Category Archives: Farming

The Hemp Solution


Astrotas is pleased to announce a screening of the Hemp Solution, an australian documentary, at the next meeting on Sep 20th 10:30 am before the main feature Microbirth at 2pm/6pm

THE HEMP SOLUTION – FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE, 93mins plus 16 mins of extras, is the updated and expanded version of THE HEMP REVOLUTION. It explores all aspects of Cannabis Sativa – its thousands of industrial and medical uses, its potential to solve modern environmental problems, and the effects of and controversy around marijuana and its prohibition.Featuring: Dr Andrew Weil, Dr Lester Grinspoon, Dr Kate Short, Terence McKenna, Prof. Peter Dale Scott, Dr Andrew Katelaris and more… including a Tasmanian lady – Patsy Hansen, who was the first to grow industrial non-psychoactive strains of hemp in this state


…powerful…fascinating and intelligent…
should be seen by anyone interested in the psyche of the Western world and the future of the planet”
“expert and multi-layered”

The producer, Sol Ramana-Clarke, has graciously allowed this free of additional public screening rights charges. We have a few DVD’s at a special price of $10 ( contact me below)

Tasmanian food grade hemp oil and hemp meal as well as hemp garden mulch are available from Hemp Australia .


Hemp food is legally consumed in every industrialised economy, with the exception of Australia. Even in the United States, where hemp food is legal, it is all imported (mostly from Canada) because growing industrial hemp in the U.S. is illegal. –

Medical Marijuana in Australia


Missed it by that much!  After being rebuffed from starting a clinical trial  of medicinal marijuana in Tasmania with UTAS, Tasman Health Cannabinoids  has given the growlight by Norfolk island. They hope to fill a 1,000 kilo preorder from Canada. The chief executive officer Troy Langman  said “We dearly look forward to the day when we can supply Australian patients, but in the meantime we have substantial export opportunities, such as to Europe and Canada, where medicinal cannabis is legal,”  Understandably Troy who had agreed to come up and talk to Astro about the technical issues, is now a bit too busy oversease.    7:30 report video

Troy is still looking for an oncologist to head up an australian trial – all those in Tasmania have said no! Unbelievable. This ABC interview which featured Troy and Ulverstone cancer patient Natalie Daley erupted the airwaves a week after I contacted him –

Thanks Michael Ferguson! Thanks Jeremy  Rockliff! He may have to do a backflip after earlier saying ‘not moving ‘ ‘that is our final answer’ on the position of medical cannabis and and putting words into the mouth of his father’s poppy industry. 

Microbiome – friends with benefits


Title of this post stolen from a youtube lecture I’ve just watched here . Been doing a little research ahead of our September screening of “Microbirth” (see next meeting for details) and guilt tripping over the way the kids were raised!  However they made it to adulthood ok so maybe I need a chill pill containing L. reuteri NCIMB 30242  – Micropharma’s flagship probiotic which restores metabolism of bile acids. Bile acids properly metabolised not only lower cholesterol but are anti inflammatory, and perhaps loss of the right gut bugs contributes to inflammatory bowel diseases. I think they found it with this nifty wee ‘fantastic voyager’ programable robotic device that can sample the gut wall after you swallow it.

The microbiome is assembled and shaped between the ages of 0-4 years old and it has been shown recently to be negatively affected by C-section delivery4, insufficient breastfeeding18, antibiotic use6, an overly hygienic environment19, and poor diet7. The health of your microbiome is largely a result of your childhood and diet, but is also the result of environmental factors such as the use of oral antibiotic and the presence of disease6, 20, 21.

The Microbiome of people with cardiovascular disease22, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)10, irritable bowel disease (IBD)13, low vitamin D23 and osteoporosis24, and other diseases such as obesity25, liver disease26, and type two diabetes mellitus (T2DM)27 are notably different from those who are considered to be healthy.

Ok so what’s going on inside my gut is not actually any different to what happens to food scraps outside the body! Fermented food is awesome because of course it has a whole bunch of symbiotic wild organisms no pure culture can match. I’m guessing in part it’s due to the swapping of genes that goes on in the wild, including inside a gut. The genetic difference between e coli from two different people is like 40% while the genetic difference between the hosts is less than 1%. Because they can adapt quickly they can help us to adapt as well –

Gut bacteria in Japanese people borrowed sushi-digesting genes from ocean bacteria

My composting efforts have always been FAIL, even the worm farm – Tassie is cooold. Speed up the composting process with EM Bokashi – a mold that is easy to cultivate by anaerobic fermentation, and start a home compost or industrial scale composting at school with NO STINK ( if it’s done right !) You can buy the ready made Bokashi kit from Bunnings but the DIY instructions are online. Maybe I will have another go at composting:

Iodine, Thyroid and Adrenal Health


Freebie Alert! Free thyroid health information 

lucy heronDay3Banner

click the picture to sign up for the summit

with THE original alternative thyroid health expert and a father of iodine therapy Dr David Brownstein MD   – very important as Tasmanian soils are the most iodine deficient in the nation and we have historical health problems because of this that have been resurfacing. Note the dates given are for USA so  June 4th is the 5th locally – there will be two presenters during the sessions who are practicing in Australia – Lucy Herron, i think she’s a kiwi originally and Dr. Greg Emerson, canadian by birth ( new members may also like to check out the astro pages on seaweed )

Here are some of my thoughts and notes from the shows so far –

Day One Dr Brownstein discussed basal body temp, ( basal means upon waking but before getting out of bed – 97.8-98.8 farenheit translates to 37 centigrade Lucy Herron went into more detail on day 2. Here’s how to test it and a handy metric basal temp chart Use a digital thermometer sold for ovulation monitoring which is more precise than a standard thermometer. You can find them at most chemist stores. (I’ve used a few ideas from a little ebook by Matt Stone called ‘eat for heat‘ to ramp up my own basal temp.)

