Middleway Medicine Blog

Health benefits of fermented Tea


by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

Fermented Foods and drinks are rich sources of probiotics…beneficial bacteria for humans.Our digestive tract’s ecological community contains more than 1,000 types of bacteria. Fermented foods help with nutrient and vitamin absorption, the breakdown of proteins, boosting immunity, detoxification, alkalizing our PH, and restoring balance to our homeostasis.

Consuming fermented foods is somewhat like consuming predigested food, our bodies do less work for more nutritional gain.  Familiar food ferments include; cheeses, yogurt, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, and sauerkraut. In addition to fermented foods, we also have the medicinal category of fermented beverages: kombucha, vinegars(shrubs), wine, beer, cider, Jun, and many more.

Lets focus on the ever popular Kombucha(commonly fermented black tea and white sugar) and Jun(fermented green tea and raw honey). The perfect cold drink for a hot summer day in the Rogue Valley. Many people decide to try these fermented gems because they seek to alleviate various ailments.  However the way these drinks are able to help with ailments is not by curing diseases, but rather, by optimizing the bodies ability to run it’s immune system and physiological functions more efficiently.  Stress specifically is one of the most detrimental factors to our health and fermented teas can help us mitigate the effects of stress on our bodies.

These ferments are considered adaptogens. Adaptogens normalize the bodies ability to deal with stress. They are a good source of anti-oxidants, helping us to eliminate the free radicals generated by stress, while providing protection for our liver by reducing cravings for sugar and alcohol.  Kombucha and Jun support healthy digestion by increasing the acidity in the gut. Gut acidity eases digestion and absorption of nutrients, thus reducing symptoms of bloating and irritable bowel.

These ferments also contain bio-available  B and C vitamins…meaning the vitamins are in a form the the body can easily recognize and absorb(in contrast to many vitamin pills).The B vitamins help to stabilize the mood and improve concentration, while the C vitamin suppresses cortisol(stress hormone)levels, reducing the risk for hypertension and depression.

Kombucha is extremely popular,with good reason, for being such a healthy and tasty beverage. Finding locally made ferments is not hard in the Rogue Valley or you can try your hand at the “wall of Kombucha” in the grab and go sections of most groceries. For those of you who would like to try your hand at home-brew…..I can personally speak to the rewards of caring for these cultures and enjoying the benefits of home-brew. Whatever you relationship is with ferments, I encourage you to keep experimenting with adding a consistent variety of fermented goodies to your wellness plan.

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Adrenal Fatigue

by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

I am often asked what is the most common ailment or problem that I see practicing Chinese medicine in Talent, Oregon. Since starting the practice in 2005, my husband and I have treated thousands of patients. We would both say that about 50% of our patients are struggling with a pattern called adrenal exhaustion, or what we call Qi(energy) deficiency. This basically means that the bodies’ ability to rest and rejuvenate has been compromised or even lost. Instead of being able to rest properly, the nervous system is always ‘on’ and the general sense of well being has been replaced with incessant mental chatter, anxiety, worry, or stress.

The main symptoms of this pattern include: fatigue, irritability, restless sleep, low back pain, anxiety, depression, nervousness, feeling wiped out upon waking, many female hormonal problems, food cravings and various addictions, weight gain, sluggish metabolism, and so on.

The real question is, what is the cause of this pattern and, more importantly, what is the solution?

In our experience most people have adrenal weakness because they are using excessive amounts of will power to get through life. It is like they are constantly swimming upstream, fighting against life. They work too hard, rest too little, and have a ‘to do’ list a mile long. These are some of the outward causes. The real cause is more of an inner dynamic. In this day and age, many people are disconnected from their true purpose for being alive. Because of this, they don’t know themselves on a intimate level, which causes them to make decisions that lead to distress and distraction.

Generally speaking, adrenal weakness is as much of a spiritual issue as it is a physical one. If the root causes of are not addressed, then the person can take all the supplements in the world or get acupuncture 3 times a week and it will only have a minimal effect. This is why for most of our patients we have a conversation about how their current lifestyle is serving them, or not serving them.

So often small changes in daily life can have big effects on one’s sense of well-being and their energy level. When our energy increases we often feel inspiration and more sense of our clarity of purpose. Again and again, I have witnessed patients making simple changes to their attitude, daily routine, or diet that has completely shifted the way they feel. Suddenly the chronic pain goes away or they can finally sleep at night, etc.

I certainly agree that herbs, supplements, massage, and various forms of care can be helpful for adrenal weakness. I have used acupuncture alone to kickstart someone’s adrenal function in a way that is very powerful for certain patients. But by far, the patients who make the most progress are the ones who are willing to do the work of taking a look at the bigger picture of their life. They are motivated to make the lifestyle changes necessary to live in balance and awareness.


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Exercise: the miracle drug

By Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

The second week of January is the busiest week of the year at most gyms. After a period of holiday gluttony a great many people decide it is time to do something about their health and they go in droves to a gym in hopes of finding some kernel of inspiration that will catapult them into better health. As the month drags on people find that the same old reality of too little time and even less dedication derail their efforts. So it goes with so many attempts at exercise. Exercise has almost become a four letter word in our culture. People either do it with an over-exuberant gusto, or a guilty reluctance. A new article in Time magazine, written by Mandy Oaklander shines some light on why exercise is so important to good health and offers some suggestions about how to make exercise work for your individual life.

Though it has long been believed that exercise can improve quality of life and longevity, scientists are discovering just how much and in what ways exercise works as a medicine.  It improves immunity, cognitive function, depression, anxiety, sleep, bone density and of coarse strength and endurance. It can also slow aging, improve wound healing, shrink fat cells, and stabilize blood sugar levels. So if it is this great why is it so hard to get moving? The two things that most people mention when they talk about a lack of exercise are finding the time to work out and finding a workout routine that works for their particular needs. Clinically I find that many patients often don’t work out because they have such busy lives. After working and taking care of the house and family, there really doesn’t seem to be the time or energy to get to a yoga class or jump on the bike. However, emerging science is beginning to show that the longer (think hour or more) workouts aren’t necessary to get most of the health benefits of exercise. As little as 15 minutes of vigorous exercise can give you the benefits of what a more moderate workout can give you in an hour. This seems perfect for so many people that are “too busy” to exercise.  Everyone can find 15 minutes every few days.  Many people also report that they have trouble finding a workout routine that they like or are physically able to do. Fortunately there are ever increasing variety of options that fit all ages and levels of fitness. The internet is also making it easier than ever to do a quality exercise routine from the comfort of your home, rather than taking the time to drive to a gym across town.  Some people really get more benefit out of making it to a class or gym in person, but others may prefer the ease of an internet directed workout.  Studies are also proving that yoga, tai qi, walking, and gardening can offer as much benefit as pumping iron, cycling, running or swimming. 

The trick seems to be to do some type of cardiovascular exercise that get the heart pumping, as well as some type of strength training.  Luckily for some of us, walking counts as a cardio workout, and gardening can give you similar benefits as lifting weights.  The important thing is to do some kind of exercise regularly, preferably every day or two.  It is nice to know that exercise can be quicker and easier than ever before.  With the health benefits rivaling the best health care available it should make us all want to find a way to squeeze a little more exercise into our busy lives.

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