Could You Afford Home Health Care? Maybe Not

THURSDAY, June 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The seniors most likely to need paid home care to maintain independent living are the least likely to be able to afford it long-term, a new study reports.

Only two out of five older adults with significant disabilities have the assets on hand to pay for at least a couple of years of extensive in-home care, researchers found.

Without some help, those elderly are much more likely to wind up in a nursing home, said lead researcher Richard Johnson. He is a senior fellow with the Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center, in Washington, D.C.

“We have this perception that the risk of becoming frail is evenly distributed across the population, but it’s really not,” Johnson said. “It is more concentrated among people with less education, lower lifetime earnings and less wealth.”

Aging folks increasingly want to stay out of nursing homes as their health declines, maintaining their independence by living in their own houses, Johnson said.

But there hasn’t been a large increase in the number who are shelling out for paid home care, national statistics show.

To see why that might be, Johnson and his colleagues turned to data gathered by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

The researchers broke paid home care down into three scenarios: limited care of 25 hours each month costing $475; moderate care of 90 hours a month costing $1,170; and extensive care of 250 hours per month costing $4,750 per month.

Initial results looked promising.

The investigators found that 74% of all seniors aged 65 and older could afford at least two years of moderate home care if they cashed in all their assets, and 58% could afford two years of extensive home care.

Then the researchers turned their attention to people most likely to need home care — those suffering from severe dementia or who require help with two or more activities of daily living. These activities can include eating, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, getting out of a chair or walking across a room, Johnson said.


Now in Effect: West Virginia Law Maintains Legal CBD Sales Despite Ongoing Federal Prohibition

By Mike Maharrey

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (June 7, 2019) – Today, a West Virginia law that modifies the state’s hemp licensing program and ensures the sale of CBD can continue in the state went into effect. This will not only open up markets in West Virginia, but also takes a crucial step given the FDA’s continued regulation and prohibition of CBD.

Del. Gary Howell (R-Keyser) introduced House Bill 2694 (HB2694) on Jan. 28. The new law makes changes to the state’s hemp licensing program to conform it to the legal environment created when the federal government legalized hemp last year.

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The House passed HB2694 96-2. The Senate approved the measure 33-1. With Gov. Justice’s signature, the law went into effect June 7.

In practice, the new law won’t change much. In 2017, West Virginia removed provisions in its hemp program restricting it to research only. From that point, any person with a license was authorized to plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell, and buy industrial hemp. This directly contradicted federal law at the time that limited hemp production to research purposes only and prohibited commercial production. With commercial hemp production fully legalized in West Virginia back in 2017, the passage of HB2694 merely ensures farmers in West Virginia will be able to continue producing hemp as they have since that time.

But the new law won’t be without any practical effect. HB2694 includes important provisions related to CBD.

It establishes that hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, are not controlled substances, and products intended for ingestion containing CBD are considered foods, not adulterated products. Under the new law, derivatives of hemp, including hemp-derived cannabidiol, can be added to cosmetics, personal care products, and products intended for animal or human consumption, and the addition is not considered adulteration of the products. HB2694 also allows the sale of hemp products and CBD produced in other states as long as those states maintain substantially the same requirements for processing as West Virginia.

These provisions ensure the state will not ban the sale CBD or CBD products. This is crucial because despite removing the plant from the list of controlled substances late last year, the federal government still prohibits the sale of CBD products under FDA rules.

2018 Farm Bill and CBD

With the passage of the farm bill, the federal government now treats industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity instead of a controlled substance. While the DEA will no longer have the authority to regulate hemp, the provisions of the farm bill have no bearing on FDA rules and regulations regarding CBD. In fact, a section in the farm bill makes this explicit.

Section 297D, paragraph (c)(1) “Regulations and Guidelines; Effect on Other Law” states “nothing in this subtitle shall affect or modify the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”

Practically speaking, the passage of the farm bill does not mean CBD will now be federally-legal in all 50 states, as some hemp supporters claim. In fact, the FDA still maintains a strict prohibition on the sale of CBD in the U.S.

To date, the FDA has only approved one medication with cannabidiol as an active ingredient – Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures. But the FDA classifies CBD as “a drug for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted.” Under federal law, that designation means the FDA maintains full control over the substance and it cannot be marketed as a “dietary supplement.” The agency maintains that the sale of CBD or any food products containing the substance is illegal.

At this time, the agency hasn’t changed its position on CBD. In a recent congressional hearing, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he understands that Congress wants a pathway to CBD availability, but said “it is not a straightforward issue” due to the fact that the agency has approved CBD for treatment of epilepsy and it is ““subject of substantial clinical investigation.” Both of these factors prohibit CBD from being sold as a “health supplement” and from being added to food.

Gottlieb said, “the law does allow us to go through a regulatory process and go through a notice and comment rule-making to establish a framework to allow it to be put into the food supply.”

