Flu Shot Herbal Alternatives
Chinese Herbs & Supplements, Self-Care

Beyond the flu shot: Herbal medicine remedies to help prevent cold and flu

Flu Shot Advertising

Flu shots: A sure thing?

It can feel rather devastating to learn the flu shot was only 42% effective in preventing any A or B viral infection in people of all ages, last 2016-2017 season. Children aged 6 mo to 8 yrs did best with the shot, with 61% efficacy. For folks over 65, the flu shot came in at only 25% effective. It’s understandable that people question whether or not to get the shot. I don’t plan on telling you here what to do; so don’t read on for the answer to that question! I do, however, hope to introduce you to more options available to you as you move forward into winter, and the impending cold and flu season.

My Top 3 Herbal Remedies for Preventing Colds and Flu


In a 2011 study, Elderberry was shown to inhibit the replication of influenza A and B viruses. It also demonstrated antimicrobial effects against Strep. Even after one’s caught a bug, Elderberry still works to shorten the cold’s duration and symptoms. The great news, researchers found no unwanted side effects after 12 weeks of a 500mg/d daily dose. Yay!! I admit this is one of my go-tos for a daily boost. In short:

  • Use as a preventative at least 10 days before the season or travel (and up to 5 days after traveling)
  • Use throughout cold/flu to limit duration/symptoms
  • Consider making your own syrup to save some money

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For us Chinese herbalists, it’s not common to prescribe a single herb; it’s more common that we prescribe a formula. One of our most famous formulas for preventing cold and flu (which contains Astragalus) is Yu Ping Feng San, aka Jade Screen Formula. This formula has been shown to prevent viral infections (including even SARS) and enhance cellular immunity. These are also easy to transport and swallow (~5mm in size). In short:

  • Use as a preventative at least 10 days before the season or travel (and up to 5 days after traveling)
  • If cold/flu symptoms present, switch to a different formula
  • Caution with headaches; best to have an assessment before using if you are prone to these

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Medicinal Mushrooms

A number of medicinal mushrooms have been shown to demonstrate anti-viral effects. So, similarly, you’ll find these best serve when taken in a formula, such as Stamets’ MyCommunity or Stamets 7. In an ideal world, combine it with Elderberry for a daily tonic. In short:

  • Use as a daily preventative
  • Use throughout cold/flu to shorten duration
  • Caution with low blood sugar/pressure; avoid if you have a mushroom allergy 🙂
Moxibustion for Menstrual Cramps
Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Chinese Medicine Relieves Menstrual Cramps

Moxibustion for Menstrual Cramps
Photo: Brooke Cagle

What the Studies Show for Treating Menstrual Cramps


A 2016 systemic review and meta-analysis (“Moxibustion for Primary Dysmenorrhea at Different Interventional Times”) concluded “moxibustion leads to higher total effective rate [in treating menstrual cramps] and lower level of PGF2α in serum” as compared to nonmoxibustion treatment. While there was no difference in intervention time, the researchers suggest treating the condition 5 ± 2 days before menstruation can achieve good efficacy.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”32″]Acupuncture and herbs outperformed painkillers like Aleve and Ibuprofen[/perfectpullquote]


A 2017 systemic review and meta-analysis (“Effects of acupoint-stimulation for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea compared with NSAIDs: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 RCTs”) concluded the advantages of acu-point stimulation outweighed those of NSAIDs [e.g. Aleve, Ibuprofen]“. Advantages noted include alleviating the symptoms of dysmenorrhoea, reducing the level of peripheral blood PGF2α and fewer side effects than NSAIDs.

Chinese Herbs

A 2016 systemic review and meta-analysis (“Herbal medicine (Danggui Shaoyao San) for treating primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”) found the Chinese herbal formula, “Dang Gui Shao Yao San,” was superior to analgesics and placebo in the treatment of menstrual cramps.

What is moxibustion?

A narrow definition declares moxibustion “the medical application of burning mugwort [an herb] floss on or over an acu-moxa point or an affected site.” (Wilcox, 1)

How does moxa relieve menstrual cramps?

