It's All About the Water!
We all know that the water we drink can have a profound influence on our health and wellbeing. As Ron Teeguarden has said: "I often say that real water is itself a tonic herb. For whatever reason, I have always been interested in water. In the 1960s and '70s I spent considerable time visiting hot springs around the southwestern US. In the 1980s I started going to Asia and had the opportunity to spend time at the miraculous hot springs of Atami, Japan and up in Hokkaido. Later I became interested in the hot springs and mineral water from the great Manchurian volcano known in China as Changbai Mountain. Later I came across the wonder water of Drum Mountain, which bears an ancient calligraphy stating “Drink this water and live forever.” I became familiar with the concepts of structured water and clustering. As my herbalism developed, I knew that the water that plants grow on and with which they are prepared would have a huge impact on their health giving properties."
Remoteness, purity of the air, wind, microbes, soil minerals, energy fields, temperature, humidity, wild animals and many other factors play a role in determining the efficacy of an herb. This is the basis of the Di Tao principle. But no factor can play a larger role than that of the water that nourishes the plants as they grow. All plants are mostly water and they must consume and circulate fresh water constantly to thrive. As a basic principle, therefore, the water source of a plant must be considered very carefully when determining the quality of that herb. For this reason, I have spent my entire career seeking herbs that have profoundly positive water sources. This has been a primary focus on every herb-seeking adventure I have ever taken, and is even essential when determining where and how to produce herbal extracts.
Yes indeed, “it’s all about the water!” This is one of my favorite phrases — I utter those words endlessly to every class and herbalist I instruct. Here are a few examples of how water plays a role in producing the greatest herbs in the world.
Changbai Mountain is a volcano in Manchuria, now Jilin province of China. Both Chinese and Koreans have considered it a sacred mountain for millennia. One thousand years ago Changbai Mountain erupted. It was the second largest volcanic eruption known to scientists. It caused a global darkening that lasted several years and caused famine around the world. Today, largely due to the outsized fertility of the soil and partly due to the water now emerging from the caldera of the volcano, it is one of the richest biospheres in the world. Ginseng evolved there about 65 million years ago, true Schizandra only grows there, as do many other major tonic herbs. In the caldera (the crater at the top of the volcano) is a lake that goes deep into the earth (at least a mile, but probably dozens or hundreds of miles). The water that gushes over by the millions of gallons a day is ludicrously mineral rich. It fertilizes all sides of the volcano. This is the water that has spawned Changbai Mountain Ginseng, Ant, Atractylodes, Reishi, Ever Young Herb, and dozens of other world leading tonic herbs. Why are these herbs so great? Why are they generally less potent when they are grown away from Changbai Mountain? It’s all about the water! Changbai Mountain is a unique situation in the world.
Wuyi Mountain is a Garden of Eden in Southern China. It is rugged and eternally moist. It is almost always foggy for at least part of the day. Due to the moisture, it is always wet and there are thousands of springs, streams, rivers, lakes and pools. The ground is never dry. It has not proven to be a great place for humans to live so far because of the moisture — and because of snakes that love this environment, many of which are among the most poisonous on earth. But it is a paradise for a large variety of herbs that flourish because of the ever fresh rainwater, mountain dew and mountain water that traverses the Himalayas and then this area. This is the richest area in the world for growing Tea, herbal mushrooms and especially Reishi mushrooms. It’s all about the water!
Heaven Mountain is the second tallest mountain range in the world, second only to the tallest peaks of the Himalayas. It is eternally covered in snow and is the home of hundreds of massive glaciers. It is extremely remote, bordering Western China, Inner Mongolia, Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries where few humans reside. The ancient glaciers are tens of thousands of years old. As a result, the water that flows off the mountain is pristine and hexagonally “structured.” This is perfect water. When these glaciers melt some each spring, tens of thousands of streams flow down the sides of the mountain peaks distributing this glacial melt in all its hexagonal glory to the planes and foothills. This water irrigates the land in a way that humans could never match. As a result of this glacial melt and other factors (including the remoteness and intense sunlight), these Heaven Mountain foothills (which are themselves at quite high elevation) produce arguably the richest and tastiest fruit in the world. One of these fruits is the Goji Berry, the famous tonic herb and super fruit. Goji Berries from any place else cannot match the taste and potency of Heaven Mountain Goji. These foothills and the deserts that lay near it produce herbs like Snow Lotus (at the snowline) and Cistanche (in the adjacent deserts to the northwest). The potency of these superherbs cannot be imitated by herbs grown with even the most advanced or thoughtful horticultural practices. Why? It’s all about the water!
The Himalayan Snow Zone
The Himalayas are the King of Mountains, the tallest and most human-resistant mountains on earth. This vast mountain range reaches five miles into the sky, and of course much of it is covered in snow throughout the year. Near the snowline, the snow can grow to dozens of feet deep in the winter, and then melt and refreeze every day of the summer. The water is pristine at the snow line, three miles above sea level. Just above and just below the snowline, the snow and ice may be thin enough for some vegetation to thrive. Scientists are amazed that these plants can survive in this unbelievably austere climate where the temperature can fluctuate by 60o Celsius during a single day. Many of these snowline plants have proven to have a powerful capacity to enhance human health when they are consumed. These include Cordyceps, Rhodiola, Snow Lotus, Sea Buckthorn, Wang Lag and many others. These wild herbs tend to be extremely potent — they are so hardy and resilient. There is no doubt that a predominant factor in their potency is the water they grow in.
Drum Mountain is a minor mountain in Southern China that is part of the Wuyi Mountain chain. Yet it gained great fame in China over the centuries for its water. It has springs that have beautifully balanced and rich mineral profiles. Health seekers and hermits have been making pilgrimages to Drum Mountain for nearly two thousand years to drink and bathe in the water in order to attain glowing health, longevity and even immortality. At one main spring, both a Buddhist temple and a Taoist shrine were built centuries ago. The springs of Drum Mountain supply the valleys below and nourish Reishi, Tea, Longan and Lychee trees, and many other herbs. The herbs and produce that grow in this area are cherished as especially health giving. Dragon Herbs longtime herbal extraction factory was built at the base of the mountain so that it could utilize this Drum Mountain spring water to produce our herbal extracts. Great water is a secret to great herbal production. It is clean and mineral rich, and its vibration is different than common water. You feel the difference when herbal extracts are produced with amazing water!
Great Immortal Peak
There is another peak in the Wuyi Mountain range, a couple hundred kilometers from the main tea growing area, known as Great Immortal Peak. This peak is not tall enough to remain covered in snow throughout the year, even during the winter months, but like the Wuyi Mountain tea growing area, it is very moist and has thousands of small streams and abundant underground aquafers. One feature that differs from the very temperate tea growing area is that this region can become very warm. In a ravine near the top of Great Immortal Peak is Dragon Herbs’ Gynostemma plantation. There is no vehicular access to the growing fields. One must walk about a kilometer from the nearest village and road to get to the Gynostemma plots. Of course, the earth remains moist due to the rain and small streams. But in addition, the exact field where the Gynostemma grows is continuously nurtured by a pristine spring. It feeds mineral water to the entire field and keeps the ground eternally moist, even during the hottest summer weeks that may remain rain-free for days on end. What makes Dragon Herbs’ Gynostemma (Spring Dragon Longevity Tea, etc.) different from other Gynostemma on the market? It’s all about the water! Yes the purity of the environment is a major contributor, but the “lowland” commodity-grade Gynostemma that all other brands use is not nearly as pure, powerful or ethereal. It’s all about the water! Much of the Gynostemma available on the U.S. market is grown on low altitude farms that also grow conventional crops, and the water is anything but pure.
The Brazilian Pantanal Plain and Guarani Aquifer
Dragon Herbs offers a wonderful superfood product called Brazilian Magic. It is made from over 50 fruits, vegetables and herbs. These ingredients are collected fresh, chopped and naturally fermented together in vats for six months. All of the vegetables, herbs and fruits that go into this superfood matrix are grown on a remote organic “farm” in Brazil. Much of the “magic” of this remarkable product is based in where the farm is located. The farm is on the south end of the Pantanal Plain in central Brazil. The 17,000 acre organic farm is located hundreds of miles away from any industry or toxic pollution. Complete seclusion from industrial life gives this farm the purest unpolluted soil and a quality of air unlike any place in the world. But after all, “it’s all about the water!” Brazilian Magic is made with the world’s purest mineral water. The water used to produce Brazilian Magic comes from an isolated region of the Guarani Aquifer, the largest body of fresh mineral water in the world. The Guarani Aquifer is over a mile deep and is approximately 30,000 years old. Because of its unique geology, the infiltration of new water into the aquifer is very slow and is highly filtered by the thousands of feet of solid rock above it. Taking hundreds of years, only the purest mineral water can move through the rock to recharge the aquifer below. This water has had no contact with human pollution. The Guarani Aquifer water is currently emerging through 5 wells located on the farm. A secure enclosure has been built to prevent contamination of the spring source. The farm’s artesian spring pours out silicon-rich water. The silicon gives the water its sparkling blue color. In fact, the Brazilian Magic water is so soft that tests have shown that it will readily dissolve fats, even lard. The ability to dissolve fat is not a common ability in water. Water and fat mutually reject each other. Only water that is very soft can have the ability to dissolve fats. The unique ability to dissolve fats makes this water very effective in dissolving natural fatty acids, such as omega-3s. It also makes normally insoluble nutrients soluble. The rich assortment of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants in Brazilian Magic are instantly and completely bio-available to your body. There are other superfood products in the world, some of which are truly great. But none are as pure as Brazilian Magic. It’s all about the water!
The principle that “it’s all about the water” has also led me to reject hundreds of sources of herbal materials through the years. Every great herb and superfood has a “water story.” You can be assured that Dragon Herbs examines that story for every herb and superfood it employs.