The FDA held its first public meeting relating to CBD in May. FDA principal deputy commissioner Amy Abernethy said there is a need to “further clarify the regulatory framework to reduce confusion in the market,” and “Key questions about product safety need to be addressed. Data are needed to determine safety thresholds for CBD.”

In effect, the agency can continue to enforce these same rules even with the passage of the 2018 farm bill. While farmers can now legally grow hemp for commercial purposes, including the production of fiber, biofuel, building products, paper, clothes and even food products that don’t contain CBD, the sale of cannabinol or food products containing CBD remain federally-illegal, as it has been all along, unless the FDA changes its policy or Congress passes legislation specifically legalizing CBD.

With the enactment of  HB2694, West Virginia will not interfere with the sale of CBD products produced in the state regardless of continued federal prohibition.

Without state cooperation, the FDA will likely have trouble regulating it in West Virginia.

Despite past and ongoing federal prohibition, CBD is everywhere. A New York Times article asserted that “with CBD popping up in nearly everything — bath bombs, ice cream, dog treats — it is hard to overstate the speed at which CBD has moved from the Burning Man margins to the cultural center.”

This was happening when both the DEA and FDA prohibited CBD. It will undoubtedly continue as long as market demand remains and states don’t interfere. The FDA can’t effectively enforce prohibition without the assistance of state and local officials.

According to the FDA, the agency prioritizes enforcement based on a number of factors, including “agency resources and the threat to public health. FDA also may consult with its federal and state partners in making decisions about whether to initiate a federal enforcement action.”

Even with both the FDA and DEA theoretically enforcing federal laws and regulations banning CBD, state and local action have already nullified federal prohibition in practice and effect. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue as long as states maintain the same stance on CBD as they did under the 2014 farm bill. Simply put, the federal government lacks the personnel and resources to crack down on CBD – even if the FDA wants to.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at and like him on Facebook HERE

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I Survived an Urban Survival Course with SELCO

By Daisy Luther

What happens when you take a chubby, middle-aged mom, put her on a creepy, abandoned military base and tell her to clear a building in which to take shelter?

Since it’s not a real SHTF scenario, hilarity ensues. But had this been an actual emergency (read that in the voice of the guy who does the National Broadcast System on television), it wouldn’t have been one bit funny. It would have been deadly and now I understand far better how so many people died quickly when Bosnia descended into mayhem.

Let’s go back to the beginning and I’ll tell you about how I survived Selco’s first Urban Survival Course for Women.

The course

At first, I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt fairly confident in my skills, although physically I wasn’t in the greatest shape. I recently had major abdominal surgery and after an awesome few weeks in the Balkans, I had a little tickle in my throat. But I figured I’d be fine.

Well, that was the first mistake of numerous ones I’d make during the five-day course.

But one thing that was not a mistake was getting off my butt and flying halfway across the world to undertake this training. I met 5 extremely cool, bad-ass women who joined me in Croatia where we learned important lessons, drank a significant amount of wine, and saw some incredibly dark things.

Part of the course was educational (sort of a classroom setting) and the other part was experiential (actually going out into the field). Also, I never thought I’d text someone “In the field. Can’t talk.” But, hey, now I have.

The course had 2 instructors to 6 of us ladies. Of course, the Big Kahuna was Selco, who is a really cool guy. Next, there was Toby Cowern, the owner of Tread Lightly Survival. Toby is a former member of the British Royal Marines, a British military intelligence guy, and a wilderness survival instructor. Between these guys, there is a huge amount of real-world experience and they were enthusiastic to pass on their knowledge.

The classroom stuff was incredibly interesting. Generally, I have trouble sitting and listening to someone talk, but the guys were funny, engaging, and vastly informative. Not once did I feel like I was nodding off. I have at least 30 pages of notes that were all “aha” moments.

However, by Day 2, my tickle in the throat had turned into a full-blown cold with a deep bronchial cough. Nothing like adding a little reality to my doomsday scenario, right? I stuck with it – and ladies, if you ended up with a cold when you got home, I’m really sorry. Just call me Typhoid Daisy.

Being in the field

Remember how I said we visited some pretty sketchy places?


No amount of YouTube videos, website articles, and tell-all books can actually prepare you for being in a “live environment.” The abandoned buildings we visited had a very creepy feel to them and they were littered with the detritus of human suffering.

You can’t prepare online for the smell of decay or the uneasy feeling of hazards everywhere.

The buildings told a story of a time past when shelling and sniper fire occurred nearly constantly. They also told a more modern story about people using these feces-filled, dangerous, filthy buildings as a stopover.

We visited numerous buildings with the guys to escort us, and each one told a multitude of stories about the people unfortunate enough to have spent time there.

But that wasn’t all – it wasn’t just about other people’s memories. There were innumerable dangers – everything from unexpected person-sized holes in the floor to shattered glass to drug paraphernalia. There was debris from the past 30 years everywhere, rusting and rotting. The chances of getting hurt seemed fairly high, but the course was run extremely well and we had no casualties.

These abandoned buildings were our playgrounds and classrooms over the five days we spent together.