Warm NeedleMenstrual cramps, in Chinese medicine, can be attributed to a number of differing patterns:

  • qi stagnation
  • blood stasis
  • qi and blood deficiency
  • liver and kidney deficiency
  • accumulation of cold

Depending on the underlying pattern of disease, treatment can differ. But one of the most consistently used treatment modalities is moxibustion.

Moxibustion, or moxa, is a great choice for treatment as it has the ability to warm interior cold, stop pain, and both nourish and move qi and blood. Not only does it cover so many bases medicinally, but it’s also something that can be done at home.

How can I use moxa to treat my menstrual cramps?

3-7 days before your period, visit your acupuncturist for my favorite kind of moxa treatment: “warm needle.” This technique applies moxibustion to the handle of an acupuncture needle that is inserted into the body. The heat of the moxibustion is comfortably and slowly delivered through the needle, deep into the channels and body. It’s very comfortable and soothing for the patient. In my office I use higher grade Japanese smokeless moxa for this technique.

When I send patients home, I often recommend they use what are called “stick-on cones” of moxa. This is a type of moxibustion that can also be treated to render it smokeless. It’s typically then adjoined to paper or cardboard that has a sticker-like base. You simply peel off one of the ‘cones’ from the sheet, and adhere it to your skin. Your acupuncturist should show you where to use this on your body. This is great for self-treatment between acupuncture visits.

What herbs are in Dang Gui Shao Yan San?

Dang shen
The meta-analysis looked at four different versions of this formula. They all shared a common base:

  • Dang gui, 10-40g
  • Bai Shao, 10-20g
  • Fu Ling, 10-25g
  • Cang Zhu, 10-25g
  • Ze Xie, 10-25g
  • Chuan Xiong, 10-30g

Other herbs added depending on the formulation include Wu Yao, Xiang Fu, Yan Hu Suo, Gan Cao, Gui Zhi, Dang Shen and/or Yi Mu Cao among others.

Will my health insurance cover it?

In WA state, acupuncture is considered an essential health benefit. Moxibustion is often covered under the same or different billing code. Before you receive treatment, you’ll want to check with your particular plan to find out if they reimburse treatment for menstrual cramps (“Unspecified Dysmenorrhea, ICD10 Diagnosis Code N94.6”). Not all plans in WA state do; but there are a number of them that will. Need help finding out? Drop me a line with your info!



Seed Cycling for an Irregular Period
Chinese Herbs & Supplements, Self-Care

What can you do about an irregular period?

What’s causing your irregular period?

If you’ve ever searched online for treatment options to regulate the menses, most sites list few options: hormonal therapy and/or possibly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Well, I’m happy to say, for many women, these are not your only options. A lot of women can regulate an irregular period with seed cycling at home and/or Chinese medicine support. Before you can figure out truly what your options are, however, it’s important to have your particular situation assessed by a medical professional. The causes of an irregular period can vary significantly; and depending on the severity of your condition, home remedies may not be advisable.
Seed Cycling for an Irregular Period


Will seed cycling help?

Largely promoted by Naturopaths, seed cycling is a method of naturally regulating the hormones through diet. It’s not a traditional Chinese medicine practice; but I have seen it benefit many women. Typically folks are encouraged to ‘seed cycle’ for three to four months before the period is expected to regulate. To learn more about this home remedy, I’d suggest reading, “Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance – Gentle Ways to Restore Normal,” and/or “Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance.”

What about Chinese medicine?

Whereas seed cycling divides the cycle into two phases of treatment, Chinese medicine actually considers a cycle to have about four phases of treatment. This may include Chinese herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion and/or dietary therapy. Our treatment principles will vary depending on these four phases:

Days 1-4: Regulate the qi and blood

goji berries for bpa-induced reproductive damageDuring this phase, we want everything to run smoothly. When the blood or qi is stagnant, we can experience more blood clots, cramps, or breast tenderness. To counter this, we can use herbs and acupuncture focused on moving the blood and qi.

Days 5-12: Nourish blood and yin

After the period, we want to replenish the body’s lost resources. When we are blood deficient, we experience more fatigue, poor concentration, and unrestful sleep. As such, it’s important during this phase to nourish the blood and body’s viscous fluids.

