Steamed Eggplant - Cancer Fighting Recipe

By VIcky Chan of NourishU

Cancer

Cancer is a sickness that is highly preventable but only treatable at the early stage. When the damages are too widespread, there is no medicine in the world that can cure cancer. Surgical removal of malignant parts from the body is just like cutting off the tips of the iceberg. If the underlying condition remains unchanged, cancer will just find other weaker areas to pop up. The only possibility to eradicate cancer is to completely change the underlying condition to one that is so hostile that cancer cells can no longer exist.

Oxygen Deficiency

Oxygen deficiency is one known cause of cancer. When the human body is supplied with abundant amounts of oxygen, all cancer cells, viruses, harmful bacteria, toxins, pathogens and disease microorganisms are killed because they cannot survive in a high-oxygen environment. People who do not exercise are more likely to have oxygen deficiency. Extensive research done in the last decade have proven that our diet have a profound effect on whether we will have cancer or not. A high sugar  and highly acidic diet from meat are known to breed cancer. A melancholy mind provokes an increase of stress hormone - cortisol, which has been directly associated with the worsening of cancer. Vitamin D deficiency is also found to breed cancer. A large-scale controlled study have found that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by as much as 60 percent

Prevention

Good habits of health such as avoiding smoking and drinking, avoiding fatty or deep fried food, over burnt meats, preserved foods, spicy and highly processed food, and eating smaller meals to avoid over eating are the basic prerequisites for good health. Eating a diet of at least 50% of vegetables, beans and seeds for rich nutrients, minerals, fiber and antioxidants is vital in preventing cancer. A healthy gut with good bacteria can help the immune system to fight and break down carcinogens and turn them into nutrients and harmless molecules.

Acidic Cancer Forming Foods

The acidic cancer forming foods are sugar, milk, meat and caffeine. Chicken in particular should be eliminated from the diet of cancer patients because it benefits cancer growth. For patients receiving chemotherapy and suffering from destructive side effects, eating fresh and rejuvenating plant-based diet is important to clear out toxic materials. Taking one to two glasses of fresh vegetable juice daily is best to get plenty of anti-oxidants. People taking one glass of fresh organic potato juice before meal for up to three months have shown promising result in fighting cancer. Reducing salt in food is necessary to lower the burden on the kidney, heart and liver so that the body has more energy to fight cancer.

Alkaline pH Balance

This helpful image from tes.com

Maintaining the body in alkaline pH balance is needed to prevent and stop cancer growth . Seaweed and kelp are high alkaline foods and should be taken regularly. Eat fresh mushrooms, organic brown rice, egg, fish, tofu, soy beans, yogurt and some lean pork for balanced nutrition to improve immune function and overall health. Don't forget to add plenty of lemon  (highly alkaline) to your food to prevent cancer.

Anti-Cancer Conditions

Besides diet and lifestyles, it is important to control stress. Life is a series of choices and being free from stress is one of those choices that is under our control. Exercise can help to relax the body and mind, lower stress and promote good sleep. Sleeping is vital for the body to repair, recover and rejuvenate itself. Getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure is also vital in preventing and fighting cancer. When we take good care of our health, we can promote an internal condition that is not suitable for cancer cells to survive or grow.

TCM Treatments

Chinese medicine can only play the role of complementary treatment for advance cases in lessening the side effects of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, controlling pain and helping to strengthen the immune system. Chinese Medicine finds cancer as coagulation of toxic energy in our body which is causing obstruction to the normal flow of blood and qi, therefore causing tumor growth. There are four vital areas in our body where toxic energy can accumulate: the upper body around the lungs – the upper burner, the middle body around the abdomen – the middle burner, the lower body around the kidney – the lower burner and the back of our body behind the lungs – the outer burner. It is important to keep qi circulating freely in these areas to prevent sickness and cancer. Qi-kung and tai-chi use deep breathing exercise to move energy and blood around the body. Herbs such as dandelion, astragalus and pubescentis are commonly used to promote the circulation of qi.

Food Treatment

In Chinese food treatment, a well-balanced diet to promote the health of the vital organs and the normal production of body fluids are deemed as most important. Any deficiency or abnormality in body fluid level can trigger abnormal cell development and tumor growth. Blood and qi tonic, kidney tonic, antioxidant foods, foods to promote blood circulation, diuretic foods to expel dampness and blood clots are all commonly used to treat cancer.

Steamed Eggplant - Cancer Fighting Recipe

Chinese Eggplant

Symptoms

High Blood Pressure / High Cholesterol / Hardened Arteries / Gout Pain / Tumors

Therapeutic Effects

Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, soften arteries, alleviates gout pain, anti-tumor growth.

Ingredients

  • Chinese Eggplants – 2
  • Minced ginger – 1 spoonful
  • Vinegar – 1 spoonful
  • Sesame oil – 1 spoonful
  • Soy sauce – half spoonful

Directions

1.   Rinse and cut eggplant into finger-like pieces and put in cold water with one spoonful of salt to soak for 10 minutes. Remove and drain.

2.   Put eggplant on a plate and steam for 15 minutes.

3.   Remove from heat and mix in the above seasoning to serve.

Usage

No restrictions.


Integrative Approaches to Cancer Palliative Care

By Dr. Kevin Curran

Dr. Kevin Curran, a cell biology professor, and Dr. Walter Tsang, an oncologist, have co-written a summary about integrative approaches to palliative care. Serious diseases, like cancer, often lead to some incredibly uncomfortable side effects. Often, there are no traditional medicines available to treat these issues. In these moments, it is good to remember that there are alternative remedies that can be very effective in relieving the problem.

A Review of Effective Treatment Options for Cancer - Related Palliative Care

By Walter Tsang MD and Kevin Curran PhD

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a form of medical care that is focused on providing relief from the symptoms of a serious illness.

A serious illness, such as cancer, creates many stressful and uncomfortable symptoms (nausea, fatigue, anxiety). These symptoms may be caused by the biological progression of the disease or they may be the side effects of the treatment.

Palliative care seeks to improve the quality of life for the patient and the patient's family by providing relief from the symptoms of an illness and the side effects of treatment.

An integrative approach to palliative care includes both conventional and alternative treatment options.

  • Conventional therapy includes:  prescription drugs, surgery, chemotherapy
  • Alternative therapy includes:  herbal supplements, vitamins, diet, probiotics

It makes sense to be open to the best possible palliative care. Often, the best treatment includes a combination of both conventional and alternative therapy. Below, we summarize the most effective integrative approaches to common symptoms experienced by patients struggling with a serious illness.

Read Full Article Here - A Review of Effective Treatment Options for Cancer - Related Palliative Care

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Featured image photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash


Cancer and Chinese Medicine - Part 1

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Cancer and Chinese Medicine

I get a lot of people writing to me, telling me that someone they love has been diagnosed with cancer and asking if there is anything Chinese medicine can do. This is a good question, but it has a complex answer. It means looking at a disease like cancer in a completely different way than we have all been taught to look at it through the eyes of science, which is difficult especially if the world science is all you have ever known.

To begin a discussion about cancer and Chinese medicine, we must first gain an understanding of where Chinese medicine came from, the philosophy behind it, and a little bit about how it works. Let us begin.

