Keep Warm in Frigid Weather: Spices ARE Herbs!

In honor of Chicago’s below freezing temperatures for the next few days, I’d like to share with you my favorite category of Traditional Chinese herbal Medicine, Herbs that Warm the Interior.  They are my favorite because I’ve always loved food and cooking and almost all of the herbs in this category are common spices!

Black pepper, aged dried ginger, cloves, cinnamon bark, fennel, and szechuan pepper are all TCM warm interior herbs!  An examples of an herb that is not a TCM herb that would also belong in this category is cayenne pepper.

So how do you warm up without ending up too hot & dry?  Mix your warm interior herbs with yin-fluid foods or include fresh fruits and veggies!

How to Consume Warm Interior Herbs

In my opinion, some of the most perfect examples of how to consume warm spices come from Aruveda – Traditional East Indian medicine.

Chai Tea is traditionally based with milk (which is neutral and yin) and contains warm herb spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, etc.  Non-dairy “milks” such as almond, oat, cashew, and coconut may be used, but the amount of spices may need to be reduced since those “milks” are not as yin.

Also in Indian cooking, hot and spicy foods are traditionally served with yogurt a naturally sweet & sour flavored food (again yin and fluid nourishing) which provides natural balance for the hot spicy herbs.  Try adding some of the above spices to your yogurt with fruit. Not only will it be delicious, but it will also help digest the yogurt which then forms less mucus in your system!

Try adding cinnamon to your butternut squash soup or making a tea with a few shakes of cinnamon or ginger then adding cream or adding cinnamon to your cocoa. We have several teas that contain warm interior herbs in stock in our natural apothecary!

Handling Exceptional Cold

Are you warm but have cold fingers and toes; cold hands and feet; cold feet only; or cold low back and knees only? Do you have difficulty taking spicy herbs?  Have you tried warming spices, but are still cold? These are signs of a deeper imbalance that Chinese Medicine can help relieve!

Also remember that life and health is all about balance.   If you are very dry (dry skin, hair, eyes, mouth), you may simply need more fluids to circulate and warm the body.  This is why we diagnose each person individually and also why we use herbal formulas instead of one herb alone!

Traditional East Asian Medicine also uses a warming technique called moxabustion to treat channels that are too cold.  Your acupuncturist can create a custom plan to keep you warm and balanced all winter. If you are on medications or seeking a movement technique that can significantly warm you, our affiliated practitioner, Shannon Tetteh, of Golden Palm & Needle is teaching qi gong classes currently in Wednesdays. See his website and contact him to sign up!

Stay warm everyone!

Caution, warm interior herbs can be very hot!  Do not use directly without diluting, especially the oil form, and avoid contact with eyes.

Natural Medicine Cabinet: Top 5 for Immune Support

My journey into natural health and wellness began in 2006 when I began working at a large health food store. Having already struggled for 8 years with chronic fatigue, constant infections, and whole body pain with little to no improvement through modern channels, a teenager looked at my fingernails and gave me an herbal supplement that improved my situation overnight changing my life and my perspective about health and healing forever! After that I learned and tried everything I could about natural health and was able to help myself and others with what I’d learned. The challenging journey eventually led me to study East Asian medicine and to found Herb & Tao to continue learning and teaching others to heal naturally. Keep reading to enjoy the fruits of my labor!

Beyond the basics that have widely become known for immune system support (Vitamins A, C, E, Zinc, Elderberry, Glutathione, Ginseng etc.) This blog is comprised of a number of items that due to their effectiveness and safety I’ve kept stocked in my medicine cabinet for over a decade. Most of these items are available in our natural apothecary for convenient access!

Nasal/Sinus

Argentyn 23 Silver Hydrosol – a smaller particle size than colloidal silver and a more potent version than Sovereign Silver Hydrosol (which we do carry for Kids). Literally an all-purpose antimicrobial, silver hydrosol is clear and tastes like water unless there is bacteria present in your mouth, then it tastes bitter! It comes conveniently as a nasal spray. Daily use is preventive.

