Qanda School Project
“with the heart of the lion…..”
QANDA SCHOOL PROJECT
Project Director …Virginia Ruffulo
The Qanda School is in the town of Esinyameni, a community of approximately 20,000 black South Africans, on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in the foothills of the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains. Pietermaritzburg, with a population of over 450,000 people, is quite a sophisticated city and offers many tourist attractions and schools of higher learning. Together with the city of Ulundi, it is the capital of the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. This area is about 1 and ½ hours west, by car, of the very large city and seaport of Durban, on the Indian Ocean.
The school was built in 1976 by the Zulu government and has not been updated since. The families have to pay a small fee for each student plus uniforms and supplies. ($8 per year per student for primary school and $15 per year for the nearby high school.) Many students cannot afford to pay, yet are still admitted. There is poverty, illness, HIV, and high unemployment.
The school presently has 493 students, grades 1-4 in the primary section and grades 5-7 in the upper section. There are 14 dedicated teachers. During my visit there in March of 2007, I interviewed the teachers and principals and asked them to speak of their dreams. The first and most important answer was books, and hopefully a library for the children. Next came a desire for teachers to get help teaching English, then computers and a media center. Then a sick room for the students as many of them are HIV+. Then flushing toilets……..after that it was a playground (with swimming pool), and repairs and maintenance of the buildings, as they leak and have no heat. One can see the priorities.
The teachers speak of the students as OUR children. They are very close to the children and the main concern is that they learn to speak better English and learn computer skills so they may be better prepared to find employment.
Education is mandatory in South Africa. The government and all the people realize the importance of education and the children especially crave better learning. They beg for books. The teachers here speak Zulu as their first language and, during the Apartheid era, many were forced to learn Afrikaans instead of English, so they teach English almost as a third language! They are desperate for children’s books and novels, as well as history and geography books so the children can learn to read in English. Children’s books in English are difficult to come by. Because there is so much poverty in South Africa most families can’t afford to buy them; therefore, very few get published.
My first goal for the Qanda School project is to build a library and supply it with books for the children. Although these children are poor, they are not from the most destitute communities in South Africa. They are also not as geographically isolated. Their proximity to large cities provides easier access to potential job opportunities and further education. So what these children need is that short boost to get them over the language hurdle so they can compete in the workforce or go on to higher education. In a way this is similar to the reasoning behind Affirmative Action programs that have been established in the U.S.
This generation of children is the first to grow up without knowing Apartheid. They are the generation of hope to keep South Africa a positive growing culture of many ethnic groups and tribes. They are full of hope for social equality and progress and don’t want to lose what so many have fought and died for.
So, the first project is a Library and Books……….Can you help?
Qanda School Project a non profit 501(c) (3)
Virginia Ruffulo Life Resources Institute
3008 Madrona Lane # 931230130
Medford, Oregon, USA 97501
Watershed Reclamation Project
The Watershed Reclamation Project is working in conjunction with the Heritage Trust for Environmental Regeneration to reclaim mercury and lead toxins from mined lands.
Beginning in the Yukon Territory, we are researching and proving a new technology that extracts heavy metals from contaminated sites. The technology is proprietary and will be licensed world-wide to assist in cleaning up the toxic contamination of mercury and lead and other toxins that are poisoning the watersheds due to previous mining and industrial practices.
The first portable plant was tested in the field during summer (2003) with outstanding results. The second generation plant will be delivered and tested next summer. The final production model will be field operational in the summer of 2006.
We are currently working to build multiple units to be used first in North America and then to all countries. It is estimated that over 26 million pounds of mercury was used in the Sierra Nevadas alone during the California Gold Rush. According to Sierra Club biophysicist, 1 tsp. is enough to contaminate a large body of water. Up to 30% of the mercury used is lost in the mining processes. This mercury is a source of constant contamination in global watersheds every time it rains. It is primarily why it is now unsafe to eat fish from our oceans. This cleanup must be addressed and we now have the technology and willingness to do it. It must be done and we will do it with your help.
Acid Mine Drainage is another environmentally devastating by-product of the mining process that extracts the primary ore vein and leaves the surrounding halo of sulphide bearing minerals exposed to air and water which begin the chemical reactions that introduce the acids to the environment. Fish and wildlife habitats are destroyed through altering critical pH balance of the waters. As humans, our health is also negatively affected by increasing acidification of our water supply.
