Redwood Baths & Bulletproof Coffee Keep Me Sane…Sort Of

fphoto-sixteenHenry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Fall Creek Unit, California

photo courtesy of David Baselt

 

This post was originally four times as long, and it covered too many topics. Thankfully, I saw the literary light and I deleted most of it.

Some folks might think that writing profusely about all sorts of things sounds rather manic; if anything, I’m headed for the opposite direction. That’s due to my friend’s death. I miss her. I wish she was still around to read my post and write one of her trademark witty comments. She sure knew how to make me chuckle.

Apart from my not quite believing she’s gone, the fall is a rough time of year for many of us. I love the fall. Those who are close to me know that I consider Halloween to be the most important day of the year, but in the past I’ve become manic or depressed in October.

Although I’ve been stable for three years, I get nervous. That’s not that long a time. I use my Sunbox, which I’ll write about next week, and I’m doing something new that’s helping me ground myself, literally.

Redwood Baths

Yes, redwood baths. I’m not the only one to love these tall trees. One writer did a fair job of expressing his reverence for the “giants of the forest”. You might’ve heard of him. 

The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.

John Steinbeck

Recently I learned that the trees emanate far more than silence and awe. In Japan there’s the practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.  The term “forest bath” is misleading, but I love it. Forest baths are simply mellow walks among the trees in which one aims to be present and notice the beautiful environment.

When I first went on redwood strolls, they resembled hasty showers rather than relaxing baths. I wasn’t taking in my magnificent surroundings. Instead of gazing up at the tall redwoods to see ethereal shafts of daylight peeping through their branches, I stared at my feet plodding along the dirt trail. 

I ignored the refreshing, cool scent that was a unique combination of Fall Creek’s redwoods and the other trees. It took time for me to change my old habits, but after reading an article about the physical, spiritual and emotional significance of forest baths, I began regarding the forest in a totally different way.

Now, brace yourself for some dry statistics – they’re very convincing and cool, so that’s why I’m including them.

Studies have shown that 20-30 minute-long forest baths are enough to reap health benefits. A 2010 study published in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine found that forest bathing lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Some benefits are derived from inhaling the forest air. The trees emit organic compounds called phytoncides such as alpha-pinene and d-limonene; these are substances that are also found in some essential oils such as grapefruit. (I worked at an essential oil practitoner college in the 1990’s, so I got a big kick out of that fact!)

Check this out: these amazing phytoncide compounds not only protect the trees and plants from insects and disease  – they can benefit people. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology cited a direct link between inhaling phytoncides and an increase in the body’s natural killer, or NK cells.

NK cells, a major force in our immune systems, help identify and destroy infected, damaged, harmful Satan cells. They’re considered important in the study of cancer. Another study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology found that forest bathing significantly increased the activity of NK cells by an average of about 50 percent. Whoa! I like that.

If that stat wasn’t cool enough, there’s another convincing reason why forest baths can help anyone suffering from depression and anxiety:

the power of the color green

Color theory studies have shown that green triggers emotional responses including relaxation, calmness, happiness, comfort, peace, hope, and even excitement. One reason the color green is thought to generate positive responses is due to our genetics. Green environments signaled to our ancestors that there was the presence of three essential aspects of survival: food, shelter, and water. 

I found the Japanese tradition and studies fascinating. It was validating to learn my humble walks had health benefits galore. Next time I want to pass on a forest walk, I’ll remember that it’s free and it’ll make me feel better…plus I won’t be billed for it by any greedy insurance company!

Bulletproof Coffee 

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A Fun Public Scene: Avonlea wanted to try one sip of the pricey java; naturally she spit it out and entertained the Silicon Valley commuters!

After reading ketogenic articles and the bestselling book Keto Clarity, I finally bit the bullet and tried bulletproof coffee. (If you caught that pun, you’re a quick one!)

A couple weeks ago Avonlea and I went to the high-end cafe Coffee Cat in Scotts Valley. Scotts Valley is home to many Silicon Valley commuters and their multi-million dollar abodes. 

Coffee Cat has a super-cute logo that someone painted on this Fairy Door

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I was excited to learn that Coffee Cat sold their own version of bulletproof coffee they called “Ironman Coffee” to avoid being sued by Silicon Valley bulletproof founder Dave Asprey. Silicon Valley is only 30 minutes away, so it’s entirely possible he could find out about the breach and sue away.

