Lana Farson, M.S., L.Ac., Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist

Lana's Thoughts on Health and Healing…

Take care of yourself with sustainable, natural medicine. Good for you. Good for the earth.

Nothing contained on this site is or should be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Reading and using information from the In Good Health Blog indicates that you agree to the terms of use of this site.

Nettle & Astragalus Soup (Huáng Qí) to tonify Qi & Blood

This is a great recipe to strengthen the resources of the body, specifically the blood and the energy.  When the body’s blood supply and blood quality are strong, there is more energy and vitality.  This is particularly a good soup to make as the weather becomes cooler and you are looking for an immune system boost.


  • 1 lb Fresh Nettles (handle with gloves and tongs to avoid being stung)
    Huang Qi - sticks

    Astragalus Root

  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 leeks – cut into half moons
  • 2 cups broth, ideally home-made (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 avocado
  • 5 small potatoes
  • 9 grams dried Astralagus Sticks (Huáng Qí 黃耆) or 1 TBS dried Astragalus pieces
  • 1 tsp fresh dill
  • ½ tsp nutmeg (Ròu Dòu Kòu)
  • 3 cloves of freshly, minced garlic (Dà Suàn),
  • Salt/ pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil


Wash and chop the nettles well. Sautee the nettles, shallots, and leeks in coconut oil until softened and reduced. Deglaze with wine.  Add loose Astragalus sticks, which will be removed later.  If using chopped Astragalus pieces, place them in a muslin cooking bag to easily remove this woody root later.

Add garlic, broth, potatoes, dill, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes. Remove the Astragalus. Puree in a blender. Serve hot and enjoy.


Detox Indoor Air with Plants

Certain plants can help reduce various pollutants in the air, like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene. To reduce the concentration of air contamination in the house, place one plant for every 100-200 square feet.

particle board

Hidden Formaldehyde Sources:

Formaldehyde may be present in our homes in the following ways:

  • Synthetic Carpet
  • Foam insulation
  • Particle board
  • Plywood
  • Some cleaners
  • Some fabrics

To help reduce the presence of formaldehyde in the house, consider adding some of the following amazing house plants:

  • Azalea
  • Bamboo palmspider plant
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Philodendron
  • Poinsettia
  • Spider Plant


Trichloroethylene may be present in the following:

  • Paints
  • Varnishes
  • Adhesives
  • Dry-cleaning chemicals

english ivyTo help reduce the presence of trichloroethylene in the house consider adding some of the following house plants:

  • Chrysanthemum
  • English ivy
  • Gerbera daisy
  • Marginata dracaena
  • Peace lily
  • Warneckei dracaena


Benzene, a known carcinogen, may be present in the following:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Plastics
  • peace lilyGasoline
  • Some detergents
  • Synthetic materials

To help reduce the presence of benzene in the house, consider adding some of the following house plants:

  • Chrysanthemum
  • English ivy
  • Gerbera daisy
  • Peace Lily

Gentle Detox with Braised Burdock, Mushroom and Seaweed

Benefits of Burdock Root

Burdock Root is called ‘Gobo’ in Japanese and is often sold under this name.  It’s cooked in a similar way to a carrot and looks a little like one too (except it’s brown on the outside and white on the inside). The taste of burdock is pleasant and a little earthy. In many parts of Asia, burdock is a normal everyday root vegetable that is seen as being very good for the health, especially for the liver and the skin.

whole burdock

Burdock Root:

  • High in iodine, calcium, potassium, iron, amino acids and dietary fiber
  • Low in calories and fat
  • Has a diuretic effect and promotes bowel movements
  • Effective in removing heat and inflammation from the body
  • Helps to reduce blood sugar, blood fats and blood pressure
  • detoxifies the liver and the skin

Benefits of Seaweed

Seaweeds supply iodine to the thyroid and it help to protect against radioactive elements in the air, water, and food chain. Seaweed is also has high alginate content which can aid the body in detoxing heavy metals.  It is important to get seaweed that is from clean ocean areas and not polluted waters.  For this recipe, I like cooking with arame, hijiki, sea palm or wakame.