Other contaminants such as cyanide, arsenic and radioactive uranium also leech into the environment causing inestimable damage.
Our ultimate goal is to return the watersheds to a pristine natural state where habitat, fisheries and wildlife can flourish.
We welcome support of Buena Fortuna Botanical Garden in Baja Mexico, preserving 3700 plant species of the tropical and dry tropical regions of the world, & Siempre Semillas AC, a Mexican NGO whose main focus is to preserve seed diversity. Bioneer’s presenter Gabriel Howearth, botanist, landscape architect and “seedsman” is the founder of Buena Fortuna Botanical Garden in Baja, Mexico, and the president of Siempre Semillas. Gabriel has traveled around the world working with many indigenous people to develop and increase diversity in organic farming and gardening, and has 30 years’ experience teaching and practicing permaculture, seed saving, and biodynamic and organic agriculture.
These organizations maintain a virtual seed bank collection, a living genealogy of plants containing many rare, endangered and exotic species of forgotten and little known food sources of great nutritional, cultural and genetic value . Currently they are working with several ecological organizations in Central and South America and have been available to travel worldwide to teach about organic seeds and ways to preserve our genetic seed purity locally in order to contribute to global change in positive ways.
Recent consultations include:
1. Professional Consultation for “Dreaming New Mexico” towards a food & energy self-sustainable State by the year 2020; an ambitious and well supported project, initiative of Bioneers with the participation of a number of NGO’s, Farmers, Indigenous Groups, Schools as well as Governmental support.
2. Professional consultation in Southern Oregon helping organize local seedsman and farmers work towards helping its people in the bioregion become seed and food self-sufficient – beyond sustainable.
3. In the early stages of developing a Polycultural- Permacultural Landscape Design for state of the art Ola Brisa Eco Community in Todos Santos, on the Pacific Coast side of Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Some of their previous works include research with Sonic Bloom sound frequencies and music and pyramid enhancement for seeds and plants with documented success written in very popular books: “Secrets of the Soil” and “The secret Life of Plants” by two famous authors/researchers Peter Tompkins and Christopher Byrd. The results of this research show how certain frequencies and music really work to greatly enhance plant growth production, yield, nutrition, flavor, quality and germination power of seeds especially enhanced by the combination of the use of Mayan pyramid seed enhancers.
The Center For Self Awareness was a program that was initiated in 1998 and completed in 2005 after two groups went through the four year curriculum described below.
The Study of the Psychology of Identity Consciousness
Developed and taught by Dr. Judy Christenson, PhD in Psychology, the Course provides a 4 year intensive on ego mastery through emotional self-responsibility. The Course is intended for individuals who seek a way to go beyond :
- Conditioned Consciousness
- Limitation Perceptions
DenialParticipants learn life skills to move beyond reactive emotions, behaviors and denial into self-awareness and personal empowerment where healing takes place rapidly. The goal is to move beyond ego. The logical human mind is the tool of the conditioned ego. Learning the tools that enable one to perceive beyond our limitations and social conditioning, leads to emotional responsibility. Participants learn to move past ego, to pay attention to reactive emotions, then how to choose between taking responsibility for those emotions or not. The ‘keys’ teach participants how to move past the ego’s ability to keep us in :
Emotional awareness is at the heart of knowing who we really are. When we begin to live outside the limitations of social conditioning, we begin to exist in states of being such as:
When we can feel our personal truth, we can empower ourselves to create our highest possibilities and deepest desires.
Graduates of the Course have an opportunity to gain a Practitioner Certification from Dr. Christenson. Self-Awareness Counselors apply a practical application of the material and provide a variety of services for those who wish to understand social conditioning and its contribution to the dysfunction of emotional and physical health.
Traditional counseling has been woefully inadequate, producing only intellectual understanding rather than the skills to resolve future emotional problems — which inadvertently reinforces victim identities and the inability to move beyond reactive emotional conditioning and the perceptions of “lack.”
Services offered through the Center For Self Awareness are uniquely experiential and integrative.
Phone and on-line counseling – 20 counselors trained in the Psychology of Identity Consciousness work with clients for a number of sessions. This work is instructive and utilizes a format of personal coaching to assist the client in learning to perceive beyond the limited rationale of their conditioned ego/mind to discover underlying belief structures, judgments, denials and identities.