When I tried my Ironman coffee I was disappointed.

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My cup cost $5.50 for about 10 ounces, and consisted of coffee, Kerrygold butter and MTC, which are medium chain triglyceride fatty acid – yummers  The coffee had all the right elements, but it tasted pretty gross. There went $5.50 + tip down the drain.

Last week I had the opportunity to try a homemade version of bulletproof coffee at my friend’s house. She combined about 8 oz. of Peet’s Major Dickinson’s coffee, a heaping teaspoon of organic butter, and a tablespoon of organic coconut oil. She simply mixed it together with a spoon instead of using a gold-plated $500 blender that also doubles as a kareoke machine.

I didn’t have my hopes up high that her concoction would be palatable, let alone delectable. I was pleasantly surprised to find it very yummy and had two more cups!

Inspired, I bought the same ingredients and made my own version. It was far better than Coffee Cat’s Ironman fiasco, but not quite as good as my friend’s cup, and I can’t figure out why that’s the case…it’s a mystery! If I figure it out, I’ll write about it here.

Anyway, articles such as this one and a blog post (and comments) by Dr.  Georgia Ede imply that the ketogenic diet can make a major difference in bipolar disorder symptoms. If you haven’t read any of this material before, it’s worth checking out.

I’d like to end this post on a positive note, but unfortunately that’s not happening today….

The Lose It! Update – It’s Not Going So Well For Us

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Awesome blogger Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I are struggling with our healthy eating & exercise routine, but we aren’t going to give up. We’re still using Lose It!’s website. Nothing’s gonna stop us now.

Cheesy 80’s Rock Will Never Die…

If you’d like to join us, sign up for free at www.loseit.com. and search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

Thanks for reading, and above all else, have a great Thursday night, Friday & weekend! See you next Friday.

love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October, 2017.

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32 thoughts on “Redwood Baths & Bulletproof Coffee Keep Me Sane…Sort Of

  1. I LOVE this post. Strangely enough, I came over here immediately after writing my last post — about walking in nature. I didn’t specifically mention the trees — more the darkness, the sky & the scents — but trees *do* something for me, and after reading your post I see there’s some true science behind it. We don’t have redwoods where I live, but we have these haunting live oaks that sprawl and take on personalities all their own. When I walk during the day I have a favorite tree. I recently met the woman who lives in the house where *my* tree is located. Before I knew it my freak flag flew and I said, “OH!!!! I know your house! It’s next to my all-time favorite tree!!!” She gave me a weird grin and then said, “Yes…we adore that tree as well.” Anyway, yes. Trees. Sooooo good for the soul.

    And…bulletproof coffee. Here’s my tip: add a couple of tablespoons of pure maple syrup. It makes a huge difference. I use about a tablespoon of KerryGold butter (salted) and a teaspoon or two of unrefined coconut oil. And the maple syrup. I know it’s still sugar but in my opinion it makes it much more decadent and palatable. I do have an immersion blender, though it’s seriously falling apart, and that makes it creamier and more delicious to me. It’s definitely a beverage worth toying around with to find a mix you like. I always feel better and more satisfied when I start my day with one.

    You’ve been on my mind a lot. As I mentioned, September is hard. I’m finding myself more withdrawn and not really in the mood to spell everything out. I’ve barely been reading blogs.

    Still thinking about you as you grapple with the loss of dear Ulla. Even though I didn’t know her, the loss hit me deeply. I’m honestly still processing… Lots of love to you. xoxo

  2. Alas, I have to keep THIS response short, as Biff refuses to nap…

    I’ve always loved the woods, and I’m still saddened to be so far from them. I mean, for being in a state with acres and acres of woods, it just figures we happen to live in the chunk farmers stole from the Ents, or whatever it is they did. And the kids aren’t old enough to be in school for me to have those walks alone, nor are they decent enough to walk with me if we want to walk. I ain’t runnin’ with all those tree roots everywhere. 😦
    So.
    I’m so very glad you’ve got your redwoods near you. They sound a true blessing in your life…unlike Coffee Cat…gosh, the combo, I admit, does NOT sound good, but I trust you and your friend’s work that it is indeed tasty. 😛 Did your daughter spit it back into the cup? Biff’s getting horrible about that–if he gets a hold of Bash’s coffee, he’ll take a slurp and then spit it back. Yuck, what little grosser-outers I have…

    All right, back to motherhood. Keep talking to Ulla. Keep hugging your kids (and the furry one 😉 And keep writing, my lovely Coffee Queen! 🙂 xxxx

  3. There is something deeply spiritual about redwoods. They have been around longer than we have, individually, maybe that’s it. Serene seniors – apparently some of them are over 2000 years old , that is damn impressive.

