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Constipation: Traditional Herbal Medicine Cure

You are sitting on your golden throne, hunched over, face red, frustration rising. Constipated, again.

You know that constipation is usually a result of a lack of water in your body. Besides upping your water and taking food that have more fibre than usual, here are some Chinese medicine tips to get you a productive (literally!) toilet time.

1. Abdomen massage

Give yourself a daily abdomen massages in a clockwise motion. Place one hand over the other and rotate around your belly in large circles. This is the direction the faeces travels through the ascending, transcending and descending colon.

Practice this before you get out of bed every morning for 5 minutes. Use massage oil or some other natural oil like almond, coconut, argan, and notice where there’s lumps and tender points and gently give them an extra rub in the clockwise direction.

Massage to reduce constipation
2. Banana, papaya, orange, milk, yogurt, walnuts, sesame, almonds, other oil rich nuts.

Foods to promote soft stools and ease bowel movements (in cases of excessive heat or energy stagnation) include banana, papaya, orange, milk and yogurt.

Foods to relieve constipation (due to insufficient energy and blood) include walnuts, sesame, almonds and other oil-rich nuts.

Hawthorne can relieve constipation caused by eating too much high-protein and fatty food.

3. Probiotics

This is where you take out the Yakult that you’ve been drinking since you were a child!

Yakult can reduce constipation!



Other foods containing naturally occurring pro-biotics include: Kefir, Kimchi, Kombucha, Yoghurt, Miso, Tempeh, Poi, Micro-algae.

4. Varieties of constipation

This is not a tip, but did you know that there are varieties of constipation?

4.1 Excessive heat in digestive system

Symptoms: dry stool, red tongue with yellow coating, stomach ache, distention, irritation, feeling hot and thirsty.

4.2 Stagnation of energy

Symptoms: difficulty moving bowels though stool is not dry, coated tongue, stomach ache and distention, belching, poor appetite.

4.3 Insufficient energy

Symptoms: pale tongue with white coating, difficulty moving bowels though stool is not dry, sweating easily, feeling fatigued, feeling exhausted after bowel movement.

4.4 Insufficient blood

Symptoms: dry stool, pale face, white coating on tongue, insomnia, poor memory.

4.5 Insufficient yin

Symptoms: dry stool (small pebbles), red tongue, thin in stature, frequent dizziness, lack of strength, night sweats.

4.6 Insufficient yang

Symptoms: difficulty moving bowels though stool isn’t dry, pale in appearance, stomach ache, pain in lower back and knees, relieved by application of heat.

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Herbal Remedies For Lung Health

There’s always a season of the common cold, or more uncomfortable still, the haze. Help yourself more by trying these herbal remedies along with the mask you stretch across your face. Laboured breathing might not bother you for so long!

1. Licorice root
Licorice is one of the more widely consumed herbs in the world. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it occurs in more formulas than any other single herb because it is thought to harmonize the action of all other herbs. Licorice is very soothing and softens the mucous membranes of the throat and especially the lungs and stomach and at the same time cleanses any inflamed mucous membrane that needs immune system support. The compounds also have antibacterial and antiviral effects to them as well which helps fight off viral and bacterial strains in the body that can cause lung infections.

Licorice for herbal remedies

2. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus for herbal remedies

Native to Australia, eucalyptus isn’t just for Koala bears! Aborigines, Germans, and Americans have all used eucalyptus to promote respiratory health and soothe throat irritation. Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups and its effectiveness is due to a compound called eucalyptole (Any wonder how the name was derived??!) Eucalyptole has numerous benefits — it’s an expectorant, can ease a cough, fights congestion, and soothes irritated sinus passages. As an added bonus, because eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it supports the immune system during a cold or other illness.

3. Peppermint
Peppermint contains menthol, an ingredient that relaxes the respiratory tract and muscles, thus promoting free breathing. Peppermint oil contains many other additional compounds, like limonene and pulegone, which are great decongestants. Many therapeutic chest balms contain these ingredients.

