5 Fall Spices You Never Knew Were Good For You

For those unfamiliar with the world of Eastern Medicine, hearing the term “Chinese Herbs” probably conjures images of a mysterious hocus pocus, brewed into a less-than-great tasting tea. What you may not know is that they consider some of the familiar spices in your very own cupboard to have medicinal properties.  

1. Cinnamon 

i] Cinnamon bark

Or how we Acupuncturists like to refer to it as, Rou Gui, is an acrid, sweet, and hot herb in nature. As you could probably tell from tasting it, it has extremely warming qualities and promotes healthy blood flow! Cinnamon bark in herbal dosages can have positive affects on the "yang" energy of the kidneys and the spleen.

This means it can help with some symptoms such as:

  •  Weakness of the back
  • Cold Limbs
  • Wheezing
  • Impotence

ii] Cinnamon Twig

The more popular portion of the cinnamon plant is the twig. Gui Zhi is is added in many herbal formulas to assist the immune system in combating those stubborn winter colds. 

improves symptoms of:

  • Body aches
  • Common cold associated with sweating 
  • Edema
  • Palpitations 

2. Ginger

My personal favorite,  this versatile, spicy root has numerous benefits. Apart from being well known as an antibacterial and analgesic, it can help with some more severe medical symptoms. In TCM, dried ginger (Gan Jiang), differs slightly in the qualities of fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang). While both of them are acrid, the dried form is considered hot, and the fresh form is warm. 

So what does this mean? 

I] Sheng Jiang (fresh ginger) can improve symptoms of:

  • Cough & Cold
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 

II] Gan Jiang (dried ginger) can improve symptoms of:

  • Cough with watery phlegm 
  • Nausea & Vomiting 
  • Uterine bleeding or hemorrhage 
  • Diarrhea

MY Go-to cold-kicker spicy tea recipe:

  1. Simmer filtered water in a pot with 5 slices of fresh ginger. (Approximately 3+ hours. The longer, the spicier! Have enough water to make several cups of tea.)
  2. Squeeze in one whole lemon.
  3. Add in a few tablespoons of raw honey
  4. Dash of cayenne pepper.
  5. Optional: 4-5 drops of oregano oil to really kick that cold out.
  6. Optional: 1-2 oz. of apple cider vinegar

3. Nutmeg 

Nutmeg, (Rou Dou Kou), like it's fellow fall spices it is acrid, drying and warm. The prepared, roasted nutmeg seed provides a unique astringent quality for your insides. In herbal usages, it focus directly on the digestive system. It also has a strong analgesic affect, making it great for stomach aches. 

What symptoms are helped by Rou Dou Kou?

  • Epigastric or abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
***Roasting removes the toxicity of nutmeg. Ingestion of the powdered, unprocessed herb can cause nausea, vertigo, hallucinations and more severe side effects. 

4. Cloves


You either love them or hate them. In the baking world, a little goes a long way, the same is said when applying them to Chinese Medicine. The spicy, warming quality of Cloves, (Ding Xiang), translate directly into the way they can help our bodies. 

Some surprising symptoms that cloves can treat: 

  • Hiccoughs
  • Vomiting
  • Impotence 
  • Lack of appetite 

5. Cardamom 

I] Round Cardamom 

Also known as, Bai Dou Kou, promotes healthy movement of "qi", or energy, throughout your body. Aside from it being a delicious spice commonly found in curry, it's warming, aromatic nature makes it excellent for indigestion after overindulging. 

*I love putting cardamom seeds or powder in my coconut  and banana based smoothies!


  • Indigestion from overeating 
  • Distention of the abdomen
  • Stifling sensation in the lungs or chest

II] Black Cardamom

Yi Zhi Ren, the bitter-seeded cardamom, can be given to patients who find themselves urinating a little more frequently than normal. By increasing the kidney and spleen energy in your body, it helps normalize basic bodily functions. 


  • Frequent or copious urination
  • Diarrhea 
  • Irregular uterine bleeding 
***Always consult a licensed Acupuncturist or Herbalist before taking herbal formulas to make sure it's right for your body. 

Benefits of Cooking with Spices

Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, and cardamom all have drying and warming affects on the body. Did you know that adding them to certain dishes actually helps your body digest better? The pairing of these spices with typical fall foods taste good to us for a reason! It's natures way of telling us what we need. 

Add your spices to these foods:

  • Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash
  • Dairy products: Yogurt, Milk,  Kefir
  • Desserts with fruit


Fool Proof Guide to Glowing Skin

Have you ever wondered how Jessica Biel and other dewy-skinned celebs achieves their perfectly glowing skin? It starts from the inside.

It’s no secret that your genetics, hormones, sleep, and environment all contribute to the appearance of your skin, but there is another major factor to consider. If you’re feeling like your skin is looking on the dull side of wonderful, or if you’ve been suffering with clogged and problematic skin, it could be your diet. Here's everything you need to know about glowing from the inside out. 