Days 13-16: Regulate qi and blood

If you’re someone whose ovulation is delayed, we would want to reinforce your body’s battery, or “yang,” as well as move the qi and blood during this phase. At ovulation the body is making a big shift from estrogen production to progesterone. By regulating the qi and blood we help make that a smooth transition.

Walnuts for healthy spermDays 17-25: Warm and tonify yang

At and after ovulation, we want the body’s temperature to warm up. You’ll notice your body basal temperature should go up about 0.3-0.5 degrees during this phase. If a woman’s yang is insufficient, she’ll find her lower abdomen can be cold to the touch, she’ll have a slow rise to her luteal phase and tends to have clots almost black in color. In Chinese medicine, we can use warming foods, medicinals, and moxa to support this phase.

It’s important to note that, for some women, too much heat can cause an irregular period. In that case, we wouldn’t want to warm during this phase, but rather support the overall cooling of her system. Too much heat could present as a shorter cycle.

Where do you go from here?

If you haven’t already, in addition to seeing your ob/gyn, I’d encourage you to start tracking your body basal temperature. Get a second opinion on your options by seeking a consultation with a Chinese medicine practitioner. The earlier in life you regulate your hormones, the easier it is to avoid pregnancy when desired, to increase chances of pregnancy when desired, and to smoothly navigate later life changes. It’s worth it!

Cicadas: A new appreciation for an old Chinese herb
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Return of the Cicadas: A deeper appreciation of an unusual “Chinese herb”

Each Chinese herb has a story to tell

Appreciating the story behind each Chinese herbOne thing I love about Chinese herbal medicine is its ability to pay attention to the world around us, and notice the nature of things. Fruits that grow in summer tend to be the remedy for hot days. Root vegetables that grow in winter tend to keep our bellies warmer on those cold nights. We can learn a lot about the the medicine available to us, when we watch how it grows: What is it able to tolerate? What is it able to do? One such ‘Chinese herb,’ 蝉蜕 (Chan Tui, Cicada Moult) is an amazing example of just how rich a story a Chinese medicinal can tell!

A closer look at the Chinese herb: 蝉蜕 (Chan Tui)

Chinese medicine’s use of Chan Tui dates back to the 神農本草經 (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, “Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica), our oldest materia medica. Today we use this Chinese herb for its diaphoretic, anticonvulsive, sedative, antipyretic, and antiallergic effects. In traditional terminology this translates to treating:

  • early febrile disorders (including loss of voice)
  • rashes and itching
  • superficial visual obstruction and red eyes
  • spasm

I remember the first time I had it in my formula for psoriasis I was shocked, not knowing it was only the moult. I wonder if I would have felt the same if I took the time to appreciate this Chinese herb’s story. Finding the following video recently, I thought — how beautiful and appropriate for folks to learn more about this valuable medicinal!

Return of the Cicadas

If we go back to the roots of Chinese medicine, and the power of observation for intelligence gathering, we see there is so much that Cicada teaches. With Cicada’s big eyes, it is no surprise Chan Tui brightens the eyes. As a shed skin, it’s no surprise Cicada moult is able to vent skin rashes. With Cicada’s beautiful and loud song, of course this Chinese herb treats loss of voice. If we see Cicada’s ability to navigate the winds, we understand Chan Tui’s ability to treat spasms (which, in Chinese medicine, is considered a symptom of “internal wind”).

Imagine if we took the time to appreciate each plant, mineral and animal medicinal in such a way? May we all see such beauty and eloquence in the bounty of this earth!

Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Treating Infertility in the Philippines with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

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Retrospective Research on Treating Infertility with Chinese Medicine

Article: The Effectiveness of Chinese Medicine in Treating Infertility in the Philippines

Author’s Key Points

  • In following up on 572 out of 1653 infertility cases that were reported at St. Francis Natural Health Care (2006-2014), 173 infertility cases were chosen for review from the 370 success cases.
  • Of these cases researched, all patients shared the same Chinese medicine differential diagnosis: Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency.
  • Western medicine diagnosis for these same cases ranged from PCOS, to immune-related, endometriosis, uterus fibroids, premature ovarian failure, fallopian tube problem and “unexplained.”
  • Of the 173 participants treating infertility, 98 received a combination of acupuncture (30 min sessions), moxa and Chinese herbal medicine treatment; while 75 participants opted out of herbs, going only with acupuncture and moxa.
  • Average course of treatment was 6.5 months, with no herbs taken during menstruation.

