The Autumn Blog

by Samaya Cullerton, LAc

Greeting Readers,

As the autumn season rolls in, we at Benedictine Healing Products are very busy producing and educating people on our cold and flu product line. As an Education Specialist, it is often my job to answer questions about our products. This season’s blog we’ll be addressing some of the most commonly asked questions about our products, and some of the reasons our herbal formulas stand out from the competition.

Benedictine Healing Products follows Good Manufacturing Practices to help ensure the quality and safety of our formulations and the transparency of our manufacturing and ingredients. This is done by careful record keeping, use of batch numbers, keeping batch samples, and sourcing our ingredients from only the top reputable suppliers. There are always questions and concerns about importing herbs from Asia due to concerns of contaminants from pesticides and heavy metals. Many of the herbs and solvents we use are certified organic, however we don’t consider that the gold standard for quality in Asian imported herbs. Some certified organic herbs still contain traces of pesticide residues, mold, yeast, or other dysbiotic growth, which is why the comprehensive pesticide testing our suppliers do is a step above certified organic. Our suppliers test for a comprehensive list of over 250 pesticide residues and contaminants, importing only truly pure herbs. Our herbs are not fumigated or irradiated. The herbs we use are identified by top experts in the herbal field for correct specific species, highest grades of freshness, potency, and purity. We use fruiting bodies of medicinal mushrooms, therefore our mushroom formulas do not contain any fillers, and are energetically far more potent than the other medicinal mushroom products on the market. Our fresh herbal extracts are made within hours of harvesting parts and flower, making the formulations potent and vital. We have been growing our own fresh herbs in our herbal garden since we started, and this allows us the ensure the quality control of our fresh herb extracts from start to finish. Our garden herbs are harvested in accordance with their optimal harvest season, they are grown and processed with love at every step along the way. We use filtered, ozonated distilled water. Our tinctures are made from certified organic gluten-free alcohol. Our carrier oils are cold pressed, never deodorized and are tested for purity. We are dedicated to environmentally friendly business practices, and support suppliers who are as well. We are deeply committed to quality control in every aspect of our herbal line.

Martha at a Farmers’ Market

Our formulas are unique, formulated by an Herbal Master Craftsman. There are a lot of herbal companies making a variety of herbal products, with clever marketing, but you will never find another product like the formulas we manufacture. What makes us so special? Our formulas blend traditional Asian formulas, with Western and Ayurvedic herbs, and homeopathic formulas. To our knowledge, no one makes products similar to ours.

Benedictine Healing Products was founded by Martha Benedict. Martha was an herbalist, an acupuncturist, and homeopath. She was a brilliant practitioner who saw a need in her clinical practice to make both traditional Asian and Western formulas that were high quality, potent, effective, easy to use, and accessible to her patients. Her formulations are her living lineage of her life’s work, and we are honored to continue her legacy by continuing to manufacture her unique formulations. Martha was a kitchen herbalist in a time when there was no organic supplier of formulas, she was growing and creating her own.

The important Asian medicine tradition we maintain is that our formulas are always water extracted and cooked. This makes our products very different than most tinctures on the market. In traditional Asian medicine, this is a cornerstone principal of medicine making. Because our formulas are water extracted and cooked, they pull not only the alcohol soluble phytoconstituents, but also all the water soluble phytoconstituents. They are also highly concentrated. Typical tinctures that are available on the consumer market are 1:5 extraction ratio. This means one-part herb matter in weight to five parts solvent in fluid. Each batch is reduced to approximately a 1:2 ratio fluid extracts. What does this all mean? It means our extractions are more concentrated then most tinctures on the market, for often the same price. Plus, they contain a homeopathic formula within them, giving consumers a good price point for a potent and comprehensive formula. The formulas are organoleptically tested to assure consistency, potency, and effectiveness.

We seasonally adjust our cold and flu formulas. What does it mean to seasonally adjust the formulas? Every year the cold and flu infections are a little different, we change the formulation to be the most effective in the current year. We spend the spring and summer researching the infections in the Southern hemisphere and reading reports about the predictions for the Northern hemisphere infectious season. The ingredients in our formulas remains the same, but the proprietary blended ratios will address the key symptoms reported in the current year. We also take into consideration the weather patterns, and the traditional observation of nature when formulating.

This is our lineage of traditional Asian medicine. It is preventative, energetic, dynamic and individualized. We are not venture capitalists dabbling in the supplement market. We are a group of herbalists, acupuncturists, homeopaths, kitchen witches and warlocks, gardeners, and family. We are a family owned Santa Cruz small business and we are proud to produce Martha’s formulations. We are dedicated to quality control and making products we are confident to give to our children, our families, and the world. We believe Martha’s formulas are a community treasure and a healing cornerstone. 

 Thanks for taking the time to read about our herbal line. We are grateful for all our supporters everywhere! It’s not easy to be a small, high-grade herbal business in the big corporate global economy. We have chosen to stay small, so we won’t have to compromise our mission to quality. We are here because of your continual support!

 

 

 

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The Seasonal Change: Digestion Help to Stay Healthy

This article is written by Samaya Cullerton, MTCM, LAc, Herbalist, Acupuncturist, and Education Specialist with Benedictine Healing Products.

