I’ve been focusing on herbal medicine in this series. The main point of this series is that incorporating herbal medicine into your medical needs can help you to reduce the need for drugs. And by doing so, you can become healthier and more in synch with living a Low Density Lifestyle.
In yesterday’s article I told you about 10 herbs that are good for stress. One of the herbs I mentioned in that article was Ginseng.
Today I will focus on Ginseng, which is known as the King of the Herbs.
Ginseng is part of the materia medica of Chinese Herbal Medicine, and is the most famous herb in the pharmacopeia. It has been valued for its remarkable therapeutic benefits for at least 7,000 years and was so revered that wars were fought for control of the forests in which it thrived.
An Arabian physician brought ginseng back to Europe in the 9th century, yet its ability to improve
stamina and resistance became common knowledge in the West only in the 18th century.
Ginseng is native to northeastern China, eastern Russia, and North Korea, but is now extremely rare in the wild and increasingly becoming endangered, due in large part to high demand for the product in recent years, which has led to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow (it requires years for a ginseng root to reach maturity).
There are two main types of ginseng: American ginseng, known as P. quinquefolius, and Asian ginseng, known as Panax ginseng. Asian ginseng can be either white or red ginseng.
In the U.S., there are woods grown ginseng programs in Maine, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia, and United Plant Savers has been encouraging the woods planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, American ginseng strengthens the Yin energy and calms the spirit, while Asian ginseng strengthens the yang.
The reason it has been claimed that American ginseng promotes Yin while Asian ginseng promotes Yang is that, according to traditional Chinese medicine, things living in cold places or northern side of mountains or southern side of rivers are strong in Yang and vice versa, so that the two are balanced.
Chinese/Korean ginseng grows in northeast China and Korea, the coldest area known to many Koreans in traditional times. Thus, ginseng from there is supposed to be very Yang. Originally, American ginseng was imported into China via subtropical Guangzhou, the seaport next to Hong Kong, so Chinese doctors believed that American ginseng must be good for Yin, because it came from a hot area. However they did not know that American ginseng can only grow in temperate regions. Nonetheless the root is legitimately classified as more Yin because it generates fluids.
Most North American ginseng is produced in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia and the American state of Wisconsin.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Panax/Asian ginseng strengthens the Qi and Yang energy, improves circulation, increases blood supply, revitalizes and aids recovery from weakness after illness, and stimulates the body. Panax Ginseng is available in two forms:
The form called white ginseng is grown for four to six years, and then peeled and dried to reduce the water
content to 12% or less. White ginseng is air dried in the sun and may contain less of the therapeutic constituents. It is thought by some that enzymes contained in the root break down these constituents in the process of drying. Drying in the sun bleaches the root to a yellowish-white color.
The form called red ginseng is harvested after six years, is not peeled and is steam-cured, thereby giving them a glossy reddish-brown coloring. Steaming the root is thought to change its biochemical composition and also to prevent the breakdown of the active ingredients. The roots are then dried.
Red ginseng is frequently marinated in an herbal brew which results in the root becoming extremely brittle. This version of ginseng is traditionally associated with stimulating sexual function and increasing energy. Red ginseng is always produced from cultivated roots, usually from either China or South Korea.
There are other plants that are called ginseng, but they are actually from a different family or genus. These include:
* Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Southern ginseng, aka Jiaogulan)
* Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)
* Pseudostellaria heterophylla (Prince ginseng)
* Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng, aka Ashwagandha)
* Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng, aka Suma)
* Lepidium meyenii (Peruvian ginseng, aka Maca)
* Oplopanax horridus (Alaskan ginseng)
Stress is not good for the health, as it can cause many health problems. It does not allow you to experience healthy living. And it will also keep you in a High Density Lifestyle mode.
Everyone has stressors of one kind or another in their life. The key is to manage stress and channel it. Yoga, meditation, exercise, walking in the woods, and journaling are some of the ways to enjoy some stress relief.
