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Herbal Medicine: A Sustainable Approach to Wellness
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by Clare Lowry

Human beings have used herbs, plants and other natural substances for healing purposes for thousands of years. In ancient times we were dependent on the resources available to us season by season. As cultures developed, the shamans and medicine people catalogued and categorized substances according to specific effects that they had on the body. This information was passed on through the generations. Every culture had  its own way  of passing on medicinal information. For many it was an oral tradition and the information was lost. Fortunately some cultures had written language. 

The Chinese culture was particularly refined in its written language. They also were very advanced in  the cataloging  of medicinal substances. The ancient Chinese Emperors were obsessed with longevity and relied on their physicians to keep them healthy. This, combined with the Taoist  philosophy and understanding of nature through observation, produced an incredible body of information. As far back as the Yellow Emperor, ca. 2500 BC, they began to document the properties of herbs.

herbalThese ancient scholar-physicians developed a system of categorizing substances according to their flavors, heating or cooling properties, and nourishing or clearing effects. Even which organs they effected, and in what specific way. For example, Ophiopogon/creeping lily root, is sweet, bitter and cold. It treats the heart, lung and stomach. It replenishes vital energy by promoting the secretion of body fluids. It is used to treat dry throat, dry lungs, constipation, palpitations and insomnia. That is just one herb. There are over eight hundred more which have been cataloged.  Herbs are then combined into formulas which can be specifically tailored to a patients needs. Traditionally these herb formulas were boiled to make a tea. Now, more often, they are prescribed in pill, liquid extract or freeze dried form.

Chinese herbal medicine developed over thousands of years to help balance,nourish and cleanse the body. The whole body is seen without isolating its parts. A skilled herbalist can  diagnose and prescribe formulas to maintain and optimize health. Herbal formulas are often taken for years  being subtly modified  for changing physical  conditions.  In China herbs are even incorporated into meals. Congee, a thin rice soup is very popular.  Herbs are added to the congee according to a persons needs. Food medicine is a simple and practical way to maintain health.

Modern life has largely cut us off from our roots of  using natural substances for healing.  Our foods are devitalized by chemicals, soil depletion, hormones and antibiotics. An endless list of toxic  substances are in  many of the foods we eat and the drugs we are prescribed.  If we want to get back to balance and harmony within ourselves  and with the earth as our sustainer we can learn a great deal from our ancestors. The earths resources were our sustainers and our medicines.  The good news is that the wisdom of the ancients has been preserved. Traditional Chinese Medicine is intact with thousands of qualified practitioners and many reputable sources for herbs and formulas which are organically grown and naturally processed.  Availing ourselves of these resources is cost effective and, lest I wax poetic, soul as well as body nourishing.

Ayurveda: It's a 5,000 Year Old System
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by Holly Padove

Most of us feel a renewed sense of joy as we welcome the spring season with its longer days and blossoming flowers. To keep our bodies, minds and spirits feeling light and sprightly it’s important to shift to a lighter, spring- based diet by embracing the culinary gifts of the season.

As we transition from winter to spring, we notice distinct shifts in nature, including the foods that are naturally available this time of year. The best way to become familiar with what Mother Nature has in mind for ayurvedaus food- wise is by browsing the local farmer’s markets to see what’s growing regionally. Each season brings forth the foods that best nourish us, and when we eat locally grown seasonal foods, we fortify and strengthen our physical and spiritual bodies.

Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old system of natural medicine from India, is all about balance, and recognizes the inherent healing qualities in the food we eat. Ayurveda gives us comprehensive knowledge on the best types of food for us, not only based on the particular seasons, but also based on our individual constitution, known as “dosha.”  Ayurveda recognizes that each person is different and has unique food (and lifestyle) requirements.  According to Ayurveda, there is no “one size fits all” diet.

That said, if you simply would like to eat healthier, the first step, before tailoring your diet to your “dosha” is to simply eat with the seasons, enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables that you can find locally (not necessarily at the grocery store, as many fruits and vegetables are shipped in from across the world)!  For spring, pungent vegetables like onions and chilies increase metabolism and digestive strength while many of the vegetables for the season such as kale, chard, mustard greens, parsley, celery, asparagus, cilantro, lettuce and watercress work to remove the excess water that the body tends to hold on to in the spring and resets the body’s ability to metabolize fat as fuel. These types of foods help to detoxify our bodies after winter, when we typically have ingested heavier foods to keep warm, which have given us a bit of a “coating” so to speak in the form of a few extra pounds.

When we eat healthier we are more likely to transition smoothly through the seasons rather than catching a cold or a virus, as our immune system function better when we provide it with the right types of fuel.

Each time the season shifts, i.e. around June we will transition from spring to summer, we must adjust our food choices for optimal health. Just remember the basic principle of eating lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables, the kinds that are abundant on the Central Coast, and you'll be well on your way to a healthier, more balanced state.  For more specifics on your individual doshic needs, contact an Ayurvedic practitioner, or read one of the many books on Ayurveda, such as Deepak Chopra’s “Perfect Health.”

