When to pick the flowers — Dr. Ghani talks about Herbal Medicine

In Traditional Malay Medicine, the herbalists say, “Pick the flowers before the dew dries.” One of our favorite advisors, Dr. Ghani is lecturing on the relationships between herbs and their medicinal uses at the Frangipani Resort’s “One Earth Festival” on Langkawi.

The best time of day to harvest leaves, shoots, or flowers is early morning in the cool of the dawn. This is advice Dr. Ghani received from Malay herbalists who follow traditions passed down for generations from their ancestors. Modern florists and flower growers agree; flowers stay fresh longest when picked in the morning. But how often is attention paid to conditions like the age of a plant, season of the year, time of day, or the many other factors that affect a plant when making commercial medicines or cosmetics?

At night, when plants rest, toxins settle in the roots. These poisons can be from external sources such as acid rain falling on leaves or manufactured internally by the plant itself, perhaps as a protection against insects and other attackers. Traditional herbalists understand this process and advise never to harvest roots, tubers, or rhizomes in the morning. Why? Because morning is when these underground plant parts are most likely to be saturated with poisons. Afternoon or towards sunset, so say these experts, is the best time to harvest roots.

As sunlight and heat return with the day, the internal system of a plant begins to pump upwards, carrying the needed elements taken from the surrounding earth — the water, nutrients – and the toxins. By midday, they have spread through capillary action or a change in water pressure throughout the plant. “Don’t touch plants at midday,” he advises, as transpiration – the process of water loss (similar to sweating) is at its maximum then.

Winner of many awards as Malaysia’s “greenest resort” for its many eco-friendly
practices, Langkawi’s Frangipani Resort trains staff and visitors to understand
the systems interactions between people, animals and plants.

A licensed medical doctor trained in Egypt with a long-term practice in Malaysia, years ago Dr. Ghani became interested in the medical properties of herbs when his wife became sick. Western-style medicine did not seem to work but she was cured with herbs under the guidance of a Malay herbalist.

“Modern medicine,” he explains, “treats the acute face of illness. Traditional medicines address the healing process.”

“Plants can be medicine or at the same time can poison you,” he says. Dr. Ghani left his regular practice for research and writing when he became concerned about the number of “quacks” who were concocting so-called medicines and causing harm. A former nurse stood up at the lecture to add her story. In Singapore hospitals, she had seen men coming in for kidney dialysis because their systems had been so poisoned by certain dried mushrooms which had been promoted as good for health and viriity.

The herbalists Dr. Ghani most respects taught him about a special way of looking at any plant. They are meticulous about their selection of plants for harvest and consider how, when, and where it was grown. As one example, a plant grown on the east side of a hill where it gets the morning sun is considered to be healthier and better for medicinal or food purposes than one living on the west side.

Many plants have the potential to relieve symptoms and even cure illnesses. New discoveries are made by scientists almost every day about the healing properties of plants found in the Amazon jungles, the African savannah, the Malay rainforests, and elsewhere throughout the world. Once a plant is determined to be useful to make a drug, in order to produce commercial quantities, huge uniform fields are planted, harvested, and processed.

Says Dr. Ghani, he learned from Malay herbalists that this whole approach is wrong. Each plant has its own special conditions and qualities. You need both knowledge and understanding to identify the right plant and how it can help a person heal from their unique conditions.

He has spent many years collecting information from traditional healers and herbalists who follow the indigenous Malay traditions, as well as those who follow the teachings found in Islamic traditions across the Arab diaspora or mentioned in the Qu’ran (Koran), the central writings of the Muslim religion.

Learn more about Dr. Ghani and his work with tropical plants and their applications, you can visit his website at http://herbwalk-langkawi.com.my/thewalk.html.

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Healthful Korean-style Spa Treatments

What do you do to maintain your health? You probably go to a doctor when you feel sick. And that’s always wise. But even greater wisdom is to do things to maintain your health so that you are far less likely to get sick in the first place.

Part of the appeal of travel in Asia is to find treatments that are little known in the West.

As I wrote previously on this blog about acupressure foot massage which I go to as upkeep for good health when I am at the Penang office, when in Langkawi, I go to a spa where I can get what I call a “3-in-1.” The Korean spa offers 3 treatments which have a multiplied effect for various health benefits.

They offer a ‘package’ that includes a unique form of acupuncture with needles going into one hand. The results are amazing!

The Master Puncturist from Korea, Mr. Lee Shim Sin Taik, who heals many in the island community here is a jewel. In Korea, his style of acupuncture is fairly usual but here it is certainly not. Look at this picture of my hand with 50 needles punctured into it.

He starts by feeling the pulse in your wrist and from there establishes his treatments. He can diagnose almost anything in the body that is not working properly, from bloodstream and gastric issues to back pain and headaches. He can tell you in about 30 seconds what his “judgment” is of your condition.

