There’s no shortage of probiotic products on the market today that contain many different strains of good bacteria. With so many to choose from, how do you know which ones are best for you?
First, you need to know that different probiotic bacterial strains support different functions in your body: no two strains are exactly alike. Depending on the strain, you may already have certain concentrations of that probiotic strain in various parts of your digestive tract. Probiotic strains work together with each other, so you want a probiotic product with an assortment of beneficial strains, not just a small handful.
Also understand that not all probiotic strains do an equal job of supporting your health. Not all strains do a good job of colonizing your gut, which is probably the main reason for taking a probiotic supplement. Probiotic strains vary widely; some support your immune and overall health better than others.*
Just because a probiotic contains high amounts of CFUs, or numbers of colonizing units of good bacteria, if the strains of probiotics aren’t beneficial strains, you may not benefit as much as you’d hoped.
Selecting the Best Probiotic Strains for You
Depending on the condition of your gut flora and the bacterial strains that already live there (and the beneficial strains you may be missing), you can choose the strains best for you.
There’s a handful of probiotic strains that I believe belong in any good probiotic supplement. I consider them foundational probiotic bacterial strains because of their far-reaching potential benefits for most people.
I suggest you look for these strains when shopping for a probiotic supplement. MyComplete Probiotics contains all five of these strains and five additional good bacteria strains to support health.*
Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1
DDS-1 is a patented strain of L. acidophilus that has decades of research behind it. Truly a “super strain” probiotic, it’s a strain of human origin, and because of that, it’s highly adaptable to your gastrointestinal tract.
Human, animal, and in vitro research shows it:
Supports a healthy balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria*
Supports healthy immune function*
Helps maintain cholesterol levels already within the normal range*
Produces vitamins in your gut: B6, B12, and folic acid*
Produces lactase, which may help with digestion of dairy products*
DDS-1 is both acid resistant and bile resistant, which means it can better withstand the harsh environment of your stomach’s acidity and your intestine’s bile salts. Research shows it grows and thrives in the intestines.
Researchers believe DDS-1 produces a substance that may help balance the bacteria in your gut, possibly by lowering your colon’s pH. Additionally, it can latch onto your intestine’s epithelium cells and help crowd out the bad strains of bacteria. Its potential benefit for your cholesterol levels comes from its ability to produce short-chain fatty acids that may impact cholesterol production.*
Compared to regular strains of L. acidophilus, DDS-1 produces more lactic acid and more of the enzyme that breaks down lactose into a simple sugar that can be metabolized for energy.
The problem with many L. acidophilus bacteria is that they tend to die off quickly in your gut. A study found that DDS-1 was able to survive much longer: 8 days.
Researchers believe the DDS-1 strain of L. acidophilus is the most representative of a healthy intestinal tract. If I had to choose one probiotic strain to take, it would likely be DDS-1. Of course, I would much prefer to have several strains in addition to it to make it a well-rounded probiotic supplement. That’s exactly what I’ve created with my Complete Probiotics.
This beneficial probiotic strain is found in fermented vegetables and products like sauerkraut and kimchi. Lactobacillus plantarum is an outstanding reason to make your own fermented vegetables and to eat at least one serving daily.
Lactobacillus plantarum thrives in your stomach and can withstand the stomach’s acid environment, which makes it a very valuable good bacteria strain. While active in your gut, it helps support your immune health and a normal healthy inflammatory response.*
This single strain was the subject of a double blind, placebo-controlled study of 214 patients. At the end of four weeks, 78.1 percent of patients reported excellent or good results with relief of abdominal symptoms they were experiencing at the start of the study.
Lactobacillus plantarum is an outstanding probiotic strain for the majority of people as it helps support the health and integrity of your gut lining. Plus, it’s been shown to help digest protein and may prove valuable for individuals with occasional food intolerances. This strain also helps with the absorption of vitamins, antioxidants, and essential omega-3 fatty acids.*
Another super-strain that was discovered in the 1920s, Lactobacillus brevis also occurs naturally in your body and is found in human breast milk. It’s another strain of good bacteria provided by fermented vegetables, including carefully produced sauerkraut (not the typical commercial store-bought type).
Lactobacillus brevis is often found in low levels in the human gut, largely because of poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and other environmental factors. For that reason, it’s important to supplement, whether from properly prepared fermented vegetables (always my first choice) or a high-quality probiotic supplement such as my Complete Probiotics.
Potentially valuable for supporting digestive and immune health, Lactobacillus brevis is an important strain to look for when choosing a probiotic supplement with good bacteria.*
According to scientists, Bifidobacterium lactis is another “basic” good bacteria strain that’s found in healthy newborns and breast-fed infants. It’s typically found in the gastrointestinal tract, especially the intestines and colon, and in women’s vaginas.
This strain supports digestive health and immune function, and cholesterol levels that are already in the normal range. It also plays an important role in helping your body absorb vitamins and minerals. Bifidobacterium lactis has shown an ability to help promote regular bowel movements.*
Bifidobacterium longum may be one of the most significant probiotic strain found in the human gut. Studies show it supports a normal healthy digestive tract, inhibits the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, and supports immune function. This super-strain is thought to contribute to health in profound ways.*
Bifidobacterium longum is found in fermented foods, including sauerkraut and fermented vegetables. Much like DDS-1, this strain may help increase the intestine’s acidity by fermenting sugars into lactic acid. Plus it helps scavenge free radicals by acting as a potent antioxidant.*
Why Supplement With Probiotic Strains?
Now that you know which strains of probiotic bacterial strains I consider to be among the best, you may be wondering why it’s important to supplement with them regularly.
Many of us weren’t born with an ideal gut flora. And even if you were lucky enough to receive a healthy set of microbes from your mother, there are many factors at work, in childhood and adulthood, that continually threaten the balance between your beneficial bacteria and your less-than-beneficial bacterial strains:
Most antibiotics destroy all the bacteria in your gut, the good guys and the bad guys. Whether you just finished a course last week or took them years ago, your gut bacteria balance may still be compromised. This includes theantibiotics hidden in food, too, especially the factory-farmed meats and conventional dairy products you may be eating every day.
A British study on twins suggests that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), or the common over-the-counter and prescription pills taken for heartburn, can alter your gut flora and harm your good bacteria.
Processed foods, including pasteurized milk, can harm the beneficial probiotic strains in your gut. Eating a typical Western diet high in carbs and processed foods produces profoundly different gut bacteria than a diet high in vegetables and fiber.
Bioengineered foods, pesticides, and other agricultural chemicals
Certain genetically engineered foods and even some non-organic non-GMO foods like wheat can contain glyphosate, an agricultural herbicide that can target and destroy good gut bacteria. Conventionally raised animals are typically fed bioengineered grains such as GE corn.
Stress affects your gut in a number of ways: it hinders the production of enzymes and absorption of nutrients, and reduces oxygen levels and blood flow. Plus, it alters your brain-gut connection (via the vagus nerve), and can impact the functioning of your entire GI tract, including the beneficial bacterial strains in your gastrointestinal tract.
Airborne particulate matter from exhaust from cars, home furnaces, and industry, as well as livestock emissions, travel from your lungs to your intestines, and can alter your gut bacteria and your intestinal barrier. It can contaminate the food and water supply, leading to further injury of your gut bacteria.
Many of these things you can control, but some, such as air pollution, you have less control over. That’s why it makes sense to supplement and support your beneficial gut probiotics every day with good bacteria products.
Why take a chance when there’s a simple way to help make sure you get a plentiful supply of the good bacteria that are best for you? Take a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Andrea Rinaldi and Priya Shetty review the facts, figures and challenges of mixing modern and traditional medicine.
For millennia, people have healed with herbal or animal-derived remedies, using knowledge handed down through generations.
In Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, 70-95 per cent of the population still use traditional medicine (TM) for primary healthcare. And some 100 million people are believed to use traditional, complementary or herbal medicine in the European Union (EU) alone — as high as 90 per cent of the population in some countries. 
