Lemongrass: An Overlooked Medicinal Herb

There are so many reasons that otherwise great botanicals are overlooked for their therapeutic uses. One example is echinacea, arguably one of the most popular medicinal herbs in the Western world. As a treatment for bacterial infections, arthritis, neuralgia, and rattlesnake bites, echinacea arrived on the market as Meyers Blood Purifier around 1890 and was…

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Garlic and Ginger, not Echinacea, for Colds

The secret to successfully treating the common cold and cough is to differentiate the type based on Traditional Chinese diagnostics (TCM) principles. Chinese medicine differentiates between three main types of colds and coughs: Wind-Cold, Wind-Heat and deficient wind- cold with many subdivisions. We all know what a cold is and it may not necessarily be…

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Mahanayaran Oil for Pain and Injury

Are you ready to hear about a medicinal named after a supreme god? Because of its rejuvenative healing properties Mahanarayana tailam (oil) is honored with the name of the revered Hindu deity Narayana, another name for Vishnu, the god of preservation. The Sanskrit prefix “maha” (meaning “great”) denotes the highest respect for the Ayurvedic oil…

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Goji Berries for Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative condition affecting the central part of the retina (the macula). It is the leading cause of loss of vision in people over the age of 60, affecting 11 million people in the United States with the number expected to double to 22 million by 2050. Worldwide, the estimated…

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Shen Qu: An Extraordinary Digestive Aid

Shenqu, called by various names “massa fermentata,” “Chinese yogurt,” and mysterious ferment,” was first recorded in the Yaoxing Bencao (ca. 600 ACE.). It is one of the best botanical aids for digestion and is commonly used as a single or included in Chinese a large number of digestion formulas. It evolved from a process of…

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Better than Turmeric? Guggul for Pain

Of the hundreds of herbs Ayurveda has to offer, guggul is one of the most important ones to add to your toolkit.  Guggul and guggul-based formulas are among the most effective remedies you can use for chronic pain including back pain, joint pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s get familiar with the benefits of guggul.…

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Bacopa: The Herb You Don’t Want to Forget

Research has shown that regularly taking Bacopa monnieri for eight to twelve weeks can improve your memory. “Nootropic” is a pharmaceutical term first used in 1972 to describe a pharmaceutical drug, Piracetam, which was being researched for its memory-enhancing properties. It was soon adopted as a term to refer to memory-enhancing plants in herbal medicine. The most…

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Triphala Fruits

Triphala and Ghee for Dry Eyes and Other Eye Problems

Triphala consists of three phytonutrient-rich fruits Emblica officinalis (Amla, or Amalaki) also known as Phyllanthus emblica; Terminalia bellerica (Vibhitaki); and Terminalia chebula (Haritaki). Each of these eliminates all types of excess from the body. Amla clears the liver, Vibhitaki the excess of mucus, lymph, fluids, including excess cholesterol, and Haritaki treats the nervous system. All three fruits…

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Eating Garden Weeds 1 of 2: Lamb’s Quarters

  It seems that each year it is getting increasingly more difficult to depend on my garden to produce enough to barely pay the water-shortage-in-Northern-California water bill. And yet, I take pleasure in harvesting my food and herbs, especially lamb’s quarters. Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium giganteum) The beautiful magenta lamb’s quarters is also known as magenta…

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Oatmeal Qi Tonic Porridge

A selection of Chinese tonic herbs   The Importance of Qi in the Body Qi means “life energy.” The source of Qi in the body is food, air and water. The process of transforming and assimilating food, air and water, into Qi is, according to TCM theory, governed by the TCM-Spleen. Because the source of…

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Treating Gum Disease with Astringent Herbs

Unfortunately, too many people think about their teeth only in crisis stage. A common pre-crisis symptom is receding gums. This is a widespread condition when the gums pull away from the teeth, forming gaps and eventually exposing the bone structures that support the teeth. Over time, this will lead to the formation of pockets of…

