the report, equate to doing a long run and a weight-training session.
  • The exercises are ideally done in the following order, as this allows for opposing muscle groups to alternate between resting and working in each subsequent exercise.


I believe most people can perform high intensity exercises, provided you listen to your body and work out according to your current level of fitness and ability. I personally modified the Peak 8 to a Peak 6 this year as it was sometimes just too strenuous for me to do all eight repetitions. So by listening to my body and cutting it back to six reps, I can now easily tolerate the workout and go all out. That said, the authors stress that there are some contraindications for their program:

“Because of the elevated demand for exercise intensity in high intensity circuit training protocols, caution should be taken when prescribing this protocol to individuals who are overweight/obese, detrained, previously injured, or elderly or for individuals with comorbidities.

For individuals with hypertension or heart disease, the isometric exercises (wall sit, plank, and side plank) are not recommended. The isometric exercises can be substituted with dynamic exercises.

For all individuals, the Valsalva maneuver should be avoided, particularly for the isometric exercises. Proper execution requires a willing and able participant who can handle a great degree of discomfort for a relatively short duration. It is also essential that participants in an HICT understand proper exercise form and technique. As with all exercise programs, prior medical clearance from a physician is recommended.”

I firmly believe that most people would benefit from high intensity exercises but the key is to start very slowly if you have any of the risk factors listed above. You might actually require several months to work up to a high intensity level. But as long as you start at a safe level and continue to push yourself to progressively higher levels, you will eventually reach a level of intensity that will provide the benefits.

Remember, while your body needs regular amounts of stress like exercise to stay healthy, if you give it more than you can handle your health can actually deteriorate. So it’s crucial to listen to your body and integrate the feedback into your exercise intensity and frequency. When you work out, it is wise to really push as hard as you possibly can a few times a week, but you do need to wisely gauge your body’s tolerance to this stress.

Why High Intensity Interval Training May Be Ideal for Most

Contrary to popular belief, extended extreme cardio, such as marathon running, actually sets in motion inflammatory mechanisms that damage your heart. So while your heart is indeed designed to work very hard, and will be strengthened from doing so, it’s only designed to do so intermittently, and for short periods—not for an hour or more at a time. This is the natural body mechanics you tap into when you perform HIIT.

Repeatedly and consistently overwhelming your heart by long distance marathon running, for example, can actually prematurely age your heart and make you more vulnerable to irregular heart rhythm. This is why you sometimes hear of seasoned endurance athletes dropping dead from cardiac arrest during a race. I ran long distance for over four decades. So please learn from my experience and don’t make the same mistake I did.

Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise. Not only does it beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the “fitness hormone.”

What Makes HIIT so Effective?

Your body has three types of muscle fibers: slow, fast, and super-fast twitch muscles. Slow twitch muscles are the red muscles, which are activated by traditional strength training and cardio exercises. The latter two (fast and super-fast) are white muscle fibers, and these are only activated during high intensity interval exercises or sprints. The benefit of activating these fibers is that they will produce therapeutic levels of growth hormone, which many athletes spend over a $1,000 a month to inject themselves with. So there is no need to pay the money or take the risks when your body can produce growth hormone naturally through high intensity exercises.

Getting cardiovascular benefits requires working all three types of muscle fibers and their associated energy systems — and thiscannot be done with traditional cardio, which only activates your red, slow twitch muscles. If your fitness routine doesn’t work your white muscle, you aren’t really working your heart in the most beneficial way. The reason for this is because your heart has two different metabolic processes:

  • The aerobic, which requires oxygen for fuel, and
  • The anaerobic, which does not require any oxygen

Traditional strength training and cardio exercises work primarily the aerobic process, while high intensity interval exercises work both your aerobic AND your anaerobic processes, which is what you need for optimal cardiovascular benefit. This is why you may not see the results you desire even when you’re spending an hour on the treadmill several times a week. So when it comes to high intensity exercises, less really is more...

For Optimal Health, Add Variety to Your Exercise Program

In addition to doing HIIT a couple of times a week, it’s wise to alternate a wide variety of exercises in order to truly optimize your health and avoid hitting a plateau. As a general rule, as soon as an exercise becomes easy to complete, you need to increase the intensity and/or try another exercise to keep challenging your body. I recommend incorporating the following types of exercise into your program on days when you’re not doing high intensity anaerobic training:

  • Strength Training: If you want, you can increase the intensity by slowing it down. You need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles. The weight should be heavy enough that this can be done in fewer than 12 repetitions, yet light enough to do a minimum of four repetitions. It is also important NOT to exercise the same muscle groups every day. They need at least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild.

For more information about using super slow weight training as a form of high-intensity interval exercise, please see my interview with Dr. Doug McGuff.

  • Core Exercises: Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater balance and stability.

Exercise programs like Pilates, yoga, and Foundation Training are great for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific exercises you can learn from a personal trainer.

  • Stretching: My favorite type of stretching is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) developed by Aaron Mattes. With AIS, you hold each stretch for only two seconds, which works with your body’s natural physiological makeup to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints. This technique also allows your body to repair itself and prepare for daily activity. You can also use devices like the Power Plate to help you stretch.


