Spring Recipe - Stir Fried Chicken and Goji Berries

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Spring Recipes

Spring is the season of new growth, the season of wood and the season of the liver. It is the season of wind and rain and very unstable weather. It marks the beginning of a new growing season including bacteria and viruses. People can easily catch cold/flu and infectious diseases in spring. Wind-injuries can be characterized by rapidly changing and moving symptoms such as a stuffy and runny nose, coughs, fever, body pain, sneezing, and dizziness.

Our livers are most vulnerable to wind-injury in spring. It is important to invigorate the liver by eating warming and pungent food to defend and expel wind evil. Foods that are sweet in nature such as dates, goji-berries, animal's liver and leek can benefit liver health and help to promote liver qi. Sour can nourish liver and promote blood. Salty taste can promote sour.

Spring tonics emphasize on light and healthful foods such as spinach, celery, onion, lettuce, leaf mustard, Chinese yam, wheat, dates, peanuts, onions, cilantro, bamboo shoot and mushrooms. Soybean, bean sprout, egg, and tofu are rich in protein and can promote liver health and healthy growth of tendons.

Chrysanthemum Flower

Chrysanthemum flowers are very effective in lowering liver heat and calming the liver. They can be used as a tea or cook with other ingredients to make soup or entree dishes.

Dandelion

Dandelion is everywhere in spring. It is bitter and sweet in taste, cold in nature, and attributive to liver and stomach channels.

Pick dandelion leaves from your garden or from a wild field where there is no chemical pollution to make a detoxification tea for yourself and your family in spring. It is diuretic, clears damp-heat and toxic material, and benefits liver health. You can repeat this once again in late summer when you see them bloom again. It is the most inexpensive and effect detoxification tea that you can give to your body.

Stir Fried Chicken & Goji Berries

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Benefits the liver and eyes.

INGREDIENTS

  • Astragalus (huang qi) 黃耆 - 30 gm
  • Goji-berry / Chinese Wolfberry (gou ji zi) 枸杞子 - 15 gm
  • Chicken breast - one piece
  • Cucumber - one
  • Cooking wine - 2 spoonfuls
  1. Rinse astragalus and put with 2 cups of water in a pot and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then bring water to a boil and lower heat to medium-low to cook down to 1/2 cup of water left. Strain and keep aside.
  2. Wash and shred chicken and cucumber.
  3. Season chicken with salt, pepper, cornstarch and 2 to 3 spoons of astragalus water.
  4. Soak goji-berries for 20 minutes and rinse. Season goji-berries with some astragalus water.
  5. Warm one spoonful of oil in a wok and stir-fry chicken for a few minutes. Then sprinkle in cooking wine and the rest of the astragalus water, and stir.
  6. Add cucumber and stir for a few more minutes, then add wolfberry and stir for a couple of minutes more and is done.

USAGE

No restrictions.

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Photo by Tim Chow on Unsplash


Essential Oils for Health & Wellness

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

A Brief History of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by traditional cultures for thousands of years, and were some of the most highly valued possessions of traditional peoples, along with jewels and precious metals. Essential oils are considered to be the distillation of both the intelligence and spirit of the plants they come from. They have been used throughout history for their medicinal, emotional, aromatic and spirit enhancing effects. In recent years there has been a revival in the use of essential oils, many people use them in their homes, healthcare practitioners use them to offer patients an alternative to conventional treatments like medications, and companies are using essential oils in their products as natural alternatives to chemical ingredients.

My own experience with essential oils goes back as far as I can remember. Long before I became an acupuncturist, I used them in my home for things like cleaning, for making skin and hair care products as well as aromatherapy, and in my medicine cabinet to help heal a wide variety of problems. When I began treating patients as an acupuncturist, essential oils were a vital part of my toolbox. I have always loved the versatility that essential oils afford the person and certainly the practitioner. They have been an invaluable part of my practice, and I am always humbled at how powerful they can be to correct a huge number of imbalances and heal on a multitude of different levels.

Essential Oils At Home

I think that many people may not be aware of the enormous versatility of essential oils that you can use in your home to make everyday products. In an age where we are bombarded by toxins (you can read more about this here - 5 Toxins to Avoid for Better Health - essential oils offer the ability to make these products knowing they are pure, health-promoting and toxin free. You can make household cleaners, skin and hair products (some of the worst offenders in terms of toxicity), soaps and lotions as well as using a diffuser to gently release certain oils into the air to detoxify, cleanse the air and for health reasons - like certain oils that act as decongestants when you or your family are suffering with a cold. There are oils for relaxation and stress, you can add them to the bathtub to help calm - I use this often for my very high energy 2-year-old baby boy, and it works smashingly. Oils can also be put into laundry soap, on rags in the dryer instead of dryer sheets, and a drop or two placed onto a pillow or bed sheets to help freshen things up or aid with things like insomnia, stress or depression.

This lovely photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

Essential Oils In Health Care

I use essential oils every day in my clinic with my patients. They are simply another tool that I have in my healing toolbox. There are many ways in which to use essential oils for healing. In Chinese Medicine theory heat and cold are properties that contribute to health and disease. Essential oils also have heating and cooling properties, as well as having affinities for certain organs and meridians, so with this knowledge, I am able to use them on patients depending on both their constitution as well as what is ailing them. There are many ways that I use them - sometimes I apply them to specific acupuncture points, sometimes I mix them into massage oil to massage into certain points of areas of the body and sometimes I put oils into the diffuser for a more subtle effect. I often prescribe their use for patients at home, suggesting adding them to a bath, or massaging them into specific points when certain symptoms appear. For patients to participate in their own healing is the goal and essential oils are a wonderful way to help the process.

Using Essential Oils with Children & Babies

Since I have had children - and I have two, a two-year-old and a six-month-old - I have found that massage and essential oils are the most useful things I have to deal with everyday health matters. They also serve calm an excited child before a nap or sleep at night, dealing with anxiety, excessive crying in a colicky baby, and just keeping a chaotic house as relaxed and delicious smelling as humanly possible. Acupuncture is difficult on small children mostly because they have a hard time sitting still, so essential oils have been my go-to for everything that has to do with my babies, from their overall health, the state of their emotions and their wellbeing.

But, because they are so small and their systems so delicate, dosages and dilution are very important. You would always use way less of an oil on a child compared to an adult, and a good rule of thumb is to put any oil you are using medicinally into a carrier oil (I use coconut oil most of the time) and apply it to the feet as they are the farthest away from important organs. When my son gets a cold, I use various oils in this way which always helps clear his congestion, makes him more comfortable and I find that he gets over things a lot faster. With my baby girl, I tend to put a few drops of various oils into the diffuser when she isn't feeling well and I always find this helps her feel better, calmer and helps her sleep (which when you have 2 babies in your house is vital!!).

The other thing I have found is how powerful our olfactory senses are and the connection they have to our health and emotions. I find that just a drop of my favourite scent on my pillow after a long, intense day with 2 small children has a hugely calming effect on my nerves and psyche. A few drops on the sheets freshens up the room and makes for better sleeps. Some lavender on the temples helps you relax and all that tension you had in your jaws, neck, and shoulders, seems to just melt away. The therapeutic effects of essential oils are really limitless, and I know I am so grateful to have an arsenal to help me keep my children healthy without toxic chemicals while also being kind to the environment. Win/win!

