Chinese Holistic Medicine Could Be The Ideal All-Round Treatment For Stress

By Sally Perkins

Western medicine has long espoused its own benefits while prescribing treatments from eastern and Chinese medicines as complementary. However, research is beginning to show that Chinese medicine can stand on its own two feet when it comes to certain conditions, including stress, as outlined in an influential study conducted by the University of Edmonton. When conducted with the supervision of experts and in a controlled manner, an anti-stress regimen lead entirely by Chinese medicine can be very effective.

Treatment Without Intrusion

Chinese medicine can effectively mitigate stress without ever requiring the prescription of medicine. Stress is a serious condition that impacts countless people and while many will brush it off on the odd occasion, several flare ups of stress can lead to long term consequences. As stress can strike anywhere – the commute to work being a common place, in addition to the comfort of the home – it’s important to find methods that can be called on for relief at any time. Chinese medicine has long provided for this through routines like tai chi. One article by NBC noted studies that found tai chi could be the best way to improve sleep and reduce long term stress. Most importantly, exercises it provides can be conducted at a miniature scale throughout the day to deal with sharp rises in stress, as well as creating a lower background level.

Using Medication

Stress, when left untreated, can manifest as long term conditions such as anxiety and depression. From here, the best solution is often a mix of western medicine and psychological treatment. As a result, up to 1 in 6 Americans are prescribed with anti-anxiety drugs today. However, what if many people could tackle their stress before it develops into something more?


This photo by Gratisography on pexels.com

It goes without saying that many people are diagnosed with anxiety and depression for reasons other than overwhelming stress, but, for those who are, Chinese medicine can be used early and effectively to help alleviate symptoms and boost recovery. Acupuncture, for example, has been found by studies to have a statistically significant reduction on stress, according to one Metro summary.

A Way of Life

If medicine is not required, then Americans can look to some core beliefs in Chinese society that can help to alleviate stress. American life is very stressful; a Psychology Today analysis found that over 57% of those surveyed reported significant levels of stress. According to Viacom, a lower percentage reported such feelings in China, and a significant amount reported being happier. While there are many factors contributing to these findings, the basics of life seem important. According to Viacom’s research, Chinese people are 60% more likely to than others globally to take simple self-care steps to reduce stress, including walks, listening to positive music and connecting with family.

Stress is a complex condition, but there are more ways to deal with it than just the one. Chinese medicine is a proven way to tackle it holistically, though medication, self-care and relaxation techniques. Try looking at your self-care routines and adjusting them, with the guidance of your physician.


This image from Negative Space on pixels.com

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Featured image from Pixabay


The Anti-Cancer Walk: An Introduction to Guo Lin New Qigong Therapy

by John Voigt

From a Chinese clinical treatment standpoint, Guo Lin Walking Qigong became the most popular and effective form of Qigong for cancer.  qigonginstitute.org

Guo Lin’s New Qigong Therapy is composed of many different gestures, breathing patterns, meditations, mantra-like sound utterances, all used by varying social groups within various physical settings. Space limitations, as well as the limited abilities of its author, force this article to focus on the main part of its practice known as Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Anti-Cancer Qigong.

Guo Lin Biography.

The Walking Qi Gong to cure cancer was created by a Chinese woman named Guo Lin. In 1949 when she was forty years old she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and a hysterectomy was performed. In ten years the cancer returned, and had metastasized to her bladder. After six more unsuccessful operations, she refused a seventh and was told that she would die within six months. She began to practice several Shaolin qigong forms that her grandfather had taught her when she was a child, but they didn’t seem to help.

Always known for her strong will, she now increased her studies, reading traditional Chinese and western medicine text books; as well as experimenting with various historical qigong exercises, and Daoist breathing and relaxation meditations. She practiced for many hours a day, seven days a week. The result was that she created her own qigong and within six months, even to her own surprise, the cancer went into remission and her health returned.

Guo Lin publicly unveiled what she called her “New Qigong” therapy on September 4, 1971 in Dongdan Park in Beijing. This was the time of the Cultural Revolution when anyone doing anything related to China’s pre-communist past such as qigong, or traditional Chinese medicine put themselves in danger, for at that time such practices were called “anti-revolutionary fake and fraudulent," and were politically and culturally unacceptable. Guo Lin, along with those who helped her, could be incarcerated for political indoctrination and re-education. Additionally, she and anyone practicing qigong with her were in constant danger of being physically attacked by the teen-aged thugs collectively known as the Red Guards and being beaten, or even murdered, by them.


Red Guards in Beijing, June 1966, at the beginning of China's Cultural Revolution. More than one million people
are believed to have died during its ten years of social chaos.

Source: Jean Vincent/AFP/Getty Images.

In 1976 the Cultural Revolution ended with Chairman Mao Zedong’s death. “By 1977 [Guo Lin] had achieved such tremendous results that she publicly announced that qigong could heal cancer, and thus her classes grew to 300-400 students a day.”  http://www.orientalhealing.net/qigong/

“Since then, thousands of cancer patients have taken part in her Qigong therapy classes at various coaching centers, located over twenty cities and provinces in China, and have attained remissions from this life-threatening disease.” http://guolinqigongpuchong.blogspot.com/2007/

Caring more for others than herself, and by being over-committed to her work—(her husband said that “she had her patients in her heart and mind and not herself.)—at the age of seventy-five she suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage, and died on December 14, 1984.

By the mid-1980s it was estimated that there were more than one million people practicing her Walking Qigong in China. There also were many Walking Qigong institutions, associations, health resorts and hospitals established. http://www.qigongchinesehealth.com/walking_qigong

In 1998 after extensive examinations by the Chinese government, Guo Lin Qigong was approved of as being effective for the health of the masses. [David A. Palmer. Qigong Fever. p. 181-2 https://books.google.com/books?id=RXeuibmD2dsC&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=there+were+no+officially+sanctioned+qigong+activities+in+China&source=bl&ots=aNIlwjgoL2&sig=zUv9AUh_SUsoK4_vQagmuXSr5dQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj2osrW3bnfAhUI01kKHV__CSsQ6AEwCXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=there%20were%20no%20officially%20sanctioned%20qigong%20activities%20in%20China&f=false

More than two million copies of books by Guo Lin and her “New Qigong” have been published in China, making her the author of the largest number of books about qigong ever to appear in that country. [http://www.ed2kers.net/资料/体育健身/130644.html.] Presently [May, 2019] there is no available translation in English or  in another western language, of any book ever written by or about Guo Lin.