In traditional Asian medicine, late summer is a season of its own. As the fifth season it corresponds to the Earth element. Traditional Asian medicine teaches us how to be healthy in the present season and to stay healthy in the upcoming seasons: eat seasonally, live in accordance with nature, nourish and strengthen specific body systems seasonally. When the body is naturally full of vital qi, this is the original preventative health model.

Late summer is the time of the spleen and stomach, the Earth of our bodies. While the spleen is considered somewhat of an auxiliary immune organ in Western medicine, it plays an essential role in traditional Asian medicine for digestion, the immune system, and vitality of one’s self. Our late summer blog is about digestion from a traditional Asian medical perspective, and our herbal digestive formulations.

A Worker Bee in the Garden

Earth is the foundation of everything and is crucial to the existence of life itself. The Earth element in the body is the source of our post-natal qi, or our vital energy. Earth is responsible for our ability to digest food, absorb nutrients, and transform those nutrients into our vitality, our energy, our ability to be both healthy and to recover quickly when we become ill. Entire schools of traditional Asian medicine revolve around the Earth element, devoting all diagnoses and treatment to improving digestive function, assimilation and microbiome with profound results. Digestion plays an essential role in the immune function, sleep and energy levels, and mental health in both Western and Eastern medical models.

In the traditional model I was trained in, we care for the digestive function at the end of summer to keep the immune system strong in the fall, to encourage good sleep and energy when we’re awake, to reduce anxiety and depression, and to strengthen both the blood and the vascular system. Even when people have no symptoms of impaired digestion, I work to strengthen the Earth element in people this time of year, to prepare for the upcoming challenges to our immune system that come in the fall and winter months ahead. This time of year, people are particularly susceptible to infections which cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramping sometimes accompanied by a fever. In traditional Asian medicine they call these disorders summer heat, or summer damp-heat.

We at Benedictine Healing Products are here to support your health and wellness with our line of digestive formulations for times of sickness and good health:

Diarrhea Relief is a gentle carminative formula which astringes the bowels. The herbs in this formula are traditionally used to stop the symptoms of diarrhea, no matter the cause. It can therefore be used in acute infectious situations, or for more chronic, functional digestive problems such as irritable bowel. It is not going to treat underlying infection that would also need to be addressed if present, but will slow down peristalsis (the movement of our digestive tract), without being harsh or constipating.

Holiday Bitters stimulates your innate digestive function. Our unique blend of bitters is a delightfully palatable formula, stimulating secretions of digestive organs, energetically warming them while promoting peristalsis. This formula should be taken before large meals, before eating foods that may be challenging for your digestion, and to promote mental clarity if people become sluggish or tired after meals.

No Burp is our version of the traditional formula Shu Gan Wan. This is one of my favorite traditional formulas, because when I was first introduced to traditional Asian herbalism, it was through this formula. It changed my life. I was prescribed this formula by my acupuncturist.

Like many people who find themselves seeing an acupuncturist, I had not gone to see her for digestive issues. I was having hormone imbalance and reoccurring ovarian cysts. My wise acupuncturist honed-in on my constant abdominal bloating, burping after meals, and irritable bowel symptoms I had been living with for years believing that was my normal self. I was irritable, teary and felt emotionally sensitive all the time until I took a few rounds of Shu Gan Wan. It was the right formula for me at that time, and it did completely change my quality of life. I’m not suggesting this formula is a cure all for all the symptoms I was experiencing, but this was the perfect example of how the digestive function can be the foundation on which all health is built on. Yes, this formula helps with burping, but it can do so much more. Years later, I have traveled down this healing path, getting a master’s degree myself in traditional Asian medicine, in hopes I can pay forward the gifts this herbal formula has given me.

Tummy Ease is a very aromatic formula, designed to counter dampness and qi deficiency. The herbs in this formula are traditionally used to prevent fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, loss of taste, diarrhea and bloating. This is a very gentle formula, wonderful for chronic functional diseases. It is not constipating, is non-habit forming, and can treat both excess and deficient digestive dysfunction. It is a great formula for patients with adrenal fatigue, impaired assimilation, and irritable bowel-like symptoms.

Our Digestive Aid Kit contains Tummy Ease, Holiday Bitters, and No Burp at a reduced price.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our some of digestive formulation. May your long summer be built on the foundation of great digestive fortitude.

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Our Garden’s Summer Oils

Summer is in full swing, and we have been enjoying the bounty! As an herbalist, I am busy in my garden and kitchen, harvesting, nurturing, and creating. In Chinese medicine, one of our ancient texts, the Nei Jing says this about summertime “luxuriant flowering, the time when the qi of heaven and earth mingle, when ten thousand things fruit and flower.”

The Nei Jing also tells us to get outside in the summer and enjoy the earth. The mother earth is certainly glorious in the summertime, and we hope you are all getting outdoors, moving your qi, and finding ways to enjoy nature. At Benedictine Healing Products this is the season we harvest fresh flowers and aromatic leaves for making our luxurious line of healing oils and salve. Our topical oils and salve are just what people need to sooth and prevent the common injuries we all get in the summertime, such as bug bites, sun, sand and salt skin irritation, bonks and bruises, strains and pain, and more. This blog is about all the topical herbal oils and salve we make, and how to use them.

