Ancient Chinese Medicine Secrets For Younger Looking Skin

By Sally Perkins

Skin aging is a common concern among millions of people all over the world, and some people won't hesitate to spend a lot of money to keep their skin looking young. According to a survey, most people spend over 25 percent of their beauty maintenance budget on their face alone. Moreover, it was found that more women in their 30s choose to invest in anti-aging products and facial moisturizers than any other age group. Using pricey creams and serums may give your skin a youthful glow, but traditional Chinese medicine and therapies may be even better to prevent and combat wrinkles, fine lines, and other visible signs of skin aging. Here's are some ancient Chinese medicine secrets for younger looking skin.

Almonds to reduce fine lines

Photo by Nacho Fernández on Unsplash

Several factors, such as constant exposure to direct sunlight, lifestyle habits, and an unhealthy diet can cause skin aging. Having dry indoor air can also result in dry skin and make it look older than it really is. This is why it's important to increase the moisture in the air with a humidifier to keep your skin looking supple and young. Apart from adding humidity to your indoor air, another thing that you can do to keep your face smooth and wrinkle-free is to use almonds as part of your beauty regimen.

Almond oil has been used in ancient Chinese practices to help soothe and soften the skin. Since it contains Vitamin A, it can also stimulate the production of new skin cells and reduce fine lines. You can use a small amount of almond oil as a facial moisturizer, or use it as a makeup remover. You can also try using ground almonds as an overnight mask. Prepare an ancient Chinese skincare recipe by soaking almonds in water and peeling the brown skins off. Grind the peeled almonds and mix with one egg white. Apply to your face and leave it overnight; rinse it off in the morning with cool water to reduce fine lines.

Acupuncture for wrinkle-free skin


Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Acupuncture can stimulate the body's healing responses, depending on where the needles are inserted. To improve wrinkles, an acupuncturist will insert needles in certain facial points to trigger the production of collagen in the body. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, but as we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen, which can result in wrinkles and older looking skin. By increasing the body's collagen stores, acupuncture can help to give you that radiant glow that you once had. Avoid reversing the effects of facial acupuncture by limiting your exposure to direct sunlight, avoiding smoking, and refraining from eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Soy to increase skin firmness


Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

Food therapy is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine since the food we eat can have an effect on the way we look and feel. Soy products such as tofu and soy milk have always been consumed by women in various parts of Asia, which may explain why their skin looks younger than their years. Studies show that the nutrients in soy can increase the production of elastin in the body, which can make the skin stronger, firmer, and less likely to sag. You can include tofu or miso in your everyday meals, or mix warm soybean milk with a little ground almond, and drink it in the morning to enhance your skin's firmness.

Having younger looking skin doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Try these traditional Chinese remedies to get rid of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging, and enjoy having beautiful and healthy skin as you age.


Featured image photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash


Welcome To The Year of the Ox!

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Chinese New Year arrives on February 12th this year. The celebration of the Chinese New Year is called the Spring Festival and is the longest and most anticipated Chinese holiday. It is also celebrated by an estimated one-sixth of the world's population or one billion people! The traditional holiday period for the Spring festival is 23 days and is broken up into 3 parts. The first 8 days, this year from February 4th to the 11th is called Little Year. This is when preparations for the New Year begin and go until New Year's eve. Chinese New Year officially begins on February 12th and ends on February 22nd. This is the Spring Festival. And the last four days, this year February 23 to the 26th are called the Lantern Festival. Preparations begin on the 23rd and the lantern festival is held on February 26th.

Chinese Lantern Festival takes place on February 26th in 2021.
Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Lunar Calendar

The date for the Chinese new year varies each year because it is based on a lunar calendar and not the gregorian calendar that we use in the West. Using the lunar calendar, the first day of the month begins on the new moon. This is why Chinese new year falls on a different day each year.

Chinese New Year - February 12, 2021

The Twelve Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

Each Chinese New Year is associated with an animal. There are twelve animals in total and they go in a specific order and repeat every twelve years in a continuous cycle. 2021 is the year of the ox, which is the second animal in the zodiac. Each of the years also has an element associated with it. There are five elements and they are fire, earth, metal, water and wood. 2021 is the year of the metal ox.

Ox Years: 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Here are the animals in the Chinese zodiac listed in order with their corresponding year.


This image from cafeastrology.com


The Ox Personality

People born in the Year of the Ox are hard-working, loyal, trustworthy and conscientious. They are also reliable, methodical, fair and inspire confidence in others. As a result of these traits, they make friends easily and keep them for the long term. They are usually quiet and say little, but have strong opinions. They believe strongly in themselves but are also stubborn and hate to fail or be challenged. They usually have a great deal of common sense and intelligence. They are hard workers but never want praise or to be in the spotlight. In Chinese culture, the ox is a highly valued animal because of its work in agriculture. The twelve animals were chosen because of their importance to the people and the way they benefited their lives. Below are some of the personality traits of people born in the year of the ox.

  • strong
  • reliable
  • fair
  • conscientious
  • calm
  • patient
  • methodical
  • trustworthy
  • intelligent
  • loyal
  • quiet
  • serious
  • positive
  • grounded
  • workaholics
  • inspire confidence in others
  • opinionated
  • stubborn
  • hate to fail
  • don't like being challenged

According to astrologers, the year of the ox denotes hard work, positivity and honesty and these are the qualities that will manifest in all of us over the next twelve months.

Compatability

Most Compatible with Ox

Most compatible with Ox are Rat, Snake and Rooster.

Least Compatible with Ox

Goat, Horse and Dog.

Lucky Things for Oxen

Colours: Blue | Green | Yellow
Numbers: 1 & 4
Flowers: Lucky Bamboo | Lily of the Valley

Unlucky Things

Colours: Brown | Red
Numbers 3 & 6

What Animal Are You?

Check the chart below and find out your Chinese animal...

This image from changechecker.org

Featured image is by Photo by V Srinivasan on Unsplash


Download This Sheet - Chinese Year Of The Ox

PERSONAL USE                         PROFESSIONAL USE

 

             



Download the sheet for your Chinese Animal!


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!


 


Emergency Treatment of Cardiac Arrest

By Luke Douglas

Dealing with a heart condition is one of the most difficult things in the world – for the doctors, for the patients, and their families. This is why avoiding any potential problems and minimizing the chances of heart failure in the first place is so important. However, in case something does end up happening and you might be forced to be admitted to a hospital, you’ll need to undergo emergency treatment. What does this treatment include in case of cardiac arrests, is there something you can do yourself, and what does the outcome look like?

No warning

The biggest problem each one of us faces when it comes to cardiac arrest is the fact that it can occur with no previous warning at all. You may be focused on your everyday activities, relaxing at your own home, or walking to your favorite store – and suddenly start experiencing the symptoms of cardiac arrest. That’s when you’ll probably either lose your responsiveness, start having problems breathing, or temporarily lose your consciousness.

