Holistic Herbs for Better Digestion

Suffering from indigestion, constipation, or just overall uncomfortable digestive symptoms? Then you might be a great candidate for some additional herbal support!
Image source: Madame Noire
There are many causes for digestive symptoms ranging from a non-optimal diet, to food allergies, to anxiety and depression, to various GI and autoimmune diseases. In Naturopathic medicine, treating the cause of disease is incredibly important. Sometimes that means changing up our diet, sometimes it means some counseling, and sometimes that means treating with supplements to correct the structural integrity of our GI tract.

Herbs are one of my favorite interventions. They can be as gentle as you need, but they can also pack a powerful punch. Different herbs have different actions ranging from stimulating, to calming, to synthesizing, improving cellular function, etc.

Here I’ll highlight some of my favorite digestive herbs and talk about their actions!


A Haitian Treasure: Asowosi or Asosi (Bitter Melon)

Reminder: My work is copyrighted. Please not repost my work without citing this as a source. 

I couldn't let 2016 go by without "A Haitian Treasure" post! It's been a while, but I'm back in full force. I'm writing about Asowosi or asosi, at the request of a reader who asked me to!

Asowosi is known as bitter melon in English and ku gua in Chinese. I'm really excited to write about this herb because it is one that I use in both the Naturopathic and East Asian Medicine clinic very often. The latin name is Momordica charantia L. and it is in the Cucurbitaceae family, like other melons! It grows abundantly in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Jamaica and of course, our beloved HAITI. It can be consumed at all stages, but is thought of as tasting more pleasant when in the early yellow and green stage.
Image source: Google search
Haitians use asowosi for many many things, but namely for blood sugar management and to reduce fevers. In some parts of Haiti, it is referred to as yesken. It is most commonly consumed as a tea in Haiti.  The Chinese used it for similar reasons, but also for liver tonification and clearing inflammation and infection in a downward direction. It will never cease to amaze me how different cultures, separated by time and space, were  and are so in sync with each other, and spot on, in regards to the power of the earth's natural resources.

Bitter melon contains high levels of Vitamin K, vitamin B, iron, calcium and minerals. It also contains yummy peptides, saponins, and glycosides that are hypoglycemic, meaning that these compounds lower blood sugar. Diabetes mellitus type II is a complex disease pattern, but at its core is a dysfunction in blood sugar regulation. So you can imagine how a blood sugar lowering herb can help someone with diabetes! This Haitian treasure helps increase insulin sensitivity and uptake, which is incredibly important, as insulin is what clears sugar from the blood. Asowosi helps preserve cellular function and is a wonderful anti-oxidant. Asowosi is detoxifying and cleansing, so it can help support your liver, and thus your skin.

Bitter Melon can be helpful for the following conditions:


Clinical Chinese Nutrition: 5 Winter Foods to Incorporate in your diet

According to Chinese medicine, winter is the time to go inward, to replenish, to restore. The image of a bear in hibernation may come to mind, as may cozying up a warm fireplace, or eating a nice bowl of warm soup or a cup of hot tea. Intuitively, our bodies know what to do in the winter, where it is colder and darker than normal. We stay inside more, expend less energy in the outdoors, and spend more time in solitude. Winter is also a time when we are more susceptible to feelings of loneliness or depression, as the season pulls us deeper and deeper inwards.
Image source: Google search
The Chinese have known for a while (a couple thousand years or so) to work with the seasons, in regards to what we eat, how we move, and what we do with our time. Diet is one one of the most important areas of intervention since we eat consistently throughout the day. Our food has the ability to nourish us body, mind, and soul. In this post, I’ll highlight some foods you could easily implement in your diet to help support your overall health and well being. There will be a special focus on tonifying the kidneys, which are the source of your essence or sol, as well as the spleen, which is the most important organ for digesting, according to Chinese Medicine.


Getting Through The Holiday Season: Holistic Tips and Tricks

The holiday season (late November until early January) is generally thought of as a happy time, where we eat plenty of good food, are surrounded by the ones we love, and are always in a jovial cheerful mood. Unfortunately, this really isn’t the case for many many people. The holidays could be a time of immense sorrow, depression and grief. This can be due to many things including the increasing darkness and coldness, that natural isolation that cold weather inflicts on us by making us want to stay indoors, Seasonal Affective Disorder, an underlying depressive disorder, and of course, a personal experience with loss. For many, the holiday season is the worst time of the year, not the happiest.
Image source: Google
When working with folks who are struggling with the holiday season, I like to emphasize the importance of 1) determining the true cause of the sorrow, 2) finding a way to move through it, 3) identifying coping mechanisms, 4) finding community. By knowing where your sorrow is stemming from, we can find a way to get you through it.  Here are some general measures you can explore to help get you out of a holiday funk.