From the continuing training lecture.c. Tea and Herbalism
Qigong, in itself, is an art of self-healing and rigorous training; what is usually talked about little is the concept that certain things can enhance your qigong practice considerably, outside of qigong itself. Just as a body builder crosstrains and drinks protein shakes, so can an internal stylist augment his qi through methods other than qigong.
Here, then, is a short section detailing a couple different qigong "supplements" that are widely used and highly praised for the effects they bring.
"Firstly, I'll talk about tea. Tea is a great drink for cleaning out the system and ensuring proper qi flow; certain types of qi work on different meridians, clearing out and cleaning the subtle bodies' inner workings."
"Green Tea contains a chemical called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that binds to the enzyme urokinase, preventing it from stimulating tumor growth. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute has published articles on the cancer-preventive effects of green tea."
"Researchers believe that tea lowers cholesterol because EGCG combines with bile salts and cholesterol to form an insoluble precipitate."
"There are more chapters on tea in the Chinese Herbal Material Medica (Ben Cao) than on any other herb, including ginseng."
"A cup of drip coffee contains approximately 100 mg caffeine, black tea: 50 mg caffeine, green tea: 20 mg caffeine, bancha tea 0 mg caffeine. (Nevertheless, if you have cardiac arrhythmia, are taking MAO inhibitor drugs, or have any medical condition for which caffeine is forbidden, you must, sadly, avoid even green tea.)"
"Taoist and Buddhist Monks drink tea because it clears and refreshes the mind. If you are anxious or stressed, drink some tea and contemplate the beauty of nature, Drinking tea is meditation."
"Green tea, by far, is the most beneficial tea to drink. It has many, many health benefits, and works on the lung, spleen, and stomach meridians (Oriental Medicine - 12 meridian system). It can also be purchased just about anywhere quite cheaply. However, there are many more teas that are equally beneficial, some of which are available for purchase. A big part of becoming a tea drinker lies in drinking tea that you like- once you find one that you enjoy, stock up on it."
To quote wikipedia:
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), also known as epigallocatechin 3-gallate, is the ester of epigallocatechin and gallic acid, and is a type of catechin.Tea and herbalism
EGCG is the most abundant catechin in tea and is a potent antioxidant that may have therapeutic applications in the treatment of many disorders (e.g. cancer). It is found in green tea but not black tea; during black tea production, the catechins are converted to theaflavins and thearubigins. In a high temperature environment, an epimerization change is more likely to occur; however as exposure to boiling water for 30 straight minutes only leads to a 12.4% reduction in the total amount of EGCG, the amount lost in a brief exposure is insignificant. In fact, even when special conditions were used to create temperatures well-above that of boiling water, the amount lost scaled up only slightly.
EGCG can be found in many supplements.
Various herbs have been used in teas and tonics around the world for millennia. In China, it is thought that certain herbs affect the holistic health by acting on meridians. So, a large part of Daoist alchemy was actual external preparations of herbs into tonics and teas, or crushing them with a pestel to be put into a pill. Around the time of the warring states period, these court magicians, "prescription masters" or Fangshi, were employed by the Imperial Court and were often tasked with creating an Immortality Elixir or Pill for the consumption of the Emperor himself. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fangshi
Their work became what is known as Chinese herbalism, and unlike then, many of the herbs and teas they used are readily available today if you know where to look.
Here is a brief section on traditional Chinese herbs and how they affect the Qi. These can all be purchased independently and added to teas or tonics to balance things like Yin or Yang imbalance and energy stagnation.
Courtesy this site.
