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Chinese Herbal Medicine/ Supplements

Anybody here with any knowledge on Chinese herbal medicine/supplements? I am interested in them from the point of view of overall health, energy and vitality rather than treating any problem or health issue.
Also I am looking at ginseng for energy. Any experiences with ginseng? What types work best etc?
Much appreciated

Comments

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    One of the many types of Oolong teas I drink, is ginseng coated Oolong tea..
    I buy this from an Asian supermarket....

    Ginseng

    I read somewhere that in China and in some other Asian countries, the more the root resembles a human body or body part, the more beneficial it will be...

    Hozan
  • HozanHozan Veteran

    Thanks @Shoshin . That oolong coated in ginseng looks awesome.. not sure i'll be able to get it in Ireland but I'll keep an eye out for it

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Hozan
    You could try "here"
    Or "here"

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    Awesome @Shoshin . Thank you!

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    You're welcome...Anything for a fellow tea nerd :wink:

    Hozan
  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer
    edited April 26

    While it's not quite a supplement, I've lately been interested in the health effects of negative charged air particles (negative ions). Negative ions are found in nature, particularly in areas with a lot of movement. You'd find negative ion concentrations of 5,000 to 10,000 particles per cubic centimeter near a waterfall, for example.

    There have been some interesting studies performed on the effects of negative ions, particularly with respect to mood and seasonal affective disorder. It's postulated that one of the reasons that people tend to feel so fresh and recharged after being in nature or just after a thunderstorm is because of the heightened negative ion count.

    Modern environments like office buildings are bereft of negative ions and filled with positive ones. Homes don't fare much better.

    You can find man made negative ion generators, but you must be careful as poorly constructed devices are capable of producing ozone, which is harmful. I found one designed and manufactured, interestingly, by a British expatriate who moved to China to study meditation and TCM that's been independently reviewed and tested.

    Here is his page on meditation:

    http://www.naturaironline.com/contents/en-uk/d34222_Negative-ion-generators-Ionizer-Meditation.html

    Here is some general information about negative ions from a neutral source:

    http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/negative-ions-create-positive-vibes

    As far as herbs go, I've taken just about every supplement known to man at one point or another; it's one of my primary research interests, and I have treated myself as a bit of a guinea pig. Anecdotally, cordyceps is great for athletic endurance and stamina. Unfortunately, it hasn't been studied as well as I would like, but that's true of most of TCM. As these things go, you have to adopt a skeptical mindset while being open minded and willing to entertain the idea that any perceived effects might well be a cognitive illusion.

    (But if the illusion works...)

    Additionally, examine.com is a great place to check out the available research on a wide variety of supplements. It's often helpful to look at the studies themselves (if you feel like trawling around on PubMed) and looking at the study authors and the journal's impact factor when weighing the evidence. Not all journals are created equal; some will publish anything from anyone.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I have my doubts about Chinese medicine because it uses for example rhino horn, which causes poachers as far away as Africa to shoot rhinos for their horns to sell on the black market.

    If it was purely herbal, using ingredients grown in gardens, I would be a lot happier.

    silverHozan
  • HozanHozan Veteran
    edited April 27

    @Kerome excellent point. It is purely the botanical/herbal element of it I am interested in. You are right to point out the animal element though. The bans for those practises need to be reinforced properly

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Kerome I understand completely not approving of those portions of medicine, Chinese or otherwise (pretty much all medical advances in the west involve animal testing). But why does that make you doubt the medicine?

    I hate that we use animals as test subjects. But I also know that my son wouldn't be alive had we not done so. Not that that is the same as the awful poaching that is going on, especially when a lot of what those animals are butchered for is for rich people to impress their status on others. But they seem to be the same coin to me.

    I quite enjoy alternative health stuff and I use a lot of it from all sorts of avenues in my regular life. It's rare I see the doctor because I haven't been able to find one near enough to me that listens to me. They have no interest in having a relationship with their patient which is what I'd want. So, I just mostly stay away. I was last at the doctor when I had knee surgery in Jan 2013. Prior to that I don't think I had gone since my son was born in 2008, lol.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 27

    @Refugee said:
    While it's not quite a supplement, I've lately been interested in the health effects of negative charged air particles (negative ions). Negative ions are found in nature, particularly in areas with a lot of movement. You'd find negative ion concentrations of 5,000 to 10,000 particles per cubic centimeter near a waterfall, for example.

    There have been some interesting studies performed on the effects of negative ions, particularly with respect to mood and seasonal affective disorder.

    Anecdotally, cordyceps is great for athletic endurance and stamina. Unfortunately, it hasn't been studied as well as I would like, but that's true of most of TCM.

    Some doctors prescribe ionizers for people with SAD, and it seems to work. I wore an ionizer around my neck when I had adrenal fatigue that would get much worse in the stale air in airports and planes, and it helped tremendously.

    Here's some info on cordyceps.
    Some Cordyceps species are sources of biochemicals with interesting biological and pharmacological properties, like cordycepin; the anamorph of C. subsessilis (Tolypocladium inflatum) was the source of ciclosporin—an immunosuppressive drug helpful in human organ transplants, as it inhibits rejection. Fingolimod, a sphingolipid used to treat Multiple Sclerosis, is modified myriocin which was isolated from Isaria sinclairii, the anamorph stage of Cordyceps sinclairii.

    A treatment for MS! Pretty impressive.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited April 27

    Well the main thing I have against Chinese medicine and Ayurveda is that they are not evidence-based. Modern medicine is a branch of science and uses scientific methods of reasoning and testing to determine what works, while ancient medicine does not. The most you can say for homeopathy is that at least it is harmless, but for the others you cannot even guarantee that.

    Also I know there are significant problems with herbal medicines. For example, if you look at research that has been done on cannabis you will find that the strength of active ingredients varies a lot depending on how much sunlight, ingredients in the soil and so on. Getting the right dosage and repeatable amount of active substance in the medicine is very difficult with plant based medicines, even with modern scientific testing. Most of these medical approaches were invented when scientific techniques were not yet invented and so don't use them.

    That said I've seen faith healers, Tibetan doctors, and other alternative practitioners do amazing things with diagnosis - often being able to find what is wrong with people in a very short time. I don't think there is a perfect solution. Alternative practitioners have their uses, but for real problems I prefer modern medicine.

    Hozan
  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer

    @karasti

    Agreed. I got into an argument the other day with a person who believes in the validity of TCM's underlying philosophy of qi and meridians, which to me is no different than the Greek idea of humors or early Western vitalism concepts. These things are not founded on scientific knowledge; they're pure conjecture. His argument was that I simply didn't understand TCM but when challenged, he was unable to correct my supposed ignorance.

    Then again, this is a person who won't allow his belly button to be uncovered because evil spirits might gain entrance that way, so I'm not sure why I engaged.

    lobsterHozan
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 27

    @Kerome said:

    That said I've seen faith healers, Tibetan doctors, and other alternative practitioners do amazing things with diagnosis - often being able to find what is wrong with people in a very short time. I don't think there is a perfect solution. Alternative practitioners have their uses, but for real problems I prefer modern medicine.

    Tibetan doctors are amazing diagnosticians. They go through 20 years of training on ever-more-subtle aspects of an elaborate pulse-taking protocol, among other diagnostic methods. When I first had my pulse taken by a Tibetan doctor, I thought she was tuning into some psychic level, by the astonishing diagnosis she came up with. But checking with a friend, who's an expert in Tibetan culture, he said oh, no, it's quite typical, and cited some even more seemingly-outlandish diagnostic abilities they have.

    Tibetan medicine is based in a combination of old European medical knowledge, which was based on 3 "humors", ancient Iranian medical tradition, which modern research has found was ahead of its time and corresponds to modern knowledge, and Chinese herbalism. Tibetan herbal remedies have been studied in the German-speaking parts of Europe, and found to be remarkably effective (and consistently so), to the extent that all pharmacies in Germany and Switzerland now carry certain Tibetan herbal compounds. The famed cancer labs in Israel studied Tibetan anti-cancer herbs, and also found them effective in sealing off the cardiovascular system, to prevent cancers from metastasizing. These lab studies are quite fascinating. See the film, "Knowledge of Healing", that documents this.
    https://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Healing-XIV-Tenzin-Gyatso/dp/B004P3T4OQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493320300&sr=8-1&keywords=Knowledge+of+Healing

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I enjoy science quite a bit. Medical science keeps 2 of my kids alive. But I do think it has limitations and those limitations have been proven many times, and continue to be proven so. Not that many years ago, both yoga and meditation were useless things that hippies did. It was people saying repeatedly the benefits they saw that science started studying it and is now starting to find some answers. Many things are similar. Some things have been disproven, like blood letting and skull bone formations. Other things have been proven. Many of our current medical benefits have a basis in folk medicine, like pain relievers.

    So I just go with what is right for me. I don't claim it'll be right for everyone else, even if they are dealing with a similar issue to me. But getting to a point you can understand your body that way is time-consuming and not something most people are willing to do. They'd rather ask a doctor what is wrong with their own body, and that boggles my mind a bit. Other things I completely don't understand (like crystal work) but I just leave it alone. If it is helping someone, so be it. A lot of people complain that such things are just placebos. But I find the basic idea of placebo to be fascinating because that means we can believe ourselves into changes we can feel in our bodies. I don't get how "people just THINK they feel better" is a bad thing. If I can think myself into feeling better, terrific. So much better than the meds doctors push on millions of people who mostly don't need them because to me, that isn't science either.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited April 28

    @Refugee said:
    Then again, this is a person who won't allow his belly button to be uncovered because evil spirits might gain entrance that way, so I'm not sure why I engaged.

    Thanks for the tip. Tank tops out. Got it! ;)

    Balance. Middle Way. Yoga, Qi Ong, diet, Western medicine, herbalism and mind/body modalities have their strengths and weaknesses. Gardening will earth the madness. Swimming is good for non lobsters. Walking is cheap and health enhancing.