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TCM and Western Clinical Tongue Diagnosis

When was the last time you visited a doctor and the first thing asked of you was to show your tongue? Western medical practice of tongue diagnosis as part of a routine clinical examination seems, like many Western clinical practices, to have become a relic of the not-too-distant past. Instead, it survives as a standard…

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Protection for You and Yours: A Holiday Gift Idea

Every December we try to offer some possibilities for gifts you can make or buy to enhance your holidays. It’s our version of Oprah’s “favorite things.” This year I’m suggesting two things that may be a gift to yourself, your family or your friends: protection from all airborne pathogens and allergens, including the covid-19 virus.…

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Ashwagandha, Milk, Energy, and Sleep

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is described as a rasayana in Ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurveda, rasayanas are used as Traditional Chinese medicine uses tonic herbs, and they correspond to the herbal category of adaptogens, a term first used to describe a limited number of immune tonics by Russians used in Western herbal medicine. Tonics, adaptogens, and rasayanas…

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Draksha: Ayurvedic Grape Wine Medicine

Asava and arishta, meaning “distillate” in Sanskrit, are two naturally fermented alcoholic extracts used for making Ayurvedic wine medicines. Draksha in Sanskrit means “grape” and draksharista therefore means grape wine. This is not your regular merlot or pinot, but a very low alcohol herbally medicated wine. Draksha is one of the most effective botanical remedies…

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Huckleberry Fruit and Leaf for Diabetes

Many years ago, while visiting Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I happened upon a local herb shop.  While perusing jars of dry herbs, I noticed one that contained huckleberry leaves. In most parts of the country, bulk huckleberry leaves are hardly known well enough to claim any of the limited space in an average herb store. The…

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Coix: An Underutilized Medicinal Food

“Let your medicine be your food and your food, your medicine.” The sovereign dictum of Hippocrates is aptly epitomized by the use of Coix (Coix lacrymi-jobi, also known as Job’s tears and yi yi ren) as the most common treatment for cancer in China. Coix is a member of the Graminaceae family of which all…

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Can homeopathy stave off harmful effects of vaccinations?

Many mothers are afraid to give their babies and young children vaccinations. Pro and con arguments on both sides make for heated debates. To help with the decision to vaccinate or not, I recommend the book Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide, by my former student, herbal colleague and now highly successful medical doctor integrating herbal…

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Rediscovering Boneset for Influenza

In the midst of the current pandemic, I’m surprised how little mention there is of boneset, once considered the number one remedy for influenza and deemed a ‘miracle life-saving herb’ during the 1918-19 Spanish influenza responsible for the deaths of 675,000 Americans and ranging from 21 million to 100 million worldwide. Other than the general…

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Boost Your Immunity This Flu Season

So far, 14,000 people have died and 250,000 people have been hospitalized during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to preliminary estimates from the CDC, which estimates that influenza was associated with more than 35.5 million illnesses, more than 16.5 million medical visits, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths during the 2018–2019 influenza season. Corona virus worldwide: 104,025 Deaths: 3,524 Recovered: 58,527 China: 80,652; 3070 deaths, 55,521…

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Balthazar’s Gift: Frankincense

Have you ever wondered what the Holy Family did with the three gifts brought to them from the far-off lands in the East by, according to tradition, the Magi? The Bible doesn’t say. The Armenian Christian tradition describes three Magi: Balthazar from Arabia, Gaspar from India, and Melchior from Persia (what is now known as…

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Horny Goat Weed: Herbal Viagra for Men and Women

It is virtually inevitable when lecturing on herbs that a man might surreptitiously take me aside and ask for an herb to improve sex. The first herb that always comes to mind is horny goat weed (Epimedium grandiflorum). Certainly, the suggestive common name makes it easy to remember. Its name is derived from a legend…

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Herbs and Acupoints for Better Sleep

  Sleep is a period of reduced activity where we leave waking consciousness to drift into a land of dreams and deep rest. It is a restorative process that lets us to recover from the wear and tear of daily life, allowing our body’s cellular activity, heart rate and breathing to slow in order to…

