Thursday, 31 July 2014

Research Findings From an NIH-Funded Botanical Research Center Featured in Special Issue of Nutrition

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®
Research Findings From an NIH-Funded Botanical Research Center Featured in Special Issue of Nutrition
Results of research conducted by the major institutions that compose one of the NIH-funded Botanical Research Centers—the Louisiana State University System’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Rutgers University’s Department of Plant Biology and Pathology—are featured in a special supplement of the journal Nutrition.
NIH’s Botanical Research Centers Program, which began in 1999, promotes collaborative, integrated, interdisciplinary study of botanicals, particularly those found as ingredients in dietary supplements, and conducts research of high potential for being translated into practical benefits for human health. The program is primarily supported by the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements and NCCAM. The goal of this Center is to evaluate how botanicals might influence insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
Some of the articles featured in this special supplement explore:
  • Research developments that address new approaches to enhancing bioavailability of bioactive substances (the proportion of a substance that is taken up into the blood after it is consumed) or provide a new way to evaluate substrate metabolism in the body’s tissues
  • How plants that are considered herbal remedies by specific cultures—for example, Artemisia dracunculus used by the people of South Louisiana—can be screened to evaluate their possible medicinal properties
  • How Artemisia extracts alter microbiota in the intestine
  • The effect of Artemisia dracunculus on specific muscle metabolism and sarcopenia (the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass)
  • The role of Artemisia extracts in changing glucose and lipid metabolism in muscle and in the liver, and how botanicals affect fat stored in the body
  • How botanicals such as St. John’s wort may affect central nervous system functions.
The researchers noted that these findings, taken together, provide a foundation for future studies designed to enhance people’s health maintenance and to improve resiliency, which may be potentially useful in slowing the progression of many factors related to the development of metabolic syndrome.


Additional Resources

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Women's Herbal Conference and Belgian short courses

4th Annual Mid-Atlantic Women's Herbal Conference. Oct. 4-5, 2014. Near Kempton, PA. This gathering will honor the age-old wisdom of herbal and natural medicines, giving participants the opportunity to learn more about growing, identifying, using, and preparing herbs. Early registration ends Aug. 1, 2014. More information.

Smart Short Courses2nd International Workshop: Sustainable Food Supply, Processing & Products. Oct. 14, 2014. Brussels, Belgium. This workshop aims to answer sustainability-related questions about consumer awareness, food production, supply chain optimization, and more. Early registration ends Sept. 14, 2014. More information.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Columbian ethnovet (Spanish)

DOCUMENTACIÓN DE PRÁCTICAS ETNOVETERINARIAS EN FINCAS ... ganaderos del Departamento de Córdoba, Colombia en lo referente al uso de

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Ethnoveterinary knowledge and practices at Colares Island, Pará state, eastern Amazon, Brazil

J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Nov 21;144(2):346-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.09.018. Epub 2012 Sep 18.

Ethnoveterinary knowledge and practices at Colares Island, Pará state, eastern Amazon, Brazil.



The lack of ethnoveterinary surveys in Brazil, especially in the Amazon region, results in losses in the veterinary phytopharmacology field and in scientific documentation of the cultural traditions of plant use in the treatment of animal diseases.


To catalog, analyze and disseminate the ethnoveterinary knowledge of the inhabitants of Colares Island, Pará state, eastern Amazon, Brazil.


A total of 72 interviews were conducted, and semi-structured questionnaires were answered by 18 men and 54 women. The data obtained were quantitatively analyzed using the informant consensus factor (ICF) and use value (UV). The plants with a reported medicinal use for domestic animals were harvested, herbalized and botanically identified.


Fifty-six plants, distributed in 49 genera and 35 families, were indicated to have 23 different medicinal uses, divided into six categories of use. The highest ICF (0.80) was obtained for the antiparasitic class. The Euphorbiaceae family exhibited the highest number of citations, and the species with the highest UVs were Caladium cf. bicolor, Bixa orellana, Carapa guianensis, Jatropha curcas and Cymbopogon citratus. The parts of the 56 plants that were most frequently used to prepare ethnoveterinary medications were the leaves (46%), bark (15%), roots and fruit (10%). The use of the macerated leaves was the most common method of application, used by 43% of the interviewees, and the majority of the preparations (87.3%) used a single plant. In addition to medicinal plants, the interviewees reported the use of products of animal and mineral origin.


The present study contributed to the establishment of an inventory of plants used in ethnoveterinary practices in this region of the Brazilian eastern Amazon. Future phytochemical and pharmacological studies are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of the identified plants, enabling communities to use them in a more economic, effective and safe manner.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Friday, 25 July 2014

Are calico cats always female?