4. Plaintain leaf
Plantain leaf is another herb that has been used for hundreds of years to help soothe an irritated chest and coughs. It also also contains many anti-inflammatory and antitoxic compounds.  Clinical trials have found it favorable against cough, cold, and lung irritation. Plantain leaf has an added bonus in that it may help relieve a dry cough by spawning mucus production in the lungs.

5.  Chrysanthemum flower

This common herbal medicine is useful for treating dry, irritated eyes, high blood pressure, and headaches. Chrysanthemum flowers are often used in combination with honeysuckle to lower high blood pressure and treat arteriosclerosis.

It’s also said to affect the liver and lungs, and is commonly consumed in tea form.

The next time your lungs feel a little itchy and you feel a cough coming on, try these natural herbal remedies instead. Imagine walking into a shop in the 1800s and 1900s and seeing lots of herbs on sale, and knowing what to do with each and every one of them. Times are so different now, where on shelves sit rows and rows of factory-manufactured medicine instead, and we just pop what the doctor says.

Nevertheless, thank God the healing properties of these natural plants still exist, and we can use them as our herbal remedies.

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TCM Tips To Help You Get Pregnant

Chinese New Year is coming up soon and we will welcome the year of the Monkey! Many Chinese try to give birth in a year of the Monkey because it is believed that babies born in the year of the Monkey are perceived as clever.

The Chinese character “猴” (hóu /hoh/ ‘monkey’) is pronounced the same as “侯” (‘high official’), and the association dates back hundreds of years into feudal times.

The imagery of the monkey as nobility often appears in ancient paintings:

  • A monkey hanging a seal on a maple tree symbolizes getting promoted to a high position with an official seal.
  • A monkey riding a horse symbolizes getting promoted quickly.
  • A monkey riding on the back of another monkey symbolizes maintaining a high official standing from one generation to another.

If you are planning to get pregnant in this year, these Traditional Chinese Medicine tips could prove helpful.

1. Increase blood flow

Increasing blood flow to your reproductive organs is key in TCM as experts say a stressful life actually pulls blood flow away from the reproductive organs and makes it harder to get pregnant. Get up from your seats, exercise, do some yoga and try some acupuncture, maybe.

Acupuncture - A TCM tip to help you get pregnant

2. Nothing damp
According to TCM, “dampness” can build up in our body and lead to cysts and fibroids, making it hard to get pregnant. Therefore, damp foods like butter, cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream, greasy foods and alcohol should be eliminated from a diet if you are trying to conceive. Wet clothing and extremely humid environments should also be avoided. So maybe no late night drinks or weekend binging on Ben and Jerry’s for a while.

3. Eat right to enhance the “yin” and “yang”
In a woman’s cycle, Yin and Yang energies rise and fall throughout. With fertility, the Yin must be sufficient to nourish the uterus and ovaries in the first half of the cycle. However Yin cannot be activated unless there is sufficient Yang energy. When the Yang is in balance with Yin, then the Yin energy is able to fertilize and nourish the egg.

In the second half of the cycle, Yang energy must heat the blood in the uterus to provide a warm and healthy environment for the embryo.

TCM believes that certain food help nourish your bodies during the different phases of your menstrual cycle.

Foods that nourish Yin include: fruits such as raspberries, pineapples and grapes; vegetables such as asparagus and beans; adequate proteins, especially tofu and fish; and organ meats such as kidneys, brains and hearts. Avoid spicy, pungent foods.

Foods that nourish Yang include warming foods: ginger; ginger tea; beans; grains; and vegetables such as mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage and kale.

Foods that nourish blood include: fruits such as blackberries, raspberries and grapes; organic meats and poultry; soup stock made from the bones of the meat and poultry; and vegetables such as turnips, spinach and dark, leafy greens.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous Monkey year filled with the laughter of your own Monkey kid! :)

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10 Herbs For Skin Care

We all want to have good skin, and if you’re reading this post, chances are you have tried drinking as much water as possible, drinking lemon-infused water, sleeping 8 hours a night, and possibly natural masks like yogurt and honey.

