7 Great Vegetables to Grow Indoors

If you have an indoor garden, you might be interested in the list of the best vegetables you can grow indoors today. Then you can transfer them to the ground when the weather warms up or you can keep them in pots on your patio. In fact, it’s a great idea to grow vegetables indoors because we should eat them every day to get all the necessary nutrients we need to be healthy. Here are seven great vegetables to grow indoors.

1. Mushrooms
One of the best vegetables to grow indoors is mushrooms, which are an excellent source of vitamin D. You can purchase a special soil that has the makings for a fresh batch of healthy mushrooms. To get the best results, keep your mushrooms in a cool dark place. It’s so simple, isn’t it?

2. Lettuce
Typically lettuce grows in compact small bundles, so I think it’s not difficult to keep a few pots of it in your sunroom or kitchen. I love mixing different varieties of lettuce in the same pot. For instance, I mix spinach with arugula. You can also buy mixed greens and plant them in a big pot. One of the best things about lettuce is that it can regenerate so feel free to snip it for your healthy salad.

3. Beans and peas
Bean and pea plants are not big and it’s easy to grow them in the house. You can grow them up in your sunroom, and when summer comes move them outdoors. Don’t forget to set up the trellis. The great news is that many bean and pea plants look amazingly decorative and they can add to your décor during the spring.

4. Carrots
Since carrots grow under the soil you will need a very deep pot. Keep a pot of carrots in your kitchen for a delicious snack that is high in essential nutrients and low in calories. The awesome thing about carrots is that you can grow them year round. Just make sure you keep the containers in a warm area. You can also grow carrots in troughs.

5. Potatoes
Potatoes are probably my favorite vegetable I grow indoors. It’s not hard to grow potatoes in buckets or large pots in your house. But, it’s better to seed them in the containers, and when the weather gets warmer replant your potatoes outdoors. I suggest trying different kinds of potatoes to jazz up your favorite recipes.

6. Tomatoes
Tomatoes are another great vegetable you can grow indoors, especially if your windows are sunny and they face south. Opt for smaller varieties, such as cherry, pear or grape tomatoes that will not take up much space as traditional tomatoes. Since tomatoes like sun and warmth, make sure your kitchen or sunroom is always warm.

7. Green onions
Green onions are rich in beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein and they are one of the best foods to eat every day. Save the white ends with the hairs on the end and plant them into a little pot. Put the roots down, surround with dirt and add water to it. Don’t worry, they’ll regrow on their own. Remember, green onions need a lot of water, so keep your eyes on them.

Start growing the above veggies and enjoy fresh produce every day. Do you grow any vegetables indoors? Share your tips with us, please.

5 Things You Should Definitely Thank Your Ex-Boss For

There are many things people might want to say to an ex-boss depending on whether the leave was a good one or not. But, I like to think positively, so when I think of things I could thank my ex-boss for, they would be things that made a difference in my life. Here are five things I would thank my ex-boss for that you might want to consider for your ex-boss.

1. The opportunity to learn


Any job is an opportunity to learn something new. Not only could it be skills that help you do the job, but it could be behaviors or attitudes that enable you to improve.

Maybe you learn how to work with people that you did not think you could work with before. Or, through your job, you learned something about yourself you did not know, all because your ex-boss gave you a chance to learn.

2. The opportunity to grow
Thank your ex-boss for the opportunity for growth, personally, socially, and professionally. Often times, people set goals to reach within their profession to improve their skill set or their knowledge.

Maybe your ex-boss helped you advance in your profession to your current job based on how well you grew within the company throughout your career there. Having that opportunity to grow as a worker and as a person is definitely something I would thank my ex-boss for.

3. The support
I have been blessed with a boss who supports me in my professional life, but also in my personal life. She has supported me through some tough family times the past several years and because of that, my stress level has been lower than if she had not supported me at all.

Bosses who believe that there is life outside of a job will be willing to support you in your personal life because they know that not only will it make you a better person, you will be a better employee too. That is something to be thankful for.

4. The time
Thank your ex-boss for the time they invested in you and your advancement in your career. Without that investment, you would not have grown or learned new things about yourself or your career. That is a life-changer.

5. The belief
Just the fact that my boss believes in me as a person and in my professionalism as an employee is a reason to say thanks. There are not so many bosses out there that even care who you are, let alone know your name.