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Cat’s Claw, Dragon’s Blood and Quassia in Costa Rica

On our recent second visit to Costa Rica, we re-experienced the wondrous biodiversity of its plants, exotic wildlife, volcanoes, and hot springs but also a rare insight into its traditional healing customs. With the assistance of an interpreter, this information was provided by our guide, the distinguished native ethnobotanist, Rafael (Raffi) Angel Ocampo Sanchez.  Raffi, is…

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Healing Breath: Remedies for Stress

“The perfected breathe all the way to their heels, unlike ordinary folk who breathe only as far as their throats.” Zhuangzi, 3rd century BCE[1]  “Take a breather,” or ”Slow down and take a deep breath,”  are common things we say when someone is in an acute state of anger, fear, frustration, or anxiety. In fact,…

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Lemon Balm: For More Than Just Depression

The renowned 16th century English herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, described the use of lemon balm for depression by quoting Serapio who said the herb  “caus(es) the mind and heart to become merry, and reviveth the heart, faintings and swoonings of such who are overtaken by sleep, and driveth away all troublesome cares and thoughts out of…

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Amla: Super Antioxidant Fruit of India

Oxidation in the body is a natural process caused when wandering electrons called free radicals react with other molecules. Oxidation has both positive and negative consequences. A positive aspect of oxidation is that the process disrupts the cell wall of bacteria, which stops them from functioning. Humans have special immune cells (macrophages) that use oxidation…

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Korean Hand Therapy

Korean Hand Therapy (KHT) was discovered by Tai Woo Yoo, OMD, PhD, a South Korean acupuncturist, in 1971, when he found himself unable to sleep with a headache that would not go away. Using a ballpoint pen, he poked an area at the tip of his middle finger which he believed corresponded to the area…

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Red heart of hawthorn berries on a wooden background.

Hawthorn Oxymel

Oxymel is one of the oldest herbal preparations. The word is derived from the Latin oxmeli meaning “acid and honey” and indeed it is extracted and made with a base of vinegar and honey.  Individually, neither vinegar nor honey separately or alone is preferred extractive mediums, because they are already saturated solutions. However, both of…

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Mung Bean for Hypertension

Mung Bean for Hypertension Hypertension is a major risk indicator for heart attack and stroke. In the United States, approximately 75 million people (29%) have high blood pressure which is a staggering 1 in every 3 adults.  About 42.7 million visits to physician offices are for primary essential hypertension. Blood pressure is measured with a…

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chyawanprash

Chyawanprash: A Delicious, Nutritious Herbal Tonic

Once when comparing relative merits of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine with an Ayurvedic doctor in India, the good doctor acknowledged both systems as having merit but said: “Ayurvedic tonics taste better!” Flavor is considered part of the therapeutic properties of an herb in both herbal systems, but it is much more emphasized…

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misconceptions about herbal medicine

Common Misconceptions about Herbal Medicine

Recently, someone wrote me in response to an article I wrote on the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) principle of dui yao, a principle of formulation where one might use two or more herbs as one brought up not one. His letter brought up a couple of common misconceptions about herbal medicine which I thought were…

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Dr. Tierra used Neem Ayurvedic Oil to treat Shingles Pain

I Tried Everything for Shingles. Here’s What Worked.

For the last 3 1/2 weeks, I’ve been suffering from shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. It is a terrible condition. There seem to be many cures and treatments for it that are either questionable, or in the case of Western medicine, have a potential for adverse side effects. Most people suffer from post-herpetic pain that can…

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kratom

Salmonella contamination of kratom

Recently the CDC announced that some 40 cases of salmonella associated with individuals who took certain batches of kratom. I’ve checked many of the sources I buy kratom from and they have suspended sales while testing goes on.  Some suppliers reported to the CDC the sources of kratom with salmonella contamination. As a result, vendors…

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