Holistic Nature of Us: Getting Out in Nature




Do you have a favorite tree? A favorite memory of playing in trees, romping in the nearby woods, catching frogs or playing hide and seek? What tree plays a role in those memories?

My native elders felt trees had traits, some like humans. For example, maples are considered social, living nearby homes. The white pine often referred to as the Tree of Peace, held a position of respect and figures in stories of salvation from our own human follies. Seek peace not war becomes the white pine’s message, symbol.

Tree hugging is not uncommon. Many of us who enjoy the outdoors might take a moment or two, savor the forest’s smells and silence while hugging a tree.
Gardening, walking in the forest seems to calm us, eases our breath from everyday concerns. Do we need scientific studies to prove this? I don’t think so. We seem to thrive in some ways when we venture into nature.

In Last Child in the Woods,  author Richard Louv, laments that our children are removed from nature, by at least two generations.

“The young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow, physiologically and psychologically, and this reduces the richness of human experience.” He further explains: ” at the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical and spiritual health directly to our association with nature – in positive ways.”

A paradox for our day and age. We stay inside with our gizmos, lead busy lives. Complementary and alternative medicine, CAM, seeks to explore and encourage simple practices that enhance well being including “getting out in nature.”

The world of alternative medicine is often confused with complementary medicine. Yet in some ways, they complement each other. How? Many of us, when faced with a serious illness, seek some other way to cope with this illness, a disease. We get on the medical program advised for us but want something more; we want to add something to hopefully speed up our recovery if possible. We may choose modalities such as massage, maybe investigate nutrition and make dietary changes. We may add aromatherapy and meditation to our routines. In this sense, we are adding modalities to complement our medical program.

In other instances, folks choose other modalities first. They put aside medical protocols and delve into alternative practices that could make a difference. They put body and soul into a program that hopefully brings changes.

My podcast guest this week, Lynne Hartwell, Alternative Medicine Practitioner, stressed simple ways to bring in balance on a body, mind, soul level. Focus on breathing. Exercise. Lynne recommends “getting out in nature” too. Remember childhood wonder and the ability to be completely in the moment playing in the woods? How we couldn’t wait to get outside? There was no time.

Lynne and other alternative and complementary practitioners often recommend “getting out in nature”. Reconnect. Feel the breeze. Smell the woods. Relax and breathe.

“Connect with nature.” I couldn’t agree more.



Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Lynne Hartwell, Alternative Practitioner

Description: We are destined to align with nature and the earth’s frequencies. For example, science is proving how frequencies from our heart can align with the heart frequencies of the earth and vice versa. Simply being in nature, observing, touching trees realigns us and we feel more serene. Join us for a lively discussion where Lynne offers practical tips and practical wisdom.

About the Author: Lynne Hartwell is an Alternative Medicine Practitioner and Psychic Intuitive. She is certified in several different holistic modalities including Medicinal Aromatherapy, ThetaHealing®, TSR® (Therapeutic System Realignment), Vibrational Sound Therapy (Tibetan bowls and Ting-shaws) and Holographic Sound Healing®. Lynne brings this knowledge and experience to others in both public and private sessions, helping them transform their lives in positive ways physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Podcast Transcript: #5 Lynn Hartwell

GMO’S: The Science and The Myths: A Reminder


The book Ecospasm, by Robert Radin, my podcast guest this week, takes science from today’s knowledge base and plays it forward. He uses the science of GMO seeds, systemic pesticide use and explores possible consequences for our future food supply through fiction. If you missed the podcast on 3/6 you missed a rich discussion concerning unintended consequences.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of blogs to understand the details of our big agriculture system and its use of GMO seed and the use of systemic pesticides. It seemed confusing to me. John and Ocean Robbins conducted a GMO summit in 2014. I thought the speakers, the research available astounding. The more I learn about soil and soil health, watch reports about health concerns, these articles still seem relevant. (You can access these articles right here on my blog page. The category list has GMO and you will find several articles, speakers, scientists, farmers etc. with valuable contributions.)


Ecospasm, a sci-fi environmental thriller, plays it forward, a science-based idea of what could happen based on the choices we make for product development.  Maybe as the author suggests, we should try to play it forward. What are the consequences for future generations? Sustainability means we are using enough regenerative practices in farming to ensure our future generations have enough and can do the same and so on.

