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.


American Herbalist’s Guild. (2020). Legal and Regulatory FAQs. Retrieved from

Acupuncture Practice Act. Ill. Stat., § 225 ILCS 2/10 (1997). Retrieved from

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.

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!

Our relaxing treatment area!

Natural Health: Preparing for Sleep

Do you have insomnia? Trouble falling asleep? Waking at strange hours unable to return to sleep? Countless health issues can be caused or aggravated by inadequate sleep. Here is why Chinese medicine can help and tips to properly prepare for and optimize quality sleep.

Sleep is supposed to be easy: just stop what you are doing, turn off the lights, lay down and close your eyes, right? This does not necessarily work for everyone and Chinese medicine gives us insight into why.

For thousands of years, the Chinese and undoubtedly other ancient cultures understood that we should follow the natural rhythms of the planet. The Chinese Medicine 24-Hour Circadian Clock (illustrated in the picture) explains how qi (energy) flows through our organ systems (including all channels & organs) throughout the day. The qi is concentrated in the corresponding element/organ systems at the time noted.

Tips for a Healthy Night’s Sleep

  • Wake up (ideally between 5 & 7 am) and and go to sleep (ideally before 11 pm) at the same time
  • Dim all lights and turn off electronics such as computers, phones, tablets, & televisions an hour before bedtime – use blue light filters after sundown
  • Listen to soft soothing music, relaxing binaural beats, or meditate to relax your mind
  • Practice qi gong or tai chi slowly for 30 mins
  • Read or listen to a relaxing book – try fiction or psalms in the bible
  • Take a relaxing bath with calming essential oils or at least a shower to wash away the frantic energy from the day
  • When you lay down practice abdominal breathing – when you inhale your abdomen expands (not your chest)
  • If any thoughts or worries come up when you try to sleep, try writing them down. Tell your mind, those are for tomorrow after a good night’s sleep gives me strength and clarity
  • If you have a hard time falling asleep, try progressive muscle relaxation or self-hypnosis as you lie in bed
  • If you awake, avoid the temptation to get up and do something, train your body and mind – nothing exciting going on here
  • If you have a problem with a particular organ system, meditate or take a nap during that time (see Chinese body clock picture – ex: metabolic issues 9 pm bedtime)
  • If you try all of this and still have trouble sleeping your qi may be blocked: be prepared to tell your acupuncturist exactly what the problem is. Trouble falling or staying asleep? What time are you waking up? What happens when you awake – mind racing, have to urinate, can/can’t go back to sleep? Do you have vivid dreams?
  • Acupuncture can release energy blockages often improving sleep in the first treatment
  • A series of treatments and learning how to support your organ systems is needed for sustained results

Practitioners of Chinese Medicine a.k.a. Acupuncturists study for years and are trained to recognize patterns and symptoms that illuminate an overarching issue that could be affecting your sleep and as a result your health in general. Sleep quality is just one of the signs acupuncturists use to diagnosis and treat patients to optimize wellness.

Contact us or use the form on the contact us page for an appointment to improve your sleep today!

Chinese Medical Nutrition: Bone Broth

What is Bone Broth? Who needs it? What should I look for in my Bone Broth? Why do we eat/drink it? What does that have to do with Chinese Medicine? 

Bone broth is simple, bones cooked in water for a long period of time ranging from 4-36 hours.  Why would anyone want to do this? As it turns out, this is an herbal decoction!  The two main macronutrients obtained from doing this are marrow and gelatin (which contains collagen) which the body can use for healing and repair.  In addition to these, small amounts of synergistic micronutrients including minerals and trace minerals are also present.

What does this have to do with Chinese Medicine?  Everything!  As a traditional medicine built over thousands of years, Chinese medicine has retained the knowledge of our ancestors on what to eat to attain and maintain health and how to prepare food for maximum digestibility and assimilation.   There are entire books which describe the eastern nutrition properties of foods and how to use them for medicinal purposes! TCM suggests these ingredients for certain conditions and some Chinese Medicine herbal formulas contain these ingredients as well.

Marrow is known to replenish the Jing or Essence, a yin substance located deep in body structures such as the brain, bone marrow, and reproductive organs.  Jing is associated with growth and development. E Jiao is a type of gelatin traditionally used as a blood builder and should be used whenever there is a situation where the blood or blood vessels are damaged or healing is not taking place somewhere in the body.

Who can benefit?  People with pain and injury including athletes;  those trying to conceive or pregnant; those with digestive difficulties such as indigestion, gas, constipation; people with chronic illness or low body weight and children.  Organic and fresh as possible bones and meat are recommended especially when there is compromised health.

If you research traditional cultures around the world, you’ll find bone broth has been used in other cultures as well.  Some notes about bone broth:

  • Your bone broth should turn to gel when refrigerated, the more solid it is, the more gelatin it contains
  • Some sources of gelatin are ham hocks and bovine hooves
  • Some sources of marrow are large bones such as short ribs or oxtails – cook a long time until the marrow falls out
  • Bone broth protein powder is an awesome digestible protein powder, but it is not bone broth
  • If you find it difficult to digest your bone broth, try adding ginger to the recipe 

If you still have difficulties with digestion or healing, you should be assessed for other issues that may be preventing your healing.  Contact us for an acupuncture or herbal appointment today!

A final note:

There has been controversy on the treatment of animals for medicinal use.

  • Most herbal medicinals are not animal based products and are vegan
  • Use of animal products is indicated for more serious illness
  • You can avoid the use of animal products IF you can eat a significant amount of fresh raw fruits and vegetables – herbal formulas can help you do that too
  • You can use your own bone broth or gelatin to mix in your herbal formula from your acupuncturist

Sources and Favorite Books on Nutritional Health:

Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig, Ph.D.

Chinese Natural Cures by Henry Lu

Wishing you the best in health!