Making Fire Cider – Immune Tonic

Thank you to herbalist Barbara Gladstar for coining the tonic, Fire Cider in 1980.

Rooted in History, Fire Cider traces back to “The Four Thieve’s Tonic” from Medieval Europe. Legend has is that grave robbers invented a tonic that was both drunk & inhaled to stay healthy while robbing corpses. Comprised mainly of vinegar, onions, garlic & spices this tonic warded off the Plague. Some believe it was because it warded off the fleas that transmitted the disease.

Barbara Gladstar modeled her Fire Cider after the Four Thieve’s and made some modifications. There is a lot of freedom in making your own fire cider as long as you stick to the main tenets: aromatic, sinus opening roots distilled in apple cider vinegar for four weeks.

In our Fire Cider we used:

  • 1 Large Horseradish Root
  • 1 Large Ginger Root
  • 1 Small Tumeric Root
  • 1 Garlic Bulb
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 4 Habanero Peppers
  • 1 Japaleno Pepper
  • 1 Orange (keep rind on)
  • 1 Lemon (keep rind on)

We chopped all the ingredients and layered them 3 x 1 Quart Mason jars. We then poured Apple Cider Vinegar over the contents. In four weeks we will strain the liquid, add raw honey & be ready to go!

Immune Support

Fatigue…Lowered Immunity, Swollen Glands…? How to Identify and Treat a Lingering Pathogenic Factor.

Virus

Many people seek Traditional Chinese Medicine for immune support because they have a tendency to catch colds easily and take longer than average to kick it. They also often say that “they need their sleep” preferring 9-10 hours of sleep per night and often more on the weekends.

Another recurring symptom is inflammation manifesting as either chronic sinusitis, enlarged tonsils, swollen lymph nodes and/ or recurring respiratory conditions like strep throat and bronchitis.

The ancients discussed a pattern called “Lurking Pathogen” in the Nei Jing. The name, lurking pathogen, principally comes from the Inner Classic (Nei Jing), where it says “if there is damage by cold in the winter, there will be a warm pathogen disease in the spring”, and “if there is sufficient essence, there will be no warm disease in the spring.”

Western medicine recognizes a similar situation known as “Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome”, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” or “Myalgic encephalomyelitis”.

A typical history includes the revelation of past experience with a viral or bacterial illness such as Mononucleosis, Lyme’s Disease, Meningitis, Coxsackie virus. The list does not end there these are just the most frequent in my clinical experience.

Most people are able to clear the pathogen on their own but for others it isn’t fully expressed and pops up later in life. It’s as if an imprint of the virus lurks in the body and when people are under stress or run down, it pops up and resurfaces. It’s also taxing on the body to have low-lying inflammation and phlegm. These require constant energy to keep it at bay.

Phlegm is a major component of a Lingering Pathogenic Factor. Additionally, the tongue presentation is red, which runs contrary to the pattern of fatigue and weakness. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we consider this to be the result of a “Lingering Pathogenic Factor”.

Typical response to a pathogen:

Typically the body is hit with a pathogen and responds with fever, shivering, sweating and phlegm. As the pathogen meets the exterior of the body the “Wei Qi” or “Defensive Qi” puts up a fight. The battle between “Evil Qi” and “Right Qi” is observed between fever and chills. The body’s temperature elevates to make the host un-hospitable to the infection. Many people feel the higher the fever the more intensely your body is fighting the pathogen.

Because the pathogen invades the skin at the surface of the body, Qi and Fluids are impeded and phlegm is produced. Most people fully clear the pathogen in time. In many it can take a week or so, others a month and some just never fully express the pathogen. Children are extremely susceptible to Lingering Pathogenic factor because their immune systems are developing and they are more fragile.

There are also other reasons that can contribute to a lingering pathogen not being completely expressed and expelled.

Compounding factors:

  • Genetic disposition
  • Overuse or improper use of antibiotics
  • Cold, phlegm producing foods
  • Antipyretics
  • Concurring illnesses
  • Emotional strains
  • Developmental milestones
  • Vaccinations

Treatment:

Allopathic medicine treats the disease. Traditional Chinese medicine treats the individual. By strengthening the individual and not suppressing the body’s own, innate knowledge, the body has the ability to clear the pathogen without the side effects of antibiotics.

Understanding the Pattern: The body is a relative balance of:
Yin / Yang

Cold/Heat

Interior/ Exterior

Deficiency/ Excess

Fatigue, lowered immunity and phlegm are usually an example of excess yin, with cold in the interior creating phlegm. A red tongue indicates the presence of heat within the body, often a remnant of the virus or toxin.

Symptoms of Fatigue (Qi deficiency) include:

  • Extreme fatigue in the morning
  • Recurring illness, lowered immunity
  • Pale, heavy menstruation
  • Bruising easily
  • Depressed / Moody
  • Runny nose or Blocked nose
  • Phlegm

Treatment:

Treatment includes clearing a heat toxin. First you need to identify where the phlegm (LPF) is remaining. It can be in the tonsils, ears, lungs, intestines or bladder. We typically see LPF after chronic urinary tract infections.