The format for learning these skills and achieving the remarkable benefits of altering personal conditioning, is the client’s own life. All learning is experiential rather than just didactic or intellectual.
The course consists of learning various disciplines that take the individual beyond the comforts of conditioned understanding. Mastering these skills generates allowance and empowerment that brings the individual’s focus out of ego-identity consciousness into individual Self-awareness. Here we have the choice to choose between emotional-responsibility or reactive conditioning. Emotional responsibility eventually replaces identity-limitations by eliminating the individual’s reactive behavior. The passionate seeker will learn to make choices that lead to joy, peace and realization.
The need for this course had grown out of the awareness that traditional psychology has been woefully inadequate. Fixing the stress fractures in an individual is not prevention. The “fix” only teaches emotional identification, not emotional responsibility. Traditional therapies continue the practice of mistaking emotive behavior for emotional experience. This leaves the patient lacking when their effort only produces intellectual understanding, rather than the skills to resolve future emotional problems. This built-in dependence keeps the patient relying on outside sources to resolve their life issues.
Traditionally, therapeutic treatment is limited to identifying emotions, in order to solve specific reactive problems. This inadvertently re-enforces the person’s inability to experience emotion. Without proper techniques, patients are unable to move beyond their reactive problems, into their self-awareness, on their own. Traditional training is intellectual and therefore dependent on the remedies of the ego. Healers are trained to offer coping-skills rather than life skills.
When people really learn to feel their emotions, they rapidly heal and are naturally motivated towards their inner or spiritual awareness. Without appropriate assistance they are left to search for something that will offer comfort to their spiritual need to grow. This deficiency is a common therapeutic result when there is no understanding of the difference between reacting to emotions and experiencing emotions. One generates behavior and the other generates healing.
The difficulty with our present remedies is that they exist at the discretion of the ego. In other words, they are the result of the very communication patterns that prevent identity-exposure. This is the outcome of our limited understanding about the mysteries of identity-consciousness. Without the proper skills to overcome the egos’ control, people cannot remove the innate social patterning that is insidious and pervasive, although never obvious. These conditioned patterns exert enormous control, effecting everyone, healer or not. They create the stresses and diseases that distort our ability to live happily, and control our ability to evolve.
When people are unable to live happily and freely, they seek answers from outside themselves. This inadvertently creates more problems because “going outside” ourselves is the pattern that supports our collective dysfunction. When people are searching they tend to accept superficial or insufficient remedies. These coping-skills might be spiritual in context but also keep the personal focus outside themselves.
Bridges – Youth Empowerment
BRIDGES is life skills training program designed to ‘bridge the gap’ between an academic education and what is required to live a fulfilling, responsible and creative life.
Focusing on communication, human interaction, conflict resolution, choice, and personal life vision, BRIDGES will prepare youth (ages 15- 19) to take action and control of their lives.
The overall goal of the BRIDGES Youth Empowerment Series is to prevent and reduce the impact of dysfunctional family patterns that lead to child abuse and neglect, and to meet the long-term goals of reduction in delinquency, drug abuse, and prevention of teenage pregnancy.
Thirty-five youth will acquire personal empowerment skills that enable them to:
- Identify and seek out advocates and allies
- Develop an ability to create healthy boundaries
- Identify goals and take steps to achieve those goals
- Develop a “how to” approach to attain tools for personal resource development
- Strengthen their ability to perceive and make life-affirming choices.
The Structure of BRIDGES
Level I: Weekend Intensive Workshop
Participants engage in a variety of interactive exercises created to explore themselves and others, with the goal of identifying, building, and strengthening Internal Assets.
8 Week(ly) Follow-up Sessions
These 3-hour weekly sessions continue the practice and development of skills learned during the weekend.
Community Service Project
Working with a small group of peers, each participant creates a plan to execute a Community Service Project. Groups are supported by an Adult Mentor Volunteer, a Lead Trainer, or Project Coordinator who will help connect the group up with community resources needed to accomplish their project. All projects will be completed within 2-3 months after the Weekend Intensive Workshop.
Level II: Youth Leadership Training Intensives
Those who have successfully completed the Bridges training series and a Community Service Project are eligible to participate in the next level of training, designed to develop Mentor Volunteers to middle school-aged youth.
School of InterBeing
In developmental stages now, The School of InterBeing will become a training center that offers courses to inspire, revive and enliven the human spirit. The school’s focus will be to provide trainings that are practical in nature.
