Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

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4/27/2015

6 Tea Tree Oil Uses

What can freshen breath, fight infection, and clear up acne all at once? Tea tree oil, from the Australian plant, Melaleuca alternifolia, has widespread medicinal qualities, making it an effective home remedy for many different conditions. Try these tea tree oil uses for yourself.

Tea tree oil: a natural antiseptic

Tea tree oil is one of the best essential oils for antimicrobial uses. It fights a wide range of bacteria, yeasts, and fungi, helping to get rid of infections and treat a range of conditions caused by bacterial or fungal overgrowth.

Treat athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection, and tea tree oil’s antifungal activity is particularly effective against it. In one study, a 25% tea tree oil cream was far more effective than placebo at reducing infection and getting rid of symptoms.[1] Try a footbath with a few drops of the oil in a bucket of warm water.

Clear up acne. Tea tree oil is commonly found in many natural products aimed at treating acne, as it helps to fight bacteria associated with acne and helps reduce inflammation. Products with 5% tea tree oil can help to reduce the number of acne lesions by 24% to 62% when applied twice daily for one to two months.[2]

Get rid of lice. Lice can be especially hard to get rid of, particularly with natural products. But laboratory studies show that tea tree oil can kill lice in only thirty minutes, suggesting that it may be an effective natural alternative to conventional lice treatment.[3] Try mixing a few drops of tea tree oil with a few drops of lavender oil and adding it to a small amount of mild shampoo. Lather into the scalp, leave on for thirty minutes, rinse, and repeat as necessary. Be sure to follow other lice treatment strategies, including using a lice comb and thoroughly cleaning your home and clothing.

Fight bad breath. Bad breath is caused by bacterial overgrowth in the mouth. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial activity against many of the bacteria responsible for bad breath symptoms, which may help to keep your breath free of bad odors.[4-6] Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in water to make a mouthwash, or try tea tree oil infused toothpicks as breath fresheners.

Treat toenail fungal infection. Fungal infections on toenails (onychomycosis) are quite common. Topical application of tea tree oil seems to be effective at eradicating this kind of fungal infection, and it may be as effective as prescription medications for the condition.[7-9] Try applying tea tree oil to a cotton ball and dabbing it on your toenails until the infection goes away.

Prevent dandruff. Studies show that tea tree oil can also be effective in treating dandruff. In one study, 5% tea tree oil applied daily for four weeks reduced symptoms of dandruff by 41%.[10] Try mixing tea tree oil with coconut oil, massaging it onto your scalp, and letting sit for a few hours (or overnight). Wash out using mild shampoo.

Tea tree oil uses in the home

Many people report that tea tree oil can be used to make various DIY cleaning and self-care products. Try these ideas to get you started:

• Try making an effective, all-purpose cleaner with natural antiseptic qualities by combining a few teaspoons of tea tree oil with a few cups of warm water in a spray bottle.
• Add a teaspoon of tea tree oil to heavily soiled laundry along with your natural detergent to kill any bacteria.
• Deter household pests, like ants and bugs, by wiping tea tree oil at points of entry, like windowsills.
• Apply a few drops of tea tree oil to your toothbrush between uses to keep it clean and free of germs.

Experiment to come up with your favorite medicinal and household tea tree oil uses; this essential oil is quite versatile and can be very convenient to keep on hand.

References

[1] Australas J Dermatol. 2002 Aug;43(3):175-8.

[2] Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2015 Feb;45(2):106-10.

[3] Parasitol Res. 2012 Nov;111(5):1985-92.

[4] Int Dent J. 2002 Dec;52(6):433-7.

[5] Arch Oral Biol. 2013 Jan;58(1):10-6.

[6] Clin Lab. 2015;61(1-2):61-8.

[7] Trop Med Int Health. 1999 Apr;4(4):284-7.

[8] J Fam Pract. 1994 Jun;38(6):601-5.

[9] Mycopathologia. 2013 Apr;175(3-4):281-6.

[10] J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Dec;47(6):852-5.

Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/27/2015

sand 

I have been thinking and conversing a fair amount lately about things I think we can do to raise each other up – brainstorming things that could make the world a more equitable place for all.

In these conversations several have said "my small actions won't be noticed or change anything". To that I say, I think they can, will, and more importantly, what would be the harm in trying?!

To implement large scale change I suggest we start being more mindful of the following five things:

1. Think about where and how you spend your money, it counts. For me this means using a credit union not a wall street bank. Shopping for food at local farmers markets, co-ops, CSA's, and if possible supplementing all of this with my own crops. Knowing my brands. Giving little to multinational/1% brands and shopping instead at small businesses. There are many resources to help in this area like the phone app Buycott.

