Traditional Asian doctors accept the fundamental connection of body, mind, and spirit. They express that notion of wholeness every time they recommend an herbal combination that improves all three at once. Herbs act as catalysts to enhance vitality and longevity by helping to prevent illness, fatigue, mental apathy, and even spiritual alienation. Asian herbal remedies have also been traditionally used to promote mental calm and clarity. Because self-observation is necessary for choosing herbs, self-awareness can increase.
Two important ingredients in spiritual awakening are love and generosity. For them we need vitality, courage, and self-awareness. A person with chronic physical problems will often have corresponding mental and emotional problems that make spiritual work difficult. Which comes first--a physical or emotional problem--does not really matter; they can both be improved by using herbs.
In order to find the best health regime, you need to observe vitality the way an Asian doctor would. Energy imbalances--including physical symptoms--can point to five emotional impediments to spiritual growth--anxiety, depression, hopelessness or grief, fear, and anger.
Anxiety stops the heart's yearning for the divine with immobilizing panic. You may be building anxiety without knowing it. Do you often have a flushed complexion? Are you frequently agitated or overexcited? You may be overheating yourself with stimulants such as coffee, hot spices, cigarettes, overwork, or jet lag. You may have long-term imbalances such as menopausal hot flashes, high cholesterol, or an underlying feverish condition. A person who often has a flushed complexion, heart irregularities, or agitated emotions may also feel tightness in the chest. Anxiety also makes it harder for us to function under stress.
Foods and herbs that reduce cholesterol and provide antioxidants, such as green and black tea, are very helpful for reducing anxiety. Research done by Harvard heart specialist Dr. Michael Gaziano indicates that drinking at least one cup of black tea a day could cut the risk of heart attack by 44%; the benefits probably are due to the powerful amounts of natural substances in tea known as flavonoids, vitamin-like nutrients that make blood cells less prone to clotting. Herbs that strengthen the heart, such as hawthorn, can be taken in capsule form after meals. It is especially recommended for heart weakness and irregularity, high cholesterol, and fatigue after eating.
Depression may be able to open the door to our search for the divine, but it can also obscure our path. Depression is like a thick glue, holding us back and prolonging our suffering. When God calls, will you be behind the door crying? Depression makes it harder to think and to follow our best persuasion. Depression is often felt as a deep uneasiness, a tightness or weariness in the chest, and a feeling of being cut off from ourselves. A person with digestive difficulties will frequently experience blood-sugar ups and downs, spacey thinking, and depression.
Traditional Chinese digestive remedies always do more than settle the stomach. Herbal combinations such as xiao yao wan
pills maintain the health of digestive organs while also helping to maintain healthy blood-sugar balance and better concentration, energy, blood production, and mood. Xiao yao wan contains ginger, mint, and bupleurumto strengthen stomach and liver function. Three blood-building ingredients--dong kuei, atractylodes, and paeonia--aim to increase vitality. Poria and raw licorice root help reduce spasm and bloating. All together, the combination of digestive and strengthening herbs found in xiao yao wan promote a feeling of centeredness that reduces depression and anxiety while preventing hypoglycemia.
Hopelessness or grief can drown our desire to follow our ideals. A person with difficult breathing from asthma or smoking will more likely experience low energy, congestion, and mental cloudiness because of reduced oxygen. Sickness and chronic pain lead to low enthusiasm and fear of the future. However, energizing herbs and a wise diet can bolster our courage: We feel more capable of handling life's challenges. The following herbs are helpful for promoting strength and endurance: nettle and ginseng of the Chinese, American, and Siberian varieties. Nettle supports adrenal energy and reduces allergies and stress. It is usually recommended to take capsules between meals.
Several types of ginseng work to reduce stress and build endurance. Such tonics work to improve circulation, digestion, and elimination of impurities. Eventually, they reduce chronic pain. Chinese ginseng is a warming tonic suitable for weak people with low blood pressure. American ginseng works best for overheated people with chronic thirst, diabetes, or hot flashes. Siberian ginseng rebuilds the nervous system. In large doses of more than 200 milligrams, it increases testosterone. It is wise to take a combination formula of these ginsengs.
Anger, a major stumbling block to spiritual awakening, may be the hot rage of indignation, the simmer of disgust, the flames of envy or jealousy, or the charred demon of insanity. Hatred throws us off kilter and harms our chances of redemption until we see it, name it, and cast it out. This is made possible by cleansing and cooling body and mind of impurities with bitter herbs. You can begin again fresh, cleansed, and renewed. Spring cleansing fasts have long been a traditional way to accomplish it.
Bitter cleansing herbs are often used in renewal rituals. Hyssop is mentioned in the Passover feast. Hyssop is antiseptic, cooling, and cleansing, as are dandelion and honeysuckle flowers. Used as a tea, dandelion and honeysuckle flowers reduce eczema and nervous rashes. Skullcap reduces irritability, hot flashes, and insomnia. Evening primrose oil capsules reduce inflammatory pain, including arthritis, headaches, and menstrual pain. Coptis reduces high blood pressure and dizziness.
The characteristic jaundiced appearance of someone with liver or gall bladder problems is a sign of congestion, inflammation, and pain. An excellent Chinese remedy for headache, constipation, mouth and eye sores, or herpes is found in lung tan xie gan wan
pills. They contain 20% gentian, which is often used in digestive bitters. The other ingredients are digestive herbs. The usual dosage is six to 10 pills as needed after meals. But the dosage can be increased during times of extreme anger. Cleansing herbs help the liver to function better. With improved liver function, we can better absorb calcium and other soothing minerals.
Herbal doctors have long recommended remedies to soothe disturbed thoughts and emotional upset as well as reduce physical pains. Herbs encourage wholeness and balance, which not only form the basis of health but also the path to love. Because when our heart is the calm center of our body, love radiates to all. Simply put, we can love greater when we are happy and healthy.