Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Free wild foods from the city (video)

Xochitl, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly; survivalist Christopher Nyerges; Amina Khan (Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2011); OutsideFun1 (video); herbalist Brigitte Mars; Woodland TV (UK)

(Elephant Journal) "Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them" (A. A. Milne).  Waylon walks with leading herbalist and earth goddess Brigitte Mars (author of 19 books) and eats lawn, gets pricked by nettles, talks about the crime that is grass, and learns about how to transform urban landscapes without asking permission.

Foraging Wild Edible Plants
Foraging Edible Wild Plants of North America preceded Christopher Nyerges' latest guide on wild California plants. They're fully illustrated wild food cookbooks with color photos and recipes for the most common greens found in North America.
Many of these plants also grow worldwide. "I was really happy with the result," he says. The guide is 211 pages of wild recipes, various ways to use wild foods, their nutritional value, and ways to process these plants, with full color photos of each. There is an introductory chapter on food preparation and how to make wild spices.

Christopher Nyerges reviews his newest book Foraging California.

Foraging California (Falcon Guide)
A chart at the end (based on the USDA's "Analysis of Foods") demonstrates the incredible nutritional value of wild foods. The book also includes comments from people who have tasted these dishes at workshops.

Responses vary from lovers of "Earth Bread," based on seed meal from the plant lambs quarter. Earthy to some, others say it's "virile," "amazing," "deliciously wholesome and sustaining." Adventurous eater? Ready to forage and prepare wild foods? Interested in living off the land? This is a great book to begin to explore.

(Woodlands TV/Adliberate) UK naturalist John Rhyder walks in a woodland
identifying plants, uses, where and when they grow, how best to eat them.

Shopping for vegetables? Hit the sidewalk, not the supermarket
A pair of California poppies at a poppy reserve in Lancaster are surrounded by filaree (a purple low-growing flower) and some yellow goldfield plants.
Seeds are a relaxant, petals are edible. California poppy reserve, Lancaster (Boris Yaro)
Forget lettuce and spinach. Start thinking mallow, purslane, and amaranth.

Even if we've never heard of these greens, they might be all around us, according to an interesting NPR piece on urban foraging.

The story follows expert forager Sam Thayer around Washington, DC, as he plucks and nibbles uncommon salad ingredients, including "weeds" like shepherd's purse and sow thistle as well as Siberian elm seeds.

He finds them in the unlikeliest of places -- reclaiming an abandoned garden box, sprouting near chain-link fences.

(Superfood Evolution) Wild edible greens are packed with nutrients not found in
store-bought produce. Common wild edibles: Twin Eagles Wilderness School.

Barring the risk of pesticides and city pollution, they're pretty good health and taste wise -- according to the story, more nutritious than grocery store greens. The mustard green, which has the highest known nutrient levels of any leafy green, is "high in vitamin A, beta carotene, zinc, manganese, and fiber," says one expert.

My mother always told me not to pick things off the street and certainly don't eat them. Then again, she always told me to eat my vegetables. Intrigued, I wondered if there was any nutritional value to be had on the streets of Los Angeles.

Turns out we have a few foragers on the West Coast,* too. Check out this piece from the Weekend America files on Nance Klehm, a local foraging expert.

From the L.A. Times archives, here are some wild plants, what they taste like -- and when and where to find them.
  • *Christopher Nyerges, School of Self-Reliance, P.O. Box 41834, Los Angeles, CA 90041, (626) 791-3217, author of How to Survive Anywhere, Enter the Forest, and Guide to Wild Foods, editor of Wilderness Way magazine for 7 years, writer of thousands newspaper articles.
  • Pascal Baudar specializes in gourmet dishes using wild foods, (818) 484-6822.
  • Jim Robertson, Aboriginal Skills, focusing on stewardship of land through wilderness education, survival skills, hikes, (310) 395-0943. j3rbrts@dslextreme.com.
  • Barbara Kolander does wild-food gathering and cooking workshops.

Monday, May 30, 2016

What is "Memorial Day"? (video)

Pfc. Sandoval (VeteransForPeace.org, May 29, 2016), Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly

This Memorial Day Veterans For Peace is reminding the public that the human cost of war is more than U.S soldiers. It is also the people who are caught in the crossfire and, moreover, the people being shot at. Let us remember and honor all lives lost and continue to question the leaders who call for more and more war. Honoring and remembering some deaths while ignoring others not only perpetuates war, it also ignores the moral injuries of war, which is a significant cause of American veteran suicide.