So, if your ex-boss knew your name, knew your passions, knew your goals, knew more things about you than just your work ethic and had a belief that you could be the best you could be, you might want to give them a big thank you.

Thinking about your ex-boss, would you thank them for any of these things, or would you come up with your own list of things? Remember to think of positive things, because even if you had a negative experience, you still learned something from that situation, and that is reason enough to say thanks.

7 Magnificent Plants That You Can Grow at Home

Houseplants are the most beautiful and natural décor to use at home. Today you can see pot flowers almost in every flat. For some people, growing plants is a hobby and they tend to add more wonderful and rare species to their homes. Certainly, there are lots of houseplants that need special care. So, if you are a busy person, you’d better choose those flowers that are easy to look after, otherwise they will fade soon. Here are a few magnificent and popular houseplants that you can try to grow at home. This is a simple way to make your home a green and pleasant place to live in.

1. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily is one of my favorite pot plants. First of all, it has a lovely and delicate white flower which you can admire every day. Moreover, this houseplant is beneficial for your health since it can neutralize formaldehyde and carbon monoxide that are found in the air. Just make sure you locate the plant in the place inaccessible to direct sun rays, or its leaves will get yellow. You don’t have to water the Peace Lily too often – do it only when the leaves are droopy.

2. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a unique houseplant that has plenty of useful properties. Perhaps this plant is not so gorgeous, but its benefits are evident. On the one hand, Aloe Vera is known to clean the air in your home. On the other hand, it is salubrious for your body, especially when it comes to cuts and scalds on your skin. Therefore, it is reasonable to keep a pot with Aloe Vera in the kitchen so that you can snick a sprout when you suddenly burn yourself. It will cool your skin in no time.

3. Nerve Plant
The Nerve Plant is one of the most marvelous houseplants I’ve ever seen. Its strange name is connected with the veiny-looking leaves. Plus, you can observe how it pops in a black pot. If you decide to decorate your house with the Nerve Plant, you’ll be able to choose from different colors like maroon, green and pink. They all look amazing! It will be a nice idea to place this beautiful plant in the area that can be visible for everyone.

4. String of Pearls
A hanging basket on your balcony or on the wall of your room will be the best place for the String of Pearls. This is a fantastic houseplant that can create a chic view of your home. In addition, you don’t need to spend much time to maintain the plant because it is succulent and even lack of water won’t damage it. Bear in mind that the String of Pearls will thrive if it gets lots of sunlight. You should constantly control the growth of the “strings” and they will cascade down the hanging basket.

5. Rubber Tree
The Rubber Tree is a splendid plant and it will give an unforgettable look to any house. It has sleek and round leaves which will definitely draw everybody’s attention. One of the greatest reasons you should have the Rubber Tree at home is its ability to purify air. You should be aware that this houseplant can grow up to 8 feet. In case you don’t have enough space for a big plant, I would advise you to prune its stems. The Rubber Tree is a good plant for those who are not much experienced in growing houseplants. If you are just a beginner you may want to add it to your home.

6. English Ivy
English Ivy has become a traditional plant to grow in the garden or in the flat. In spite of the fact it looks more natural outside, English Ivy will be the main attraction of your house. When the pot is in your room, you’ll always keep an eye on it. Since this houseplant has long sprigs that hang down, I recommend you to sit it in a hanging basket or put a pot on the table.

7. Snake Plant
Mother-In-Law’s Tongue is another name of the Snake Plant that can be a perfect and simple addition to your home. This plant will adapt easily to any lighting conditions. Even in summer, the high temperature in the room will not harm your houseplant. The Snake Plant may sit in a dry soil without withering. Don’t worry if you can’t water it regularly.

Undoubtedly, there are so many reasons you should add more houseplants to your living space. Not only are they beautiful and elegant decoration for your house, but they are also good for your health as it is a well-known fact that plants clean the air. Do you have any of these houseplants at home? Which of them is your favorite one?

10 Easy Ways to Grow Your Nails Fast

People see your face first, but that doesn’t mean your nails aren’t an important to first impressions. Beautiful nails should be healthy and polished. One of the best ways to make your nails look cleaner and prettier is to grow them long. They shouldn’t be so long that they get in the way of your lifestyle, but growing them long enough for a pretty French tip will keep your fingernails and hands looking beautiful.

