Thursday, August 23, 2012


Years ago my husband Bob had a conversation with a co-worker about the additives in the fast foods he ate every day for lunch.  He asked the guy,
     “Does it worry you that these chemicals maybe unhealthy for you? 
The guy replied,
     “I love this stuff and I’m building up a resistance to the harmful effects by eating like this regularly.” 
My husband responded,
     “That resistance just might be called cancer.”
     Where do you stand when you here the latest information about something that COULD be bad for you?  As I have been getting more involved with gardening Organic Gardening magazine now pops up on my email, almost daily so I get to read a lot of this news breaking information.  Today the subject I thought I should share as it is particularly appropriate for spa people as the subject is about the problems with antibacterial cleaners.

     The latest villain is Triclosan an ingredient in almost every “antibacterial” product from dish soaps to your toothpaste.  Like many of the chemicals in common household use today Triclosan is known to interfere with human hormones and is suspected of contributing to a rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  But wait there’s more! 

     It could be damaging your heart and muscle tissue.

     University of California, Davis found that even moderate triclosan exposure significantly reduced muscular strength and cardiac function in mice and slowed the swimming pace of fish. 

     Even the FDA does not acknowledge that there are additional benefits to using this ingredient and maintain that good old soap and hot water is just as effective. Tufts University reports Triclosan in soap breaks down when exposed to chlorinated water, rendering it ineffective.  What they don’t say is that it also reacts with the chlorine to form chloroform, a carcinogen.  The only reason that it is there is the new and improved excuse or that someone had to make their money back on the deal as far as I am concerned.

What to DO?

Skip "antibacterial" everything.  It can pop up in unexpected places like the insoles of your sport shoes or the lining of a pillow case.  Be suspicious of anything that says  "germ-killing," "antibacterial," or "odor-killing".  Unbelievably it does not have to be listed as an ingredient in household items.  You will find it on the label of personal care products.

• Check your personal care products.  For a great source of information about “safe” products check the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database.  As you know the skin is an organ of absorption this is particularly so in the mouth, under the arms and on the soles of the feet so check toothpaste, deodorant and soaps particularly carefully.

• Have faith in hot water.   Maybe Granny was onto something, it seems regular old soap and hot water cannot be beat. 

My opinion – it took centuries to discover that maybe Rome fell because they were all just a little mad from the lead in their revolutionary pumping systems and decades for us to find that certain plastics are really disruptive to our hormone.  So, when I read a report like this I tend to ere on the side of caution and go as green as I can and extend the wish that the world comes to its senses one day so none of us has to suffer, mouse, fish, factory worker or grandchild.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Since the mid 1970’s Bob and I have eaten mostly organic whole grains, vegetables and fruits.  We have also avoided refined sugars and synthetic additives.  From time to time have been vegan, vegetarian, and even followed a Tibetan “white” foods diet for a month. Like many people now closer to 60 than 30 we have seen organic food shops develop from hippy coops to mega supermarkets, and the choice of organic move from being counter culture to an accepted way of taking care of yourself and the planet.  For myself, I can say I have journeyed from being a tight brown rice eating macrobiotic to a happier, rounder omnivore. I will eat anything given with love or just plain anything available when travelling but still prefer low sugar, non-dairy and wheat free items.  My attitude has become much looser and I can honestly say most of the time I am happy with my broader choices.  Recently, however, I have been wondering if I have been too neurotic all these years.  Then, as chance would have it, an article from Organic Gardening Magazine popped up on my email and I realize I have been on the right track all along and I felt proud about the way I fed my three kids.  I also felt inspired to share the “bones” of the piece on this blog.
Let’s be clear all pesticides are designed to kill living things.  They kill by the introduction of:

·         nerve gases that work by disrupting the bug’s nervous system

·         chemicals that unbalance of key reproductive hormones

·         stunting of a plant's ability to absorb life-sustaining trace minerals from the soil so the bugs that eat them are weakened

These chemicals are designed to be harmful to life and to weaken vitality of all living things.  They don’t just get sprayed onto food they get right into our food taking their life diminishing toxins with them and lowering mineral levels.  If you have ever wondered why organic produce tastes better than commercially raised items it is because of the mineral content.  The higher the mineral content is the better, stronger and sweeter the taste of the food.

If you have thought "the dose makes the poison" think again.  Science is now proving that incredibly tiny doses could set a person up for health problems that might not crop up until decades down the line. As these chemicals make it into our air and water our food, cleaning products and cosmetic choices (things we can better control) become ever more important.

If you are still sitting on the fence read the list of illnesses that are now linked to pesticide use.  Then check the list called the DIRTY DOZEN, produce that has the highest level of pesticide sprays and the CLEAN FIFTEEN the least sprayed produce.