Now back to our regularly scheduled wars...
(Brave New Films) This is the story of what happens to everyday American citizens and taxpayers when CORPORATIONS go to war. [Kiss your money goodbye, and say hello to war, death, and moral injury.] More

(Channel Criswell) Analysis of the Academy Award winning Best Picture "Apocalypse Now"

(RitzisZen) Documentary on the making of Oliver Stone's "Platoon" features full interviews with major cast members and their experiences in the Philippines preparing for the film about the U.S. War on Buddhist Vietnam (and Cambodia and Laos).

How can the Earth be hollow? (video)

Rodney Cluff, George Noory, Coast to Coast; Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
Intricate Buddhist/Vedic-Hindu mandalas are representations of the universe (elishean.fr).
(OOWK MEDIA, recorded ~2003, published Aug. 23, 2015) Inside the Hollow Earth (1:33:18)

Jehovah's Witness Rodney Cluff
Where is Shambhala? Author Rodney Cluff explains how the Hollow Earth is possible and evidence for its reality.
  • Shambhala is hidden in our Hollow Earth. It is mentioned in ancient texts like the Kalacakra Tantra and the ancient Zhangzhung of western Tibet. Pre-Buddhist Bon scriptures speak of a closely related land called Tagzig Olmo Lung Ring. Hindu texts such as the Vishnu Purana (4.24) mention the village Shambhala, birthplace of Kalki... Legends associated with Shambhala are older than these organized religions and may have been an indigenous belief system, the Alti-Hymalian shamanic tradition
Many planes of existence.
The idea is not new, but few of us have heard it outside of fiction so it is hard to accept. Tibetan Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain mythology is replete with an understanding of Agartha, the "Inaccessible." Scattered Western sources of those inner worlds also exist.

There are large openings at both the North and South Pole, where these regions are guarded by a unique international agreement.

A map of the planet Earth
If one could get to the polar regions without US interference, one can enter a vast inner continent that is lit by an internal crystal sun. Gravity operates not due to a molten core as we are told but by the density of the mantle, which is at least 800 miles thick on average.

From eyewitness testimonies such as that of Olaf Jansen, a 19th century Norwegian, Cluff presents various data about the inner Earth world. Vegetation inside is very lush in Eden-like conditions: apples can grow as large as a person's head, grapes are the size of oranges. The human inhabitants are also tall, from 7 to 15 feet, and can live up to 800 years old, Cluff details.

Many have been inside to see the planes of the inner Earth. Nazis declared it New Swabia.
Rather than being exclusively aliens, Cluff believes they are descendants from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Through advancements in technology, at least 2,000 years ahead of the surface, these Agarthans(?) have built flying machines they operate using stereotypical "alien" type androids.

Nazis went to Tibet to find Agartha's entrance.
Cluff has teamed up with Steve Currey's expedition company and is planning a 24-day trip aboard a Russian Nuclear Ice Breaker in hopes of entering through the North Pole opening and proceeding into the inner Earth world just as U.S. Admiral Richard E. Byrd entered through the South Pole and was welcomed by the inhabitants there, a trip he detailed in his posthumously published diary and in news accounts of his day. The US government has attempted to suppress Admiral Byrd's revelations, but the Byrd family has preserved them.

Fiction expresses truth
Aurora borealis: evidence of the inner sun
(Wiki) The concept of Shangri-La, as first described in James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon, is claimed to have been inspired by the Shambhala myth (as well as then-current National Geographic articles on Eastern Tibet Kham). Shambala appears in several science fiction stories of the 1930s. The legendary locale also serves as a lure to visionaries and adventurers in Thomas Pynchon's "Against the Day" (2006). The anime Fullmetal Alchemist feature-length film, "Conqueror of Shamballa," takes place in 1923 and features Hess working with the [Nazi, Vril Gesellschaft analog] Thule Society in their search for "Shamballa."

WARCRIMES: US soldiers: "I killed innocents"

om swastikWARCRIMES - US soldiers speak - "I killed innocent civilians" U.S. War on Iraq soldiers -- American troops sent in by Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Ashcroft -- tell the truth themselves about war crimes committed in the name of free trade for corporate profiteers (full documentary).