1. Take Care of Them
Take good care of your nails. Don’t bite them and be careful not to break them while they grow. Don’t push the cuticle back because this can promote infections in the nail bed. Keep your fingernails clean. Wash them with a soft brush underneath to remove all dirt. Do not trim them with clippers or scissors. Use a nail file and pull it always in one direction instead of back and forth. This will keep your nails neat and prevent splitting or jagged edges.

2. Treat Them Gently
If you have a job where you are outside working with your hands, you may be damaging your fingernails. Instead of quitting your job or giving up gardening, always wear gloves whenever you can. If you don’t have a job that directly affects your hands on a regular basis, that’s no reason to slack off. Always treat your nails gently. Don’t use them to open up cans or scrape dirt and debris from surfaces.

3. Don’t Bite Your Nails
Do you have a habit of biting your nails? Not only are you biting away any progress you make, but your nails will look jagged and unhealthy. If you’re a regular nail-biter, it can be hard to break the habit. Try covering your fingertips with band aids. If it takes 21 days to form a habit, it should take about 21 days to break it.

4. Wear Strengthening Nail Polish
Protecting your nails as they grow is important, especially if your nails tend to be weak. Use a nail strengthening nail polish to keep them strong and prevent breakage. Reapply the nail polish as they grow to protect the new growth. Ordinary nail polish is okay to use as a substitute, but strengthening polish is better if you can get it.

5. Take Biotin
If you have brittle nails, it doesn’t matter how fast they grow. They will break anyway. Biotin is a B vitamin that is proven to help strengthen brittle nails. If you don’t already take a multivitamin, add one to your morning routine. Make sure it has a large amount of biotin. Another option is to add biotin separately as a supplement. Consider taking a B complex that includes all B vitamins. If you are lacking biotin, you might be lacking other important B vitamins, too. Make sure you consult your doctor before taking any supplement.

6. Take Gelatin
Gelatin is another supplement that can help strengthen your nails and improve growth. It is a necessary building block to growing strong nails. You can eat more Jello or make your own recipes made from powdered gelatin. Gelatin can also be taken in a capsule. Again, consult your doctor first.

7. Increase Blood Circulation
Your fingernails will grow longer faster if there is enough blood flow to your hands. If you get cold hands often, you might have an issue with circulation. Exercise is a great way to increase blood circulation. Take a 30 minute walk 5 times a week. Make sure your blood pressure is in a healthy range. Reduce your intake of salt, and drink plenty of water.

8. Moisturize Your Cuticles
Dry, cracked cuticles will not promote long, healthy nails. Moisturize your skin and cuticles regularly to make sure they are soft and healthy. Avocado oil works great as a cuticle moisturizer. It is light and not overly greasy, but it will soften the cuticles in a short amount of time and keep them healthy.

9. Eat Enough Protein
Your nails are made from protein. If you don’t get enough protein and amino acids in your diet, you won’t have strong, long nails. Get plenty of healthy protein from chicken, fish, nuts, and seeds. If possible, eat organic, free range chicken that will support healthy nail growth the most.

10. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
You could take all the biotin and gelatin you want, but if you don’t have a healthy, well-balanced diet, your nails won’t grow into the strongest, longest nails possible. Vegetables should make up the majority of your diet. Eat plenty of raw vegetables and salad to promote healthy digestion to ensure your body is absorbing plenty of the right nutrients. Eat fruits that are high in antioxidants, and eat lots of healthy fats with omega-3 s such as coconut oil, grass fed butter, and olive oil.

Growing long nails fast requires a healthy diet, healthy lifestyle, and special care to your nails. Use these 10 tips everyday to grow beautiful nails. Hopefully, they will help you.

Bipolar & Marriage: How to Grow Stronger as a Couple

When a mental illness suddenly appears in a relationship, it can shake the foundation of a marriage. While dealing with the erratic behavior of a spouse in mania or depression is difficult, through counseling, love and acceptance of the illness, partners can grow even stronger as a couple.

Mood changes

It’s stressful for a spouse to deal with the confusion of ever-changing moods from his bipolar partner. It helps for this spouse to view his continued support of his partner as an investment in something worthwhile.

Confusion and chaos

When symptoms of bipolar first begin to surface, most spouses aren’t sure what to think—they’re confused. Amid the chaos of behaviors they fear they’ll never see the person they’d fallen in love with.

