Sunday, August 19, 2012

Parsley Antiseptic

Would you experiment on yourself?  This week I have started a new trial of hair treatment made from extracting (with boiling water) fresh parsley.  I simply poured boiling water from a kettle over this heap of parsley leaves.  After 30 minutes, when the liquid was at room temperature, I poured it into a measuring cup, and from the measuring cup, into these squeeze bottles.

If you have ever had itchy scalp, like I have, you will try anything!  I used to be called "snowflake" in middle school, either because I was a white girl in a predominantly African-American school or because my scalp was always flaking down out of my hair and on to my shoulders.  I tried using Denorex but my mom would get upset at me for using her product.  I've tried Head and Shoulders but I don't like the way it frizzes out my naturally wavy hair.

The only products I have ever noticed making a difference were (a) Paul Mitchell Tea Tree and (b) Burt's Bees Feelin Flaky Herbal Treatment Shampoo. I am trying this rinse since growing lots of parsley and reading in Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs (2003) and Jude's Herbal Home Remedies: Natural Health, Beauty & Home-Care Secrets (2002) about the bioactive properties of parsley extract.

Other than these, my hair regimen involves Orange Petalooza™ Natural Nourishing Shampoo (from the
güd line of Burt's Bees and Avalon Organics LAVENDER Nourishing Conditioner (both of which I found at Target).  Right now I am trying to reapply discipline of looking, smelling, and feeling great.  This includes botanical treatments, serums, creams, balms, screens, infusions, but no peels or cleanses~!

I'm keeping the extra bottles in the fridge and applying the rinse between the shampoo and conditioner, leaving it on for about a minute and washing it out.  It brings a cooling, tingly sensation, very pleasant on these hot summer mornings.  Right now it feels like my head is burning, but that's usually how I feel before I take a shower.  It's easy to apply if you have experience coloring your hair at home, I apply it using the squeeze bottle just like I used to do in Arizona as a redhead and I was a blonde for a short time in California.  Will keep you updated as this experiment progresses...

The questions are: What molecule(s) do these dandruff treatments have in common?  What are the unique constituents in each?  What molecule(s) are in a parsley leaf extract?  What are the causes of dandruff?  What is the mode of action of the active ingredients in these treatments?  

For more, see our section about Chemicals in Consumer Products at

Monday, August 13, 2012


The view from the top is spectacular!

Aiguille du midi cable car - Panoramic Mont-Blanc Gondola
I went to a dinner talk at a meeting (SMASH 2007) about  alpinism, which I gathered to mean "obsessed with mountains."  In the shadow of the Alps, I realized why mountain climbing is so revered when so many great peaks appear so near.  I've often thought that it's man's battle with nature that defines all the sports I respect.  When you see a wave, ride it, a channel, swim it, a mountain, climb it, a continent, bike it!

Skyride in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
I've been on some neat cable-cars besides the one above to Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix, France in the Alps.  I've been on the Skyride down Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, Canada. We actually only took that one in the downward direction.  

In Colorado, I took a free Gondola ride during the Blues and Brews Festival.  Telluride and Mountain Village are connected by a scenic gondola. The 13-minute ride is part of residents' "commute."  I remember singing with a bunch of strangers.  Then again, maybe I was the only one singing.

The Sugar Pine Chair Lift from the "Top of the Notch" restaurant to Manker Flats Campground (where we were parked) saved my feet from getting totally shredded.  Hiking to the top of Mt. San Antonio (a.k.a. Old Baldy) was fine, but I gotta' admit I was running out of steam coming down.

Telluride, Colorado, United States
So lately, we've had a summer pass to the Palm Springs Tram, which I love because we've been hiking at altitude during these hot summer months in Southern California.  The thing I don't love about taking the tram to a trailhead, is that our dogs can't go with us.  

