Posts Tagged ‘herbs’
Oct 22, 2012
Mushrooms are phenomenally versatile organisms. Some are delicious, some are remarkable medicine, and some are both.
When it comes to mushrooms to lower cholesterol, you can have your mushroom and eat it too!
How can mushrooms lower cholesterol?
Mushrooms are inherently good at lowering cholesterol due to their high fiber and protein content. Mushrooms make great protein substitutes for high cholesterol foods. For example in Asian cuisine, mushrooms are often mixed in a meat dish which reduces the amount of meat that is eaten and adds flavor.
Shiitake mushrooms in particular have cholesterol lowering abilities as medicinal mushrooms.1 This ability to reduce cholesterol is due to eritadenine, a component of shiitake. Eritadenine helps to increase the excretion of cholesterol which can lower circulating levels in the blood.
In one study, 9 grams of dried shitake mushrooms eaten daily lead to a reduction of 9-12% of total cholesterol. Triglycerides were reduced by 6-7%. Because shiitake are not known to containing lovastatin, the active constituent in most cholesterol medication, it is safe to eat them if you are taking medication.
Shiitake have a particularly high percentage of protein and robust flavor which makes it a great meat substitute.
Oyster mushrooms are very healthy and delicious. They’ve been touted for their cholesterol lowering capabilities because they naturally contain small amounts of lovastatin, the cholesterol lowering chemical that is widely used in cholesterol medication.
In nature, there are many strains of lovastatin, and the most potent comes from another fungus called Red Yeast Rice. Red yeast rice is used as the red dye for the famous dish Peking Duck.
Oyster mushrooms also have a wide range of anti inflammatory and hepatoprotective effects as well as the ability to reduce blood glucose levels. 1,2 This is why oyster mushrooms are a great way to improve overall health and protect against the deleterious effects of high cholesterol.
It is important to consult your physician before beginning a mushrooms products particularly if you are taking cholesterol medication.
1. Powell M. Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide. Mycology Press. September 2010.
2.Khatun K, Mahtab H, Khanam PA, et.al. Oyster mushroom reduced blood glucose and cholesterol in diabetic subjects. KA.Mymensingh Med J. 2007 Jan;16(1):94-9.
Mar 16, 2012
Everyone knows that seasonal allergies are painful and uncomfortable causing runny nose, sneezing, sinus pain, fatigue, watery eyes, and other debilitating symptoms. Allergies also effect your productivity at work and school and may be linked to depression, insomnia, and anxiety.(1)
Acupuncture offers an effective drug free treatment so you can smell the flowers.
Acupuncture for Allergies
Acupuncture is different than taking a pill. Acupuncture helps to reduce pain and inflammation. But rather than adding a medication that will temporarily block a receptor, histamine in the case of allergies, acupuncture works to regulate the body’s functioning. The goals is for long term improvement from the acupuncture treatment.
The idea is that acupuncture helps to reset the body and remind it how to be healthy. As balance is achieved, your body is able to maintain the healthy state without medications. So instead of simply suppressing the body’s reaction, it works to correct the root cause of the problem.
Acupuncture’s Understanding of Allergies
Acupuncture has its own view of the body and health. Acupuncturists look for an imbalance that is causing of allergies.
Qi (pronounced chee) is the body’s vital energy, it gives you the power to work, study, exercise, and fight illness. In acupuncture, the cause of allergies is often a qi imbalance. There are two major qi imbalances. The most common one for allergies is when there is too little qi, we call this a qi vacuity. When your qi is vacuous, you feel tired, can get colds easily, may have poor digestion, coughing, wheezing, and possibly asthma. The acupuncture and herbs work to boost up your qi, giving you more energy and protecting you from allergies.
The second imbalance is called qi stagnation. This is when your qi does not circulate well. This is often caused by stress, and can cause pain, headaches, menstrual cramps, and in some cases, bring on asthma attacks.
Inflammation is a cause of allergies and chronic sinus pain. In acupuncture, this is often related to an imbalance called heat. Heat can cause dryness, irritation, and pain. This is often common in chronic sinusitis.