Benedictine Healing Products use only the highest quality carrier oils, and beeswax. They are pure, un-deodorized, cold pressed, unrefined, and unadulterated, making all of our topical oils and salves fragrant, earthy, and of the highest quality. We harvest many of our own homegrown herbs fresh for highest potency and aroma. Martha Benedict had this to say about her line of healing oils and salve:

“When a patient has an injury or is postoperative, I usually suggest they experiment with several herbal topicals in addition to herbs used internally. One or two for pain and inflammation and another to speed cellular repair and decrease the likelihood of scar tissue and adhesions all can work together at different stages of the healing process or in a rotation to bring greater comfort and a more rapid rate of healing.”

In the traditions of our founder, we continue her herbal legacy.


Our Garden’s Summer Oils

Anti-Fungal Oil was formulated for fungus related skin and nail issues, including athlete’s foot. This formula combines traditional Asian herbs and western herbs, essential oils, and minerals. The traditional Asian herbs clear damp-heat and wind from the skin- or in other words are used for symptoms such as itching, which may move around a location, and rashes that may burn or ooze. The Western herbs and essential oils have traditionally been used as an anti-fungal agent, to relieve itching and burning. We receive a lot of positive feedback and testimonials from customers about this product’s effectiveness!

Arnica Oil Plus is Arnica and far more. Arnica is an herb renowned for its traditional uses in acute inflammation, sports injuries, bruising, sprains, strains, dislocations, arthritic joints, and rheumatic conditions. Our formulation also includes Willow, Poplar and Meadowsweet, San qi, Gugul, Boswellia, and Erythrina for their traditional analgesic, or pain relieving effects. We add Comfey for its traditional bone healing effects, Passion Flower, Rosemary and Lavender to calm shock and trauma. In traditional Asian medicine we would say this formula moves qi and blood and is our version of a Ti Ta Jiao, or hit and fall liniment. Several of the herbal ingredients in our Arnica Oil Plus come directly from our Benedictine garden, making it an “earth potent” and divine healing oil.

Boo Boo Juice is an all purpose first aid oil. All of the herbs in this formula are freshly harvested from our garden. Martha raised her children applying this oil to their minor skin wounds, sunburns, itchy skin, dry skin, bumps, bites, ulcerations, wind chapped skin, scrapes, scratches, abrasions and bruises. She called it “first aid in a bottle”, and we sure find it useful to always have on hand!

Bug Bane is a non-insecticide based bug repellent. This is such an important time to keep yourself and your family safe from bugs which can be vectors for serious and deadly diseases. Mosquito and tick borne diseases are on the rise, and are not always easy to treat. It is highly advisable to prevent contact with the vector of these diseases through bug repellent. However, chemical insecticides are also highly toxic and so we made an effective, natural, and safe alternative, Bug Bane! It’s safe and gentle enough for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children.

Calendula Oil is one of the beautiful simples we make at Benedictine. It is simply calendula flowers, olive oil and vitamin E. Calendula is such a powerful healing oil on its own, Martha saw no need to add anything to it. Here’s what Martha had to say about Calendula.

Personally, I am indebted to this particular plant for being the first that opened my eyes to the world of healing plants. I was studying at the World Health Organization library in Geneva, Switzerland in the 60’s when I read a report about gangrene on the battlefield in World War 2. The article indicated that American GIs still died in large numbers when medics administered a drug discovered in the 1930’s by the British scientist, Sir Alexander Flemming, called penicillin. However, the French doctors did not lose one soldier, according to World Health Organization statistics, to gangrene on the battlefield using a tincture of Calendula. Our medical students weren’t taught about calendula at Stanford Medical School. Trying to find out why not introduced me to the politics of plants and the rest is my history.

Chickweed Oil is used as a drawing oil. Chickweed is traditionally used to draw out plantars warts, splinters, boils, or ulcerations which have not come to a head, and stingers. This is another one of our classical simple formulas, simply formulated, and simply effective.

Diaper Rash Oil was formulated to be gentle for your babies most sensitive skin, and soothing to itchy, irritated diaper rashes. It can be used on even the most stubborn and raw diaper rashes, and will relieve discomfort on application.

Healing Salve is our all purpose first aid in a bottle. All of the ingredients are harvested fresh from our garden, and it is a labor of love. We love bringing the world this salve made just how Martha formulated it in her garden and kitchen. Salve travels well and is essential for any natural home first aid kit.

Lymph Oil was formulated to stimulate lymphatic drainage and circulation. This formula in traditional Asian medicine clears toxic heat, and clears water overflowing which can create symptoms such as sore throat or edema. It can be rubbed on necks, behind ears, and over throats for earaches, sore throats, and lymphatic congestion, and it can be applied to ankles and knees for fluid retention. Additionally it can be used in pelvic infections, cysts and lumps. This oil is made with Poke Root and is contraindicated in pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Moxa Oil is a warming massage oil, formulated to stimulate the circulation, alleviate pain and warm deeply. The queen ingredient is moxa, also known as Ai ye or Mugwort. In traditional Asian medicine moxa is often burned to warm a patient. Moxa Oil is a wonderful substitute for burning moxa, for patients who cannot tolerate smoke inhalation, and for places which may not permit the use of burning herbs. Moxa is paired with Fu zi, or Aconite, for deep penetration of warmth to the bone level which burning moxa can accomplish. This formula is powerful, and is not suitable for pregnant women, or breastfeeding mothers.