When sympathy isn’t enough

When a spouse is first diagnosed, the initial response from the partner is usually sympathy, until down the road they could feel anger, frustration and even hate, says sociology professor and author David A. Karp, Ph.D. “Indeed, caring for someone who has a mental illness can be more draining than caring for someone with cancer.” In that case the spouse is usually met with gratitude and not anger if the partner is denying the diagnosis and treating her like the enemy.

Reaching acceptance

If a spouse can move through these times, he or she will reach a place of acceptance, says Karp. “Those difficult emotions will then be replaced with softer feelings of love and compassion.” By accepting that life looks different than originally one imagined doesn’t mean you can’t still have a good life.

Redefining spousal expectations

Transformation means redrawing the picture of what a couple once thought life would look like. For some, that may mean having to rely on only one income, going without certain luxuries or even choosing not to start a family. For others, it may mean that many of the responsibilities of daily life fall on the well partner.

Sharing responsibility

Couples who seem to have the most success share the belief that the partner with bipolar shares an equal responsibility within the relationship. If bipolar is biological then the mate does have some control over his behavior and should shoulder some responsibility to help themselves, unless they are extremely manic or depressed are temporarily unable to.

Self-sufficiency during periods of wellness

In cases where one partner has bipolar and the marriage ends, it’s usually because the healthy spouse feels he or she has done everything they can to help the other person become well, but nothing has made the situation better. During periods of wellness, the partner owes it to their spouse to work diligently to stay well.

Preparing ahead

In periods of wellness, successful couples will prepare for episodes that may lie ahead. That may mean realigning chequing accounts or giving power of attorney as a means of limiting control to the ill spouse during manic episodes. Some couples will have a list of symptoms the bipolar spouse exhibits when on the brink of a manic or depressive episode and agree at what point to seek help, thus removing the emotions from such a decision.

Carrying the burden

Following a diagnosis many spouses are left with most of the responsibilities of their life together—from caring for the children to working to pay the bills to caring for their ill partner. It’s a heavy burden for many.

Drawing boundary lines

Many spouses struggle with how to help the person they love without becoming engulfed in the spouse’s misery or mania. They may even feel their own identifies are being buried—they are losing themselves or jeopardizing their own health. Spouses must learn to draw a boundary line, or risk losing themselves, Dr. Karp says.

Mutual wellness

Many couples attribute their successful marriages to a commitment to mutual and personal wellness. This could mean daily exercise, eating well, good sleep habits and focusing on the wonderful things shared by both. Both partners need to decide to want their relationships to work and they will start looking for ways to make it work.

Moving forward

Dr. David A. Karp argues that sometimes the well spouse has to withdraw. It may sound harsh, but it’s health. He says spouses must learn to take care of themselves before they can take care of others. It’s important for the well spouse to fulfill her own goals, and continue to move forward, even when her partner is struggling.

Fears grow as temperatures double at massive New Zealand volcano featured in Lord of the Rings films

TOURISTS and hikers have been warned to stay away from Mount Doom – made famous in The Lord Of The Rings movies – because it could erupt any moment.

According to The Sun, Temperatures at Mount Ruapehu, the real name of the active volcano in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park, have doubled in the last few weeks, surging from 25C to 45C.

There has also been a huge increase of both carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide output at the volcano’s Crater Lake, which last erupted six years ago.

Mount Doom erupts in the final Lord of the Rings film, The Return of the King.Source:Supplied

Mount Ruapehu was used to film a number of scenes in the epic film trilogy.

Scientists have raised its status to “heightened unrest”.

Volcanologist Geoff Kilgour said: “Taken together these data now indicate more volcanic unrest at Mount Ruapehu.

“The increased gas output coupled with high heat flow and volcanic tremor imply a higher likelihood of activity.”

Ash cloud above Mt Ruapehu after its June 1996 eruption.Source:News Limited

The Grand Chateau hotel dwarfed by the eruption in 1996.Source:News Corp Australia

GNS Science released a Volcanic Alert Bulletin warning people not to come within two kilometres of Crater Lake.

Paul Carr, Operations Manager for Tongariro, said: “We recommend climbers, trampers and walkers do not enter the zone.

“Guiding companies should also heed the advice and not take people into the zone.”

Mt Ruapehu ‘Mt Doom’ on Zew Zealand’s North Island could erupt at any minute.Source:News Limited

Organic Gardening: How to Grow a Thriving Backyard Garden

Gardening was once a normal part of life for most people, and in almost all parts of the world, we still have the ability to grow some of our own food, at least part of the year. Yet, statistically, many of us don’t (especially in the US).