Some of the other symptoms of cardiac arrest include the feeling of discomfort in your chest, sudden weakness, or an elevated heart rate. Feeling these things will probably scare you, and that’s quite normal and expected, but what you shouldn’t do is panic and lose your cool. If that happens, though, the symptoms will probably get even worse and you’ll start feeling even less comfortable because of that. Therefore, try to remain calm, think happy thoughts, and be patient because help is surely on the way.

Treating cardiac arrest

Whether it’s you, someone you know, or a person you’ve never met in your life, as soon as you notice something’s wrong, you need to react. Calling for help is the first thing you should do, especially if you’re home alone or with someone you can’t seem to help on your own. Once the medical professionals arrive at the scene, they’ll do some tests and check if you’re dealing with cardiac arrest or something else.

Still, before they arrive, there’s a simple technique you can perform and make a huge difference in the outcome.

CPR is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing you can perform on another person and possibly save their life. In case that doesn’t seem to work, the emergency medical team will take the patient to a hospital where the doctors will use defibrillation. This is a procedure that uses a defibrillator to issue electric shocks in the patient’s chest, trying to help the heart start beating on its own once again.

Getting certified

If someone in your family – from your partners and your parents to your children or your cousins – is struggling with cardiac arrest and experiences problems every once in a while, taking things to a new level is the best way to go. This means getting certified and learning how to deal with this problem professionally and effectively that won’t just minimize the consequences of cardiac arrest, but actually help the patient feel better than ever.

One of the ideas you could explore is taking an Advanced Cardiac Life Support course and learning all the tips and tricks that will allow you to help different people at the same time. The course you’ll take and the certification you’ll get will make you an expert in this field, which will, in turn, mean the people in your life struggling with cardiac arrest have nothing to worry about in the future.

Help yourself

Another huge issue with cardiac arrest is not being able to rely on someone else to help you. If you’re living alone or simply happen to be alone once you start feeling the aforementioned symptoms, you may get frightened and not know what to do. That’s why you need to learn a few techniques that will help you remain calm and start feeling better – at least until someone comes back home or the ambulance arrives your way.

One of the most popular solutions you can find online is the so-called cough CPR, but you need to keep in mind that this procedure isn’t the safest and most effective in the world. On the contrary, it could lead you to further issues and delay medical help that could save your life. Instead, what you need to do is take a minute, relax, sit down, and take a dose of glyceryl trinitrate. These come in tablets and spray, and could effectively prevent further damage to your heart. After you do that, you need to wait five or six minutes and repeat the process in case you remain feeling breathless.

In the end, no matter what happens, remember to call for help because cardiac arrest is a serious matter that should be treated by professionals. Still, if you know how to react and what to do, you’ll be able to save someone’s life, and that’s all that matters!


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
Connect with him on Facebook & Twitter



Download our sheets to learn more about Chinese Medicine

Are you a practitioner? See our professional shop to download sheets for your practice


Essential Oils Still Favored By Modern-Day Chinese Medicine Practitioners

By Sally Perkins

The use of essential oils continues to skyrocket in popularity, with an increasing number of people embracing the power of these oils to not only address various health concerns but improve general well-being as well. While the effectiveness of essential oils is still often questioned, they have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with great success. Even today, Chinese medicine practitioners make use of various essential oils when administering acupuncture, aromatherapy, and other treatments.

Essential oils have a long history

Essential oils are representative of the essence (jing) of plants and have been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. According to ancient belief, essential oils can impact the physical, mental and spiritual realms of the body, as the jing of the plants resonate with the body’s own jing. When used in TCM, essential oils can impact an individual in one of five ways. They can aid in healing and relaxation. They can boost healing in non-healing wounds. They can enhance nobility and improve self-esteem, and they can be conducive to a milder temperament.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

The applications are varied

The use of essential oils in Chinese medicine is very diverse. Topical application is used during cranial-sacral work to address a range of health concerns. Essential oil is also commonly placed on various acupuncture points to affect the nerves, blood, or lymphatic system of the body. Additionally, a range of essential oils can also be used to increase the effectiveness of a Tuina massage. In recent times, the use of candles scented with essential oils has also become increasingly popular among Chinese medicine practitioners. Scented candles not only help create a therapeutic atmosphere but can also help address a range of concerns, including unhealthy food cravings. Burning a candle that boasts a scent with hints of vanilla can, for example, make it much easier to stop snacking on sugary treats, contributing towards healthy body weight and improved overall health.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Lavender oil is a popular choice

Although there is a wide variety of essential oils utilized in Chinese medicine, lavender oil is among the most popular. One of its primary functions is to promote the smooth flow of liver Qi, while also calming the Shen and cleansing it of heat. As a Yin nourisher, lavender essential oil can calm the mind and help protect the heart. It is known to ease depression, reduce stress levels, and even neutralize a frantic state of mind. Lavender oil is often used with great success to alleviate headache-causing tension, reduce the prevalence of inflammation in the body, and ward off various viral and bacterial infections. Other essential oils that are very commonly used in various applications of Chinese medicine include geranium, lemongrass and bergamot.

Essential oils have been used extensively in Chinese medicine for centuries. With all the potential benefits they boast, it is no surprise that the Western world has also started to embrace the power of essential oils in recent times.


Featured image photo by Mareefe from Pexels



Download Our Sheets If You Want To Learn More About Chinese Medicine


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!


 


Winter Tea – An Add On To The Festive Season

Tea is a wonderful beverage that fills the heart with love and our homes with smiles. The warmth of a steaming, aromatic and delicious cup of tea can make your day! Tea is an evergreen drink and can be enjoyed by everyone irrespective of their culture, place, occasions or seasons. Thus, it isn't wrong to say that a hot mug of tasty tea can be a cosy friend in the misty winter season!

The tea that we consume in the winter season is normally referred to as Winter tea. Winter tea is filled with dozens of flavours that will add an extra layer of warmth to your cold, dull and dark winters. Tea for the winter season enhances the festive mood and spreads all over happiness. As this tea is consumed hot, it balances the low temperature of the winter season and makes you feel homely. During the winter, our body is set at a lower temperature but drinking winter tea increases our immune system and makes us fit as well as healthy. Indian Chai is loaded with lots of health benefits and is a prime tea for winter.

Best Winter Tea

The list of teas for winter contains main types, although you can choose the one which brings you heavenly happiness. Teas for winter are numerous but the best winter teas are as follows.

1. Normal Tea

This tea can also be called Indian Chai. This tea is made out of Camellia Sinensis, a plant cultivated in regions of Assam. This Winter tea has strong and unique flavors and contains lots of antioxidants. It has plenty of nutrients and is also used as a remedy for fever, cough and is considered a top winter immunity tea.