The Proliferation of Cancer in Modern Society

For at least the last fifty years there seems to have been an explosion in cancers, especially in industrialized nations. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed and 600,920 cancer deaths in the US in 2017. According to a WHO report, there has been an alarming increase in cancer rates all over the world. The report also states that:

"Globally, life expectancy has increased from 45 years in 1950 to 66 years in 2000, but the population of the world is aging rapidly—the median age will have risen from 23.5 years in 1950 to 36.5 years in 2050. By 2050, more than 20 percent of the population will be 60 years and over, versus 10 percent in 2000. By comparison, the number of cancer deaths increased by 35 percent during the period 1985-1997. The report states that “[w]hile extending life expectancy is desirable in itself, it is equally important that increased expectancy is accompanied by freedom from any prospect of years of suffering as a consequence of chronic diseases, pain or disability.”

Why is There So Much Cancer?

Why is this? Why has there been such an apparent increase in the numbers of people getting cancer in the world? Perhaps our diagnostic methods have gotten better, and there is certainly truth in that. Perhaps people are taking better care of their health and going for regular checkups more than they have in past years and that is also probably true. But would these factors account for the explosive numbers of cancer diagnoses in the past half a century?

Living in an Unhealthy Way

In my experience and opinion, these are not the main factors contributing to the huge numbers of cancer being diagnosed every year, it is the way we are LIVING. And what you may ask, do I mean by that? Well, that is what I am going to try to tell you. Most human beings on this planet, save a few communities scattered around the world, are living in a way that is not conducive to health. This lifestyle becomes more toxic every year resulting in more disease, mental health problems, addictions, violent crimes, and suicides. We are an unhealthy and deeply unhappy culture.

Chinese Medicine and the Importance of Lifestyle

Our culture, with its ambitions, innovation, and reliance on technology as well as its obsession with bigger, faster and MORE has largely become disconnected from the way we were designed to live on this planet. We have, as a people, become disconnected from our true nature. This idea goes far beyond the reaches of Chinese medicine, this is a human being issue that touches each and every one of us regardless of religion, race, gender or nationality. But for the purposes of this discussion, let us talk about Chinese medicine, and how it views the human being and how it is designed to live in a harmonious and healthy way. I feel like the name Chinese medicine really limits the seemingly endless wisdom that encompasses what it represents. People think, oh yes, Chinese medicine means things like acupuncture and smelly herbs, but in fact, Chinese medicine grew out of Eastern philosophy that had been explored and understood for thousands of years, a wisdom that many people seldom encounter in their day to day lives. Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher credited with developing Taoism (or Daoism) is where much of Chinese medicine wisdom springs from. In Taoist philosophy, the person is connected to every other living creature, the planet and the universe itself. They are all one energy and indivisible. You cannot separate them into parts, or you would be hurting the sum total. Whatever happens to one part, also happens to the whole.

this incredible illustration from theawesomedaily.com

Our Relationship with Nature

What people have been doing (and only really for about the last 10,000 years, starting after the beginning of agriculture by then hunter gatherers), is that we decided in our wisdom that we did not belong in the throng with the rest of the plants and animals, living harmoniously within the perfectly balanced web of life. We began to have delusions of grandeur and wanted more for ourselves. It was at this point in history that people removed themselves from the food chain and started to grow crops, and begin to have more than they needed. This move also began a long descent into a relationship with nature that was no longer symbiotic and mutually beneficial, human beings began to try to dominate and control nature for their own personal gain.

A Medicine of Prevention

According to the philosophy behind Chinese medicine, a person doesn’t wait until they get sick in order to correct the illness. This philosophy teaches a way of life. The philosophy is intensely pragmatic, understanding (in a way that many modern people have forgotten) that living in a healthy way, or preventatively, is a much better approach to health that waiting until things become catastrophic (i.e., a disease) to correct the problem. So how did Chinese people live preventatively? Well, for the sake of explanation I love to use the analogy from the wonderful book Between Heaven and Earth - that the body is like a garden. You must tend your garden for it to flourish and grow. You must go out into your garden every day, pull weeds, water and inspect your plants to see what the garden needs. Small changes every day are much easier than large changes every few years, often when it is too late. This, in a nutshell, is the philosophy of Chinese medicine and part of what makes it so effective. That said, because of the ways that Chinese medicine describe the body, the organs, qi and their relationships, it is also excellent for correcting diseases when they do arise, and this is why it is so effective, even after 5000 years, at treating modern diseases in the Western world.

Waiting Until It's Too Late

In the West, we tend to wait until something is quite wrong before we seek medical attention. We wait until something hurts, there is a pain we can no longer ignore, a lump or some other symptom before we go to the doctor to get it checked out. We are not taught the value of living in a healthy, balanced way and instead, we rely on doctors, surgeons, and pharmaceuticals to cure our ills when they come up. It is a different approach, and we are not entirely to blame because it is the way we were taught by our parents before us and that thinking is galvanized by advertising as well as the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry. This reliance on medications and complex surgeries seems to have increased also in the past fifty years (and is increasing all the time) as we become more and more disconnected from nature, each other and ourselves. In a country like the United States where people spend more than any other country on health care, they are some of the sickest people on the planet. Do you see something wrong there? In a PBS newshour report published in July of 2016, the United States saw a rise in healthcare spending that reached a mind boggling $3.35 trillion dollars which works out to $10,345 for every man woman and child. The report also stated that US healthcare spending is wildly unbalanced reporting that about 5% of the population, which encompasses the most frail and ill, accounts for nearly half of all healthcare spending in any given year.

this amazing illustration from theawesomedaily.com

A Healthy Way of Life

To give a brief overview of the “way of life” that the Taoists were talking about and Chinese peoples subscribe to, as I said above, Chinese medicine is a medicine of prevention. This means that there is a constant awareness of what is happening in (and out of) the body and that you learn to really LISTEN to what your body is trying to tell you. Does this sound strange? It may, but your body talks to you all the time. Consider your last headache after a long stressful day, pains in your stomach when you knew you had a presentation at work, the hair that stood up on the back of your neck when that person got on the bus behind you, the sense you got that maybe you shouldn’t eat that piece of sushi… there are all ways that your body speaks to you. And it is speaking to you all the time. Are you listening?

Living in Harmony with Nature

Because the Chinese were living in a way that was much more in tune with their natural environment, the way they lived changed in subtle ways according to the seasons. The foods they ate, their daily activities including how much and when they slept and how much physical activity was appropriate were ways in which they were able to stay healthy. Foods were eaten that were available at that particular time of year and grown locally, as these were the healthiest according to Mother Nature and her wisdom, and the people recognized this. The amount of sleep a person would strive for depended on how much energy would be exerted during the day. If a persons energy was to be conserved (as in winter) or expressed freely (as in summer). Internal practices were also important as things like Qi Gong and Tai Chi were a way to keep the body and mind supple and agile well into old age. 5000 years ago there was no retirement, a person had to work until they were no longer able, so keeping your body and mind in the best shape possible was the main motivation.

The Importance of Emotions

Another thing and this is unique to Chinese medicine and very different from how we view health in the West, was and is the importance of the emotions. A healthy emotional life was just as important as a strong, flexible body. The emotional life of a human being is complex, just as complex, it seems, as the workings of the human body. And being emotionally healthy has a great deal to do with a person's overall health. The fascinating part is that in Chinese medicine each emotion is associated with a specific organ so that an imbalance in that emotion can point to a problem in its respective organ and vice versa, an imbalance in an organ can point to problems with a particular emotion. It is all interrelated. So, being able to understand, and freely express emotions was and are an important part of overall health.

this image from huffingtonpost.com

Chinese Medicine and the Organs

Without getting too deep (because we could get so SO deep into this), let me explain a little bit about how the organs work in Chinese medicine and how important they are in the process of diagnosis. One thing that is important to note, is that the organs in Chinese medicine have very little similarity with the organs and their functions in Western medicine. This causes a lot of confusion when explaining things to patients so it is good to clear that up right away. There are certainly some similarities, but there are far more things that are completely different and unique to the organs in Chinese medicine. The organs in Chinese medicine each have a list of responsibilities. Processes in the body that they are responsible for. The organs are also, all connected. So, if there is a problem with one, then you must look at them all to discover where the root of the problem lies. This is another unique feature of Chinese medicine, is that everything is connected and nothing, be it physical, emotional or spiritual, exists in isolation. This is why as a practitioner, you have to have a very solid understanding of, well everything before you can begin to understand anything that might be happening to your patient. Our intake procedure and questioning are thorough and complex, and this is why.

