I was in Manila last December with my dad and sisters when I stumbled upon a herbal tea called Ashitaba.
The pretty cabins in Baguio highlands with its pine trees
We were visiting my uncle who lived in Manila with his Filipina wife. He is already retired from corporate life (he used to work for the World Bank and had had work stints all over the world). He decided to retire in Manila instead of Penang as he wanted to be near his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter but I also think he likes the easy accessibility of being able to fly east or west as he likes from The Philippines.
The Baguio pine tree forest just outside our balcony - cool mornings with fresh air!
This uncle of ours had always asked us to visit him in Manila and finally after much coercion (and not that my dad or his brother are going to get any younger), my sister booked us all on a trip to visit this uncle.
As part of the itinerary, Uncle Mike wanted to get us out of the humid city that Manila is. He escapes to the mountains of Baguio every so often to golf and to relax.
Baguio is like our Cameron Highlands, only better! It is also 5 hours away from Manila.
I'm still not sure if the 5 hours is inclusive of the horrendous Manila traffic. Filipino traffic is no joke.
I can see why Uncle Mike often escaped up to the mountains of Baguio - the Cordilerra range - as it is far more peaceful and less polluted than Manila. Its mountains are gorgeous and Baguio itself is picturesque and serene. In fact, it looks American in its house structure as it used to be the American base!
When I was in Baguio (actually Baguio Country Club), I was looking for unique souvenirs and food to buy. They were famous for a few things - mini brooms (apparently, the Baguio brooms are sturdier than most brooms says my Filipina aunt), peanut brittle, native crafts, strawberry jams and more. I stumbled upon Ashitaba tea when I was browsing at one of the shops serving tourists.
"Ashitaba is a large herb that grows primarily in the central region of Japan. Its root, leaf, and stem are used to make medicine.
Ashitaba is used for “heartburn” (gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD), stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, constipation, and hay fever. It is also used for cancer, smallpox, fluid retention, blood clots, and food poisoning. Women use it to increase the flow of breast milk. The fresh leaves and dried powder are used as food."
Ashitaba is also called Angelica keiskei, Ashitaba du Japon, Herbe de la Longévité, Japanese Ashitaba, Kenso and Leaves of Tomorrow. And all for good reason.
Its remarkable regenerative property makes it a valuable herb. It is said that if you plant the leaf at dawn, you'll see it sprout the next day!
If you cut up the ashitaba stem, it oozes a thick yellow sap. The sap contains chalcones called "Xanthoangelol" and "4-Hydroxyderricin."
Chalcone makes ashitaba what is is - it purifies the blood, strengthens the immune system, regulates cholesterol, regulates blood pressure, suppresses acid secretion, prevents thrombus, suppresses cytopathy, is antibacterial, prevents cancer, and promotes metabolism.
It also contains fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B1, B2 and vitamin K.
This site says that ashitaba's vitamin B12 helps build new hemoglobin (red blood cells) allowing more oxygen in the blood and better cell functioning in all organs and muscles including the heart - keeping it strong.
From the TCM perspective, ashitaba tea is believed to activate the Qi and blood which means it is good for women with menstrual problems and stagnation. It is also a tonic for calming the spiritual well-being. Ashitaba is also used in TCM to harmonize the Spleen and Stomach, balancing the Earth element.
So the question is: what does the tea taste like?
I steeped the tea bag in boiling hot water for 5 minutes and to tell the truth, there's not much taste to the tea. It's mild with a light yellow hue. But the good thing is, as it is so mild, the tea doesn't get bitter or tannic even if you steep it far longer than you should.
Since the Baguio highlands are quite cool, I can imagine that the ashitaba thrives well and their leaves are dried and made into tea. I am surprised though that the tea is rather low profile despite its nutritional profile. And like most packaging, the tea I bought didn't seem to exult the properties of such an incredible herb either. That's sad as I could have passed it by had I not decided to buy and try the tea.
I was visiting a friend's garden in Balik Pulau when his father pointed to this shrub with fragrant white flowers. He said it was full of medicinal properties but he didn't know what it was called. And the flowers could be infused as a tea to reduce high blood pressure.
I was intrigued as I always am whenever I find out about a new plant. I couldn't stop researching and finally I found out the name of this plant. It's called senduduk putih (Melastoma decemfidum).