2. Spice tea

This is one of the healthy teas for winter as it is free from caffeine. This tea is packed with lots of medicinal properties. All spices used in tea have their own special characteristics, taste and aroma. Let's have a look at the list of spices.
·   Turmeric
·   Black Pepper
·   Cloves
·   Ginger
·   Mint

3. London Fog Tea

This is another best tea for winter which is filled with delicious chocolate flavors. The tea is made by combining earl grey tea powder with some steamed milk. For making tea sweet and chocolaty vanilla syrup and lavender extract is added. The fog on the tea is because of frothed milk. This tea is considered as luxurious also it relaxes your mood and makes you feel fresh.

4. Ashwagandha Tea

Ashwagandha is one of the ancient and medicinal herbs. It is used as a remedy for anxiety and male fertility. Having this tea in winter keeps our immune system balanced and helps with blood circulation. The tea is made from a small woody plant of yellow colour, and has a pungent and creamy taste.

5. Lemon Tea

This tea for winter is a low in sugar, low-calorie beverage and one of the finest winter immunity teas. Due to its medicinal qualities, it is also a herbal tea. This winter tea contains citric acid and is used as a recovery agent for kidney stones, and aids weight loss. It has a slightly pungent flavor and can be enjoyed with honey.


Photo by Anda Ambrosini on Unsplash

Winter Green Tea

Tea for Winter come in various types such as oolong tea, black tea, white tea, green tea, and ayurvedic tea. Green tea is a type of tea which is made out of Camellia Sinensis leaves but doesn't go under the process of oxidation. They are rich in nutrients, fiber, proteins and considered as one of the healthiest winter immunity teas. Some of the winter green teas are listed below.

1. Jasmine Tea

This is one of the winter green teas made with a combination of leaves and jasmine blossoms. This tea is rich in antioxidants and is used to cure severe illnesses and also is the best remedy for weight loss. It has a slightly sweet aroma and delicate flavors.

2. Mango Leaf Tea

This tea is used as a refreshing element as it enhances mood and makes us feel relaxed. It contains nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, and iron. It is used as a recovery agent for diabetes and menstrual pains.

3. Tulsi Tea

Tulsi is stated as the ‘Queen of Herbs’ and has been a widely used herb since ancient times. The tea is made of tulsi leaves which have a peppery flavor. Also, this plant gives relief from tension, asthma,
cough, and fever.

4. Hibiscus Tea

The flower and other parts of the hibiscus plant contain medicinal properties and are used as a remedy in pregnancy, for menstrual pains, hair loss and skin problems. The fruity acid in the tea kills bacterias in the body. It has a slightly tart flavor.


Photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash

Benefits of Winter Tea

·   Infuses our immune system and makes us fit
·   Improves concentration, focus and helps the brain to function properly
·   Generates heat and keeps us warm during winters
·   Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack
·   This tea improves mood and kills depression
·   Best remedy for weight loss
·   It fights against bacteria and protects the body from germs, and viruses
·   This tea can be easily included in our diet
·   It promotes good digestion

Recipe for making winter tea

The recipe for making winter tea is not rocket science and a very simple and easy process. All you need is make yourself comfortable and enjoy this delicious recipe of winter tea.

Ingredients
·   Water
·   Winter Tea Powder (you can switch to your favorite tea)
·   Milk (optional)
·   Sugar (optional)

Utensils
·   Teapot or Saucepan
·   Cup

Time Required – 10 minutes approx.

Procedure to prepare the tea
·   Put water and tea powder together in a pan
·   Start boiling the mixture
·   At boiling stage add milk and sugar (if required) and let it boil for few more minutes
·   Now turn the heat off and strain the tea into cups
·   Serve hot with delicious add ons

Chef notes
·   Add honey instead of sugar to make it sweet as well as healthy
·   You can also add cinnamon powder or maple syrup

Points to remember
· On a daily basis, only 2 to 3 cups can be consumed

What time should winter tea be consumed?

After reading the first half of the article all of you might be having a common question – what time should winter tea be consumed?
This question has a very simple answer, the best time for consuming winter tea is:
·       In the morning as soon as you wake up
·       After your breakfast
·       In the evening from around 4pm to 7pm
·       Before going to bed

Thus the best time for consuming winter tea is totally a subjective matter and can differ from person to person. The only thing common to all is that winter tea gives ultimate satisfaction and bliss to every person consuming it!


Photo by CandyChain on Unsplash

Add on snacks to winter tea

Even though tea is a complete beverage in itself, we sometimes require some additional snacks to make our tea time more delicious and amazing!! Here we present you some wonderful add on snacks to make our tea table look fabulous.
·   Tea can be complemented with namkeen snacks such as bakarwadi, pakora, chivda, sav, chips
·   Sweets such as jalebi, soan papdi, laddu, gulab jamun can be served
·   Diwali snacks can also be added to our tea table
·   Christmas and New Year cakes or pastries can be enjoyed with tea
·   Biscuits or milk toasts can also be consumed with tea

The Bottom Line

We conclude by stating that winter tea is not just tasty and delicious but it is also healthy. All you loving people out there make yourself feel happy with this cup of tea that ‘TeaSwan’ have specially created for this chilly season.

Experience the heavenly feel by having a hot mug of winter tea and enjoy the beautiful winter season!


Featured image photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash


Download Our Sheets - Living With The Seasons in Chinese Medicine

 

.


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!



 


5 Tips for Athletes to Thrive on a Plant-Based Diet

By Luke Douglas

Over the years, vegan and plant-based diets and lifestyles have become extremely popular around the world. Naturally, this is a good thing for Mother Earth as well as our general well-being, so if you’re contemplating making this transition, rest assured you’re not in the wrong. That said, it’s important to note that sustaining a vegan lifestyle or simply a plant-based diet can be difficult at times, and if you’re a novice, it can seem completely overwhelming. Especially if you’re an active individual who cares a great deal about their nutrition.

After all, you’re eating to fuel your body and your mind in training and perform at your best, so you need the nutrition approach to match your goals. Without a doubt, a plant-based diet fits well into an athlete’s lifestyle, but only if you know that you’re doing. Let’s take a look at the five tips that will help you thrive on a plant-based diet as an athlete.

Mind your caloric intake

First things first, before we get into macro and micronutrients, we need to address the overarching question of calories. As an athlete, you probably know that calories are the predominant factor that influences your figure and performance. While it is true that not all calories are created equal, it’s also true that fueling your body with the right number of calories daily is paramount for peak performance.

Eat too much, and you will gain unwanted weight. Eat too little, and your precious muscle will start deteriorating and you will lose weight. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that a plant-based diet can often be low in calories, whereas meats, dairy, and eggs are calorie-dense.