The SIB offers a 21st Century Life Skills course, which incorporates the 4 components of healthful, balanced living in the new century: Self Care, Self in Relation to Others, Self in Relation to Nature, Integration and Holistic Activism.
What is InterBeing?
Zen Master, scholar, and peacemaker, Thich Nhat Hanh, created The Order of Interbeing (Tiep Hien) during the Vietnam War as a means to help people cope. The Vietnamese phrase for interbeing is “Tiep Hien”.
Tiep means “to be in touch” with ourselves in order to connect with the source of wisdom, understanding, and compassion in each of us. It also means to be in touch with our physical world.
“Hien” means the present time. Unless we live in the present moment it is difficult to “be in touch” with the joy and suffering that co-exist within our selves and the planet.
Hence, interbeing has emerged as a new word and philosophy for creating social change and healing in our personal and global consciousness. When we realize our “interbeing” nature, we recognize the significant part we each play in the larger web of life.
We believe that much of the suffering in the world occurs because of disconnection – with our true selves, with others, and with the Earth. We cherish the dignity,worth, and power of individuals, recognizing that solutions to world problems come from inspired and courageous people.
Life Skills Overview
Self-Care We begin by delving into the age-old adage “Know Thyself” by providing a nurturing environment and offering experiences that lead participants into who they truly are – values, needs, spiritual center, joys, and deepest desires – helping them to set a vision and mission in life.
Self in Relation to Others
We teach techniques to more deeply communicate with others: how to feel our own emotions then to express them, how to be receptive – to really listen to and share -with others. We encourage play, planning and co-creation.
Self in Relation to Nature
Our philosophy maintains that disconnection from the Earth is disconnection with one’s self. Therefore we emphasize stewardship of the environment as a way to connect with and sustain our spiritual self.
Integration and Holistic Activism
Activating new awareness and skills acquired from the 21st Century Life Skills course is accomplished by social and community participation. We encourage participants in the course to join local causes, lead group efforts and take the teachings of SIB into their daily lives.
Indigenous Peoples Project
The Indigenous Peoples Project, a service program of World Institute of Holistic Therapies, Inc.. has, since 1997, been providing Native American People with cost-free holistic health treatment and education, quality health products, and help planting organic vegetable gardens upon reservations where there is the greatest need and the fewest resources.
Although there are individuals and organizations offering conventional medical care to people on reservations, such as Indian Health Services, many Native people have to travel a long distance to access conventional services. What sets the IPP apart is that our Project Directors visit reservations several times each year to provide services that emphasize holistic, natural and non-invasive health treatments, and that focus on self-responsibility and life-style education that is congruent with native culture. This is accomplished through home-visits, local on-site clinics, organic cooking classes, and yearly planting projects.
Gardens on The Rez
Gardens on the Rez Project seeks to assist Native American people return to health and self-sufficiency.
Drawing on the wisdom of traditional, bio-dynamic, organic and perma-culture farming practices, the IPP coordinates volunteer garden helpers who plant gardens on the Navajo Reservation. Volunteers join traditional elders to plant corn, beans, squash, and medicinal herbs, while learning from the elders the ancient ways of growing food and instructing them in modern organic techniques.
In preparation for plantings IPP recruits volunteers, gathers seed donations, solicits contributions to purchase the necessary soil amendments and planting materials as well as donations of food to feed the volunteers.
Breast Cancer Research
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women in Europe , North and South America and Austral-Asia. Figures compiled by the World Health Organization over the past 40 years show a steady increase in both the incidence of and the death rate from breast cancer, and only within the past 5 years has this been seen to plateau. Although not confirmed, it is thought that the recent decline in incidence and mortality may be due to several factors including, but not limited to, earlier detection, increased knowledge by the patients of contributory and protective dietary factors, and the use of modern endocrine-modulating drugs. However, these statistics must be viewed critically since each country may apply different criteria to the diagnosis of cancer, and that these criteria may change over time.
