Vervain (verbena officinalis) is one of the 38 Bach flowers used to treat mental and emotional stresses in Bach flower therapy.

A general description: Vervain is for those with fixed principles and ideas, which they are confident are right and rarely change, and those intolerant of the opinions of others. This therapy is well-suited for individuals who insist on forcing their views onto others. Often, these types of individuals mean no harm but have difficulty accepting that others also have views to share. Vervain-type persons have a strong will and courage when reaching for their goals.

If you happen to watch The Vampire Diaries, you may have heard of this plant (though it may not be of the same variety). The season picks up with a new episode tonight!


Ignorance Is Damaging

I’ve been most wonderfully blessed to be on a service with a consultant who blatantly insults any and every thing to do with natural medicine. I can’t help but wonder if it’s even more so given my family history (he knows my Dad!) in natural medicine. He can’t possibly think that I’d have no influences from it…can he? Two weeks into this surgery clerkship and I’m well versed with the fact that this great doctor doesn’t even seem to believe in the importance of vitamins (a concept that baffles me, as medical students are taught about vitamins, their structures and importance to health in biochemistry during the first year).

Oftentimes one hears “Ignorance is bliss” but in the medical profession, ignorance is damaging.

We had a patient who we took to surgery to have her gallbladder removed due to gallstones. Her file said that she takes Cod Liver Oil everyday and my great consultant proclaims “she could avoid surgery if she just stopped swallowing oil and her symptoms would just go away!” She could’ve honestly avoided the whole experience if she just did a liver and gallbladder detox. To clarify, cod liver oil isn’t going to make more gallstones and worsen the problem. In fact, they help prevent them. They’re the good fats containing omega 3 fatty acids that we need and, unlike regular cooking oil, does not need bile to be broken down so the gallbladder is just fine. But before you take cod liver oil for the goodness of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D, you’d need to get rid of the gallstones first, safely and effectively by cleansing the liver and gallbladder.

Remember, good oils to consume for supplementation are fish oils and cod liver oil (the difference between the two is that fish oils do not contain vitamins A and D like cod liver oil). The most popular good cooking oils are extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. We use macademia nut oil in my household. Oils like canola, vegetable and peanut are heavily worked on by the gallbladder which must produce lots of bile to break down the complex fats so that they can pass through the digestive tract safely.

Had he known this, that patient could’ve been saved from the pains and dangers of unnecessary surgery. It’s a little sad but it happens all the time. Many doctors too often choose to avoid natural or alternative therapies so they choose not to know anything about it. Due to his belief that cod liver oil makes gallbladder problems worse, he tells his patients and that’s what the patients learn. It is the duty of a doctor to teach, a principle shared with medical students of all facilities, natural and conventional. But to lend the wrong information to keen ears can result in unnecessary actions for a patient.

Ironically, my surgery consultant’s favourite saying is “You don’t know that you don’t know.” Teach what you know not what you don’t know. Clearly, he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. Just like how he told us that coconut water has no healthy property to it. Seriously? Well, that’s another story for another day.

Longjing Green Tea – The Best Green Tea

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Longjing Tea Village in Hangzhou, China last summer. Here, I had the opportunity to learn a little about the tea-making process here where they create the green tea that’s known as the world’s best. I also got to view a very fascinating demonstration of the properties of the green tea…it was so quick and fascinating that I didn’t have time to pull out my camera and hit ‘record’. Every time I think back, I really wish I had. I’ll try doing it myself someday.

The Process & Grading

Longjing green tea, also known as dragon well green tea, is grown, handpicked, compacted and dried by hand. No factories, processors or chemicals are involved in the production of the tea. Longjing green tea, like most other green teas produced in China, does not undergo the natural fermentation process where the enzymes in the leaves act on the juices and tissues of the leaves (not the type of fermentation with yeast). The unfermented green tea results in higher quality, healthier green tea. This type of fermentation process is saved for teas such as oolong and black tea.

The quality of longjing green tea depends on the time of the year at which the tea is picked. As a result, a number of grades of green tea is produced. I’m sorry to say my memory is poor but I do believe 4 grades were set before us and were labelled as (lowest to highest) the C-grade, B-grade, A-grade and Emperor-grade. The earlier the tea leaves are picked during spring, the higher the grade is expected to be and the difference between grades is relatively easy to observe.

The Emperor-grade is, by far, the most exceptional there is and, of course, the most expensive of the tea leaves. In fact, I was informed that their village didn’t have to pay as high taxes as other cities because they send Emperor-grade green tea to the government! These tea leaves are usually picked around the middle to end of March, the A-grade in early April, B-grade after mid-April and C-grade after June. Of all the leaves picked, super high quality leaves may be found after March and are rightfully added to the Emperor batch.

Our tea village guide was kind enough to let us know that the worst of the tea leaves are usually used in the tea bags of green tea we see selling in supermarket. No wonder it’s so cheap.

The Antioxidant Demonstration

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The Mind-Body Connection

There are a number of aspects to healing. In complementary and alternative medicine, a person is treated holistically, taking into account mental, emotional and physical stresses.

A definition shared with people of all walks of life from young to old, the W.H.O. defines health as “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” While this is taught to everyone, conventional medicine is so divided that it’s not often one comes across a doctor who will treat mental, emotional and physical together. Psychiatrists and psychologists take care of the mental and emotional dimensions of the whole body. They are the ones who’ll sit and chat with you about your life for an hour. All other aspects of conventional medicine deal with the physical dimension and even this is divided into specialties and again into subspecialties. These guys deal with all the physical manifestations of disease…symptoms with a root cause that is rarely discovered. Symptoms are often treated and, I’ve learnt so far, many diseases have a number of causes many of which are unknown.

There are three dimensions of a being: body, mind and soul. All of these are so intricately connected. The manifestations of a disease could be the result of a past emotional trauma or spiritual torment. But these are rarely explored by individuals trained thoroughly in the physical being.

However, it’s safe to say that these connections are being more widely recognised with the emergence of psychoneuroimmunology in the 1990s. This field of research explores the interactions between the nervous and immune systems, trying to understand the relationship of behaviour and health.

Therapies like aromatherapy and Bach flower therapy utilise the healing power of nature to create a link for mind-body healing. These are therapies used not only for humans but animals as well. After all, I believe every animal possesses the same three dimensions as we do. Techniques such as meditation and yoga also help with the mind-body connection.

So, should you or anyone you know suffer from any infirmity, remember that it may not be a manifestation of just physical internal calamity but emotional or spiritual as well, whether it’s obvious or not.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

~ Buddha


Happy links: Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS)A New Take on Psychoneuroimmunology (Article)

The Irony of Man

I find it funny how some people boast about being old-fashioned in thinking but trust modern medicine and drugs more than the traditional natural ones. Don’t get me wrong, many things have advanced in a great way in modern medicine. Diagnostic tools and surgical techniques have improved giving many people better diagnoses and prognoses but what about the healing part of modern medicine? Pharmaceutical drugs are riddled with negative effects on the body and temporarily aleve symptoms rather than solve the problem. Hundreds of years ago these things didn’t exist but we’re here, aren’t we? All the natural and traditional medicines used before obviously worked since our race hasn’t died away from some disease so why do so many seek to ignore them, discard them and call those who practice this form of medicine “quacks”? I’d say themedicine men, magic healers and quacks back in the old days must’ve done something right and should be praised rather than ridiculed.

It’s ironic too that some people who claim to be very religious and believe in a higher power will also say that they don’t trust alternative medicine because there’s no scientific research to back them up so that must mean they don’t work.

Research requires an astronomical amount of funding to be properly conducted. Who funds this research? The grand pharmaceutical companies that earn bundles of cash from every pain killer you buy or every oral contraceptive or every statin or every vaccine purchased. They fund the research projects that benefit them the most. Besides, research is being done all over the world in natural health science, you just need to open your mind, open your eyes and look for it.

Thousands upon thousands of persons have studied disease. Almost no one has studied health.

~ Adelle Davis

The pH Balance

In chemistry we learn that some compounds are acidic and some compounds are basic and we experiment with different compounds, mixing them and bonding them to produce an overall acidic, neutral or basic product.

We are living chemistry.

What is pH?

pH stands for the potential for freeing hydrogen ions. The difference between acidity and alkalinity is based on the ability to free hydrogen ions.

Your biological pH is a basically measure of the cleanliness or filth of your body. Essentially, it is your life. Your quality of health is dependent on the pH level of your body.

The optimal pH range is slightly alkaline, sitting at 7.35 – 7.45. Anything above or below is considered a major imbalance and leads to disease states. Our bodies are alkaline by design but acid by function. The millions of processes occurring in our bodies produce waste products causing an acid environment. This waste is excreted by sweat or urine and alkaline minerals like calcium are used to neutralize the acids produced as the body works to maintain an optimal pH level.

The food we eat affects our pH. Acid foods create higher levels of acidity (reduces the pH) while alkaline foods can increase and maintain the pH level of the body. Alkaline foods are the helpers while acid foods are the criminals.

How can I improve/maintain my pH?

  1. Eat more raw foods. Balanced raw food diets are rich in alkaline minerals such as plant-based calcium and magnesium. All sorts of green veggies contain alkaline minerals.
  2. Eat less foods containing phosphates. Phosphates bind to calcium and prevent its absorption reducing calcium and pH levels. Dietary phosphates are in all carbonated beverages and animal protein.

Improvement of an acid pH level takes quite some time. Reversing the acidic environment is a lot more difficult than creating it. Just like walking up a hill is more difficult a task than walking down.

pH scale


Read more about pH balancing at: The Wolfe

Raw Food Power


It’s only too often that more and more people of the modern age prefer to have everything they consume cooked. Much of the typical Western diet consists of a lot of cooked and processed foods, and very little, if any, raw foods.

At least 75% of the food we eat shouldn’t be heated over 116°F (47°C). High temperatures destroy most, if not all, of the good compounds like vitamins, minerals and health-promoting phytochemicals resulting in decreased nutritional value.

People who eat more raw foods have decreased risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer along with improved energy performance, skin appearance and digestion.

A naturopath once told me about a client of his who was suffering from advanced bone cancer. She was to the point where she couldn’t sit in a car for fear that the rough roads would cause fractures in her brittle bones; instead she had to be laid down in the backseat. To her dismay, she was not able to afford any of the products recommended by the naturopath. She lived on a farm so he recommended that she begin a strict raw food diet. Strict. Six months later she walked into his office on her own two feet. She drove from home and came to buy some vitamins.

The components of raw vegetables are such that it improves our quality of life, making the internal environment more alkaline so that enzymes in the body can work at their optimum. The typical modern diet is very acidic with cooking oils, processed foods and beverages and snacks.

Think of your body as an office and your enzymes are your employees: a dirty office that’s never cleaned and reflects a bad environment won’t produce happy hardworking employees. It’s difficult to work in such hard conditions. But when you maintain the cleanliness of your office environment, your workers will be more willing to work and will work much harder than in a dirty dingy office. Right now, your enzymes are very likely to be working in an acid environment because most people have acidic bodies. An occasional cleanse always helps but constant maintenance results in better moods and better health and – unless by ended by accident – longer life. After all, we have only one short life to live so who wants to make it even shorter while spend it feeling down and miserable and sick?

And did I mention that cancers cannot grow or survive in alkaline environments?

“Health is not valued till sickness comes”

– Thomas Fuller