Astragalus rootDifferent kinds of tea
Astragalus is one of the most popular and important tonic herbs used in the Orient. It is said to strengthen the primary energy and to tonify the three burning spaces. It is famed as a specific energizer to the outside of the body and is therefore beneficial to younger adults, who tend to be physically active. Some people consider Astragalus to be a tonic superior to ginseng for younger people. Astragalus is believed to be strengthening to the legs and arms, and is traditionally used by people who work outdoors, especially in the cold, because of its strengthening and warming nature. As an energizer to the outside of the body, Astragalus is used to tonify the protective energy (Wei Qi) which circulates just under the skin. Wei Qi is the Yang counterpart of the more Yin nutritional energy (Ying Qi) which flows through the twelve meridians and supplies the organs with vital energy. Wei, like Ying, is generated in the Lungs and after the Lungs have extracted Qi from the air and the Stomach and Spleen extract Qi from food. The air and food energies are united in the Lung to generate the "essential energy." Ying and Wei are the two components of the essential energy. Wei Qi circulates in the subcutaneous tissues providing suppleness to the flesh and adaptive energy to the skin. It is the Wei Qi which provides the energy to perspire, produce goose flesh or shiver. If Wei Qi is deficient, exhausted or blocked, environmental forces such as heat, cold, humidity, wind, etc. (the so-called vicious energies") will penetrate through the flesh and injure the flesh, blood and inner organs. Astragalus, in tonifying the Lung, especially its Yang component, helps the body build an abundance of free flowing Wei Qi, thus fortifying the defense mechanism. Astragalus is also a blood tonic (Qi leads blood). It helps to regulate fluid metabolism, and those who consume it regularly are said to rarely suffer from fluid retention and bloating. It is also now considered an excellent regulatory tonic to the sugar metabolizing functions, especially when combined with licorice root.
White Atractylodes Rhizome
White Atractylodes is an important general body tonic which acts generally upon the digestive system and balances the appetite. It is widely used in Chinese herbalism as a potent energy tonic. White Atractylodes has warming properties and is a mild stimulant. As a tonic to the Spleen/Pancreas and Stomach, it is said to benefit digestion and to help regulate fluid metabolism. It is well known and widely used as a very safe, mild diuretic. Upon continued use, White Atractylodes will help regulate the appetite, so it is widely used as a weight control herb. White Atractylodes is also used to strengthen the muscles in general, and the legs in particular. By regulating the Spleen/Pancreas, it helps build energy which is distributed to the entire body. White Atractylodes is considered to be one of the best energy tonics by Chinese herbalists.
Codonopsis is a great general tonic used to restore bodily vigor, just like ginseng. Codonopsis has a mild energy, but it is a very powerful Qi tonic. Codonopsis is very effective as a tonic to the "middle burning space" which includes the Stomach and Spleen's unified function. It is excellent as an energy tonic, providing energy to the Lung and Spleen/Pancreas, those organ systems that extract Qi from environmental sources, and thus helps to generate energy for the entire body. It is said that this herb tones up the energy of the Spleen/Pancreas without making it too dry, and nourishes the Yin of the Stomach without making it too wet. The ability to balance the primary metabolic functions is one of this herb's great qualities. It also lubricates the Lungs and its passages, but always appropriately and not in excess. Codonopsis stimulates the production of blood, and is considered an excellent nutrient. It clears the Lungs of excess mucous and detoxifies the blood so that the skin becomes elastic, smooth and radiant.
Dioscorea root is widely used as a secondary tonic. Dioscorea, a type of yam, is an important Yin tonic that is said to benefit the spirit, promote flesh, and when taken habitually, to brighten the intellect and prolong life. Dioscorea serves as a Stomach-Spleen tonic, as well as nourishing the Lungs and supplementing the Kidney Qi. This white, brittle herb has cooling properties. Its energy is classified as neutral and it is sweet tasting.
White Ginseng Root
The root is said to replace lost Qi to the meridians and organs. It is used to benefit all the Qi so that one may live a long and happy life. It tonifies Qi and is adaptogenic. It is an immune modulator, prolongs life, overcomes fatigue, increases blood volume, aids in recovery from illness or trauma, sharpens and calms the mind, stabilizes the emotions, counteracts stress and enhances wisdom. Ginseng is tonic to both the Lungs and the Spleen/Pancreas systems.