At night, we slept in large, pleasant apartments with central heat and air, hot water in the shower, and a fridge to keep our drinks cold.

During the daytime, it was a completely different matter. Survival isn’t a comfortable thing and we certainly were not made comfortable during the day. (I even peed outside – it’s not my thing – and survived to tell you this tale.)

The temperatures fluctuated from hot sunburn weather to cold and rainy. Bad weather did not halt our activity and it absolutely delighted our instructor Toby. As soon as the thunder rumbled, he quite literally rubbed his hands together in glee.

After a couple of days to orient us, we were turned loose in the field. We were given assignments. “Pretend your in X situation and go out there and do what you would do if that was actually happening right now.”

We did recon to locate suitable shelters. We set up temporary camps, built fires, boiled water, and ate meals in some pretty grim circumstances. We cleared buildings.  We used our tools and gear and really put things to the test.

Night exercises

Day 4 of the course was particularly long. We started at 8:30 in the morning and were out until 11:00 at night. Part of the day was spent in the “classroom” – a kitchen table – but the majority was out in the field.

This was the day we learned to be stealthy – or we tried. I like to think my coughing-up-a-lung provided cover noise for my teammates. We were taught to cross the glass- and debris-littered surfaces barely making a sound, something I’ve been practicing since I got home. (Look out, pets and family!)

Later in the day, we drove out to a former factory that had been turned into a military base during the war. This was where we spent most of the day (and where I finally peed outside).

After a few hours completing our tasks, we drove to another abandoned base where we had to stealthily (I’m really not very stealthy yet) clear a building and take cover. It was rigged with harmless yet realistic booby traps and, by this time, it was getting dark. Stealth is slow business – it can take an hour to cross 40 feet.

Then, of course, it began to rain. Torrentially.

My water-resistant jacket kept the worst of it off me but I passed my hat off to a teammate who was wearing glasses and far stealthier than the rest of us – she belly-crawled her way through concealment like a true bad ass so that only one of us would get blown up should such an event occur. My hair was dripping wet and my pants were likewise soaked.

Then I tried to kneel and I’m sorry but I have to admit, my knees snapped, crackled, and popped and I found myself stuck in that position until I finally rolled onto the ground and pushed myself up on all fours. Like a bug stuck on its back. Really stealthy, right? But, as our fearless leaders repeatedly reminded us, you have to train for the body you’re in. And by this time, my body was feeling the effects of a long day, being cold and wet, recuperating from surgery, and having a terrible cold.

By around 10 o’clock we’d all conquered the building in some way and there was an offer to stay overnight. I’m going to be really honest here: not for all the tea in China did I want to sleep there and especially not with my increasingly horrible cough and cold.

It was wet, chilly, and downright uncomfortable by the end of the exercise and I was delighted to get back to the apartment and hit a hot shower.

I’ve got a long way to go.

A lot of what I learned in this course is that, in many areas, I have a long way to go and most of that is physical. I think my Balkan boot camp (trying to keep up with Selco’s long legs) has me off to a good start. But before I started actually doing these things that I’ve described above, I didn’t realize what I liability I would be in certain situations. Now, I have a plan to work on this stuff and improve because I know.

It’s important to remember that prepping and survival are two different things. Just because you have enough food to see your family through 4 years of pestilence doesn’t mean you’d do okay if you were stranded in an urban environment when the SHTF in a big and violent way. Both of these things are very good things to do, but you need to do both. Just one won’t do it if things really go south.

I guess the biggest question I have for you is whether you also have a long way to go. And take it from me, you won’t know until you test it in the closest environment possible.

How can you test it out?

Selco’s next course is coming up and, by popular demand, this one is not for ladies only. You can attend as couples or come by yourself, like me. (Selco had a lot of requests for an offering like this.)

It’s called SHTF Survival Week and it’s epic. The guys have what they call a “self-select” model for all their courses, so if an activity is too much for you or you just don’t want to participate, you can do all the other stuff and still feel you got your money’s worth.

Here are the details for the next course. It’s going to fill up FAST and there are only 8 spaces available. This weekend, it’s on sale until midnight Sunday at which time it goes up to almost $1500.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you more specifics on what I learned and what I am personally working on since the Croatia course. I hope I’ll see you at Selco’s SHTF Survival Week! It was so nice meeting the people who came to the ladies course.

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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Gardening Is Good for Your Health in Many Ways

Modern living has driven a concrete wedge between us and the natural world, and many are starting to connect the dots, recognizing that a connection with the land is important for our well-being.

Scientists have also concluded gardening provides a number of valuable health benefits, spanning from stress relief to improved brain health, better nutrition, exercise and weight loss. As noted in a 2017 meta-analysis of 22 studies:1

“There is increasing evidence that gardening provides substantial human health benefits … Here, we present the results of a meta-analysis of research examining the effects of gardening, including horticultural therapy, on health.