A number of factors are recognized which increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Hormones play a major role in the etiology of several malignancies; specifically, the cumulative exposure of the breast to estrogen and progesterone leads to the risk of developing breast cancer . Up to 75% of women with breast cancer have no significant family history of breast cancer. However, the variation in incidence throughout populations, and changes relating to population migration and adoption of altered lifestyles, all point to the critical importance of non-genetic determinants. Such factors include early menarche, late menopause, late age at birth of first child or nulliparity, a history of benign breast disease, breast density , environmental exposures especially to xeno-estrogens , and diet [4-8]. It is suggested that dietary modification with the introduction of soy products, curcumin, cruciferous vegetables and low fat may be beneficial in reducing the risk of developing cancer, possibly by inhibiting xeno-estrogenic effects of some pesticides .
Breast cancer research has developed at a rapid pace over the last four decades. Age, race, tumor size, histological tumor type, axillary nodal status, standardized pathological grade, and hormone-receptor status are accepted as established prognostic and/or predictive factors for selection of systemic adjuvant treatment of breast cancer. Yet, treatment options to date have raised almost as many questions as they have provided answers, and research today has started to focus more on natural substances and synthetic analogues as mechanisms for cell function alteration .
Breast cancer is considered a systemic disease due to the complex dependency on hormones and growth-factors in tumor development, progression and metastasis. The current therapeutic regimens recommended to women with breast cancer include strategies to block the synthesis and effects of these growth factors. Central to this issue is the fact that estrogens play a central role in fueling tumor growth, even in cases where tumor cells express extremely little estrogen receptor levels. The adjuvant drug Tamoxifen has caused headlines by its complex positive and negative effects. Inhibitors of aromatase (the enzyme that is responsible for the last step of estrogen synthesis from cholesterol) are the new kids on the block, and some of these appear extremely effective at lowering estrogen synthesis. However, these drugs are more complicated in their actions than first assumed. It seems pertinent to seek alternative methods of manipulating hormone synthesis and metabolism. By using nutritional and botanical intervention, it may be possible to deliver phytochemicals that lower the blood and tissue levels of endogenous estrogen, as well as its precursors and metabolites, by reducing the rate of estrogen synthesis and by increasing the clearance of estrogen.
A large number of factors play into the formation, development, and progression of breast cancer and many of them offer opportunity for intervention. Of these processes, the estrogen signaling is the focus of the present research proposal. Hormonal (estrogen) signaling may be modulated by regulating the formation, function, and excretion of estrogens. Substantial evidence supports the concept that estrogens cause breast cancer in animals and humans. Since 1896, when Sir George Beatson demonstrated that ovariectomy induced regression of mammary tumors, the aim of endocrine breast cancer therapy has been to selectively deprive the body of estrogen. Ovariectomy accomplished this by removing the gland that is the predominant source of estrogens in premenopausal women. Since the avoidance of such surgery is preferable, emphasis is devoted to the identification of specific and synergistic inhibitors of estrogen production, with little or no effect on production of other steroid hormones.
Preliminary Clinical Data
Very few data exists in the literature on synergistic effects on phyto-estrogens. Curcumin and genistein – extracts from turmeric and soy – have demonstrated a strong synergistic effect in reducing the growth-stimulation on a human breast cancer cell line by estrogenic pesticides . We do have some documented cases where phyto-estrogens helped normalize female hormonal balance. Herbalist Chanchal Cabrera has positive experiences with botanical intervention on female hormone balance, as monitored by testing of progesterone, testosterone, and ß-estradiol. Most of her clients in this field have been infertile women seeking improvement of hormonal balance with the objective of becoming pregnant. Herbalist Donald Yance, author of “Herbal Medicine, Healing, and Cancer”, has positive experiences with regulating the hormonal balance using herbal mixtures for women, both in the treatment of menopause and breast cancer. The outcomes were limited to clinical performance, including survival, quality of life, and in a few cases, tumor shrinkage. However, this has never been subject to a formal study, and none of the women with breast cancer were tested specifically for estrogen levels and metabolite ratios. Also, no formal monitoring of the performance of ALL women treated with botanical estrogen deprivation regimens, have been accumulated. The present proposal aims at gaining preliminary data, to pursue this in formal clinical studies.
If indeed the suggested botanical intervention leads to a significant reduction in estrogen levels by affecting ratios between various estrogens, then it will be valid to examine which liver enzymes are affected, and to study the liver function in more detail.
In addition, the data generated from this study will allow us to establish criteria and study design (should the results support a desicion to pursue these issues):
¨ Does botanical intervention of estrogen metabolism have value as a neo-adjuvant therapy prior to primary surgery?