The Acupuncture Treatment
An effective acupuncture treatment is based upon a specific and accurate diagnosis of the imbalance. Chinese herbs can also be helpful in reducing inflammation and sinus pain. By targeting the exact root of the condition leads to the most successful treatment.
I combine acupressure, Chinese medicine massage, with the acupuncture to create greater results and a stronger sense of relaxation. Usually people will feel some relief after only a few weekly visits.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation and increase circulation. Acupuncture also helps to regulate the brain to reduce pain, so it is also possible that is another way it works to help regulate the immune response to allergies (2).
1. Marcus MB. Seasonal allergies could spark depression, fatigue. USA Today. 3/18/2008.
2. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
written by: Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
Late Edited: 2/22/2012
Feb 13, 2012
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a term that refers to medicine practices developed in China and other parts of Asia. Traditional Chinese Medicine generally covers many types of modalities including acupuncture and moxibustion, Chinese Herbal remedies, Tui Na or Chinese Medical Massage, as well as other manual therapies including gua sha (spoon massage or coining) and cupping.
In China, the term Chinese medicine (in Chinese it is called Zhong Yi 中医) often refers to the practice of Chinese herbal medicine. Although it can also refer to the entire practice of Chinese medicine. While acupuncture refers to acupuncture and moxibustion.
Some of these therapies are performed only by experienced physicians, such as prescribing complex herbal formulas or doing acupuncture. But others are considered more home remedies. This may include folk herbal remedies for common colds or manual therapies such as gua sha which can be used for nausea, car sickness, the common cold, and other common illnesses.
Common ideas in Chinese Medicine
While the therapies are diverse, done both by physician and family members, they all rest on the holistic view of the body and health that developed over 2000 years ago. A primary idea is that health is a state of balance in the body and between the body and the environment. The body has qi, energy, which flows through channel and meridians. Also, that environmental factors such as cold, heat, and dampness can cause illness. And these environmental factors represent certain illness within the body.
For example, if you have a cold, a physician may write an herbal prescription to release the heat to help you get rid of the cold. But the home remedy of gua sha spoon massage on the neck and upper back can also release the heat.
Chinese Medicine: An Evolution of Ideas
Many of the dominant concepts in Chinese medicine were discussed in the early books of the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classics as well as the Treatise on Cold Diseases. Although they referenced older works, they are no longer in existence. Over the years, physicians and scholars have debated these ideas evolving into the contemporary tradition of modern Chinese Medicine.
Yet, it is important to understand that Chinese medicine is an evolving tradition. These are not static concepts, but ideas that scholars, physicians and even individual family lineages have expanded on and explored. Chinese medicine has a strong tradition of writing, discussion, and debate. There is a great diversity of ideas. Through experience and training a Chinese Medicine practitioner will develop their own style.
For example, certain physicians believed that the best way to use Chinese medicine for psoriasis was to clear heat and toxins from the body. However, other physicians believed that psoriasis developed from internal cold and the body must be warmed. These debates continue today.
In fact, some of the significant therapeutic strategies of modern Chinese medicine physicians were not developed until recently. As I mentioned in my last post, the development of electro-acupuncture for pain was only developed within the last century, a relatively short time for the history of Chinese medicine.
Jan 31, 2012
I came to Joe, as a last resort, for help with hot flashes and tinea versiclor. Aside from the weekly acupuncture sessions, he prescribed herbs, tinctures and salves that got both conditions under control. Not only has he helped alleviate the symptoms but he has educated me as well. He takes the time to answers questions about the acupuncture treatment and herbs prescribed. I am very happy with the results. Thank you, Joe!
Dec 27, 2011
Here are a few articles explaining how acupuncture and Chinese herbs work for eczema.
- What is Eczema?
- Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs or Atopic Eczema
- Traditional Chinese Medicine for Dyshidrotic Eczema
- Acupuncture Calms Eczema Itch
Oct 20, 2011
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are effective treatments for atopic eczema. This guide will explain how acupuncture and Chinese herbs work to treat atopic eczema.
Atopic eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is the most common type of chronic eczema (1). Those with atopic eczema often have a family history eczema, hay fever, and asthma.