Back to a Backyard Garden…

As the population has moved away from agriculture and into more urban settings, gardening is not as necessary and there isn’t as much land to grow on, but it is certainly still possible.

In war times, families were encouraged to grow “victory gardens” to help prevent food shortage and at their peak, there were over 20,000,000 of these gardens in the US.

With rising food & gas prices, droughts, and issues with the food supply, perhaps it is time to bring back the backyard garden.

Growing some of your own food, even in small containers on a patio, will let you have fresh, organic produce at a fraction of the cost. If you have the room, a medium to large garden can produce enough food to feed a family, especially if you have time to devote to preservation and storage.

Decide What To Grow

The first year especially, it can be tough to know how much of each variety to plant. When I started gardening, we often ended up with too many tomatoes to use and wished we had more cucumbers. This website has a good list with an average of how much to grow for a family of four.

My strategy now is to grow foods that (a) we eat the most of and (b) are the most expensive to buy organically. For us, this means lots of spinach, strawberries, winter squash, tomatoes (which are canned or fermented), herbs, cucumbers (naturally fermented to preserve), blueberries, sweet potatoes and peppers (usually dried to preserve).

To help figure out how much of each plant to grow and when to plant, check out GrowVeg.com. They offer a free 30-day trial of their garden planning guide, which lets you see visually how many of each variety to plant.

Here’s a picture of what our spring garden looked like one year using this garden planner:

They also give you a great chart of planting dates for your climate:

Start Seeds Indoors Early

Starting seeds indoors lets you get a head start on the garden and a longer growing season. For plants like tomatoes and peppers, starting them inside is almost necessary for a good growing season.

To make it easy, get small seeds starter trays that can be kept on a kitchen table or counter. They even make organic versions of these! Start tomatoes and peppers about 4-6 weeks before you plant them outside, so for us that means starting early April indoors and transplanting outdoors in mid-May.

To speed up the process, you can pre-germinate the seeds in unbleached coffee filters or paper towels in unzipped plastic bags. To pre-germinate:

Just place about 10 seeds with space in between on 1 unbleached coffee filter.
Put another coffee filter on top and get damp with warm water.
Fold in half and put in a quart size or larger plastic bag, but don’t zip it!
Place the bag on a plate and put on top of your fridge or in another slightly warm place
In 2-3 days, you should see tiny sprouts coming from the seeds.
At this point, plant seeds in small pots indoors using tweezers.
Gardening in Any Backyard

I know many people who are fortunate enough to have a huge backyard with plenty of room to garden, but many of us live in the city and have limited space that gets enough sun.

Even a small backyard can produce a lot of food:

Grow beets, radishes, lettuces and some greens on a balcony or patio
Vines like beans, peas, and cucumbers do well in hanging baskets or in barrels on a deck or patio
Peppers, tomatoes and beans need more sun (6-8 hours per day) for optimal growth
Just make sure that any container plants get enough sun and water, and that the container has proper drainage.

Here are a few simple ways that I’ve personally tried for backyard gardening…

DIY Planter Box

I shared the instructions for my simple cedar planter box before, and this is one of the simplest ways to grow a small backyard garden.

This planter is only three feet long, so it will fit on almost any patio or porch. We are currently growing Kale, herbs and a few microgreens.

Natural Container Gardening

If you aren’t the DIY type and don’t want to build a container for gardening, there are many pre-existing natural containers that will work:

Bushel baskets
Old Barrels (cut in half)
Metal drums or planters
Wooden boxes
Ceramic pots
Just make sure that any container has adequate drainage and water container plants often.

Square Foot Garden

This is one of the first types of backyard gardening I tried when we moved into our first home. The basic concept is using a 4×4 raised bed (or several of them) in a very calculated way to maximize the amount of food that can be grown. The 4×4 foot bed is divided into 16 one-foot squares and each square is used for one type of plant (based on size).

For instance, you might plant one tomato plant in one square, four basil plants in another and nine spinach plants in another.

This site has some additional information about how to plan a square foot garden, but to get started, you just need:

A 4×4 raised bed kit (or materials to make your own)
Optional: a square foot gardening grid
Soil + sunlight
Raised Beds

An extension of the square foot garden is a larger raised bed. The square foot method can actually be used in a larger bed as well to optimize production.

We have permanent raised beds in our yard and they are big enough for us to grow most of the seasonal vegetables for our family.

