Two Essentials to Add to Your First Aid Kit

Though I hope you’ll never need either of these essentials, there are two items, ones which you may never have heard of, I believe every first aid kit should be stocked with: activated charcoal and yunnan baiyo.  Between various cuts, upset stomachs, and hangovers, activated charcoal and yunnan baiyo have saved the day for my family upon several occasions. Here is what you need to know:

 

Activated Charcoal

I always keep capsules of activated charcoal at home for emergencies.  There have been a couple times (like the time I got food poisoning or that time my dog ate a poisonous bougainvillea flower) when I used activated charcoal to quickly remedy the problem. Activated charcoal has been used by emergency trauma centers worldwide. It works by trapping toxins or poison in its millions of pores through the entire length of the stomach and small and large intestines preventing them from being reabsorbed by the body by flushing them out. In fact, it is estimated activated charcoal can reduce absorption of poisonous substances by up to 60%.  It’s inexpensive, odorless, and tasteless, and absolutely should not be confused with BBQ charcoal!  You should be able to find it at most health food stores or even some health-conscious grocery stores in the supplement section or online.  Drink lots of water throughout the day when you take it, as it can dehydrate the body if plenty of water isn’t consumed.Activated-Charcoal-Cap.jpg

Top 10 Activated Charcoal Uses

Emergency Toxin Removal

 

Hopefully, you or your loved ones will never ingest something poisonous, but it can happen. As mentioned above, I’ve used activated charcoal when I got food poisoning. Activated charcoal binds with most organic compounds, pesticides, mercury, fertilizers or bleach. It is also used by medics to combat accidental or purposeful overdose of drugs.  Take the activated charcoal as soon as possible in these situations, definitely within an hour of ingestion. Call 911 in the event of an emergency as proper dosing is imperative. Remember to drink plenty of water in conjunction with taking the charcoal.

Alleviates Gas and Bloating

Feeling gassy or uncomfortable from a meal?  Try taking activated charcoal, which binds any gas-causing byproducts in food that cause discomfort. Take activated charcoal before your meal if you know you’re going to eat something likely to cause gas or bloating.

Treats Alcohol Poisoning and Can Prevent Hangovers

While activated charcoal does not absorb alcohol, most alcohol is not consumed in its pure form.  It’s often mixed with chemical fillers or artificial sweeteners.  Activated charcoal will work to remove these toxins that contribute to poisoning in the body.  Some studies have also shown it can greatly reduce blood alcohol concentrations.

Mold Cleansing

Toxic mold can grow in our bodies even without us knowing it.  Flooding, leaks or poor ventilation in the home (especially in rooms like the bathroom, laundry room, or basements) allow mold to thrive. As a result, mold can live in the body and can cause people to suffer from depression, decreased brain function, heart disease, liver or kidney dysfunction, impaired immune system function, severe respiratory issues, headaches, irritated eyes, or vomiting.  While some mold is clearly visible, some mold is not, and can be tested by a professional if your family is experiencing symptoms like wheezing, watery eyes, rashes, coughing, or headaches that can’t be explained in other ways. (Source: Chronic Fatigue and Nutrition, Dr. Axe )

Water Purifying

Whenever I’m traveling somewhere I know I won’t have access to clean, purified water, I always carry activated charcoal sticks. You can put these sticks in water to trap any solvents, pesticides, industrial waste, or other chemicals without changing the taste of the water.  Drinking plenty of water is incredibly important, but make sure you’re drinking clean water.  Even our typical tap water is toxic and contains plenty of chemicals, fluoride, and toxins (source: Dr. Axe, PublicIntegrity.org).   Look for activated charcoal filters to purify the water throughout your home or even countertop models.

Whitens Teeth

Looking for an inexpensive, quick way to get pearly white teeth?  Just dip your wet toothbrush in activated charcoal powder and brush your teeth with it a few times a week to reduce stains and improve the pH balance in the mouth.  It will also absorb plaque and help prevent cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. When brushing with activated charcoal, I like to put paper towels down around the sink, as the powder will stain clothes and grout. Brush your teeth with it, sip and swish some water, then spit and rinse out your mouth until your spit is clear again. No need to brush with toothpaste after.  Continue this practice a few times a week for best results.  That being said, if you have porcelain veneers, caps, or crowns, activated charcoal can cause staining. (Source: Wellness Mama)

 

Yunnan Baiyo

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In traditional Chinese medicine, yunnan baiyo has been used for centuries to stop bleeding externally or internally.  Interestingly, this medicine was a staple of every Chinese soldier’s first aid kit and was later used extensively during the Vietnamese War due to its incredible effectiveness in treating battlefield injuries (Source).  Its reputation is equal to that of penicillin in the US.  I don’t know all the ingredients, but it is said the main ingredients are two types of ginseng and several members of the yam family (Source: IVC Journal).

Yunnan baiyo can be taken orally or topically, depending on what you need it for.  For external cuts, I just mix some powder with a tiny bit of water or saliva to make a paste which I apply directly to the cut.  You will be amazed by the swiftness which it works. The powder is even used by many veterinarians (I actually first learned of this medicine when my dog had a bad cut). Some people, however, can be allergic. I recommend consulting a professional before using it so you can get familiar with dosages. Pick up yunnan baiyo from your local Chinese herbalist or order it online.