Don’t let this catch you off-guard, and keep in mind that you will need to eat more food on a plant-based diet to compensate and get enough calories in daily. If you’re unsure how many calories you need, you can refer to Mayo Clinic’s handy calorie calculator

Understand complete vs incomplete proteins

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Protein intake is one of the most important factors that will determine your performance and progress as an athlete. Not only is protein an excellent source of sustainable energy next to carbohydrates, but it is also an essential building block of new muscle tissue. If you’re looking to add lean muscle to your frame and ensure long-term health and well-being, then you mustn’t skimp on protein consumption.

On a plant-based diet, however, you need to be very careful where you’re getting your protein from. This is the matter of complete vs incomplete protein sources, and you need to prioritize the former in your clean diet in order to get all the essential amino acids to build muscle, fuel your body, and reach your weight goals. You can find complete proteins in nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, buckwheat, seitan and soy, whole grains, and the like. 

Supplementation is more important than for carnivores

Before we get into supplementation, understand that supplements are not there to replace a wholesome diet. You still need to eat all your meals and get micro and macronutrients from whole foods, however, getting the right amount every day can be a challenge as a vegan.

Adequate protein intake can be one of the biggest challenges. So it’s important to delve deeper into the matter and go through a reliable plant protein guide where you will find out exactly how to maximize your protein intake and find the right supplement that is vegan-friendly and has all the amino acids you need. For vegans, it’s also important to supplement with vitamins D3 and B12, zinc and iodine, iron, and calcium.

Fats and carbs matter as well

Of course, it’s not just about the amount of protein you consume or if you’re getting all the micronutrients – you also have to be mindful of your fats and carb intake. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel source, and luckily, the plant-based diet is rich with slow-releasing carbs that will provide sustained energy throughout the day.

Fats, on the other hand, are essential for the proper functioning of your immune system and are important for brain health. You can find healthy fats in all nuts and seeds, but also in avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil.

Ensure consistency over the long term

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

On a final note, always remember that staying consistent with your new lifestyle will be the key to long-term success. This is a journey, not a destination, so you have to make sure that you’re able to adhere to the plant-based diet in the long run.

This can be a challenge if you’re new to the vegan game and haven’t yet mastered the art of meal prepping. Make sure to use a slow Sunday afternoon to prep the majority of your meals for the upcoming week, and you will have no problem sticking with a healthy plant-based diet no matter how hectic your life might be.

Wrapping up

Switching to a plant-based diet can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you take a calculated approach. Use these tips to transition to a plant-based diet quickly and easily, and most importantly, to make it an inextricable part of your lifestyle.


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
Connect with him on Facebook & Twitter


Featured image photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash



Download Our Sheets To Learn More About Chinese Medicine


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!


 


5 Tips to Help Fight Colds & Flu This Winter

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I know that we are all pretty worried about COVID-19 right now and that it has been dominating the news, our psyche's and our thoughts for almost a year. Viruses seem to be a part of the human experience and have been around for a very, very long time. Without going into an in-depth discussion about viruses and COVID-19 in particular, let's focus on the fact that we will still have to think about how to manage colds and flu's this season. Below are some of the best ways that I know to help us stay strong and healthy so those nasty viruses can never take hold, and if they do manage to sneak in and make us sick, there are some ways to flush them out as quickly as possible and get back to a healthy state.

A Virus. A microorganism that is smaller than a bacterium which is unable to grow or reproduce outside of a living cell. Viruses invade living cells and replicate themselves by using their host cells' chemical machinery to keep themselves alive.

What's the Difference Between A Cold & The Flu?

A good place to start the discussion is to talk about the difference between a cold (common cold) and the flu (influenza). What is the difference?? It's often hard to tell, but both colds and the flu are caused by viruses. Someone with a cold generally has milder symptoms, that come on more gradually, and someone with the flu generally has symptoms that are more severe, are more systemic and come on quickly. Influenza can be more dangerous as in people with compromised or weakened immune systems they can lead to complications like pneumonia. Below is a chart that lists the difference in symptoms between influenza and the common cold.

This fancy chart was made by Chinese Medicine Living. Yay!

As a mother of two small children, I am acutely aware of the realities associated with influenza and the common cold. There are many factors to consider like climate, the changing of the seasons, staying hydrated, dressing warmly enough, eating well, getting enough sleep and proper hygiene to name a few. In our hectic world, it is near impossible to stay on top of everything and ward off illness all the time, but there are certainly things you can do to keep your immune system built up and keep yourself as healthy as possible in these challenging times. Below are the things that I use, and have found to be the most effective for prevention, or at the first signs of a cold or flu, helping to push it along quickly, shortening its duration and severity.

1. Diffuse Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree, also known as melaleuca, is an essential oil that comes mainly from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil has been widely used throughout Australia for its medicinal properties for at least the last century and is well-known for its powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties as well as its ability to kill many strains of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Tea tree oil is very versatile - it can be used to make homemade cleaning products, diffused to kill toxic mould that’s growing in your home, and applied topically to heal acne, cuts, and scrapes and treat skin infections. Tea tree’s natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions make it one of the most beneficial essential oils for health and healing making it a powerful addition to your medicine cabinet. If you would like to learn more about Tea Tree Oil, its health benefits and recipes, you can read this article - Tea Tree Oil - Benefits, Uses & Recipes.

Tea Tree Oil Steam

This is one that I have used for as long as I can remember, long before I ever became an acupuncturist. At the first signs of a cold or flu, get a large bowl (metal or glass), put 6 drops of high quality, organic tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil into the bowl. Boil some water (filtered if possible as you will be breathing in the vapour). Get a towel. Put the bowl with the tea tree oil on a table, and sit in front of it. Put the towel over your head. Pour the boiling water into the bowl. Put your face over the bowl - be careful as the steam will be very hot and the tea tree oil will be strong - cover your head with the towel and breathe deeply for about 20 minutes. If you do this early enough, the cold/flu will not progress.

Tea Tree Oil Diffuser

When anyone in our house is sick - especially my children - I diffuse tea tree oil. You can also add other essential oils depending on what is happening - I often use lavender as it is soothing and helps my children sleep. You have to be careful in children under 2 years old as essential oils are extremely concentrated, but diffusing 4-6 drops of high-quality tea tree and 4-6 drops of lavender essential oil will often stop a cold or flu in its tracks, especially if you react early enough. If you have a full-blown cold or flu, diffusing tea tree will also help with congestion, cleaning out your sinuses as well as purifying the air in your room and lessening the length and severity of the illness.

