Almond (Tián Xìng Rén 甜杏仁)

AlmondSweet flavor and neutral thermal nature. Acts on Lung, Large Intestine, and Spleen meridians.

Active compounds:

Rich in monounsaturated fats, they help lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Contains vitamin E, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, calcium, monounsaturated fats.

Clinical Usage and Indications:

  • Relieves Qi Stagnation from the Lungs, dissolving Phlegm, and stopping cough and asthma
  • Moistens the Lungs; cough due to dryness of the Lung. For prolonged cough or asthma due to deficiency disease: grind with walnuts, decoct into tea  and take with honey
  • Moistens the Intestines, relaxing the stools. Dry stool or constipation due to dryness of the intestines, eat raw or mix 15 g of Xing Ren with  30 g cooked rice. Add a bit of sugar. Crush it, whip to a cream and eat a bit 2 times daily for constipation

Directions: Most often eaten on its own, raw or toasted. Used in some dishes along with other nuts, sprinkled over deserts. Used in making baklava and nougat, almond butter (less salty taste than peanuts).

Precaution: When dampness and phlegm disorders is present. Almonds are known to cause allergies in some people.

From The Tao of Tummy © book

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Alfalfa (Medicado Sativa) (Zǐhuā mùxu 紫花苜蓿)

SproutsBitter flavor and warm thermal nature. Acts on Liver, Spleen and Intestines meridians.

Active compounds:

Alfalfa contains eight enzymes which help assimilate protein, fats and carbohydrates.. Is rich in protein, carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, sulfur, silicon, chlorine, cobalt, and zinc. Alfalfa also contains vitamin K and P (bioflavonoids) and abundant chlorophyll.

Clinical Usage and Indications:

  • Detoxify the blood and body
  • Cleans and tones the intestines and takes harmful acids out of the blood stream
  • Alfalfa helps arthritis, edema, wight loss, and urinary bladder stones
  • Eliminates chronic sore throat, fever, gas pain, peptic ulcers
  • Helpful with drug and alcohol addiction recovery
  • Dries dampness, is a diuretic, helps the appetite, benefits the urinary system and intestines

Directions: 

Alfalfa is eaten fresh or as cooked in various dishes, or in sprouts. It may also be consumed as a tea infusion. Add on cooking congee (ad at the final 2 minutes so the heat does not destroy the nutrition value of alfalfa), in smoothies or itself alone.

Precaution: 

Alfalfa sprouts and seeds, is a rich source of amino-acid canavanine, should be avoided in rheumatoid diseases  such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Canavanine can ignite inflammations in these conditions. Alfalfa leaf, however, is not a source of canavanine and  may be used with no collateral effect.

From The Tao of Tummy © book

Posted in Arthritis, dampness, Detoxifing, diuretic, Peptic Ulcers, UB stones, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agastache, Patchouli (Huò xiāng 藿香,广藿香)

agastachePungent flavor and slightly warm thermal nature. Acts on Spleen, Stomach, and Lung meridians.

Active Compounds:

Contains about 2-2.8% volatile oil which is the most effective part of the plant.

Clinical Usage and Indications:

  • Dispels dampness. For accumulation of dampness in middle jiao: use with Cang Zhu (Swordlike Rhizome), Hou Po (Magnolia Bark). Make a tea
  • Disperses summer-heat, relieving exterior syndrome. For summer-heat and damp or early stage of damp-heat syndrome: steam with egg for 5 minutes and eat
  • Stop vomiting and alleviates nausea. Use with Ban Xia (Panel Tuber) to make a tea. Cook Ban Xia 15 – 20 minutes, add Huo Xiang in the last 3 – 5 minutes
  • Dermatosis and fungal infections affecting either the hands or feet
  • Headache caused by nasal obstruction
  • Vomiting and diarrhea accompanying abdominal pain

Directions: Eat decocted or steam together with eggs.

Precaution: Yin Deficiency with Heat patterns, or Stomach-Fire.

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Olive Oil and Stroke

olive oil:olivesSource: Neurology, June 15, 2011;[Epub ahead of print].