    Meditation, chanting, visualisation, pranayama ARE powerful preventative or pro-health physical healing methods. No doubt.

    Ginseng is an adaptogen, I found it too strong and preferred 'Indian Ginseng', which I found in the food section of an Asian foodstore ... not in those over priced health food stores
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Withania_somnifera
    Be careful.

    Probiotics may be used to improve health. Onions and bananas, garlic and turmeric (mixed with black pepper) will encourage better gut health ...
    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/probiotics/Pages/Introduction.aspx

    Mind. Body. Spirit.
    Well Being.

    Wot a plan! <3

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    Did somebody mention ginseng? Korean Ginseng is said to be the strongest, Siberian ginseng--the mildest. Personally, there are very few adaptogens I'm able to use; most are too strong. Holy Basil is one I can use. I'm not sure--I think ashwaganda's ok, too.

    There's an adaptogenic tea that some people may find helpful; available at health food stores and some supplement stores. Brand: Ron Teeguarden. "Spring Dragon Longevity Tea" is it's name.

    I can't handle any tea based on a rhizome (root), like ginseng. There's a new tea out based on dandelion root, that's a cancer inhibitor. Nope--can't do that, either. These medicinal roots tend to have a high concentration of natural sugar, like root vegetables, but more concentrated. Anyone with blood sugar issues should probably avoid them. And people with stress disorders sometimes find them too powerful, as well, depending.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    The thing I like about Chinese medicine and the like is it is basically using food to help heal the body, which is one of the best things you can do. The downside is you do have to be willing to learn quite a bit about your body to know if something is working/is ok for you. My ex used to take tons of supplements he'd just start taking the whole list of things that was suggested for whatever issue he looked up. He was incredibly intelligent and very well read on things like psychotropic drugs, so why he did that, I couldn't say. He was an addict, as well, so I'm sure that desire to do anything and everything to not feel what was going on with him was a high priority. But I am sure there are many more like him.

    Having the internet to disseminate information that has been long confined is both a blessing and a curse. It's wonderful to have information that we couldn't have otherwise. But there is no longer any accountability to or working with someone who has your interests at heart and knows what the risks are for your particular situation. It means we are experimenting a lot on ourselves, and just like regular meds, there are contraindications for using food and herbs as medicine, too.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    On the whole I feel the body is best left to heal itself... things like vitality boosters and extra energy givers I personally classify in the same category as herbal tea - useful to a certain extent but no further. I'm a believer in diet and exercise in order to live a healthy life, and the body is a lot more capable of processing stuff than we often believe.

    A certain amount of stress is very good for the body, it gets it to strengthen itself and prepare for difficult circumstances. It also gives it the opportunity to have a good clear-out of toxins. So a good sweat through running or cycling every so often is I think more useful than most other things you can do.

    There was a time about six years ago when I was genuinely very fit and quite muscled, and that made a big difference to my vitality. Testosterone is great for making you feel 'vital'. Then I had some medical problems and ended up gaining some extra weight, and lost that edge again.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Kerome Also, earlier when I asked about your doubts I was asking why you phrased it as if it was only the rhino horn etc that gave you doubts (as if the validity of the medicine had to do with the treatment of the animals, in which case you have to look at what western medicine does with them as well). I knew you doubted alternative medicine already since it has come up before. But your phrasing implied you'd not have a problem if it was garden-raised plants instead of rhino horn (or shark fin or whatever) so I was unclear about what exactly you mean. It seems odd to judge the entirety of a tradition based on the unskillful use of animals when so much of it IS herbal. But then later you said you didn't think herbal stuff did any good, either. So i wasn't sure if you meant strictly from a moral standpoint, or what.

    Diet and exercise is a huge part of what keeps us healthy. Our choices every day contribute to our body healing or not. But what that means for each person is very different which makes it a challenge, especially for people who are so out of touch with their bodies.

    Kerome
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 28

    @karasti, I can answer your question re: validity of the theory and remedies, to some extent. I attended a lecture on the history of Chinese medicine once, and it was pretty weird. Originally, identification of remedies for certain illnesses was based simply on their appearance. For example, a type of root that imitated the form of an internal organ, say, would be assumed to be good for illnesses of that organ. This type of thinking still prevails in the tradition; an herbalist from China (doctor of Oriental Medicine) told me once that because pecans look like the brain, they're good for illnesses of the brain, as if that was self-evident. But what about walnuts? They're identical in form, but for some reason, weren't included in that association.

    It's a little spooky to think one is placing one's trust in a system with such a bizarre theoretical basis. OTOH, many Chinese herbs are very effective. But I think many of the remedies are developed by means other than that simplistic look-alike method.

    karasti
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    At present I drink two 10ml vials of Panax Ginseng daily. Not year round. In six week cycles. At the beginning of spring. Later on the beginning of winter. Panax is yang. Tienchi is neutral. Forget which is yin. I have no experience outside of the liquid form.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Dakini interesting! Yes, very bizarre. It's strange how some of those things hold on. I mean mushrooms look pretty freaky (some of them anyhow) but they are quite good for us. What body part are they supposed to represent? Shriveled ovaries?

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