In this first letter of 2018, I would like to turn my attention to an important and often overlooked component of our diet: silica. Silica, known as quartz in its crystalline form, is one of the most ubiquitous elements found in the earth’s crust and in the human body. It exists mostly in the inorganic forms of sand and silicic acid.
Silicic acid is common in both the plant and animal worlds and is generally used by living beings to support the structural elements of the organism. Silica is therefore an important part of the “backbone” of the plant, providing it with strength and flexibility. In the animal world, silica has a similar function, as it is a primary component of skin, hair, nails and joint tissue. In addition, silica is a necessary component of calcium metabolism, and by increasing calcium absorption, it has a major role in building and maintaining healthy bones.
In the past decade, another major role for silica has been demonstrated, one that is crucial in today’s often toxic world. Silica, especially in the plant form of silicic acid, is one of the primary chelators of aluminum in our bodies. (A chelator is a substance that helps bind and remove an often toxic element.) In particular, perhaps because of the affinity of silica with our nervous system, silicic acid is able to remove aluminum before it can damage our nervous tissue.
The importance of this aluminum chelation from the nervous system can’t be over-stated. One of the predominant theories of the pathogenesis of both neurodevelopmental disorders in children (tics, ADHD, autism, learning disorders) and neurological deterioration in adults (Parkinsonism, Alzheimer’s, ALS) is that as aluminum accumulates in the nervous system, it stimulates an overactive immune response that can eventually result in scarring and dysfunction of the nerves.
One of the primary ways we can protect ourselves and our children from the often devastating consequences of deterioration of our nervous system is to consume a diet rich in organic silicic acid. Foods containing silicic acid include millet, tomatoes, horsetail tea, rosemary and burdock root. Burdock root, as I’ve highlighted in previous blogs, is the yeoman of detoxification in the plant world. As it is one of the richest plant sources of silicic acid, it facilitates the chelation and removal of aluminum through the kidneys.
The other plant that has been shown to be an effective chelator of not only aluminum but also many other toxins is turmeric. Turmeric, as in our Hawaiian-grown organic Turmeric Powder, also stimulates bile flow, which is another detoxification pathway in our body.
Burdock root and turmeric are primary plant detoxifiers, and we are happy to be able to provide you with organic and convenient forms of these two plant friends for the human being.
For many of us, our relationship to food is a never ending journey. Sometimes to move forward one finds themselves looking back. For bread and specifically the grains used to make it I find that the best results are indeed found in reflection. It is sometimes true that modern ingenuity has value for us, but that is usually only when paired with ancient wisdom. For grains, that wisdom is in the ancient varieties that have been grown for thousands of years.
During this time of relative uncertainty, we have decided to renew our commitment to gardening. Dr. Cowan’s Garden was originally a place, located in Napa Valley on a plot of land generously donated by a friend. It embodied our ideals and was a sanctuary for growth and learning.
The garden was our muse for new product offerings and for improving existing ones. The garden kept our ambitions grounded to certain fundamentals, as the practice of gardening can be challenging.