The chinese are well known for making tonics for drinking and for applying to injuries. Anyone who has practiced chinese martial arts is familiar with ‘dit da jow’ or ‘hit medicine’. Dit da jow is usually a secret combination of herbs soaked in alcohol for several months to years and applied to injuries to speed up healing.
Taken internally, the tonics are often called ‘Spring Wine’. You can make your own chinese tonic spring wine with just a little bit of money and lots of time! I believe these home brews are much more powerful than anything you can buy in a bottle or pill at an herb shop.
I love to drink Shou Wu Chih and decided to make my own a few months ago. I bought a bottle in a chinatown herb shop and asked the owner to make up a batch of the raw herbs so I can soak them in rice wine and enjoy a fresh powerful home made batch. I had to buy 4 bottles of the highest percentage alcohol (38%) rice wine at the liquor store around the corner. When I got home, I added a bit of Rou Cong Gong, baji tian, du zhong and American Ginseng to add some kick to it. I tried a bit the other day to see how it was progressing and it was powerful! First of all, I slept like a baby after drinking a few shots. It was so strong, I had to mix some raw honey in there to make it palatable. Also, I have to say that this stuff increases nitric oxide production in the body. After a few days on this, my thinking was clearer, I easily felt 10 years younger. It makes you feel strong and powerful. So now I have a gallon of this stuff to work through! I didn’t measure my testosterone levels, but if I had to go by physical indicators, this stuff boosts testosterone levels!!
So, not stopping there, I found a great recipe for another batch here. This site has a jpg you can print out with the formula. It costs $15 in the united states to make up this batch (plus the alcohol). The owner remarked that this was a great formula and was really impressed that came in the store with it. However, I wanted to kick it up a few more notches. I added deer anter glue, korean ginseng, shou wu (fo ti) and goji berries. The blogger, happyhomemaker88 also had the same idea to add goji berries but complained they soaked up a bit of the wine.
The herbalist was impressed with my knowledge of chinese herbs and confirmed those were good additions. I wanted to do even more but was told “enough”..it was strong enough! Now I have to let this stuff soak a few months. I’ll try an early taste in 2-3 months and give a good 6 months.
I found a great way to enjoy your noodles. Just to recap, these are zero calorie all fiber noodles that taste like anything you cook them in. So, grab a bag of noodles and a can of chicken, beef or vegetable broth.
Empty the broth in a small pot, rinse the shirataki noodles (they stink a little) and pop them in. I like to add some Hijiki seaweed. Add some chicken, beef, mushroom or whatever you like. Bring the mixture to a light boil and enjoy.
This is a quick, filling meal that you’ll enjoy and is great to help you meet your health and diet goals!
Everyone knows that resveratrol has been shown to delay aging and has remarkable effects. However, I stumbled upon something very interesting. Did you know that aloe vera, the plant that you can grow in your home for almost nothing, has similar effects?
How come nobody is interested in exploring this study further? Click to see the study on Pubmed. Or here’s the abstract:
“Longevity extension in Drosophila melanogaster by feeding diet supplemented with chemicals throughout adulthood can cause harmful side effects. We tested the effect of larval diet supplementation with five different concentrations of resveratrol and one concentration of Aloe vera extract on the adult longevity of short-lived D melanogaster populations. Resveratrol and A vera extract supplementation of larval diet extended adult longevity in both the male and female flies without reducing fecundity but by efficient reactive oxygen species scavenging through increased antioxidant enzymes activity and better neuroprotection as indicated by increased locomotor activity in adult males.”
I remember years ago bringing an aloe vera plant home. We planted it outside and within a few years we had a farm of them. Too bad I wasn’t aware of it’s anti-aging free radical scavenging effects back then.
Many people know that you can put aloe vera on your skin to speed up healing of burns and cuts, but many people don’t know you can and should drink the stuff! Don’t grind up the skin, filet it and mix up the inner gel in a blender with some fresh squeezed orange juice. Or if you’re brave, drink it straight up!
I found this cool guy on the ‘net who loves his aloe and it works for him. Check him out!
Here’s a youtube clip showing a good way to prepare a refreshing and healthy drink.
I heard it helps you lose weight too!
A couple years ago, I purchased a Teding Diancibo Pu (TDP) Lamp for personal use. I was intrigued by it when an acupuncturist I visited used one to heat up my lower abdomen and the needles in my dantian area. He said it would help “increase chi”. Acupuncturists have been using various forms of heat for thousands of years to make the therapy more effective. These new heat lamps (purportedly invented in the 80s) are yet another way to introduce focused heat into the body. The literature on the net indicates that this heat lamp using a special ceramic plate that has minerals on it. It looks like this:
I currently am using it to help heal a sacro-iliac injury. 20 minutes into the heating session, it feels pretty good. I’m doubling up with a chinese patent medicine called “Touku Wan” which has a plethora of herbs for pain and healing. A quick scan shows such notables as Frankincense and Myrrh, Cinnamon, Licorice and Notopterigyii Root. The formula, however, is different than what I’m used to in the past. I’m not sure why the ingredients change so much.
I also purchased some fresh notoginseng root. I’ll write more about notoginseng in the future. Many people have never heard of this fantastic healing herb.
This tonic was a nice surprise. It’s a staple in most asian grocery stores and I never thought much of it. I started reading up on the amazing benefits of Royal Jelly–the food that makes a Queen Bee a Queen Bee (more details to come in a later post).
After drinking a few vials, I felt a sudden increase in energy and strength. This is good stuff–and without side effects. You can take it right before bed, it doesn’t make you jittery or nervous.
Try it before working out!
Check out this interesting study showing that royal jelly can increase testosterone and sperm production (in rabbits)
Well, the secret is out. While obese westerners continue to down thousands of calories in noodles and pastas, our eastern cousins are eating just as much, but with practically NO CALORIES!! How is that possible? Shirataki noodles or Yam Noodles look and taste like noodles and pasta made from wheat, but have almost no calories. Yes, you read it correctly–no calories. In fact, the noodles are mostly soluble fiber, which we know is great for lowering triglycerides and cholesterol and for improving digestion. It’s almost a dream come true for your typical overeating, overweight type II diabetic American. These noodles are tasteless, so they absorb whatever sauce you cook them in. The fiber reduces hunger all day and cleans out your intestines. It’s said that the average person has up to 20 lbs of compacted fecal matter in their intestine. This stuff will clean you out!
So, don’t skimp on your diet anymore, these low to no calorie, no gluten, low carb noodles are your slimming secret!
My latest food adventure is preparing a dried sea cucumber I bought in a Chinese Herb shop. Sea Cucumbers are very expensive, slightly disgusting looking, very tasty and sought after for their reputed tonic effects. They are often eaten at Chinese weddings and other special occasions in the East as a delicacy.
Sea Cucumbers can be bought already cleaned and soaked but the most common way to find them is dried. They resemble rocks or what you would imagine a petrified cucumber to look like. This picture is a dried one next to one that has soaked for one day:
Preparing them is a time consuming process. I haven’t been able to google a good procedure for preparing them. I’ve been told to boil them with ginger daily and let them soak all day, changing the water once or twice daily. After it softens a bit, slice them open to remove the innards. The sea cucumber must be scrubbed and rinsed daily.
This is another shot of the sea cucumber getting ready to be boiled with slices of ginger:
I know it looks disgusting, but after several days of soaking, boiling, and cleaning, this gelatinous and phallic culinary item will taste delicious.
I plan to saute it with some mushrooms and oyster sauce!
Recently I posted about a great Chinese Tonic Patent Medicine I found called Gejie Bushing Wan.
However, you have to be aware of a big problem if you’re not careful in Chinatown. I’m finding more and more instances of knock offs and counterfeits. If you don’t check your ingredients, you’ll learn the hard way. For example, the Gejie Bushing Wan I mentioned above was about 6 bucks and had a plethora of tonic herb ingredients. I found a two dollar version that looked exactly the same, why would I think the ingredients were different? Of course, the cheaper version was missing all the active herbal ingredients.
Be careful with Shou Wu Chih too. I get a lot of hits for Shou Wu Chih on this site, so there’s alot of interest on it. However, read the ingredients!! There’s a knock off version out there that doesn’t have the full ingredients.
Someone joked that “made in China” is becoming the ultimate warning label. I hope this will not become a truth, however, I’m going to have to stop recommending Chinese herbs if problems continue with counterfeits, fakes, contamination and other problems stemming from greed and carelessness. What makes this tragic is that people turn to Chinese tonic herbs to improve their health and well being.
Good news and bad news. First the bad news. Be very careful taking chinese patent medicines from the herbal shops. Many of these supposedly “safe” herbals are contaminated with prescription drugs and worse — toxic metals like Mercury and Arsenic.
Read this good article that mentions many popular medicines and what problems were found: Patent Medicines and Contamination .
Now with that out of the way, I did find a cool one that is on the good list. It’s a “kidney nourishing” tonic made from gecko and other nitric oxide potentiating herbs. It’s called Gejie Bu Shing Wan and looks like this:
Here’s what a gecko looks like if you got it in your herbal prescription from an herbalist:
Typically you would boil one of these with your other tonic herbs in a tea or a soup. Bon Appetit!
I found an interesting tonic in a local supermarket. It was a bag of pumpkin seed powder. Since it was only about $1.20, I decided to throw it in the basket and try it out. To my surprise, it tasted delicious. It’s a taste that’s hard to describe, obviously nutty like peanut butter, but oddly foreign. It’s dark green in color too. Weird but good.
I always knew pumpkin seeds had the reputation for boosting testosterone and libido (commonly thought to be because of it’s high zinc content) but I was surprised to find that there is much research regarding pumpkin seeds and urinary incontinence and for a healthy prostrate. The bladder control is due to pumpkin seed being able to boost nitric oxide levels. Read this: rabbits and pumpkin seeds.
Try this stuff out and let me know what you think!
Decided you want to try eating beef tendon regularly?
Don’t have access to an authentic chinese restaurant?
Can’t figure out how to make it?
I stumbled on a way to make it better than I’ve tasted in any Chinese restaurant in NYC. All you need is a slow cooker, a can of chicken broth (no msg), seasoning and time.
I use Swanson Chicken broth because it has no MSG and no added fat:
Open the can and put it in the slow cooker. Add 2 large beef tendons.
Season with powdered garlic,onion, etc. I used Oscar’s Oxtail Seasoning:
If you want to step it up a notch, add polygonum multiflorum, the main ingredient in Shou Wu Chih and some Goji Berry.
A word of caution..I went overboard with the chinese herbs. I tried some eucommia bark, and some other tonics and it ended up tasting pretty bad. My advice is to limit the tonic herbs to mild tasting ones like Shou Wu, which is actually tasty. Don’t ruin your beef tendon!
Let the slow cooker do it’s stuff for 8 hours or more. You’ll have the most tender, wonderful tasting beef tendon that rivals the best chinese restaurant.
Most people consider offal to be pretty disgusting. Offal is considered to be anything other than the muscle and bones of a butchered animal. There are many cultures that eat this stuff on a regular basis or consider them delicacies. For example, tripe (intestine) makes a delicious anti-hangover remedy in Mexico called ‘Menudo’. Pork Skin is a skin beautifier in Vietnam. Tendon is eaten in china to build strength and as an arthritis remedy. Browse any asian supermarket and you’ll find an assortment of hearts, livers, kidneys and even uterus for your fine dining pleasure! I think in modern society, we miss out on these essential foods. It’s not natural to only eat fine cuts of meat — muscle. The human race was built on eating every part of the animal. As I think of it, frankfurters and sausages are probably a pretty good way to get these things in your diet. So is head cheese.
For anti-aging, I feel it’s important to get collagen in your diet. You can’t get collagen by only eating fine cuts of beef. You need to eat tendon, oxtail, pork skin. You can find some great recipes online or visit an authentic asian restaurant and try something new. One thing you can try is the famous vietnamese soup called ‘Pho’ or beef noodle soup. They often throw in tendon and some tripe. It’s considered very healthy and a strength builder in asia. Try it!
Manhattan’s chinatown has at least 3 liquor stores that I’m aware of and probably a lot more. What makes chinatown liquor stores special is that they carry an assortment of chinese medicinal wines. There is one popular wine called Lu Wei Ba (I can’t seem to find a good picture of it anywhere). It’s basically an alcohol extract of deer tail. Deer tail is used in traditional chinese medicine as a tonic. It strengthens the lower back, legs and knees. I’ll publish a recipe soon for Deer Tail Soup, which I found to have a super tonic effect on me that lasted throughout the next few days. I especially noticed my legs felt like they had twice their normal strength after drinking this soup.
A few weeks ago, I found a chinese wine called Chang Chun Yao Chiew from Royal King. Unfortunately, the ingredients were not listed and apparently it’s a secret formula. The word “Yao” gives a clue, “Yao” usually refers to the waist (which means the lower torso and upper legs. This is supposed to be a kidney/liver tonic. Since it came from Royal King, I was comfortable buying it. Royal King is a reputable herbal tonic company. I can’t say I felt a super tonic effect, but I can say the nights I took it, I slept very well. I went through a 750ml bottle fairly quickly. I think this is something that should be taken for awhile to feel it’s effects. In the meantime, I’ll try to hunt down the formula for this tonic.
Browse a chinatown liquor store. Many of these tonics come in attractive bottles. Ask for one called ‘three whips’..i’ll explain that one in another post!
The greatest tonic is already inside us. Our bodies can produce a healing tonic of hormones, chemicals and other substances when we are happy and at peace. We can produce this state by relaxing. Most people don’t know how to relax or that there is even a technique to it. The best we can do is take a walk, listen to music or do some mindless activity and think we’re relaxed. However, there actually is a technique to relaxing. Although this may seem like an oxymoron, it takes practice to relax. Relaxation is a big part of chinese martial art training. It’s called ‘Sung’ in chinese. If you were to study a chinese internal martial art and certain other disciplines, you would most likely learn techniques to produce relaxation and exercises to test and develop this relaxation. One really good system that is accessible to westerners has been popularized by Koichi Tohei, who is a master of the Japanese martial art of Aikido. In this system, Tohei developed exercises that test the extent of relaxation in your body. He even developed a system to work at perfecting the level of relaxation. One of my favorite books ever is Tohei’s Book of Ki available in my amazon store. He teaches breathing techniques and other exercises called Ki Tests.
Here’s a simple way to relaxation. If you’d like more detailed instruction, please indicate so!
Find a posture that is easy to maintain and allows for the lowest part of your abdomen to freely expand and contract with your breath (don’t worry if you can’t feel that yet). Allow your body to settle and notice your inhale and exhale. Find what part of your abdomen or torso expands with your inhale and exhale without forcing anything. Just observe and make no judgements. Release any holding in your body starting from the top of your head down to your feet every time you exhale. Your elbows will feel like they are lengthening, your chest will release and top of your head will soar upwards. As your elbows lengthen, the top of your shoulders (where an important acupuncture point is and where many people feel sore upon touch) will release. (Some martial artists say ‘drop elbow, release/sink shoulder’.)The more you release, the lower in your torso you will feel your breath on inhale. It takes time and practice. You might fall asleep. Just keep at it and your body will produce the best tonic.
In traditional chinese medicine, you want to feel a warm abdomen and a cool head. When the feeling of heat rises to the head, it’s considered a bad thing. The aim of many chinese health systems is to reverse the heat to move downwards. It’s not uncommon to hear of analogies of a pot boiling in the lower abdomen. Like this:
This is something you can’t eat, but have to do. The Eight Pieces of Brocade exercise has a long history and there are many many versions and interpretations of this exercise. I, of course, will give you the right one. All kidding aside, I did get some insight into the proper intent and result for each exercise. Over the years, I have also honed my own understanding and developed theories of my own regarding why this particular set of exercises are deemed effective and have managed to survive for hundreds of years.
One legend states that a wandering monk invented these exercises after witnessing the poor condition of fellow monks who spent their days sitting in meditation and not exercising. This set of exercises was meant to keep the physical body in good condition.
There isn’t alot recorded about these exercises. I was told there were some cave or tablet drawings with basic instructions or ‘songs’. These songs were devices to remember the main points. They are largely unhelpful if you haven’t been taught the exercises. Therein lies the problem with a lot of traditions, arts or practices that have been revived from ‘old manuscripts’. One simply can not learn effectively from old manuscripts.
These exercises are very old and steeped in traditional chinese medical theory. That means that each exercise focuses on the body from the traditional chinese medical view of the body. An exercise will focus on a meridian (energy channel) or organ or both. In chinese medicine organs are more than just body parts like we tend to understand from a Western viewpoint. In Chinese Medicine, organs are connected to each other ‘energetically’ and control other parts of the body and emotions. Some organs don’t really exist physically, like the Triple Burner. The triple burner is an organ that is the focus of the first exercise, Holding up the sky to regulate the triple burner.
Stand with feet together or no more than shoulder width apart, arms at sides. While you start to inhale, synchronize your breath and the raising of your arms until they reach above your head, palms facing the sky. Again, from their position at the sides of your body, bring them together in front of you, turn them palm up and raise them up the front of your body. As you pass your chin, start to rotate them over so they face away from you. At the end you should be looking up and stretching your hands above you as if you were trying to push up or “hold up” the sky. Keep pushing and stretching and inhaling for a few moments and then exhale, bringing your arms back to their starting position. Relax.
Keep Inhaling to create pressure in your lower abdomen. Don’t hold the breath at the end, but keep inhaling
make sure the sides of your torso feel a stretch. Look on an acupuncture map for the triple burner meridian and make sure you feel it stretch.
Anything else is purely academic. These exercises were meant to be SIMPLE!! Don’t fall for complications or other “secrets”. These are not rocket science.
These were meant to be basic training exercises. I know a lot of people want to complicate these exercises with a lot of additional theories and points. Some of these additional points are very good, don’t get me wrong. However, they are probably additional points added from understanding and practices of deeper, more sophisticated internal arts or practices.
Keep this one simple. Remember the main points and that’s it.