Black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Studies have shown that elderberry can have a measurable effect in treating the flu, alleviating allergies, and boosting overall respiratory health.
Or “Stress Happens, but Being Stressed Out Doesn’t Have to–We Can Thrive!”
Ever feel burned out at work or the need for greater focus and get into a habit of a reaching for a pick me up at a particular time each day? Have you ever not had that soda/tea/coffee/pastry/sugar only to feel drained, lethargic or sleepy? Or, at the end of the day, you are left exhausted but unable to sleep–wired but tired, jittery and restless. There is another way to boost your focus, combat fatigue and avoid the roller coaster highs and lows from sugar or caffeine—adaptogens.
An adaptogen is an herbal substance which increases the ability of the body to adapt to environmental factors/change and protect us from the harmful effects of stress. Adaptogens are not actually stimulants and don’t have the associated crash that stimulants do but can help the body be more efficient in using energy as well as protect the body from the harmful effects of stress. Adaptogens can calm you down and boost your energy at the same time without over stimulation. They can normalize body imbalances, prevent fatigue and free up energy when you need a burst. Or, on the flip side, they can calm nerves down and promote relaxation even under pressure. By supporting adrenal function, they counteract the adverse effects of stress:
Adaptogens work inside the body’s cells to help the mitochondria (where your energy is made) keep working efficiently so you can access more energy, even when pressured. They can even prevent chemical garbage that otherwise builds up in your cells causing free radicals and damage, or cellular aging. So, adaptogens help cells eliminate toxic byproducts of the metabolic process and help the body to burn cleaner. Another way of looking at its function is that adaptogens “immunize” your body to stress. When challenging real life situations come along, your body is more toned or fit to breeze through the stressor, remaining calm, cool and collected.
If you are prone to numerous colds and flus or are frequently under a lot of stress and would like herbal support for your body, call us at (415) 462-4600. We are happy to help!
by Julie Ginsburg, L.Ac., MS
For further reading:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/ this paper analyzes years of clinical and pharmacological research and focuses mainly on Rhodiola rosea, Schisandra chinensis and Eleutherococcus senticosusFrank Lipman’s blog:http://www.drfranklipman.com/adaptogens-natures-miracle-anti-stress-and-fatigue-fighters/Michael Castleman’s articlehttp://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/adaptogens-zamz08jjzmcc.aspx
As we enter more deeply into the Autumn season (Metal element in the Chinese Five Element System), we leave behind the bounty of summer with its long days and move into dryness and cooler weather before our rains come and days grow short and wet. Dryness, cooler air temperatures and weather changes can stress our immune system. Fall is the time to build up our Lung Qi (or vitality) to avoid catching many colds or the flu this coming winter. Luckily, our traditional Chinese Pharmacopoeia has a special adaptogenic herb that is a proven powerhouse at both giving us energy and boosting immunity. This amazing Chinese herb is known as Huang Qi, commonly also known as Astragalus/milkvetch root.
Ancient Chinese texts record the use of Huang Qi as a Qi tonic for symptoms of Spleen Qi deficiency which may manifest in the following symptoms: lethargy, diarrhea, fatigue, and lack of appetite. Huang Qi also tonifies the Lung Qi and is classically used in cases of frequent colds, spontaneous sweating, and shortness of breath. Other traditional indications include wasting disorders/diabetes, night sweats, non-healing sores, numbness and paralysis of the limbs, and edema.
Current research on Huang Qi focuses on studying its chemical compounds and how they enhance the immune system or protect the heart and kidneys from oxidative damage. In general, Huang Qi increases the number of stem cells in bone marrow and encourages their development into active immune cells and lymphocytes. Specifically, studies have demonstrated Astragalus: enhances the body’s production of IgM (antibodies made by B-cells or lymphocytes) and improves the responses of lymphocytes from normal subjects and cancer patients, stimulates macrophages (mobile cells that gobble up cells infected by viruses and other debris), activates T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells (natural killer cells target tumors or damaged cells and can kill them in a few hours while sparing healthy cells), increases the anti-tumor activity of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and activates the lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells in cancer and AIDS patients, and enhances the effects of platinum-based chemotherapy drugs, such as cisplatin, used to combat lung cancer.
Chemically speaking, Huang Qi is a powerful antioxidant. Its flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides help minimize free radical damage to membranes (every cell in our body has membranes). Membranes are the boundaries of every animal cell. By securing our boundaries, keeping what is precious and letting go of what we no longer need, we function optimally on a micro scale as well as a whole being. Energetically, fall can be a time to secure our boundaries, start to draw in our energies for the winter, and reflect on what is important and what we can let go of as we move with the seasons.
Although Huang Qi is a very safe herb, it should be used with caution in people who take immunosuppressant drugs or lithium. Pregnant women in the 3rd trimester should limit Huang Qi as it is a mild diuretic and may decrease the amount of amniotic fluid. Used as a tonic to prevent colds and flu, it is contra-indicated for use once fever has developed. The classic Chinese herbal formula for strengthening immunity in people who frequently catch colds is called Yu Ping Feng San, or Jade Windscreen formula, and is widely available. Dried Huang Qi or Astragalus root can also be added to broths to boost the anti viral properties of your grandma’s chicken soup.
For further reading:
by Julie Ginsburg, L.Ac., MS
It can start with a few extra strands in your hair brush and then before you realize it, thinning patches begin to occur. Many patients describe their hair loss as happening gradually and then suddenly. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more and more men and women are suffering from hair loss than before. They estimate that at any given time 30 million women and men in the USA are affected by some form of hair loss during their lifetime.
Luckily, Chinese medicine has a long history of treating hair loss in both men and women. According to the principles of TCM, the growth and development of hair depends on proper functioning of qi and blood that is governed by the Kidney and Liver organ-meridian systems. The Liver organ-meridian governs hair health and is supported energetically by its connection with the Kidney, which influences the growth of all body cells, including hair. The Liver blood nourishes the hair follicle and the hair itself is seen as an extension of blood. The most common causes of declining hair condition, such as premature graying and hair loss, are deficient and/or stagnant Liver blood and Kidney qi deficiency. One example of this is postpartum hair loss. Many women experience hair loss in the several months after childbirth. According to Chinese medicine, this can be due to blood loss and/or the taxation of the Kidneys (the Kidney system can be likened to our reserve tank of the body) with childbirth and the postpartum months. Acupuncture can improve the flow of qi and blood in the scalp and can help hair to regrow and Chinese herbs can nourish qi and blood to stop more hair from falling out.
From a Western medicine perspective, poor hair condition or hair loss can be attributed to a variety of causes, including hormonal imbalances (such as androgenic alopecia and hypothyroidism), autoimmune disorders, side effects of medication, and/or nutritional deficiencies.
At San Francisco Integrative Medicine, we use both acupuncture and herbs together along with nutritional suggestions and lifestyle changes to help our patients who are suffering from hair loss. These combined therapies not only help in preventing further hair loss from occurring but also support future regrowth.
Tips for Hair Loss