How I Deal with Grief, And Especially During the Holidays by Lisa Harrison

Grief is a complex issue that affects everyone differently because grieving is an individual journey. Which means there is no “normal or expected” period of time for grieving. And, grief can be especially hard during the holiday season when we have faced so much in the past eighteen months.

During the pandemic it has been very important to talk honestly about our individual and collective grief. We have helped get one another through a very hard time by openly and compassionately listening to one another. We learned how important it is to hold one another’s heart safe because kindness and empathy have been so important during the past year with the pandemic leaving many people to grieve.

It is estimated that for every person lost to Covid-19, nine people are grieving their passing. In the U.S, we have lost 799,000 as of now, so that means around 7.2 million are experiencing grief.  As I write this 5.2 million people around the world have died from Covid-19, resulting in an estimated 47 million people who are hurting over a lost loved one to the virus.

But, those numbers don’t include the people we have lost for other reasons. The pandemic overwhelmed our healthcare systems to the point many people who needed care were not able to receive it. And add the serious risk of contracting Covid-19 made it impossible for families and friends to visit their loved ones. Or to be with them as they were dying in the hospital.

I work for a grief support agency in Birmingham, Alabama. We have seen the number of people seeking grief support services go up 40% since March of 2020. Our clinical director told me that he has never seen bereaved adults so traumatized as they are now, due to the isolation and loneliness they have faced during this unprecedented time in history.  Many have what we refer to as “complicated grief,” meaning they are not only grieving a loss, but may be suffering from PTSD, psychoses, major clinical depression, debilitating anxiety, and other mental problems that make dealing with their loss even more difficult.  Mourners often become “stuck” in their grief and can’t grieve normally.  We never get “over” grief, but we can get “through” it on our journey of loss. I know this from experience.

My own personal journey of loss after my mother’s death was indeed complicated.  For my entire life I was told my mom wasn’t normal, that she was “sick in the head.”  She was institutionalized and given shock treatments many times during my childhood.  When my family broke up, because my dad divorced her, I blamed my mother. In my view she was too weak.

As a young child I vowed that this experience would not affect me negatively.  I would turn it into a positive experience.  I would be smart and a high achiever, so I wouldn’t be like my mom.  And, that’s how I functioned for much of my life.  I was popular, an A student, and very ambitious.

When I was 32, my mother had a stroke. She came to live with my husband and me.  We managed the best we could. About that time, my husband, Steve, and I were thinking of starting a family, but the responsibility of taking care of Mom prevented it from happening.  Mom had an enlarged heart and was considered for a transplant (a long arduous application process that I went through with her), only to be turned down due to her emotional problems. Two months later she was diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian cancer.

Around that time, a family member accidently shared a family secret that had been kept from me all of my life.  My mother had been raped by her eldest brother when she was five years old.

Then he made her watch as he killed her pet cat, threatening to do the same thing to her if she told anyone.  I also learned that her mother had died when my mother was very young. Her father was an alcoholic and unable to care for my mom and her four siblings.  When an older sibling left home, he took mom with him to care for her as best as he and his wife could.  After that, mom was like an orphan, moving from sibling to sibling.

As mom was dying, I lay in bed with her and asked for forgiveness for blaming her.  I told her I was sorry I didn’t know all she had been through.  Of course, she forgave me—I was her child.

When she died, I carried so much guilt and hurt that my mom had such a traumatic and unstable life.  It broke my heart. I became manic and lost a job I loved.  My husband wouldn’t let me be committed to a mental health facility because he knew how afraid I was of turning out like my mom. He took care of me, which was very hard. It was hard on both of us.  I couldn’t work for a year.  I was diagnosed with the same mental illness as my mom—schizoaffective disorder—an illness with symptoms of both bipolar and paranoid schizophrenia.  During that year I grieved badly for my mom. I began seeing a psychiatrist who has been my doctor for almost 30 years.

Now as the holidays approach, I must face, once again, the season without my mom. She loved Christmas more than anyone I have ever known.  She put decorations everywhere and got so excited when we put the tree up—supervising to make sure it looked just right.  She would wrap empty boxes and place them under the tree to make it look like we would have a more plentiful Christmas.

