Not all supplements are created equal!
U.S. adults surveyed in Dec. 2014 said “taking vitamins” was in their top five wellness habit plans for 2015. Yet, many supplements have flowing agents which suppress your natural killer cells, a key component of your immune system. As the vitamin and supplement industry grows into one of the fastest growing industries worldwide, it’s time for the big companies to come clean about the ADDITIVES in dietary supplements. (1)
In the business world when economic times get tough a business that weathers the storm is a true survivor. A standout, that must have incredibly popular products that make people come back for more even when unemployment is high and people are unwilling to spend. A business that survives must have proven itself worthy of providing great products at a fair price. Products that people simply can’t do without. When a business does this for 70 to 100 years or more we are all impressed. The stamina, the fortitude and adaptability to survive for so many years must mean this business has some incredible products which we all crave. Ford Motor Company and Kodak come to mind, some of the oldest American businesses.
But what do you think about a business that has survived providing the same products for 341 years? It is truly unheard of in America. We have only been an independent nation for 240 years and no single business has survived since revolutionary days. Yet, a Chinese herb pharmacy called Tong Ren Tong is still in business after 341 continuous years. They still sell Chinese herbs, just as they did in the year 1669. In fact, in Beijing they operate from the same location since 1702!
They are a household name in China, Hong Kong and much of Asia. They operate pharmacies, drug retailers and various joint ventures throughout 13 countries in Asia. Wouldn’t you be a household name if you were 345 years old? The picture above is me standing in front of their Hong Kong store. (No pictures were allowed inside)
Tong Ren Tang was the supplier of medicinal Chinese herbs to the royals of the Qing Dynasty, from 1669 until their collapse 1911. They have succeed in weathering the storms of Chinese government takeovers, communism and now globalization and prescription medications. Tong Ren has been successful for hundreds of years because Chinese herbs work, it’s as simple as that. Chinese herbs worked 300 hundred years ago and they work today for all kinds of illnesses. Whether your buying ginseng or reishi mushrooms Tong Ren has the herbs and they know how to prescribe them for everything from the common cold to cancer.
When you have incredibly popular products that work well, are needed by the masses and provide real value at a fair price your business will survive regardless of the economic times and government takeovers. Chinese herbs have proven to be that commodity. Chinese herbs are medicine that continues to heal people, even centuries after they were first introduced.
On November 16, 2015, in Geneva, Switzerland, patient using medical cannabis addressed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) in hopes of creating new policies regarding cannabis worldwide.
“The current international policies on cannabis are outdated and are having a detrimental impact on patients in the United States and worldwide,” says Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and representative of IMCPC. “New policies should take into account new clinical research, product safety protocols for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution, and global patient needs.”
Millions of people worldwide are using legally using medical cannabis. Countries including Canada, Israel, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Croatia, Mexico, Uruguay, Romania, Germany, Jamaica, Australia, and Switzerland have medical cannabis programs and dozens of other countries are reviewing legislation.
A Press Release from the U.S. Justice Department, Office of Public Affairs on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 announced the owner of a dietary supplement company is being sentenced to prison for a multi-million dollar scheme in which the company adulterate dietary supplements.
Pleading guilty, the owner admitted that from at least 2009 through November 2013, that he instructed employees to add “fillers” to the vitamin/herbal supplements sold through his company Raw Deal Inc. These “fillers” were added without customer consent or knowledge. He also directed employees not to list the “fillers” as ingredients on certificates of analysis issued to its customers as proof of the identity of the ingredients contained in the products.
This topic is one that I have discussed in earlier blogs. Since starting Pacific Herbs I’ve seen the inner workings of supplement manufacturers. This announcement from the Justice Department is no surprise. This company is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a LOT of adulteration happening in the supplement business. There are a lot of unscrupulous types that choose to deceive the public about what’s in there products. As a Licensed Health Practitioner first, Pacific Herbs products are a product line you can trust. We do not add fillers or use solvents to make our concentrated granules. See the inside of our manufacturing facility here and get the whole story.
