Secrets of the Tao: 5 Keys to Longevity

The quest for longevity is a pursuit that has been at the core of Chinese culture throughout their history.

The ancient Taoists considered 150 years to be a normal life, and blamed civilization for shortening this span. Modern pollutants cause the body to use all its resources in a constant attempt to detoxify, leaving nothing left for cultivating longevity. Living in harmony with nature is the cure. Such a lifestyle includes taking life slowly, avoiding extremes (including emotional extremes), and following a daily regimen of exercise and breathing. Dietary guidelines include avoiding overeating; focusing on warm, nourishing foods in winter to boost Qi; and eating a primarily vegetarian diet supplemented by medicinal herbs. The Taoist herbalist Lee Ching-yuen, born in the 17th century, is reported to have lived 256 years by following these guidelines, and died looking no more than 50.

The Japanese are among the longest lived people in modern times, and have a diet based on fresh raw fish (“sushi” actually means “longevity”), and fresh fruits and vegetables. Much like other Blue Zone peoples they buy their food fresh daily, spend lots of time outside getting fresh air and sunshine, energize their indoor air with negative ion generators, and practice daily Tai Qi and Qi Gong both for strength and relaxation.

Daniel Reid’s book The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity summarizes the factors vital to Taoist longevity:

  1. Climate/geography: high altitude, pure air, cool temperatures.
  2. Diet/nutrition: vegetable-based diet with medicinal herbs and moderate daily alcohol.
  3. Daily exercise and deep breathing.
  4. Sex: The Taoists used “bedroom arts” to cultivate Qi.
  5. Supplemental herbs to stimulate vital organs, glands, and enhance circulation (stagnation = death).

According to TCM, a major cause of aging is loss of Yuan Qi or Prenatal Qi which has its root in the kidneys and is the foundation of vitality. Goji berries are considered a Yin tonic and nourish the kidneys, liver, semen, and improve vision, making them especially good for longevity. My husband trained under an old Chinese master who drank goji berry tea daily and was strong as a tiger in his 70’s.

In my own experience, living in harmony with nature is a concept that goes beyond diet and exercise. The best I’ve felt is when my husband and I lived in our Jeep on the California coast, sleeping and rising in rhythm with the sun. The complete darkness at night, the brilliant stars, the fresh ocean air scented with eucalyptus and pine, and the freedom from the stress that comes with a house full of electronics was an experience I will never forget. Despite being in my last trimester of pregnancy, I felt alive and full of vitality as never before or since. Someday I hope to have a home off the grid where I can truly follow “the Way of the Tao” and return to that natural harmony.


Reid, D. (1986). Chinese Herbal Medicine. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
Reid, D. (1989). The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity. New York, NY: Fireside.

Essential Oils for Immunity: The Power of Cinnamon Bark

Boosting the immune system is a key aspect in the quest to stay healthy. In addition to a wholesome diet supplemented with herbs, nature offers another powerful way to strengthen the body and keep viruses at bay: essential oils.

Essential oils are the most potent form of plant medicine. Their active constituents regenerate both the plant that contains them and the people who use them. These volatile oils are able to pass not only through cell membranes but also through the blood-brain barrier, and like the Qi energy in Traditional Chinese Medicine they connect and heal body, mind, and spirit. Plant essences have been used medicinally for centuries through inhalation, diffusion, topical application, added to body care, beauty, and cleaning products, in cooking, and combined with other wellness practices like acupuncture and massage for nearly endless healing possibilities. 

Perhaps one of the most important and powerful aspects of essential oils is their ability to support the immune system. In fact, essential oils ARE the immune system of the plants! Bacteria and viruses can develop immunity to antibiotics within 20 minutes, but are unable to create resistance to essential oils or mutate in their presence.(1) Essential oils also purify the atmosphere by adding ozone, oxygen, and negative ions, and can increase cellular oxygen by up to 21%.(2) Using essential oils thus has similar benefits to living near the ocean or in the mountains where the air is especially pure and vital because of the abundance of negative ions.

Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) Essential Oil

Let’s take a closer look at one especially powerful immune-booster: cinnamon bark oil. Prized since ancient times for its ability to kill viruses and infectious diseases, cinnamon bark is anti-infectious, anti-fungal, antiviral, antibacterial, antidiarrheal, antispasmodic, anti-parasitic, astringent, and a digestive and immune stimulant.(3) It strengthens the respiratory and immune systems, and research has shown that it is able to completely destroy viruses, bacteria, and fungi.(4) 

Cinnamon bark oil in TCM

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cinnamon bark essential oil is pungent, astringent, sweet, hot, and dry. It increases Guardian or Defensive Qi, our first line of defense against the invasion of external pathogens like colds and flu. It fights infection, dispels cold and damp, promotes sweat, relieves fatigue, and calms aches and pains associated with illness. Cinnamon’s sweet, pungent flavor carries Yang fire deep into the body, warming the internal organs and dispelling cold and damp. On an emotional level, it restores the will to live and gives courage to the fearful and depressed.(5) 

One of the strongest natural antibiotics, cinnamon bark is a key ingredient in the popular blend know as Thieves Oil, a recreation of a historic potion that protected its users from the Bubonic Plague.(6) 

In TCM, the Bladder Channel runs up the back of the spine and is a major location of Defensive Qi. It is interesting that cold in the lower back often indicates weak Qi and impending illness. Cinnamon bark has a natural affinity for this channel, as my husband experienced first-hand. Feeling a cold coming on, he added one drop of C. zeylonicum bark oil to his bath water. The oil was instantly drawn to his lower back so that he could feel an intense warming sensation. Upon exiting the bath, his chills were gone and he didn’t become ill.* 

Cinnamon may be inhaled, diffused, or added to a room spray to quickly purify the air and boost immunity. Here is a simple recipe to get you started! 

DIY Antiviral Blend (Adapted from Valerie Anne Worwood’s The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy)

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) 5 drops
Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum zeylonicum) 5 drops
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) 7 drops

Blend in an amber glass bottle and use as needed. (Not recommended for bath or topical application).

Inhalation: 1 drop on a tissue.
Diffuser: 5 drops.
Room spray: In a clean spray bottle, add 20 drops to 1 teaspoon of alcohol, then add 4 tablespoons of purified or distilled water and shake well. Mist high in the air, avoiding valuable or delicate furnishings.


*Important Safety Information: Use extreme caution when adding essential oils to a bath, as water can increase potential sensitivity and cause severe irritation or burns. Cinnamon is contraindicated during pregnancy and nursing, and is hepatotoxic in high doses. It is potentially allergenic and may cause sensitization. Be careful around pets and children. Always dilute properly before use and consult a qualified practitioner if you have a health condition.*


(4). Stiles, K.G. (2017). The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide. Salem, MA: Page Street Publishing Co.

(1), (2), (3), (5), (6). Willmont, D. (2008). Aromatherapy with Chinese Medicine (3rd ed.). Marshfield, MA: Willmountain Press.

Worwood, V. (2016). The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy (2nd ed.). Novato, CA: New World Library.

Welcome to Redhead Renaissance

I have created a website dedicated to the plight of redheads.

This site is dedicated to helping you realize the importance of your red-haired roots.

If you have ever felt different having red-hair, we are going on a quest to discover why.

One reason for our difference is that science has proven that redheads are genetically unique from all other hair colors.

With all of our differences, questions arise about our origins and place in history. Many people think that all redheads are Irish, but in fact they can be found throughout the world in unexpected places as Egypt, China and Russia.

In our red-haired ancestors, the sensitivities of being redhead manifested themselves through extra-sensory perceptions and intuitions. The Vikings, Celts, and Druids all had shamans, sorcerers and magicians. These abilities have been passed down genetically and can be found in many redheads today.

Even though redheads face hardship, our resiliency has shown through. Though we make up only 2% of the world’s population,  quite often redheads have been leaders and shapers in the history of the world.

Let the quest begin!


History Culture & Legends of Red Hair

“Woven Moonlight”: Linen ~ The Perfect Fabric for Red-heads!

RedHaired Roots

Sensitive skin is a major factor for red-heads. Sunburn, rashes, and allergic reactions all come easily to fair-skinned gingers. Finding suitable clothing can be a challenge, especially considering most cotton is genetically modified and soaked with chemical pesticides, fertilizers and insecticides; synthetic fabrics are harsh and hot; and wool is itchy. The solution? Linen!

