Ginger is Medicine.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

There is nothing sassier than biting down on a piece of ginger in your stir fry or noodle bowl. You immediately understand the power of this tasty root as it floods your mouth with a burning sensation that brings tears to your eyes. But, do not underestimate this tiny rhizome, it is not just burn - it is chalked full of medicinal effects and a well documented history of healing the body of innumerable ailments. Ginger is medicine.

Ginger Healing Properties

  • Treats and prevents multiple forms of cancer
  • Prevents diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Is a natural antibiotic
  • Is excellent for treating digestive problems, nausea, stomachache and vomiting
  • Prevents intestinal ulcers
  • Fights fungal infections and toxicity
  • Is used as a stimulant in cases of bad circulation
  • In feverish conditions is used as a diaphoretic (promotes sweating)
  • Important for heart health
  • Fights gout and arthritis
  • Is an effective gargle for sore throats
  • Is a remedy for motion sickness
  • Reduces pain and inflammation
  • Boosts the immune system to fight off colds and flu
  • Is a natural painkiller
  • Treats migraines
  • Relieves menstrual cramps
  • Prevents diabetic neuropathy
  • Promote energy circulation and increase metabolic rate
  • Is rich in vitamin C
  • Eaten in the summer to increase sweating and cool the body (raw not dried)

Ginger Healing Properties

Ginger Facts

  • Cultivation of ginger started in South Asia and spread to East Africa and the Caribbean.
  • Top producers are India, China and Indonesia
  • Ginger is extremely rare and difficult to find in the wild
  • Ginger is not a root, it is actually a rhizome
  • Contains silicon for healthy skin, hair, nails and teeth
  • One of the most important herbs in the world
  • Ginger should be stored in a cool, dry place

Ginger for Health

In Chinese medicine, ginger is considered a warming herb and acts specifically on the lungs, spleen and stomach. It is a qi tonic, promotes circulation and treats phlegm in the lungs accompanied with cough. It promotes circulation as well as sweating, and is used to treat joint pain due to cold.

Ginger has a particular use in Chinese medicine for digestive problems and yang deficiency (a deficiency of the warming energy of the body). The belly button is filled with salt and then a slice of ginger is placed on top with some holes punched in it. Then, some moxa (a Chinese herb) is placed on top and burned. The effect is a pleasant warming sensation for the patient and this method is used to treat weakness of the stomach and spleen causing symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Ginger is an incredibly powerful herb, and I bet that you had no idea of all of the good it was doing for your body by just adding it to your favourite recipe. Nutritional therapy is a huge aspect of Chinese medicine, so know that everything you eat is potentially medicine for your body. Who knew medicine could be so delicious?

Ginger is medicine


5 Acupressure Points to Boost Your Immune System

Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Acupuncture and everything that falls under the umbrella of Chinese medicine - including herbs, food therapy,  cupping and moxibustion - was designed as a medicine of prevention. Instead of waiting until they got sick, the ancient Chinese (and I suspect many modern Chinese) took steps to boost their immune systems so they were better equipped to fight off disease and stay healthy. There are many very powerful acupuncture points that serve to boost the immune system and help it to fight disease, and by using some gentle stimulation, you can build your body's immunity right in the comfort of your own home, at work, in the car or wherever - that is what makes acupressure so awesome, you can literally do it anywhere. :)

Acupressure is simply applying pressure to the acupuncture points instead of using needles. Acupressure is an excellent way to stimulate these points whenever you feel like your immune system could use a boost. Below are a list of 5 powerhouse points to boost your immune system and help you fight off any bacteria and viruses that might be floating around.

Most acupuncture points run bilaterally - meaning on both sides of the body, except for the meridians that run along the midline. So, each of these points have a right and a left. One side is often more tender than the other, but it is a good idea to stimulate both to get a balanced effect. Below are 5 acupressure points to boost your immune system.

STOMACH 36

Location - Stomach 36 is located about 3 cun, or 4 finger breadths below the bottom of your kneecap, and directly on the outside of your tibia, which is your shin bone. You can feel a depression and this point is often tender. Have a look at the image below to help you locate it.

Acupuncture Point Stomach 36

Stomach 36 is perhaps one of the most powerful points for boosting immunity in the entire body. It is said that after you have reached 30 years of age, it is a good idea to stimulate this point on a regular basis, as it will keep the body strong. Burning moxa (the burning of a Chinese herb) will increase its effect, and this is often something I use in clinic if I feel someone's immune system is deficient and needs a boost.

Stomach 36 is an important point to stimulate the immune system and build up the body's defences. It stimulates qi in the entire body as well as calms the spirit. It is one of the strongest points for tonifying qi and blood, thus is a strong point for building the body's energy reserves.

SPLEEN 6

Location - Spleen 6 is located about 3 cun, or 4 finger breadths above the middle of your ankle bone (called your medial malleolus) on the inside of your leg. Find the highest point of your ankle bone, then measure upwards. Spleen 6 is located just behind the tibia, or your shin bone that runs up the front of your leg. This point also tends to be quite tender, especially on women. See the image below to help you locate it.

Acupuncture Point Spleen 6

 

Spleen 6 is a powerful point for tonifying the spleen and stomach which are the body's main organs of digestion. As we tend to live in a spleen deficient culture - you can read why here - The Spleen in Chinese Medicine - so using Spleen 6 is a good way to strengthen the often deficient spleen, harmonize the digestion and boost the immune system. Spleen 6 is also an important point for invigorating the blood, alleviating pain, resolving dampness and regulating menstruation. It also calms the mind which is something many of us could use. Another added benefit of this powerful point is that it is the meeting point of the spleen, liver and kidney meridians, so has the effect of harmonizing those organs which benefits the entire body.

LUNG 7

Location - Lung 7 is located about 1.5 cun above your wrist crease. 1 cun is the width of your thumb. There is a bump that protrudes at this point, this is called the styloid process. The point is here located between two tendons. See the image below to help you locate it.