How Symptoms Point to Specific Organs

Knowing each organ, its associated emotion and its list of responsibilities help one to understand what might be going wrong when problems arise. If someone is struggling with the loss of a spouse and having lung symptoms, in Chinese medicine, this would make perfect sense, as grief is the emotion of the lung. If a particularly angry person comes in with symptoms of red eyes, headache and bitter taste in their mouth, this would point to excess heat in the liver as anger is this organs corresponding emotion. Understanding the connection that the organs have to each other is also important as an excess or deficiency in one can spill over to the next in the cycle, affecting it adversely. Time also is very relevant, as the longer an imbalance has been active, the worse the imbalance will become, creating more severe symptoms and being more difficult to correct.

Location is Important

In a disease like cancer, we are always looking at where the cancer has been found which can tell us a lot about why it has come about in the first place. It is because of the way Chinese medicine sees the organs, their responsibilities, and their interrelationships that the location is so important. In treating my own patients with cancer, it became obvious after the initial consultations why the cancer had presented itself. Often, in listening to a patient's history it is clear that there have been particularly severe stresses on either the body, the psyche or both that have pushed the body to its breaking point, and cancer is the result. There is also often a long history of signs and symptoms that the patient has had but has either not been aware of or unable (or unwilling) to deal with for various reasons.

Having an understanding of the philosophy of Chinese medicine and the organs and their functions can do a lot to help you to stay healthy, and be able to recognize warning signs; ways that your body is telling you that something is not right. Cancer in many cases is the result of many years of imbalance that started small, building into something larger and more complex and thus, is more difficult to treat.

Resources

WHO report - increase in cancer rates: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2003/04/canc-a26.html


The Healing Power of Turmeric

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Turmeric in India and Ayurvedic Medicine

Turmeric has been used in India's diverse cuisine and is one of the main ingredients in curry, giving it that lovely golden yellow colour. Turmeric is also an important herb in India's native Ayurvedic medicine which has been in existence for thousands of years - as long as Chinese medicine. Its many health benefits are well known in India and have been slowly revealing themselves to the West. Over the past few decades, science has been discovering Turmeric's many healing properties.

Turmeric in Chinese Medicine

Turmeric has also been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. The Chinese herb Yu Jin is the turmeric tuber and is an herb that benefits the spleen and stomach. The herb enters the heart, lung, liver and gallbladder meridians and is used to invigorate blood and remove stagnation from the body. It is spicy, bitter and cold. Yu Jin is used to move blood and qi stagnation and is especially good for pain. It is used for menstrual pain (often from qi and blood stagnation), traumatic injuries, enlarged liver and spleen as well as liver cirrhosis. It is used to clear heat and cool the blood and to treat conditions like bleeding disorders, both internal and external. Yu Jin is also able to treat mental disorders that are due, in Chinese medicine, to disturbances of the heart and Shen like mania, seizures, derangement and epilepsy. Also, because of its ability to treat damp heat, Yu Jin is able to treat jaundice as well as gallstones. It is a hard working and versatile herb!

How to Take Turmeric for Maximum Absorption

Curcuminoids are the compounds within turmeric that are beneficial for health - and curcumin has been studied the most extensively and is the one proven to have the most powerful healing effects thus far. The problem with eating turmeric (and many other medicinal foods) is that the liver inhibits much of its absorption, meaning that we only receive a small percentage of its beneficial effects. The liver is, of course, doing its job of filtering out compounds that may be harmful to us such as medications and toxins that are unhealthy, but some good stuff gets filtered out in the process as well. The good news is that there are a couple of ways in which we can increase the ability of the body to absorb curcumin so that we can receive the maximum benefit from its many healing effects.

Eat Turmeric with Beneficial Fats

Eat turmeric with beneficial fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado to maximize its absorption. Because curcumin is fat soluble, it needs fats to be absorbed by the body properly. Without it, curcumin has a hard time being absorbed into the gut and bloodstream and all of that healing goodness is being flushed out of the body instead of being used to keep you healthy and to ward off disease.

Mix Turmeric with Pepper

The active ingredient in black pepper - piperine - is a compound that normally causes the body to get rid of what it considers to be too much curcumin. Apparently, the absorption of curcumin is increased by %2000 or more with just a small amount of piperine. So adding a bit of black pepper to your turmeric recipe will really boost its healing effects!

Some of Turmeric's Health Benefits

Turmeric's active ingredient curcumin is able to treat many diseases from diabetes to cancer. Scientific research is proving that turmeric has an impressive number of medicinal properties that treat a wide range of diseases. In many scientific studies, turmeric has been shown to be as beneficial and sometimes more beneficial in treating diseases than pharmaceutical medications. It also has no side effects, unlike many conventional treatments.Turmeric has also shown strong evidence of being a preventative herb, helping to ward off many diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Turmeric belongs to the ginger family and is the main ingredient in many curries, and the ingredient used in mustard that gives it its yellow colour. It has been used throughout the centuries as a medicinal herb, a textile dye and is one of the most prized spices in the world. India is the world's largest producer followed by Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, China, Jamaica, and Haiti. Turmeric is high in manganese (it contains %26 of our recommended daily intake) and iron (%16 of recommended daily intake) and is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium.

Below is a list of some of the ailments that turmeric is able to treat and how adding this wonderful spice to your diet can benefit your health and help to prevent disease.

Cancer Treatment and Prevention

Science has now discovered that turmeric's active ingredient curcumin is effective for fighting just about every type of cancer as it targets cancer cells via many different pathways. It is also non-toxic as it does not target healthy cells and affects only cancer cells. Turmeric also has the most evidence-based literature supporting its cancer-fighting properties compared to other herbs.

Turmeric is also a good spice to include in your diet for cancer prevention because of its excellent anti-inflammatory properties.

Anti-Inflammatory

Perhaps turmeric's best known and best-researched healing property is its powerful ability to fight inflammation which many believe to be the root of all disease. Chronic inflammation has been proven to lead to many dangerous diseases, so keeping the body's inflammation response in check is one of the best ways that you can prevent illness and stay healthy for many years to come.

 

Arthritis

Because of curcumin's powerful anti-inflammatory properties and pain killing ability, turmeric has long been used to treat the pain and swelling of arthritis. A study concluded that patients that received curcumin supplements fared much better than those who received conventional medications for arthritis and had no side effects. The side effects from the arthritis drug (diclofenac sodium) is that it increased the likelihood that patients would develop leaky gut and heart disease.

Diabetes

Because of curcumin's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, including turmeric in your diet can prevent type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. In fact, in a 2012 study, curcumin capsules were found to delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in pre-diabetic patients. Over a 9 month period, participants were given either curcumin supplements or a placebo. Just over 16% of the people taking the placebo developed diabetes, while not a single person taking the curcumin developed the disease. Amazing!

Pain Killer

Curcumin's ability to treat pain has also been widely accepted by the scientific community. A study this past year showed that curcumin activated the opioid response in diabetic rats. This system is typically manipulated by pharmaceutical drugs, but curcumin has been proven to be able to activate this response that serves as the body's pain-relieving system.