As you can imagine since her death, I don’t find as much joy in the holidays as I once did.  I decorate, but with a tiny tree and a plain wreath.  And, this holiday season will be especially hard since my husband lost his mother to Covid-19 in December of 2020.

Many of us are facing our first holiday season after the loss of a loved one.  While we will grieve their passing I have a few coping tips that help me. My hope is that the following will help you  navigate the holidays, finding as much joy and love as you can.

-Don’t expect too much of yourself. You may need to pare back the decorations, baking, gift buying, and festivities. That’s okay because taking care of yourself is your top priority.

-Ask for help.  For example, if you usually cook the entire Christmas lunch or dinner, ask family and friends to share the responsibility by cooking and bringing a dish.

-Have a plan.  Write down some ways you can emotionally prepare for any stress and sadness.  Plan time-outs when you can get away by yourself if you need to.

– Feel free to share your emotions with a trusted friend. Someone who will hold your heart safe and allow you to express your grief.

-Remember your loved one.  If you generally host a meal, consider having it at another family member’s home. Offer to bring your loved one’s favorite dish.  Set an empty place at the table for them.  Light a special candle.  Have everyone go around and express their fondest memory of the person.

-If you don’t feel like celebrating at all—take a vacation to another place altogether and remember your loved one with a completely new tradition.

-Practice gentle self-care.  Pamper yourself through the holiday season. Get a manicure/pedicure, or indulge in a relaxing bubble bath, make time to immerse yourself in the natural world. It is so important to take care of yourself because you must give yourself time to heal.

-Do something for others. Volunteer at a homeless shelter to help serve a holiday meal. Or take a dog for a walk that is waiting to be adopted at a rescue organization.  Giving of ourselves to others has a way of bringing joy to our heart.

No matter what you choose to do, I encourage you to embrace the pain of loss.  Trying to ignore it will only make it worse. It’s okay to feel sad, frightened, and lonely.  Those emotions are normal. And know that crying does not make you weak.

Grief is a journey we all go through in life.  After the death of a loved one we must take time to grieve. From my own experience I know healing comes gradually and at different stages. And, I also know that with time, we can find the joy in life again.

Lisa Harrison, Administrative Director, Community Grief Support, Birmingham, Alabama


The Broken Circle by Karen Winnick

We don’t own the earth. We need to share it–

Share it with mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, flowers, trees.

All living things depend on other living things to survive.

Birds need trees to perch and build their nests. Trees need birds to eat their fruit and spread their seeds to plant new trees.

Nature is a fine-tuned circle. Breaking the circle disrupts the natural order. When we don’t see, don’t understand or care, we cause great damage, as when we nearly wipe a species off the face of the earth—

Once, in Yellowstone Park, gray wolves made the circle whole.

They lived with elk, beavers and bears. They also shared the park with foxes, coyotes and many kinds of fish and birds.

The wolves formed packs, and each pack marked their territory with a chorus of howls.

In summer, the wolves romped over grassy meadows. In winter, they plowed through deep snow.

In spring, the alpha female in each pack dug a den and gave birth to pups. All the wolves in the pack helped to raise the pups.

Together the pack chased elk, most often going after the weakest in the herd. They shared their kill and brought back meat to feed the pups.

Contented, the wolves snoozed in the sun while a fox or coyote snuck up to snatch leftovers. Eagles and ravens swooped down to grab scraps, too.

Nature was in balance in Yellowstone. The circle was whole.

Then, fear and mistrust of the wolves began to grow. People called them a threat. Some wolves wandered outside the park. They killed ranchers’ sheep and cattle.

The wolves were hunted. They were chased and trapped, poisoned or shot until all the wolves were killed.

No more wolves were left in the park.

Because there were no more wolves, elk herds grew bigger. More and more elk ventured into the park’s forest to graze in groves of quaking aspen. They grazed until the quaking aspen disappeared.

Few birds flew into the park. There were no branches on which to perch and sing their songs. There was no place to build their nests and hatch their young.

More and more elk munched on the cottonwoods by the river. They munched until the cottonwoods were gone.