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Disclaimer: Before commencing this or any other exercise program consult your physician, or appropriate medical professional. This entry is not offered as a cure for cancer or for any other disease. It is not intended to replace any cancer therapy prescribed by a physician.

Guo Lin wrote, To achieve a reasonable treatment, organically combine Chinese and Western medicine, qigong, diet, and psychology. Adopt their respective strengths and avoid their shortcomings. This will make us more likely to recover, live longer, and live a better quantity of life. Guolin New Qigong: An Introduction, p. 20.

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Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Anti-Cancer Qigong: The Preparatory Exercises.

1. Stand in a Relaxed Fashion.

The eyes are closed. The shoulders are loose. The knees are slightly bent. The tongue is on the upper palate. If necessary, silently count to sixty to still the mind. Cancer patients generally stand this way for two to three minutes. Those with chronic diseases generally stand from three to five minutes. The direction you face in depends on the location of the disease. 1. East: liver, gallbladder. 2. South: heart, small intestine, brain, tongue. 3. West: lung, large intestine, nose, skin. 4. North: kidney, bladder, ear, bone, reproductive organs, endocrine. 5. Southwest: spleen, sarcoma. 6. Northeast: stomach, esophagus. 7. If not sure of the location of the disease face North. From: “Guolin Qigong: Preparatory Exercise” beginning at 1:40.


2. Three Special Breaths.

Place the hands on the lower abdomen just below the navel. Men place the right hand above the left; woman place the left hand above the right. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. Then one normal breath in and out through the nose. Do this same pattern for a total of three times. See: “Cancer – We Can Beat It” - from 23:56 to 27:35.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRAuzeVEwns

3. Opening and Closing Hand Movements

(Also called “Opening and Closing the Dantian”). The body, shoulders, arms, and hands are relaxed. The eyes are closed, and the tongue is on the pallet. The palms face each at the level of the waist. Gather in (close) the hands as you inhale through the nose. Open the hands with the palms facing downward as you exhale through the nose. Do this three times. See the video “Cancer – We Can Beat It.” (posted above) from  27:40 to 29:20.

Note: the Dantian is the major location for the storage and cultivation of vital life energy [Qi] located slightly beneath and under the navel, in the center of the lower torso.

Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Anti-Cancer Qigong: The Main Exercise.

Women take two quick inhalations and swing both hands to the left and step forward with the right foot by first lifting the toes up from the ground and then having their right heel step down on the ground. As the heel touches the ground, exhale through the nose and swing both hands to the right, and step forward with the left foot.

Take two more inhalations, and again swing both hands to the left, and step forward with the right foot. As the right heel touches the ground exhale and swing the hands to the right and step out with the left foot; but now (with loose shoulders and waist) turn the head to look to the right.

If the woman’s health and level of comfort allow for it, continue this pattern for fifteen to twenty minutes, then reverse sides (right becomes left and left becomes right) and continue for another fifteen to twenty minutes.

Men do the opposite. Take two quick inhalations and swing both hands to the right and step forward with the left foot by first lifting the toes up from the ground and then having the left heel step down on the ground. As the heel touches the ground, exhale through the nose and swing both hands to the left, and step forward with the right foot.

Take two more inhalations, and again swing both hands to the right, and step forward with the left foot. As the left heel touches the ground exhale and swing the hands to the left and step out with the right foot; but now (with loose shoulders and waist) turn the head to the left.

If the man’s health and level of comfort allow for it, continue this pattern for fifteen to twenty minutes, then reverse sides (left becomes right and right becomes left) and continue for an additional fifteen to twenty minutes.

After completing one of these 30-to-40 minute sessions, and before commencing another such session, both men and women should do  the Opening and Closing Hand Movement for three times. This helps settle the newly activated qi-life energy into the lower dantian.

The question of how many and for how long such a 30-to-40 minute session should be repeated will be addressed directly below.

The  Concluding Exercise in Three Parts.

When coming to the end of a completed Walking Qigong practice, perform the Preparatory Exercises again, but now in an inverted order. First do the Opening and Closing Hand Movements: Inhale and close the palms hands towards the belly, and exhale and open the hands with the palms facing downward; do this three times. Next do the Three Special Breaths: Place the hands on the lower abdomen. Women left hand on top of right. Men right hand on top of left. Inhale through nose, exhale through mouth. Then take one breath in and out through nose. Do this for a total of three times. Next Stand Relaxed For two or three minutes. This brings the practice to a close. Return to your normal day’s activities.

How fast and for how long should a person or a group of people spend in practicing Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Anti-Cancer Qigong? Properly speaking, the length, speed, and nature of the exercise should be determined by a skilled and experienced instructor based on observations of the health and stamina of the practitioner.

Qigong Master John Dolic writes, [Gou Lin] Walking Qigong should be practiced for two to five hours a day. The practice is done in 15-minute intervals with plenty of breaks in between. In other words, it is not a solid two to five hours’ worth of practice. Those who cannot walk for even 5 minutes can take a few steps, then stop and rest, then another few steps and so on (to start with). Gradually, as their stamina improves and they become able to walk for two hours, they should keep that as their daily minimum. Qigong Chinese Health
http://www.qigongchinesehealth.com/walking_qigong

Guo Lin said it depends on the person and the state of their health, and if the person feels exhausted the next day, they should reduce the extent of their practice. She also said the entire practice with its repeating sessions can take up to four to five hours a day. Guo Lin would often advise that, “Patients suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, and other chronic diseases should use a weak wind-breathing [two inhalations, one exhalation] or perhaps just normal breathing, and their rate of walking should be slower. Those with poor physical weakness can walk in less than twenty minutes intervals.” Source: Guolin (Guo Lin) Qigong .pdf in English [sic] & Other Language.
http://cancer-qigong.blogspot.com/2012/04/guolin-guo-lin-qigong-pdf-in-enhlish.html

Very Important Note About Heart Disease

Throughout information on the internet, it often is advised not to practice Guo Lin’s Natural Walking Wind-Breathing Qigong if the person suffers from heart disease, or hypertension (high blood pressure). Here again it is absolutely necessary to consult with your physician or professional medical consultant.