U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey ordered a sentence of 40 months in prison and one year of supervised release. Steinlight was also ordered to forfeit $1 million in profits from his fraudulent scheme. Steinlight previously pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with conspiring to commit wire fraud.
“The Justice Department has increased its attention on supplement sellers who sell products that are not what they claim to be,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will investigate and prosecute companies and individuals that sell supplements that threaten the health of the American public and drain their bank accounts with misrepresented products.”
The “fillers,” adddd to the health supplements included maltodextrin, viobin cocoa replacer and rice flours, all sold to customers who thought they were buying a vitamin supplement. These “fillers” were added without customer consent or knowledge.
“Buyer Beware” has never been more important! If you’re going to spend money on supplements, know where they come from, who’s making them and who stands behind them. It’s that simple. There are many excellent companies out there, but the products are not sold at the big box stores. Stop buying vitamin supplements and herbs full of fillers. These products are a huge waste of money and they are out there. This was not the only company doing this. He just happened to get caught.
Only buy herb and vitamin supplements through your health practitioner or buy from a company that is completely transparent about it’s processing and sourcing.
Chocolate can be irresistible! Isn’t it ironic that chocolate has come to symbolize Valentine’s Day, a day we celebrate the heart, and chocolate is surprisingly beneficial for our hearts? You may have heard studies say dark chocolate has flavanol which has attracted major interest as a non pharmaceutical option for high blood pressure.
The cacao bean (the source of all chocolate) is a natural remedy which has been used since ancient times for it’s health benefits. Only in recent years do we have the scientific research to support what so many people knew through the ages. Native Aztec and Mayan people ate cacao nibs to relieve depression, help with asthma and some say they used it as a powerful aphrodisiac. Chocoholic’s worldwide can rejoice now that studies prove the effects on lowering blood pressure and the beneficial antioxidants cacao contains. In fact, greater antioxidant capacity than red wine and blueberries, walnuts or artichokes according to the USDA.
The polyphenol known as flavanols in cocoa can help promote dilation of blood vessels and thereby reduce hypertension. The Cochrane International database after investigating the effect of chocolate or cocoa on systolic an diastolic blood pressure concluded that chocolate faired better than a placebo at lowering blood pressure.
The best cacao is that which is minimally processed, therefore retaining the nutritional power which can be diminished through heat and processing. As with Chinese herbs, chocolate is best unadulterated. The fewer the fillers the better. Steer clear of milk chocolate and white chocolates. P.S. Cocoa butter doesn’t increase blood cholesterol, so eat up.
Our rapidly changing world is challenging our health, in particular our digestive health. In this era of a degrading food supply, systemic inflammation and overuse of drugs (i.e. antibiotics), the landscape of our guts has been altered. As a result of antibiotic overuse, superbugs (a.k.a. deadly antibiotic resistant bacteria) are on the rise. The question is, can we heal our gut and reverse the damage already done? A solution you may not have considered is Acupuncture and Eastern /Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). A Licensed Acupuncturist/Chinese Medicine doctor is well trained to help you repair and improve your digestive health and gut bacteria.
Never before in history have we had to overcome the effects of man-made drugs in the quantities we are seeing today. Would you believe, this is not the first time in history that doctors needed to find a cure for the gut? A cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine is a healthy digestive tract. Solutions for digestive health were pondered over 800 years ago when many TCM books and theories were first written on the importance of the stomach, pancreas and the entire digestive system. Chinese /Eastern medicine approach is very different than the Western medicine approach. Eastern medicine relies upon several holistic healing methods including healing cuisine, herbs and acupuncture and lifestyle modifications. Licensed Acupuncturists in the U.S. are trained in these theories and can help you get your gut back on track.
