Monday, March 29, 2010

Chinese herbs contraindicated during Pesach (passover)

Dear Friends,

As I have in the last two years, as a public service, I am posting the list of Chinese herbs that are contraindicated for observant Jews during the 8 day (7 for those living in Israel) festival of Pesach, which begins tomorrow evening (Monday) at sunset. During this holiday, Jews refrain from consuming or benefitting from certain leavened grain products known as Chametz. (Ch is pronounced as in Chanuka and not as in child) Below is a list of Chinese herbs that are intrinsically Chametz or are processed in a manner which renders them Chametz and are therefore not recommended (Know that this list has been made based to the best of my knowledge, and is in know way authoritative or the last word. Though the medicinal substances listed below, are definitely, and in all circumstances Chametz, there my be other substances or herbs that inadvertantly have left out):

1. E Jiao-Equus Asinus
2. Shu Di Huang (note that Sheng Di Huang is OK)- Rehmannia Glutinosa
3. Chuan Xiong-Ligusticum
4. Rou Cong Rong-Cistanche
5. Gui Ban Jiao-Chinemys Reevesii
6. Yi Yi Ren-Coix (often substituted with pearl barley)
7. Mai Ya-germinated barley
8. Da Mai Miao-Barley sprouts
9. Yi Tang-maltose
10. Fu Xiao Mai-light wheat
11. Lu Jiao Jiao-Cervus Nippon
12. Shen Qu-Massa Fermenta
13. Huang Jing-Polygonatum

Should any of you know of any other substances which are Chametz, I would encourage you to let me know. Also, be aware that any medicines in pill form containing these ingredients definitely are problematic to the observant Jewish consumer.

Of course it goes without saying, that this list is only addressing the issue of Chometz, and not other issues relating to Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws). Feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A quick laugh as we turn into the home stretch for Pesach

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is nothing to laugh about. It is a condition in which the brain gets stuck, which appears to result from a miscommunication between the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), the caudate nucleus of the basal ganglia and the thalamus. It is a heart-breaking mental disorder, characterized by intrusive thoughts (the obsessive component) that can produce extreme anxiety, and prompt repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing this anxiety (the compulsive component). That being said, I have found in clinical practice that a combination of acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, nutraceuticals and Chinese medicine can be very successful in resolving it, without needing to resort to mild altering pharmaceuticals.

Erev Pesach is a very special time as we search inside of ourselves as well in our homes for Chometz, literally, as well as for its metaphor: arrogance. May Ha-Shem help us to succeed in our search and destroy mission, and may we bring in Pesach with lots of love and support for each other, and with hearts purified of chametz!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Eating with awareness: empowering ourselves through our diet

The ultimate goal of the physician should be to promote balance and teach patients and students how to live in a manner which will promote balance and wellness. I believe that we need to cultivate four aspects of our lives if we are to succeed in that goal: what we eat, how we sleep, how we move and oxygenate our bodies, and how we nourish our spirits.

This article will be the first in a series of what and how to not to eat, as well as what and how we should eat. I choose specifically to mention what not to eat first, following the guidance of King David, who says in Tehillim: "Turn away from evil, and do good," teaching us to first eliminate that which harms us. Concerning how one eats, the Rambam says in Hilchos Deyos: 3:2 , "One should set one's heart to eat...things that are beneficial to the body, whether they are sweet or bitter, and not eat things that are harmful the the body, even though they may be sweet to the palate."

So with that introduction, my first recommendation of a substance to avoid would be good old-fashioned, Coca Cola (Well maybe not so old-fashioned: The original Coke contained cocaine, thus its name, and even as a kid, in the late 50s, it was known that if someone wanted to ditch school, an instant fever could be produced by drinking a bottle of coke with 2 aspirin!). The main ingredients in a 12 oz can of Coke are carbonated water (from carbon dioxide, the waste product that we breath out), 39 grams of sugar (more than 8 teaspoons), natural flavors, caramel color, about 50 mg of Phosphoric acid, and about 35 mg of caffeine.

Upon drinking a can of coke, more than 8 teaspoons (39 grams) of sugar hit your system. The liver and pancreas respond to this rush of simple carbohydrates by turning them into fat. The caffeine causes the pupils to dilate,and the blood pressure to rise which in turn causes the liver to release more sugar into the bloodstream. The caffeine also blocks the adenosine receptors to the brain preventing drowsiness and is an excitotoxin, killing brain cells by stimulates the dopamine and pleasure centers of the brain.
The phosphoric acid chelates or binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in the small intestine, and the diuretic action of the caffeine causes these minerals to be excreted by the urine, leading to osteomalacia and osteoporosis. And this is all about REGULAR COKE. What about diet coke? Stay tuned....