Herbs treat Acetaminophen Side-Effects

thumbnailThis is a very interesting story out of Stanford School of Medicine. They literally stumbled upon a “substance” to help avoid liver toxicity from acetaminophen related liver damage.

Gary Peltz, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology at Stanford said “My postdoctoral fellow, whose parents and other family members in Asia were taking this compound in their supplements, started laughing. He recognized it immediately.”

The supplement has been marketed as an herbal medicine known as Vitamin U and used for the treatment of digestive problems for years. (I love this part) “It’s highly abundant in many plants”.

Another victory for phyto-medicinals,  vindicated by Western doctors at one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S.  “By administering SMM, which is found in every flowering plant and vegetable, we were able to prevent a lot of the drug’s toxic effect,” said Peltz

It’s difficult to phanthom that  liver damage is a side effect of one of the most popular drugs (Tylenol) OTC for pain, and is also the number one cause of liver transplantation surgeries. What’s quite disturbing is this quote; “Unfortunately, the prevalence of acetaminophen makes it easy to accidentally exceed the recommended levels, which can occur by dosing more frequently than indicated or by combining two or more acetaminophen-containing products. However, severe liver damage can occur at even two to three times the recommended dose (the maximum adult dose is 4 grams per day; toxic daily levels range from 7 to 10 grams).

“It’s a huge public health problem,” said Peltz. “It’s particularly difficult for parents, who may not realize that acetaminophen is in so many pediatric medicines.”

More information on Acetaminophen

GENERIC NAME: acetaminophen BRAND NAME: Tylenol and others DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Acetaminophen belongs to a class of drugs called analgesics (pain relievers) and antipyretics (fever reducers). The exact mechanism of action of acetaminophen is not known. Acetaminophen relieves pain by elevating the pain threshold, that is, by requiring a greater amount of pain to develop before a person feels it. It reduces fever through its action on the heat-regulating center of the brain. Specifically, it tells the center to lower the body’s temperature when the temperature is elevated. The FDA approved acetaminophen in 1951. PRESCRIPTION: No. GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes. PREPARATIONS: Liquid suspension, chewable tablets, coated caplets, gelcaps, geltabs, and suppositories. Common dosages are 325, 500 and 650 mg. STORAGE: Store tablets and solutions at room temperature 15°-30°C (59°-86°F). Suppositories should be refrigerated below 27°C (80°F). PRESCRIBED FOR: Acetaminophen is used for the relief of fever as well as aches and pains associated with many conditions. Acetaminophen relieves pain in mild arthritis but has no effect on the underlying inflammation, redness, and swelling of the joint. If the pain is not due to inflammation, acetaminophen is as effective as aspirin. It is as effective as the non-steroidal antiinflammatory drug ibuprofen (Motrin) in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee. Unless directed by physician, acetaminophen should not be used for longer than 10 days. DOSING: The oral dose for adults is 325 to 650 mg every 4 to 6 hours. The maximum daily dose is 4 grams. The oral dose for a child is based on the child’s age, and the range is 40-650 mg every 4 hours. When administered as a suppository, the adult dose is 650 mg every 4 to 6 hours. For children, the dose is 80-325 mg every 4 to 6 hours depending on age. DRUG INTERACTIONS: Acetaminophen is metabolized (eliminated by conversion to other chemicals) by the liver. Therefore drugs that increase the action of liver enzymes that metabolize acetaminophen [for example, carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid, Laniazid), rifampin (Rifamate, Rifadin, Rimactane)] reduce the levels of acetaminophen and may decrease the action of acetaminophen. Doses of acetaminophen greater than the recommended doses are toxic to the liver and may result in severe liver damage. The potential for acetaminophen to harm the liver is increased when it is combined with alcohol or drugs that also harm the liver. Cholestyramine (Questran) reduces the effect of acetaminophen by decreasing its absorption into the body from the intestine. Therefore, acetaminophen should be administered 3 to 4 hours after cholestyramine or one hour before cholestyramine . Acetaminophen doses greater than 2275 mg per day may increase the blood thinning effect of warfarin (Coumadin) by an unknown mechanism. Therefore, prolonged administration or large doses of acetaminophen should be avoided during warfarin therapy. PREGNANCY: Acetaminophen is used in all stages of pregnancy and is the drug of choice for short-term treatment of fever and minor pain during pregnancy. NURSING MOTHERS: Acetaminophen is excreted in breast milk in small quantities. However, acetaminophen use by the nursing mother appears to be safe. SIDE EFFECTS: When used appropriately, side effects with acetaminophen are rare. The most serious side effect is liver damage due to large doses, chronic use or concomitant use with alcohol or other drugs that also damage the liver. Chronic alcohol use may also increase the risk of stomach bleeding. Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