Meanwhile, modern medicine is desperately short of new treatments. Drugs take years to get through the research and development pipeline, at enormous cost. And rising drug resistance, partly caused by misuse of medicines, has rendered several antibiotics and other life-saving drugs ineffective. So scientists and pharmaceutical companies are increasingly searching TM for new drug sources.
A few triumphs have stoked this interest. The best known is artemisinin, used to treat malaria (see Box 1).
Box 1: Artemisinin: traditional medicine’s blockbluster drug
Artemisinin, which is extracted from Artemisia annua (Chinese sweet wormwood), is the basis for the most effective malaria drugs in the world.
Long-used in China, the medicine was first noticed by Western researchers in the 1980s. But its worldwide use wasn’t endorsed by the WHO until 2004, largely because of scepticism: research groups spent years validating the claims of Chinese traditional healers.
Artemisinin is also proving useful against other diseases, including cancers and schistosomiasis.
But it is showing signs of fallibility. There are reports of growing resistance to artemisinin in South-East Asia, and fears that if resistant parasites spread to Africa they could trigger a public health catastrophe.
Across the globe, researchers, policymakers, pharmaceutical companies and traditional healers are joining forces to bring TM into the twenty first century.
In some ways, it is already here. Nearly a quarter of all modern medicines come from natural products, many of which were first used in traditional remedies (see Table 1). And of 121 prescription drugs used worldwide against cancer, 90 are derived from plants.
Across the globe, researchers, policymakers, pharmaceutical companies and traditional healers are joining forces to bring TM into the twenty first century.
In some ways, it is already here. Nearly a quarter of all modern medicines come from natural products, many of which were first used in traditional remedies (see Table 1). And of 121 prescription drugs used worldwide against cancer, 90 are derived from plants. 
Table 1: Selected modern drugs that come from traditional medicine [5,6]
Originally used in
Produced from the Chinese herb Qinghao or sweet wormwood
Traditional Chinese medicine for chills and fevers
Based on the plant Khella, whose active ingredient is khellin
Traditional Middle Eastern remedy for asthma. Also traditionally used in Egypt to treat kidney stones
Synthesised from podophyllotoxin, produced by the American mandrake plant
Various remedies in Chinese, Japanese and Eastern folk medicine
Salivary glands in leeches, now produced by genetic engineering
Traditional remedies across the globe, from Shui Zhi medicine in China to eighteenth and nineteenth century medicine in Europe
Foods such as oyster mushrooms and red yeast rice, also used to synthesise other compounds such as pravastatin
Mushrooms are used to treat a wide range of illnesses in traditional medicine in China, Japan, Eastern Europe and Russia
Unripe poppy seeds
Traditional Arab, Chinese, European, Indian and North African medicines as pain relief and to treat a range of illnesses including diarrhoea, coughs and asthma
Bark of the cinchona tree
Traditional remedies to treat fevers and shivers in South America
Vinca alkaloids (vincristine, vinblastine)
Synthesised from indole alkaloids produced by the rosy periwinkle
Folk remedies across the world use periwinkle plants, including as an antidiabetic in Jamaica and Madagascar, to treat wasp stings in India, as eyewash in Cuba, as love potion in medieval Europe
But efforts to incorporate TM’s knowledge into modern healthcare and ensure it meets safety and efficacy standards are far from complete. And conservationists worry that a growing TM market threatens biodiversity by overharvesting medicinal plants or using body parts from endangered animals (see Box 2).
Box 2: The impact of traditional medicine on nature conservation
The growing demand for TM ingredients is endangering some animals. Rhino poaching is resurging after anecdotal claims that rhino horns can treat cancer . Horns are illegally traded, especially in Vietnam and China, fetching thousands of dollars (up to US$50,000 a kilogram in 2009). The numbers of black and white rhinos in Africa are dwindling fast.
Tigers fare badly too — just 3,000 may be left in East and South Asia. Their bones and other body parts have long been used in traditional Asian medicine. Despite China’s 1993 ban, the trade has continued and is now fuelled by the country’s expanding wealthy classes.
But TM’s impact on wildlife goes beyond endangered species and is vastly under-documented. A recent study in Kenya showed that plants for local medicinal use are almost exclusively harvested from the wild, and much more material is used than previously thought. Rural poverty and weak health systems are driving forces: interviews found about 60 per cent of market traders selling medicines in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu said using natural resources for TM was their only source of household income. 
There are ways to prevent overexploitation. This film shows how Shamli village, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, has successfully revived local use of traditional herbal medicines to preserve the forest and its plants. It did this through partnerships, by producing an inventory of plants and by promoting ownership by local people, particularly women.
Integration also faces other challenges stemming from key differences in how traditional and modern medicine is practised, evaluated and managed (see Table 2).
Table 2: Key differences between traditional and modern medicine
Open access but social or legal restrictions may govern who can use certain knowledge, under what conditions and with what benefit for knowledge holders
Ad hoc during consultation with the patient
Predetermined and, once approved in clinical trials, formulas cannot be changed unless retested
Usually loose. In some cases with restrictions on use or dissemination. Rules and standardisation are being introduced but vary between countries
No formal testing: understanding of effectiveness is handed down through generations
Rigorous trials that happen in different phases (first testing for safety, then efficacy) mean bringing a drug to market costs billions of dollars
Unfixed: the amount of medicine given might be roughly similar, but the amount of active ingredient (which is what dosage really is) can vary hugely
Standardised medicines given in fixed doses that vary with age or weight, or disease severity
Lengthy, and the patient is asked a wider range of questions than just about their symptoms
Consultations in both primary and secondary care tend to be brief and focused, especially as national health systems come under financial strain
Lengthy training over many years but knowledge is often passed one-to-one through families, and practitioners are often born into a family of healers
Lengthy and often vocational: health professionals go through formal training in schools and universities
It can be extremely difficult to apply modern tests — developed for standardised drugs — to TM’s inherently diverse range of products.
Many traditional medicines are made by crushing leaves or bark, and the resulting mixture can contain hundreds of potentially active molecules. Identifying these is hard enough, and testing each one for safety and effectiveness is practically impossible.
Unlike many modern pharmaceuticals, the quality of material for traditional medicines varies enormously between, and even within, source countries and plants. This is both because of genetic differences and other factors such as environmental conditions, harvesting, transport and storage.
Dosage is similarly varied. Modern medicine demands dosages that are standardised based on factors such as bodyweight or disease severity. Traditional healers are more likely to give patients a unique dosage or combination of medicines that is decided during the consultation.
So when modern evaluations of traditional drugs give poor results, it may be due to many factors: from mistakenly using the wrong plant to contamination or dosing problems.
Protection and biopiracy
Perhaps the most striking difference between traditional and modern medicines is the legal protection given to knowledge. Traditional practitioners have historically shared their knowledge and experience freely — defining ‘open-access’ before the term even existed. Modern medicine, on the other hand, has stringent intellectual property laws and a highly evolved protective patenting system.
Scientists searching indigenous sources for new drugs — ‘bioprospecting’ — have to navigate these differences.
Researchers have sometimes sought patents for compounds that had already been used for centuries. An example is the 1995 patent on an antifungal neem derivative commonly used in Indian traditional remedies. The European Patent Office (EPO) granted a patent to the US Department of Agriculture and the multinational WR Grace and Company. It took the Indian government five years and millions of dollars to convince the EPO to revoke the patent on the basis of prior use.
Plundering unprotected indigenous resources has been termed ‘biopiracy’ and highlights the challenges facing efforts to integrate traditional and modern approaches to medicine.
Legal frameworks and sharing benefits
There is an urgent need for both global and local legal frameworks to regulate bioprospecting activities and avoid biopiracy. However, protecting intellectual property (IP) rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to traditional medical knowledge is a thorny issue.
Schemes that provide IP protection in the classic sense — against unauthorised use by third parties — are seldom easy to apply to traditional knowledge systems because their property/non-property distinctions rarely fit indigenous cultures. Also, patent protection is typically time-limited, while traditional medical knowledge should be protected retroactively or indefinitely or both.
Further, IP protection must not restrict people’s access to traditional medical practices that are a form of cultural expression. And it must allow research and innovation that enhances traditional medicine’s status as a healthcare option.