2. Acupressure

**There are certain points in the body that are strongly moving and are contraindicated if you are pregnant as they can induce labour. Both Spleen 6 and Large Intestine 4 are in this category so not for pregnant mamas.** 

Acupressure is basically acupuncture without the needles. Awesome, yes? There are hundreds of acupuncture points on the body, and there are a few that are particularly good for giving the immune system a boost as well as treating symptoms if we do come down with a cold or flu. I have chosen 3 powerful ones that I think will be the most beneficial, and have included images so you can find them. When using acupressure, you apply pressure to each point with your finger or thumb for 30 seconds to a few minutes and then rotate to the next point. Most acupuncture points are bilateral, meaning they are on each side of the body except for the ones that are on the midline that runs up the front and down the back of the body. All the points below are bilateral - located on each side of the body.

Large Intestine 4

Large intestine 4 is an extremely powerful and versatile point. It is located on the fleshy part between the thumb and first finger of the hand. The best way to locate it is to put your thumb and first finger together so they are touching and the point is at the top of the mound that is created. If you press on it, it is often quite sore. Large intestine 4 is the pain point for the entire body. Whenever there is pain, you use large intestine 4. It is the command point of the head and face, so any problems in this area, this point is appropriate. Its other functions are that it builds qi, strengthens the immune system, stops pain and induces labour - so please DON'T do this point if you are a pregnant mama! (see note above).

Below are some symptoms that large intestine 4 can help to alleviate.

  • headaches, dizziness, congestion, body aches, nosebleeds, toothaches, swelling or pain in the eyes
  • aversion to cold, fever
  • painful periods, lack of periods, difficult/painful labour and childbirth
  • gastric pain, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea
  • pain anywhere in the body and especially in the head/face
  • excellent point for the flu (releasing wind-heat in Chinese Medicine)

LARGE INTESTINE 4

Acupressure for Large Intestine 4

Apply pressure to large intestine 4 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is usually quite sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other hand. Then move on to the next point in the group - spleen 6, then stomach 36.

Spleen 6

Spleen 6 is also extremely powerful and versatile, which is why it is on this list. It is located on the inside of the lower leg, about 3 inches above the ankle bone or medial malleolus. The way we measure the three inches above the ankle bone is to put the 4 fingers of your hand together and place them on the ankle bone and the width of those 4 fingers is approximately where spleen 6 is located. It is just behind the tibia or shin bone. A good rule of thumb is to feel for the tibia and then just roll off and the point is located just behind it. This point is also often tender, especially on women, and even more so when they are menstruating. Because this point crosses the liver and kidney meridians, it can treat many conditions related to all three organs. Spleen 6 is a powerful point to treat gynaecological issues, digestive problems and problems with the emotions. **This is a strongly moving point and is contraindicated in pregnancy so do not do this point if you are pregnant.**

Below are some symptoms that spleen 6 can help to alleviate.

  • irregular, painful or lack of menstruation
  • masses in the abdomen, prolapse of the uterus, infertility and nocturnal emissions
  • impotence, premature ejaculation, hernia, testicular atrophy
  • digestive problems of the spleen and stomach
  • diseases of the skin
  • insomnia, headache, dizziness

  SPLEEN 6

Acupressure for Spleen 6

Apply pressure to spleen 6 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is often sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other leg. Then move on to the next point in the group - stomach 36.

Stomach 36

Stomach 36 is perhaps the most powerful point in the entire body for strengthening blood and qi and fortifying the body to boost overall health. The point is located on the lower leg, about 3 inches below the kneecap. To locate it, place your 4 fingers starting just at the lower border of your kneecap. This is the level of stomach 36, then it is located about one fingerbreadth on the outside, or towards the outside of the tibia or shin bone. The image below illustrates its position.

Stimulating stomach 36 is said to give you energy equal to eating an entire chicken or to walk another three miles (its name zusanli translates to leg three miles). It is command point of the abdomen therefore many problems in the abdominal area are treated with this point. Whenever you can feel a cold or flu coming on, start doing acupressure on this point as it will boost your immunity and help build your external defences which are called our wei qi in Chinese Medicine.

Below are some symptoms that stomach 36 can help to alleviate.

  • vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal distention, abdominal pain, acute mastitis
  • heart palpitations, shortness of breath, low energy, dizziness, insomnia
  • cough and asthma
  • calms the spirit
  • stops pain

STOMACH 36

Acupressure for Stomach 36

Apply pressure to stomach 36 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is also often sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other leg. You can do this set of 3 points, on each side two or three times a day when you are sick, or once a day or week for building immunity and general health.

3. Wear A Scarf


Photo by Kiyun Lee on Unsplash

Now, this one may seem a bit overly simplistic, but according to Chinese Medicine, wind is the master of 100 diseases and it tends to enter the body the most easily at the neck. So, the simple act of wearing a scarf in windy, wet or cold weather protects you against an invasion of wind-cold. It is basically the same as bundling up and staying warm when the weather is cold, wet or windy because these are ways that we can easily weaken our immune systems which make us more susceptible to colds and flus. And we don't want those. I think I may always have been destined to be a practitioner of Chinese Medicine because I have always loved scarfs, and I always seem to have one with me just in case I get chilly. I find it makes a big difference and is like always having protection from external invaders. I have also instilled this love of scarfs in my children, and we try to make it fun, finding scarves that they love (dinosaurs!!) so they WANT to wear them.

4. Eat Warming Soups & Bone Broths

Photo by Hanxiao on Unsplash

If you know anything about the spleen in Chinese Medicine, you know how important it is and how many responsibilities it has. If you don't, then you can read these articles to learn a bit more about it -

Loving Your Spleen with Chinese Medicine

How to Strengthen Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Worry and the Spleen

Dampness and the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

What is Spleen Qi Deficiency?

Digestive Health & Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

In a nutshell, the spleen is the main organ of digestion, and it uses digestive "fire" to power all the work it has to do to break down the food we eat and turn into the energy we need for our bodies and minds to function. But, it doesn't stop there. The spleen is also responsible for "digesting" all the stimulus that comes in from our sense organs, and, in a culture of multitasking, heavy mental work, long hours and little sleep, the spleen is a hard-working little organ. To put it simply, when we are compromised and our immune systems take a hit, we need to be gentle with our bodies. Because all that digesting that the spleen is doing requires energy, eating soups that are already well cooked and take very little energy to digest, they take some of the burdens off of the spleen. And that way your spleen, and all the other hard-working organs in your body can focus on fighting invaders and getting well. But when you are healthy and want to fortify yourself against an external (or internal) attack, then eating soups and bone broths, in particular, is an excellent way to build the immune system, warm your system and strengthen your body so that colds and flus don't have a chance.

In Chinese Medicine, the bones are associated with the kidneys, our bodies' most fundamental energy and the source of our yin and yang. Therefore, eating bone broth is strengthening to both the bones and the kidneys, whose element is water, emotion is fear and whose season is winter which is the best time to tonify the kidneys for health and longevity.