Medinatura homeopathic nasal sprays ReBoost as a decongestant and ClearLife as an anti-allergic and decongestant. The loveliest thing about homoepathic nasal sprays is they do not excessively dry out mucus membranes and there is no rebound congestion in addition, used properly it reduces your need to use it! Homeopathy is most effective when used often at the first sign of congestion or irritation and used often. See the kids section below for links to short videos about homeopathy.

Ears & Throat

Garlic and Mullein ear oil – Ear pain and inflammation can be difficult to treat especially when it is not from a bacterial infection (hence antibiotics won’t work). Having an alternative can be a life saver in preventing an ear infection from becoming chronic. Mom taught us to use olive oil and. a cotton ball, but when I was introduced to olive oil infused with antimicrobial garlic and mullein, it was a game changer! Of course internal medicine is also needed to assist the body in fighting infection as well as avoidance of sugar dairy and processed foods.

Again, Argentyn 23 and Sovereign Silver Hydrosols to the rescue! Since the throat and ears are connected, they can affect one another so it is important to have something on hand at the first sign of irritation! We spray the throat at the first sign of soreness and it significantly reduces the severity and duration of a sore throat and can also be used with a dropper in the ears although we prefer ear oil overnight.

Traditional Chinese Formulas You Weren’t Aware You Were Taking!

Recognize this Traditional Medicinals Breathe Easy Tea? It contains a formula Bi Yan Pian also available in Guang Ci Tang pateint pills that is great for reducing congestion in the lung meridian which passes through the nose and sinuses.

Have you taken Airborne or LA Naturals Yin Qiao Plus herbal extract? They both contains many of the herbs found in Yin Qiao San (Pian) the Chinese herbal formula for a pattern we refer to as an wind-heat invasion including symptoms of fever or feeling hot, sore throat, sneezing, nasal congestion, and possibly red itchy or painful eyes or clogged ears.

Children/Kids

Newton Homeopathics Airway Ease or Fever Infection – Kids have sensitive systems, so we recommend as a first line of defense the most gentle form of medicine, homeopathy! If you don’t know much about homeopathy, check out What is Homeopathy, a 6 minute video by Newton Homeopathics. We love Newton because not only are they extremely effective, but the tiny dose (3 drops), easy dropper bottle, and liquid format make it easy to administer. You can even put some on the earlobe of a sleeping child without disturbing their slumber!

Conclusion

In conclusion, our top five products we would not be without this cold and flu season are

  1. Potent Argentyn 23 or less concentrated Sovereign Silver Hydrosol spray, dropper, or nasal spray
  2. Medinatura Reboost or Clearlife homeopathic nasal spray
  3. Yin Qiao San or Yin Qiao Pian
  4. Homeopathy for cold and flu symptoms – Newton Homeopathics Flu Care, Cold & Sinus, Kids Airway Ease, or Kids Fever Infection
  5. Wally’s or LA Naturals garlic & mullein ear oil
  6. Honorable mentions Anti-microbial essential oils such as tea tree, pine, eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, clove, cinnamon, lemon, etc. Diffusing these in the home can help reduce microbes in the air. Use caution as these strong essential oils cannot be used on the skin without being diluted.

Of course, none of these products work miracles. Regular acupuncture can help keep you healthy, but if you do become sick, eating processed foods, sugars, and dairy will increase the amount and thickness of mucous/phlegm in your system and keep you sick longer no matter what you use. So do yourself a favor, keep plenty of fresh fruit and veggies in the house and if you do become sick increase your vitamins, make some congee (we love this recipe by Teri Calandra at CCHW, but we use 1 cup of basmati rice, 8-10 cups of water, 1/2 – 1 tbsp celtic sea salt, and then garnish after serving with boiled egg, seaweed, tamari soy sauce and sesame oil OR make a breakfast porridge with cooked pumpkin, cinnamon, butter and maple syrup), turn off the tv, put down the phone and get some rest so your body can recover; it knows what to do!