There are also herbs that can help you manage stress. Here are a few of the herbs for stress relief:
1. Licorice Root contains a natural hormone alternative to cortisol, which can help the body handle stressful situations, and can help to normalize blood sugar levels as well as your adrenal glands, providing you with the energy necessary to deal with the stressful situation at hand. Some claim licorice stimulates cranial and cerebrospinal fluid, thereby calming the mind.
2. Passion flower is considered a mild sedative and can help promote sleep. Passion flower also treats anxiety, insomnia, depression and nervousness.
3. Kava Kava, an herb from the South Pacific, is a powerful muscle relaxer and analgesic. Kava Kava is also effective at treating depression and anxiety associated with menopause.
4. St. John’s Wort has been used medicinally since Hippocrates time. Even during the Renaissance and Victorian periods it was used for the treatment of mental disorders. Though it presents itself as an unassuming, flowering perennial, St. John’s Wort was shown to be more effective than Prozac, according to a recent study, in treating major depressive disorders.
5. Lavender is effective at reducing irritability and anxiety,
promoting relaxation, a sense of calm and sleep. It is also a powerful anti-bacterial agent, and can work to balance hormones and stimulate the immune system.
While lavender can be consumed in a tea, it may work best as an essential oil that is breathed in by way of a diffuser or, in the case of stress and sleeplessness, an eye pillow.
6. Valerian calms people who are agitated, but stimulates those who feel fatigued, according to one Italian study. During World War II, the British used Valerian tincture to treat nerves shattered during bombing raids on London.
7. Ginseng and Siberian Ginseng can help you handle stress by sedating or stimulating your central nervous system, according to your body’s needs. Studies conducted in China showed that Ginseng also increases your brain’s utilization of amino acids, which is important because when you are under stress, your body uses more protein than usual.
8. Schizandra has a regulating effect on the central nervous system. Studies show that this herb quickens responses and makes people more alert while actually stimulating the nervous system. A 1983 study conducted in China showed that Schizandra relieves headaches, insomnia and dizziness and calms a racing heart. It has also been reported to control anger and aggression.
9. Skullcap was originally a Native American herb traditionally taken for menstrual problems. Today, it is mostly used as a tonic and sedative for nerves in times of stress. It helps to support and nourish the nervous system, and calms and relieves stress and anxiety. It can also be used when stress leads to muscular tension and pain.
10. Lemon Balm has a long tradition as a tonic remedy
that raises the spirits and comforts the heart. It is widely valued for its calming properties. 17th century British writer John Evelyn wrote that Lemon Balm “is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory and powerfully chasing away melancholy.”
So there you have it – 10 herbs that can help you with stress and calm your spirits. These are all great tools to manage stress, give you stress relief, and help assist you in living a Low Density Lifestyle.
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I’ve been writing about herbal medicine all week. I’ve been saying how using herbs can be a great way to achieve better health and wellness, and to experience healthy living.
In yesterday’s article, I told you about a number of herbs that had excellent medicinal capabilities.
Today I want to tell you about Turmeric, which is one of nature’s greatest wonder herbs.
Turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family, is commonly used in Indian cuisine as curry powder. It is native to South Asia.
Turmeric has been used historically as a component of Indian Ayurvedic medicine since 1900 BCE to treat a wide variety of ailments.
Here is a list of ailments that turmeric is beneficial for:
Childhood leukemia (reduced risk)
Inflammatory skin conditions
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
New blood vessel growth in tumors
Studies have shown that turmeric has anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, anti-arthritic, anti-ischemic, and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition it may be effective in treating malaria, prevention of cervical cancer, and may interfere with the replication of the HIV virus.
In India, turmeric is readily available and has been used by many as an antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises, and has also been used as an antibacterial agent.
It is said to contain flouride, which is beneficial for teeth. In some countries, turmeric is also taken as a dietary supplement to help with stomach problems.
In Japan turmeric tea under the name of Avea, is sold as a treatment for depression.
Pakistanis also use it as an anti-inflammatory agent, and remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive disorders.