2. Think about your long term investments. Buy stock from companies who share your values. My personal values translate to corporate practices that: care for the earth and pay employees a livable wage for a honest days work.

3. Pay off your debt. I am still working on this one, it is mightily important to me. The more or us that live debt free the less control outside influence can have on our lives.

4. Consume as little as possible. Living lightly on the planet will allow us to stretch, reuse, and replenish our resources. Turning lights out and being mindful to water use makes a difference.

5. Help a co-worker, neighbor, or service professional. By this I mean, if a coworker or neighbor needs help and you can lead a hand or resources, jump in with both feet. When dinning out, getting a hair cut, or any other type of service, tip well. Carly and I were talking about this the other day and her new stance is why not 30 percent?! Her thinking is that if we help lift each other up financially we are helping out the 99 percent and by doing that we are raising all boats.

If you have anything to add to my list, please list it in the comments below so that others can see an important impact you have discovered.

After I had written this, I read Anneli Carter-Sundqvist's blog on Ways to Increase Our Self-Sufficiency on the Mother Earth site. I highly recommend her post for more good ideas.

What do you do to help move the 99 percent forward? Can you live with making some changes in your life to help the good of the whole? Can you trust that your ripple effect will make an impact?


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/21/2015

painted eggs

One of my many heath practices is walking. I am lucky to have a beach nearby; its about a three-mile walk, round trip. It includes stunning vistas, wooded pathways, stairs for strengthening, a beach if time provides, and the fellowship of getting to know my neighbors along the way.

We have lived in this neighborhood for 24 years. In those years I have come to know many neighbors by sight, some by name, and even a few as acquaintances. Over the years I have either walked with a group of woman, by myself, with Mark, Carly and/or my past dogs. The main theme of my walks has been to get out and marvel at this amazing place we call home sometimes with the fellowship of others.

Recently when Mark an I took this beach walk on sunny Easter Sunday we ran into an acquaintance's daughter who was in town visiting her mom. Delighted to see her and happy the hear that her mom was doing well, Mark and I stopped to chat. She told us that her mom had been "looking" for me and my number as she was hoping I could help her connect a homeless man she had befriended with hope and services. She knew that I, liking to help others and being a connector, was just the woman for the job! She continued on to note what fun she had decorating Easter eggs this Easter season and was glad to gift a couple extra she had made to us.

After chatting with this woman I got to thinking about all of my neighborhood acquaintances that have brought joy into my life, heart warming stories, and even the gift of decorated eggs or something else similarly thoughtful – there have been many. From the five-year-old who waits by the window to say hello in the morning, to the elderly couple who goes for long walks while the husband carries a chair along for his wife’s short rests, to the man who always shares a smile that’s warmth and sincerity touches my heart.

It is such a gift to have a physical practice that strengthens the heart and the soul. The decorated Easter eggs were a visual reminder of the many gifts from my beach walks, both physical and intangible. Here’s to sharing all that we have with our neighbors.

What gifts do you receive when doing physical exercise? Are there gifts that you can share with others in your neighborhood when you are out and about? Do have a local place that can become a practice for you?


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 



4/15/2015

Are Oats Good for You

I have fond memories of sitting down to the kitchen table with my mom to eat oatmeal when I was little. I was the youngest of three kids, and these morning bowls of oatmeal were something that we shared, just the two of us, after my older brothers had left for school. It wasn’t something we did every day, but I remember it vividly because I liked getting to pour my own milk to make it creamy and I loved mixing in (probably a few too many) spoonfuls of brown sugar to make it taste just right.

Years later, I still enjoy oatmeal as a hearty, filling breakfast from time to time. I now replace the brown sugar with alternative sweeteners (or I skip it all together), and I like to add healthy nuts, berries, or other additions like flax seed to my oatmeal to make my meal more wholesome. But why are oats good for you in the first place?

Why Are Oats Good for You?