While supplements can be effective and safe, they do not replace the advice of a qualified health care professional. The above statements provide historical information, results from personal use, and reports from other individual’s use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. FDA’s regulations require those who manufacture, package, or hold dietary supplements to follow current good manufacturing practices that help ensure the identity, purity, quality, strength, and composition of dietary supplements. Click here for more information about the FDA’s involvement with dietary supplements.

Autumn, Metal, & Constipation

Autumn is upon us! Today, Sept 22, 2022, is the fall equinox which has already been bringing about changes in nature. The days grow shorter, cooler and dryer (eventually anyway). As a part of nature, our bodies are also affected by these changes and constipation may result!

In Traditional Chinese/East Asian Medicine (TCM or TEAM), the autumn season is identified by the METAL element – think of the cool dry surface of a mineral filled rock. As rain seeps through the earth, it gathers up those minerals and distributes them to plants – or as ancient five element philosophy so eloquently puts it, earth nourishes metal, metal nourishes water, and water nourishes wood!

In the human body, metal governs the Lung and Large Intestine channel-organ systems. The great news is that this means their energy is strong during this time, however, if they are not supported properly as nature intended, they can easily become hampered by the season’s dryness and lose their ability to function properly. Read on to find out the remedy!

This season, you’ll see plenty of blogs from acupuncturists about Lung health, in fact, we love “Dietary Recommendations for Lung Disorders” by our affiliated practitioner Teri Calandra of Calandra Center for Health and Wellness! But today we are discussing why in this season we need to pay close attention to the Large Intestine and it’s elimination of toxins!

In TCM, we know that the channel organ systems do not operate independently, but all work together to keep the body in balance. One of these wonderful symbiotic relationships is between the Lung and Large Intestine where the former can transfer its problems to the latter which will help get rid of the problem. If you have young children you may have noticed a phlegmy cough & cold ending after a particularly stinky bowel movement! *Please Note – never try to force a bm for this purpose, the body needs to choose the exit, we just support it!

Bowels that don’t move regularly – naturally, this would occur every time you eat (infants & pets anyone!?), however, for adult humans, we’ll define it as at least once daily – could hamper your ability to overcome an illness by releasing toxins in this way.

Why are we constipated in the first place?

Fresh Fruit & Veggies may Prevent Constipation!

Humans, as a part of nature, should mainly consume products from the earth; fruits, plants – knows as vegetables, and nuts and seeds. The typical western solution to constipation is to increase fiber which absorbs water (if you have enough in your system) providing bulk for bowel movements (apples are excellent for this and are in season right now!), but what if that isn’t enough? In TCM most fruits (excluding pineapple or banana) are sweet, sour, and cool (and full of water) which nourishes yin and helps clear heat from the digestive tract. Additionally, nuts, seeds and their oils such as cold-pressed hemp, flax, or fish oils often missing from the modern diet provide moisture to the Large Intestine thereby assisting with regular elimination. Being mindful to eat many of these things daily can remedy chronic constipation.

But what if that still isn’t enough? Although the goal is not to rely regularly on supplements, a chronic issue may require the use of herbal formulas or supplements for relief while working on improving the diet. A few short term solutions to try are cold pressed hemp oil (an herb that specifically moistens intestines according to TCM), inner filet aloe vera juice, or a soluble &/or insoluble fiber supplement.

If you have chronic bowel irregularities, TCM can help! Contact us for an appointment with an acupuncturist OR stop in to see what natural products we recommend. You can also scroll to the bottom of our website to sign up for our seasonal newsletter!

Wishing you the best!

South Loop Open House was Saturday 8/13/2022, in Dearborn Station 47 W. Polk St, #M-5, Chicago IL 60605

2022 Has been an extremely busy year for us! We are proud to announce an expansion, new practitioners, a new logo, nutritional supplements and to welcome you to visit us at our open house!

Our biggest news is that WE HAVE EXPANDED into our South Loop location! You will now see Herb & Tao Acupuncture and Wellness on the door and soon a larger sign on the window!

With our expansion, we welcome affiliated practitioners who will be practicing acupuncture, reiki, massage, and offering qi gong classes. Details about the practitioners will be added to our website soon and will be in our late summer newsletter. They will also be at our South Loop Open House on Saturday Aug 13, 11am – 4 pm. We’ll have demonstrations and samples. We hope you can stop by (masks required)!

