Covid Longterm Effects

lingering Covid-19 consequences

The NIH has just received a one- billion-dollar grant to research the long-term Covid consequences or “Covid-resisting lingering illness”  – experienced by 19% of people after falling ill or being infected with either variant of the current virus causing havoc world-wide…

The virus causes damage to the lungs, heart and brain (kidney and liver), which increases the risk of long-term health problems; some people express symptoms from muscle pain, hair-loss, blood clogging, brain-fog, to general lack of energy, sleep disorders and even depression. This is reported in patient with no history of either of the beforementioned dilemmas. Add to it multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) aged 2-15, a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. 

Always gut-health, if you isolate the foremost culprit of all these indicators!

Most of the long-term after-effects of being exposed to this novel virus are not even clear to current science studies, since developing emergency vaccination and worldwide care response occupies research beyond needed to “discover” what and where all the lingering effects actually originate…

I wish someone would simply reach out to me and inquire why NONE of the people and friends in my care – after exposure and recovery – have neither of these symptoms. I embrace that true to science, we must study what might have been done correctly… Pardon my bragging, but sometimes the solution is just simple, yet ignored!

My first client out from 17 days under ICU intubation last March 2020 (Intubation is a medical procedure that involves inserting a flexible plastic tube down a person’s throat), has physically fully “recovered” after being placed on a super restricted food diet and strenuous exercise and life-style program. I wrote my first findings in April 2020 (blog below), explaining my approach of treating the Covid-19 experience on the human body, as foremost a blood disease. Although the medical community at that time still stuck in evaluating what the virus’ consequences are on the human lung. 

By June I had successfully coached five more people infected with Covid-19 and guided them to full recovery as well. I recommended then to use my Covid-TCM food suggestions as a preventative, since no vaccines had been available.

I outlined a substantial Food for Covid (blog) list of items to consume which is still accurate today – even more important for recovery – to counter underlying conditions that are caused by a virus emboldened by our poor food and lifestyle choices. 

For me, the long-term consequences of Covid damage are no mystery. I might lack the perspective of a virologist and that of certified medical professionals, but as with all infections our exposure to influenza virus, through Traditonal Chinese medicine are long documented.  We treat sick patients by balancing all organs. In TCM theory, influenza disease was classified as “YI Disease” and was first documented 2,200 years ago during the Warring States period (475-221 BC). The Han Dynasty scriptures – second imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD)- show early understandings that the Exogenous Febrile Diseasesor Discourse on Cold-Damage Disorders needed to be treated. Later, during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the emergence of “Wen Yi Lun (Analysis of Epidemic Warm Diseases)” revealed that TCM had contributed enormously to the prevention and treatment of influenza for thousands of years. 

These early findings still guide today’s modern medicinal treatments and have shown effectivity in successfully squashing SARS, MERS and now Covid-19′ lingering symptoms. But, it requires to completely abandon bad food behavior that allows Covid variants to manifest or “hide” within our body and activate long-term health interruptions.

I concentrated my original diet plan on adding fresh food items that contained high amounts of berberine (Turmeric, Chilis and Berries) because it has been shown in laboratories that berberine suppressed viral replication in A549 cells in the lungs.  My daily menus were rich on herbs including Fish-Mint (Houttuynia cordata) since studies have shown that it might decrease the concentration of pulmonary proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines and the number of intestinal goblet cells; resulting in upregulation of sIgA and tight junction protein (ZO-1) in the intestine. Besides, these salad greens contain powerful diabetic balancing properties and are used in most modern influenza products sold in South East Asia.

I incorporated triterpenoids rich sources like basil, mint, garlic and birch rind (Chaga) which have inhibitory effects on the replication of influenza. Importantly, it has been confirmed that eating selected roots (sunchokes, radish, lili-root) and fresh brewed broth and home-made kimchi combinations effectively hindered viral attachment and penetration into host cell. Think Kampo!  Foods rich on anthocyanidins asin red onions, sweet potatoes and red cabbageaid by interfering with early viral replication.

I can’t list every detail of my diet choices; and true to TCM, each of us varies in how I  design a personalized “recovery-menu”-  but I’m steadfest in my quest that my vision, my study and choice of foods/cooking methods can help and could set a standard for treatment and prevention or even capable of expelling the Covid virus from your body… 

Why can’t we eat healthy even when in dire need of healing? It’s psychological and we are all addicted to processed foods and sugar!

TCMchef Raphael

Triterpene, Lingzhi Mushroom

This is a blog to challenge (expand) your mind and by introducing you to look about the power of plants from a scientific perspective. These last few weeks I received many emails from people crossing through my blog pages; I’m super flattered and managing to respond to most of your messages/inquiries: My advice and suggestions to your questions are intended to cautiously guide you to find your own solutions. When we find ourselves confronted with physical and mental issues, it is often best to consult TCM professionals and research diligently. I aim to help you by encouragement and to embrace your dilemma. You yourself are responsible to balance health, happiness and peace with your being.

To repeat a basic wisdom: Traditional Chinese Medicine is most powerful as a preventative. With this in mind; I am elated to see that today’s modern medicine increasingly consults with practitioners when engaging patients with life changing injuries or when send for long-term recovery. Preventative medicine is everything we achieve in the future. Although we can aid our body from becoming too sick, we often lack understanding what to include  to correctly incorporate TCM methods for body and mind to overcome illness. 

While studying TCM in Singapore in 2007, I became fascinated with plant-based science studies in various parts of the world conducted independently at the same time: Researchers in Hongkong had evaluated TCM claims from the mid-nineties about the powers of plant & mushroom triterpenes consumed by humans. They verified documentations from a scripture byZhang Zhongjing – the Hippocrates of China during the Han Dynasty (202 BC –220 AD) – he outlined correctly that “the power within Lingzhi mushrooms stops inflammation and even reverses wheezy chest distress (asthmatic) illness…” Although intuitive interpretations were based on thousands of practitioners documenting these findings, we can today corroborate that statement with DNA fingerprinting, that the essence that leads to this ancient claim is triterpene.

At the same time, I followed a research of a Spanish group that suggested the anti-viral properties in Reishi mushrooms could be utilized to curve (liver-) cancer and even viral replication of HIV.

Triterpenoids from different structural groups have been studied and described as having anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory powers. They isolated Triterpenes as an agent to potential treat anti-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and reviewed these naturall products as anti-AIDS compounds. While their review included many triterpenoids, the pharmacological effects of these compounds did not necessary include an increase in the immune response. Rather, they were described as antiviral agents that could inhibit the replication of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in lymphocytes or increase cellular cytotoxicity, even apoptosis. 

Many plant species synthesize triterpenes as part of their normal program of growth and development. Some plants contain large quantities of triterpene in their latex and resins (Boswellia serrata), and these are believed to contribute to disease resistance. Although hundreds of triterpene have been isolated from various plants and terpenes as a class have been shown to have many potentially beneficial effects, there is only limited application of triterpene as successful therapeutic agents to date. In general, very little is known about the enzymes and biochemical pathways involved in their biosynthesis.

Yesterday I came across an article about a current study on understanding the complex chain reaction of Covid-19 infected patients and I’m puzzled again why in today’s world so few Western doctors coordinates with TCM practitioners to incorporate established knowledge on plant essence that can interrupt Sars-cov-2 protein structures or prevent RNA replication of Mers-CoV without toxic modern pharmaceutical solutions when treating and supporting recovery. 

Triterpenes found foremost in Ligzhi Mushrooms (Reishi) comprise one of the most interesting groups of natural products due to their high potential as pharmacological agents.

Usually they are present in plants used as ethnomedicines, such as Astragalus membranaceus, Boswellia serrata, Cayaponia tayuya (Tayuya root), Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi), Panax Ginseng or Tripterygium wilfordii. Many such compounds can either be used directly as active compounds or modified to increase their selectivity and potency. Such application theories had been understood for centuries and applied on millions of individuals and they have been correctly registered by respected medical practitioners. 

Triterpene of Boswellia trees, although not as rich in saponin compounds compared to Lingzhi Mushroom, have been shown to be beneficial in reducing inflammatory reactions. In various traditional medicines the oleogum resins from Boswellia species are used for the treatment of different diseases, including those involving the immune system. The anti-inflammatory principles of Boswellia resin are boswellic acids, which have been shown to act by inhibiting different mediators and pro-inflammatory enzymes such as 5-lipoxygenase (LOX) and human elastase. However, their mechanism of action is also related to their inhibition of certain components of the immune system. Clinical pilot studies thus far suggest the efficacy of these acids in treating several autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative C.

The immunosuppressive effects of Tripterygium wilfordii (Thunder God Vine) may also involve other triterpenoids, including celastrol, pristimerin, and tripterygone. Celastrol, for example, has exhibited activity against different symptoms and mediators of autoimmune diseases. In asthmatic mice it reduced the airway inflammation and decreased the number of inflammatory cells in the lung tissue. In mice with lupus it lowered the production of serum auto-antibodies and the levels of Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and NO which reduced albumin in the urine, and decreased both IL-10 production by peritoneal macrophages and the severity of glomerular lesions (a leading cause of kidney failure). Some of these effects have to do with the inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, which is due to an inhibition of transcription factors. Pristimerin and tripterygone, have similar properties, but different mechanisms of action.