With the advent of the worldwide Microbiome Project science is confirming microscopic bacterial colonies living in our digestive tract have important jobs for both our physical and mental well being. Chinese/Eastern medicine has always known if we nourish our gut, we in turn nourish ourselves. Today we are at a crossroad, we can no longer ignore our guts. Because, “for hundreds of thousands of years bacterial and human cells have existed in a peaceful symbiosis that is responsible for the health and equilibrium of our body. Now, this invisible Eden is being irrevocably damaged by some of our most revered medical advances—antibiotics—threatening the extinction of our irreplaceable microbes with terrible health consequences. “ 1
Chinese/Eastern medicine teaches the connection between a healthy gut and a healthy body. Here are 10 reasons why a Licensed Acupuncturist/Doctor of Oriental Medicine is the best health practitioner to help you heal your gut.
1. A Licensed Acupuncturist trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine will counsel and treat your particular health challenge with several modalities, foods, acupuncture treatments, herbs and counseling. (Check that your Acupuncturist is comprehensively trained and received a Masters or Doctorate degree in Oriental Medicine or Chinese Medicine, not just a few weekend courses.)
2. Acupuncture treatments received quarterly can improve your general health and digestive health by strengthening your spleen and stomach channels. (In Western medicine terms this is your digestive system.) The World Health Organization has approved acupuncture treatments for worldwide use and throughout Asia acupuncture is covered by national health insurance policies. The U.S. is lagging behind but quickly catching up, as California Insurance providers are now mandated to cover acupuncture treatments.
3. Acupuncture treatments including ear protocols can help reduce food cravings. This is especially important since processed foods are the most commonly craved foods. Processed foods and supplements contain emulsifiers which are harmful to your gut. Limiting ingredients commonly called “lecithin” derived from soy (likely GMO), Datem, (found in commercial breads) Calcium propionate, Cmc and polysorbate 80, is a first step at repairing gut absorption problems. 2
4. An Acupuncturist will tell you to avoid antibacterial hand sanitizing products. Eastern medicine recognizes bacterial diversity is good. There are safe, natural cleaning products for your body and surroundings. (Ok, you can do this on your own but it took an Acupuncturist to tell you this and get your attention on this subject.)
5. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese herbal remedies can boost your immune system and reduce or eliminate the need for prescription antibiotics.
6. An Acupuncturist will tell you to avoid meat fed antibiotics. (Again, possible without an Acupuncturist, but more importantly, a Licensed Acupuncturist is trained in nutrition and can help you look at your food journal and together you can create a healthy eating plan.)
7. Acupuncturists can teach you which Pre-biotics foods to eat every day and counsel you on what foods are right for your body. Prebiotics foods are commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and food is medicine. Prebiotics enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria and can be found in fermented foods such as kimichi, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, miso and other fermented foods. A daily sampling of new live bacteria from fermented foods makes your gut community more adaptable. (Hint, Eastern medicine doctors are trained to know this stuff.)
8. Ask an Acupuncturist if Chinese herbs can help you. There are many traditional herbs used throughout Asia and Chinese/Eastern medicine to support healthy gut bacteria. For example;
Astragalus (also known as Huang Qi) is an extremely powerful herb used alone or in formulas. Huang Qi’s high polysaccharides content is fantastic at improving overall immune health and the growth of healthy bacteria.3
Other beneficial herbs for the spleen and stomach channels are codonopsis (dangshen), atractylodes (bai zhu), Chinese angelica (dang gui) dioscorea (shan yao), lotus seed (lianzi), roasted ginger (paojiang), longan (long yan rou) and baked licorice (zhi gan cao). 4
9. A Licensed Acupuncturist, trained in herbs will know which Chinese herb formula can best help you. Treating a compromised or weak digestion with herbs should be done by only individuals who are Licensed professionals. Look for a Licensed Acupuncturist and/ or Oriental Medicine Doctor’s (DOM) trained in herbs to prescribe a custom or patent herbal blend such as the following. Oneherbal combinations for a compromised gut is Si Jun Zi Tang also known as Four Gentleman Decoction.
As we learn more about our gut bacteria and the origins of our immune systems we must explore all the healing options. In today’s world we can no longer ignore the effects of superbugs, toxic foods and toxic lifestyles. Licensed Acupuncturists / DOM can help you fortify your overall health and vitality. Many insurance plans cover acupuncture visits and in California insurance companies are required to cover Licensed Acupuncturists. Don’t wait another day to improve your overall health and vitality. TCM is one of the world’s oldest systems of medicine, is proven effective and has treatment protocols for today’s biggest health challenges.