Acupuncture Point Lung 7

 

The lungs are the organ most closely related to the immune system in Chinese medicine. They are called the "tender organ" as they are directly connected to the outside of the body via the mouth. Lung 7 is traditionally used for the beginning symptoms of a cold or flu like chills and fever, congestion, sore throat and cough. It is also used for many kinds of headaches. Stimulating lung 7 is known to boost the immune system. It treats the symptoms of cold and flu, but it excellent for strengthening the body's resistance so that it never gets to that stage.

LARGE INTESTINE 11

Location - Large Intestine 11 is located at the end of the crease formed when you bend your arm. It is the outside end of the crease. This point is also usually tender on most people. Use the image below to help you locate it.

Acupuncture Point Large Intestine 11

 

Large intestine 11 is traditionally known as a point to treat heat in the body, and is a principle point to reduce fevers. It is known to remove heat causing sore throat, toothache, and bloodshot eyes. It treats all kinds of skin conditions (many are caused by heat) and lowers high blood pressure. It is also a powerful point to prevent colds and flu's by tonifying the immune system.

KIDNEY 27

Location - Kidney 27 is located just below the collarbone or clavicle 2 cun (or two thumb widths) from the midline. This point falls into a depression in the first intercostal space (between the clavicle and the first rib). This point is also generally sore, and more so if you have an upper respiratory infection. See the image below to help you locate it.

Acupuncture Point Kidney 27

 

Kidney 27 is known for its strong effects of treating disorders of the chest - especially phlegm, wheezing, cough and asthma. Kidney 27 is a strong immune booster and especially good for people prone to upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis. Anyone having many recurring upper respiratory infections would be seen in Chinese medicine to have a weakened immune system, so, if you are prone to those types of infections, kidney 27 is for you.

What to Do

You can do these points any time that you are feeling run down and feel like you need a bit of a boost. A good way to use them is together, stimulating all five points, especially in the fall during cold and flu season to build up your immunity.

  1. Make sure you have a few minutes and that you are in a comfortable position. 
  2. Start at the bottom, and work in order towards the points at the top of the body - that would be
  • Spleen 6
  • Stomach 36
  • Lung 7
  • Large Intestine 11
  • Kidney 27
  1. Since all these points are on both sides of the body, you want to do both sides. You will probably find that one side is more tender than the other. 
  2. Apply pressure with your finger or thumb to each point for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Do both sides, then move on to the next point.
  3. To use this set for maximum immune boosting effectiveness, do it twice a day, once when you get up and once before you go to bed. If you feel that you are still tired and feeling susceptible to catching cold, then increase it to three times a day. 

During the rest of the year, you may use this set as often as you wish to keep your body strong and able to fight off disease - remember, prevention is the best medicine! 

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*Image credits - A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman


Chive – The Mega Food for Your Health

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Chive is a grass like perennial vegetable with long green leave tubules, is very inexpensive and can be found in most grocery stores. It is in the same allium family as garlic, onions, scallions and leeks. Chive is very popular in Chinese cuisine because of its many health benefits. Many households grow chives in their backyard or in containers because it is easy to grow and can be handy in times of need. Besides, after each harvest cutting, all the leaves will grow back very quickly giving continuous yield from early spring to late autumn and year after year without much work. To maximize chives' healthful effects, homegrown organic chives and freshly cut momentarily before cooking is the best way to receive the maximum benefit.

Chive Recipe

Chinese medicine defines chives as warm in nature and pungent in taste. It is a yang food which acts on the liver, stomach and kidney, warms the middle region and promotes energy circulation. Chive is commonly known as a ‘rising yang vegetable’ because it is used to treat men with impotence. Chive is also known to be effective in dispersing blood coagulation, treating diarrhea and intestinal infections, treating difficulty in swallowing and improving appetite, relieving stomach aches of cold nature and stopping nosebleeds. The best season to eat chive is spring because the new growth has the most nutrients to offer and they work more effectively with the spleen system.

Modern science has found chives to be low in calories but high in folates, anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals (copper, iron, manganese, zinc, and calcium) and vitamins (K, B, A and C). It can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and prevent dangerous blood clots. Chive also has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and has some cancer-fighting properties.

Chive is certainly more than just a vegetable. It is almost like a standby home remedy which can come to the rescue for many ailments. I can remember when my brother was about 3 years old and he swallowed a dime while playing with it. My parents quickly cooked some chives and fed him and the dime came out with his stools in just a few hours. Chive is also effective in treating nosebleeds, stomach discomfort and overgrowth of intestinal bacteria or worms, especially in children.

Many people eat chives to treat erectile dysfunction. Chive is also god sent for people with kidney deficiency which has manifested as incontinence or difficulty in passing urine, or water retention in the lower legs and feet. Taking chive regularly for a few weeks to a couple of months can cure these problems permanently. The following is a very simple but effective recipe just for that.

Please have a look at our website www.nourishu.com to find other recipes for cooking with chives. You can also put chives in your noodle, soup, or dumpling, or stir-fry them with meat or shrimp and seafood. The distinctive pungent taste and the crunchiness will make your food more inviting and tasty.

Chive and Egg Stir Fry Recipe

Stir-fried Chives with Egg

SYMPTOMS

Kidney deficiencies with symptoms such as too much or too little urine, incontinence, swelling of legs and feet, lack of energy and/or impotence.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Nourishes kidney and promotes yang energy.

INGREDIENTS  (2 to 3 servings)

  • Chinese chives – one bunch (about 300gm)
  • Eggs – 3
  • Minced ginger – one spoonful
  • Cooking wine – 2 table spoonfuls

DIRECTIONS

1.   Rinse chives a few times, strain and cut into bite size sections.

2.   Beat eggs and mix in seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, one spoonful of cooking oil).

3.   Warm 2 spoonfuls of oil in a non-stick pan. Add minced ginger and stir for half a minute. Add chives and stir for another minute until just cooked. Add cooking wine and a small pitch of salt. Mix and put chives onto a plate.