Who can resist the allure of linen? Elegant, cool in summer, warm in winter, crisp when new, soft and silky with age. My entire life I have been captivated by the fabric. At the age of 15 I made my first linen shirt for a Lord of the Rings costume convention. Thirteen years later I made my wedding dress of linen. To this day I ransack thrift stores in search of anything flax, which I can tell just by touch.

Why the obsession? At first I liked linen for no apparent reason other than its nice…

View original post 395 more words

Life as a Red-haired Stepchild

Growing up as the red-haired stepchild, literally, was tough. My own mom didn’t even like me. Neither of my parents had red hair. Getting called carrot top was the norm and it sucked. I would get blamed for everything and I was treated as a bad child even though I was a good. Other parents, teachers, priests, I guess people of authority looked down on me. I remember getting kicked out of class anytime someone talked to me. I spent most of the year in my desk in the hall looking in through the door. I became good friends with the principal.

The allergies started when I was 13 and they only worsened until I discovered that they were caused by milk and wheat. Acupuncture was the best treatment of all. In addition, I have a sensitive digestive system, its called irritable bowel syndrome now. They did not have a label for attention deficit disorder back when I was growing up. Good thing as I would not want to be put on any mental medication. Who knows what that would have done? I would spend the whole day mesmerized on the first day of snow. Every time I went to the dentist, I would really get high on the laughing gas although the drilling was still painful. I talk to people who never feel any pain at the dentist. Must be nice.

The negative attention stopped when I let my hair grow out. Everyone thinks I look like Sammy Hagar. He can’t look that bad. Maybe all redheads are related. Strangely, I find red haired women attractive, but have never wanted to date one. I wonder if its genetic. I love the exotic type. Oh wait, my first kiss came from the neighbor girl who was a redhead. We were 4 at the time and wow did we get in trouble together.

I began to notice that other people liked to tell me their problems. I was watching a Dr Who episode where the Amazon lady states, “When you get a cut, look for the man with the most scars.” I guess that relates to me. Being a redhead makes you somewhat jaded and tough. I have the most wry sense of humor and its helped me stay mentally afloat. In my ’30’s I began to have shamanic experiences and have since been on a spiritual journey in that direction. Must have been the laughing gas. Yes I do feel like I am from another planet because I just can’t get over all this need for the material satisfaction. Personally I love to be in the mountains surrounded by large pine trees in the whispering winds with a spring of bubbling water nearby or by ocean watching the endless waves as the setting sun simmers and shimmers.

People with red hair have many different traits than the general population. I wanted to list my traits and see how they compare to other redheads. Here goes:

    • It is so funny watching myself getting so crazy and all over the place making this website
  • Curly locks
  • Allergies
  • Fiery
  • Food sensitivities
  • Search for deeper answers
  • Blushing
  • Empath
  • Burn easy in the sun
    • I think is related to ability to produce Vitamin D
    • I don’t think I am affected by SAD-seasonal affected disorder-as much as others because I like all kinds of weather- or maybe I am
  • High sex energy
  • Attuned senses
  • ESP
  • Some intelligence
  • Get a lot of attention- good and bad
    • Yeah, gingerism is real, I prefer the good attention
  • Do not like following the rules
  • Interested in alternative diets and medicine because the normal has not worked
  • Environmentally sensitive
  • Hate the dentist
  • Have dealt with depression
  • Love music
  • Experimented with alcohol and drugs
  • Love being in nature
  • Blue eyes
  • Strong and fast
    • Goes with have to being smart in order to survive



On The Road Again

by Rose Larson

After a brief respite wintering in Montana, we have hit the road again, this time for San Diego, CA! Driven by his mission to heal people, Jesse is enrolled full-time at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, which will allow him to compliment his Certificate of Tuina with a massage license, and enable him to reach an even wider clientele.

The sacrifices have been great, including a return to homelessness. As always, however, we continue to meet people who need our help, among the students and the homeless. Jesse is always available to lend an ear to other’s problems, and his hands to healing their bodies. We believe this new adventure will bring even more fulfillment of the task appointed to us, to help those truly in need.

If you wish to support our efforts, please visit our online store, and consider purchasing our pure, handmade body care products for yourself or as a gift. Our Thor’s Hammer men’s line make great Father’s Day gifts!

Thank you!