Essential Oil Safety

It is important to remember that essential oils are medicine, and need to be used with caution. Like herbs, they can be very powerful and it is important to educate yourself about the oils properties, as well as any contraindications before using them therapeutically. Most commercially produced essential oils are used in the food and perfume industry (about 95%). However, when using them in your home for cleaning, skin or hair products or anything that will come in contact with your body, please be sure that you use high quality, therapeutic grade oils, that are extracted in a clean way and not using toxic chemicals. Here are some very good safety guidelines for using essential oils. When using essential oils directly on the body (and the best advice is to never use them directly on the body without diluting them or using a carrier oil) is to be careful of how much you are using or how much to dilute them. This is especially important when using them with children. You can find useful information at the link above about how to dilution ratios.

Natural Medicines

I am a firm believer that the cure for every disease that exists on this planet is available in its forests, rainforests, and jungles. Natural medicines have been healing human beings since the beginning of time. So many cultures have the wisdom to cure using these natural, plant-based medicines. This wisdom has largely been forgotten by Allopathic (Western) medicine that chooses to use petroleum-based pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms that are the result of our modern diseases.

This beautiful photo by Trần Anh Tuấn on Unsplash

From everything that I know about Chinese medicine, and indeed many of the wisdom traditions that have been around for thousands of years, the key to staying healthy is to live a healthy and balanced life. This has been increasingly difficult because many of us live in an unbalanced, toxic culture. For us now, I believe that living in the most natural way possible is the key to health. Eliminating toxins, eating clean, natural, fresh foods, drinking clean water, getting enough sleep and when we do become sick, using natural medicines to get us well again. Acupuncture, herbs, exercise, a healthy diet (using food as medicine) as well as things like essential oils are the best ways I know of to keep us all healthy, and if we fall ill, to bring us back to health again. Incorporating as many of these into our lives and our homes will ensure that we stay as healthy as we can, and empower us to heal ourselves when we are sick.

This beautiful photo by Vero Photoart on Unsplash

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Featured image photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


Winter Recipe - Black Bean Congee to Promote Kidney Health

By NourishU

Eating in Winter According to Chinese Medicine

Winter with the drop of temperature is the time to slow down on physical activities because our body's metabolic rate will be slower. It is also the time to eat nourishing food to help the body to preserve energy. Animals follow the law of nature and hibernate throughout winter. Human should also preserve energy and build up strength, preparing the body for regeneration and new growth in spring.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, tonic-taking in winter has a great bearing upon the balancing of Yin and Yang elements, the unblocking of meridians, and the harmonizing of Qi and blood. In the five elements theory of TCM, winter is when the kidneys are highly active and they have astringent and active storage functions that help in preserving energy. People should eat food with less salty taste in order to reduce the burden on the kidneys. Uncooked and frozen foods can damage the spleen and stomach and should be taken in moderation.

In winter when body's resistance is low, elderly people are especially advised to take food tonics which can improve their body constitution and promote better resistance to illness. Food tonics can have much better healthful effects than supplementation and drugs.

The tonics include superior warming herbs, fatty and meaty foods. Our body is designed to absorb the rich and nutritional foods better at this time of the year. For people who have a cold constitution with cold hands and feet, weak kidney health with frequent urination, cold and stiff body and constant pain in their backs and ankles, winter is the best time for them to correct these health problems when the body is most responsive to nutritional treatment.

The warming winter foods include chive, chicken, mutton, shrimp, ginger, garlic, walnut, mushroom, chestnut, mustard, vinegar, wine, gingko, red pepper and spring onion. For people who are cold in nature, they should also use the warming herbs such as dang shen, ginseng, astragalus, reishi mushroom, longan fruit and deer horn, etc. to promote yang energy.

For people who are hot in nature, they should use moderating foods such as spinach, eggplant, crab, white turnip, persimmon, honeydew, bitter melon and pineapple to moderate the heat.

For people who have a moderate constitution (neither too hot nor too cold), they should use moderately warm herbs such as Chinese yam, goji-berries, American ginseng, glehnia and Solomon's seal to maintain a healthy balance.

Black Bean Congee

Therapeutic Effects

Promotes kidney health.

Ingredients

  • Black beans 黑豆 – 2 spoonfuls
  • Little red bean 紅小豆 – one spoonful
  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 山藥 – 30gm
  • Goji-berry / Chinese Wolfberry (gou ji zi) 枸杞子 – 10 to 20
  • Rice – half a cup

Directions

1.   Soak beans and yam for 2 hours and rinse.

2.   Soak goji-berry for 30 minutes and rinse.

3.   Rinse rice. Bring 4 cups of water in a pot to a boil and put in all ingredients. Boil again, lower heat to medium and cook for about 45 minutes or until beans are soft. Add water if necessary.

Usage

No limitation. Eat in the evening with dinner for best results.

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If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Winter Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Winter Season in Chinese Medicine.

**Photo by Sandra Frey on Unsplash


Fall Lung Recipe - American Ginseng & Chicken Soup

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Cooking in the Fall Season

Fall is the time when dryness and cooler temperatures predominate. This is also the time of year when your lungs are most vulnerable to attack. Symptoms related to dryness include coughing with sputum, dry nose and throat, dry skin and lips, chest pain and dry stools.

It is important to increase the intake of soothing fluids to balance the effect of external dryness. The cooling temperatures can increase your appetite, especially for meat, but it is important to change gradually from a diet high in vegetables and fruit over summer months to one that is a mix of meat and vegetables so that the digestive system can adjust more easily. In fall, eat less eggplant because they can turn the digestive system sluggish.

The following superfoods are highly recommended to be taken more in fall to counter the dry seasonal effects.

Fresh Lily Bulb

Excellent for moisturizing lungs and is regarded as vegetable ginseng because of its high protein, phosphate, potassium, calcium and rich multivitamin content.

Red Dates/Jujube

Promote energy, reduce stress on the liver, benefit the formation and maintenance of the bloodstream, body hormones, bones, muscles, skin, hair, body enzymes, and neurotransmitters.

Sweet Potatoes

High in fiber and nutritional content can help to prevent constipation and adding pounds.

Goji-berries

Goji-berries have many health benefits and can improve immune functions to prevent sickness.

Pears

Excellent in lowering heat and moisturizing lungs, prevent cough and clear phlegm.

Pumpkin

Moisturizing, strengthen stomach and spleen functions.

American Ginseng Chicken Soup

American Ginseng / Image from nootriment.com

Symptoms

Lack of energy, easily tired, dry mouth and throat, lack of appetite and profuse perspiration.

Therapeutic Effects

Clears, moisturizes and tonifies the lungs, strengthens the spleen and builds blood.

Ingredients (2 to 3 servings)

  • Chicken - one whole
  • Ginger - 40gm
  • American ginseng 花旗參 - 20gm
  • Pitted red dates 紅棗 - 4

Chinese Red Dates / Image from katjuju.com

Directions

  1. Wash chicken, cut into halves and remove skin and fat. Put chicken in boiling water to boil for 5 minutes, remove and rinse.
  2. Wash other ingredients and put all ingredients in a pot with adequate water (about 3 liters) and bring to a boil. Remove foam, reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours to about 3 cups of soup left.
  3. Add salt to serve and drink soup mainly.

Usage

Suitable for the whole family.


Cancer & Chinese Medicine - Part 3

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Treatment of Cancer with Chinese Medicine

Because of the way that Chinese medicine looks at health and the human body, the treatments for any disease in Chinese medicine are varied and complex. In Chinese medicine, a practitioner is not treating cancer, they are treating YOUR cancer. And they are not in effect treating the cancer, they are treating you. In essence, Chinese medicine works to treat the person, not the disease. And although this might sound like a nice tagline, it is the way Chinese medicine works, and why it is so effective.