Oats are rich in protein, vitamins (like vitamin E), antioxidants, and fiber, making them a good food to start your day off with.[1,2] One of the reasons oats are believed to be so healthy is that they contain an especially important form of fiber, called β-glucan, which has a wide range of health benefits. This kind of fiber is thought to help contribute to lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugar, and many other positive effects in the body.[3] Oats also have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities, which helps to keep the body healthy and fight disease.[1]

Health Benefits of Eating More Oats

Whole grains, in general, and oats in particular have been linked to lower rates of disease, such as certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.[2,4,5] Some of the specific health benefits of oats include:

1. Lowering cholesterol. There are numerous studies showing that oats have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.[1,3,6-8] In one review of various studies, oats reduced cholesterol levels by and average 3 percent to 6 percent, correlating to a 6 percent to 18 percent decreased risk for heart disease. The beneficial effect on cholesterol levels seems to be particularly important for people with elevated cholesterol to begin with.[6] β-glucan fiber plays a large role in the cholesterol-lowering effects of oats, and their antioxidant capacity also helps by preventing the oxidation of lipids.[1]

2. Reduce blood pressure. There is also some evidence that oats can help to manage high blood pressure.[6] One review estimates that the intake of β-glucan found in oats can significantly decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, by 2.7 to 4.7 mmHg and 1.5 to 2.7 mmHg, respectively.[9]

3. Aid in healthy digestion. Oat intake can help promote healthy bowel movements and decrease constipation, an effect that may help treat irritable bowel syndrome. Oats also can act as a prebiotic, something that feeds the beneficial bacteria in our gut, which may be beneficial for treatment of irritable bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis.[4]

Steel Cut, Rolled, Instant – What’s the Difference?

Oats can be purchased in many different forms, as they can be prepared and processed in numerous ways.

Whole oat groats are the purest form of oats, which are the entire oat kernel with the inedible hull removed. These take the longest to cook, about one hour.

Steel cut oats are whole oats cut into pieces, which makes them faster to cook (about 20 minutes). They are nuttier in flavor and chewier in texture than rolled or instant oats.

Rolled oats have been steamed and then rolled to produce flakes. They only take a few minutes to cook and produce a creamier finished product. These are the kinds of oats that are used in baked goods and things like granola.

Instant oats are precooked rolled oats that only require the addition of hot water to be immediately prepared. Instant oatmeal is often pre-sweetened and may contain various additives.

Are Oats Safe for a Gluten-Free Diet?

Oats themselves are gluten-free, but they are often contaminated with gluten, either due to shared processing facilities or because they are grown near other corps that contain gluten. Uncontaminated, gluten-free certified oats can be found in most natural health food stores, and are generally well tolerated by those with celiac disease.

Oatmeal is delicious with fresh berries, dried fruit, walnuts, pecans, flax meal, chia seeds, and a variety of other healthy add-ins. What are your favorite oatmeal recipes?

References

[1] Dietary oats and modulation of atherogenic pathways

[2] Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods - a review

[3] Oat β-glucan: physico-chemical characteristics in relation to its blood-glucose and cholesterol-lowering properties

[4] Oats and bowel disease: a systematic literature review

[5] The future of oats in the food and health continuum

[6] Oats and CVD risk markers: a systematic literature review

[7] Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan

[8] Randomized controlled trial of oatmeal consumption versus noodle consumption on blood lipids of urban Chinese adults with hypercholesterolemia

[9] Effects of dietary fibre type on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of healthy individuals

Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/13/2015

 globe

Over the last six months I have listened to many speeches, some at graduations, some at Seattle's jewel Town Hall and one at Bennaroya Hall in Seattle. Most of the time when I listen to someone share their expertise, book excerpt, or passion I can find at least a couple of kernels that add to my life. I am thankful to say I have only had difficulty mining insightful bits of wisdom at one of these recent events. And luckily for me the folks I attended that event with me helped me to see a couple important insights. 

One of the reasons I had a difficult time finding kernels of wisdom in the above mentioned event was due to a sadness I felt – stuck by how unprepared this woman was in her mid-twenties to advocate for her own well being when her mother died. This is not to say that we are ever fully prepared for a loved ones death, particularly the death of our parent or child, however I hope and trust Carly will not take to behaviors of self destruction when Mark or I die.  

At a completely different event the keynote speaker, Craig Sims, gave me an interesting insight about how we prepare our children for the greater world and the multitudes of experience they are bound to come across. His personal mission statement inspired me to the point of getting his business card and calling him so that I could get it in writing and his permission to quote him so I could share with all of you. Craig's mission statement is "I'm preparing my children for the world, while preparing the world for my children". When we talked he explained to me he felt that preparing his children for the world was just as important as the good works he does daily to prepare the world for his children. As I have pondered his mission statement I think about how many families would benefit from his wisdom. 

