Monthly Archives: April 2014

Gangster Gardening Super Hero

Gardening was something my Grandma did as her hobby. She lived through the Great Depression as a kid had stories of eating only potatoes and apples for a week while living in a garage without electricity or running water. So, I think she gardened because it was a hobby that provided for her family. It made good use of her yard in the city, even though her neighbors chose to keep green lawns and tidy little flower beds.

Some of my fondest memories as a child were wandering around her raised vegetable beds and snacking on fresh strawberries or pulling a carrot out of the soil. Today, gardening is a popular hobby among those who can afford to put the time and effort into it. Walking around Seattle, you see gardens like my Grandma’s in the middle to upper class neighborhoods, and less around the poorer ones. Part of this is not just the time and money to grow gardens, but also the space needed.


Last Spring, I met Ron Finley, Gangster Gardener from South-Central Los Angeles. He is defying the stereo-types of gardeners being wealthy gardeners with large yards. He’s growing food in the parking strips on this street outside his house. The city issued him a fine, and ordered him to stop. He fought back with the support of his growing fans, and now it’s no longer illegal to use parking strips to garden in LA.

As Ron spoke about his journey into gardening, he’s learned a lot of life lessons that can be taught by sharing your garden with your neighbors: A garden requires time, effort and patience. While out working in his garden, Ron has had the chance to talk to Gangsters and Grandmas and people in between about the beauty of nature and growing food. He said that some people have taken the tomatoes he was looking forward to harvesting, for example, but that it’s okay. He’s sharing his garden with his neighbors and figures they may have needed the fresh food more than he did.

Ron has gone from a man using the space he had to garden in an unlikely neighborhood to a leader inspiring others to do it. Hearing him talk about his experience, you can’t help but want to garden too. Here’s what he said about why he thinks everyone should garden:

“Everything that happens in the garden happens in life.

Why are we growing grass? We’re not cows!”

What better way to inspire others and be a good example than to garden where your neighbors can see you?

Happy Spring,
Holli Margell, Editor

So Long, Kaz. I Am Taking Over! (just kidding….)

newsletter photo

My name is Heidi Swensen, and I am the new support person for Hen Sen Herbs. I began my position at Hen Sen Herbs in January of this new year. I wear many hats at our herbal clinic including but not limited to: Account Manager, Assistant Manager, personal assistant, student of Traditional Chinese Medicine, entertainer, friend and ally to patients. I am 24 years old. I attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia for Communication and Environmental studies. I am originally from the San Francisco bay area, specifically the east bay. I was born in Oakland, and grew up in Alameda. Fun fact about Alameda: It is a man-made island. The territory of Alameda was originally a peninsula connected to Oakland. Oakland’s rise to industrial prominence, and its subsequent need for a seaport, led to the digging of a shipping channel in 1902, and thus led to the establishment of The Island City. The name Alameda translates to “tree-lined Avenue.”

I moved to Washington in 2009 to attend college, and this is where I met my significant other, Kit. I have now become a transplant to Washington State, where I get on quite well. To me, the trade-off of sunny weather in California for the abundance of nature in Washington is worth it. I don’t know what I want to be what I want to grow up, but I think it may be something in the field of innovation. I’ll leave it up to the imagination for now. How did I become involved in a family-owned herbal clinic specializing in Traditional Chinese Medicine, you ask? Good question, as I am from neither herbal medicine nor Chinese background. I was drawn to the unique practice of Hen Sen Herbs. I find the work that Juli does to be highly valuable, if not sacred, due to the rarity of herbal medicine in modern times. I have observed that Juli treats patient’s health with great care and attention. I think the work that she does is very important, and I enjoy supporting this practice. It is an honor to learn new information about Traditional Chinese Medicine whenever possible, especially through the distinguished practice of Hen Sen Herbs.

Heidi Swensen

Weightloss Secret Weapon: Drinking A Cup of WuYi Oolong Tea With Proper Exercise And Diet

A while ago, I was watching a program on PBS about the how two groups of people respond differently to aerobic exercises in terms of their metabolic activities. Aerobic exercise is generally accepted by general public as one of the best exercises when it comes to increasing the metabolism and reducing weight as a result. It is true for a majority of people.

However, one researcher in England found that there is a group of people with a certain type of genes who do not respond well to aerobic exercise – no significant increase in metabolism after exercise. Aerobic exercise, according to Wikipedia, is a relatively low-intensity exercise in which the use of oxygen adequately meets the demand of energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Put it simply, it is a kind of exercise that requires more oxygen than just sitting around. Or you can think of it as any activities that require more oxygen and even makes you sweat, but you won’t probably be gasping for air as a result of the exercise.

Casual jogging, walking, swimming and cycling would probably fall under this category. The problem with this type of exercise is that you need to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour to get decent results from it. You will probably need to spend a lot more time if your goal is losing significant amounts of weight. Who has the time to spend a couple of hours a day to exercise? No one does. To make things worse, if you are type of person with certain genetic disposition who doesn’t respond well to the aerobic exercise, no matter how much you exercise, you would never lose weight, according to this researcher. This is why some people really struggle and never succeed in losing weight. I see the same people every day at the gym who exercise on the tread mill for an hour apparently trying to lose some weight. There is no doubt in my mind that exercise is good for their health, but no noticeable change in their body weight can be observed even after many months of effort on the tread mill. My guess is that these people have the same gene type as the ones described above.

But here is a good news. If you are one of those who possess the gene type with insufficient metabolic activity during exercise, or simply don’t want to spend hours exercising, you will be grateful for the finding of this researcher. “One minute of intense exercise is all you need to lose weight,” he says. His study clearly shows the significant increase in metabolic activities in both gene types after one minute of intense exercise.

So what is considered high-intensity exercise? He used a stationary bicycle for his experiment in which test subject was instructed to pedal as FAST as he can without stopping for one minutes. A man on the bike was completely exhausted and out of breath after one minute ride. He says, if done correctly, there is significantly higher chance of losing weight than jogging casually for 1 hour a day. You may choose to run, swim, hit a punch bag or do any type of short but very intense exercise that requires extremely high levels of oxygen, which hardly meets the demand imposed by the body. It is simple but you must push it to the point where you almost pass out, or at least seriously gasping for air after one minute. In my opinion, it is the similar principle used by body builders. They know that relatively short intense workouts – placing maximal demand on the targeted muscle repeatedly in one session interspersed with days of rest – produce the greatest result in comparison to continuous less intense workout everyday. What happens is that the body is forced to devote greater than normal share of oxygen and nutrients necessary for the growth of the muscle. The same mechanism seems to be responsible for the sudden increase in metabolic activities after one minute of intense exercise.

Now that you know that all it takes is one minute, you can no longer use the excuse, “I don’t have time!” for not exercising. But what if you are too lazy, too old or physically impaired to do any type of high-intensity exercise? Well, there is no good substitute for regular exercise and good healthy diet if you really need to loose weight. However, there is one thing anyone can do without requiring much of an effort.
WuYi Oolong Tea

WuYi Oolong Tea To The Rescue

WuYi Oolong tea is grown and harvested only in the province of Fujian China high in the WuYi mountain – ideal location with clean atmosphere at 650 meters above sea level on average. It is best known for its properties to increase metabolism and burn fat faster than any other tea. When our patient ask “Is there any tea for weight loss?” I always first try to emphasize the importance of regular exercise and healthy diet. Of course everyone knows how important they are, but no one seems to be able to commit to healthy lifestyle for various reasons. Plus, no one wants to be lectured by me. So I give in and recommend WuYi Oolong Tea, explaining to them the health benefits of the tea such as:

    High in antioxidants
    Burns fat
    Reduces cholesterol
    Helps clear skin
    Strengthen bones and teeth
    Accelerates metabolism
    Reduce the effects of stress and hypertension
    Reduce the effects of Type II diabetes

There has been a reported decrease in dark spots, wrinkled skin, rough skin and blemishes due to high level of antioxidants in the WuYi Olong tea. It also contains much higher level of Polyphenol, a type of enzyme which effectively dissolves triglyceride (fat), thus directly responsible for the weight loss. Energy increase is common among the regular drinker of WuYi Oolong tea. Sounds like it will make you a lean super human, doesn’t it? It probably won’t make you lose weight immediately. Its effects will be subtle.

You still need to maintain Zen monk like attitude toward your life in order to leap the benefits of this tea. Keep your diet simple, plain and bland. You can’t continue to consume toxins-laden, artery-clogging, high-in-cholesterol, sugary, fatty, evil junk foods, expecting to lose 10lbs in a week. Not to mention, regular exercise is a must. If there was such a thing as International Academy of Weight Loss where a student learns the knowledge and skills necessary to lose weight and keep it off for life, I would make healthy diet and regular exercise a prerequisite for the rest of the course. I would be your drill-sargent-like Professor watching your every move. I would punish those with an unhealthy lifestyle. Good students would be rewarded with my permission to take an advanced class where the art of WuYi Tea weight loss techniques would be taught. However, if I ever spot you eating at International House of Pancakes, you will be expelled from the Academy immediately.

Kaz Isogai