And if that wasn’t enough change for you, we have a new logo! We loved our old logo but its color gradation limited our ability to print on certain items such as embroidered shirts. We went back to our talented graphic designer who created this beautiful new rendition. Our new logo is a little more fun, more colorful and a little funky if we do say so ourselves!

Finally, we will begin to carry nutritional supplements, herbal formulas, and other natural health products. We have been recommending the best of the best in natural health products for over a decade, but we have noticed it has become more difficult for our patients to find them or they have to wait long shipping times or there is reduced availability of natural health options for infants, children, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and sensitive adults. We hope to remedy this by curating a selection items for those particular groups.

All glory and honor to God, the original Tao/Way, Who has made all of this possible! “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9

Springtime is Greens Time!

The theme for springtime is cleansing. In western herbalism it is common to do a fast and/or cleanse in the spring to give the liver a break and allow the body to detoxify itself – a process that is constant and can be hampered by eating heavy foods, stress, lack of sleep, environmental toxins, etc.

Our favorite nutritional supplement to support this is green super foods; the cereal greens – wheatgrass, barley grass, oat grass and the sea greens – chlorella, spirulina, blue-green algae, kelp, seaweeds. Some brands add enzymes and probiotics and some add extra liver cleansers such as milk thistle, dandelion, and burdock – caution on these colder herbs for weaker, colder, or those with gallbladder issues.

Green superfoods often come in blends or are added to other products. Do what appeals to you!

  • Take it as a powder daily in a small amount of apple juice with lemon squeezed in
  • If you do protein daily, use one with super greens added or add your own greens
  • If you hate the taste of veggies, take the tablets or capsules
  • If you party too much, take it before bed to decrease hangover symptoms and then again when you wake up
  • For kids use a thicker beverage such as chocolate milk or grape juice to tone down the bitter flavor and make the texture easier to swallow

The body’s detoxifying processes are made easier by avoiding or decreasing heavy hard to digest foods – sticky grains, dairy, meats and alcohol.

*Note – toxins move through your blood to your bowels for removal. If your bowels are not moving at least once a day, you may wish to do a short-term colon cleanse, colon hydrotherapy, or longer term take a magnesium supplement and eat more veggies and less sticky heavy grains and meat in order to facilitate better detoxification. If your bowels refuse to move regularly with these changes, consult your healthcare practitioner.

For more great tips and brand suggestions to bring you into each season, subscribe to our seasonal newsletter in the footer of our website!

Happy Chinese New Year! Subscribe to Our Seasonal Newsletter!

We are so excited to announce our brand new seasonal newsletter which contains business announcements, facts about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), health and wellness tips for the season, and our favorite herbal formulas, supplements and maybe even a few recipes. This year there are 5, Chinese New Year, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. The photo below is a sneak peak of our 2022 Chinese New Year Newsletter!

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East Asian Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture: South Loop, Hyde Park, Virtual – New Locations!

Front window of CALANDRA Center for Health & Wellness.  
When you see this, come on in!

Herb & Tao is offering our Traditional East Asian Medicine herbal & acupuncture services at new locations in Hyde Park, the South Loop, and online via telemedicine. 

We are proud to announce our alliance as an affiliated practitioner at Calandra Center for Health and Wellness in the South Loop in the Historic Dearborn Station building suite M-5!  We have availability there on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment.

Turn right at the old location!

Our Hyde Park location has changed!  We are still in the Hyde Park Bank building on the 8th floor within the Bodhi & Sage wellness community, which has moved to suite 814.  Turn right at the old location. Our hours are still on Saturdays and soon appointments will be possible on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well.

After an initial in-person consultation, you may choose to have your follow-up visits in person or via telemedicine online.  Although sometimes, as with the initial visit, an in-person appointment is necessary, virtual appointments work well as follow up for herbal medicine, eastern nutrition, and educational consultations for supplements or Lifewave Phototherapy Patch protocols.

Come join us on our journey as we grow and heal together!