Boosts Memory

Because turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin is known to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation, studies show that turmeric helps to boost memory and attention span in elderly patients. Curcumin also has been shown to act as a neuroprotective agent against diseases that affect the brain like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Liver Health

In Chinese medicine, liver health is so important, and unfortunately, imbalances in the liver are extremely common. Anger and frustration hurt the liver so adding foods to the diet that help to cleanse the liver are always a good idea. Turmeric has shown to rejuvenate and detoxify the liver, as well as treat liver diseases like cirrhosis. Turmeric has long been used to treat liver problems and is a great way to prevent any liver problems in the future.

Turmeric Recipes

Please see the Chinese Medicine Living Pinterest - we have a board called "Recipes" where we have posted all kinds of delicious TCM recipes, including several turmeric recipes for you to try. Chinese Medicine Living Pinterest Recipe Board. The Turmeric recipes include:

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for all things Chinese medicine!

Scientific Studies About Turmeric's Health Benefits


Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 3

**This article originally appeared as "Happy Fun Qigong."Qi JournalVol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**

By John Voigt

Laughter.

Learn to laugh deep inside, feel that the laughter is vibrating tremendously inside you. When you do this, the blood, the chi [qi], the energy are all moving. So the stagnant chi is gone, and the most important pump, the heart, can work with less effort. Mantak Chia. Wisdom Chi Kung. Destiny Books, 2008. pg. 64.

 

With a big smile and without saying what you are about to do, go up to people in the group and slowly and softly start making “Ha” sounds. When someone joins in, show your approval with grinning nods and thumbs up gestures. Wave your hands inviting others to join in. When you have as many folks conscripted into this as you practically can get, increase the tempo and volume. Once they catch on they have been tricked into laughing, they will laugh even harder. After a minute or so of this stealth hilarity, signal them to stop. Some should still be giggling or at least smiling. Most of them should be feeling good all over. Now you may want to give a mini-lecture along these lines: “As an old great qigong master of the past said, Laughter is not only the best medicine, sometimes it can be the best qigong. [Note to reader: actually I made that one up, but I like the way it sounds and anyway it isn’t totally wrong.] I continue with, “Much of the so-called “civilized” world that surrounds us is just plain nutty, and has the ability to creep behind our eyes into our minds with its worries, fears and negative judgments—and that can mess us up. Laughter helps prevent that from happening.”

this joyous image from thegospelcoalition.org

 

Five Organ Laughter for Emotional Wellbeing.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are five major organs, but these organs are not exactly like the body organs of western medicine. Rather than being like something seen in a display case at a butcher shop, the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney are interrelated profound energetic forces. That is why they are capitalized and not written as plurals. Even though understood as being in part physical, in traditional Chinese thought these organs are more like active verbs than stationary nouns. The way they function is the basis for all life, including physical and mental health or sick- ness. For our purposes sending laughter into any organ enhances its well-being.

 

Have the group begin with some deep belly laughs. A minute or so is enough. This should bring qi into the dan tian located in the center of the lower abdomen; this is the place where qi is gathered and stored for future use. Carefully monitor the group so that no one laughs too hard. At times you may need to lower the volume to a quiet or medium laughter so no one hurts themselves. Finish with a clockwise rub- bing of the lower belly. Cats and dogs like their dan tians rubbed this why. Why shouldn’t we?

 

Next laugh gently into each of the organs in the order given below. Silent laughter and even humming into the chosen organ seems to help break up negative emotions. Simply smiling into an organ might even produce good results, as long as a full but comfortable abdominal breathing is maintained throughout this gymnastic.

Liver (on the central right side of the torso).

When the qi flow is harmonious in the Liver a person feels empowered. When the flow is disturbed a person may suffer from personal frustration and feelings of being too vulnerable. Laughing into the Liver can function as a way to change feelings of anger into a sense of relaxed self-assurance.

Heart.

The Chinese traditionally conceive the Heart as being the center of both mind and emotions. It is located in the upper center of the torso, in much the same place as the heart chakra, or the Middle Dantian. When the flow of Qi is disturbed or if there is an excess of qi in the Heart, a person may become mentally hyperactive, even hysterical. Laughing into the heart will not only increase the healthy circulation of blood in the arteries, veins, and capillaries, it is said to smooth out and reduce excessive emotions; and the over-thinking of what the Chinese call, “too many monkeys in the head.”

Spleen.

This organ is on the lower left side of the torso and governs digestion. In TCM it often includes the pancreas and stomach. (Mantak Chia tells his students the importance of owning an anatomy book and study at its pictures so you know where to look inside yourself when doing qigong). Disharmony here triggers worry. Harmony here helps create a state of clear calm mindfulness. Laughing aloud or silently into your lower left abdomen seems to drive away worrisome thoughts and replace them with feelings of clear happy confidence.

Lung. (upper torso).

It is given as a singular and not plural “lungs” because we are talking about one interrelated group of energetic

It is given as a singular and not plural “lungs” because we are talking about one interrelated group of energetic functions, and not simply a physical organ on both sides of the chest. Here disharmony, stagnation, and depletion of qi can create - or be created by - feelings of isolation, grief, and depression. (It’s the same in all the organs: the emotion effects the qi and the qi effects the emotion.) The Chinese saw that when a person was in a state of intense grief and or depression they would seem to stop breathing, and often bend over so much that they could hardly breathe at all. If we understand the word “qi” can also mean “breath” it makes sense that laughing into the Lung can bring about feelings of courage and victory. I like using the image of the Tarot card The Chariot, as a visual metaphor of this positive state of being, with the breastplate of the Charioteer signifying the ribs of the chest.

Kidney.

As mentioned above, the Kidney is a singular term in Chinese traditional thought. When a person is very frightened they may “pee themselves.” Therefore the Chinese posited that the Kidney relates to the energy element Water, and when the qi is not right in the Kidney the bad emotion most likely to appear is fear. To create harmony in the Kidney, access it by laughing into both sides of the lower back, and into both sides of the lower front of the body just below the belly. Breathe in, and with short staccato repeating exhalations, laugh into the Kidney. As with all Happy Fun practices be relaxed and don’t force anything. A minute or so of this inner laughter can help in dissolving the emotions of fear into feelings of joyful personal power.

If the group would be comfortable with it, here is a way to close the Laughter gymnastics. It comes from http://www.laughteronlineuni- versity.com/150-laughter-exercises/64. Heart to Heart Laughter: (Intimacy Laughter) Hug each other and laugh by feeling the vibrations in each others’ bodies; alternatively, you can hold hands and laugh. The participants come closer and hold each other's hands and laugh with compassionate eye contact. One can shake hands and hug each other while laughing if convenient.

Ending The Happy Fun Qigong Session.

1. Total Body Shaking, Twitching and Wiggling.

This is a quick gymnastic to cleanse and refresh the organs and meridians. It should be done quickly and loosely. It should feel good and be fun to do. We start twitching, shaking and wiggling the toes, then the feet, and continuing these nervous wiggle twitching movements in the feet, we move it up the legs, waist, body, head, and still continuing this wiggle twitching in all those places, we move it into the shoulders and down the arms and into the fingers. Now your entire body, legs, arms, and head should be twitching and wiggling like a rag doll in a wind storm. Now reverse the process. As quickly as you can, stop the wiggling in the fingers, then stop it in the lower arms, upper arms, shoulders. Then stop in the head, upper body, lower body, hips, upper legs, lower legs, feet, finally the toes. End by taking a deep breath and carefully jumping up and coming down with a shouted “HA!” Next, pretend you are a collie dog coming out of the ocean after a swim and shake the water off your fur.