Generally, plants rich on triterpenes have been examined for their anti-inflamatory and antiviral properties, their possible use as immunosuppressant drugs should be considered for future research. Several structural groups of triterpenes have demonstrated specificity against transcriptional factors such as inhibiting STAT3 protein which enable the growth of lung cancer and isoprenoids that boost Nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) by strengthening muscle cell tissue and even preventing pancreatic cancer by oppressing anti-apoptotic properties.  Plants and Mushrooms rich on triterpene could be of particular interest in treating inflammation, cancer, and immune diseases!

Oxidative stress causes hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) related cardiovascular diseases; a serious side effect of hypercytokinemia when forced to intubate Covid-19 patients. This was confirmed early this year when a Chinese study re-visited the application of consuming Ganoderma mushroom extract to reduce Covid-19 effects on the circulatory system compared to administering high dosages of steroids. There is low-quality evidence that a single intra-articular corticosteroid injection may increase the risk of contracting the influenza virus ( or preventing its replication). Current standard therapy with dexamethasone at a dose of 6 mg once daily for up to 10 days decreased mortality in patients with COVID-19 on respiratory support. Interestingly, researchers found that survivors went on to have more lasting lung problems. 25% of intubated-survivors shown weeks after to have elevated levels of D-dimer, a protein fragment that arises when a blood clot dissolves. Ergosterol consumed through Reishi Mushrooms extract can reduce this “side-effect”.

So, I humbly conclude: If people with diabetes or the elderly in general would consume Ganoderma Mushroom extract we could prevent Neutrophils from undergoing immunometabolic reprogramming in severe SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) illness. It most certainly would only result in a benefit to prevent asthma, digestive inflammation and strengthen the heart/circulatory system. In vitro and in mice studies, plant derived triterpenes have shown apoptosis in cancer cells… Since there are no side effects from eating Ganoderma Mushroom extract and no interaction with modern medicine has so far been documented, what reservation could anyone have in not following this TCM advice?

The isoprenoid field is one of the fascinating interfaces between chemistry, biochemistry and biology. This field is progressing in two dimensions: in width—ever more isoprenoids are being isolated, and their structure elucidated; in depth—our knowledge of relationships between biochemistry, function and evolution is undergoing further refinement. Isoprenoids play an important role mediating plant–plant, plant–insect and plant–pathogen interactions.

TCM chef Raphael

Side Note: Although unlikely for me to promote a specific business; if you intend to purchase a Lingzhi Mushroom or Boswella product; please, consult with Eu Yan Sang international. I can personally voucher that their research, pharmaceutical efficacy and TCM medicines are unmatched and of superb quality. 

Covid-19 Food

prepare, prevent

during infection & while recovering

“There’s no specific diet for those with COVID,” says Nate Wardle, spokesman for California’s Department of Health. “Boosting your immune system is always a good thing, and certain foods help with that.”

I neither support nor endorse the above statement. I post it here to illustrate that people without an understanding from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or a scientific approach to nutrition should not make misleading claims. (I do invite anyone to discuss health issues.) What are “certain foods”?

Let’s start by examining “boosting your immune system.” This catchy phrase is over-used and misleading in many ways. Yes, our immune system serves an important role in keeping us protected and prepared against adverse changes to health, but there is no short-term pill to boost the immune system. A powerful immune system creates, stores, and distributes the white blood cells that fight bacteria and viruses that enter the body, especially during cold and flu season.

The first rule is that an uncompromised body reliably provides a healthy immune response. The foremost benefit to the immune response is to obtain a sufficient number of hours of sleep: A toddler needs a minimum of 15 hours of sleep a day, a child needs at least 12 hours, a teen needs 10 hours, and an adult needs 7 hours. Amounts of sleep even 60 minutes less than these guidelines sabotage having a healthy immune response, even though some people tell me how little they sleep yet how well they feel. 

Once you adapt the first rule above, you can start adding smart food choices, beneficial lifestyle changes, and personal care practices that can enhance your immune system’s readiness. I’ll let you use the term “boosting” for long-term self-care and healthy foods consumed over a long period of time, but “boosting” is still a misleading term. You cannot super-charge your immune system by consuming juices or a daily vitamin supplement, despite the misleading claims made in marketing products that allegedly enhance the immune response. Besides, a “super-boosted” immune response is what kills people who contract Covid-19; some die because they experience a Cytokine-storm

The immune system includes white blood cells and the organs and tissues of the lymph system, such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and bone marrow, but immune cells are especially significant in your bowel! Gut health is important. Nourish the spleen, the skin, and your mind if you are serious about preparing or restoring your immune protection.

The mammalian intestinal tract is our largest immune reservoir: 25 feet long. It is loaded with trillions of microbes, which are collectively known as the microbiota. That’s where you need to pay attention!

Bacteria and viruses have a sweet tooth! It’s no coincidence when these microorganisms attack the human organism to make us ill, for example when they give us pneumonia or flu. The great majority, around 80%, of these bacteria and viruses seek out the sugars on the surface of our cells.

Humans have three types of immunity: innate, adaptive, and passive. The innate immune system is your child’s rapid response system. It patrols your child’s body and is the first to respond when it finds an invader. It is an inherited capability and is active from the moment of birth. When exposed to invasive bacteria or viruses, the cells of this immune system surround and engulf the invader. The invader is killed inside the immune system cells. These cells are called phagocytes.

The acquired immune system, with help from the innate system, produces cells (antibodies) to protect the body from a specific invader. These antibodies are developed by cells called B-lymphocytes after the body’s exposure to the invader. The antibodies stay in your child’s body. It can take several days for antibodies to develop. But after the first exposure, the immune system will recognize the invader and defend against it. The acquired immune system changes throughout your child’s life. Immunizations train your child’s immune system to make antibodies to protect the child from harmful diseases.

The conclusion is simple: To prevent Covid-19 or recover from any virus complication, you need to follow strict lifestyle changes:

• Avoid foods that are strenuous on the digestive tract, and reduce the consumption of foods that aid bacterial or viral multiplication and mutation.

• Consume no sugar, no dairy, and no preserved or cured meats. 

• Reduce salt intake but add spices and fresh herbs. 

• Cook all your greens; eat no raw broccoli or kale. 

• Do not consume juices from which the fiber has been removed (e.g., through using a juicer). 

• Forget about counting calories. (Read and share the blog below.) 

• Consume honey, which is good for you, but consume no artificial sugars, Stevia included.

It is baffling how most nutritionists promote the consumption of yogurt as if the probiotics contained in it were healthy. Your body doesn’t need probiotics. You already have healthy bacteria in your gut.

I wrote a whole blog about dairy products and how difficult they are on the human digestive tract and why milk, yogurt, and soft cheese are NOT ideal choices when trying to prevent or to recover from Covid. However, the dairy industry is huge, so you are being bombarded with advertisements that claim that milk and dairy products are healthy, that aged cheese and butter are OK.

Let’s get to the lifestyle changes that you must adapt when coping with Covid-19 infection, even if you exhibit no symptoms or are in recovery from Covid-19:

• Cut out all sugars. Bacteria need sugar to thrive (as does cancer)!

• Avoid eating ripe bananas, as well as most sweet fruits.

• Cut down on breads, pasta, and nightshades: no eggplants, tomatoes, or yams. However, sweet potatoes (often confused with yams in the U.S.) are healthy for Covid patients.

• Make sure that you sleep enough. Turn off your cell phone, computer, or TV at least one hour before you go to bed. 

• Drink plenty of liquids. Although you think you drink enough fluids, you probably don’t. 

• Do not consume alcohol. 

• The only vitamins or other supplements that you need are high amounts of Vitamin D and zinc. 

• Keep your metabolism going by remaining active. Walk while on the phone, exercise strenuously, stand more than you sit, move your body whenever you have a chance, tiptoe, stretch in all directions, and roll your head and limbs.

• Keep your metabolism going by eating little snacks every hour: a few almonds, walnuts, veggie sticks, sunflower seeds, or berries. Make sure that you chew all your food thoroughly. 

• Eat fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi (live culture), and pickled vegetables (know your source) have been shown by current researchto benefit your gut to fight off Covid-19. However, the kombucha for sale in most stores is not a healthy beverage that I would recommend consuming as part of a daily health routine. Again, know your source! I have friends who drink kombucha combos produced by Coca-Cola who believe that doing so will produce a miraculous benefit.

• Eat regularly. Breakfast should be high in protein: beans, meat, fish, and eggs. Lunch should consist of food combinations that are easy to digest; do not mix dairy, fruit, and meat. Avoid heavy dinners, and eat dinners early. Drink fluids in between meals rather than during meals.

• Look at the foods that you consume. Most labels’ lists of ingredients are misleading. Everything that lasts beyond a natural expiration date will contain preservatives or sugars. 

• Invite family members and friends to tag along on your journey with you. Remember: this journey is not forever; it is an attempt to get you up to par and maybe even into better shape than you were before Covid.

• I’m not going to list what not to eat. That should be clear to you. Anything packaged, premade, in containers, or that has microwave cooking instructions is probably not going to help you. 

• Avoid protein powders and anything labeled as “keto” or “keto-friendly.” Keto is not a food; it’s a label hijacked by food producers that claim that their unnatural food celluloid combinations are healthy. 