1. Vitamin A

Healthy skin depends on a regular intake of foods that are rich in alpha and beta-carotene (Vitamin A). Vitamin-A actually helps stimulate the production of collagen, therefore slowing down the normal process of aging. It can also help with inflammatory-prone skin and provides tons of antioxidants.

What to eat:

  • Pumpkin: Just in time for fall! Did you know that one cup of cooked pumpkin puree has over 100% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A?
  • Carrots, Winter Squash and Sweet Potatoes: Perfect for roasting and packed with beta-carotene.
  • Leafy Greens: Spinach, Kale, Beet Greens, Chard, Collard Greens, you name it! Throw some greens in a juice or smoothie, lightly sauté them in coconut oil, or just eat them raw.
  • Dandelion Greens: Also a Chinese Herb (Pu Gong Ying), this bitter leaf is especially good for liver detoxification and can be great for acne-prone skin because of its cooling nature.

*Getting your required daily intake of Vitamin A from foods is much safer than taking it in supplement form.

2. Essential Fatty Acids

Emphasis on the "essential" -  It's crucial for us to intake foods high in Omega-3 and Omega-6. Why is this? Our bodies cannot produce EFA's on its own! These polyunsaturated fats are the building blocks for healthy cell membranes. They not only can help build a strong immune system, but they also reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and can reduce inflammation in rheumatoid conditions. With a diet high in these foods, you're sure to keep your skin hydrated and youthful. 


  • Avocados: This monounsaturated oil-rich fruit is more than just delicious. Cooling in nature, and high in Vitamin E, C and Copper, it's helps build red blood cells while improving the density and general appearance of your skin. 
  • Salmon and Mackerel: A great source for brain power. The University of Michigan talks about why cold water fish have a higher Omega-3 fatty acid content than other fish because of their environment and diet. 
  • Flax, Chia, and Hemp: These tiny little seeds are jam-packed with nutrients and are the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids. They greatly reduce pain and inflammation, while having positive influences on the spleen, pancreas and colon.  My go-to is throwing a couple tablespoons in a smoothie or mixed in my oatmeal.

*Keep flax meal, flax oil, chia seeds, and hemp products stored in the fridge due to them being highly perishable. 

  • Walnuts and Almonds: Besides their lubricative effects, walnuts (He Tao Ren in Traditional Chinese Medicine) and almonds are warming in nature and especially good for fall season to alleviate coughing. Walnuts are particularly good for kidney-adrenals and brain function.  *Almond skins can irritate the gut lining. To avoid this, soak overnight and peel before eating.
  • Olive Oil: High-quality Olive Oil has a higher antioxidant content. Make sure to always buy cold-pressed, organic olive oil. 

3. Probiotics 

Probiotics, also known as, 'the good bacteria'! LiveScience explains how keeping a healthy intestinal flora has a direct link to help solve various skin problems. There are many ways of including probiotics into your daily routine. Global Healing Center has a great list of foods you can start eating on a regular basis to help achieve your ideal skin goals.

*I highly suggest choosing kefir or yogurt from goat's milk instead of cows milk, especially for problematic complexions. 

My go-to everyday probiotics are Bio-K and Farmhouse Jalepeño Kraut

for acne prone skin:

I recommend avoiding the following foods to keep breakouts away.

  • Pasteurized dairy products and yogurt that has added sugar.
  • Foods that are greasy, fatty, fried, spicy, or contain refined sugar.  
  • Certain seafood: Oyster, herring and shrimp.
  • Foods with preservatives.
  • Dairy from cows milk.
  • Alcohol.

4. Chlorophyll 

One of the best things you can do for your body is to muscle down a shot of wheatgrass or E3Live. While it's not the tastiest of treats, your body and skin will thank you. Chlorophyll is the dark green pigment you see in blue-green algae's and leafy greens. The health benefits of chlorophyll are quite impressive, ranging from high amounts of vitamins A, C, E, K, and beta carotene, to containing high levels of antioxidants. Harmful free radicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis won't stand a chance. 

chlorophyll-rich sources:

  • Wheatgrass Juice
  • Spirulina or Chlorella
  • Parsley
  • Watercress
  • Barley Grass
  • Alfalfa (tablets or tea)
  • Dark Leafy Greens: Especially kale, collard greens, and chard. 

5. Hydrate

Start every morning off with a glass of warm water with fresh squeezed lemon. This kick-starts your organs for the day and allows them to get a fresh start on purifying your cells while driving out toxins. Drinking enough water is not only crucial for dry skin and acne, it could also be one of the simplest solutions to constipation, bloating, headaches, low energy, and aching muscles. 

ways to hydrate:

A lot of my patients have a hard time drinking the recommended 8 glasses a day. Here are a couple tricks to stay hydrated and not feel like you're forcing it down.

  • Infused water: Add in some mint, cucumber, lemon, or any other fruit or veggie your prefer to infuse your water. This adds a little flavor while still getting nutrients and hydration.
  • Green tea: Because of the high amounts of antioxidants in green tea, it can slow signs of aging and act as an anti-inflammatory. Internal or topical use of green tea can protect against harmful UV rays and therefore reduce risk of skin cancer. 