Research: Among participants from the Three-City Study with no history of stroke at baseline, researchers examined the association between olive oil consumption (main sample, n=7625) or plasma oleic acid (secondary sample, n=1245) and incidence of stroke (median follow-up 5.25 years), ascertained according to a diagnosis validated by an expert committee.

Results: In the main sample, 148 incident strokes occurred. After adjustment for socio-demographic and dietary variables, physical activity, body mass index, and risk factors for stroke, a lower incidence for stroke with higher olive oil use was observed. Compared to those who never used olive oil, those with intensive use had a 41% lower risk of stroke. In the secondary sample, 27 incident strokes occurred. After full adjustment, higher plasma oleic acid was associated with lower stroke incidence. Compared to those in the first tertile, participants in the third tertile of plasma oleic acid had a 73% reduction of stroke risk.

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Bacteria to Blame?

olhoGut bacteria may provide the trigger for autoimmune uveitis, a destructive inflammation of the eye, researchers at the US National Eye Institute (NEI) reported in a study published today (August 18) in Immunity. Autoimmune uveitis is a painful condition that can lead to debilitating blindness. It often hits adults 20 to 60 years old, and is responsible for up to 15 percent of all blindness and severe visual impairment in developed countries.

Researchers believe activated retina-specific T cells attack the eye, causing the inflammation, but the antigen that activates those T cells lies inside the normally immune-privileged eye, meaning T cells are not able to circulate in that area. How those T cells become activated without exposure to the eye has been poorly understood. The NEI’s Reiko HoraiRachel Caspi, and their colleagues used a mouse model prone to developing uveitis and found that the animals’ intestines showed signs of increased T cell activation prior to the onset of uveitis.“It’s the first study to show the potential of the microbiome to induce an autoimmune disease specific to the eye,” said Andrew Taylor, an ocular immunologist at the Boston University School of Medicine who was not involved in the research.

The team also found that the model mouse intestines showed high levels of interleukin-17A, a proinflammatory cytokine produced by T cells. In another experiment, the researchers administered a wide-spectrum antibiotic cocktail to the mice in an effort to reduce the gut microbiome. The antibiotics appeared to slow the development of uveitis in the mice and reduce the number of activated T cells. The researchers also found that microbe-rich extracts from model mouse intestines activated retina-specific T cells.

“It’s been known for other autoimmune diseases that gut bacteria can provide a necessary component, but the mechanism wasn’t known,” Caspi told The Scientist. “What appears to be happening is that they make some substance that, to the T-cells, looks like a protein from the retina.”

The researchers were unable, however, to identify the specific proteins or the bacteria that might produce this substance, which Caspi noted was a limitation of the study. It may be that a combination of bacteria work together to trigger the retina-specific T-cells, making the task of identifying the responsible proteins and bacteria even more challenging, she added.

The team was also unable to directly demonstrate that the retina-specific T helper cells in the gut are the same cells circulating to the eye—breaching the immune-privileged barrier to cause inflammation and disease, noted Veena Taneja, an immunologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not involved in the study. “They have not shown that these cells are the cells that cause disease,” she said. “And they have not shown that these cells are actually being activated in gut.”

Caspi said the team plans to continue to isolate the specific bacteria and/or proteins involved in activating the retina-specific T cells. “We don’t know what that actual protein is and I don’t know how long it will take to find it,” she said. “It may that we have to search far and wide for this mimic.”

R. Horai et al., “Microbiota-dependent activation of an autoreactive T cell receptor provokes autoimmunity in an immunologically privileged site,” Immunity,doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2015.07.014, 2015.

from http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/43773/title/Bacteria-to-Blame-/

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Memory Boosting Food

#1 BlueberryMemory – This Berry help reverse age-related problems into the área of brain function, improve learning, motor skills, and vision.

#2 Green Tea –EGCG protects the brain, it lowers the amount of protein that build up as plaque linked to memory loss and nerve damage.

#3 Dark Chocolate – reduces the inflammation and may help prevent oxidation in the brain, which is the precursor to many neurological diseases.