• If you consume 420 in any way other than smoking, your diet needs a few adjustments . If you smoke or vape; STOP that first!!

Lastly, I will respond to your personalized inquiries and help you to create an individualized diet program. Please remember that I receive hundreds of responses to each blog post, so if you’re merely curious, you will clip time and effort away from someone serious who could benefit from my guidance.

TCM chef Raphael

Is Counting Calories Helpful?

There is no real debate about counting calories; for humans to count calories makes no sense. It’s a ploy by advertisers to entice people to consume their products. You could stop reading this blog here, but perhaps your healthy curiosity needs more information for you to become convinced that counting calories is pointless.

Is it in sellers’ interests to tell you that their foods contain “lots” of calories or “fewer” calories? You cannot generalize about humans’ consumption of calories. In basic physics, a kilocalorie is the amount of energy required to heat one liter (L) of water by one degree Celsius. However, variants are endless: What is our elevation above sea level? What kind of vessel (our body) are we using? Is it a summer day or a winter night? What is the density of the liquid that we are heating? Saltwater is one liter of H2O plus 30 grams of salt. The Pacific Ocean contains 26g/L. 

Because our human body (the vessel in this equation) is a hyper-complicated organism, no two of us are ever identical. The calories mentioned on a box of cereal do not include your height, weight, age, density, and activity output. Our physiological differences aside, the product you consume may have grown under various circumstances; veggies grown in the earth are not equal in their nutritional contents to salads grown hydroponically. 

Our gut health and how we digest foods play a crucial role in how we convert what we eat into sustainable energy. Although most food in packages today features calorie counts, this information is about as useless as the federal law that drive-through automated teller machines (ATMs) must have brail to facilitate access for the blind.

Food is energy to the body, but how we break down what we eat depends on how healthy our digestive enzymes are. Digestion starts when we are grinding food in the mouth. The digestive process continues as we break down the contents in our stomach and the remainder of the digestive tract. Complex food molecules are broken down into simpler structures—including sugars and amino acids—that can travel within the blood to nourish tissues or can be stored in cells. That reservoir of chemical bonds and simpler molecules depends on yet another set of variations that set us apart: health, where we live, how we live, and genetic predispositions. 

Fats provide about nine calories per gram versus carbohydrates and proteins, which support us with an average of four calories per gram. Most fiber is loaded with only one or two calories per gram because our digestive enzymes can’t easily break down most plant-based cells. However, if we prepare those foods correctly or chew them more thoroughly, they can provide more energy (i.e., more calories). 

Take a Caesar salad with 50 grams of chicken (200 calories), 20 grams of cheese (180 calories) and 100 grams of lettuce (100 calories). For this Caesar salad, you could find the total calories listed as 480. That serving portion would fit into a large coffee mug. However, if you ate this same salad slowly and chewed it thoroughly, you could derive from it over 650 calories of energy. Food sellers count on people gorging; this way, the sellers get away with estimating lower calorie counts. 

If you gave this salad to a teenage football player who was six feet tall and who weighted 200 pounds, he would probably eat it in four bites in less than 30 seconds and gain from it less than 150 calories of energy, which he could burn off within 40 minutes of walking. If you gave the same salad to Grandma, who was 5’5” tall and who weighed 140 pounds, suppose it took her ten minutes to eat the same portion. She could store over 500 calories from eating that salad, which would generate enough energy to sustain her throughout a four-hour walk. Sellers bend facts for their own benefit the seller.

Attempting to measure calorie intake serves only one purpose. Calorie counts provide yet another excuse for eating artificial food products, crackers and other foods low in nutritional value with empty calories, foods loaded with synthetic byproducts to make the product appear the way more wholesome foods do and to satisfy your cravings. You “feed” a psychological problem.

If you find yourself in a health situation in which you convince yourself that counting calories is the solution, you’re just kidding yourself!

COVID-19 Food for Recovery

Covid-19 Recovery: Food, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), & Lifestyle

Long break between blogs again. I have been super busy balancing the same global dilemma that has affected all of us since January 2020 surprised us with a pandemic.

After helping a severe diabetic client in Malibu to get back on her feet—literally (physically)—I pondered whether the way in which I was guiding people to recover is actually sane from a Buddhist perspective. My friends tease whether it’s truly helpful to restore a person back to health when that person shows little compassion about the life of other people. 

My wisdom is not derived from Internet research or pushing sponsored food trends. I diligently conduct research about science around the globe. My fine-tuned approach is an individually focused approach to help clients regaining their health, their sanity, and their will to live. My goal is to help them to stay on a healthier path forward and maybe convince their family members and friends to change their way of consuming foods. 

The biggest challenge in guiding another through recovery is their many well-intended tips from family members, friends, and even doctors who don’t actually understand (or believe in) the general suggestions provided by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and its take on nutrition. On a daily basis, I have to maneuver around insecurities when asking others to trust me fully as their chef. To carry a patient through a culinary journey, I must be informed, clear about product research, and capable of reading a medical blood chart. Often I go against a doctor’s suggestion and reject eager nutritionists trying to sell a product that actually has absolutely no benefits or a family member confronting me with opinions derived from google searches. I have bite marks on my tongue when the physiotherapist adds well-intended advice about “another client of mine added this to their diet” or even worse when an early-morning-article promotes a fancy-sounding treatment with absolutely no scientific research to justify it. Such articles typically are written well and may even highlight a celebrity, as if the successful consumption of a Chinese miracle pill that seemed to help them could be equally beneficial to my trusted client. 

Covid-19 not only challenges virologists and the medical community; it also brings curious TCM nutritionists together: We have been busy sharing our discoveries and together we have a great arsenal of long-proven ingredients to safely adapt to individualized help.

I think of myself as an ideal assistant to any  doctor. My work typically starts after a client has suffered through an emergency room visit or even worse, after surviving intubation by highly skilled medical professionals. 

I’m dedicating this blog to anyone affected or helping another in the recovery from Covid-19; it’s a complex journey, and what we know to be true today will most likely change in the near future.

One third of all Covid-19-positive people complain about long-term consequences, including memory loss, fatigue, lingering sensations of pain, or not being able to fully recover their sense for taste and smell. Fifty percent of people that experienced high fever and pneumonia like symptoms have been diagnosed with myocarditis; necrotic tissue in the left ventrical indicating stress on the heart muscle and oxygen deprivation or coronary occlusion. Autopsies reveals that Covid victims have an astonishing amount of thrombogenic material in their main organs; Even bodies below the age of 30 reveal multiple thrombus emboli (detached blood clots). 

Current estimate shows that three million people in the U.S. by the end of 2020 will need to change their diet, forced to take this epidemic seriously and start improving the microbiome of their gut! 

If you take your recovery seriously, food is now medicine, and your lifestyle must be aligned to benefit fully. As of August 1, 2020, these are my suggestions. Embrace that unlike most nutritionists and medical professionals in the Western world, practitioners of TCM do not promote a generalized approach: I’m merely designing a guideline within which you need to reach out to a professional and communicate specific health issues that could complicate your approach to food as medicine.

Let me provide you with a summary of how TCM analyses the pathogenic nature of Covid-19. From a TCM perspective, Covid-19 clinical symptoms display with its basic pathogenesis a destructive chain reaction on all five main organs: Lung, Liver, Heart, Spleen and Kidney. This virus might cause reactions similar to Influenza but the damage done beyond the classical flu profile like fever, cough, fatigue and headache surprises the science communities worldwide. We can summarize that Covid-19 is an invasive epidemic virus that attacks the upper respiratory system and progresses into the lungs quickly, causing vital qi deficiency. Covid-19 is not only a respiratory illness. It also invades the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels, causing damage and inflammation. At first, in the TCM community, we thought that this virus would require treatments similar to those used in treating the H1N1 virus outbreak from 2001, which gave us great understanding in how to help recovery during that particular outbreak. However, the original SARS virus, a sister coronavirus to the current infection, did not spread past the lungs.

            The human brain is shielded against many viruses, bacteria, and chemical agents by the blood-brain barrier. It looks as if this SARS-CoV-2 virus can bypass this barrier or even enter into embryotic placenta. No conclusive studies are available to suggest long-term developmental problems. In any case, 14% of people who survived intubation or severe Covid-19 sickness complain about consequential long-term memory deficiency and sleep disorders.

As of today, we should start to concentrate on treating Covid-19 patients with a focus on their pathological properties involving dampness and heat, as well as treating the body as I would for poisoning (understanding the interference of Western prescriptions with natural remedies). We should become better informed about the benefits of sound sleep, exercise, and yoga, as well as effects of breathing deficiencies and how to control mood-stasis. My foremost food combinations help balancing circulatory function and providing lung-boosting properties. I’m laser-focused on the discovery of the pathogenicity of this epidemic. Being informed about (medically sane) current research, I have added snack suggestions by simply understanding facial expressions and being aware of weather changes or mood patterns. I encourage my clients to sleep regularly and exercise diligently! This is a serious virus, and no one is ensured of a full recovery. Sugar addiction aside, encouraging well-to-do people to change their lifestyle is a challenge. In the end, I’m rarely recognized for having prevented a much worse outcome. 

