Approaching Forty

I’m nearing 40.  As in the age. I’ve seen two close relatives die from cancer and it wasn’t pretty. Lately I have been hearing stories about the parents of my friends who are not aging well. It scares me to think that I could be unable to walk because I’m obese. It frightens me that I could end up needing an assisted living facility or nursing home. I’m flummoxed when I think about hip and knee surgery that may be required as the result of a fall. I’m hyper aware of the wheelchairs and stairs conundrum.  I guess you could say my desire to age well is big. But this desire of mine didn’t happen overnight.

ostrich burying head in sand ignoring problemsAbout four years ago, I learned I had high cholesterol which I later found out runs in my family. I didn’t do anything about this. That’s right, I just dug my head in the sand and left it there. Like an ostrich. For over a year.

Then I woke up one day and realized I needed to actually do something about my cholesterol. I chose to eat healthier and exercise. These are difficult things to do when you love cookies[1] and Netflix as I do.  Alas, I began my slow crawl towards wellness. Then I started telling my friends what I needed to do and they invited me hiking and shared vegetarian dishes with me. It helped when my best friend decided to take a trip to Machu Picchu and I vowed to help her train; for several months I hiked two or three days after work and then on the weekends with my friend and our hiking buddies. I even managed to summit Mt. Baldy which is really f*****g hard due to the oxygen deprivation and the steep inclines.

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Then I borrowed my neighbor’s bike and started riding to work once a week. Okay – that’s not really what happened. Mostly I watched as my neighbors, Jeff and Gwen (henceforth they shall be known as Gweff), biked to/from work every day for years without getting hit by a car. I live in Los Angeles so commuting by bicycle was scary to me; drivers are insert-very-bad-expletive-here. However, my desire to be more active and tackle my cholesterol had grown to the point where I wanted to bike to work. So Gweff lent me their extra bike AND found a route that used back roads so I would feel safe. They even calendared a group bike ride[2] to my office on the weekend to build my confidence. When Monday rolled around, Gwen rode to work with me in the morning to make sure I was good to go. I was. I even declined her offer to ride home with me that night.  I figured there was no time like the present. And yes, eventually, I bought my own bike.

That was over two years ago. Then a little over a year ago I sold my car.

My BicycleDon’t be misled. I’m not super in shape, nor am I super skinny. I’m not even mildly skinny. Part of why I bought the bike I did was because 1) it’s pretty and 2) I’m not an athlete-I’m just a commuter. My bike looks like a daydream and helps me feel like I’m not in a rush. Overall, bicycling has slowed down my pace of life – something that I feel helps me age well because I’m less stressed and more in tune with my city than ever before. The exercise I get on a daily basis feels life changing. Biking has also altered my relationship with nature. In the past nature meant a hike. I didn’t see the “nature” available to me on a daily basis. How could I? I was in a car. With the windows rolled up and the air conditioning turned on. On a bike, my feet touch the road at stoplights. On a bike, I can say hello to people I pass – and I pass a lot of people from nannies, to gardeners, to joggers, to moms with baby strollers, to people watering their lawn. I’m more connected to people and my environment than I was with my car and I like this.

Organic Just Makes Sense

Once I started looking at my environment differently, I also started to look at the chemicals in my food. Again, this was a slow moving boat at first, but after time I grew more informed and concerned. GMOs and endocrine disrupters are my second and third least favorite words in the English language[3]. So I started buying organic food and frequenting the local farmer’s market. As I continued my dive into overall wellness[4], I also realized the pores in my skin were susceptible to chemicals. The more I looked at my cleaning supplies and moisturizers and soap, the more horrified I became. I couldn’t pronounce half the words in the ingredient list and I still don’t know what “natural fragrance” means let alone what the chemical makeup of such an ingredient could be. When I checked out what the FDA says about ingredients I was alarmed. A couple examples:

  1. The use of chloroform in cosmetic products is prohibited because it causes cancer in animals and is likely to be harmful to human health, too. The regulation makes an exception for residual amounts from its use as a processing solvent during manufacture, or as a byproduct from the synthesis of an ingredient (21 CFR 700.18).
  2. Mercury compounds are readily absorbed through the skin on topical application and tend to accumulate in the body. They may cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, or neurotoxic problems. The use of mercury compounds in cosmetics is limited to eye area products at no more than 65 parts per million (0.0065 percent) of mercury calculated as the metal and is permitted only if no other effective and safe preservative is available. All other cosmetics containing mercury are adulterated and subject to regulatory action unless it occurs in a trace amount of less than 1 part per million[5] (0.0001 percent) calculated as the metal and its presence is unavoidable under conditions of good manufacturing practice (21 CFR 700.13).