To get to the point of this post, we overheard a group of regulars on the tram discussing which peaks they've "done" and which they have left to do before they die.  We were there in town to celebrate the death of our friend, who passed away at the age of 35.  I couldn't help but think this group of people were addicted to training at low oxygen.  The mixed group of about 6 men and women were various adult ages and I wondered how many of them would exhaust their "bucket list" in their lifetimes. See also

What would cause someone to become hooked on climbing? We have a classic "adreneline junkie" who is an all-around thrill-seeker but is this something else?  Is there something different (biochemically) going on when your body is at low oxygen?  Is the life-span altered at altitude?  Should I do the Festival of Bikes in Idyllwild one weekend (Aug 17-19) and the Tour de Lake Arrowhead (Aug 24-25) the next?  Am I coming down with alpinism?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Glycemic Index

Glycemic index (GI) is essentially a measure of how a particular food compares to white bread or pure sugar. Starchy foods with a low GI are digested and absorbed more slowly than foods with a high GI. Factors that affect GI include cooking and food processing, as well as the presence of other components such as fat, protein, and dietary fiber.

For example, orange juice is relatively sugary and it has a glycemic index of 87.  Milk contains more fat and protein, and its glycemic index is 39. It is not practical to avoid ALL high GI foods. Some low GI foods may not always be a good choice because they are high in fat.

Jessica Herschberg for reports "black beans and other legumes are low glycemic index (GI) foods, meaning the carbohydrate in them is released slowly into the body. Low GI foods can help control blood sugar levels and may enhance performance because of their steady release of energy."

When I started exercising regularly, I had to moderate the glycemic index of foods I ate in order to maintain an energy balance.  High glycemic index foods (for me at least) were consumed by my body immediately, giving me a quick "sugar high" followed by a persistent and lethargic low.  Low glycemic index foods (for me) were a way to prolong the energy gained by each meal, where sugars were released slowly via fermentation in the colon rather than digestion in the small intestine. One such food is quinoa, with a GI of 53.  There are many things to do with quinoa if you are unfamiliar with it.

Other foods I like are (GI values from Searchable GI Database, University of Sydney):
Hummus, dip, glycemic index = 6
Lentils, red, dried, boiled, glycemic index = 21
Lentils, green, dried, boiled, glycemic index = 22-37
Barley, pearled, boiled 60 min, glycemic index = 35
Oatmeal, instant, whole-grain, glycemic index = 55
Brown Rice, Japonica, short-grain, glycemic index = 62

Preparation makes a difference! For example,
Carrots, raw, glycemic index = 16
Carrots, peeled, boiled, glycemic index = 33
Carrots, boiled and ground to a smooth paste, glycemic index = 60

From Atkinson, et al. 2008, average GI derived from multiple studies by different laboratories:
Spagetti, white, glycemic index = 49 + 2
Porridge, rolled oats, glycemic index = 55 + 2
Couscous, glycemic index = 65 + 4

You know what they say, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."
Apple, raw, glycemic index = 36 + 2
Dates, raw, glycemic index = 42 + 4
Orange, raw, glycemic index = 43 + 3
Banana, raw, glycemic index = 51 + 3

Not all vegetables are created equal, some are sweeter than others!
Sweet corn, glycemic index = 52 + 5
Sweet potato, boiled, glycemic index = 63 + 6
Pumpkin, boiled, glycemic index = 64 + 7
Potato, boiled, glycemic index = 78 + 4

Snacking is great, but healthy eating is better.
Kidney beans, glycemic index = 24 + 4
Potato crisps, glycemic index = 56 + 3
Popcorn, glycemic index = 65 + 5
Rice crackers, glycemic index = 87 + 2

Best Foods For Runners,7120,s6-242-301--10200-3-1X2X3X4X6X7-7,00.html
Oranges, Black Beans, Mixed Greens, Salmon, Whole-grain Bread, Frozen Vegetables, Whole-grain Pasta, Chicken, Frozen Mixed Berries, Dark Chocolate, Low-fat Yogurt, Sweet Potatoes

Best Foods for Cyclists
Try to choose lower glycemic index carbs for one of your high carb days and higher glycemic foods on the other. Lower glycemic index carbohydrates have been shown to be better choices for weight reduction than high glycemic carbs, according to a study published in March 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Blog for another day: Dietary Fiber!  Separate blog for another day: antioxidant and prooxidant effects of BPA.

Works Cited
Searchable Glycemic Index Database, University of Sydney
Harvard School of Public Health,
Foster-Powell K, Holt SH, Brand-Miller JC. "International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol 76, Pages 5-56.
Atkinson, FS, Foster-Powell, K, Brand-Miller, JC. "International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008" Diabetes Care. Vol 31, Pages 2281-2283.