Origin of massage

Hopefully someday, massage therapists will realize the origin of massage. French Jesuit priests learned of massage from the Chinese in 17th Century and later became Swedish massage. Massage in China is better known as tuina which is a part of Chinese medicine. The difference between tuina and western massage is energy. This energy or chi is the basis of Chinese medicine. Meaning that there is energy flowing in the body and as a massage therapist, you are moving chi within the body, its not just physical or spiritual for that matter. This message could be expanded to include western medicine as well.

The Endless Bucketful of Peanuts

Homeless Tales Part 2

The Santa Cruz library is a haven for the homeless. Sure, most folks look at the homeless as dirty and lazy, but if they would slow down and forget their “rush rush” life, they might just see amazing stories such as the endless bucketful of peanuts.

I witnessed this scene while waiting for the library to open. Rose and I had shown up a little early it turned out, although we didn’t know what time the library opened or for that matter, what time it was in the first place. Just then this scraggly guy in his 30’s, wearing dirty army clothes and looking like he just climbed out of some bushes, came strolling up carrying a 5 gallon white bucket. He sat down on the bucket, waiting for the grand opening too. Nothing out of the ordinary it would seem. But then he got up and peeled off the lid that was sealed tight and started to take out his wadded up army clothes that he either had from serving or from the surplus store. He pulled out each balled up wrinkled shirt or pants one by one, giving it a little shake and looking it over before throwing on the cement. Then he found what he was looking for – out came his fingers gripping a lone shelled peanut. I guess it was lodged in the folds of his wear. He scrutinized it, blew on it and ate it with slow deliberation. He dug out some more wadded up shirts and pants, and another peanut fell on the ground. Maybe it fell out of a pocket, I wasn’t sure. Again he eyed it critically, blew it clean and ate it. He then proceeded to wad up his clothes one by one and stuff them back into the bucket, sealing it with the plastic lid.

I was amazed how many clothes he could get into the bucket. At first, I guessed that he had a spilled bag of Planters Peanuts like the kind you buy from a vending machine. I thought about buying a bag myself. I found myself watching him as I’m prone to do, trying to surmise his persona. He was sort of furtive, legs crossed while back on the bucket, shaking his foot. Well, he jumped up, ripped that lid off again and started digging out his wrinkled apparel. He found another peanut and went through the ritual again before consumption. He reached in again, scraped around the bottom and came up with another Planter’s, again blowing on it, tossing it into his mouth and chewing it down. I was like, “Wow! This guy must be hungry!” He proceeded to haphazardly repack the clothes, pushing down hard to get that lid on.

At this point I was looking around trying not to stare, because the anticipation was killing me wondering if he was going to dig into the bucket again. Plus my mouth was really watering for the taste of salty crunchy, well I hoped they were crunchy, peanuts. Sure enough, he got up and ripped off the lid again. Those lids are not easy to get off because they seal up tight and he was really pulling and gripping that bucket to rid it of the lid. I looked around and saw a nearby lady watching with consternation. She couldn’t take her eyes off this man and his ritual. I think she was appalled at his actions. Who could blame her, she had a normal life and this just didn’t fit into her reality. This time he was digging deep, as if the bottom had a hole in it, reaching for that elusive golden nugget. I was wondering if he was going to fall in, but then up he popped with another peanut, blowing the dirt off before devouring the tasty morsel. I began to wonder about the origin of this charade: whether he had inadvertently packed away a shirt with a pocket full of peanuts, or whether “empty the bag and recover the peanuts” was a game he played to pass the time, or better yet, was it a method of rationing his scanty snack supply. Your guess is as good as mine.

Everyone was watching now as the clothes got jammed and crammed in again, fighting to get out, hoping to stave off the next round of inspections and interrogations of digging deep in those pockets that would be pulled out to make sure they were not hiding anything. Lint covered peanuts, mmmmm. I just couldn’t get over how many peanuts were in there and why he didn’t find them all in the first place. His clothes always ended up everywhere as he searched intensively for more. Yes, he found another of course, unbelievable. I was hoping it would be the last because I couldn’t go through the agony of him prying that lid off again and digging through those clothes. As he got the lid on again, the doors opened, to which I said, Thank God!


If you enjoyed this story and want to read more, support our work helping those in need by buying our handmade body care products. Click below!

Beard Oil Sampler
Beard Oil Sampler