Ladies Who Launch with Botanarchy

Botanarchy

If you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like to run a business guided by plants + tao, mosey on over to the Beyond Yoga Blog for their ‘Ladies Who Launch’ interview with Botanarchy. Like any proper Anarcha Taoist, I fumble over embracing the nomenclature ‘female entrepreneur’, but hey, it would make my mama proud (1st generation er’rythang over here), and I think it’s important to show teenage Carolyn and teenage everyone that if you apply the principles of humanism, integrity, and respect for the flow of the natural world to the charnel grounds of late-capitalism, it can grow something beautiful + beneficial for all beings through the putrid sludge and toxic miasma. #runonsentence forever and ever.

In building Botanarchy, I looked to the same masters that I consult for guidance when mending the suffering soma + souls of my patients: the balanced beauty of the biome, the communal poetry of the boreal forest… bacteria, mycelium, trees + plants. Their models of collectivism, adaptability, resilience, and regeneration work for running a business, as well as restoring homeostasis to a life out of balance.

Also, public service announcement: ‘wellness’ is shadow work, and most certainly NOT about drinking kale smoothies in a bikini.

The Botanarchy Manifesta

Botanarchy

T H E  B O T A N A R C H Y   M A N I F E S T A  

o n 

R A D I C A L  F E M I N I S T  H E A L T H C A R E 

Botanarchy’s model of Radical Feminist Healthcare is oriented towards freeing us from a reliance upon medicines + institutions that are exploitive of natural resources and the body en masse. The rich, expansive palate of nature, Taoism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine provide a path that engenders a true state of bodily autonomyreacquainting us with the rhythms and cycles of our bodies and liberating us from a dependence on healthcare practices that undermine its intelligence and flow. 

Botanarchy as a concept hearkens to the idea that medicine can be both a form of resistance and a reclamation of original, authentic nature. Botanarchy offers a vision of radical feminist healthcare that is built on humanism, integrity, and respect for the flow of the natural world. Botanarchists are committed to ending the corporate co-option of the body, supporting the democratization of medicine, and empowering others to think and feel for themselves.

Every gender expression benefits from radical feminist health care. We are all suffering from being underserved in a for-profit, disease-driven model that has taken power and autonomy out of the hands of the people and put it into the hands of corporations and politicians. As shepherds of this radical feminist healthcare, we aim to rescue medicine from the patriarchy by means of the following core principles:

*Radical feminist healthcare is rooted in natural models that do not suppress the true nature of the body, enhancing connection to both the microcosm of the body and the macrocosm of the earth.

*Radical feminist healthcare is based on thousands of years of observing and revering nature, not heterosexual cis white male bodies.


*Radical feminist healthcare is tethered to natural rhythms and embraces the cycles of change. 

*Radical feminist healthcare honors both light and shadow, recognizing each phase of the creative cycle as medicine — birth, growth, harvest, death, and renewal. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is not based on an unattainable goal of ‘healing’, valuing the full spectrum of human experience instead.

*Radical feminist healthcare is age-positive, committed to providing compassionate healthcare for all stages of personhood, exulting the menstrual cycle and menopause equally as sacred passages. 

*Radical feminist healthcare refuses to industrialize the rhythms and cycles of the body.

*Radical feminist healthcare will never measure health by our ability to work harder, work longer, make more money, increase our sexual potency, feel better with less sleep, compete with each other, push beyond our means and capacity. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is against positing ‘wellness’ as maximizing our output in a capitalist labor market by increasing motivation and productivity.

*Radical feminist healthcare allows every body to define ‘wellness’ on their own terms.

*Radical feminist healthcare supports people in finding their own Tao, recovering the self not corrupted by culture. 

*Radical feminist healthcare individualizes treatment for every body as a unique emanation of the Tao, recognizing that our Tao can be thwarted by multiple forms of systemic discrimination that may block us from thriving in our personhood.

*Radical feminist healthcare is pro-autonomy, helping us recover the capacity to taste and feel and sense for ourselves. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is insistent on inner authority, and never shaming of choice.

*Radical feminist healthcare recognizes a non-binary gender spectrum beyond male and female, and is focused on balancing the masculine + feminine polarity inside all of us regardless of biological sex or gender.

*Radical feminist healthcare sees masculine + feminine as principles existing in a relationship, interdependent, working together, flowing back and forth into each other.

*Radical feminist healthcare acknowledges the emotions as aspects of disease, and is non-shaming of emotional states.

*Radical feminist healthcare is against the immediate medicating of emotions that don’t fit the dominant narratives of ‘health’ and ‘wellness’.

*Radical feminist healthcare is not fear-based and disease-driven.

*Radical feminist healthcare cultivates and value receptivity, gentleness, and subtlety. 

*Radical feminist healthcare empowers mothers and working families with the tools to take care of ourselves and our communities where the system has failed to protect and sustain us.

*Radical feminist healthcare is oriented towards freeing us from a reliance upon privatized healthcare and allopathic methods that often harm the body and undermine its innate, elegant intelligence.

*Radical feminist healthcare transmutes the darkness and discomfort of our bodies and society en masse into something new, in the alchemy of turning lead into gold.


If this manifesta speaks to you, I urge you to share it freely and wantonly! Distribute it in your communities. Demand your doctors treat you in accordance with its precepts. Love your body through the medicine of its message!