Acupuncture points used

Basic Points

The main points used calm the Spirit, nourish qi and blood, gently move the blood, and warm the Spleen-Stomach:

  • DU24, DU20, UB4 (bilateral), LIV3 (bilateral), ST36 (bilateral with moxa)

Follicular Phase Additions

During this phase, more yin tonics and local points are included in the prescription:

  • SP8, R12, ST25 (bilateral), R4, EP Zi Gong Xue (bilateral), SP6 (bilateral), Master Tong Points Huan Chao and Fu Ke (alternate, L/R)

Luteal Phase Additions

Points added during this phase strengthen the Heart-Kidney-Tian Gui-Chong-Ren axis:

  • P6 (left), H7 (right), K9 (bilateral), SP4 (right), K3 (left).

Chinese Herbal Formula Used

Yu Lin Zhu Formula

  • Ren Shen 2-4g
  • Bai Zhu 2g
  • Fu Ling 2g
  • Lu Jiao Zhuang 2-4g
  • Shu Di 2-4g
  • Dang Gui 2g
  • Chuan Xiong 2g
  • Tu Si Zi 2-4g
  • Du Zhong 2-4g
  • Bai Shao 2g
  • Chuan Jiao 2g
  • Zhi Gan Cao 2g

Patients were prescribed Yu Lin Zhu to warm the Spleen-Stomach and tonify the Heart-Kidney. They took one pack per day with warm water, divided into two doses. The following adjustments were made based on affecting factors:

Follicular phase additions

Increased dosage of yin tonics.

Luteal Phase Reductions

Removal of blood movers Chuan Xiong and Dang Gui.

Other Modifications

In the case of Liver qi stagnation, Xiao Yao San was added at 4-6g.

In the case of blood stagnation, Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang was added during the ovulatory period at 4-6g.

In the case of Kidney deficiency with weak Ming Men fire, You Gui Wan was added at 4-8g.

Fascinated yet?

How could all these women with diagnoses ranging from PCOS to endometriosis receive the same Chinese medicine diagnosis? It’s amazing, Chinese medicine! Our diagnostic system is notably different from Western medicine, we’re able to feel and see the different organs’ health through the pulse and tongue, as well as assess heat and cold in the body based on these same factors combined with other symptoms and signs. Want to experience it for yourself? Come on in for an appointment!

Are Chinese herbs safe?
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Are Chinese herbs safe: A closer look at heavy metals and manufacturing

 What are the concerns with Chinese herbs?

Just as we can have contaminants in our water, such as lead and arsenic, we can also find them in the plants that drink up that water. For this reason ongoing testing is large part of answering the question, “Are Chinese herbs safe?” Unfortunately, the New York’s Department of Health (DoH) recently sent out an advisory notice to healthcare providers after discovering high levels of heavy metals in an over-the-counter Chinese formula. Their announcement read:

In January 2016, DOHMH identified elevated levels of lead and/or mercury in a dietary herbal supplement called Emperor’s Tea Pill purchased over-the-counter in NYC. According to the product packaging, this supplement, manufactured in China by Lanzhou Traditional Herbs, could be used to ‘help maintain body’s natural balance.’ The levels of heavy metals found in Emperor’s Tea Pill ranged from being slightly elevated with up to 3.7 parts per million (ppm) lead, which is approximately two times the permissible limit for lead for certain food additives, to 200 ppm mercury, which is 200 times the permissible limit for mercury.

When I called NY Poison Control to receive more information on the supplement (as suggested by news reporting on the subject), they suggested to me that the DoH would pull all FDA-unregulated “Emperor’s Tea Pill” products (i.e. Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan), regardless of brand. Due to the health risks involved with heavy metal toxicity, including damage to the brain, kidneys, and nervous and reproductive systems, they are strongly encouraging anyone who has been taking this product be tested. If this includes you, please contact your healthcare provider about heavy metal testing.