NASA Scientist Reveals How You Can Improve Your Health by Moving Correctly.

Most people, including me, spend a large portion of each day in a seated position. It’s hard to avoid these days, as computer work predominates, and most also spend many precious hours each week commuting to and from work.

Interestingly, a growing body of evidence suggests that sitting in and of itself is an independent risk factor for poor health and premature death—even if you exercise regularly.

An increasingly sedentary lifestyle has led to a steady increase in a number of health problems, including:

While these disorders were historically associated with advancing age, they now affect increasing numbers of people well before middle-age. Even children are falling victim.

In the video above, Dr. Joan Vernikos,1 former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, presents a scientific explanation for why sitting has such a dramatic impact on your health, and what you can do about it.

In another words, she was one of the primary doctors assigned to keep the astronauts from deteriorating in space, and what she found has profound implications for each and every one of us.

You might think, like I did, that if you had a phenomenal exercise program that you wouldn’t have to worry about prolonged sitting. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In order to figure out why regular exercise does not appear to compensate for the negative effects of prolonged sitting, some of her research focused on finding out what type of movement is withdrawn by sitting.

The Gravity of the Situation…

What she discovered was nothing short of astounding. “Standing was more effective than walking,” she says. And, it wasn’t how long you were standing, but how many times you stood up that made the difference. In conclusion, she discovered that it is the change in posture that is the most powerful, in terms of having a beneficial impact on your health.

In a nutshell, your body needs perpetual motion to function optimally. As Dr. Vernikos states, the good news is that there are virtually unlimited opportunities for movement throughout the day.

“The key to lifelong health is more than just traditional gym exercise once a day, three to five times a week,” she says. “The answer is to rediscover a lifestyle of constant, natural low-intensity non-exercise movement that uses the gravity vector throughout the day.”

Some of the examples she lists include housecleaning, stirring a pot of pasta sauce, rolling dough, gardening, hanging clothes to dry, dancing… the list is endless, because it covers the entire spectrum of movements you engage in during daily life. Interestingly, recent research23 has also found that those who engage in community gardening projects have considerably lower body mass index (BMI) than non-gardeners. Overall, female community gardeners were 46 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than the average woman in their neighborhood, and men who gardened were 62 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than their non-gardening neighbors.

The problem is that our modern society and our reliance on technology has reduced or eliminated many of these opportunities for low-intensity movement and replaced it with sitting. Instead of walking across the street to talk to your best friend, you send them a text while slumped on the couch. Some people even text other family members inside the same house instead of getting up and walking into the next room! All of this sloth-like inactivity adds up.

The answer then, as Dr. Vernikos states, is to reintroduce these opportunities for movement. Part of the mechanism that makes non-strenuous, posture-shifting movement so effective is that it engages what she refers to as the gravity vector. The less you move, the less you use gravity, and gravity, it turns out, is your lifeline.

I’ve previously written about the health benefits of Acceleration Training, or Whole Body Vibration Training, in which you perform exercises on a vibrating platform such as the Power Plate. Acceleration Training works by increasing the force of gravity on your body—which is at the heart of issue, according to Dr. Vernikos.

To a lesser degree, a mini trampoline will also increase the G forces on your body and provide similar, yet less extreme, benefits. A mini trampoline or rebounder subjects your body to gravitational pulls ranging from zero at the top of each bounce to 2 to 3 times the force of gravity at the bottom, depending on how high you jump. Some of the benefits rebounding offers include circulating oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs, and promoting increased muscle strength.

Mounting Evidence Indicts Sitting as Independent Risk Factor for Poor Health

In recent years, researchers have taken a serious look at the effects of inactivity, and have repeatedly found that not moving or engaging in very limited-range movements for extended periods of time has a profoundly negative impact on health and longevity. For example, one study, published last year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine,4 concluded that adults who spend an average of six hours a day in front of the TV will reduce their life expectancy by just under 5 years, compared to someone who does not watch TV.

Again, it’s a matter of allowing technology to severely limit your opportunity for regular movement. If you weren’t watching TV, what would you do? Unless you’re sitting down reading, chances are you’d be doing something that requires you to move your body.

Another recent analysis5 of 18 studies (which in total included nearly 800,000 people), found that those who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least. And, while prolonged sitting was linked to an overall greater mortality risk from any cause, the strongest link was to death due to diabetes. According to lead researcher Thomas Yates, MD:6

“Even for people who are otherwise active, sitting for long stretches seems to be an independent risk factor for conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease.”

A 2009 study7 highlighted much of the recent evidence linking sitting with biomarkers of poor metabolic health, showing how total sitting time correlates with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other prevalent chronic health problems—even if you exercise regularly. According to the authors:

“Even if people meet the current recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days each week, there may be significant adverse metabolic and health effects from prolonged sitting — the activity that dominates most people’s remaining ‘non-exercise’ waking hours.”

In other words, even if you’re fairly physically active, riding your bike to work or hitting the gym four or five days a week — you may still succumb to the effects of too much sitting if the majority of your day is spent behind a desk or on the couch.