4.   Warm another spoonful of oil in the pan. Pour in egg mixture and scramble to egg until its about 80% cooked. Return chive to pan to mix with egg, then put everything onto a plate and serve.

USAGE

Can be eaten with no restrictions.

Chive and Egg Stir Fry Recipe


What is Traditional Chinese Medicine? An Introduction

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Traditional Chinese medicine to the uninitiated, may seem mysterious, magical and a bit odd. But the fact that TCM has been around for thousands of years and is still able to treat modern diseases is a testament to its ability to heal the mind, body and spirit.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest medical systems in existence. It predates the rise of the British empire, the invention of the printing press and the discovery of DNA. The Chinese have been using acupuncture, herbs, moxibustion, cupping and massage to treat illnesses for thousands of years. That enormous body of knowledge is still relevant today, and is very much a part of the present system that is Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an umbrella term for the many modalities used by the Acupuncturist or Chinese Medicine practitioner. These include Acupuncture (electro, auricular, cosmetic), Herbal Medicine, Tui Na (Chinese medical massage), Gua Sha (scraping), Moxibustion (the burning of the herb mugwort), Cupping, Dietary Therapy and Energy Work (Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Meditation). Below is a brief description of each.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture Needles

Acupuncture is a technique utilizing fine sterile disposable stainless steel needles inserted at specific points in the body in order to correct various ailments and normalize the body’s physiological processes. Where the needles are applied and the depth of their insertion is determined by the nature of the problem. Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that there are as many as 2000 acupuncture points on the human body.

The ancient Chinese believed that there is a universal life energy called Qi present in every living creature. This energy is said to circulate throughout the body along specific pathways called meridians. As long as this energy flows freely throughout the meridians, health is maintained, but once the flow of energy is blocked, the system is disrupted and pain and illness occur.

Electro Acupuncture

Electro acupuncture involves sending a weak electrical current through inserted acupuncture needles to stimulate acupuncture points. A slight throbbing or tingling sensation may be felt during treatment. This modality is usually employed for severe pain and other musculoskeletal conditions.

Cosmetic Acupuncture

Cosmetic acupuncture is an effective, non-surgical treatment used to reduce the signs of aging. It has been used in China for more than two thousand years. Tiny sterile needles are inserted into the face along meridian lines and acupuncture points to increase blood circulation. The face receives an increase of blood to nourish, oxygenate and moisturize the skin from the inside out. Cosmetic acupuncture also stimulates the production of collagen, giving the skin a firm, tight look.

Auricular Acupuncture

Auricular acupuncture is acupuncture specifically of the ear. The ear is a microsystem of the entire body and is widely used for many conditions including addiction treatment, mood disorders, obesity and pain This medical system emphasizes a holistic approach to medicine, an approach that treats the whole person. The acupuncture points found on the ear help to regulate the body’s internal organs, structures, and functions. Auricular therapy has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s own feel-good chemicals.

Chinese Herbs

Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbalism is complex and can take a lifetime to master. Each herb has many different properties which interact with both the person taking them as well as the other herbs in the formula. Chinese herbs function much in the same way as acupuncture in that the goal is to rebalance the body using Qi (the body’s intrinsic energy), Yin and Yang. Each herb has a thermal nature, a flavour, specific organs it acts upon and a direction in which it moves, and all must be balanced with incredible precision to achieve their desired outcome in the body. Because herbs are taken internally, they have a strong and often immediate effect and are incredibly powerful. They can be used in conjunction with acupuncture or other modalities, or alone, and are often chosen for chronic problems, long standing deficiencies or degenerative diseases because of their powerful nature.

Moxibustion

Moxibustion

Moxibustion is the application of indirect heat by burning the herb Folium Artemisiae vulgaris, commonly known as Mugwort, over a single, or group of acupuncture points. It is either applied to the end of an inserted acupuncture needle, held above the skin, or stuck to an acupuncture point with a thick foam between the skin surface and the actual moxa. The purpose of moxibustion is to warm the meridians and dispel cold, strengthen the blood and immune system, stimulate the flow of qi, remove stagnation, prevent disease and maintain general health.

Tui Na

Tui na is a form of Oriental bodywork that has been used in China for centuries. A combination of massage, acupressure and other forms of body manipulation, tui na works by applying pressure to acupoints, meridians and groups of muscles or nerves to remove blockages that prevent the free flow of Qi. Removing these blockages restores the balance of Qi in the body, leading to improved health and vitality.

Cupping

cupping

Cupping utilizes round glass or plastic cups over a large muscular area such as the back to enhance blood circulation and draw toxins out of the body. Cupping therapy has the action of warming the meridians, invigorating Qi and blood circulation, relieving blood stagnation, alleviating pain and swelling and dispelling damp and cold. With this extensive range of indications, it’s commonly applied for wind cold-damp bi syndrome, lumbar pain, shoulder and back pain, aching lower extremities, soft tissue sprains and contusions, common colds, headaches, cough, asthma, stomach aches, abdominal pain and dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).

Gua Sha

“Gua” means to scrape or rub. “Sha” is the term for the reddish raised skin rash that occurs as a result of the scraping. Sha refers to the blood stagnation in the subcutaneous tissues before and after it is raised as the reddish skin rash (petechiae) or bruising (ecchymosis). Gua Sha involves lubricating the skin with oil (traditionally a thick oil such as peanut was used) and using a smooth edged instrument, the acupuncturist uses long or short strokes causing redness or bruising. Gua Sha is used to treat as well as prevent the common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, and pain both acute and chronic. It is also used to detoxify the body and for fevers as the scraping brings the excess heat and toxins to the surface of the body to be released

Dietary Therapy

Chinese dietary therapy

Nutrition and dietary therapy is an essential aspect of Chinese medicine. The Chinese have known for thousands of years the direct correlation between what we eat and our health. Even before the development of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, foods were used by traditional peoples to heal diseases and build immunity.