You hold out one hand and he begins to insert small sterile needles at pressure points. It can sting a tiny bit and then there is often a ‘buzzing’ sensation but it soon settles down and your hand will feel fine, even though there’s lots of needles sticking out of it! Then comes the ‘miracle’ – I’ve gone to him primarily for pains in my back and legs. After just a few treatments, the pain has almost disappeared. And it stays away for weeks at a time unless I re-injure myself accidentally.

Many island people as well as overseas tourists have told me their health has improved greatly because of these treatments. As for beauty (which is what this blog is about), any modality that stimulates the blood circulation in the body helps to give you beautiful radiant skin. The Korean treatments work wonderfully well!

Wherever you are in the world, there are natural “alternative” treatments that can help you get and stay healthy. If you’re on Langkawi, I urge you to try this treatment:

    LGK ASHI Spa & Massage, Email: LGKashi@gmail.com
    PANTAI KOK, Kampung Batu Ara, Kuala Teriang, Langkawi, Kedah
    Tel: +604 955 3113 Operating Hours: daily 11am -10pm
    Free transfer anywhere on the island!


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Welcome To Paul Penders HQ in Penang! (Part 2)

Since moving to Malaysia, my son Bastiaan always seems to be surrounded by beautiful women — as seen here with members of our staff at Paul Penders Headquarters in Penang, Malaysia..

Was it coincidence or fate?

When my eldest son Bastiaan decided to leave his banking career in Holland and join my company in Malaysia, we took together several days to drive around Penang island and happened upon a sleepy little fishing village. We turned a corner and there was a compound featuring offices and warehouses, which had a sign out front advertising space for rent.

It seemed like a happy coincidence – here the Paul Penders company could have a laboratory, warehouse, and office space as well as comfortable housing just next door. Bas would be able to enjoy the city life and tourist comforts of Georgetown and still retreat to the peace and quiet of the little village where the pace of life is slower.

It can take a bit of doing to get there but Penang is worth a visit!

Only an hour by plane from Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, the tropical island paradise of Penang is a world-class tourist destination. Most travelers head into the gorgeous historic district of Georgetown, the main city on the island of Penang, where the global mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Western cultures appears in the architecture, art, and world famous Penang food.

Many consider Penang the most livable place in Asia. It combines both busy city and quiet country, historical sites and ultra-modern services, with skyscrapers overlooking vistas of mountains, forests, sand and sea.

While the home and heart of Paul Penders International remains on the Andaman sea island of Langkawi, obtaining supplies, shipping, and crucial services like internet and telephone can all be problematic on that tiny island three hours at sea.

With both bridges and short ferry rides to the mainland, close to 2 million population, and bustling trade and industry, Penang island, by contrast, offers some of the best services in the world – and those are available even in the most peaceful, rural corners of the island.

Just a short ride out of the city takes you past green mountains, lush tropical foliage interspersed with elegant residences, and sandy beaches with views out to the fishing boats and yachts lying just out at sea. In less than an hour, we pass through the famous seaside resort area, and then after a short drive along a narrow, twisting road, we arrive at the ageless village of Teluk Bahang where Paul Penders now has its headquarters.

Nowadays Bastiaan no longer wears a suit and tie to work every day. He often appears at the office in a comfortable t-shirt and shorts.

Father and son agreed; Paul Penders International would have its headquarters in Penang. This is in addition to manufacturing facilities in Kuala Lumpur and the Langkawi offices. With today’s communications, it’s almost possible to operate a business anywhere in the world!

Tags: Paul Penders products, Paul Penders International, PP Headquarters, Teluk Bahang, Penang, Malaysia, Bastiaan Penders


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Welcome to PP HQ Penang!

Welcome to the Paul Penders headquarters on the island of Penang, Malaysia in the little fishing village of Teluk Bahang!

Our “second home” is not far from the beach in a green valley surrounded by gentle hills. From PP Penang HQ, we often see tour buses on their way to the nearby Penang State Park and its enormous lake and dam. Or they could be heading just up the street to the attractions tucked into the nearby hills: the Butterfly Farm, the Tropical Spice Garden or the new Escape Adventure theme park.

PP International now has two main offices – one on the island of Langkawi and one on Penang island. As a UNESCO-designated “GeoPark,” Langkawi is a garden of paradise. It’s gorgeous there but services can be less than satisfactory; on the other hand, Penang is a commercial hub and a world leader in IT and related computer services. It’s been almost 2 years since we opened the Penang HQ and it’s turned out to be a good common sense solution to maintain both places.