Herb & Tao Acupuncture and Wellness

Ja’Nelle Jefferson, LAc

Photo-Therapy – it’s like Acupuncture without needles!

Finding ways that patients can enhance their treatments and their health effectively at home has become more important in the last several months as we prefer to stay home.

We’re pleased to have become a distributor for Lifewave – a company that produces small patches containing no medicine that can be used to treat the body through the same meridians we access using acupuncture or herbal medicine! These patches reflect the body’s own light-waves back on itself in order to stimulate the acupoints and produce the desired result.

It’s really quite simple. They recommend certain locations for each patch and show you where to put them on a picture of a human form. You stick them on like waterproof bandages. It couldn’t be easier and the results are astounding! If you like more in-depth information, studies have been done and can be seen via the link below.

Patches names and functions are as follows:

  • X39 – Reduce the signs of aging
  • Energy Enhancers – Increase energy, can be used like moxibustion to tonify/strengthen a specific meridian!
  • Icewave – Relieves pain, can be used to sedate/calm an overactive meridian!
  • Silent Nights – Improve quality and length of sleep
  • Aeon – Decrease inflammation and stress
  • Glutathione – Increase Glutathione for improved detoxification and immunity
  • Carnosine – Increase Carnosine for improved muscle recovery, strength, stamina, flexibility
  • SP6 – Reduce appetite and cravings for weight-loss
  • Nirvana – Improved endorphins for mood enhancement
  • Alavida – improves the hydration and appearance of skin
  • Aculife – because your horses need pain relief too!

Click here for links to purchase, see studies or learn more! Photo-therapy: No-Needle Acupuncture !

Six things you need to know about Acupuncture

  • What is it good for? Absolutely Everything!

Since traditional medicines predate modern medicine, they had to treat everything.  Our modern scope includes using our modalities, “to prevent or modify the perception of pain, to normalize physiological functions, or for the treatment of diseases or dysfunctions of the body…” (Acupuncture Practice Act, 2018).  Common conditions treated include: coughs, colds, flus, indigestion, hair loss, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual disorders, fertility, symptoms during pregnancy or postpartum, menopausal symptoms, urinary dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, chronic conditions and so on.  Any indication of imbalance in a body system can be addressed!

For more details, see our blog “Acupuncture it’s NOT Just for Pain.”  At Herb & Tao, we prefer to treat the underlying cause of pain which especially in chronic cases is an inability to heal damage. 

  • Acupuncture is not about the needle

Treatment focuses on manipulating the life-energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) that runs through channels in the body called meridians.  (The existence of these meridians has since been proven using many biophysical markers*).  When the Qi moves incorrectly or becomes blocked, it leads to imbalance in the body causing discomfort and disease.  Incorrect movement or blockage can be caused by many things including emotions, diet, lifestyle, trauma, etc.  At Herb & Tao, we use your signs and symptoms to figure out which of your meridians need treatment. It’s a process that requires involvement from the patient, but when something improves that they thought they had to live with, it’s so worth it!

  • Acupuncture doesn’t hurt!

Compared with most forms of medical treatment, acupuncture is minimally invasive.  Most patients are surprised the first time they receive acupuncture that oftentimes they don’t feel it at all!  This is mostly due to the tiny size of the needles which are about the width of a cat’s whisker, significantly thinner than what most people think of when they think of a needle!   

The feelings of wellness combined with progress made in treating a patient’s chief complaint far outweigh any minor discomfort experienced during treatment.  In rare instances a patient’s energy is concentrated on the surface of their body and they feel too much sensation, it is usually an indication that an underlying issues would benefit from herbal treatment.

  • Acupuncturists are Practitioners of East Asian Medicine

The “secret” to the success and efficacy of Traditional East Asian Medicine is the preservation of  4 – 5,000 year old texts that document how the body becomes diseased, the signs (such as pulse quality and tongue appearance) and symptoms that patients report to recognize the cause, and the myriad of ways it has been clinically treated.  It seems the human body hasn’t changed much in those years as we can see and treat the same signs and symptoms today.