Rose Geranium Oil is another garden formulation of aromatic herbs in a delightful massage oil. Rose Geranium is the dominant note and queen herb in the formula. In traditional Asian medicine, Rose Geranium is said to strengthen familial relations, and to smooth family tussles. Modern research also shows it to be a useful insect repellent. The formula was created by Martha to enhance relaxation and improve skin quality.

Yoni Oil is our pride and joy oil. This is a beautiful formulation Martha  formulated for post and perimenopausal women, as well as women who have had hysterectomies. It is not recommended for women with fibroids.

I hope your enjoying the fruits of your labors, readers. Happy summer everyone!

 

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Helpful Hints to Make It Through Menopause and Perimenopause

In our culture, menopause is often considered a four letter word and instead of being discussed openly, many women suffer through the symptoms without much support. Medically, a woman is not considered to be in menopause until they have not had a period for 12 months. The process leading up to that milestone can be significant and can last anywhere from two to ten years starting as early as a woman’s mid-thirties. In the United States, it most commonly starts in the mid to late 40s with menopause in a woman’s early 50s. Perimenopause, as it is called, is when a women’s ovaries start decreasing hormone production. This fluctuation in estrogen and progesterone leads to a wide range of symptoms including:

Yoni Oil, the Joy Juice

Mood swings, extreme moods, anger, depression

Creeping weight gain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that a few extra pounds when going through menopause (and after) protects your bones from osteoporosis. If you are a healthy weight to begin with, gaining 5 to 10 pounds isn’t something to worry about. Our society puts so much pressure on looking young and skinny that we panic when that number starts to creep up.

Vaginal dryness. It’s okay if the frequency of intercourse changes, family pressures are necessary to accommodate. Sex should still be pleasurable and desirable, even with all the changes that your body is going through.

Insomnia, sleep issues

Irregular ovulation, menstrual irregularities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the whole process is considered at least a decade long event and it is a time for a woman to reevaluate her life’s priorities. In TCM, the above symptoms may be perimenopausal but may be able to be managed with some simple lifestyle changes including improving one’s nutrition or getting more rest. In TCM, the most important rest to restore the Yin is any sleep prior to midnight. This doesn’t mean you need to go to bed at 9pm every night, but if you can move your bedtime up by as little as 15 minutes is makes a difference.

Symptoms may also be managed by supplementation using chi support herbs including Menopause Plus, Mega Ginseng, Eleutherococcus, Rhodiola rosea, Ashwagandha, Xiao Yao Plus (weepy, anger), Blessed Thistle (sex drive), Yoni Oil Joy Juice (vaginal dryness), as well as other chi support herbs.

Instead of picking just one or two herbs, it can be more effective to rotate through ones that work for you. Mix them up. One may work at one point in the process and be less effective at another point. Martha particularly liked using ashwagandha, rhodiola, and eleutherococcus when she was going through perimenopause and menopause.

Many of these symptoms can be managed by making sure your thyroid is functioning adequately. One thing to keep in mind that current “normal” thyroid ranges that MDs use to decide whether patients have low thyroid are outdated. If you have multiple low thyroid symptoms but your numbers are in the normal range, you may want to consider asking your doctor about the benefits of taking thyroid medicine anyway because this could still be an issue.

Obviously, most of us will be looking to avoid hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and even more so now that the side effects have been well documented. In addition to herbal supplements there are some lifestyle changes that can really help make a difference including:

Reduce or eliminate sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Each of these may make you feel better in the moment but can exacerbate the symptoms you were looking to relieve in the first place. If you’re stressed and find yourself turning toward a glass or two of wine in the evening to relax, try taking even 15 minutes to clear your mind and relax. Find a way to center yourself, whether it is a walk, a bath, meditation. I have even been known to lock myself in the bathroom for three minutes when I need a moment away from my kids. If you’re tired, try moving your bedtime up by 15 minutes and see how you feel. As I mentioned earlier, you should be looking to restore your Yin energy and sleep before midnight is how that is accomplished.

Increase bean and legume intake. This is especially important when you cook the beans and legumes for extended periods of time, with a minimum of six hours. The longer beans are presoaked and cooked, the higher percentage of protein they contain. They can be soaked anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.

Increase Omega-3 intake (GOOD quality fats) coconut oil, butter, 100% EVOO, peanut oil. Low fat and no fat diets are so ingrained in our culture that we easily forget the benefits of high quality oils. This isn’t an area of our diet to scrimp on! Look for free range organic eggs from a local supplier. The secret is the more orange the yolk is, the better. Also, smaller eggs are worth sleuthing out. Small eggs are laid by younger hens that have more life force.

Consider fermented soy (tofu, tempeh). Soy products of any kind are popular and trendy in our culture and it is easy for someone to automatically recommend adding soy to your diet. The issue with soy is that it is an estrogen binder and too much of it can upset your hormonal balance. Instead, consider fermented forms of soy like tofu and tempeh.

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Helping your aging pet

Many of us consider our pets to be a beloved part of our family and it is as difficult to watch them age as any other member. We are conscientious of how we treat ourselves, but because our beloved animals are unable to speak for themselves, it can be harder to relieve their pain and discomfort when necessary.

