Herbal Tonics have been used for thousands of Years in East Asian Medicine and are as relevant for there use today as they were all those years ago. Of particular interest are those Herbs or Herbal tonics that can either help the body’s immune system to function better and thus help to ward off disease or can be used to treat post-viral fatigue to increase vitality!
A tonic is something – a food, an herb, a thought -that improves your well being. It tones – hence the name, A tonic can be defined as a substance that can help the body to restore its balance or equilibrium. Tonics can be applied to affect every system of the human body. In European culture, tonics are used to improve digestion by stimulating the liver, stomach, and pancreas to produce more digestive enzymes. Some famous ones are Rosso Antico or Campari which are taken before or in between meals. In East Asia, they are employed more extensively to promote longevity, reduce adrenal fatigue, and to aid immunity.
In Asian Herbal Medicine there are three classes of Herbs- Inferior: that should only be taken for a short period, General: That can be taken some of the time. and Superior: that can be taken all of the time. Inferior herbs may be helpful for a certain disease but may have long term side effects whereas Superior Herbs have no side effects and are considered very nutrient in their composition. Tonic herbs can further be classified as to be Yang – warming and drying or energizing like Red Ginseng or Yin – cooling, moistening, and nourishing .-Like licorice Root Naturally there are some herbs that contain both Yin and Yang Qualities like Ashwagandha ( Withania Sominfera ).
Let’s look at a Herbal formula called “Astragalus 8 ” http://www.fusionhealth.com.au. This formula which contains 8 Herbs has been used for centuries to strengthen the immune function, assist recovery during convalescence,e and promote good health. It assists in the management of chronic fatigue syndrome, recurring colds, flu, sore throats, and other upper respiratory infections. It works to improve stress resistance, increase stamina, and enhance vitality.
Astragalus 8 formula is a classic example of a formula based on Chinese Therapy called Fu Zheng Pei Ben. In Chinese Medicine terms, Fu Zheng means to rectify and support health energy ( vital force) of all body systems while Pei Ben means to strengthen the resistance mechanisms of the body especially those underpinning healthy immune system, by understanding a little about each herb in the formula will give clues as to how it works. It contains the following Herbs –
- Astragalus: Ranking as one of the Superior Chinese tonics for thousands of years, this herb enhances the functioning of the immune system, increases white blood cell counts, and also aids digestion. It recently has gained fame as a longevity herb as it has been found to have a protective effect on DNA strands within cells.
- Codonodopsis: is believed to have similar actions to Ginseng but milder. Thus it can be used in formulas and be used over a long period of time. It is less stimulating and gently restorative so as to be very suitable for those who have chronic fatigue. It has mild immune-stimulating properties but is gentle enough to be used by children and nursing mothers alike who wish to have a gentle restorative.
- Reishi: The Supreme Tonic whose use was originally reserved for Emporers of China. Revered for its effects on calming the spirit or balancing effect on the nervous system. It is a restorative to liver function, reduces blood pressure if high, and improves cardiac output. It is known as an immune modulator thus can be used in those who have auto-immune disorders but also in those who have cancer or are in need of immune support / It has anti-allergy properties as well.
- Siberian Ginseng: Used by Russian Cosmonauts to increase strength and stamina this herb has been widely studied for its effects as a – immune modulator, adrenal gland restorative, and Anabolic action on cellular tissue.
- Atractylodes: This herb is mainly used in formulas to strengthen digestion and improve the absorption of nutrients. Although it has mild immunostimulating properties and effects on adrenal glands it is mainly used in a support role with other herbs. In its support with other formulas, it assists to treat conditions such as Anemia, Arthritis, immunity deficiency, and signs of cold and damp in the body.
- Ligustrum: Is considered to be an anti-aging rejuvenating herb. It has immune-enhancing properties and positive effects on the hormones of the adrenal glands.
- Schizandra: This herb is said to purify the blood, sharpen the mind, improve memory, rejuvenate the kidney energy ( especially sexual function) and can help the skin to become radiantly beautiful.
- LIcorice: is an excellent tonic and is used in many herbal formulas to balance or harmonize the formula. Its main claim to fame is that it acts as a mild anti-inflammatory and increases the effect of the adrenal hormones. It is seen as an Adrenal gland restorative. It is antispasmodic, mild expectorant, and detoxifier of organs.
In summary, a great formula can be used at the beginning of winter to help prevent cold and flu and for convalescence after contracting cold and flu.
TIP: This formula like all other tonics is not to be used during a cold or flu as it is thought that tonics will actually ” tonify” or Magnify the disease process. If one has a cold or flu there are better formulas to use such as Fusion Health Cold and flu formula during the episode and for immediate use after, the Fusion ” Allergy formula ” is better used. ( Allergy formula is based on a 2000 year formula called Minor Bupleleurem formula that is used for immediate post-viral use.) .To clarify, after the worst of the cold/flu the allergy formula would be used – then as one feels better the Astra 8 can be used to consolidate recovery
Disclaimer: I have no financial interests in Fusion Health but use their products as an example of great formulations based on the classical use of Tonics and other medicines in the Chinese pharmacopeia. Personally I use their products and prescribe them to my clients as the quality is second to none on the Australian Market and they are readily available in Health Food Stores under the Fusion Health Brand or in Pharmacies under the Oriental Botanicals brand
Would you like to find out what sort of tonics you may need for your constitution then visit Jing Herbs for an optimal health Analysis, This company really knows all about tonic herbs and has a free online analysis questionnaire – look at www.jingherbsanalyis.com
Once completed you may wish to book in for a Tonic consultation with me on the contact/appointment page of my website for either a phone consult or in the clinic consult to expand on Tonics that will assist your Health condition
For more information contact www.adelaidenaturopath.net.au