The Philosophy of Chinese Medicine

The philosophy of TCM is based on the Taoist view that human beings should strive to live in harmony with nature and their natural environment. Eating foods that grow locally and in season, internal practices like Tai Chi and Qi Gong, freely expressing our emotions, being self aware by listening to our needs and desires are, in the TCM view, the way to a healthy and balanced life.

5 Elements in Chinese Medicine

The TCM philosophy offers us different approaches to viewing our nature, the workings of our bodies, the development of disease and the process of healing. The emotional self, for example, is just as important to the TCM practitioner as the physical body. When a patient arrives with a specific complaint, all physical as well as emotional and psychological aspects are evaluated, as it is the entire person who must be re-balanced, not just one aspect. This holistic approach is the strength of the TCM model. Treating the whole is in opposition to the reductionist model in the West which reduces the body into parts, not taking into consideration that they operate synergistically as a whole. This is one of the reasons why TCM is still able to treat a huge variety of ailments in the modern world. Treatments is designed specifically to each persons set of unique signs and symptoms which is part of the reason why Chinese medicine is so effective. The focus is not on treating disease, it is on treating the person and their unique needs.
Illness is described in the way it is seen to exist, in natural terms. Terms like water, fire, wind and earth are used to describe a person and aspects of their health, personality and disease. Illness develops when something is out of balance, is deficient, in excess or stagnant. The energy of the body, or Qi, must then be re-balanced, topped up, sedated, and moved depending on the presenting condition. Qi moves along specific rivers or pathways in the body called meridians. The acupuncture points are places where the Qi comes to the surface and is able to be manipulated by the acupuncture needles.

Herbs work internally to achieve the same goals. They are powerful tools and can be used alone or in conjunction with acupuncture or any of the other modalities, like Tui Na, Cupping or Gua Sha. All are used to re-balance the body and return it to a state of equilibrium. It is up to the practitioner to decide which ones in isolation or combined are most effective for the patient and the imbalance that has led them to seek treatment.

In conclusion, Chinese medicine holds the body and its capacity for healing in great reverence. It does not see itself as an outside force that is able to heal the body, but as a way to help adjust the body and bring it back into balance so that health is restored. In essence, it is not the practitioner doing the healing, it is the body. Advice on nutrition, living with the seasons and moderation in life empowers the patient and enables him to participate in his own healing. The goal of the TCM practitioner is to use these concepts to guide the patient on how to live a healthy, happy and balanced life.


Chinese Cabbage – The King of All Vegetables

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Chinese cabbage is similar is size and shape to a football. There are a few outside leaves that are pale green, but most of the inside leaves are pale yellow with white stalks, thus it is commonly known as “wong bok” (yellow white). Chinese cabbage is a night shade vegetable grown mainly in the northern parts of China in colder temperatures. It is readily available, very inexpensive and keeps a long time, and therefore was a common staple for the peasants. Chinese cabbage is also popular and grown in Japan and Korea where it is known as nappa cabbage and is mostly used in making hot pot and kimchee.

Chinese Cabbage Recipe

Chinese cabbage is sweet in taste, neutral in nature and has a high nutritional content. For each 100g of cabbage, it has 37mg of vitamin C, 140mg of calcium and 50mg of potassium. It also contains vitamin A and K, and many trace minerals including selenium. Each cup of cabbage juice has as much calcium as a cup of milk and its calcium to potassium ratio is ideal for easy absorption. The vegetable is high in fiber so is good for promoting digestion and can prevent constipation. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can lower internal heat, clear phlegm and cough, is a diuretic, detoxifies and prevents cancer growth. The vegetable is filling but low in calories; therefore is good for people wanting to lose weight. It can also lower blood pressure to prevent heart diseases and muscular degeneration. It is also known for helping to treat skin disorders, eczema and jaundice by using the juice on the affected areas.

The story of how Chinese cabbage became famous is quite incredible. It was said that the Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty at around 1900 became very ill in her old age and was having respiratory failure, high fever, lack of energy and was unable to eat or drink, urinate or move her bowels. No doctor or medicine was able to help her. Upon the advice of a monk she was fed only Chinese cabbage juice and soup which saved her life. She was nursed back to health by eating mostly food made with Chinese cabbage to replace her usual diet of delicate, expensive, highly refined, meaty and rich foods. After her recovery, she praised Chinese cabbage as the king of all vegetables.

Chinese Cabbage Recipe

The lesson learned was that eating only the “good” food can be deadly and a healthy diet should be balanced with less meat and more vegetables, and a lot of roughage to keep things moving through the body. The value of food cannot be determined just by the price alone because the cheapest food can be so good for our health. In today’s world where many people are being overfed and under nourished, Chinese cabbage is an excellent option. It is also tasty, cheap, and quick and easy to prepare.

There are many ways of preparing Chinese cabbage. You can make it into a soup in less than 15 minutes with thin slices of meat or mushrooms or both. You can add it to a stir-fry, serve it as a side dish, add it to a stew, put it inside a dumpling or make into cabbage rolls. The possibilities are endless.

Chinese Mushrooms Cabbage Recipe

To make it as a side vegetable dish, you will only need to stir-fry it with some minced ginger and garlic and season it with salt and pepper. If you want to top up the tastes a bit, you can add some cooking wine, sesame oil and oyster sauce. The following recipe is a grand version to demonstrate what else you can add to the vegetable to make it an outstanding dish with additional tastes and health benefits. All the ingredients are optional and the quantity of each ingredient can vary according to availability and your preference. This recipe is also perfect for turning it into a soup by boiling everything in water for about 20 minutes. You do not need to add oyster sauce and potato starch to the soup to keep the soup natural tasting and clear.