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Himalayas: Walking Afghanistan to Bhutan

Dhr. Seven, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly; Rachel Martin, Levison Wood (NPR,
Sagarmatha Nat'l Park: Gorak Shep to Pheriche from Mt. Everest Base Camp (T. Fuhrmann)

Levison Wood walked 1,700 miles, from Afghanistan to Bhutan along the Himalayan Mountain range. He says that seeing Everest, the highest mountain in the world was "just magical."
Seeing Mt. Everest is not so impressive as one imagines (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images).
Adventurer says, "Walking the Himalayas" wasn't about "sticking flags in peaks"
Walking the Himalayas
Walking the Himalayas (Levison Wood)
Levison Wood walked 1,700 miles, from [formerly Buddhist] Afghanistan to [the last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom now a democracy] Bhutan along the Himalayan Mountain range.

He says that seeing Everest, the highest mountain in the world was "just magical."

When NPR talked with British adventurer Levison Wood back in 2015, he had recently completed an epic, 9-month journey, along the length of the Nile River [in Africa]. When asked where he was headed next, Wood told said he did have another big expedition planned but that it was "top-secret."

Wood is now back from that top-secret journey -- which turned out to be walking the length of the Himalayas, from Afghanistan to Bhutan. He joins NPR's Rachel Martin to talk about "a few high points, literally and metaphysically."
Wood wanted to explore the valleys and foothills of the great mountain range, but the expedition much more than a trek. "For me this wasn't necessarily about climbing mountains or sticking flags in peaks," he says. "It was really an opportunity to share story of the Himalayas, the history, the geography, the cultures."
Levison Wood chronicles his 1,700-mile journey in his new book Walking the Himalayas (hardcover, 293 pages, purchase).
His travel guide
In this undated picture, Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain at 29,029 feet, stands behind the Khumbu Glacier, one of the longest glaciers in the world. Nepal has more than 2,300 glacial lakes, and experts say at least 20 are in danger of bursting.
What about the environment (NPR.org)
I actually met Binod when I was 19 years old. I traveled in the Himalayas as a young backpacker. So when I was 19, I was there in the mountains in Nepal and it was actually a civil war going on at the time between Maoist insurgents and the government.
Binod actually rescued me one day — there was some fighting going on and the entire royal family was actually killed in Nepal. And Binod took me into the hills and looked after me for a couple of weeks. That's how I met him — that was 14 years ago.

And so when I decided I was going to walk the Himalayas he was the obvious guide. I wanted to go repay my debts to him and it was great to have this reunion and go and see his family after all this time.
The people living around the Himalayas
Stupa or chorten, Buddhist reliquary mound, Bhutan (boldadenturesnepal.com)

Maitreya Buddha in Ladakh, Himalayas
It's such a diverse region; the people in the western edge of the Himalayas in Afghanistan and Pakistan [which were forcibly converted from Buddhism to Islam] don't really have that much in common with the people in the east in [Buddhist] Bhutan and Tibet in terms of religion, or ethnicity, or language.

But what they do share is this common bond of living in the foothills of this great mountain range and sharing those daily perils and the dangers and challenges that come with that.
On how he had previously traveled in Afghanistan
The peak of Meru has eluded some of the greatest climbers in the world. The Shark's Fin --€” a sheer wall of granite --€” is the central pillar in the formation.
Melt, grow, fate of Himalayan glaciers?
I traveled to Afghanistan before, both as a soldier — I was there on operations in combat back in 2008 — but also I traveled there a couple times as well as basically a backpacker.

I'd actually gone kind of undercover dressed as an Afghan, I learned a bit of language and trekked across the country way back in 2004. So it was kind of a homecoming to go back.
Afghanistan — there are parts that are very dangerous, you've got the Taliban and all the rest of it...actually though, there are still parts that are so remote that it actually means they're safe because the only people that live there are nomads.
In the area where I started walking in the northeast, the only people that lived there were nomads. These people were the descendants of Genghis Kahn, the Kyrgyz people that have got nothing in common with the [the CIA and Pakistani Intelligence-created] Taliban that live in the southern regions. 

Day he got dropped off to begin his trek
So the journey began in...this very, very remote part of Afghanistan. I got dropped off by helicopter because that was the only way to get there...it's called the Wakhan Corridor, it's this narrow valley that separates Afghanistan, from Tajikistan, from China, and from Pakistan.

[We] get dropped off there — literally on the roof of the world. The first person we encountered was actually this nomadic shepherd and he had a big stick and he came up and he was sort of prodding us, wondering where we came from — out of the sky?

He actually asked us if we were Islamic State [ISIS]. He thought we'd landed to convert his tribe into fundamentalism, and he said: "Look, we don't want any of that around here." 
Experience in Buddhist Bhutan
Tiger's Nest Vajrayana Buddhist monastery, Bhutan (adventurewomen.com)
It's very difficult to describe. It's one of these very unique places in the world where nothing else comes quite close. After the chaos of Nepal and India going into Bhutan felt like entering a completely different world. Suddenly the streets were clean there was no pollution...