The pet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and holistic pet health is a growing subset of this. We at BHP believe that our philosophy for people holds true for our pets as well: that a natural lifestyle, with all things in moderation leads to a happier, healthier pet. We want to help you help your pet to the best possible quality of life throughout their whole life. As our animals age, they are afflicted with many similar problems as we are and to that end, we adapted some of our people products for our pets.

If your experience with your pets has been anything like mine, then they dislike taking their medicines as much as my kids do. Pets can be incredibly sneaky about avoiding something that tastes bad. We had a dog who would eat a chunk of cheese and spit out the medicine hidden inside. Because our products are a liquid, they can easily be mixed in food. We don’t recommend adding them to water, as it isn’t an easy matter of monitoring your pet’s intake that way and the tincture becomes overly diluted.

Here are a few of our products that help provide comfort and relief for our aging pets:

Kidney Bladder Relief

Hormone replacement therapy in pets and they get older can lead to frequent bladder infections. Use this as a preventative, before your pet gets sick.

Immune Boost

Effective for all animals. This can be used long term to help bolster a compromised immune system, or to help prevent illnesses.

Joint Relief

Our pets experience the same joint problems and pain that we do as they age, which can make moving around, going up or down stairs, or even going outside difficult and painful. Joint Relief assists in the safe relief of stiffness, swelling, and joint pain associated with aging and arthritis.

Skin Comfort

Your beloved pet can develop skin problems as they age. This helps to relieve skin irritations including hot, itchy, flaky skin. Use for skin-related allergic reactions or excessive licking. As our dog got older, he became more and more sensitive to seasonal allergies and this helped.

Tummy Ease

Helps relieve gas, abdominal discomfort, and mild constipation from overeating or mild food allergies.

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Treating colds and the flu

Here is another post by our Education Specialist, Samaya Cullerton:

This year the Influenza outbreak has been devastating with many deaths and hospitalizations. Unfortunately, the flu vaccine had a low rate of effectiveness against the mutation of the virus which hit the United States. The immunization field is working on a new type of vaccine, entitled the universal flu vaccine. The goal of such a vaccine is ambitious; however the side effects of such a vaccine are as of yet unknown. In this month’s blog we will discuss influenza from a Traditional Asian medical perspective, a preventative health, and integrative health point of view. Often when Western medicine falls short, traditional medicine has an opportunity to shine. The centuries old methods for the prevention and treatment of Influenza continue to be effective, safe and trusted options. Ancient medicine has seen epidemics before, and it has some seasoned treatments.

In traditional Asian and Western medicine, our innate immunity, our lifestyle, and underlying health plays a key role in how often we get sick, how sick we get, and how well we recover. Whether observing the human body from a Western scientific model or a traditional Asian model, the human body’s health and wellness is a very dynamic and complicated concept. In traditional Asian medicine the Wei Qi is often compared to our immune system. It is our barrier system against pathogens which can attack our body, causing illness. The Wei Qi originates in the stomach, is created from the qi of food and water. It circulates the exterior of the body within the muscles and the skin and regulates body temperature. The circulation of Wei Qi is dependent on the lungs. In Traditional Chinese medicine, the entire GI tract is also considered part of the exterior of the body. Wei Qi, the traditional Asian medical model for immunity, is the defender of our body. It is intrinsically related to our digestive tract function as well as our mental health. The function of a healthy spleen and stomach in the traditional Asian model keep us clear and calm. In Western medicine, we know our autonomic nervous system plays a vital role in our stress levels as well as our digestive function and dysfunction. Essentially, chronic stress, emotional disruptions, low grade health issues, and digestive dysfunction can all profoundly disrupt the Wei Qi, and our immunity.

From my perspective, the people I know are stressed. Our political climate has been a chronic source of stress. The issues affecting the human race today from climate change to political extremism, school shootings, a massive refugee crisis, the brutalities of war, the constant media stream, the personal issues each and every one of us are all contributing factors. Life can be a series of stressful events but lately it’s been at peak levels. This long term, chronic exposure to stress takes a toll. Worry and pensiveness damage the spleen qi. Grief, sadness and despair injure the lung and kidney qi. Having to constantly filter information, deciding what to take in and what to not have an emotional response to, will damage the stomach and gallbladder qi. Anger, rage and frustration will cause the liver qi to become disrupted. In traditional Asian medicine, emotions have a profound effect on the digestion, and the Wei Qi.

This brings me back to the dynamic nature of health. We need to address our own individual dynamic wellness in order to have strong defenses against the flu and other seasonal pathogens. We need to address our emotional and mental health, our digestive function and microbiome, and healthy daily lifestyle habits. Being rested, hydrated, fed a nutrient rich diet, and having good hygiene, and methods to reduce stress goes a long way on the path to prevention and quick recoveries.

When life is hectic and our immune system falls short of protecting us, when superbugs make the rounds and we do get sick, the path to a rapid and full recovery is the next goal. Your body is now begging you for rest and care. Fear not, we at Benedictine Healing Products have your back. Here is a quick break down of our cold and flu line of herbal remedies for adults. Be sure to also check out our children’s, and pet formulas for colds and flu, after all, we all catch a cold sometimes.