Few fish swam in the river. There were no shadows in which to hide, no shade to keep the water cool.

More and more elk browsed on the drooping willows near the creeks. They browsed until the drooping willows near the creeks vanished.

Few beavers splashed in the creeks. There was no wood to gnaw. There were no dams built to slow the water that ran too fast in the creeks. Without the dams, no ponds were formed for fish to spawn or waterfowl to float.

More and more elk chomped the huckleberry bushes growing up the mountains. They chomped until the huckleberry bushes were scarce.

Grizzly bears could no longer fill their bellies with huckleberries before their winter sleep.

Many years went by in the park. Years with scarce huckleberry bushes and hungry bears.

Years without drooping willows or splashing beavers, without cottonwoods or swimming fish, without quaking aspen or singing birds.

Because the herds grew so big, the elk went hungry. Many became sickly and starved.

Some people began to understand, nature was no longer in balance in Yellowstone. The circle was badly broken.

More years passed and then, a few gray wolves drifted down from the north. They settled in the park.

Other wolves were brought in by people who hoped to restore the balance.

The wolves formed packs.

In spring, the alpha female in each pack gave birth to pups.

The wolves chased elk and brought back meat to feed the pups.

While they snoozed, a fox or coyote snuck up to snatch leftovers. Eagles and ravens swooped down to grab scraps, too.

Because the wolves came back, elk herds grew smaller.

Quaking aspen grew.

Birds sang their songs and raised their young.

Cottonwoods sprung up by the river.

Fish swam in the cool water and hid in the shade.

Drooping willows appeared near the creeks.

Beavers splashed and built their dams.

Ponds formed where fish could spawn and waterfowl float.

Bushes swelled with huckleberries.

Bears gobbled them before their winter sleep.

Gray wolves were back in Yellowstone. They made the circle whole.

by Karen B. Winnick

What if All Children Are Accepted for Who They Are

I knew I was gay around age five. I cannot tell you how I knew so young. Yet it is not uncommon for some gay, bi-sexual, transgender people to know at such an early age. As you can imagine, being gay was a secret I kept as long as possible. I dared not tell anyone. I knew exactly what would happen. In church, and within society, it was made clear how much my kind was despised and feared.

At age eighteen I could no longer deny who I was and I told my parents. With the intention of changing me, they sent me to a physician who sexually molested me. Then I was locked in a psychiatric hospital because they thought I was depressed. Sure, I was depressed. I had just been sexually violated and the two people who were supposed to love me, like Jesus would, told me I was going to hell and had broken their hearts.

Sadly, my parents’ Christian religious experience taught them to detest gay people, while at the same time having to make sense of contradictory messages, such as Thou shall not judge and Treat people as you want to be treated. So when I confessed my big secret, they faced their worst nightmare too.

I am certain they believed their motivation was love. Maybe they wanted me to be viewed as “normal.” Possibly they believed changing me to heterosexual would save my soul and I would be free from eternal hell-fire and damnation.

I am also confident my parents desired to escape being ridiculed and shunned themselves if my secret got out. Their words to me, “You’re a business risk,” and I ought to “Go live at the Y.W.C.A.,” revealed their concern about how my being gay would look to their business associates, friends, and church congregation.

My parents, like people who are taught the Bible is the absolute and infallible word of God, were instructed to believe being gay is an intentional choice. Someone who is gay, it is commonly believed, deliberately chooses to sin against God. It is also believed we recruit people to our gay lifestyle: another untruth.

Early in life I found out, as many of us do, two places intended to provide an accepting, loving, and supportive haven—my Christian church in Texas and my home—actually did not. The adage Love your neighbor as yourself only seemed to apply if the neighbor, or child, met a list of specific criteria. I did not meet those conditions because I was not heterosexual.

After a horrible and unproductive ten days in the psychiatric hospital, I was released. My parents went with me to a follow-up appointment with a psychiatrist. I will never forget the look of disappointment on their faces when the doctor explained to them he could not change my sexuality. “Like so many aspects of our uniqueness,” he said, “human sexuality is not a choice one makes.” There would be no praying or converting the gay away. What he would do is help me learn to accept myself in a world that does not.

