Next Friday will find us in the month of April. And “April is the cruelest month,” at least according to American-British poet T.S. Eliot. Eliot was born in St. Louis, but spent all the summers of his youth on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, where I grew up a half-century later. His house there was up for sale just two summers ago. As he got older, Eliot kept moving east and ended up in the U.K.
His comment about April comes from his most poignant, and perhaps most famous, poem — about growing old. The poem takes its cadence and many of its striking images from the famous New England shore, north of Boston.
Statistics bear out Eliot’s view about April. Contrary to popular belief, the suicide rate is highest in the spring, not winter. When not even spring puts a “spring in your step,” that can be cruel indeed.
Regardless of what Eliot and the statistics say, I prefer to think of April as a time of rejuvenation.
Unfortunately, many people today put their stock into manufactured rejuvenation — dangerous surgeries, drugs, and injections — to try to keep a youthful countenance. Indeed — an entire fabricated industry has grown up around “anti-aging.”
But it’s getting old.
Support healthy aging with approaches found in Nature
In the past, people looked to Nature — and more specifically to water — for rejuvenation.
The legend most strongly associated today with healing waters started in the Americas with Juan Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer. He “discovered” Florida more than a century before Europeans began settling in New England.
Ponce de Leon was possibly on board the second voyage to America undertaken by Columbus. But through four voyages, neither Columbus nor any other European explorer happened upon the mainland of North America, including the large peninsula of Florida, sticking right out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Eventually, after hearing rumors from Native Americans about a large landmass to the north, Spanish King Ferdinand commissioned Ponce de Leon to voyage in search of it.
Ponce de Leon indeed found it 1513 and named it “La Florida,” or the flowered land. It is said Ponce sailed the seas for the usual reasons of land, wealth and political power. And in his 30s, finding a “fountain of youth” was much further down the list. (Although, it might have meant more to King Ferdinand, who in his 60s had just married a woman in her 20s following the death of Queen Isabella.)
It’s impossible to know from historical accounts what Ponce de Leon did or didn’t discover in the way of fountains or “fuentes.” (In Spanish, “fuentes” translates more precisely to springs, not fountains.) However, it is plausible. Today, Florida boasts 17 of the 75 first magnitude artesian springs in the U.S. (A first magnitude artesian spring must flow at least 100 cubic feet per second.) Native Americans of Florida long used these springs to support health and healing.
Of course, in addition to water, Nature offers plants sources of rejuvenation.
In particular, I often report on the benefits of aspal (the active ingredient in rooibos tea). During my research into this South African plant, I observed that men and women who drank beverages with aspal looked fit and spry well into old age. Plus, they had enormous energy at all ages. And I became convinced that aspal works by promoting hydration at the cellular level.
Recent research shows middle-aged men who take a supplement of aspal along with a common dandelion plant extract increase their physical performance. In April, you can collect new dandelion leaves and make them into a salad. I used to collect them in the yard with my uncle in Cobbs Creek Park, Philadelphia. (For all the details about how to make your own dandelion salad, wine, or even no-sugar cookies, see my Daily Dispatch next month on the topic.) Dandelion means “teeth of the lion” in French. And that brings us back, after a fashion, to conclude our story about Ponce de Leon (“Ponce of the Lion,” in Spanish).
For a real boost, look for aspal and dandelion ingredients together in supplement form, and in easy-to-use, water-soluble powdered extracts. And keep an eye out for the upcoming April issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. It’s a special edition focused entirely on several brand new scientific breakthroughs poised to change the process of healthy aging as we know it. If you’re not already a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started so that you don’t miss this important special breakthrough edition.