Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Bedroom must-have plant: Mother-in-law plant or Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

As part of natural therapy and incorporating simple ideas into our daily lives, I began to look for plants that improves our environment.  For me, hands-down, this is the plant to have in every bedroom and not just one, tiny plant but several if you have the room.  The Sansevieria trifasciata has 2 main varieties that most of us are familiar with: the one with the yellow stripe along the leave outer edge is also known as the Mother-in-law plant and the one without the stripe is knows as the Snake plant.  Both have geometric patterns that look like scales all over the leave except for the edges.

This plant is very easy to care for as it requires minimal sunlight as well as can withstand long periods without watering.  What this means is if you place the plant near a window that gets minimal sunlight, you are set.  If you place it in a space that receives no sunlight, just let it sunbathe once in a while.  If you are one of those who always forget to water the plants, this plant can tolerate weeks of not watering.  so, when you remember, you water it.  I know of no other plant that is so resilient and easy to care for.

For barely caring for this plant, you reap tremendous benefits.  It is one of the best natural air purifiers and has had numerous studies done including by NASA which has ranked it as the top plant for air purifying as it purifies over 100 different toxins including formaldehyde, xylene, benzene and nitrogen oxide.   The main source of xylene is the automotive exhaust and various solvents.  It is also released in petroleum processing such as refineries.  So, if you have an office at a refinery, you should have this plant in your office.  You can read more on the toxicology report published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).  Formaldehyde is also commonly emitted from furnishings such as wood or plywood furniture, carpets as well as from automotive combustions.    A more detailed report on emissions can be found in an article from the U.S. National Institute of Health as well as other regulatory bodies.  Formaldehyde affects your respiratory system and is also classified as a carcinogen.  With new furniture, it may emit for several months.  So, if you just move into a new home, an easy way to detoxify the air is by having this plant throughout your house.  Formaldehyde can also be emitted from candle burning, incense burning and cooking - activities which seem harmless.  You can research more into the other toxins but you can be assured, there is nothing good about them.  Just by having this plant in your home or office space, you can improve your air quality substantially and it is a painless method that requires very little effort on your part but delivers tremendous benefits.

Unlike most other plants which use oxygen at night, this plant releases oxygen.  So while your body is doing its repair work while you sleep at night, you are also getting "oxygen therapy".  The leaves are not toxic so the plant is safe around children and pets unlike the money plant, which has toxic leaves.

As a result, over the last month, I have been seriously cultivating the plant and placing it all over my home, especially in the bedrooms.  I also place it in the bathrooms.  This is one plant that I think is wonderful as a air purifies and providing additional oxygen at night whilst requiring very little effort on the owners part.  I can think of no reason not to have this plant in our homes.  Can you?

SHL Edible Products: Going forward

It has been over 10 years since I embark on my organic agriculture journey and over the years, I have planted over 100 types of plants and trees, researched and experimented the use and benefits and processing some of them to form products, a step beyond its natural form.  As I move to the future, I have made moves to streamline our produce and plants.

I have a keen interest in making food as medicine and to make it as a normal part of our daily diet with the ultimate aim at preventing diseases and illnesses whilst at the same time having therapeutic values. This is a way to adjust our diets without making it a chore and working through natural healing which takes time.  I am not a medical practitioner nor do I presume to be an expert.  However, I do consume what I produce and it is a tenet of the farm that we do not sell edibles that we do not eat ourselves.  What I produce for my own consumption is what we in turn productize.

All the products are based on what we grow at the farm as it is important for me that the source materials are as clean as possible from toxic chemicals either from the ground or what is used during its growth and processing.  I have streamlined our  products to those that I find is easiest to consume and with loads of benefits

Bentong ginger and turmeric
Ginger and turmeric are well-known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties as well as for the benefits for reducing cholesterol, improving the immune system and digestive system.  Our concentrate also includes black pepper to further aid in the absorption of curcumin into the body.  This combination aids in the healing of many inflammatory based illnesses like gout, many forms of arthritis, and muscle pains.  It also has anti-cancer properties especially for the digestive system as studies found that it kills the heliotrope bacteria which is found to support activation of cancer cells in the digestive system.
There are many ways to consume our concentrate:
  • Dilute with water – either hot or cold to make a drink that can also be sweetened
  • Use in your cooking to add flavor

Blue Pea Flower (Bunga Telang Biru)
This flower can be used as a natural food coloring and is a must if you want to create authentic nai kerabu – using blue coloring is just not authentic or good for you.  The flowers are dehydrated and it can be stored in a cool, dry area or in the refrigerator for longer term storage.
Like many colored natural food, this flower is rich in antioxidants.  Another property that it naturally has is as an anti-depressant.  It can be used to create a blue-colored drink and when mixed with calamansi juice, turns purple and can serve as a relaxing drink after a stressful day.
In traditiinal or alternative therapy, it used:
  • To Improve eyesight and eye strain
  • As a blood cleanser
  • To detoxify
  • To relieve stress
It is a great source for vitamin A and C.  The main acids in this fruit is citric acid and ascorbic acid.  Using cold-pressed pure juice, I have created the following
  • Pure calamansi juice which can be turned into a drink on its own by diluting or used in flavouring cooking
  • Pure calamasi juice with lemongrass which brings the benefits of lemongrass as well as a refreshing flavour
  • Pure calamasi juice with blue pea flower (bunga telang) which adds more antioxidant properties