In health and solidarity, 

Carolyn

Seasonal Alchemy: The Waking Of The Insects

Lorie Dechar’s Spring Altar at our Alchemical Healing Retreat

Lorie Dechar’s Spring Altar at our Alchemical Healing Retreat

“If you listen closely, you can hear the daffodils open”

My teacher Lorie Dechar whispered this incantation into the circle on the eve of our Alchemical Acupuncture retreat, and morning brought this bellowing bouquet of awe to our altar. Where there were silent stalks, loquacious lemon florets arose, punching the clock for their job as heralds hearkening the shift from stillness to aliveness. Etheric high fives all around - we are the lucky ones that survived winter.

Yesterday marked an exquisite pivot in the Taoist alchemical year, the stirrings of Water into Wood. The shift from the chthonic consolidation of winter’s watery repose, to the courageous leap of wood bursting through dark matter, is in full effect. It’s a moment known as The Waking Of The Insects, signaling the burgeoning aliveness that happens as we collectively wake. Any and every thing in nature that has become stagnant will be re-energized by the unexpected. If you eavesdrop a little on your psyche + soma, you can hear the sap rising, the insects finding their hum.

This seasonal shift is related to Hexagram 51 of the I Ching - The Shock of the Thunderclap. Thunder brings arousal, stirring the primal forces from deep within, waking up the senses and bringing heightened awareness through the medicine of fear and the unexpected. Truly auspicious that those of us that live in the plastic pastures of LA were greeted by a thunderstorm as the insects roused from their slumbers. Do you feel the stirring?

I’m offering my patients an alchemical treatment to align with the seasonal shift - waking up the stagnant slumbering + coaxing forth the juicy sap from within to initiate momentum and moxie for the season ahead. Let’s play in the verdant field of qi together!

Be Your Own Valentine: Three Self-Love Rituals Guided By Chinese Medicine

Photo by Noemi Jimenez

Photo by Noemi Jimenez

Head on over to the resplendent Beyond Yoga Blog for Botanarchy’s seasonal alchemical alembics to awaken the heart on Valentine’s Day.

The soul of ancient Chinese medicine is the concept that the entirety of the cosmos is contained within us, and that we each have our own divine rhythm that is an emanation of the heart of the universe. The seat of this magic is our heart, and the motive force of the heart is what we call the shen spirit, the cosmic light of the universe that brings inspiration, awareness, and compassion to everything we grace.

Our hearts are on a mission to connect us with our divine path, and our self-love nourishes this mission, giving it purpose and movement through a constant barrage of trauma and disappointment. If Valentine’s Day is good at anything, it’s amplifying this disappointment, bringing the familiar pangs of loneliness, longing, and lack, reminding us of all the types of love we could be experiencing and why we aren’t. I’ve often felt that Valentine’s Day should be re-imagined as a holiday of self-love, where we direct the light of the heart inwards to reconnect to our divine path and recognize that we are already whole.

One of the gifts of this medicine is the remembrance that love needs no vessel other than the self, for we are in ecstatic communion with the universe. The infamous ‘yin yang’ symbol – also known as the taijitu or ‘supreme polarity’ – is not just the darling of mall jewelry, but also a symbolic reminder that we don’t need to be in partnership to be whole, that the self is both already complete and ever-evolving. In the yin yang symbol, opposites exist in complete harmony, two swirling teardrop shapes that fit within each other to form a perfect circle that is one, containing all the polarities of the universe- male//female, yin//yang, light//dark, sun//moon, heaven//earth, it’s all there.

Let this be a guiding light for you this Valentine’s Day, along with this smattering of practices guided by the wisdom of Chinese medicine that access the light and wisdom of the heart, and find that center of wholeness + perfection in our untarnished core. We don’t need to be in love, we already ARE love. Take that, Tinder!

Below are 3 Self-Love Rituals guided by Chinese Medicine for you to try this Valentine’s Day.

1. SHEN-GAZING
The shen, our heart spirit, is the light that illuminates the heart, bubbling over from its cauldron to shine out from our eyes. Shen-Gazing is a simple practice you can do anytime you need to connect with your inner luminescence, or meld with the transcendent values of the heart. It cultivates self-love, reminds us of our innate divinity, and helps bridge the connection between the heart and the world at large. There is no proper way to do this, and no correct amount of time to devote; simply allow yourself to witness and explore. This is the perfect opening practice for the two other rituals listed below, and also my favorite way to prepare for a date when the butterflies are abounding and the inner critic is a’yelping.

How to Perform this Ritual:

Light a candle, and sit comfortably in front of a mirror.

Gaze into your own eyes, making contact with the spark that animates you from within, the true self that lies in the depths of your being untouched by the world.

Stay gazing, greeting this spark as if it were divine, feeling the light within your eyes grow as bold as the light of the heavenly cosmos. Don’t break your own gaze – breathe, soften, stay present to the light of the shen. Merge and meld, and merge and meld, until you feel the subtle glow permeate your whole being.

2. INNER SMILE MEDITATION
This is a practice culled from the Taoist tantric arts. It melts the contraction of negative emotional energy, and helps in accepting oneself unconditionally. It is a supreme reminder that happiness and love are a choice, and that we can drop into their slipstream whenever we chose. Hello, freedom.

How to Perform this Ritual:

Sit comfortably with your spine straight, such that you are a poised conduit of energy from the earth below to the heavens above.

Take a few deep, cleansing breaths to release any judgment, stories, or stickiness that may have taken root in the body.