The problem is so complex that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has established an ad hoc committee to develop an international legal instrument to protect traditional medical knowledge, and address the IP aspects of benefit-sharing and access to genetic resources.
The Nagoya Protocol is an existing international legal tool that offers some protection for traditional knowledge of medicines. The protocol came in to force on 12 October 2014 as a supplement to the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), and was ratified by 59 countries and the EU. Its main objective is to equitably share the benefits gained from using genetic resources and it clearly addresses the associated rights of indigenous communities. It forces countries to ensure that anyone under their jurisdiction who benefits from traditional knowledge has obtained prior informed consent and negotiated a fair and equitable deal to share those benefits.
And South Africa’s implementation of the protocol has enabled the indigenous San people to negotiate agreements with companies that profit from traditional medicines (see Box 3).
Box 3: The San Bushmen of the Kalahari and benefit sharing
For the San people of southern Africa, the path to benefit sharing began with controversy around the Hoodia gordonii plant, used for centuries by the San to stave off hunger and thirst. South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) patented the plant’s hunger-suppressing component (known as P57) in 1996, then licensed it to the UK firm Phytopharm, which then licensed it to Pfizer to be developed as a weight-loss drug. No benefits were earmarked for the San, who were controversially described by a Pfizer spokesperson as “extinct”. After challenges from the San people, a 2002 agreement, one of the first benefit-sharing agreements of this kind, acknowledged and rewarded them with a percentage of the profits from commercial exploitation. The patent was later sold to Unilever, but the company abandoned plans for its development. 
But there are recent successes. The San people have reached a benefit-sharing agreement with HG&H pharmaceuticals. The company developed the Sceletium tortuosum plant as an antidepressant and antianxiety extract, marketed as Zembrin. Researchers identified the active component, and Zembrin products entered the market in 2012.
And in 2014, an agreement with the firm Cape Kingdom ensured that the San and Khoi communities receive a share of the revenue from sale of health products based on the Agathosma betulina plant, locally known as buchu.
According to Doris Schroeder, ethics professor at the UK’s University of Central Lancashire, who has undertaken extensive research into benefit sharing, such agreements are a welcome step towards promoting justice for disadvantaged people in the developing world. 
Rewards from modern uses of South Africa’s buchu plant If you are unable to listen to this audio, please update your browser or click here to download the file [15.8MB].
But about half the countries that responded to a global survey in 2012 reported regulating traditional and complementary medicine practitioners, and there are several obstacles to effective regulation (see Figure 2). 
And traditional medicine often means different things to different people. A single medicinal plant may be classified as a food, a dietary supplement or a herbal medicine.
Education and research have also advanced. Some 39 countries now provide high-level education and training programmes on traditional medicine (see Figure 3).
But much still needs to be done before a global standard for TM is agreed. Loose regulation means there are as many fake remedies and false practitioners as genuine treatments and practitioners. It is often difficult to distinguish between traditional treatments backed by research and those with unproven claims or even ‘extras’ that may lead to harm.
Contaminated and adulterated products are common. Many herbal products, especially those purchased online, contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic.  Conventional drugs such as Viagra and estrogens are sometimes added to herbs, to make them ‘more effective’. 
All this exacerbates concerns over unknown but potentially harmful drug-herb interactions —and over substituting tested conventional with untested herbal medicine.
A key first step, according to the WHO, is to acknowledge the role TM already plays in people’s healthcare, identifying which forms are most popular, and whether people rely on TM on their own or seek advice from health professionals.
Like regulation, methods for evaluating and testing medicines also vary widely.
Modern drugs go through rigorous laboratory tests and clinical trials designed to prove effectiveness, test for safety and standardise manufacturing practices. In contrast, traditional medicines undergo few scientific tests, production standards tend to be less rigorous or controlled, and practitioners are often not certified or licensed.
Some argue that drugs which have been tried and tested in thousands of people for decades or centuries don’t need the same tests as a brand new chemical. And some argue that traditional knowledge is itself a science.
But many agree that traditional medicines need reassessment before being integrated into a conventional framework of pharmaceuticals. Sometimes, this requires standard methods to adapt to cope with ethical issues that do not arise with conventional drug development. US researchers Jon Tilburt and Ted Kaptchuk have, for example, suggested that clinical trials of traditional medicines must follow different ethical rules (see Box 4). 
Box 4: Rules of research ethics for clinical trials of traditional medicines*
Justifiable social need for the research
The rationale for trialling a traditional medicine cannot simply be that it already exists as a treatment. There must be both a social need and some preliminary evidence that the medicine will not counteract other conventional medicines used to treat the same disease. Stakeholders will define social need in varying ways — for example a government may want to prevent any other party from commercialising the treatment and health campaigners may want the clinical trial to try to produce better drugs.
Appropriate definitions of inclusion and exclusion criteria, and outcome measures
Concepts of health and sickness differ between modern and traditional medicine. For example, Western researchers would use the New York Heart Association classification for heart failure, but traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners would see heart failure as a heart yang chi deficiency or a kidney yang deficiency, categorising patients based on pulse or tongue examination. Researchers testing a herbal remedy for heart failure would need to take both biomedical and TCM criteria into account for the results to be valid from both perspectives.
Innovative protocol design
Drugs brought to market by putting traditional medicines through clinical trials must be rigorously tested, but standard methodologies may not be appropriate for a medicine that contains a mixture of active ingredients or in treatments that vary between practitioners. Standard protocols could adapt to accommodate many of these issues.
Establishing standards for safety and evidence
The familiarity of traditional medicines, and their widespread use, could lead some researchers to wrongly assume they are safe. Care is needed early on to determine safety requirements.
Table 3: How to create modern drugs from traditional compounds [15,16]
Researchers start with the end product, a clinically useful compound for example, and work backwards to find out what it contains and how it functions. This can offer clues about how a medicine works and where it acts in the body
High-speed data processing and sensitive detectors conduct millions of biochemical, genetic or pharmacological tests in a few minutes, quickly identifying active compounds that affect particular biological pathways
The systematic study of how specific ethnic groups use medicinal plants
A holistic approach aiming to understand how chemicals and metabolic processes interact in the body. It could be used to measure the whole body’s response to the mixtures of active compounds often found in TM
This searches a genome (often a microbe’s) for DNA sequences that encode enzymes involved in synthesising biologically active natural products. The active ingredients of some medicinal plants are actually made by microorganisms living within the plant
This offers a rapidly advancing approach to drug discovery that can systematically study how a complex mixture, such as a plant extract, is metabolised in the body, and so identify bioactive secondary metabolites
Top research bodies worldwide are serious about integrating traditional medicine into modern healthcare. And many countries are working actively to harness and regulate TM.
The US National Institutes of Health, for example, houses an organisation called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) that funds research into how acupuncture, herbal supplements, meditation or osteopathy can help treat conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders.
Developing countries with ancient histories of traditional medicine are also hunting for ways to modernise their own medical heritage. In China, modern and traditional medicine are practised alongside each other throughout the healthcare system. The government gives equal weight to developing both and China has a large and active research community on ‘integrative medicine’.
In February 2013, India and the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office organised an international conference that agreed the Delhi Declaration on Traditional Medicine, which aims to collaborate and strengthen TM’s role in health.
Certainly, traditional medicine has much to offer global health. If both developed and developing countries joined research capacities in equitable collaborations, new scientific techniques could spark a revival in global health research and development.
Andrea Rinaldi is a freelance science journalist. Priya Shetty is a global health communications consultant.
The modern, mainstream system of medical practice in Western countries. It targets disease with remedies that treat or suppress symptoms or the condition itself. It tends to produce effects different from those produced by the disease under treatment.
The terms complementary and alternative medicine are sometimes used interchangeably with the term traditional medicine. They refer to the healthcare practices that are not part of a country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant healthcare system.
These include herbs, herbal materials, preparations and products that contain plant materials or combinations of plants as active ingredients. Herbalism is the practice of making or prescribing plant-based herbal remedies for medical conditions and is considered a form of alternative medicine.