Additional Comments.

For cancer of the liver, gallbladder, both male or female patients begin by first stepping forward with their right foot.

The practice is called “Wind-Breathing” because the air coming into the nose should feel like wind blowing through a small passage, and sound as if you are sniffing a flower. To accomplish this, you should quickly inhale twice and exhale once through the nose. To keep track of this breathing and its required movements, think—or have someone say—in-in out; in-in turn. On some Chinese videos you might hear something like, she-she, ho; she-she, dwahn. Which means, inhale-inhale, exhale; inhale-inhale, turn [the head].

Any saliva generated in the mouth is to be thought of as healing Qi. Swallow it in three mouthfuls down into the (lower) Dantian.  

Conclusion.

This entry is no more than a short introduction to Guo Lin’s anti-cancer walking qigong meant only to introduce it to an English-speaking audience. As already mentioned, her complete “New Qigong” Therapy is composed of much more than what is presented in this article. A future article in Chinese Medicine Living will briefly explore her theories on how and why her qigong works through the use of breathing, psychology, meditation, bioelectricity and social gatherings—and even by the use of singing and dancing as successful healing modalities. There will also be more about the powerful creative personality of Guo Lin. Also additional videos and internet resources will be listed—(mainly in Chinese because there is so little available in English). And we will finish by listing various worldwide Guo Lin Associations.

And as always, consult your physician—trained in western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, or preferably both—before commencing this or any other exercise program.

Sources Consulted for this Entry - Books:

郭林氣功 - 簡介.(Guolin New Qigong: An Introduction); [in Traditional Chinese script]. http://www.cllam.com/contents/contenthtml/SSW-Doc/0804kuolin.pdf.

郭林新气功什么能治病抗癌. (Why Can Guo Lin New Qigong Cure Diseases and Fight Cancer?). ISBN-13: 978-7-5009-3889-7. People's Sports Publishing House, 2016. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003SRJE4A/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

郭林新氣功治癌功法.(Guo Lin New Qigong Cancer Treatment); [in Traditional Chinese script].  ISBN 9579263140. Taipei City: Lin Yu Culture, 1995.

Websites:

John Dolic. Qigong Chinese Health: “Walking Qigong: The Anti-Cancer Qigong.

“Guolin (Guo Lin) Qigong .pdf in English [sic] & Other Language.” http://cancer-qigong.blogspot.com/2012/04/guolin-guo-lin-qigong-pdf-in-enhlish.html

Videos:

Jack Lim. “Cancer – We Can Beat It.” © Jack Lim. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRAuzeVEwns.

Guolin Qigong, Natural Walk, Walking Qigong, Anti-Cancer Qigong. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12RSk3BkCFw

Guolin Qigong: Concluding Exercise. YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt-QSno0-dI.

Guo Lin Book (in Chinese)

 Guo Lin New Qigong: Therapeutic Exercises.
(The book is in Chinese. Its title is 郭林新气功:治功法挖掘功法中高功法.)
See Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Guo-Lin-Qigong-treatment-Paperback/dp/7500917813

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Featured image

Guo Lin Teaching New Qigong Walking

from http://ftpguolinxqg.cl543.4everdns.com/index.php?r=pages/category/index&cid=55 51La


Incorporating Chinese Medicine Into Your Weight Loss Program

By Sally Perkins

Half of Americans say they are trying to lose weight. That’s over 163 million people in the United States alone who are unhappy with their weight, and that doesn’t take into account the rest of the people around the world who are also trying to be healthier. Traditional Chinese Medicine has many principles that contribute to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle, as it relates to food consumption, digestion, metabolism, and other bodily functions that relate to weight. There are many of these principles you can incorporate into your daily routine to aid your body in processing fuel and help with weight loss.

Definitely Your Cup Of Tea

Igor Miske

Many people equate tea, especially green tea and black teas like oolong, with Chinese culture. This is for good reason, as many Chinese people drink tea every day, and it is thought that drinking tea has many health benefits. Tea contains polyphenols, a specific type of antioxidant, which can help keep your metabolism from slowing as you lose weight. Polyphenols can also assist with digestive issues, and, as with other antioxidants, help repair cells. You can reap the benefits of polyphenols by drinking just one cup of tea per day. You can easily add this to your daily routine; just brew one cup every morning as part of your morning ritual. Just like other small habit changes you can make to improve your health, like drinking more water, standing instead of sitting at work, or going to bed half an hour earlier in order to get more sleep, this is a small modification that can yield great benefits. Sometimes the best way to make positive changes for overall health is to make one or two small changes at a time, allowing those changes to become habits before taking on more.

Eating For Energy

Qi is the energy that runs through our bodies, and maintaining a healthy, balanced qi is essential for proper health. Habits that drain your energy can be detrimental to your weight loss efforts. Unhealthy habits like eating late at night, eating raw, cold foods, and skipping breakfast can stress your digestive organs and cause your qi to become unbalanced. Something as small as adding breakfast to your daily routine can help to restore balance to your body and increase your energy, making it easier for your body to lose weight.   

Joseph Gonzalez

Supplement Your Diet

In addition to eating the right foods for your organs and to aid in digestion and energy levels, there are many Chinese herbs that can help with weight loss. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that excessive weight is caused by an accumulation of “dampness,” and therefore attempts to lose weight are made by relieving this dampness. Herbs that help to balance this condition and aid in weight loss include Bao He Wan, He Ye or lotus leaf, Fu Ling and Huang Qi. You can develop a supplement plan with a TCM specialist, and by adding your personalized combination to your diet, you can help restore your body’s balance.