When a patient comes in with a diagnosis from a Western doctor of cancer, the first thing we do, is to look at what is happening in the body and what is causing the cancer. We do not just treat the cancer, because if you treat the cancer without fully understanding why it has occurred in the first place, then even if you do manage to get rid of the cancer, the factors that created it are still present and the cancer will return. This is the reason why looking at absolutely everything about a persons health, be it physical, emotional and especially their lifestyle is integral to successfully treating any disease in Chinese medicine. The cancer is the symptom, so we must, as practitioners, find the root.

There are literally an infinite amount of factors that contribute to diseases, especially one as complex as cancer, so the search for the cause or, more likely, causes is not an easy task. Many factors are things I wrote about previously in this article - nutrition, toxins, unresolved or unexpressed emotions, the quality of our water, stress, the list goes on. This vast ocean of potential causes is the reason why the practitioner of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) does such a thorough intake and asks many questions at each session, trying to collect as much information as possible. Something I always tell my patients when we are talking is that they should tell me everything, no matter how silly or seemingly irrelevant it may seem, because in my experience, everything is significant and is another piece of the puzzle that I am trying to create for each patient to get to the bottom of their present condition.

As a side note, this is why many times patients will ask why, if they have come in for sleep problems, would I be asking about their digestion or emotional state? I tell them it is all connected and we do not draw distinctions in a holistic model of medicine. It is not the reductionist model of allopathic or Western medicine that likes to reduce the body into parts, focussing on each if it breaks down. In a holistic system, every part functions synergistically with all the others, they cannot function in isolation. Every part affects every other part. This is the reason that we need a picture of the whole to determine what is going on, and why it works so well, because treatments are tailored to the individual. Cancer can arise from a myriad of reasons, so we need to understand why the cancer has manifested, correct those imbalances and the body will readjust to a healthy balance and the cancer should disappear. Chinese medicine believes in the body's powerful and innate healing abilities, so when we are diagnosing we must ask ourselves: "what it is that is blocking the healing process? Why is the healing not being allowed to occur?" Chinese medicine also believes that if the body has everything it needs, then health and certainly healing will be the result. Disease is just the body's way of telling us that something is missing, and needs attention. This is why listening to your body is also so important for your health. Your body will always tell you when things are not right. At the beginning when the imbalance is only minor, it may only be a whisper, which gradually moves to a full blown yell by the time we get to a very severe imbalance which is what we see in cases like cancer. Learning to listen to the subtle communications of your body is such a good way to be able to correct things before they become more serious and practice what Chinese medicine is all about - preventative medicine.

Self Love and Loving Kindness

One of the biggest things that practicing Chinese medicine has taught me has not been about medicine at all. It has been about the pain and the immense struggles that human beings go through in life, and often, on a daily basis. The things that I have heard from my patients over the years about what they have been through have been humbling to say the least. As I am a highly sensitive person who can strongly feel what others are feeling simply by being in the room with them, this information, at least at first, was very difficult to process. Hearing stories of such pain and suffering took a toll emotionally and I quickly had to learn to manage those feelings so that I would not be consumed by them (because they could also make me sick!). This also taught me something very valuable. That I could never, ever judge someone from what they were projecting on the outside, because I realized that I had no idea what was going on in their life and what struggles they were facing. It gave me enormous empathy for people, especially ones who were rude or otherwise unpleasant to be around. It also made me realize why people get sick as I began to see a correlation with these struggles and pain, and the kinds of illnesses that people develop. Many people are suffering alone because they feel they have to. Many people have no outlet for such problems or simply do not want to burden others. I think this is what we desperately need from each other. We need each others kindness, love and understanding. We need to really listen to each other and not just wait for our turn to speak.

The other part of this is that I think we need to be kinder to ourselves. To look at any TV reality show or movie you would think this was insane. From what we see in the media, it seems that we are a hedonistic bunch, very capable of looking after ourselves, and only ourselves, and that is certainly the culture we are living in these days. It feeds this kind of narcissism. But, in my experience, overwhelmingly, people are working hard, sleeping less, and struggling more. It seems to be getting harder, certainly in the last generation or two, to get ahead and be able to live a simple life and provide for our families. Gone are the days when someone could have the same job working at the same company for their entire lives or that a married couple could survive, and even thrive on the salary of one working person. Children now leave school saddled with so much debt that they cannot afford to leave home, and things like social security are something my generation and the ones after will never see. It is these things, these stresses in our lives that contribute to disease. We must all have hope. We must all believe that we can achieve our dreams and make a life for ourselves if we are smart and work towards that goal.

Self love is a hard thing for a lot of people, and it is something I talk to a lot of my patients about. We are all energetic beings, and when we are so stressed and exhausted by modern life, it is difficult to find the time to take proper care of ourselves. And this is so important for our health. Having the intention of being kind to ourselves, eating well, spending time with our friends and people we love, doing things that feed us energetically and make us happy are just as important to health as herbs and acupuncture. And this goes back to listening. If you have had a particularly stressful day at work, or have had a particularly negative interaction with a stranger on the way home, recognize how it is making you feel and take the time to cleanse that energy and feed yourself to build yourself up again. Take a walk in the park and breathe deeply the cool, clean air. Have a hot bath and read that book that you have been meaning to start for weeks. Make yourself something delicious and eat it mindfully, really savouring it. These are the things that recharge batteries and let your body and psyche know that you love it and are taking care of it. In the cases of cancer that I have treated and indeed in so many of the illnesses that I treat, there is a definite connection to this loss of self love and care. Think of these personal acts of kindness as medicine of prevention. It is your health insurance policy, a way to make sure you never get sick.

In conclusion, when it comes to a disease as complex as cancer, there are many factors at play both in its development and treatment. In a holistic system like Chinese medicine, it is not the cancer that is important, it is determining why the cancer has manifested and making corrections necessary so that the cancer is both able to resolve itself, as well as not be recreated in the future. In contrast, in a Western model of medicine, giving chemotherapy or radiation without any investigation to the causes, the factors at play in the persons life, no nutritional counseling, no inquiry to the persons emotional life might lead to a temporary remission of the present cancer, but it will no doubt return as the circumstances that created it are still present. This is not to say that Western medicine does not have its benefits, not at all. I only say that the approach to healing is different, and in my opinion, by not looking at the system as a whole, there is so much that is missing. Treating cancer, like any other disease is a delicate balance of searching for the reasons that it has manifested, dealing with them thoroughly especially any emotional ones, rebalancing the system and giving the body, mind and spirit everything it needs to thrive allowing us to regain our health so we can be healthy, happy human beings.


5 Ways To Cleanse Your Energy Field

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Everything is the universe is made of energy; from the planets to rocks, to human beings. Energy affects all of us, which is why it is a good idea to keep your personal energy field clean and free of negative influences and vibrations. For a healer, this is extremely important, so many healers have rituals that they perform to ready their energy for the healing session as well as cleansing their energy afterward. I know that before I see a patient before I even enter the room with them I make sure that I take a moment to clear my head, ground myself and set an intention for the session. After the session, I make sure to cleanse my energy so that I am not carrying any remnants of the previous person's energy to the next patient, as well it is a sort of recalibration, or reboot of your energy field so that you are starting fresh with each patient. For me, what ritual, meditation, intention or objects you may use are not as important as doing it in the first place. There are many, many ways that you can cleanse and restore balance to your energy field, you just need to find the one that is right for you.