Often systemic treatment is geared towards initially strengthening the body followed by clearing phlegm.

1)   Dietary Suggestions:

Eliminate Reduce Phlegm Inducing Foods:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy (yogurt is often okay)
  • Fructose (Juice, bananas, oranges, smoothies)
  • Refined Sugars
  • Peanut butters can encourage phlegm too

Consider adding:

  • Organic meats
  • Organic vegetables and fruits that reduce phlegm like onions, garlic, lemons,
  • Nourish the lungs with white vegetables and fruit: Cauliflower, lotus root, daikon, pears

Supplements:

  • Probiotics to help repair the gut lining and reduce phlegm
  • Quercitin and Bromelain to help reduce inflammation and phlegm.
  • Tumeric: Natural antinflammatory
  • Raw Honey: anti-viral, ant-bacterial
  • Bee Propolis: Anti-inflammitiry, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Coconut oil: anti inflammatory, anti-viral, antibacterial, good for a mouth wash. Can dissolve a spoonful in water in the morning or swish it around your mouth for 1 minute and spit out.
  • Gargle with salt water
  • Olive leaf spray for swollen tonsils
  • Vitamin D for immune support

Lifestyle:

  • Nurture your down time. Make sure to get proper rest.
  • Avoid overuse of digital devices.
  • Do moderate exercise. If you feel exhausted after your workout try more restorative exercises like walking in the park, Hatha yoga

Acupuncture & Herbs:

Acupuncture is a great way to support the immune system to clear the trapped pathogen.

The treatment is two-fold:

1) Strengthening the immune system

2) Clearing the pathogen

Similarly an herbal regimen is helpful to help support the immune system whilst clearing heat. An herbalist will constantly update a hand tailored formula that will evolve as the pathogen is clearing and the body is being restored to balance.

The Power of Mugwort and its Role in Traditional Medicine

Moxibustion, or Moxa for short, is a Traditional Chinese Medicinal Therapy using dried Mugwort.  The tips of the mugwort plant are pulverized into a fluffy substance which is then burned over specific points on the body to promote healing.

Mugwort or Artemisa Vulgaris in Latin, has a long history in Traditional Medicine and has been used throughout China, Tibet, Korea and Japan. Additionally, mugwort is regarded as a sacred plant of divination and spiritual healing by traditional people of North and South America.

All of the parts of the plant can be utilized; leaves are consumed as tea or added to food and according to medieval practices, placed under pillows for dream enhancement. Mugwort was also referred to as a traveler’s herb and was traditionally used to strengthen and protect travelers. Additionally, Chinese Folklore recommends draping a bunch over the door to promote health for the entire year.

In Notes on Bian Que’s Moxibustion, it says, “When a healthy man often has moxibustion to the points guanyuan, qihai,mingmen, and zhongwan, he would live a very long life, at least one hundred years.”

Why:

IMG_1452

Moxibustion is a panacea. Moxibustion has the power to travel to all of the channels of the body, which means that moxa can systemically warm the body and stimulate circulation.

Moxibustion Uses:

  • Moxibustion treats “cold conditions”, which may manifest as pain, reduced circulation and arthritis.
  • Moxibustion has an ability to support the immune system and decrease inflammation, this makes moxa useful for the treatment of chronic illnesses, fatigue, allergies and lowered immunity.
  • Additionally, moxa has the special ability to guide to the uterus. Often called a “woman’s herb” moxa is effective for the treatment of delayed, painful and irregular menses.
  • Turn breech babies. This is an empirical usage for moxibustion and have been proven an effective treatment for cephalic positioning in numerous clinical trials.

Moxibustion for Fertility:

Moxa is considered an emmengogue, which means an herb that stimulates blood flow to the uterus.

Moxa is particularly useful for treating “cold” reproductive health conditions that manifest as:

  • Irregular menses
  • Painful, clotty periods
  • Stagnation

Cold, stagnant conditions could be considered endometriosis, fibroids and cysts in the allopathic paradigm.

Using pole moxa or direct moxa over the uterus brings warmth and Qi into the organ. Blood flow quickly increases and pain diminishes.

A moxa box can also be utilized. Moxa box is literally a box stuffed with fresh moxa and burned over the abdomen. This can help concentrate the warming powers of moxa into the uterus.

Types of Moxibustion

Indirect Moxibustion:

IMG_1455

Indirect moxa can be applied by using Pole Moxa. Moxa is pressed and rolled into sticks that are waved over the acupuncture points or regions of the body. Pole moxa comes in smokey and smokeless forms. Smokeless Pole moxa is useful for pregnant women.

Sticky Moxa:

photo (88)

Stick-on moxa is a great modern day product created in Japan, Korea and China. The base is a self-adhesive to the treatment point.

“Warming Needle”:

  • Fresh moxa is rolled into a ball and placed in the end of an acupuncture needle and lit. This drives the heat into the acupuncture needle, which is transmitted deeply into the acupuncture point.
  • “Shish-kebob moxa” are pre-rolled cones of moxa that can be applied to the tip of the needle.