¨ Could botanical or dietary intervention be proposed for women with fibroids or fibrocystic breast disease?
¨ Does estrogen-reducing botanical intervention have a use in women who have had their ovaries removed?
¨ Can botanical intervention substitute or synergize with current pharmaceutical regimen in women with more advanced metastatic cancer?
Research Design and Methods:
We wish to conduct research to substantiate whether an estrogen-reducing effect can be achieved via botanical intervention. Based on knowledge about well-studied botanicals and their effects on the hormonal regulation, we propose a multi-faceted botanical intervention program to reduce the synthesis and increase the clearance of endogenous estrogen in women with a previous history of breast cancer. The foundation for this research proposal is not mainstream, but falls under the NCCAM mission, because the rationale is to NOT strive for a complete biochemical block of one particular process using a pharmaceutical agent, but to attempt to partially reduce multiple enzymatic and physiological processes involved in estrogen regulation, leading to a more dynamic and integrated treatment strategy. This non-pharmaceutical approach does not seek to isolate single estrogen-reducing phytoceuticals, but will study the synergistic effects between whole plants and extracts that have individually been well studied.
Study design: For the purpose of this pilot study, an open study design will be used (i.e. there will be no formal control group and no placebo product). The women will serve as their own controls, as later test results will be compared to their initial test results. In addition, since the study involves widely used clinical tests from recognized diagnostic laboratories (e.g. plasma and saliva hormones from Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratories), these tests already have established normal values with which to compare the test results from the women in this pilot study.
We will focus on women with a previous history of breast cancer. These women will receive botanical intervention for 6 months, targeted at estrogen metabolism and liver function. During the initial 3 months, the 42 study participants will be divided into 3 groups of 14. Each group will receive a limited botanical intervention. After 3 months, all women will be evaluated, after which they all will receive the full botanical intervention for another 3 months. The hormonal parameters will be performed at the beginning of the study, (i.e. prior to botanical intervention), after 3 months (when a new regimen will be introduced), and after 6 months of treatment (i.e. 3 months with the complete cocktail). At these three time points, the patients will be asked to fill out two quality of life (QOL) questionnaires (SF-36 and EORTC QLQ-C30) to assess their subjective performance and well-being, assisted by a research nurse. At the same time they will be examined by a medical doctor and a herbalist to assess their performance objectively, according to the evaluation standards used by each health practitioner.
Patient population: Forty-two women with a previous history of breast cancer will be screened for participation. Due to our inclusion/exclusion criteria, their stage will be almost completely limited to carcinoma in situ, stage I, II and IIIA. We will NOT limit the study group to any specific histo-pathology, or type of surgical procedure for the removal of the primary tumor. We will limit the study to women in which ovaries have not been removed. By choosing to work with pre-menopausal women, with intact ovaries, and who are not on hormone therapy, we are presumably working with the population with the highest estrogen levels. This should give us a better chance of seeing an effect of the estrogen-reduction intervention protocol. Our outcome measures for this short duration pilot-study are NOT survival or recurrence, but rather an evaluation of current biochemical and physiological parameters. We will not include patients who have undergone, or are currently undergoing chemotherapy or hormone therapy. Since these strategies are recommended in cases with metastatic disease, we are thereby excluding patients with metastasis, except if they on their own have made the choice to decline this therapy, and have remained in remission for at least one year. In addition, we have chosen to exclude women with a known family history of breast cancer, as we do not wish to skew the data in this limited pilot study by including several patients with one particular genetic alteration.
Diagnosis and primary surgery
At least 1 year disease-free
6 months botanical intervention
At least 3 years after delivery/nursing/birth control
Estrogen levels and
Caucasian or Hispanic, Pre-menopausal, Previously undergone surgical removal of breast cancer, whether lumpectomy or mastectomy, with or without removal of lymph nodes. Not currently scheduled for surgery or radiation treatment, and not undergone any of these within the past year.
Removal of ovaries
Past or current chemotherapy and hormone therapy, including tamoxifen and other estrogen-analogues.
Pregnancy, nursing, and/or birth control pills during the past 3 years.