Close your eyes and rest your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth, so that your throat stays relaxed and your breath can flow freely.

Smile gently and honestly, deliciously yet genuinely, beginning with a sly turn-up of the lips and allowing it to blossom as it will. If you are vexed and jaded like the best of us, this may not come easy to you. Fret not! Pluck some grinning memories from the vaults until you have coaxed a suitably sublime smile onto your face.

Allow the smiling energy to spread multi-directionally, bringing the energy to the spot between your eyebrows – the third eye – the energetic locus that allows us to cut through illusion, access deeper truths, and see beyond the limitations of ego and language. Let your forehead relax, and allow the smiling energy to accumulate at the third eye point, bubbling over like an over-poured glass of champagne.

Allow the smiling energy to overflow down your face, relaxing the cheeks, nose, mouth, and all the facial muscles. Let it flow downwards through your neck, into the chambers of your heart.

Smile into your heart, filling it with compassion and joy, its cosmic companions and original bedfellows. From here, you can direct the smiling energy to each of your internal organs, or any crawl space or crevasse in your body that has wilted or waned. Allow the glowing tumescence of the smile to dissolve all stagnation and constraint, giving special attention to any spot in your body in need of healing.

Finally, direct your smiling energy to the point about 2 inches below your navel; This is your life gate, the internal alchemical furnace where we store and churn our energy and magic.

In closing, you can open your eyes, release your smile, keep it, give it away… whatever feels juicy and good. You’re on a date with yourself, after all.

3. SELF-LOVE ACUPRESSURE
Acupressure is needle-less acupuncture by the mojo and moxie of one’s own hands, a simple yet comprehensive self-care system for radiant health, balance, and well-being. Through the practice of stimulating acupuncture points on specific organ meridians, we can cultivate and harness life force energy, revitalizing the internal organs, glands, nervous system, and the bones. This foundational practice of gentle self-massage increases our capacity to skillfully cultivate, circulate, and sublimate energy throughout the body.

One can access the boundless love contained within the heart by activating points on the body that awaken and enliven the heart spirit, or shen. I will walk you through how to locate these points below. Finding an acupuncture points is a lot like finding the reflex point on your knee that gives that quintessential kick. You want to sink your fingers into the skin until you find that sweet spot, sliding your finger over that valley or mountain peak until it elicits an emotional or physical AHA! If the point you discover feels at all tender and stagnant, you will massage the point in a counter-clockwise direction, breaking up the stasis and freeing up the qi. If the acupuncture point feels lithe and empty, draw energy into the body by massaging in a clockwise motion.

Your hands are instruments of magic- put some devotion potion in there. I like to use a dab of Rose Geranium essential oil in tandem with these points, as it is a heart-opening ally with a sexy Venusian flair that brings luminous awareness of our spiritual gifts. Floracopeia is my most cherished purveyor of high vibration, high integrity oils.

How to Access 3 Heart-Activating Points:

Ren 17 “Center of Chest” 膻中

Location: Midway between the nipples in the center of the breastbone. Locate the point by drawing a straight line between the two nipples, stopping at the cleft in the center of the breastbone, massaging and stimulating the area in 4-5 second intervals.

Ren 17 rests on the body’s central axis right in the center of our being, and as such, it opens the chest helping us to love and breathe deeply. As yogis, we are well aware that breath is life, and this point helps reinforce the connection between our Lungs and our Heart. When palpated, Ren 17 can provide a deep emotional release, and if you feel frantic and scattered like a box of lightning and chaos, this point helps resolve anxiety and panic attacks, quell heart palpitations, and regulate erratic breathing.

Heart 7 “Spirit Gate” 神門

Location: On the wrist wrinkle of the inner crease of the wrist, just below the palm, at on the pinky-finger end beside the ropey tendon. Locate the point by turning your hand over so the palm is facing up, then apply downward pressure to the spot at the pinky corner of the wrist, just next to the tendon, massaging and stimulating the area in 4-5 second intervals.

Heart 7 can help merge the divide between the heart and the mind, center us in our heart, and access the wisdom of the shen. I love using this point when I need to think and act with my heart, come home to roost in the infinite wisdom inside me, and tap into freedom of expression as governed by my true purpose. This point is also great for nourishing a weary heart in those of us suffering from burn-out.

Pericardium 6 “Inner Barrier” 內關

Location: Three finger breaths above the wrist on the inner forearm in the space between the two tendons. Locate the point by turning your hand over so the palm is facing up, then apply downward pressure between the two tendons, massaging and stimulating the area in 4-5 second intervals.

The Pericardium is the ‘Heart Protector’ meridian, and as such, is likened to the keeper of the castle gate who discerns who orwhat is allowed to enter or leave the inner domain of the heart. Acupressure on Pericardium 6 helps inspire healthy boundaries in relationships and beyond, and like a spry acupuncture adaptogen, it can be used to open our hearts when they have closed in reaction to past pains, and to shore up our heart’s castle walls when we are the walking wounded. It is an excellent point to calm a restless heart and quiet the mind.
— Beyond Yoga