    At any rate I’m commenting because of the use of a sunlamp in the fall when you’re manicky time comes. Sunlight has a respectable antidepressant effect and it can kick off manic episodes. Not sure of your thinking about that. Regardless, the equinox, when the rate of change in light is at the greatest, is when seasonal affective disorder problems are typically the worst. Not the solstices, that surprise me when I first heard it. It is true for me, but the fall is depression time for me and when I got high it was Easter.

    I enjoy your writing and kudos for your determined enthusiasm.

    1. Everytime I see that gorgeous Gravatar of yours and the name “Summersday”,🌞 it makes me happy. I love the summer, and it has been hard to say bye to it because soon it’ll be butt-ass cold here. Brrrrrrrr!!!!

      I digress. Redwoods are deeply spiritual; I couldn’t agree with you more. And it’s amazing to think some of them have been here 2000 years…

      Re: the Sunbox – I’ve used mine since 2005. It has traveled with me hundreds of miles in the car and it still works well. I learned about light therapy from reading Dr. Norman Rosenthal’s classic “Winter Blues”. His bio says he’s “internationally recognized for his pioneering contributions to understanding SAD and using light therapy to treat it. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School.” I gave away his book, which I wish I didn’t do, so I don’t know what he thought about bipolar and light treatments (when I bought his book it was years before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder – I got my light for S.A.D), but I’m sure I could find it online.

      If one has bipolar, one needs to be cautious about the light triggering hypomania or mania. I’ve never had a bit of mania from using from Sunbox, thank goodness. My Sunbox has a website (www.sunbox.com) that has links to research, but not enough info. about bipolar & light therapy as far as I can tell.Then again, I’m half awake! 🙂 On one of their site pages they list how to use light therapy, but regarding bipolar it only says to “In patients with bipolar, maintain on mood stabilizer”, so it’s not complete. 😧

      http://www.sunbox.com/research/bright-light-treatment-research/

      I’ll look for good info. about bipolar & light therapy that I can include in my next post!

      That’s interesting that the equinox is when S.A.D. is the worst, and….that ***sucks***!
      You mentioned your depression usually affects you when it’s the fall. I hope you’re okay, and that somehow it stays away or is at a very, very low level. I’ll go read the latest on your blog to see how you’re doing. In the meantime, thanks for the thanks! 😜 Your words made me smile. 💗

  4. Reading about your “coffee escapades” I wonder if sometimes we just f**k with things too much and forget how wonderful simple, original things can be.

  5. I just love this post. I can’t believe I lived further north and never saw the redwoods. My family went there one year, but I was a tiny tot and don’t remember much.

    As far as butter coffee goes, I am a coffee snob so YUCK! I’ll give it a try one day because of your suggestion, but YUCK! lol

  6. Dyane–I am sorry I haven’t said it earlier, but I want to say how sorry I was to hear of Ulla’s death. She was a follower of our blog and I periodically stopped in and visited hers. I was also saddened and stunned by the news. I can feel your sadness in your words. It is so hard to lose someone you care about so suddenly and tragically. I’m glad you have the redwoods as a place of comfort. Take care! ❤️

    1. Thanks for such a warm & understanding comment, Sharon. Ulla had great taste in blogs, now, didn’t she? 😉 I’ll think of her and you too when I visit “my” trees later on today.