CAUTION ADVISED When using Acetaminophen, Herbs are a safer alternative

Usually I write about Chinese herbs, but today’s a brief diversion on a compelling topic.Herbs are safer alternative to OTC medicines

If you’re like most Americans your medicine cabinet is stocked full of over-the-counter medicine (OTC) and probably at least a few prescription medications. But did you know that taking OTC acetaminophen can be poisonous and can cause serious liver damage.  UCLA experts warn that combining many pharmaceutical drugs such as vicodin and percocet for pain with an OTC cold and flu medicine can be a deadly liver cocktail.  New data is just surfacing because liver transplants are hitting an all time high in the U.S. Turns out the number one cause of liver damage  is acetaminophen poisoning from long term overdosing. 

We know you didn’t mean to overdose but did you realize more than two extra strength tablets or 650 milligrams daily is the U.S. FDA recommended dose? This lower and safer dosage was recommended by the FDA’s own advisory board in June 2009, but this recommendation has yet to be acted on as of this publishing date.

Are you using Tylenol®PM as a  sleep aid or Tylenol® extra strength for menstrual cramps? You may be causing liver damage. It’s seems negligent of the manufacturers to withhold this information, it certainly has not been widely publicized.  Labeling laws have been slightly modified (if you read the extra small print on packages) but you are not going to hear this information on TV or a radio commercial.

If your prescription drugs have the abbreviation “APAP” on the label, the medicine contains acetaminophen, and may cause liver damage. (But not all drugs are marked so check with you pharmacist.)  If your taking any combination of over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs containing acetaminophen, you may cause liver damage. If you add alcohol to this mix you are certain to cause liver damage and your poor liver will need to check into a rehab facility for some serious down time. 

Not to be flippant about the very serious side effects of acetaminophen but if you combine any OTC sinus caplet, cold and flu formula, a pain reliever, Sudafed®, Excedrin®, Tylenol®, Pamprin®, Benadryl®, Premsyn®, CVS® decongestant, Eckerd® Pain relief, Thera flu ®cold packets, Vicks® DayQuil or NyQuil, arthritis pain relief caplets (just to name a few) together on any given day your most likely going over the recommended/safe zone for acetaminophen. You guessed it, more liver damage.

Take a vacation from the OTC medicines and get yourself some all natural 100% safe Chinese herbs. You’ll feel better and your liver will thank you.

Acetaminophen Can Be Fatal Study Says

Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, causes severe liver toxicity and too much can be fatal.

A study released on Nov. 22, 2011 in the UK showed repeated doses of “slightly too much acetaminophen” can be fatal.

This study was published online November 22 in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. “On admission, these staggered overdose patients were more likely to have liver and brain problems, require kidney dialysis or help with breathing and were at a greater risk of dying than people who had taken single overdoses,” senior author Kenneth J. Simpson, MBChB (Hons), MD, FRCP (Edin), from the University of Edinburgh and Scottish Liver Transplant Unit in the United Kingdom, said in a news release. “They haven’t taken the sort of single-moment, one-off massive overdoses taken by people who try to commit suicide, but over time the damage builds up, and the effect can be fatal,” he adds.

In the U.K. and the U.S. acetaminophen hepatotoxicity is the leading cause of acute liver failure (ALF).

When asked why people repeatedly ingest Tylenol or acetaminophen the most common answer is pain.  Young women often use it several days a month for menstrual cramps and period pain. However, using Acetaminophen (Tylenol) month after month for menstrual cramps has overdose risks.  Unfortunately, many women don’t realize there are other natural answers to menstrual cramps.

Looking for a natural pain reliever for menstrual cramps?  PMS Relief Herb Pack has been used for centuries in the East and is now available in the West.


This study received no external funding. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Br J Clin Pharmacol. Published online November 22, 2011.

This Year I Will Finally (dot, dot, dot)

Hopefully you've made some New Years resolutions and hopefully you can keep them. 

One resolution I hear often from patients is "I would like to stop taking so many OTC (over the counter) pain killers."  When I inquire further, I often learn the Tylenol, Advil, or generic  ibuprofen or acetaminophen are used for muscle aches, PMS and menstrual cramps and some use the PM versions of these OTC pain relievers as a sleep aid.  I'm always surprised people use these for sleep aids because their is no evidence that the PM versions of these pills have any active ingredients that will help you sleep.