GMO’S: The Science and The Myths: Part 7

Today I would like to share reports and information coming from farmers. These are real-time farmers working the land and livestock, producing crops and meat the rest of buy and eat. What have they observed with the advent of genetically modified seed crops? Bt corn was the first to be introduced in our food supply of which a huge portion went to livestock feed.

In the GMO summit, I heard Howard Vlieger share his research and observations when GMO’s were first introduced to farmers around 1994. Howard serves on the board of directors for the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) and The Food Freedom Foundation.

Farmers began to notice when Bt corn in the feed was introduced to livestock, the livestock shunned the GMO feed over the non- GMO feed. Also, he states that in a non-scientific manner where livestock and wild animals were given the choice between the two feeds, they consistently walked away from GMO feed.

Howard along with Judy Carmen and colleagues conducted the first scientific study involving feeding GMO grain to some hogs and non-GMO grain to other hogs for their entire lifespan. Here’s what they found in GMO feed hogs:

  1. Their uteri were larger
  2. They weighed 25% more than non- GMO fed hogs
  3. Had severe stomach inflammation: in fact in young males, it was 4x as high.
  4. This study confirmed that GMO feed is related to digestive and inflammation problems

In the soil we see other problems with the use of GMO crops and pesticide spraying:

  1. They extract minerals, chelate them which decreases the amount left for plants uptake.
  2. Last year Iowa experienced a severe drought. Droughts decrease soil microbial activity and decrease soil aggregates which basically loosens the soil structure.
  3. The GMO fields, in the same area experiencing two days of heavy rains, suffered terrible erosion. The non-GMO farmed fields did not. They held up well with two days of intense rains.

Are the crops we grow healthier with the use of roundup ready seed and systemic pesticides sprayed on these crops? Mr. Vlieger states that contrary to what these chemical companies would have farmers believe, they are not. They are more susceptible to funguses and therefore the use of fungicides on crops has increased. These products have created a generation of superweeds and now Monsanto, Dow, for example, are looking for other more potent pesticides. They are seeking approval for application to the farms with superweeds. and they want it ASAP.

Also, the FDA keeps raising the allowable limit of glyphosate to meet Monsanto’s demand.

Finally, glyphosate was patented as an antibiotic in 2010. Remember in a previous post I mentioned that glyphosate is not given by itself but with adjuvants to help drive it into the cell? Ampicillin is one of the adjuvants. Today it has been estimated that 880 million pounds of this antibiotic have been put on the ground. Wildlife, livestock, our pets, and humans are ingesting small amounts of the pesticide, with the adjuvants such as an antibiotic, now found to be present in our food and water supply. The photo to the right shows an aerial view of an extensive Iowa farming area.

Dr. Seneff in her interview during the summit series mentioned that butchers are finding the livers of cows so badly deformed they are not offering beef livers in our supermarkets. And their intestines are so thin they cannot use them to stuff sausages. Check out sausage ingredients. I did. I am seeing on the ingredients label: “in a natural lamb casing” Did you know that that very casing comes from NON- GMO fed sheep in New Zealand?

Howard Vlieger is from Iowa and is a part of the Council for Healthy Food Systems.

Farmers have first-hand knowledge of these problems. I hope you will join me in supporting our local farmers’ efforts to create biologically and organically healthy farms and livestock. Check out your state’s farmers organizations and find out what they are doing to grow safe food. Remember farmers markets are great for our communities but some farmers who come to these markets do use roundup ready seed and spray pesticides. I ask questions if I do not see any organic signs by a vendors booth. I hope you will too.


Holistic Nature of Us: Robert Radin, Author EcoSpasm

Description:” Genetic engineering of plants goes awry, corrupts the food supply and invades the human genome, threatening the extinction of the human species, mother’s grieve over infants who are dying from mysterious illnesses, never- seen- before by medical science. An unusual love story. Famine and human Cannibalism appear imminent.”

His story begins: “Plants have stopped producing nutrients, the food supply is collapsing. A small group of scientists led by plant geneticist Dr. Bill Harrison race the clock to rejuvenate the world’s dying food chain.” Intrigued? I hope so …join us exploring a different twist to a serious possibility.

About the Author: Robert Radin: B.S. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. M.S. and Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from The George Washington University. Ten years experience in U.S. Government research laboratories, including Naval Research Laboratory. Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biophysics and Cell Biology at the National Cancer Institute.