In Illinois, currently the scope of practice of an acupuncturist includes treating not only with acupuncture needles but also by application of heat or cold, electricity, magnets, cold laser, vibration, cupping, gua sha, manual pressure, moxibustion, herbal medicinals, natural or dietary supplements, exercise, and diet.  Practitioners may choose to specialize and treat using any of these modalities in which they are trained.  It is so important in times like now where people can be nervous about leaving home that many of these methods can be continued at home! (Acupuncture Practice Act, 2018).

  • Acupuncturist is a regulated profession

In most states, the practice of acupuncture requires a state license.  In order to receive a license in Illinois, a person must attend and graduate from an accredited 3-4 year full-time master’s or doctoral program in traditional east asian medicine, pass board exams covering acupuncture, oriental medicine, western biomedicine, and *herbal medicine given by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), and apply to the state of IL for a license.  The state requires renewal every 2 years including 30 hours of continuing education credits to maintain licensure.  Licensed acupuncturists like other health care professionals are subject to rules regarding ethics and are mandatory reporters.  Acupuncture is the only regulated traditional medicine in IL.  We have professional organizations including the Illinois Society of Acupuncturists (ILSA) and the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA).

  • Chinese Herbal Medicines are regulated, safe, and effective

Herbal medicine is regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.  All manufacturers of herbal products are required to follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which are more strict than the GMPs required for food items.  This process includes positive identification of each ingredient, purity tests, source-tracking, documentation, training of personnel and hygiene. (“Legal and Regulatory”, 2020).

At Herb & Tao, we specialize in providing herbal formulas as an individualized and needle free treatment.  Currently, we outsource compounding of custom formulas to GMPs certified herbal pharmacies.

References

American Herbalist’s Guild. (2020). Legal and Regulatory FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/legal-and-regulatory-faqs

Acupuncture Practice Act. Ill. Stat., § 225 ILCS 2/10 (1997). Retrieved from http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1290&ChapAct=225%C2%A0ILCS%C2%A02/&ChapterID=24&ChapterName=PROFESSIONS+AND+OCCUPATIONS&ActName=Acupuncture+Practice+Act.

Li, J., Wang, Q., Liang, H., Dong, H., Li, Y., Ng, E. H., & Wu, X. (2012). Biophysical characteristics of meridians and acupoints: a systematic review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 793841. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/793841

Acupuncture, it’s NOT just for Pain!

Acupuncture is a part of a complete health system mostly known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or more politically correct, Traditional East Asian Medicine.

TEAM is a great acronym since a practitioner and his or her patient act together as a team to bring balance to the patient’s body thereby decreasing or alleviating symptoms of dis-ease.

TCM gives practitioners tools to diagnose and treat the body as a whole.  Rather than focusing on one or two symptoms, we look for overall patterns by taking into account not only symptoms, but also signs such as tongue appearance and pulse quality, as well as general functioning of the body’s systems (i.e. digestive, respiratory, etc.). 

Through this broad view of the body, TCM is able to treat a wide range of imbalances such as emotional, reproductive, hormonal, digestive, etc.  This allows us to work on imbalances that manifest as all types of disorders such as fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, palpitations, anxiety, depression, infertility, constipation, indigestion, diarrhea, skin conditions, and more.  When one aims to strengthen the body itself, it can begin to correct things we just thought we had to live with and even things we weren’t even “trying” to treat!

The body is constantly trying to heal itself.  When we support these efforts, we recover. If we don’t support the efforts, the problems persist and even worsen.  TCM treatment modalities; Chinese herbal medicines, acupuncture, heat application, eastern nutrition therapy, movement therapies, and lifestyle changes are aimed at supporting and boosting the body’s own healing efforts.  

Healing takes persistence and patience. As the body heals itself it may decide to eliminate toxins or require more rest. Your acupuncturist can help you understand what your body is trying to tell you and how to assist it to aid in a quicker smoother recovery.

At Herb & Tao, we specialize in treating internal conditions such as those listed above. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you in your search for wellness at info@herbandtao.com!

Our relaxing treatment area!