Category: Health & Healing

Joel Kahn: The Plant-Based Solution

Dr. Joel Kahn is a holistic cardiologist, clinical professor of medicine, and author who is known as “America’s Healthy Heart Doc.” With Sounds True, he has published The Plant-Based Solution: America’s Healthy Heart Doc’s Plan to Power Your Health. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Joel and Tami Simon discuss why making the switch to a whole-food, vegan diet is the best decision you can make for your long-term heart health—as well as for diabetes prevention, sexual energy, and overall longevity. They compare a plant-based diet to other contemporary methods such as the keto and paleo diets, and Joel explains how to address what’s missing in purely vegan foods. Finally, Tami and Joel talk about how the switch to a vegan diet is especially important for contemporary environmental crises and why a plant-based lifestyle will soon be a social standard. (58 minutes)

How Trees Boost Your Immune System

Qing Li, the medical professor in Tokyo, put together a list of basic rules to create the ideal interaction between forest trees and the human immune system. Professor Li is one of the leading scientists in the area of forest medicine. He advises:


  • Remain in a woodland for at least two hours, while walking approximately 1.5 miles (2.5 km). If you have four hours to spend there, hike about 2.5 miles (4km). In order to boost your natural killer cells and anti-cancer proteins over a longer period of time as well, it is recommendable to spend three days in a row in a forest.
  • Make a walking/hiking plan that suits your physical condition. Make sure you don’t get tired during your time in the woods.
  • If you feel tired, take a break whenever you want and as long as you want. Look for a place in the forest where you feel comfortable.
  • If you’re thirsty, try to drink water or tea.
  • Pick a place in the forest that you spontaneously like and invites you to stay. Stay there for a while, sitting and reading, for example, or meditating, whatever you want, but enjoying the gorgeous ambiance and relaxing.
  • To lastingly maintain the number and activity of your immune system’s natural killer cells and anti-cancer proteins, Qing Li recommends staying in a forest region two or three days per month and advises spending about four hours each day in the woods.
  • In addition to his advice, I’d like to add the following tips that I consider very helpful:
    • The contents of the anti-cancer terpenes in the forest air change over the seasons. The highest concentration is in summer and the lowest in winter. They increase rapidly in April and May, and in June and August, reach their peak. During these months, there are the most terpenes in the woods for your immune system to absorb.
    • Furthermore, you can find the highest concentration of terpenes in the middle of the forest, since tree population is the densest there. The tree leaves and needles form an especially rich source. Additionally, the dense canopy prevents these gaseous substances from escaping the forest. Therefore, it is advisable to go further into the woods and not just spend time on the edges.
    • When the air is moist, for example after rain or during fog, a particularly large amount of healthy terpenes is swirling around the forest air. This means we weren’t going crazy when we felt especially good during a walk in the woods after rain showers.
    • By the way, anti-cancer terpenes are the densest in and near the ground, where we humans are normally present. Higher up, some of them are destroyed by the sun’s UV light that manages to get through the canopy here and there. Thus, it appears as if the distribution of this healthy substance was actually tailored to our body size.


Important: Don’t forget that forest medicine is especially helpful when it comes to preventing disease. However, if you are already sick, or feel sick, please go straight to your doctor. Forest medicine is under no circumstances a replacement for conventional medical check-ups.


Looking for more great reads?

Excerpted from The Biophilia Effect by Clemens G. Arvay.

Clemens G. Arvay, MSC, is a biologist and nonfiction writer who studied landscape ecology and applied plant science in Vienna and Graz. He centers his work on the relationship between man and nature, focusing on the health-promoting e?ects of contact with plants, animals, and landscapes. His most recent book is The Healing Code of Nature (Random House Germany, 2016). He lives in Austria. For more, visit

How to Enjoy the Holidays When You’re Not Well

Christmas has moved to a dramatically different kind of holiday than its beginnings: it could now be more accurately called “Stressmas.”  It has truly become a time of stress: having to get the right presents for the right people; getting enough presents; how much money to spend or not to spend; expecting certain gifts from specific people, who and how many to invite to celebrations.  Our attachment to people’s reactions to our gifts and our reactions to others’ gifts reminds us of what the Buddha said, “Attachment is the cause of all our suffering.”  To celebrate the birth of Jesus—one who taught unconditional love, perpetual forgiveness, and said, “I came that your joy might be full!”—perhaps we need to rethink the whole picture; otherwise, we are not celebrating unconditional love but instead creating stress.  And since stress causes 80% or more of our physical symptoms, this could be seen as a season we have celebrated in a way that brings illnesses or intensifies the ones we are already manifesting.  It is the “ego mind” that has taken over—that internal voice which promises love, safety, peace, and joy, but always gets us to think or do that which produces the opposite.