Goji Schisandra Lemonade

Goji Schisandra Lemonade

In Chinese herbal therapy, sour & astringent herbs have the energetic quality of ‘consolidating’ our qi and precious body fluids from leaking out of the body. They are useful for sheltering our three treasures - jing, qi, and shen - firmly within the body temple, and securing what is lost after a ribald summer bacchanal of profuse sweating, bleeding, urination, extravagant orgasming, or fatigue after indulging in supernatural amounts of sexual activity. Taoist medicine folk of yore likened the wonders of astringent herbs to a ’turtle pulling back into oneself’, their magic being that of conservation and condensation. Seeing as summer is all about oozing fluids with wild abandon, worshiping ancient sun gods, and flagrantly squandering our immortality, sour and astringent medicines like Schisandra Berry and Lemon can help guard our vital fluids and protect us from the dangers of over-sweating. This rubicund elixir immortelle is gonna be on tap all summer long at the Baroness Homestead, because if theres one thing I do with gusto, its drop fluids like its hooooot. Method:

2 Tablespoons Schisandra Berries

4 Tablespoons Goji Berries

2 Tablespoons Aloe Juice

1 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (thank you for the epic lemon haul, @kjirby and @natashawheat!)

4 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

A Pinch of Sea Salt

1 Quart Spring Water

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Simmer the Goji Berries and Schisandra in spring water for 30 minutes, strain, add your various accoutrements with gusto, let cool, ice it up, and drink in dewy dankness!

Holy Rolling! Facial Gua Sha for Gettin' the Glow

Facial Gua Sha

Ahhhh, the cerulean splendor of a cool slab o' seagreen jade swept sultrily across the face during a sweltery summer heatwave to soothe those lock-jawed, teeth-clenching, fever dream-drunk, heat-vexed blues. Call it what you will - beauty qigong, facial rejuvenation, holy rolling - this resplendent routine of face-melting mirth culled from the annals of traditional Chinese medicine is most certainly the manna of immortal Taoist poetry.

Gentle, upward strokes along the facial meridians performed with a jade guasha tool can help move lymphatic fluids, drain puffiness, relax tight facial muscles and fascia, and boost blood and qi flow to the skin. It also improves the skins hydration and circulation, which can glamor you with a youthful glow that betrays the reality of moon-drunk all nighters spent knocking back body shots of Reishi and bumps of cordyceps. One of the myriad things I love about the medicine I practice is the DIY ethos that permeates through it. There is so much hot tech that doesn't require the prowess of a doctor or the savvy of years spent in clinical practice. In fact, the most refined medicines are those which you can give to yourself, in heavy rotation, on the daily... gigoing, nutrition, meditation, guasha, healthy sex. For anyone interested in how to perform DIY facial guasha, I will be hosting a workshop on Taoist women's self care later this summer. Details coming soon!

Botanarchy’s Radical Feminist Healthcare Is Exactly What We Need Right Now

I don’t think there’s a one size fits all approach to medicine,” says Carolyn Barron confidently, as we sip jiaogoulong tea in her sunny, Los Angeles office. Barron is the co-founder of Botanarchy, a radical healthcare clinic whose mission is simply to supply “botanical medicine for body autonomy”. The chic, white jumpsuit that Barron sports in lieu of a white lab coat is an apt metaphor for her disruptive perspective, one that eschews traditional Western medicine in a manner that has become increasingly important as healthcare (especially women’s healthcare) comes under fire.

“I think of this as a feminist model of healthcare– but one that’s open to all genders,” Barron continues. “When I say ‘feminist model,’ I mean it’s separate from that patriarchal, old guard [world] of medicine, where it’s disease-driven, dogma-laden, and kind of shaming– shaming of choice, shaming of autonomy, shaming of lifestyle. It’s a more intuitive approach that’s individualistic and treats the root causes of disease instead of doing symptom management,” she explains. “It focuses on autonomy, choice, and teaching patients how to change their own life and their own health,” she continues. “The idea is that they will go on and pass that on to their family, their community.
— Garden Collage Magazine
Carolyn Barron

Boundless gratitude to Garden Collage Magazine for interviewing this Botanarchist on body autonomy, botanical medicine, and how feminist models of healthcare are the future of sustainable medicine. Read the full article here.

Photos by the resplendent @mollybeauchemin

Botanarchy on 'That's So Retrograde'!

Botanarchy

Thank you to the budding Botanarchist babes of @soretrograde for having me on their podcast this week!  Such a pleasure to while away the afternoon discussing Botanarchy and how to 're-wild' medicine by waking up to the wonders of internal and external nature, reminding ourselves of our ferocious latent powers and reconnecting with the seeds of our quieted magic. If you long to hear me natter on about dismantling cultural conditioning and accessing our true natures through traditional Chinese medicine, have a gander on iTunes or the That's So Retrograde website!

✊🏻

Herbal Allies: Honeysuckle + Forsythia

Honeysuckle and Forsythia

Paired together, these acrimonious accomplices coagitate and conspire to  entangle upper respiratory infections like colds, flu's, bronchitis, and sore throats in their vivacious vines. These two toxic avengers provide the brawny backbone for one of the ancestral Chinese pharmacopoeia's most judicious antibiotic herbal formulas, Yin Qiao. They release heat pathogens from the body, quell toxicity, and have been decocted by the initiated masses for thousands of years to treat wind-heat conditions, influenza, and viral infections. Recent clinical trials have shown that honeysuckle tea exhibits broad-spectrum antiviral and antibiotic activity, suppressing the effects of influenza virus in mice, effectively acting as a "virologocal penicillin". If a turn of phrase like "virological penicillin" gets you all hot and bothered in a panty drenching swoon, then boil yourself a pot of honeysuckle forsythia tea and drink it throughout the day, or decoct in a hot rice porridge or congee for a DIY flu shot. Lemon and honey will smooth over the acerbic edges, but the tea's poignant puissance will never fully acquiesce. But you want your medicine to be grizzled not chiseled - 'tis the season for prevention!