By using companion planting and succession planting, we are able to grow food from April-October in our climate.

Prepare the Garden

Figure out how much space you can devote to a garden and plan accordingly. If you just have a few containers on a patio, make sure to get quality soil and use organic fertilizer to maximize production.

If you are growing an outdoor garden, consider using raised beds to maximize space and production.

Once you have the space for the garden reserved, you need to make sure you have decent soil to work with. Many county extension offices offer soil testing at very inexpensive prices. Getting your soil tested will help you pinpoint what, if anything, you need to add to the soil to make sure your plants grow well.

We tilled in several truckloads of organic compost over the last couple of years. While this was a little pricey upfront, it paid off in the long run. Our soil is naturally very acidic dense clay that doesn’t drain well. Adding the compost gave us beautiful, black soil that produced veggies in abundance last year!

Making the Most of Your Space

You can easily maximize your growing space and often prevent pests with the same methods. To make sure you get the most production from small spaces, practices like intercropping, companion planting, and succession planting can really help.

Companion Planting

Companion planting allows you to grow multiple plants that help each other in the same area. A classic example is the Indian custom of planting corn, beans and squash together. The corn provides a structure for the beans and squash, and the beans add nitrogen back into the soil to feed the corn and squash.

Another example is planting basil under tomatoes. Besides tasting great together, these two help deter pests from each other and improve the growing quality of each other. Check out this list for a chart of good companion plants.

My favorite plants to plant together are:

Basil with tomato to promote growth and keep pests away
Marigolds throughout the garden to deter pests and reduce nematodes
Dill with cucumber
Catnip, mint and chamomile in brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) to deter pests
Beets under cabbage to maximize space
Cucumbers with mammoth sunflowers- the sunflowers act as the trellis
Succession Planting

Planting a variety of crops in succession will give you more yield from your garden and extend your harvest season. For instance, right now, my garden has young cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, chart, spinach and lettuce. Once those are harvested, the same beds will become a space for melons or winter squash.

Vertical Gardening

Growing some plants up rather than letting them sprawl can reduce the amount of space they need and actually increase yield by reducing disease exposure.

Trellises and cages are great for tomatoes, cucumbers, vining squash and others. Here’s an informative article that explains more. I’ll be posting soon on the system we use to grow tomatoes that gives great airflow and maximizes production (its also very easy and inexpensive!)

So far, our garden is on track to produce lots of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lettuce, strawberries, beets, radishes and others in the next couple of months. In the next few weeks, I’ll be putting plants in the ground for summer crops of tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc.

Natural Pest Control for Organic Gardens

It is so frustrating to spend hours working on your garden only to have plants destroyed by pests. With organic gardening, many of the normal pesticides are off-limits, but there are still many great ways to keep the pests out! Check out this post for a variety of natural pest control options.

Scientists Identify A New Way To Activate Stem Cells To Make Hair Grow

UCLA researchers have discovered a new way to activate the stem cells in the hair follicle to make hair grow. The research, led by scientists Heather Christofk and William Lowry, may lead to new drugs that could promote hair growth for people with baldness or alopecia, which is hair loss associated with such factors as hormonal imbalance, stress, aging or chemotherapy treatment.

The research was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Hair follicle stem cells are long-lived cells in the hair follicle; they are present in the skin and produce hair throughout a person’s lifetime. They are “quiescent,” meaning they are normally inactive, but they quickly activate during a new hair cycle, which is when new hair growth occurs. The quiescence of hair follicle stem cells is regulated by many factors. In certain cases they fail to activate, which is what causes hair loss.

In this study, Christofk and Lowry, of Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, found that hair follicle stem cell metabolism is different from other cells of the skin. Cellular metabolism involves the breakdown of the nutrients needed for cells to divide, make energy and respond to their environment. The process of metabolism uses enzymes that alter these nutrients to produce “metabolites.” As hair follicle stem cells consume the nutrient glucose — a form of sugar — from the bloodstream, they process the glucose to eventually produce a metabolite called pyruvate. The cells then can either send pyruvate to their mitochondria — the part of the cell that creates energy — or can convert pyruvate into another metabolite called lactate.

“Our observations about hair follicle stem cell metabolism prompted us to examine whether genetically diminishing the entry of pyruvate into the mitochondria would force hair follicle stem cells to make more lactate, and if that would activate the cells and grow hair more quickly,” said Christofk, an associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular and medical pharmacology.