Ever Wonder What Gives Calico Cats Their Colors? via @aboutdotcom

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Citation for Medicinal plant treatments for fleas and ear problems of cats and dogs in British Columbia, Canada

Medicinal plant treatments for fleas and ear problems of cats and dogs in British Columbia, Canada

Cited by:

Riaz, Muhammad et al.:
Common mullein, pharmacological and chemical aspects. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. 948. Volume: 23. Issue: 6. 2013.

Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia

Print version ISSN 0102-695X

Rev. bras. farmacogn. vol.23 no.6 Curitiba Nov./Dec. 2013 

Review Articles
Common mullein, pharmacological and chemical aspects
Muhammad Riaza*, Muhammad Zia-Ul-Haqb, Hawa Z.E. Jaafarc
aDepartment of Pharmacy, University of Swabi, Pakistan
bThe Patent Office, Karachi, Pakistan
cDepartment of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia
Verbascum thapsus L. [Khardhag or Common mullein], a member of the family Scrophulariaceae, is a famous herb that is found all over Europe, in temperate Asia, in North America and is well-reputed due to its medicinal properties. This medicinal herb contains various chemical constituents like saponins, iridoid and phenylethanoid glycosides, flavonoids, vitamin C and minerals. It is famous in various communities worldwide for the treatment of various disorders of both humans and animals aliments. A number of pharmacological activities such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial, antiviral, antihepatotoxic and anti-hyperlipidemic activity have been ascribed to this plant. The plant is used to treat tuberculosis also, earache and bronchitis. In the present paper botanical and ethnomedicinal description, pharmacological profile and phytochemistry of this herb is being discussed.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Obama Administration to Approve Offshore Seismic Testing along Atlantic

Obama Administration to Approve Offshore Seismic Testing along Atlantic

Turning down an endowed lectureship because their gender ratio is too skewed towards males #WomenInSTEM

Turning down an endowed lectureship because their gender ratio is too skewed towards males #WomenInSTEM

Just got this invitation.  I have edited it to remove some of the identifying factors since I think the specific details do not matter.

Dear Dr. Eisen: 
I am writing to invite you to present a lecture in the endowed XXXX Lecture Series at XXXX Univsersity.  The XXXX Lecture is a platform to allow leaders in the areas of XXXX to communicate research advances to a general audience.  Recent speakers include XXXX and XXXX and XXXX.  For your talk, we were hoping you could discuss advances in understanding human microbiomes and their significance to health.  I think this is an enormously important area that the general public is still largely unaware of, and also an area with incredible promise that will see exponential progress going forward.  I know this is relatively short notice, but we are hoping that the lecture would be sometime in October or November of 2014. 
The lectureship includes an honorarium of $2,000 in addition to covering your travel, lodging, and meal expenses.  Because XXXX we generally hold duplicate lectures XXXX on consecutive evenings (typical Tues-Wed or Wed-Thurs).  Speakers generally arrive early in the afternoon of the day of the first lecture, and depart after the second lecture the following day. Between the two lectures there will be a dinner and meetings with research or medical groups and an outreach activity in which, if you are willing, you would XXXX. 
We would be honored to have you speak in the XXXX series  and hope you will be able to fit us into your busy schedule. 
Well, wow.  That would be really nice.  I do not think I have ever given a named lecture before.  Then I made one fateful decision - I decided to look up who had spoken at the lecture series previously.  And, well, it was not what I wanted to see.  And another lecture series from the same institute had the same problem.  Bad gender ratio of speakers.  So, after some thought and a brief discussion with a post doc in my lab Sarah Hird whose opinions I trust on such issues.  I wrote this to the people who invited me:

Thank you so much for the invitation and the respect it shows to me that I would be considered for this.  However, when I looked into past lectures in this series I saw something that was disappointing.  From the site XXXX where past lectures are listed I see that the ratio of male to female speakers is 14:3.  I note - the XXXX lecture series - also from XXXX - also has a skewed ratio (11:2).  As someone who is working actively on multiple issues relating to gender bias in science, I find this very disappointing.  I realize there are many issues that contribute to who comes to give a talk in a meeting or seminar series or such. But I simply cannot personally contribute to a series which has such an imbalance and I would suggest that you consider whether anything in your process is biased in some way. 
Jonathan Eisen

For related posts by me see my collection on Diversity in STEM.  Some key posts of possible interest include:

Other diversity related posts

UPDATE 7/22/2014

The person who invited me responded to my email.  Here is what this person wrote:

Thanks for response and your concern.  I noted this uneven representation also when I took over the series a couple years ago and have worked (not as successfully as I would have liked) to get more balance.  For example, in trying to book the XXXX lecture this year I have been turned down by XXXX, but did manage to book XXXX.  For the XXXX lecture series, a related but separate series aimed at professional rather than the lay public audiences that I also run, I was turned down by XXXX, but I’ve booked XXXX.  You have been the sole male invite to either series this year.   But I will agree that in previous years the ratio has not been as good as I would like.  In part this is because it seems even harder to book top female speakers than males speakers - presumably because they are in such demand and are always asked to be representative on a million committees etc, but in past XXXX I did bring in XXXX and XXXX.  For the XXXX lecture I brought in XXXX last year.  So numbers are getting better, and this year the ratio will be at least 2:1 (max) in favor of females. 
But you point is well taken, and perhaps I can even things out a little with your help.  Although I think microbiomes are an incredibly important and under appreciated area, this is not my area of research, so I don’t know the players.  If you can recommend female researchers in this area who are dynamic speakers that would be able to give a very publicly accessible talks (TED talk level) on the topic, and ideally are also doing great research too, I would be happy to invite them.  

So then I wrote back

Ruth Ley at Cornell is great - works on evolution of microbiomes and
has done some fantastic stuff in humans and plants. See And gives very good talks. 
Katie Pollard at UCSF is completely brilliant and awesome and gives
amazing talks She works on many things including microbiomes 
Jessica Green at Oregon does not work
on human microbimes per se but does work on microbiomes in buildings
and connects that to human microbiomes.  She is also a TED fellow and
has given two great TED talks and is one of the best speakers I know. 
Julie Segre at NHGRI is great too.  Hard core medical microbiome work:

Saturday, 19 July 2014

J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Mar 31;10:32. doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-10-32. Ethnoveterinary herbal remedies used by farmers in four north-eastern Swiss cantons

J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Mar 31;10:32. doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-10-32.
Ethnoveterinary herbal remedies used by farmers in four north-eastern Swiss cantons (St. Gallen, Thurgau, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden).

Author information



Very few ethnoveterinary surveys have been conducted in central Europe. However, traditional knowledge on the use of medicinal plants might be an option for future concepts in treatment of livestock diseases. Therefore the aim of this study was to document and analyse the traditional knowledge and use of homemade herbal remedies for livestock by farmers in four Swiss cantons.


Research was conducted in 2012. Fifty farmers on 38 farms were interviewed with the aid of semistructured interviews. Detailed information about the plants used and their mode of preparation were documented as well as dosage, route of administration, category of use, origin of knowledge, frequency of use, and satisfaction with the treatment.


In total, 490 homemade remedies were collected. Out of these, 315 homemade remedies contained only one plant species (homemade single species herbal remedies, HSHR), which are presented in this paper. Seventy six species from 44 botanical families were mentioned. The most HSHR were quoted for the families of Asteraceae, Polygonaceae and Urticaceae. The plant species with the highest number of HSHRs were Matricaria recutita L., Calendula officinalis L., Rumex obtusifolius L. and Urtica dioica L. For each HSHR, one to eight different applications were enumerated. A total of 428 applications were documented, the majority of which were used to treat cattle. The main applications were in treatment of skin afflictions and sores, followed by gastrointestinal disorders and metabolic dysfunctions. Topical administration was most frequently used, followed by oral administration. In nearly half of the cases the knowledge on preparing and using herbal remedies was from forefathers and relatives. More than one third of the applications were used more than ten times during the last five years, and in about sixty percent of the cases, the last application was during the last year preceding the interviews.


Traditional knowledge of farmers about the use of medicinal plants to treat livestock exists in north-eastern Switzerland. Homemade herbal remedies based on this knowledge are being used. The interviewed farmers were satisfied with the outcome of the applications.
[PubMed - in process]


Free PMC Article
Ethnoveterinary herbal remedies used by... [J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014] - PubMed - NCBI

Thursday, 17 July 2014

moles and molehills

Yesterday I took 14 empty plant pots over to the molehills on this farm and filled them up before planting lavender cuttings. I have no objection to velvety animals providing soil. I saw 2 dead ones on the previous goat farm I was on that had been killed by the 4 cats. Apparently they do not taste good. I have pictures but this is a slow computer.