We performed a literature search to collect studies that compared health outcomes in control (before participating in gardening or non-gardeners) and treatment groups (after participating in gardening or gardeners) …

Studies reported a wide range of health outcomes, such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and body mass index, as well as increases in life satisfaction, quality of life, and sense of community.

Meta-analytic estimates showed a significant positive effect of gardening on the health outcomes both for all and sets of subgroup studies, whilst effect sizes differed among eight subgroups.

Although Egger’s test indicated the presence of publication bias, significant positive effects of gardening remained after adjusting for this using trim and fill analysis. This study has provided robust evidence for the positive effects of gardening on health. A regular dose of gardening can improve public health.”

Gardening Provides Valuable Exercise and Can Improve Weight Management

Korean researchers have confirmed that gardening counts as moderate-to-high-intensity exercise for children,2 and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans classifies gardening as a moderate-to-high-intensity activity, with activities such as digging being a high-intensity.3

The second edition of these guidelines,4 issued in 2018, also includes “heavy gardening” as an example of a recommended muscle-strengthening activity. Indeed, as noted by the Poughkeepsie Journal:5

“Lifting and carrying 40-pound bags of mulch, stretching into hard-to-reach places to do weeding or pushing a lawnmower around demonstrates that gardening can be a physically demanding workout. You can burn serious calories doing gardening activities …

According to, a person weighing 150 pounds burns about 300 calories per hour of moderate gardening. Here are the calorie numbers for an hour of performing the following easy outdoor tasks: spreading fertilizer or grass seed 175, general yard clean-up or picking fruit 2010 calories … hefting compost, raking and digging holes for transplanting … incinerate about 100 calories in 15 minutes …”

Another task that can certainly turn gardening into a high intensity exercise is adding soil amendments such as wood chips and/or biochar, both of which help improve and build your soil.

The case for gardening as exercise was also demonstrated in a 2012 study,6,7 which found those who engage in community gardening projects have considerably lower body mass index than non-gardeners, suggesting an active lifestyle translates into improved weight management.

Male community gardeners were 62% less likely to be overweight or obese, while female gardeners were 46% less likely to be overweight than their non-gardening neighbors.


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Be Mindful of Your Body Mechanics

Do keep proper body mechanics in mind when gardening, though, just as you would during any other exercise, as the bending, twisting and reaching could cause injury if you’re careless. So, be sure to keep the following considerations in mind while working:

  • Maintain proper spinal alignment while you work. This will help absorb shock, and will allow for proper weight distribution and optimal range of motion
  • Avoid overreaching by keeping objects and work surfaces close to your body
  • Whenever possible, work at waist height with elbows bent and arms comfortably at your sides
  • When planting or weeding at ground level, make sure to bend your knees and squat or kneel, rather than stooping forward with your legs straight. Alternatively, use a gardening stool

Gardening Relieves Depression and Boosts Happiness

Gardening can also be a powerful therapy for depression and anxiety. Many times, depression is rooted in a feeling of being disconnected from nature and other living things, and hence from yourself. As noted in a study8 evaluating depression severity in 18 adults during a 12-week horticultural program:

“Clinically depressed persons suffer from impaired mood and distortion of cognition … The mean BDI [Beck Depression Inventory] score declined 9.7 points from pretest to posttest and were clinically relevant for 72% of the cases. The mean AFI [Attentional Function Index] score increased 10.2 points from pretest to posttest.

The greatest change in BDI and AFI scores occurred in the initial weeks of the intervention. The reduction in BDI scores remained significant and clinically relevant at the 3-month follow-up).

The decline in depression severity during the intervention correlated strongly with the degree to which the participants found that it captured their attention. Therapeutic horticulture may decrease depression severity and improve perceived attentional capacity by engaging effortless attention and interrupting rumination.”

Other evidence for the mood-boosting effects of gardening can be found in a 2013 survey by Gardeners World magazine,9 in which 80% of gardeners reported being “happy” and satisfied with their lives, compared to 67% of non-gardeners.

This feeling of well-being can have other more far-reaching implications for your physical health as well. According to research from Johns Hopkins,10 having a cheerful temperament can significantly reduce your odds of suffering a heart attack or sudden cardiac death11 for example.

Soil Microbes Linked to Stress Reduction and Less Anxiety

Researchers in the Netherlands have found gardening to be a potent stress relieving activity.12 In their trial, two groups of people were asked to complete a stressful task; one group was then instructed to garden for a half-hour while the other group was asked to read indoors for the same length of time.

Afterward, the gardening group reported a greater improvement in mood. Tests also revealed they had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, compared to those who tried to relax by quiet reading. Interestingly, other research suggests beneficial microorganisms in the soil may be, at least in part, responsible for such effects.13 As reported by CNN Health:14

“Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., … has been injecting mice with Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil, and has found that they increase the release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood — much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do.”