Podcast Transcript:Transcript Robert Radin 

Holistic Nature of Us: Witch Hazel






My podcast guest this week, Gail Reynolds, spoke about her love of bogs and marshland ecosystems. She gave us a variety of plants that live in these types of areas which I include here.

She also mentioned witch hazel, an unusual shrub, native to North America that puts out its blossoms in late fall.

Name: Hamamelis virginiana, Witch hazel, sometimes known as winterbloom; tall flowering shrub, blooms in late fall, yellow star-like blossoms are seen on bare twigs; blooms after leaves fall off. After flower blooms, a seed is formed which is explosively released giving the shrub the nickname of snapping hazelnut. It can grow tall about 10-12′. This shrub puts up several trunks that cluster together.

Where Found: dry or moist woods

Parts Used: bark, dried and leaves can be fresh or dried

Uses: astringent, tonic, used for centuries for treating hemorrhoids, bruises, inflammation, varicose veins, bags under the eyes, burns, and scalds earning a place in many a home medicine chest. Witch hazel contains tannins which give it its astringent qualities. Applying witch hazel water to acne, pores helps reduce inflammation, a very popular remedy. Witch hazel’s most popular use is to reduce the swelling from hemorrhoids.

WikiImages / Pixabay

Witch hazel, a native, shown to early settlers by Native Americans found its way into the settler’s home and into our pharmacopeia as an effective remedy. Some sites researched claim there is a low number of studies performed today on its effectiveness though some sources claim it is safe to use topically.

Iroquois Indians used a tea made from bark and twigs, made into a poultice to reduce swelling and inflammation from bruises, sprains. It worked. Euell Gibbons, one of my favorite authors on the use of edible plants in our local environments, supported by the University of Pennsylvania’s agricultural department, made teas, distilled leaves for a poultice. He acknowledges witch hazel as one of the most commonly used folk remedies.

Gail Reynolds, Master Gardener, plant scientist, and Middlesex County Coordinator for that program here in CT stresses proper ID before using any plant from the wild. I agree. However, we have folkloric traditional use of our plants. They were effective at a time when there were no antibiotics, no words for bacteria and viruses. They used these plants effectively and passed down that knowledge generationally. We have many uses both edible and topical from our native plants, many right in our backyards or visible on our local trails.

Before taking plant material, research the plant well, know the parts used. Also look into its habitat, pay attention to how many plants exist in one area and if sparse, leave alone. All contribute to sustainable wildcrafting practices.

What are your family’s plant stories? So many of our families stories and use of local remedies is lost. I recently appeared on a radio show and someone called in and spoke of a plant remedy for removing a splinter when he was a young boy. Today he remembers the story but doesn’t remember the plant. Many of my university students came from different countries and were quite familiar with successful local remedies. I encouraged to listen more carefully to the stories, be the one who passes the knowledge down.

Do you have any local plant stories? Please send me a note as I would value hearing them.

Enjoy. Judith


Holistic Nature of Us: Interview with Gail Reynolds

Description: Gail Reynolds, Plant Scientist, a Master Gardener Coordinator with a variety of conservation experiences, discusses sustainability. What’s the most important issue facing sustainability today? She’s a plant lover and shares with us her favorite plants and why. A lover of the bog and marshland ecosystems, she offers practical tips and practical wisdom. Join us for an enriching discussion on the value of our habitats.

About the Author:
Gail Kalison Reynolds, Middlesex County UConn Master Gardener coordinator, retired from a long career as an Information Security professional. She holds a B.S. in biology from Yale College and Master of Forest Science degree from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In addition, she holds five information security certifications. Gail is a long-time natural resource and Yale alumni volunteer, including Chair of the Haddam ConservationCommission, Officer of the Haddam Land Trust, member of the Lower Connecticut Land Trust Exchange, Haddam Plan of Conservation and Development committee member, Salmon River committee member, Connecticut Botanical Society board member, Executive Board member of the Yale Science and Engineering Association, Yale student mentor, and Yale alumni interviewer of prospective undergraduate students.

