When you think of the wellness industry, the first name that likely pops into your head is Gwyneth Paltrow. The actor-turned-wellness guru founded her lifestyle brand Goop in 2008, and since then, her media empire has advised all manner of interesting health tips—some arguably more credible than others. But when it comes to Goop’s healing advice, much of which Paltrow has learned from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices, there is significant evidence that the wellness platform is right: plants really can transform your health.

Paltrow isn’t alone. After experiencing a psoriasis flare-up in 2019, Kim Kardashian turned to a Chinese herbalist to help ease her symptoms. It’s not confirmed which herbs the reality star was prescribed, but research suggests that Chinese herbs may be effective in managing the condition, which is characterized by flaky, itchy patches of skin. For example, some studies have found that snake-needle grass (known as Bai hua she she cao in TCM) may be able to reduce the inflammatory compounds associated with psoriasis.

Kardashian’s sister, Kourtney Kardashian-Barker, also regularly posts about the benefits of herbs on her own wellness platform Poosh, and many other celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, Sandra Bullock, and Elle Macpherson are fans of TCM. Renowned doctors have praised the benefits of the practice, too.

Chinese herbal teaHerbal teas are often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine | Yi Lu

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Andrew Weil, MD—who describes himself as a “Harvard-educated, integrative wellness expert”—says that TCM “can be particularly effective for complex diseases with multiple causes, including metabolic diseases, chronic and degenerative conditions (such as knee arthritis), and age-related diseases.” Frank Lipman, MD, a former Chief Medical Resident at New York’s Lincoln Hospital, is also a proponent of the benefits of TCM. In fact, he once told The Well (the wellness center where he is the current Chief Medical Officer) that his favorite book is Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine.

But while many A-listers discovered the benefits of Chinese herbs and plants in their adult lives (and, ahem, when wellness became trendy), many people of Chinese heritage, of course, have been raised with the knowledge that the natural world can help us thrive.

Beijing-born Jing DiPiero, for example, has understood since she was a young child just how healing plants can really be. After antibiotics wouldn’t work on her at the age of five, DiPiero’s parents took her to a neighbor—a renowned naturopathic doctor—for treatment. That treatment was successful, and the start of a fascination with medicinal herbs. Now, decades later, DiPiero is sharing that knowledge with the world through her whole food nutrition brand, Plants By People. The company combines the ancient wisdom of TCM with modern science in a range of plant-based beverages that are designed to support holistic health and wellness.

Jing-DiPiero-headshotJing DiPiero founded Plants By People using principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

From naturopathy to wellness brand: The Plants By People story

DiPiero’s second inspirational childhood experience with TCM happened when she watched her grandmother’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms ease with the help of plants. According to DiPiero, her grandmother was a lifelong smoker, but after taking “potent herbs,” the COPD improved.

There is no cure for COPD, but it is usually managed through inhalers and steroids. However, research suggests that some herbs may help to relieve the symptoms of the condition, which include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. One clinical study found that ginseng—which is used as a tonic herb in TCM—improved breathing for many people struggling with COPD.

“We are ready for products that have been formulated to boost immunity, gut health, and energy by letting our body detox naturally and relaxing our mind and emotions.”

DiPiero’s experience with the healing powers of herbs didn’t stop there. When she moved from Beijing to New York to attend graduate school, she developed a serious case of acne, which, similar to psoriasis, is an inflammatory skin condition. “I felt bloated, lethargic, and irritable” DiPiero recalled. “I used to cover up my skin with cosmetics or other topicals, but they only worked temporarily.” After heading back home to Beijing, she was advised by the same naturopathic doctor who treated her when she was a child to change her diet to include more plants. She did just that, and the acne cleared up.

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“My body is sensitive to additives and preservatives,” says DiPiero. “My skin becomes itchy and develops acne and a rash when I digress from natural whole foods.” Indeed, research has suggested that a Western diet, which is characterized by a high dairy intake and high-glycemic-index foods, may influence the hormone levels associated with acne.

It was these experiences that eventually led DiPiero to create Plants By People in 2021. “[I felt that] personally and collaboratively, we were ready for natural and clean food packed with nutrients that have been tested by time and clinical research,” she explained.

Plants By People GlowGinger and fresh lemon are often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine tonics.

Choosing whole food ingredients over additives and flavorings

All of the ingredients in Plants By People’s powdered blends—which are packaged in small sachets to keep plastic use to a minimum—are simple, natural, and plant-based. It’s important to note that while all of the herbs and plants come from TCM, their benefits are all backed up by modern medical research.

For example, the brand’s Glow Raspberry Digestion Blend features organic raspberries, which are a good source of fiber and an essential nutrient for digestive health, as well as organic lemons. In 2022, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggested that the citric acid in lemons may be beneficial to digestion.

VegNews.PlantsbyPeopleSimply mix Plants By People’s superfood powders with water to create a delicious, nutritious drink. 

Other blends include Bloom Cherry Energy, which has caffeine-rich green tea for a pick-me-up, and Thrive Elderberry Immunity, which contains organic elderberries. Research suggests that due to their antioxidant and vitamin content, berries such as elderberries can help support a healthy immune system.

You’ll notice that each blend features no more than five plant-based ingredients, many of which are organic. Keeping things as simple as possible was an important factor for DiPiero when creating Plants By People’s signature wellness blends—in fact, the founder prides herself on only using ingredients that have been clinically tested, but are so natural you could grow them in the garden yourself.

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It took extensive amounts of research to keep the ingredients list short, however. “We studied the ingredient standards of Erewhon, Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, and National Grocers to make sure we apply strict sourcing requirements just like the industry leaders in natural food,” explained DiPiero. “I also consulted with nutritionists, naturopathic doctors, and medical doctors to exclude artificial ingredients and additives.”

On top of this, DiPiero personally tested samples from more than 50 ingredient suppliers from North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia to ensure the ingredients were up to standard. There are no artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, or excipient ingredients like maltodextrin (a highly processed type of carbohydrate often included in processed foods) in any of Plants By People’s products. 

“Medical research has shown that consuming synthetic nutrients may lead to negative health impacts, as our body doesn’t absorb them as well as natural food. Many doctors urge us to use food as medicine for preventive care and long-term health.”

Multiple studies have suggested that diets based around plant-based whole-food nutrition are optimal for our health. In fact, they may even be able to reduce the risk of cancer (find out more about the link between plant-based foods and reduced cancer risk here), as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Many processed foods, on the other hand, are linked with an increased risk of chronic health conditions.

VegNews.PlantsByPeople.ProductLinePlants By People’s blends are made with organic ingredients like berries, pomegranates, and cherries.  

But aside from their research-backed health benefits, there’s another important reason to choose Plants By People’s blends. And that’s the taste. When Kardashian drank an herbal treatment for psoriasis, she wasn’t a fan of the flavor, but Plants By People’s products are proof that TCM ingredients can be fruity, refreshing, and beneficial to our bodies at the same time. In fact, DiPiero enlisted the help of 20 researchers and scientists who spent a year testing and tasting the product until they were 100 percent satisfied. 

Plants By People’s blends can be mixed in with any beverage you fancy. Pop some in your smoothie to add some extra flavorful goodness, or mix into hot water for a relaxing tea in the evening. They’re also delicious with ice and cold water on their own. To find out more about Plants By People and its different wellness blends (spoiler alert: DiPiero and her team are launching more options soon), click here. You can also find the brand’s products in health food and natural grocery stores across the US.

Thank you to Plants By People for partnering with VegNews on this story. 

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