Tea Medicine Series: Hawthorn

This little gem is also known as Shan Zha. Hawthorne may be new to us, but it is a medicinal supplement that has been used throughout history throughout Asia, Europe and North America for its health benefits.

The leaves and flowers contain beneficial flavonoids and procynaidins. Flavonoids activate endothelium-derived relaxing factor and inhibit phosphodiesterase, thereby increasing vasodilation. Therefore, patients who take warfarin/Coumadin, vasodilating, antiplatelet, and/or anticoagulant medications should make sure dosage of this herb is moderate.

Hawthorn fruit herbs are often included in herbal formulas for indigestion. Hawthorn fruit helps break down animal fat and supports digestive function. It has been found to be effective in lowering serum cholesterol and blood pressure. [1] [2]

Check your family medical history and examine your daily diet. If you are concerned about your heart health or have history of high LDL levels, a small dose of hawthorn tea may benefit you. Every little bit counts!

[1] Rajendran, S. et al. Effect of tincture of crataegus on the LDL-receptor activity of the hepatic plasma membrane of rats fed on atherogenic diet. Atherosclerosis. 123(1-2)::235-41, June 1997.

[2] Zhe Jiang Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Zhejiang Journal of Chinese Medicine), 1991; (6)::245.


Nutrition and Acupuncture

If you have recently started to see an acupuncturist, you will find that there are many people who are joining you in the practice. As your begin in a new journey to better health, you will start gaining healthful momentum over time and examine other areas of improvement to bolster your acupuncture treatments and other therapies. The simplest routines one can perform on regularly are consumption of nutrient dense and balance meals, exercising appropriately for your current state of health, and getting regular sleep, rest, relaxation.

Before changing your diet completely, it would be wise to speak with a medical professional and your primary care physician about your current state of health to ensure optimal results. Your doctor will likely perform a comprehensive check-up with blood work and make sure there are no major red flags. He or she may provide list of restrictions or provide alternative foods or modification according to your health. Share these results with your acupuncturist. They will help you add specific foods with medicinal properties or health benefits. Always start small and easy—change is difficult, and difficulty often leads to poor results or inconsistency or noncompliance. Slow and steady wins the race. If change is slow and difficult, your acupuncturist may also recommend herbal supplements tailored to your needs. It is important that you mention your allergies and other dietary restriction to your practitioner before taking anything.

With modified diet, herbal supplements, and acupuncture, your digestion will improve and as a result sleep and energy level will also likely benefit as well. This is why it is very important to do the simplest things in a correct manner. Doing so produces cumulative benefits. It all starts with picking quality ingredients, cooking with balance and with proper methods, and enjoying your meals in a peaceful and enjoyable environment.

To ensure optimal absorption and extraction of nutrients from food, chew thoroughly and slowly. Take the time to enjoy your meals and give your body an opportunity to properly digest. Eating in a peaceful and social environment can help self-regulate portions and help you feel satiated. Eating while stressed or distracted like while working, watching YouTube, or television can undo our mindful eating habits.

Generally speaking, we can benefit from cooking our food. While salads are promoted as healthy or "clean eating", our practitioners promote cooked food. Bioavailability of important nutrients are unlocked when we apply heat to food. Scientific American and medical journals have reviewed studies that state benefits cooking vs. raw vegetables. Eastern medicine generally agree with this idea, especially if a patient tends to have gastrointestinal weakness, bloating sensation, and tends to feel cold easily.