I think Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world....
But are they as happy as US? (valleyymca.org)
And it was just so pristine it was like going back in time 500 years. All the houses are very beautifully decorated, very ornate, the people are very happy [it's the only country in the world to replace the GDP, or Gross Domestic Product," with a better index of prosperity, Gross Domestic Happiness], they live in this kind of feudal system where...everybody is a big fan of the monarchy and everybody seems very happy. There's not much dissent there. ...

It was an education to go to somewhere like that and literally feel as though you're being transported back in time.

High points of the trip
I think from a purely personal point of view going to visit Binod's family after all these years and sort of closing that circle that was a real high point for me.

...But also physically getting over some the highest passes in the world, going beyond Everest Base Camp, seeing the highest mountain in the world, right there on a beautiful clear blue day, was just magical. More + AUDIO

Native Americans to lose sacred objects (video)

Camila Domonoske (Code Switch, 5-25-16); Xochitl, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly; NMAI(EuroNews) This is not the first auction in Paris but a pattern of sales the US fails to stop.
The Un-united Native American Nations of the USA that once fully populated this land
Native American revolution (tumblr)
Native American leaders and a U.S. State Department official are urging a French auction house to call off a sale of sacred art and artifacts.

The auction is scheduled for next Monday, at the Eve auction house in Paris. Items for sale include a war shirt from a Plains Indian tribe, possibly Lakota, featuring hair from human scalps, as well as an Acoma Pueblo war shield.

The auction also includes numerous ceremonial objects with religious significance to the Hopi tribe. The items in question are so sacred to the Hopi that members of the tribe object to having them photographed or even described, as KJZZ reporter Laurel Morales explained for the Code Switch blog in 2013.
Back then, the items — which the Hopi call "Katsina friends" — were in the news for the same reason they're popping up now: A French auction house was planning to sell them.
Then, and now, the Hopi consider such a sale a profound act of sacrilege.
In the U.S., it's illegal to sell ceremonial Native American items. But France is not bound by U.S. laws on the matter, as The Guardian reports. It's a point of diplomatic friction between the two allies.

The "Trail of Tears" is merely one atrocity in an ongoing genocide (Max D. Standley).
An "emergency meeting" was called Tuesday at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Tribal officials, the State Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico gathered to discuss the pending auction.
The Associated Press reports that the governor of Acoma Pueblo, the tribe whose war shield is up for auction, has reached out to Secretary of State John Kerry and asked him to intervene with French authorities. The wire service continues:
"[Kurt] Riley made an emotional appeal at Tuesday's meeting, seeking the return of the Acoma Pueblo ceremonial shield to the centuries-old village in New Mexico. Tribal leaders said it was illegally taken from the community atop a mesa southwest of Albuquerque, and that by pueblo law, it is a sacred item that should never have been removed.
"Through tears, he said seeing cultural items go up for sale has caused the pueblo emotional harm.
"'How it left the pueblo, we don't know. However its mere existence outside the pueblo tells us an event occurred in violation of Acoma law,' Riley said. 'A black market for these cultural items has emerged in the United States.'"
U.S. officials and members of Native American Nations attend an "emergency meeting" at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. They were gathered to object to a Paris auction house's upcoming sale of objects sacred to Native Americans.
Emergency meeting (Andrew Harnik/AP)
At Tuesday's meeting, Bradley Marshall and Leilani Pole of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council described the history of their tribe's devastation by U.S. laws.

[There was] pilfering of their sacred items "by the wagonloads," headed to museums and collectors against the tribe's will.
"Over the years, we've searched high and low for objects that are part of our community," Marshall said. "When we create [ceremonial] objects, we're in prayer.

An estimated 175,000 people travel to New Mexico in August to view Native American art.We're breathing life [prana] into the object. And so these objects are not just a mere object in some fancy collection, these objects are living beings to us. These objects are a part of our family...these objects have a sacred purpose in our community."

An object from the Hoopa tribe is set to be auctioned on Monday; the auction house estimates it is worth thousands of euros.
"We hope one day this member of our community can return to us," Marshall said.