I like using crystals and stones in my treatment room and sometimes with patients for healing specific issues and attracting certain energies to the space. I burn a lot of incense and sage, especially after a particularly intense or emotional session. I always make sure to wash my hands constantly throughout the treatment and certainly after each patient. I use Qi Gong regularly with patients (with their permission). I have salt lamps in my treatment room for cleansing and purification of energies and I like to use colours for activating certain chakras and building certain energies that will help in my treatments. Below are just a few things you can use to cleanse your energy field. Try them out and see which ones resonate with you.

Sage & Smudging

this lovely image from heyfranhey.com

Burning sage is one of my favourite ways to cleanse energy. This practice goes back to Native American tribes who would use it in various rituals and healing practices. The practice of burning sage or "smudging" was often used to cleanse the energy of a person, group of people, animal, living or workspace. Native American tribes would often smudge people as they entered a sacred space before a ritual or healing took place to make sure everyone's energies were clean, and they weren't bringing anything with them that was not pure and might negatively influence the ritual that was about to take place. The Latin word for sage is Salvia from the word Salvus meaning "to heal". Burning sage keeps a person and their environment energetically balanced. Other benefits of burning sage are said to be a heightened sense of spiritual awareness and intuition, wisdom, cleansing of energy and clarity. Burning sage is also an excellent thing to do after you have been around people who are depressed, emotionally unbalanced, sad, ill, mentally ill, angry or emotionally toxic. Burning sage can also help you when you are feeling any of the above as it acts to clear those energies and restore balance. The idea of how this practice works is that the smoke attaches itself to the negative energy, and as the smoke clears away it takes the energy with it.

An example of the many herbs that can be used to burn for smudging : This lovely image from alchemy-arts.com

There are many cultures around the world that have adopted burning sage and countless other burning rituals. You may use burn many different herbs depending on your purposes. Traditionally, the Native American tradition of burning sage uses white sage or desert sage. To smudge yourself, another person or an environment like your home or workspace, do a small meditation to clear your thoughts and make your intentions clear. Sage burning is a wonderful way to regularly keep your home or workspace clear of negative energies, and you will find that you will feel a tangible, positive difference in how you and the space around you feel afterward.

Himalayan Salt - Salt Lamps & Salt Baths

Pink Himalayan salt is not only beautiful but has amazing cleansing properties as well, both for the body and the spirit. There are many ways that you can use Himalayan salt to cleanse your energy of negativity; you can carry a piece with you as a sort of protection from taking on negative energies from the world and other people in your day to day life, you can put Himalayan salt lamps in your home or workspace. Salt crystals absorb water from the air. The small light bulb in the salt lamp dries the crystal and causes it to release healthy negative ions - which are abundant in natural, healing places like oceans, waterfalls, and the beach - into the air. Negative ions in the air attract particles of pollution giving them a negative charge causing them to seek an electrical "ground" making them fall harmlessly to the ground. Nature is constantly producing negative ions to combat pollution in the air, this is why the air after a lightning storm always feels so invigorating - lightning produces a high concentration of negative ions. Because an energy source is needed to create negative ions - like the heat from the bulb in a salt lamp, lightning in a storm, rise and fall of tides at the beach and friction and evaporation in a waterfall - carrying salt does not have the same powerful effect. Think of salt lamps as protective as well as cleansing energy.

Carrying salt, as well as bathing in salt baths are a great way to cleanse energy. A salt bath cleanses both body and spirit. These can be used once a week to once a month to cleanse any negative energies that may have accumulated. It is a good idea to shower and wash first, then give yourself some uninterrupted time and the intention of cleansing so you can completely relax and be mindful of what you are trying to achieve. Burning incense or candles, having crystals or listening to relaxing music can also enhance the experience. Do whatever makes you feel good. All of these things contribute to the beneficial effects of the bath and open you up to the universal energies that rebalance and heal us.

A Cleansing Meditation

this calming image from buddhaweekly.com

Meditation is something I talk about a lot and I think is really vital to our health and wellbeing. That said, I know it can be a bit intimidating for anyone who has never done it and feels that they might not know "how". My thought is that the "how" isn't as important as doing it in the first place. Just starting by clearing your mind (which is no easy task, I know), and in the case of cleansing, setting an intention or having an image in your mind is what you need. You can think about whatever represents cleansing or purifying to you... it could be a white light, fire, creating a barrier around yourself, whatever you feel is cleansing, you can do a little meditation where you visualize the process of this cleansing of your energies, and it should do the trick. When I am energetically cleansing a patient, I see myself pulling negative, sticky energy off of them, balling it up and tossing it away. In many cases, they can feel me pulling it off and feel much better and lighter afterward. After a treatment, I have many different techniques that I use to cleanse, but a short meditation before and after each patient to recalibrate myself and cleanse any energy that isn't my own is vital to being an effective practitioner and a healthy, happy person. Find something that feels right for you and experiment. You will eventually hone it to what is exactly what you need.

Grounding, Drawing Energy from Nature

this beautiful image from magazine.gow.asia

Another favourite of mine is to leave it to the power of mother nature to remove negative energy and revitalize your body, mind, and spirit. You can draw energy from the earth, the sun and all the flowers, plants and trees that have been soaking up and are now radiating that wonderful energy right into your person. A great way to absorb good energy from nature is to take off your shoes and just stand with your feet on the ground, in the grass or in the sand and soak up the earth's energy directly into your feet. You can reach up into the sky and absorb the sun's energy at the same time and complete the circuit, becoming a conduit for the power of the sun and the earth at the same time.

Because so many of us now are living in big cities and live in apartments or houses and work in buildings all day long, we get less and less time to be in nature which is the ultimate healer. There is nothing better to cleanse negative energy and boost positive feelings and thoughts than simply going for a walk in a forest, on a beach or along a path outside, breathing deeply and taking it in through all your senses. To some, this may sound a bit silly, but this connection to nature's healing power is something we have largely lost and I think is a huge contributor to our decreased health, happiness, and well-being as a species. Chinese medicine believes that a close relationship with nature is an integral part of health, and is a huge part of its system of preventative medicine. So, if you want to clear negative energy, rebalance, recharge and reconnect, go outside. Breathe deep. Take off your shoes. Lie in the grass. Climb a tree. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.

Move Your Body

this happy image from startupdope.com

One of the major causes of both pain and disease in Chinese medicine is energy that gets stuck, or stagnant. This can start energetically and eventually can manifest physically as well. A large part of these "stagnations" in the body are due to the fact that we have become so sedentary. Exercise is good for your body for many reasons, not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically as well. A great way to also get rid of negative or old and stuck energy is to simply move your body. You can do this any way you like. Go for a run. Do some yoga. Practice Qi Gong or Tai Chi. Go out dancing. Anything that moves you will increase circulation, and move energy inside your body as well as move old energy out to make room for new, good energy.


External Qi Healing - Part 2

By John Voigt

**Disclaimer. This article is written for educational purposes only.  It is not offered for the healing of any serious illnesses. If a person is sick he or she must see a proper professional, in either (or both) western or traditional Chinese medicine.**

C - The Sending. 

It is important to be relaxed, both physically, mentally and emotionally.  Never send healing qi if you are fatigued, sick, or mentally distressed; your client could become sicker, and possibly you could more easily infected with their illness.  Proceed in the following manner:

1)  Ground yourself, center, and connect to your sources of spiritual energy.  Breathe fully, softly, deeply.  Have a hint of a smile at the corners of the mouth.  Gently tighten the muscles in the perineum area.