2. Flicking the Schmutz Off.

Next, we do some outer gymnastics I have often seen people doing early in the morning in parks around the country. It is a way to get rid of any remaining xié qì! meaning “bad qi.” (For any Mandarin purists out there it is pronounced shay chee. The arrows indicate pitch direction of the words.) Schmutz is a German word, and the similar“ shmuts” is Yiddish; both mean “nasty, filthy, yucky, or xié qì.

The Gymnastic. Bring your hands up and out to your sides and as if they were covered with dirty dish water shake and flick the schmutz off - especially from the fingers. I instruct those in my groups to do it this way. Shake off the bad stuff. Wipe it off yourself, wipe your arms, hands, legs and toss it on the ground. Don’t worry about ecology, this stuff goes right down into the earth like compost.

3. Kicking the Schmutz Off.

Next, I lead the group in kicking their feet forward as if we were getting rid of dog poop on our shoes. Then we kick the heels back. Then we kick the feet out sideways. Having the group move about kicking this way is a lot of fun. It gives me a chance to yell out, “Don’t kick that stuff on me!” to really enhance the experience, (and I seriously don’t want that stuff on me anyway.)

This all may seem silly, but nevertheless, it is a valid Chinese technique to get rid of xié qì. If you are doing this gymnastic outdoors and there is sidewalk close by, go to it and wipe the bottoms of your shoes on the curb, the area between the sidewalk and the road. We don’t want to be tracking any bad qi into the house, now do we?

4. Close the session.

You can close the session with any standard smoothing and centering the qi exercises that you might normally perform.

Disclaimer.

Happy Fun Qigong is practiced to gain feelings of health and well-being. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical treatment for physical or psychological illnesses. Consult your doctor or an appropriate medical professional before beginning this or any other exercise regimen. Otherwise, Fun Happy Qigong is not suitable for people who have physical or mental health problems. This is even more so for anyone who may suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, metastasized cancer, epilepsy, hernia, serious backaches, or psychiatric disorders. If discomfort or pain is felt when doing this or similar exercises consult a doctor immediately. The author and the publisher disclaim any liability or loss, personal or otherwise, resulting from any of the procedures and information presented in this article.

Concluding Comments.

Even though I used the word “visualization” in this article, I really do not like the term; it puts too much of a distance between the individual and what she or he is imagining. “Visualization” carries the idea of internally seeing something, and not actually being it or doing it. As in: You are here. It is there. You are watching it. It is being watched.

Instead of “visualizing” I prefer the terms “active imagination” or even better “inner-imaging.” But most people do not know what they mean. I want the practitioner to internally create an imaginative reality and then actively merge with and become it. However, this is advanced inner-energy work and therefore best studied with an advanced master. I am not saying don’t do it by yourself. What I am saying is that it is mandatory you are able to leave this “inner imaging” state whenever you wish and return to a more normal everyday reality. Otherwise, it could begin to resemble insanity. After all, you are not really Tarzan, Jane, or the ape.

In summary, Happy Fun Qigong uses inner-imagining yourself to become some or all of these formidable characters: Franz Liszt, a hula dancer, LeBron James, Tarzan (or Jane), a tiger, phoenix, peacock, a car lube air dancer. In this qigong you talk and listen to your smiley heart, laugh into your organs, shake twitch wiggle and jump, then flick and kick off the schumtz.

After all that I hope we all return to our everyday lives happier, healthier, and full of radiant healthy qi. BTW: Feel free to keep Tarzan and any of the other creatures alive inside yourself and ready to bring out of hiding and use whenever you wish - as long as you can put them back whenever you want to.

Endnotes

  1. If you are going to send qi-energy to anyone first always ask and get their permission; not to ask is impolite, improper, and invasive. The same with touching anyone to correct a posture or to show them an acupressure point: always first ask permission.
  2. Wiggling Fingers A personal note. This practice has helped me heal, or at least eliminate, the pain of arthritis in my fingers. Some of the joints are still gnarled, but now I can move my fingers easily.
  3. See “T-cell Modulation Group” at http://www.tcells.org/beginners/tcells/.
  4. “Five Animals.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Animals.
  5. “Phoenix (mythology)” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_(mythology).
  6. “Fenghuang” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenghuang.
  7. The “Phoenix Spreads its Wings” gymnastic presented in this article is a simplification of number 15 of the second set of Taijiqigong- Shibashi created by Lin Houshung, See “Lin Housheng’s Qigong” [at] http://www.lin-housheng.com/products.php.
  8. After these techniques are learned there is the potential of adding to them other Asian healing modalities such as using mantras, hand mudras, qigong gestures, ritual movements, affirmations and tuina massage. And adding some love into all this increases its effectiveness. Only the safety and security of the group and the presenter limit what may be done. Nevertheless laughing into the organs creates a foundation for any such future work.

Immune Boosting Recipe - Winter Vegetable & Mushroom Soup

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Recipes That Improve the Immune System

Health preservation and sickness prevention are the main themes in Chinese medicine and strengthening the immune system is the key in achieving these objectives. When the immune system is healthy, it can counteract adverse effects and prevent the development of sickness. It can also enable self-healing and lessen the impact from invading elements.

It has been known for many decades that sugar depresses the immune system. It was only in the 70s that they found out that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells so that they could phagocytize bacteria and viruses. White blood cells require a fifty times higher concentration, at least inside the cell as outside, so they have to accumulate vitamin C. Vitamin C and glucose have similar chemical structure and they compete for one another upon entering the cells. If there is more glucose around then less vitamin C will be allowed into the cell. Therefore, a low sugar diet is absolutely necessary to enable more vitamin C to get into the cells and increase immune function.

Following a diet rich in antioxidants is also essential to support good immune function. Abundant in many fruits and vegetables, antioxidants combat free radicals which can damage DNA and suppress the immune system. Choosing healthy omega-3 fatty acids available in oily fish and flax seeds over saturated fats found in meat and dairy products can help increasing your immune functions.

Foods for Boosting the Immune System

Eggs

Egg yolks are loaded with choline, which is proven to help combat breast cancer.

Green Tea

Green tea can slow down the growth of cancer cell. Drink green tea after each meal can kill germs growth in mouth and can increase elasticity of arteries.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants, riboflavin, selenium and other nutrients that keep the immune system healthy, they also help stave off cancer and prevent cancer growth. Wood-ear mushroom has blood thinning effects similar to aspirin which can prevent blood clots without the side effects

Korean Ginseng

Korean ginseng can prevent cancer, calm nerves and treat neural disorders, treat low blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and skin disease.

Cooked tomato

Cooked tomatoes have been proven to prevent uterus, prostate, bladder and pancreatic cancer. Tangerine tomatoes are a little-known species, distinctive for their orange color. They have a better form of lycopene which is particularly effective in fighting breast, prostate, ovarian, cervical and colon cancer. Cooked tomatoes also can treat and prevent cataracts, muscular degeneration, diabetes, and more.

Garlic

It is the most inexpensive common food that can give your immune system a boost. Add a couple of spoonfuls of minced garlic to your steamed rice or fried rice, or to your daily meal and it will help your body to prevent colds, fight viruses and kill bacteria.

Water

Drinking plenty of water and steering clear of sugary beverages, like soda and energy drinks, also help fend off infection by flushing out your system.

Herbs

Many tonic herbs have superior properties that have long been known to enhance the immunity of the body. Mushroom, ginseng, ling-zhi, cordyceps, Chinese yam, dang-shen, astragalus and many of the common herbs are part of the Chinese diet to boost the immune system.