Halleluiah! For the first time ever, I felt acceptance and compassion. And it came from a complete stranger.

Was he Christian?

Who knows, but his support allowed me to gain a small sense of self-approval. I began to think I might be worthy of love after all. The inner turmoil did not permanently resolve, however, as a result of this one confirmation. Attempting to fit into Christianity, and society in general, when I was deemed unworthy, became a recipe for anger, self-hatred, and emotional chaos.

I had no clue how to navigate the straight world as a gay member of our human family. I did not know how to love Jesus when my Christian religious experience told me God hates gays. I could not understand, at the time, why my parents, or anyone who professed to love an accepting Jesus, could shun me for being different.

For many years I stayed infuriated with and estranged from my family. I loathed them for rejecting me and for sending me to a physician who had the appalling reputation of molesting his patients. I detested the doctor, and men in general, for objectifying, abusing, and dominating women.

I was emotionally devastated by the illogical and holier-than-thou reasoning of those who defended their condemnation of my sexual orientation, when Jesus himself did not say anything on the subject. The mixed messages I received, and the recurring question of why none of the adults in my life was confronting those contradictions, was crazy making. Warring against me and other people is not aligned with what Jesus taught. He would also not excuse my warring against people who judge me. As a result, I suffered under the heavy burden of resentment and confusion—a weight so massive it almost made me give up on life. But I did not give up.

Instead, I questioned my parents’ motivation for taking the actions they did. I realized their desire to change me into what they, society, the Church, and Christianity considered normal was driven by fear. No matter how much my parents believed they were loving me, we do not love one another through insensitive fear. We can only love one another with our sensitive heart; the soul we are.

I am deeply blessed to share a happy ending to this part of my story, as Mom and Dad are now two of my biggest fans and best friends. Faced with the truth of who I was born to be, they eventually came to a place of unconditional love by bravely questioning their beliefs. When they did, they found love to be stronger than fear. What other people or the Church think of me is no longer important to them, as they know my integrity through the honesty, kindness, and responsibility of my words and actions.

My parents always cared for me. They simply had no clue how to accept me while also following their religious convictions. They seem to be at peace with this. The only thing I now feel from them is complete and unconditional love. Just as Jesus himself loves me. But as you can imagine I did not always know Jesus loves me.

Minding Our Mind’s Business by Brijesh Kumar Yadav, Pooranpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

I recently graduated from Lotus Group of Institutions College. It was challenging to earn the degree but I did the work required because this was one of the goals I have for myself. During my time at the college I learned many things about finance, accounting, and business. Everything I learned while pursuing my master’s will enrich my life and career. Yet, one of the most important lessons I am learning, that was not part of my formal education, is my mind has a mind of its own. Meaning, my mind thinks all the time, but I am not always aware of my thoughts. Therefore I am often unaware of how my thinking impacts my attitudes and behavior.

For example, one day when studying for my degree I actually noticed my mind wandering away from what I needed to concentrate on in the moment. I became aware my mind was drifting between what I was studying and thoughts about my landlord, to a career I desire to have, to a recent event. With this awareness I comprehended that my mind must do this, all the time. I then realized if I am paying attention to what I am doing – studying – I am in control of my attention rather than being distracted by what my mind wants to think about. Meaning, when my mind wanders I can re-direct it to think about what I need to think about – studying, cleaning, cooking, speaking with a friend – without being distracted by thoughts that are not relevant to what I am doing in the moment.

When I first experienced this realization, about the power my thoughts have over me, it was hard to accept. Probably because my mind immediately came up with a rationalization to defend the thoughts it had. As I started to pay close attention to what I was thinking I began to understand my thoughts are often made up based upon some personal bias, or on something I have been taught to believe that was never true, or on the opinion of others. Being aware of what I am thinking I now see many of my thoughts limit me with fear, self-doubt, and misinformation.

