Eating the human placenta has gone Hollywood. Oprah loves to discuss alternatives to non-conventional medicine. Tom Cruise was planning on eating Katie’s placenta. Chinese Herbal Medicine encourages the mother to ingest the placenta. Other mammals do it. Why shouldn’t we? If you know someone who’s pregnant the concept of having the baby’s placenta prepared and taken in capsule form can bring a huge boost to the new mother as she recuperates from nine months of gestation. Maybe it will just become the hottest new baby gift, for mom? Add some Chinese herbs to boost milk production and both mother and baby are on the way to good health. Check out our article: Eating the Afterbirth, a Chinese Medical Tradition.
The worlds largest beverage company Coca-Cola has been researching and developing drinks made with Chinese herbs for the past several years. In the US, both Coke and Pepsi have both lost market share with their soft drink products. To offset this marketplace change both have expanded into energy drinks and water products. Will Chinese herbal teas be next? Are Americans becoming health conscious enough to purchase an herbal alternative? I think the tide is changing here.
I can report first hand that a gas station/ mini-mart off I-5 near Bakersfield California, is now selling ging seng drinks from Korea right at the register. Presumably, for drivers who need an energy boost Coca-Cola with several new Chinese bottling plants in place Coke is set to expand, as they say, “their beverages that contribute to well being”. Coke is adding teas, water and energy drinks for Asian consumers who are avoiding sugary sodas and who now perceive those drinks as fattening. In fact, they have spent over 100 million dollars in the last couple years developing these drinks.
Business in China has more than doubled in the past five years and the herbal teas are even eclipsing Coca Cola soft drinks. With the Asian market growing Coca Cola is working on worldwide expansion of these drinks. But Coco-Cola is not the only one exploring this new market share. Pepsi is not far behind and has also been building factories in China. Pepsi has a product called “Herb Joy” on the Chinese market, a beverage made with several common Chinese herbs including the red date, jujube. Most recently, Coke and Pepsi have been experiencing a boom from bottling a cooling herb tea, originally known as Wanglaoji Cool Tea. This tea originated in the southern regions of China, where spring and summer temperatures are very hot. This herbal tea has been a popular Chinese drink in the summer, it’s a healthy choice to cool the body heat and quench the thirst.
Wanglaoji is based on the Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine theory of cooling the body. This tea is made by boiling herbs that are capable of reducing the bodies heat and improving digestion, in much the same method all traditional Chinese herbal medicines have been made for centuries. Varieties of this tea have traditionally been sold by street vendors. The big companies are now promoting these herbal teas with slick packaging and expanding to a global market. More importantly for Coke & Pepsi, by adopting a traditional Chinese herb formula as a packaged drink, they are culturally endearing themselves to the Chinese market , translation, higher sales. What about the American market? I think the answer is yes Americans will be seeing more herbal products including herbal beverages on store shelves. American will buy them as long as the taste is “not to herbal” and maybe it will help Americans pay a little closer attention to their health.
1. Herbal Formulas are designed to treat the whole body, not just the symptoms.
Most Western medications works because they give you quick relief from symptoms but often do nothing for the underlying root problem. You can treat the root of the problem with herbal medicine rather than just treating symptoms. You’ll start feeling better from the inside out when you treat the whole body. The definition of disease (DIS-ease) is: an abnormal condition of the body causing discomfort or dysfunction. Disease usually happens slowly over an extended period of time and a complete recovery can take just as long if not longer, quick fixes often don’t work because that is not how our bodies works.
2. Herbal Formulas are effective.
Imagine how much more enjoyable life would be if you simply had more energy, a clearer head and a relaxed body. Look at the thousands of studies on pubmed.com that have been done on plant based medicine to prove time tested results are more than coincidence for diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, menstrual irregularities, migraines, the list is endless.
3. Herbs have a proven track record.
Herbal Medicine is the main medicine for over 80% of the world’s population and has a long established record of effectiveness. Chinese herbal medicine has written documentation going back to 200 AD. Asian cultures have used this plant-based medicine or medicinal herbs for thousands of years and have an inherent understanding of their healing qualities. In fact, many Chinese dishes are made with herbs for medicinal value, for example to enhance digestion, warm the body during cold weather or cool the body during hot weather.
4. Herbs are 100% Natural.
Our biochemistry has evolved over millions of years with plants as our main source of food, so we are naturally compatible with medicinal herbs. Herbal medicines inherently have the same chemical structures that built your body in the first place. Allkaloids, glycosides, flavonoids, saponins and more are all found in natural plants. These are the chemical structures your body needs to repair itself.
5. Herbs are cost effective.
Herbal supplements are the best investment you can make in yourself. They are far less expensive than prescription medication and their greatest savings comes from the prevention of long term illness. The western standard for disease- if you’re not sick, you’re healthy – should not be the measurement of one’s health.