Counteracting the Ill Effects of Sitting, Using Foundation Training

While sitting down is not the only thing that can cause trouble (adopting any particular posture for long periods of time can slow down your circulatory system), sitting is one of the most pervasive postures in modern civilizations. So how can you increase your activity levels if you have a fulltime “desk job,” as so many of us do these days?

One of the things I do to compensate for the time I spend sitting each day is to regularly do Foundation exercises developed by a brilliant chiropractor, Eric Goodman. These exercises also address the root cause of most low back pain, which is related to weakness and imbalance among your posterior chain of muscles. It is easily argued that these imbalances are primarily related to sitting. I recently interviewed Dr. Goodman about his techniques, so to learn more, you can check out that interview.

Below are two video demonstrations: “The Founder,” which helps reinforce proper movement while strengthening the entire back of your body, and “Adductor Assisted Back Extension,” which will teach you how to properly extend your spine.

Besides “disengaging from the gravity vector,” when you sit, your head and shoulders drop forward, and your hip flexors and abdomen shorten. This misalignment is a major cause of chronic pains. Every exercise included in Foundation Training lengthens the front of your body, which is over-tightened, and strengthens the back of your body, which will help you stand tall and move with strength and flexibility. I do these exercises daily and it is a great tool to build a stronger and more stable low back. As explained by Dr. Goodman:

“The place to start is learning how to hinge effectively. Learn how your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes are designed to work and stretch together. Once that part is in place, you can then advance to all the exercises that build upon that foundation, that build upon The Founder exercise.”

Grounding or Earthing—Another Lost Factor Robbing You of Good Health

Grounding, described in the simplest of terms, is simply walking barefoot on the earth. When your body is directly connected to the earth, via your bare feet, a transfer of free electrons from the ground into your body takes place. These free electrons are a very potent source of antioxidants, which are responsible for the clinical observations from grounding experiments, such as:

  • Thinning of your blood
  • Beneficial changes in heart rate
  • Decreased skin resistance
  • Decreased levels of inflammation

It’s thought that the influx of free electrons from the earth’s surface help to neutralize free radicals and reduce both acute and chronic inflammation, which is at the root of many health conditions and accelerated aging. As written in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine:

“It is well established, though not widely known, that the surface of the earth possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons as a consequence of a global atmospheric electron circuit. Wearing shoes with insulating soles and/or sleeping in beds that are isolated from the electrical ground plane of the earth have disconnected most people from the earth’s electrical rhythms and free electrons.

…A variety of… benefits were reported, including reductions in pain and inflammation. Subsequent studies have confirmed these earlier findings and documented virtually immediate physiologic and clinical effects of grounding or earthing the body.”

The simplest way to ground is to walk barefoot outside. The ideal location for doing so is on the beach, close to or in the water, as seawater is a great conductor. Your body also contains mostly water, so it creates a good connection. A close second would be a grassy area, especially if it’s covered with dew, which is what you’d find if you walk early in the morning. Concrete is a good conductor as long as it hasn’t been sealed; painted concrete does not allow electrons to pass through very well. Materials like asphalt, wood, and typical insulators like plastic or the soles of your shoes, will not allow electrons to pass through and are not suitable for barefoot grounding.

Studies suggest that benefits such as pain relief and stress reduction may occur in just 30-80 minutes of barefoot time a day. This can obviously be a challenge during the winter, or if you live in an urban area without easy access to parks or other barefoot-friendly surfaces, so the other option is to use a grounding or Earthing pad, which allows you to get the benefits of the Earth’s electrons even if you’re indoors, especially when you’re sleeping. I use one myself, especially when I travel by plane, as air travel is a suspected cause of weakening bio-electric currents.

Use Your Body the Way it was Designed

Like physical movement, walking barefoot outside is a grossly neglected foundational practice that you can easily correct. You just have to take the time to do it. Avoiding sitting for long periods of time may at first seem “impossible” if you commute to a fulltime desk job, but really, all you need to do is alter the way you work and travel in small ways.

I plan on interviewing Dr. Vernikos in the near future, but I watched all her videos and she was really clear that standing every 10 to 15 minutes could easily compensate for the majority of the damage from sitting. I look forward to listening to her for more details in our interview.

So stand up at regular frequent intervals, about 40 times a day if you can. Also, shift your position and pay careful attention to yourposture. Incorporate Foundation Training, and instead of parking yourself in front of the TV at night, consider doing something else, or at the very least engage in some minor activity while the TV is on. Whenever you can, take off your shoes and connect to the Earth—and while you’re at it, bare some skin to take advantage of the many health benefits sun exposure can provide.

Dr. Vernikos’ research is powerful evidence that many of the health problems people suffer today are linked to modern lifestyle modifications that are incompatible with optimal biological functioning. So the answer is quite simply to revert back to a lifestyle that incorporates natural movement. Using your body the way it was designed is the most powerful way to optimize your health. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is another example of this. This type of Peak Fitness exercise mimics the way ancient hunter-gatherers used their bodies, and research has again and again confirmed that HIIT outperforms traditional aerobic cardio exercise.