For instance, there are people who believe the earth is flat. Science tells us the earth is round. If I think the earth is flat and do not question that belief then I am allowing myself to be controlled by an illogical and incorrect thought. Questioning my thoughts is very important because, to create my best life I need to accept that, because I “think” something, does not mean my mind has the right answer. To live a life of purposeful action, I realize how important it is for me to stay focused on my thoughts by asking, is this thought true, necessary, and logical? I am learning that staying aware to ask myself these type questions allows me to accept I am not without power over my thoughts. This is important because our thoughts create our behavior and our behavior creates our life.

I need to challenge my thoughts because what if the actions my mind directs are not logical, true, honest, etc.? What if my thoughts are judgmental, blaming, or cause me to feel jealous? Shouldn’t I ask myself why I am jealous of someone? When I feel insecure about what other people think of me, shouldn’t I challenge the thought that I care what people think of me more than what I think about myself? Why am I judging myself or someone else? Why do I jump to conclusions without seeking evidence?

My mind will think until I pass away because that is what our mind does. While writing this piece my mind tells me there is no hurry to finish. That I can do this at my leisure. Why? If I want to complete this in a timely manner, why should I be influenced by the thought to finish in a few weeks or a month? What is the motivation behind the thought? To get it done later rather than earlier? But if I want to do something the best I can, then I have to tell my mind to mind its own business so l can concentrate on what I need and want to do in the time I want to do it. I have to overrule my mind that is in making excuses, in order for me to do my best.

When I ask myself simple questions about what I am thinking, the integrity and empathy of my heart can analyze my thoughts to determine if what I am thinking is productive and positive, or not.

My friend Regina is teaching me to listen to the aware, responsible, and logical presence within me, and within all of us that has the power to question our thoughts, to challenge our beliefs, and to make the best decisions to create our best life. The hard part is training ourselves to stay aware of our thoughts, when we are thinking them, so we can determine if what we are thinking is valuable or not. I am learning this is a mastery. Like any skill we must practice and practice. But with determination we can do it because being in charge of our mind and the thoughts it creates allows us to stay present in the moment.

When we are present and aware of our thoughts to analyze what we are thinking, we are able to use the integrity of our heart to help guide our actions. I am learning when we lead with our heart we are responsible for our mind that has a mind of its own.

Listening to Candlelight

The match head bounces roughly along the edge of the matchbook.  On first strike it ignites in a flash of orange sparks and threatens to go out with each step I take. I carefully deliver life to a candle sitting close to my bed.

Technology provides life-saving medicines and jet-propelled shuttles.  Electricity, the pulse of our daily life, continues to flicker on and off with regularity.

Glowing warmly, the candle illuminates a small corner of my room.  At first it crackles and sputters as the wax of a new wick struggles to catch fire.  Soon it burns steadily, with only an occasional flicker when a draft from a half-closed window sweeps through the room.

Surveying my surroundings, I am unaffected by the dust on the dresser or the pair of worn jeans tossed haphazardly across a far corner chair.  I take a book from the nightstand and settle down.   Reading by candlelight sounds romantic, but it is difficult.  Nevertheless, watching television, listening to the radio, or dusting will have to wait.

I close my eyes and am cradled in darkness.  My mind circles and wanders through thoughts of the day.  Resisting the urge to put pen to paper and begin a list of things to do, I allow myself to drift.  The peaceful sound of rain carries me away.

… I grab the shiny chrome handlebars of my new blue Schwinn and snap my eyes shut.  With the confidence I have been given superhero ability to ride a bike with my eyes closed, I pedal fast.  Two seconds pass, possibly five, of blissful riding, then crash, into a neighbor’s sedan.  As I am falling to the pebblestrewn pavement, my mind anticipates my father’s looks and my reproach. I’m not badly hurt, but my superhuman powers are not strong enough to stop a tear from falling as a drop of blood appears from a small cut on my knee.  Softly Mom kisses my wound and tenderly places a band-aid on it. A gentle reminder to be careful and watch for parked cars…