5. Good Hygiene

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Wash Your Hands Often & Don't Touch Your Face

If the recent proliferation of COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has brought our awareness back to the basic importance of good personal hygiene. There probably isn't anything better you can do to keep yourself healthy and stop the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses than simply washing your hands often and trying to be conscious not to touch your face. With two small children around it is frightening to see how unaware they are of things that are logical to adults like not putting dirty things into our mouths, not always washing their hands after going to the washroom, picking random things up outside, just to name a few. So teaching them to wash their hands, not to touch their faces but most importantly WHY we need to do these things is a huge step in the prevention of preventable illnesses like colds and flu. Things like showering often especially when you or someone in your house is sick, wiping surfaces, changing clothing and doing laundry often are also ways to reduce our exposure to germs and help us stay healthy all year round.

 



Want To Download This Sheet?

Want to download the information in this article in a well designed, tidy way so you can always have it at your disposal? Here it is for you. Just click the image below. Are you a professional? Want this sheet to share with your patients? Click below for the PRO version.

 

Download Our Sheets - Living With The Seasons in Chinese Medicine

   


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!


 


How Meditation Changes The Brain, Exterminates Depression

By Tiffany Harper

Meditation is an old spiritual exercise, commonly associated with Oriental spirituality. The method involves mindfulness, relaxation, and breathing patterns. The goal is to achieve a general state of well-being, specifically a psychological one. Today, meditation is a widespread wellness practice. You can find through meditation tutorials in books, on Youtube, or by taking classes.

So, chances are you tried meditation at least once. Therefore, you can agree that meditation is undoubtedly an excellent way to relax and unwind. But does it have real scientifically proven benefits on the brain? In this article, you’ll find out more about how meditation changes the brain and exterminates depression.

Meditation Against Depression And Anxiety

Mindful meditation is just as powerful as antidepressants. According to some research, the subjects experienced less anxiety, pain, and depression after practicing meditation. The result was incredible: meditation had a 0.3 effect on the subjects (moderate), which is just as much as the 0.3 of antidepressant medicines. Moreover, meditation can help reduce social anxiety. A precise type of meditation, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which focuses on stress, showed significant results in research. The participants took a course of MBSR for eight weeks, and the results were reduced physical and mental anxiety and stress. Furthermore, the effects lasted over the years. Lastly, meditation was found as a solution to social anxiety disorder: mindfulness reduces the activity of parts of the brain associated with unhappiness.

Meditation Improves Focus

A common problem among the global population is the difficulty to focus. Meditation was found to help increase concentration and attention. In one study, participants had meditation training for a few weeks. Then, they were tested for cognitive skills, including focus. The results revealed that they improved by 16%. This means that people who teach, work, or use their intellectual power for tasks can tackle their jobs better.

Likewise, kids were tested for their concentration skills since they are often associated with a lack of focus. In this case, meditation had a massive impact on developing minds. It can help with cognitive skills as well as emotional skills. Some schools implemented short meditation breaks, which brought an increase in GPAs and attendances, and a decrease in suspensions.

Meditation Helps Against Brain Aging

UCLA conducted a study that linked meditation to brain aging. They compared the brains of participants who meditated regularly to participants who didn’t. The results proved that the brains of the subjects who meditated still aged. However, they had more gray matter volume than the others. Even comparing old participants with young ones proved that meditation could slow the aging process of the brain while reducing the loss of gray matter.

Meditation Decreases The Activity Of The DMN

The Default Mode Network (DMN) consists of various parts of the brain that regulate self-referential and mind-wandering ideas. These thoughts are associated with unhappiness, worrying, and anxiety. A study by Yale University proves that meditation quiets the DMN. The participants who meditated could switch back to the present moment, while non-meditators would get lost in negative and worrying thoughts easier.

Meditation Positively Changes The Brain

A Harvard study showed that meditation could change the volume and dimensions of various brain parts. The research studied the participants in the eight-week program of MBSR:

  • The subjects had increased hippocampus thickness, which means that they improved their memory, emotional control, and learning skills.
  • The subjects showed diminished amygdala, which means that they are less likely to be afraid, anxious, and stressed.
  • The subjects showed a different perception of moods and emotions.

Meditation Against Addictions

Since meditation is centered around self-control, it was found to be useful against a variety of addictions. One research study proved that smoking addicts were more likely to give up smoking after meditation training. So, mindfulness showed even better results than the “Freedom From Smoking” program (FFS) after the 17-week follow-up. The reason behind the study’s success is that meditation helps people resist temptations, withdrawals, or cravings because it interrupts the connection between those and the addiction itself.

How To Effectively Meditate

Now that we know how many benefits meditation can bring, it’s time to practice it. At first, meditation can seem a challenging activity to do, or that requires special techniques and training. Nevertheless, meditation is a simple method to refocus the brain on the present moment, thus reducing stress, anxiety, brain aging, and other issues. Initially, it may seem impossible to quiet the mind. Still, after a couple of sessions, you may improve your cognitive skills.

Here is a simple guide to meditation:

  • Find a peaceful place in your home. It could be your living room, or even in your backyard. You can light up some candles or open up the window to create a pleasant atmosphere. If you’re going to focus on your breathing, you might want to have fresh or lightly scented air in your space. You also might want to play some calming music, especially if the environment you’re in isn’t quiet enough.
  • Find a good position. You can sit upright on a cushion on the floor with your legs crossed. Alternatively, you can lay on the bed or a mat and blanket. Just make sure that you’re comfortable and that your back is straight. If you’re sitting horizontally, make sure that your belly’s facing the ceiling.
  • Close your eyes. If you wish to work with your mind, you might want to rest your eyes to focus better.
  • Start to breathe slowly. You can inhale for four seconds and exhale for four. Take as many as you need to ease into it.
  • Observe your thoughts rather than thinking about them. Your brain will inevitably want to wander off and think about chores, fears, and feelings. Please don’t beat yourself up for it. Just try to observe them and gently come back to your breath.
  • Continue breathing and observe every sensation in the body.
  • Try to reach a mental state where you’re focusing on your sensation and your brain instead of thinking thoughts.

Keep coming back to your senses and breathing every time you get distracted.

  • Accept that your mind may not want to settle down. Just keep trying.
  • Once you reach a calm state, continue to breathe.
  • When you’re satisfied with your session, bat your eyelashes open and slowly return to your day.

Conclusion

The spiritual practice of meditation has a myriad of benefits, from reducing brain aging to improving mood, focus, and self-control. If you want to start meditating, find a quiet place in your home to focus on your breath with your eyes closed. The first day you may not be able to concentrate on your breath well. Nonetheless, if you keep trying, you’ll get there.