In Afghanistan and North West Pakistan, turmeric is applied to a piece of burnt cloth, and placed over a wound to cleanse and stimulate recovery. Indians, in addition to its Ayurvedic properties, use turmeric in a wide variety of skin creams that are also exported to neighboring countries.
In the latter half of the 20th century, curcumin was identified as the ingredient in turmeric that was responsible for most of the biological effects of turmeric.
According to a 2005 article in the Wall Street Journal, research activity into curcumin is exploding and the U.S. National Institutes of Health had four clinical trials underway to study curcumin treatment for pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, Alzheimer’s, and colorectal cancer. Curcumin also enhances the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which supports nerve growth.
There is evidence that piperine, found in black pepper, improves the absorption of turmeric. In 1998 researchers at St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India found that curcumin taken with 20 mg of piperine increased the absorption of curcumin by 2000%, with no adverse effects.
This means that a low dose of curcumin (or turmeric for that matter) could have a greater effect in terms of health benefits when combined with black pepper than a large dose of curcumin or turmeric would.
Dosages between half a teaspoon three times a day of a mixture of 16 parts of turmeric powder to 1 part of ground black pepper, and two teaspoons of turmeric powder and half a teaspoon of ground black pepper per day have been recommended.
Turmeric is undergoing research for potential benefits against a variety of cancers. In addition to cancer in general, some forms that it is being tested against, or may be useful against, include:
Turmeric is also considered to inhibit H. pylori, a bacteria which may provoke cancer.
So there you have it on turmeric, one of the truly great herbs around. Another great thing about turmeric is that you can use it either in cooking as a spice, or as a medicine.
Either way, you can’t go wrong if you use it as a regular part of your health practices. If you do, you’ll be well on your way to healthy living and living a Low Density Lifestyle.
As I’ve said from the beginning of this series on herbal medicine, herbal medicine is one of the oldest forms of medicine on the planet.
They can be formulated in many ways, as I pointed out in yesterday’s article. Whatever way they are used, they can be very helpful in cultivating health and a better sense of wellness, which can then allow you to experience healthy living, along with living a Low Density Lifestyle.
Today, I’m going to mention a number of herbs and briefly say what their benefits are. Some of the benefits are based on lab testing.
After today’s article, I’m going to get more specific and focus on different herbs and discuss their beneficial properties.
But for today, here’s a look at a number of herbs:
Aloe vera has traditionally been used for the healing of burns and wounds.
Agaricus blazei mushrooms may prevent some types of cancer.
Artichoke may reduce cholesterol levels.
Blackberry leaf has drawn the attention of the cosmetology community because it interferes with the metalloproteinases that contribute to skin wrinkling.
Black raspberry may have a role in preventing oral cancer.
Butterbur has been used traditionally for abdominal cramps and constipation.
Cranberry is effective in treating urinary tract infections in women with recurrent symptoms.
Echinacea extracts can limit the length and severity of colds; however, the appropriate dosage levels may be higher than is available in over-the-counter remedies.
Elderberry may speed the recovery from type A and B influenza.
Feverfew is sometimes used to treat migraine headaches.
Garlic may lower total cholesterol levels.
German Chamomile has demonstrated antispasmodic, antiinflammatory and cholesterol-lowering effects in animal research. In vitro, chamomile has demonstrated moderate antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and significant antiplatelet activity, as well as preliminary results against cancer. Essential oil of chamomile has been shown to be a promising antiviral agent against herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), also in vitro.
Ginger can decrease nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Purified extracts of Hibiscus seeds have some antihypertensive, antifungal and antibacterial effects.
Lemon grass can lower total cholesterol and fasting plasma glucose levels.
Milk thistle has been recognized for many centuries as a liver tonics. Research suggests that milk thistle extracts both prevent and repair damage to the liver from toxic chemicals and medications.
Black cumin has demonstrated analgesic properties in mice. In vitro studies support antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and immune modulating effects.
Oregano may be effective against multi-drug resistant bacteria.
Pawpaw can be used as insecticide.
Peppermint oil has benefits for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome.