(R. Thunderhands Gilbert) The Hopi, Native Americans of the Southwest USA (documentary)
The U.S. government sides with the tribes. Mark Taplin of the Department of State said:

"In the absence of clear documentation and the consent of the tribes themselves, these objects shouldn't be sold. This type of commercialization of Native American cultural property is fundamentally wrong."
The French auction also is to include jewelry from the ancient Hohokam tribe and artifacts from Asia, Africa and elsewhere in the Americas.

Indigenous cultural items can be big money in France, the Guardian explains:
"France has a long history, tied to its colonial past in Africa, of collecting and selling tribal artifacts. The Paris-based 'Indianist' movement in the 1960s celebrated indigenous cultures, and interest in tribal art in Paris was revived in the early 2000s following the highly lucrative sales in Paris of tribal art owned by late collectors André Breton and Robert Lebel."

Buddhism on "beauty" (beauty tips)

Ashley Wells (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly (UPDATE); Dr. Esta Kronberg (EstaKronbergMD.com), etc.
The beautiful Maitreya Buddha in the Himalayas of Ladakh, India (Atishayphotography)
The Western scientific study of beauty has resulted in parameters such as facial symmetry, signs of health, youthfulness (newly nubile), and markers of "genetic fitness" or signs of an ability to bear healthy children (filebuzz.com). What did the Buddha have to offer?

It is often said that, "Beauty is only skin deep." Fine. How does one get that kind of beauty?

There would seem to be five routes to it:
  1. Develop your personality so much that it overshadows any deficit in the looks department
  2. plastic surgery
  3. wash, scrub, and smile a lot
  4. or do what the Buddha suggested
"What is the cause of beauty?" the Buddha was asked. He answered. While Wisdom Quarterly does not advocate surgery, the other methods are powerful and available to all. Here's a look at Numbers 4 and 5:
Krishna the "all attractive" and Radha, Hindu deva-avatars

12 Most Embarrassing Beauty Questions — Answered
WebMD Feature from Redbook Magazine by Amy M. Keller
When the normal bacteria on your feet interact with moisture trapped in your socks and shoes, they emit stinky sulfurous byproducts, says Dr. Doris J. Day, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at New York University.

1. What causes foot odor?
The fix: Since dry feet equals odor-free feet, wear absorbent cotton socks with shoes made from breathable materials, like canvas and leather, and sprinkle Zeasorb — an over-the-counter drying powder — into your shoes every morning. Three nights a week, pour a pot of tea made with several regular (not herbal) tea bags into a basin, then soak your feet for five to 10 minutes. The tannic acid in tea temporarily inhibits sweat production. See your doctor if your feet are also red, swollen or scaly to make sure a bacterial or fungal infection isn't causing the smell.

2. Why does my breath smell despite constant brushing?
Although brushing will help prevent cavities (so don't stop scrubbing), it can only mask bad breath, since the problem really lies within your throat and tongue, not your teeth. When the bacteria in your mouth lose access to oxygen (which can happen when you use alcohol-based mouthwashes, take certain prescription medications for depression or high blood pressure or simply sit with your mouth shut for a long time), they emit smelly sulfur compounds, says Harold Katz, D.D.S., founder of The California Breath Clinic in Los Angeles; this is the same principle at work with foot odor. Eating garlic and onion also makes your breath stink because they contain — surprise — those same sulfur compounds.

The fix: Contrary to popular belief, a tongue scraper won't banish bad breath — sulfur compounds cannot be removed manually. Instead, keep your mouth oxygenated by drinking water throughout the day and using an over-the-counter oral rinse with chlorine dioxide in both the AM and the PM to neutralize sulfur compounds. Chewing on oxygen-rich vegetables, like parsley and celery, or eating chlorophyll caps, and an alkaline (as opposed to acid-forming) diet can also diminish odors. If these tricks don't work, see your dentist.

3. I've started to sweat through my blouses. Should I be worried?
Most likely there's nothing to fear, says Dr. Joseph L. Jorizzo, MD, chairperson of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. You probably just have a benign, hereditary tendency toward excessive sweating that can crop up at any age. But see your doctor to rule out an overactive thyroid, a low blood-sugar level, and a number of other problems that can cause continual heavy sweating.

The fix: Before bed, towel-dry your armpits and apply a small amount of common baking soda. Wash the solution off in the A.M. and apply safe antiperspirant. Repeat nightly. Still not satisfied? Ask your doctor about Botox injections - one treatment ($800 to $1,500) can paralyze sweat glands for six months to a year.