Here are 10 herbs you could add to your skin care routine.
(Post originally appeared on

1)     Wild black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) and 2) Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)

Black Raspberry and Blackberry are both marvelous astringents and toners. Use the leaves of each for their high calcium and vitamin C content. When used as a vinegar-based skin toner, these healing components are imparted to the skin as well.

They make good herbs as they do fruits!

3)     Elder Flowers (Sambucus canadensis)

Elder flowers are calming, reparative, and contribute to healing the skin from damage associated with too much sun, trauma, and pollution. They are also a soothing wash for the eyes when made into a tea. Use in astringents, toners, skin creams and skin care oils.

Elder is a splendid small tree and grows rather easily. In a project that I co-founded, we planted a food forest on vacant city lots and included 5 elderberries in the design. They are growing wonderfully and we get a ton of flowers every year. After only 3 years the trees are about 10 feet tall.

4)    Spruce (Picea sp.)

Spruce is highly antimicrobial and bracing, as are other evergreens. The needles are high in vitamin C. Spruce needles can be made into toners and healing balms. This herb has properties beneficial for natural anti-acne formulas, for large pores and oily skin and in men’s skin care. I find evergreens, and tree medicine in general, to be very grounding, comforting and strengthening. I tend towards a seasonal use of spruce and other evergreens, working with them in the cold months as syrups, body oils and balms.

5)     Plantain (Plantago major)

Plantain is a favorite of mine for its drawing properties. Very useful for pulling out bee stings, splinters and even lumps and bumps when used fresh as a poultice. It also has emollient and moistening properties as a base in balms, herbal oils and natural skin care creams. Plantain make as good herbs in anti-aging and dry skin formulas.

While working in the garden, I’ve learned that cleavers, when dead, has very prickly hairs that splinter the skin and sting too. Since they are so small, it’s nearly impossible to remove them. A bandage of chewed up plantain leaves, wrapped with burdock leaf and tied together with a grapevine works very well to ease the pain and redness of the skin and pull out the little needle-like hairs.

6)     Dandelion flower (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion flower is a beautifier and a bright and sunny smile on a spring day. Often regarded as a nuisance, dandelion is a potent herbal medicine. I use this herb from flower to root, for all sorts of medicinal preparations, from a bold roasted root tea to an olive oil based body oil. Herbal skin care applications include infused oil, in balms and skin care creams. Dandelion flowers are suitable for a range of conditions from large pores, age spots, sunburn and chapped skin. An infusion or tea made from the flowers can be used as a wash for a beautifying treatment and the leftover flowers can be made into a poultice. The milky sap of the stem reminds me of glue and is used to curb growths such as warts.

7)     Burdock seed and root (Arctium lappa)

Burdock seed and root (Arctium lappa) is another of our weedy friends. Growing up, we always called it “elephant ears” because the leaves are huge and wrinkled like an elephant. The root is highly regarded for healing acne, as a detoxifier, drawing out impurities and dirt and it has slight anti-microbial properties.

Burdock seed is specific for healing eczema and dry, flaky, crusty scalp (like cradle cap). As an oil, it makes a lustrous hair and skin smoother. Both the seed and root can be used as a fresh wash, poultice and made into a vinegar-based toner.

8)  Witch hazel bark (Hamamelis virginiana) and 9) Oak bark (Quercus sp.)

Witch hazel and Oak barks both have anti-microbial and toning properties. Be sure to harvest these herbs carefully as trees need their barks mostly intact. Both of these barks are astringent yet soothing, useful for conditions such as acne, poison ivy, and anytime an antiseptic is needed. Using the barks as a decoction will ensure that the tannins are kept intact.