Cat’s whiskers (Misai Kucing)
Our dehydrated Misai Kucing tea is made from the leaves and flowers and can be turned into a drink by steeping in just-boiled water for at least 5 minutes.  It can be served hot or cold.  The many health benefits that have been reported include :
  • It has properties that enables it to be used to regulate the blood sugar hence is used as an alternative treatment for diabetes
  • This herb inhibits blood platelet from sticking together and has powerful hemolytics that can lower blood pressure thus making it an alternative treatment for high blood pressure as well as for reducing cholestrol, which is often used in traditional medicine.
  • This herb has the ability to clean toxins within the blood hence it is also used in traditional herbal medicine in the process of detoxification and in removing metabolic waste within the body.  This in turn makes it a useful addition to weight loss efforts.
  • It also has diuretic properties making it beneficial in the treatment of kidney stones and for flushing the kidney and urinary tract.  It helps to flush out the uric acid as well as block the production of uric acid.  This in turn also helps other conditions such as gout and inflammation of joints due to high uric acid levels in the body

Another health property of this herb is its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory hence its use in the herbal treatment for athritis and rheumatism

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Only in the last decade or so that this much maligned oil has been proven to be good for you.  It has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties as well as being rich in lauric acids.  Amongst its benefits are:
  •  Improving the immune system
  • Improving the brain cells regeneration 

It is often used in alternative therapies such as:
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Viral infection including flus and colds

It can be consumed on its own or incorporated into you cooking and even in flavoring coffees.

Gingertorch (Bunga Kantan)
Gingertorch is a popular addition to flavor dishes especially laksa, asam pedas and various other local Malaysian dishes and a must-have for many in nasi kerabu.  

Sometimes it is hard to find and when fresh, doesn’t last long.  So I decided to produce dehydrated ginger torch flower which can be stored in the cupboards or for longer storage, in the refrigerator so that it is on-hand when you want it.

It has antioxidant properties.  In traditional or alternative therapy, it is used:

  • as a blood cleanser
  • to increase mother's milk during post-natal
  • to reduce body smell

A popular herbal spice which can be used to make a tea or in cooking which has been dehydrated to make a dried lemongrass flakes which can be stored in a cool, dry area or the refrigerator for longer term storage.  To make a tea, just steep in just-boiled water and serve hot or cold, sweetened or not.  It has high antioxidant , antiviral and antibacterial properties.  In alternative therapies, it is used for:
  • Digestive system problems
  • Treatment of certain types of cancers
  • High blood pressure
  • Rheumatism

Roselle is rich in vitamins A and C and is good for the immune system.  Amongst its properties is it is anti-oxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.  Based on a study by Purdue University, it is high in calcium, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin C and iron.  It is also caffeine-free hence it can be made as an after-dinner tea for those who cannot consume caffeine after late afternoon or they have a hard time sleeping.  It has anti-hypertensive properties so it is also good for people with hypertension of high blood pressure.
We have 3 different types of products:
  •   Roselle concentrate which also contains the calyces
  •  Roselle tea concentrate which is made from the leaves
  • Dehydrated Roselle tea which you can make a drink by steeping in just-boiled or hot water and sweeten to taste if desired.

The concentrates need to be stored refrigerated and can last at least 3 months.  It can be used in cooking to make jelly or in dishes that you want to have a sour flavor addition like assam pedas and singgang. 

The tea leaves should be stored in a cool dry place, just as you would store any other tea.  The drinks help chemotherapy patients as it helps to flush out the toxins from the body as well as helps to improve the immune system. It is a good alternative drink especially for children.  It has often to likened to Ribena.

The snakegrass tea is produced by dehydrating mature leaves and crushed to form loose tea leaves.  It is prepared by steeping in just-boiled water for at least 5 minutes.  In traditional and alternative therapies it is used to treat:
  •  Certain types of cancer such as lymphatic, ovarian, breast and prostate cancer
  •  Kidney disease
  •  Improving the immune system
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Lowering blood pressure

We created soursop tea by dehydrating it mature leaves and crushing them.  It is prepared into a drink just like any normal herbal tea, using just-boiled water and allowed to steep for at least 5 minutes.
Based on research by USDA:
  •  It is an excellent source of vitamin C
  • Has a high fiber content which can prevent constipation
  • Contains half the potassium in bananas which can help prevent leg cramps
  • Its high magnesium content can help prevent water retention especially for women who experience this in PMS.
  • Good source of thiamin, the B vitamin needed for aerobic energy production, the process where oxygen is used to convert sugar into usable energy 
  • Loaded with the trace material copper which is essential for healthy bones.  It also helps boost the effectiveness of vitamin D, which promotes the absorption of calcium.
  • A good source of niacin which studies have shown to have significant benefits on levels of HDL, the good cholesterol
  • Good source of folate which is a mineral that is recommended to prevent deficiencies during pregnancy for pregnant women.
  • Good source of iron, an essential element in the body producing healthy red blood cells
  •  Rich in riboflavin where studies have shown can help prevent migraines.

With the iron and vitamin K, it promotes red blood cells production hence it is good for anemic but not for people with DVT and similar “rich blood” illnesses.  It is rich in antioxidants and is often used as either complementary or alternative treatment of certain types of cancer.