The term refers to the blending of conventional and natural/complementary medicines and/or therapies along with lifestyle interventions in a holistic approach, taking into account the physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing of the person.
The overall body of knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether they can be explained or not. These might be used to maintain health as well as prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illness.
A breath test that can detect malaria at an early stage is to be assessed in the real world in nations including Bangladesh, Malawi and Sudan.
The breathalyser could reduce the cost of testing for the parasite and ensure drugs are targeted more effectively in communities affected by thedisease, its developers say.
Earlier they identified distinctive chemicals known as markers that can be detected in the breath of people with malaria.
“A field-based diagnostic tool that only detects active infection would be really useful in helping to detect asymptomatic individuals with low-level infection.”
Ailie Robinson, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
“We can now test the accuracy and effectiveness of the breath markers under real-world conditions,” Stephen Trowell, research group leader at CSIRO, said in a statement.
“If this phase of the research pans out, we intend to move on to developing a simple, painless and cheap breath test to help identify people who have malaria but don’t know it.”
CSIRO’s researchers will collect breath samples from patients suspected of having malaria. A control group will also provide samples for comparison before both sets of samples are sent to Australia or the United States for analysis.
The prototype device for collecting breath samples resembles the breathalysers police officers use to test motorists for drink driving. It is cheaper than conventional blood testing, requires no medical expertise to operate and could lead to early diagnosis, the developers point out.
“The detection of biomarkers in breath would certainly be an easier method for malaria diagnosis,” says Iveth González, who leads the Malaria & Acute Febrile Syndrome Programme at Swiss not-for-profit the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics.
She adds that the devices could significantly help malaria control and elimination if their cost is low enough to compete with conventional testing, such as microscopy.
According to the World Health Organization, malaria can have severe and long-term consequences if not treated quickly. A recent WHO report said the goal of eradicating the disease in 35 target countries by 2030 was “achievable” but still a daunting challenge.
Ailie Robinson, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, says it will become increasingly difficult to detect malaria as it becomes rarer.
Current diagnostic methods also have limitations, she says. Some, such as microscopy, require technical expertise, while rapid diagnostics tests sometimes detect old infections.
“A field-based diagnostic tool that only detects active infection would be really useful in helping to detect asymptomatic individuals with low-level infection,” she says.
“Additionally, this technique would be totally non-invasive, which is clearly preferable — all current methods rely on a blood sample.”
One could argue, such as the Buddha, that the ego is the source of all the suffering on an individual level. Yet the ego is not just the cause of one’s pain; as the source of one’s sense of Self, it’s also the key to where our uniqueness, contentment and happiness is found.
I Am Me
So, what is our ego? For the purpose of this article, when I say ego, I mean the part of us that thinks and feels “I am Me”.
To elaborate, it’s the beliefs that we have about ourselves. It’s all of our thoughts, feelings and memories. It’s what explains us as separate from everything else, including our body. Therefore, it is the combination of our rational, moral, intuitive and instinctual capacities.
That means that even the ways in which we experience love and conceptualise the unity of existence, is filtered through our egoic self. This is contrary to what is usually discussed about the ego. It is sometimes exclusively portrayed as the negative, self-absorbed aspect of the personality. But the ego can also be open, kind and giving; it is everything, both negative and positive, about who we are.
What, then, is not our ego?
“Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment.” ? Chögyam Trungpa
It’s our ground state – our pure self. Our individuality is a flame in the eternal fire and our ego is our flame’s heat. The non-ego part of us is our flame – or our spirit – before the ego starts to define it, as well as the entire fire. The fire is of course the unity of reality which different people have different terms for, such as God, the quantum zero-point field or the spiritual conception of cosmic consciousness.
No matter which way we sway, it’s not our awareness or our flame which is our ego, but everything we define our individual awareness as. What we identify as characteristics and beliefs about ourselves are reflections of our ego. It is all our personality traits – both good and bad – which means it can be functional and healthy, or the opposite.
What is the role of the ego?
“The Ego is a veil between humans and God’.” ? Rumi
Our ego is obviously necessary for many reasons. It helps us to maintain a separate self, even if it is fundamentally illusory, so that we can survive and potentially thrive in the third dimensional construct that we find ourselves in. So it’s not going anywhere, nor do we want it to. Given that what we conceive as ourselves, is in fact our ego, we just need to work out how to manage it, or ourselves, in a functional way.
For example, our ego talks to itself. It says: “Hey mate, you’re being foolish.” It also says that we’re being productive, such as “I’m glad you stopped and thought for a moment before you did something silly”. Our ego-voice-of-reason tells our ego-instinct that something is or isn’t the right thing to do. The opposite is also true; our ego instinct can tell our ego rationale that we’re over-thinking in a way that is contradictory to our feelings.
Effectively, our rational ego-self trains itself. It can say: “You’re being illogical, how about you be more reasonable because you’re acting poorly.” It also trains other areas: “You know being angry and sad hasn’t worked well for you in the past, so maybe it’s time to think and feel differently.” It continues: “So now that you say you want to change, I’ll monitor the situation and make sure you do, because we both know how many times you’ve said that before.”
How does our ego make us suffer?
“The weak are dominated by their ego, the wise dominate their ego, and the intelligent are in a constant struggle against their ego.” ? Hamza Yusuf
All egos have their flaws, which is perfectly okay. However, there’s nothing wrong with developing it either. If our ego is continually angry, self-absorbed, depressed, stubborn or an array of other problematic mind and behavioural states, then there is a clear need for some self-improvement.
That doesn’t mean that we hate these aspects of ourselves, we can love and embrace everything about us even if we want to evolve in certain ways.
For example, if our ego gets really upset about something not going its way or has an unjustified sense of entitlement, then it is dysfunctional and self-abusive. The same goes if it is more likely to react instantly to situations instead of accessing its executive thinking capacity to respond appropriately to the circumstances. If it rubs a lot of people the wrong way, instead of the rare few (well, we can’t please everybody), then it’s not just causing others to suffer, but also itself.
The ego treats itself in different ways, such as being self-harming or self-benefiting. So if it is always hurting itself over and over again then it’s probably setting itself up for failure with too many expectations and too many desires. This might be the case for some of us, although there is a path to relief; all it needs is to give itself some tough love and a little nurturing, however this is a challenging and ongoing process that requires a sustained and self-aware focus.
What is a strong ego?
“If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it.” ? John Lennon
A big ego isn’t problematic until it executes priorities at the cost of itself and others. There is an old conception that a big ego is inherently delusional and full of itself, however this is just a strong ego that is unhealthy and dysfunctional. A strong ego can have a big confidence in and understanding of itself, but still be healthy; big ego problems arise simply when it is closed to change.
In other words, a big ego might be extremely strong-willed and have conviction in its stance, but for its own health and for the positive impact on others, it needs to undertake a journey of true self-empowerment.
There are many people who have super strong egos, even those people who might be considered an introvert. It really is determined by their complexity and degree of self-determination. Nevertheless, some strong egos have big ego problems and others don’t; generally the difference comes down to whether they truly and deeply care about other people or not. This is obviously highly influenced by their philosophy on reality.
What does a healthy ego look like?
“How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout, to be in your service, is the trick.” ? Joseph Campbell
A functional ego is balanced; it can be a confident, crazy and playful extrovert, but at other times it can also be a creative or vulnerable introvert. It’s a personality which understands itself, with all its strengths and flaws, yet it’s neither excessively self-absorbed nor insensitive to the needs of the people around it.
It is kind and loving. Not just to others, but itself too. It genuinely cares for its world and will sacrifice its desires for another’s benefit. It also lives on the edge and tests its boundaries, but it does so as respectfully as possible.
To be a healthy ego it definitely needs to be open to change, as well as crave it. It needs to be aware of the subconscious drivers that influences its conscious world. It needs to let go of strict future expectations, as well as heal its past traumas on an ongoing basis, which is why meditation can be so effective for ensuring a healthy and functional ego.
What about ego problems?
“Midlife is the time to let go of an over-dominant ego and to contemplate the deeper significance of human existence.” ? C.G. Jung
Generally, any ego with problems is consumed by itself or suffering from itself. It also causes pain for others. Additionally, an ego with problems sometimes worships itself above all others too.
If we think we may have serious ego problems, then we should ask ourselves the following questions:
• Do we make a scene over little things that don’t go our way?
• Are we so immersed in ourselves that we struggle to have empathy for others?
• Do we excessively love ourselves?
• Is changing and evolving our ego difficult?
• Are we always angry or upset in our daily lives?
• Are we so self-centred that we always put ourselves first?
• Is our image of ourselves and how others view us one of our top priorities?
• Are we spiteful and generally disrespectful towards others?
• Do we continually condemn other people to make ourselves feel better?
• Do we have little compassion for our fellow man?
• Does being overly competitive bring emotional dysfunction to our life?
• Do we aim to tear apart perceived threats with gossip and lies?
• When our ego is hurt, does it hurt really badly?
Answering yes to any of these questions potentially indicates significant problems with our ego. It may even be classified as narcissistic behaviour. That’s because an unhealthy ego wants more; it wants to want more. It doesn’t fully embrace what it has and is therefore not content.
Being unforgiving, resentful, jealous or angry is an unhealthy attachment to our ego desires. It’s unhealthy if our ego says:“I should have had something else than what I got, so I’m going to cause issues for others.” That’s because itself is suffering during that process.
How can we maintain a healthy ego?
“I own and operate a ferocious ego.” — Bill Moyers
There’s nothing wrong with a fiery ego, yet most of us think that the guy acting all ‘road raged’ should chill the hell out. The same goes with that mother going off her nut in the shopping centre because her children are being children. But what about the person obsessed with their image? Or the people who believe they’re better than others and are always trying to prove so?
These are examples of unhealthy ego self-attachment. An ego with problems wants a particular outcome at all costs, or it may feel superior to its fellow man, so when it doesn’t get its ego fix, out comes the ego-monster to rip apart the seams of its injustice.
An ego with problems loves to blame others for how it feels. I call this blamism: “It’s my parents fault for the way they brought me up,” or “it’s the government’s fault for the policies they institute,” or “it’s my ex-partners fault because they broke my heart.” Blaming others is a cop-out; it merely justifies the ego feeling helpless and inhibits it from taking on the responsibility to change itself.
So, let me be clear: the bottom line is we think and feel the way we do because of ourselves and it’s only us that can change it. It’s also important to note that balancing out our ego and managing the aspects of ourselves that could potentially turn out unhealthy and dysfunctional will never end to the day we die, so let’s own it.
Here’s a tip: the single most motivating factor to overcome ego problems is that they cause suffering for everyone involved including ourselves! Do we really want to unnecessarily hurt ourselves and others? I seriously hope not!
The simple fact remains that we have the power to control how we think, feel and act. Living the way of the v-three; that is, virtuous thinking, feeling and action, is absolutely essential for true self-empowerment. If we operate virtuously, we do ourselves and everyone else a service. It’s that easy.
Ultimately, we should aim to have a healthy, functional, contented and loving ego which has a balanced attachment to itself. This means it should be attached in ways that is practical for its existence but not attached in ways that reinforces the pain and suffering of itself and others. That’s how to maintain a nourishing and peaceful ego.
“A bold ego leads itself into the depths of disconnection whilst knowing itself as fundamentally faux.”
At some stage of our lives we all experience emotional dysfunction to some degree, especially when we’re maturing. In some cases it may just be part of the learning curve as we grow into our more developed selves. Simple examples are that we might dwell on a problem too long, get upset or angry too easily, or think self-abusive thoughts consistently. For others it might impact us more significantly and even result in a form of mental illness.
Yet that isn’t to say that negative thoughts or feelings are dysfunctional. In the short term, experiencing negative thoughts and emotions is natural because we’re human and it is part of the human experience. Instead of that negativity being suppressed, when we give it the space to breathe, it voluntarily gives way to our fundamental philosophies and beliefs and more positive feelings. However, when we feel these emotions for ongoing periods of time it can have a detrimental impact on us and others.
Even though it’s important to productively feel all of our emotions, if we want to establish and maintain our inner peace, then we have no option but to overcome the emotional dysfunction plaguing our ego and sense of self.
For example, constantly being stressed, angry, sad, and jealous, or an array of other negative mind states, is emotional dysfunction. Rationales like “I’ve got a short fuse” or “I’m heartbroken” reflect self-destructive behaviour, especially when they occur over long periods of time. Anything negative that we continually maintain inside of us is inherently self-abuse. Unfortunately, these states of mind are generally considered normal and acceptable for people in our society, while we put little emphasis on the damage that these states have on our health and general wellbeing.
The reality is we have more control than we realise in how we feel. If we lined up 100 people and gave them each the exact same experience, even though there may be a vaguely similar emotional response, we would get 100 different ongoing reactions or responses. Why is this? Essentially it’s because there are factors which influence how we deal with the highs and lows that the rollercoaster of life takes us on. Those factors are our environmental influences. The biggest factor is our own free choice.
Following are 8 examples of self-harm that we sometimes choose to include in our individual states of mind, plus some tips to help us take control, overcome them and find our inner peace.
Emotional Patterns That Disturb Inner Peace
Feeling Unforgiving Towards Others
When we’re resentful towards others it’s usually because they have behaved hurtfully or broken our trust. But anyone who has felt like this (ie. everyone!) knows how bad it feels. It makes us think and feel negatively.
Therefore, forgiveness is essential for self-care.
The empowering aspect is, forgiving is easy – with the right rationale. For example:
“I forgive them because they lacked the wisdom and strength to have treated me better. I also forgive them because if I don’t, I continue to hurt myself, which is being just as disrespectful to me, as they were”.
Easily Frustrated with Small Matters
If we’re easily frustrated it usually indicates that deep down we’re angry or sad. We could be holding onto anger or disappointment from our past that we’ve not let go. In some fundamental way, we have not found ongoing contentment in our life.
When life is so short, it’s painfully self-destructive to be constantly irritated. It’s a stressful experience, and as the adage goes — stress kills.
Being irritated all the time is simply a manifestation of a unresolved emotions which then also causes those around you to suffer. If we fully and honestly embrace our present, then we functionally process all of our experience as it happens, including the good and the bad.
Sadness and Depression
Life isn’t all wine and chocolates. It’s a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows due to the varying experiences that we have. Some of those experiences are harder to deal with and take a more advanced emotional development to process effectively and efficiently. So of course at times we are going to feel sad, but it becomes dysfunctional if we’re sad more often than not, or it’s easy for us to fall into that state.
A lack of self-esteem and ongoing negativity can lead to depression. It is physiologically represented by a chemical imbalance, which is why there are pharmaceutical drugs designed to help realign our chemical needs. Yet depression is also representative of how we negatively process our past and present whilst not accepting and embracing it for what it is. The drugs don’t help us to do that, which is why they’re generally ineffective on their own.
Now this is not to be confused with grief. A natural process of human activity is to grieve over the loss of a loved one. The inability to heal from grief, especially if it leads to depression, is when grief becomes dysfunctional.
Worrying is one of the most common dysfunctional states in our age. It’s more often a nurtured or learned behaviour. Our parents and a fear-consumed society have taught us to worry about our future, about our kids, about our health etc.
The most irrational aspect of worrying is that if we add up the amount of times we’ve worried about something, and the times it actually eventuated in an undesired way, we’d be looking at a very small percentage. Therefore, spending all that time in a stressed and anxious state has simply been self-abuse, particularly as the mind/body can’t distinguish anxiety about the future from current experience, and responds to that anxiety accordingly.
On top of that, when we’re anxious about our future, sometimes we create what we were anxious about in the first place. When we live in that negative anxious state, we send out negative vibrations — and attract them back. It impacts not just us but also those around us.
I love this flowchart which simplifies how useless worrying is.
Negatively Judging Others
We all make judgements every day. It’s perfectly natural for humans to assess their environment including the people in it. The problem is that we often don’t have all the information we need to make a holistic and fair judgement, so it’s important to recognise this before we make any assumptions of someone or something.