Overcoming Migraines

If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you can understand how debilitating they can be.

Growing up, I suffered through chronic migraines. Sometimes I was able to sleep them off, other times I was not as lucky. Along with the throbbing unbearable pain, came nausea and vomiting. None of it was fun.

Traditional western medicine was unable to cure the pain.  I kept food diaries to try and determine if it was a response to something in my diet, but with no luck. I became so accustomed to experiencing their brutal bi-monthly symptoms, solutions besides the high doses of prescription medication hadn’t occurred to me.

My mother suggested I try acupuncture. You can imagine my hesitation when I imagined myself on the examination table as I’d seen her through her recovery process, a human pincushion.  Thanks, but no thanks, was my first response. By my next migraine, I was willing to get beyond my resistance and try anything.  After my first treatment, I was more than just convinced.  I felt immediate and palpable relief.

However, soon enough, another wave hit me, but this time without the full power they used to have over me.  A few treatments and one herbal formula later, my migraines were almost a thing of the past!  For the next six months, I remained pain free… that is until I experienced another.  Immediately, I willingly went in for a treatment again, and felt cured. It’s now been almost eight years since those first few treatments, and I’ve only experienced a handful of splitting headaches since. The relief has been truly astounding, priceless.

Between bearing witness to my mother’s complete turn around, and that of my own, I was certain of what I wanted to do with my life – Help people using natural modalities and their own bodies energy.

5 Ways to De-Stress

Don’t have the luxury of time to escape to the spa for the weekend? Too busy to stop in for an acupuncture treatment? Here are 5 simple tools to de-stress.


1.     Breathe

Sounds simple right? It can be if you make it a habit.

Unbeknownst to many of us, we are only filling the top portion of our lungs when we take a breath. This is known as shallow breathing. By not allowing oxygen flow to the lower portion of our lungs, we are inhibiting our diaphragms range of motion. It also leaves us feeling short of breath or more anxious than usual.


First, sit up straight and uncross your legs. Plant both feet evenly on the ground. Inhale deeply through your nose, counting to five. While filling up completely of air, avoid raising your shoulders, instead, expand your lower abdomen. This is known as “belly breathing”. When exhaling, exhale through the mouth slowly. Push out any air that was inhaled, creating a concave feeling in the abdomen. Repeat.

2.     Pause

There’s a reason for the saying, “Stop and smell the roses”.

This isn’t just for girls who like flowers. It’s no secret that modern day life can have most of us feeling like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch up to the Road Runner. Things that attribute to our stress, unfortunately we all must face. This includes driving in traffic, our work life, children (while adorable, still stressful), spouses (we all have those days), and even our simple daily tasks. When combined, this can get overwhelming, and not everything is always going to always go your way.


Take a moment. Enjoy the perfectly massaged kale salad you just took a bite of. Notice how nice the breeze feels on your skin. Look up from your phone and think about one thing you are grateful for. By being present and focusing on your senses, the extra tension you are holding will naturally drop.

3.     Meditate

Take the last two tips and combine them. This is, more or less, meditation. Meditation isn’t exactly shutting off our brain like many of us might think. It’s setting an intention to be present and in tune with our body. Rather than battling the thoughts that might naturally stream into your brain at first, let them flow and just watch them go by instead of reacting. Start with five minutes a day.


  • First, find a comfortable seating position (Not too comfortable! We don’t want this to be naptime)
  • Plant both feet evenly on the floor, and sit up straight. Imagine a string at the top of your head is pulling your spine up straight.  
  • Gently close your eyes
  •  Find any hidden tension you might be holding in your jaw, shoulders, or other places, and relax them
  • Place your tongue at the roof of your mouth
  • Now all you have to do is revert to your newly acquired skill of deep, slow, mindful breaths

4.     Essential Oils

Think of these as tiny bottles of magic aroma! Aside from the fact that they are so easy to keep on hand, the concentrated essential oils can have extremely powerful and positive effects on your body. When you inhale the aroma of the oil, the odor molecules travel directly to the limbic system in your brain. Your limbic system controls your mood and emotions. It’s also directly correlated to the parts of your brain that control heart rate, stress, breathing, memory and hormone balance. This is why certain smells can trigger emotional responses!

MindBodyGreen talks about which oils you can use specifically for stress reduction. My favorites are Lavender, Chamomile, Frankincense and Rose.

5.     Exercise

Our bodies are not designed to function well by sitting in a chair all day. If you haven’t gotten a workout in recently, this could be the cause of the extra stress you’re feeling.


Exercise not only keeps you in good physical shape, it keeps you in good mental shape. We all know that it can benefit your heart, and give you a more toned body. What most people lose sight of is the mood-booster quality physical activity has on us. When you work out, you release endorphins (happy hormones!) leaving you with a feeling of euphoria! Who wouldn’t want that?


Image from RealSimple