If you are taking these pain killers for menstrual cramps you should check out our PMS Relief Herb Pac, and if you are taking over-the counter pain relievers for muscle aches I recommend switching to a systemic enzyme supplement.  

If you are taking acetaminophen, whether it be a generic or Tylenol, make sure you heed the BLACK BOX Warning on the box label.  The FDA requires the manufacturers to include this warning because of the number of life threatening incidences resulting in liver failure and death.   650 mg  is the maximum recommended dosage per day, this is two pills at 325 mg.  More than that and you risk serious liver damage.  Please don't buy the 1000 quantity bottles at Costco or Wallmart, simply because 1000 of any pain reliever is just too many.

If you drink on the same day you're taking acetaminophen, you increase your risk for acute (sudden onset) liver failure. Don't be one of the thousands that are rushed to the emergency room each year as a result of acetaminophen overdosing.  Herbs are a fantastic alternative to OTC pain relievers.  Our herbal sleep aid is a much safer and more effective solution. 

Other posts on this subject:

FDA says Sleep Aids have not proven effectiveness     https://www.pacherbs.com/archives/2509

Caution advised when using Acetaminophen:


Midol For Period Cramps – Now On FDA Watch List For Serious Side Effects

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added all acetaminophen containing products to its quarterly list of products to monitor because of serious risks or new safety information. The side effects include liver disease or liver complications and skin rashes according to the FDA website. (www.FDA.gov)


The quote below is direct from the FDA website:

"What you may not realize is that more than 600 medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC), contain the active ingredient acetaminophen to help relieve pain and reduce fever. Taken carefully and correctly, these medicines can be safe and effective. But taking too much acetaminophen can lead to severe liver damage."


If you are taking a OTC pain reliever like Midol, Tylenol, Premsyn PMS (a brand name of acetaminophen) for menstrual cramps for several days every month then consider other options for your pain. Period pain is often times one of the main reasons young women take OTC pain relievers and they often not understanding the risks.  Doubling up on acetaminophen by taking a cold and flu product or drinking alcohol while taking this OTC pain killer can cause serious liver damage.


If you have unrelenting menstrual cramps and period pain each and every month. Run, don't walk to this link and the book, "Stop Your Bitching…naturally!  A Step By Step Guide to Balance Your Hormones and End PMS & Menstrual Cramps".  You'll have all the answers you need to get off the liver damaging pain killers like acetaminophen.



OTC Tylenol Dosage Lowered to Prevent Liver Damage

If you use Tylenol for PMS Relief , menstrual cramps, backaches. headaches or any other pain you need to know why Tylenol maker Johnson & Johnson such lowered the maximum recommended dosage.   You should rethink why how much you use and how often. 

Just because Tylenol is over-the-counter does not necessarily mean it’s safe.

In an effort to reduce the risk of liver damage resulting from overuse of acetaminophen — the active ingredient in Tylenol — the drug maker’s McNeil division will soon cap the product’s daily dose recommendation at 3,000 milligrams (a total of six 500-milligram pills a day) instead of the current 4,000 (eight pills a day).


Some experts say they also worry about overuse of other medications that consumers can purchase off pharmacy shelves without a prescription, such as the pain reliever ibuprofen, Theraflu for colds, and the antihistamine Benadryl.

“It’s important for the public to realize all drugs have side effects. It doesn’t matter if they’re prescription, over-the-counter, herbals or nutritional supplements. If they have active ingredients, they have side effects and can interfere with normal body functions,” says Brian Strom, director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

He says Tylenol is an “extraordinarily” safe drug at proper doses, even though its overuse is a leading cause for liver transplants in patients with acute liver failure. But, he says, “It has a narrow therapeutic ratio. The toxic dose and the therapeutic dose are very close.”

Commonly used over-the-counter medications may carry risks, say experts.

Acetaminophen (Extra Strength Tylenol). For headaches, joint and muscle pain, fever.
Overuse risks: Liver damage or failure. May cause liver problems at lower doses in alcohol users, or in those who take other drugs containing acetaminophen.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Reduces pain and swelling related to arthritis. Relieves headache, fever, menstrual cramps.
Overuse risks: Gastrointestinal pain, bleeding. Kidney damage.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), antihistamine used to prevent, reduce hayfever and other allergy symptoms.
Overuse risks: Memory loss and disorientation, especially in elderly. Drowsiness, dryness.

Loratadine (Claritin), antihistimine used to relieve hayfever, other allergy symptoms.
Overuse risks: Sleepiness, fast heart rate. May lose effectiveness over time. Claritin-D includes an additional active ingredient, pseudoephedrine sulfate, which may cause insomnia or restlessness. Pseudoephedrine should not to be taken with certain medications for Parkinsons, depression, psychiatric or other emotional conditions.

Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, and Doxylamine succinate, an antihistamine (NyQuil Cough).
Overuse risks: Can cause drowsiness, especially when mixed with sleeping medications and alcohol. Not to be taken with certain medications for Parkinsons, depression, psychiatric or other emotional conditions.

Ranitidine (Zantac), an acid reducer, treats ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Overuse risks: May lose effectiveness over time. Long-term acid suppressor use could lead to poor absorption of some forms of calcium.

For menstrual cramps and period pain try our PMS Relief Herb Pack.  We guarantee pain relief in 30 minutes or less.  It’s also great for the irritability and moodiness that often accompany your monthly menstrual cycle.

Sources: Brian Strom, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Winston Parris, Duke University Medical Center; Lisa McDevitt, Tufts Medical Center; Sarah Anderson, University of Colorado School of Pharmacy; Ausim Azizi, Temple University School of Medicine.




For more information on OTC pain killers see my Huff post article:  Pain Relief without Pain Killers

FDA Says Sleep Aids Have Not Proven Effectiveness

It’s only taken 15 years. The head of the FDA’s office of Nonprescription Products, Dr. Charles Ganley, sent a letter (released May 5, 2010) to the Consumer Healthcare Products Assoc. or CHPA on Feb 16, 2010 stating,  “There is an insufficient basis to support the combination of acetaminophen and diphenhydramine as a nighttime sleep aid for relief of occasional sleeplessness when associated with minor aches and pains”.
In other words, if your spending your hard earned dollars on products such as Tylenol PM and Excedrin PM your getting nothing more than minimal pain relief. Patients taking the over-the counter sleep products did not fall asleep any faster than those who took only acetaminophen or the sedative, known as diphenhydramine citrate, according to the FDA’s letter.  
 The FDA’s letter also questioned the data submitted by the drug companies behind these products. “The concern … is that we need an additional study demonstrating that the combination product is more effective than acetaminophen alone and more effective than diphenhydramine alone,” FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said. The study submitted in 1995 failed to meet its main goal of showing that the combination of the pain and sleep ingredients could help people fall asleep faster.
The data on these sleep aid products was submitted 15 years ago. Why this took so many years to reach the ears of consumers is unknown. Reuters reported Ganley was not available for an interview, but Burgess cited the agency’s “significant workload in regulating over-the-counter drug products” and the need to prioritize based on available agency resources. She added that the letter did not reflect any other initiatives at the FDA, including a recall and recent concerns over acetaminophen’s risk of liver toxicity.
It’s unfortunate more people don’t know the benefits of Chinese herbs for sleeplessness. Natural sleep aids have always been needed and there are many wonderful plants and herbs that can benefit the sleep deprived.  Herbs can calm the mind gently to stop all the repetitive thinking that tends to keep us awake at night.  Chinese herbs do not have the side effects associated with prescription drugs and can be used safely long term.
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6444R720100505 (Reuters reporting by Susan Heavey)

Help, Caffine Is Not The Answer For Menstrual Cramps?

mestrual cramp relief I want to scream.. and it’s not because I have PMS.    I just saw an ad at this pharmacy promoting its Menstrual Relief / Menstrual Complete product.   Come on, it’s acetaminophen and caffeine packaged in a box of pills with the name “Menstrual Relief”.  The box says it temporary relieves cramps, bloating, fatigue, backache and headache.

Oh,  and it’s “pharmacists recommended”,  in case you were wondering about that! 

Are you serious, this is the best you can do?

Wake up and smell the caffeine.. this not an answer for menstrual cramps. 

Caffeine has diuretic effects, so it may help a little with water weight gain, but I think they add it to give you a little boost of energy so you have the perception of feeling better.

Acetaminophen is as temporary pain reliever most of us are familiar with.  It’s also the number one cause of liver damage.  UCLA, Univ. of Cal. Los Angeles researchers report on acetaminophen is here.  Take a look.

Here’s the CVS brand list of ingredients on the box:

Active Ingredients (in each Caplet): Acetaminophen (500 mg), Caffeine (60 mg), Pyrilamine Maleate (15 mg). Inactive Ingredients: Cellulose, Croscarmellose Sodium, Hypromellose, Magnesium Stearate, Polydextrose, Polyethylene Glycol, Silica Gel, Stearic Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Triacetin.

