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Chinese, like, herbs
  • I feel like I’m entering really dicey territory here but I only paid $8. I’ve got a couple meditation buddies who swear by Chinese medicine and herbal extracts. I’m sick all the damn time and they’re hearty like bulls so I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. I bought a 1oz vial of reishi mushroom extract and just drank 1ml with water. If you buy the dried ingredients yourself and boil them for a couple hours it seems really cost-effective. Is this utter, complete bullshit, or do you reckon stuff like this—schizandra berry, maca, alethro—has good nutrients that can make you feel better?

  • I’m surprised I haven’t heard about @Nog fucking with this stuff yet, actually.

  • I’m already hearty like a bull! Of course, I encourage only proven scientific approaches to health, which is why I recommend you start worshipping Asklepios.

  • Try it and see - if you feel better for it then it doesn’t much matter if it’s nonsense or not.

    However, if you’re often ill with colds, stomach bugs etc and you either use public transport or share working space with a bunch of other people (especially toilets/kitchens/doors opened by punching in a key code), I’d recommend you also experiment with alcohol hand-gel applied after each foray into the shared areas. I have always been of the “a little bit of dirt won’t hurt me” school of thought, but I have caught far fewer annoying colds since someone who loves me snuck a hand-gel thing in my bag. It’s also a pretty cheap thing to try.

  • That’s a good point. I started at a new job with many more people in it about six months ago. I should avail myself of the plentiful sanitizing stations.

  • Man, when I am doing taxes, I wash my hands like a motherfucker, presuming a motherfucker is the sort of person who keeps really clean hands. Shakin’ 10 hands a day in the winter is a surefire way to get sick.

    Plus my H&R Block was in a neighborhood full of mental patients, low-income housing and gunfire.

  • As a guy who’s been both a single dude with an office job and and older college student with kids, I got way sicker quicker at work. Germs aplenty when you get that much livestock together. Ha.

    But re: herbal remedies, I believe in them (obviously)

  • Oh, I just remembered that MSKCC has a huge list of herbal remedies with study-linked summaries of their potential effectiveness. About Herbs, Botanicals, and Other Products.

  • Very useful. Thanks.

  • 2-3 Tbsp (or a couple chugs) of Dayquil or whatever daytime cold remedy you use

    6-8 shots of whiskey (or with mixers)

    You will feel amazing the next day. Cleans you right out.

  • Let us know if any of it works! I always thought there had to be something to herbal remedies, given that they’ve been in use for thousands of years.

    And I wash my hands obsessively at work, because I share a very small office with 6 people (not all at the same time) and everyone there is a filthy motherfucker, the kind of motherfucker who doesn’t keep clean.

  • I kinda drink what heather said. But also with honey and tea.

    Sometimes minus the dayquil when I’m not sick.

  • yeah I like the alcoholic approach too, but maybe gin would be better because it has, like, herbs in it

    Clayton_Peacock said:
    But re: herbal remedies, I believe in them (obviously)

    me too

  • reiki mushrooms are supposedly helpful in boosting the immune system. there’s plenty of places to do your own research on this, or buy products from a more reputable source. i’m a strong believer in herbs, but not just taking whatever. the reiki i’ve seen in a lot of even mainstream sources

  • echinacea and feverfew have always helped me when I’m sick, which is hardly ever. I get a cold for a few days maybe once a year. I actually can’t remember the last time I had a cold… I think it was January. Because of that I tend to let the thing run its course without tampering too much. Drink a lot of water, do some herbs, vitamin c (no oj though), sleep a lot.

  • I would not say that I do not believe in herbal remedies, but I do believe in matching the intensity of the remedy to the severity of the illness. If I am just kind of wheezy or grumpy, I’ll go for herbal tea with honey. If the sinus pain when I bend down makes me whimper, yeah, I’m going to go for Big Pharma.

  • Re: the hand sanitizer thing, it’s good and way better than nothing, but if there are stomach viruses around, it does jack shit for the worst of those, so still wash your hands frequently and well. (The germs lecture they give you when you start working at a hospital kind of sears these things into your mind for life, with scary visuals. Also I learned that hand sanitizer is super flammable, like a germaphobe’s napalm.)

    My immune system is normally super robust (a little too much so, since it killed all my islet cells), but when I was a freshman in college and barely sleeping and eating poorly, I got sick constantly. Eating more produce etc and sleeping even a little more made all the difference in the world.