The study15 cited by CNN was published in 2007. A 2016 study16 by Lowry, which showed Mycobacterium vaccae promotes resilience to stress, was named one of the “top 10 advancements and breakthroughs” of 2016 by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.17

In a third paper,18,19 published in 2018, Lowry’s team demonstrated Mycobacterium vaccae attenuates stress and anxiety by having an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain.

Gardening Linked to Improved Cognition and Lower Risk of Dementia

The neurological benefits don’t end there. Research also shows gardening can help improve cognitive function by increasing brain nerve growth factors. As noted in this recent study, which involved 41 South Korean seniors:20

“A 20-min low-to-moderate intensity gardening activity intervention, making a vegetable garden, was performed by the subjects … The gardening involved six activities including cleaning a garden plot, digging, fertilizing, raking, planting/transplanting, and watering.

To determine the effects of the gardening activities on brain nerve growth factors related to memory, blood samples were drawn twice from each subject before and after the gardening activity by professional nurses.

The levels of brain nerve growth factors, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and platelet derived growth factor (PDGF), were analyzed.

Levels of BDNF and PDGF were significantly increased after the gardening activity. This study revealed a potential benefit of gardening activities for cognitive function in senior individuals.”

Studies21 also suggest gardening can benefit those with dementia. One study,22 for example, concluded that “Gardening-based interventions can … be an effective vehicle for the promotion of social citizenship and expression of selfhood and agency in dementia.”

Gardening Is an Excellent Way to Improve Your Nutrition

Last but certainly not least, keeping a garden can also improve your health by providing you with fresh, uncontaminated, nutrient-dense food. It will also help you reduce your grocery bill. Urban gardening is also an important step toward building a more sustainable food system.

In fact, I’ve been encouraging everyone to plant a “Victory Garden” as a proactive step toward fixing our broken food system and improving your health. They’re named Victory Gardens because during World Wars I and II, 40% of the produce grown in the U.S. came from people’s backyards. I believe it’s possible to catalyze a similar movement today, but for a different purpose.

The new reality is that for most people it’s very difficult to obtain high quality nutrient-dense foods unless you grow them yourself. Urban gardens are also key to saving energy, protecting water quality and topsoil, and promoting biodiversity and beautifying densely populated communities.

Just start small, and before you know it, large portions of your meals could come straight from your own edible garden. I recommend getting your feet wet by growing sprouts, as they are among the most nutritious foods you could possibly grow, require very little space and can be grown indoors, year-round.

You can use them in salad, either in addition to or in lieu of salad greens, or add them to vegetable juice or smoothies. Sunflower spouts will give you the most volume for your work and, in my opinion, have the best taste.

To learn more about gardening, check out my “Ultimate Guide to Gardening.” Also see “Top Gardening Tips to Build Better Health” for some basic gardening tips, guidance on finding out your zoning laws and other valuable resources for the urban gardener.

Remember, gardening may hold the key to improved mental health, stress relief and much-needed exercise in a world where most of us spend our days sitting in front of computers in artificially lit rooms.

I personally obtain the majority of my food from my own garden these days. It really is one of life’s great pleasures to be able to walk out the door of your home and pick fresh high quality food for your meal.


Guide to Growing Peonies

Flowers hold a special place in a gardener’s heart as they bring a profusion of color, contrasting patterns and fragrances. Many have medicinal and culinary value as well. Working in the garden and appreciating your handiwork has physical and mental health benefits. Looking after plants gives you a sense of responsibility and keeps you connected with other living things.1

Additionally, gardening has proven to be a stress reliever,2 helping reduce irritability and headaches. In one study,3 participants found gardening significantly decreased stress as compared to those who were assigned to read. Gardens are also known to increase your property value, and fresh air may help increase test scores in students.4

One popular flower in the garden is the peony. With luxuriously large blooms, they make a wonderful addition to your table, a wedding bouquet or left to bloom in the garden. The rich, showy plants are easy to plant and care for, and are a true perennial long-lived plant, as many varieties will come back year after year for 50 years or more.5

History of the Peony

The peony has been cultivated for up to 4,000 years and is beloved for its exquisite flowers and abundant blooms.6 Depending on the variety, some flowers may grow to be 10 inches across.7 They were originally grown in Eastern gardens as an imperial symbol and quickly spread across Asia as different emperors moved their courts.

They reached Japan near the eighth century and were further hybridized. The herbaceous peony has been a part of ancient Greek mythology and the roots, bark, seed and flowers were all believed to have medicinal value. There are several stories of how the peony got its name.8

According to one story, it originated from the Greek name Paeon, a physician to the gods. He angered his teacher after extracting a milky substance from the root of a peony plant, curing Pluto. According to mythology, Paeon’s teacher, Asclepius, was so angered she threatened to kill Peon out of jealousy, but Zeus saved him by turning him into a beautiful flower, the peony.9

Another links the name back to a nymph whose beauty attracted the attention of Apollo. Currently there are nearly 40 species of peony plants and the Peony Society10 lists over 6,500 cultivars in their registry.11

The peony has different meanings in different cultures. As the official emblem of China, the flower plays a large role in holidays and traditions.12 It has a strong tie to royalty and honor in Eastern culture. In the Victorian age it was considered unlucky to dig up a peony and if you did, it was believed fairies would curse you.

