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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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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Wei Qi-immune support

By Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

According to the wisdom tradition of Chinese medicine, our Wei Qi circulates on our body’s surface, protecting us from pathogens like bacteria and viruses.  This can be loosely related to how Western medicine views the immune system. In Chinese medicine, the belief is that viruses, bacteria and other pathogens are always present and generally non-threatning  to our health unless our Wei Qi has been compromised.

Compromised Wei Qi then leaves our body’s defenses weak against whatever pathogens one might be exposed to in daily life.  If a person keeps a lifestyle, such as an unhealthy diet or inadequate sleep over time, then they will ultimately deplete their body’s Wei Qi. Thus leaving them very vulnerable to developing illnesses.  In addition to how lifestyles can effect our Wei Qi is the variable  factor of extreme weather or stress.  Changes in weather, such as large swings in temperature, moisture or wind also weaken our Wei Qi.   On a windy fall day, a person with a poor diet who is lacking sleep, will most likely be a person who dealing with some stage of illness.

Stress also depletes our Wei Qi by fatiguing our ability to rest deeply. Often causing indigestion, anxiety, increased pain and insomnia. One of the great bummers of stress is that it does compromise your Wei Qi, often leaving us overwhelmed and sick, at the same time.

Preventing disease has been the center of Chinese Medicine, since its inception.

In the ancient Chinese text, the Neijing states, “To administer medicines to diseases which have already developed  is comparable to the behavior of those persons who begin to dig a well after they have become thirsty, and of those who begin to make their weapons after they have already engaged in battle. Would those actions not be too late? 

The fall and winter time tends to be a much harder time of year to stay healthy. If you know that

you are headed toward winter with compromised Wei Qi, please be good to yourself and start repairing your health before you get sick.  Start practicing better lifestyle habits; eat better, get more sleep, stay hydrated, exercise, and limit sugar. Start/resume taking vitamins and herbs that improve your health and reach out for help if you need it before you get sick.  We have seen a couple rounds of illness already pass thru the valley, if you are sick now or still not fully recovered consider using Chinese medicine to help restore your Wei Qi.  To your good health!

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Practitioners

Clark Zimmerman, LAc, MAcOM
Ann Zimmerman, LAc, MAcOM
Ryan Baker, MAcOM, LAc, RPh

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