Symptoms of Atopic Eczema
Atopic eczema nearly always begins in childhood. For most people, it clears before becoming an adult. However, for some it will cycle between flare ups and remittance. Flare up can be caused by infection, stress, chemical irritants, or sometimes changes in the weather.
Eczema causes terrible itching. Particularly in atopic patients, the scratching of an itch in many cases is what leads to the development of dry, irritated, and inflamed skin associated with eczema. The itch is very intense it is often difficult to control during sleep.
Eczema can occur on the face, or patches in the body. Commonly, eczema occurs on the inside of the elbows and back of the knees. Chronic, long term eczema, may lead to thickening of the skin called lichenification.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine approach to Atopic Eczema
Traditionally, Chinese medicine called eczema the “wind of four crooks” referring to the eczema rashes on the inside of the elbows and knees (2).
Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to diagnosing eczema, considering physical, emotional, and environmental factors. The primary diagnosis is made by looking at the skin. This is combined with information from taking the pulse, observing the tongue and the skin, and asking in depth questions.
In Chinese medicine, too much “heat” is a common cause of eczema, which leads to the itch, redness, and irritation. Other imbalances called “dampness” can result in swelling and in some cases vesicles. Another possible imbalance is too little energy, or what we call “qi deficiency.” The acupuncture and herbs help to clear the heat from the body or to boost the body’s energy.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of Atopic Eczema
The treatment will often combine acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and topical herbal creams. Acupuncture is very effective to control the itching in eczema. I find that auricular and body acupuncture combination to be the most effective. After the acupuncture, I often will use magnet stickers in ear acupuncture points that correspond to the specific area of the body the itch is found. It is possible that the same physiological mechanisms which acupuncture uses to reduce pain are effective for stopping itch in eczema (3).
Chinese medicine focuses on correcting the imbalance. If heat is the cause of the eczema, we will use herbs that traditionally are used to “clear heat” from the body, such as sheng di huang (rehmannia) and jin yin hua (honey suckle) may be used to clear heat. Many of the heat reducing herbs are also potent anti-inflammatory and perhaps have immunoregulatory properties. Dampness is also a possible cause of eczema. For this, ku shen (sophroa) is effective. There are also herbs specifically for the symptoms. For example, di fu zi (broom cypress) is very effective in reducing itch.
External herbal creams are very effective at decreasing inflammation and stopping itching. For some people, reduction in inflammation and itching happens after the first visit. Generally, I want to see some reduction in itching and inflammation within the first 2-4 weeks. The treatment course is about 3-4 months.
For many patients, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine leads to long term reduction of symptoms.
1. PubMed Health. Atoptic Eczema. Accessed 10/21/2011.
2. Mazin Al-Khafaji. Atopic Eczema “Wind of the four crooks.” Journal of Chinese Medicine. Number 77: p5-8. February 2005.
3. Pfab F, Huss-Marp J, Gatti A., et al. Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema – a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.Allergy. 2010 Jul;65(7):903-10. Epub 2009 Dec 11.
written by Joseph Alban
Oct 20, 2011
Green tea is well known for its health properties. Recently, it has become popular for its antioxidants, which have been purported to reduce heart disease and cancer rates. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners sometimes will add green tea to an herbal formula, primarily for headaches.
In Chinese culture, green tea is the staple drink. Unlike in the West, in China people will refill their tea cup many times with water, using the same tea leaves.
Not only is refilling the cup efficient and cost effective, by doing this one is drinking more of the antioxidants from the tea.
The majority of the caffeine is extracted from tea within 30 seconds of brewing. So the refills have very little caffeine in them, but continue to extract other substances.
For most people, the small amount of caffeine in green tea is fine. For people with inflammation and anxiety even a little caffeine is too much.
How to Naturally Decaffeinate your Green Tea: Washing the Tea
It is easy to decaffeinate green tea yourself without loosing much of the taste or health benefits. Most of the caffeine is extracted within the first 30 seconds of brewing the tea.
To naturally remove the caffeine from the tea, quickly brew the tea and discard the water after 20-30 second. Refill the cup with hot water, and you have a naturally decaffeinated cup of tea. This process is called “washing the tea.”