Pokeweed is used as a homeopathic remedy to treat many ailments. It can be applied topically or taken internally. Topical treatments have been used for acne and other ailments. It is used to treat swollen glands and weight loss.
Pomegranate has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth in mice.
Rooibos has traditionally been used for skin ailments, allergies, asthma and colic in infants. In an animal study with diabetic mice, aspalathin, a rooibos constituent, improved glucose homeostasis by stimulating insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells and glucose uptake in muscle tissue.
Rose hips – Small scale studies indicate that rose hips may provide benefits in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Sage may improve memory.
Shiitake mushrooms are edible mushrooms that have been reported to have health benefits, including cancer-preventing properties. In laboratory research a shiitake extract has inhibited the growth of tumor cells. In addition, both a water extract and fresh juice of shiitake have demonstrated activity against pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
Soy and other plants that contain phytoestrogens (plant molecules with estrogen activity), such as black cohosh, have benefits for treatment of symptoms resulting from menopause.
Stinging nettle is effective for benign prostatic hyperplasia and the pain associated with osteoarthritis.
In vitro tests show antiinflammatory action. Stinging nettle has also been shown to reduce total cholesterol.
Valerian root can be used to treat insomnia.
As I said the other day in the article Herbs as Medicine, herbal medicine is one of the oldest forms of medicine on the planet.
Because the art of herbal medicine is a lost art in many countries, most people don’t know how to prepare and administer herbs. The only way most people take herbs these days is by taking them in pill or capsule form, courtesy of a supplement they bought at a health food or drug store.
But the potency of an herb in pill or capsule form is not strong. To get the true healing benefits of an herb, it’s best to start with the herb in whole form and make a preparation from that.
There are many forms in which herbs can be administered. Here is a list of some of the most common ways:
Tinctures – Alcoholic extracts of herbs such as echinacea extract. Usually obtained by combining 100% pure ethanol (or a mixture of 100% ethanol with water) with the herb. A completed tincture has a ethanol percentage of at least 40-60% (sometimes up to 90%).
Herbal wine and elixirs – These are alcoholic extract of herbs; usually with an ethanol percentage of 12-38%. Herbal wine is a maceration of herbs in wine, while an elixir is a maceration of herbs in spirits (e.g., vodka, grappa, etc.)
Tisanes – Hot water extracts of herb, such as chamomile.
Decoctions – Long-term boiled extract of usually roots or bark.
Macerates – Cold infusion of plants with high mucilage-content as sage, thyme, etc. Plants are chopped and added to cold water. They are then left to stand for 7 to 12 hours (depending on herb used). For most macerates 10 hours is used.
Vinegars – Prepared at the same way as tinctures, except using a solution of acetic acid as the solvent.
1) Essential oils – Application of essential oil extracts, usually diluted
in a carrier oil (many essential oils can burn the skin or are simply
too high dose used straight – diluting in olive oil or another food
grade oil can allow these to be used safely as a topical).
2) Salves, oils, balms, creams and lotions – Most topical applications are oil extractions of herbs. Taking a food grade oil and soaking herbs in it for anywhere from weeks to months allows certain phytochemicals to be extracted into the oil. This oil can then be
made into salves, creams, lotions, or simply used as an oil for
topical application. Any massage oils, antibacterial salves and
wound healing compounds are made this way.
3) Poultices and compresses – One can also make a poultice or compress using whole herb (or the appropriate part of the plant) usually crushed or dried and re-hydrated with a small amount of
water and then applied directly in a bandage, cloth or just as is.
Whole herb consumption – This can occur in either dried form (herbal powder), or fresh juice, (fresh leaves and other plant parts). Just as Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine”, it has become clear that eating vegetables also easily fits within this category of getting health through consumables (besides medicinal herbs). All of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are phytochemicals that we are accessing through our diet.
There are clearly some whole herbs consumed that are more powerful than others. Shiitake mushrooms boost the immune system and are also tasty so they are enjoyed in soups or other food preparations for the cold and flu season. Alfalfa is also considered a health food. Garlic lowers cholesterol, improves blood flow, fights bacteria, viruses and yeast.