Braised Burdock, Mushroom and Seaweed Recipe:


3 cloves garlic

1 bunch sliced scallions or 1 cup other onions (leeks, shallots, etc)

2 carrots

1 inch fresh ginger (peeled and minced)

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

sesame oil (or olive oil)

1 piece of peeled and julienned burdock root (8 inches)

5-10 g seaweed

pepper and salt (or tamari) for seasoning

Soak seaweed for 15 minutes. If the pieces are big, you can cut them into strands with scissors. Wash burdock root in warm water. Peel and julienne into strips and add to the bowl of soaking seaweed.  Sometimes I quickly put the julienned burdock into a bowl with a teaspoon of vinegar (to prevent the root from oxidizing/discoloring) until I’m ready to cook it.  Mince garlic and let it sit for 5-15 minutes before sautéing (who knew?! but, exposing the cut garlic to the air a short time before cooking will increase it’s immune stimulating function).  Chop onion into ½” pieces; carrots into cubes. Peel and mince the ginger.

Sautée the first 5 ingredients in oil until everything softens up a bit, 5-10 minutes.   Add the soaked burdock and seaweed.  Add a little water as needed (you can used the water from soaking the seaweed).  Simmer and cover.   At the end, add sea salt and fresh pepper to taste.  Or try seasoning with tamari (comes in ‘gluten-free) instead of salt.

Indian Chai Tea – With Warming & Healing Herbs

Chai Tea is a tasty and healthy beverage that is especially balancing on cold days in the fall and winter.  Many of the herbs that are used to make chai tea have the medicinal value of warming & increasing the metabolism of the internal organs, and pushing out the coldness that tries to enter when the temperatures drop.  We can use the internal warmth from the herbs to increase our vital energy throughout the day.

Chai Tea Ingredients - cinnamon and fresh ginger

Chai Tea Ingredients - cinnamon and fresh ginger


  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger root – Sheng Jiang (Release Exterior)
  • 1 whole star anise, broken up – Da Hui Xiang (Disperses cold, Regulates /Moves qi)
  • 1 tsp orange peel – Chen Pi, grated (Regulates/Moves Qi)
  • 4 pieces cinnamon bark – Rou Gui (Warms Interior)
  • 1 tsp black cardamom seeds – Yi Zhi Ren (Tonify Yang)
  • 10 whole cloves – Ding Xiang (Warm Interior)
  • 5 whole peppercorns – Hu Jiao (Warm Interior)
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seeds – Xiao Hui Xiang (Warm Interior)
  • 5 cups water
  • ¼ cup black tea (like Assam or Darjeeling)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 cups milk

Place the first eight ingredients in a pot of water (about 5 cups).

You can leave the herbs loose or you can bundle them up in a length of cheese cloth and tie it together with a string.

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes.

Add tea leaves and continue simmering for 15 minutes.  You can add the vanilla (1 tsp) at this point.

Be careful not to boil the water too strongly as this may extract too much bitterness from the tea leaves.

Strain the remaining liquid through a strainer to remove the herbs and tea leaves.

Add honey & milk, and serve.

This makes 8 servings of tasty, warming chai tea.

Immunity Soup

This recipe is especially good to increase strong digestion (known as healthy ‘Spleen Qi’) and to reduce water & damp retention. In fact, strong ‘Spleen Qi’ digestive energy is the basis of  good immunity and overall health.  Keeping your spleen strong ensures that your digestive system will have the ability to extract all the nutrients from your food so your body can stay well nourished and full of vitality.

The super star ingredient is the up-and-coming gluten-free Job’s Tears (which is technically a seed, like quinoa).

Job’s Tears boosts metabolism, increases energy, preserves longevity, encourages weightloss and beautifies the skin.

This is a super tasty recipe –  enjoy!

Job's Tears

Job's Tears


  • 2 cups Job’s Tears  (we have it at our Lafayette clinic or you can check Ranch 99 Market)
  • 1 whole cooked chicken
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 lb. kale or other green vegies
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Some olive oil
  • A bunch of water
  • Salt to taste

This can be adapted to serve any size group.  The above makes a ton of soup for a large pot.  You can use less ingredients to serve fewer folks.

Job's Tears Soup

Job's Tears Soup


In a small bowl of water, soak Job’s Tears for 1-2 hours along with a tsp of salt. Strain and rinse again before cooking.

Remove all the meat from a whole, cooked chicken.  In the meantime, make chicken broth using the bones, gizzard and giblets of the chicken, the vegetables (carrots, onions, celery), the spices (garlic, bay leaves) and water.  While this is going on, peel and chop sweet potatoes to desired size.  Also chop up the kale or other green vegies.