6. Herbs are synergistic; they work with the body’s natural immune system.
Many herbs, like ginseng, for example, are all in one, immune-stimulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-oxidant. Herbal formulas often work on multiple organ systems to improve overall health. No prescription drug can do that.
Friends just returned from their traditional summer camping trip. This years’ trip was more exhausting for one particular husband, he was tired all day long. He wasn’t getting a restful nights sleep even though he loves to camp, was out in the fresh air and ON vacation. The problem stems from his addiction to his sleeping pills, which he needs even on a camping trip. Although the nightly pill provided him some sleep it made him extremely drowsy during the day, especially since he's increased the dosage to get the desired effect. He often wanted to just sit at the camp site and take a nap. If this you or someone you know, it’s time to kick the sleeping pill habit.
Sleeping pills are an expensive habit both monetarily and physically because of the lingering side effects. Use of sleeping pills is becoming a growing problem. If your taking them for any length of time, you will notice the need to increase your dosage as your body's tolerance grows. At a certain point they become completely ineffective. The most popular "A" sleep pills and other sleep medications were designed to be taken for only a week or two at most. If you continue on this medication longer than two weeks the greatest concern is the side effects, which according to the label “cannot be anticipated”.
Side effects may include: allergies, daytime drowsiness, dizziness, drugged feeling, headache, indigestion and nausea. If you experience any of these side effects, the price you pay for a good nights sleep just went up ten fold. For some, using "A", along with taking a SSRI or serotonin boosting antidepressant, will produce unusual changes in their thinking and/or behavior, according to the insert information. Most definitely alert your doctor if this happens to you.
Side effects of sleeping pills can also develop or change in intensity, so keep this in mind if you suddenly develop indigestion it may be caused by the sleeping pill, not necessarily related to an otherwise digestive/gut problem. Other warning from the manufacturers of this medicine can cause a special type of memory loss. It should not be taken on an overnight airplane flight of less than 7 to 8 hours, since "traveler's amnesia" may occur. Yikes, what’s travelers amnesia? Do you completely forget where you are and where your going. (Apparently this has happened or it would not be a written warning).
The most common risk with prescription sleep aids used long term, is the risk of increasing the dosage in an attempt to keep the effectiveness as your bodies tolerance level increases. The same problem my friends husband was experiencing. The overdose warning alone scares me from going near this drug. “People who take too much may become excessively sleepy or even go into a light coma. The symptoms of overdose are more severe if the person is also taking other drugs that depress the central nervous system. Some cases of multiple overdose have been fatal.”
All we want is a good nights sleep, this is just getting to complicated. I don’t want to die. I’m baffled that a drug with this many warnings can sell as much as it does. There’s more on the label, lets not miss this part of the warning: “Until you know whether the medication will have any "carry over" effect the next day, use extreme care while driving, and you should be aware that they may be more apt to fall.” Hope your taking mass transit if your using a lot of this drug. Older adults, in particular need to be careful. All I can figure is most people don’t read this stuff, they do print it in extra small writing. More from the label, “use "A" cautiously if you have liver problems. It will take longer for its effects to wear off.” “If you take this sleep aid for more than 1 or 2 weeks, consult your doctor before stopping."
Sudden discontinuation of a sleep medicine can bring on withdrawal symptoms ranging from unpleasant feelings to vomiting and cramps.” "When taking "A", do not drink alcohol. It can increase the drug's side effects. If you have breathing problems, they may become worse. "If "A" is used with certain other drugs, the effects of either drug could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor ."
These are direct quotes from the Ambien official website. Maybe it's time for a natural sleep aid for that restful night of sleep you so desire.
Ginger is a common recommendation in my clinic. Ginger is wonderful for digestive disorders and it is anti-inflammatory. "Drink Ginger tea" is one of the most common suggestions I make.
Here are some great ideas from an article by Jennifer Dubowsky, L.Ac. originally posted Dec. 2008 about the benefits of ginger.
It is interesting to note, too, that ginger has been employed in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years due to its numerous beneficial properties. Called Sheng-jiang in the Chinese pharmacopoeia, ginger used alone as a single herb is considered to alleviate nausea, dispel pathogens by inducing sweating, expel cold, as well as stop coughing and reduce excess phlegm in the lungs. In Chinese herbal medicine, Sheng-jiang, or fresh ginger, is considered to have very different properties than Gan-jiang, or dried ginger. Gan-jiang is useful for "cold" pain of the stomach and abdomen, diarrhea due to "cold" in the abdomen, cough, and rheumatism, among other uses. Dried ginger has also been shown to inhibit vomiting.
Plant medicine is still the primary medicine for more than half the worlds population. The other half of the globe is realizing it’s time to return to our roots and re-visit herbal medicine. Plant medicine’s safety record is untouched by modern pharmaceuticals.
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine has a rich history of cooking raw herbs and drinking the decoction as a tea. Today with our modern processing plants we have more options to take herbs in pills form, tablets and now packets. Watch this short video if your new to Chinese herbs . It’s a good introduction to the basics of Chinese herbal formulas.