A known family history or genetic predisposition for breast cancer
Smoking (due to possible toxic interaction with botanical product )
Requirements: The women will be asked to maintain their usual diet, nutritional supplementation, and exercise regimen with no major changes in lifestyle. These parameters will be noted for each study participant. They will be asked which herbal supplements they may be taking, and when these overlap with ingredients in our botanical intervention protocol, they will be asked to supplement only with the study intervention, and for the duration of this study to discontinue the intake of the herbs that are also part of our study. They will be asked to arrive fasting, and to avoid taking any herbal products or supplements for 12 hours prior to their appointments.
Botanical intervention of estrogen synthesis, metabolism, and clearance: Choice of botanicals was based on the criteria that sufficient quality research on each single herb or extract has documented an anti-estrogen effect. The anti-estrogen effect includes: synthesis, bio-availability metabolism and excretion of estrogen. The following herbs were chosen, based on a thorough literature study: Flax (seed), soy (isoflavones), green tea (Whole leaf), turmeric (Curcurmin extract), a modified extract from cruciferous vegetables: Diindolmethane (DIM), and Chrysin. During the initial 3 months participation, a limited regimen is given:
Group I: Flax and soy
Group II: Green tea and curcumin
Group III: DIM and Chrysin
During the last 3 months, the full protocol of all 6 plant/extracts is given to all women.
Participants will receive the following doses for their assigned periods of this study:
Flax seed: 20 grams (dry weight, 2 tbsp)/day, to be consumed soaked.
Soy: 1 gram/day of a fermented soy product where microflora have increased the content and bioavailability of isoflavones.
Green tea: 300mg extract/ day. The extract contains 80% mixed polyphenols.
Turmeric: 450mg/day of a curcumin extract, containing 95% curcuminoids.
DIM: 200 mg/day
Chrysin: 1.5 grams per day of a 95% pure extract
Flax The seed of flax is the richest known source of lignans , which are potent phyto-chemicals that are chemically modified by the removal of carbohydrates by microflora in the human gut . The aglycone lignans are absorbed into the blood, metabolized into enterodiol and enterolactone, which are biologically active anti-oxidants [56, 57], and finally excreted via urine. The metabolites influence endogenous sex hormone production and metabolism, particularly by favorably shifting the ratio between 2-hydroxyestrogen : 16alphahydroxyestrone [58, 59]. In addition, the lignan lactones and diols are moderate inhibitors of aromatase .
Soy isoflavones Population studies from around the world indicate that soy products are partly responsible for the lower rates of hormone-dependent cancers in certain areas of the world . In vitro and clinical studies suggest that this protective effect is due to modulation of estrofen synthesis and metabolism [62, 63]. In a small but well-controlled metabolic study, a significant shift towards 2-hydroxyestrone was found in women on a soy-rich diet . One of the active phytochemicals, genistein, is a weak transcriptional activator compared to endogenous estrogen, and decreases steady state mRNA of estrogen receptor .
Green tea Much attention has been paid to the chemoprotective effects of green tea . Population studies show a correlation between intake of green tea and cancer incidence [66-69], including breast cancer . This effect may not be significant under extreme exposure to carcinogens, such as the atom bomb, as no significant protection was correlated to intake of green tea on survivors of the Hiroshima and Nakasaki bombs . Separate from direct anti-cancer effects, clinical studies show that green tea has an estrogen-lowering effect in humans [Nagata 1998], and a parallel increase in SHBG . The main bioactive ingredients in green tea are: epicathechin, epicathechin-3-gallate, epigallocatechin, and epigallocatechin-3-gallate. However, other bioactive and anti-cancer compounds are present, and the polyphenol fraction does not account for all biological activities of green tea. Green tea inhibits the glucoronidation of estrone and estradiol in a dose-dependent manner . Epigallocatechin gallate – the main ingredient based on dry weight – affects expression of the enzyme glutathione-s-transferase , an enzyme that participates in processing 4-hydrozyestrone from quinines to mercapturates, which are potentially carcinogenic.
Turmeric Turmeric has a wide range of effects in relation to chemoprotection from cancer, both in vivo and in vitro, including colon, skin, and mammary tumors. Many studies have verified the anti-carcinogenic properties of turmeric. The main ingredient, Curcumin, inhibits the growth of estrogen-dependent cells in vitro . One study provided data in strong support of synergistic effects of soy isoflavones and curcumin for inhibition of estrogenic effects of pesticides in a human breast cancer cell line [52, 76].