Included in the product is Titanium Dioxide, which in case you haven’t keep up to date on carcinogenic chemicals, that one is on the list.  But it’s definitely not a chemical you want to ingest. Since it’s an “Inactive Ingredient” according to the label why even add it?  (hint, they need it to help the capsule machines from getting to sticky.)

Polyethylene Glycol, “like all medicines, has side effects”,  according the to FDA. The most common side effects of this chemical are bloating, nausea, rectal irritation, stomach fullness or cramps and vomiting.  This chemical is actually a laxative.  Why not just drink some prune juice if you are looking for a laxative? You’ll certain avoid the side effects.  Additionally, they didn’t disclose the dosage of polyethylene glycol?  “High doses have proven to produce diarrhea and excessive stool frequency”. Here’s the link for more adverse reactions.    http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?id=14585

Somebody please tell them that Chinese Medicine has been treating women’s cramps for centuries. Natural Chinese herbs work incredibly well for menstrual cramps and PMS. Generations of people have been using herbs and the studies  show proven benefits.  Don’t poison your body with chemicals when all you’re looking for is a little relief.

Corydalis Natural Pain Relief Herb Pack

New Pain Reliever Alternative to Opioids or Anti-Inflammatory Drugs available from Pacific Herbs

Corydalis Natural Pain Relief Herb Pack


Bend, OR — Pacific Herbs, an Oregon wellness company, intends to stem the opioid addiction crisis and our reliance upon unhealthy over-the-counter pain relievers like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen with its Chinese-herb product Corydalis Natural Pain Relief, which just received a coveted AMA code. Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist Cathy Margolin developed a comprehensive line of health products from Chinese herbs that treat everything from anxiety and sleep challenges to women’s issues. Her formulation based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and specifically designed for pain is Corydalis Natural Pain Relief, which is a mixture of corydalis root and other TCM herbs, including turmeric. The synergistic combination of these herbs is especially beneficial when pain is mixed with inflammation, such as back pain or chronic or acute orthopedic pain, as it blocks pain receptors in the brain.

Margolin says, “I’m concerned about our opioid crisis that just prompted the United States Senate to introduce SB 1079, Protecting Americans From Dangerous Opioids Act. SB 1079 lists findings that opioids killed over 33,000 people in the United States in 2015. We need safer alternatives for managing pain.”

Additionally, there is growing evidence that non-prescription medications like Advil and Tylenol, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), have serious side effects. Long-term use of acetaminophen can cause liver damage and this drug is one of few over-the-counter products with a black box warning.

Corydalis Natural Pain Relief can be helpful for many types of pain and can be safely consumed long-term without creating other harmful side effects. Studies from the University of California, Irvine have confirmed that this plant root can be effective in managing low to moderate chronic pain, as it has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. Turmeric, one of the herbs in Corydalis Natural Pain Relief, is cited as a welcome alternative to traditional drugs for its anti-inflammatory properties. The formulation of this product is granular which allows quick absorption in the body.
In addition to its healing properties, Pacific Herbs’ Corydalis Natural Pain Relief is recently distinguished by its American Medical Association (AMA)-approved billing code, rendering it an insurable item for many individuals, which is extremely rare for a nutraceutical product. For additional information on pharmacies that carry the product or to order it online, go to www.pacherbs.com.

About Pacific Herbs:
Cathy Margolin is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist and a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine and founder of Pacific Herbs, an herbal wellness company based in Bend, Oregon. She has dedicated her life to bringing the benefits of Chinese herbs and Traditional Chinese Medicine to Western audiences. Margolin may be reached at cathy@PacHerbs.com or by phone at          877-818-9990.

PR CONTACT: Chelsea Callicott, chelsea.callicott@hotmail.com, 541.410-4162

Stop Painful Menstrual Cramps with Chinese Herbs

herbs for pmsLately this is my favorite topic and formula to make in my herb granule pharmacy .. because  the calls I receive go something like this.  “I took it once & I’m off the couch and back to normal”,  “I can’t believe those herbs work”,  “Why didn’t you tell me before”, “I didn’t take a single motrin this month”,  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  So here’s some information about the herbs in the Pacific Herbs PMS Relief Herb Pack & some interesting information on well conducted research on menstrual pain. 

Don’t mask the pain with NSAID’s  try an approach that’s worked for centuries, Chinese Herbal Medicine.  An international nonprofit organization, known as the Cochrane Collaboration, studied the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine in relieving menstrual pain compared to western drugs.  Their conclusion:  “Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhea roughly doubled pain relief and improvement in overall symptoms compared with conventional Western pharmaceuticals.”