10)     Violet (Viola odorata)

Sweet with a touch of astringency, violet leaves and flowers are useful in healing balms, for dry skin care, and to assist in healing wounds, scars, lumps, and bumps. Violet is beneficial as an herbal oil or cream, or used fresh as a poultice. Violet is also a highly regarded anti-inflammatory, and is useful to help resolve fibrocystic breasts and mastitis.


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If Herbalists Disappeared….

Herbalists use their knowledge of plant medicines and their therapeutic applications to promote health and relieve illness.

Herbalists Gathering Herbs

Herbalists are often self-employed and run their own clinical practices. Clinical herbalists can work independently or with naturopathic physicians or other alternative providers to treat patients and assist with the healing process. They usually grow their own plants or gather plants from the wild. This is known as wildcrafting. However, botanicals can be purchased by manufacturers or other herbalists.

In this career, you can choose to specialize in a specific type of herbal medicine, such as traditional Chinese medicine, Western botanical medicine and Ayurveda, or a combination of these specialties.

Herbalists do not believe in pharmaceuticals or medicine, but believe instead in the natural healing power of herbs.

If herbalists disappeared, thousands and thousands of years of history would totally vanish along with it. The power of herbs was first discovered by Sumerians, then in the Middle Ages, then in other time periods as well. Even chimpanzees have been seen self selecting herbs for healing.

Chimpanzees And Herbalists

Without herbalists, we would have to depend heavily on pharmaceuticals. We would get frustrated and angry when drug after drug doesn’t work, and we might even be heavily reliant and addicted to these drugs. Over reliance on these prescription drugs would result in respiratory problems, seizures, extreme weight loss and possibly even death.

If such an important group people disappear, we might not know the nutritional properties of herbs naturally found in the wild, and how eating smart and utilising the right herb can change us for the better without having to resort to medicines or calling for the doctor straight away.

Maybe you haven’t yet experienced the power of natural healing and herbs in your life, but today isn’t too late.

Wanting to make using natural medicine as a career involves a lot of dedication and hard work. We appreciate you, herbalists!

Happy Thanks For Herbalists
Thank you!
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How Heartburn Relief Is like A School Bully

This Heartburn Post first appeared on The Good Herbs Co. Blog.

Heartburn Relief Location

Heartburn is one symptom that’s associated with the refluxing of contents from the stomach into the esophagus.Where the esophagus meets the stomach, there’s a circular ring keeping food out of the esophagus and in the stomach once it passes the stomach. For some people, this ring is weak, allowing contents from the stomach up into the esophagus, and that’s what we call refluxing. Some of the symptoms associated with that reflux includes heartburn – the sensation of burning in the middle of the chest.

If left untreated, heartburn can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precursor to cancer.

Like a school bully, sometimes you can sense when heartburn is around the corner. School bullies come stomping in, fists balled, voices angry. Heartburn is like that too.

Common signs of this symptom of heartburn include:

1. Chest pain, which occurs because stomach acid is splashing into the esophagus. This is a classic acid reflux symptom.

2. The acid that is supposed to stay in your stomach is more likely to escape into your esophagus when you lie down or bend over, causing heartburn. That’s why people with heartburn are advised to raise the head of their bed so that gravity can help them keep the acid down.

3. Sometimes acid escaping from your stomach can make its way into the back of your throat, leaving an icky, bitter taste in your mouth. In really extreme cases, this can cause choking. (Just like the nasty words of a school bully!)

4. Hoarse voice. If you haven’t been knowingly exerting your voice or attending one too many conferences at work or karaoke sessions with your friends, hoarseness can be another heartburn symptom, and not an early sign of the cold. This happens because when stomach acid is seeping into your esophagus it can irritate your vocal cords. (Just like trying to talk sense to a school bully and having your words fall on deaf ears no matter how much you speak)

5.  Weight loss. If the heartburn is so bad, the sufferer can experience weight loss. (Just like how a school bully takes away all your lunches and leaves you with not much to eat, so you lose weight………….)

Having heartburn relief can seriously change a person’s life for the worse.