1. Blaser, M. 2014 Missing Microbes, How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, Henry Holt and Co. April 2014
2. Food Quality & Safety magazine, Re-Evaluating Additives on the GRAS List by Maybelle Cowan-Lincoln April/May 2013
3. Terry Bone, Principals and Practice of Phototherapy, Modern Herbal Medicine 2nd Edition Elsevier 2013 pg. 381-389
4. Institute For Traditional Medicine, http://www.itmonline.org/5organs/spleen.htm
“Some of My Best Friends are Germs”. The New York Times Magazine May 15, 2013. Dr. Justin Sonnenburg, Stanford Microbiologist.
Ever Heard of a Decoction?
Does it conjure up images of a witches brew?
Decoction literally means to concentrate the essence of a substance by heating or boiling, especially a medicinal preparation made from a plant.
This is exactly the method of preparation Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses to extract or release the chemicals stored in botanicals used for medicinal purposes.
In fact, this was the way I was first introduced to Chinese herbal medicine. I visited a Licensed Acupuncturist/Doctor of Oriental Medicine whom I was referred to me by my OB/GYN. Yes, I was extremely fortunate to have an alternative minded OB/GYN who understood just enough about herbs to refer me to a professional. I was 9 1/2 months pregnant. (A small exaggeration, but this is how I felt.) The baby was overdue and there were no signs of labor. I wanted a natural, gentle way to encourage my body into labor. Rather than experimenting with a bottle of capsules my doctor insisted I see a Licensed Acupuncturist/Herbalist for a safe herbal prescription.
After a lengthy visit with the Chinese Medicine doctor, I had my bag of roots, barks and berries boiling in my kitchen. I cooked them as instructed. The correct word is actually, “DECOCTED”. This is generally boiling them at the appropriate temperature, for a certain amount of time, with a set amount of purified water. I drank them for three days and on the third day I went into labor. Ok, the baby was due anyway but this was my introduction into Chinese herbal medicine. It’s been over 20 years since I decocted my first Chinese herbs.
Herbal decoction methods have been used throughout the ages. Before the industrialized revolution built factories to produce herbal medicine into capsules and pills, people boiled herbs. Today we still have many traditional cultures which use herbal medicine the “old fashioned way”. Boiling a pot of roots, bark and berries and then drinking the water left behind is the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The question remains, is drinking a pot of herbal medicine a better, faster, more effective way to use herbs than swallowing a handful of pills?
The answer is without a doubt YES! The average size of pills and capsules are very small and can hold only about 1/2 a gram of herbal extract.
Even if the herbal extract is at a very high concentration, 1/2 gram per capsule (about 1/4 tsp) is a very small amount to get a desired effect from the herbal medicinal. Most encapsulated bottled products recommend taking 2-3 capsules once or twice daily. This equals an extremely small dose of raw herbs or decocted herbs. Practically speaking pills and capsules are fairly easy to take, that is, until you have to take 20 or so pills a day.
Drinking your herbal medicine not only allows the chemical components from the plants to be more readily bio-available, it is also the way your body understands receiving nourishment. Research has been conducted on the dissolution of herbs in our body. Dissolving herb granules in hot water or decocting them allows the solvents to release their effect immediately thereby working more quickly in the body. Whereas, herbal medicine combined with fillers such as dextrin in capsules or pills, (also used to prevent clumping), need very hot, near boiling water to dissolve. This high dissolution temperature of dextrin inhibits the fast absorption.
With so much information available on the use of decoctions, it’s hard for me to choose a pill or capsule over granule medicinal herbal extracts. Besides, who would want all those fillers in capsules and tablets anyway?
Not that we needed another great reason to get a pet, but this reason rocks! Now we have research that shows dogs and cats help build healthy bacteria in your gut which builds a healthy immune system and protects you from allergies. Wow, go adopt a pet now if you don’t already have at least one.