When drinking more refine types of tea, the custom is to wash the tea. This is also part of the traditional Tea Ceremony.
There are other regional types of teas and styles of brewing. Some regions brew the tea at lower temperatures.
Green Tea in Chinese Medicine
There are many varieties of tea. Just as in New York, there are many varieties of apples. But they all come from the same plant, the difference is in the extent of their oxidizing, breeding, and region.
Green tea is cool in nature and as opposed to black tea which is warmer. Green tea helps to clear heat and drain dampness. As I mentioned before, it can also be used for headaches. Add ginger for headaches from damp weather.
Because green tea is cooler, I prefer to drink more green tea in the summer and more black tea in the winter. For some people with weak digestion, green tea may upset your stomach. This is due to its cooling properties.
Oolong tea is somewhat neutral and is a good alternative for people who find green tea a little upsetting to the stomach.
Aug 31, 2011
Chinese herbal remedies have been used for centuries for many conditions and to boost overall health. For many conditions the combination of acupuncture and herbs is the most effective approach. I almost always use herbs when treating acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
The current Chinese pharmacopeia contains more than 5000 herbs and medicinal products. A pharmacy will most often contain 500-1000 of the most commonly used herbs. Some of the herbs are only used in the region they are grown and are not easy to find elsewhere.
Chinese herbs are most often combined into formulas rather than given as a single herb. This approach produces synergy, the combination is more powerful than any one herb. The herbs are combined and specifically tailored to your imbalance.
Chinese herbs are holistic, that is they target the underlying imbalance as well as the symptoms, herbs can address many conditions at the same time.
There are many ways to take Chinese herbs.
Raw Herbs: The most traditional way, and the most potent for certain conditions, are raw herbs. Raw herbs are generally dried herbs.
The are prepared by boiling in water to make a very strong tea. The herbal dregs are discarded and the tea is drank. The herbs should be cooked in a ceramic herb pot or a glass pot. Metal pots, even stainless steel, should be avoided.
Many herbal pharmacies have pressure cooking machines that can prepare the herbs for you. The tea is then vacuum packed into a small bag.
Raw herbs are very potent. I believe they are the strongest form of herbs. I most often use raw herbs for skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Pills or Capsules
Herbal pills are possibly the most common way to take herbs. This is also a traditional method, as many formulas were designed to be made into honey pills. Honey pills consist of ground herbs which are binded together with honey.
I find prepared herbs very effective for many chronic health concerns such as anxiety, insomnia, and allergies. They are very easy to take and easy to store. They may not be strong enough for certain women’s health or skin conditions.
Tinctures are alcohol extracts of herbal formulas. That is, the herbal formula is boiled down to make a very concentrated tea. A small amount of alcohol is added as a preservative. They are very easy to use, quite effective, and affordable.
Granules or Powders
Granules are concentrated boiled herbs. The herbal formulas are boiled down and the liquid is concentrated. Mix this powder with warm water to reconstitute the herbs. Sometimes the herbs are also encapsulated for pills.
Jun 15, 2011
Before I saw Dr. Alban my eczema was out of control and getting worse every year. I tried all western forms of therapy including steroid cream after steroid cream. But after one month of visits with Dr. Alban, between the acupuncture therapy and the supplemental herbs he suggested the eczema not only cleared up but has since yet to return. I expect to continue regular visits in order to maintain the equilibrium I’ve reached and to prevent further flare ups. Additionally it is worth noting Dr. Alban was extremely flexible with my busy schedule and always a pleasure to meet with
Jun 10, 2011
Mosquito bites are annoying, no doubt about it.
When travelling to a hot humid place, such as the jungles in Peru, Southern China, or even right here with my New York City acupuncture patients, mosquito bite itching can be troubling.
Herbs can he very helpful for reducing itching. One of the best and easiest herbal formulas to use for itching is called Yin Care.
Yin Care is a topical wash used for itching and inflammation of the skin. The herbs such as she chuang zi and di fu zi work to calm itch while sheng di huang and jin yin hua reduce inflammation.
Use about a dime size amount and rub on effected area.