Modern health meets ancient medicine

No foods heal you; the body heals itself, said Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, co-founder and CVO of Ancient Nutrition and, at the 2019 Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York City.

Your body will use food as building blocks as it repairs itself, Axe said. An herb or food can change the environment to allow for greater healing, but the body possesses the innate ability to heal itself.  

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) understands holistic medicine the most. In the debate of Western versus Eastern medicine, people often assume Eastern medicine is less credible. However, it’s often more credible than eastern medicine because it’s proven over time to be better. Western medicine is run by big pharma and biased opinions. Eastern medicine looks at the body holistically and how it works together. Western medicine looks at components and misses the big picture.

TCM and Ayurveda are the most proven forms of medicine in all of history, Axe says, which is why they are so effective. While typically associated with concepts such as qi or “vital energy,” meridians, and yin and yang, it’s about so much more.

TCM treatments center on looking to the root cause of disease and treating the body holistically and optimizing how organ systems function synergistically. Common TCM treatments that are readily available today are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Cupping therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise (such as Qi gong or Tai chi
  • Herbal medicine

Studies show that TCM lowers inflammation, may increase cancer protection, reduces chronic pain and headaches, and balances hormones and improves fertility, Axe says. It also improves liver health, protects cognitive health, helps lower the body’s stress response, and preserves muscle strength, flexibility, and balance.

Ayurveda medicine, on the other hand, focuses on specific herbal formulations and combinations to help people live long, healthy, and balanced lives, Axe said.

To that end, Axe recommends his top TCM herbs, which he believes will become more recognized in mainstream medicine:

  • Dong Quai
  • Fo-Ti
  • Schisandra
  • Vitex
  • Fenugreek
  • Andrographis
  • Codonopsis
  • Astragalus
  • Lycium
  • Rehmannia

For anti-aging herbs, Axe recommends Fo Ti and Schisandra; for anti-inflammatory herbs, turmeric and ginger; for digestion, ginger and peppermint; for liver-cleaning, milk thistle and bupleurum; for hormone balancing, vitex and Dong Quai; for testosterone support, fenugreek, ginseng, and deer antler; for thyroid support, ashwagandha and bacopa; for adrenal support, rehmannia and reishi mushroom; for candida killing, Pau D’Arco and astragalus; for immune boost, elderberry and turkey tail mushroom; and for brain boosting, lion’s mane, ginko bilboa, and cannabidiol;

“If you want to help your patients overcome frustrating issues that they never completely overcome,” Axe said, “you’ve got to change the internal environment so these conditions can no longer thrive and survive.”

Editor’s note: TCM and Ayurveda are complex medical systems and therefore cannot be explained in full in one presentation or one article. This article purposefully focuses on herbs used in traditional healing, and is not meant to be a comprehensive summary of Dr. Axe’s presentation.