The peony is the Indiana state flower, the 12th wedding anniversary flower,13 and is the most popular flower used in wedding bouquets.14 In the language of flowers, peonies represent honor, romance, elegance and abundance.15


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Peonies Offer a Wide Variety of Blooms, Color and Fragrance

Before choosing your peony plant for the garden, it’s important to make decisions about the variety, color and fragrance in your plants. Peonies come in every color except blue.16 The genus is broken up into three groups: tree peonies, herbaceous peonies and intersectional peonies.17

The herbaceous plants are the most well-known and do best in hardiness zones 3 to 8. These peonies bloom in the late spring and early summer for approximately 10 days and grow up to 3 feet in a bushy mound with divided foliage that remains attractive throughout the summer.18

Tree peonies are woody perennial shrubs thriving in hardiness zones 4 to 9. Tree peonies bloom earlier in the season with large flowers. Since the stems are woody, they do not require staking as do some of the herbaceous plants to support the large, heavy blooms. Their deep green foliage turns bronze and purple throughout the fall months.19

Intersectional peonies are hybrids of herbaceous and tree peony plants. They may produce up to 50 or more large flowers on a sturdy short stem and generally bloom after herbaceous peonies for about four weeks.20 They are prized as cut flowers and come in a large array of yellow and gold colors not widely available in herbaceous varieties. The plants grow up to 2.5 feet and may spread 3 feet.

Most peony flowers are fragrant, but the scent will differ between cultivars. Some smell of lemons while others have a scent described as slightly spicy. Words like confectionery and delicious are also used to describe the scent of a peony flower.

Before choosing the variety of peony for your garden, decide how strong you want the scent and what type. For instance, Chinese tree peonies have a stronger fragrance than the Japanese tree peonies according to garden design.21

How to Plant Your Peonies

Peonies bloom from late spring to late summer, depending on the variety. If you plant multiple varieties, you may be able to enjoy their luscious flowers throughout the summer months. However, all varieties are best planted in the fall, approximately four to six weeks before the first freeze.

This allows the plant to establish a root system before the winter and gives you a greater potential for enjoying blooms in the spring. Peonies planted in the spring may not bloom for one to two years. Typically, you’ll purchase peonies as a potted plant or as a bare-root packaged in peat moss or wood shavings. Look for healthy plants without spots or poor stems.22

When planted too closely, air flow is restricted increasing the potential for mold growth. As you are planting in the garden, give each plant enough space to grow without being crowded. As most grow to 3 feet in diameter, you’ll want to allow a 4-foot range for each plant. However, tree peonies, which grow as big as 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall by their 10th year, will need even more space.23

Herbaceous peonies do best when they are planted close to the soil surface, 2 to 3 inches deep.24 This may seem counterintuitive to leave the roots close to the air, but the plants need to be chilled to attain dormancy and set buds for the spring. If you are growing peonies from bare root, start with a hole 2 feet deep and 2 feet across in a well-drained area of the garden.

Add organic material into the planting hole and 1 cup of bone meal, as growing peonies need phosphorus, but do not flower well with added nitrogen. Mound the soil in the center to a height just below the surface and set the root clump on top so the eyes of the plant face upward with 2 inches of root below the surface. Backfill and water thoroughly by sprinkling the area.25

Peonies do not like wet feet, or waterlogged roots. If you are growing peonies from a potted plant, prepare a large hole and amended with compost and bone meal. Loosen the root ball and position the plant at the same height it was in the nursery container. Backfill the hole and water the planting site.26

More Tips to Planting Peonies

There may be times when you’d like to transplant your peonies from one area of the garden to the other. This should be done carefully to avoid disturbing the roots any more than necessary. Transplanting peonies should also be done in the fall before the first frost.

You may choose to propagate plants by dividing the root clump and immediately replanting. After growing peonies for 10 years, the plant may become root bound and dividing the plant may help restore its vigor.

While herbaceous peonies enjoy a shallow planting, tree peonies need to be planted 4 to 6 inches deep and Intersectional Peonies may be planted just one-half to 1.5 inches deep depending on your climate.27 In warmer zones you’ll want to place the plant one-half inch deep in the soil, and in cooler climates they are planted 1.5 inches deep.

Although they may be planted in a pot, growing peonies is more successful when they are planted directly in the ground. If your only choice is a pot, be sure you give it the proper attention, select a container with drainage holes and bring it in during the winter months to reduce the potential for frost damage to the roots.28

Take Care With Sun and Soil for Beautiful Blooms

In addition to the soil amendments discussed above, it’s important to note proper soil preparation often reduces the need for fertilization in the first couple of years. Herbaceous varieties need potassium to bloom and are heavy feeders. They prefer slightly alkaline soil, so adding lime or wood ash may help improve plant growth.