Adaptogenic, antioxidant, immune modulating, anti-inflammatory, respiratory tonic, platelet regulator, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-obesity, cardiovascular protectant, anti-aging agent
Licorice root stands next to ginseng in importance in Chinese herbalism. It is the most widely used of all Chinese herbs. It is known as the "Grandfather of Chinese herbs," as the "Great Adjunct," and as the "Great Detoxifier." It is used as a harmonizing ingredient in a large number of Chinese herbal recipes and is itself an excellent tonic and longevity herb. Chinese licorice root is said to revitalize the “Center,” referring to the “middle burning space,” and in particular to the digestive and assimilative functions associated with the Spleen. It supplements the energy and strikes a balance into the internal regions of the body. It is believed to drive out all poisons and toxins from the system and to eliminate side-effects from other herbs used with it. The “Great Adjunct” is said to aid all other herbs in entering their respective meridians and is thus of tremendous importance in the Chinese tonic herbal system. It is also believed that licorice will clean the meridians and allow Qi to flow smoothly. It is also widely claimed that licorice root builds flesh (muscle) and beautifies the countenance. Licorice root is also used throughout the Orient simply because it builds energy. It is now known that this is at least partly due to its remarkable power to regulate blood sugar balance. It is also widely used to sharpen the power of concentration.
Aged Citrus Peel
Aged Citrus (Tangerine) Peel is a digestant. It falls into the classical category of “Qi regulating” herbs --- that is, herbs that help Qi to move smoothly and to prevent blockage, particularly in the digestive and respiratory systems. It is not a tonic herb, but is often used in tonic formulations to improve their function. Sometimes strong Qi formulas, such as those being used in Qi Drops, can result in minor stagnation in the digestive tract if a Qi regulating herb is not included in the formula. Aged Citrus (Tangerine) Peel is VERY effective at moving Qi and preventing digestive blockage. There is sufficient Aged Citrus (Tangerine) Peel in this formula to prevent any possibility of Qi blocking.
Polygonatum sibericum is used as a Qi and Yin tonic, and is said to have a specific benefit on the energy of the heart and brain. It is used in Shen and Jing tonics to nourish the brain and strengthen the mind. It is a Qi tonic to the brain. It can be combined with Panax Ginseng, Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero), Gynostemma, and various Qi tonics to add important mental Qi power.
Eleuthero is the equal of Ginseng in its adaptogenic capabilities. Some authorities think it is stronger. Eleuthero contains saponins which balance the nervous system and endocrine system. Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) also has a huge reputation as a mental tonic and even as a mental stimulant. It is considered to be faster acting than Ginseng. Studies have proven that people are more alert after they consume Eleuthero.
Tibetan Rhodiola Root
Tibetan Rhodiola sacra strongly increases vitality. It is good for strengthening the body and mind, resisting fatigue, resisting a lack of oxygen and excessive radiation (including solar radiation), and for prolonging life. It is especially well known for increasing the intelligence of those who consume it regularly. Rhodiola sacra has the action of “supporting and strengthening the human body” and the immune potentiating effects of Rhodiola sacra are, according to some researchers, stronger than those Ginseng (a VERY potent immune potentiator). Rhodiola sacra has a notable restorative effect if one consumes a preparation while the tired body is recovering or is failing to recover from strong or excessive exertion. Tibetan Rhodiola sacra has double-direction adjusting effects on the nervous and endocrine systems. It is good for resisting mental fatigue, and it can improve a person’s memory, power of concentration and work-efficiency.
Guilin Sweetfruit (Luo Han Guo) is an excellent Qi tonic to the Lungs. It improves functioning of the lungs and clears mucous and heat from the Lungs. Since the Lungs are central to Qi production, the condition of the Lungs is of the utmost importance to our health and well being. Guilin Sweetfruit is being widely researched because it appears to be a potent immune potentiator.
There are different kinds of tea with different benefits.
They are, in order from least processed to most processed:White tea
White tea (Chinese: 白茶; pinyin: báichá) is a lightly oxidized tea grown and harvested primarily in China, mostly in the Fujian province. More recently it is grown in Taiwan, Northern Thailand and Eastern Nepal.