Here are a few common Chinese herbs used for painful menstrual cramps, ( All our in our formula plus more)

1. Dong Gui (Chinese Angelica  or Angelica Sinensis) Also known as the “female ginseng,” it is commonly used to regulate the menstrual cycle and relieve menstrual cramps.  It also helps to relieve menopausal symptoms, reduce PMS and anemia and to re-establish a menstrual cycle after cessation of birth control pills.  It is commonly sold as a single herb tea, bagged or loose.  It is considered a king herb or premier herb in Chinese gynecological disease because of its ability to harmonize the blood in Chinese medicine.  Dong Gui is also considered antispasmodic.  The coumarin chemicals present in this herb may help dilate blood vessels and relax the smooth muscles of the uterus, thus relieving menstrual cramping.

2. Chuan Xiong (Chuanxiong  Rhizoma) This herb is also a key medicinal herb for treating pain.  It improves blood circulation and promotes the flow of “qi” or vital energy.  Chinese women, dating back to the Song Dynasty, used to take this Chinese herb in the form of soup.  The soup is called a Four Substance Decoction and includes three other herbs:  angelica, red peony and Chinese foxglove.  The soup and tea are still used today as a blood tonic to relieve PMS, stop menstrual pain and improve overall health, especially after giving birth.

3. Bai Shao (White Peony Root) White Peony Root nourishes the blood and improves circulation.  It is also used for a wide variety of gynecological problems.  The peony root is considered a   liver tonic in Chinese medicine.  By strengthening the liver, it helps to increase the efficiency of protein and fat metabolism, thus inhibiting the excessive synthesis of prostaglandins that may cause an over-active uterus and endometrial pain.

4. Yi Mu Cao (Chinese Motherwort) Leaves from this herb are used to treat menstrual problems.  They have been shown to improve blood circulation and clear blood clots that occur in menstrual disorders and after childbirth.  The leaves also promote diuresis and relieve edema.  Studies on the alkaloid leonurine showed that this substance stimulates the uterus of rabbits, cats, dogs and guinea pigs.2

5. Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis Rhizome) There are two main functions of this Chinese herb:  to strengthen blood circulation and to relieve pain.  In conjunction with chuan xiong it is known to help both body aches and headaches.  Corydalis is related to the opium poppy.  Although only 1% in strength compared to opium, it is a very effective pain reliever.  The active chemical constituent di- tetrahydropalmatine (THP) is a neuroactive alkaloid with analgesic action that relieves cramping pain. Formulas or groups of Chinese herbs are more beneficial than single herb remedies because the herbs work synergistically for conditions such as menstrual cramps.  The Cochran study also stated that:  “The herbal remedies were also significantly better at relieving painful cramps and other symptoms than acupuncture or a hot water bottle, with overall promising finding.  Chinese herbs overall, whether standardized or tailored, yielded better pain relief than conventional pharmaceutical therapies.” Chinese herbal medicine can be a bit intimidating when you don’t know anything about these herbs, and the five herbs above are only a few of the herbs beneficial for menstrual cramps in the Chinese herbal encyclopedias.  Asian pharmacies sell prescriptions of herbal teas and pills daily, and Asian cultures have used herbs successfully for hundreds of years. 

By replacing NSAIDs with Chinese herbs, women receive an additional benefit of avoiding the nasty NSAID3 side effects such as upset stomach, heartburn, ulcers and rashes, and liver damage, to name a few.  Women don’t need to suffer month after month.  You can use Chinese herb supplements to be pain free and PMS symptom free all month long.

Check the research for yourself: Primary source: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Source; Zhu X, et al “Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhoea” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007;3: CD005288.

  1. Chinese Medicine Program at the University of Western Sydney.1 (fourth issue for 2007 of The Cochrane Library)

2.  Yin, J. Modern Research and Clinical Application of Chinese  Materia Medica (2) pp 218-219 Beijing: Chinese  Medical Classic Press.

NSAID are Non-Sterodial Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.  Generics and name brands include:  ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, naproxen sodium, Aleve, aspirin, Bayer, Bufferin, acetaminophen, and Tylenol.

Monthly Period Cramps, Frankincense and Myrrh to the Rescue

myrrh tree a Chinese herbModern Science is proving Chinese herbs are  useful for pain and menstrual cramps.

Frankincense and myrrh are two herbs mentioned repeatedly in the bible. I find it fascinating that Egyptians used myrrh for embalming the bodies of Pharaohs while frankincense was used in India as incense for worship during biblical times.  These shrubs or small trees of the family Burseraceae  produce a liquid when the bark is punctured. That liquid or resin is then dried and cooked with vinegar or honey for medicinal uses in Traditional Chinese Medicine. (TCM)  While both trees originated in the Arabian peninsula, we know they arrived in China by 400 AD, where the exploration of their medicinal properties was noted.