But there are ways to help relieve the situation!

5 ways to help your heartburn
Fortunately, there are things acid reflux patients can do to help prevent and minimize breakthrough symptoms.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), heartburn is usually caused by emotional upset and eating the wrong foods. Reflux is seen as rebellious qi that is rising where it should be sinking. Luckily, there are several herbal remedies that can be used in addition to the lifestyle and dietary suggestions mentioned above.

One well-known herbal formula for heartburn and GERD (chai hu mu li long gu tang) contains oyster shell (mu li); dragonbone (long gu); bupleurum (chai hu); ginseng (ren shen); ginger (gan jiang); pinellia (ban xia); scute (huang qin); cinnamon (gui zhi); rhubarb (da huang); and saussurea (mu xiang).

Oyster shell and dragonbone (fossilized minerals) are used to reverse reflux by quenching acidity and redirecting rebellious qi downward.  Ginseng and ginger strengthen the digestive organs and calm nausea, respectively. Finally, pinellia harmonizes qi and dispels phlegm.

Oyster Shell

Here’s a great video we found explaining how Heartburn works and affects us.

Share your experiences. Do you have acid reflux? What have you tried?

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What Mum Never Told You About Traditional Chinese Medicine

  1. Traditional Chinese Medicine is MORE THAN just herbal remedies and acupuncture.

    There is a form of traditional Chinese medicine also known as moxibustion. Common, but not as well-known, moxibustion is the burning of mugwort near or on the skin. Moxibustion is often performed in conjunction with acupuncture and is meant to restore the flow of qi.  Other treatments at hand also include massage, tai chi and dietary therapy.

  2. Eat your largest meal between 2-4pm

    According to TCM, your digestive “fire” is strongest when the sun’s fire burns the brightest in the sky. Eat your largest meal between 2-4pm. You should try not to eat after the sun goes down, because your body gets colder and your digestive fire dies out in order to save energy for organ restoration during sleep.  This would also mean no supper!

  3. 19 percent of Fortune 500 Companies offer alternative medicine as part of their health care compensation packages.

    So next time you fall sick, don’t first rush to go to the polyclinic or to your company clinic to claim your medical benefits. Try some traditional Chinese medicine and you might be pleasantly surprised with the benefits. Our webstore offers plenty of herbal remedies you could whip  up in the form of a nourishing bowl of soup so take your time to look around.

  4. Limit Drinks, Especially Cold Drinks With Meals

    We have a bad habit of drinking a cold glass of water or soda with meals. Changing this habit alone will create better digestion of food. Limit fluid intake with your meals and you will stop diluting your digestive enzymes which are so important for proper digestion. Green tea or other hot teas before a meal supports enzymatic activity and helps enhance your digestive abilities. So go easy on the iced coffee and drink more hot drinks if you can.

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Is Swimming In Cold Water Advisable?

Ever stood outside in the freezing cold, wrapped up in your jacket and scarf, and from the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of someone swimming lap after lap in an ice cold lake, and you think to yourself how crazy that guy is?

Swimming in cold water might have more benefits than spoken for.
When people get into cold water, it stimulates the peripheral vasculature to contract.
The blood will therefore be redistributed. More blood will enter the heart. When people get into cold water, it stimulates the peripheral vasculature to contract.

The blood will therefore be redistributed. More blood will enter the heart, brain and kidney. The blood supply of these important organs will thereby be greatly increased.
Upon finishing swimming, the body temperature will gradually return to normal. The peripheral vasculature dilates. The blood distribution returns to normal. During this process the peripheral vasculature moves from a state of contraction to dilation. Long term repetition of this stimulation increases the elasticity of the vasculature, this is good for preventing arteriosclerosis.

This is why winter swimmers have a smaller chance of suffering from hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Cold water swimming can also increase the blood circulation of a swimmer, slowing down the aging process of the skin and increasing the benefits to a person’s immune system. This explains why cold water swimmers rarely catch a cold.