Syrups – Extracts of herbs made with syrup or honey. Sixty five parts of sugar are mixed with 35 parts of
water and herb. The whole is then boiled and macerated for three weeks.
Extracts – Include liquid extracts, dry extracts and nebulisates. Liquid extracts are liquids with a lower ethanol percentage than tinctures. They can (and are usually) made by vacuum distilling tinctures. Dry extracts are extracts of plant material which are evaporated into a dry mass. They can then be further refined to a capsule or tablet. A nebulisate is a dry extract created by freeze-drying.
Inhalation as in aromatherapy can be used as a mood changing treatment to fight a sinus infection or cough, or to cleanse the skin on a deeper level (steam rather than direct inhalation here).
I discussed in yesterday’s article the use of herbs as medicine, and how herbs can be a vital part of enjoying real health and wellness and healthy living.
And, of course, a Low Density Lifestyle.
Today I want to get a little technical and discuss the scientific reasons plants can protect us from disease.
The reason plants/herbs can help us fight off ailments and inflammation is that they contain certain compounds. The phytochemicals in plants can reduce the risk of diseases associated with chronic inflammation, including cancer and diabetes.
At the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, Calif., research molecular biologist Daniel H. Hwang conducts studies to help scientists understand how phytochemicals fight inflammation.
His investigations have uncovered modes of action used by phytochemicals in many herbs.
Hwang’s team has found, for example, that phytochemicals can interfere with the normal flow of certain chemical signals or messages sent to and from cells involved in chronic inflammation. The messages these cells send are in the form of proteins.
In particular, his group is closely examining proteins known as TLRs (short for “Toll-Like Receptors”) and NODs (an abbreviation for the tongue-twisting “nucleotide binding oligomerization domain containing proteins”).
Their experiments show that certain phytochemicals can interfere with messages that, if unimpeded, could travel from TLRs and NODs, reaching and activating genes that can trigger an inflammatory response.
The studies suggest that different phytochemicals have different ways of interfering with these messages. For example, curcumin can undermine certain TLRs when a specific part of curcumin’s chemical structure reacts with what are known as “sulfhydryl groups” in TLRs.
But resveratrol, found in red grapes, has a different set of targets. Hwang’s experiments suggest that resveratrol interferes with molecules called “TBK1″ and “RIP1.” If unimpeded, these molecules would help convey signals to and from TLRs.
No matter how you perceive the healing nature of plants, whether you feel it is based on the healing spirit within the plant, or you feel it is predicated on the phytochemical reactions that plant substances have with cells that cause inflammation, the bottom line is: plants heal.
And the more we subscribe to that and the more we look to the plant world and less to the pharmaceutical
world for our healing assistance, the easier will we be capable of living a Low Density Lifestyle.
The reason for that is that the more natural we live, the easier is it to experience healthy living.
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And good health and wellness practices are basic to living a Low Density Lifestyle - the better you feel, the more you feel less dense and in the flow.
And achieving good health and healthy living are not that complicated to do, although it seems to be something out of the reach of most people.
A whole foods-oriented diet, movement, attitude, stress management, energy practices – such as acupuncture, reiki, yoga and tai chi – and feeling a sense of fulfillment are key ingredients to healthy living and living a Low Density Lifestyle.
Drug therapy has only been around in recent times. One of the oldest forms of medicine is Herbal Medicine, which is nature’s medicine cabinet.
In fact, many drugs are made from herbs. For instance, inulin comes from the roots of dahlias, quinine from the cinchona, morphine and codeine from the poppy, digoxin from the foxglove, and aspirin from meadowsweet (aspirin also owes a big thanks to willow bark, which contains salicin, which is converted in the body into salicylic acid).
The word aspirin comes from an abbreviation of meadowsweet’s Latin genus Spiraea, with an additional “A” at the beginning to acknowledge acetylation, and “in” was added at the end for easier pronunciation.
The word drug itself comes from the Dutch word “druug” (via the French word Drogue), which means ‘dried plant.’
The use of herbs as medicine has been around as long as humans have walked the earth, but for many people, they have lost track of their roots (no pun intended).