Winter Vegetable & Mushroom Soup

this lovely image from walesonline.co.uk

Therapeutic Effects

Strengthens the body constitution, improves energy and body resistance, promotes general health and strengthens the immune system.

Ingredients

  • Button mushrooms - half cup
  • Onion - 1 large (finely chopped)
  • Garlic cloves - 4 (minced)
  • Carrot - 1 large (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • Parsnip - 1 large (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • Green cabbage - 1 small head (shredded)
  • Olive oil - 2 tablespoons

this beautiful image from naplesherald.com

Directions

1.   Heat oil in large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté at least 5 minutes or until onion is golden. Add carrot and parsnip and sauté 5 minutes or until carrot is crisp-tender.

2.   Stir in cabbage and cook, covered, 5 minutes or until beginning to wilt. Stir in 3 cups water, mushrooms and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 25 minutes or until mushroom and winter vegetable soup is richly flavoured.

this delicious image from epicurious.com

 

Usage

No restrictions.

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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.

Delicious featured image photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash


Welcome to the Chinese Year of the Rooster!

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese new year is not based on a solar calendar like ours is in the West but based on a lunar calendar, meaning that it lands on a different day each year depending on the movements of the moon. This year, the Chinese new year falls on January 28th, and we move from the year of the monkey into the year of the rooster. There are twelve animals that make up the Chinese calendar, each cycling in order. Here are all twelve animals, in their respective order. The rooster is the tenth animal in the sequence.

Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey.

You can determine what animal you are by referring to the chart below.

  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970

  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960

  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961

  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962

  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963

  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964

  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965

  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966

  • Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967

  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968

The year that you were born determines what animal you are. People born to certain animals are said to engender the characteristics of that animal. Each animal has symbolic meanings given to it by the ancient Chinese. You may wonder why these twelve animals specifically were chosen? Well, the theory is that they were the most influential animals in the lives of Chinese people. The ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are the animals most commonly raised by Chinese people, and the rat, tiger, rabbit, snake, monkey, and dragon are greatly loved by the Chinese.

2017 - Year of the Fire Rooster

In the Chinese zodiac, each animal also has a cycle of rotating elements. There are five elements - fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The rooster's element is metal, but in 2017, the rooster is the element of fire. This means that fire rooster only happens every 60 years. Each element changes the characteristics of that particular year. Generally, people born under a metal sign have a great deal of confidence and drive for success, but when out of balance, they can be stubborn and hard headed. Metal signs are very charismatic and often have magnetic personalities which make them well liked by everyone they encounter.

The Rooster Personality

Fire rooster is like taking all the metal personality traits and amplifying them so they are off the charts! Fire roosters are dynamic, highly intelligent, extremely organized, independent thinkers and their charisma take it all to the next level. Their drive and perseverance make fire roosters very successful in all of their endeavors and they always have a great many admirers. Fire roosters are very sociable and their friendships are important to them. They love to be the center of attention and are the hit of every party and social occasion. They are fiercely independent and more capable than most which can sometimes lead them to prefer to rely on themselves rather than on help from others. Fire roosters can be extremely strong willed and once they have set their mind to something, no one will be able to change their minds. Fire roosters can become obsessed over details and may be critical if they see others doing a job that fire rooster feels he can do better himself. The good news is that there is no one more capable of executing a task efficiently and to a very high standard than the fire rooster. They may be hard-headed and stubborn, but they get the job done, usually better than everyone else and with such flair that nobody complains!

Because of his fiery personality, fire rooster needs to be careful not to become too intense and learn to slow down and relax. He tends to want to control and take over but could use a little humility when taking on projects with others and not let his ego get out of control. He tends to burn so hot that, although this makes him a charismatic character and draws people to him, it can also burn and hurt people's feelings unintentionally.

Fire roosters are intelligent, organized, hard working and make excellent and loyal friends. They are meticulous and dependable which makes them very successful in all aspects of their lives.

Lucky Things for Roosters

  • Lucky colors: gold, brown, and yellow
  • Lucky numbers: 5, 7, and 8
  • Lucky directions: south, southeast
  • Lucky months: the 2nd, 5th, and 11th Chinese lunar months.
  • Lucky days: the 4th and 26th of any Chinese lunar month
  • Lucky flowers: gladiola, cockscomb

Unlucky Things for Roosters

  • Unlucky color: red
  • Unlucky numbers: 1, 3, and 9
  • Unlucky direction: east
  • Unlucky months: the 3rd, 9th, and 12th Chinese lunar months

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The beautiful featured image created by FauxKiss on Etsy


Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 2

**This article originally appeared as "Happy Fun Qigong."Qi JournalVol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**

By John Voigt

Qi-Balling

1. Sensing qi.

Another fun and seemingly magical gymnastic is to have the group rub their hands together, then have them pretend they are playing small accordions. When their hands go out, they should inhale. When the hands come in, they should exhale. I have them do this for awhile, and then ask, “Does anyone see the qi between your hands?” If no one does, I suggest they look for an ethereal mist, a commonly used description of qi energy. (The Chinese word “Qi” originally meant “vapor”—like the phosphorescent mist you see hovering over a lake very early in the morning.) We do some more squeezing in and out then I ask, “What does it feel like?” If they do sense it, their answers often are, a heaviness, a tingling, magnetic, electromagnetic, prickly, it’s hot, cold, a suction. If they see or feel nothing, I tell them, to imagine it. Using the imagination can be effective in preparing someone to gain more skills in their qigong practices.

2. Forming a qi ball.

Have them mold a ball out of the qi between their hands; as if the qi were a clump of moist flour dough and it was being kneaded on a cutting board. If they don’t get it tell them “Pretend you’re playing a game.”

3. Tossing the qi ball.

Now have them toss the qi ball from one hand to the other. Tell them to watch the ball as it goes back and forth (that will enhance the experience). Suggest they feel the ball in their hands when they catch it.

4. Lifting the qi ball.

Then have them lift the ball from side to side. The right-hand lifts the qi ball up to the left shoulder and holds it there for a few seconds. Then the right hand comes back down dropping the ball into the left hand. Then the left hand lifts the ball to the right shoulder, holds it for a few seconds, and returns down dropping the ball into the right hand. These movements should be repeated for a few minutes. Once people are comfortable doing this, when the hand is at its zenith they should toss the ball a tiny bit straight up in the air, and quickly catch it.

5. Tossing the qi ball around.

This is an exercise in which we create through our imaginations the sensations of sending and receiving qi with other people. We pretend we are all at a playground tossing our newly created qi balls to each other. I occasionally stir the process up by saying, “Hey, not so hard!” when they toss the ball too vigorously at me. Imagination is wonderful. You can do so much with it if you only allow yourself to.

6. Basketball - the Qi way.

Here is a way to combine all the Qi Ball gymnastics. I call it the “Free Throw Game.” I introduce this by saying, Did you ever watch an NBA basketball player shooting a free throw? Next time you do, study how he coordinates his breath, body posture, and mind to project a ball towards a basketball hoop. That is pure qigong ladies and gentleman: body, breath, mind, energy all being used together. Okay, time to play ball. Feel that energy ball as a basket ball between your hands. Toss it from hand to hand. Take a deep breath and imagine you are LeBron James (or your favorite basketball player) and walk around and bounce it off the floor, dribble it. Hold the ball in front of your the solar plexus (the second dantian). Center yourself by breathing into the lower abdomen and allow gravity to ground you. Take a few more deep breaths and fill your lower belly dantian with pure high powered qi-energy. Your whole torso should feel like a balloon filled with water, pleasantly heavy and bouncy. Once again feel the energy resonance between your hands and the basketball. Mentally picture seeing the ball going into the hoop, and after that relax your shoulders and entire body and toss the ball in. Another point for your side.