When I checked out the ingredient  in one eye cream, I found the below items. Actually I found more, but I didn’t have the heart to list them:

  1. Methyparaben (
  2. Polysorbate 80 (
  3. Chlorhexidine Digluconate (

And so, five or six years after I was diagnosed with high cholesterol, my entire life has changed to where I am now a co-owner of Kaiya Naturals. Trust me when I tell you, the products we make are from natural ingredients that don’t contain trace parts of anything that may cause cancer or neurotoxic problems.

Co-Owner, Kaiya Naturals



[1] I like cake too. A lot.

[2] Okay, we stopped at Bob’s Big Boy on the way home. Big life changes should be made slowly.

[3] “Chronic” is my first least favorite word. There are reasons for this, but a footnote isn’t the time or place to expound on it.

[4] Overall wellness sounds much better than “fear of aging poorly and pooping myself”, doesn’t it?

[5] I want no parts per million, thank you.

Today I am Strong

Hello to the Kaiya Naturals Fam!

This morning is full of potential. I get a chance to be grateful of the blessings that I have received, and be mindful of the opportunities that lay at my feet. My health is good. My spirits are rising. My problems don’t have such a strong grip on my psyche today.

But, there are mornings where I wake up and I am weighed down. Heavy is the burden that I feel.  A feeling that I am being dragged along by the current that is my life and I don’t have the strength to swim against it.  But, that is not today.

Today I am strong.

And so are you.

Luxury yachts. Boat in sailing regatta (with space for text)
Captain  your ship.

It’s like a boat sailing in the water. Behind the boat it leaves a wake. Waves rise and fall, churn and splash. Those waves are like our past. They are the consequence of our actions. They are real. But even though they are real they don’t affect our course. Only we, the captains of our ships, can do that.

Sometimes, we start to pay too much attention to the wake that we leave behind. Sometimes, we start to guide our ship by it.  But, just as simply as the captain of a ship can turn around and steer by the opportunities that lay ahead, instead of what she leaves behind, so can we.

Today, I steer my ship by the calm seas ahead of me that bristle with potential and I invite you to do the same.

Stay natural my friends!

Farmer Ked

Find Your “Why?”

In 1997 I was an 18 year old security guard.  I wasn’t very good at it, but it was a job.  After that I was server at a restaurant.  Later, I worked as a “fry chef” during the closing shift, which lasted until 4am, at a local fast food eatery.  I was working day in and day out.  When I no longer had a job, I looked up a new job in the newspaper.  (For all you kids out there, that’s the way it was done before the internet.)

I would ask myself:

  • What do I want to do?
  • How much could I get paid?
  • Where was the job located?
  • Who would hire me?
  • When would I get my first check?

The question I would never ask myself was the most important question of all:

  • Why?

It frames all the other questions.  Why am I working?  Why should they hire me?  Why do I want to do this job?  After asking yourself “Why?” the who, what where, when, and how becomes obvious.

Each person’s “Why?” is different.  For some their “Why?” is to provide for their children.  For others it may be to create a better world.  For many it is to just survive.  Most never ask themselves the question.  It may be an easy question to ask, but it is not an obvious question, nor is it easy to answer.  In fact, it is very difficult to answer.

My “Why?” took me years to figure out, and it is still evolving.  My “Why?” led me to start Kaiya Naturals with my family.  I hope that you’ll start asking yourself the question.  You’d be surprised at how it causes the world to start making sense.

Stay Natural,

Farmer Ked


What’s in a name?

Will your name make you or break you?  What if your name was Loser Lane?  Would you go on to live a happy life? It turns out that Loser Lane, born in New York City in 1961, has a happy family life today.

While Loser, who goes by Lou, is quite happy with his tragic name, his friends are not. First impressions with a name like that make for an awkward introduction. So, is it that a name makes no difference on who you are and how far you can go -you are the captain of your soul- but makes a big difference in how you are perceived in a Malcom Gladwellian “Blink”?

Thich Nhat Han, a Vietnamese philosopher, delivers us great wisdom when he says:

“The path is the goal.”

Beautiful Green Forest In Summer. Countryside Road, Path, Way, L

Does he mean that all paths lead to the same destination?  (Death)  That instead of toiling our lives away to reach our end as fast as we can – we should instead focus on the path itself that we take to our end?  Do we really want to take the shortest path?  After all, it is the roughest terrain and we travel it alone.  Do we choose a different path not because it will take us to the end with great speed, but because this path will give us great adventures and romance?  

You are the greatest influence on which path your life takes. But can a name make a difference?  If people are always furling their brows upon the utterance of my name then that would most certainly give me a complex, or at least make it necessary for me to arm myself psychologically to combat a complex. If I had a beautiful  name that made all weep to hear it whispered on the breeze then I think I would rather enjoy my complex.

A name holds the power to color your life but it doesn’t write the script. Only you can do that. So write your life into a beautiful story.  I give you permission.