Herbal Allies: Huang Lian /// Coptis Root

Coptis Root

This golden, auric wonder glows like a honey-dipped sun, but under its florid veneer it shrouds a lethal combination of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory moxie engulfed in an acerbic matrix of bitter oomph. Coptis is, quite possibly, the bitterest herb I have ever tasted. Long enshrined in traditional medicine for its ability to treat conditions associated with excess dampness, inflammation, and heat, its bitterness is the key to its effectiveness. The bitter taste and yellow hue indicate the presence of berberine, an alkaloid with strong antibiotic effects that effectively drains excess and heat from the body. In test tube studies, berberine was shown to inhibit the growth of streptococcal bacteria responsible for some forms of pneumonia, and it exhibits broad-spectrum antibacterial and antiviral activity (take that, o meager single-minded flu shot!) that supports the use of coptis to treat skin, mouth, eye, gastrointestinal, and vaginal infections. A robust stalwart of heavy-hitter herbal prescriptions, Coptis takes on staphylococcus, strains of streptococcus, hepatitis B, salmonella, SIBO, cholera, and its motto is basically “I can handle all this jelly.” ALL HAIL.

Scalp Acupuncture

Scalp Acupuncture

Scalp acupuncture is gaining notoriety for its ability to help stroke patients regain motor function after an ischemic event. Scalp acupuncture prevents and reduces edema in the brain, stopping further damage to brain tissues. It also promotes perfusion in the brain, restoring blood and oxygen to brain cells to save them from dying after an ischemic attack. It also helps break down blood clots! While a wondrous therapy for stroke patients that I have had the slack-jawed honor of witnessing at the Emperor's College Stroke Clinic, scalp acupuncture can benefit any condition with a neurological component, from Parkinson's to Multiple Sclerosis to Anosmia and Migraines. I even use it for depression! The entire human body is mapped out on the curves and crevasses of the cranium... as above, so below! 

Herbal Allies: Wu Wei Zi // Schisandra Berry

Schisandra

This tart little scarlet strumpet may look like a banal berry at first glance, but it just so happens to be one of my favorite fierce hormone allies. In cases of estrogen dominance seen in certain forms of endometriosis, PCOS, irregular menses, PMS, insulin resistance, and fibrocystic breast disease, Schisandra Berry can help the liver detoxify excess estrogens through the 2-hydroxyestrone metabolite production pathway. It increases glutathione levels, an antioxidant that helps your body repair damage caused by stress, pollution, radiation, infection, drugs, poor diet, aging, injury, and trauma. Schisandra also boosts the health and energy of muscle cell mitochondria and balances the pH of cells during exertion, which increases endurance during exercise and relieves fatigue. Not only does it pack a puissant punch to the liver, cardiac tissues, and muscles, but it also has the ability to relieve emotional anxiety and improve sleep. This is one of the reasons it has been revered as an anti-aging beauty tonic by ancient Chinese herbalists and modern holistic hoi polloi alike. I use this berry in custom herbal formulas for my patients, but I also like to dose my smoothies with a hefty spoonful of #jingherbs Schisandra powder.

Matcha Avocado Soft Serve

Matcha Avocado Soft Serve

Green to soothe my stressed liver, soft because why bother chewing, ever.

2 frozen bananas, 1 ripe avocado, 1 teaspoon matcha powder, a dash of cinnamon, and raw honey to sweeten, all churned old-world style in a food processor. Top with surreptitious sprinkles of bee pollen and coconut. Eat with a golden spoon because you're fancy.

Turmeric Orange Julius

Orange Julius

A valley girl summer cooler brought to you by winsome & woebegone memories of strolling the Sherman Oaks Galleria in Bart Simpson boxer shorts with a home perm and Orange Julius in hand. All of the nostalgia and none of the junk, with a hint of Ayurveda and a Taoist twist. ☀️

1 frozen banana, 3 knuckles freshly peeled turmeric root, 1 orange, 1 tbsp grass fed collagen protein, 1 tsp pearl powder, blended in a base of rice mylk.

Morning Congee

Heart Spirit Congee

Medicinal rice porridge, or 'congee,' is the nutritional foundation for optimal health in traditional Chinese medicine. Simple and fuss free kitchen witchery, the basis of congee is one part rice to 6 parts water simmered in a slow cooker overnight with minimal elbow grease or finessing. In 'The Book of Jook', one of my favorite repositories of congee recipes both egalitarian and exotic, Bob Flaws explains that "in Chinese medicine, the prognosis of any disease is based on three things: spirit, stomach qi, and root. Spirit refers to the heart spirit which is nourished by qi. Root refers to the kidney essence which is also nourished by qi. Once the stomach qi fails, we can no longer make qi and blood postnatally and thus must decline. It is believed in traditional Chinese medicine that when the vital energy of the stomach is depleted, the disease will be incurable, and that is why rice porridge is considered to be the most fundamental of dietotherapeutic foods." My favorite part about being a Chinese medical physician is that my prescription pad is not limited to pharmaceuticals, and I get to relish in the simple transformative magic of prescribing personalized congee formulas to my patients using medicinal herbs and foods. This one is comprised of mulberries, spirit Poria mushroom, Chinese dates, and goji berries, and is for supplementing the liver and boosting the kidneys, enriching yin and blood, moistening the intestines, brightening the eyes, and calming the heart. ❤️

Herbal Allies: Bai Shao / / White Peony

PCOS

Let’s talk about ovulation. 