Happy Fun Animal Frolics.

In ancient times Chinese Shamans, usually women called “Wu”, would do ritualistic dances to gain the energetic powers of animals and birds. As time passed such practices were recast into the first documented qigong form, the classic Wu Qin Xi, or Five Animal Frolics.4 But be prepared for a new spin on an old theme. Our Happy Fun version may look more like dances from1960’s—as in the Bird, the Duck, the Funky Chicken, the Horse, the Pony, the Raccoon, the Dog, the Funky Penguin, the Monkey, etc.

Tarzan Thumps His CV-19 and Makes the Victory Cry of the Bull Ape. The ancient Chinese were not the only ones seeking
to gain the power of wild animals, Tarzan did too. Here is a Happy Fun Qigong TCM version: With closed soft fists, or with percussive fingertips, thump or tap on the center of your upper chest, between the breasts (over and around the acupuncture point CV-19). Do this about twelve times and not too hard. Then you might add your version of Tarzan’s Call of the King of the Jungle - however, this is optional, especially in public. You can hear and see it on many YouTube sites, just type in “Tarzan Call.”

Benefits

This type of exercise is said to revitalize the thymus gland, a source of T-lymphocytes (T cells), which kill virally or bacterially infected cells and naturally eradicate cancer cells. I have no idea what benefits accrue from making that weird Call of the Jungle - but it is so much fun I like to do it anyway, and suggest you might too.

CV-19 (ZiGong) Acupuncture Point

Note

If any women have a problem with visualizing themselves as a semi-nude male pretending he is a big monkey doing silly things and making funny sounds, this gymnastic can work just as well for them if they turn themselves into a Jane the Queen of the Jungle Beats On Her CV-19. The original Jane did; go to YouTube and search Jane Tarzan call.

Tiger Claws.

Make your hands into tiger claws. The hands are cupped and squeezed in as if squeezing a tennis ball, but the middle finger is a bit extended. Members of the group can walk around waving their claws at each other. Any growling is optional. Occasionally they should bend forward and trust out their arms and grasp at imaginary prey with their paws.

Benefits

Squeezing your hands this way will compress qi and cause it to be absorbed into the fingers, hands, and possibly into the muscles and bones of the arms and shoulders. This resembles a martial art technique called “Iron Shirt” which internally armors the body to prevent injury. Tiger qigong is said to be good for the Liver, and also to stimulate the flow of qi in the du mài and rèn mài channels of the microcosmic orbit (the major pathway of qi up the back and down the front of the torso.) The grasping motions help open the six acupuncture points at the tips of the fingers.

The Phoenix.

The Phoenix is a mythological creature that reincarnates itself by rising from the ashes of its past. In Chinese Mythology it is called Feng-huang, the “Bird of Wonder,” and signifies the merging of masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) life forces, which brings about good fortune. So in this gymnastic there is an implied re-birthing of the self along with the gaining of good fortune. That all sounds pretty good to me.

                       

The Gymnastic

With feet spread apart wider than shoulder width, turn to the right, inhale and keeping the wrists limp and fingers hanging down, lift the arms up by your sides. The heel of the left foot should rise up as you do this. When the hands are level with the ears, open and unfold your hands and arms out to your sides as if you were a beautiful Phoenix unfolding its wings. Pause as if you were floating high up in the sky. Then slowly exhale and float your arms (wings) back down and return to facing forward with arms hanging down by your sides. Then turn to the left and repeat this rising up and down gesture. When turning to the left, the right heel should lift off the ground. Do this exercise for six times or for as long it feels good to do.

Benefits

Shifting the weight of the body from side to side and rising up with extended arms increases the circulation of blood, as well as the flow of qi in all the meridians of the body. Bending to the left and right will smooth strengthen and harmonize the yin and yang energies of the practitioner. Therefore this gymnastic is good for all the organ systems of the body, but especially for the Lung, Pericardium and Heart.

Peacock Spreads Tail To Show Beautiful Feathers.

Raise your hands straight up, palms facing out. As they go above your head spread your arms open. From the sides of your eyes using peripheral vision imagine your beautiful feathers. With your arms uplifted and palms facing out, slightly bend the elbows and slowly sway to the left and right like audiences at a rock concert.

Air Dancer.

In our present day urban environment it is not easy finding free roaming apes, tigers, peacocks, and just forget about the phoenix. But it is easy to find Air Dancers: they’re endemic in the city – they are often used to advertise car dealerships, gas stations and other automotive places. When you do the Air Dancer you freely wave your arms around and bend over a lot. (If you have health issues, especially uncontrolled hypertension, you shouldn’t do this without a doctor’s approval). The Air Dancer I work out with is advertising oil changes. However, I’m advertising we all get “qi changes” by flushing out the old bad qi and breathing in some good new qi. For those skeptical about the reality of this, I propose that circling and bending up and down from the waist facilitates bowel, kidney, and bladder functions. So don’t be shy, try it out for yourself. But do make sure there’s a bathroom close by. You can find varied kinds of Air Dancers doing their thing on YouTube or better yet somewhere in your neighborhood. But seriously, take it easy unless you too are made out of heavy rubber tubing.

Rather than an oil change, the author is attempting a Qi change.

**Beautiful featured image from combinedarts.org

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Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 2 : The Health Benefits of Qi Gong Exercise : Chinese Medicine Living


How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Another year is upon us! The arrival of the new year always causes me to reflect, and think about what I would like to improve upon in the coming year. Health, happiness and well-being are always top of the list, so here is a list of some things that we can all do to be a little healthier and happier in 2017.

Take Time for Yourself

this beautiful image from 68.media.tumblr.com

This is a hard one. Our lives seem to get busier and busier and we all seem to be working more and sleeping less which means less time for, well, us. Even though taking time out for ourselves is often not easy, it is an important part of our health. Psychologically, it is you caring about yourself enough to take the time to do something that feeds you, whatever that may be. Go for a walk, read a new book you've been meaning to start, have a bubble bath, start a new art project... do something that feeds your soul. Your whole body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it.

Meditate

this relaxing image from www.chatelaine.com

Now I know the thought of meditating is scary for a lot of people, especially if you have never done it before. But meditation doesn't have to mean spending hours on a mountainside in complete seclusion. If you are new to it, start slow. Spent ten minutes a day, either when you get up in the morning (the energy of the day is so calm and lovely at this time), or if it is easier, at the end of the day before you go to bed. Just sit or lie quietly without distractions (the TV, your phone, computer, etc..) and just relax. For the first many times you do this, your mind will no doubt be racing and it might not feel relaxing at all, but if you think about it, you never just "let your mind go" like this. We are always forcing our minds into doing things, like work, cooking, driving or what-have-you. Your mind also needs time to empty itself out, but once it does and goes quiet... it is wonderful. With some practice, you will be able to drop into a quiet meditation easily, and your body and mind will crave it because it is so nourishing to every part of you. I find that the benefits of a little daily meditation spill out into the rest of my life causing me to be calmer, more patient and generally happier which is a wonderful thing.

Find a Local Farmer

this image from larahudson.com

Reconnect with your food. Food does not arrive at the grocery store wrapped in cellophane and politely organized and placed onto carts. That food is grown and tended by farmers - people who have one of the most important jobs on the planet - feeding us. Our food is the medicine we use every day to keep us healthy, and many of us have lost our connection to where it comes from. If you are able to, find a local farm where you are able to visit and buy fresh, organic (if possible) foods for your family. If this is not possible, then find a local farmers market and meet the farmers there. This will give you a new appreciation for where your food is coming from, who is growing it and in turn, you will be eating local (very good in terms of Chinese medicine) and supporting your local farmers - who absolutely need and deserve the support of their communities. Farmers markets are also a wonderful place to meet other local, health conscious people, eat local treats and reconnect with your community. Win-win!

