Hawthorne Berry A Holiday Favorite

hawthorne berries close 6 Jan 12

Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus monogyna or C. douglasii) and Chinese Crataegus (Shan Zha) is an herb that is extremely popular is both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine alike. In Chinese Medicine we use Shan Zha to alleviate food stagnation by assisting in digesting meats and greasy foods and to nourish the heart and improve circulation. In Western Medicine hawthorn berry is used to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and a great herb for overall cardiac and circulatory health. Since we just had the most gluttonous of all holidays (Thanksgiving) I thought it would be a great herb to focus on this month.

It was Thanksgiving 23 years ago that I decided to go vegetarian, and then subsequently vegan and more recently gluten free. When I was 12 I had my first pet, Buddy, a parakeet. This little bird really made me think twice about the turkey focused holiday and I decided I could not eat my beloved Buddy’s turkey friend. So I am thankful for Buddy for laying the groundwork for many positive changes that I have come to make. I am also very thankful for my amazing and supportive family. Okay now back to the topic at hand… hawthorn berries!!!

Since we tend to eat lots of high fat foods during the holidays hawthorn berries are a perfect herb to help us digest our favorite holiday foods. Hawthorn berries are available in tea, tincture, powdered and capsule form. Making tea is a great way to enjoy this herbal medicine and you can have it with your meals to help you digest your food.

Hawthorn Berry Tea

  • 1-2 teaspoons dried berries
  • 1 cup water

Bring water and berries to a boil, reduce heat to let simmer while covered for 10-15 minutes. Strain out the berries and enjoy! Can also add some sweetener and or lemon juice to taste. A sprinkle of cinnamon is good too.

Formulas for Improving Digestion

There are many great Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas for eliminating food stagnation and helping to aid digestion of our heavy holiday meals.

Bao He Wan- Contains hawthorn and other herbs like Shen Qu* (fermented massa) to digest all types of foods. *Shen Qu is a fermented product, but sometimes contains gluten.

Curing Pills (Kang Ning Wan)- is another great formula for reducing food stagnation, but again contains Shen Qu (gluten).

Mu Xiang Shen Qi Wan- aids in digestion and is even supportive for digestive issues from a stomach flu. Gluten Free!!!

Even though there are great formulas and herbs to improve digestion the best way to feel good over the holidays is to eat healthy foods, eat slowly and chew your food!!!

Here is a great site for getting Hawthorn Berries and some interesting history and folklore too… Have fun!

 

 

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Fall Into Health with TCM

leaves

Autumn in Traditional Chinese Medicine is associated with the Metal element. The Metal element correlates to the Lungs and Large Intestine. Their primary function is to take in new things and let go of the old. The Lungs control inhalation-exhalation and also control the opening and closing of our pores. Our skin is governed by the Lungs and one way to renew and give new life to our Lungs is through our skin. Our skin protects us from any external evils also known as pathogens like bacteria or viruses. Here are some steps for supporting the Lungs during the fall.

  1. Practice meditation that involves focus on breathwork. For instance the mantra by Thich Nhat Han, “breathing in I relax breathing out I smile”
  2. Take care of our skin and help it let go of what is not wanted. Exfoliate your whole body with a sugar or salt scrub. See recipe below.
  3. Use a detoxifying massage oil to nourish your skin and perform lymph massage while applying the oil. See this site for making calendula oil, a detoxifying oil you can make at home. You can also just use some extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Or spice it up by adding a couple drops of your favorite essential oils.
  4. Nourish your Lungs with food. Pears are a great food to moisten the Lungs if you have a dry cough or tend towards dryness in your body. You can also make stewed pears (add walnuts to tonify the yang) that nourishes the yin and yang and is aromatic to help open the Lungs.
  5. Take an herbal formula to support our Wei qi or protective qi. Like Jade Windscreen Yu Ping Fang San. This supports the Lungs and prevents us from catching a cold or flu. Come in to see Genevieve to help you get the right formula for your constitution.

Have a beautiful Fall and stay healthy and happy!

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Lovely Calendula Blooming in the Garden

 

Spicy and Sweet Body Scrub 6oz.

  • ½ cup brown sugar or turbinado sugar or sea salt*
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • (can use almond or sesame oil as well)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (powdered)
  • ½ teaspoon ginger (powdered)
  • ½ teaspoon clove (powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground rice
  • (or 20 drops vanilla essential oil)
  • *optional* add 10 drops cinnamon EO

Mix all ingredients in a glass or metal bowl, using a whisk to uniformly mix. Scoop into storage container. Use on moistened skin to exfoliate, then rinse. Not intended for using more than 1 x per week. *Can also use sea salt for this recipe, especially Epsom salt to penetrate tight muscles. Use caution since salt is more abrasive and can sting on freshly shaven or sensitive skin.