Well, it was a late Autumn this year and it left as quickly as it arrived. Now it’s time to look forward to the upcoming Winter holidays; a time for family, friends, and festivities of food and drink. From here on out, it’s all about spiced cider, cocoa, turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, casseroles, gravy, pies, and other delicious goodies. While my taste buds are shivering with anticipation, my poor stomach is quivering with anxiety about all the work it’s going to have to do over the next few months.
But what if I told you, that in addition to continuing as many healthy eating habits as you can, there is a way to enjoy the holidays without having to deal with uninvited guests like heartburn, indigestion, bloating, constipation, headaches, and other nasty digestive issues. The answer lies in an ancient herbal remedy known as Bao He Wan, which literally translates at “Preserve Harmony Pill”.
Bao He Wan can be taken before and after a night of indulgence to help you properly and thoroughly digest a delicious and rich meal. And since I know many of you are wondering, Bao He Wan is also a helpful supplement to prevent and curb the side effects of a night of one to many libations, making it a legitimate “hangover remedy.” But alas, it cannot do anything to stop your crazy old uncle Jerry’s stories, no matter how many times you tell him there is no way he had to walk uphill both ways to school – in the snow – in bare feet – 365 days a year.
The chief medicinal in Bao He Wan is a digestive herb known as “Shan Zha”, or by its common name, Hawthorn Berry. Shan Zhan contains several medicinal actions. First, it acts as a digestive aid by stimulating GI secretions, enzymatic functions, and promoting optimal peristalsis (the movement of food through the GI tract). Because of its harmonizing function, Shan Zha can encourage bowel movements where there is constipation and inhibit the bowels where there is diarrhea.
Western medical research has also recognized the many benefits of Shan Zha, specifically its high concentration of bioflavonoids, which help reduce blood pressure and increase circulation in the coronary arteries. As such, Shan Zha is a great medicinal for managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and coronary artery disease. In fact, I frequently encourage patients with a family history heart disease to start incorporating Shan Zha into their life to protect their hearts.
The supporting medicinals in Bao He Wan include Shen Qu (medicated leaven), Lai Fu Zi (Daikon radish seed), Ban Xia (pinellia rhizome), Chen Pi (citrus peel), Fu Ling (poria), and Lian Qiao (forsythia). Shen Qu and Lai Fu Zi act as supportive digestive aids, while ban xia works as an anti-phlegmatic. Chen Pi supports both digestive and anti-phlegmatic activity and literally moves Qi in the digestive system. Fu Ling works to drain the body of dampness, making it great for bloating and swelling. Lian Qiao purges heat and toxins. Together, these herbs work harmoniously together to give your body the digestive edge it will likely need this Winter!
Safety: While Bao He Wan is safe to take for almost every “excess type” digestive malady, it is not recommended for individuals with weak/compromised digestion and it is absolutely contraindicated for pregnant women.
So, where can you get some Bao He Wan?
Come in for some acupuncture and discuss using this herbal formula with Dr. Colby or myself.
Additional Eating Tips During the Holidays
Eat “tapas” style: Take smaller portions and enjoy the variety!
Eat slowly: Eating slowly and chewing your food completely not only helps digestion, but it actually enhances the flavors!
Eat Mindfully: Make the meal “about the meal” – while the dinner table is a great place for bonding, try to limit distractions (TV, work, computers).
20min Before Seconds: Wait at least 20min before going back for seconds. This gives your stomach some time to really decide whether or not it’s still hungry.
A Break Before Desssert: Take some time to digest between dinner and dessert. Despite the rumors on the internet, you do not have a “secret dessert stomach”.
Small Sipping: While it’s great to stay hydrated, try to take smaller sips during mealtime. A lot of traditional nutritionists will tell you not to drink at all while you’re eating, but a lot of the time you need something to wash the food down.
Abdominal Massage: Start on the lower right area of your abdomen, and make small circular (clockwise) massage movements upward until you feel your ribs – then massage towards the left and then downwards. This stimulates Qi and blood in the abdomen and can help move things along
That's all for this week, I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving, and we look forward to seeing you soon!