2)  With your creative imagination, build an Energy Shield all around yourself to prevent the entry of any pathogenic qi.  Rub your hands together.  Stretch open your palms and wiggle your fingers.   

3)  Bend your knees and crouch down a little to better ground yourself and to increase, solidify and intensify the qi in your body.  Look directly at the area or areas on the client that you are about to send to (qi follows sight)  and form a “Tiger’s Claw” with your right hand.  The left hand is held by the left side.  [see picture].

4)  Send qi to the acupuncture points related to the condition.  Use your eyes as well as your hands to direct sharp pointed beams of radiant qi-energy.  As with acupuncture treatments, simultaneously send to as many points and places as the condition requires.  The healer’s “sent qi” will become the client’s “internal qi” and dissolve and drain out pathogenic elements.

5)  When engaged in a send it is proper to feel heat, especially in the hands, and even to heavily sweat.  But if you feel cold then stop.  Do a qigong closing form and try again at some future time.

Although there are many accepted places from which to emanate healing qi, the author prefers the acupuncture points Large Intestine-1 (Shangyang), Pericardium-8 (Laogong) and Pericardium-9 (Zhongchong).  The locations are LI-1 on the outer side of the index fingers just below the corner of the nail.  Pc-8 is on the palm approximately where the tip of the middle finger would touch when making a fist.  Pc-9 is at the center of the tip of the middle finger.  Generally the sending comes from the right hand, with the left hand functioning to release and drain noxious energy, but both hands can be used to send.  The hands could be stationary, but it is best to lead and guide the “good qi”  forward and move the bad qi out of the troubled areas.  This is done in pushing-pulling manipulations; or by waving, rotating, or quivering  motions. Good qi can be “screwed in” and bad qi can be “unscrewed” by moving the right hand in a clockwise motion, and the left hand counter-clockwise.  These are only suggestions: there are many other different well established methods to perform external energy healings.

Large Intestine 1 Acupuncture Point from A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman

The Pericardium Acupuncture Points Running Along The Inner Arm : Image from ITMonline.org

Scan-Snatch-Throw method to remove harmful qi. 

If the practitioner is skilled enough he or she may be able imaginatively to bring their hands into the client’s body and, as it were, scoop and pull out the polluted illness causing qi.  One of my teachers succinctly described this method as, “Scan-Snatch-Throw.”

Correcting Yin-Yang Imbalances. 

Health problems are often caused by imbalances of yang-heat and yin-cold.  This EQH treatment comes from VitalityLink Finder:  If a patient shows signs of excess heat or cold we are able to rebalance these energies through emitting wai qi [external energy] of the opposite quality.  This conforms to the TCM treatment principle of using cooling techniques on heat conditions and warming techniques on cold conditions.

To create warming energy, the therapist imagines drawing down the energy of the sun into the Dan Tien, a major energy centre below and behind the navel.  The energy then collects in the Dan Tien in the form of light and heat.  The therapist then draws the qi from the Dan Tien to the Laogong point (Pc 8) in the centre of the palms.  This qi is then emitted to the client.

To create cooling energy, the therapist imagines drawing cool earth energy up into the Yongquan (Ki 1) points on the soles of the feet.  The qi should then be mentally drawn up from the feet to the Laogong points in the palms.  Imagine cool wai qi forming on the palms only, and emit this qi to the client.  It is important not to imagine this cool energy anywhere else in your body as cold has a tendency to slow qi and blood flow. [ Wai Qi Liao Fa – Healing by External Qi Projection. http://www.vitalitylink.com/article-qi-gong-1132-wai-liao-healing-external-projection-energy

this image from lexicolatry.com

Sensations Experienced During Healing. 

When doing External Qi Healing both the sender and the client may feel tingling, itching, hot or cold or electrical pin-prick sensations. For the sender especially in the hands and in particular the palms and fingers.  The client may experience quivering in the problem areas.  Any of these sensations may also travel in the meridians, especially in the arms and legs—but more often this feels like numbing electrical currents.  These all are signs suggesting a healing may be taking place.

When the energy is being guided and moved by your mental intention to leave your fingers, palms, eyes—even from other parts of your body—you might actually see the qi.  From what teachers have told me, and including my own experiences, this often appears as a phosphorescent mist (interestingly the original meaning of qi was something like a “vaporous foggy mist”).  Or the qi may appear like a luminescent white cloud clustered around the hands, fingers, and especially the palms (laogong points).  This light may increase as your practice deepens and become something like a bright moon shining on a clear dark night.  During distance healings at night I twice saw rays of this phosphorescent qi substance running from my hands to the targeted subject.  At another sending, this time in the same room, the client saw it as resembling heat waves rising from a summer sunbaked highway.

D - After the Send. 

The healer might offer suggestions and instructions to the client in such things as meditation, qigong or tai chi exercises, or appropriate dietary changes and other lifestyle modifications.

After the client has left...

It is important to remove any unwanted qi you may have picked up during the send:

1.  Shake your hands as if you were shaking off dirty water; kick your feet front and back as it you had stepped in dog feces and you were cleaning it off your shoes.  It will be absorbed into the ground and function as compost.

2. Rub down the outsides and insides of your arms and again flick the “evil qi” from your hands.  If practical, jump up and down to further rid yourself of anything noxious.  This is all best done outdoors and in sunlight.    

3.  If the transmission took place at night (understanding sending during the day is best) stand and raise your arms up in front on the inhalation and back down on the exhalation.  When inhaling lift your heels. When exhaling lower your heels back to the ground.  The goal is to have the pathogenic elements flush out the soles of the feet and the tips of fingers.

4.  After washing and changing clothes, use inner (nèi dān) qigong-like meditations or visualizations:  From outside sources, which may range from flowers and trees to the sun,  gather external qi into yourself.  And if acceptable to the belief systems of you the healer,  gather in the energies of divine spiritual entities.  This is the time to do whatever is necessary to clean and recover your life force.

Sage Smudging : Image from  nari-gordon.livejournal.com


Stress Relief Chinese Herbal Soup - Just 5 Ingredients in 5 Minutes!

By Cindy Mai of rootandspring.com

Stress….need I say more? With the pressures of our now modern life, none of us are immune to stress. Small daily challenges like work deadlines, multiple errands, and traffic jams can build up stress, which then interferes with optimal wellness. What stress does is it can cripple the immune system (which is why people get physically sick after being stressed for too long), upset delicate hormones, and disrupt digestion, among other things. Most dangerous of all, it can build up inflammation in the body.

Now, It is quite common for people to pour a glass of wine or beer at the end of the day to de-stress. Yet, there are other more healthful ways that can help, to not only de-stress, but actually support the body nutritionally. In traditional Chinese medicine, there is a classic combination of four herbs that support the adrenal function. This same classic combination is what inspired our “Stress Relief Herbal Mix", and in ancient Chinese literature is referred to as having effects like “meditation in a bowl”. They are: Poria, Chinese Wild Yam, White Lotus Seeds, and Euryale Seeds. In Chinese herbal medicine, a great infusion of herbs can work wonders on your mind and body, and when these herbs are consumed, it can help reduce stress and anxiety as well as calm the heart and spirit.