As our daughter Carly prepared for the world she learned that life isn't fair, doing a good job is important, your word is you bond, and one should always leave a place better then you found it. As I prepare the world for Carly's generation and the generations younger then her, I do my best to live as lightly on the earth as possible, work for peace and justice and show her how I build my healthy, supportive and positive communities.  

How do you prepare your children for the world? How do you prepare the world for your children? Where does your community need your help in either of these tasks? 


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 



4/10/2015

Is Aromatherapy Herbalism?

No and yes. No, because they are very different disciplines using botanical materials in different ways. Yes, because aromatherapy is used by many herbalists to complement an herbal treatment, or in many cases, to complete it. Both disciplines use plants for healing body, mind, and soul. Herbalists treat a person holistically considering all aspects of their dis-ease. In using both herbal remedies (infusions, decoctions, tinctures, etc.) and essential oils (water insoluble components of the plant), an herbalist creates a broader holistic approach to treating illness.

19 Essential Oils For Beginners

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for healing. Essential oils are volatile substances extracted from plants typically by a distillation process. These properties are not released in any significant amount in typical herbal preparations. Essential oils are comprised of numerous chemical constituents, with each chemical having a particular signature and mode of action. The majority of the constituents in essential oils are produced by the plants either for their own protection, to attract pollinators, or to heal wounds. Their modes of action and therapeutic properties are also effective on humans, and we can use essential oils to affect our physical and emotional health in various ways.

There are over 100,000 aromas found in nature, but as humans we can recognize only about 300 of these. It is through receptors in our sinuses (the olfactory bulb) that lead to the limbic system of the brain that corresponds to our emotions and feelings. When we inhale aroma molecules, we have a direct path to our emotions and memories. That is why when you smell certain aromas, such as a cake baking in the oven or a soup pot on the stove it can bring you back to a different place and time. You have effectively experienced aromatherapy! This is a very simple example for a very complex healing art, but you get the point I’m sure.

Essential oils are most commonly administered aromatically via inhalation and topically via absorption through the skin. Rarely are essential oils taken internally, and never without the supervision of a professional health care provider with extensive knowledge in the practice of aromatherapy and its effects on the body. Safe use of essential oils is paramount! Learn more about safety guidelines for aromatic, internal, and topical use as well as dilution recommendations in the article Essential Oil Safety.

Many essential oils are antiviral and antibacterial and can be used in diffusers to help fight cold and flu infections as well as relieve congestion. Essential oils with nervine properties can be used to calm anxiety, release tension, soothe headaches, and alleviate sleeplessness. The stimulating effect of some essential oils can be used to energize the mind and body, improve mental focus and memory, and relieve mental fatigue.

Remember that our skin is our largest organ and is not to be ignored. However, essential oils are very potent and are usually mixed with carrier oils before using them on the skin. When essential oils are used in skin products, they can promote cell growth, improve circulation, and help rid the body of toxins. Essential oils can also be helpful for alleviating pain, swelling, and itching from bruises, bug bites, stings, and burns.

Aromatherapy in Herbalism

Herbalists use botanical material (flowers, leaves, bark, seeds, roots) to make remedies that can be taken internally. Many herbs are actually food and can be eaten or drunk on a daily basis. Aromatherapists use the essential oils of the plant, and for the most part they are used externally or topically, although internal use is sometimes recommended under their experienced supervision.

An herbalist may complement an herbal treatment with an essential oil to help stimulate feelings or emotions that may indeed support the healing process. They may also include essential oils as part of their prescription to help build immunity or to reduce stress and encourage relaxation. Essential oils can be used for these purposes in salves, lotions, ointments, and other skin preparations; in steam inhalations and simply diffused into the air; and in dental hygiene products and throat sprays. A thoughtfully made herbal preparation with essential oils has therapeutic value not just from the essential oil itself, but also the other ingredients with which the essential oil is combined. This, along with the careful, holistic consideration of the dis-ease profile, makes for a powerful holistic remedy.

19 Essential Oils For Beginners

Here are some essential oils that one may want to have in their home kit. For suggestions for a starter kit with four essential oils, see this Basic Essential Oils for Daily Living article.

