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

treating infertility//

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!

Walnuts for healthy sperm
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Study finds eating walnuts makes for healthy sperm

Walnuts for semen quality//

“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.


Acupuncture and Herbs for Insomnia 100% Effective
Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Supplements

‘Acupuncture and herbs 100% effective for treating insomnia’

Treating Insomnia with Acupuncture and Herbs

Acupuncture-and-herbs-for-treating-InsomniaResearchers in China found when treating insomnia, both acupuncture and a Chinese herbs were able to improve outcomes independently; however, when acupuncture and herbs were combined they yielded a 100% effective rate — with results ranging from mild improvement to completely cured.

Acupuncture protocol

The study called for two courses of treatment, with acupuncture given once every three days, with four treatments constituting one course of treatment. Points used included Yin Tang, Tai Yang, An Mian, and Si Shen Cong (see: adjacent image).

Chinese formula protocol

Patients were given Suan Zao Ren Tang, to be decocted and consumed twice daily. The formula included:

  • Suan zao ren, 30 g
  • Fu ling, 15 g
  • Zhi mu, 10 g
  • Chuan xiong, 15 g
  • Gan cao, 5 g

Not all insomnia the same in Chinese medicine

treating Insomnia with chinese herbs
In Chinese medicine, we have different diagnoses for the different types of insomnia:

  • inability to fall asleep
  • inability to stay asleep
  • waking early

Through questioning, taking the pulse, and checking the tongue, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner then looks to assess:

  • Organ* health, such as the Liver, Heart, or Kidney, etc.
  • Energy levels
  • Fluids sufficiency, such as the blood, or yin (i.e. viscous fluid)
  • Cold and/or heat

Popular Formulas for Treating Insomnia

All of this information goes into determining a differential diagnosis, for which an appropriate Chinese herbal formula is prescribed. To give you an idea of the variety of approaches, this is a list of the most popular formulas prescribed for insomnia in Taiwan, 2002, with each formula addressing different organs and/or organ-pairing:

[wproto_progress titles=”Suan Zao Ren Tang|Jia Wei Xiao Yao San|Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan|Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang|Wen Dan Tang|Gan Mai Da Zao Tang|Gui Pi Tang|Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan|Long Dan Xie Gan Tang|Qin Xin Lian Zi Yin” values=”31.2|21.2|15.6|12.4|11.6|11.5|6.6|6.0|4.9|4.6″]

Getting Help

There are a lot of resources for treating insomnia, and many causes of the concern. If you experience trouble sleeping, and you’re not sure where to start, consider acupuncture and herbs. It’s also helpful to watch your sleep hygiene!

[wproto_divider style=”gap”]

*Chinese medicine organ, not necessarily the Western medicine’s physical organ of the same name.


Prescriptions of Chinese Herbal Medicines for Insomnia in Taiwan during 2002

Ginger tea for heavy menstrual bleeding
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Ginger shown to alleviate heavy menstrual bleeding

Heavy bleeding period

Photo by bandita, Flickr (CC)

Researchers find ginger decreases blood loss

A placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized study published earlier this year (2015) investigated the effects of ginger on heavy menstrual bleeding in high school girls. The young women took 250 mg of powdered ginger or placebo three times a day for four days per cycle (starting the day before bleeding and running three days into their bleeding), for a total of three menstrual cycles. The outcome? Significantly lower blood loss in those taking the ginger (46.6% decrease versus 2.1% in those taking the placebo).

Ginger: An age-old Chinese herbal remedy

Chinese medicine’s oldest materia medica,神農本草經 (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, “Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica), listed Ginger as an acrid and warm medicinal used to stop bleeding as early as 500 CE. In Chinese medicine, we use raw (生姜, Sheng Jiang), dried (干姜, Gan Jiang) or blast-fried ginger (炮姜, Pao Jiang) in decoction to different ends; different treatments alter the temperature of this medicinal to enhance its certain actions. One of our more popular formulas for irregular menses, 温經湯 (Wen Jing Tang, “Warm the Menses Decoction”) dates back to the 14th C CE. The formula calls for 6 g of raw ginger, among the aid of many other medicinals, to help address irregular bleeding from cold and underlying deficiency.