      You never have to be sorry for anything because you’ve been an amazing source of encouragement to me! Sending you more 💜 to deal with the insurance malarkey – to be honest, a much fouler word came to mind, but I’ll spare you! 😘

  7. Oh my fair Lady, all is well and hope you come across no bears in those forests oh.
    Am seriously considering joing your Lose it group even if only for the moral and mental support…
    As for the k diet and other info in this post… I didn’t so stay focused enough to comment real…

    1. These forests are bear-free 🐻 so that’s a welcome change after Tahoe!!! Why don’t you try Lose It! and if you don’t like it, no biggie….you can’t argue with free, my beautiful one. No worries about the keto diet and comments; I’m happy to hear from you about anything, my Fairy G. Hugs from your friends here, both furry (me) and extra-furry (Lady Lucy) ! 💗💜❤️🐶

      1. Now lady, I may just cry and then calm down. 30 good minutes gone fighting this dang slow connection to get to Lose It and them bam—dunno my current weight cause not gone on any dreaded scale since August 2015. Now I even read the Latte years thanks to you, and want to start again— managed to run for 10 minutes without a break—wish I could just bathe in the redwoods nanana

  8. I so miss redwoods, especially magic fairy circles (for those not familiar with coast redwoods, when mature tree dies, offspring propagate in a circle around the original tree – those circles are magical). The woods here are not so green.

    Interesting to note that ketogenic diets are used to treat seizure disorders, and seizure medications treat bipolar disorder.

    1. Magic fairy circles are so cool, Kitt – I’m glad you mentioned them. We live near an Italian restaurant that has a fairy circle on its patio. I didn’t realize how the circles formed until you explained it, so ***thank you***!

      Re: ketogenics – it’s very interesting to note the connection between keto & seizure disorders. I’m spotting more and more keto-friendly products wherever I go, i.e. CVS & Safeway, but I find it such a daunting dietary change. I hate to cook/prepare food, and I’m not about to buy pre-prepared keto meals. So clearly I’m not ready to bring ketosis on. Don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for it….but then again, that’s what I thought before I started Lose It! so it’s possible. 😜

  9. Butter coffee sounds gross but I do understand the impact of increasing caffeine uptake and the such. Sorry brain is in depression mode so writing is hard. Well I’m so happy to hear about your forest bathing. We don’t have redwoods down in SoCal. Send me some! Hugs and take care of yourself my dear. XOXO

    1. Hey sweetness, I’m sorry about the evil depression. 😱Oh, I wish I could send some redwoods to you in SoCal.🌲 I used to hike in the Santa Monica Mountains alone, without pepper spray or Lucy “Cujo” (how dumb was that – I felt invincible at 14/15/16/ but it was plain-old-dumb and I don’t think my parents knew where I was…) but I loved exploring those mountains.

      I also thought butter coffee would be nasty! If made the right way it really is good. Over the years I heard about the Tibetan culture’s yak butter tea, and that didn’t sound so yummy, but they are hardy people, so I bet it has health benefits.

      Sending you my love, thanks for reading, especially when you’re feeling down, and lots of hugs to you, Jess. 💗💗💗

  10. Very interesting article! Thank you for the insights!
    Sadly as I live in France, we don’t have redwood tree forests. But I have no doubt a simple walk in our French woods would already do me good!
    What I’ve found to manage my disorder this Spring/Summer as I wasn’t yet taking any treatment was to meditate, sitting on the soil, bare feet and hands placed on it. Grounding/earthing has been a powerful way to stay “sane”.
    I also found out about the ketogenic/mito diet and am currently having a daily keto smoothie with coconut oil.
    This said, I think you just convinced me to try your homemade version of bulletproof coffee!

    Thank you again for sharing your story with us, it’s inspiring! All the best to you!
    Vanessa

    1. Thanks so much, Vanessa, for your wonderful comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      My father lived in France for a year to study violin on a Fulbright scholarship (I don’t know where he lived). My parents loved the French culture, and I worked for a French couple for 2 years here in Calfornia. They were so kind. They were very creative and funny, too! I only wish I knew French, because they chattered all the time in it and they tended to hire French natives and treated them like family…I was a bit jealous, you see. 😘

      I’m sure that walking in your woods woill be a great & healthy thing to do even if they aren’t redwood trees. What a fantastic idea to meditate on the soil with your bare feet & hands on the ground. I’ve heard of that practice, and I’ve also read that grounding/earthing is super-good for body/mind/spirit. That’s awesome!

      Keto smoothies sound really, really good – I might try making one soon! My friend (the same “amie” who made me the bulletproof coffee) made me an incredible smoothie with blueberries, cocoa nibs, a special protein powder and some other organic ingredients that I can’t remember, but it rocked. I need to ask her what she put in it & I’ll write about it in a future post!

      Take care and once again, merci !!! 😊

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