Chinese Cabbage Recipe

Mushroom & Chinese Cabbage Stir-fry

Ingredients (for 4 to 5 servings)

  • Chinese cabbage – half (or one small one)
  • Dried small shrimp – 1 to 2 spoonfulls
  • Goji-berries – 2 spoonfuls
  • Ginger – 3 slices (minced)
  • Garlic – 3 cloves (minced)
  • King oyster mushrooms – 3 to 4
  • Shiitake mushrooms – 3 to 4
  • cooking wine – 2 spoonfuls
  • sesame oil – one spoonful
  • oyster sauce – two spoonfuls

Chinese Cabbage and Mushrooms Recipe

Directions

  1. Cut cabbage into halves lengthwise and then cut the half into sections. Rinse a couple of times and strain.
  2. Rinse dried shrimp quickly, strain and put aside. Soak goji-berries for 15 minutes, rinse a few times and put aside.
  3. Remove stems from mushrooms, rinse and cut them into slices.
  4. Warm 2 spoonfuls of oil in a stirring pan or wok, add ginger and dried shrimp to stir for a couple of minutes until the aroma of shrimp comes out.
  5. Turn up heat, add cabbage and stir to cook until the leaves are withered (about 5 to 6 minutes). No need to add water because the cabbage will release a lot of juice. Add salt and white pepper to taste and mix well. Put cabbage aside and keep the juice separate in another container.
  6. Warm 2 spoonfuls of oil in the pan and add garlic to stir for a few moments. Add mushrooms to stir-fry for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Add goji-berries, cooking wine, sesame oil, oyster sauce and about 3 spoonfuls of the cabbage juice to the cooking and stir to mix. Use another 2 spoonfuls of the cabbage juice to mix with one spoonful of potato starch and add it to the cooking and stir.
  8. Return the cabbage to mix into the mushrooms and put everything on a plate to serve.

Chinese Cabbage Mushroom Recipe

Usage

Chinese cabbage belongs to the cruciferous vegetable group so people with hypothyroid (under active) should not eat too much of this vegetable.


Anatomy of an Acupuncture Needle

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Ever wonder what an acupuncture needle is made of?

For many people who have never had acupuncture, it is the thought of many needles being put into the body that is unappealing. As someone who strongly dislikes having blood taken or having freezing at the dentist because of the needles involved, I can completely empathize. But, I am here to tell you in all honesty, that an acupuncture needle is nothing to fear. They are tiny, and most often, painless.

In ancient China, acupuncture needles were first made of simple materials like stone or animal bone. While the needles below may not have been used painlessly, their discovery between 10,000 and 4000 years ago shows how long acupuncture has been in existence, and how many years have been behind its use and development.

bone acupuncture needles

*Bone Needles in the New Stone Age (10,000~4,000 years ago), Preserved in Shanghai TCM Museum, China

Ancient acupuncture needles

*Acupuncture needles found in Ming dynasty tomb (replica), Dojindo Museum, near Beijing, China

Modern Day Acupuncture Needles

Today, acupuncture needles are made of modern materials, like stainless steel. The ancient Chinese used needles made out of metals like iron, steel, gold and silver, and each was seen to have different effects on the conduction of Qi and were used for treating different conditions. Gold needles, for example, were used if there was weakness in the body and tonification was needed. Silver was thought to be the best choice when treating fevers, pain and inflammation for its strongly dispersing qualities.

You can still buy gold and silver acupuncture needles, but as they are so expensive, most acupuncturists choose needles made of stainless steel. In ancient China, needles were cleaned and reused, but now due to safety, most needles are one time use and disposable.

Modern acupuncture needles typically have 5 different parts. They are listed in the chart below.

 

Anatomy of an Acupuncture Needle

Acupuncture needles come in many different gauges (thicknesses) and lengths. Usually, the finer the gauge, the less the patient will feel the needles. But, the finer the needles, the more flexible they are as well, so the acupuncturist using them must have excellent skills to get them into the body without bending them. The thicker the needles, generally, the stronger the stimulation. Most acupuncturists have their preferences for the gauge they like to use, and many have several gauges depending on the patient and the presenting condition. For example, if a patient is thin and has anxiety about needles, a smaller gauge needle is probably advisable. However, someone with a very Yang constitution, large body, loud, booming voice and high energy would probably benefit from a thicker gauge needle and slightly more stimulation. The length of the needles varies widely as well. The shortest needles tend to be used for areas of the body with thin skin without much muscle or fat underneath like the face (for cosmetic acupuncture), hands and feet, and longer needles are used for areas of the body with more mass like the legs, abdomen and back. Most acupuncturists keep several length's of needles around for all the different types of bodies they treat.

Below is a chart to help you understand the size relationship between an acupuncture needle and some other common objects. Acupuncture needles are very thin, only slightly thicker than a human hair. The come in different thicknesses and lengths, but are much finer than a hypodermic needle used to give shots or take blood.

Acupuncture Needle Size Comparison Chart

Depth of Insertion

The Chinese posit that there are more than two thousand acupuncture points on the human body. Acupuncturists spend years in school learning anatomy and physiology so that they know the exact location of each of the acupuncture points. When a needle is inserted into the body, the angle and depth of insertion are extremely important. The depth is important because of the anatomical structures underneath it, but there is also a correlation between the type of condition being treated and the depth of insertion. Below is a list of things treated by both shallow and deep insertion.