Ginger: Not always the answer for heavy menstrual bleeding

When one sees a study like this, it can be easy to think, “Let’s try it!” But, ginger isn’t the answer for everyone. As I mentioned, in Chinese medicine, ginger is called for when there is cold and underlying deficiency. This is common in high school students, who might wear shorter tops or lower bottoms that expose their midriff and/or eat more cold or raw foods, all which predispose them to weaker digestion and more cold invasion. However, if someone has heat causing bleeding, ginger will only exacerbate their symptoms. How do you know the difference? Go see your herbalist and get a differential diagnosis. It’s the safest and most effective way to get relief!

Study cited

Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on heavy menstrual bleeding: a placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. – PubMed – NCBI

Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Effects of Marijuana According to Chinese Medicine

Cannabis sativa (Köhler)

A Note to Readers

People often ask me how Chinese medicine sees marijuana use; and it for this reason I include this article on my blog. I am neither endorsing or challenging drug use with this article; I am simply sharing a viewpoint of how it affects the body.

Article on Marijuana and Chinese Medicine

Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1 by Chinese medicine practitioner, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Leon Hammer, MD.

Author’s Key Points

  • Marijuana in Chinese medicine is considered cold in nature, and clears yang from the Liver. [This is the Chinese medicine “Liver,” an umbrella term for multiple physiological functions in the body, not necessarily the Western medicine organ.]
  • By draining Liver yang, marijuana renders “the Liver relatively unable to perform its functions of moving physical and mental energy and containing it for when it is needed. The result is that while there is no problem making plans, when it is time to move on these plans, there is no coherent energy to do it.”
  • In addition to Liver qi-yang deficiency, substance abuse can manifest as the separation of Liver yin and yang.
  • Western medical research points to dose-dependent decline in executive cognitive functions (e.g. attention, concentration, decision-making, impulsivity, self-control of responses, reaction time, risk taking, verbal fluency and working memory).

Chinese Herbs to Support the Liver

The author goes on to outline certain Chinese herbs that help recover Liver qi-yang and to yin-yang’s separation:

  • Individual Herbs: Huang Qi and Dan Shen.
  • Modified Formulas: Gui Pi Tang, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, and Yi Guan Jian.

Marijuana and Depression

Dr. Hammer cites a study highlighting “[h]igh doses of cannabis in humans appear to increase the risk of depression, especially in the young.” I wondered is this the chicken or the egg? Cannabinoid receptor sites in the brain include the basal ganglia, hippocampus and cerebellum. As I’ve written before, damage to the cerebellum has been demonstrated in cases of depression and schizophrenia. A 2011 study found “long-term heavy cannabis use in healthy individuals is associated with smaller cerebellar white-matter volume similar to that observed in schizophrenia.”  Another study found, “heavy cannabis use can disrupt timing-related synaptic plasticity within the cerebellum, even after the cessation of cannabis use.” I was surprised to find what constituted “heavy use” — just a single joint per week, for at least one month of use.

The good news is “acupuncture works by neuromodulation, which may raise or flatten physiologic reactions, based on the direction needed for homeostasis. The latest functional brain imaging studies on acupuncture illustrate such modulatory neural and autonomic responses in various parts of the brain, including the limbic, paralimbic, and subcortical gray areas, as well as the cerebellum.” So, if you’re looking to balance out side effects of marijuana use or work on harm reduction, you might consider adding acupuncture and herbs into your treatment plan.


Antiinflammatory Diet
Chinese Herbs & Supplements, Self-Care

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Foods to Reset Hormones & Reduce Inflammation

“Why? Because when you eat pro-inflammatory foods (for instance, sugar and flour), you exacerbate inflammation, the core feature of all autoimmune disorders. Unhealthy foods can also worsen intestinal permeability (“leaky” gut), throw your hormones out of balance, and lead to severe nutritional deficiencies — all of which can worsen the symptoms of an autoimmune disease.” – Dr. Kellyann Petrucci

Anti-inflammatory Diet

Anti-inflammatory Diet Outlined:

A 30-Day Reset To Reduce Inflammation & Balance Your Hormones.

Author’s Key Points

  • Pro-inflammatory foods exacerbate inflammation, a core feature of all autoimmune disorders.
  • Unhealthy foods can also worsen “leaky” gut and throw hormones out of balance.
  • This process can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which can worsen the symptoms of an autoimmune disease.
  •  Eating well can reduce inflammation, balance hormones, foster healthy intestinal flora (repairing the gut), and correct severe nutritional deficiencies.
  • Ultimately, eating well may drive disease into remission.