Be it the ubiquity of endocrine disrupters in our post-koyaanisqatsi, hyper-industrialized cosmos, or a food pyramid dominated by behemoth agribusinesses pushing processed foods over ancestral diets, or perhaps even the unrelenting pressure heaped upon women by themselves and society, many of us are hard pressed for a good old fashioned regular ovulation. 
White Peony Root, also known as Bai Shao, has a bona fide plethora of clinical research backing up its ability to treat ovulatory disorders and PCOS, making it an herbal ally bar none for those seeking to regulate their cycle. White Peony Root improves aromatase activity in the ovaries, which promotes the conversion of testosterone (which is often elevated in PCOS patients) into estrogen, thus lowering those pesky testosterone levels. Clinically, it also demonstrates a significant improvement in the ratio of Luteinizing Hormone to Follicle Stimulating Hormone, two hormones that work together to encourage ovulation whose balanced ratio is paramount in producing a period. White Peony Root also significantly decreases Prolactin levels, which can be considerably raised in PCOS patients, resulting in irregular periods, breast tenderness, low sex drive, painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, acne, and excessive facial hair growth. If you’re looking to whip your menstrual cycle into submission (gently, and with a clearly defined ‘safe word’, of course), find yourself a clinical herbalist who can work White Peony into your hormonal treatment plan.

Herbal Allies: Pang Da Hai

Pang Da Hai Karaoke Seed

Known in Asia as ‘The Karaoke Seed’, Pang Da Hai tea has been soothing my stressed throat all week, after a ribald weekend of duetting to Kate Bush at top volume. This gem of an herb is wonderful to have on hand for singers, speakers, teachers, rabble rousers, or anyone prone to voice loss, raspiness, sore throat, and dryness. Pour hot water over the seed, and watch as a magnificent, jellyfish-esque sea creature emerges. Pinkies up!

Roasted Bone Marrow Jing Tonic

Bone Marrow Jing Tonic

Delicious moons of luscious Jing, immune-enhancing bone marrow is high in white blood cell- boosting trace minerals, collagen, and gelatin. Roast your grass fed beef bones with minced garlic and cracked pepper at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, and spoon the necromantical custard onto toasts, or right into your mouth.

Chinese Herbal Bone Broth

Bone Broth

Never does a week go by in our household where the scraps of our epicurean labors aren’t heaped in a giant enamelware pot and stewed for hours while we mill about the homestead. We’re fanatical about our bone-collecting, surreptitiously slipping chicken carcasses into napkins under the table, asking waiters to box up our goat bones after indulging in a hearty pot of Birria De Chivo Goat Stew. The result of our rampant scrap-mongering is a rich, profoundly nourishing bone broth, imbued with golden melted life-force, exceedingly nourishing to the illustrious Three Treasures of Chinese Medicine:

Jing, our Essence, the source of life, the basis for all growth, development, and sexuality.

Qi, our energy, giving us the ability to activate and move our bodies, whilst protecting us against external and internal pathogenic factors.

Shen, our inner light, the vitality behind Jing and Qi, the mental and spiritual force that shapes our personality and spirit.

Bone Broth- or ‘stock’, depending our your particular cultural milieu- is a pan-cultural old world panacea, utilitarian kitchen alchemy transforming vegetable scraps and bones into pure nutritional gold. Heaps of vegetables, herbs, and leftover bones are pragmatically piled in a pot, and left to simmer slowly for long periods of time, extracting every morsel of function and flavor. The resulting infusion is a gently potent brew, teeming with trenchant, bio-available nutrition, easy to digest and suitable for all matter of medicine, both preventative AND curative. A complex, rich mosaic of variegated flavors, it is also an opulent addition to stews, soups, sauces, poaching liquid, grains, beans, and porridge, transforming blasé cooking water into a savory swill. It nourishes our tendons, ligaments, skin, bones, and blood, keeping us limber and spry, with an assassin-worthy immune system. As a grounding force in our otherwise hypersonic, twenty-first century lives, it forces us to spend a few hours a week at home, tending to our hearth fire. If I seem a little in love with it, it’s because I am. I get to melt bones in a giant pot, like a surly wizard necromancer.

Many moons ago, before I was religious about my bone broth, I was stricken by a persnickety set of symptoms that left me vacillating between a sprightly 20-something yoga warrior and a knobby, decrepit old crone. One day, I would be handstanding in yoga class like nobody’s business, and the next day, I could barely touch my toes, plagued with spells of tightness, pain, and numbness, accompanied by bouts of sleep seizures that made me feel ancient, neurotic, and utterly powerless. After getting diagnosed with a vague autoimmune disease, delivered with a despondent, helpless send-off from the Western Medical Hegemony, my homegrown recovery was rooted in cutting out all inflammatory foods (gluten, sugar, ungainly processed rubbish), and going the way of old man Hippocrates by using food as my medicine. Through Traditional Chinese Medicine and the wisdom of thee Weston A. Price Foundation, I discovered the ancient magic of bone broth, and have never looked back. Years later, I am symptom free (though on occasion, I go to town on Chocolate Stout and homemade bread), and enjoying all sorts of bendy melee on the regular. And really, despite seeing tons of under-the-weather patients daily, have developed a super-human resistance to colds and flu. I make my cauldron of bone broth weekly, and drink a cup a day, increasing in times of debauchery, disorder, or debilitation. I suggest this to everyone that walks through my door, as I’ve seen countless miracles in managing all matter of disease (you can check out the foxy graphic below from Vanessa Romero at Healthy Living How To for a list of its wiles and wonders).