Why not start by consciously deciding that we want to promote love, joy, and peace instead of stress and sickness during this season. Can we risk letting spiritual values—happiness, peace, and love—dominate rather than pressure, “have to’s,” guilt, and therefore, stress and possible sickness? Do we really want material objects and corporate profits to dominate our holidays and our lives?  We might even tell our family and friends about our decision to make these changes.  And, if we are already sick, why make it worse by creating more stress?  And if we are healthy, why create stress to make ourselves sick and unhappy?  We must remember that sickness is a choice; though, we often make it more unconscious by blaming it on something external.  Now is the time to begin to make it conscious.


Some tools for keeping love, peace, and joy—and, therefore, health—more of a priority this holiday season:

  • Give priority to meditating at the beginning and end of each day.  You might even keep repeating to yourself this mantra: “I choose joy, love, and peace instead of stress today.”  Breathe deeply and say the mantra 30 or 40 times.
  • Whenever you find yourself feeling pressure, start breathing deeply, fully emptying your lungs and then breathe in fully, filling the belly, and then adding a little more into the chest.  Keep repeating throughout the day, so that you do not play out the American saying: “I didn’t have time to breathe.”
  • Make sure that each gift you buy or give only comes from the heart—no “shoulds” or “have to’s.”
  • Do the thymus heart rub when you start to feel anxious, pressured, or guilty. Place your hand flatly over the upper chest.  Begin to rub gently and soothingly in a circle, to the right, looking on from the outside.  Then, as you continue rubbing, say, “I deeply love and accept myself even though I have started to feel stressed (pressured, guilty, etc.).  I deeply love and accept myself because I am so glad I caught these negative thoughts.  And I deeply love and accept myself as I choose to let these thoughts go.” Repeat this throughout the day every time you catch yourself thinking a thought that takes away your joy, peace, or love.


You might also say, “I make this a holiday of love, peace, health, and joy,” remembering that it is your thoughts that cause your pain or joy.  “And I am in control of them.”


Looking for more great reads?


Excerpted from Your Power to Heal: Resolving Psychological Barriers to Your Physical Health by Henry Grayson.

Henry Grayson, PhD, has been lecturing, teaching, and providing professional training for more than 30 years. He is the founder of the Synergetic Therapy Institute, co-chairman of the PTSD division of the Stand for The Troops Foundation, and author of Your Power to Heal: Resolving Psychological Barriers to Your Physical Health. For more information, visit

4 Tips to Make Your Holiday Parties Better for Non-Dri...

It’s okay not to drink. In fact, it’s normal, a fact that many people tend to forget, especially around the holidays.

My husband, Pat, quit drinking thirty-three years ago, and he is not at all shy about telling people he’s in long-term recovery. Yet even close friends and relatives who know his story still try to foist alcohol on him.

At holiday parties, people insist him to try “at least a sip” because they brought the alcohol as a gift, or express incredulity at Pat’s description of himself as an alcoholic. “I never saw you drunk or out of control,” one woman once said, “so how could you be an alcoholic?”

Even at a New Year’s Eve party, another friend offered Pat a glass of champagne. When he replied, simply, “No, thanks,” this friend took the opportunity to extol the virtues of moderation.

Moderation may work for some but it does not work for Pat and an estimated 23 million people in this country who are in recovery from alcohol or other drug addiction — including our son Ben, who recently celebrated his tenth year of recovery. Alcohol works its poison slowly, but poison it is, in large and small amounts for those who are susceptible to its addictive effects – and for untold others who get caught up in the party spirit and overly imbibe.

During this holiday season when alcohol flows so freely at intimate family gatherings, holiday parties, and New Year’s Eve celebrations, here’s a short list of suggestions for hosts that will make life easier for non-drinkers and drinkers alike:


  1. Respect “no” as an answer

When someone says, “No thank you” to an offer of beer, wine, or spirits, don’t push, nudge, cajole, or question.  Take no for an answer, point to the table containing the different beverages (be sure the non-alcoholic selections get equal space) and say, “We have a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, what can I get one for you?”

  1. Get creative with these non-alcoholic beverage ideas
  • Cranberry or pomegranate juice with sparkling water (Perrier or sugar- and calorie-free waters such as Refreshe or La Croix )
  • Fruit or vegetable-infused water (watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, mint, lemons, limes, the list goes on and on) are super hydrating and pretty to look at, too.
  • It’s always a good idea to offer several different sodas (ginger ale, colas, root beer, 7-up, sugar free-sodas) or flavored sparkling waters.
  • Forget punches or pitchers of beverages (eggnog for example) that are laced with alcohol; they’re too easy to mistake as non-alcoholic.
  • Garnishes such as lemons, limes, and mint are fun additions to non-alcoholic as well as alcoholic beverages. Put them in little bowls on the beverage tables.
  1. Keep nutritious snacks stocked to curb cravings

Nutritious, high protein snacks help control blood sugar, which can drop around party time (typically late afternoon) and trigger cravings. You don’t have to get fancy–try crackers and cheese; nuts or seeds (cashews, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds); bruschetta with tomato and basil; or antipasto plates.

  1. Set out a board game or puzzle on a coffee or dining room table

We always have a jigsaw puzzle going and people love to gather around and concentrate on something other than drinking and small talk (of course, drinkers are also welcome).