In the words of David M. Marquis, DC, DACBN, “It has been shown that many of the inflammatory diseases we suffer from are gut mediated but not presenting as gut issues.”

Conditions related to inflammation

This short list comes from Dr. Mercola’s site, with explanations on his site as to the inflammatory process for each:

Ankylosing Spondylitis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Crohn’s Disease
Gall Bladder Disease
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Heart attack
Kidney failure
Multiple Sclerosis
Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Surgical complications

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

For the first 30 days Dr. Petrucci recommends the following plan in her article:

[table id=2 /]

After the first 30 Days

Anti-Inflammatory Latte

This is quite tasty and easy enough to make!

If you’re still experiencing symptoms, she suggests removing:

Beyond Diet: Chinese herbs for treating inflammation

Did you know Chinese herbal medicine’s pungent herbs are considered potent anti-inflammatory agents? Read more: Anti-Inflammatory Effects of 81 Chinese Herb Extracts and Their Correlation with the Characteristics of Traditional Chinese Medicine.


Chinese herbal medicine for vascular dementia
Chinese Herbs & Supplements

Chinese Herbs Found Safe and Effective for Vascular Dementia

Chinese herbs for vascular dementiaChinese formulas effective for vascular dementia

A 2013 meta-analysis of 31 articles involving 2868 participants found, “Chinese herbal medicine appears to be safer and more effective than control measures [including Western medicine or placebo] in the treatment of vascular dementia.” Overall, patients in the treatment group showed better disease amelioration than that of the control and fewer adverse reactions.  As Chinese medicine’s differential diagnosis system varies from that of Western medicine, the formulas used in the studies assessed ranged significantly, including (but not limited to):

  • Bushen Huoxue formula
  • Bushen Jiannao decoction
  • Bushen Yizhi granular
  • Huancongdan capsule
  • Jiannao Yizhi granule
  • Luoshukang capsule
  • Sanjiasan decoction, modified
  • Shouxing capsule
  • Tongqiao Huoxie and Buyang Huanwu decoction
  • Xianlong capsule
  • Yiqi Bushen Tongqiao Huoxue formula

These formulas, while seeming all over the map, largely exhibit the same action in the body: Nourish qi and blood, benefit the brain, calm the spirit. Interestingly enough, in a 2013 animal study, they found that Buyang Huanwu decoction was able to “promote the proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells and enhance synaptic plasticity in ischemic rat brain tissue.” In a language comprehensible to the rest of us: Buyang Huanwu decoction improved neurological function in stroke subjects. Fantastic!

What is vascular dementia?

From the Alzheimer’s Society, UK, “Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. It is caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain.” Conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems, high cholesterol and diabetes can damage the vascular system. When blood cannot get to the brain cells as a result, these cells die. This leads to the onset of vascular dementia. Medscape adds, “The condition is not a single disease; it is a group of syndromes relating to different vascular mechanisms. Vascular dementia is preventable; therefore, early detection and an accurate diagnosis are important.”

What are the symptoms of vascular dementia?

Symptoms may start suddenly, after a stroke for instance, and may plateau for awhile before deteriorating suddenly. (This is also known as stepwise progression.) They include:

  • confusion
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • difficulty organizing thoughts or actions
  • incontinence
  • poor memory
  • restlessness/agitation
  • seizures
  • unsteady gait

What help is available?

According to researchers and their colleagues at University of Michigan, “as many as 1.8 million Americans over the age of 70 with dementia are not evaluated for cognitive symptoms by a medical provider, which in some patients can lead to a failure to uncover modifiable causes of thinking or memory impairment.” For this reason, a number of experts recommend professional screening with brief tests to assess memory, thinking, and reasoning (as well as depression) for those considered at high risk for vascular dementia. This includes those who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or have had a stroke or transient ischemic attack, to name a few. Depending on results, additional tests may be necessary.

The Alzheimer’s Society here in the US offers a number of support systems for those diagnosed with dementia and their loved ones, from a 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) to local and online support groups and a virtual library. When it comes to Chinese herbs, always consult a certified herbalist before choosing an appropriate formula.