If broth seems too good to be true, it’s because it is. Our leery, infirmed culture has taught us to be inherently disdainful of anything that seems ‘too good to be true’, a silly idiom I’ve always despised for shading the world in a Saturnine hue, thwarting the everyday magic of simple things, and propagating the ‘snake-oil’ mythos that impedes the advancement of traditional medicines. I much prefer the wisdom of wise old Yeats, who knew that “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

Why is bone broth so beautiful? The venerable Dr. Mercola at The Mercola Institute drops some science on this egregious elixir below, adding some credence to my highfalutin claims:

BENEFITS OF BONE BROTH

Helps heal and seal your gut, and promotes healthy digestion: The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.

Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses: A study published over a decade ago found that chicken soup indeed has medicinal qualities, significantly mitigating infection.

Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage. (Aside: glucosamine and chondroitin are usually sold over the counter as fancy supplements for arthritis).

Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis (whole-body inflammation).Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.

Promotes strong, healthy bones: As mentioned above, bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation.

Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the ample gelatin in the broth.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Large Stainless Steel Stock Pot or Crock Pot

Roughly two pounds of organic chicken, beef, lamb, or fish bones, procured from a local butcher, or culled from recent feastings and stored in the freezer until needed. We’re talkin’ carcasses, knuckles, and hooves, oh my! If you plan on making a habit out of your stock making shenanigans (which you should!), I suggest finding a sympathetic meat peddler to bro-down with in your hood. In Los Angeles, I’m sweet on J&J Grassfed Beef. You can peruse sustainably raised local livestock on LocalHarvest.org, or check out the CrossFit gyms in your area, as many CSA’s are starting to offer gym delivery.   

¼ cup vinegar: Of paramount importance, for extracting the minerals from the bones into your broth.

A Mirepoix, consisting of 1 coarsely chopped onion, 2 carrots, and 2 sticks of celery.

Other coarsely chopped vegetables and assorted kitchen detritus: Perhaps the most admiral facet of broth is its commonsensical use of otherwise discarded cooking debris, with a peasant zeal otherwise reserved for Bruce Springsteen. Yellowing parsley, disfigured carrots, celery tops, blood-red chard stalks, onion skins, the graveyard of your heroic juicing efforts, haunted specters from the crisper… they all get their day in the sun. Your ingredients will be subject to the capricious nature of your weekly eating habits, producing a protean olio that is romantically un-reproducible from one week to the next. We keep a jar in the freezer that we fill with our forsaken vegetable fragments just for this purpose. My mainstays for flavor are 1 bunch of parsley, 2 quartered potatoes, a few hearty sprigs of rosemary and thyme from the garden, and a few cloves of garlic.

1 tsp black peppercorns

Fresh, cold water

I love to add a smidgen of Chinese herbs to my brew, to enhance and direct the healing vectors of my broth. 2-3 ounces of each herb should do the trick, always being intuitive with your needs and working with what you have on hand, like the cunning egalitarian Kitchen Witch that you are. These folks are mainstays in my cabinet, and on any given Sunday, I may sprinkle a smattering of the following into my cauldron:

A handful of Dang Shen/Codonopsis Root: To help strengthen the qi, counter mental and physical fatigue, build blood, and nourish body fluids.

Perhaps 5-10 slices of Huang Qi/Astragalus Root: To boost the immune system and strengthen qi, ensconcing one in protective energy that helps prevent illness due to external influences.

Certainly always a knuckle or so of Sheng Jiang/Fresh Ginger Root: To stoke the digestive fires and stimulate the circulatory system.

A pinch of Xi Yang Shen/American Ginseng Root: Boosting gentler Ginseng tendrils than the Chinese or Korean varietals, an admirable addition to combat fatigue and stress, whilst improving athletic and mental performance,

Dong Quai/Chinese Angelica Root: The ultimate femme tonic, invaluable for strengthening the blood, nourishing the reproductive organs, regulating menstruation, and alleviating period pain.

Shan Yao/Chinese Wild Yam: A lovely anti-inflammatory that tonifies qi, nourishes yin, and strengthens the spleen, lungs, and kidneys, particularly puissant after a long-term illness.

A sprinkling of Shan Zhu Yu/Dogwood Fruit: An excellent astringent herb and reproductive tonic that strengthens the liver and kidneys, while securing leakage of vital essence.

6 or so strands of dried Dong Chong Xia Cao/Cordyceps Mushroom: My most favorite herb in the Chinese pharmacopeia, Cordyceps is hailed on the street as the Himalayan Viagra for its revered ability to increase stamina, sex drive, virility, strength, brainpower, athletic prowess & focus. It’s a favorite of Chinese Olympians, so you know it’s gooch.

HOW TO

1. Break your precious bones up into smaller pieces (ideally about 3 inches long), with kitchen scissors or a fun weapon (living with a ninja has infinite perks). This will increase the surface area of bone exposed to the water, giving you a higher nutrient yield.