3.3′-Di-indolyl-methane (DIM) Cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, kale, and broccoli, contain indole-3-carbinole. The gastric conversion product is DIM, which display multi-facetted activities, and is a potent inducer of cytochrome P450. It has been proposed that the protective effect against breast cancer is due to a decrease in the formation of 16alpha-hydroxyestrone . DIM showed a weak inhibition of estrogen receptor function, and a ligand-independent activator of ER signaling, in an estrogen dependent human breast cancer cell line . It has been shown to down-regulate estrogen receptors [40, 79], increase the 2-hydroxylation of estrogens, and decreasing the formation of the carcinogenic 4-hydroxyestrone . DIM inhibits estrogen-induced proliferation in human breast cancer cell lines  and mammary tumor formation in rats . Reports on altered toxicity of tamoxifen and nicotine in rats receiving DIM  warrants the exclusion of smokers and patients receiving tamoxifen in this study.
Chrysin Chrysin is an extract from the plant Passiflora Caerula. It has aromatase inhibitor activity , and inhibits the formation of estrogen from testosterone. It also contains potent activity in terms of induction of glucoronidation of estrogens, including estradiols [83, 84], which are involved in metabolizing estrogens for excretion via the bile.
The Midwifery Project
Midwifrey Project – While working with traditional elders in May of 1998, a circle of Diné (Navajo) grandmothers raised concerns about the threat (and consequences) of losing the knowledge of traditional natural childbirth practices among their people.
It is a well-known (and documented) fact that Native Americans living on reservations have some of the highest rates of malnutrition, birth defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, and teenage pregnancies in the country.
Giving Birth With Integrity
Giving Birth With Integrity – To implement Giving Birth with Integrity, Life Resources Institute brought together a number of partners – Trillium Midwifery, WellSprings and Natural Immune Systems. This two-year project, exploratory in nature, culminated in the development of an integrated birthing center model. /or World Institute Education Committee.
The midwifery model provides a sound foundation upon which to build. Midwifery has withstood the test of time, and continues to be “mainstream” or, at least, a sound alternative in many developed nations. In the United States, however, the midwifery model lies outside the medical paradigm. This, perhaps, is midwifery’s greatest strength, but also its greatest weakness. If a system could be developed whereby midwifery is integrated into the medical model — without losing its philosophy or integrity — then this would represent a major achievement for women and for medical science alike. This combined or integrated approach to labor and delivery would serve to strengthen all components.
Medicine Wheels – The original dream of creating a holistic mobile medical unit grew in response to a recurrent need expressed by the local and extended communities in the IPP service area. The mobile medical unit was equipped with an array of holistic medical tools, books, and homeopathic and natural first aid remedies. It was not intended to replace the services of
ambulance, emergency room, hospital or physician, but rather to complement traditional medical services.
The Forestry Action Committee
The The Forestry Action Committee – was founded 10 years ago on the premise that ecosystem balance can only be created from the bottom up, and only by the people who actually occupy that space because they are the only people who actually know what is going on there.
The ground rules of the Forestry Action Committee are open membership, to be broad-based, consensus and diverse. We operate by mutual courtesy and respect. It is our job to build the middle ground in the community and to come up with actions that improve the health of the community and watershed in the Illinois Valley through a focus on forestry.
Shui Long – the path of the Water Dragon — is an ancient and powerful tool for developing global consciousness in the modern age. With roots in proto-Daoism and shamanic traditions, Shui Long has the ability to open the practitioner up to an awareness of their interconnectedness with nature and with others, to transcend their social conditioning toward becoming a truly global citizen.
Organic Farm Internships
Spirit Gardens Trade School is a program designed to train farmers in sustainable, organic farming methods using a Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) model. The school is a program of Life Resources Institute, in partnership with Kris Hoien, owner of Spirit Ranch. The ranch is located in the heart of the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon.
During a 6 month residential apprenticeship, farm interns receive instruction to learn how to set up, organize and operate a CSA. On a daya to day basis, Interns work alongside staff in the greenhouse, gardens, pastures and orchard. They receive formal classroom instruction and workshops, take field trips to other farms and participate in local growers markets. By the end of the CSA season, the interns are well equipped, with enough knowledge and hands on experience, to return to their home communities and start a CSA.
The program includes hands on training and instruction in the following areas:
- Crop planting and succession planting
- Soil health and preparation
- Soil Testing and analysis
- Organic pest control methods
- Propagation and transplanting
- Harvesting and handling
- Packing and delivery
- Canning and preserving