Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Personal Health and Longevity Formula

A few friends have found a particular personal herbal formula beneficial and have asked me to share it. This formula has gone through a few revisions and is still in a state of evolution. The herbs that compose the formula are modular parts. I sometimes have found some parts are worth keeping, other parts may get deleted, other parts may get added later on, and other parts may get replaced by ones that do the same job a little better. Sometimes, too, I will try out an herb and remove it from the formula, because my experience is teaching me to let it go, that it is not really serving my needs the way that I thought it did.

In this formula, there is a core of three herbs that have remained from the beginning. They are Green Tea, Ginseng, and Kava. At present, I prefer the Matcha Green Tea, White Ginseng, and Whole Root Kava. I am exploring replacing Match Green Tea with Organic GABA Oolong Tea. Some Japanese researchers found that by curing Green Tea in a nitrogen environment, rather than an oxygen environment, that the natural GABA increases dramatically and two other acids are also converted into beneficial nutrients. GABA is one of the four main brain chemicals that we need in order to have "sanity" and "balance". The other three are Dopamine, Serotonin, and Acetycholine. GABA is like the earth element and helps us to stabilize and ground. Green Tea (and Oolong Tea which is from the same leaf and is the most cultured of the Green Tea family) also has Theanine, which is also a brain relaxant. It also also polyphenols which are brain antioxidants. All the benefits of Green Tea and nitrogen enhanced Oolong Tea made me decide to allow some caffeine in my diet. I was practicing staying away from caffeinated products before then, but found study after study indicating the benefits of Green Tea.

Kava also has GABA in it. My sense is that the combined GABA of Kava and the GABA Oolong tea, being a natural and plant bound source, is easier to absorb than the manufactured biochemical version. I am not against the manufactured version and have also found it useful. My healing approach, though, is called "enligthenment on a budget" and so I tend to prefer natural means because they are generally cheaper than manufactured powders and because they generally have more of the needed co-factors to utilize the main ingredients. I also feel that there is something called "plant energy' that cannot be merely reduced to biochemical factors. There is something like an herbal essence and herbal intelligence that interacts with our bodies that can produce more than what would be expected from taking a manufactured powder that has the same "active ingredients".

Ginseng is considered and adaptogen. This means that it strengthens our ability to handle stress. It seems to be a general tonic which boosts our regeneration system. This is also one of the modular parts of the herbal that I am still tinkering with. I am exploring what is the best Ginseng to use. Currently it is Panax Ginseng. Eleuthro (Siberian Ginseng) seems to be a different species and has to be considered on different merits. I used to think that White and Red Ginseng were two different types of Ginseng, but both are Panax Ginseng and are processed differently. Red Ginseng seems to have been cultured more extensively and made have more potencies as a result. There is also Panax Quinquefolius which is grown in North America and especially in Canada. This may or may not be superior to Panax Ginseng. I have yet to test this type of Ginseng. If it is equal in potency or only a little better, then it is probably not worth replacing Panax Ginseng in the formula, because it is about twice the price of Panax Ginseng. I like working with the whole root in any case and the root can be used for about five infusions.

Kava, besides having the GABA mentioned above, has active ingredients which seem to take the edge off of being anxious as well as ingredients that go heal the part of the brain most affected by emotional trauma. Kava has a very large number of alkaloids (which is the property that herbalist test for to see if a plant may have medicinal properties) and it may have many more healing properties that have been currently discovered. It seems to be a brain tonic. Some of the alkaloids are water extractable, others are oil extractable, others enzyme extractable, and others are alcohol extractable. The combination of herbs it is taken with seem to bring out different potencies. Combined with relaxing herbs like St. John's Wort and Valerian, it seems to enhance its calming properties. Combine with brain herbs like Green Tea, Ginseng, and Gotu Kola, it seems to enhance its own brain boosting properties. These two lines of research are not mutually exclusive, it can be both at the same time.

