Flexibili-Tea has been a favorite of Plum Dragon customers for many years. Although it is a simple formula compared to most other Plum Dragon products, it does an amazing job of promoting relaxation in the connecting structures in the body. It has been widely used by martial artists and those training in other sports where flexibility is important, as well as by those who are looking for solutions to heal injuries and other pain-related issues.
While most Yoga practitioners are not necessarily familiar with herbal formulas from Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine, they are certainly interested in ways they can more quickly improve strength and flexibility, and in large part, Yoga enthusiasts also have an interest in mind-body connectivity and are often strongly cognizant of principles involving listening to the body. This makes the Yoga community an excellent testing ground for formulas like Flexibili-Tea. Historically, there have been those who had a passion both for Yoga as well as herbal medicine. It was precisely in this intersection of passions that the basis of the Plum Dragon Flexibili-Tea was born...
Originally called "Flexibility Decoction" on the Plum Dragon website as far back as 2006, the formula was derived from a much smaller formula that was used in some capacity by a group of Yoga practitioners in the Eastern US. Originally, the formula used only 2 herbs: Mu Gua and Bai Shao. These herbs were ground and cooked into a mild tea that was consumed before and after Yoga training.
Mu Gua is a very good Wind Damp herb, which has a history of use in martial arts for its ability to relax the sinew. It can be found in a number of Iron Palm formulas. Mu Gua also tends to work very well for the lower half of the body, namely the large group of leg muscles. It is worth noting that Chinese martial arts have a history of the combined use of Mu Gua and Wei Ling Xian, which we will discuss later.
Bai Shao is generally classified as a Blood tonic, but it is important here for its influence on the Liver meridian. Bai Shao helps to regulate blood, increase circulation, and reduce spasm and cramping by aiding with disharmony in the Liver.
In addition to Mu Gua and Bai Shao, 4 additional herbs were added to the Plum Dragon Flexibili-Tea formula:
- Jiang Huang: The yellow Turmeric is a Blood Invigorator which is also very useful in its ability to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Rou Gui: A very warming Yang tonic, Rou Gui warms the channels and collaterals as an assistant herb in this formula. It also provides some anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving aspects.
- Gou Teng: Gou Teng is a strong substance to relieve spasm and cramps. Through this action, it is a chief herb in the formula to relax the connecting fascia of the body.
- Gan Cao: The raw form of Gan Cao is used to help balance the formula and provide some minor additional aid as an anti-inflammatory and relaxant.
Mu Gua and Gou Teng now provide the bulk of the strength in the Flexibili-Tea pack, while the original Bai Shao serves more of a backup function, allowing the formula to take on a bit more dimensionality and balance. Gan Cao further backs up Bai Shao, with Rou Gui and Jiang Huang acting as ancillary herbs that allow the main herbs to perform their functions in the most favorable environment.
The Unique Finding
As was noted earlier, a common combination in Chinese martial arts is Mu Gua and Wei Ling Xian. This combination can be found in a variety of Iron Palm and training liniments, and in a couple of internal tonics and other types of formulas. In the experimental days of "Flexibility Decoction," Wei Ling Xian was tested in place of Bai Shao (as was Qin Jiao). However, Bai Shao consistently showed itself to be more effective for flexibility in the formula, so Bai Shao was the winner. This seemed relatively peculiar to us as Wei Ling Xian is a very strong herb for its ability to relax the sinews and open the channels.
Ultimately, this was a perfect example of the fact that the presence of a stronger herb does not necessarily mean it will improve the formula as a whole; the synergistic effect of all the herbs combined is always what matters most. And in this case, though perhaps a more rare occurrence, the stronger herb did not create the same synergy. With that said, Wei Ling Xian can still been added to the formulas along with Bai Shao to give the formula a tad bit more kick when it is needed for something serious.
There have been some other modifications that have been experimented with over the years. However, the Flexibili-Tea formula in its original form is still as effective if not more than any of the changes made, and remains a beautifully simple, straightforward formula that is easy to prepare and easy on the wallet.
Preparing Flexibili-Tea is a simple process, with one caveat which can be used to increase the formulas efficacy: Of the desired compounds, Gou Teng contains some volatile oils which can be destroyed or evaporated off with a hard boil. Therefore, one quick trick is to separate the Gou Teng from the rest of the formula (Gou Teng is Hookvine. The name should make it self-explanatory which herb it is as long as your formula is not pre-ground). Cook the rest of the formula and then, at the end of cooking when heat is turned off, add Gou Teng. Allow the Gou Teng to sit, submerged in the decoction for 10-15 minutes with the pot covered. Then strain. This will allow a larger percentage of volatile constituents to remain within.
Or, if you order your Flexibili-Tea pre-ground, watch the heating of your herbs closely and don’t allow the water to boil. Heat just to the boiling point and then cover and turn off heat source.
Of all the products sold at Plum Dragon, Flexibili-Tea still stands as one of the best sellers with a large amount of positive feedback and testimonials. It has helped hundreds if not thousands of people reduce pain in their bodies, increase flexibility, range of motion, and reduce tension. It has helped customers reach training goals in record time. And as far as Chinese herbal formulas (which are notoriously bitter) go...it tastes pretty good, too!
The Other Good Stuff...
We have a topical version of the Flexibili-Tea called Flexibility Liniment that you can apply topically to specific areas of stubborn muscle tightness to help speed and optimize the progress of your stretching routine.
If you want to read more about Optimizing Flexibility, you will definitely want to check out this blog post by John Wenger: Be At Your Best and Stay Pain Free With Optimal Flexibility. In fact, we have a whole line up of great info and material on training and recovery you may find extremely useful.