One client last June made me aware of TCM-promoted Chinese capsules sold under the name of LinHua QingWeng. These capsules were developed in China during the H1N1 outbreak. In January 2020, most foreign Chinese students studying the USA received a “free preventative dose” through their consulate in the USA. This is not a preventative medicine that I would recommend.* It actually is unhealthy when taken without an underlying ailment! However, three out of its fourteen ingredients make a perfectly safe tea to consume during flu season (listed below). You can find these ingredients in your herbal store. Don’t purchase teabag versions; order through a reliable TCM pharmacy, such as www.EuYanSang.com. The three ingredients that I do recommend are:

  • Semen Armeniacae Amarum, bitter apricot kernel. It soothes coughs and calms the lungs.
  • Fructus Forsythiae, Forsythia. This disperses the pathogen exogenously, reduces the swelling of small air passages in the lung (bronchiolitis), reduces fevers, balances pain, and reduces skin rashes. In Asia, forsythia is given intravenously (by IV) in combination with other herbs for treating bronchiolitis.
  • Flos Lonicerae, Flos Lonicerae, Jin Yin Hua, or honeysuckle. This contains anti-inflammatory properties, and it fights viruses and tumors. It also contains an anti-oxidation and scavenging DPPH radical, which calms the nervous system and having an antipyretic effect. Honeysuckle tea inhibits the activity of alpha-glucosidase and lowers blood sugar and blood lipids.

*Just for the curious: why I cannot support LinHua QingWeng. This TCM product contains herbal ephedra, which is sold in the USA as Mormon Tea, a supposed weight-loss remedy. Systematic review found that ephedra led to a twofold to threefold increased risk of nausea, vomiting, psychiatric symptoms, and palpitations compared with a placebo. Because of this and other evidence, the FDA banned ephedra on April 12, 2004.

In my first meeting with new clients, I make sure that I have a secure understanding of how to eliminate foods that will interfere with a successful treatment; this sounds more shocking than it is. It also gives me a measurement of how sincere a client is likely to be in following my suggestions. No sugars or artificial sweeteners: the latter is worse than white sugar, guaranteed. Yes, that includes stevia or date sugar or basically any substitutes. The idea that maple syrup is healthy just shows how marketing has twisted our minds!

Fruit sugar is healthy! I have to repeat this. Even if you’re diabetic, watermelon and most fruit sugars are less ahrmful if consumed with their natural fiber-packed consistency. As soon as you isolate it (fresh-squeezed fruit juice), they become unbearably dangerous to diabetics and cancer patients. Same with the celery, carrot, and ginger “juicers” out there. I shake my head when I watch this insanity! 

Celery is a very common allergen; reactions to it can be life-threatening. If you’re allergic to birch pollen or mugwort, you’re also likely to react adversely to celery. Symptoms include swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, and throat; itching; rashes; dizziness; and stomach upset. Celery contains several compounds known as furanocoumarins. These chemicals cause skin to be photosensitive—that is, sensitive to bright light, especially sunlight. Celery is stressful on your kidneys! Pregnant women should avoid large doses of celery and celery seed, as they can induce bleeding and uterine contractions. My favorite part about celery is the fact it grows fast and cheaply, and it absorbs more chemicals from the ground compared with any other field-grown vegetable in California. But stop consuming it in large amounts.

With a few exceptions you DO NOT need vitamin or herbal supplements. I’m baffled how much money is spent in the mistaken belief that when you consume isolated forms of vitamin C, your body knows how to absorb it. Yes, if you’re malnourished or have no access to fresh products (I mean starved), you can supplement with multivitamins, which are not ideal but OK at best! Does anything stored in a glass or plastic container seems natural or healthy to you? 

During Covid-19 isolation, many may think “delivery service” is a safer way to get fresh products into their homes. AS a private chef I am baffled about the ungroomed and sketchy characters hired to select and  deliver your goods. If you think this is a Covid19-sane solution, you’re taking big risks. And while we’re at it, please don’t shop at your neighborhood health-food store for products that you intend to reheat and eat out of microwavable plastic food containers.

Keep it simple; being healthy is not difficult. Go back to basics. Simplify!

My blogs are somewhat lost in the endorsed consumer world, far behind brand sponsored prolific writers with little experience on the forefront of personalized care. My mission is not self-enrichment but to actually provide help and a sense of  “I can cope with this…”

The Internet is the biggest culprit in the Covid-19 epidemic throughout the USA. Misinformation is rampant; you can find more false claims, fake cures, idiotic health suggestions, and an endless list of products that bank on fear and gullibility. Amongst some of my favorite claims are that milk protects people from the virus because it contains “lactoferrin, which is a protein that helps to fight off viruses,” as well as “vitamin C and zinc, which both play very important roles in strengthening your immunity.”  May you have come across promotions for smoking oreating CBD gummies to protect against Covid-19. This is beyond stupid; making such claims should be criminal.

In TCM, single applications are rarely used. Although I invite clients to study singular health benefits; to effectively balance anyone’s healthy diet, I must be able to understand the effects of multiple food combination – while respecting  prescription medicine – and have a pretty broad understanding of modern medicine.

For example, research shows that Cassia cinnamon may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. But other studies haven’t found that benefit. I wrote blogs in 2002 disproving that cinnamon could lower cholesterol or treat yeast infections in people with HIV. Medicinal cinnamon shows promise as an antioxidant, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory, but for now, there aren’t enough studies to prove that it can help. Most of you think of that spice rack when reading cinnamon: a spice laced with anti-clumping chemicals, color enhancers, and dubious byproducts that don’t need to be listed. But when you start consuming it by the spoonful daily, my alarm bell goes off. Because cinnamon is an unproven treatment, there isn’t a set recommended or safe dose. Some experts suggest 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2–4 grams) of powder a day. Some studies have used between 1 gram and 6 grams of cinnamon. Very high doses are toxic. Know your sources.

The cinnamon you buy at the store could be one of the two main types, Ceylon or Cassia, or it could be a mixture of both. Ceylon is easier to grind, but it may not work as well for diabetes; cinnamon may affect your blood sugar, so if you have diabetes and take cinnamon supplements, you might need to adjust your treatment because it can affect the way antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, heart medicines, and others work. Use fermented garlic (black garlic) instead; same end-result, no toxicity  and way more health benefits!

I’m not done with my rant. Before going back to Covid-19 foods, it is important to embrace the dilemma of how in the Western world food is promoted, packaged, and consumed. Your digestive track must be your foremost focus when changing your diet to snap back to health. A study conducted in China found that gastrointestinal symptoms might be more common than previously thought. Instead of the 4% initially suggested, the study found that 11.4% of 651 coronavirus patients presented with GI tract symptoms.In over half of the patients, fecal samples remained positive for SARS-CoV2 RNA for a mean of eleven days after clearance of respiratory tract samples. A recent study further confirmed that eight of ten infected children had persistently positive viral rectal swabs after nasopharyngeal testing was negative.Even for those with mild cases of Covid-19 and respiratory symptoms, 23% experienced GI issues, and more than half (57%) experienced gut and respiratory symptoms. According to Medical Xpress, “It also took longer for those with digestive symptoms to clear the virus.”

Healthy living is very difficult for Americans facing relentless advertising for processed and unhealthy foods, addictive ultra-processed food high in salt and sugar, entrenched and culturally-reinforced taste preferences, limited access to healthy foods for many Americans, public policy that subsidizes disease-promoting foods, sedentary behavior, and a healthcare and medical education system that still largely emphasizes sick care over prevention.

America could start by cutting the subsidies in our agricultural programs, specifically massive commodity support for dairy, sugar, wheat, corn, and soybeans—much of which is converted into livestock feed, refined oils, white flour, and high-fructose corn syrup. Americans are paying billions of dollars to subsidize the foods that open the door to diseases, paying trillions of dollars to support the chronic healthcare costs to cover diseases, and then losing trillions more in the economy when pandemics arrive. Within medical training, there needs to be a greater focus on nutritional and lifestyle medicine that prevents and reverses chronic disease rather than the increasingly robotic “name it, prescribe it, and bill it” style of pharmacological medicine. 

The lessons for the military have been sudden and harsh. Weakened troops and ships shut down by the virus. It is urgent that America’s military leaders build the immunity levels of our troops through a radical change in diet. We’re already struggling to recruit a healthy military because of the obesity epidemic. Now is the time for military leadership to simply mandate reduction of disease-causing food in favor of fresher and healthier food. 

The Western diet, which is high in saturated fatty acids (SFAs), can lead to chronic activation of the innate immune system and an inhibition of the adaptive immune system. Briefly, excessive SFA consumption can induce a lipotoxic state and activate the innate immune system via activation of toll-like receptor 4 expressed on macrophages, dendritic cells, and neutrophils. This triggers activation of canonical inflammatory signaling pathways that produce pro-inflammatory mediators and other effectors of the innate immune system. In studies of mice, this led to increased macrophage infiltration to lung tissue, specifically in the alveoli. This is especially relevant to Covid-19 patients, given the high rate of infection among lung alveolar epithelial cells and the involvement of lung tissue inflammation and alveolar damage in Covid-19 pathology. Consumption of a Western diet significantly impairs adaptive immunity while ramping up innate immunity, leading to chronic inflammation and severely impairing host defense against viral pathogens.