Remember: It’s okay not to drink. In fact, it’s “normal.” And for many millions of people, not drinking is in fact life-saving. I encourage you to try some of these tips this holiday season and throughout the year at any and every social gathering.


Looking for more great reads?


Excerpted from The Only LIfe I Could Save, by Katherine Ketcham

Katherine Ketcham has been writing nonfiction books for over 30 years and has coauthored 16 books—10 of which are on the subject of addiction and recovery. Her books have been published in 16 languages. Ketcham has led treatment and recovery efforts at the Walla Walla Juvenile Justice Center, and in 2002 she founded Trilogy Recovery Community. She lives in Washington State. Her newest book, The Only Life I Could Save, is being published by Sounds True and will be on available on April 1, 2018.


Nourish Your Body With These Wintertime Foods


Nature: In general, Ayurveda declares winter (November 15th – March 14th) as the healthiest season. However, the body’s natural intelligence copes with the external cold by automatically increasing the agni in the belly (a physiological response), resulting in increased inner warmth. Naturally, appetite and hunger also increase in parallel. Hence, if we fast in this season or eat a lot of cold and light foods, like salads, vata dosha can go up due to increased quality of lightness and coldness (the principle of “like increases like” at work). So eating nutritious fatty food at the right time (in winter) is a precautionary measure.

Goal: We make the best use of a naturally increased agni in winter and make every meal count. We can eat nourishing foods (see “Preferred Winter Food List” that follows) to proactively build health and immunity for the entire year ahead.

Flavors: Increase intake of sweet, sour, and salty; reduce intake of sour, pungent, and bitter.

Qualities: Prefer heavy over light, and fatty over dry foods.

Specifics: Hearty meat and vegetable soups with added ghee fortify the body. A midday drink of Ayurvedic buttermilk is recommended every day. Eat 1 tablespoon raw honey daily if possible (especially in the morning).


Preferred Winter Food List

  • Cereals: Unfermented wheat products (bran, cereal, chapatis, cookies, cream of wheat, crepes, dumplings, pudding, tortillas), white or brown rice, rice pudding. In moderation: quinoa, millet, oats.
  • Legumes and beans: Black gram, black beans, kidney beans, mung.
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, eggplant, fennel root (anise), garlic, green beans, green peas, leeks, okra (in early winter only), onions (cooked), parsnips, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, spaghetti squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter melon, winter squash.
  • Fruits: Amalaki (a nutritious fruit supplement; available online), almonds, apples, dates, figs, grapefruit, guavas, lemon, lime, mandarins, oranges, pears, plums, pomegranate, tangerines.
  • Meat: Chicken, deer, goat, pig, rabbit, seafood soup, turkey.
  • Alcohol: Aged wine is ideal.
  • Seeds: Sesame.
  • Dried fruits and nuts: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, raisins, walnuts.
  • Dairy: Sweet butter, Ayurvedic buttermilk (takra), sweet cream, milk (boiled), yogurt, (never frozen or with fruit, always eat with added raw honey or crushed back pepper).
  • Water: Drink boiled water reduced to warm, drinkable temperature.
  • Fat: Ghee is best; all other natural cooking oils are also fine (except mustard oil).
  • Other: Honey, chyawanprash (Ayurvedic supplement), vinegar in moderation.


Avoid in Winter

  • Fasting and skipping meals
  • Eating salads and raw foods
  • Consuming chilled foods like ice cream, chilled water, frozen foods


Looking for more great reads?


Excerpt from Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom by Acharya Shunya.

Acharya Shunya is the founder of Vedika Global, a spiritual foundation dedicated to elevating consciousness, building community, and serving humanity by illuminating India’s Vedic spiritual traditions of Ayurveda, yoga, and Vedanta. In association with its graduates, Vedika Global offers courses at Stanford University’s Health Improvement program. In 2015, she was recognized as a Top 100 teacher of Ayurveda and Yoga by Spirituality & Health Magazine and was invited to represent Ayurveda in the U.S. by India’s Ministry of AYUSH (Health) and Overseas Affairs. She is president of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine. For more information, visit or

Tapping 101: Calm Yourself Instantly


Tapping is a technique in which you use your fingers to tap on meridian points in order to relieve stress.  We intuitively know, for example, that the key meridian points near the eyebrows, nose, temple, and chest can comfort us, which is why we often unconsciously touch these areas when we are under stress.  Tapping lets us access these points in a conscious and deliberate way.

Before you begin, choose an emotional focus you would like to clear from your mind. Then frame it as a phrase, such as, “I am stressed out.” Now insert that phrase into a sentence that ends with “I love and accept myself,” like this, “Even though I am stressed out, I love and accept myself.”








Looking for more great reads?


Excerpted from Kicking Sick by Amy Kurtz.

Amy Kurtz is a wellness expert, an AADP-certified Holistic Health Coach, speaker, and a regular contributor on popular wellness websites such as mindbodygreen and Yoganonymous. She lives in New York City. For more information, visit