The research team first blocked the production of lactate genetically in mice and showed that this prevented hair follicle stem cell activation. Conversely, in collaboration with the Rutter lab at University of Utah, they increased lactate production genetically in the mice and this accelerated hair follicle stem cell activation, increasing the hair cycle.

“Before this, no one knew that increasing or decreasing the lactate would have an effect on hair follicle stem cells,” said Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology. “Once we saw how altering lactate production in the mice influenced hair growth, it led us to look for potential drugs that could be applied to the skin and have the same effect.”

The team identified two drugs that, when applied to the skin of mice, influenced hair follicle stem cells in distinct ways to promote lactate production. The first drug, called RCGD423, activates a cellular signaling pathway called JAK-Stat, which transmits information from outside the cell to the nucleus of the cell. The research showed that JAK-Stat activation leads to the increased production of lactate and this in turn drives hair follicle stem cell activation and quicker hair growth. The other drug, called UK5099, blocks pyruvate from entering the mitochondria, which forces the production of lactate in the hair follicle stem cells and accelerates hair growth in mice.

“Through this study, we gained a lot of interesting insight into new ways to activate stem cells,” said Aimee Flores, a predoctoral trainee in Lowry’s lab and first author of the study. “The idea of using drugs to stimulate hair growth through hair follicle stem cells is very promising given how many millions of people, both men and women, deal with hair loss. I think we’ve only just begun to understand the critical role metabolism plays in hair growth and stem cells in general; I’m looking forward to the potential application of these new findings for hair loss and beyond.”

The use of RCGD423 to promote hair growth is covered by a provisional patent application filed by the UCLA Technology Development Group on behalf of UC Regents. The use of UK5099 to promote hair growth is covered by a separate provisional patent filed by the UCLA Technology Development Group on behalf of UC Regents, with Lowry and Christofk as inventors.

The experimental drugs described above were used in preclinical tests only and have not been tested in humans or approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective for use in humans.

Hormone replacement therapies help breast cancer grow, spread

Hormone replacement therapies, or medications containing female hormones, may help cancer to spread.

Hormone replacement therapies, or medications containing female hormones that substitute those no longer produced by the body, often are prescribed to reduce the effects of menopausal symptoms in women. Research has indicated that women who take hormone replacement therapies have a higher incidence of breast cancer. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have linked natural and synthetic progestins to the body’s production of specialized cancer cells that act like stem cells in humans. Findings could help scientists target these rare cells that proliferate in breast cancers and metastasize elsewhere, and may help clinicians identify immunotherapies to combat the spread of the disease.

Hormone replacement therapies, or medications containing female hormones, may help cancer to spread.

Hormone replacement therapies, or medications containing female hormones that substitute those no longer produced by the body, often are prescribed to reduce the effects of menopausal symptoms in women. Research has indicated that women who take hormone replacement therapies have a higher incidence of breast cancer. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have linked natural and synthetic progestins to the body’s production of specialized cancer cells that act like stem cells in humans. Findings could help scientists target these rare cells that proliferate in breast cancers and metastasize elsewhere, and may help clinicians identify immunotherapies to combat the spread of the disease.

“In previous studies, we have shown that both natural and synthetic progestins accelerate the development of breast cancer and increase their metastasis to lymph nodes,” said Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed Professor in Tumor Angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. “Our laboratory is committed to identifying the cell mechanisms that bring about increased breast cancer risks. Recently, our research focused on special cells — which are called ‘cancer stem cell-like cells’ — that induce aggressive tumor growth, metastasis and cancer recurrence.”

In a series of tests, the team used hormone-responsive human breast cancer cells to examine the effects of progestin on the cell markers typically found in breast cancers. Both natural and synthetic progestins significantly increased protein expression of CD44, a molecule involved in cell proliferation, cell communication and migration. Additionally, the presence of progestins caused these components to behave like cancer stem cell-like cells.

These rare cells are a small population of cells that — acting like normal stem cells — are self-renewing, create identical copies of themselves and proliferate exponentially. Further testing showed that the rare subset of cancer cells actually were enriched by progestin.

“The findings show that exposure to natural and synthetic progestins leads to the development of these cancer stem-cell like cells,” Hyder said. “These cells greatly increase the likelihood of resistance to therapies and the risk for metastasis. Our findings also suggest that clinicians may be able to combat the progestin-dependent tumor growth through immunotherapy.”

