Known as Ju Hua in Chinese, chrysanthemum is one of my favorite herbs. It is a yellow or white flower that is similar to chamomile, in fact they are in the same family. Drinking chrysanthemum tea has several benefits and, as I explain above, the flowers can be used as a compress as well.
Owing to antimicrobial effects of the essential oils in its flowers, chrysanthemum can help resolve colds and flus when consumed and may be used topically for skin infections, especially staph. I’ve found it to work well on eczema, as well.
Components in the flowers called flavones promote circulation and have a particularly beneficial effect on the eyes. As well as carotenoids found in yellow flowers, mainly lutein, a visual pigment. If vision is impaired or the eyes are painful, red, dry, twitching, swollen or otherwise inflamed, they may benefit from the use of chrysanthemum, both internally and topically. Use the compress on the eye while the lid is closed, and if it becomes dry you can rehydrate it with some of the cooled tea, otherwise all the tea should be consumed.
Chrysanthemum is also said to clear and cool the liver in Chinese medicine, and therefore may be beneficial to those who are detoxing, under a high level of stress, or have high blood pressure.
Be advised, there are very few Chinese herbs which are completely appropriate for every person or prolonged use. Because chrysanthemum is cold in nature use cautiously for those prone to feeling cold, stomachaches, low energy, or poor digestion. Even if it cannot be consumed, it is usually still safe to use topically, as with anything we consume or use topically, it is possible to have an allergic reaction. It should not be used internally for prolonged periods of time without the supervision of a licensed herbalist.
I am beyond thrilled to announce that after being a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist for over 3 years, with the good fortune of amazing patients and a supportive mentor, as of February 1st, 2016 I am finally launching my own practice: Sweet Beet Acupuncture!
Take a minute to look around at my new website at sweetbeetacupuncture.com, you can even schedule an appointment online if you are local to Los Angeles!
I would like to take this moment to extend my gratitude to all of you! I started this blog over 7 years ago and the community’s positive response has been more than I ever dreamed of. When I was freshly enrolled in Chinese medical school and just starting this blog in my studio apartment with my friend, Cameron, I had absolutely no idea what it would become. It has grown into an actual brand which has now become a business! Who knew??
I am so grateful every day for the love and support I get from all my readers and followers, thank you again!!
If you are feeling overloaded from holiday food and looking for something light to get your digestion back on track, or if you have been battling with a low immune system all season, then this is just the soup for you. What better for digestion and immunity than homemade chicken soup, made with a whole chicken, bones and all.
While with soup makes a great base if you’d like to add noodles or rice, without any heavy starchy components this soup stays super light, simple and satisfying. Even though it take a little while to simmer, the recipe couldn’t be easier with only 8 ingredients!
Chicken Vegetable Soup
~1 medium onion (1 and 3/4 cups chopped)
~5 medium carrots (1 and 3/4 cups chopped)
~1 medium celery heart (1 and 3/4 cups chopped)
1 whole chicken, about 3 lb
1 and 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 and 1/2 tsp chervil or other dried green culinary herb
Cooking time: 2 and 1/2 hours
Active time: 30 minutes
Yields 6-8 servings
Rinse, trim and chop your onion, carrots and celery in roughly the same size pieces. Save all the trimmings such as roots, skins and end pieces, those will be used to build the broth.
Set the chopped veggies aside in a bowl and place the trimmings into a large pot, at least 5 quarts, along with the black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of the sea salt and the bay leaves.
Rinse the chicken well and remove anything that may be inside, typically the neck, liver and kidneys are included. I used all of those in the broth as well, which is optional, just make sure if they are in a bag to removed them before adding to the broth.
Add the whole rinsed chicken into the pot along with the trimmings and cover with water, which should be about 12-16 cups (3-4 quarts.) Bring to a boil and reduce to a very low simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, flipping the chicken halfway through.
While simmering, if any foam forms on the top of the broth skim it off with a large spoon and dispose of it. This will keep the broth clear and clean tasting, I find very little foam forms as long as the simmer is kept low.
After an hour remove the chicken from the pot and let cool on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes before pulling the meat off of the bones. Return all the bones and skin back to the pot of broth, along with another 1 teaspoon of sea salt, continue to simmer 1 additional hour.
Tear the white and dark meat apart into spoon-sized pieces so they will be easier to eat. Cover and set aside.