1.    Diabetes - tolyfluanid, a fungicide used on farm crops, creates insulin resistance in fat cells and overweight people with higher levels of organochlorine pesticides in their bodies also faced a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
2.    Cancer
More than 260 studies link pesticides to various cancers, including lymphoma, leukemia, soft tissue sarcoma, and brain, breast, prostate, bone, bladder, thyroid, colon, liver, and lung cancers, among others.
3.    Autism & Other Developmental Diseases
Many insecticides effectively kill bugs by throwing off normal neurological functioning. That same thing appears to be happening in some children. Children with organophosphate pesticide breakdown materials in their urine were far more likely to live with ADHD than kids without the trace pesticide residues.
4.    Obesity
Pesticides interfere with your body's ability to regulate the healthy release of hormones. More than 50 pesticides are classified as hormone disruptors, and some of them promote metabolic syndrome and obesity as they accumulate in your cells.

5.    Parkinson's Disease
More than 60 studies show a connection between pesticides and the neurological disease Parkinson's, a condition characterized by uncontrolled trembling.

6.    Infertility
Atrazine, a common chemical weed killer used heavily in the Midwest, on Southern sugar cane farms, and on golf courses have been linked with increased miscarriage and infertility rates. While other pesticides cause a plunge in male testosterone levels.

7.    Birth Defects
Babies conceived during the spring and summer months, a time of year when pesticide use is in full swing, face the highest risk of birth defects.

The Environmental Working Group has released an updated list of the DIRTY DOZEN the fruits and vegetables with the worst pesticide levels.
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries (domestic)
  • Lettuce
  • Kale/collard greens
Avoid these if you can, wash them very well if you cannot.  If you cannot afford organic everything organic then try shopping for more on the CLEAN FIFTEEN list.
  • Onions
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms
Remember, the market responds to demand.  The more people asking for clean food, pure water and fresh air as a birthright the more it will happen.  Bob and I, personally, have seen amazing changes in the last forty years.  The trick now is to get organic produce to be affordable and make organic items more widely available.  That might mean growing your own.  Basic health and beauty should never be only for the 1%.  The 99% can always find ways to plant seed.  Organic Gardening Magazine might be the best place to start.  I just ordered mine for the year.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our Kansa Vataki Story

Back in the late 1990's I was invited to teach in the south of France at a beautiful retreat center run by a Dutch couple.  My hosts were a couple from Belgium and the young woman had studied Ayurvedic techniques both in Paris and in Brittany.  Her teacher was Dr Kiran Vyas.  Unfortunately, his book is only published in French (Les Massage Indien).  She was the one that first introduced me to Kansa Vataki for foot massage.  From the very beginning I was impressed that it seems particularly those either unaccustomed or just plain cynical about the benefit of massage that loved this technique and seemed to melt at each the simplest touch with the magic little metal bowl. 

That was the start of our Pedikarma(TM) treatment.  In 2005 we produced the video, now a DVD, along with the support products: Ayurvedic Bath Salts and two massage products - Anise Lotion (based on the Tibetan tradition) and Aromatice Golden Ghee (based on the Indian Ayurvedic tradition).  At that point we used either a simple kansa saucer shaped little bowl or one with a decorative brass handle that looked like a little metal basket. 

As time went by an Indian manufacturer found us sent as the large kansa foot wand we use today.  Beautifully made with the purest kansa is is a joy to use and the results are marvellous.  It is wonderful for normalizing high skin tone, easing headaches and nausea, gentle detoxing and very grounding.  We are happy to say that those that prefer no handle at all now have that option.

Then as so often happens in American more innovation was a foot.  We started to hear that people were using the kansa on the face and getting a better face lift than by using low current galvanic stimulation machine ($5000 worth!).  We were impressed by the before and after pictures and so we had a small kansa wand made.  It was amazing to see the jojoba oil we used as a massage medium go really grey as acids left the skin and the face came back alive.  We now have an even smaller face massage kansa designed for home use that is small enough to travel in a cosmetic bag.

Then, just this spring we were attending the NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association) annual conference and showing the tools to our dear teacher Dr. Vasant Lad when he came up with an idea.  Being the artist that he is he immediately sketched it out for us and we in turn sent it off to India.  just a few weeks later the tool, a mini kansa on a T shaped handle was with us.  Dr.Lad used it in his Marma (vital energy point) class this summer and we will wait to hear the stories.

But, I have just one from personal experience I would like to share.  Since January of this year I have had a problem with my left shoulder.  It started after I was doing very heavy garden work and a new form of yoga.  Not only was it painful but I suddenly had limited range of motion.  It has slowly been improving to the point to where it now feels like a tight muscle down the front of my arm.  I was happy to let it heal slowly when Bob, my husband, suggested I use the new mini kansa tool.  I rubbed up and down the bone and all round the head of the bone at the shoulder joint.  To my amazement after less than five minutes I had 30 degrees more movement.  That gain has continued.

Today we made a new page on the website for all the kansa products so please visit then let us here your stories. 

Check here for Kansa page on
Email or call 805-543-9291

Friday, January 13, 2012

Essential Oils and Ayurveda

We have recently read an article from an Ayurvedic practitioner warning people off of the use of essential oils other than in the form of inhalants and incenses.  The claim is that as the essential oil is the fire element of the plant, that across the board, they will aggravate pitta dosha if ingested either in foods or in products applied to the body.