Immune Plus as a preventative measure. When everyone around you is going down with illnesses, or for when you know your immunity might be low due to stress, fatigue or poor self-care. This adaptogen rich formula stimulates your body’s innate immunity to stand strong. This formula should be discontinued if acutely ill, and replaced with a cold and flu formula.

Elderberry Plus can also be used as a preventative measure, as well as after becoming ill. Elder flowers when combined with the berries have been traditionally used as an antiviral formula. We think our formula is unique and outperforms other Elderberry syrups on the market because we use both plant parts, and it is sugar free.

Chinese Cold and Flu is our amazing formula traditionally used for the treatment of acute influenza. Based off the traditional Asian formula Chuan Xin Lian, this formula was created to clear heat and toxins, to treat sore throat, cough, and sinus congestion accompanied by a fever. When taken at the first sign of the flu, the formula works best. We believe our formula is unique and gentle as we add herbs to protect the digestion from the cold and bitter herbs in the traditional formula.

Anti X Sinus is our formula traditionally used to treat sinus congestion, head cold, and ear infections. Some people are more prone to head colds, sinus infections and ear infections. This could be caused by the anatomy of peoples sinuses and ears, or it may just be a weak spot for some people, for a number of reasons. This formula has herbs which traditionally target the face, ears, sinuses and head, with both broad spectrum antiseptic, and anti-phlegm herbs, but also herbs which moisten and regenerates the tissue of the nose and sinuses, as it can become so tender and raw.

Deep Lung is intended for the second or bacterial stage of colds and flu. In Chinese medical theory, colds and flu initially enter the body as a virus in the upper respiratory system. If they are met with enough resistance and a strong immune system at this point, the infection is arrested. If the virus goes deeper or a secondary bacterial infection occurs, this manifests as symptoms of deep coughing, phlegm in the lungs, and prolonged acute illness.

Deep Lung 3 in 1 is made as a blend of our three cold and flu formulas: Anti-X, Chinese Cold Flu, and Deep Lung. It’s a great remedy to have on hand in the medicine cabinet. It is the catch all cold and flu formula, which boosts the innate immunity, nourishes the body, and is broad spectrum antimicrobial.

Lymph Oil is a topical oil traditionally used for drainage of congested lymph. It’s a wonderful addition to the cold and flu regiment for easing sore lymph nodes, congested sinuses, and sore throats.

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Winter Season and Digestion

By BHP Education Specialist Samaya Cullerton

The winter season is considered in traditional Asian medicine, the yin within yin. The attributes of yin are femininity, darkness, coldness, introspectiveness, quiet, calm and slowness. During this time, even our modern world slows down for the winter holidays. From the place of utmost yin, the transformation to yang begins to grow. From the shortest day of winter, the days begin to grow brighter again. Many people take time off work during the holidays to be with family and friends. Winter has been a time of celebration for many of us. In my personal home, we celebrate three birthdays, Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, and the New Year all within the month of December. It’s a wonderful, sweet, busy, exhausting time. After all the lovely time with family, I’m ready to get back to work! I’m done eating so many indulgent foods, I’m ready to feel healthy, balanced and I’m motivated to get my body moving. Many people have made resolutions for the New Year, feeling emboldened or motivated to improve their lives in some way. To support this energy which naturally rises in people’s bodies and spirits this time of year, we look to mother nature for some pearls of wisdom.

From fertile, living soil spring flowers grow with the help of rain and winter snow. We can consider our own living microbiome our fertile soil. The bacteria that symbiotically live in our gut play a big role in our digestion and immune function. Many people indulge in sweet, rich foods, overeating, consuming alcohol and often pairing that with some stress over the holidays, which can really throw off our digestive capabilities. When our digestive function is impaired it can wreak havoc systemically, affecting the liver, the gallbladder, the immune system (this includes autoimmune disorders), the respiratory system, the skin, the gyno-urinary systems, the endocrine system, as well as having a big effect on our mental health. A healthy functioning digestive system, for good reason, is often considered the root of good health in traditional Asian medicine.

At Benedictine Healing Products we make several formulas to support the digestion in the many expressions of different people’s bodies. Holiday Bitters is an elegantly crafted formula with over forty herbs and honey. The flavor is complex, aromatic, floral, sweet, citrusy, bitter in a dynamic, delicious, and herby way. The traditional uses for these herbs warm the digestive fire, strengthening its capacity. Bitters stimulate our own innate secretions and digestive enzymes, to break down and assimilate nutrients efficiently. Some of the aromatic herbs are used to increase the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system, increasing again our ability to rest and digest the food we eat. Holiday Bitters are traditionally used to increase digestive function, reduce appetite, but also increase energy, overall vitality, and improve mood.

The other formula I’d love to talk about this month is Xiao Yao Plus. This formula considered by many a traditional Women’s health formula and it is, but it is also so much more. Xiao Yao Wan, the traditional Chinese formula which Xiao Yao Plus is derived, is often recommended for people who exhibit the symptoms of IBS, such as alternating between constipation and diarrhea, digestion being affected by mood, and stress levels. This formula is given to people to support the free flow of qi. The free flow of qi enables people to breathe freely and deeply, it allows fluids such as urine, blood, menstration, hormones and emotions to flow freely and easily. When we have obstruction on the free flow of qi, we feel bloated, feel different types of pain, have labored breathing, cramping, and blockages. Xiao Yao Wan is a therefore a widely used traditional formula, for symptoms ranging from digestive disruption, pain, hormonal balance, mood and sleep disruption. This formula is considered a harmonizing formula, meaning it assists in your body’s innate ability to come into homeostatic balance. This is my go to formula for digestive disruptions caused by stress.