For the well person the big news is cancer prevention with iodine sufficiency: Iodine is necessary for normal glandular architecture of the breasts, ovaries and prostate not just the thyroid; deficiency causes cysts and nodules and eventually cancer. I was flabbergasted to learn a couple of years ago from a commercial fruit grower how her own child developed a goitre from the home veggie garden. Before you start to think ‘pesticides’ their farm is organic “To nurture the soil, they use the clear clean water from the Derwent River and hundreds of tonnes of organic compost, seaweed fertilisers and nutrient-rich cover crops which they mulch back into tree rows.” So I think it’s safest to test your soil if you eat a lot of home grown vegetables and also test your urine iodine levels as these are simple to do and cost effective considering the implications. Since October 2009, iodised salt is used in all bread sold in Australia (except organic, or salt free bread) and also not home bread mixes, flour and not pizza. [1] In Tasmania the stat govt. has iodine monitoring and you can call the public health line for information  1800671738. Plants also grow better with extra iodine. Here’s a nifty article outlining the pros and cons of iodine fortification of plants as an alternative to iodised salt.

Day Two Tahoma Clinic Doctor Jonathan Wright MD  (whose excitable speech pattern reminds me of  Willy Wonka)  says testing free T3 and then reverse T3 if nothing else would suffice to check thyroid function in contrast to choosing a TSH level – the usual sole screening test run by physicians,.

TSH is a pituitary hormone and he pointed out that unfortunately the normal range was created from total population averages, not tests of optimal function.

Thyroid function tests—time for a reassessment

St John O’Reilly’s paper notes TSH has never even been correlated with physical symptoms. This of course is true for other nutrients – Dr Bevin Hokin of the Sanitarium Hospital in Sydney has tried for years to point out that the reference ranges for serum B12 are too low – [2]

The usual method of deriving a reference range (Mean +/-2SD) results in a vitamin B12 reference range of around 130-850 pmol/L. This is an unsafe range as many in the population exhibit neurological symptoms of deficiency at much higher concentrations. The lowest concentration to be considered normal is 221 pmol/L. (Herbert 1996b)

Total T3 and T4 is stuck on binding proteins and is unavailable to the thyroid so measuring it is not helpful. TPO and TGA thyroid antibodies measurements can predict Hashimoto’s.

Dr Wright talked about chelating heavy metals out of the body in order to reduce inappropriate creation of reverse T3 when the body is not faced with starvation. If, when using DMPS to remove arsenic and mercury, an excess of sulphite is created from the sulfur not being metabolised efficiently due to molybdenum defficiency, the patient will have ‘foggy brain’ symptoms. I know this can also happen with common genetic mutations.

“People with mutations of CBS do not metabolise sulfur well and must limit sulfur containing foods as well as sulfur medicines. CBS is Cystathionine-β-synthase. CBS converts homocysteine into cystathionine. This pathway removes sulfur containing amino acids. When it is shut off there can be trouble.”

A simple sign you may be bad at detoxifying sulfur is a lot of burping or flatulence after eating onions and garlic – both high sulfur foods. [Ameer Rosic interview mp3]. If you have your 23andme genome test, CBS is tested. I use Amy Yasko’s website and to report on this (If that is all alphabet soup to you may email me if you would like help.)

The importance of testing adrenal function and providing the necessary support for these glands before supplementing thyroid was mentioned by both doctors. Vitamin C is at the top of Dr Wright’s helpful list – followed by simple salt. Also natural bioidentical cortisol in physiological doses (he reccomends  William Jeffries – ‘safe uses of cortisol’ ) cheap bulk Himalayan salt. is sometimes available at Astrotas meetings from Allan Wilton.

The toxic halides Bromine and flouride both interfere with iodine in the body.  In america the flour is brominated – but this is not an allowed in australia;  and we add iodised salt to our bread. Bread improvers may previously have contained bromine but this has been removed since the early 90’s. We do however use bromine instead of iodine now to sterilise milk vats, and some spa pools, and of course we continue to add flouride in many areas to our drinking water.

Here’s a link to the Harvard flouride review he mentioned  “July 25, 2012 — In a meta-analysis, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and China Medical University in Shenyang for the first time combined 27 studies and found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children. Some studies suggested that even slightly increased fluoride exposure could be toxic to the brain.  “Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain,” Grandjean says. “The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious.”

Since both my parents have glaucoma I was really interested by other ideas from Dr Wright’s clinical experience which will be in his new book – 50% of glaucoma can be reversed with adrenal support. 70% of dry macular degeneration is due to a digestive problem leading to nutrient defficiency. His website is


Biochar videos


Here is the BBC programme mentioned by Frank  “The Secret of El Dorado” In 1542, the Spanish Conquistador, Francisco de Orellana ventured along the Rio Negro, one of the Amazon Basin’s great rivers. Hunting a hidden city of gold, his expedition found a network of farms, villages and even huge walled cities. ”

and a presentation made at UK Biochar 2013, 20th June 2013, Oxford, UK by Hans-Peter Schmidt, Director of the Delinat Institute for Ecology and Climate Farming, Valais, Switzerland provides a review of experience to date, and a vision of the future for biochar production and use across Europe.