It is critical to consider the impact of lifestyle habits, such as consumption of unhealthy diets, on the susceptibility to Covid-19 and recovery. Furthermore, the large number of people who will recover from Covid-19 (but with lingering adverse aftereffects) may lead to a spike in chronic medical conditions that could be further exacerbated by unhealthy diets or in vulnerable populations. Therefore, it is our recommendation that individuals refrain from eating foods high in saturated fats and sugar and instead consume high amounts of fiber, whole grains, unsaturated fats, and antioxidants to boost immune function.

General Suggestions:

•  Change your pantry: Throw away anything sugar-laced, out-of-date, or that contains preservatives. (If you’re not sure, throw it away.)

• Cut out as much sugar as you can.

• Void pasta, bread, and crackers.

• Avoid anything stored in your fridge: salad dressings, sauces, liquid food flavors, jams, margarine, and anything that uses wordings like substitute.

• Eliminate snacks that contain sugar. Eliminate ALL artificial sugar, flavors, or chemical byproducts. Let me make this easy for you: There’s no need to read the ingredients lists; eliminate all of them. Yes, the keto ones especially!! The word ketoon synthetic foods is just wrong!

• No dairy, except well-aged cheese and butter. (Yes, butter is healthy and important for recovery.) No, low-fat food is not OK. Yogurt is not easily digestible either, nor is it an ideal probiotic, despite what advertisements state or imply. No to cottage cheese and lactose-free suggestions. Keep in mind: this is to get you back up on track and maybe a change of your idea to eating healthy! Take your physical and mental health seriously!

• No meat replacements. Sorry, Beyond Burger; for Covid-19 recovery; these patties are an artificial produced time bomb churning in your belly. There goes another endorsement…

• Nothing that contains food color or “natural flavors.” Whoever gave the green light to this misleading wording? I don’t care whether it’s organic or not; in the U.S., this too is just a marketing ploy. If you know your source, great. I don’t care where the apple is from, as long as you consume it with the core and skin!

• No alcohol. (Yes an occasional glass of red wine is fun…)

• If you smoke or vape, why are you reading this blog?

• I’m OK with topical or edible CBD/THC, but keep it within controllable doses! (Gummies are not ideal.)

• Stop Juicing everything, nature intended you to eat whole fruit and vegetable bodies.

• Look at all the Western medicines you currently take, and get a better understanding of why you need them. Study!

Now you’re ready. Finally, the medicine you must concentrate on:

• You can eat rice, yams and polenta, any varieties, but in small amounts—never more than a cup a day.

• You can slow simmer and gently roast in butter or oils within their smoking points. (Learn about them.)

• Consume daily an equal amount of protein and cooked vegetables.

• Eat soups and salads daily, and snack regularly on unsalted nuts and fruit. Watch dry fruits sold; 90% of them contain sugar and coloration (no regulatory label required). 

• Keep your metabolism going by never making food-breaks longer than two hours.

•  DO NOT drink iced anything, and only drink thirty minutes before or after eating.

• Always cook, bruise, blanche, or quick roast your greens, such as spinach, cabbage, kale, or broccoli. They are very difficult to digest when raw while you’re in Covid-19 recovery. Use very little spice, salt or sauces.

• Don’t eat heavy after sunset. We all adhere to an internal clock; even when seemingly forgotten. Eat in company!

Finally, take every day twenty minute and make them YOURS: find a space of solitude, stand, breath, allow yourself to say “life is beautiful” or find your own inspirational words. It does not have to be meditation or an activity. Its twenty minutes that you claim for yourself. just being. Peace!

Reach out and contact me: I’m here to help.

chef Raphael

chaga, a current trend

Cynical Perspective

After re-reading some of my earliest blogs from 2005 – where I’ve entirely related on the “story-telling” part of sharing – I decided today to follow up with a parody on how some of the food/health hypes of 2020 reflect on me. Please, none of you, clients, friends or strangers should feel insulted. If this blog hits a nerve, it might be time to re-evaluate your life-style or simply laugh along with me… Often times, the way we perceive our best intentions to be; they appear to others as a very strange attempt to show the world around us, that we care. Most of us are so consumed with this journey of “trying to do the right thing” that we indeed do more harm to ourselves, our immediate family members and certainly to the grounds on which we thrive. Living healthy is not that complicated…

It’s a parody, inspired by many of you as a group.

Yesterday, I stood in an (unnamed) health-food store, to help a friend purchase injectable Vitamin B12. This is where I overheard a sales professional hyping up Chaga Powder. Beautifully packaged, grandly priced! Benny works there for years and gives me “stink-eye” every-time I correct his confusing attempts to impress with limited TCM knowledge. And yet, he seems to target me when I walk in, magnetically drawn into my space. He was occupied with a client, explaining that “…this powder of a Birch tree fungus promotes longevity and is cancer fighting…” I threw some of my “shit-eye” back towards him and he realized I was eavesdropping. His victim was a pretty woman her back towards me, in her late twenties, provocatively covered in colorful sports-lycra, perfectly clean white sneakers, flawless make-up and clinching on to an expensive alkaline promoting plastic bottle. She perfectly expressed sexiness, rich, wellness and life-security in a “simplistic” expensive way. While super-tasking, on her Swarovski crystals speaker-phone in one hand she eyed for the free coffee-replacement; a promotional shot of ‘Buddah-knows what’s in it’, in a tiny taste-cup by the busy juice bar. Ewww!

If only I could explain the multi-layer observations in my little head throughout the next five seconds; Here a few observations:

The “menu” behind the Juice Bar, attended by “healthy looking”, bearded mixologists in semi-medical shrubs, listed a long array of creative titled drink mixes. From a TCM perspective they make absolutely no sense. To mix Banana, Lemon Grass and low-fat yoghurt in a “Lung Booster” is dangerously wrong. These three ingredients produce phlegm and being this the flue- (CoVid-19) season, it appeared like a crude joke to me. I’m regularly irked by Gym-Bars alike, these upselling outlets, preparing herb infused juices to promote “healthy” choices with absolutely no understanding for combining ingredients that harmonize from a medical view-point. 90% of all these concoctions are “designed” by people with zero comprehension of what these foods “regulate” in our system. In all fairness they are consumed by 90% of people that have no sincere intention to actually consume a healthy blend. For most it’s sufficient if they “taste good” and foremost intend to promote one’s self-interest of how we message others; “I’m caring about my health…”

Anyone clothed in designer-spandex with a plastic water-bottle in hand, taking a bed-bug infested ride-share to an airconditioned super-shop that sells triple-plastic-wrapped overpriced pseudo-nutrition, is not worthy a “correction”. Healthy super-shops with that annoying lingering scent of chemically perfumed candles and vegan farts, advertise their in-house plant-based packaged products. Shelves filled with anti clumping lazed dusts of plants and quizzical potions, claiming magical benefits: To attract likeminded people to shop with keywords like gluten-free, naturally sourced, even organic… I mean, everyone in here shops at that Yoga store next door and orders from the same Amazon shoe store.

Risking every chance of future product endorsements; I’m irked that “gluten-free” is now stamped onto items that never even contain gluten in the first place, like honey. Can I please convert stocks from my financial portfolio and invest into Manuka Honey? Most gluten-free trends are an unhealthy choice. Indeed, <1% suffer from celiac; for the rest of people claiming gluten makes them sick, is just not valuable a lifestyle. But then again, we live in a world where we must have brail at the local drive-through bank… Keep in mind that many of the “glutenistas” consume beef, chicken and eggs foremost fed on corn.

Organic, in any of the chain-markets is an advertisement ploy; it makes NO difference to consume either-labeled apples, avocados or bananas. (That’s another blog…) I’m way more concerned about the lack of respect for consuming bio-engineered, fast-growing celery and salad leaves that absorb liquids and nutrition from grounds that contain high amounts of pesticides, regardless that they are sold as organic. To juice pounds of celery stalk is a silly health trend – sorry ladies, but certainly will in the long run – affecting your kidneys! There is a reason why these vital essences are attached to high fibrous plants!

All of this in five seconds…

Usually such fashionistas escape my pity or further attention… But the aforementioned visitor swings around, points at me with her bejeweled cellphone and loudly screams in excitement: “Chef… Come here!”

This sporadic cooking client of mine is a true pain in the butt. Although I love her family a ton, I’ve never been respected by her nor her friends for my health-knowledge. Amongst my private friends group, I keep my TCM wisdom constraint; nothing is as annoying as having to share close space with a chef that could give you the scary break-down on pretty much everything you have in your fridge and pantry. My best friends poke fun when I crave French fries or visit the ice-cream parlor around the corner.  Live a little! This lady however is manipulated by weekly fashion magazine covers claiming current health movements and constantly inundated by friends swearing their life-changing junk-diets are AMAZING. She consults monthly expensive characters that sell curious Feng-Shui sessions and atop leave traces of China made crystals and artificially sentenced trinkets. That’s besides her social club trends, consuming heeps of cauliflower pizzas with baby arugula and chemically manipulated Mozzarella that even melts under heat… Her phone apps are a carbon footprint receipt of a lifestyle that is crazy and but they remind her of an endless variety of low-caloric artificial snacks promoted by tweaked out influencers…

Her husband and kids are equally affected by her confusing ideas what could benefit their wellbeing. Imagine, you had an endless source of money available and being exposed to the Yoga teacher acting as a life-coach, your hairdresser-beautician with her personalized side-line of anti-aging products and her sincere aim to be a perfect mother…

“Yes, well, good morning – what a surprise to…”

“What do you think about adding a teaspoon of daily Chaga powder to my morning smoothy?”