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of our favorite digestive formulas. For a full list of digestive formulas and all out products check out our website. Happy New Year from the Benedictine team!

 

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Get Ready for the Winter

Autumn is a breathtaking time of year to enjoy the natural world. As the season changes from warm to cool to cold, and the business of our modern world keeps charging forward at an ever-steady pace, we must remember to care for our precious health and wellness. In traditional Asian medicine, we observe the natural world. From our lessons of the natural world, we learn how to treat our bodies, and make our medicines. Autumn is considered the season of metal energy. It marks the end of the growing season, when nature makes a final stunning display of abundant harvests, then the bareness, the coolness, the dryness, and the turning inward of energy sets in, in preparation for the winter to come. The metal elemental organs of the body are the lungs and the large intestine. Much like the functions of these organs, autumn is the time to both be inspired, and to let go. We must allow the leaves to fall from branches, in order to compost the soil for next year’s harvest. Similarly, in traditional Asian medicine, the autumn is the time to take care of our digestion and our immune systems. When our immune forces are not strong enough, we are faced with the perils of colds and flus, ear infections, sore throats, respiratory and sinus infections. Preventative medicine is a cornerstone of traditional Asian medicine, and we at Benedictine Healing Products not only have a wonderful line of traditional cold and flu remedies, we also have elegantly formulated herbal remedies for preventative care, along with some sage lifestyle guidance.

The digestive system plays a major role in our immune function. If we are digesting, assimilating nutrients, excreting our waste products effectively, and our symbiotic ecosystem is healthy, we tend to feel well. Unfortunately, in our modern culture we tend to over indulge in food and drinks that are rich and sugary, and that has serious effects on our immune, respiratory and digestive function. If we make good decisions for our health and wellness regularly, we build a strong foundation, which can withstand a little celebratory indulgence without feeling unwell as a result. The food we eat, the exercise we get, the way we breathe and settle emotions are some of the daily choices which can have profound influences on our health.

The autumn time is a beautiful season to eat warm, nourishing soup. There’s a reason traditional cultures from around the world revere soup and have healing soup recipes for every ailment under the sun. Soup is powerful tool for wellness in the cooler months. Soup is an easy to digest, nutrient rich, source of food and water, which deeply moistens dryness. Digestive systems love soups packed with vegetables, proteins, fats, broth and herbs. Using bone broth is great way to boost your soup nutrient density, and increase its healing properties. Our Holiday Bitters can also be a powerful formula traditionally used to boost digestive function. Bitter herbs stimulate the body to secrete its own endogenous digestive secretions, such as stomach acid and bile, improving the break down and assimilation of nutrients. When our digestion is functioning well we feel satiated are less prone to over indulgence. Holiday Bitters has a lovely, tasty digestive aperitif which can be enjoyed alone, or in a cocktail to assist in your celebratory wellness.

Breathing the cool autumn air, and getting your body moving is essential for the movement of qi, and the prevention of stagnation, which can lead to not feeling well, pain, impaired digestion and immune function. I suggest people find a way to move their bodies that they enjoy, whether that is Tai chi, yoga, dancing, hiking, going for a run, going to the gym, surfing, walking, or gardening, just enjoy doing it. It helps with motivation when you just love the way it makes you feel!

The holidays are not a happy time for everyone. Often the holiday season remind of loss, brings up feelings of grief, loneliness and despair. In traditional Asian medicine, the lungs are governed by the emotion of grief, for as many of you know, we often physically feel grief in our chest. The lungs are affected by the feelings of sadness and loss. We are all on this earth together. We all feel the loss of loved ones if we are lucky enough to live a full life of people we have loved, and been loved by in return. The holiday season can be a beautiful time to connect with people, to give and serve our fellow human beings. I find giving, and kindness to be a powerful tool in healing our own sadness, despair and grief, and remind us of the true beauty of the holiday season. Stress and our heavy emotions take a toll on our health. Finding tools that help with stress management and emotional well being are an essential aspect to holistic healthcare.

Traditional Asian medicine excels at preventative medicine, in part due to the variety of powerfully tonifying and adaptogenic herbs which come from Asia. Immune Plus showcases many of these powerful herbs, and is a truly powerhouse synergistic formula. When cold and flu season sets in, Immune Plus becomes an essential addition to my health and wellness. Adaptogenic herbs help us adapt to stress, and optimize the bodies innate ability to function. Traditionally, the herbs in Immune Plus have been used to increase our energy and stamina, optimize the function of the immune system to stave off illness, optimize the qi of the lungs and kidneys, to increase digestive function, and to decrease stagnation. The herbs in Immune Plus are also rich in vitamins, and minerals which nourish the cells of our immune system.