Herbal Medicine has been used by most cultures in every continent on earth as part of their traditional healing practices.
From the Sumerians and Traditional Egyptian Medicine, to Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine, to the ancient Greeks and Romans, to Hippocrates and European Medicine, and to indigenous people all over the world, herbs have always been seen as an essential aid in helping a person heal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population presently uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care.
To this day, herbal remedies are very common in Europe. In Germany, herbal medications are dispensed by apothecaries. Prescription drugs are sold alongside essential oils, herbal extracts, or herbal teas.
In the United Kingdom, the training of medical herbalists is done by state funded Universities. For example, Bachelor of Science degrees in herbal medicine are offered at Universities such as University of East London, Middlesex University, University of Central Lancashire, University of Westminster, University of Lincoln and Napier University in Edinburgh.
So what has happened? Why are herbs the forgotten orphan of medicine and healing?
Because we have come to deify the modern medical approach of drugs and surgery for all health issues.
Modern medicine is at its best in emergency situations.
That’s when the use of a drug makes more sense than the use of an herb.
But for chronic health problems, a different approach is needed. One that stresses natural remedies.
And when natural remedies are used, herbal medicine must always be part of the approach.
Instinctively, people have always known that humor and laughter just plain makes you feel better, and because of that, people have been trying to make each other laugh as long as there have been people walking the planet.
You may have read the article of a recent archaeological finding in which scientists found hieroglyphics on a cave that through extensive carbon dating were able to trace back to 500,000 years ago.
Q: Why did the dinosaur swallow Maury and then spit him out?
A: Because he tasted horrible without Tobasco sauce!
Granted, all those years ago, comedy wasn’t as refined as it is now, so the jokes weren’t as good.
But you get the point: humor and laughter is an important part of our DNA.
And, as I have noted many times in this series on humor and laughter, it’s an essential part of living a Low Density Lifestyle.
So as a series finale on the subject of humor and laughter, I want to present to you some kings of comedy, going back to the early part of the twentieth century.
And so, ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, I now give you a series of videos featuring some geniuses of the art of comedy, laughter and humor:
For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been writing about humor and laughter.
I started the discussion by writing about how humor and laughter can be beneficial for health and can allow you to feel lighter of body, mind and spirit.
The next article was about Laughter Yoga and how people get together in Laughter Yoga clubs to laugh together.
From there, I just started writing articles designed to make you laugh, whether it was on the new depressant medication Despondex, the 1-minute book classics, or about my allegiance to the Marx philosophy.
Tomorrow, to close the series, I will return with another humorous article. But today, I want to review how humor is a positive influence in our lives by listing 9 benefits of humor and laughter.
Of course, I could just narrow it down to one – that humor and laughter are essential traits of living a Low Density Lifestyle.
2. Humor comforts and helps you get through difficult times.
3. Humor helps you to relax.
4. Humor reduces pain.
5. Humor boosts the immune system.
8. Humor cultivates optimism.
9. Humor helps with communication.
And so, in conclusion, humor and laughter make you feel lighter, like you’re carrying less of a load in your body, mind and spirit. And when you feel like that, you know what that means, don’t you?
It means you’re living a Low Density Lifestyle.
In yesterday’s article, I told you how I’m an avowed Marxist (although I haven’t decided which of the Marx family – Karl, Groucho, Chico, or Harpo – my politics most resemble.
But in order to keep it fair and balanced, I’ve decided to present a more right-wing perspective.
So today we will hear from someone with a right-wing perspective.
This person is none other than Steven Wright.
Ok, this has been a series on humor and laughter and how it can help keep you in Low Density Lifestyle mode.
Did you really think I would have someone with a right-wing perspective? There’s not much humor there, from what I can see.
Instead, I present to you someone with the right stuff, or I should say the Wright Stuff.
Steven Wright has an incredibly unique style. It’s truly a Zen style of humor.
Whatever you call it, it can help ease you into a Low Density Lifestyle point of view.
So kick back, watch the two below videos, and enjoy.