Author Bio
Tiffany Harper is a freelancer and blogger from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She specializes in psychology, natural remedies, and wellness topics. Tiffany is also a yoga lover, so every Saturday if she is not working as a consultant with an essay writer from Write My Essay, she spends her free time meditating in the local park. Please do not hesitate to contact her on twitter


Sources:
1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/
2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/how-meditation-helps-with-depression
3. https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/depression-shrinks-our-brain-how-meditation-builds-it-back-up/
4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#207157b71465
5. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/what-does-mindfulness-meditation-do-to-your-brain/
6. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindfulness-in-frantic-world/201110/curing-depression-mindfulness-meditation


Other Sources:
1. [http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspxarticleid=1809754]
2. [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/016383439500025M]
3. [http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/1/65.short]
4. [http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/5/776]
5. [https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00215.x]
6. [http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10826-013-9784-4]
7. [http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01551/full]
8. [http://www.pnas.org/content/108/50/20254.short]
9. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ articles/PMC3004979/]
10. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ articles/PMC3927233/]
11. [http://www.pnas.org/content/110/34/13971.short]


If you would like downloadable sheets to learn about Chinese Medicine, click the images below.


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!



 


Online Tai Chi and Other Virtual Martial Arts Classes: Why Do It and How to Get Started

By Patrick Bailey

With so many pathways to achieve wellness, traditional Eastern martial arts remain one of the most recognized systems in the world. Aside from being hailed in movies and books, Eastern martial arts have a lot of health benefits that both old and young students can have.

Often, martial arts classes such as Tai Chi or Kung Fu are held through in-person classes where students are distanced in equal spaces, relatively close to each other. In some instances, students gather in circles and take turns in the middle for a return demonstration of techniques.

Shifting Platforms With the New Normal

As the world takes a 180-degree turn due to a global pandemic, many fitness and wellness services have to adapt to the “new normal” as well. Social distancing measures in place shifted martial arts classes from in-person to virtual ones. 

In some schools [1], virtual martial arts classes are being held as an extracurricular activity, and many martial arts schools have followed suit. Instructors now offer online courses, both live and recorded to help learners choose options that work for them.

Considering Online Tai Chi and Other Virtual Martial Arts? Why You Should Do It

If you’re someone who wants to try online Tai Chi and other virtual martial arts classes, you may be thinking, “What’s in it for me?”

Unlike regular exercise that can get repetitive at times, learning martial arts is a skill that proves to be useful in other areas of your life. Below are some of the advantages you can get from these classes.

Improves mood and fights stress

Tai chi [2] is a low-impact type of martial arts using gentle movements. It is often dubbed as “meditation in motion”, as participants use flowing poses. Tai chi is ideal for those who want to begin their journey in exploring Eastern martial arts, especially if their goal is to reduce stress and anxiety.

Other forms of martial arts such as Kung Fu improve cardiovascular health and blood flow. When blood flows better, your cognition improves, as well as your overall mood. Doing online classes that help decrease anxiety is something timely. When people struggle with the limitations of social distancing, taking virtual martial arts sessions may be what they need.

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Helps in muscular strength

According to Harvard Health [3], there is a growing number of convincing research that Tai Chi and other forms of martial arts improve one’s muscular strength. As movements sustain muscle flexion, people can gain upper and lower body strength. 

If you’re considering a dynamic form of exercise aside from using dumbbells or barbels, attending virtual martial arts classes can be a great option. Lacking outdoor activities can cause weight gain and muscular weakness, thus, having access to online Tai Chi and other Eastern systems that interest you can help avoid those risks.

Fights addiction tendencies

The University of Michigan [4] stated that dealing with the stress of isolation makes people prone to abusing alcohol and drugs. Addiction, in turn, causes immune system susceptibility to diseases such as COVID-19. This cycle of addiction along with a weak immune system increases the risk of people losing their health, and even their lives.

Practising virtual martial arts during these challenging times helps individuals develop self-discipline and focus on goals. The underlying principles of Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Kung Fu is all about adhering to systems and sacrificing instant gratifications for the greater good. It is no wonder why martial arts have been a welcome treatment option for many drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. It is an effective, holistic tool for battling substance abuse.

How To Get Started With Online Martial Arts Classes

The great thing about online Tai chi and other virtual martial arts classes is that you’re not confined to local establishments to get started. You can sign up under any instructor or company that offers classes as long as it fits your preferences and schedule. If you are ready to take a leap with online martial arts classes, here are some helpful tips.

  • Consider your online classes as a “real” class: It can be easy to devalue online classes by having a lesser level of commitment. However, it is important to consider online classes as if you are taking them in-person. If you need a higher level of accountability, you can sign up for a live instructor.
  • Have a regular working space: To get the maximum benefits of virtual martial arts classes, it is helpful to have space where you regularly do your sessions. Setting aside an organized space allows you to focus your thoughts on the activity, thereby decreasing mental clutter and stress.
  • Being open to new things: In the first few sessions, you may not find yourself keen on continuing a class that you feel doesn’t suit you well. However, a part of succeeding in martial arts is being open to new experiences even if you haven’t enjoyed it yet during your first time. Keeping a curious mind before quitting right away will open doors for you to learn new things.

Virtual Martial Arts Classes for Health and Wellness: Something Worth Trying

Are you searching for ways to ease the stress of changing times? Virtual martial arts classes may just be your cup of tea. With its numerous health and wellness benefits, you are sure to combine learning a new skill along with accomplishing your fitness goals.

Sources:

 

Featured image photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash



Download Our Sheets - Living With The Seasons in Chinese Medicine

     

   


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!


Nutrition for Every Season

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

He that takes medicine and neglects his diet wastes the skills of his physician.

Chinese proverb

Hippocrates also said, "let food be thy medicine" in the fifth century BCE. These two pieces of wisdom tell us that it was well understood many hundreds of years ago, in very different parts of the world that what we ate was an important factor in maintaining health as well as recovering from disease. And even today with advances in medicine and technology, food is still the best medicine and the easiest and most impactful way to stay healthy and disease-free.

Food As Medicine

Nutrition is one of the foundational elements of Chinese Medicine. The ancient Chinese understood very well that the best medicine is not the herbal remedy given when you have a cold or the salve when you scrape your knee, the best medicine is the food we ingest every day. It helps to build our immune systems, fortify us against disease, cool excess heat, drain dampness, move stagnation and warm us when we are deficient.

Our ancestors were intrinsically connected to nature, and this connection was necessary for survival. They paid attention to the seasons, but more specifically, changes in the weather, the cycles of crops, migration of animals, and the cycles of the sun and moon. They were attuned to the natural rhythms of the planet and were able to adjust their behaviours to maintain a sort of equilibrium with their surroundings. This focus on prevention was also very important and was knitted into the foundation of Chinese Medicine as it was practised then as well as today. But, the key to living preventatively is that we have to really be attuned to our bodies and our surroundings. We have to be able to hear what our bodies are telling us so we can give them what they need, and that is something that many of us have lost living in the fast-paced city life in the modern world. But this listening, this attunement is something that Chinese Medicine teaches. Your body is always communicating with you, you only have to listen.