If you look at the herbs in question (see: above cited news report), the packaging looks quite similar to another brand, Min Shan:

Are Chinese herbs safe: Counterfeits

Min Shan is a brand exclusive to the distributor, Mayway, a reputable distributor in the US who employs third-party testing. I emailed Mayway after receiving the DoH announcement, requesting they release a statement to clarify. Their response, “It’s Not Ours!” goes into detail around counterfeits, how to spot them, and more on the safety measures of their own product. If you’re buying herbs from a local mom-and-pop store in Chinatown or the International District, you want to be sure to note the differences!

What makes Chinese herbs safe?

Chinese herbal medicine quality varies greatly between brands based on a number of factors. Here are a few of the top differences:


Good manufacturing practice (GMP) is the effort to maintain consistency and control throughout the manufacturing process. WHO explains, “GMP covers all aspects of production; from the starting materials [e.g. herb identification testing], premises and equipment to the training and personal hygiene of staff.” They go on to explain that while they have developed detailed GMP practices, many countries have formulated their own. These guidelines are employed throughout the day. The important thing to note here is not all countries adhere to the same GMP practices; so “GMP-compliant” doesn’t always mean exactly the same thing. Nonetheless, a GMP-certified product will be one that you know has undergone some level of manufacturing regulation. So, are Chinese herbs safe if they have a GMP label?  Well, you might have noticed that the photo included with the article on the contaminated formula (see: report above) features a “GMP” sticker….

Are Chinese herbs safe (or safer) if manufactured outside of China?

As a subcategory here, you may be interested to know there are popular [Chinese] herbal brands coming out of China, Japan, Taiwan, and the US. While some Chinese herbs are grown locally in the US, most are not. You might think of herbs like wine – with terroir being a factor in their successful cultivation and efficacy. For this reason, I wouldn’t make any assumptions about the sourcing of the original material based on brand.


So, once a product is “GMP-certified” they might opt-into the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) certification. TGA certification comes through Australia, and its purpose is to “[ensure] that therapeutic goods available for supply in Australia are safe and fit for their intended purpose.” When an international company chooses to receive an on-site inspection and certification through the TGA, you can know their manufacturing practice has been double-checked and held to stringent guidelines. Once certified, facilities are re-assessed no more than once a year.

Independent, third-party testing

When a distributor (or manufacturer) chooses to verify for their self that their final product holds to their purported standards, they may choose to hire a third party to test their finalized product, such as Eurofins. Whereas the GMP-compliance standard likely includes testing each batch of individual herbs for microbes and heavy metals, third-party testing is usually reserved for random batches.

FDA registration

At the time of writing this, I am only aware of one Chinese herbal distributor (who has their own herbal line) that is registered with the FDA: Kamwo. They are open to random inspection by the FDA. The FDA considers dietary supplements a “type of food” (p3) so herbs are not regulated as prescription medications are, and FDA-registration is not required. To have this feather in your cap is more an informal way of saying, ‘I have nothing to hide!’ more than it’s saying, ‘Here’s one more protocol I’m using to ensure my products are safer than others.’

Are my Chinese herbs safe to take?

I hope you’re getting a sense now that all herbal products are not created equal. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, of safety measures and/or concerns. Many of same things affecting the question of “Are my Chinese herbs safe?” equally apply to our diet and environmental exposures. The answer isn’t just ignoring the issue *or* avoiding Chinese herbs. It’s a question well-worth examining. If you are gluten-free and rely heavily on rice products in your diet, I strongly encourage you to read the 2012 (updated 2014) Consumer Report on arsenic in rice.

My recommendation

While seeing a “GMP” sticker on the packaging might have been enough before, I’d suggest only buying a brand that employs third-party testing and that provides you the opportunity to view a Certificate of Analysis (usually completed on request). If you have questions about the products you’ve been taking, call your certified herbalist and/or the distributor to inquire into their safety standards. Heavy metal accumulates over time; so it’s not necessarily something you’d see the effects of right away. It’s not worth guessing about!