When I shared this formula with one friend, she found her menstrual cramps went away within a few minutes. Most of my friends reported some feeling of brain peace and quiet happiness from taking the formula.

The next ingredient to get added to the formula was Gingko. One of the things this herb does is increase oxygen transport to the brain as well as being a decent brain tonic. My sense is that it acts like an "anapest". This is an Aryurvedic term for an ingredient that helps transport other ingredients to where they are needed and can be used. Caffeinine is small doses also serves this function and is present in the Oolong Tea or Match Green Tea.

The next ingredient to be added was Chocolate. Most of the harmful effects of Chocolate have to with the added milk fat and sugar. Chocolate by itself has lots of antioxidants. It is also a cultured food. It has some ingredients that shift the hormones into a place where a person feels "loved". It blends well with Kava and together they are synergistic. It is important for the Chocolate to be organic cacao grade without akalis and not mixed in with all the stuff that Chocolate normally has with it.

The next ingredient is Cardamom. This herb is often used in Chai and is of the Ginger family. It has anti-inflammatory effects and seems to heal the intestines, positively affects the lung area, and does enough good things over the whole body to be considered a general tonic. It seems to also be a mild thermogen and helps burn away brown fat.

The next ingredient is Tumeric. This herb is a very good anti-inflammatory. It is used in a lot of Indian cooking and is an ingredient in mustard. Only in both these forms you do not get enough to experience its full positive effect. Tumeric makes a tasty tea by itself (with a little sweetener like Stevia).

The next ingredient is Coconut Milk. The Coconut Oil is an extractive for the medicinal potencies of the other ingredients. Coconot Milk has medium chain triglycerides which are easier to combust than long chain triglycerides (complex carbs like grains) and yet do not burn you out like white sugar (short chain triglycerides). They seem an ideal energy source. The flavor seems to synergize with Tumeric and Cardamom and make this formula taste a little bit like a Chai.

The next ingredient is Stevia. This is a sugar substitute and also a blood pressure regulator, making low blood pressure rise and high blood pressure lower. There are some sugar substitutes that claim to not be harmful, but there are only two that I have found that also claim to be beneficial and not merely harmless. Stevia is one of them and Xylitol is the other. The problem with Xylitol, though, by itself it does not always sweeten very well. Inspite of its very chemical and manufacturing name, Native Americans first used this as a sweetner and got it from some bark. It is usually extracted from corn now. Stevia and Xylitol combine and synergize well together. Xylitol reduces plaque and reduces allergies. My father was diagnosed with a plaque build up around the heart and scheduled for surgery. When he came to the surgery, they said it was too risky to operate (after telling him he needed surgery or he would die). He asked me for some advice after these two bits of bad news (one that he needed surgery or he would die and two that he could not have the surgery that he needed because it was too risky given his condition). I mentioned that Xylitol was anti-plaque and said I would research further to see what I could find that might help. I was not expecting Xylitol to cure him, but thought it was better than nothing. My father dutifully bought some Xylitol and used it in a tea three times a day for two weeks. After the two weeks he went back to the doctors who were surprised to find that he was cured and did not need the surgery at all. Needless to say my father was very happy that he did not even need the surgey and was no longer at death's door.

I usually cook up the above ingredients in a pot that holds about two quarts of liquid. I add a teaspoon of ginseng, gingko, and kava, and a half teaspoon of Kava, Tumeric, Cardamom, and Chocolate. I add about half a cup of Coconut Milk and sometimes a tablespoon of organic coconut oil. I add the coconut after the herbs have reached a boil (when it reaches a boil and turn it down to simmer for a minute and then turn off the heat). I let the herbs that are not in powdered form have a chance to have their potencies drawn out by the water first, and then add the powders. My feeling is that powders slightly clog the other herbs and so I give the other herbs a headstart. A fine mesh strainer is then used and the filtered tea is ready to be served.