Reconnect with Nature

this lovely image from www.drjimtaylor.com

I know I say this one a lot, but it is so imperative to health on every level. One of the reasons we see disease on such an unprecedented scale is that we have lost our connection to nature. We live in huge cities where we spend our days behind desks in buildings under florescent lights instead of in forests and jungles, which is where we belong. We were not designed to live this, well, unnaturally. Obviously, it is not feasible to go completely wild and live in forests (unless you are really hardcore) but in Chinese medicine, we are always striving for balance. So, even if you work in an office or a factory and sit behind a desk or stand on an assembly line, eat your lunch outside. Take off your shoes and put your feet in the grass. Feel the earth, it is talking to you in a language you have probably forgotten. It is feeding you in a way you desperately need to be fed. When you have time off, go for a walk in a forest, swim in a lake or ocean, or instead of working out at the gym, go for a run outside. Our connection to the planet feeds us as much as what we eat and drink, so think of your time outside as food for your body and soul. You will notice how much better you feel, inside and out.

Zoom Out

this magnificent image from youtube.com

I love this one, and doing it helps your mental state more than you can imagine. Zooming out just basically means, keeping things in perspective. When you are having a problem or something disastrous is happening in your life, just take a moment and back up. Zoom out of your situation. Zoom out of the building, the street, the neighbourhood, the city, the country, the continent, the planet, and so on. The farther out you go, the better you will feel. It is so easy for our lives to become very small. Problems become huge and often seem insurmountable, but zooming out will help to keep things in perspective. Think to yourself... in the grand scheme of things, does this really matter? In a week, will I be thinking about this at all? Zooming out is a sort of meditation, and one I do often if I am struggling with something. Instead of feeling small, I am always trying to be as big, as expansive with my mind and my awareness as possible. Not always easily done, and certainly takes practice.

Be Grateful

Gratitude is something I try to practice every day. It has been one of the most beneficial practices that I have in my life, and I am so grateful for it. Ha. Being grateful doesn't mean that life is not going to present challenges. Life is full of them. But spending some time each day to consciously think about what in your life you are grateful for will put you in a happy, loving state of mind, which will attract more happy, loving energy to your experience. This energy will help you to cope when difficult situations arise and help you to fully appreciate all the wonderful things/people that you have in your life. Absolutely everyone has things that they can be grateful for, and focusing on this positivity will only draw more of it into your life and that is a wonderful thing.

Unplug

this image from gameacademy.com

We are all connected, and now this is even more true with the advent of the internet and the miracle of cell phones which allow us to communicate with one another from almost anywhere on the planet. This wonderful technology has allowed access to information by millions of people who would otherwise not be able to benefit from it. There are so many positive aspects to our ability to connect, but there are drawbacks too. The pendulum seems to have swung quite far in that direction so that in our attempt to stay technologically connected to each other, we have lost our human connections. I see groups of teenagers sitting together, each looking at their cell phones, instead of talking to each other. People live is vast cities, crammed into apartment buildings, but never interact with each other. As with all things, we are going for balance. Many people could not live without the internet of god forbid, their cell phone, but trying to unplug, at least for parts of the day or week is a good way to bring about that balance. Call a friend, then go and meet with them. Have a coffee and a conversation. We are social animals (not social media animals, although sometimes it seems we certainly are) and human contact is good for us and we NEED it.

Be of Service

A part of being human, and one of the reasons that I think we are here, is to serve our fellow human. This doesn't have to mean volounteering in a cancer ward or an old age home (as these are big commitments - but wonderful things to do), it may be as simple as helping someone struggling with their groceries, opening the door for someone with their arms full, giving someone directions when they ask you on the street. These small things make a huge impact. No one makes it through life alone. We all need each other, and by being kind, generous and helpful with our fellow human being is the glue that holds us all together. In a time where there is so much divisiveness in the world, it seems there are so many reasons for us to fear and hate each other, all it takes is the conscious effort to not let in that darkness and to treat each person with love and compassion, just as you would like to be treated. It will go a long way to healing the negativity on this planet and it happens to feel really good too. <3

How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living


Uplifting Kidney 5 Herb Tea - For Treating Kidney Stones

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

A Bit About Kidney / Bladder Disease in Chinese Medicine

Kidney deficiency is the cause of many illnesses and over 80% of people have a certain degree of kidney deficiency. Cold hands and feet, a lack of energy, ringing in the ears, sexual dysfunction, joint pain, menstrual disorders, prostate problems, back pain, hearing impairment, premature aging, and incontinence are some typical examples.

Winter time is the best season to preserve and promote kidney health. Eating black colored food such as black beans is good for the kidneys. Salty taste benefits the kidneys but too much can damage kidneys too. Kidney stones are formed by a buildup of substances which crystallized into stone-like deposits. Diets high in protein and lack of exercise will result in severe overall net calcium loss and increase the amount of calcium presented to the kidneys. Western doctors’ advice in reducing the burden and workload on the kidneys is by eating a diet low in meat, high in carbohydrates, restricted salt and drinking plenty of water to dissolve smaller stones. And by avoiding peanuts, chestnuts, soy, asparagus, spinach, corn, and eggs as well as eating more celery, apple, pear, and beans will help to keep your kidneys strong and avoid problems like stones in the future.

The symptoms of a kidney infection are a sore throat, fever, lower back pain, tiredness, fatigue, thirst and loss of appetite. When there is edema (swelling), the volume of urine decreases and so does the blood pressure. Infections of the urinary tract are more common in females than males. It could be due to poor hygiene or food allergy. Bacteria grows more easily in alkaline than in acid urine and vitamin C can promote acid urine and also improve immunity.

The food treatment for kidney infection should include a low-sodium and high protein diet such as fish, meat, egg and soy products. Water intake should be increased. Diuretic foods such as watermelon, winter melon, black bean, broad bean, see qua, and small red beans are effective in expelling dampness. Corn silk and corn kernel cooked with water to make tea can alleviate urinary tract or bladder infections. Grape juice can treat female urinary tract infections. Avoid spicy foods, garlic, and chives.

The other kidney dysfunctions include frequent urination, nephritis, leucorrhoea in women, and nocturnal emission and spermatorrhea in men.

According to Chinese medicine, kidney problems are caused by yang deficiency, as well as spleen and heart deficiency. Seminal emission is induced by excessive fire due to yin deficiency, weakness of kidney qi or the descent of heat-dampness. Treatments include nourishing kidney yin, removing fire, clearing heat and dissipating dampness.

Uplifting Kidney 5 Herb Tea Recipe

SYMPTOMS

All symptoms of weak kidney function.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Uplifts stomach and kidney energy.


Huang Qi or Astragalus Root

Dang Shen or Radix Codonopsis

Shan Yao or Chinese Yam

INGREDIENTS

  • Astragalus (huang qi) 黃耆 - 30gm
  • Dang shen 黨參 - 9gm
  • Morinda Root (ba ji tien) 巴戟天 - 9gm
  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 -  9 gm
  • Cimicifuga  (Sheng ma) 升麻 – 9gm

DIRECTIONS

1.   Rinse herbs and put together with 6 cups of water and cook over medium heat to one cup of tea.

2.   Drink tea only.

USAGE

Not suitable when you have a cold or flu.