Chinese Dietary Therapy Cookbook
Chinese Herbs & Supplements, Self-Care

Chinese Dietary Therapy Cookbook – Free Online Resource

Chinese Dietary Therapy Cookbook

Chinese Dietary Therapy: Self-Care Recipes for Health

Acupuncture is pretty magnificent when you think about it — that something we do for 20min to 1h in a day could affect how we feel during all the remaining hours! Like meditation, yoga, taiji, etc – building these small windows of self-care into our day can create profound changes over time. So, what about diet? Chinese medicine has so much to say on the subject. Some even consider Chinese dietary therapy to be its own pillar of Chinese medicine, distinct from herbal medicine, and complementary to acupuncture and qi gong practices.

Online Chinese Dietary Therapy Cookbook

To this end, I was looking up a recipe for a patient recently when I came across this cookbook: Traditional Chinese Medicine Medicated Diet Recipe Book. What a great reference! As an extension of Chinese herbal medicine (you’ll find a lot of Chinese herbs in the ingredient lists), it’s important to note Chinese dietary therapy requires a Chinese medicine differential diagnosis. Once you know you’re diagnosis, you can look up remedies under the header or “Actions/Indications/Functions” sections included with each recipe. The easiest way to do this, is run a search on the pdf for your keyword, e.g. “Lung” or “yin deficiency,” then you can skip to related recipes. As with all medicine, please consult your certified Chinese herbalist before exploring self-care options.

Sample Recipes

What are your favorite recipes?

Have a favorite Chinese dietary therapy recipe? Let us know in the comments!

Walnuts for healthy sperm
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Study finds eating walnuts makes for healthy sperm

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“Findings demonstrated that walnuts added to a Western-style diet improved sperm vitality, motility, and morphology.” (Source)

Study on Walnuts for Healthy Sperm

Walnuts Improve Semen Quality in Men Consuming a Western-Style Diet: Randomized Control Dietary Intervention Trial

Study Key Points

[wproto_divider style=”gap”]Walnuts: A Chinese medicinal called “Hu Tao Ren” (胡桃仁)

Chinese herbalists have been using walnuts (aka 胡桃仁, Hu Tao Ren), as a medicinal remedy for hundreds of years; the remedy was first published in the 備急千金要方 (Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang), 7th C CE. I loved seeing this study because it reinforces what we already believe and know to be true in Chinese medicine — that walnuts tonify the Kidney (Chinese medicine term; not the same as the Western organ) and replenishes the jing (i.e. “essence”). It’s considered a warm and sweet medicinal that enters both the Kidney, Lung, and Large Intestine channels.

Maintaining and Protecting Healthy Sperm

The Kidney in Chinese medicine is responsible for reproductive function and storing the essence, which is thought to be carried by sperm in men and eggs as well as menstrual fluid in women. For this reason, Chinese medicine not only encourages nourishing Kidney jing in men and women to increase fertility, but also strongly cautions against the loss of jing through ejaculation in males. William Collinge, author of Subtle Energy: Awakening to the Unseen Forces in Our Lives explains:

“The male orgasm involves an outward explosion and release of jing whereas the female orgasm is an inward explosion. When a man ejaculates he is releasing vital essence or energy which is carried out of his body by the ejaculatory fluids. In the taoist perspective, the sperm carry the man’s jing or sexual essence. …The temporary feeling of depletion that men have after ejaculation is thus a true representation of what has happened. As men age and their natural reservoir of jing diminishes, their recovery period after ejaculation — before they are capable of another erection and ejaculation — increases.”

What else can I do?

The Taoists went to some extreme measures to protect their jing (I’ll leave that to you to pursue if you’re that interested!). And while men looking to nurture healthy sperm might not want to follow all their recommendations at first, there are some easy places to start in supporting male fertility. Start with diet and limiting exposure to glues, solvents, paints, heavy smoking and heavy marijuana use. In addition, consider acupuncture and Chinese herbs to tonify the Kidney, nourish essence, and reduce stress.

Natural prozac alternative: Turmeric
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Turmeric: A natural prozac alternative for depressive disorders?