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine can assist with weight loss, whether you subscribe to TCM principles completely and transform your lifestyle, or simply incorporate some of them into your existing routine. You can use TCM to aid you with a particular issue, or to achieve a generally healthier way of life. Traditional Chinese Medicine can be highly customized to create a specialized regimen for your body and your lifestyle and weight loss needs. The more research you can do on Chinese medicine and the different ways it can improve your body’s functionality, the more ideas you can integrate into your life.


Living in Harmony with Spring According to Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Chinese Medicine Theory

Chinese Medicine has such a beautiful way of looking at us - human beings, our place in nature and in the universe. We are part of a greater whole, and are inseparable from it. In Chinese Medicine, we are healthy when we are in harmony with our surroundings, and for much of human history, we have honed the skills needed to be able to feel slight changes in our environments, so that we could change behaviours, to remain in balance. In our modern world, we seem to be losing this connectedness to both our natural environments, and ultimately, ourselves. Chinese Medicine can teach us how to regain this connection by giving us some simple guidelines on how to live in harmony with the seasons.

Spring - The Season of the Liver

Spring is the season associated with the Liver and the emotion of Anger. Its energies are expansive - moving upward and outward like newly budding plants, flowers and trees. It is a time for growth and renewal. Spring is the best time to strengthen the Liver, and to deal with any unresolved feelings of Anger or frustration as they can build up and cause stagnant Qi or energy in the Liver and elsewhere. The colour associated with Spring and the Liver is green. Eating green foods in the Spring strengthens the Liver. To keep your Liver healthy, be sure to be in bed and asleep before 11pm.

The Liver is the organ associated with Spring. In Chinese Medicine the Liver has the following responsibilities:

  • Opens Into the Eyes
  • Controls Planning
  • The Flavour that Supports the Liver is Sour
  • Houses the Hun (Spirit) The Liver is the organ associated with Spring.
  • Stores Blood
  • Responsible for the Smooth Flow of Qi & Blood
  • Controls the Sinews / Tendons
  • Manifests in the Nails

Behaviours in Spring

  • Engaging in uplifting and creative activities that expand our energies and consciousness (journaling, meditation)
  • Seek personal development and growth
  • Cooking should be of shorter duration and at higher temperatures
  • Sautéing with high quality oil over high heat, or light steaming with water is best in Spring
  • Manage Anger (and frustration) - excess, intense and unexpressed anger congests Qi in the Liver
  • Liver time is between 1am-3am - this is the best time to strengthen the Liver
  • For optimum Liver health, go to bed before 11pm (the Gallbladder time - it is the Liver’s Yin/Yang partner organ)
  • Eat green foods to strengthen Liver

Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

Activities in Spring

  • Engage in activities that feed your creativity - drawing/painting/writing/photography/making music/dancing
  • Making plans for the future
  • Spring cleaning of internal environment - physical, emotional, spiritual
  • Acknowledging, processing and releasing any unresolved emotions, especially Anger & frustration
  • Any activities that push our self imposed boundaries
  • Gentle exercises on a daily basis, especially stretching as the Liver controls the smooth flow of Qi as well as the tendons
  • Walking meditation in nature (gentle exercise, feeding the spirit and taking in the green of new Spring plants through the eyes)
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs

Beneficial Foods in Spring

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Sprouted Grains, Beans, Seeds
  • Many Green Foods Nourish the Liver
  • Radish
  • Daikon Radish
  • Tofu
  • Fermented Food
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Dandelion Root
  • Milk Thistle
  • Mung Bean
  • Lettuce
  • Quinoa
  • Cucumber
  • Watercress
  • Celery
  • Millet
  • Seaweed
  • Mushroom
  • Beet
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Mustard Green
  • Rye
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Alfalfa
  • Amaranth

Photo by Scott Eckersley on Unsplash

The Liver and Anger

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

We've all seen that impressive display of anger. Someone losing it in the lineup at the bank, an exasperated parent yelling at a child having a tantrum, or someone, after being on a plane for a bazillion hours being told that they have missed their connecting flight and that the airline has lost their luggage. Yeah, we've all seen that. And it is most of our instincts' to back away a few steps because of how powerful that anger can be. That, my friends, is your Liver talking.

Now in the West, this doesn't make much sense. The liver, we are taught, is the body's filter, making sure that we stay clean and toxin free. But in Chinese Medicine, each of the organs has an emotional component, which is just as important as its physical functions in the body - and the emotion of the liver is anger.

When the liver is balanced and healthy we are able to move freely because of the liver's responsibilities of governing the smooth flow of Qi in the appropriate directions. You may wonder what happens when Qi flows in the wrong direction? Well, each of the organs has a natural direction in which its Qi flows. For example, the Qi of the stomach flows downward, helping to move food and drink through the digestive system, but when the flow of that Qi is reversed due to pathogenic factors it causes belching, hiccups, nausea and vomiting. A healthy liver means a strong immune system because the liver is responsible for the body's resistance to exterior pathogens. Because the liver opens into the eyes, if you have a healthy liver your vision will be clear and your eyes moist. If your liver is in a state of balance you will have strong nails, recover quickly from physical activities, your movements will be smooth and your body flexible. Those with a healthy liver will also have great courage and resoluteness, and will easily be able to plan their lives wisely and effectively with a clear sense of direction.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Some Symptoms of Liver Stagnation & Imbalance

  • Frustration, depression or repressed anger
  • Hypochondriac pain
  • Sensation of oppression in the chest
  • A feeling of a "lump" in the throat
  • Abdominal distension
  • Women - pre-menstrual tension, depression, irritability, distension of the breasts
  • Belching, sour regurgitation, nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bitter taste in the mouth, belching, jaundice
  • Contraction and/or spasms in the muscles and sinews, impaired extension/flexion, numbness of the limbs, muscle cramps, tremors
  • Dark, dry or cracked nails
  • Blurred vision, myopia, floaters, colour blindness, a feeling of dryness or grit in the eyes
  • Bloodshot, painful or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Irritability, outbursts of anger, red face, dizziness, tinnitus, headaches
  • Lack of direction in life, feeling of being stuck

Chinese Medicine gives us many ways that we can help our bodies, mind and spirits stay balanced and healthy - in every season. Eating green foods, spending more time turning inward, processing our emotions and being in bed by 11pm are only some of the ways we can live in harmony with the spring season, and keep our energies flowing freely so we can be happy, healthy beings all year long.