Shallow Insertion

  • Acute Conditions
  • Heat
  • Itching
  • Pain relieved by pressure (deficiency conditions)
  • Treatments in the summer season
  • Someone who has a weak pulse
  • Superficial Problems (Qi, meridians, skin, muscles)
  • Problems on the Yang aspect of the body (head, neck, chest and upper back)
  • A Delicate Patient (shallow insertion, shorter retention time, fewer needles, finer needles)

Deep Insertion

  • Chronic Conditions
  • Cold
  • Pain
  • Pain aggravated by pressure (excess conditions)
  • Treatments in the winter season
  • Someone with an excessive pulse
  • Deeper problems (tendons, bones, blood, internal organs)
  • Problems on the Yin aspect of the body (abdomen, lumbosacral area, hips, extremities)
  • A Strong Patient (deeper insertion, longer retention time, more needles, thicker needles)

As you can see, acupuncture needles have come a long way. Like anything, acupuncture needles vary in cost and quality and most practitioners have the brands they like to use. With modern technology manufacturing has evolved and acupuncture needles can now be produced with relative ease. There are still parts of the world that reuse needles with things like autoclaves, but in most places in Europe and North America, by law, acupuncture needles are sterile, one use and disposable. And if you have ever had acupuncture you will know how amazing it is that a few little needles can have such a profound effect on the body, mind and spirit.

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*Image credits - http://www.acupuncturemoxibustion.com/history/


How My Curse Became My Gift.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I was a sensitive child. I felt things deeply. But when you are little you don’t understand this about yourself.

I always found it hard to be in a room with a lot of people. I could FEEL what everyone in the room was feeling. It was overwhelming. Because of this, I spent a lot of time by myself. This wasn’t the only reason. I grew up an only child, and we moved a lot. I was good at being by myself. I could spend hours playing by myself, I lived in my imagination. The external world was intense and overwhelming for me, sounds always seemed too loud, smells too strong. When it came time for me to go to school, the experience was terrifying. I was painfully shy and had a hard time in crowded classrooms full of excited children. I begged my parents to let me stay home, but alas, I could not. I had to go to school. These reactions prompted some concern for my parents. I think this is why my father took it upon himself to try to “toughen me up”, which for most children would have been fine, enjoyable bonding perhaps, but for me bordered on brutality. They were worried about me and how I was going to survive in the cruel, harsh world.

Daydreaming

It was at this point that I started to realize that perhaps something was wrong with me, or that I was different in some negative way. I started to notice my parents reaction to my sensitivity to things even though I didn’t know it as sensitivity then. Whenever animals got hurt, I would cry. I still can’t watch humane society commercials. I worried about the environment. I worried about my parents dying and where they were going when they did. I worried a LOT.

But, there were many things that were my solace from the worries of the world. I felt deeply connected to animals, especially my pets. I could feel what they were feeling and always knew what they needed. I loved being outside in nature and the gentle hum that came from the plants and environment was comforting to me. I spent hours outside playing, building, walking. I was a daydreamer. I still am. I thought up entire worlds, people and complex scenarios where I would spend time in my imagination. This is what made me happy as a child, I had a rich inner life, but the real world and all its darkness, violence and death worried me deeply.

The importance of imagination

I think that my parents really worried about how I was going to make it. Of course they loved me and thought I was wonderful, but I suspect they wondered how I would deal with the harsh realities of life. I had heard them tell people what a “sensitive” child they had, and this was always accompanied by an expression of concern and received with a knowing look of sympathy. Being a sensitive kid was tough. My best friend's mother died suddenly in her sleep one night when we were 11 and I cried for a week because I was so sad for her and terrified my parents were next. When my pets died I was beside myself and couldn’t function. When I saw injustice or cruelty, I became angry and depressed that people couldn’t be more kind to each other. I worried about the state of the planet and the people on it. I still do.

Making it through high school was a miracle. As a shy, awkward teenager, high school is a special kind of hell. Thankfully, I went to an arts high school and found a lovely group of people just like me, and we all got through it together.

Much later when I had a little more life experience and some more tools at my disposal I figured out a way to explain the way I was and why I was so easily overwhelmed by certain situations and felt everything so deeply. I realized that the bandwidth in which I take in stimulus is waaaaaaaay bigger than it is for a normal person - so, for most people parties with lots of people are fun and a place to relax and enjoy themselves, but for me they are overwhelming, over stimulating  and exhausting. For some people seeing an animal being hurt is sad but manageable, but for me it is devastating and will haunt me for ages.

Years later when I was in school learning Chinese medicine something amazing happened. In those years, you are learning to heal by first healing yourself, and it is an intense process that can take you to unexpected places. In second year we began our clinical hours in student clinic treating patients.  I began to realize that I was easily able to tell why someone wasn’t feeling well and what they needed. I could organize my questions around what I felt from them instead of following a protocol or instructions. Instead of feeling three levels of the pulse, I could feel eleven. I could tell within a few minutes when someone in clinic was sad, or depressed or afraid and that this was the reason they weren’t well, often without ever speaking to them. I knew when holding a patient’s hand would do more than sticking them with needles. I knew when listening was far more important to someone's recovery than herbs or dietary therapy. I knew the problem and the reasons for it, even if the person's words were telling us something completely different. It was incredible, I knew what people needed without even trying.

It was while I was in school that I changed the way I felt about myself. Instead of being someone who had a weakness that needed to be overcome, I became someone with a gift. I just hadn’t ever known how to use it before. This thing I had, it turned out, made me very capable of helping people feel better. Figuring out why they weren’t feeling well and what to do about it. This sensitivity allowed me to feel on many deep levels and ascertain the root of the problem and how to correct it.

Now, after being in practice for many years, I have been able to hone my sensitivity which allows me to get to the root of a patient’s problem quickly and efficiently. I use what I “feel” from them as much as listening to the words they are telling me to diagnose and treat them. Because of this, I am able to resolve their problems because I know what caused them and how to best approach their treatment. What I love about Chinese medicine is that it is about the person you are treating, not the disease. The way they feel is just as important as what is happening inside their bodies, and being sensitive is the best tool I have to be able to help people rebalance and get well.