Neighbors count. Our HQ is located right next to a mosque and there’s an excellent medical clinic across the way. The community surrounding our Penang HQ is primarily Malay Muslim with many carrying on a family heritage of fishing or operating small but excellent restaurants and food stands. Many also head to the tourist town of Batu Ferringhi just next door to work in the hotel and hospitality industries.

People here seem to have balanced life and work very well. They live in a strong community of family and friends and live a “laid back lifestyle.” Some of our neighbors are quite ambitious — a new coffeehouse has recently opened downstairs in our complex. We often stop in for tastings of the variety of excellent Malaysian coffees.

Every day, delivery trucks back up to our warehouse doors on the street level. Whenever I’m in town, I peek in to say hello to the hardworking staff there. The warehouse is stocked nearly to its high ceiling with boxes of supplies and items ready to be shipped out to distributors all over the world.

As Asian traditions dictate, you must take off your shoes before climbing the narrow staircase up to the offices above the warehouse. There I am greeted by our friendly office staff including Yen or Louise who are usually on the phone working on marketing and sales.

The facility is spacious and super clean. There’s a conference room where important meetings take place. People gather in the central office space which has a large workstation with adjacent cubicles that accommodate 4 or 5 people at their computers at once – giving both privacy and proximity.

Yen meets me in the nearby kitchen to share coffee and cookies. We peer through a glass wall and wave to the chemists working in the most fascinating space of all – the special temperature-controlled laboratory.

One evening, we invited blogger Teviot Fairservis to watch as Bas and senior chemist Dr. Gatot Pulanggono and I “cooked up” a new shampoo product. Here’s what she wrote:

    “I felt privileged to be on hand at the birth of a new product. Paul, Bas and Dr. Gatot moved easily around the space, taking down vials and bottles of various herbs and essences for the new formula. Counters line three sides of the room and they shifted from scales that can measure tiny amounts to machines that can shake-and-shimmy ingredients into formulas in a special “cold blending” process. It was fascinating to watch! And I even got to help in a final step by sniffing herbal fragrances and offering an opinion on which fragrance smelled best.”

Much of Paul Penders business is conducted by Skype or by phone, or when Paul and Bas personally visit distributors in near or far away countries (see Paul’s travel blogs about India and Hong Kong visits with heavy traveling only done over a short period of one month).

Paul Penders products are shipped out to distributors in some 15 countries – and to nearby locations or to the other end of the world — from our facilities in Penang or Kuala Lumpur.


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March is Women’s Month

Aviatrix Amelia Earhart has become an international symbol for women’s potentials.

Women can stand proud this month as the world celebrates women this March!

It means different things to different people: a celebration, a call for action, an opportunity, a cause. March could be called “Women’s Month,” kicking off with International Women’s Day on March 8th. More than 350 events in the UK, and around 150 events in the U.S., Canada, Australia and many other countries celebrate women in 2013. In the U.S., the celebration continues for a whole month. Since 1987, U.S. presidents have designated March as Women’s History Month.

Significant gains have been made towards reaching “gender equality” in many countries but there’s still a long way to go.

In Pakistan, a Taliban gunman hunted down and shot a 14-year old girl in the face for blogging about the need for girls’ education. Malala Yousufzai came to world attention when she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and participated in a UNICEF conference. The gunman reportedly tracked her down on her school bus. Luckily, she survived and has become an icon for the need for girls’ education. In Afghanistan, southern Thailand, and too many places elsewhere, the simple act of walking to school can be life-threatening.

Things are changing for the better for women. Here in Malaysia, this March, the new “Bella” awards celebrate successful women, inaugurating this annual event in conjunction with International Women’s Day.

Supported and endorsed by Malaysia’s Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, Malaysia now has its first women’s awards show – Bella Awards 2013 – to celebrate, recognise, and honour successful women for their great achievements and inspirational contributions to the society. The top award this year went to Dato’ Ruby Khong for the strong impact she has made locally as well as internationally with her KSK soup kitchen feeding hundreds of empoverished people in Kuala Lumpur. A special Appreciation award was also made to the famous shoe designer, Dato’ Jimmy Choo, born in Penang, for his contributions to women and society through his work.

Women on the march…

The years leading up to and including WWI found women marching in the streets of London and Washington, D.C. for the right to vote. On March 3, 1913, 5,000 women marched up Pennsylvania Avenue in the first “national procession,” staged the day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration. It was the first civil rights parade to use the nation’s capital as a backdrop.

This year in the U.S. for Women’s History Month, The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, all will “join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.”

As a natural beauty products company with a long history of service to a largely female clientele, Paul Penders International has witnessed changes in the cultures, tastes, styles, and conditions of women the world over.

We can all be proud of what women have achieved in the past year alone. And we can use this month as a time to consider and articulate what we hope for the future of our young girls in our ever-changing world.

By Teviot Fairservis.


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