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Beautiful featured image photo by Sylwia Pietruszka on Unsplash

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If you would like a downloadable sheet on how to live in harmony with the Spring season according to Chinese Medicine, you can get one here - Spring Season in Chinese Medicine. If you are a practitioner and would like this sheet to share with patients, then please visit here - Spring Season - Professional.


What is Yin & Yang?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Yin Yang Theory in Chinese Medicine

The theory of yin and yang is at the foundation of Chinese Medicine. It was developed, over thousands of years, from observations of the natural world. Yin and yang represent the duality that is seen to exist in all things. Yin represents darkness, cold, slow, internal, reflective energies, and yang represents bright, hot, quick, external, active energies. According to this theory, all things are a dynamic interaction of these opposing forces. Yin/yang theory can be applied to literally everything and is not limited to medicine and health - although as the ancient Chinese discovered, it works extremely effectively in this context. Yin and yang is a way to see the forces of nature, our bodies, the food we eat, our emotions, and really, all things in existence. It is a lens through which we can see and attempt to understand ourselves and the way we interact with our world.

You are probably familiar with the taiji, or yin/yang symbol - an ancient Taoist symbol which is a graphic representation of yin and yang. The dark half represents yin, and the light represents yang,  but notice that there is a dot of each that exists in the other. They are mutually dependent and the two are never static but always changing, one into the other and vice versa. This symbol visually illustrates that although there is a duality, each part needs the other to be complete and both can coexist harmoniously.

 

Yin & Yang Personality Traits

Everything that exists, and indeed each one of us, are seen to have both yin and yang aspects. These can range from personality types, body types, physical tendencies and emotional states. Some people are more yin, and some are naturally more yang. Here is an example to help you to visualize it:

A shy, quiet person who enjoys time alone, meditation and going for long walks in the forest has a predominantly yin personality. And I suspect we have all met the gregarious and outgoing person who is very friendly, stands close, speaks loudly and is always the life of every party. This is a yang person. And the world certainly needs both.

Yin & Yang and Health

In Chinese Medicine, health is achieved when the body’s energies are in a relative state of balance. That balance is different for everyone, as was illustrated in the example above. Some people have more yin energies while others naturally have more yang. This is one of the reasons that a practitioner of Chinese medicine takes so much time to gather information from a patient in an initial visit. They are attempting to paint a picture of that person so that they can determine what they are made of, what their tendencies are, and where their imbalances lie. When yin and yang energies are out of balance, illness occurs. Thankfully, Chinese Medicine offers us many ways in which to restore the equilibrium we need to be healthy.

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Beautiful featured image by www.kittysabatier.com


Boosting Your Skin’s Radiance with Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Traditional Chinese medicine is enjoying a global revival with especially Western countries such as the USA eagerly embracing various ancient holistic remedies for everything from stomach ache to skin conditions.  Chinese herbs and spices, especially, can offer effective long-term relief from a variety of skin complaints while also simply rendering skin more radiant looking than ever before.  While there are a large variety of Chinese skin therapies worth considering to boost your overall radiance, there are three, in particular, that can boost your current skin care routine significantly.

Burdock-Root Masks for the Win

Burdock is often used in Chinese medicine to rid the body of heat, wind, dampness, and other toxins and also boasts potent anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties. Thanks to its effect on the body’s circulatory system, burdock also has a direct influence on the skin which can leave it both healthy and visually beautiful.  The active compounds found in the root have matrix-stimulating properties that can also give your skin a younger and more radiant-looking appearance. You can make your own beneficial burdock root face mask in the comfort of your own home by mixing together 2 tablespoons of dried root powder with a small amount of water to form a paste, applying it to your face and rinsing it off after approximately 15 minutes.

Choose Turmeric for Radiant-Looking Skin 

Turmeric has become a popular addition to many skin care rituals thanks to the evidence pointing towards its countless health and wellness benefits.  A number of popular beauty brands including Amber's Organics and May Lindstorm have already introduced turmeric-laden products into their product lines in a bid to offer clients the same benefits Chinese women have been enjoying for centuries. Incorporating turmeric into your skin care routine will leave your skin looking young and radiant-looking. You can make your own potent turmeric cleansing mask at home by combining 2 tablespoons of rice flour with 3 tablespoons of coconut or almond milk, a teaspoon of turmeric and a few drops of organic honey. Gently exfoliate your skin first before with a natural scrub before applying the mask and washing it off after ten minutes.

Use Green Tea for a Healthy Glow

Traditional Chinese medicine has been touting the benefits of green tea for many centuries. Green tea contains high levels of antioxidants that are of great value to our health, not only promoting heart and brain health but beautiful skin as well. The polyphenols in green tea is known to aid in killing systemic bacterial inflammation that renders the skin looking brighter and softer to the touch. Green tea is also filled with Vitamins B2 and E that are both essential in keeping the skin healthy by maintaining collagen levels which further contributes to its radiance. 

It is with good reason that traditional Chinese medicine has made its way into the West. Using natural ingredients from Mother Earth will undoubtedly be a lot gentler on our skin than commercial products while leaving us looking and feeling beautiful.

**Featured Image photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash


Welcome to the Year of the Pig

On Tuesday February 5, 2019, we celebrated Chinese New Year and brought in the year of the pig. The Chinese new year falls on a different day every year and this is because it is based on a lunar cycle, unlike our calendar, which is based on the movement of the sun. In the Chinese zodiac, each year is dedicated to an animal, and it runs in twelve year cycles in a specific order. Each year also corresponds to an element based on the Chinese five element system - Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. This year is the year of the earth pig.