Direct Moxibustion:

A practitioner will roll small balls otherwise known as ‘Rice Grain Moxa” and place them directly on the skin, typically over a salve to prevent accidental burning. The moxa is often lit with a stick of incense and removed when hot.

Additionally moxa can be pressed into cones that are also applied to the skin and lit.

How:

Pole Moxa:

  • Light the pole
  • Hold the pole approximately 1.5″ from the skin. Make small circles with the pole or a pecking motion with the pole.
  • Do not touch the skin.
  • Heat each point for 3-10 Minutes.
  • Extinguish in a mason jar.
  • Do not attempt direct moxa at home.

Moxibustion for Immune Support

For Turning a Breech Baby:

Use smokeless moxa at UB 67, the lateral tip of the pinky toe for 10 minutes on each side daily. Start between 34 weeks and 38 weeks for best results.

Power of Propolis

Bee-Propolis

My family of Bee Keepers recently paid a visit in NYC and I was so excited to chat with them extensively about the power of Bees and their extraordinary products. My cousin Gustav is a third generation of beekeeper and I have fond memories meeting his Grandfather (my great, great Uncle) in Sweden when I was eight. I have an image in my head of my Great Uncle in his bee suit and huge drums of creamy honey in the basement. Maybe that started my deep love for honey?

Gustav had a lot of information to share. Sadly a lot of the discussion was about the disappearance of bees. He has been working extremely hard over the past ten years developing ways to keep his beehives healthy.

There were so many fascinating medicinal facts and bee products that I was inspired to write a 4-Part Piece on Bee products including Honey, Propolis, Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly. I’ll start with Propolis.

The Power of Propolis

Gustav called Propolis “the anti” because of  its antiinflamitory, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor and antiseptic properties. Honey bees are “propolis harvesters”. Bees collect resins from treebuds and mix the resins with a little honey, wax and enzymes to create propolis. Propolis essentially contains resins, balsams, essential oils, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and pollen. Analysis shows that bees don’t significantly change the resins they collect which makes propolis an herbal medicine similar to other medicinal gums and resins such as boswellia and myrrh.

Propolis is a Greek word that translates to “before the city” and is used by bees in the hives to line the hive to keep the hive clean. Propolis also acts as an adhesive as it assists in gluing the hive together and protect the hive from inclement weather. Bees not only line their hive with Propolis but leave Propolis as a “doormat” at the entrance. Gustav mentioned that bees step their feet in the Propolis before entering the hive to “clean” their feet before entering. Additionally Bees embalm invaders. Ancient Egyptians followed the bees knowledge and used propolis to embalming agents for their mummies. If a pest were to enter the hive and die the bees cover the dead animal in Propolis to keep the hive and the Queen Bee protected from germs.

Even The Gracie Diet, a diet created by Grandmaster Carlos Gracie, the forefather of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who lived and trained into his 90’s, listed Propolis as one of the 10 foods that should be eaten daily. Following the Hippocratean maxim “Let your food be your remedy”, Grandmaster Carlos Gracie aimed at founding a system that would primarily prevent illness on days of competition.The basic principle of the Gracie Diet is to keep blood pH level neutral by consuming only compatible nutrients at each meal.

A study on PubMed reported that “More than 15 Greek and Roman authors report on the preparation and application of the so-called third natural product of the bees (besides honey and wax). Aristoteles described the fundamental issues of its biology in his ‘Historia Animalium’ correctly.” Propolis has been utilized since ancient times as a topical antiseptic used for open wounds. It is said that Propolis is the most natural antibiotic man has ever discovered. The remarkable thing about this statement is the fact that this discovery took place some 2000 years ago.”

Integrate Propolis into your daily regimen:

In cell culture tests Propolis extracts have been shown to significantly inhibit the growth in the Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Staphyloccocus, clostridium, corynebacterium diptheriae and some streptococcus species.

Propolis Salve:
Treating open wounds it is superior to use a blend of propolis as a topical salve rather than a single antibiotic in petroleum jelly. Antibiotics are overused and their overuse are creating a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria. The complex bend of compounds in propolis is superior to the single antibiotic in petroleum jelly. Gladiators know how to treat wounds!

Propolis as mouth wash:
Propolis mouth wash inhibits the growth of common human oral bacteria which helps the body heal after surgery, prevent bad breath, gingivitis, tooth decay and gum disease.

Upper respiratory conditions:

Propolis can be added to saline for a sinus irrigation. In many Eastern European countries widespread use of antibiotics is less common than beekeeping. Washing, gargling and irrigating the sinuses with propolis rinses are more commonly used.

Promote heart health. Propolis has been demonstrated to be an antiinflammatory.

Emollient: Studies also indicate that Propolis may be effective in treating skin burns.

Immune Support: Propolis exhibits immunostimulant effects in numerous clinical trials.

Propolis is available in powder, lozenges, tincture, capsules and pills.

As my family was heading back home they were eager to hug and kiss everyone of us before boarding the plane. Gustav waved a hearty goodbye as he popped some Propolis in his mouth.