As a vegetarian I am often asked the question “How do you get your protein without eating meat?” I love to answer this question because I know in that moment there is a chance of changing someone’s life forever. At first, the reason I switched to being a vegetarian did not have to do with the antibiotics and hormones that animals are treated with or the pesticide infested food they are fed.
My reasons in the beginning were the result of an awakening that I received when viewing photographs taken of living, raw, organic foods in their natural state with a special camera. The Kirlian photography I saw revealed the electric energy that these foods contained before being cooked and before being chemically altered or microwaved and it was at that moment that I realized that the answer to true longevity, anti-aging, health and quite simply feeling awesome everyday was to introduce some of these foods into my diet.
I began to learn everything I could about health and nutrition. Herbs in particular caught my attention because I realized that some of these herbs had super qualities and could in fact alter my entire outlook on life by increasing my energy levels to quantum levels. In addition to helping myself, I find myself having a huge impact on other people who are open to hearing about some of these herbs. I attended a San Diego Chargers game not too long ago and as most people are aware these games are filled with carnivorous loving fans who tailgate for hours, drinking alcohol and eating pounds of meats and breads.
I came across an individual who was a photographer. He was filled with an hunger for life but was low on energy. He had just eaten large quantities of meat and he in fact was obese and looked older than he actually was. I was eating a bag of Goji berries and I overheard him say he only ate meat for the protein and he in fact did not really care for it. He even felt deep down it was probably bad for him. I told him that Goji berries are one of the most nutritionally rich fruits/herbs on the planet and it was a complete protein with all the essential amino acids, that it was rich in fiber and trace minerals, that it was a good source of vitamin C and iron and it was a great snack food. He had not known that the Goji berry even existed and was thrilled to hear that his local health food store carried it. At that moment he told me he would probably never eat meat again and wanted to learn about other high protein plant based foods. This story and many others have been a motivation for me in writing articles and books about superfoods, herbs and wellness.
There is no mistaking that our modern food supply does not contain the rich nutrients that it once did and that we are bombarded with pharmaceutical remedies for most of our illnesses. I have found many herbs that I believe may have superior medicinal qualities that can lead you to extreme health and towards an abundant, successful life by increasing your energy and helping your own body prevent you from getting sick. Health has to be a primary objective for yourself. I often tell people who are as confused and unfocused as I was that you have many paths and roads before you which you can choose to take. Yet if the one you choose does not lead you to extreme health you may have chosen the wrong path.
Herbs like the Goji berry have been around for thousands of years and have been used in medicine by ancient civilizations to help their kings and queens rid themselves of disease. The Goji berry is of particular importance to me because it is this herb that I first saw using the Kirlian photography. The Goji berry is an herb that has been used in Chinese history for more than 5,000 years and is considered one of the top (if not the #1) herb out of 8,000 plus herbs in Chinese herbal medicine. That’s a pretty powerful realization!
I have been fascinated with health and wellness since 1982 when I joined the U.S Marines and I knew that if I was going to complete the rigorous mental and physical training during the heat of the summer in Paris Island, I would have to educate myself about nutrition. I read books on vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Then I visited local health food stores and read all the labels. My diet back then was whatever my family could afford to eat or whatever I could steal. It was not an organic, whole foods based diet. It included a lot of meats, sweets, colas and lots of alcohol. All of which were taking a toll on my immune system, my skin, and my digestive system. I did not know about the Goji berry back when I joined the marines but I did learn about others which helped me prepare myself for the training I did back then. It continues to serve me now as I train for an Ironman Triathlon, which consists of a 2.4 mile Swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon. This is a total of 140.6 miles all in one day. These herbs are not the source of my carbohydrates but are some of the keys to my strong immune system which takes a huge beating during vigorous exercise.
The second herb is a very well known herb and it is called Ginseng. Ginseng has been a part of Chinese herbal medicine for over 5,000 years. Ginseng strengthens the heart and nervous system. It builds resistance to disease by strengthening our immune system and has anti-carcinogenic properties. A good quality Ginseng can also provide strength and endurance which is of particular interest to athletes including myself.