Years of the Pig include 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, and 2031. The pig year occupies the twelfth and last position in the Chinese zodiac. There are twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac, starting with the rat and ending with the pig.

People who are born in a year associated with a specific animal are said to have certain traits. Those born in a pig year are said to have the personality traits below. There are also five elements which rotate throughout the zodiac, 2019 is the year of the pig associated with the earth element. These elements further distinguish personality traits among people born in pig years. The different characteristics are listed below.

The Pig Personality

Pigs are diligent, compassionate, and generous. They have great concentration, and once they set a goal, they will devote all of their energy to achieving it. Though Pigs rarely seek help from others, they are always generous with their time and energy. Pigs tend to be very trusting, so can be easily fooled. They need to work on being a bit more discerning with the people they meet.

General speaking, Pigs are calm and collected when facing difficulties in life. No matter how difficult the problems Pigs encounter, they can handle things thoughtfully and carefully. They have a great sense of responsibility and are very good at being able to finish what they start.

Pigs might not stand out in a crowd, but they are realistic and grounded. Others may be all talk and no action, but pigs are the opposite - they are hard workers and dedicated to the task at hand always managing to bring their efforts to fruition.

Pigs are careful with money, but they do allow themselves to enjoy life. They love entertainment and sometimes treat themselves to things that make them happy. They are a bit materialistic, but this motivates them to work hard and earn money. Being able to hold solid objects in their hands gives them a sense of needed security.

Pigs are energetic and always enthusiastic, even if they are in boring jobs. If given the chance, they will take positions of power and status. Pigs believe that leaders are the ones who have often worked the hardest to advance, thus are the ones who should make decisions and tell people what to do. This motivates pigs to work hard so they can get ahead in life and business.

Metal Pig - Years - 1971, 2031

  • Mind their own business and are not interested in gossip
  • Slightly lazy and unmotivated but focus on their work
  • Will succeed if they place more emphasis on work, not play
  • Must learn how to budget and save to not squander financial luck that comes with their sign

Water Pig - 1983, 2043

  • Responsible and serious
  • Full of ideas
  • Easily influenced by others
  • Good in relationships, attentive and caring partners
  • Listen and communicate well with friends and family
  • Have good fortune and will retire with ample savings

Wood Pig - 1935, 1995

  • Earnest and lovable
  • Not focussed on accumulating money
  • Need to plan and save for the future
  • Take each day at a time
  • Face difficulties with calm and equanimity
  • Have kind and loving relationships

Fire Pig - 1947, 2007

  • Dependent on others
  • Excel in jobs that require cooperation and teamwork
  • If they focus in their work, they will be successful
  • Very good with money
  • Very popular, get along well with everyone
  • Some difficulties in romantic relationships

Earth Pig - 1959, 2019

  • Very social with friends from all walks of life
  • Have a lot of support in both work and life
  • Fortunate lives and can find happiness
  • Often have success later in life
  • Need some work in the relationship department, not particularly romantic

If you were born in a pig year the following things are considered lucky...

  • Lucky numbers: 2, 5, 8, and numbers containing them (like 25 and 58)
  • Lucky days: the 17th and 24th of every Chinese lunar month
  • Lucky colors: yellow, gray, brown, gold
  • Lucky flowers: hydrangea and daisy
  • Lucky direction: east and southwest
  • Lucky months: the 2nd, 7th, 10th, and 11th Chinese lunar months

Unlucky Things for Pigs

  • Unlucky color: red, blue, green
  • Unlucky numbers: 1, 7, and numbers containing them (like 17 and 71)
  • Unlucky direction: southeast
  • Unlucky months: the 4th, 9th, and 12th Chinese lunar months

 

Men born in the Pig year are optimistic and gentle. They are very focused - once they decide on a goal, they’ll put everything into it.

They are not the best with money. Though cool-headed, they are also too gullible. They trust others easily and are often taken advantage of. If they are not careful, this can cause them to lose a fortune.

These men are also quiet. They love learning but don’t really know how to put their knowledge into words. They’re not conversationalists, but treat everyone warmly. This results in a large social circle with a lot of friends. Whenever they run into difficulties, there are always people who stand up to help. Though some people will lie to them, more people will love them because of their warm, honest personalities.

Women born in the Pig year are full of excitement. They attend social events whenever possible and treat everyone genuinely. Combined with their easygoing personality, they gain everyone’s trust and are well liked by everyone.

However, they are sometimes over-friendly. In their excitement, they can forget to give others personal space.

They also have good fortune with wealth. As long as they keep at it, their efforts will not be wasted. Though they don’t start with an advantage, their hard work will keep money flowing in and give them financial security.

At home, they are highly organized. If a room in their home is messy, they’d stay up the entire night to clean it up until it was spotless and up to their standards. These women love children too. Playing with children is one of the things that brings them the greatest joy.

Famous People Born in Pig Years

  • Henry Ford (Founder of the Ford Motor Company, born July 30, 1863)
  • Ronald Reagan (40th U.S. President, born February 6, 1911)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger (Former Governor of California, born July 30, 1947)
  • Hilary Clinton (Former First Lady of the U.S., born October 26, 1947)

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Sources:

China Highlights - https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/pig.htm

Chinese Zodiac - https://chinesenewyear.net/zodiac/pig/

The featured image photo by George Watercolor Art


Why We Need to Unplug in 2019

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Our Reliance on Technology

One of the biggest things that I have observed in the last year from people in my life and from my patients, is our reliance on technology, and specifically, our love of social media. I know that there has been a lot out there about the nefarious beginnings of platforms like facebook and the information that companies like google collect. And for many of us, this is the way we stay connected with the people in our lives. But, I have noticed that there is a growing sense of anxiety and depression in the population as a whole and I believe that this is because even though it may seem that through these social media platforms that we are all MORE connected, sharing every moment of our lives as they happen, we are in fact way LESS connected on a real, human level.