White tea comes from the buds and leaves of the Chinese Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves and buds are allowed to wither in natural sunlight before they are lightly processed to prevent oxidation or further tea processing.
The name "white tea" derives from the fine silvery-white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant, which gives the plant a whitish appearance. The beverage itself is not white or colourless but pale yellow.
White tea is the least processed tea and contains the most ECGC. It is most beneficial to your health and has low levels of caffeine.
A truly great, whole leaf, organic white tea known as Bai Mu Dan (white peony) can be purchased in bulk at Costco World Market for a good price.Green tea
Green tea is made from the leaves from Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea originates in China, but it has become associated with many cultures throughout Asia. Green tea has recently become more widespread in the West, where black tea has been the traditionally consumed tea. Green tea has become the raw material for extracts which are used in various beverages, health foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetic items. Many varieties of green tea have been created in the countries where it is grown. These varieties can differ substantially due to variable growing conditions, horticulture, production processing, and harvesting time.
Over the last few decades green tea has been subjected to many scientific and medical studies to determine the extent of its long-purported health benefits, with some evidence suggesting that regular green tea drinkers may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. Although green tea does not raise the metabolic rate enough to produce immediate weight loss, a green tea extract containing polyphenols and caffeine has been shown to induce thermogenesis and stimulate fat oxidation, boosting the metabolic rate 4% without increasing the heart rate.
The mean content of flavonoids in a cup of green tea is higher than that in the same volume of other food and drink items that are traditionally considered of health contributing nature, including fresh fruits, vegetable juices or wine. Flavonoids are a group of phytochemicals present in most plant products that are responsible for health effects such as anti-oxidative and anticarcinogenic functions. However, the content of flavonoids may vary dramatically amongst different tea products.
This stuff is great! It's Kouji's favorite tea. I really like Rishi Jade Cloud, Ancient Emerald Lily and Dragon Well.Oolong tea
Oolong (simplified Chinese: 乌龙; traditional Chinese: 烏龍; pinyin: wūlóng) is a traditional Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis) produced through a unique process including withering under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting. Most oolong teas, especially those of fine quality, involve unique tea plant cultivars that are exclusively used for particular varieties. The degree of oxidation can range from 8 to 85%, depending on the variety and production style. Oolong is especially popular with tea connoisseurs of south China and Chinese expatriates in Southeast Asia, as is the Fujian preparation process known as the Gongfu tea ceremony.
In Chinese tea culture, semi-oxidised oolong teas are collectively grouped as qīngchá (Chinese: 青茶; literally "teal tea"). The taste of oolong ranges hugely amongst various subvarieties. It can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas, or woody and thick with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with bouquet aromas, all depending on the horticulture and style of production. Several subvarieties of oolong, including those produced in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian, such as Da Hong Pao, are among the most famous Chinese teas.
Oolong has less ECGC than white or green tea, but still has some, and it also has more caffeine than both of them. For this reason, it is good to use to wake up with, and good to drink before any moving meditation like Qigong.Black tea
Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green and white teas. All four types are made from leaves of the shrub (or small tree) Camellia sinensis. Black tea is generally stronger in flavor than the less oxidized teas. Two principal varieties of the species are used – the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C. sinensis subsp. sinensis), used for most other types of teas, and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis subsp. assamica), which was traditionally mainly used for black tea, although in recent years some green and white have been produced.
In Chinese languages and the languages of neighboring countries, black tea is known as "red tea" (紅茶, Mandarin Chinese hóngchá; Japanese kōcha; 홍차, Korean hongcha), a description of the colour of the liquid; the Western term "black tea" refers to the colour of the oxidized leaves. In Chinese, "black tea" is a commonly-used classification for post-fermented teas, such as Pu-erh tea; outside of China and its neighbouring countries, "red tea" more commonly refers to rooibos, a South African tisane.
Black tea contains no ECGC as it is removed during oxidation and processing. It also has higher levels of caffeine. However, it still has many antioxidents and catechins that are good for the health.
