How Chinese Herbs Saved Christmas

by John G. McGarvey |

How Chinese Herbs Saved Christmas

The story that follows is true: last Monday was just awful. After an inconsistent night of sleep due to the kids waking up throughout the night (we’re working on a formula for that - seriously), work was uncharacteristically stressful and frustrating, thus giving way to a term that I don’t believe in, a case of the Mondays. In an attempt to decompress, I mustered the energy for a post-office workout and shockingly left the gym feeling better.

As I do following many workouts, I typically drink a combination of Chinese herbs for recovery. As it happened that night, the only thing I had available was our Emotional Balance – an herbal combination that some athletes in China consume after running a marathon, and which I find useful for physical and mental recovery as well. While not the typical application we suggest for this formula, it works great in this capacity and the flavor over ice is incredibly thirst quenching and refreshing.   Life was once again good.

I Entered a Home in Chaos

The combination of the workout and post-cardio Emotional Balance herbal formula did the trick. I was calm, relaxed, and feeling good about most everything, and was looking forward to a night of cooking, kids’ bedtime routine, a little work and free reading. Nothing close to that was in cards: the Christmas tree that I had painstakingly gotten into the house, staged, strung with lights and trimmed the day before had come crashing down (no cat in our house to blame), with broken ornaments strewn across the floor. There was water everywhere as we had filled the stand to the brim the evening before, and my two kids, barefoot from their bath, were running about.

My night had just gone kaput.

My Reaction  

Despite the stress of the day, the lack of sleep the night before, and the realization that the ensuing situational fix would take about two hours, I normally may have been tempted to head straight for the bar. But that didn’t happen. Instead I was calm, levelheaded, relaxed, and entirely self-aware. I looked at the mess, took it all in and simply resolved to working on a fix (which included trips to two different hardware stores to buy a new stand, a shop-vac to cleanup the glass, and a borrowed dull saw from my next door neighbor).

Chinese herbs provide mental happiness

Two plus hours later, the tree was upright (though shorter), the glass cleaned-up and a rather satisfying feeling of, “we fixed it” overcame me. Do I attribute it to the Chinese herbs? Without a doubt.

‘Tis the Season of Stress

It doesn’t take a crashed Christmas tree to create stress this time of the year. But perhaps the holidays have become more stressful in the era of perpetual screen time, Apps for nearly anything, and a world that seems to be more in flux and chaotic than in years past.  

And that’s where the foundation of Chinese medicine, from herbs to acupuncture, diet to meditation comes into play: Chinese medicine is all about balance, and what better time for balance than now?

 Emotional Balance is a based on the classic Chinese formula, Free & Easy Wanderer, used for centuries, with the name making reference to “the unfettered wandering of Taoists, who prided themselves on being in tune with the movements of nature.”

How fitting and symbolic then that I had taken it just before a tree fell in my living room: the herbs open and relax the mind, providing a calming effect to the body to in effect, “go with the flow” – and that’s what I did: despite wanting to wrap-up the day, I found myself taking pride in the situation and the likely outcome (a sturdier tree) in which I had found myself. 

Do I attribute that exclusively to the herbs? I honestly do – the eight herbs within the formula are powerful and beneficial to the mind, body and spirit, and for me, work pretty fast. Most acupuncturists and Chinese medicine doctors would agree.

A Happy Ending

By 9 PM that night, the tree stood approximately six inches shorter, the water was mopped-up and the glass cleaned-up. Despite all the mental baggage I had left the office with, I went to bed and slept soundly.

Free and Easy Wanderer, Chinese herbs and happiness and stress reduction


To be sure, my herbal practice isn’t conducted on an as needed basis: I drink Emotional Balance daily, and other Chinese formulas (both our products and others that we’re testing) constantly, and while there are ups and downs, my mental and physical trend line is overwhelmingly positive and balanced.

So this holiday season, save some room for Chinese medicine and find yourself “unfettered” mentally amongst the hustle and bustle of life. And make sure to properly ground your tree.

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Want to learn more about Emotional Balance & Free & Easy Wanderer?

  • Here’s an article that talks about Emotional Balance leading to “more happiness” by Dr. Eric Karchmer.
  • Here’s an article that discusses the herbs in Emotional Balance in the application of treating patients with depression.

John G. McGarvey is a co-founder of DAO Labs and a regular contributor to The Way. A frequent visitor to China and Asia for both business and pleasure, he is an avid consumer of Chinese medicine. He can be reached at

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