When we negatively judge others it usually through comparison to ourselves. For example: “I can’t believe they don’t act/think like I do”. We might also meet a person and have a negative judgement on their character: “They’re a terrible person because they yelled at their kids and that’s not how I operate”.
Forming realistic judgements is about embracing the wholeness of a situation or person, and acknowledging the humanity in other people, even if they behave in a way that we find undesirable: “It’s not the best way to speak to their kids, but maybe they are struggling with parenthood? Or don’t have the skills to respond more constructively?” Another example of holistic judgement would be: “I don’t condone their actions, but I have not had direct experience ‘walking in their shoes’.”
If we are dysfunctional in our judgement towards others then we generally only focus on their negative traits, whether they are perceived or real, which is unrealistic. We constantly compare ourselves to other people and in our own minds – consciously or not – and try to justify why they are inferior to us, not as smart, not as ethical, etc.
The same goes for when we are dysfunctional with our judgement towards ourselves; we justify in our own minds why others are superior to us.
Assessing and judging is tricky business. The truth is, the way we judge is frequently a source of emotional dysfunction and discord in our society. To overcome it, we should take self-comparison out of our judgement the best we can and contextualise our experience into the bigger picture of the development that we all go through as well as our interconnectedness.
The old saying “jealousy is a curse” is super true. Envy has the ability to evolve into some serious dysfunction of the mind. It also relates closely to how we can negatively or unrealistically judge others.
Jealously is a form of delusion, based on the notion that someone’s gain is somehow our loss. Jealously also manifests in a conspicuous way, such as negative judgement. We might be jealous that we don’t have the particular strengths of another individual, that we don’t have a particular relationship with someone that others do or that we don’t have the money or job that someone else has. It might be a perfectly natural emotional reaction, yet if we’re always feeling this way or don’t process the emotion in a healthy way, it is inherently self-harming because it isn’t positive or constructive for ourselves.
Regardless of what we’re jealous of, we remain in an unrealistic or delusional state of mind. Our focus is in a place that we are not, and only we can correct that focus. If there are areas which we need to evolve in ourselves, or our lives, then that is where our focus should be — not on the perceived strengths or fortunes of others, and what we don’t have ourselves.
Jealousy can comes out in harmful ways, such as defaming others behind their back. It’s plagued with lies. Dirty gossip is born out of jealousy and negative judgement. They did this, or they did that, is an unhealthy and unsuccessful way many use to build up their own self-esteem. But we don’t evolve our own confidence and self-worth by bringing others down; we do it by focusing on ourselves.
Put simply, if we feel jealousy then allow it to be a fleeting state that drives us to work on our own needs, especially developing the need of being free of jealousy’s ugliness.
Holding Onto Guilt
Feeling ongoing and unresolved guilt over our past mistakes is nothing but a negative state of mind. To move past guilt, we need to learn and evolve from our mistakes, not wallow in shame and regret.
We all make mistakes, at times more seriously than others. If we all felt guilty all of the time, no one would be growing. Guilt is helpful to understand that we’ve done something that goes against our conscience, as is shame and regret, but we should ensure they’re temporary states of mind that motivate us to create something more positive and constructive out of those situations.
The aim is to accept and embrace what we did, learn from it, show our remorse through corrective actions, and build strategies around how we’ll never make that same error again.
It’s important to understand that holding onto guilt, shame and regret only leads to emotional dysfunction. Learning to forgive ourselves is the key to moving forward with our lives.
Often Feeling Offended
Feeling offended from time to time is natural, although some people appear addicted to being offended.
Even when we are offended over something that we are justifiably right to defend, why is it that we should put ourselves through suffering just because of what someone else said or did? Isn’t it a reflection of them, and not a reflection of us? Of course it is.
Just say a person in the street is rude to us. We could get offended and upset because of what they’ve said or done, or we could understand in that moment that it’s a reflection of their lack of empathy, wisdom and compassion in that moment.
If we invest our feelings in the way others behave, then we’re destined to suffer because there are always going to be unthoughtful and uncompassionate people in our society.
Moreover, if we blame others for the way that we feel, then we become ‘Blamists’, externalising the responsibility for our own inner state. For example: “It’s my parents fault for what they did when I was a kid”… or “it’s my ex’s fault for what they did to me when we broke up”.
Blaming others for the way that we feel is disempowering. We effectively give away our power to others. But if we take responsibility for how we think, feel and behave, we empower ourselves with the responsibility and the freedom to be who we wish. The time we become truly free is the time that we take full responsibility of ourselves and ensure that we, not anyone or anything else, are the single most influential factor in how we evolve for the rest of our lives.
There are many emotional states that can potentially steer us from our contentment and sense of inner peace. The reality is if we’re living with these self-harming conditions, then we’re not properly taking care of ourselves. They might be considered normal in today’s spiritually-disconnected and ego-based society, but they’re far from the natural and balanced state of the human mind and spirit.
We have to take responsibility because there’s no one that can overcome these dysfunctions for us, but ourselves.
Humanity has lost its connection to nature. We’re so bombarded with artificial imagery and ideals of superficial living that most of us think taking in an occasional sunset or going for a bush-walk is what it means to be united with our Mother Earth. These practices are wonderful, and very grounding, however they are temporary and don’t truly represent the holistic way we most naturally connect to the spirit of our world and the life that it breathes.
As a culture, we have become disconnected from our food. We have forgotten the cycles of natural systems. We are blind to the divine patterns found in nature. We have lost the innate wisdom of knowing our environment like the back of our heart, and knowing our place within it. Instead we have accepted urbanization of our civilization as ‘natural’. In cities we live in a cement jungle, on top of each other but isolated from each other and our natural environment. (In this context, the rise of social media technology is an ironic twist.)
But this is all by design; and the way in which we engage with our local community has been inhibited by the organisational systems that the majority of us subscribe to without question.
And for what? For a sense of security? Or a sense of community?
In reality, this way of living provides us neither. Disconnected, we have no idea where our food comes from, or where our garbage goes. Our security becomes dependent on the mechanisms of society, providing fuel to corporate and governmental power structures. Because of the State dependence nationalism and globalisation creates, our local communities no longer function as unified inter-related wholes, driving the sense of separation within communities and often leaving its members with few constructive common interactions — a crucial element in creating a sense of comm-unity.
And the result? We work to accept the unsustainable principle of perpetual economic growth, diligently accepting a life of 9 to 5 jobs we don’t even enjoy and willingly sacrifice our natural world to ensure the whole system continues, to the benefit of a small elite group of families.
Consumerism has harmed our collective and environmental wellbeing. Materialism has eroded our value systems and fuelled a cultural existential crisis. Globalization has polluted our planetary and community health. Industrial agriculture is killing our ecological systems and failing to feed the population of earth.
There has to be other ways.
Well, there are. One is called permaculture. This age-old method of living cooperatively with nature is being embraced once again, leading communities toward a self-sustaining future of chemical-free agriculture.
Permaculture – What Is It and Why Is It Important?
Developed for the modern age by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s, permaculture has spread wildly throughout the world. The term initially meant ‘permanent agriculture’, however it evolved to also represent ‘permanent culture’.
Permaculture is a practice which can provide most of our resources locally, yet it’s more than just an agricultural practice — it starts with ethics. What is truly right for our individual, community and environmental health? How can we provide the basic needs of humanity whilst doing it in balance with nature?
Then it becomes a design science. Designing permaculture plots includes a process of surveying the local environment, identifying its patterns, decoding the inherent wisdom that it contains, and combining that and other knowledge with technological innovation to efficiently and effectively collaborate with natural systems to provide all the food, medicine,fibre and fuel that we need. This not only ensures that we survive, but psychologically thrive.
So in a sense, permaculture is an art. It’s an expression of human ingenuity in its most glorious form because it’s the creation of a painting that reflects the way in which humans and nature become one. The external world is the canvas, human novelty is the paint and the human heart is the paintbrush. And no matter where we live on our planet, we can create a masterpiece.
Permaculture Ethics, Food and Communities
An interview with permaculture pioneer, Geoff Lawton.
