Time to Put Down That Glass of Red Wine


Warm, summer weather has finally arrived! What better way to enjoy it than eating a sumptuous meal outdoors with a group of your friends, an alcoholic beverage in hand? After all, red wine is good for you, right?

Unfortunately, it appears not. Previous studies have declared a daily glass of red wine to be beneficial for your health, but a closer examination of those results reveals that the group of people most likely to be drinking that glass of red wine were of high socioeconomic status. That means they also ate more vegetables, were more likely to exercise daily, and be of a healthy weight. These are the most likely causes of their longevity as a group, not the red wine.

Any health benefits commonly attributed to red wine, such as a high amount of anti-oxidants, can also be found in grapes themselves, or in grape juice. The alcohol is not a critical element and may actually counteract some of the positive aspects of the grapes within it.

Worse, in other new studies, a daily glass of red wine was found to increase the risk of breast cancer by 9%, and raise the incidence of rosacea by nearly 50%, while also increasing the risk of atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, which can lead to heart failure.

All this being said, what this new meta-analysis also shows is that if you eat plenty of vegetables, exercise regularly, and keep your weight down, it can mitigate most of the negative effects of the alcohol in red wine. So, as long as you are taking good care of your health in other ways, a glass of red wine may not be so bad. Just don’t consider red wine a tonic for your health. At best, it’s a toxin that should be enjoyed sparingly.

New Thoughts On Depression


Freud was wrong. People who suffer from depression don’t do so as a result of past trauma, but because they have a bleak view of the future.

Difficult life experiences make most people stronger. But those who suffer from depression continue to struggle with past events because they over-predict failure and rejection in the future.

The key to resolving feelings of depression then, is to train sufferers to imagine positive outcomes more often than they dwell on what might go wrong.

In Chinese medicine, depression is said to be caused by “blocked liver energy”. When the liver becomes stagnant and its ducts are congested with old and hardened bile, there is a natural lack of movement. This lack of movement causes all sorts of blocked and negative feelings, like anger, frustration, resentment, and depression.

In a way, one might think of a healthy liver as a facilitator for a better future. When it is functioning well, and bile can flow smoothly, it is easier to be optimistic. When the liver is blocked and stuck, past events loom larger. We can’t seem to move beyond them and the future looks bleak. Its blocked ducts don’t just block our digestion, but also our ability to anticipate and hope.

In this way, cleansing of the liver and gallbladder can be seen as an act of faith. For those who suffer from depression, doing a yearly liver and gallbladder flush can clear away pessimism and doubt, and restore confidence in a brighter future. No wonder the liver is so named.  A healthy liver does nothing less than restore buoyancy to life, both physically and psychologically.


The Idea of “Fat but Fit” is Wrong


In a new study of 3.5 million people, those whose BMI classified them as obese were 50% more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease and 7% more likely to suffer from cerebrovascular disease than people of normal weight, even if there was no evidence of these diseases at the start of the study.

This suggests that the idea of being “fat but fit” is wrong.

Dr Rishi Caleyachetty, who led the study, states: “The priority of health professionals should be to promote and facilitate weight loss among obese persons, regardless of the presence or absence of metabolic abnormalities”.

While physical fitness is a great goal, as a society, we need to find other ways to encourage weight loss among overweight individuals. Perhaps it’s time to place greater regulations on food manufacturers who add extra sugars and fats to our foods to make them more addictive. The increasing rate of obesity in most first world nations shows that many people simply can’t summon the willpower to avoid them, and as a result, our collective health is suffering.


New Hope for Sufferers of Insomnia


A recent study published in the journal Radiology has revealed that people who suffer from insomnia have damaged white matter tracts in their brains. White matter tracts are bundles of axons that connect different parts of the brain.

Researchers suspect that these white matter tracts become damaged due to loss of myelin, the insulating, protective coating around nerve fibres which helps them to function more optimally.

In Chinese medicine, this decrease in thickness or effectiveness of myelin sheaths is said to be caused by “yin deficiency”, and interestingly, yin deficiency is also known to be a common cause of insomnia. This may be why yin tonics have been so effective at improving sleep over the thousands of years that they have been in use.

Our Shou Wu Plus tincture and our Shou Wu Tea contain longevity herbs that are also known as yin tonics, and have improved the sleep of many of our customers. Our Fem-Mate tincture also contains yin tonics, and may be used by our female customers to improve sleep, while also balancing their hormones and helping to relieve menopausal symptoms.

Further research is needed to clarify why changes in white matter integrity negatively affect sleep. But in the meantime, it appears that the traditional technique of using yin tonics to improve sleep has now been supported by Western science. If you struggle with insomnia, you should consider giving some of these remedies a try.


New Thoughts on Salt


According to Chinese medicine, too much salt weakens the kidneys. This theory has gone hand in hand with Western thinking, since salt is known to increase urinary output so that excess sodium is excreted, and the proper amount can be maintained in the blood.  This increase in urination places greater stress on the kidneys and can weaken them over time.

However, a new study testing Russian cosmonauts for their ability to handle long-term space travel has shown that this thinking is faulty. While there is increased urinary output when high amounts of sodium are eaten, it’s not because you drink more fluids. You may -feel- thirsty when you eat too much salt, but this study shows that you do not actually drink more water – you eat more food.

It now turns out that the high urinary output after salt ingestion occurs because glucocorticoids from the adrenals break down muscle and fat tissue for their fluid content. This break down of tissues also uses up more energy, which leads some scientists to suggest that increased salt intake may actually help with weight loss.  Previously, they had assumed that increased water intake after eating too much salt would cause you to gain water weight, not lose it.

It is not yet clear if increased ingestion of salt will help with weight loss, but even if it is, it would not be the best long-term solution for weight problems. Increased adrenal output of glucocorticoids would only weaken kidney/adrenal functioning in the long run. Since you actually feel hungrier when you eat more salt, the weight loss effect could also be blunted if you eat more calories than you use.

Read the original article on the NYTimes website for more details.

The Magic of Berberine


Berberine is a plant extract known for its strong yellow colour and bitter taste.  It’s present in high quantity in many well known bitter yellow herbs, like goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape root, Chinese scutellaria, and phellodendron.  Herbalists all over the world recommend plants containing berberine for their potent digestive effects.

In scientific studies, berberine has been proven to lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, and aid with weight loss.  Because berberine strongly stimulates the flow of bile, it can also be used to help relieve constipation and aid in the removal of excess hormones from the body, thereby relieving symptoms of conditions caused by hormone imbalances.

Our Coptis tincture contains the Chinese herb coptis, also known as goldthread, which has one of the highest amounts of berberine of any herb in the Chinese medicinal pharmacopia.

Excerpt:  “Several studies show a benefit of berberine in resetting PCOS. Taking berberine 500 mg three times daily for 3 months can reduce fasting plasma glucose, markers of insulin resistance, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, testosterone levels, and waist-to-hip ratios. Furthermore, berberine can increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and sex hormone binding globulin in women compared with placebo. In addition, berberine is superior to metformin, a common prescription for PCOS, at improving lipid parameters, reducing waist-to-hip ratio, and increasing SHBG in PCOS patients”.


Transform Your Pain, Heal the World


Negative emotions are painful. They’re also frightening. Even though everyone has experienced emotional pain, we’ll do virtually anything to avoid it.

A recent study done by social psychologists at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville found that 67% of men and 25% of women would chose to electrically shock themselves rather than sit quietly by themselves.  It’s when we sit quietly by ourselves that painful thoughts and emotions become hardest to avoid.

It’s understandable to want to avoid our thoughts and feelings, but by preventing them from being felt, we create a lot of stagnation in our bodies. This stagnation occurs particularly in our liver, which is the most emotion sensitive organ.  Prolonged denial of our emotions can make us sick.

If, however, we allow those emotions to be felt, if we sit and allow the pain to wash over us, we can transform it. Pain that is felt is no longer destructive. It becomes compassion, empathy, and understanding. Pain that is felt also becomes less frightening, and when we no longer fear pain, we are more capable of accepting the pain of others.

When we open ourselves to the pain of others, we begin to change the world.


Boosting Energy without Caffeine


Judging by the long morning line-ups at coffee shops like Starbucks or Tim Horton’s, there’s a society-wide coffee addiction going on.

And while coffee has recently been shown to have some health benefits, like a lowered risk of developing dementia, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, it’s wise not to overdo it.  Drinking too much coffee, particularly late in the day, can cause sleep problems and many people don’t like it’s addictive qualities.

According to Chinese medicine, caffeine is known to increase congestion in the liver, and if you have adrenal weakness, caffeine can cause over-stimulation of the adrenals that may eventually lead to adrenal exhaustion, and burn-out.  If you suffer from liver congestion or adrenal weakness, you should find other ways to boost your energy level.

Luckily, a new study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior shows that a brisk climb up the stairs will generate more energy than taking either caffeine pills or a placebo.  If you’re trying to break your coffee addiction, why not give it a try?  As a side benefit, it’ll also take you away from your desk and help you lose weight too.