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

The Dopamine Connection

What a lot of the general public doesn't know, but what the creators of many of the social media platforms that we use certainly DO know, is what dopamine is and how it drives our behaviour. So what is dopamine? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter - a chemical responsible for sending signals between neurons in your brain. Without getting too deep into the subject - which would be so easy and so fascinating - one of dopamine's responsibilities in the body is reward and reinforcement. A shot of dopamine causes us to be flooded with "feel good" chemicals. In evolutionary terms, this was designed to help us understand that when we found something that was good for us, like food or water, that those feel good chemicals would help us to continue to seek out those things as we needed them to survive. In our present society however, dopamine and its feel good effects in our bodies have been used in ways that are no longer good for our health and wellbeing (in my opinion), and have caused an entire generation to be addicted to dopamine's effects.

 

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Dopamine and its powerful effects to make us feel good were well understood by the creators of many of the social media platforms that many of us enjoy, like facebook, twitter and instagram. Instead of our brains releasing dopamine is response to finding food or water, it is released when we get a like, a new follower or receive a chat from someone we like and admire. Many of us, and especially young people with brains that are still developing, have become so addicted to this dopamine hit that they are glued to their cell phones twenty four hours a day, waiting for the next dopamine hit to flood their systems. Always wanting more. High levels of dopamine make us feel good, while lowered levels cause us to lose pleasure and live in a joyless state. In my experience with patients, this state is becoming more and more common in people of all ages, and I have seen rising numbers of people suffering with varying degrees of depression and anxiety, with many feeling isolated, sad and disconnected from the world and themselves. Were these not the feelings that social media was supposed to help us improve? It seems that their creation and implementation had slightly more sinister motivations than many of us realized.

Dopamine also, is connected to addiction. The feel good sensation that dopamine causes courses through our bodies when the alcoholic takes a drink, the smoker lights up and the gambler wins at the casino. The good feelings that surge through us when we get a spike of dopamine is highly addictive, and this is why so many people are addicted to social media, and losing touch with real people in their lives.

Social Animals

Humans are highly social animals, and our connections to other people are an important part of our mental, emotional as well as physical health. As human beings, we need human interaction. That is, interactions with other people, in real life. Not chatting via text, or face time. When I was a teenager, my best friend and I would go out at least a few times a week for coffee. We would go to a variety of places we liked, get a coffee/tea and just talk. And we had a rock solid friendship that weathered many years and hard times, and now that I look at it, I realize that it was because of these seemingly small things, that we made the time to spend time together and stay connected no matter what was happening in our lives. We were connected in a real sense, and I am so thankful for it.

Now, when I think about my own children - who are still very little - I wonder what their world and relationships will be like. One of the reasons we moved to Costa Rica is that things like family are very important here. People don't have a lot, but they value what they do have, and that is the people in their families and communities. There are constantly family dinners, birthday parties, baby showers and other gatherings going on, and this is how Costa Rican people spend their time, energy and money. They invest in each other. There is a huge social component to this culture, and that is one of the things that I really love about it, and I hope I can impart to my children so it will become important to them too. Because we are alone here, we do talk to grandparents on the computer to stay connected, but it is important to me that my children have real relationships with other children, and that they have the tools that they need to build and keep those relationships healthy throughout their lives. In this social climate this is becoming more difficult, but to me, it is worth the effort and will be an investment in their psychological, emotional and physical health for the rest of their lives.

Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash

The Disconnect

Social media is touted as the perfect way for us all to be connected. We are able to transmit everything that is happening in our lives, minute to minute to people all over the planet. It really is a technological miracle. The problem is, that in an attempt to connect us, technology has caused the population to be suffering from unprecedented numbers of anxiety and depression and perhaps most of all, loneliness. How could this be, if we are connected in a way that we never have been before in all of human history?

I think that one important reason is that social media allows us to put filters on things. Each of us is now able to show only specific things you want people/your friends to see. We are able, through the wonders of technology, to take photos wherever we are, take video of whatever is happening at every moment, and perhaps most importantly, cherry pick the experiences, images, videos, etc... that make our lives look enviable and extraordinary. To our friends, followers and fans, our lives can look as wonderful, fun and fulfilling as we purposefully "design" them to be. We are essentially creating our lives as we wish them to look to all the people we are connected to through our social media networks. And to the people who are connected to us, it may seem like we are living these amazing lives they they could only wish to live, and these are the things that contribute to a lot of depression and anxiety in the population as a whole. Many of the images we see remind us that things with us aren't always so awesome, and why do others seem to be doing so much better?

Another disconnect is that because many young people are being raised in the age of social media, there is a disturbing trend that is beginning to emerge. Young people are having a harder time creating deep, meaningful relationships with other people. So many of their relationships are online, that they no longer know how to interact with people when they are right in front of them, and many report having many "friends" on social media platforms like facebook, but not having many "true" friends that they feel they know well and trust. Like most things, the tools we all need to do things like create meaningful, lasting relationships are learned in practice. And we are practicing less and less.

Connecting to Nature, and Each Other

There is nothing better for your body, mind and spirit than taking a walk outside in nature. It reminds us who we are and where we came from and gives us something that living in this technological age often doesn't - time to think. Time for our brains to relax and wander. And time to be in the moment. We live in an age of instant gratification. If you live in many places, you can go on Amazon, pick whatever your heart desires and it will be at your doorstep in 2 days! We can also binge watch any tv show or movie thanks to Netflix and other providers of media awesomeness. Back in the day, you had to wait an entire week for the next episode of your favourite show to air, but now you can binge watch every season, in a few days day if you are feeling adventurous (and don't have to work). Even things like dating, that often awkward process filled with intense emotions ranging from terror to intense twitterpation, has been reduced to an app. If you like someone, you can just write them a note, give them a like or rate their profile. Instant gratification. The thing is that, at least in my experience, the things that are worth having in life - like good friends, doing something that you love, kind, compassionate children, a beautifully prepared meal, a piece of art or anything that has deep meaning in your life takes work, and that takes TIME. It is an investment, and it is sososo worth it.