Podcast Transcript: click here.Gail Reynolds Transcript #1.doc

Holistic Nature of Us: White Pine Healing Itself, Healing Us



When you walk into the forest what do you see? Beautiful tall evergreens, strong oaks, and hickories, underbrush? Leaves fill trail paths as do the needles from pines, creating a softer forest carpet to cushion our steps. An animal or a bird may get our attention. We feel more peaceful as if the forest itself takes our tasks, lightens our load at least for the time we are among them.


As an herbalist, I tend to look around to see what plants are edible. And while I don’t strip large swaths of bark for medicine making, I remember that trees supply us with food and medicine. Acorns and chestnuts make a delicious flour. Twigs and pine needles make tea filled with minerals and vitamins, and nourishment.

Today I would like to go back to the white pine, Pinus strobus.

Twigs, bark, needles, and resins promote health and healing when used properly. Native Americans would use the resin and combine it with beeswax to seal the seams when canoe-making.

From the perspective of holism, I have another question. How does the tree heal itself? Our Native ancestors observed nature, using nature’s gifts from trial and error, yes but also how nature heals itself. How does a species such as an evergreen survive?

Let’s look at a wound that trees have to handle, a broken limb which creates an open wound. These open wounds on a pine and others expose the tree to different fungi and pathogens by infiltrating the center core of the tree, the hardwood. The hardwood is the largest part of the tree, the middle of the tree. When the living barrier, the Cambrian fails, is penetrated, the hardwood starts to soften which weakens the integral structure of the tree. While limbs breaking etc are part of a tree’s life cycle and they learn to deal with these occurrences to some extent, trees use resin to heal these wounds. The tree uses the resin which not only heals the wound but contributes to their longevity. We see this to some extent in our native forests.

White pines produce resin we think of as sticky, very hard to remove, thick and a problem when dropping on the metal exterior of a car. The US Forest Service tells us:
Resins are plant products that,

  • are not soluble in water,
  • harden when exposed to air,
  • do not play a role in the fundamental processes of the plant, and
  • are generally produced by woody plants.

Resins are produced in special resin cells in plants and are also produced when an injury occurs to the plant. Resins can be produced through the bark of a tree, the flowers of an herb, or the buds of a shrub.”

However, let’s go back to the pine tree. With the loss of a limb, resin seeps in, in an attempt to create a band-aid for the empty spot. It creates a seal and hardens. It is this observation that prompted our ancestors to try resin for sealing as in canoe making and for wound healing.

The dot I hope I connect here is this: we have learned much from nature. If that is true, and I believe it is, why are we disregarding her now? We forget about the forest community filled with so many species each with a purpose and a role. We forget to give thanks for her gifts. We forget to use the gifts she brings. In simple ways, such as tea making we can bring nature home. And, science, field observations, and tests are proving that we have harmed water, air, and soil to our detriment.

Our Earth front cover

Ellen Moyer, Ph.D., this week’s podcast guest, is committed to sustainability and creating solutions.  We can go over the problems again but we’ve done that. Now is time for practical action. Check out her website for a free gift: 55 things simple things you can do right now to make a difference.

What are you doing that reduces your carbon footprint? What about this earth moves you? As an herbalist and educator, I enjoy teaching about her gifts. Whether trees or plants, animals or resources, she offers much. What have you observed in nature that applies to us? We’d love to hear from you.



Holistic Nature of Us: Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves With Author Ellen Moyer

Podcast: Meet Ellen Moyer, author, TED talk presenter, who talks about her new book, Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: How to THRIVE While Creating a Sustainable World. Ellen’s vast experience creating green environments offers all of us great creative solutions which we can act upon today. Some simple, some reinforce what we already apply, some inspiring. What can we do as a society? What can we do economically? Join us for an inspiring and transforming discussion with practical action.

About my guest: Environmental engineer Ellen Moyer, Ph.D., wrote this book, her third, to empower and inspire readers to accelerate our urgently needed global transformation. She has more than three decades of experience assessing and cleaning up contaminated soil and groundwater and designing “green” systems and solutions. Moyer holds a BA in anthropology, an MS in environmental engineering, and a PhD in civil engineering. She is a registered professional engineer, a US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. www.ellenmoyerphd.com.

Click Here For Podcast Transcript with Ellen Moyer 

Interview at CRV radio: Garden Groove

Check out my radio interview on Garden Groove on Feb 14th.

Listen below or follow this link to the radio station’s website (Feb 14th episode).

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