Our favourite immune boosting tonic herbs
by Tahnee McCrossin March 24, 2020 7 mins read
Tahnee - who is GM at SuperFeast HQ and an all-round devine human - has been dropping some notes into our mailing list, for all those who are part of our online community. In a time of unease, Tahn's is providing some golden nuggets to keep our personal ships on track in these wild waters. You'll hear about the behind the scenes of what we are doing at HQ, what steps we are putting into place as a biz, how we are all coping and some unique tips to help you navigate the array of feelings that may be arising for you personally.
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Thank you all for your kind replies to our last email. We are feeling so supported and strengthened by our community at this time. From those we deal with daily, our team and our neighbours, who are keeping us fed and stocked up while we are in isolation, to those we rarely if ever meet in person (many of you) who so generously support our mission of sovereign health for the world.
This is a strange time, an uneasy time. We are, like many of you, I am sure, just taking it day by day. We believe that these moments are when our spiritual and personal health practices come to the fore to support. I have my yoga mat laid out next for me for regular Yin breaks, and I've been practising TRE (a type of somatic stress release) daily for the last week. My body, like many of yours, I am sure, is holding a lot of tension in this time. I also meditate. It can feel like we don't have time for these practices (believe me, I know that feeling) but I would encourage you, now, more than ever is the time to lean into the spaciousness these gifts of the spiritual traditions provide us.
Mostly things are OK at SuperFeast HQ. We have all non-warehouse staff working from home (that's about half our team, 10 people). Some seriously next-level hygiene, sanitation, and health practices are going on in the warehouse (they do them anyway, but we've ramped it up). We have a Plan A and a Plan B (and a Plan C, D and E!) just in case something unforeseen happens. Gotta have a plan, also gotta be prepared to throw away the plan!
(Meetings are now on Zoom!)
One unplanned thing that has happened is that our Mason's Mushrooms is delayed. Shipping times have gone from 4 days to 2 weeks. This is a global issue, and is understandable given what's going on. We expect delivery is not far off, but we don't want to make any promises. We know many of you are waiting for Mason's to get back in stock, and some of you have already ordered and are waiting for your delivery. We will honour all existing orders first, and you guys are getting a special gift for your patience. Once we have fulfilled our promised orders, we'll then have Mason's back online.
Don't forget that nearly all our products benefit the immune system in some way, so if you're sitting on some in the cupboard, please start taking them and no need to order more. We're not going anywhere; things just might be a bit slow for the next few weeks or months. Keep up your nutrition, get some sunshine and fresh air, keep eating nourishing food and keep up the sleep! Sleeping is so important. I'll do a blog soon about why it's even better than herbs and adaptogens. ;)
I also put a post out saying astragalus wasn't great for acute stage infections and I just wanted to clarify this here. We will get it up on the website soon too; thanks for all your questions, it really helps us refine our education offerings.
In TCM, tonic herbs help to strengthen our organs, increase our Qi, and assist the body in becoming more responsive and adaptable - similar to how regular, healthy movement helps our muscles become toned and responsive.
The issue can be that if we are infected with a pathogen, for example, a viral or bacterial infection (an "external pathogen" in TCM), our body is in a state of stress and all resources (including Qi and Blood) are going into healing and fighting off the pathogen. Tonifying herbs and practices like qigong can potentially strengthen the pathogen and force an illness deeper into the body. This is explained in the book Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica:
"Tonifying herbs strengthen the processes of the body, including the pathogenic processes [if infected] . . . Thus tonifying herbs should not be prescribed in cases where there are still signs of an exterior disorder. If they are, the exterior disorder will linger on." (Bensky and Gamble, 1993)
Think of exterior disorders as acute disorders. The actual mechanism of this process is quite complex TCM theory, so our simple rule is to avoid tonic herbs (basically everything we sell except the mushrooms) DURING ACUTE ILLNESS - as in, when really, truly sick. Reishi and cordyceps are the exceptions as they can clear phlegm and may be therapeutic in cases of excessive mucus. We feel that Mason's Mushrooms is OK too, as long as the dose is small (1/4 tsp) and you're resting and allowing the body to heal. Do not take the mushrooms and try and push through - that just weakens the body further.
Unfortunately, we can't give personalised health advice to everyone, so we have to generalise. It may be safe and even recommended on some occasions to use SOME tonics when sick, but IN GENERAL, it's not recommended. If this is confusing, let me summarise by saying: use the tonics when you have no acute illness and when you are convalescing to strengthen your system. If you have an acute sickness, leave them out until you are feeling better. This rule does not apply to chronic illness; tonics can be very powerful for those with chronic issues, but we do prefer you find a practitioner to guide you as to which would be best for your body and situation.
I hope this makes sense and helps you understand where our products are useful and where they are not.
If you have any other questions or any ideas as to how we can support you all during this time, please let me know.
I will leave you with some advice - get a hold of your fave spiritual text or one you've been planning to read and read a chapter or two a day. I've been immersing in the Tao Te Ching, my go-to when things get weird. My two favourite versions of the Tao Te Ching are Stephen Mitchell's (this one is easier for a modern reader) and Ursula K Le Guin's, and there is also a free version online here that is a more literal translation. My other favourite readings when things feel uneasy are River Flow by David Whyte, Paradise in Plain Sight by Karen Maezen Miller and Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. And Sarah Wilson's First, We Make the Beast Beautiful has been going around our office and is helpful in these times of palpable anxiety. Feel free to share your favourite nourishing reads.
Sending much love from our hearts to yours.
Tahnee and Mason and the SuperFeast team.
PS I (Tahnee) have decided to write weekly as it has been nice for me to feel connected to you all in this way. I read all the replies, and am grateful for them all. If we are sending too many emails, just let us know. We try not to bother you too much, and we do so appreciate your feedback.
PPS you might've missed last week's newsletter, so we've made them into blogs here and here.
PPPS Mason and I did a live on the 'gram today, the link is here, you might be able to watch it online (or you may have to have an Instagram account, I am not so great at the tech stuff!). We shared some thoughts and sent you alllllll the love. xx T
Tahnee is a self proclaimed nerd, with a love of the human body, it’s language and its stories. A cup of tonic tea and a human interaction with Tahnee is a gift! A beautiful Yin teacher and Chi Ne Tsang healer, Tahnee loves going head first into the realms of tradition, yogic philosophy, the organ systems, herbalism and hard-hitting research. Tahnee is also General Manager at SuperFeast, mumma to reishi-baby Aiya and partner to Mason (founder of SuperFeast).
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