Poria

Chinese Wild Yam

White Lotus Seeds

Consuming herbs is arguably one of the best ways to increase intake of medicinal herbs. With the right measurements, this classic combination of stress relieving herbs can be prepared in a soup or tea. In a soup, it will create a beautiful broth that helps your body decrease tension, and soothe the mind. Plenty of vegetables can be added that would further enhance the properties of the soup for your body most of which you can find at your local market. According to traditional Chinese medicine, foods act just like herbs and can and should be selected and prepared appropriately to match your body. It is important to know about the energies of food because different energies act upon the human body in different ways and affect our state of health. If a person suffers from acne that worsen when exposed to heat, it is beneficial to eat foods with Yin energy (cold or cool energy) such as bamboo shoots, lotus roots, spinach, or mushrooms to relieve the symptoms. A general rule of thumb is if you eat predominantly Yin foods, your body will be capable of producing more Yin energy - darker, slower-moving and colder. In contrast, eating predominantly Yang foods (onions, asparagus, peppers, ginger) will produce more Yang energy - faster, hotter and much more energetic. It's helpful to remember certain rules to determine the type of energy a food produces, so that you can prepare soup accordingly to what type of stress you’d like to rid.

Euryale Seeds

A super simple recipe that takes just a handful of ingredients and five minutes to prepare to get your mind and body right.

Stress Relief Herbal Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds of chicken, pork bones, or beef bones
  • 43 grams of Poria
  • 31 grams of Chinese Wild Yam
  • 29 grams of White Lotus Seeds
  • 26 grams of Euryale Seeds
  • 8 - 10 cups of water
  • Salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Lightly rinse herbs.
  2. In a pot, combine herbs, meat, and water.
  3. Bring to a boil before covering and simmering for 1.5 hours on stove-top or 20 minutes in pressure cooker.
  4. Salt to taste.

This delicious image from the omnivorescookbook.com


Cancer and Chinese Medicine - Part 2

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Nutrition - The Biggest Weapon Against Cancer

It is always amazing to me that patients receiving conventional treatments for cancer (chemotherapy and radiation) are given little to no information about what to eat. I know because I always ask if there was any nutritional counseling that went with the other therapies and more often than not, the answer is no. This shows an alarming lack of understanding about how important what we eat is to our health, and especially in the case of cancer.

I think that the correlation between what we eat and our overall health is understood by many industries, and certainly by many informed people, but the cancer industry (and I say that because it has turned into an industry), seems to be decades behind. Now, without getting into why that might be (which would be a whole other article), let's just say that there is a tonne of evidence to suggest that our food can both give us cancer and help keep us healthy so that we never get cancer. Food is also a powerful weapon in detoxing the body and healing from a cancer that already exists.

Foods to Avoid

Sugar

In my opinion, the number one thing to know concerning diet and cancer is to stop eating sugar. Completely. It is literally the food that cancer eats. The tests that Western medicine uses to find and diagnose cancer in the body, called PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans, actually inject glucose - a type of sugar - and watch the cancer gravitate to it because sugar is what cancer eats. Eliminating sugar from your diet is the most important thing to do if you are either struggling with cancer, or having health issues in general. Sugar is a poison to the body, and most people in the developed world eat far too much of it. Now, let me be clear, I am talking about refined sugar which is in a huge amount of our foods, especially processed foods. There are naturally occurring sugars in things like fruits, and although we need some of these, it is a good idea to cut back when you are trying to heal from cancer. Refined foods of all types should be avoided whenever possible, and refined sugar is the worst of all.

Chemicals

We also have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of chemicals used in our foods, many of which are untested on human beings and cause harm to not only us, but pollute the earth we live on, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Our food becomes more and more processed all the time with the addition of these dangerous chemicals, and our bodies are not designed to deal with them. There are also the dizzying amounts of chemicals in other products that we use in our homes, like makeup and personal care products, soaps and detergents, cleaning products, gardening products, etc.. not to mention toxic chemicals that are the byproducts of industries which are released into our soil, water and air.

It is a good idea BEFORE you get sick to have a look at how many of these chemicals you have in your home and are coming into contact with on a daily basis so that you can eliminate any that are not absolutely necessary. I would always recommend eating fresh, local, organic food (more about that below), using completely natural beauty and personal care products free of toxic ingredients, make sure the water you are drinking is as clean as possible and limit any environmental toxins that you can. All these toxins combine to place a huge burden on our immune systems which we need to be at full strength to keep us disease free.

Eat Real Food

Because of the philosophy of living as harmoniously with nature as possible, this obviously bleeds into the foods we consume as well. I believe that many of our current health problems as a society are due to the UN-natural nature of the foods that we eat. Small farms are disappearing and being replaced by large-scale factory farms, our soil is depleted of essential vitamins and nutrients, and men in hazmat suits spray toxic herbicides and fungicides on the foods we are supposed to confidently feed our families. It is becoming increasingly difficult to even understand food labels, and corporations spend billions of dollars to keep what is actually IN our foods off the labels, which is certainly a worrying trend and not designed to make us feel confident about what is being put into our food.

My solution is to keep it simple. Eat as few processed foods as possible (this means anything in a box or can that has been altered from its natural state), eat as many fresh, local and organic foods as possible. Keep your diet mostly plant-based, especially if you have cancer. If possible, grow as much of your food as you can in a backyard or front yard garden. Vertical gardens are awesome for this! If you have limited space or live in an apartment, make friends with a local farmer, or frequent a farmers market. Also, take time to lovingly prepare meals for you and your family. Energetically, this is important too. Be mindful and thankful to the food you are eating for sharing its life force with you. Being grateful is also a powerful tool and beneficial to your health and the way you feel.

Acid & Alkaline Foods

Disease thrives in an acidic environment and cancer is no exception. As a culture, we eat a disproportionate amount of acidic foods (as you will probably see the list below) and precious few alkaline ones. Use the information below as a guide and a good way to begin is to slowly start replacing acidic foods with alkaline ones. It may seem hard at first (because who doesn't love a burger every once in a while?), but you will soon notice how much better you will feel, as that you will no longer have the cravings for the fatty, sugary foods that are so acid forming once they have been out of your system for a while. I promise you will definitely feel a difference!

Acidic Foods

**Note - there are different ways to measure the acidity and alkalinity of foods, but this one - from Energise for Life - makes the distinction of measuring a foods acidity and alkalinity AFTER it has been ingested - therefore, how it is affecting your body. If you would like to have a copy of a good few charts detailing acid and alkaline foods, you can find them here - Energise For Life.

Below is a list of acidic foods. If dealing with cancer, cut out as many of these as possible (I would recommend ALL) and introduce alkaline foods as an alternative. Remember, cancer thrives in an acidic environment.

Acidic Foods

Look yummy? *sigh*, I know. But these foods are highly acidic. Try eating some cucumber instead!