Holly Padove is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist with Balanced Living Ayurveda, based in Arroyo Grande: www.balancedlivingayurveda.com.

Tips on Picking the Freshest Seafood
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by Giovanni Comin

As its popularity continues to climb, Seafood is becoming a staple at family dinner tables, barbecues, and restaurants. While markets target consumers with low price ads on a variety of seafood items, it is important to recognize “all fish is not created equal”. Catch method, origin, trim level, aquaculture techniques and freshness all affect price on product that can be marketed under identical names! It is important that as consumers we educate ourselves on what to look for and the questions to ask when selecting a retailer, or making your choice at the seafood counter. Value is not solely measured in cost per pound; it is a combined measure of cost, quality and freshness as well as responsible harvesting practices. 


In an effort to motivate the consumer to shop locally for their seafood, a joint effort between local fishermen and The Nature Conservancy has lead to the development of a unique model for fishery management at the local level.  By locally monitoring fishing quotas and methods, Central Coast fishermen can more readily supply local seafood purveyors with the freshest product, produced responsibly and available at fair prices.

As a consumer there are a few questions you can ask your local fish monger or restaurant about their seafood, thus ensuring you are purchasing product that is high quality and produced responsibly. By doing so, you are also supporting Central Coast fishermen and our local economy: Is it in season? Seafood is like fruit, you will get the best quality and freshest product if you buy what is in season. If it is whole, are the eyes clear and bright? Are fillets moist and glistening or is there visible drying or discoloring? Is the smell of the market area a fresh ocean fragrance or is it overpowered by foul odors?  Where was the fish caught?  How was it caught?  Who was the producer?  When trying to source high quality fresh product, the more your seafood fish monger knows about the story behind the fish, the more confidence you can have in the seafood they are providing.

To maximize you and your family’s experience, make sure you are receiving the best value for your dollar.

Giovanni Comin is president of Central Coast Seafood.

Sea Venture Resort
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The SeaVenture is a 50 room boutique resort located directly on Pismo Beach. All of our rooms have featherbeds and fireplaces and a breakfast basket delivered to the doorstep in the morning. Most rooms have private hot tubs! The SeaVenture also accommodates meetings, weddings, and private dinner functions.

Staycation Package:
Stay close to home with a Staycation.· Room to include a king size featherbed, fireplace, private balcony with hot tub and breakfast delivered to the doorstep in the morning, as well as a $50 Dinner Credit to our full oceanview SeaVenture Restaurant.· What an amazing reason to stay at home to escape.· Valid Sunday through Thursday only.· Nov. 1st – Dec. 23rd, 2010.· For a rate of $149 a night. SeaVenture

Stay Local...Enjoy a Central Coast Staycation!
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Living on the Central Coast makes it easy to stay close to home this summer and enjoy a "Staycation!"

Sleep in, see movie, or take day trips and visit some of the best Central Coast destinations that locals never get a chance to see. Use the money you would spend on airfare or long distance driving and enjoy dinner at some of the fabulous restaurants in the area and treat yourself to a "green" housekeeping service!  If you can, check into a local hotel and enjoy a relaxing afternoon by the pool. How about a weekend wine tasting tour? With a selection of so many great things to do, you can indulge yourself and never leave home. Vacation is more about a state of mind that a state of place. What's most important is having fun.

Enjoy a Central Coast Staycation!

Making Green Visible
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making green visible2

Solstice Green Directory...Over 30,000 Readers!


 The quarterly publication is FREE and is distributed at over 500 locations along the California Central Coast. The target audience is closely focused on people that are seeking green awareness and looking for a healthier lifestyle.

The web site uses search optimization to associate via keyword, and the graphic design was developed to support repeat visitors with flash graphic and scroll technologies. Content is updated frequently to maintain reader interest. All ads in the Directory appear on the web site and in the e-edition.

Social media is promoted through all the major groups (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Green tips are posted daily to over 11,000 friends and growing. All display ads are also posted intermittently on facebook.

The publication is distributed from Paso Robles to Santa Maria/Orcutt and is in its 8th year of success. The Directory promotes itself to its readers on local radio, and is on 2- RTA bus banners and through community event sponsorships in San Luis Obispo County.

Solstice Green Directory promotes business to business relationships through its Green Mixer Beneficiary Program. These events offer like minded businesses an opportunity to network. All proceeds from the $5 attendance from each event, is donated to a different local non profit organization. To date, over $10,000 has been donated to community non profit groups.

Green your thumb!
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Did you know that the leading cause of houseplant death is over-watering? It's best to do the research and water each plant accordingly, but in general, always test moisture by probing the soil's top inch with your finger. You can also try tapping the side of the pot.If the noise is hollow, the plant needs water. If it's solid, you can wait a day or two. Water slowly and watch carefully.When water escapes through the bottom of the pot, the plant isn't thirsty anymore.

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