Cinnamom is a nice addition to the above formula, but I do not always use it. I am also considering adding Licorice, Foti, and Gotu Kola to the formula. I have sometimes added a drop of Valerian Oil, Anise Oil, and Bergamot Oil and find them both helpful and synergistic. Valerian oil brings out the relaxing element strongly and it is probably wise to not take it unless you are near sleep time. One drop of each of these herbs is plenty. Two drops is probably too much. I feel the oils also help extract the potencies of the other herbs and therefore should be put in last and should be stirred in.

Although this formula is probably very safe, it is up to each person to check and see if it fits what is personally needed, if it is compatible with one's biochemical individuality, one's general diet, and anything else that one is taking. I am sharing this formula just to show where my research is evolving and not as a substitute for medical advice or as a replacement for any medical healing process anyone might be considering. I personally have taken responsibility for my health, healing, and longevity process and I am offering this information to those who have made a similar commitment. I expect people to test out these things for themselves and find out what works for them. In a sense, I expect people to be their own scientists and learn from their own research, experimenting, and experience.

9 comments:

  1. Pure stevia can also help prevent cavities as it contains natural flouride ( s I recall reading). I think I know someone who puts it on her toothpaste. At least I remember being told she did.

    I use SweetLeaf Stevia--0 calories, 0 carbs, and a 0 glycemic index!

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  2. Dear Yodasmith, thank you for your comment. If Xylitol is an anti-plaque and Stevia is an anti-cavity, then it seems it might be wise for us to have them in our tea, maybe after a meal or maybe in a homemade toothpaste (maybe just soaking a brush in a special tea and brushing). Thanks again for your input. Blessings, Will

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  3. A friend, John J, had trouble posting a comment online and I pasting this from an email:

    I have a question regarding your herbal tea. Why do you make a tea out the raw materials you list? Why not just eat them? This is a question regarding herbal products that I've had for many years. For example, I get many of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs in Eugene. I can buy their Memory Zest Tea which contains gingko,, rosemary, ginger etc. I actually have this product and make the tea. But I've also purchased their Memory Care Caps. It has some of these same components but ground up into a powder and put in capsules. This seems to make the most sense. It may not absorb as quickly or as easily but so what? Rather than worry about what is best an infusion or a tincture, just take the whole thing. When I eat a salad, I eat the salad. I don't take the spinach, dry it out, crumble the dried leaves and make a spinach tea. I eat it.
    What are your thoughts on this?

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  4. Thank you John for your thoughts. The question is a very good one. I would like to emphasize here that this is one of my exploration edges and I do not want any of my answers to be the final word on this subject, but more like explorers notes that may be revised many times as understanding grows. The key to me is what is felt in personal experience. A lot of the herbs are root herbs and roots are designed to survive a lot of conditions. Boiling roots may extract potencies from the plant in a manner different from our own body heat, acids, and enzymes can. Or the making of a tea may prepare a liquid so that our heat, acids, and enzymes can take the digest process further down the road. We have about 24 hours to extract the potencies from an herb, sometimes less, before the remains are jettisoned out of the system. It seems that many factors make some difference in what we receive from an herb, like whether or not our intestines are relatively empty or whether or not they are jammed with food. It seems that some of the potencies enter our bloodstream more rapidly and apply their medicinal energy better when the brew is the only thing the stomach and digestive organs are working on. One question may be whether boiling herbs does something to help the process or whether our bodies can do all the work by itself. It seems, too, that infusions not only draw out potencies, but since the carrier substance is left out, the body does not have to deal those substances. Some of those substances may not be edible and may even be little harsh to the system. An infusion also may concentrate the potency to the point where it is more useful. I do feel, for instance, ginger seems more effective in a certain way, when not mixed with food and when taken as a tea. I am sure that it is helpful to take ginger with food, but the proportions are different so that ginger does not overwhelm the taste of the food. It may not be all that we need or could use then. Having said this, sometimes some herbalist recommend capsules so that it bypasses the stomach acids which sometimes can compromise a delicate potency. I have in my own experience shifted from capsules and prefer a liquid carrier for most of my herbal concoctions. It feels like it is doing more, does absorb more easily, and delivering the elements more quickly to where it is needed. I get the feeling sometimes that not everything is absorbed when taken as capsule or as food. It seems, for instance, that certain brain amino acids will go straight to the brain when taken on an empty stomach, but are digested as part of a generalized mass of protein when combined with food. Oddly enough, when I make a tea from powdered herbs, they are in a sense "eaten". Kava does seem to become potent in a different way when taken in a morning smoothie with lots of pineapple, which has enzymes that seem to extract some potencies from kava. Of course, blending does seem to also be an extractive process too.