4. Every time I shave, I get a bumpy rash along my bikini line — what's causing it?
A too-close shave or waxing can make hairs split and loop around just under the surface of the skin. As these off-kilter hairs grow, they push up against your skin, causing inflammation and redness, says Dr. Lawrence Moy, MD, chief of dermatology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

The fix: Put down your loofah; dermatologists now agree that rubbing the bumps to free trapped hairs will only make the problem worse. Instead, apply an OTC acetylsalicylic acid (a.k.a. aspirin) solution twice a day for two to seven days to gently exfoliate the top layer of your skin. (Try Soft Cell.) Once you shed this layer, the looped hairs will be able to poke through. A cortisone injection, administered by your dermatologist, will decrease inflammation in bigger bumps. If ingrown hairs are a persistent problem, you may want to consider laser treatment, which damages the hair follicles and prevents hair growth. You'll need about three treatments (each around $350) followed by a touch-up every six months to a year.

5. I've heard that spider veins are hereditary. My mom doesn't have them, so why do I?
Genetics isn't the only cause of these unsightly blue veins. Pregnancy and trauma to the leg (like bumping into something) can bring them on, says Dr. Esta Kronberg, MD (estakronbergmd.com), a Houston, TX, dermatologist.

The fix: Though vitamin K cream has been touted by some as the next big thing in spider-vein treatment (possibly because of its ability to constrict blood vessels, which supposedly makes veins less visible), there's no way the molecules in the cream can penetrate the skin on your legs and be absorbed into your veins, says Jorizzo. The best option — with 95% of patients seeing improvement after one to three treatments (up to $300 per treatment, per leg) — is still sclerotherapy, tiny injections of saline solution, which irritates veins and causes them to swell shut.

6. Are the bumps on my butt and on the backs of my arms pimples?
No. They're actually called keratosis pilaris — the cause is unknown, but some claim that it's a hereditary condition.

The fix: You can soften and help slough off bumps by rubbing them with a mixture of equal parts petroleum jelly and either water or cold cream. If that doesn't work, prescription Retin-A probably will, but it can irritate the surrounding skin. A better alternative: prescription LactiCare-HC Lotion 2 1/2%, which contains lactic acid to dissolve dead skin cells and hydrocortisone to soothe any acid-induced irritation. Rub lotion onto bumps twice a day until they clear up.
Ancient Egyptian beauty was very well developed (touregypt.com).

7. What's causing my toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus is actually athlete's foot (often picked up from shared showers or borrowed shoes) that has spread into your toenails.

The fix: The most effective treatment is a prescription antifungal pill like Lamisil or Sporanox, but be warned: These treatments are only 70 to 80 percent effective at best, and even when they work it takes nearly a year and a half for the toenail to fully grow out, says Day. Prevent a recurrence by wearing shower slippers every time you rinse off at the gym and by not borrowing shoes.

8. Why do my teeth look so dingy?
Smoking and excessive consumption of dark beverages (like coffee, tea, soda and red wine) are the main causes of stained teeth, says Lana Rozenberg, D.D.S., founder of the Rozenberg Dental Day Spa in New York City.

The fix: As with clothing stains, the longer discolorations remain on your teeth, the harder they are to remove — so keep up those twice-a-year dental visits. You can lighten your teeth several shades with a whitening toothpaste that contains carbamide peroxide, but use it only once a day to avoid drying out gum tissue. (Try peroxide toothpaste.) Floss treated with the whitening agent silica has also been proven to polish away stains, which often form between teeth.

For more dramatic results, your dentist can bleach your teeth up to eight shades brighter with a highly concentrated peroxide gel administered via laser ($800 to $1,500) or in a custom-fitted mouthpiece ($600 to $1,000) that you wear an hour a day for about 10 days, says Rozenberg. (Though drugstore bleaching kits are much less expensive, they aren't quite as effective — the gel isn't as strong, and since the mouthpieces aren't created specifically for you, the gel can drip out of them and inflame your gums.)

9. Why do I have stretch marks?
You may suspect that the marks on your tummy, thighs or hips were caused by pregnancy or significant weight fluctuations. What you may not know, though, is that hormonal changes that occur during normal growth spurts can also cause your skin to stretch and scar, says Dr. Lawrence Moy, MD Red marks appear when your skin stretches and thins so much that you can see your blood flowing through the skin's thinned outer layers, says Dr. Joseph L. Jorizzo, MD. When your skin stretches minimally or the stretched skin is thick, white marks result.

