Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mugwort and Green Tea

A picture of Mugwort plants (light grey green leafy plant) growing near where I live.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified health professional or meant to replace any medical treatment that might be necessary to overcome a specific illness. I am only offering my own pioneer notes and research notes about what I have found useful in my own experience. I do believe in biochemical individuality. What works for one person may not work for another. It is up to the reader to determine whether or not something might be useful for himself or herself in what is shared here. I cannot take responsibility for whatever the results are, positive or negative, that happen from being inspired by what is shared here. I do believe that the ultimate responsibility for our health and sanity is in ourselves and no one else. I will, however, do my best to offer reliable information, quote sources as accurately as I can, correct anything as quickly as I find out otherwise, and give possible contraindications for taking certain herbs or combining herbs with other things. If you are taking a medical prescription drug, it is up to you to make sure that anything you take or eat is compatible with the prescription and does not produce unwanted side effects. You may wish to check with a medical doctor or health professional to make sure. Some herbs are very powerful and need to be used wisely. Some herbs also do not combine with certain prescription drugs. For instance, Ephedra does not combine with certain Asthma medications and could lead to anaphalactic shock. I had one friend who took a powerful mix of oriental herbs in a tea form who was one Asthma medication and did go to the hospital in anaphalactic shock. This mix was propagated by an MLM marketer who told him that it was safe. The mix did not have Ephedra but seemed to have many strong stimulants that acted in a similar way. I mention this case, because it is an example from observed experience that there are some risks. I know that many disclaimers in health books and sites may only do so because it is legally required. I am putting this disclaimer here because I feel it is not merely legally important, but is also ethically and biologically important. I have worked with many people as a health professional and have seen met many people who have to watch everything that they are taking, including food. My personal feeling is that all of us, if we are aiming for optimal health, need to become sensitive to what truly helps us and what truly hurts us. Most herbs, when taken according to the traditional lore built up for at least hundreds of years of human experience and some for thousands of years, are very safe. Prescription drugs are still somewhat experimental to me having at best decades of human use and some clinical trials to support them. Some over the counter ones seem general safe to use if you follow the guidelines on the labels. Many combinations of prescription drugs are very experimental and may need a health professional to monitor their use to make sure the side effects are manageable.

I wanted to create a blog where herbs can be discussed that help us to meditate and to heal. According to Zen tradition, Bodhidharma was getting frustrated that he was falling asleep in zazen (Zen meditation practice). In his frustration, he tore out his eyelids so that he could not fall asleep. Where his eyelids landed sprung two green tea plants. This story is allegorical, but was an inspiration for the Zen Tea Ceremony as well as the use of Green Tea to help Zen students meditate. The caffeine does seem to help a person stay more alert in meditation practice, while the theanine seems to relax a person. There are also polyphenols in Green Tea that act as a brain antioxidant. Green Tea also seems to have thermogenetic properties and therefore assists in weight loss and fat burning. I suspect that many herbs, like Green Tea, have a living potency to them that is not fully described by its known biochemical properties or by the traditional herbal lore. There have been studies that show that Green Tea has some anti-cancer properties. When it is dried in a high nitrogen environment, it seems to increase the amount of GABA in Green Tea. GABA is like the earth element for the Brain. It has a calming and grounding effect. In a book called THE EDGE EFFECT by Eric R. Braverman, M.D., GABA is one of the four main brain chemicals we need to have in balance in order to be sane and function well. The four chemicals are (1) GABA, (2) Serotonin, (3) Dopamine, and (4) Acetylcholine. GABA is the one we can take directly. The others need to be converted or synthesized from something else (Serotonon from L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP Tryoptophan, Dopamine from L-Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, or L-Dopa, and Acetylcholine from Choline, Acetyl-carnitine, and L-carnitine).

Mugwort is an herb used in Acupunture Moxa treatments. I found a website that nicknamed Mugwort "Lucid Dreaming Tea" and recommended combining Mugwort with Camomile and Peppermint to support its effect. I have combined Mugwort with Oolong Tea and Stevia (my favorite nonsugar sweetener) and found that this also seems to work. My ability to remember dreams is fairly good, but it did seem to help a little. I could feel my third eye glowing a little after drinking it. I suspect it has some brain nutrients that the body finds useful. It seems to also combine well with Kava which is both relaxing and has brain nutrients like GABA. My brother has taken some tea brews with Kava and Mugwort about one hour before sleep. He gets up more refreshed in the morning and seems to need to sleep less. Mugwort has an interesting subtle aroma that seems to help remembering dreams and possibly helping to learn to be awake in dreams in realtime. Some people make little pillows stuffed with Mugwort and let the smell help them, sometimes combining the Mugwort with Lavender.