Once the broth has finished simmering cut the heat and strain to remove all the solids, I do this with a colander over a large bowl, then strain again through a sieve. Dispose of the solids that were strained from the broth.
In a different large pot or the same one you cooked the broth which has been cleaned out, turn the burner to high heat and spoon a few tablespoons of fat from the top of the broth where it naturally pools. It’s okay if there is some broth mixed in, this is just being used to soften the vegetables.
Add the chopped carrot, celery and onion into the hot chicken fat along with a final 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Saute until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Then reduce to medium, add in the 1 and 1/2 teaspoon dried chervil (or another dried green culinary herb you have on hand, such as parsley or oregano) and saute an additional 2 minutes.
Add the strained chicken broth back into the pot with the cooked vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat, add in the chicken pieces and serve warm or let cool and store in sealed containers in the fridge for the yummiest leftovers ever.
I’m super excited to announce that after much hard work, I am now offering prints of my year-round seasonal produce poster!! Available in full color prints or digital files on my Etsy store.
This poster makes it easy to keep up with what produce is in season, all year long. Each month is illustrated with 25 unique seasonal fruits and vegetables. Each and every one was hand drawn and watercolored, then digitally scanned into a high res file and professionally printed full color on glossy paper.
Being so close to Christmas I’m shipping them ASAP to accommodate anyone using them as gifts, but they make a wonderful offering any time of the year!
Some close ups:
I treat pain all the time with acupuncture and herbs and it generally responds very well. When I have a particularly tough case, however, I ask my patient, “are you aware of the connection between diet, inflammation and pain?” And the answers I get probably won’t surprise you. The majority of people are totally misinformed about the link between what they eat and their stubborn low back pain, tense shoulders or achy knees.
While “anti-inflammatory” has become a bit of buzzword that gets thrown around when talking about the wonders of turmeric or flax, most people don’t fully understand what this term means and that there is much more to reducing inflammation than just adding a few so-called “super foods” into their diet.
Not only are there several anti-inflammatory foods which battle inflammation in the body, there are also a slew of pro-inflammatory foods which can do more damage then a cup of ginger tea will ever be able to rectify. Especially since high stress levels and lack of sleep can also cause inflammation, keeping the scales balanced can be particularly tough with a fast paced modern lifestyle.
And pain isn’t the only problem, chronic inflammation can contribute to endocrine disorders, neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers. So it should come as no surprise how very important it is to keep inflammation in check.
In case you’re curious what inflammation actually is, it is an immune and circulatory response that the body uses to protect itself while it repairs damaged tissue. One of the most obvious examples is physical trauma such as twisting your ankle, the body causes the damaged area to become inflamed in order to keep the area immobilized while it heals. In moderation inflammation is a necessary process the body uses to function properly, but causes problems in excess.
Inflammation doesn’t just happen in response to physical trauma, it is common for inflammation to occur hidden deep inside our guts. Certain foods in particular can kick up inflammation along the digestive tract, which can effect how nutrients are absorbed and may cause body-wide inflammation. On the other hand, some foods are very effective at battling the inflammatory response. The best strategy seems to be keeping anti-inflammatory foods prevalent and pro-inflammatory foods few and far between. Let’s take a look at which are which.
- Most vegetables, especially:
- Dark leafy greens
- Orange vegetables
- Onions and garlic
- Peppers, especially spicy ones
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Fatty fish and Seafood
- Raw or minimally processed grassfed dairy products
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Most nuts and seeds
- Green herbs such as basil, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, etc.
- Colorful fruits
- Acerola and other tart cherries
- Lemons and limes
- Black and Green tea
- Fermented foods
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Sour Pickles
- Dark chocolate, 70% or above
- Red wine, in small amounts
- Refined carbohydrates, the higher the carbohydrate count the more inflammatory
- High fructose corn syrup
- Transfats, found in many junk foods
- Fried foods
- Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils
- Omega-6 fatty acids, also found in many junk foods, most margarines contain these oils
- Fruits and fruit products high in sugar
- Dried fruit
- Fruit juice
- Starchy Vegetables
- Alcohol, small amount may improve inflammation, but excess has the opposite effect
Keep in mind that everyone reacts to food differently. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to a certain food then it will cause inflammation, regardless of if it has anti-inflammatory effects for other people. Listen to your body and learn what works best for you. If you are really perplexed by which foods may be causing inflammatory symptoms then an allergy test and/or elimination diet may be in order.