 

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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Beautiful featured image photo by Jens Kreuter on Unsplash


Practical Qigong - A Quick Mental Tune Up

by John Voigt

After I do qi work with someone I email them a reprise of the session: notes of what we did so that they may practice it by themselves in their dedicated times to do qigong work. This also frees them of the drudgery of taking notes when I am working with them.

What follows was sent to a middle-aged woman with whom I have been working for several years. She has been suffering from intense sleep disorders which she believes are caused by various spiritual forces. Within the context of her suffering, I believe hers is a valid conceptualization of the problem. I work with her by using Daoist and Christian prayers, and with external qi sending and acupressure with my hands and fingers (no needles).  She continues to improve: she is successfully working, going to college, performing as an art-rock vocalist, and having her writings published. She is also working with medical doctors, which I think is necessary.

My email begins:

Be Seated.

Relax. Breathe softly, deeply, gently, silently into the lower abdomen. No forcing, be comfortably natural.

Feel yourself as a physical being.

Feel yourself as an energy being—and/or be aware of your breath/breathing.

Be aware of being aware. Like Zen Mind. No words in the mind; when words appear let them pass and float away.

Smile. Like the Mona Lisa. Really. It works.

For Mental Tuning Up.

Rub, tap, massage, squeeze these points; as you do this continue doing the Mona Lisa Smile and being aware of your slow, deep, silent breathing. 

Remember most acupressure points are bi-symmetrical meaning that they appear on both sides of the body, or both arms, or legs, etc.

Yintang.

"Hall of Seal." Calms the mind.


This image from A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman

Earlobe.

[it functions as your head when you were a fetus].

Taiyang.

"Great Sun."  Head pain. 


This image from tcmpoints.com

Bl-15. Xinshu.

"Opening to the heart." Nourishes the spirit and calms the mind. Sleep issues. 

This image from tcmpoints.com

Si Shen Cong.

The four points around the crown of your head. Light finger tapping. 


Image from A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman

GV-17.

Nao Hu "door to the brain." Heaviness in the head. Also tapping as well as penetrating massage.


This image from tcmpoints.com

GV-18.

Qiang. Sleep issues.


This image from tcmpoints.com

GV-16.

Fengfu. "House of the Wind." For fear and/or fright, and depression.  it is an opening into the center of the brain.

This image from tcmpoints.com

The Bladder Channels.

The bladder channels run down the sides of your spine (and backs of legs). Helps tone and harmonize water issues. Be like a bear rubbing her back against a tree.


This image from tcmworld.org

Kidney-1.

Flushes out the schmutz (bad stuff). 


Image from A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman

For now all you perhaps might do is with gentleness and love massage the points where they feel blocked.  Approximate guessing where they are will work. There is a lot here, just take your time and do what you comfortably can and go for what feels good. These perhaps can be instant fixes, but more likely the Chinese thing works better over time, like practising music.

To end, make a Clockwise Circle on the lower Abdomen with your left palm over your right palm. 24 or 36 times. This helps absorb any excess cultivated qi in the dantian.

Then Shake everything like a Trembling Horse. 9x. Relax between each Shake. Then take a walk, or whatever.

Exercise Is The Perfect Complement To Traditional Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Being told to exercise is likely one of the most common treatments ‘prescribed’ by contemporary doctors. It’s not without merit, and there are a multitude of benefits to be gained from exercise that are discovered every day. For example, medical researchers have recently found that 10% of advanced lung cancer patients benefited from exercise.

What role does exercise have to play in traditional medicine? The likes of tai chi and tui na already have a physical aspect and the benefits of those practices are well known. Both within Chinese medicine and other non-western medicines, physical activity has been shown to have a positive contribution to overall health when used in conjunction with other methods.

Tai Chi, Yoga, and The In Between


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Coming from different corners of the continent, tai chi and yoga have remarkable similarities despite their differences. Both rely on stretching movements, but yoga is more energetic and pushes into stillness; whereas tai chi relies on fluid movements to relax the muscles in preparation for stretching later. Recently, they have ‘combined’ in a way to create yin yoga. Early studies have suggested that this particular type of yoga, when conducted safely and with the proper equipment, can have a strong positive influence on health. One study, conducted by Lund University, Sweden, found that yin yoga could significantly reduce physiological and psychological risk factors. The study found that those taking part in yin yoga had reduced levels of ADM, a marker often found in those developing non-communicable disorders such as cardiovascular disease.

Is Vigorous Physical Activity Possible?

Vigorous activity is not part and parcel of Chinese medicine. As the Traditional Chinese Medicine foundation have noted, sweat is the fluid of the heart, and vigorous activity will unbalance your Qi creating a deficiency. What’s the solution?

One potential is swimming. Swimming can be moderately vigorous, requiring every muscle in the body to work in tandem to stay float and propel. However, it can be moderated, and sweat is greatly reduced when in a colder pool. There is also evidence to show swimming can work well in tandem with traditional Chinese medicine. Researchers from Zhongshan Hospital, Shanghai, China, found that songyou yin and swimming aided liver immunity when used in conjunction. Ultimately, this reduced the levels of liver cancer in the study group.

The Bottom Line


Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

Bringing in more energetic forms of traditional exercise, and more mainstream methods, such as swimming, have an overall contributory effect to your health. However, multiple studies have shown the well established link between traditional Chinese exercises, like tai chi, and good health. As this South China Morning Post article clearly outlines, the holistic use of traditional Chinese exercises, good diet and mindfulness (or meditation) mitigate many cardiovascular ailments, regardless of country; the study cited pointed out that over 2,000 people across 10 countries reported on.

Traditional medicine has shown its effectiveness when paired with exercise. There are ways to augment this in order to provide the maximum benefits for your health. However, while these have been shown to help, the best way to stay fit is through traditional routines.

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Beautiful featured image photo by Emily Sea on Unsplash