An interesting story about my top two herbs is of a man out of China by the name of Li Chung Yun who lived to be 252 years old. Goji Berries and Ginseng were part of his daily consumption. He was born in 1678 and died in 1930. When he gave a speech at the University of Beijing, he was around 200 years old.
The third herb is an herb out of Ayurvedic medicine from India called Tulsi. This herb is also called Holy Basil. I don’t know about you but any herb that is considered a top herb in India is an herb I want to learn more about. There are many people in India that live extremely long lives as a result of taking many herbs, practicing deep breathing, and using mediation techniques. These modalities help relieve stress, oxygenate the body, and keep the mind and soul alive. Holy Basil is an adaptogen. I like this in an herb because it helps relieve stress in many parts of the body, depending on where it is needed. It seems to have this intelligence to give me physical strength when I need it, make me think more clearly when I need it, and help me if I’m feeling tired from exercise. There are other adaptogens I take but this one I like in particular because of its historical context.
Another great herb is one I take a lot of in the winter instead of getting the normal flu shot (as I used to get every year.) It is called the Reishi Mushroom. I like this in supplemental form because I can add it to smoothies before an event; it supports the immune and respiratory system. I was one who would get Bronchitis every year. When I started eating these herbs I was able to get through any onsets of bronchitis without antibiotics and that is important to me because antibiotics have been shown to reduce the probiotics (good bacteria) in our intestinal tract.
Another fantastic herb is Cinnamon. Cinnamon is known to kill 80% of all bacteria and it has very powerful alkaline properties. An increased alkalinity in my opinion is one of the keys to the best health ever and the ability to fight off cancers.
There is an herb that comes out of the Amazon called Cat’s Claw that I have learned about recently and it has a tremendous amount of mood enhancing properties. Though what I like most is it’s anti-viral properties. Anyone who suffers from getting cold sores or viral infections should look for herbs and minerals which are anti-viral.
I have to mention Black Walnut hull as one of my favorites. I first heard of Black Walnut hull while taking Isagenix’s cleansing products. I researched all the ingredients in Isagenix and Black Walnut Hull was one that I believe is a key ingredient because of its ability to cleanse out the parasites and toxins in our digestive system. The importance of cleansing is a huge factor in a health and wellness program. You have to unplug all the bad stuff out of you as a first very important step.
Ginger is one of my favorites. As an athlete I can experience a tremendous amount of inflammation all over as a result of training. I add ginger root to my smoothies and I also take certain supplements which include ginger. I don’t believe in having to take over the counter anti-inflammatories. There are so many natural anti-inflammatories that inflammation is no longer an issue with keeping myself fit and fighting off illness.
The power of my next herb has been known for centuries. Garlic is awesome. It tastes great in foods, serves as a powerful natural antibiotic, helps your arteries, your heart and your lungs. Although garlic has some odors it can still be consumed once or twice a week at night. The garlic will be out of your system by morning. If it isn’t, it could be a sign that it is doing its job to remove toxins which are trying to get the heck out of the way. Another alternative is aged garlic. I love taking aged garlic 3 or 4 times a week. It is available in supplemental form. The raw form is more potent but the aged variety can be added if you would like to consume more of it on a consistent basis.
My last honorable mentions are Parsley, Oregano and Vanilla. All three of these have been used in cooking and for flavoring for centuries. They are all extremely powerful herbs which support the immune system.
I have concentrated on the few select herbs in my diet which to me are highly available, somewhat well known, and simple to consume. There are thousands of herbs but there is a lot of redundancy in their benefits. Quite simply if it is from nature, was put on this planet, and has survived for thousands of years… then it probably has a lot of power in its ability to help us as humans. Most of the benefits of herbs are well known and some are not. I strongly believe a diet which includes herbs such as the ones mentioned in this article can serve you in your journey towards a long healthy life!