The latest research shows how it works. Turns out it all starts in your gut, also know as our digestive system. No surprise, the gut has been labeled in recent years your second brain and the hub of your immune system.
In a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, mice exposed to dust from homes with dogs were protected against allergens known to trigger asthma. This dog-associated dust enriches the variety of gut bacteria in the mice with Lactobacillus johnsonii, a type of bacteria that protects the airway against allergens and infection by beefing up mucous membrane immunity. Cats have been found helpful too. The earlier in life your body is exposed the stronger your immune system becomes.
“In our previous research, we demonstrated that homes with indoor/outdoor cats also exhibited a more diverse house dust microbiome,” says study author Susan Lynch, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco.
Many folks find it difficult or stressful to own a pet. A natural solution to keeping pets calm and stress free is a new product from Pacific Herbs called Natural Pet Calm Herb Pack and can be found online at www.PacHerbs.com.
Reference: KE Fujimura et al. House dust exposure mediates gut microbiome Lactobacillus enrichment and airway immune defense against allergens and virus infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1310750111 (2013).
Traditional Chinese Medicine theory believes that each season has a different energy to it, and as such, we should replicate the energy of that season in order to maintain balance within ourselves. During this season, as our responsibilities grow and we find ourselves searching for more energy, protection for our immune system should be at the top of our lists. One way to do this and improve digestion is with a few common Chinese herbs. There are a large number of herbs that can be easily found in your local grocery stores. Here are three to get you started.
Gou qi zi, more commonly known as goji berries, has become a staple at most local grocery stores, and in many different trail mixes. This potent Chinese herb has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM) and has been used as a remedy for everything from anemia to increasing immunity. It’s both high in Vitamin C and also contains many antioxidants. Including them in your diet is simple – sprinkle them on your cereal in lieu of a sweetener, or have them as a snack in the afternoon when you’re looking to increase your energy. Studies are also beginning to suggest that they can even help to inhibit cancer growth and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimers.
Sheng jiang, more commonly known as fresh ginger, is a savior for anyone who has ever experienced nausea, an upset stomach due to overeating, or the onset of a cold. Fresh ginger is used in a significant number of Chinese herbal formulas and is known for its ability to simultaneously stimulate the appetite and to calm the stomach. It is believed to ease nausea by increasing digestive fluids while absorbing and neutralizing toxins and stomach acid. Add several slices of ginger to water and bring it to a boil for tea, or even include it in your favorite chicken soup recipe at the first signs of sneezing or coughing.
Rou gui, more commonly known as cinnamon bark, not only marks the holiday season but can also aid in keeping you warm as the temperatures drop. It’s an excellent way to tonify your Kidney energy as well, which serves as a storehouse of energy for your entire system. Use it as a garnish to your hot chocolate or apple cider, or even include it in your holiday snack mix.
The beauty of Chinese Herbal Medicine is that even if we can’t slow our schedules to accommodate the downturn of activity reflected in the natural world around us, we can look to the natural world to provide us with support as we move through this time of year.
Schizandra berry has been a famous adaptogenic herb used for centuries in Chinese Medicine. Adaptogenic herbs do exactly what the name implies. They help the body adapt. Schizandra helps sharpen the mind, helps the body deal with stressors, it increases alertness and is excellent in treating wheezing due to asthma. This berry is call We Wei Zi in Chinese, which means five flavored seed because it contains all five flavors, sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. Watch the video to see all the incredible properties of this magic berry.
I having been surrounded (quite literally) for the past three days by so called “healthy products”, everything from fortified lolly pops, safer nail polish to every type of infused water possible. I had three days of endless conversations with wellness experts from around the world, Naturopaths, Dieticians, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Herbalists, Homeopaths and Bio-Chemists to name a few. Every health professional I spoke to had the same resounding theme, the key to better health is not in any one of these hot new health products that you’ll find at the Natural Products Expo and later on a store shelf. It’s not about curing a disease, it’s about PREVENTING it in the first place. The key is and always has been about PREVENTION.