Curcuma longa roots: Prozac Alternative Turmeric

2013 Study on Turmeric: A safe and natural Prozac alternative?

Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Researcher Highlights

  • Adverse effects of antidepressants continue to impel researchers to find safer alternatives
  • In this study, (1) group I received fluoxetine 20 mg/day in the morning (2) group II received curcumin 1000 mg/day (500 mg BD, containing total curcuminoids 88% and volatile oils 7% from rhizomes of Curcuma longa Linn); group III received fluoxetine 20 mg/day and curcumin 1000 mg/day (500 mg BD).
  • Curcumin dose was calculated using data from Chinese medicine using dry rhizome of Curcuma longa at 3–9 g/70 kg adult for treatment of depression like disorders.
  • Curcumin has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-cancer and neuroprotective properties.
  • Curcumin’s anti-depressant effects include: “Neurogenesis in the hippocampus and rise in the serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline brain levels by inhibiting monoamine oxidase enzyme.”
  • Curcumin was found to be equivalent to fluoxetine in terms of change in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17) score from baseline after six weeks of treatment.

With researchers concluding, “curcumin may be an effective and safe agent when used as a modality of treatment in patients of MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders,” turmeric may just be the safe Prozac alternative they’ve been looking for!

Turmeric in Chinese Herbal Medicine

Interestingly enough, in Chinese medicine we have three different herbs that come from the plant genus Curcuma: 郁金 (Yu Jin), 姜黄 (Jiang Huang), and 莪术 (E Zhu). Jiang Huang is the only herb that exclusively comes from Curcuma longa (that which is cited above). However, Yu Jin can also come from this plant (specifically from the root tuber, as opposed to the rhizome, which is Jiang Huang).


While, Jiang Huang, Yu Jin and E Zhu have unique properties and are used to treat different symptoms and signs in Chinese medicine, these three herbs are all in the same class of herb: Herbs that Regulate the Blood. For this reason, in our medicine, Jiang Huang is considered contraindicated during pregnancy and Yu Jin contraindicated in case of obstruction due to qi deficiency.

As always, please consult a certified herbalist to make sure an herb is appropriate for your condition and your constitution before deciding on what would constitute a safe Prozac alternative for you.


trametes versicolor against HPV
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Chinese Medicinal Mushrooms Effective Treatment Against HPV

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New research is concluding that medicinal mushrooms and their extracts clear and eradicate Human Papillomavirus (HPV). –Source Article

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Article on Medicinal Mushroom Treatment of HPV

Medicinal Mushrooms Proving to Eradicate Human Papillomavirus

Author’s Key Points

• By age fifty, according to the CDC, 80% of sexually active women in the US will have had a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
• Of the different strains, HPV-16 and HPV-18 can cause cervical cancer
• 90% of HPV infections are cleared within two years by the immune system
• Chinese medicinal mushrooms, namely Trametes Versicolor, Ganoderma lucidum, and Lentinula edodes, are proving to be an effective treatment for the remaining 10% who face a high risk of cervical cancer
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How do these herbs work in Chinese medicine?

雲芝 (Yun Zhi, Turkey Tail)

Turkey Tail in Chinese medicine is considered a sweet medicinal that is cool in nature and able to enter the Lung, Spleen and Liver channels. It is used to strengthen the Spleen and dispel damp; clear heat-toxin; and reduce tumors.

靈芝 (Ling Zhi, Reishi)

Reishi is considered a bland medicinal in Chinese medicine, warm in nature. It enters the Lung, Spleen and Kidney channels. It tonifies qi and calms the Spirit; stops cough and wheezing.

香菇 (Xiang Gu, Shiitake)

Shiitake is considered a sweet and neutral medicinal, able to enter the Liver and Stomach meridians. Its TCM actions include tonifying deficiency; strengthening the Spleen and appetite; expelling wind; transforming phlegm and regulating qi; resolve toxicity and anti-cancer.

What are their targeted therapeutic effects?

According to the research Stamets has compiled (see references), these medicinal mushrooms demonstrate the following effects:

How do I take them?

As with all Chinese medicinals, the best treatment is a holistic one. This is to say, one that treats the person, not their symptoms. The best way to take Chinese herbs is in formula, as prescribed by a licensed Chinese herbalist.