I am so grateful that I was able to find a profession that allowed me to realize that this thing that had always made life more difficult, actually made me a better healer. Accepting that being sensitive was not in fact a curse, but something incredibly valuable was very healing on many levels. The whole experience made me realize something else… that there are no such thing as curses, there are only gifts.

The gift of sensitivity

I urge you to find yours, and go out and use it to change the world.

words of wisdom

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How my curse became my gift | Chinese Medicine Living


Ultimate Health - It's All About Balance...

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

2014 is supposed to be an auspicious year. For the first time in 19 years, the new year started on a new moon, or super moon, which is defined as a new or full moon that occurs with the moon at or near within 90% of its closest approach to earth. The themes for this year are major detox and cleansing and letting go which prepares us for rebirth and new beginnings.

The new year is also a time when people make resolutions, and many are focussed on health. We all want to be a little healthier, exercise a little more, eat better and have more time for ourselves. One of the things that I love about Chinese medicine is its emphasis on lifestyle. It is not simply going to the acupuncturist when you are having a hard time sleeping or taking herbs for trouble with digestion, in its purest form it teaches how to live so that we can achieve balance in every aspect of our lives, which is the goal to ultimate health.

Living your life with complete equanimity is no small task. It seems logical and is a wonderful goal, but anyone who has tried knows that balance, which seems so simple, is unbelievably difficult in the modern world. Below are some ways in which you can work towards balance in your life for every aspect of yourself, body, mind and spirit.

Meditate

The word "meditation" may be intimidating for some as you may think that you need to "learn how" to meditate, or "do it properly" to receive any benefits from it. I believe that simply taking as few as ten minutes, a couple of times a day to sit somewhere quietly without distractions is extremely beneficial for your health and wellbeing. You don't really have to "do" anything except just sit and try to relax your mind and body. You will find that, at least at first, your mind will race around wildly and it may not be relaxing at all - this is called monkey mind. The thing is, that we seldom actually give out minds time to simply relax and let go, allowing them to go where they like. Instead we are constantly forcing them to do this and that, so meditation is an excellent opportunity to allow the mind to relax, and then hopefully, to quiet down completely. Meditation is a way to take yourself out of the chaos of your life and get back to yourself. A bit of a reboot if you will. The results will leave you feeling calmer, more relaxed and better able to handle the stresses of everyday life with equanimity.

There are of course many meditation techniques, and each person should find the ones that resonate with them. But for the beginner, just simply taking some time out once or twice a day to sit without distractions is an excellent way to get back to balance.

Eat Seasonal, Local Food

It is wonderful to see how important things like farmers markets and clean, organic foods have become to many people. There is a definite correlation between the food we eat and the state of our health. We cannot live on a diet of fast and processed foods and expect to be healthy, and the increase in degenerative diseases has borne this out. The best way to stay healthy is simple. Eat foods that are as close to the way they came out of the earth as possible. This means staying away from foods in cans, boxes and bags. The chemicals used to process these foods are detrimental to your body and your health. They are put into the foods to help them last longer, not to make you healthier. Eat organic whenever possible. Eat foods that are in season, as this is the way our digestive systems have evolved over many hundreds of years.

We live in an age of complexity disguised as convenience, but I am a believer that as far as the digestive system is concerned, simplicity is key. When it comes to food combining and choosing ingredients, simplicity is what the belly likes and Chinese medicine has much wisdom when it comes to choosing foods, combining and preparations that are in harmony with the seasons. Being mindful when we cook and prepare food is also important, as the intention we put into it is as nourishing to us as the food itself. Ever wonder why anything your mom or grandmother makes for you tastes so delicious? It's because they are making it with love and intention just for you, and you can taste it!

Go Outside

go outside for health

There is nothing more healing to our bodies and spirits than nature and connecting with the earth. Many of us have lives lived in front of computers or in offices and get precious little time outside. Making the time to be outside, even for a little while every day will give you much needed energy from the planet and allow you to reconnect with yourself. Take off your shoes and walk in the grass, or on the beach. Breathe deeply. Lie in the sun. You can feel the energy of the planet washing over you, becoming part of you. Being outside reminds us of what is important and gives us perspective - that we are not living on the earth, we are part of the earth and its energy is incredibly healing to us.

Move Your Body

capoeira move your body for health

Many illnesses in Chinese medicine are caused by stagnation, or blockages of Qi in the body. Part of the reason that stagnation is so common is our sedentary lifestyles. Our bodies were designed to walk, run and jump - to MOVE. We spent thousands of years in our history hunting for food and living nomadic lifestyles, always on the move. The good news is that there are many, many ways in which to move your body and get your Qi flowing. While these people above and doing Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) you don't have to go out and start throwing yourself around (unless you want to of course!). Simple things like walking are very moving for Qi. Qi Gong and Tai Chi are also excellent ways in which to cultivate and move Qi - and are considered internal martial arts. There are limitless possibilities, so choose something you like. Walk on the beach. Hula hoop in your living room or chase your children around the backyard - just moving your body will move Qi and help you be a healthier, happier being.

Be in Love

having love in your life is good for your health

Feelings of love, appreciation, joy and gratitude are excellent for your health. They feel pretty good too. The endorphins released when we experience emotions like love are powerful and very healing to both body and mind. The good news is that love (appreciation, joy and gratitude) are everywhere. Smiling at someone on the bus - that's love. Holding the door open for someone who has their hands full - that's love. Petting your cat - that's love. Appreciation, gratitude and joy are largely a choice. I have a tiny rock that I often carry in my pocket, and whenever I touch it, I think about all the things that I am grateful for. This is an excellent reminder that the list is long and by simply becoming consciously aware of them, I am bringing more wonderful things into my life. I try to remain in "an attitude of gratitude". Of course, life is not easy and difficult things happen, but consciously focussing on the positive will do wonders for how you feel and ultimately, make you a happier, more positive person which is... you guessed it, good or your health. :)