2. If using beef bones, you’ll want to roast your bones until browned at 400 degrees F for roughly 60-90 minutes to add richness.

3. Place the bones in your stockpot or crockpot, along with your vegetables, scraps, peppercorns, and Chinese herbs. Cover with cold water, adding a few fingers for good measure. Add your splash of vinegar and cover with a lid.

4. Slowly bring your stock to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer gently for 6-48 hours (yes, I know 48 hours is a very daunting commitment in our breakneck world). I love to use a crockpot, because you can just pile all your business in, turn on high until boiling, reduce to low, and then promptly forget about it whilst retiring to your bedchamber for the evening. It’s so egalitarian, I can hardly stand it. If using a stockpot, you can use the following guidelines (and your own pending commitments) to gauge cooking time: 6-48 hours for chicken bones, and 12-72 hours for beef and other meats.

5. Give your bone broth the occasional shout-out during simmering, checking to see that there is always a fair amount of water covering your accoutrements.

6. At some point, you will inevitably notice a thick, insalubrious scum rising to the top of your broth. Many folks will trick you into thinking you MUST skim this off routinely, to clarify the product and make a finer tasting brew. To this I say, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” The whole skimming off the top thing is sadly overrated, as testing has shown that this “scum”, while unsightly, contains nothing harmful. If you wanna be fancy, go right ahead. Otherwise, fret not!

7. When you’re ready to call it quits, remove your bones with a slotted spoon, discard, and strain the rest through a colander into a large bowl. If you’re feeling spry, you can strain again through a sieve or cheesecloth to achieve an extra-fancy, clear broth. Chill your luscious potion of collagen and gelatin in the fridge, until the fat congeals and rises to the top. If you want a liquid broth for cooking purposes, you can skim the fat off and store the remaining liquid in the fridge for roundabout a week’s time. However, if you want your broth to drink like a rich toddy of hot buttered rum, I say leave the fat on (we do), and enjoy your broth like molten velvet bone mojo. Enjoy in radiant heath, golden ones!

Drinkable Skin Care: Mung Bean Milk

Mung Bean Milk

Have you found yourself a hotsy totsy mess these dog days of endless summer, perched upon a porch whilst fanning yourself feverishly like a woebegone Southern Belle, misplaced teen angst smoldering across your face in blazing embers of pimply muck & mire?! Perhaps you feel that the wistfully winsome 1990’s renaissance happening with your footwear & Spotify playlist should stop short of a nostalgic bout of adult acne. For those kindred spirits that find themselves a sticky heap of hot & bothered ire in this oppressive swelter, here’s a quick and easy food cure to clean up your complexion, soothe the Mean Reds, and clear toxic heat from the body.

Ruled by Yang and the element Earth, late summer is marked by the union offire and damp, the sweltry dynamics of the two alembics stewing like sultry prunes in the cauldron of Earth’s atmosphere. As above so below, our ‘body cauldron’ mirrors the dank doldrums of our soggy terrain, and if our inner equilibrium is thwarted, we will internalize the pathological essence of our environment. Hot and humid climates force our pores open, weakening the body’s defensive Qi and depleting our internal Yin, making us vulnerable to pernicious pathogens. Excess heat and damp can act like a vector for disease to root in the body, and we are left with a coterie of flu-like symptoms ranging from restlessness, hot flashes, headaches, copious sweating, nausea, sluggishness, vomiting, dry mouth and throat, profuse thirst, constipation or diarrhea, muscle aches, sore joints, turbid discharge, skin eruptions, dizziness, palpitations, and fatigue.

Mung Beans, humble verdigris pellets of puissance, have been used by the Chinese for ages to battle summer heat and damp heat conditions. They reduce pathological heat lodged in the body, and dissolve accumulated toxins, leaving us with a lustrous, clear complexion. Skin care from the inside out, Mung Beans address the internal environment that engenders breakouts, gently coaxing the body to a state of balanced bravado. Li Shizhen, the Grandpappy of Chinese Herbalism, wrote of them in his cherished herbal materia medica Ben Cao Gang Mu, proclaiming that “Mung Beans are highly recommended not only as a rich source of nutrients, but also as medication.“

Whether plaguing the skin in a pestilence of pimples & purulent eruptions, or cursing the innards with turbid discharge from the respiratory, genitourinary, or digestive system, damp heat is a lingering, loathsome pest. However, with a daily dose of the right food medicine, dynamic equilibrium is maintained within the body cauldron, letting the body heal itself. Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing, and Long Life has a slew of inspired recipes featuring the cooling mojo of Mung Beans. However, my favorite is a simple, egalitarian milk made from the boiled beans, drunk daily as a skin tonic.

MUNG BEAN MILK INGREDIENTS

2 Handfuls of Dried Mung Beans/Lu Dou
4 Cups of Purified Water

Mung Beans

METHOD

Rinse your Mung Beans in a jacuzzi, holy well, or kitchen sink, removing any grit & grizzle. Boil the beans in four cups of water for roughly three minutes, remove from heat, and cover with a snug-fitting lid.  Let the beans stew for thirty minutes, strain, and chill your brew in a sacred vessel in the ice box until needed. Repeat the whole rigamarole once over with fresh water, to milk the most mojo from your batch of beans.

To clear up break-outs, drink one cup of milk daily for DIY skin care. Also suitable for porch-sippin’ like a Whiskey Cordial during Indian Summer in the City, for those days when all around, people looking half dead, walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head!