This week is another important milestone for the Dietary Supplement industry. June 25, 2009 is the deadline the FDA (Food & Drug Assoc) has given for medium sized companies, (those with more than 20 employees) to comply with cGMP or Current Good Manufacturing Practices. What this means to the consumer is another step closer to more consistency in over the counter herbal supplements and all dietary supplement. The cGMP regulations protect the consumer by providing standards for ensuring purity, identity and strength of composition for each product produced.
All told it’s taken 14 years to get to this point. The FDA made allowances for smaller businesses to comply giving them an additional 3 years if they had less than 500 employees. Companies with greater than 500 employees were required to comply one year ago, June 2008. Finally, those companies with fewer than 20 employees have an additional year to comply with the new regulations, until June 2010.
The best producers in the dietary supplement industry have been complying with the FDA regulations for years and these regulations have no major effect on them. Now the smaller companies need to comply, bringing standardization in the supplement industry. Most likely it will also give third party certification companies an even more important role, proving to the consumer that products truly contain the amount of supplements listed on their label. No doubt manufacturer will begin putting pressure on their suppliers to give proof of the purity of their raw materials taking some of the testing burden of themselves. Down the road this may lead to increased cost of raw materials as product testing becomes more the norm rather than the exception.
Although this may lead to some retail price increases, overall it is extremely beneficial for the consumer. Products will me standardized and hopefully as a result more effective. Of course, unscrupulous manufacturers exist in every industry and those adding prescription medications into an “herbal supplement” may still find that without FDA inspectors knocking at the doors for regular inspections it is all to easy to provide tainted products. This is where third party independent testing is crucial. FDA will never have enough in their budget to run from factory to factory and oversee these regulations. Consumers must be diligent in knowing where their products are manufactured and by whom. They must do some minimal research at places like consumerlabs.com to get the independent assessments on product effectiveness and discern whether minimum standards for product purity, identity and strength our actually met. At least the FDA has raised the bar and companies must follow. As a consumer of dietary supplements all I can say is it’s about time.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate World Malaria Day than to write on a Traditional Chinese Medicinal herb and it’s benefits for malaria. Ok, I know most of us in the west don’t know much or maybe anything about this disease. Some may even be thinking… isn’t malaria one of those plagues from the middle age
Malaria is the number one killer in underdeveloped countries, especially prevalent in Africa where it’s an epidemic. As many as 5 million people each year contract malaria, many recover, many do not. Malaria kills nearly one million people worldwide each year. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given millions of dollars for malaria research with the goal of eliminating malaria in our lifetime and by the looks of recent developments, well… read on.
So what does this have to do with Chinese herbal medicine and why did I choose this topic? Malaria has been successfully treated with Chinese herbal medicine for centuries. This is not news, well not to Acupuncturists or Chinese Medical Doctors nor to the scientists and drug companies searching out a cure or a vaccine for malaria. What is news is what Reuters published in an article (yesterday) which I’ve cited below and am quoting here, “elimination (of malaria) in a number of countries is certainly in sight.” Fantastic, right?!
Here’s what really exciting! “New medical treatments such as a drug developed by a Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis using artemisinin, a compound derived from a herb used in Chinese traditional medicine, are driving down deaths and infections, said “Chris Hentschel” of the Medicines for Malaria Venture.” The FDA has also recently approved the drug Coartem, an artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) for malaria, which is said to have a 96% cure rate Can you imagine: A pharmaceutical company using an herb-derived compound? Should we be shocked?
We in the Chinese Medical community are not shocked. We know the use of Chinese Medicinal herbs have been used for centuries with g areat success and we’ve all known that Artemisinin, Qing Hao, has been successfully used in the treatment of malaria. But doesn’t it feels great to be vindicated through “Big Pharma” ? When any big pharmaceutical company decides to study the compounds in “our” (Chinese) medicine cabinet we can all stand proud and say, look big pharma, our herbs have proven compounds that even your labs haven’t been able to invent and there’s more in the medicine cabinet than just Artemisinin.
The credibility of Chinese herbal medicine is coming full circle in the scientific age. We can only hope this is just the tip of the iceberg. The efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine has a 2000 plus year history. Reuter’s goes on to report, “The treatment, administered to 57 million people last year, saved half a million lives last year.” That’s big news! If there was a drug that saved 500,00 people in the US, last year alone, we would be hearing about it. Because it’s in underdeveloped nations, this news doesn’t make the nightly 5 o’clock. But I can think of no better way than to start my blog page with what should be the Biggest News in the world today, especially on World Malaria Day.
A prominent physician and alchemist named Ge Hong (284-364CE) wrote a formulary called Zhou Hou Bei Zhi Fang (Prescriptions within Arm”s Reach for Use in Emergencies) Many of the formulas in this book are still in use today. He was the first to mention qing hao, (Artemisia Annua) as a treatment for malaria.