Learn to Let Go

letting go is good for your health

This is one of the most powerful things we can do for our overall health and wellbeing. I see so much imbalance in the body created by people needing to control things in their lives and an inability to let go. Letting go in Chinese medicine is associated with the lungs (sadness and grief) and the large intestine (our physical ability to let go of wastes in the body). Many people have had difficult and traumatic things happen in their lives and for some reason or another have not been completely able to deal with these events and let them go. The result is that we bring these issues, hurts and demons with us into the present where they continue to hurt us. Having the awareness to be able to look back and work through those hurts and be able to let them go will help you make space for things that will serve you, like love, friendship, joy and peace. Acupuncture can help with this by keeping the lungs and large intestines strong. Other things like journaling, walking outside and meditation are helpful to help develop our ability to let go. Letting go is incredibly liberating, and the more we can let go, the healthier and happier we will be. It isn't easy, but it is definitely worth the effort, because no one deserves a healthy and balanced mind, body and spirit more than you do!

 


History and Development of Internal Martial Arts in China

Watch this episode from CCTV English on the history and development of the internal martial arts in China, the most notable of which is Tai Chi Chuan and learn why martial arts are not just a fighting system, but an important part of healthy living for mind, body and spirit. Running time 25:53 mins

Original link here - Chinese Martial Arts - Internal Martial Arts


Rejuvenating 4 Super Herbs Chicken Soup - Winter Recipe

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

In Chinese Medicine, eating according to the seasons is vital to health and longevity. Eating well in winter is necessary to provide enough reserve and energy to our bodies to fight the extreme coldness. Besides, winter is also the time when our bodies are going through a lot of rejuvenation and renewal processes. Therefore, it is important to feed our bodies with sufficient nutrients as fuel and building blocks in order for them to do a good job keeping us healthy. Remember, it is quality that counts and not quantity, and you reap what you sow.

The traditional TCM nourishing foods which use a combination of high quality foods and herbs makes a significant difference in terms of effectiveness and potency. There are recipes which are very specific in targeting special health needs and can deliver desirable functional health benefits. By combining the synergetic effects of both foods and herbs, there is nothing else that is as effective. That is why there is little wonder why some Chinese people can live long and healthy lives, and look so much younger than their age.

The most popular and effective form of TCM nourishing food is soup. Soup in winter is especially warming and welcome by most people. Besides, soup can be nutrient dense, easy to make, easy to take, easy to digest and absorb, and suitable for all ages. You can make a large batch at a time and serve for more than one meal; therefore soup is very economical and practical. The ingredients for soup can vary according to availability and your liking; therefore it is easy to make and is always delicious as you can customize it to your liking. Recipes are just there to provide general guidelines and its not necessary to follow them precisely.

My personal favourite winter soup is cooking either chicken or pork or mutton with the following four superior herbs. It is the soup that my family enjoys about twice a month throughout the winter and keeps everyone healthy. You don’t have to use all of the four herbs together if they are too much for you. It is very common to use just goji-berries and Chinese yam to make other soups for regular consumption. Please visit our website www.nourishu.com to find other recipes using just the two herbs. Please also note that these herbal soups should not be taken when you have a cold or flu because they will nourish the viruses making them stronger and more difficult to get rid of.

Rejuvenating Winter Herbal Soup

Dang Shen (Codonopsis root)

Is sweet in taste and neutral in nature. It improves digestive health, improves blood deficiency, promotes energy, enhances qi, improves overall body functions and improves immune function.

Astragalus (Huang Qi)

Is sweet and slightly sour in taste and warm in nature. It improves immune function, circulation, digestion and overall health. It is used to fight diseases including cancer and to prevent aging. There are researches which have confirmed that astragalus can boost telomerase production.

Goji-berry (Chinese Wolfberry)

Is sweet in taste and neutral in nature. It benefits liver and kidney health, improves deficiencies, promotes blood and regulates blood sugar, improves vision and overall health.

Chinese Yam (Shan Yao)

Is sweet in taste and neutral in nature. It improves digestive health, lung functions and immune function, and strengthens kidney health and cure related deficiencies.

Rejuvenating 4 Super Herbs Chicken Soup

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Improves blood and qi, promotes energy and circulation, is anti-aging, improves immune functions and benefits our vital organs and improves overall health.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • Dang-shen  黨參 - 10gm

  • Astragalus (huang qi) 黃耆 - 10gm

  • Goji-berry / Chinese Wolfberry (gou ji zi) 枸杞子 - 30gm

  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 - 30gm

  • Skinless chicken breast – one piece (bone in)

  • Ginger - 3 slices

  • Citrus Peel (chen-pi) 陳皮- one piece (pre-soaked and with white membrane removed)

  • Red dates – 5 to 6

Optional ingredients to add more taste and health benefits:

  • Lean pork or pork shoulder blade with bone - 120gm (cut into a few pieces)

  • Dried scallop - 4 to 5 (to promote yin)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Soak herbs for 5 to 10 minutes and rinse a few times.
  2. Wash chicken breast and pork, remove obvious fat and put them in boiling water to cook for a few minutes with foam bubbling to the top, remove and rinse.
  3. Put all ingredients in a soup pot with about 3 liters of clean filtered water. Bring soup to boil for about 5 minutes, remove foam and reduce heat to simmer for 3 hours. Add extra hot water to the cooking if necessary. You should get at least 6 cups of nutrient dense broth.
  4. When ready, add sea salt (Celtic or Himalaya) to taste and serve. Eat some meat with soup. Goji-berries and Chinese yam can be eaten as well. If you are not intending to eat all of the meat, after finishing the broth, you can break up the meat and add another 4 to 5 cups of water to cook for the second time, for about another 20 minutes over medium high heat. You can get at least two more cups of really yummy broth from it before discarding the ingredients.

Rejuvenating Winter Herbal Soup

USAGE

Not suitable when suffering with a cold or flu.