… Easter.  A small yellow mass sits in my cupped hands.  My sister, two years younger, rubs her chubby finger over the baby chick’s head.  I watch carefully, observing each stroke, cautious.  My sister’s eyes are wide with wonder as she lifts the downy soft feathers to investigate the tiny chick.  Being older and more experienced, I am hesitant to let her touch it for too long.  I use my sweetest voice to convince her baby chicks must have rest between petting.   The chick cheeps loudly as it is released. My sister and I watch as it determinedly pecks at invisible things hiding in the grass…

… After asking three times, I hesitate at a fourth for fear of being scolded for breaking mother’s concentration, again.  The highway is narrow. In the back seat, where I am sitting with my window wide open, I feel a whoosh as each car passes too closely, I feel, to ours.  At five, I am a backseat driver. As we travel the single-lane highways of South Texas, I search the horizon for over-the-line autos, stray cows, and soda shops close to a turn-off.  Three hours seem an eternity when traveling to Granny’s house. After only minutes, the games were played, songs sung, snacks eaten, and not one cow in sight.  I curl up on the floorboard and listen to the tires on the road.

Lulled into a sleepy state, I feel the rhythm as we cross a wooden bridge — click-clack, click-clack, click-clack — a rapid cadence.  I scurry up to the window just as we complete the crossing and reach the pavement again.  Back on the floorboard, I am soon stirred by a honk.  I untangle my arms and legs in time to return the bald man’s wave as we pass his car.  Without asking, mother volunteers: only twenty minutes more. Soon I leap from the confinement of my back-seat responsibilities and into the arms of my Granny…

… A temporary captive of lace and bows, I rush to my room and quickly shed my Sunday best.  Almost tripping over the dress as it clings to my ankles, I jump high, finally achieving the altitude necessary to free myself from the bright green material.  Hurriedly I don jeans and a T-shirt.

Piling into the car as we do most Sunday afternoons, we are off — my best friend, his brother, my sister, and our moms.  The winding road to the park reminds me of a snake, weaving in and out of tall grass.  We pass duck ponds, a golf course, and the horse arena, arriving at last to a playground full of adventure — but without swings, slides, or merry-go-rounds.

Unspoiled, this part of the Guadalupe River is teaming with opportunity.  Thick vines cascade from sturdy live oaks lining the river’s edge.  Run-off channels rise from the river up to the street.

“I’m a pioneer,” my best friend exclaims, scampering up the gully on a mission to discover uncharted territory.  Following quickly behind, I search for buffalo.

The afternoon sun beats down. Squinting against the bright reflection from the river below, I watch as my sister struggles to climb up, my friend’s little brother close behind.  We toss a few clods of dirt over the side, a bombardment intended only to discourage younger siblings from following. Mother and her friend pass the time at a picnic table close to the river.

It seems we are there too briefly when a honk signals the roundup has begun. In the car, I take a final glance back as we reach the top of the hill, realizing it will be at least six days before we return to the wonder of this place…

It is still dark outside as I slowly open my eyes.  The vibrant memories of childhood summers pass rapidly.  Softball games with hot dogs, summer camp and mosquitoes, band concerts and school fairs, and endless memories of growing up in a small, weather-beaten Texas town.

The candle burns brightly as I revisit a steady stream of friends and events long forgotten.  As I close my eyes again, I make note not to wait for a storm to plunge routines into darkness before I return to the sights and sounds discovered while listening to candlelight.


Broccoli and Me by Risa Potters, D. C.

I’m a gardener, and when my own garden isn’t producing what I need, I either go to the local farmers market, or I go to a farm not far from where I live to fill in the rest.  The farm is family owned and has been around for years on many acres of beautiful, rich land.  When you drive down the road that leads to the entrance, during the summer months there are perfect rows of vegetables sharing space with corrals of resting horses that greet you on the way in.  When I see that much healthy produce spread as far as the eyes can see, row after row, I feel rich – not because the produce is expensive, but because it is abundant. This promise of health in the form of real food, to me, is luxury.  Unlike processed food-like substances, this food won’t kill you; instead, it gives you life.

I digress – I mean to talk to you about the many benefits of broccoli and some of the other produce in the family of cruciferous vegetables.  Aside from broccoli, this group includes vegies like cauliflower, kale, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, brussel sprouts and mustard.  Although they share many wonderful and important qualities, broccoli is the only one of this group that produces sulforaphane. 