The fix: No treatment is guaranteed to remove stretch marks, but you can make them less noticeable. Try twice-daily applications of OTC Striae Stretch Mark Creme — several studies have confirmed that it can reduce red or white marks in about four weeks. Or ask your doctor about laser therapy ($450 to $700 per treatment), which can tone down the brightness of recently acquired red marks, or microdermabrasion ($50 to $150 per session), which can diminish the appearance of white marks.

10. Could there be a serious underlying cause for excess facial hair?
If you fight your follicles on a daily basis or sprout lots of hairs on your chin, see your doctor. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (a disorder characterized by high levels of male hormones) or an adrenal gland problem could be to blame. If you're moderately hairy (you tidy up your brows or upper-lip area once a month), you've probably just got your genes to thank.

The fix: Vaniqa — a new, odorless prescription cream — has recently been approved by the FDA to decrease light to heavy hair growth anywhere on the face ($50 for a two-month supply). Though it doesn't yield immediate results (you'll need to keep using your regular hair-removal methods at first), the cream blocks one of the enzymes responsible for hair growth, gradually slowing it down as long as you continue to use it, says Dr. Ken Washenik, MD, director of dermatopharmacology at New York University School of Medicine. For those who don't respond to Vaniqa, six laser hair treatments ($150 each) can significantly decrease hair growth for months. A monthly electrolysis session for up to a year ($60 to $100 each) can remove hair permanently.
11. Why is my face so shiny?
If you are also losing hair and have stopped getting your period, a hormonal imbalance could be the culprit, and you should see your doctor. If not, your skin is just oversensitive to your male hormones (we all have them) — and this is triggering the production of excess oil. Another possibility: a too-harsh cleansing routine (some of you have written to us saying you use rubbing alcohol to nix shine!). Many derms believe that alcohol-based toners and gritty scrubs can overdry and irritate your skin and make it produce extra oil to compensate, says Dr. Doris J. Day, MD.

The fix: Your best bet is to regulate oil without overdrying your skin. So in the morning, wash your face with an oil-free lotion cleanser, then rub on an alcohol-free toner. (Try Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser for Normal to Oily Skin and Bath & Body Works Bio Face Oil-Control Facial Toner.) Top with the OTC oil-absorbing gel Clinac OC. Sop up shiny spots throughout the day with blotting papers. (Try Hard Candy Shiny Sheets.) Repeat your A.M. routine — minus the gel — before bed. If you continue to shine, ask your dermatologist about Retin-A Micro. Less irritating than regular Retin-A, this prescription cream was created to treat acne but has also been proven effective against oiliness.

12. What causes hand warts?
The human papilloma virus (HPV) is responsible for warts — but to get them you have to be both genetically predisposed and in close contact with an infected person, says Dr. Doris J. Day, MD.

The fix: With a clean nail file, gently slough off the top layers of your warts daily to remove dead skin, says Day. (Do not use this nail file for anything but wart removal.) Then rub on over-the-counter Occlusal HP — its highly concentrated salicylic acid dissolves warts. If warts remain after several months, consult your dermatologist about other remedies, including laser therapy and liquid nitrogen treatments. Despite treatment, however, warts can come back. A warning: Be careful when engaging in sexual activity — though it's unlikely, hand warts can spread to your (or your partner's) genitals.
The Buddha on Beauty
The Buddha was regarded by all as extraordinarily attractive and regal — golden skin, blue eyes, curly black hair, straight white teeth, a flawless complexion, and very comely features. He explained these as the karmic result of countless virtuous lives spent fulfilling the perfections (paramitas) as a bodhisattva (a "being bent on enlightenment").
Pleasant things to be gained by skillful karma
Wisdom Quarterly edit (AN 5.43) "Five things are desirable, agreeable, welcome, pleasant, yet hard to obtain in the world. What are those five?
  1. Long life...
  2. beauty...
  3. pleasure...
  4. status...
  5. rebirth in heaven.
"However, I tell you, these five things are not to be obtained by prayer or vows [bargaining with a God or other supernatural entity]. If they were to be obtained in this way, who would not have them?
"It is not fitting for a follower of the noble ones [who followed this Teaching], who desires beauty to pray or attempt to bargain for it, or to delight in doing so. Instead, a disciple of the noble ones who desires beauty should follow a path of practice leading to beauty. In so doing, one will attain it, either human or divine [in this world or in a world to come]..."
(The same advice is is given for long life, pleasure, status, and rebirth in heaven).
The European concept of a pantheon of gods stems directly from the influence of Indian cosmologies, particularly Buddhist, which spoke frequently of devas (earthbound and celestial beauties) sporting about with many of the characteristics of humans — beauty, jealousy, envy, lust, megalomania, and so on. Whether they saw devas or only imagined how beautiful they were from the reports of rishis ("seers"), it greatly influenced their art. Here in "The Birth of Venus" a deva is "spontaneously-born" (born without the mediation of parents).