Geoff is an expert in this growing field. Since the mid-nineties he has specialised in all things permaculture, including the education, design, implementation, system establishment, administration and community development of it across the world. He is a true leader in building a sustainable and healthy future for humanity.
In the video he moves through many aspects of permaculture, including its positive environmental, practical, cultural and philosophical impacts. He talks about the patterns of nature, the diversity of foods it can offer, the values it endorses, the quality of living it offers and the meaning and hope it can give to one’s life:
“It feels like that the meaningful, interesting, intense engagement that you get involved in, that’s very relative to you and your health … expands time. Now, wow! If you could bottle that up and sell it as a product it would be a best seller! That’s what this is. I mean, it has great purpose. And with our online course I get a lot of endorsements … (such as) you’ve changed my life; this has given me total meaning; this has put so much knowledge together I’ve already got in a format I can now engage in; I feel like there’s hope.”
Simply, that’s the progressive effect that permaculture can have on a society that is increasingly suffering.
The Way Forward?
Permaculture has conclusively shown that it can produce quality and sustainable results in any region on earth. It utilizes the local energy – such as water, solar, soil and biological – in the most productive ways possible. It can generate an abundance of resources in cold, hot, wet, dry and other challenging conditions. It has conquered the mountains, the plains, the jungle and the desert, without missing a beat.
This is exactly why permaculture is a system that can easily feed the entire population of the world. Permaculture incorporates the advancements made in sustainable and renewable technologies, while also honouring ancient technologies, such as natural building materials, and works with not against variations in local ecologies. Whilst doing so, it leaves no toxic trace, as it doesn’t require the environmentally damaging oil products that industrial agriculture relies on. It uses natural remedies to deal with the imbalances local to each area, such as flora and fauna pests.
Applying the principles of permaculture also integrate communities. Instead of going to a multinational supermarket to get your food, we go to our backyard and it pick it fresh to cook in our own kitchen, or trade for ingredients that our neighbours grow. All-inclusive community gardens can also be designed as a collective effort for those with limited space, which also serves as a social meeting place and a forum to teach each other and our kids not only what we’re eating, but how to grow and nurture it.
So with a permaculture approach applied on both an individual and community level, basically no one will go hungry and everyone will be adequately housed. There will be little social isolation. Problematic behaviours from disenfranchised adults and youth would decrease. Local economies, based in quality interactions, would thrive, as would the happiness of the people. And our natural systems would diversify and flourish too.
Quite simply, permaculture is a necessary long-term solution for so many of our problems.
As Geoff summarises beautifully, permaculture isn’t just good for the earth but good for the soul of humanity. It can provide the food and other physical resources we need, as well as the psychological and philosophical health resources too. It is a grass roots tool that empowers individuals and entire communities to help overcome a long list of problems that we collectively face.
“(Permaculture is) a connecting system … that’s incredibly valuable to get us out of the problems we’re in, in so many ways. The environment, the people, the social order; we will never have good social order until we design our way out this problem ourselves. No one’s coming to help us, we’re going to have to do this ourselves, together, everybody”.
There are a ton of diseases and disorders out there, but you might be throwing around a few terms that don’t mean anything at all. Here are five commonly used—but medically inaccurate—“diagnoses.”
The flu, by definition, refers to a specific virus (influenza) that primarily wreaks havoc on the respiratory system.
“Influenza causes fever greater than 101°F with congestion or sore throat,” says Jill Swartz, M.D., a physician with GoHealth Urgent Care in Westchester, NY. “It rarely causes stomach vomiting and diarrhea.”
What you likely have is gastroenteritis, which is caused by a different virus (such as the norovirus), bacteria (such as E. coli), or parasites. Calling it a “stomach bug” or “stomach virus” is closer.
A medical professional might actually tell you that you have this, but it’s something of a catch-all rather than an exact diagnosis.
It could mean that you have a very mild case of pneumonia and don’t require hospitalization, or it might just mean that you have a chronic cough and have been feeling cruddy for over a month but your doctor can’t pinpoint why, Swartz says.
When there’s nothing conclusive going on, doctors will sometimes label patients with “walking pneumonia” and medicate them to see if it helps, she explains. “If you take a Z-Pak and it works, great. If not, then let’s see if we can find another reason.”
If gluten—proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley—makes you feel lousy, one of three things is likely going on, but none of them is a gluten allergy.
“Celiac disease, which is a serious condition, is an immune response to gluten—not an allergy like we think about a peanut allergy,” says Janna Tuck, M.D., an allergist and spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Some people have a wheat allergy, which means they can have a severe (even life-threatening) reaction to eating wheat, but they would be fine chowing down on barley. Not in either camp? You probably have gluten sensitivity, which simply means you get bloating, pain, or stomach cramps when you eat something with gluten in it.
“It’s one of my least favorite terms,” says Tamar Gur, M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist with Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “When we get overwhelmed, we can feel like we are going to lose our minds, but we do not. People do not have mental breakdowns, which is how that term is usually used,” she says.
If you ever hear that someone has been hospitalized for a “nervous breakdown,” it likely means that he or she is suffering from a severe mental health episode, which could be related to any number of conditions (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.). Treatment should help.
While a cold may feel like it’s centralized in your head or chest, a “headcold” is no different from a regular cold, which is caused by a virus. (The same goes for a “chest cold.”)
Your stuffiness or malaise may be concentrated in one area of your body, or the sensations may be a sign of sinusitis, inflammation of the sinus tissue.
“Does your head feel stuffed, or filled with fluid?” Swartz says. “It’s more of a symptom than a diagnosis. You would never write, ‘Diagnosis: headcold.’”
What skills, qualities and information do we need to live an honourable, healthy and happy life? And of those skills and qualities, which are provided and nurtured through the school system? The answer is almost none of them.
It’s clear that we need to redesign our education model.
It is up to the parents, mentors, peers and other societal influences to fill these gaps, but we all know this doesn’t regularly occur. If the guides and teachers in a child’s life don’t have the knowledge and skills to properly inform and take care of themselves, then how can they be expected to share it with others? They literally can’t. To break this cycle, we need an effective safety net to provide the skills and information that our children need to develop into awakened, functional and well-rounded adults, not just well-behaved employees of “The System”.
The education system in western society is not geared towards providing what’s best for each child. Primarily it is designed to produce citizens who contribute to, and consume from, the interdependent global economy. It’s like a factory assembly line; it helps us find which mundane 9-5 job we are best “suited” to, as we grow into stressed out and discontented adults.
It is in this sense that we are indoctrinated through our schooling to uncritically accept the socio-economic system that we are born into, regardless if it means ill-health and discontentment for the individual, and even our society as a whole. The model is simply attempting to shape new generations of children into conforming to the old ways, without recognizing the uniqueness of each child — or that we are undertaking a huge paradigm shift into a new era of human consciousness.
The Way Forward? A New Six Dimension Model of Education
An interview with Will Stanton
Will is a young Australian writer, researcher, activist and teacher who has worked in a number of primary schools, including a government school in Kathmandu, Nepal. His book, Education Revolution, exposes the challenges and shortfalls of the current system from an insider perspective, and proposes an entirely new model of education; one that frees children from indoctrination and nurtures their innate potential as unique, loving and creative human beings.
In the following interview, Will explores the Six Dimension model he created for a new educational paradigm of our future. He believes teachers are the current system’s best asset, but are underpaid and overworked and are generally faced with a restrictive system that inhibits the highest potential being realised by each child, and each teacher. He also discusses the decreasing investment in education by our governments, as well as ways this funding barrier can be transcended — by moving to new ways of organising our society, economically, socially and politically.
Education is much, much more than conventional subjects and the occasional personal education class. Clearly there are valuable skills and information to be taken from the current system we educate our children in, so a proportion of it should be incorporated into the way we move forward. Yet we have to accept the reality; both culturally and politically, our education model is not only failing our kids’ health and wellbeing, it’s also perpetuating a system of social order that is lethal for our collective and planetary future. We cannot continue to train children in the “old ways”, which clearly are not working for our society or our environment.
“Eat more, lose weight” sounds like an impossible promise. After all, one of the main rules of weight loss is “calories in, calories out” — the idea that if you eat more than you burn off, you’ll gain weight.