When the stock is done, remove the chicken parts.  (I tie the chicken parts together so I can easily remove them and keep the vegies in the base of the soup.)

Strain and rinse the Job’s Tears and add with the chopped sweet potatoes to the chicken broth.  Cook for 40-60 mintues until the sweet potatoes are at desired mush level.  The Job’s Tears should still be a little crunchy (like pozole).  Add cooked chicken and kale.  When adding the chicken, it’s nice to shred it with your hands as opposed to chopping it, for better texture.  Bring to a rolling boil then reduce heat and serve.

Bon appetite!

Clay Herb Pot

Due to the nature of Clay Herb Pots, they require special care.  IMG_1183

Please follow these simple steps to ensure the life of your Clay Herb Pot:

1) Before first use, immerse the entire pot in cold water for 30 minutes to over night. This will allow the pot to absorb moisture before it is set on the flame or burner and will help avoid cracking (only required for first time use).

2) Wipe outside of the pot dry (extremely important).

3) Place Herbs in pot.

4) Add the specified amount of water.

5) Set pot over flame or burner.

6) Simmer herbs as instructed by your herbalist.

Caution :

  • Always use hand mitt or towel when handling lid or pot handle (can get extremely hot).
  • Always face spout toward wall or back of stove to avoid hot steam.
  • Never place pot on cold surface (allow to cool on burner or stove).
  • Never immerse hot pot in water.
  • Never place wet pot over flame or burner.

Care :

Wash with detergent and water. Do not place in dishwasher.

Extreme hot and cold temperatures will crack the pot!

Mung Bean Dal Kitchardi

This recipe balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha Ayurvedic types.

Serves 4 peoplemung bean soup


1 cup basmati rice

1/2 cup yellow split mung dal

3 tablespoons ghee

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 pinches hing

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

4 cups water

Wash rice and mung dal well. Suggestions: if you have the time, let the mung dal soak for a few hours before cooking, as it helps with digestibility. However, if you know you have a particularly difficult time digesting beans, you may want to precook the beans for 20-30 minutes using 4 cups of water.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the ghee and add the mustard, cumin and hing. Stir a moment until the seeds pop. Add the rice, mung dal, turmeric and salt. Stir until well blended with the spices.

Add the water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Turn down heat to low and cover, leaving lid slightly ajar. Cook until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Note: this kitchari can be eaten by all doshas but is especially good for vata.

Source: Usha Lad, Ayurvedic Cooking

Breastmilk Replacement Formula

Formula with Goat Milk Base


1 quart goat’s milk (organic if possible)Cassatt_Mary_Baby_John_Being_Nursed_1910

200 micrograms folic acid (drops)

¼ tsp flax seed oil

1 drop vitamin E (mycellized)

1 drop beta carotene

1 tsp bifidus factor (lacto-bifidus)

1-2 milligrams B complex (if you can’t get drops, dissolve a 50 mg tablet in a 1 ounce dropper bottle and use 1 dropperful each day in formula)

½ tsp maple syrup (optional)


Most of the ingredients for this breastmilk replacement formula may be purchased in a good health food store.  Mix all above ingredients together in a clean mason jar.  The formula can be made in larger volumes and stored up to 3 days in the refrigerator.  Warm the formula as usual before feeding to your little darling.  Try to avoid plastic and instead use glass baby bottles.

I have seen some home-made formulas that add up to 1 cup carrot juice and 1/4 tsp barley greens.  I think these would make more sense for an older child.  Best to keep things simple for the young babes.

Although goat milk is rich in fat, it lacks folic acid and is low in vitamin B12, both of which are essential to the growth and development of the infant. Inclusion of folic acid or nutritional yeast (to provide folic acid) is essential.  Vitamin B complex has also been added to the recipe.  Another option to compensate for low levels of vitamin B12, would be to add 2 teaspoons of finely grated organic raw chicken liver to the batch of formula.  Also be sure to begin egg-yolk feeding at four months.

