Did you know that chicken soup really is medicinal? Studies prove it!Read More
Eczema (or atopic dermatitis) is a particularly uncomfortable condition, with itchy, inflamed red patches on the skin that often don't respond well to Western drugs and ointments and can get worse in cold, dry climates. Oolong tea, which is made from partially fermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, has been shown to markedly decrease skin inflammation and itching. Japanese researchers speculate that the tea has anti-allergy properties such as polyphenols and tannins that calm an overactive immune response. Steep 10g/.35oz of oolong tea in a liter (~34oz.) of boiling water for 5 minutes, then drink one-third after each meal. You should notice improvements within 1-2 weeks.
For those unable to drink a liter of oolong daily, try probiotics such as 1x109Lactobacillusfermentum, which has been shown to be helpful for eczema in young children and babies. Take liquid or capsules twice daily for a minimum of 8 weeks.
Not all vitamins are created equal. Just as whole foods are healthier than processed, natural vitamins are more beneficial than synthetic because their nutritional components are better absorbed, utilized and retained by the body. This "bio-availability" makes natural vitamins a better deal despite being more expensive. Natural vitamins are derived from food sources and contain a complex array of nutrients that are bonded to proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They contain beneficial co-factors such as antioxidants and bioflavonoids, which are essential for better absorption and maximum utilization.
Synthetic vitamins are isolated chemicals that mirror their counterparts found in nature. Although synthesized vitamins will work if you are deficient in a particular nutrient, you will not be getting the same benefit due to the lack of bioflavonoids. Furthermore, many synthetics are derived using harsh solvents and may include coal tar derivatives, fillers and preservatives.
The most important rule when buying vitamins is to look for brands using plant or animal sources. For example, vitamins A and D are natural when derived from fish oils, vitamin B complex from yeast, and vitamin C from citrus, rose hips or acerola berries.
I advise my patients to take vitamins only to address a particular problem and not to just “cover your bases.” Save your money and eat a wide variety of fresh, minimally-processed foods instead. If you strive for 20 different whole food ingredients daily, you will be getting all the nutrition you need directly from food.
Raw honey produced less than 100 miles from where you live may help improve your immune response and can be especially beneficial for people with hay fever. (For kids — check with your pediatrician). Give it a try! Click here to find it at your Los Angeles area farmers markets.
If you suffer from heartburn, here are some easy suggestions for effective food therapies. 1. Avoid tomatoes, dark chocolate, raw onions, fried food, mint teas, and red wine.2. Drink demulcent teas such as slippery elm, marshmallow and licorice. Fennel tea is also good. Stay away from peppermint tea, which relaxes the esophagus and can actually contribute to reflux. 3. Drink carrot juice (1-2 cups/day). Carrots are alkaline-forming and anti-inflammatory and help many digestive problems. 4. Eat fresh papaya or take papaya enzymes. 5. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.6. Take acidophilus or other probiotics, or drink kefir. 7. Drink other fresh vegetable juices such as cabbage, celery and even raw potato (leave skin on). 8. Avoid eating for at least 3 hours before bedtime.9. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, which can aggravate heartburn. 10. Reduce carbonated beverages and caffeine.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also great for reducing heartburn as they can resolve "Stomach Heat," the most common Chinese diagnosis for heartburn and GERD.
Follow these guidelines for a month and see how much better you feel! You might even be able to eat a bowl of spaghetti bolognese again without worry.
Government nutritional advice is still greatly watered down due to the effects of food industry lobbying, advertising, and co-opting of experts. The good news is that Oldways, a food issues think-tank, has developed alternative Food Pyramids based on four, centuries-old dietary traditions: Asian, Mediterranean, Latin American, and vegetarian.Read More
Another reason to keep the ginger coming: Studies show ginger to be an effective pain reliever for sore muscles caused by exercise. Both raw ginger and dried supplements showed "moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain." More commonly recommended for upset stomach, ginger is a proven anti-inflammatory.
Here's a cool article from the Wall Street Journal about how the beneficial bacteria (flora) in our bodies help influence our minds. "The Yogurt Made Me Do It: There's nothing metaphorical about 'gut feelings' — Bacteria influence our minds."
I hear it all the time, that my patients feel like they simply can't drink the "recommended" eight large glasses of water each and every day, on top of juice, tea and other beverages. But is eight glasses the right amount for everyone, or simply an arbitrary guideline that's become the accepted standard? Adults lose about 2 liters (8.5 cups) of water daily through sweating, breathing and excretion, and replenish that amount through eating and drinking. According to many doctors, the most important concept here is fluid replacement and keeping your blood moving (i.e. at the proper viscosity), but not "flushing impurities" through extra water intake. This only depletes the body of sodium and other minerals and can lead to poor nutrient absorption, fatigue and weakness.
Ideally you should be eating lots of fresh foods with high water content, such as soups, fruits and vegetables. Beyond that, your thirst level should be the number-one signal for fluid replacement. So pay attention when you're thirsty, drink until satisfied, and forget the guilt if it doesn't add up to eight!