However, cold water swimming does not suit everybody. If someone has been diagnosed with arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases, it will not be suitable for him or her to start cold water swimming suddenly. This is because sudden cold stimulation will raise blood pressure, increase the chance of heart attack and stroke. Sometimes, sudden death can even be caused. For individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain might get worse after being immersed in cold water.

So if you can quote Elsa and talk about how “the cold never bothered you anyway”, then take a dip in an open ice lake when winter is here.

Or for starters, just take a freezing cold shower.

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7 Reasons Why You’re Always Thirsty

You’ve been snacking on too many Lays’ chips, you’ve been out in the sun for 3 hours longer than you normally are (please put on some sunscreen!) or you’ve been working out extra hard! But come 2016, let’s make our health a well-being this year, and let’s start with water, because drinking water is an easy thing to do, yet something so many of us tend to forget or neglect.

If you follow good hydration practices (your pee should be within the light yellow to clear range) yet still feel dehydrated, you may want to check in with your doc to rule out these sneaky saboteurs:

1. Diabetes
Diabetes can increase your risk of dehydration. In a nutshell, diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels. There are 2 types of diabetes – Type 1, where the body does not produce insulin at all, and Type 2, where the body does produce insulin, but it is not enough. hen blood sugar levels are too high, your body peer-pressures your kidneys into producing more urine to get rid of the excess glucose. Frequent urination will bring on thirst, which leads to one drinking excessively, and unintentionally compounding the problem. If you suspect you have diabetes, speak to a doctor right away.


  1. Anxiety
    When you are anxious about something, it may lead to a dry mouth which can contribute to feeling thirsty. Anxiety can take away water from your mouth and send it to other areas in your body. It could also increase acids in your stomach which could then lead to saliva loss. If you are feeling anxious, it could make you feel sick too. Take a deep breath, and step away from what you’re worried about, and take a look at the bigger picture. In case you needed reminding, worrying never solved problems.
  2.  Your Period
    Ladies, listen up! When The Red Sea is a-flowing, it’s normal to drink water in gallons or tons. Two hormones – estrogen and progesterone can greatly affect fluid volumes and coupled with blood loss is a compensatory increase in thirst. In other words, drink up when your period is approaching.pills
  3. Prescription Medicines
    Maybe it has to do with the pills you’re popping. Many medications act as diuretics, upping your urine output and your risk for dehydration. Blood pressure medications are a common example. Plus, any drug that lists diarrhea or vomiting as a potential side effect could end up causing dehydration if you experience those side effects. If your prescription hits any of the above, increase your fluid intake.

    5. Anemia
    Anemia is a medical condition in which the red blood cell count or hemoglobin is less than normal. The normal level of hemoglobin is generally different in males and females. For men, anemia is typically defined as hemoglobin level of less than 13.5 gram/100 ml and in women as hemoglobin of less than 12.0 gram/100 ml. (
    As your body is losing red blood cells faster than can be replaced, they will try to make up for the fluid loss by triggering thirst. Anemia can be easily diagnosed and treated, so see a medical specialist if you suspect you may have anemia.

    6. Low Blood Pressure

Dehydration can cause low blood pressure, as can low blood pressure cause extreme thirst. Chronic stress causes our adrenal glands to underfunction, which may result in low blood pressure when the stress is severe. Thirst is your body’s way of adding more water to your blood, in an attempt to raise your blood pressure.


  1. Not enough carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are stored in your body right along with fluids. That’s why you drop a couple pounds of water weight when you eliminate carbs. That might look good on your scale, sure, but it’s bad news for your hydration levels, Not all carbs are bad. Whole carbs such as oatmeal, whole grain pasta and brown rice all soak up water during the cooking process so eating them can actually increase your hydration levels. Cut them from your diet and you could be unwittingly reducing your fluid intake, too. Choose your carbs properly.

Your brain is about 90% water and your body is 70% water, so drink up and here’s to a happy, healthy, you!