What’s incredible is  both of these trees is used in TCM combination’s or herb formulas mainly to unblock the flow of blood, treat traumatic injury and stop pain. They are excellent for abdominal pain during menstruation and for irregular menstruation .  These Chinese herbs can also be used in formula combination’s to help treat amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) and dismenorrhea (painful menstruation).  Furthermore, both can be used externally, frankincense is known to ease the tendons and muscles  while myrrh is used for non-healing sores such as bed sores.

Dietary supplements using these Chinese herbs are  now produced from the active substance of  frankincense, known as Boswellic acid.  Researchers have identified Boswellic Acid as a  potent anti-inflammatory agent .  This acid inhibits the 5-LOX (lipoxygenase) system, which is involved with enzymatic pathways that produce leukotrienes and thrombaxanes (inflammatory molecules) from fatty acids.  (Following all this?) Drugs that inhibit this pathway are normally used to treat arthritis, asthma and ulcerative colitis.  Unlike conventional NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, the accepted treatments for pain and  inflammation, prepared boswellia doesn’t seem to cause stomach irritation in small doses and it does not cause liver damage like acetaminophen.    The anti-inflammatory properties in Boswellia  Acid  are also effective  in reducing the aching and stiffness associated with back pain.

Ggulsterone is the active substance within the myrrh resin. After many years of research, guggulsteron, also known as Guggul, has become popular in the United States for its cholesterol-lowering properties.1 By inhibiting the FXR gene in the nucleus of liver cells, this leads to the more efficient excretion of cholesterol in the liver, thus lowering serum cholesterol levels.  Amazing what Chinese herbs come from a scrubby desert  tree.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes frankincense and myrrh as blood regulating herbs that complement each other. They invigorate the blood, dispel blood stasis and reduce swelling, relieve pain and promote healing.  It is more than coincidence that  myrrh is commonly used in TCM for menstrual irregularities and  Western medicine research substantiates guggul’s ability to improve liver functions.  TCM theory and Chinese herbs, emphasize the importance of  liver  blood for regular and healthy menstrual function and relates  stagnate liver blood to the cause of painful periods.

Given the compelling scientific evidence regarding the chemicals in these two Chinese herb  resins and the history of frankincense and myrrh, we can be certain of their potent medicinal properties.   It certainly is amazing that nature has given us such powerful medicines for menstrual cramps, arthritis, cholesterol and for pain.  Nature sure has had a remarkable way of providing for our needs, today and in ancient times.

1.(Tripathi YB, et all Thyroid stimulating actions of z-guggulsterone obtained from Commiphora mukul. Planta Med 1984;1:78).

This article is designed to provide the reader with clinical research results and the potential benefits and or risks associated with CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicines). The author advocates neither for or against any particular therapy and recommends individuals speak with licensed medicial practitioners before using any Chinese herbal supplements or other health supplements.
natural remedies for flu and colds chinese herbs

Flu Stories – How to Survive and Thrive During The 2018 Flu Season

Survive the Flu with Natural Remedies

We have all experienced it or know someone who has been fighting off this year’s flu.

Officially called “Influenza A” and/or  “Influenza B”,  harmless sounding names. Yet, this is by far the worst flu we have ever seen. It reminds me of  Dr. Seuss naming “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”. Harmless names, yet they destroy your house in about a minute.

I personally have been spared with a few mild symptoms that I immediately abate using the items on “THE LIST” below.

My patients and family members have not all shared in my fortune. I’ve been taking care of many patients for weeks, and many have lingering symptoms, especially that nasty asthmatic type cough. I now have an entire arsenal of flu fighters in my kitchen. Beyond, the personal experiences, I belong to a number of online groups of various health professionals. The remedies and stories from these posts have broadened my treatments and opened my eyes to everything food and drinks, herbal combinations, essential oils and more. I have to admit, I’ve been a little addicted to reading the stories of ravaged flu patients and what’s working and what isn’t.

I decided to combine the hundreds of postings into “THE LIST” of what’s working in the Alternative & Natural Health care community for this years flu bug.

It helped me and I hope it will help you too.

This post would be a book if I went into all the benefits, actions and studies on each of the remedies below. Suffice to say, they WORK! Some items have references. Everything on “THE LIST”  is supported by both research and hundreds of real life use in the past and in the last 6 weeks. These are some of the best remedies for this years flu.

Thank you to all of my fellow practitioners for sharing your stories and natural cures.