TIP: To make plain water more appealing, put 1/2 cup of unsweetened cranberry juice in a one-liter, reusable water bottle, top off with filtered tap water, and sip throughout the day. The safest plastic bottles are those made from HDPE #2, LDPE #4 and PP #5, according to GreenerPenny.com.
When life is interrupted by sudden sneezing or a sore throat, you can easily make the following at home from common pantry items: • For common cold with runny nose, chills, head/neck ache, but no sore throat: Sweat it out with a soup of fresh ginger, scallion, cilantro, cabbage, and cayenne (high in vitamin C). Drink cinnamon stick tea (gui zhi) or fresh ginger tea (sheng jiang) with brown sugar. Avoid cold foods like salad, iced drinks and ice cream (sorry!). This is called "wind-cold" in Chinese medicine and is the most common type of cold.
• For swollen sore throat, bodyache, fever and possibly a cough: Drink tea made from a Chinese herb like peppermint (bo he). Chrysanthemum tea (ju hua) is also great but you might have to make a trip to the Asian market. Keep food intake light, drink lots of fruit and veggie juices, and add honey to your tea. This is called "wind-heat" and can correspond to the flu or tonsillitis in Western parlance.
Does your child ever complain of a tummy ache? Try fennel (xiao hui xiang), a Chinese medicinal used to treat stomachache and colic. Make a tea by pouring boiling water over 2 tsp. of crushed fennel seeds, let cool and then drink. You can also get fennel extract from an herbal practitioner.
If Irritable Bowel Syndrome or "nervous stomach” is what troubles your child, try enteric-coated peppermint capsules such as Pepogest brand. Peppermint oil (called bo he in Chinese/Pinyin) helps ease spasms but shouldn't be used for acid reflux.
Probiotics from the refrigerated section of the health food store will also help over the short and long terms, especially if your child has had to take antibiotics, and they now even make them specifically formulated for kids.
The use of herbs, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, is an essential part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and generally produces zero side effects. Most often, we combine herbs in a formula of 4-15 ingredients customized to the individual. You might be familiar with many of the following herbs used in TCM. I’ve listed their common uses and pinyin names.1. Cinnamon (gui zhi and rou gui): common cold with chills; arthritis; type 2 diabetes. Daily use has been shown to lower blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol levels just as well as the class of drugs known as statins. (Best to use medicinal extracts, not the powder from the spice rack.)
2. Hawthorn (shan zha): high blood pressure; coronary artery disease; high cholesterol
3. Fresh ginger (sheng jiang): nausea; upset stomach; morning sickness; motion sickness; common cold with chills; cough
4. Mint (bo he): common cold with fever and sore throat; headache; rashes
5. Licorice (gan cao): diarrhea; cough; asthma; ulcers; leg spasms; high cholesterol. (Taken long-term, licorice can cause high blood pressure and/or water retention, so only use under the care of a licensed acupuncturist.)
6. Watermelon (xi gua): summertime colds, when it's hot and humid out
7. Hemp seed (huo ma ren): constipation
8. Jujube (da zao): fatigue; low appetite
9. Barley malt sugar, or maltose (yi tang): low appetite; dry cough
10. Gelatin (e jiao): dizziness; palpitations; chronic bleeding; dry cough
11. Garlic (da suan): diarrhea; flu prevention
12. Ginseng(ren shen):Like caffeine, the famous ginseng, sold in tiny bottled “shots” even at the local convenience store, is a stimulant that increases energy. It has been widely studied and shown to be beneficial to people with diabetes, peptic ulcers, stress, anxiety, fatigue and wheezing. The herb should only be taken in consultation with a TCM practitioner, however, as it can also act as a sedative, increase blood pressure, and cause headache, insomnia and/or palpitations in people for whom it is not indicated (in other words, who don’t have a problem where ginseng would be useful).
Coconut oil is now being recognized as a therapy for poor cholesterol levels, obesity and hypothyroidism. Even though it contains saturated fat, research shows that coconut oil’s chemical structure is different from animal-derived fats. Because of this, it can increase fat metabolism and improve the ratio between good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. This may explain why another traditional diet, that of Polynesia, leads to relatively low rates of heart disease. Start using coconut oil when you sauté, stir-fry or bake. It has a completely neutral flavor and is a good alternative to butter, margarine and shortening for medium heat cooking. To reap its health benefits you should strive for a tablespoon per day. It is available in health food stores.
Curious about Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India? Discover which of the three energies (doshas) predominates in your constitution with this diagnostic test, then get balanced and maintain best health through food therapy, massage and yoga (not to mention acupuncture). Many of the questions are things you've probably never asked yourself! TEA RECIPE: Good Chai: 2 c. water; 3 peppermint teabags; 1 qt. cow or soymilk; 1 stick cinnamon; 1/4 t. ground cloves; 1 t. dry ginger; 3/4 t. ground cardamom; 1 t. black peppercorns; 2 T. honey. Pour boiling water over teabags, steep 20 mins then remove. Add milk, spices and sweetener. Heat on low for 30 mins, then strain. (From The Ayurveda Cookbook).