Now what does this plant do? Actually plenty.
The flowers are used to heal persistent coughing. It is also believed that its flowers can help children with slow speech development. Its leaves can be pounded and mixed with fresh turmeric to cure diarrhoea and bloody stool.
The leaf and root extracts are used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, epilepsy and rheumatism. Shoots are ingested to treat puerperal infections, high blood pressure and diabetes while juice can be used as a mouthwash to relieve toothache or to treat leucorrhea. The bark is used for skin diseases and flowers are used for cancer treatment.
To get rid of scars as a result of chickenpox, just rub the flowers onto the scars. The flower can also be eaten to promote youthfulness and is said to taste like guava. It also has a mystery of its own in that the Malay folklore considers the white rhodendron to be closely related to the spirit world in the jungle. As such, it is a rare flower to be found. Other folklore says that the white rhodendron flower is used in love potions.
Interestingly, the Malays believe that if you find this plant in the jungle, you mustn't just pluck the flowers or take the cuttings home as the plant has its own guardian spirit. They believe that your cuttings will not survive even if you plant them well. And women who have their period are not allowed to water this plant as it will die. (Then again, I have heard this same precaution for the kaffir lime plant. I wonder if a menstruating woman really has such potent powers?)
Anyway, do you know of this plant? Let me hear your thoughts. Most of what I found online were from Malay blogs and most seem to repeat and echo each other.
The past few months have been hectic and that is why the blogs suffer - I haven't had the energy or the time to blog! And it's now 2019 so it means I haven't been blogging for many months.
But I also want to tell you what's happened in the past year.
Hello there! Nic and I took this selfie recently in Kuching
I have been diligently drinking my Ba Zhen Tang every week. Remember when I said I was looking for a sinseh to help me with my hair fall issues? Well, that was in February last year.
Priscilla who is in her 30s trained as a sinseh and she runs her family's medical hall in Paya Terubong. While it isn't terribly far, I still need to make that trip to her shop to get my supply of Ba Zhen herbs. I find her herbs of better quality and the formula she uses is quite palatable and smooth to the palate.
That's the only reason why I go back to her shop. She doesn't have a good sinseh's touch and can be rather millennial in her attitude (which I think is an absolutely stupid way to do business). I got quite fed up with her at one point and just went for the sake of buying the packet herbs (so I bulk buy the herbs each time I go - like 12 packets at one go). She speaks when spoken to, and aside that is not a pleasant person to visit. Give me a happy sinseh, a welcoming sinseh at any time.
But I have been drinking Ba Zhen Tang weekly and I can see that my period has become regular, arriving every 28 to 30 days. In the past when I used to drink Ba Zhen once a month, my period could be very late.
And my hair fall issue has improved somewhat. I find that if my scalp is hot (as a result of overwork, late nights, not eating at proper hours) the hair will drop. I am trying my best to reduce the work that I do but then more and more website clients and other side projects keep coming!
Men Can Take Ba Zhen And Here's How These days, I have a system of sorts. I will brew the herbs in my slow cooker overnight and drink half the soup the next day (usually noon-time, before I have lunch) and keep the other half in the fridge for imbibing 2 days later. I space out the brew because I feel it works better for me as a consistent brew rather than down one whole pot in one sitting.
Also, I don't throw out the herbs after the first brew. I add more hot water, immersing the herbs completely and switch it on for a second brewing (again, overnight if possible). This second brew is meant for Nic. He often drinks it at night and he says it gives him a lot more energy the next day.
On the soup front, I have not been cooking as much so the soup making has been reduced to quite a bare minimum. We also found a nearby hawker centre (Lucky Eatery opposite Setia Spice Convention Centre) that sells a decent array of Chinese herbal soups in clay pots. We have been fans since as the soups are tasty and I didn't have to work up a sweat making them.
The soup that you choose comes with rice and you can add on stir-fried lettuce or cabbage to complete your meal. That's also a reason why my soup-making exploits have slowed down. And since we know the Indonesian worker at the stall (Ayu), we often call up first to find out what soups are still available and pre-order.
But this post isn't so much about me as it is about Nic.