The Thermal Nature of Foods & People

So, how does it work, to use food as medicine? Good question. Chinese Medicine has a pretty elegant system for understanding how to use food as medicine and stay healthy in every season. Foods have a thermal nature and so do people. It is that delicate balance of yin and yang. Some foods are cooling and some are heating. People also have a thermal nature. They usually have a thermal nature that occurs naturally when they are in a healthy state and knowing this is very helpful as you move forward. And then, the weather and surroundings also have a thermal nature, so it is a dynamic balance of these three ingredients that we are after. Granted, this can all get a little complex and you can get pretty deep into it (if you are a nerd practitioner like me), but there are some basics that will help you get started. Think about the seasons as a continuously fluctuating cycle of yin (cold) and yang (hot) energies. Summer is the height of yang or heat energies and winter is the peak of yin or cold energies. Summer gradually cools off and moves into fall, which cools further to transition into winter. Winter comes to an end and the yin energies gradually are infused with yang with spring, which further heats up as it moves into summer.

So, you want to balance the temperature of the season you are in with foods that are generally its opposite. Cooling foods in summer, and warming foods in winter. Gradually more warming foods in fall and gradually cooling ones in spring as those are the transitional months. You can also affect the thermal nature of the foods you eat by different cooking methods, which is why those change according to the season too. This is very very general, but it gives you an idea and a place to start. Then you can introduce the idea of constitutions and it adds another layer of complexity, but as you practice and becoming aware of the seasons and the thermal nature of the foods you are eating, it actually becomes this really beautifully nourishing and healing way to eat, and one your body will love. I will work on an article about constitutions to explain that a little bit more, but in general, a person is also a dynamic balance of yin and yang energies. Some people are naturally more yin and some are naturally more yang. When you know what you are, you work that into the equation too, which will only help you to keep all those energies balanced and this will help keep you healthy. When that article is finished, I will link it here.

The Seasons

Chinese Medicine was developed over thousands of years of observations of nature, human beings and their relationship to each other. In times past we have always had a symbiotic relationship, the earth nourished us with its bounty and we tended and nurtured the planet in a continuous cycle of loving interaction. Human beings followed the natural cycles of the planet and lived in harmony with the seasons.

The Summer Season

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

Summer is the season associated with the heart, the colour red and the emotion of joy. In the hot summer months, people rose early and went to bed later to capitalize on the yang energy represented by outward expression and activity. They ate foods that grew in abundance, like fruits and fresh vegetables, eating salads and lighter fare, many of which are considered cooling to balance the external heat. People also took time to get together with family and friends, connecting and feeding their heart energy, as the heart is the organ associated with summer and with it, the emotion of joy. Everything we do in summer should be an attempt to cultivate the joy in our lives. Summer is the season to feed the heart energy, and in terms of foods, many red foods are good for the heart. Cooking methods should be lighter and of shorter duration to preserve all the freshness and nutrients the food has been soaking up from the summer sun. Eating should be lighter and in smaller portions and working to keep yin fluids plentiful to counteract the intense heat of the season.

The Fall Season

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Fall is the season associated with the lungs, the colour white and the emotion of grief. As the summer season winds down and the weather begins to cool, our behaviours go from the outward expressions of summer to the more inward and reflective activities of fall which will inevitably prepare us for winter. We eat foods that grow in abundance in this season (which varies greatly depending on where on the planet you are), but in North America, we see many foods with beautiful fall colours - squashes, gourds, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins... foods that grow in the ground and have more yang properties nourishing our inner heat as we prepare our bodies and spirits for the coming cold. Fall is a time to clear out the old, making space for the new. The energy of the lungs is "letting go" so that is the focus. Cleaning, reorganizing and donating are good practices in fall and make space for all we will cultivate over the winter. Emotionally, making sure that we have let go of any emotional hurts that have lingered is strengthening to the lungs both physically and psychologically. Many white foods are beneficial to the lungs and are good to add to the diet in the fall season. Organizing life and becoming more introspective before winter is what fall is all about, checking in to make sure we are emotionally healthy and not hanging on to things that no longer serve us.

The Winter Season

Photo by 8-Low Ural on Unsplash

Winter is the season associated with the kidneys, the colour black and the emotion of fear. Winter is the height of yin energies and even though it seems like a time of death, decay and inactivity, it is a season that is very active, just deep, deep beneath the surface in preparation for the regenerative activities of spring. It is a season of consolidation, gathering all energies and pulling them inward. Winter is the time of year to go to bed early and sleep later, profiting from the healing, restorative energies sleep offer us. In winter we eat less fresh foods as they are no longer available and eat more preserved foods we have prepared during the summer and fall. Eating warming foods, especially hearty soups and stews will help build our yang and counteract the cold. Our energies should turn inward in winter, while we focus on our fundamental energies, in Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are the source of our fundamental energy. Spending quiet time reading, writing or meditating are strengthening to our bodies and spirits. Keeping warm, especially our lower backs where our kidneys reside is especially important as they are the source of all our qi. Many black foods are strengthening to the kidneys and should be added to the diet in the winter months.

The Spring Season

Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

Spring is associated with the liver, the colour green and the emotion of anger. Spring represents the upward and outward energies of newly growing plants, flowers and trees. The energy in spring is expansive, so it is a good time to shake off the sleepiness of the winter months and slowly start moving our bodies with gentle stretching going for long walks outdoors, taking in the revitalizing green of new plants through our eyes, which are the sense organ associated with the liver. Spring is the best time to detox from everything we have accumulated over the winter. We can detox physically, as well as emotionally. Acknowledging and processing any feelings of anger, resentment or frustration will keep our liver energy moving freely. Many green foods benefit the liver and cooking methods should be lighter and shorter duration to the slow cooking of winter, and as things begin to thaw, we are able to introduce more fresh foods into our diet. Awakening and cleansing our bodies and spirits are what we need in spring as well as gentle exercises like tai chi and qi gong which, especially when done outside in nature nourish body, mind and spirit.

If we can become aware of our surroundings and make slight adjustments to our behaviours and diet depending on the season we will see a huge benefit physically, emotionally and spiritually.

 

Beautiful featured image photo by Marta Filipczyk on Unsplash



Download Our Sheet - Nutrition for Every Season

This sheet includes how to change behaviours, cooking methods, and beneficial foods, spices and flavours as well as other associations to help you live in harmony with every season.


Download Our Sheets - Living With The Seasons in Chinese Medicine

   


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!