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  5. Footnote1: I tend to only use tinctures when the fresh or dried herbs are not available. There may be some herbs that are at superior potency as a tincture, but I do not feel I have been able to verify this in my own experience. It seems that tinctures were useful creations more for long term storage of herbs, especially during times when refrigerators were not yet invented. It may be, too, that an alcohol tincture may hold a potency for a longer period of time than a dried herb. I have found Ginseng vials to be a useful form to take them in, mainly because sometimes brewing the ginseng does take time and the vials are better than not taking any ginseng and do seem to do some good. They also store well. However, having tried a lot of different ways of taking ginseng, the one that I have felt the most beneficial is boiling the herb and making a tea from it. One root can be boiled about five times (the first one without cutting, the second with a few large pieces, the third cut into small pieces, fourth into very small pieces, and the fifth mashed) and this makes a batch go a long way.

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  6. Footnote2: I currently get most of my herbs from Mountain Rose in Eugene too. I like the standards of this company and when you call you get a person on the phone to take your order (or can order on line). I found their Kava to be more potent and purer than my previous source and their Ma Huang to be so potent that I only use a pinch or two at a time.

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  7. My friend John J. emailed this comment for me to post: I may try the Kava from Mountain Rose. I used Kava King in the past and other than a little numbness of the tongue and throat, nothing.
    I wrote to Mountain Rose regarding my concerns with the purity of their herbs. Most are organic and are of foreign origin. I've read several articles saying that it's a 50/50 coin flip that the "organic" item is actually organic when foreign sourced. It's only a little better in the U.S. Also, even if it is organic, the fertilizer and the irrigating water is not. In very polluted countries like China and India, the level of contaminants can be very high. I never received a response from Mountain Rose.
    Another herb source I use is plantcures.com. Chris Gussa is a TCM practitioner. He said his herbs are 3rd party tested for heavy metals. I wonder about other contaminants though. His prices are high but I think he has some good products.

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  8. Dear John, Thank you for your post. The question of actual purity is an interesting issue. Mountain Rose Herbs is Certified Organic (ref. http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/about/otoc.html), but I wonder how well anyone can double check the imports that they do. So far I have ordered a lot of herbs from them and find them to be very high quality, with their Kava and Ephedra to be noticeably more medicinally potent than other brands that I have tried.

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  9. Footnote3: It seems that Kava is loaded with medicinal alkaloids, but they do need to be extracted. The Hawaiians used saliva enzymes to extract some of these potencies. I use boiling water and coconut oil, sometimes adding plant based enzymes when the brew has cooled down. I then add gingko, green tea (matcha grade), ginseng, and fresh ground cardamom. The gingko and ginseng I prepare each separately and add the stained liquid into the total brew. I have several variations of this recipe. But it does seem like the brain boosting herbs synergize with Kava. The other preparation I sometimes do is to blend Kava into a smoothie with coconut milk, banana, blueberries, fresh water, and pineapple (which is loaded with enzymes that seem to extract a potency from Kava). Adding some Tumeric powder and Flax Seed Oil (the latter stirred or quickly pulsed rather than blended so as not to oxidize the Omega 3's) seems to also help.

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