MEAT

  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Clams
  • Corned Beef
  • Eggs
  • Lamb
  • Lobster
  • Mussels
  • Organ Meats
  • Venison
  • Fish
  • Oyster
  • Pork
  • Rabbit
  • Sausage
  • Scallops
  • Shellfish
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Veal

DAIRY & EGGS

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Whey
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts & Seeds!
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Oils!
  • Cooked Oil
  • Solid Oil (Margarine)
  • Oil Exposed to Heat,
  • Light or Air
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Ice Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Soy Cheese
  • Eggs

FRUIT

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Grapes
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tropical Fruits
  • Berries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberries
  • Currants
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Orange
  • Pineapple
  • Plum

NUTS & SEEDS

  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts

DRINKS

  • Alcohol
  • Black Tea
  • Coffee
  • Carbonated Water
  • Pasteurized Juice
  • Cocoa
  • Energy Drinks
  • Sports Drinks
  • Colas
  • Tap Water
  • Milk
  • Green Tea
  • Decaffeinated Drinks
  • Flavoured Water

SWEETENERS

  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Carob
  • Corn Syrup
  • Fructose
  • Processed Sugar
  • Saccharine
  • Sucrose
  • Sucralose
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup

OILS

  • Cooked Oil
  • Solid Oil (Margarine)
  • Oil Exposed to Heat,
  • Light or Air

SAUCES

  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Soy Sauce
  • Pickles
  • Vinegar
  • Tabasco
  • Tamari
  • Wasabi

OTHER

  • Mushrooms
  • Miso
  • White Breads, Pastas,
  • Rice & Noodles
  • Chocolate
  • Chips
  • Pizza
  • Biscuits
  • Cigarettes
  • Drugs
  • Candy

Alkaline Foods

Some super yummy alkaline foods. They look fresh, cleansing and delicious, don't they? ;)

VEGETABLES

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Chilli
  • Capsicum/Pepper
  • Courgette/Zucchini
  • Dandelion
  • Snow Peas
  • Green Beans
  • String Beans
  • Runner Beans
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Wakame
  • Kelp
  • Collards
  • Chives
  • Endive
  • Chard
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Potato
  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrot
  • Beetroot
  • Eggplant/Aubergine
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Watercress
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Broad Beans
  • New Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish

FRUIT

  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Fresh Coconut

GRAINS & BEANS

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Brown Rice
  • Chia/Salba
  • Kamut
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Nuts & Seeds!
  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Flax Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Oils!
  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Flax Oil
  • Udo’s Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Lentils
  • Lima Beans
  • Mung Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Red Beans
  • Soy Beans
  • White Beans

GRASSES

  • Wheatgrass
  • Barley Grass
  • Kamut Grass
  • Dog Grass
  • Shave Grass
  • Oat Grass

NUTS & SEEDS

  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Flax Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds

OILS

  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Flax Oil
  • Udo’s Oil
  • Olive Oil

BREADS

  • Sprouted Bread
  • Sprouted Wraps
  • Gluten/Yeast Free
  • Breads & Wraps

SPROUTS

  • Soy Sprouts
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Amaranth Sprouts
  • Broccoli Sprouts
  • Fenugreek Sprouts
  • Kamut Sprouts
  • Mung Bean Sprouts
  • Qionoa Sprouts
  • Radish Sprouts
  • Spelt Sprouts

This comprehensive list of acid and alkaline foods came from a great chart I found from energiseforlife.com There is an 8 page PDF that you may download with more information which can be found here - Acid & Alkaline Food Information.

Water

Water is also something that I don't think people think about enough in terms of health. I think there is a misconception that if we are drinking bottled water and not water out of the tap that we are somehow safe from many pollutants that may be in our waterways and make their way into water processing plants. Unfortunately, this has been shown not to be true, and many bottled waters' are just as unhealthy as drinking straight out of the tap. If you must drink tap water, find out from your local city or town, what they are adding to it. Is there flouride in it? What levels of certain contaminants are acceptable as far as they are concerned? Do some research. If you have a water filtration system, again, do your research and get one that filters out as many undesirable chemicals as possible. Water is incredibly important for our health and it is worth the effort to be drinking the healthiest and cleanest water possible. The good news is, that there are many good water filtration systems out there that will allow you to enjoy clean, healthy water which is essential for a strong, healthy body.

Emotions

Expressing emotions freely is just as important to our health as a strong, flexible body.

I really feel that the emotions do not get enough attention or recognition for the role they play in our health. This is another area that seems often entirely left out of the diagnostic as well as the healing process in Western medicine. In Chinese medicine, the emotions are just as important as what is physically happening in our bodies. The two are inseparable and when someone is going through the intake process with a doctor of Chinese medicine, there are a lot of questions inquiring about a person's emotional life. You may be wondering how much of a role the emotions can play in a disease as devastating as cancer. My answer is - a HUGE one.

In my experience with my own cancer patients, the emotions are often where it starts. Complex and serious diseases often begin with extremely stressful, difficult, and emotionally devastating events that the body is simply not able to cope with. Preceding almost every case of serious disease I have treated, there was either one or a series of extremely stressful/emotional or difficult events that the patient had to contend with. I have made this observation over and over again. The body can handle a lot, but it has its limits, and the way we live along with the pressures and stresses we are under often are too much for our bodies and psyches to bear which can result in disease and illness.

In terms of how this relates to the emotions I want to be clear, it is not HAVING emotions that can make us sick, in Chinese medicine, it is how we deal with our emotions that is the key. In modern culture, at least in North America, we are not taught what I like to call "emotional intelligence". We spend decades in school learning how to live in this world, but I find that so many of the most important things that we need to be healthy and happy in our lives are missing. How to express our emotions in a healthy way is one of them. This expression is important not only to our health but to our happiness and well-being as well. So often our emotions can come out in hurtful or destructive ways to ourselves or the people around us, or worse, they are held in where they fester and eventually turn into disease. So, find healthy ways to express the emotions you are having. Write, talk to a friend, acknowledge them, process them in a healthy way and let them go. They are taking up precious space, that, once they are dealt with and let go, can be replaced with lovely things like love and light, happiness and feelings of joy and gratitude.

Managing Stress

Stress is something we hear about a lot and I believe is also a huge factor is our health and well-being. Stress is something I ask every single patient about both in our initial consultation, and at almost every visit. I give it a one to ten scale and ask patients to rate where their stress is in relation to that scale. Most people are at the top end, and many have become resigned to living there. Stress is difficult to avoid, but what we do have control over is how we deal with it. Managing the stress we are feeling is the key, not eliminating it altogether. I am not even sure if that is possible considering the world we live in. I have seen patients doing everything right - eating the right foods, exercising, sleeping enough, really taking care of themselves and still they get sick. Those cases very often lead back to stress. You can't work hard to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle but be in an unhealthy relationship that is driving you crazy or going to a job that you hate every day and still expect to be the picture of health. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work like that. In Chinese medicine, as in life, it is all about balance.

One of my keys to managing stress is meditating. Now the thought of meditating can be intimidating for some people and I understand that. This doesn't mean having to give up all your worldly possessions, shaving your head and going to live in a cave in the Himalayas. That is totally cool if that is how you want to do it, but what I am talking about for the rest of us is just taking some time for yourself every day to sit quietly and try to empty your thoughts. In our hectic, modern lives, we hardly ever get a chance to do this. Stop. Listen. Relax. Breathe deeply. Meditating is like a gift you give yourself. It benefits your brain, your nervous system, your heart and your psyche. Think of it as preventative medicine. I think we all need to start thinking about medicine and health differently and Chinese medicine can teach us how to do it. Do small things every day. Tend your garden (the body and spirit), and disease will never develop. Disease cannot thrive in a healthy garden.

If you would like to read about a bit of a hardcore immersion into meditation (and the amazing benefits that it yielded) you can read about my two intense Vipassana meditation retreat experiences. They are not quite the shaving your head and disappearing into the Himalayas, but they were definitely the most intense meditation experiences I have ever had. They were also the most edifying and positively life-changing experiences of my life.

