Why is it so important to build our immunity?
Our bodies are constantly working to balance and fight off various external pathogens they encounter. Herbal medicine is a key component in balancing the immune system. Our natural environment has given us medicinal herbs to bolster our immune system so we can stay healthy and thrive.
Huang Qi - astragalus, is a classic traditional chinese medicine tonic herb used to boost the immune system. What I love about huang qi is its versatile nature. Huang qi is easily added to a soup, it can be taken in tincture, capsule form or used in a decoction (which is a strong tea). When used in traditional chinese medicine, Huang Qi is often paired with other herbs in a formula which work synergistically. It is often paired with herbs such as, dang gui, gou qi zi and tai zi shen (American Ginseng)
Huang qi is a sweet herb in nature and goes to the lung and spleen meridian. Astragalus is known to build “spleen qi.” This would translate as treating digestive upset from spleen qi deficiency such as loss of appetite, bloating, sallow complexion or loose stools. In addition, it is a classic herb for fatigue or exhaustion.
It is known as a herb for building “wei qi”, which is known as protective qi in the body. In clinical trials we know that huang qi increases the production of white blood cells. It is also used in combination with other herbs for respiratory disorders such as wheezing, cough and shortness of breadth. Huang qi also aids in building blood in the body and carrying that blood to the extremities in the body. This is helpful in conditions of numbness and pain in the body.
Studies show the astragalus is also very effective as a complementary therapy for heart disease this maybe because it is very high in antioxidants. Huang qi also eases blood vessel constriction and is effective in lowering cholesterol.
Huang qi is an excellent tonic herb which can be used post illness to help nourish and build up the body past cold, flu or other debilitating illness when the body is weak.
Reishi - Ling Zhi -spiritual mushroom -As far back as 221 to 207 B.C. there is evidence of the use of Reishi as a medicinal. Reishi which is a reddish brown color and fan snapped grows on dead or dying trees and seems to prefer hemlocks. It was discussed in the the classic chinese herbal texts. Ling Zhi is a mushroom known for its immune boosting properties, known for longevity, cell regenerative and promoting health.
It belongs to the Gandoderma genus. It enters the lungs, heart and liver. Reishi is known for its immune enhancing properties, by increasing macrophages, monocytes a T-lymphocytes in the body. Research also shows Reishi as possessing anti-cancer qualities by producing cytokine, interleukin and tumor necrosis factor. Reishi also has anti-bacterial activities against pneumonia, streptococci, E. coli, and staphylococci.
Reishi protect the body from stress, as an adaptogen, reishi assists the body in overcoming everyday exposure to environmental toxins and immune-boosting potential.
Reishi enters the lungs and aids in stopping cough and resolving phlegm. It is working to dispel phlegm and stop wheezing, making it useful for asthma and shortness of breadth.
Reishi can be taken in tincture form, powder, tea, or added to a formula in combination with other traditional formula for synergistic effect.
American Ginseng -Tai Zhi Shen - There are a few varieties of ginseng, American, Korean, Siberian, Brazilian and Indian Ginseng. The two most widely used are American, Tai Zi Shen and Korean, Ren Shen. One of my favorite varieties is American Ginseng. American Ginseng grows throughout North America and Canada. It is known as an excellent adaptogenic herbs. Although this variety of ginseng is strong it also very nourishing and more moderating in effect.
Studies show that the ginsenosides found in tai zi shen may help to stimulate the immune system, lower blood sugar and slow growth of cancer cells. These same ginsenosides may also help to fight fatigue in the body especially due to chronic illness.
In addition, American Ginseng has antiviral properties which make it useful in fighting against viral respiratory illnesses.
Tai Zi Shen, can be used in a traditional formula in a decoction or powdered formula it can also be taken in a tincture or capsule.
Possible herbs drug interactions are with Coumadin, MAOI inhibitors, Antipsychotic medications, medications to decrease blood sugar.
Echinacea agustafolia - purple coneflower - Echinacea has been used by traditional herbalist in american folk medicine and native american medicine since the early 1800's . It is a quintessential herb for building immunity in the body. There are over 9 species of Echinacea found in throughout the United States and Canada. The most common are Echinacea augustafolia and Echinacea purpurea. Echinacea is very common throughout North America and likes to grow in rocky disturbed soil and open fields. Research shows echinacea increases production of white blood cell in the body, making it useful as an antibiotic herb and antiviral. It is going to the stomach, large Intestine and lung meridian. It treats nasal discharge accompanied by infection in the body. It is supportive in upper respiratory illnesses, it has stimulating and regulating effect in the body. In Chinese medicine we would say it is clearing heat and treating fever in the body as well.