Monday, 14 July 2014

bottle feeding kid goats

There are three naturally raised goats on this farm that also eat adult feed with their moms. To my eyes they look a little sleeker than the bottle fed ones. However the bottle fed ones are easier to handle. When one of them does one of their escaping tricks and you turn your back to find someone to help catch them, you usually hear something behind you. They can't help following or coming nearer and then you can grab them.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Chilliwack Lake camping

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST: Administrators Take Over Academia

CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST: Administrators Take Over Academia: Some decades ago, institutions of higher education used to follow a philosophy of "faculty governance," which was that the faculty...

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Tyee - Canada's Fossil Fuel subsidy $34 billion

IMF Pegs Canada's Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $34 Billion

In such giveaways we're a world leader, a fact rarely noted when federal budgets are debated.
By Mitchell Anderson, 15 May 2014,
There's a reason Canada enjoys some of the cheapest gas in the developed world. Nozzle photovia Shutterstock.


While Canada slashes budgets forresearcheducation and public broadcasting, there is one part of our economy that enjoys remarkable support from the Canadian taxpayer: the energy sector.
The International Monetary Fund estimates that energy subsidies in Canada top an incredible $34 billion each year in direct support to producers and uncollected tax on externalized costs.
These figures are found in the appendix of amajor report released last year estimating global energy subsidies at almost $2 trillion. The report estimated that eliminating the subsidies would reduce global carbon emissions by 13 per cent. The stunning statistics specific to this country remainalmost completely unreported in Canadian media.
Contacted by The Tyee, researchers from the IMF helpfully provided a detailed breakdown of Canadian subsidies provided to petroleum, natural gas and coal consumption. The lion's share of the $34 billion are uncollected taxes on the externalized costs of burning transportation fuels like gasoline and diesel -- about $19.4 billion in 2011. These externalized costs include impacts like traffic accidents, carbon emissions, air pollution and road congestion.
The report also referenced figures sourced from the OECD showing an additional $840 million in producer support to oil companies through a constellation of provincial and federal incentives to encourage fossil fuel extraction. This brought total petroleum subsidies in Canada in 2011 to $20.23 billion -- more than 20 times the annual budget of Environment Canada.
In comparison to other countries, Canada provides more subsidies to petroleum as a proportion of government revenue than any developed nation on Earth besides the United States and Luxembourg.
Natural gas consumption also enjoys billions in subsidies in Canada. The IMF estimates that un-priced carbon emissions from burning natural gas added up to $7.3 billion per year. There's another $440 million in producer support and $360 million in other un-taxed externalities, all of which tops $8.1 billion. This tax giveaway on natural gas alone is 44 per cent more than Canada provides in international aid every year.
What about coal? Canada consumes over 30 million tonnes per year. While we currently export over half our domestic production, the IMF study only considered externalized costs within our own country. They found that the coal industry receives $4.5 billion in annual subsides -- almost all of this is un-priced carbon and sulfur dioxide emissions. This generous largesse towards the dirtiest of fuels is about four times what the CBC receives in public support every year.
Or we could spend that on...
What could Canada do with an extra $34 billion a year? Both Vancouver and Toronto are struggling with how to fund long overdue upgrades to public transportation. Subway construction comes in at about $250 million per kilometre, meaning we could build about 140 kilometres of badly-needed urban subway lines every year. Light rail transport (LRT) is about one-quarter of the cost of subways, meaning for the same money we could build about 560 kilometres of at-grade transit infrastructure.
This foregone revenue in less than two years could fully fund the Big Move transit plan for southern Ontario, providing affordable access for 80 per cent of people living from Hamilton to Oshawa. Toronto's transit system has languished for decades. This sorely needed infrastructure would save the average household thousands in wasted time sitting in traffic, and Canada's economy billions in reduced congestion costs.
The proposed Vancouver subway line to the University of British Columbia could be built using less than two months of the subsidies provided every day to the energy sector. Forty kilometres of rapid transit in Surrey could be had for about the same amount.
What about green energy infrastructure? Adding solar and wind capacity provides some of the best job-generation per dollar of any option available -- more than seven times the employment from an equivalent investment in oil and gas extraction. Extrapolating the findings from a 2012 report on green jobs, $34 billion could create 500,000 person years of employment and install more than 150,000 megawatts of clean generating capacity. Canada currently ranks 12th in the G20 on green energy investment and has been steadily falling behind our competitors.
Canada's infrastructure deficit of crumbling roads and outdated water and sewage treatment is pegged at $171 billion. This backlog could be wiped out in five years with the revenue we are subsidizing to the energy sector.
Of course, not all things of value can be measured by bricks and mortar. Thirty-four billion dollars each year could provide $10-a-day childcare for 5.5 million children ages 0 to 5. Canada's child care costs are currently the highest in the OECD.
No free lunch in energy costs
For all the complaining Canadians do about fuel prices, it's ironic to note the IMF essentially says we are undervaluing the true cost of gasoline by about $0.30 per litre. Compared to other nations, Canada enjoys some of the cheapest gas in the developed world. Fuel in Italy and Germany is almost double our price at the pump. Ever think it's odd that bottled water at the gas station costs more than the fuel you just put in your tank?
Consider for a moment all the costs of finding and extracting crude oil, shipping it across the globe, refining it into gasoline and trucking it to your neighbourhood. Not to mention the billions spent by some countries projecting military power into volatile oil-producing parts of the world and the very human price of those interventions. Additional un-priced costs after petroleum is burned, such as climate change, traffic congestion, road accidents and air pollution make gasoline perhaps the most subsidized substance on Earth.
Every decision based on artificially low energy prices can have years of unintended consequences. If gas is cheap, people will choose to buy cars rather than take transit, clogging both our roads and emergency rooms. Transportation accidents alone cost Canada $3.7 billion each year. Every vehicle bought based on low fuel prices will produce years of carbon emissions, and every owner over the life of that vehicle will have an interest in voting for cheaper gas.
The opposite, of course, is also true. Less than half of Vancouverites in their early twenties today have chosen to get a driver's license, down from 60 per cent 10 years ago. Better public transit and more expensive car ownership seem to be the main factors driving this remarkable demographic shift.
The IMF can hardly be accused of being a left-leaning, alarmist organization. Through this valuable research, they make the case that there is no free lunch in energy costs, and we exclude these externalized costs at our peril.
A country can be judged on what it chooses to tax and what it chooses to subsidize. And by that yardstick, this nation currently seems to care more about cheap energy than almost anything else.  [Tyee]
Read more: Energy,

Thursday, 3 July 2014

cats eating mice

For the first time I saw a mother cat bringing her teenage? offspring a newly caught mouse which was scarfed down in a few seconds. I was quite surprised because I had seen the same teenager catching birds for itself. I provided some leftover goat milk replacer laced with dewormer and the meal was complete.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Mara Jernigan culinary trip

Join me for the ultimate Culinary Trip to Italy

October 27th to November 3d
From  Rustic Tables to Michelin Stars...

From Piedmont to Puglia with stops in between to get to the origins of organic Parmasan Cheese, Balsamic Vinegar, Culatello, Cold Pressed Virgin Olive Oil, Adriatic Seafood, Top Barolo, Barbaresco and Verdiccio Producers, a Once in a Lifetime Truffle hunt in Piedmont, the Day of the Dead in Orsara di Puglia, and a grand finale with Tuscany's most famous butcher. 8 days, 7 nights, 5 delicious regions.

After taking a Master of Italian Cooking Program in Le Marche, I have been leading small, exclusive culinary tours to Italy since 2004. With a private driver and a custom itinerary featuring the best artisanal producers and chefs you will experience an off the beaten path tour of Italy that will leave you feeling a sense of freindship and connection with local chefs and producers and an understanding of the culinary landscape of Italy.
3,750. Euros (approx. $5,500) based on double occupancy (10% single supplement)
includes all accommodations, all transporatation within Italy, combination of private driver and one first class train trip, all food, wine and other beverages and all tours.

Have you always dreamed of going to Sicily? Contact me to book a private tour of Sicily in November 2014. After 4 culinary focused trips to the region I have figured it out! We can rent a villa and I will cook for you or give you private cooking classes or let me plan your custom itinerary!

Contact me for questions or to make a reservation

Check out this You Tube video on my blog with Italy/Sicily trip highlights by award winning filmaker Craig Noble

Truffle hunting with Toronto Chef Chris McDonald from Cava:
“ Mara really knows her stuff, has built great relationships and keeps it fun!” Chef Chris McDonald 
Get to the heart of iconic Italian ingredients, visit the finest organic producers of Balsamic Vinegar
Visit an organic producer of Parmasan cheese to see how it is produced, from the milking of the cows to the making and aging of the cheese
The trip starts in Piedmont, home of white truffles, fine Barolo and Barbaresco wines, and the home of Slow Food. Combine your trip with a visit to Slow Food's
Terra Madre or Salone del Gusto 
Celebrate Day of the Dead with a 7 course traditional lunch in Orsara di Pulia followed by a walk to see the fires in the ancient town.
Baking in a 500 year old wood buring brick oven in Puglia