According to Garden Design,29 adding trace minerals such as azomite may inspire tree peonies to produce larger flower size, increased bud count and intensify flower color.

Peonies thrive in full sunlight. The minimum is six hours of sun each day, but a full day of sun is optimal. Without sufficient sunlight, your plants will bloom less, and the flowers will be smaller. Sunlight also helps to reduce the risk of fungal diseases, which plague the peony when they do not have enough air circulation.30

Peonies should also be sheltered from strong winds and planted well away from other trees and shrubs as they do not compete well for nutrients and water. When the soil is prepared well, most plants won’t need a side dressing of compost until the second year to help them settle well and continue to bloom.

As the buds swell, they produce a sugary substance. This attracts ants that feed on the liquid. As soon as the buds begin to open, the ants often disappear as their food source is gone. Although some gardeners find the presence of ants distressing, they don’t harm the plants, and some believe they help the bud to open properly by removing the sticky liquid.31

Unlike roses, peony bushes do not require pruning, and it is usually necessary only in the event of damage or disease. At the end of the growing season, the herbaceous peony and intersectional peony plants should be cut back. The herbaceous peony may be cut to the ground, but the intersectional plants do better when you leave 4 to 6 inches of stem.32

Tree peonies may require some pruning after the first five years of growth to allow for better air circulation. However, these are slow-growing plants and do not do well when they are pruned in the first three years of life as it hinders their progress and reduces the number of blooms.33

Cut and Store Your Peonies for a Special Occasion

The peony does well as a cut flower, often lasting longer than a week. For the best vase life, they should be harvested while they are in bud. You may get a better bloom and the flower may last longer on your table when you harvest the bud when it feels like a soft marshmallow in the morning.

Gently squeeze the flower bud for sponginess. If they’re still hard, you may want to leave them on the stem to ripen longer.34 When cutting, use a set of sharp shears and leave at least two sets of leaves on the bush so the plant may continue to grow and store food over the summer.

Since most peonies flower for such a short time during the summer months, you may also cut stems to be stored for later use. Using a set of sharp shears, cut several stems, again leaving at least two leaves on the bush, and slip a bunch into a plastic bag with a few paper towels inside.

The towels will absorb the excess moisture and help prevent mold growth. Lay the flowers flat on a shelf or drawer in the produce area of your refrigerator.35 Check them every couple of days and discard any that show signs of mold or begin to rot. They may stay this way for up to three weeks in the refrigerator. Once you remove them, the flowers may look limp.

Recut the stems underwater in a warm bath with flower preservative. Let the stems sit in the warm water for several minutes and then move them to your flower vase with flower preservative. The flowers will open within 24 hours and the blooms will last a week on your table.36


Midlife Diabetes Can Raise Your Stroke Chances Later

By Serena Gordon


         HealthDay Reporter        

THURSDAY, June 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — In a finding that further confirms the link between type 2 diabetes and stroke, a new study shows that having the blood sugar disease during middle age may boost your risk of having the most common type of stroke later in life.

In addition to a 30% greater chance of an ischemic stroke, the researchers also found that people who had type 2 diabetes in their 40s or 50s were twice as likely to have narrower blood vessels in their brain in their 60s and beyond.

“Our findings highlight the need for controlling midlife type 2 diabetes mellitus to help prevent [ischemic stroke and narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain],” said study author Rongrong Yang. Yang is a Ph.D. candidate at Tianjin Medical University in China.

An ischemic stroke, which is the more common type of stroke, is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel in the brain. This damages the area of the brain that’s no longer receiving enough blood. The less common type of stroke is known as a hemorrhagic stroke. That type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts, causing blood to leak into the brain and cause swelling and tissue damage, the National Stroke Association says.

Type 2 diabetes has long been associated with the risk of stroke, but it’s been hard to know if an increased risk of stroke comes from the diabetes or from other genetic and environmental factors, according to background information in the study.

To better tease out if diabetes itself was a likely culprit, the researchers reviewed data from the Swedish Twin Registry. More than 33,000 twin individuals met the criteria for the study.

The study participants were all born before 1958. None had evidence of narrowed brain blood vessels or stroke before age 60.

Just under 4% of the group had diabetes in midlife. More than 9% had late-life (after 60) strokes or narrowed blood vessels in their brain, the study authors said.

After adjusting the data to account for other stroke risk factors, such as smoking and obesity, the researchers noted the increased risk of ischemic stroke, but didn’t find an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.


Yang said that genetic and environmental factors didn’t appear to account for the increased risk of ischemic stroke, but noted that more research needs to be done. This study wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

So why might diabetes lead to more ischemic strokes?

“The mechanisms underlying the association of type 2 diabetes mellitus with stroke are complex and not completely understood,” Yang said. But, people with type 2 diabetes have abnormal cholesterol levels and that might contribute to the narrowed blood vessels in the brain.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said the Swedish population has significantly less type 2 diabetes than would be found in the United States.

