Healing Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease
Book Review, Chinese Herbs & Supplements, Self-Care

Healing Spices: How to Use Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease

Healing Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease

Food is our first medicine

Ever wonder why they serve ginger with sushi? Not only does ginger warm the belly–a good balance for all that cold, raw fish about to go into the stomach–but it also helps prevent toxicity (in this case, seafood toxicity). Helpful, right? Knowing that before you head to the sushi restaurant might even be more helpful!

Healing spices

Spices are a universal gift to our health, as they taste great and are easy to obtain. Chinese medicine makes use of a number of them; meanwhile Western medicine continues to deepen their understanding of the vast benefits that come with choosing the right herb/spice for one’s constitution and condition.

A few years ago a book came out highlighting the hidden benefits of your spice rack, “Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease.” It’s quite beautiful and a nice addition to Paul Pitchford’s excellent book on nutrition and Chinese medicine, “Healing with Whole Foods.” Even better, the book is even available through the public library.

Get to know your herbs and spices

See below for a starter list of spices and their studied effects within Western medicine, as cited and published on Huffington Post. In Chinese medicine, we use a few of these regularly for additional health benefits; for these medicinals I’ve included the Chinese medicine name below the English.


As always, food is medicine; too much of one thing isn’t always a good thing. Before you start changing your diet, be sure to discuss your plan with a healthcare professional to avoid herb-drug interactions or other unwanted side effects.


Looks Like

Potential Health Benefits*


Healing Spices: Allspice
  • may help combat prostate cancer
Healing Spices: Cinnamon
  • lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • reduces proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells
  • may help to alleviate tremors and poor mobility in Parkinson’s disease
Healing Spices: Nutmeg
  • relieves symptoms of depression


  • high in antioxidants
  • essential oil of oregano was found to kill drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus

Pepper, Black

胡椒 (Hu Jiao)

  • manganese and copper content supports metabolism and maintain bone health
  • peperine was found to halt, and even reverse, fatty liver disease in mice


Healing Spices: Rosemary
  • carnosic acid content protects retinas from degeneration (may help to prevent or halt age-related macular degeneration)


Healing Spices: Sage
  • may increase cognitive performance in Alzheimer’s disease
Healing Spices: Turmeric
  • reduces tenderness and swelling in arthritic joints

* Studies cited on Huffington Post article, “8 Herbs And Spices That Fight Off Disease.” A reminder: The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Drama of the Gifted Child: Oversensitivity, aggression, depression and perfectionism
Book Review, Self-Care

Struggle with oversensitivity, aggression, depression, and/or perfectionism?

I recently came across this book, The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for True Self by Alice Miller. It was originally published under the title, “Prisoners of Childhood.” I was struck by the name and curious to learn more. It didn’t take long until this book knocked my socks off.

Narcissism versus Narcissist

Miller explains children have the need to go through a period of narcissism as a stage in development before they will develop “spontaneous pleasure in sharing and giving” (viii). If this process is disturbed, as with an insecure parent or other individual closest to the child, the child learns to respond to the insecurity intuitively. Eventually and inevitably, the child ends up equating this responsibility with his/her own security.

Grandiosity and Depression

“In fact grandiosity [i.e. being and needing admiration; needing to excel brilliantly] is the defense against depression, and depression is the defense against the real pain over the loss of the self.” (38)

In learning to tend to the feelings of another without the equal opportunity to experience one’s own jealousy, envy, anger, loneliness, impotence, or anxiety, Miller explains a child begins to identify with a false self — the self that is praised for its achievements. It’s not before long fantasies of grandiosity and/or depression set in as these children try to earn their worth in the world through what they do as opposed to finding worth in who they are inherently.

One of the quotes from Miller’s patients I found most moving came from a forty-year-old woman after experiencing a long depressive phase:

Nevertheless, for the first time I find life really worth living. Perhaps this is because, for the first time, I have the feeling that I am really living my own life. …I can understand my suicidal ideas better now, especially those I had in my youth — it seemed pointless to carry on because in a way I had always been living a life that wasn’t mine, that I didn’t want, and that I was ready to throw away. (58)

How powerful, to realize that which we’ve been striving for [i.e. the false self] is unattainable, undesirable and unnecessary!

If this pattern sounds familiar to you in your life, you might consider learning more by reading Miller’s work and discussing with a therapist. Reiki/energy work is a good way to work with and release underlying emotional patterns as well.

Awareness is the first step to any change; and there is no time that is too late to see clearly. Fear not — Whenever you get there, you’ve arrived right on time!

May you be well,

picturing the true form

The Secret to Self-Cultivation and Longevity

Exploring the visual culture of Daoism

Thank you so much to everyone who has so far submitted your preferences for future articles! (If you haven’t already, you can poll your suggestions here.) As per your request, I’ll be sharing some book reviews and alerts for interesting finds. To start us off, let’s go to Song Dynasty, China…

I recently came across news of Shih-shan Susan Huang’s book, Picturing the True Form: Daoist Visual Culture in Traditional China. Wow! This looks like some pretty cool stuff!!

Daoism forms the backbone of Chinese culture (along with Confucianism), and is the root of Chinese energy work, qi gong. In fact, today’s commonly practiced Microcosmic Orbit can be traced as far back as the early Warring States Period (481-221 BCE), with the inscribed artifact, “Circulating Qi Inscription (行氣銘).” Not only do the concepts of Daoism directly inform the oldest methods for self-cultivation and longevity, but also color today’s Chinese (traditional) medicine practices. So, it’s of particular interest that Huang illustrates the visuality, meaning, and function of Daoist images during China’s golden years, the Song Dynasty.

In her book, Picturing the True FormHuang (a professor at Rice University, with a PhD in Art History from Yale) focuses on the visual culture of the Daoist practice as developed between the 10th to 15th C CE. “Huang used numerous historical drawings from Daoist texts to explain the complex imagery that depicted the inner and outer worlds, as well as the relationship of these images to Daoist visualization meditations, rituals and artifacts. Images of inner landscapes were, for example, visualizations imagined by a Daoist adept, whereas landscapes were understood as the outer reflections of the inner world of the body.”(1) Included in this work are images from paintings, diagrams, drawings, and woodblock prints. For sample images of the Daoist Chart of the Inner Realm or of the Body as Microcosm, see UCLA International’s news.

As a visual learner, I find this kind of work very exciting–imagine being able to look into the minds of folks living centuries ago! From 960–1279 CE, China was experiencing a ‘golden age’–the Song Dynasty. The first paper currency was introduced in China during this period, as well as the compass and typography invented. Can you imagine what freedom the mind can find in magical and creative thought when inspired by such advances!

If you’re interested to deepen your understanding of how your health is a bridge between the inner and outer worlds, or if you’re just interested to look upon beauty or history, consider giving this one a read! Interested to learn more? Join us for a class in Reiki and energy work fundamentals!

(1) Daoist visual culture: Images of the inner and outer worlds. (2013). Retrieved October 22, 2013, from http://international.ucla.edu/news/article.asp?parentid=134650