    My main concern about using any of the herbal stuff is for longterm use—anything that actually works has the potential to be harsh on your liver or kidneys (much like echinacea is, which is why that’s strongly recommended against as a regular supplement). So I would be careful about using anything daily (vs PRN) when you don’t really know much about the pharmacology of it.

  • After four days of reishi mushroom extracts—2ml/day—I was feeling pretty good. Just a little more energy, a little more cheerful; easier to return to a baseline when I was perturbed or annoyed or whatever. Obviously this is completely anecdotal and there’s about a dozen major confounding variables and the placebo effect to contend with. But hey—2ml/day, I’ll keep it up for a while.

  • The placebo effect is like 90 percent of why I take a daily multivitamin, which may well be the most superstitious thing I do. On the other hand, you don’t see me being attacked by any tigers, so the rock must be working!

  • Man, why are all the healthy/delicious/exciting things mushroom-based (quite allergic, in general). I could use a little more energy and a little more cheerful! Glad it’s maybe working out for you or maybe it’s all in your head—either way.

  • a bit of an overgeneralization em. i can’t think of any other mushroom based stuff, but theres tons of herbs out there. try some green tea, its catechins are supposed to up your serotonin and norepinephrine in the morning. i don’t think reiki has any psychological properties, but maybe just having a stronger immune system makes you feel better.

  • Here are the other ‘adaptogen’ herbs that I bought. In one kind of raw form or another—slices, berries, powder—it’s pretty cheap; much cheaper than extract.

    • Astragalus
    • Eleuthro
    • Rhodiola
    • Schisandra
  • Neat, coldforge! I shall research.

    And bookaboutbirds, I know I was generalizing; my point was just that I do enjoy the taste of mushrooms as well as their many alleged benefits, except for the hives and sometimes anaphylaxis part (I have an epi-pen). These days, even things like a natural line of anti-aging skin care might very well have mushroom extract in it, and even a small amount of the proteins is enough to be bad news. That is my sob story about ‘shrooms.

    Edit: I mean I totally wash my face with stuff from the drugstore but there are mushrooms in stuff you can buy there, too! They’re taking over the world!

  • Oh, cool, now I am learning about Chinese herbology. The Astragalus and Schisandra sound interesting, among a few other things. The Rhodiola I wouldn’t touch without an MD saying okay but I am over-cautious about things that have depression studies actually linked to them!

  • One of the hairy hippys at work swears by astragalus, but I don’t know anything more than that about it.

  • Em, I would strongly advise against mixing meds with any herbal supplements, not just the ones associated w/depression. I avoid harbal stuff for that reason. For example, schisandra is a cytochrome p450 34A inhibitor, which means it reduces the action of that group of liver enzymes, which are the ones responsible for metabolizing most drugs, including many psych meds. Taking something like that could mean that you are essentially unwittingly changing your dose of other meds. Granted, any chemical can affect cytochromes (this is why you can’t drink grapefruit juice while taking statins and other meds), but medicinal herbs and things are particularly suspect since affecting that system may be part of how they work. Unless something has research demonstrating its pharmacological safety and that it won’t interact with anything you take, I’d steer clear. After all, this kind of thing is why there are a bunch of St John’s Wort babies out there—it wasn’t until years after they started recommending it for depression that people realized it facilitates the metabolism of estradiol through cytochromes, thus making birth control pills less effective.

  • Thanks! You make excellent points. I def would’ve told a doctor before I did it, but I doubt my doc would have known all that stuff about that particular herb or herbs in general. I appreciate the advice!

  • Most doctors suck at being aware of this kind of thing—of course they won’t know it all offhand, but I’ve only known a few who would actually take the time to look up all this stuff. I always research drug interactions myself before taking something new, and for something like this, it’s relatively easy to google the thing and search for “cytochrome” and “interaction” to get more specific, scientific info. Of course, a lack of info might mean it just hasn’t been studied. You can find some interesting stuff though, and you’ll probably learn how the thing is believed to work in the process, which is cool.

  • Yes, and now I know one thing to search for! Cool! I like finding out how stuff works/is supposed to work.

  • wow that is all really enlightening.

  • My GP is really good that way, she always asks if I’ve been taking ‘any herbs’ for complaints that I turn up with.

  • I am drinking a big pot of schisandra and eleuthero tea right now. We’ll see if anything notable happens.

  • If you start trippin’ balls make sure to liveblog the experience here