 


External Qi Healing - Part 1

by John Voigt

**Disclaimer. This article is written for educational purposes only.  It is not offered for the healing of any serious illnesses.  If  a person is sick he or she must see a proper professional, in either (or both) western or traditional Chinese medicine.**

Although External Qi Healing has certain general principles, it is an art as well as a science.  Consequently it has many differing yet valid methods and techniques.  Hopefully the information in this article—gathered from primary texts, personal teachers, the internet, and the limited personal experiences of the author—may prove instructive. For thousands of years the Chinese have been projecting vital life energy to heal illnesses.  It was first called Bu qi (布氣)  “Spreading the Qi.”  Now it is called “External Qi Healing Therapy,”  (Wai qi liaofa  - 外气疗法).  The basic technique has the practitioner emitting Qi [vital life energy] into the appropriate acupuncture points on the client’s body.  There are different methods, but most often the healer emits qi through the fingers and palms.  Traditionally there is no direct physical contact or touching and the client is fully clothed. However today, and especially in China, energy sending may be added into other Traditional Chinese Medicine methods such as qigong movements and meditations, acupuncture, acupressure, tuina-massage, moxibustion; even used in modern psychotherapy, and western medicine. In External Qi Healing (EQH), the qi-energy is transmitted from an experienced sender to an ill client, thereby regenerating depleted qi, opening blockages in the meridians, and bringing about the removal of pathogenic qi.  The cardiovascular, respiratory, lymphatic and nervous systems are all stimulated and vitalized.  This strengthens immunity to diseases, resulting in better health.  There are numerous reports of External Qi curing life threatening diseases of all kinds. EQH works best on resolving chronic health problems.  However the general belief is that it “cannot help in cases of purely physical damage, such as broken limbs … and it certainly cannot cure mental-illness.”  [Paul Dong, Empty Force, 2006, p. 84.]

How to Do It:  A - The Preliminaries.

The beginning student of EQH should be able to sense qi; and then be able consciously to lead and guide it in his or her body—the common standard being the “Microcosmic Orbit” (xiǎo zhōu tiān - also translated as “Small Heavenly Circuit”) where the qi is cycled up the back and down the front of the body.  It is also important that the healer be in good physical and mental health.  The stronger the qi of the healer, the more effective he or she will be.  There are several qigong exercises that help to accomplish this.  “Standing Post” and “Muscle/Tendon Change Classic” are often cited as superior methods to increase and strengthen a person’s qi.  See Zhan Zhuang and Yijin Jing in the Bibliography below.

Diagram of the Microcosmic Orbit

Learning to Move the Qi.

The following exercises have been loosely adapted from the book Qigong Empowerment. Stand with loose shoulders, spine comfortably erect, and breathe smoothly, softly, deeply, and silently.  Arms are in a half circle with palms facing.  Gently, playfully—but making sure the hands do not touch—use a push-pull technique squeezing the palms back and forth as if playing a small accordion.  Inhale as the hands go out, and exhale when the hands go in.  Sense the activity of qi in the palms.  When the hands go out open the palms.  This will open the Pericardium-8 acupressure points, the laogong.  When the hands come back in, relax the palms which will automatically relax the laogong.  This should increase the sensations of the presence of qi.  Now without any more “accordion playing” movements, have the arms return to a “hugging a tree” pose.  Continue breathing gently but firmly into the lower abdomen.  Sense the qi in the hands and with mental will and intention have the qi emanate out from your right hand into your left hand.  It helps to make very slight pushing forward movements with the right hand. When the sensation of qi has become stronger, and continuing the right-to-left send,  move the qi up to the left elbow.  After success with that maneuver, send the qi from the right hand palm into the left palm and continue up the left arm into the left shoulder, then across the upper torso into the right shoulder, down the right arm and into the right hand.  Continue with this circling of qi for two to five minutes.  Then reverse the direction by sending qi out from the left hand palm into the right palm, then up to the right elbow, right shoulder, then through the upper torso and shoulder back down the left arm into the left hand.  Practice the entire circling for two to five minutes.

Kirlian Photograph Of A Human Hand by Garion Hutchings found at fineartamerica.com

Small Circulation:

Send qi from the right palm to left palm, then send the qi to the left elbow, then to the upper central chest, then lead the qi down into the dantian, then to the perineum (CV-1) then to the tip of the spine.  Then lead the qi up the spine to the head, then down the body’s center line to the chest, then over to the right arm to the right sending palm.  For a moment allow the energy to radiate in the space between the palms.  Next again do the entire circulation, but in reverse by sending qi-energy from the left palm to right palm.

Grand Circulation:

Begin with the same procedure as in the Small Circulation:  lead qi from the right palm to the left palm, then to the left elbow, then chest, then to the dantian, then to the perineum (CV-1) then to the tip of the spine, then up the spine to the head.  Then lead the qi back down to the chest, then to the dantian, to the perineum, where it divides into two columns down both legs to the Kidney-1 acupuncture points behind the balls of the feet.  Allow it to remain there for several seconds; then lead it back up the legs, to the perineum, to the spine, then to head, back to chest and back down the sending arm to between the palms.  Reverse directions by sending qi from the left palm into the right palm.  Continually emit qi from the sending palm to the receiving palm as you guide and lead the qi in your body. Once you have built up your personal qi supply and have had some experience in leading and guiding the qi you are ready to proceed to the next step of the process.

Ancient Drawings of Medical Qi Gong : Image from qigong.net.nz

B - Diagnosis.

In interviewing the client about their ailments, it is important to spend more time listening than talking.  When you actively listen, the client will tell you things you need to know, for both of you this can take place consciously and unconsciously.  By actively listening, you will gain more knowledge and intuition on how best to do this energy work by finding out what is wrong and where to send the qi to correct it. Here is an intuitive technique to find where to direct the healing energy:  Using an open flat hand, scan and spiral around and over the client’s body to sense the location of any pathogenic disease triggering elements.  These pathogenic elements are called xié qì (pronounced something like shay chee.  A similar Chinese term is bìng meaning “diseased energy.”) Your scanning should be done in what is called a “Mindful” way:  by turning off the thinking mind and without touching just  feel  for the afflicted area.  The healer—now “reader”—may sense places of excesses (heat) or deficiencies (cold)  or turbidness  (befouled);  even sensations which could be described as “demonic” such as biting, itching and sticking.  It is to these places—be they acupressure points, energy meridians, organs, or any other part of the client’s physical or energetic body—that the practitioner should direct the healing qi. Here is an even more abstract diagnostic method:  Using both eyes and what is called the third eye, allow yourself to gaze into the body of the client.  This will seem both literal and imaginative.  Be prepared to witness unpleasant sights.  Once after being requested to do so by a client, I began looking at the major organ groups to find problem areas where to direct healing qi. (The client was suffering from a medically supervised withdrawal from a doctor prescribed mood altering drug.)  As I looked into his Heart Center in the upper chest,  I saw something that resembled a darkly lit cavern of black stalactites and stalagmites covered with foul black tar.  Even though this dealt with the heart there was no red to be seen.  During the course of weeks of EQH treatment the black foulness began to dissipate and a healthy organic pink-to-rose color began to appear.  The thought processes of the client became more rational and positive. (This is not offered as anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of External Qi for Healing, but only as part of a discussion on diagnosis in EQH.)

**This article originally appeared in Qi Journal, Spring 2014, Vol.24/n.1.  http://www.qi-journal.com/store.asp?-token.S=qi&ID=3187 and was used with permission of the author.**

**Also this article's subsequent parts - The Sending, Method to Remove Harmful Qi, Correcting Yin-Yang Imbalances, After the Send, FAQs, Bibliography and Links - will appear in future segments of External Qi Healing in Chinese Medicine Living, stay tuned!**

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**Featured Image of amazing Kirlian photography of 2 hands. To learn more about Kirlian photography, see this article.