 

Looking for more tips to lead a holistic lifestyle?  Check out more of my blog posts or shoot me a message on my website.

Chinese Green Beans With Pork

San Francisco is a city rich in culture and diversity, which is one of the greatest reasons why I’m obsessed with this city. Because I grew up in a densely Asian-populated neighborhood, my comfort foods have always been any kind of Asian dishes. I love the flavors and smells and have luckily found that many Asian dishes are fairly simple to replicate at home.

My friend and I made a stir-fry dish the other night with green beans, minced pork, garlic, scallions, and mushrooms that we put over rice. It was incredibly easy to make and had the same flavors as the food I’d buy at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood where I grew up. Although we ate this dish with rice, I think it would also go well in lettuce cups for a lighter version, or even with noodles. I found the recipe on Tasty (accompanied by a straightforward cooking demo video), but my friend and I switched the recipe up a bit to make it our own. Here is our version:

c9aaa16c-cf47-4392-a960-e259bc575268.jpgIngredients

-1 lb. ground pork

-1 lb. green beans

-4 cloves garlic, diced

-4 scallions, chopped

-4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped

-1 tbsp chili sauce

-dried red chili flakes (optional)

-2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

-1 tbsp rice vinegar

-1/4 cup sesame oil

 

Instructions

1- In a wok or large pan, heat the sesame oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the string beans and cook until blistered. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2- Add more sesame oil if necessary to the pan. Add the scallions and garlic about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and ground pork. Once the pork has browned, stir in the chili sauce and add the red chili flakes. Then add the green beans back to the wok or pan and stir all together.

3- Add the soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, and a dash of pepper. Serve over rice or with lettuce cups, or just on its own. Enjoy!

 

Probiotics for Beginners

You may have been wondering what the kombucha hype is all about, and seriously, what the heck is tempeh anyway? Maybe you’ve heard of or seen probiotics before, but you don’t know why they’re important.  It’s also possible you’ve consumed probiotics, maybe most of your life, and didn’t realize.

Bandit wondering, what is this kombucha?

Bandit thinking, what is this kombucha stuff mom drinks?

TN_Lede_Probiotics_0911Our bodies contain around 100 trillion microbes, most of them bacteria, and some beneficial bacteria.  Probiotics are the good bacteria.  These living organisms reside in our colons and small intestine.  They keep our guts clean, aid in digestion and add bulk to solid wastes.  Probiotics also fight disease-causing microbes, and can help with health problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious diarrhea, and antibiotic-related diarrhea (webmd). Probiotics are important to take while on antibiotics, since antibiotics cause a loss of healthy bacteria. home-care-options-abound-for-people-suffering-from-depression-in-home-care-support-services

Stress or poor diet might reduce the numbers of healthy bacteria in the small intestine as well, and vice versa, a lack of healthy bacteria has shown to trigger feelings of depression and anxiety when there’s an imbalance within the gut (beginwithnutrition).

There are different types of probiotics and various ways to consume them, either through supplements or through various foods.  Skip the supplements and experiment with eating some of the following foods:

Yogurt- Yogurt is made from fermented milk using certain bacteria, but only types labeled as containing live bacteria (“active cultures”) are actually probiotic.

Kefir- Similar to yogurt and contains sometimes up to ten diverse strains of good bacteria.  It’s fermented using a combination of bacteria and yeast with milk proteins and complex sugars.  Made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or rice milk.  Kefir is a good choice if you’re lactose intolerant, because the lactose it once contained is broken down through fermentation.

Buttermilk– Made with strains of lactic acid-making bacteria added to regular pasteurized milk.

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Raw Milk- Maybe only five states in the U.S. actually allow the sale of raw milk and there are debated health risks, but raw milk drinkers swear by the stuff because of all the good bacteria.

Soy Milk- Must say “contains active cultures” on the label.

darkchocolateDark Chocolate- Certain types of high-quality chocolate contain probiotics.  Dark chocolate is also a source of antioxidants!

Miso- A staple of Japanese cuisine, miso is made with fermented soy, barley, wheat, or rice with a fungus that produces a red, white, or dark brown salty paste.  When cooking with miso, add it to hot foods at the end of cooking to preserve the probiotic cultures as much as possible.

Tempeh- High in proteins and minerals, tempeh also promotes intestinal health.  Tempeh originates in Indonesia and is made with cooked soybeans and an added fungus culture. It’s then fermented into a thick, meaty block.

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Natto- typical Japanese breakfast dish


N
atto- Made from fermented soybeans with a distinctive flavor, smell, and sticky texture.  Also a stap

le of the Japanese diet.

Kimchi- A pickled Chinese dish of cabbage, eggplant, or other vegetables fermented with red chili and other spices for at least a month.  Kimchi is full of fiber, vitamins, iron, and various types of probiotic bacteria.

Sauerkraut- German for “sour cabbage,” sauerkraut is made from fermented, finely shredded, salty cabbage and contains a variety of heathy bacteria.  Buy fresh sauerkraut that contains lives cultures, versus some commercial brands of sauerkraut.

Pickles- These crunchy treats contain lots of probiotics.

brew_dr_kombucha_smKombucha Tea- This Asian drink restores energy and aids digestion.

Olives- Olives in brine are probiotics, because the brine allows probiotics to survive and thrive.