Stay natural my friends,

Farmer Ked

Natural vs Synthetic Acne Treatments

There is a lot of public bias both for and against natural treatments.  On the pro side is the sentiment that natural treatments are safer, less toxic, and better for the environment.  On the con side is the lack of scientific rigor and evidence for natural treatments that is often associated with synthetic treatments.  Tea Tree Oil vs Benzoyle Peroxide.png

The good news is that the public is more interested in natural treatments and that has brought the scientific community on board.  This series of articles will explore the scientific literature for natural treatments to common problems – most of which have synthetic treatments with unwanted side-effects – to sort out the Pseudo-Science from the real Science.

Today, we talk about Acne.  Why is it so important to talk about this?  Because Acne often causes significant physical and psychological problems such as permanent scarring, poor self-image, depression and anxiety.1 No wonder we spend in excess $3,000,000,000 (that’s three billion) a year in the USA on the treatment of acne.2

Tea Tree Oil (TTO) is one such natural product that the scientific community has weighed in on and it turns out that it is as just as effective as common synthetic treatments, specifically Benzoyl Peroxide (BP), in the topical treatment of Acne.3  TTO also has significantly lower side-effects, and possible no side-effects under the right conditions.4

The most common side effects of synthetic acne treatments are:

  • Topical treatments cause dry and irritated skin that can result in itching, burning, and heavy peeling.
  • Topical treatments can cause discoloration of the skin.
  • Oral treatments can result in upset stomachs, dizziness, light headedness, and can counteract birth control resulting in pregnancy.  (Woah!)
  • One of the most effective oral treatments can also cause severe birth defects, negatively affect your liver and your cholesterol levels, as well as increase the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.  As I showed earlier, acne is already linked to a higher risk for depression.  It’s sad to me that one of the most effective treatments for acne increases this risk even more?!?5

The side-effects of Tea Tree Oil?

  • Allergic irritation of the skin if the oil has degraded as the result of photo-oxidation.6

According to the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually.7
  • Approximately 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne.8

Acne is caused by overactive oil glands that produce too much oil that combines with skin cells to plug pores. When the pores in the skin become clogged, bacteria on the skin multiply, causing skin lesions.9  TTO is an antiseptic that kills the bacteria on the skin that causes skin lesions.  Now, the difference between an antiseptic and an antibacterial is that antibacterials enter the body and antiseptics do not.  How’s that for not putting dangerous chemicals inside your body?

What does all this mean?  Well, the way that I interpret this is that TTO should be the first step in the treatment of Acne.  Why?  Because, although it is slower working than its BP counterpart, it is just as effective and has significantly fewer side-effects.10  If this treatment proves to be too weak then, and only then, should we consider more synthetic treatments.

In conclusion, I will quote directly from a scientific review of TTO, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties:

“A paradigm shift in the treatment of infectious diseases is necessary to prevent antibiotics becoming obsolete, and where appropriate, alternatives to antibiotics ought to be considered…Unfortunately, the medical profession has been slow to embrace these therapies, and good scientific data are still scarce. However, as we approach the “postantibiotic era” the situation is changing. A wealth of in vitro data now supports the long-held beliefs that TTO has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.”11

Be sure to follow this series as I attempt to weed out the pseudoscientific bullsh*t (PSBS) surrounding personal care products.  Btw, there’s also some really strong evidence that TTO is extremely effective at getting rid of dandruff!  Maybe I’ll do more on that in the next article.  

If there is something that you would me to cover feel free to reach out to me either here, on the website, on twitter @kaiyanaturals, or on Facebook @kaiyanaturals.  Also  please, please, please share or comment on this article.  I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below

Until next time, stay natural my friends!

Seriously, please share and comment below I’d really appreciate it.


1. Strauss JS, Krowchuk DP, Leyden JJ, Lucky AW, Shalita AR, Siegfried EC et al. Guidelines of care for acne vulgaris management. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2007;56:651-63.

2. Bhate K, Williams HC. Epidemiology of acne vulgaris. The British journal of dermatology 2013;168:474-85

3. Medical Journal Australia 1990 vol 153 A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne

4. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. January 2006 vol. 19 no. 1 50-621 January 2006 Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties, C. F. Carson, K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley


6. Hausen, B. M., J. Reichling, and M. Harkenthal. 1999. Degradation products of monoterpenes are the sensitizing agents in tea tree oil. Am. J. Contact Dermatitis 10:68-77.

7. Bickers DR, Lim HW, Margolis D, Weinstock MA, Goodman C, Faulkner E et al. The burden of skin diseases: 2004 a joint project of the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the Society for Investigative Dermatology.Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2006;55:490-500.

8. Bhate K, Williams HC. Epidemiology of acne vulgaris. The British journal of dermatology 2013;168:474-85.

9. Bhate K, Williams HC. Epidemiology of acne vulgaris. The British journal of dermatology 2013;168:474-85.

10. Medical Journal Australia 1990 vol 153 A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne

11. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. January 2006 vol. 19 no. 1 50-621 January 2006 Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties, C. F. Carson, K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley