Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Father of Hen Sen Herbs

Do you celebrate Father’s Day? Not everyone grew up with one, but everyone has one. I know some who grew up with a Step-father or father figure. Just like Mother’s Day, this American holiday gives us a reminder to take some time and give Fathers thanks. What are you thankful for?

Someone once asked me, “What did your Father give you as you have grown?” The question was not about financial support or gifts like toys. It was focusing on character qualities and lessons.

This made me think for a long time. I can easily think of my Mother giving me lessons in the kitchen, on canvass or even in the garden. This is a good exercise to figure out what you are grateful for with relationships. My father taught me to try any sport. To always try to be on time. He taught me by poor example too. But, I don’t think I’ll be thanking him for those in his Father’s Day card!

The Father of Hen Sen Herbs preparing a “prescription.”

The Father of Hen Sen Herbs

In her practice, her father, Hen Sen Chin, helps Juli to this day as she finds his notes in books. He was her teacher as a child helping him in his practice. He is the father of Hen Sen Herbs. Do you know the story?

Coming to America with his parents in 1938, Mr. Chin returned to China to visit an Uncle and discovered a passion for Traditional Chinese Herbal medicine. He studied and earned an herbalist degree giving him ability to practice Herbal Medicine in China. He returned to Seattle in 1950 with his knowledge and took on the title of “consultant” since Chinese Herbal Medicine was not considered a valid medical practice, but many of his patients called him “Doc” anyway.

The First Hen Sen Herbs location.

His first shop opened up in Seattle’s International neighborhood. He helped many through his 53 years in practice, even teaching stretching exercises once a week for many years,and even bringing in martial artists to teach other practices. He respected everyone and encouraged women to learn as well as men.

Mr. Chin understood people in a way that made him both compassionate and patient, acting much like a Father would. He would listen to his patients for a long time, as long as they needed, then get right to the root of the problem. Often patient’ would come in with a long story and long medical diagnosis, and he’d focus on the source of the problem to allow people to learn to heal themselves.

He had a bad habit: he smoked from an early age. But, once he became and Herbalist, he knew it was bad long before scientific studies were published to convince people. What he did to control it was kind of funny. He’d cut his cigarets into fourths. Then, he’d allow himself a smoke, but would not inhale. It was the action of the bad habit that he was addicted to and he allowed himself that luxury. But, he also knew that when he was sick, he could not indulge. He did his best to teach his patients the same lesson to empower them to heal themselves and face their bad habits. He often told him what changes they needed and could make.

As a daughter helping her father, Juli, learned by listening and watching as her father diagnosed patients and helped prepare herbs. At a young age she was encouraged to taste and smell each one, becoming familiar with over 200 different herbs.  Juli continued in her Father’s foot steps and returned to China to earn her Traditional Chinese Herbalist credentials.

Whatever you Father taught you, don’t forget to give thanks!

Holli Margell

Juli’s Corner: Remembering my Father

My Father is my inspiration, my teacher and most of all my Herbalist. He has given me the experience not all teenagers can have. As my father, it was all about respect, to become a tamed and honored tiger from a wild angered lost tiger. I was taught that as a teacher, I must do my best. If I choose to be an Herbalist, I must do my best and not waste time. I do this with discipline, always learning. Becoming an herbalist with my love of herbs and the knowledge is an gift.

My father trained me by encouraging me to build my strong core, and introduced different techniques in health building. As I practice, it inspires me to find red pencil on the books and remember that Dad studying with me.

That is why I admire the teaching and practice of Tai Chi. My father sent me and my sister Betty to Hawaii when I was 12 years old for 3 months to practice Tai Chi, mediation and chanting. That began my journey of my practice and my health. Tai Chi is internal martial arts. I still remember the first time my hands felt the energy(red ball) – I felt alive. Still now, I train on my emotions, to focus and to feel that energy of life.

Recently I was told by a dear patient my fathers teaching to her, “My patients will drink the bitter herbs, my patients are the strong ones.”
Be strong and find your inspiration.


Cooking with Fresh Herbs without Breaking the Bank

One day you are so inspired to make a great meal for your loved ones all from scratch using only fresh ingredients. You don’t know why, but you feel like you just have to do it. So you look up a recipe that is not too complicated or too difficult, but you want to make something that would please everyone. So you decide to make chicken marsala and pasta that goes with it . As you go through the recipe, you noticed it calls some fresh herbs…basil, oregano, thyme and parsley. You say to yourself, “Not a big deal!” You write down all the ingredients on the piece of paper and drive down to your local grocery store.

You first put a loaf of nice Italian bread, dried linguine, chicken breast and a few other things in the basket and look for fresh herbs in the produce section. You are pleasantly surprised to see many kinds of fresh herbs available for you to choose from, but you are really shocked to see the price of those things. “Three dollars for this puny container of fresh herbs!” you scream. “If I get all the herbs required, that would cost me more than ten dollars. I just need a little bit of each, and I am probably not gonna use the rest of it for a while and end up wasting it. I might just as well go to the restaurant.”

This is a kind of dilemma many people experience when preparing a meal with fresh herbs. It sometimes costs more than dining out. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As far as fresh herbs are concerned, you won’t have to spend a fortune every time you cook. Here is how:

1. Buy a whole plant instead of packed pre-cut herbs. Many grocery stores now carry whole basil plants (It looks like a bouquet of flowers, or you can buy potted herbs of many kinds at a nursery).

2. If you buy a bouquet of basil at the grocery store all you need to do is get soil in a pot or any kind of containers and plant it. (see the picture above).

That’s all there is to it. Make sure you get a pot that is big enough for the roots to grow. You don’t need to get a fancy pot. The one I used for my basil is the free plastic container from Whole Foods. You might want to punch a few holes at the bottom for the drainage of excess water. Place a pot by the kitchen window for sunlight. It will last weeks and months as long as you keep the soil moist. Herbs really smells good in your kitchen, plus it is very nice to look at.

Happy Cooking!
Kaz Isogai