Did you know that Chinese Medicine consists of not only plants (roots, leaves, fruits, seeds, bark), but minerals (like abalone shell or talcum), animal products (such as snake, so if you do not eat meat products be sure to tell your Acupuncturist), and other such ‘oddities’? Many of our pharmaceuticals originated from the plant kingdom (e.g. Digitalis from the foxglove plant; Aspirin from willow bark) so this is not new medicine. More and more though, we are moving towards a culture that embraces holistic medicine as we seek alternatives to side effects of “traditional” Western pharmaceuticals. I am not in any way implying that the one replaces the other or that Chinese herbals do not have precautions and side-effects of their own. As an ICU nurse, I know first-hand the benefits of intravenous Digoxin in correcting an irregular heart rhythm (as an example), but as an Acupuncturist I also know the efficacy of our Chinese formulas in preventing disease and supporting and maintaining health.
"A weed is a plant whose virtue is not yet known" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why this blog post?
You've heard of the Garden of Eden, right? (Genesis 2:8)... Well, in my world, surrounded by unruly plants that grow with wild and unbridled passion, I've come to fondly call my property "The Garden of Weed'n". Sometimes I have a hard time differentiating which is weed and which is medicine. You see, I grew up eating-breathing-living herbs, having been raised with my Great-Grandmother who used the plants she grew in her garden to heal rashes, cuts, bites and stings; to unblock bowels (very quickly, might I add); to helping you sleep; to stop cough, wheeze and phlegm; and to bring down a fever or soothe an upset stomach. Herbs for me are a way of life; it’s in my blood and my DNA and I believe in the monthly blog post is dedicated to Granny and all the Herbal Masters who inspired my passion (internet search “Shen Nong” – the Chinese emperor & physician who personally sampled hundreds of herbs and had - legend has it – a transparent stomach so you could see what was going on). I am also writing this to point out the benefits & use of some of the herbs & spices you can grow in your very own garden or purchase from the produce section of your supermarket. I call it “Garden of Weedn” because many of the plants we consider weeds, are actually included in Chinese herbal therapy. Each plant has an associated energetic temperature (example: cool or hot), and affects particular meridians/channels. My legal adviser is making me say this so here goes: The intent is not to offer medical advice via this blog, but to briefly highlight how Nature has much to offer us in terms of its healing remedies, and perhaps inspire you to give further thought to if/how you can incorporate herbal therapy into your health maintenance plan. Also note that the information posted is not all-inclusive about any of the plants we mention in the series. Please consult your physician for any medical questions you may have regarding a particular concern, and always let your doctor know if you are taking any herbal remedies, or over-the-counter supplements as there is the potential for drug-drug interaction.
Who should read this?
If you are in anyway drawn to read further, then this post is for you. The content & my approach is very simple – I am not writing to give you a dissertation on herbal medicine, so don’t look for big words or scientific goobly-goop to confuse you even more. This came about because friends, family, my patients as well as random people at the supermarket or gardening store began asking me questions about a particular plant that they had read about on the internet (or heard about on a certain TV show), that was being used for specific health benefits. I was also studying for my board certification in Herbal Medicine and was feeling overwhelmed by all the information I was reviewing, when I realized that I had access to many of the plants that I was reading about in my very own garden or local nursery. Excitedly I would run outside & feel, smell and taste the ones that I was studying about, and this at least made several of the herbs easier to remember for my Chinese Herbal board exam. So if you are a TCM student and drawn to this site, stop by every month and check out the latest "herb" – I will include the Pinyin & pharmaceutical name, energetic nature (taste & temperature), and meridians that are impacted by that herb. The herbs will appear in no particular order other than I will try to honor the seasons so you’ll see them show up when they (or the symptoms they treat) are at their peak. Where applicable, I will include the 3 R’s: Recipes, Reference, or latest Research. Having said that, click below to read about today’s herb of the week in the "Garden of Weed'n":