Becoming A Healer While both of us learnt Prana Violet Healing (PVH), he has taken it one step further. He attended a PVH class on using the healing wand to heal. Granted, all of us who take the class are supposed to heal others. Together with healing, there is an additional modality of 'sensing' which means using the wand to sense if the chakras are spinning properly or if there are issues with a certain organ in the body.
Nic sharing PVH with some friends - even my friend's son was transfixed!
I am not keen on sensing because I doubt myself. Most of my healing is either using the wand on myself and my own issues (headache, for instance) or on animals (we used PVH to heal my sister's cat a few months ago).
I also find it very useful for general aches like shoulder aches - I just did it on myself yesterday while I was driving and had stopped at the traffic lights. The pain or discomfort disappears almost immediately. Which yes, unfortunately for most people, can be quite hard to believe. After all, we are all schooled in the idea that we need medicine, injections and a doctor's opinion in order to get well!
We never believe that our bodies can heal and we never quite believe that a simple application of the healing wand or even other modalities like reiki are possible alternatives (and even better alternatives as I have seen too many people go under the knife for various issues - one lady was asked to remove one of ther kidneys and she complied with her doctor's suggestion).
Anyway, a friend, Joanne who is highly sensitive can even feel a buzz of energy when she holds the PVH wand!
I am not that sensitive and that why I have not been doing sensing at all.
But PVH is not something that you can disclose to anyone. Two weeks ago, I asked a friend if she wanted to try using PVH to heal her daughter's sinusitis problem. When I showed her the wand, she was incredulous. She remarked that she wouldn't believe that a logical, rational person like me would believe in such things.
I asked her, "Can you see wifi?"
She was stumped for a moment. Because PVH, which is energy healing, is like wifi. You can't see it but it works. How it works - honestly I cannot explain but I also feel we humans at this stage don't have the vocabulary to explain it, YET.
Auras can be measured and seen using Kirlian photography. Prior to that, auras were something woo-woo and unbelievable.
Anyway, for those who don't believe, I just say that it's not their time yet.
But Nic can sense using the wand and he can heal as well. This has opened up a floodgate of requests from friends and even sometimes, people we don't know, to help sense and see what is bothering them.
The wand is a conduit for the universal divine energy to energise and heal the human body but first, some protocol must be observed. Nic asks that those who ask for help read the Forgiveness Affirmations and Spiritual Affirmations for 9 days consecutively before he 'checks' the health of the person.
This serves as a filter for those who are truly serious about wanting to be healed. Those who don't believe or are lazy won't do it and this saves us time. We practice this in our web design business with clients and so we use the same filtering practices with people who wish to be healed. In business, if you don't filter real prospects from the tyre-kickers, you'd be wasting your time talking to the wrong people.
Unbelievably Easy And Effective But You Have To Do The Work In this way, the 9-day protocol is a filter to determine if you wish to be healed. If you are sincere about getting well, you will do what it takes. After all, reading the affirmations take less than 5 minutes even if you're the slowest reader in the world. But we found that some people are blocked by their own karma and are their own worst enemies and don't want to get well so they don't read the affirmations or conveniently forget. Well, none of us forget to log on to FB daily, do we? What is FB compared to your health then?
So this has opened up another new world for us (as if we aren't occupied enough as it is with business and talks and such) but this offers a different level of satisfaction. As healing is not transactional and Nic asks the healed to donate directly to PVH, Nic does it out of a desire to help and heal. He has dealt with many cases in the past year or so - some have tumours, some have eczema, some have past life issues, some have white magic and more.
A private sharing session to practise sensing and healing for friends
Healing A Thai Woman He even healed a Thai woman in Bangkok - a jewellery store manager in her 50s - last October. She was amazed that the pain in her leg and stomach eased. Despite the language barrier, she seemed to understand and even readily accepted the healing. To think that I was there to shop for a gemstone ring! Nic ended up sharing PVH with her.
In the jewellery store in Bangkok with Noi, the store manager that Nic healed.
It's been a journey of learning for me and him. One recent case involved a friend's family who had spiritual disturbance in their rented house in PJ! But in all cases, Nic says the best way is to deal with the souls is to show them compassion and kindness through the affirmations.
So you see, with all these taking place, making soups is the last thing on my mind. But I wouldn't mind sharing nutritious recipes with most people. I realised even older people don't know much about herbs. Perhaps that's my complementary calling!