Essential Oil

Scent

Therapeutic Properties

Bergamot

Light and citrusy

May help nervous tension

Chamomile (Roman)

Fruity, woody

May help relieve stress, tension and anxiety, improves digestion, reduces pain, heals skin

Citronella

Lemon - citrus

Insect repellant, may help with fevers and digestion

Clary Sage

Sweet and spicy

Calming, may help with muscle fatigue, improve sleep, uplifting, tension tamer and aphrodisiac

Cypress

Light and woodsy

Works to reduce cellulite, calming and uplifting

Eucalyptus

Camphorous

Helps relieve pain, improves mental clarity and reduces congestion

Frankincense

Warm, exotic, sweet and spicy

Calming, may help with aging skin

Geranium

Floral, spicy

Promotes emotional balance, helps reduce cellulite, relieves stress and tension

Ginger

Strong spicy scent

Stimulating, improves mental clarity, relieves pain and nausea

Grapefruit

Citrusy

Improves mental clarity and memory

Jasmine

Sweet, heavy floral smell

Helps with depression, may help improve skin elasticity, reduces stretch marks, aphrodisiac

Juniper

Fresh, Fruity, woody

Helps with mental exhaustion, obesity, water retention

Lavender

Floral

Reduces cellulite deposits, helps reduce pain and inflammation, promotes relaxation and restful sleep

Lemongrass

Lemony

Uplifting, improves mental clarity

Neroli

Heavy, floral

Calming and uplifting

Rose (otto)

Floral, damp, invigorating

Helps relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety

Rosemary

Menthol, earthy

Helps reduce cellulite, relieves mental fatigue, relaxes tight muscles

Sandalwood

Earthy, spicy, floral, woody

Calming, aphrodisiac, reduces stress

Tea Tree

Camphorous

Antibiotic, anti-fungal, antiviral

Herbalists are life-long learners and a well-informed herbalist will want to embrace the use of aromatherapy in their art and practice, but not without educating themselves first. It is important to remember that essential oils are not the same as their whole plant counterpart, and may have very different properties, so developing a thorough understanding of them is essential to using them safely and effectively. Through education we can better inform ourselves to take care of ourselves and those that we love. Aromatherapy and herbalism are serious studies that require dedication and commitment.

19 Essential Oils For Beginner Herbalists

Learn more about Essential Oils!

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, sign up for the free Online Essential Oils Revolution Summit this May. In this first, non-brand-specific essential oil summit, attendees from around the world will gather together to learn from experts in the field, from medical professionals and researchers to health care practitioners and herbalists!

Learn more about the Essential Oils Revolution Summit.

Plus, follow along in the Herbal Academy of New England’s Using Essential Oils blog series, which includes:

Basic Essential Oils for Daily Living
How to Choose High Quality Essential Oils
A Guide to Essential Oil Safety
• And upcoming articles: Incorporating Essential Oils into Herbal Practice, A Guide to Carrier Oils, and Essential Oil Sustainability Issues.

Marlene Adelmann is the Founder and Director of the Herbal Academy of New England, the home of the Online Introductory Herbal Course and the Online Intermediate Herbal Course, and meeting place for Boston area herbalists. Photos provided and copyrighted by Herbal Academy of New England.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



4/6/2015

Carlys Birthday Party 

Community. Now there's a big word. During the last several months this word has increasingly come up in conversation. Most recently, I was talking with some mid-twenties folks about an app called Tinder; a thirty-something young man about community structures, power, and influence; and friends about the building of mega-churches.

I remember being raised in a vital neighborhood community; a place where I knew our neighbors and they knew me (they felt free to correct my behavior whether I needed it or not), a place where my peers and I settled disputes on our own, where I never felt lonely or isolated. We spent much of our time outside. TV was observed as a Sunday night thing, and the concept of regulated screen time was something we couldn’t have conceived of even in our wildest dreams.

I believe that we created a accessible community when raising Carly and our foster son. Since we weren't members of a church, and our extended families were not traditional (were even a bit fractured), we looked to our childhood friends, neighborhood, schools, and work communities to forge our own groups for companionship, growth, and support. Our community was inclusive and diverse. Our home became an epicenter of community celebrations, dinner parties, and play dates. 

As Carly celebrated this last birthday, she planned a celebration with her newly-formed ski instructing community. Being the first time in a long while that our immediate family was all on the same continent for her birthday, it felt odd not to be at her celebration. She hosted it a couple of hours away on a work night, so I settled on being there in spirit. When I had a discussion with her about how odd being close but apart felt, she reminded me that we taught her as a child that birthdays were to be inclusively celebrated with one’s community. When she was in elementary school, we had a rule that every child from her class and our neighborhood was to be included in her party. We also had a no gift rule; we wanted to help her see that celebration with her community was about fellowship not stuff. I was glad for her insightful reminder that memories from her childhood are helping her to build and form strong adult communities. 

What examples are you showing your children and the children around you about community building? How do you build community? What do you want or expect from the communities that surround you?    


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.












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