“In previous studies, we have shown that both natural and synthetic progestins accelerate the development of breast cancer and increase their metastasis to lymph nodes,” said Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed Professor in Tumor Angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. “Our laboratory is committed to identifying the cell mechanisms that bring about increased breast cancer risks. Recently, our research focused on special cells — which are called ‘cancer stem cell-like cells’ — that induce aggressive tumor growth, metastasis and cancer recurrence.”

In a series of tests, the team used hormone-responsive human breast cancer cells to examine the effects of progestin on the cell markers typically found in breast cancers. Both natural and synthetic progestins significantly increased protein expression of CD44, a molecule involved in cell proliferation, cell communication and migration. Additionally, the presence of progestins caused these components to behave like cancer stem cell-like cells.

These rare cells are a small population of cells that — acting like normal stem cells — are self-renewing, create identical copies of themselves and proliferate exponentially. Further testing showed that the rare subset of cancer cells actually were enriched by progestin.

“The findings show that exposure to natural and synthetic progestins leads to the development of these cancer stem-cell like cells,” Hyder said. “These cells greatly increase the likelihood of resistance to therapies and the risk for metastasis. Our findings also suggest that clinicians may be able to combat the progestin-dependent tumor growth through immunotherapy.”

How to Grow Sprouts In Your Kitchen

“A total hippie food”… that was what I thought as I looked down at the turkey, sprouts, and avocado sandwich on flax bread that my friend had insisted I “had to try.”

This was well before my transition to real food and I wasn’t enthralled with the rather dry sandwich, but I really liked the texture of the sprouts.

These days, if sprouts are hippie food, I must be a hippie because I have some growing on my counter right now.

Turns out, sprouts have a lot of health benefits and are an inexpensive and easy-to-grow local superfood.

Why Grow Sprouts at Home?

Sprouts are soaked and germinated seeds, nuts or grains that are full of beneficial enzymes, vitamins and amino acids. They are also incredibly easy to grow at home on a kitchen counter with plain water and minimal equipment.

I prefer to sprout any beans or grains that I consume to make the nutrients more bioavailable and to reduce lectins and phytic acid. I also like sprouting certain seeds and nuts for adding to salads and stir frys.

Sprouts are incredibly nutritious and inexpensive, and take only a few days to grow. Sprouting increases the nutrient content of seeds and legumes and makes them easier to digest. If you’ve never tried to grow sprouts at home, you are missing out on an easy way to have fresh food year round.

The most common seeds used to grow sprouts are:

  • Alfalfa
  • Broccoli Seeds
  • Red Clover Seeds
  • Lentils
  • Mung Beans
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Chia Seeds

Supplies to Grow Sprouts

There is equipment specifically designed for sprouting, like sprouting trays, which make sprouting easier and allow for more growth at once, but all that is really needed are:

  • A wide-mouth quart size or half gallon size mason jar
  • A Sprouting lid or a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band
  • A bowl or box to help the jar stand upside-down at an angle
  • Organic Sprouting seeds (I buy mine in bulk here) – Make sure they are specifically labeled “sprouting seeds” and “organic”

How to Grow Sprouts

 

  1. Wash hands well and make sure that all equipment is clean and sterile.
  2. Pour one type of seed into the jar. Use about 1 teaspoon of small seeds like alfalfa or broccoli or 1/4 cup of beans and lentils (for a quart size jar).
  3. Cover with 1 cup of filtered water and put lid or cheesecloth over the jar.
  4. Allow to soak for up to 12 hours. It is often easiest to do this at night and soak overnight.
  5. In the morning, strain off the water. This is easily done with a sprouting lid. If you are using a cheesecloth, strain through a fine strainer and return to jar.
  6. Rinse well with filtered water and drain again.
  7. Place upside down at a slight angle so that excess water can drain off and air can get in. I find a dish rack or medium size bowl is perfect for this.
  8. Re-rinse the sprouts several times a day with filtered water, returning to the tilted position each time.
  9. You should see sprouting in a day or two and most sprouts are ready to harvest in 3-7 days.
  10. When done sprouting, rinse thoroughly in cool, filtered water and store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.

There are some important notes about growing sprouts. Please read this article for cautions and specific instructions. Some seeds (like walnuts and pecans) do not sprout and some beans (like Kidney beans) are dangerous and should never be eaten sprouted. Also, special care should be taken to avoid bacteria growth in sprouts.