Historically it has also been known as a blood purifier and "cleanser," with this it is excellent at treating boils, abscesses, skin lesions, swollen lymph glands, ulcerative throat and mouth inflammation.
The root is harvested in the fall. This root can be made into a tincture and then used throughout the winter to stay healthy. The dried root can also be used as tea or decoction.
We always recommend you consult an experienced practitioner of Chinese medicine who has studied eastern herbal medicine before trying a herbal remedy, as it may not be appropriate for your constitution or pattern for your condition.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and for educational purposes only.
Keeping your skin healthy in the winter months can be a challenge but with a few simple tips your skin will notice the difference. There are some super simple steps you can take to help dry, chapped winter skin. Keeping the heat down slightly in your home will help. Winter months are naturally low in humidity, heating systems in your home will only further dry your skin. I recommend lowering heat by a couple of degrees at night when you are sleeping and during the day keeping it slightly lower then your skin will surely feel the difference. In addition adding a humidifier with essential oils will also help you keep your skin hydrated. I like adding rose geranium for dry skin as it's a great balancer of skin, hormones, and moods.
Taking long hot showers will also only contribute to drying out your skin in the winter months. Keep the showers brief and hot water temperatures down.
Staying hydrated during the winter months is essential for your health. Often during the winter we are consuming less liquids than we do in summer months but your skin actually needs more hydration during the winter. Although water alone will not be enough to hydrate your skin in the winter it is part of the equation.
An excellent way to do this is with hot water and lemon. I also love water with fresh ginger and lemon. Ginger (ShengJiang) is a warming herb going to the lungs, spleen and Stomach. Ginger naturally stimulates digestion and reduces inflammation in the body.
Coconut oil an excellent moisturizer for your face in the winter months. Coconut oil fights free radical damage, possibly due to its high levels of ferulic & p-coumaric acid, and its natural antioxidant properties keep your skin nourished in the winter. Apply coconut oil after you shower to lock in moisture.
Essential oils such as vetivere or spikinard can also be added to coconut oil to nourish dry skin.
Do not over exfoliate in the winter this will only further dry your skin.
Eat omega-rich foods. Omega-3s are essential part of your skin’s lipid content and help boost the barrier function, this will act like a seal that keeps moisture in.
Foods such as avocado, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, salmon and walnuts are especially high in these "good fats."
In Chinese medicine spring time is associated with the liver organ and the time to cleanse from the winter and start anew. This a great opportunity to reset the body. Here is what I suggest you try.
Herbal teas have historically been used during the winter months not only to maintain health but also treat winter ailments. The warming properties of these teas make them invaluable during colder months. Often times people feel winter is a time for hibernation! Although winter is a good time for quiet time and self reflection it can also be an amazing time to enjoy the outdoors and all the activities we have only during these months. With a few special herbs we should be confident in our bodies ability to adapt to colder weather and enjoy the wonders of winter.
Fall is Here! 5 Quick Tips To Keep Your Kids Healthy This Fall!
1. HAND WASHING
I know this sounds to simple to be true. Washing your hands is the #1 thing your kids can do to prevent cross contamination. Meaning - if you wash your hands a lot, you are much less likely to get sick. It is best to wash hands with soap, lather and rinse. If you do not have access to soap and water because you are on the run, use wipes or a hand sanitizer with Etheyl alcohol. I have my kids wash their hands upon entering the house, before eating, after getting off the subway or train, and a million times in between. We were recently at an amusement park, I handed out wipes after almost every ride! They laughed at me, but no one is sick. Its simply, fast and usually FREE. Hand washing isn't just for kids! One of my favorites is from Whole Foods and can be found here.
In Chinese medicine Spring is the time of year for detox. A spring cleanse can be very beneficial for the body to detox from the winter. Giving your body a fresh start for summer. What is great about many of these herbs is that you can find them in your back yard! Dandelion for example is a very common herb seen right outside your door! Many of these herbs have been used for hundreds of years as traditional remedies to cleanse the liver. The liver in Chinese medicine is known as the organ responsible to helping to detox the body.
A few simple things go a long way in keeping you healthy during cold & flu season! Something as simple as washing your hands frequently throughout the day will make a huge difference in preventing cold & flu. There are some key herbs and supplements that I use to keep my patients healthy during this time of year.
Having friends over? Throwing a summer barbecue? Or want a refreshing drink to cool you down on muggy days? This amazing Ginger Lemonade recipe will chill you out! Not to mention, it has countless health benefits.
It's essential to have herbs that are always in your cupboard for every day use! These are my top five herbs that I always have on hand for everything from cold & flu to digestive issues to insomnia.