The warning is a good one, in so far as in the West we tend to think that if a little is good, more should be better.  Thus there are people, even companies, which encourage people to use essential oils with little discrimination or reservation.  I for one can attest to what happens when too much is used in a product.  While visiting a spa in Australia, a technician who did not know the proportions of how much peppermint essential oil was to go in a seaweed body wrap froze me to the core.  I shook for about 30 minutes.  Worse still, it shut down my bowel function for 3 days!

But the fact is that when used in the dosages that are recommended by classically trained professional aromatherapists, this caveat need not be taken wholly to heart.  For example in Tisserand's stellar works, one is given proper dilutions of essential oil to base oil, etc...  And within the context of Ayurveda itself, I have attended a class with Dr. David Frawley who said that if the vaidyas had had access to essential oils the way we do today, they would have been using them rather than always using the decoction methods.

We are delighted that this issue has come up.  It is a serious one.  We hope that as Ayurveda develops in the west, that people will avail themselves of the knowledge it takes to use these gifts of nature properly.

Friday, November 18, 2011


     Like many mornings my day starts with a conversation with my husband and business partner about the just what HAS to be done today.  Like many of you, we are a small business and to get things done we wear many hats in a day.  So many in fact we have invented imaginary people and even named them who work for us.  Viola does her best in the office, Juan is the warehouse manager, Laramie is the shipping queen and so on.  It keeps us sane and gives us a way of voicing praise but more often disapproval of one anothers performance without the atmosphere getting too heavy.  Mostly this happens from a shortage of time to do things as fully as either one of us would like.  Time shortage is a reasonable difficulty for a small business, busy is good remember.

     But this is not what I am talking about today. Going back to this morning, I told Bob I just had to place a few orders before I got the house ready for my daughter and grandson to visit.  When I use the world JUST it reminds me of my Dad.  In our house a "just job" was like a "honey do......job".   In other words there was no JUST about it.  That is how my morning went. 

     I called to see if the rings for the Shirodhara equipment were ready.  We work with a wonderful small local company and they have always been efficient and on time, not today.  They are having a problem finding copper.  Not copper at a great price, copper at any price.  Ordinary copper bar has not been available for weeks apparently.  The reason, China is buying it all.  So much so that the company that make our beautifully designed copper lotas in India are just selling the raw material and not even bothering with manufacture anymore.  After looking at alternatives that turned out to be twice the price, copper bar was found, production delayed but up and running again I am happy to say.

    Then I called for jojoba oil.  Sorry none until February, I was told.  Oh no, this is a first.  They had a fire in the warehouse and stocks are low.  Bad but not tragic.  Another local business I am loyal too but I need oil.  I started to call everyone I could find on the web, same story.  My only source, one gallon for over $400.  That is nearly six times the "normal" price.  There is world wide shortage I was told.  Why, I asked, thinking I know the Chinese need copper for all the cities they are building but jojoba oil, really.  What to do?  So far I don't have a solution.  We are working on it.  Will shortage be the next hurdle for small business?  Let's all visualize abundance and once again be flexible. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kansa Face Wand

What is it?
Imagine a small bronze saucer shaped disc about two inches in diameter with a wooden handle attached so it looks a little like a pestle or a mortar and pestle used to grind herbs and spices.

How did we come to have them at Diamond Way Ayurveda? Many years ago now I met a beautiful Belgian girl who had learned an Ayurvedic foot massage technique from an Ayurvedic doctor in Paris. For awhile his school provided us with little bronze bowls so we could show our students the benefits of this usual foot massage technique they called Kansa Vataki. We then got a stronger tool with a little handle. Unfortunately about half of those in any shipment came with a broken handles. So that slowed us down a little. Then fate smiled on us and an Indian manufacturer contacted us. For a number of years he provided us with a beautiful and consistent product and the foot massage we called Pedikarma(TM) caught on. With the sucess of this treatment our dear customers started to ask if this kansa could be used on other parts of the body. We told them there was not a tradition behind it but no harm in it either. We wondered what was happening out there in creative spa therapy land when we got a call telling us that the kansa worked miracles on the face, better that the electronic machine that had just been purchased. This customer asked if a smaller kansa was a possibility. It was, and the kansa wand was born.

What does it do?
We think it is the best face massage tool on hte market it takes just minutes to eradicate stress, tiredness and give a gentle lift. It is a wonderful add on for professional facials but equally easy to use for home use. You can use it anywhere, by which I mean at home, at work, in the car aswell as on your head, face, neck and shoulders. We hope spas will think of them for retail this holidays.

How do we learn more about it?
Just email or call 866-303-3321 and we are happy to send out more information. If you are a visual type we have a short DVD we can send that is $5 plus postage.

It is in other countries?
It is now officially in Australia distributed by our dear friends at Heritage Healers. We have had some interest in England too.

Against a background of the OCCUPY movement we have no idea what is in store for our civilization but stress reduction and working togehter to help one another is always a good idea. Here is another of our contributions to that cause.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Busy August

So many events this month.
  • The Kansa Face Wand Class on August 7th, then Special Techniques, August 21st-23rd.
  • We also have a presentation with MedicineCrow Live on August 17th and you can click HERE to become part of the presentation.
  • Also, Melanie will give a talk for AAPNA on August 20th which you can learn more about by going to their SITE.
You can find more details from our site as well: