I made the switch from coffee to tea almost 2 years ago, but I
always preferred tea to coffee. I believe that herbal teas do have
powerful healing factors to help us stay healthy.
Herbal teas are specially blended teas that have medicinal
properties to maintain health and help prevent illness. In
addition, herbal teas are caffeine free. I read several journal
articles and studies that support research that the flavonoids are
the key health-promoting ingredient in tea. These polyphenol
antioxidants are present in many foods and plants, including
tealeaves, and have been found to help prevent cell damage. Recent
research suggests that teas may protect against heart disease and
many types of cancer.
I have three favorite herbal teas that I want to share with you
tea's antioxidants, called catechins, scavenge for free radicals
that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, and
atherosclerosis. There is a lot of research about green tea, mostly
more lab studies and epidemiological studies. The tea is "green"
because of its minimal processing--its leaves are withered and
steamed, not fermented like black and oolong teas--and its unique
catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), are more
concentrated. I personally drink green tea at least 3-4x a
Black tea is a
product made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The aged leaves and
stems are used to make medicine. Green tea, which is made from
fresh leaves of the same plant, has some different properties.
According to my research, black tea is used for improving mental
alertness as well as learning, memory and information processing
skills. I came across some interesting studies that say black tea
has been used to help treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease, and it
also contains antioxidants and other substances that might help
protect the heart and blood vessels. I usually drink black tea 1-2x
Like black and
green tea, white tea is also derived from Camellia Sinensis. Thus,
white tea shares many of the same chemical properties and health
effects of tea. However, white tea contains the most antioxidants.
The catechins, a group of polyphenol antioxidants found in white
tea, have been found to reduce cholesterol, decrease blood
pressure, and improve the function of blood vessels, thereby
decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. I also read a study
that mentioned that white tea has been shown to help antibacterial
and antiviral action, but also help with anti-inflammatory
properties to help potentially reduce the risk of developing
rheumatoid arthritis. I drink white tea 2x a week as well.
Overall, I enjoy all the three teas. I also drink chamomile and
ginger teas. Instead of Starbucks, there are some great alternative
teashops like Bello Teas in Downers Grove and Adagio Teas in
Naperville. I highly recommend them both.
Brewing Tips: Tap water affects the taste of
tea. It is best to use fresh filtered water. To extract the most
beneficial compounds from the tealeaves or bags, let them steep for
three to five minutes. It is best to drink tea unsweetened and
without milk, which can minimize some of the health benefits. Forgo
the sugar and try instead honey, stevia products, or a stick of
Thank you for your continued support for AOM blog! Happy
Studying! Happy Break! I'll see you again in September!
"Autism rates in the U.S. risen dramatically 1 in 88
children has some form the autistic disorder." -- CDC World Report, March 2012.
Autism derailed the life I once had and seemed to smash my hopes
and dreams for Mykael (pronounce Michael). I am a proud Catholic
mom. I believe that when God gives you a blessing we must always be
thankful. Mykael was born on April 30, 2005. The labor and delivery
lasted 20 hours. His long awaited arrival made it the most
memorable blessing out of my 5 children.
I began to notice a change in Mykael around 12 months old,
shortly after his vaccination shots. He was different from my other
two children. He was very reserved and quiet. He did not say much;
in fact, I had a hard time getting him engaged in anything. I sort
of brushed it off, that maybe Mykael was developing at his own
I became more concerned around a year and half. Mykael started
rocking back and forth and continued to have no interest in
anything. At 16 months, I knew something was very wrong with my
son. My pediatrician completely dismissed my concerns. My gut was
telling me something different. Mykael was in his own world and
began isolating himself from the rest of the family. He no longer
made eye contact with me. His beautiful brown eyes seemed lifeless
like a doll's. I called the pediatrician again and made another
appointment. She thought I was crazy, I could hear it in her voice.
She saw nothing wrong with Mykael. I knew that I was not crazy.
Words of Wisdom: Remember to always follow your gut because it is
usually 99.9% right. I changed pediatricians but I was told the
After relocating back to the Midwest, a good friend of
mine referred me to a progressive pediatrician in Naperville, IL,
who confirmed what I had already known deep down inside--that my
son was autistic at 3 years old. Mykael was diagnosed with severe
autism with ADHD. He was a "classic" case which displayed speech
delay, repetitive movements, and increase sensitivity to noise or
any environmental changes, flapping of the ears, hyperactivity and
increased vocalization sounds when agitated or in a distressed
I remember crying for two or three weeks after receiving the
news. I became angry. I began blaming myself and my husband.
It was a difficult time for me. I felt a sense of
overwhelming hopelessness. I remember I woke up one morning and had
decided that I would not let autism control my son's future. It may
have derailed it, but it certainly had not destroyed his
I began researching Autism. I started contacting various local
organizations. I was going to fight this death sentence placed
unjustly on my son with prayer and inner strength. I came across an
article on acupuncture and herbal medicine. We saw an acupuncturist
and herbalist and my doubt, my fears, my despair were lifted that
Mykael Case Study:
Mykael therapy started with pediatric tunia focusing on all the
meridians for 10-15 minutes. Then acupressure on these points
EX-HN1, yintang, PC6, ST36 and LR3. The Sishencong, HT7, KD3 and
SP6 for additional 5-10 minutes. The last five minutes light color
therapy focusing on the hands and feet meridians. It is so
hard describe in words my son's transformation. He had left his
world and re-entered into the here and now sharing with me the same
time and space. After third session, Mykael was uttering actual
words one-two sentences. His lifeless vacant stares turned into
smiling bright eyes filled with life.
Mykael continues his treatments with me at home, and is
currently being treated at National's Whole Health Clinic in Lombard for maintenance
and herbal treatments. He is taking an herbal dietary supplement,
called Chai Hu Long Gu Mu Li Pian. This herbal supplement calms his
shen (mind), helps with his anxiousness, focus and sleep
disturbances. Mykael is now in the first grade for children who are
developmentally delayed and disabled. We still have a long journey
ahead still but with acupuncture, herbs, pediatric tui na, speech
and occupational therapies in place. I feel we are headed in the
right direction. Mykael has made awesome progress developmentally,
emotionally and socially at home and also at school.
Thank you for your continued support of the AOM Blog! A special
thanks to my special little guy Mykael!
We have all heard the saying, "Variety is the spice of life."
It's true. I am currently taking a very interesting class called
Oriental Medicine Nutrition and Food Therapy taught by instructor
Eric Baker. This class is so wonderful because it discusses Western
diet, basic theory of flavors and energetics/temperatures, but also
herbs and food and classical theory of diet. The required reading
for the class is the Tao of Healthy Eating: Dietary According
to Traditional Chinese Medicine by Bob Flaws.
I became more aware of the life and death importance of healthy
diets after the sudden passing of my father in February 2, 2011 of
an acute myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, and
hypotension. My dad loved food but he had a rich fatty diet that he
refused to change. I took a good look at my diet and decided this
was the year my family would commit to lifestyle change focusing on
healthy eating. Many of my patients in the clinic have inquired
about Chinese food therapy for weight loss, diabetes, high blood
pressure, and overall improving their health.
So let's break out the spices and herbs and look at the health
benefits, including higher energy, increased immunity and overall
enhancement of our life and longevity. It is so surprising
how easy it is to incorporate herbs and foods in our diet. I wanted
to share the spices I have incorporated in my family's diet and an
herb I recently learned in Chinese nutritional class last
Garlic is a plant with pungent flavor. Garlic
has been shown to improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council,
consuming half to one clove of garlic daily may reduce cholesterol
by nearly 10%. In vitrostudies show garlic to have antibacterial,
antiviral, and antifungal activity. Your breath might suffer, but
your heart will thank you. As an antibacterial, garlic is often
used to treat minor infections.
Curry, a staple spice combo in Southeast Asian
cuisine, contains turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its
distinctive color. The active component in turmeric is called cur
cumin. If you are a fan of curry, you will be happy to know that
this substance is associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant,
anti-tumor, and anti-amyloid properties. Amyloids are plaque-like
proteins that build up in brain tissue, and are responsible for
diseases like Alzheimer's and rheumatoid arthritis. In one
randomized control study, 107 patients with knee osteoarthritis
received either 800 mg per day ibuprofen or 2 grams per day Curcuma
extract. Both groups showed improvement in pain on level walking
and climbing stairs. Basically, curry is linked with joint
Cinnamon is one of my family's favorite spices.
Many clinical studies have linked it to lowering blood sugar. Both
in vitro and human studies show improvement in insulin sensitivity
with cinnamon polyphenols, as well as improvement in total and LDL
cholesterol. Cinnamon is also thought to detoxify the system and
stimulate brain function. Its antiseptic properties give it the
ability to fight bladder infection, and if taken in the first 48
hours, a cup of strong cinnamon tea might just nip a bladder
infection in the bud. Keep in mind that mixed study results make it
difficult to prove these benefits on paper - but it doesn't hurt to
sprinkle a teaspoon into your next bowl of oatmeal or make a patch
of yummy cinnamon pancakes (my kids love them).
Dang Gui (Bu Due Tang) is a Chinese herb
that tonifies the blood. Dang gui roots contain phytoestrogens,
which are chemicals found in plants that mimic the effects of
estrogen in the body. Dang gui is said to help balance women
hormones level and is good for women's overall health. It is used
to treat menstrual and menopausal symptoms, including migraine,
cramps, mood fluctuations, and hot flashes. It is also said to help
speed a woman's recovery from childbirth and symptoms of low
energy/chronic fatigue. Dang gui has been used to treat angina,
high blood pressure, and irregular heart. Some studies have shown
that the antispasmodic, dilating effects of dang gui may help treat
chronic pulmonary hypertension in people with chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), especially when taken in combination with
the drug nifedipine. Currently, there is a study to determine if
dang gui has the ability to treat cancer, liver and kidney disease.
Pregnant women should not take this herb.
Cardamom is found in curries, rice dishes, herbal
teas, and breads, and is the spice that gives chai tea its main
flavor. In Asia, cardamom has long been valued medicinally for its
ability to increase circulation and improve energy. Cardamom may
also improve digestion, asthma, bronchitis, halitosis, and even
help improve a bad mood. Overall, cardamom helps with
In last week's blog, I mentioned cumin.
Cumin is an excellent spice addition to meat
curries, stews, vegetables, seafood, and sauces. Cumin is thought
to boost the immune system and also to improve liver function,
reduce flatulence, and aid in digestion. It's good to take to keep
colds and flus away!
I saved the best for last. Ginger is a root
that helps relieve nausea, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps,
and muscle soreness. I love ginger because it can treat so many
symptoms. I often enjoy a cup of ginger tea. Preliminary research
indicates that nine compounds found in ginger may bind to human serotonin receptors, which may
function. Research conducted in vitro tests show that ginger
extract might control the quantity of free radicals and the
peroxidation of lipids. In a 2010 study, daily consumption of
ginger was shown to help ease muscle pain associated with exercise
by 25%. Ginger root supplement has been identified in one study to
help reduce colon inflammation markers such as PGE2, thus
indicating a measure that might affect colon cancer.
Word to the Wise: Always discuss with
your patients before treating conditions with spices and herbs to
avoid any adverse interactions. For example, because garlic and
ginger possess natural blood-thinning properties, individuals about
to undergo surgery and those taking blood thinners should take
extra precaution. An added personal side note, remember to keep
herbs and spices in cool and dry places. Especially for spices, the
peak life is six months in order to preserve their oils and prevent
loss of pungent flavors.
Noted statistical data and research studies cited from Huonker
et al. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemist, May 2010, www.sciencedaily.com, www.uofmhealth.org, www.tcmhealthinfo.org.
Remember to "spice it up" - and "herbs can be superb"! Thanks
for continuing to support the AOM blog.
Before we get started on the blog, I want to wish everyone at
NUHS a Happy New Year and a Happy Chinese Year of the Snake!. I
have some great tips for everyone this week to keep us healthy in
the winter season especially if you cannot make it into National's
Whole Health Clinic.
"During the winter months, all
things in nature wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting
period. This is a time when yin dominates yang."
-- The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Chinese
Thinking of Midwest winters, the first thing that pops into our
heads is snow, and more snow, more and more snow, and lots more
snow (just kidding, but typically true), winter break, family
gatherings, overeating, holiday parties, desserts, hot cocoa, puffy
coats, and of course, colds and flu. How do we take care of
ourselves mentally and physically? I have four lifestyle changes
that we can integrate in our daily lives to keep us healthy in the
winter season. I also added Chinese nutritional food therapy, which
includes a classic herb and cooking spice that we can add to our
Keys to Healthy Winter Lifestyle
Cumin: Nutritional Food Therapy Herb
Gui Zhi Tang is the most important formula in the classical
medical text Shang Han Lun, which translated in English
means "On Cold Damage" or "Treatise on Cold Injury." This formula
can be taken regularly to harmonize your Yin and Yang and to
strengthen your immune system. Cumin is a spice that boosts
immunity and improves liver function, reduces flatulence and aids
in digestion. It is an excellent addition to meat curries, stews,
vegetables, seafood, and sauces.
According to nature, our bodies are meant to slow down and
conserve energy during the winter. Times have changed since the
times of the Yellow Emperor thousands of years ago in China, but
the basic principles should not. Keep in mind winter's wisdom in
order to stay healthy throughout the New Year! Remember this is
cold and flu season, so prevention is the key. I would recommend
herbs and getting acupuncture at least once a week during this cold
and flu season will strengthen your immune system.
Happy New Year and thanks for continuing to support the AOM
• Fertility and TCM
• Cupping Therapy
• Boost Your Qi
• AOM and Autism
• New Spring AOM Interns
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