Now the sales clerk responds with stink eye. 

I realized that in this instant I held the power in my hands to burn two bridges at once. What temptation, ‘contemplating my dilemma!

Instead, I explained that Chaga indeed is known to contain anti-cancer properties like botulin and betulinic acid and current studies support that it might break down blood-cholesterol. Wild harvested Birch Chaga (especially from the coldest regions of Russia) contain high levels of melanin a powerful antioxidant. It is assumed that this fungus help boost immune response and hence it often invite to promote anti-aging. Although the package claimed its a 3000 year old Chinese remedy, it is rarely mentioned in the classical TCM books of the past. However it is mentioned in various medicinal scriptures throughout Europe and was respected by Canadian Indian tribes for its curative benefits. In Europe it was consumed by soldiers to starve hunger and applied as a skin remedy. Only more recent Chinese scripts adapted the benefits for ingestion. Know your source! 

The product sold to my client was a cheap imitation, but the price she paid for it made it look like a valuable shopping experience.  

I still feel guilty for my half-truth promotion; something I find myself doing quite often nowadays: I do need to work to generate income and in the end, I must find comfort that encouraging a placebo effect is better than an unfiltered truth.

“Thank you, chef!” I heard her exhaling while she already “selfied” a picture to all her friends and disappeared in her SUV.

I guess Chaga is her trend-smoothy ingredients of this month.

On my way out, I did give that clerk the shittiest eyes I could manage to express! I’m convinced he has no clue why… I forgot to purchase my Vitamin B12.

Myths about CBD from the Perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine

From the perspective of science, all of the beneficial claims made about Hemp-derived CBD are myth, although one exception has been documented, which I’ll discuss later.

Many studies are being conducted, and fascinating reports promote the benefits of CBD derived from various sources. A big difference between the studies is the dosage used to treat complex illnesses. These sophisticated results give many companies and gurus a platform from which to promote the use of CBD for a variety of bizarre and unsubstantiated health benefits.

Even Dr. Sanjay Gupta gave a qualified endorsement of CBD on The Dr. Oz Show: “I think there is a legitimate medicine here,” he said. “We’re talking about something that could really help people.” That comment triggered an onslaught of CBD promotions, leading boutique hotels throughout the US to offer CBD-laced gummies or CBD-enhanced bath salts that promised to cure every ailment. However, no reputable scientific studies support these claims. 

Nonetheless, some people have reported having positive experiences from using CBD oil, tinctures, or additives. I will summarize the facts: the professional medical community has no concrete scientifically valid study that supports the general use of CBD, even though many people subjectively attribute positive benefits from using CBD, including pain relief, improved mobility, and greater mental alertness. CBD, in combination with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as sold in semi-legalized pot stores, seems to help many people with various conditions, including chronic arthritis, muscle pain, sleep disorders, and anxiety. However, some scientific studies have refuted such claims. I like to base my recommendations on facts that can be tested empirically and validated, not on feelings or subjective perceptions that might be erroneous.

To drip 5% CBD oil (based on what evidence of effectiveness?) into your daily smoothie is silly. Your digestive enzymes would eradicate any such beneficial substance before it reached your bloodstream. Leaving it under your tongue for three minutes would help your body to absorb it—if you really held it there for that long. No valid empirical research proves this as either medically sound or as harmful. A scientific effective amount, however, would constitute an illegal dosage under current regulations.

Different research studies have supported opposite conclusions. One U.K. study showed that the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis might have an anticancer effect. A 2009 study in Spain found that pure THC, the main intoxicating component of pot, can lead human brain-cancer cells to self-destruct—although the study involved introducing the cells into mice and treating them with THC, which is quite different from treating cancer in a human brain.

Under current U.S. law, CBD derived from hemp is permitted in food or dietary supplements only if the FDA issues a regulation that authorizes its use. The review and approval process takes many years, requiring a substantial amount of scientific data that the FDA must evaluate.

In 2018, President Trump passed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill), which removed hemp as a Schedule I substance and reclassified it as an “agricultural commodity.” A common misconception about the 2018 Farm Bill is that it legalized CBD regardless of whether it was derived from hemp or marijuana. This is not true.

Based on the guidance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (the DEA), CBD is a Schedule I substance and is illegal. However, if the CBD is derived from hemp and adheres to the following regulations set forth in the 2018 Farm Bill, it is no longer a Schedule I substance and is legal:

  • The hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC.
  • The hemp must adhere to the shared state-federal regulations.
  • The hemp must be grown by a properly licensed grower.

In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill also removed restrictions on the sale, transportation, and possession of hemp-derived CBD products and allowed for the transportation of hemp-derived CBD products across state lines, as long as the products follow the regulations defined above.

Both hemp and marijuana plants contain CBD, but the concentration of this cannabinoid in each plant varies greatly between hemp plants and marijuana plants. A hemp plant consists of approximately 3% to 5% CBD, but a cannabis plant has 18% to 20% CBD. Therefore, to extract the same amount of CBD from hemp plants as from cannabis plants requires many more plants.

In some cases, the growing of hemp is not federally regulated. This means that if there were contaminants in the soil, they would make their way into each plant. Using five times the number of hemp plants to extract a given amount of CBD would entail exposure to five times the quantity of contaminants. It takes a lot of toxic fertilizers to grow the amount of hemp needed to squeeze “medicinal oils” from it. Products that are not ingested but laced with CBD are not required to disclose the source of their ingredients. Such products—creams and tinctures—can be hyped with outrageous claims, promising healing or even a cure, with no obligation to warn consumers about dangerous side-effects!

Those potentially dangerous CBD-oil products are derived from hemp, not from marijuana. As far as law enforcement is concerned, hemp CBD never was and never could be a drug, so there’s no need to regulate it. This opens a back door for sellers of such products to make outlandish claims about their products that contain CBD. 

Hemp oil can contain trace amounts of THC. Cannabinoid-containing oils are made by using a strain of the hemp plant that has a high CBD content and a low THC content. THC has been shown to counteract the medicinal benefits of CBD in instances of very high THC count versus low CBD. 

Manufacturers use a process called CO2 super-critical extraction, which is currently viewed as the safest method for human use. The oil is then filtered. The result is pure medicinal oil. Hemp oil can contain trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%). That is not enough to trigger a psychoactive response; however, it could show up in a drug test!

CBD-enhanced products include cosmetics and products claimed to reduce skin blemishes. They include sleeping masks, shampoos, hair conditioners, eye serums, anti-acne lotions, mascaras, massage oils, soaps, lip balms, bath balms, anti-wrinkle serums, muscle rubs, and a Sephora aisle’s worth of moisturizers, face lotions, and body creams. CBD supposedly can help with erectile dysfunction (ED), enhance pleasure, and improve sexual lubricants. You will find TV doctors and porn stars proclaiming their personal experience and trying to sell you CBD miracle products.

National retail chains have picked up on the trend by selling cannabinol-enhanced food items. Ben & Jerry’s estimated in 2018 that producing a CBD/THC-fused ice cream could be a $5 billion idea. Hemp-derived CBDcan be found in common foods, supplements, drugs, oils, creams, and pet foods. Sellers purport that these compounds treat everything from cancer to depression. Analysts say the market could surpass $20 billion by 2024.

Much of the CBD sold in such products is derived from hemp, the commodity that was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. However, federal law still prohibits putting the chemical in food or pet food, and the FDA has issued repeated warnings to and has taken actions against the blooming CBD industry. There is only one legally available purified form of CBD: the drug Epidiolex, which was approved by the FDA in 2018 to treat seizure disorders.

One overlooked fact undercuts claims about the medicinal benefits of consumer products with CBD: For CBD to be effective, it has to be consumed in amounts hundreds of times higher than what is added into gummies, creams, waters and lotions sold on shelves. Nonetheless, mothers provide their children with CBD cookies in lunch boxes and drip CBD enhancers into their own water-bottles “just to make sure that I don’t miss out” in case the hype turns out to be true. Most disclaimers assure consumers that there are absolutely no negative side effects from using CBD (the amount legally listed is medicinally proven to be absolutely insignificant), so many hop on the CBD bandwagon and encourage their friends to do so. The Internet is saturated with thousands of promotional articles and testimonials, few of which contain any backing by current science. The trace amounts in such products are insignificant and have virtually no effect on health, so any perceived benefit is a placebo effect and a business scam. 

“CBD is the most promising drug that has come out for neuropsychiatric diseases in the last 50 years,” said Dr. Esther Blessing, an assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine. She is coordinating a study of CBD as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol-use disorder. “The reason it is so promising is that it has a unique combination of safety and effectiveness across a very broad range of conditions.”

The CBD substance is being studied as a potential treatment for maladies as diverse as schizophrenia, insomnia, and cancer. However, the medicinal potency of these effects starts at levels that are never found in over-the-counter products. “The future of this industry,” Mr. DeLand added, “is going to be based on fact, not fiction.” Any path to allow CBD to be added to food products needs to preserve the incentive to study the compound in rigorous clinical trials to prove its therapeutic potential as a medicine. It’s not appropriate or legal to make such claims otherwise.

Nonetheless, quasi-religious hype is common among CBD’s disciples. Chris Burggraeve, a former Coca-Cola and Ab InBev executive, called CBD the “new avocado toast” in an interview with Business Insider

If you believe vaping CBD or THC is a smart way to follow a health trend, you should read the next blog. 

I welcome critical and constructive feedback. 

Chef Raphael

Vaping/Juuling

This blog requires to lay out a few basic structures to help understanding the difference between a scientific research of a specific product and the implications of such product (while disregarding the science knowledge) into an actual circumstance. 

In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) we comb trough the history registered by many people that have documented their findings, ideas and results and within defined an early understanding of herbal powers. Rosemary, as example, had been documented as far back as 2000BC for its advantage in reducing leg- (muscle) pain amongst many other benefits. 

Druids agreed in all corners of the world throughout history, with doctors and monks that Rosemary oil-extract from this plant in bloom – harvested ideally in late Summer – comforts foremost lower-leg pain. Water-steam oil extractions were first documented in 1000BC… Roman soldiers praised Rosemary oils and today you can find it advertised in a yoga store claiming similar advantages.

Millions of people have used Rosemary remedies and scholars have past their refined wisdom down to pupils through modern generations. It is today applied for migraines, menstrual cramps and as concentration-remedy. Books are re-written about its benefit for hair restoration. Neurological research claims that it cures Alzheimer; although that is still questionable…(be wary of anyone using the word “cure”). Mediterranean chefs for centuries spiced their pasta dishes with this herb, following ancient tradition. Candle makers love Rosemary’s strong scent… its usage seems unlimited.

Today we can DNA fingerprint Rosemarinus Officinalis and compare current research on many levels with past scriptures. We confirm today that the human muscular cell structure and blood vessels react positively towards the anti-thrombotic effect towards these oils in preventing blood clots. Rosemary does seem to activate brain memory as claimed by Shakespeare.

Our nervous system and brain sensors react positively towards beta-amyloid plaques and hence, Rosemary suppresses acetyl-cholinesterase (AChE), which are primary causes of Alzheimer’s, ataxia and dementia.

We can pinpoint why we feel relieve when rubbing “healing-oil” on our skin – how it is absorbed, what human profiles tend to positively react to its smell, flavor and essence. We can even demonstrate why in the human body plant extract create reactions; like burns, numbness, hives or what causes blistering, discomfort. 

We now study Rosemary variations for potency with science unavailable before, including the understanding of where it is grown originally, how it is grown preferably, when it is cultivated best and how it could be genetically manipulated to produce vast amounts of concentrations as demanded. 

That’s all about one herb. However, as soon as we combine one with another plants essence we start a whole new chain of discovery… Triple or quadruple a TCM-mix and the potentiality become nearly endless. True herbology rarely uses a “single application” in successful prescription… Traditional Medicine furthermore respect that each body/person – at various states of age and health – reacts different. What might feel soothing to one could be life threatening to another. 

Throughout the history of “4000 years of Rosemary-emollient-investigation” and trial tested on billions of people, no significant study has ever suggested that smoking its oil would result in an adavantage. None of all the respected TCM scriptures suggest inhaling fumes into our bronchi treats ailments or is beneficial to human health.

And now, lets talk about vaping: basically an electronically heated substance we inhale for pleasure… that is fused with chemically designed oils or artificial flavors to trick our minds to believe it smells like rosemary, vanilla or citrus.

Vaping, or vaporizing, is the process of heating up raw plant matter or extracts, without combustion. Instead of burning weed, tobacco or hash, vaporizing quickly heats up various substances (mixes) to limit the release of harmful chemicals and to maximize the plant’s intended effects. Cannabis is typically  heated  between >285°F and  <450°F, and tobacco vapes between >250°F and <300°F. 

Vapor has more in common with a cloud of steam than with a puff of smoke. And even though vaping reduces the effects of secondhand smoke, it doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing a drug’s effects as bystander. Most plant oils “burn” and become unhealthy at different degrees of heat (below vapor level). 

The properties we absorb while vaporing differ depending on what you actually inhale. You can inhale tobacco, hash and endless combinations of substances including oils, plant-matter and synthetic additives. Sometimes these substances turn into gaseous form, and sometimes vaping means inhaling liquid particles suspended in air as they cool after evaporation. Either way, the method at first is the same: Drug molecules, after being inhaled, land on the interior lungs, which have an enormous surface area to catch them. The molecules then pass directly into the blood and bypass the digestive system. From there, the effects hit your brain in about five seconds, which is almost as quick as injecting the substance.

Lets skip how the lungs cope with getting rid of the “garbage” left inside; just read up on COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

So, Juuling (a brandname adapted verb) has been shown to be the foremost “goto” tool for teenagers in 2018. They annoyingly blow nicotine-steam lazed with oils and chemicals that “taste” like Vanilla,  Rosemary or fantastic flavors. Even Marijuana infused e-cigarettes come with chemical created additives. Although vaping is promoted foremost to a younger generation as a healthy alternative to smoking; statistically only 2% of cigarette smokers have actually quit through vaping. Actually, 9% admit smoking “real” cigarettes after starting with e-cigarettes. This five billion vapor-industry in the US fails to honestly communicate a science-based message about the known side effects that lack a long-term study and to accurately warn about the consequences of this modern diversion. We just promote until we know better…

In TCM we promote certain essences to be inhaled through steam; i.e. clearing your sinus – bent over the sink under a towel – inhaling Tiger-Balm (fumes) smeared onto the porcelain below while the hot water faucet is fully opened… This does not compare to circumvent what the nose is designed to filter out while inhaling medicinal substance before it coats the surface of our bronchi. Drawing in overheated artificial substances through your mouth without any true purpose seems questionable. I’m also not convinced that the vanilla-cloud puffing teen in a restaurant next to me looks particularly “cool” or hip…

Nicotine is addictive. >50% of all e-cigarette contain tobacco. The leaf-drying process had shown to prevent Tuberculosis in factory workers during the early 19thcentury. TCM respects the healing properties of Tobacco. Throughout South and North America, tobacco was consumed in a diversity of ways: it was chewed, sniffed, smoked, eaten, juiced, smeared over bodies, and used in eye drops and enemas. It still carries a mystic “smoke” of purification spirits after blessing fields and praising Gods.

Today, the same tobacco companies denying for decades that smoking caused cancer, now aim to hook teens on vaping. We adapted against their efforts that smoking was the foremost cause of lung-, bone-, gum-cancer and birth deformities but now allow to hold truth that inhaling steam derived essence is less dangerous. We have to willfully ignore modern studies that the use of smokeless tobacco include: Mouth, tongue, cheek, and gum cancer.

Surely, bi-products inhaled by burning wrapping papers and fillers is more unhealthy in comparison with flavored vapor steam. The new expensive studies claim that juuling is harmless are sponsored by the very companies that denied cigarette smoking caused cancer.   We are today smarter than we were yesterday, right? Nicotine addiction prevented smokers in the 80’s to give up their habit while dying of cancer in their hospital beds. The addiction to tobacco is the culprit here, not the method in which we ingest the essence! Got hooked?

Chef Raphael

Switzerland’s General Consulate Residence sold…

Today, December 8th 2018 the Residence representing the Consulate General’s Home of Switzerland in Los Angeles closed its doors for good. With the flag at half-mast and a very shabby “Estate Sale” a three-decade long history for us Angelino-Schweizer ended. This last rummaging in useless items was about as sad and odd as the political decision to transfer the Consular affairs of California’s Confederate representation to San Francisco.

A decision that’s disliked by every Swiss living in the LA basin. Who cares? It’s not like anyone in the history of the Mission actually listened and implemented what most of us expats expected from our Consulate.  Even getting a passport renewed was an unnecessary ordeal that now is extremely complicated for us: We are expected to fly to San Francisco to consult with you. We ponder how this could have happened?

The Swiss Embassy made many feeble attempts generating cultural outreach, well – mostly laughable, rather embarrassing ideas about how to bridge Swiss values with a very lax California culture. Our Consulate has utterly missed the point of generating an understanding of how to boost qualities that would enhance tourism to flock to our country of cheese, mountains, chocolate & watches. With the generous opportunities provided, the honorable people selected to take a job in California have a duty to show-off Switzerland’s best values. (it’s a privilege to be named Ambassador to LA – or you “know” someone in politics that owes you big time). Well, most of these characters failed to advertise to Americans that the Swiss precision mechanical and electrical engineering is amongst world leading businesses; That the Swiss produce most turbines used in Aviation. We are leading Europe in hydroelectricity, and about half of all quartz-crystal watches are fashioned in this tiny Nation of 7 million, yet unknown by most everyone. Uh, yes – most Americans still think we speak Swedish and are confused about the Life-Guards uniform or the American Red Cross connection… In California none of my friends seems to understand there is no snow in Locarno, although it looks just like LA.