#4 Apples – apples could have dementia-fighting qualities. Vitamin C is a known factor in the reduction of Alzheimers.

#5 Avocado – this healthy mono-unsaturated fat increases blood flow to the brain. That means more oxygen getting to those parts of the brain that help you to think and to remember details.

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How Acupuncture Regulates Blood Pressure

Untitled.Acupuncture regulates blood pressure by exploiting a complex system known as the neuroendocrine system, which is composed of the endocrine system (primarily the hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid / adrenals), and the intricate working relationship it has with the nervous system. The endocrine system regulates hormones and metabolism.  The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is divided into two arms, a sympathetic branch (fight or flight), which plays a role in helping regulate the vascular tone and blood volume of the heart; and a parasympathetic branch (rest and digest), that regulates body processes like blood pressure and breathing.

The central nervous system (CNS) is a two – way communication network consisting of the brain and spinal cord, which processes all the information from the body and external stimuli. Information is collected by the nervous system, relayed through the spinal cord to the brain, and then the brain sends signals to the body through the same mechanism.

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The Magic of Green Tea

green teaFrequent trips to a franchise coffee house to pick up a tall latte, with an extra couple shots of espresso, seem a common occurrence these days. We simply cannot get enough stimulation. Our minds must exceed the speed at which we weave in and out of traffic on the freeway, as our caffeine-concentrated bloodstream delivers the much-needed jolt of this widely consumed drug to all the organs in the body. Whether your vice is coffee or cola, they both share something in common: an extremely high level of one of the most powerful drugs that we covet – caffeine. Everybody craves it, and fortunes are made by exploiting it, but do we really need so much of this substance at one time? And by adding cream and sugar to our coffee, does this perpetuate a lifestyle that can help us live longer, healthier lives?

With the advent of technology, our quest for speed and stimulation has reached epidemic proportions. Consumer expectation has driven us to work harder, faster and more efficiently. In this age of the information superhighway, as we have more access to advanced information and technological wizardry, we seem to somehow become disconnected from the wisdom of our ancient ancestors. Their invention and adaptability to the environment existed without the creature comforts we have come to consider basic necessities.

Green Tea: A Sensory Pleasure

Nature has given us an extraordinary substance that can give us a different kind of stimulation; a feeling that is pleasurable to the senses without producing edginess. We can elevate our awareness and consciousness without making ourselves nervous. We can expand our imagination and possibility, and solve complex problems, in a patient, joyful manner. This substance will even nourish our nervous systems, so as to prevent overstimulation. We can detach ourselves from the limitations of negative thoughts and feelings. We can utilize this nourishment to be reflective and meditate, or engage in physical or mental activities. This is just one effect that green tea (camillia sinsensis) can provide to our spirit.

Tea: The Most Popular Beverage in the World

While it is common knowledge that “tea” is the most widely drunk substance in the world, this anecdote refers to black tea. While black tea does possess health benefits superior to coffee, it does not have the powerful health benefits of green tea.

There is a myriad of mythology surrounding the discovery and widespread use of tea. While the history varies from culture to culture, since the focus of this article relates to Chinese medicine, we shall focus on the history and mythology as it evolved from ancient China.

One of the great heroes of Chinese medicine is Shen Nong. He is considered the father of Chinese herbology, and was also an emperor of China, ruling at about the time of Moses. Shen Nong often boiled his water before he drank it; he believed this to be the best way to drink water. One day, a leaf from a nearby bush accidentally fell into his pot of boiling water. He was quite happy with the decoction he had drunk, and thought it to be a great improvement from just plain boiling water. This event is considered one of the pivotal events in green tea folklore.

Green Tea, Black Tea & Oolong Tea: What’s the Difference?

Green, oolong and black tea are all derived from the same plant (camillia sinensis). What separates them in terms of color; aroma; taste; function; health benefits; and level of stimulation, is the way in which they are processed.

Green tea undergoes very little processing after the fresh leaves have been plucked. The enzymes need to be inactivated immediately, which would otherwise auto-oxidize the tea and transform it into the oolong or black varieties. For green tea, the fresh leaves are usually steamed. This again prevents the leaves from oxidation, which would change their nature.

The difference with black and oolong tea is that the leaves are allowed to oxidize. This transformation is produced in nature, by natural enzymes that occur in the leaves. In black tea, the oxidation process is lengthier than in oolong tea. Oolong tea is only partially auto-oxidized. The practice of this process is actually recent; it occured in the mid-nineteenth century, making oolong a recent creation in the tea world. Unfortunately, in both of these teas, the auto-oxidation process destroys many of the polyphenols that were originally present in the tea leaves. This degrades the tea’s great health benefits. Also, in the oxidation process for both black and oolong tea, the caffeine levels are increased as the polyphenols levels are decreased. However, in green tea, this oxidation process is inhibited. The healing substances in the leaves are preserved, giving green tea the highest amount of polyphenols and the lowest amount of caffeine. Green tea also has many other unique substances, which enhance its powerful therapeutic effects on the body, spirit and mind.

Caffeine

Although black tea is thought to have the highest caffeine content of all tea, this is actually untrue. Green tea has more caffeine. However it must be understood that because of other compounds, the caffeine in green tea functions in a special and balancing way. The caffeine in green tea is surrounding by tannic acid compounds, which inhibit it from surging all at once into our bloodstream. In a sense, the caffeine in green tea is time-released into our bloodstream. This time-release effect makes the stimulation gentle and quite pleasant. It also allows us to feel the effects of green tea for an extended period of time, and outlasts the effects experienced by our friends, who are drinking coffee or cola. The effect of green tea makes us free of agitation and nervousness, and its blissful stimulation feels good to the senses.

Ingredients in Green Tea While there are probably many undiscovered ingredients in green tea, some principal substances have been confirmed. Antioxidants called polyphenols are one of the more well-known substances in green tea. It is thought that the various types of polyphenols in green tea contribute greatly to its health benefits. The types of polyphenols can further be broken down into catechins, which represent over 30% of the contents found in green tea. It has been found that the catechins in green tea, in terms of antioxidant activity, are two hundred times stronger than that of vitamin E.

ECGG (epigallocatechingallate), one of the polyphenols in green tea, shares properties similar to aspirin. It can prevent platelets from accumulating and causing obstructions in the veins. The ability to prevent clotting can be effective in the prevention of cardiovascular anomalies such as heart attacks and strokes.

ECGG also has been found to have a profound impact on stopping the formation of lung cancer in patients in Japan. Smokers might consider drinking green tea as an adjunct to prevent future illness. Furthermore, as ECGG also helps regulate blood sugar levels, diabetics and those wishing to keep their blood sugar levels in check should consider consumption of green tea.

Polyphenols can help prevent the formation of plaque. It can help destroy the formation of streptococcus bacteria in the mouth. In combination with the flouride and vitamin C in green tea, polyphenols can serve as an invaluable ally in the fight against gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay.

Some other active ingredients include:

Flouride: Up to 1 mg can be found in a cup of green tea. This mineral can strengthen bones and teeth, and help prevent the formation of cavities.

Aluminum: Trace amounts can help create a buffer against gastric acids, which can help prevent and treat stomach maladies such as irritation and heartburn.

Manganese: This element can help strengthen bones and enhance one’s ability to absorb calcium. Many people with osteoporosis can benefit from the naturally occuring manganese in green tea.

Tannic acid compounds: This bitter substance helps slow the release of caffeine in green tea, and is what allows green tea to produce such a gentle, smooth stimulation. Tannic acid also can help remove toxins from the intestines and stomach.

Saponins: Saponins are quite effective in preventing fats from entering the blood stream. This is helpful in lowering cholesterol and staying fit. Green tea is used in many thermogenic formulas to help people lose weight. Part of this function comes from the saponins’ ability to enhance fat metabolism. This is one of the reasons green tea is a powerful catalyst in weight-loss programs.

Thiamine: Considered a B vitamin, this substance can help induce a joyful state, alleviating stress, and acting almost as a slight narcotic. In combination with caffeine, thiamine is what allows green tea to produce such a unique, euphoric state.

Vitamin C: Adequate amount of vitamin C are found in green tea. Usually vulnerable to heat, the vitamin C in green tea is heat-resistant. Among its functions, vitamin C increases collagen synthesis; has anti-inflammatory effects; lowers LDL cholesterol; and strengthens the immune system. Vitamin C also has a protective effect upon the gums by preventing gingivitis.

Theanine: This amino acid constitutes about half of the amino acid profile in a cup of green tea. This not only makes green tea delicious and aromatic, but also allows better absorption of the antioxidants in the tea, specifically the polyphenols. According to research, theanine has been found to enhance some anti-cancer drugs, while reducing side-effects.

Aromatic oils: The aromatic oils provide the delicious taste and aroma that make green tea so wonderful. They also help induce a blissful state of worry-free feelings, softening the effect of the caffeine. This is why it is important to never use boiling water on top of green tea leaves. This destroys many of the valuable substances, including the aromatic and volatile oils, which are essential.

Health Benefits

Simplicity is always dynamic. Drinking green tea throughout the day has a positive impact on virtually every system in the body, including the cardiovascular; circulatory; respiratory; nervous; lymphatic; immune; urogenital; and musculoskelatal systems. Few substances can boast the broad-spectrum impact green tea has on our bodies and spirits.

Regulating cholesterol levels, increasing HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol) and lowering LDL levels (“bad” cholesterol) protects our hearts. Preventing blood clots maintains the smooth flow of blood through our veins, preventing strokes, angina, and heart attacks.

Through its bitter substances, green tea harmonizes and aids our digestion, and balances our intestines and stomach. Green tea helps destroy harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi, which keeps our immune systems toned and constantly working at an optimal level. Green tea strengthens our teeth and bones, and helps to prevent future maladies such as osteoporosis and tooth decay. Other substances in green tea help us stay fit by metabolizing fat. By preventing obesity, we help ward off a plethora of obesity-related diseases.

Producing a state of clarity and divine inspiration without jitters, green tea keeps us happy and positive. The happier we are, the more endorphins and enkephalins we produce. These are the feel-good neurochemicals produced when we fall in love, eat chocolate, and laugh! Green tea also maintains a youthful appearance by tightening the skin and protecting it from harmful ultraviolet sunlight.

Tea Bags vs. Bulk Tea

To engage in the ultimate and complete green tea experience, please do not use tea bags. The aroma, vitamin and mineral content is simply lacking. The idea that using tea bags is better than not drinking green tea at all is not a sound argument. You must use fresh leaves to benefit fully.

Bulk green tea can be purchased at a local Chinatown, or by mail order. There are endless varieties of green tea from different farmers, regions and grades. One of the most famous and popular green teas is a Chinese version called lung ching (“dragon’s well”). In Japan, matcha is one of more popular green teas.

Just as there are endless types of wine, there are many other varieties of green tea. Tea can generally be broken down into green, black and oolong categories; within each category, there are basic varieties and expensive, connoisseur teas. These are wonderful to share with loved ones, and on special occasions, much like the way you would save a special bottle of wine for an important event. The beauty of tea is that at most tea shops, or at your local Chinatown, you can ask for an ounce of a very expensive tea. In these instances, a tea that would normally cost $500 per pound may only cost $5 to sample this sublime substance.

Teas such as lung ching generally cost about $30 for a pound. A pound will last a considerable amount of time, and should be stored in a sealed vat, away from heat. Since each teaspoon can generally be brewed 3-4 times, tea is extremely economical.

Preparing Green Tea

This is a complex area, which depends largely on the desired effect you wish to achieve.

For a stimulating effect: Use 1 teaspoon of leaves into 1 cup of hot water (140o Fahrenheit). After boiling the water, let the water cool for about 5 minutes. Let the first batch steep for 90 seconds. You can let it steep for up to 3 minutes for a stimulating effect. However, the Japanese tend to look down upon brewing tea for this long; they prefer no longer than 90 seconds. You can experiment trying from 90 seconds up to 3 minutes of steeping time.

For a relaxing effect: Let boiling water cool for about five minutes, then pour the water (about 140o F) onto 1 teaspoon of leaves. Let it steep for about 60 seconds, and then immediately pour out the tea. Repeat the same step again, but this time, let the tea steep for about 3 minutes. This method tends to accentuate the tannic acid content, which inhibits the caffeine. This is a nice method to use before meditation or sleep.

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A natureza e o gosto dos Alimentos

A natureza e o gosto são as propriedades mais importantes do alimento. A natureza da comida e classificada em fria, fresca, morna e quente, o que chamamos de “as quatro naturezas”. Na pratica elas se dividem em dois tipos básicos: frio e quente.

De acordo com a classificação do material dietético os alimentos tem paladar assim como as ervas medicinais. As categorias empregadas são os cinco sabores: azedo, amargo, doce, salgado e pungente ou ocre. Sabores diferentes possuem diferentes ações, por exemplo algumas carnes assim como alguns órgãos animais podem ser rotulados como sendo doce pela sua função nutritiva, quando na realidade eles não tem este sabor.

Geralmente sabor azedo/acido pode agir na diminuição da transpiração, parar uma diarréia ou curar uma emissão seminal. Comidas que tem sabor azedo/acido ou mesmo doce/azedo como ameixa, tamarindo e vinagre, tem efeito de promover a produção de fluidos no corpo. O gosto amargo tem efeito antipirético e pode aliviar asma e tosse como um purgativo; peras, azeitonas chinesas e dente de leão são exemplos de alimentos com esta finalidade. O gosto doce e usado para ajudar na debilidade e regularização do Estomago assim como aliviar espasmos e dores. Castanha, doce de abricó, amêndoa, abobora, uvas, tâmaras, mate, carne animal e vísceras são todos exemplos de comidas doces que tem efeito suadavel no Estomago. O gosto pungente ou ocre incorpora alimentos de natureza quente, apimentadas que são frequentemente de sabor aromático. Elas induzem a perspiração e promovem a circulação do Qi.

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Hawthorn Fruit (Shan Zhā 山楂) – #1 for Indigestion

hawthorn Functions and Indications:

  • Promotes digestion and remove food stagnation. When indigestion and food retention characterized by abdominal distention or pain, diarrhea, etc.  Is the number 1 herb for indigestion due to meat. Stir-fry with Mai Ya (sprouted barley), then make a tea for indigestion and cook fresh Shan Zha (hawthorn fruit) for tea.
  • Alleviates diarrhea. Burn 10 g Shan Zha into charcoal. Grind to powder, add to water and drink.
  • Promote blood circulation, resolving blood stagnation. Help in cases of delayed menstruation, or dysmenorrhea due to blood stagnation. Coronary heart disease, cook with brown sugar and drink. Use over a long period of time.
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Decoct Shan Zha, Bin Yang Jian (6g Shan Zha), and add crystal sugar to taste. Make a warm tea for Hypertension: 12 g Shan Zha, 3 pieces He Ye  (lotus leaf). Decoct. Make a tea for  Hyperlipidemia,
  • Corrects blood coagulation, and expels tapeworms. To relieve abdominal pain due to acute and chronic gastritis, enteritis and dysentery grind 6 –  9 g charcoaled hawthorn fruit into powder. Take the powder with warm water daily

Directions: one common recipe: 4 ounces Shan Zha (hawthorn fruit), 4 ounces Gu Ya (sprouted rice), 4 ounces Mai Ya (sprouted barley), and 1 1/2 cups of sugar are simmered in 8 cups of water until the ingredients break down into a thin paste. The paste is strained out and a teaspoon added to hot water to make a drink taken twice a day.

Precaution: Week digestion in the absence of food stagnation or when acid regurgitation.

From The Tao of Tummy © book, in the Chapter of Digestive Foods

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