The Five Main Zang Organs & Their Foods







Black cherries
Black cherry juice
Red Clover
Glutinous rice

Bitter greens

Yellow potatoes
Sweet rice
Yellow squash
Winter squash

Pear Juice

Black mushrooms
Black sesame
Soup bones
Aduki beans
Kidney beans
Shitake mushrooms


Shell fish
Fried food

Excess sugar
Fried food
Raw food
Cold food

Excess wind

Cold food
Frozen food

Remedies for Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can occur when one consumes spoiled food containing microbes that the belly is not used to.  There are various remedies for food poisoning depending on the pathogenic cause.  Some safe food-based herbal remedies are listed below:

Umeboshi Plum (called ‘Ume’ in Japanese, & ‘Wu mei’ in Mandarin) has antibiotic effects against various bacteria including Staphylococcus, E. coli, Salmonella and Mycobacterium.  Ume plum ‘Wu mei’ provides natural minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, iron and calcium.  Many medical studies have shown that ume plum markedly improves the fluidity of human blood, which is part of why is it so helpful at cleaning the body of toxins, improving the immunity and increasing metabolism.

Perilla leaf (called ‘Shiso’ leaf in Japanese, & ‘Zi su ye’ in Mandarin), has antibiotic effects that inhibit the activity of the Staphylococcus bacteria.  It can stimulate the gastrointestinal tract by increasing stomach acid secretions and intestinal movement.  Perilla leaf can relieve stomach flu, acute enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine) manifesting as abdominal pain & cramping, nausea and diarrhea.  This leaf is commonly used to prevent and treat seafood poisoning and is traditionally included as a condiment when ordering sushi.  This was the inspiration for the plastic leaf often included in the packaged sushi you find at supermarkets.  The plastic substitute however seems to lack the taste and medicinal value of the fresh one!

‘Ume-Shiso Maki’ is my favorite remedy for preventing or correcting poisoning in various cases, especially in the case of seafood poisoning.

'Ume-Shiso' maki rolls.

‘Ume-Shiso’ maki rolls.

This is a sushi maki roll (‘maki’ means ‘wrap’) made with two ingredients inside the rice and seaweed wrap.  The two special additions are umeboshi plum paste and shiso (perilla) leaf, which are perfect compliments and together strongly correct belly imbalances.  Manpuku sushi restaurant on College Avenue in Berkeley is the only local joint I know of that has this combo right on their menu.  Upon request, many other sushi places will make it for you if they have the ingredients on hand.

Mung beans (called ‘Lu dou’ in Mandarin) are a very valuable remedy for detoxification.  They are commonly used for skin toxins such as carbuncles, pimples, sores and ulcers.  Mung Beans are also an effective antidote for the intake and overdose of many toxic substances, in cases of pesticide poisoning, drug poisoning and food poisoning.  Mung beans also prevent summer heat stroke, by reducing body temperature, relieving thirst and sweating.

Store bought mung bean cookies

Store bought mung bean cookies

The beans can be powdered to make a ‘mung bean flour’ and used creatively in various recipes, such as for making shortbread type cookies.  On a recent trip to India, several companions developed heat stroke and I was wishing I had planned ahead with mung bean remedies.  Next time, I’ll be sure to bring plenty of mung bean cookies in my suitcase!  Click here for a delicious mung bean cookie recipe.  Click here for a mung bean dal recipe.

Other Remedies

There are many other good herbal remedies for detoxification.  Before selecting one of these, it is important to discuss with your herbalist whether or not the remedy matches your constitution.  Here they are:

Purslane - can be eaten fresh in salads

Purslane – can be eaten fresh in salads

  • Licorice – energetically neutral
  • Dandelion – energetically cold
  • Honeysuckle – energetically cold; works like a natural antibiotic
  • Chrysanthemum – energetically cold; works like a natural antibiotic
  • Common Purslane – energetically cold; antibiotic effect against Bacillus dysenteriae, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, & Staphylococcus aureus
  • Seaweed – energetically cold; can pull heavy metal toxins (mercury, lead, aluminum, etc.) out of the body; due to high iodine content, can be used to treat thyroid gland disorders when western medications are not used (hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism) – talk to your practitioner about the safest way to do this.  Because seaweed also detoxifies the oceans, it is important to only ingest seaweed that has been harvested from clean waters.
  • Burdock Root – energetically cold; detoxifies the liver and the skin while nourishing the body
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract – natural antimicrobial against bacteria and fungi  for throat infections, diarrhea, ear aches, candida, and many other infections.

Dried Mung Beans