“One of the most potent natural anti-cancer compounds ever discovered.” 

The above quote got my attention; it is referring to a compound found in broccoli sprouts called, Sulforaphane.  Broccoli, I discovered, came to this country from the Mediterranean in 1910, only about one hundred years ago, delivered by some Italians.  Sulforaphane, this extraordinary compound, was discovered in the early 1990’s, at John Hopkins University, and apparently there are just two ways to consume it:  Sprouting broccoli seeds and eating the sprouts or taking a Supplement.

I’ve been sprouting seeds in mason jars since my early twenties, so when I started reading the research on Sulforaphane, I got out the mason jars and cheese cloth and stocked up on organic broccoli seeds.  In my enthusiasm, I even gave the seeds to friends, wanting them to share the incredible benefits of this compound; I didn’t realize, however, that most people won’t go to the trouble of sprouting and would rather take a supplement.  There are issues with both ways:  The seeds must be organic and, even then, may not have an important precursor to sulforaphane – glucoraphanin.  This is true for both the sprouts and the supplements.  In addition, our gut microbiome must have a particular enzyme – myrosinase – in order to convert the glucoraphanin to sulforaphane; not all of us have this enzyme in our gut microbiome.

In addition, unless you disinfect the seeds, you risk spoiling the sprouts, which can be a potential source of food born illness.  To avoid this possibility, the researcher who started all this disinfects his seeds with a 1:10 bleach/water solution, which admittedly, I haven’t tried yet.  If you aren’t sure about using bleach on these precious seeds, there are other ways to disinfect them: Try rinsing with such things as vinegar, grapefruit seed extract or hydrogen peroxide.  The other option, buying the sulforaphane supplements, can be expensive and there are just a few companies that do it right and produce supplements with the needed precursors.

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  – Michael Pollan 

You could also do both, just to cover your bases – make sprouts and take the supplements, along with eating the broccoli plant; you won’t get the sulforaphane eating the plant (that important compound is only in the sprouts), but there are many important properties in the different parts of the broccoli plant, as well as the other crucifers.  As the plant grows, it produces important compounds at different stages of the plant’s growth that are used for its protection against possible predators.  These compounds are repurposed by us as we eat them, adding to the strength of our own immune system…The broccoli stalks (which I love and peel and eat raw), have lots of soluble fiber; the leaves that grow off the stalk are filled with chlorophyll; the heads are abundant with vitamin C and other nutrients; and, eventually the heads produce flowers that go to seed, where the sulforaphane is finally produced.  Then, in order to get the sulforaphane, the seeds are sprouted and consumed.

The Many Benefits of Consuming Sulforaphane 

When I hear about something as exciting and important as Sulforaphane, I feel compelled to share it with the people I care about.   Why shouldn’t everyone learn about something this exciting that will increase your health span and lifespan?  Here are the six benefits that we know of from consuming sulforaphane, … 

1). Lowers the risk of cancer:  Researchers found that this compound enhances deactivation of carcinogens (like glyphosate), increasing protection from DNA damage, slowing progress of the disease in cancers of the prostate, bladder, breast and colon. 

2). Improves detoxification capacity in all three phases of detoxification in every cell.  Unlike other antioxidants, like vitamin C, whose effects last for about a day, this compound’s effects last seventy-two hours or more, without buildup.

3). Protects the brain and restores cognition.  Encourages formation of new neurons and synapses, increasing Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), an important protein that enhances healthy brain activity, cognition and nerve growth.  Increases BDNF in conditions like:  Autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, brain trauma, accelerated aging, neurotransmitter dysfunction, obesity and schizophrenia.  Also, decreases brain inflammation and improves learning and memory. 

4). Decreases generalized inflammation.  Modulates joint inflammation. 

5). Slows aging.  Acts as a potent antioxidant, augments glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant.

6). Improves cardio metabolic health.  Decreases Insulin Resistance, improves glucose tolerance by favorably affecting lipid profiles, regulates the heart muscle, improves endothelial function and improves metabolic disorders – obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Risa Potters, D. C.