Zonszein was not, however, surprised to see a higher risk of stroke and narrowed blood vessels in people with diabetes.

“We need to be much more alert to getting the proper diagnosis of diabetes and controlling risk factors. Focus on the things we can change to try to improve risk factors,” Zonszein said.

“Smoking cessation is important, and we have to treat high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts people at high risk of stroke. People with diabetes should be on a statin to control cholesterol levels, and they should be on the proper medications to control their diabetes,” he added.

Study author Yang agreed that controlling risk factors is key.

“Diabetic patients need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as doing regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight, no smoking, as well as [blood sugar] control, in order to reduce the risk of [stroke] in late life,” Yang said.

The findings were published June 5 in Diabetologia.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Rongrong Yang, Ph.D. candidate, department of epidemiology and biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tianjin Medical University, China; Joel Zonszein, M.D., director, clinical diabetes center, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; June 5, 2019,Diabetologia

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Trouble Tracking Finances Could Be Sign of Dementia

WEDNESDAY, June 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — If someone you know is struggling to keep track of their finances as they age, early dementia might be the culprit.

That’s the conclusion of researchers who tested 243 adults, aged 55 to 90, on their financial skills and performed brain scans to assess the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Some of the participants had no mental decline, some had mild memory impairment and some had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Specific financial skills declined with age and at the earliest stages of mild memory impairment, with similar declines in men and women, the study authors said.

“There has been a misperception that financial difficulty may occur only in the late stages of dementia, but this can happen early and the changes can be subtle,” said senior study author P. Murali Doraiswamy. He is a professor of psychiatry and geriatrics at Duke University, in Durham, N.C.

After accounting for education levels and other factors, the researchers found that the more extensive the amyloid plaques were, the worse a person’s ability to understand and use basic financial concepts or to complete financial tasks, such as calculating an account balance.

“The more we can understand adults’ financial decision-making capacity and how that may change with aging, the better we can inform society about those issues,” Doraiswamy said in a Duke news release.

“Older adults hold a disproportionate share of wealth in most countries and an estimated $18 trillion in the U.S. alone,” Doraiswamy noted.

“Little is known about which brain circuits underlie the loss of financial skills in dementia. Given the rise in dementia cases over the coming decades and their vulnerability to financial scams, this is an area of high priority for research,” Doraiswamy added.

Most testing for early dementia and Alzheimer’s disease focuses on memory, explained study author Sierra Tolbert, a Duke researcher.

A financial capacity test, such as the 20-minute one used in this study, could help doctors track a person’s mental function over time, Tolbert suggested.

“Doctors could consider proactively counseling their patients using this scale, but it’s not widely in use,” Tolbert said in the news release.

“If someone’s scores are declining, that could be a warning sign. We’re hoping with this research more doctors will become aware there are tools that can measure subtle changes over time and possibly help patients and families protect their loved ones and their finances,” Tolbert added.

The study was published online recently in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.


Pine Nut Shells Increase Physical Endurance

For several decades, the number of chronicle diseases has been growing. The main reason for this is the imbalanced diet. Biologists and chemists study natural foods concerning the fact that it can help strengthen health and prevent numerous diseases.

They have designed a new concept, which is “functional food products”.

Wild growing raw materials are the prospective sources of biologically active compounds. The Russian Federation has one of the biggest reserves of raw materials.

The Eastern Siberia has endless cedar forests that cover territories of the Tyva Republic, Krasnoyarsk Region, Altai Region and the Republic of Buryatia, which is 18 million hectares.

Annually, more than 1 million tons of pine nuts are harvested in Siberia.

Pine nut shells are the source of carbohydrates, minerals and various organic compounds.

Olga Babich, Svetlana Noskova and Stanislav Sukhikh, the researchers of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, together with their colleagues from Kemerovo State University have studied the processed product of pine nut shells.

The carbohydrate-mineral complex is rich in fibres and vitamins.

The researchers have also discovered that it is non-toxic and increases physical endurance, which is why it is recommended as a sports nutrition product.

Lately, the authoritative scientific journal Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre has published the article under the title “Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre”.

According to the article, dietary fibres are necessary for the health of the digestive system. They have a positive effect on blood vessels and lower blood sugar level.

Article by Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University. Image from Pixabay.

Get pine nut shells here.

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Can You Fail a Drug Test After Taking CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive compound produced by the marijuana plant that seems to be everywhere these days. Maybe you’ve even been asked if you’d like it added to your morning cup of joe!

Interestingly, the chemical structure of CBD is very similar to THC, which is the marijuana-derived compound responsible for getting people high and the one screened for by drug tests.

CLICK HERE for organically-grown, lab-tested CBD products

This structural similarity begs the question: Could using CBD make you fail a drug test? In this episode of Reactions, we break down the chemistry behind the possibilities:

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Reactions is a video series produced by the American Chemical Society and PBS Digital Studios. Subscribe to Reactions at, and follow us on Twitter @ACSreactions.

CLICK HERE for organically-grown, lab-tested CBD products

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