Due to our modern lifestyles, we have lost centuries of herbal medicinal knowledge gained through trial and error by our ancestors. Traditional, or folk medicine was developed over generations within different societies well before the dawn of modern medicine.
Folk medicine has a rich history of cures: lots of studies have shown that folk medicine (particularly plant based) can play a major role in the healthcare of people worldwide.
From as far back as the 1600s, university-trained doctors would try to discredit folk medicine. Folk healers used small quantities of smallpox to immunise people long before the practice found favour with trained doctors 200 years later.
Unsurprisingly, modern investigations have shown the medical effectiveness of many herbal remedies and the benefits they can bring to lifestyle and diet.
The World Health Organization defines traditional medicine as ‘The sum total of knowledge, skill and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences, indigenous to different cultures, whether it can be explained or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness’.
In modern society, many of us are now too reliant on the advice and words of big pharmaceuticals, who have monopolised and synthesised nature’s gifts to then sell at inflated prices.
And in the West, we have largely lost most of what our ancestors handed down through the generations such as the recognition and names of plants, herbs and fruits – all of which are good for us and our well-being, both in body and mind. We have forgotten how to gather, dry and prepare what nature provides for us. In fact, we have lost just what it is that nature has to offer. In the East, however, knowledge of T.C.M (traditional Chinese medicine) is within reach of everybody. In most Asian urban households, families are well acquainted with herbal remedies. In rural areas the people tend to rely solely on herbal remedies, as herbs are their only source of health care.
If you visit any Chinese hospital you will still see their reliance on decoctions, extracts and tinctures in conjunction with certain Western medicines. Many hospitals and independent pharmacies will make up decoctions on the premises to save the patient the time and effort.
What is the Difference Between an Extract and a Tincture?
When used in alcohol, it is the amount of herb being used in the alcohol. An extract consists of one-part herb to one-part alcohol; a tincture is one-part herb to three parts alcohol.
Alcohol has been used medicinally for more than five thousand years. It was recorded in the Huang Di Nei Jing – the first medical book in China – two thousand years ago, and was the beginning of T.C.M.
If you are in tune with your body you may know it is trying to tell you something when you get a craving. For example, a craving for chocolate is the body telling you it needs a dose of the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine, which is important in the regulation of the body releasing endorphins, which result in a sense of relaxation.
Here are a Few Cravings Explained
- Craving fatty foods may mean you need more essential fatty acids. Try oily fish, eggs or avocado.
- Chocolate craving – this could mean your body is short on magnesium, chromium or b vitamins. Try nuts, seeds or whole grains.
- Craving starch and carbohydrates – this is a sign you are low on energy. Fill up on fruit, root vegetables and cruciferous vegetables.
- Sugar craving – this could be your body wanting fast energy; try fruit or berries. Some experts say we crave sugar when we are dehydrated, so drink water.
- Craving salt – this is linked to low levels of electrolytes, dehydration and stress. Eat more vitamin b foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
- Unusual cravings, things like dirt, chalk, or clay. These type of non-food cravings might suggest a mineral deficiency. Eat dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
The good thing is…. a little of what you fancy can do you good!
A V.I.P Jiu 8 a Day – Keeps the Doctor Away
Throughout Chinese history, alcohol has been a cultural symbol. China was one of the first countries to produce alcohol and it can be traced back over five thousand years, where it was endowed with spiritual and cultural values. According to the historical records from the Shang Dynasty – 1600 to 1046 B.C. – people drank alcohol and used it to worship their gods.
During our research into the V.I.P Jiu 8 recipe, we discovered the Chinese had been using herbs and alcohol for thousands of years, as a cure for a host of ailments.
Herbal remedies containing alcohol as a catalyst are included in all major Chinese classical works on herbal prescriptions. From the point of view of T.C.M all alcohol beverages are considered warming. The higher the alcohol, the warmer the drink. In small amounts, alcohol can supplement and move Qi blood, chase cold and vitalize the spirit.
Moderate consumption of alcohol may have a benefit in reducing the risk of developing heart disease, and possibly reduce the risk of coronary artery disease (where the arteries to the brain become narrowed, causing reduced blood flow).
There are a lot of published studies on the benefits of regular light to moderate alcohol intake, which include lower myocardial infarction rates, reduced heart failure rates, lower risk of dementia, decreased risk of diabetes and reduced risk of osteoporosis. This is only with light/moderate use. Any excessive drinking has no tangible benefits. Over time, biochemical changes have been identified, which explain the beneficial effects of moderate baijiu consumption.
Chinese doctors have discovered that blood pressure levels are different in three types of people:
- Alcoholics tend to have the highest blood pressure.
- Then next came the teetotaller whose blood pressure was yo-yo like.
- The surprise indicated that moderate drinkers were found to have the lowest blood pressure, suggesting that drinking small amounts of baijiu, for example, can reduce and regulate blood pressure
A study from a team of researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast found that people who drink in moderation are less likely to develop some stress-related disorders than those who don’t drink at all.
You Are What You Eat
Nutrients from the foods you eat provide the structure of each cell in your body – from the hair on your head, your skin, muscles and bones to your digestive and immune systems. The food you consume helps in the constant healing, repairing and building of your body.
The way to a healthy diet is to consume the correct number of calories to match your activities So you balance the energy intake with the energy output. If you consume more food or drink than your body needs, you will gain weight, because the unused energy is stored as fat. Also, you should eat a varied diet, so you are getting the balance and nutrients that your body requires.
Fruit and vegetables contain a whole range of vitamins and fibre. Research shows that people who eat fruit and vegetables are less likely to develop heart disease. Some examples are:
- Beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat all contain proteins, minerals and vitamins, which help maintain the body.
- Potatoes, bread, rice and pasta and other carbohydrates give you energy and a range of nutrients.
- Dairy and their alternatives contain proteins, vitamins and calcium, which aids in bone strength.
In China, T.C.M is part of their food culture and is a part of their everyday diet. Drinking alcohol with food slows down stomach emptying. This could have health benefits by slowing the stream of sugars and fats into the bloodstream.
Indulging in the odd cake, bar of chocolate or some other sweet treat now and then, or taking a tot of liquor, is not something to fear either. Scientists have found that the health-conscious – with their diet regimes – could do more harm to their well-being through the feelings of guilt they acquire in seeking a little physical pleasure by eating and drinking than the odd partaking of treats.
Research has proven happy people are healthier people and live longer!
Professor David Warburton, director of the human psychopharmacology group at Reading university, said ‘depriving people of simple pleasures by making them feel guilty, helps to create the psychological climate in which depression can flourish’.
The nine ingredients selected by the Kangxi Emperor used the V.I.P Jiu 8 recipe. They were intended to enter the stomach, spleen, lung, kidney and heart, to resolve dampness and qi stagnation. It strengthens the yang and tones the blood, inducing tranquillity, nourishing the liver and expelling cold.
Alcohol has been used medicinally for more than 5,000 years. As we mentioned earlier, using it as medicine was recorded 2,000 years ago in the Huang Di Nei Jing (皇帝内经), the first medical book in China and the foundation of T.C.M.
Some clinical data shows that moderate consumption of jiu (baijiu) may speed up blood circulation and improve the functioning of cardiovascular and circulatory systems. Yang and others studied health factors in relation to baijiu by using an in vitro model and found that pyrazine compounds (primarily tetramethyl pyrazine) are related to antioxidant activities, immunity enhancement, and reduction of triglycerides. It also has been proven through clinical studies that moderate consumption of baijiu every day may play a positive role in the digestion of food by dissolving nutrients and stimulating the digestive system; it also decreases the formation of blood clots and in turn may prevent arteriosclerosis. Therefore, moderate intake of baijiu is healthy and safe, although it is critical to control high intake.
An extract from: Baijiu (白酒), Chinese liquor: History, classification and manufacture by Xiao-Wei and Zheng Bei-Zhong Han.
For education purposes only. As with anything, moderation is the key… Ganbei!