Protip: Putting milk in tea causes the catechins to chemically bond to lactose and makes them inert, removing all health benefits. So, please don't put milk in your tea, you'll ruin it. Thank kobok for this information.Pu E'rh tea
Pu-erh or Pu'er tea is a variety of fermented dark tea produced in Yunnan province, China. Fermentation is a tea production style in which the tea leaves undergo microbial fermentation and oxidation after they are dried and rolled. This process is a Chinese specialty and produces tea known as Hei Cha (黑茶), commonly translated as dark, or black tea (this type of tea is completely different from what in West is known as "black tea", which in China is called "red tea"). The most famous variety of this category of tea is Pu-erh from Yunnan Province, named after the trading post for dark tea during imperial China.
Pu'er traditionally begins as a raw product known as "rough" Mao Cha (毛茶) and can be sold in this form or pressed into a number of shapes and sold as "raw" Sheng Cha (生茶). Both of these forms then undergo the complex process of gradual fermentation and maturation with time. The Wo Dui process (渥堆) developed in the mod-1970s by the Menghai  and Kunming Tea Factories  created a new type of pu-erh tea, whose legitimacy is disputed by some traditionalists. This process involves an accelerated fermentation into "ripe" Shou Cha (熟茶) which is then stored loose or pressed into various shapes. All types of pu-erh can be stored to mature before consumption, which is why it is commonly labelled with year and region of production.
Pu Erh tea contains no ECGC as it is removed during oxidation and processing. It also has higher levels of caffeine. However, it still has many antioxidents and catechins that are good for the health.
This is the strongest tea you can get, so if you like strong flavors it's for you. It also has the most caffeine out of any tea, so if you want to replace coffee with tea in the morning, choose Pu Erh. Though, I drink both because coffee is also good for you in ways that tea isn't.
Some teas you may enjoy:Triple Leaf Decaf Green Tea with Chinese herbs
This one has ginseng and astralagus. It also has no caffeine. If you absolutely dislike tea, I would recommend you just stick with this and drink 1 cup daily to supplement your Qigong. The Ginseng in it is very good for Jing, and the Astralagus is good for Qi of the lungs, organs and Dantian. After a month of drinking a cup a day and doing Qigong every other day I have noticed a great overall increase in my energy body, a greater clarity of energy, less anxiety, and a stronger Yin Qi when doing the microcosmic orbit (I tend to be Yang imbalanced rather easily). The only downside: it pretty much tastes like green beans.Rishi Tea Organic Jasmine Pearl
A very strong, fragrant green tea that is flavored with Jasmine buds. Very flowery and sweet. A premium green tea. Good for Qi of the lungs, as any green tea is.Rishi Super Green Sencha
Haven't been able to try this yet, but I have some in the mail. This one is supposed to infuse very green (as opposed to more yellow for the above two), and the greener, the better. See, when tea infuses it also oxidizes, and when it oxidizes, it loses the beneficial antioxidants. So, if you really want to feel and benefit from the ECGC and other beneficial compounds in tea, drinking one like this is best.Traditional Medicinals Chamomile with Lavender
This one is great! Chamomile has been cultivated as far back as Ancient Egypt (around 2000 BC) for it's healing properties and use as a sedative tonic. This one also contains lavender flowers, which have been used for an equally long time as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent.
I like to use this tea to help me sleep, but I also use to it prepare for any very heavy meditation (such as the macrocosmic orbit). It makes you somewhat sleepy and makes it much easier to reach deep mind states necessary for those exercises. It helps greatly with relaxation.
Chamomile should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women, it has been shown to have induce uterine contractions that can lead to miscarriage.
If you add a few shakes of ground cinnamon and a bit of honey to your chamomile tea, it will not only taste great but also works as a potent aid to stomach problems and nausea.Chaa Organic Mystic Darjeeling
This one is quite good. It is a dark, black tea, so it has no ECGC, although there are plenty of other antioxidants. The best way to describe this tea is "energizing". It has more caffiene than green teas do. I find this one best taken before a workout, yoga, martial arts practice, or anything very physical. It will give you energy, clear your mind and help you focus on your workout.
That concludes the section on herbalism.