Note, you can’t possibly take all of items on THE LIST all at once.  However, the foods can and probably should be eaten daily. Choose a couple from the categories and your body will  thank you. Remember, when buying any vitamin supplement or herb, quality is key. Iif you’re not getting an immediate benefit, it may be the brand. This is especially important with Echinacea and Elderberry, but true for all.

Do your research and buy the highest quality possible, or don’t buy it.


A quick note on the OTC anti-inflammatory drugs. If you must take, choose ibuprofen over acetaminophen. Here’s why. Please research, it may save a life. The need for either varies depending on patient. I don’t recommend these as the Black Box warnings scare the begeezies out of me. I like to protect both my GI system and liver as much as possible. When you have “THE LIST” below you’ve got all the natural anti-inflammatory relief you’ll ever need and NO Black Box Warnings.  (If you’ve never read the Black Box Warnings, please google it.)

OK, let’s dive into THE LIST!


Let’s start with the preventative list.  The old saying; “Prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  The foods and herbs listed are definitely ones to take all winter as this flu will morph and will find those with the weakest immunity.

Clean your cell phone.  Be a little germaphobe and get some Thieves Oil spray for your hands and phone. Use often.

Garlic – garlic raw – garlic cooked – 4 or more cloves daily.  Why skimp?Boil it and make tea, add to every food, shred, dice, chop, chew, shave, just eat it daily.

Kimchi- Sauerkraut – fermented veggies – brined pickles.

Reishi mushroom powder or capsules. Lion’s mane, mitake, shitake are also good but reishi is best.  (Read: The Good Gut by Dr.’s Justin & Ericka Sonnenburg)

Goat milk  or coconut yogurt or kefir

Cod Liver Oil – approx. 1 Tbls. daily

Vitamin D3 – 5000mg daily

Vitamin A – Vitamin K also necessary to absorb Vit D.

Echinacea tincture– should have a little tongue numbing quality otherwise toss it.

Yu Ping Feng San – Jade Wind Screen Formula or Astragalus/ Huang Qi


Stop pretending you should do everything you do in the summer.  It’s winter, slow down. Stay warm. Hibernate a little.

Wear a scarf.  Most colds/flu start at the base of the neck,occiput.

Vitamin C – 5000 mg or more daily.  Lypospheric Vitamin C  is a good option.

Puerh tea

Increase carotinoid protection i.e. improve gut absorption add HCI or pancreatic enzymes

Elderberry Tea

Onset of Flu like symptoms   (these items can also be used for prevention)

Bed #1 best medicine or comfy couch

Oil of Oregano – mix a few drops in water and drink

Great Tea: turmeric, reishi, ginger, pinch of black pepper and honey to taste.

Garlic, lemon, honey tea.  Make yourself real garlic cloves, real lemon, raw honey.

Fire Cider: ginger, turmeric, garlic, onion, thai peppers, horseradish root, peppercorns, citrus and rosemary all infused in apple cider vinegar. Take shots often.

Chicken Soup – homemade is best.

Bone Broth – get a high quality brand

Be conscious of the “Militant Metaphors” as Susan Sontag describes these phrases.  Some metaphors make the experience of illness worse. Consider illness as a reset time. It can be a time of reflection and contrast to better appreciate our wellness.

Hot showers or baths daily. Get water hot enough to raise the body temperature and burn the critters. Epson salt in the bath, of course.

Stay warm with extra clothing layers.

Electrolyte drinks or add liquid mineral drops to any drink.

Lingering Cough with Phlegm

Head over steaming water pot with mint essential oils, lavender, or whatever you have that you love.

Elderberry syrup.

Chinese herb cough syrup – Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa

Qing Qi Hua Tang Wan – Minor Blue Dragon formula

Chinese herbs for cough are tricky and very specific so check with a Licensed Acupuncturist trained in Chinese herbs for the right herbs for your cough.

Pinapple juice for cough and Kiwi’s are excellent


This list is not intended to be ALL inclusive of what may help you.  This is simply a list of what my health practitioner community has been finding extremely helpful during this 2018 bout of flu.

What else:  The common sense things like wash bed sheets and wipe down surfaces, door knobs and cell phones. Wash your hands a lot and drink a lot of fluids to wash away all the dead viruses you killed using the items on the list above.  A little bit of winter sun bathing from a warm car may be a nice reprieve from the bed and the couch. Stay healthy and we will all ride out these pesky viruses getting stronger together.

You may have noticed the flu vaccine is not on The List. The research is profoundly lacking and the virus mutates so quickly.  More information in this excellent article.