When the flu hits, we here at Benedictine Healing Products hit back. Chinese Cold and Flu is our version of the TCM Formula Chuan Xin Lian Pian. The traditional indications for this formula are clear heat toxins and/or damp-heat evils. What does that mean you may wonder? It means it has traditionally been used in the treatment of seasonal epidemics, both bacterial and viral in nature, which can cause symptoms such as fever, body aches, headaches, sweats, sore throat, cough, digestive disruptions, and being irritable and downright sick. The traditional formula features the herbs Chuan Xin Lian (Adrographis paniculata), Pu Gong Ying (Taraxicum mongolicum) also known as dandelion leaf and flower, and Ban Lan Gen (Istatidis tinctoria). These herbs are all used traditionally to clear heat and toxins. Our Chinese Cold and Flu modifies the traditional formula with Wu Zhu Yu (Evodia rutaecarpa) which is used to warm the interior. This herb is added to protect the digestion from the power heat clearing properties of the other three herbs. The formula is used as an antibiotic, antiviral, antipyretic (anti-fever) anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, and immunostimulant. One of the side effects of the traditional formula is that it can injure the qi of the stomach due to its cold nature, which is why we added the Wu Zhu Yu. This allows people to take the formula for longer periods of time (in the fight against longer standing infections such as strep throat) without the impairment of digestive function. Chinese Cold and Flu is the formula I use to combat colds and flus with fevers, sore throats, and coughs due to lung heat.

I hope you enjoyed reading about health and wellness in the autumn months from a traditional Asian medical perspective. We sincerely hope you are all well, and finding your joy this holiday season! We have too many amazing formulas to write about in a single blog post, but some other autumn formulas to explore are our Immune for Kids, Sniffles for Kids, Elderberry Plus, Anti-X, Deep Lung and Deep Lung 3 in 1, Adaptogen Plus, and our Lymph Oil. Look out for more information about those formulas in our future blog posts.

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Our favorite oils

Melissa Pereira Gelin, our Educational Specialist, has a new video post about some of our favorite topical oils. She discusses the benefits and uses of Lymph Oil, Rose Geranium Oil, and the perennial favorite Yoni Oil.

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Salad dressings are easy!

For most of us, when we want to eat healthier, automatically add large salads as an easy way to include a variety of vegetables in our diet. This is an admirable task, especially when one goes beyond including salad basics, however it doesn’t address the problem of store-bought salad dressings. When using these, it is impossible to control the quality of the oils used, the amount of sugar or salt added, or whether any additional additives are included. Reduced fat or fat free salad dressings aren’t necessarily better for you either. In order to remove the fat and keep the flavor, sugar and salt are increased as well as ingredients to keep the dressing creamy.

Store bought salad dressings certainly require zero work, but homemade salad dressing isn’t difficult and only require a couple minutes to throw together. Many salad dressings can be made from pantry staples and only from a few ingredients. One thing that I enjoy about store bought dressings is how creamy they can be and that is easily remedied when an emulsifier is added to help bind the oil and water together. For emulsifiers, mustard, egg, yogurt, or sour cream are all options depend on the dressing you are making.

When making your own salad dressings, use high quality ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, free range eggs, high quality cheese. My mom preferred to avoid refined sugar when possible, instead using honey or maple syrup. She was adamant about avoiding hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils such as soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola.

The possibilities are endless when making your own dressings! Off the top of my head, a sesame ginger may be one I will make in the near future. Find your favorite and make it at home, or use one of ours:

Balsamic vinaigrette

This is one that I make most frequently. I don’t generally use measurements but instead go for flavor and consistency. Whisk all the ingredients together and adjust for flavor.

EVOO

Balsamic vinegar

Dijon mustard

Salt

Pepper

Optional ingredients that I add from time to time:

Pomegranate syrup

Fresh crushed garlic

 

Caesar dressing

This was one of my mom’s favorite salad dressings. It is amazing for the skin because of the egg yolk and anchovy.

1-4 anchovy fillets (or anchovy paste)

1/4 – 1/2 lemon, juiced

1-2 tsp unpasteurized vinegar of your choice

1 Tbs EVOO

1/2 – 1 tsp flaxseed oil or 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Artic cod liver oil (my mom preferred the Nordic Naturals brand)

1 egg yolk

1 clove crushed fresh garlic

Pepper and salt to taste

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Blend ingredients together and use immediately.

 

Honey lemon cilantro

This one is a family favorite from the defunct India Joze restaurant in Santa Cruz owned by restaurateur Jozeph Schultz. Not only did we spend many a dinner here growing up but my brother worked there for several years (and went on to follow Joz to subsequent businesses) and we have incorporated it into our regular rotation.

1 bunch cilantro stems

Juice of 5 or 6 lemons

2 Tbs honey

1/2 cup peanut oil

Salt and white pepper to taste

Jalapeno

Blend all the ingredients together and use. This isn’t a dressing that will keep, it is best when it is used immediately because the cilantro will go bad in the lemon juice. Freezing the lemon juice (or using frozen concentrate) is one way to extend the life of the cilantro. I’ve even added ginger to give it a different flavor. Unless you have gum Arabic powder on hand, this isn’t a dressing to try and thicken up.

 

Papaya seed dressing

1 Tbs Fresh papaya seeds

½ Onion

Vinegar (red wine or cider)

¼ cup honey

Salt

1 tsp – 1 Tbs mustard depending on taste

EVOO

Blend all ingredients together and serve. The papaya seeds have a light peppery taste that enlivens a salad dressing and is nicely balanced by the sweetness in the recipe.

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