But for some people, eating more may actually be the key to maintaining a lean physique. It’s especially effective for people who are coming off of restrictive diets or who have been yo-yo dieting for years.
The method, known as “reverse dieting,” involves gradually increasing calories in very small stages. After a restrictive diet, it allows you to get up to a normal, more sustainable calorie level without adding on pounds.
The trend is taking off in the fitness community and spreading into nutrition and weight-loss circles as well.
How Your Metabolism Works Against You
Fitness competitors often follow ultra-restrictive diets as they get ready to bare their bods on stage. But after their competitions are over, many of those ultra-fit men and women struggle to maintain their lean physiques. Restrictive regimens cause the metabolism to slow; the body adapts to become more efficient and burn fewer calories.
The body is wired this way. Our ancestors adapted to make the most of their caloric fuel, just in case there was suddenly a food shortage and they had to function on less.
In 2016, the landscape has obviously changed quite a bit. With food in abundance, when a fitness competitor stops dieting and starts eating again, his metabolism isn’t burning calories as quickly. That fuel gets stored as fat.
Reverse dieting hacks into our caveman biology in order to limit this post-dieting metabolic slowdown.
With a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in nutritional science, bodybuilding and physique coachLayne Norton is one of the trend’s leading experts. Years ago, Norton noticed a quirk among his clients. “Those with a more extensive history of dieting had a harder time losing weight and keeping it off,” he explains.
“Research shows that six out of seven people can successfully lose 10 percent of their weight,” Norton says, “but the relapse rate is around 95 percent, with many putting on more weight than they originally had to begin with.”
He found that a slow transition out of dieting and into maintenance mode seemed to be a better method for keeping weight stable.
How Reverse Dieting Works
In a reverse diet, you slowly increase your calorie intake back up to a normal maintenance level, while keeping protein intake relatively constant. Although Norton says everyone responds a little differently, he noticed that bringing calorie intake up slowly generally allowed for a better response.
Most of Norton’s clients could maintain fat loss while eating a satisfying number of calories per day. “Eating very lean takes a lot out of you,” he explains. “Women lose menstruation, men lose testosterone. So we add more calories. Most of them don’t want to be a cover model, they just want to maintain their weight.”
The reverse diet is a pretty slow process. A lot of dieters get into trouble by immediately wanting to ramp calories back up to “normal” after a prolonged period of low intake. There are no specific foods involved in a reverse diet. But among Norton’s figure competitors, protein has generally been sufficient while dieting, so Norton says he focuses on the carbs and fats his clients have usually been cutting.
You generally add only one to five percent more calories to your diet per week. If you’ve been on a 1,200-calorie diet, that means adding an extra 60 calories per day at most — just a little nudge upward at a time. “By the end of the diet, we usually add 20 to 40 percent more calories, depending on how aggressive they want to be,” Norton says.
“If someone is putting on a bunch of weight, we slow down,” he explains. “But we want to get people to a level of calories they feel comfortable with and they can maintain.” Although some like to eat more, for most people, this number hovers around 2,000 calories a day. Norton says this intake level typically allows for “the flexibility to still be consistent.”
Who Should Try It?
A reverse diet won’t fix unhealthy eating habits and frequent indulgences. It’s not for someone who needs to lose weight, but rather for someone who needs to restore metabolism back to proper function after a prolonged, restricted low-calorie diet. It’s for a person who enjoys working out and eating well, but wants to have some options and flexibility.
For those with a history of yo-yo dieting, this can be a great fix for a wonky metabolism, says health and lifestyle coach Sheila Viers, who went on a reverse diet herself from April 2015 to January 2016.
Coaching women, she wanted to try a better way of maintaining weight — one that involved more than crazy workout regimens and 1,200 calories a day. “A lot of women have come down that yo-yo dieting road,” Viers explains. “I had. I wondered, ‘What if I could max my metabolism, eat large volumes of food and maintain leanness?’”
The results: “My energy level in the gym increased a ton. I was getting stronger and tightening up my muscles. I felt really good,” Viers says.
Viers was eating about 1,350 calories per day when she began, which she slowly increased to a maintenance level of 2,600 calories per day. She gained about 10 pounds, which she says was totally fine since she added lean muscle.
If she ever felt concerned, she reminded herself of the bigger picture. “I just had to remember the freedom and flexibility I was gaining through the process,” she says.
No matter if you’re asleep at the wheel of life or have awoken to not just the consciousness of reality, but also the corporatocracythat has hijacked our world, most of us are paying attention to our shrinking wallets, as well as the political circus. The system is in the limelight, but not how the power structure would like it to be.
The social engineering agenda of dumbing the masses into good little minions of the system has been highly successful, however too many people are now suffering and looking for answers why. Sometimes it feels that the alternative media gives them too much credit too, because it’s also been highly successful at exposing itself and therefore waking up people to their enslavement, as well as the lies, deception, toxicity and control matrix itself.
In response, grass roots truth and sovereignty movements are budding all over the earth in a decentralised and impenetrable way. People are organising all across the planet to peacefully resist the enroachment on our freedoms and build healthy and progressive alternatives to a profit-before-morality model which has infiltrated our economic, political, medicinal, entrepreneurial and philosophical spheres.
Money has talked, but the real people have started to walk.
In addition, those who lie in the middle of the lie are curious about all the noise happening in both the alternative and matrix-media, so their concentration has been captured too. Simply, most eyes are focused on the money, and the political arena.
And haven’t the existing order embarrassed themselves. Their propaganda narratives have been indisputably exposed and are therefore falling apart before our collective eyes. Ask any average joe on the street and they will tell you that they’re not being represented, or cared for, by the corporate and political elite.
This great shame is the beginning of the end to their game.
The type of attention that is generating from an increasingly unsettled populace is unwanted by the powers-that-will-no-longer-be. They’re fumbling as a result. They’re making mistake after mistake. They’ve also shown conclusively that they’re not as powerful as they would like us to think; even with all the control they have over the money and the information, they have not been able to stop the paradigmatic shifts in our collective consciousness.
They had no chance anyway when an energetic expansion has been working against them.
Their time is nigh but make no mistake, they won’t go down without a fight. After all, this shadow order still controls the system at its core. It’s an absolute embarrassment that we’ve allowed it to get this far, but we can find solace in the fact that it’s all part of the process, it’s all part of the spiritual experience that we designed ourselves in.
The energetic shift which is guiding the emancipation of humanity creates an internal conflict in anyone who ‘chooses’ to stay ignorant of the way the world really works, which surfaces as either a subconscious or conscious search for alternative answers. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re all looking for new ways of being, which is why all eyes are on the control-system by default.
If the hidden hand had its way, it would just continue with the same old story of a left/right illusion where the people actually feel like they’ve got a genuine choice in the affairs of their future. The political system should no doubt be capitalised on to educate society and facilitate the actual change we need, but depending on the old duopoly will always end fruitlessly.
Of course there are still those who fall for the left/right deception, but too many of us now know – regardless of how little of the big picture we understand – that a choice for either side is still a choice for the status quo. And nobody who understands the gravity of this mess wants to continue to line the pockets of the so-called elite and transnational bodies at not just our expense, but our future generations, and our natural systems too.
Inspiringly though, there are many serious issues and concerns which are strongly garnering not just the attention, but the response of the people. The hibernating inner activist has been shocked into action for more and more individuals.
Even the most highly indoctrinated can somewhat see the plethora of issues we face.
All this chaos, however, really is about creating order. A new order. The control grid is of course designed to create a ‘New World Order’ and who knows, they might be successful. But if so, it will only be for a short while. That’s because waves ofhigher consciousness are sweeping through a tsunami of truths that will inevitably crash onto the shore of our system. The tide has already turned; eventually, the new order will be one of truth, equality, abundance and freedom.
Ultimately, one day we’ll all look back at our current state of affairs and see it for what it is; a matrix of control that enslaved us not just materially, but spiritually as well. As an individual we have the responsibility for our own emancipation too, yet we mustn’t forget that we should also dutifully represent it to our fellow man.