The Estate Sale just showed one last time – that besides tons of cheap glassware and antique Roschti shredders (yup, you call it a hash-brown grater…) – the beautiful Spanish style home lacked modernity and a sense for contemporary flair. Instead I remember attending lame weekend movie gatherings, invited for screenings of stories with German subtitles; because the selection was in a dialect most Swiss can’t even understand themselves. My American guests were left clueless for two hours and resorted to sipping the cheapest white wine served; the simple glassware seemed more valuable.

I offered to cook for special events – never heard back from the Embassy; Clearly, a qualified chef with Hollywood connections was to far stretched for the imagination of any Bünzli… (That’s a Swiss prescriptive word for a hick limited to simple thoughts, incapable of comprehending a world beyond what he chooses to hold truth…) Instead, some foods prepared for Gala events really left me infuriated about the quality we served to foreign guests, representing the Nation with the worlds leading culinary and Hoteliers schools!

These “efforts” perfectly represented the overall narrow mindedness of people in charge of Swiss international affairs that come here and dislike the “difference” and surely promoted relocating the Embassy based on reasons that are absurd. The notion that Los Angeles with over 106 world respected Consulate Residences is lesser central in comparison with the demographics of San Francisco/Sacramento with merely 30 National Embassies’, is not sufficient an explanation why to abandon Hollywood. The truth is that people with zero understanding of how to adapt to the California mentality were in charge – or felt important to pretend to be in charge – and decided to purchase an overpriced new location on the edge of California. It would have been totally within the budget to hold on to the perfectly located Residency in Hollywood. I’ll gladly point out where Swiss money is squandered elsewhere in the world… Just ask!

To understand why we Swiss folks in greater Los Angeles are numb about this “transfer”, one needs a little education in how different the mentalities are of people raised and heeded in a nation where etiquette, decorum and title are a basic doctrine. Growing up in this little nation tugged away between Germany, Austria, French and Italy we pride ourselves for punctuality, cleanliness and regulation (yes, there is a tiny speck called Lichtenstein, sorry – I nearly forgotten…). For anyone brought up with “narrow Swiss views” arriving in America for the first time, they immediately feel a sense of insult; having to adapt to the personal form of “You”, the lack of acknowledging inherited or the absence of married-into title: As a wife of a doctor, you would be bespoken to as Frau Doctor (Mrs. doctor) at home… People here in the US don’t care much about your education. Americans are commonly unpunctual, unapologetically underdressed for any event and seemingly to blunt about money, inappropriate gestures or violate unknowingly your expected modesty.

It’s Hollywood. It’s about who you know (and why), what car you drive, how much money you make and how much you’re going to invest to make me feel equal. “What can I do for you…”

To be Swiss in America already sets the standard high. We have a reputation for being clean, born rich and special; no Ami really knows why – they just like everything Swiss! We are alpine exotic and liked by most, assumed to have inherited neutrality, blessed with wisdom and protected with free health insurance. Even our trains run on time! What a perfect preface to build relations from! Sending us a team of Consular mops that can’t relate with these expectations is about as useless as serving Maggie Sauce with Chamomile Tea. It’s frustrating trying to make a Swiss Embassy employee smile! This hereditatry world-view is not the result of Swiss efforts to advance our appearance; it is the direct result of expats balancing pride andour  need to escape narrow-mindedness.

In reverse; after living for over thirty years in Los Angeles I find Swiss people prejudiced about everything different, stiff and opinionated. (Yes, I realize the hypocritical perspective while writing this blog…) From the Consulate General to the secretaries that are send here through Bern, they all seem disconnected from the culture and lifestyle needed to invite, impress and promote some of the best Switzerland has to offer. Their apparent modesty is actually counter-productive. Who is responsible for sending us these clueless characters? They are not needed in Los Angeles nor helping in Sacramento!

Whomever signed off on closing the Swiss Residency in Hancock Park a year after moving the Embassy to Northern California made a big mistake. Stop trying to convince us that cultural outreach is better in San Francisco or Sacramento. Hollywood is the place to be! The Swiss could have at least kept the Home here. With the upcoming Olympics it is painfully clear to us that you in Bern really lost your marbles. It’s a shameful attest to the naiveté of people in administrative power to lack vision and comprehending what is needed in representing 150’000 Swiss-American souls trying for decades to be heard. Gosh, some of these boring Consular peeps are now relocating to San Francisco like the lackluster pieces of furniture that were not sold… You have failed here; wherever you go, there you are!

Being a dual citizen puts me in a complex reality; I should not speak up as an educated and “norm oriented” Swiss, but my “American-mind” can’t just sit in silence either… I’m fully aware of this dilemma. I feel as if a part of my Heimat-pride is ripped away in Los Angeles; what little there was of an assembly – although never fully utilizing a perfect representation – now left us abandoned. A classical Swiss maneuver; when administration fails, pack up and disappear. Unqualified to even amend the Wikipedia pages, or updating the meta-tag search engine info on the Swiss Embassy pages: The first twenty internet searches about “Switzerland in California” pull up outdated information claiming the Consulate General’s home is in Los Angeles and the “Swiss events in the US”-page never had an activity… Yup, most of the people I’ve met throughout the last thirty years representing my interests here, demonstrated no understanding in how to utilize today’s internet (or their cellphones). I’m sure their resumes are excellent…

Good Bye. My Swiss friends whisper secretly how terrible this decision is. Our Swiss Consulate has missed many opportunities in the past; unable to entertain on the level of Hollywood, incapable of reaching across nations. Failed to align traditions with US holidays. So we plead: Switzerland please, send people to the US that helm our foreign relations with fascinating personalities who actually understand and care about living abroad. Include us Angelinos; we know a thing or two about living in California. Don’t have bureaucrats deciding on our behalf – they don’t have a clue what’s needed here. Give us your best; we deserve it!

We all have/need a driver license; ’cause LA is big! …the minimum we expect from our Consulate General (hint…). Send us enthusiasts that embrace differences and enjoy ethnic fusion. People that are gregarious, truly curious, that speak English & Spanish, that love to entertain, respecting good Swiss/Spanish/American foods, happy folks who embrace a world beyond “Swiss-Boarders” and foremost – souls that relate to the issues that are important to our Nation, todays world in general & can promote modern Swiss culture. Our Embassy must compete with ideas that make us Helvetics proud. Send us motivated leaders that will further build upon thirty years of established relationships…

Shoot – (I lost my thread on reality for a minute…) – it’s far too late for that last hope, I guess – now that you sold our last piece of Swiss-land! What a waste!

I need a Kirsch!

chef Raphael

Keto Update

As some of you know I dived into the Keto Diet this year to learn “hands-on” what the hype is all about:
Let me sum it up before boring you with some opinions:
If you’re not 100% serious about doing it scientifically correct – that must include your personal medical/physical data – and just “sorta” follow some of the trends you like on the internet (or a cool your gym buddy tells ya) – you will do damage to your system and NOT gain any benefits from your experience. Keto done wrong is actually super dangerous!

In my research (I’m still working on it) I have come across internet chefs claiming to be Keto-Gurus while promoting recipes where they  include apple cider & Thai spiced Almonds… claiming they have no calories or they promote fat burning;  really? You are either trying to loose weight or convert fat into energy: make up your mind!
Apple Cider is made from 🍎 ( that’s NOT a Keto fruit to consume) Vinegars that are sugar based and yeast enhanced for fermentation are not ideal. One table spoon of most over the counter cheap combo can throw you out of your ketonic state…
Any (ALL) preserves or fermented foods contain preservatives; hence their title!  None of such food-items are Keto friendly… except honey. And now we are starting a scientifically fascinating banter about sugar in honey vs  the highly beneficial antibiotic of which you deprive your digest track on Keto.

So, all your short cuts and most of the food combos promoting healthy choices (yup, does beefy chefs in tank tops using canned foods) forget one essential fact: the combination of products you intake have a huge affect on your system. Keto in the long run – even when done correctly – is unhealthy! You “play” borderline with your PH balance, kidney stress and digestive enzymes to an extend they can stop functioning as designed… in the long run!

It takes careful planing and you have to have a goal in mind why you’re going this extreme route! No, strips and urine tests are not accurate. No, more than 21g total sugar intake or 41g total carb intake is NEVER possible for most human beings staying in Keto… Just not! Uh, yes – the liquids you consume, your tooth paste (loaded with sugar that is absorbed through your gums) and some of your skin products have an effect on your Keto state.

No, there is no such a thing as a “healthy” Keto snack bar with an expiration date two years in the future… it’s especially absurd when you start consuming products laced with artificial byproducts that are the underlying cause why you even decided you should be on Keto… for the few out there adapting a Keto lifestyle because Kardashian x is on it or Madonna blabbered about it: having cooked for both of them: they do NOT eat/live a healthy lifestyle… they manage darn well, they promote products, they too try to sustain fitness and longevity – but no, they don’t “run on Keto” – any healthy adaptation requires you to embrace ways of thinking, living, listening and speaking in a manner that supports health and happiness…
Can you imagine yourself to try?

Keto so far is a non-scientific fashion food trend, boosting product sales in all health food stores… promoted often by people that borderline wobble between burning energy from fat or protein. But it sounds soooo much better to claim “how incredible this diet feels” rather than admitting how difficult ones digestive system has become and that actually the short lived benefits of skin and sleep improvement do not convincingly support a costly and meticulous regiment to stay ketonic!

Consult with me,

chefraphael