The Cause of Beauty
A Greek king (King Menander, known as Milinda) asked a Buddhist scholar-monk (Ven. Nagasena) expert in the Buddha's Teaching:

"Why is it, revered Nagasena, that all people are not alike, but some are short-lived and some long-lived, some sickly and some healthy, some ugly and some beautiful, some without influence and some of great power, some poor and some wealthy, some low born and some high born, some stupid and some wise?"
Ven. Nagasena replied: "Why is it that all vegetables are not alike, but some sour, and some salty, some pungent, some acid, and some astringent, some sweet?"
"I fancy, reverend sir, that it is because they come from different kinds of seeds."
"Just so, great king, are the differences you have mentioned among humans to be explained. For it has been said by the Buddha that 'Beings, O Brahmin, have each their own karma, are inheritors of karma, belong to the tribe of their karma, are relatives of karma, have each their karma as their protecting overlord. It is karma that divides them up into low and high and the like divisions" (edited from Rhys Davis, 1969 translation of the "Questions of King Menander," Milindapanha 1:100).
The secret, then, is that karma separates the beautiful from the ugly. What karma in particular? Patience and kindness having been willed and performed, frequently practiced, made a habit, and anger and harshness abandoned. The Buddha elsewhere went into greater detail.

The Cause of Inequality
Perplexed by the seemingly inexplicable and apparent disparity that exists among humans, a young truth-seeker named Subha approached the Buddha and questioned him regarding it:
"Venerable sir, what is the reason, what is the cause that we find among humans the short-lived and the long-lived, the diseased and the healthy, the ugly (dubbannā) and the beautiful (vannavantā), the powerless and the powerful, the poor and the rich, the low-born and the high-born, the ignorant and the wise?
The Buddha explained: "All living beings have actions (karma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is karma that differentiates beings into low and high states" (budsas.org).
Then he explained the causes of such differences in accordance with the law of karma, that certain causes bring about certain causes separated by time:

"...If one is wrathful and irritable, is agitated by trivial words, gives vent to anger, ill-will, and resentment, that person, as a result of irritability, when reborn among humans, will become ugly.
"If one is not wrathful nor irritable, is not agitated even by a torrent of abuse, does not give vent to anger, ill-will, and resentment, that person, as a result of amiability, when reborn among humans, will become beautiful.
  • [And so on, with each quality rooted in karma, our present and former actions, that have the power to ripen at some time in the future when the opportunity presents itself.]
Certainly we are born with hereditary characteristics. At the same time we possess certain innate abilities that science cannot adequately account for. To our parents we are indebted for the gross sperm and ovum that form the nucleus of the cell...

There are genetic potential remains dormant until it is vitalized by the [environment, i.e., by] karmic energy needed for the production of the fetus. Karma, now and in the future, is therefore the indispensable cause...

The End of Craving for Beauty
The Pali canon delineates a chain of events: From one's craving (taṇhā) arises attachment, then possessiveness, then defensiveness from which can arise lies, arguments, and conflicts (An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, Peter Harvey, 2013, Cambridge Univ. Press).

The Buddhist solution to the problem of craving and wishing is the third noble truth, the cessation of suffering. That cessation comes from the quenching of craving, which is the destruction of craving ("thirst"). The problem is that what we usually desire is unsatisfactory without us realizing it, namely, sensual pleasures, eternal existence when we are pleased or fearful, and non-existence (annihilation) when things don't go our way.
When we have right effort, when we have zest for the one thing that yields satisfaction (nirvana, the "unconditioned element"), then desire is not an obstacle to enlightenment but something that can hasten its elimination.
In the Pali canon, Craving (Taṇhā) is at times personified as one of Death's three daughters (Māra-dhītā), alongside Aversion (Arati) and Passion (Rāga) (Monier-Williams, Monier (1899, 1964), A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, London: Oxford Univ. Press).

Thus, for instance, in the Samyutta Nikaya's Māra-saṃyutta, the Buddha's victory over Death is symbolically complete after Death's "three daughters" fail to entice him:
They had come to him glittering with beauty —
Taṇhā, Arati, and Rāga —
But the Teacher swept them away right there
As the wind, a fallen cotton tuft.
If karma, which is free, does not suit readers, here are some more costly beauty tips: