Winter - The Water Element

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Much of Chinese Medicine is based on the theory of the five elements, or Wu Xing. Each element has many associations, including a season, both a yin and a yang organ, colour, direction, taste and emotions. Below is a list of the seasons, their elements, organs and the emotions associated with them.

Summer - Fire  - Heart - Joy
Late Summer (or the end of any season) - Earth - Spleen - Worry or Over Thinking
Autumn / Fall - Metal - Lungs - Sadness
Winter - Water - Kidneys - Fear
Spring - Wood - Liver - Anger

The winter season is associated with water and the kidneys. The kidneys are the foundation of our yin and yang energies, store our Jing (or essence) and govern vital activities like birth, growth, reproduction and development. The kidneys are said to open into the ears, thus our ability to hear clearly is dependent on strong kidney energy. The kidneys also govern bones, teeth, hair on the head, the nervous system and brain.

Strong Kidneys

The kidneys in Chinese medicine are not the same as they are seen in Western medicine. They are not simply two separate organs that sit at the level of the lower back, remove wastes and release hormones. They are en entire organ and energy system that is connected to the rest of the body, is paired with the bladder, and has important functions both physically and emotionally. When kidney energy is strong we are lucid and able to articulate our thoughts and feelings.  Children grow quickly, and have strong bones and teeth. They are smart, learn quickly and can think clearly. Strong kidney energy will also help a person move through the stages of life without difficulty, giving them the ability to adjust to changes and better able to cope with stresses that come along the way. Strong kidney energy also give the ability to take in information and process it effectively as we go through life, to make keen observations and making you seem wise beyond your years.

5 elements Chinese Medicine

Kidney Deficiency

A deficiency of the kidneys often manifests as developmental problems both mentally and physically. In children these manifest as problems with growth and development, such as learning disabilities, physical deformities, and dental cavities. In adults symptoms of kidney deficiency are sore lower back and knees, frequent urination, prematurely greying hair, weak, brittle bones, arthritis, dental cavities, hearing loss and pain in the soles of the feet. Because the kidneys are also the source of our sexual energy, lack of libido, impotence and infertility are signs of a deficiency of the kidneys.

The Water Personality

The Archetype for Water: The Philosopher

A person with a water type personality will have the following characteristics:

  • Sincere
  • Introspective
  • Modest
  • Observant
  • Sensible
  • Lucid
  • Curious
  • Careful
  • Innovative
  • Resourceful
  • Frugal
  • Objective
  • Particular

Below is a description of a water personality in five element theory taken from the book Between Heaven and Earth...

Revelation propels the Philosopher in her relentless quest for truth. She brings to light that which is hidden, uncovering new knowledge, dispelling mystery, eroding ignorance. Scrutinizing life until the meaning and significance of her impressions coalesce into the germ of understanding, she is like an old time prospector with a nose for nuggets, sifting through the gravel of notions and beliefs, tireless in her effort to apprehend the nature of reality. Just as the miner digs through tons of ore before unearthing a single gem, the Philosopher searches doggedly for truth, which, like a diamond, is esteemed not only for its radiant sparkle, but for its abiding hardness as a tool to advance civilization. It takes millennia to crystallize the residual mineral essence of fossils into this precious stone. Time is the pick and shovel of the Philosopher, who exhumes the bones of culture that endure. The Philosopher yearns for meaning that transcends the rudderless meandering of human affairs.

As she offers insight to the world, she relies on her hope that knowledge will be married with wisdom, power and compassion, aware that destiny is the final authority. Able to envision what can be, she is critical of what is by comparison. She discerns the inevitable disparity between apparent and ultimate reality. As the custodian of our memories and dreams, she articulates our aspirations, our ends, but does not define for us the machinery of their realization, our means.

*From Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfeld and Efrem Korngold

The Water Body Type

There are certain physical attributes that each element portrays. The water body type has a round face and soft, white skin. They love to move and they have long spines. They are loyal to their friends and colleagues and are excellent negotiators. They are sympathetic, slightly lazy and don't always tell the truth. They are usually quite sensitive and self aware. The strong point for water types is their digestion.

The Kidneys and Emotions

The positive emotion of the kidneys is willpower, so when kidney energy is strong we will have willpower and live life with focus and direction. When kidney energy is weak we are susceptible to fear and anxiety. This works both ways, deficient kidneys can leave us fearful and anxious, and if we experience an excess of these emotions, it can deplete kidney energy. A person susceptible to anxiety, panic attacks or phobias may be suffering with deficient kidneys.

Winter is the best time of year to build up kidney energy. It is a time for a contraction of energies and introspection. Winter is a time to rest, going to bed earlier and waking later. The diet should consist of hearty, warming foods, like soups and stews. The longer and slower the cooking, the warmer they become. Supplementing our "post heaven essence" by eating well, drinking clean water and living moderately will help to strengthen kidney energy. The first point on the kidney meridian is on the bottom of the foot, so walking and running stimulates this point and floods the body with kidney energy - so regular exercise, especially outside is great for your kidneys. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also a wonderful way to correct deficiency and keep the kidneys strong. So, enjoy the cold weather, and be sure to take care of your kidneys - they will love you for it.

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


Contributor Vincent Pratchett's New Book The Raven's Warrior Chosen for 2014 World Book Night List

Chinese Medicine Living friend and contributor Vincent Pratchett - a full time firefighter, martial artist and new author, made the front page of the Toronto Star today as his first novel - The Raven's Warrior has been chosen for 2014's World Book Night. His new book has also won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for visionary fiction — handed out by USA Book News. Congratulations Vincent!!!

Vincent Pratchett - The Raven's Warrior

The Toronto Star Article is below...

By:   News reporter, Published on Sun Dec 29 2013

It may be fortunate that Vincent Pratchett knows his way around a fire hose.

His career as an author is liable to get red hot in 2014.

A veteran of 23 years with Toronto Fire Services, Pratchett’s first novel, The Raven’s Warrior, was selected as one of the works to be given out on World Book Night in April.

“Oh my God . . . it’s really mind blowing,” the 58-year-old smoke jumper says of his book’s selection and early success. “I would never have imagined that it would have gone the way it’s going. It’s fantastic really.”

Already a winner of the 2013 USA Best Book Award for visionary fiction — handed out by USA Book News — the novel is set in 10th-century China. Its protagonist, a Celtic warrior, is taken in battle by Vikings and dragged and sold across Europe and Asia until he ends up a slave to a Taoist priest and his daughter in the Middle Kingdom.

Under his masters’ Eastern tutelage, the Celtic slave becomes a king in a story Pratchett describes as a kind of Arthurian legend.

The World Book Night selection makes Pratchett’s novel one of 38 new and established works that will be handed out free to some 550,000 occasional or non-readers across the United States on April 23: Shakespeare’s birthday.

And it puts the rookie author in some august company, with books by Joseph Heller, Agatha Christie, Garrison Keillor and Scott Turow also on the distribution list.

Pratchett — who works out of Station 135 in Forest Hill — is as surprised as anyone at his book’s award recognition. Indeed, he’s still shocked that he’s a professional author at all.

“I never imagined writing a novel, period,” says Pratchett, who has also been a martial arts instructor. “I just thought it was too impossible to get published, especially if you’re not a writer per se.”

But when he submitted a 12-page version of his tale to YMAA Publishing, a small U.S. house, editors demanded more.

“That’s when all the red lights you have in your mind for not writing a novel . . . just sort of fell away.”

Writing, Pratchett says, has helped sustain him since his boyhood days as a dedicated diary keeper.

“I was always writing things and when my daughter was young I wrote a (unpublished) children’s book for her,” the father of two says. “Writing has always been integral to what I do and who I am.”

He is working on a second novel.

But Pratchett, who has two years left in his “bread and butter” career, says he’s still a firefighter first.

“I do envision myself as being a full-time author, but I am a firefighter,” he says. “It’s so funny to say that, but it’s more than a regular job.”

Despite the long and often tedious stints between alarms that firefighters face, Pratchett says he could never use that down time to write.

“For the day job, I’m dealing with reality and functioning as a team member,” he says.

“But when I’m off duty, that’s when the writing thing kicks in and provides a beautiful balance where I’m dealing with imagination.”

The Raven's Warrior

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Want to read the book? Get it here. Buy The Raven's Warrior


Elimination Issues - How to have a Happy Colon

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

As an acupuncturist, I spend my days talking to people about their poops. Colour, texture, consistency and smell are all discussed in detail in an attempt to ascertain what is happening inside the body, how food is being digested and the overall health of the individual. At first, this is sometimes difficult for people to talk about, and even though this might not be something to discuss at the dinner table or in polite company, it is certainly an important part of diagnosis which is why all aspects of your poop are important to me.

Problems with Constipation & Diarrhea

Problems with elimination are very common. There are many reasons for this, and in my experience, the two most common are diet and emotions. Even though the Chinese medical model teaches us to live in harmony with nature, our modern lives have become, well, unnatural. Most of us no longer eat the types of foods we have evolved to eat. We have more variety than we ever have, and we also consume more chemicals, additives and toxins in our food than we ever have before. All of these things impact our digestion, elimination and of course, the body as a whole. The emotions are also closely related to digestion and elimination. How many of us get stomach aches when we worry, or suffer from diarrhea or constipation when we are stressed?

Nutrition - You Are What You Eat

The most important factor to keeping our colon's happy is what we eat. This has become more and more difficult with a huge variety of foods, many unnatural foods, additives, preservatives, and highly processed foods. It is also harder to know what to eat as there is so much information out there, with many opinions on what to eat for optimum health. My philosophy is simple. Eat real food. Eat local food. Eat seasonal food. Eat organic if you can. If possible, develop a relationship with a local farmer. Avoid processed foods and read labels. The best thing you can do is to keep it simple and eat fresh, local foods that are in season. Below are some foods that are excellent for lubricating the intestines and are beneficial for constipation, and some that simply promote bowel movements which are good to know about if and when you run into problems in the bathroom.

Foods that Treat Constipation

foods for constipation

Below are foods that lubricate the intestines:

  • banana
  • spinach
  • sesame seeds
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • pine nuts
  • seaweed
  • okra
  • soy products
  • prunes
  • peaches
  • pears
  • honey
  • apples
  • apricots
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • beets* (be careful as eating beets can make it look like there is blood in your stool!)

Foods that promote bowel movements

foods to promote bowel movements

  • castor oil
  • bran from oats, rice or wheat
  • cabbage
  • papaya
  • peas
  • black sesame seeds
  • coconut
  • sweet potato
  • asparagus
  • figs

The Emotions
Why Letting Go will Help Your Bowels

The Bowels and the Emotions

One of the major reasons for problems with elimination is the emotions. This, as well as our diets, are a huge factor in how food moves through the digestive system. The large intestine is the yang partner to the lungs which are yin. Their emotion is grief and the energy is "letting go". The lungs take in new, oxygen rich air, and breathe out harmful carbon dioxide. The large intestine receives the waste after the foods we eat have been digested and all nutrients have been absorbed in the small intestine. It is the last stage in the digestive tract and its job is literally to let go of what our bodies cannot use and do not need. I have found in practice that often people who are chronically constipated have problems letting go of things in their lives. It can be past hurts, a relationship that ended without the closure we needed, a sudden death, or the dissolution of a friendship. There are a million reasons why, and many of us bring these past experiences with us into the present where we allow them to continually hurt us. Therefore, our abilities to accept and be open to new experiences, and to let go of things that are painful or harmful is important to both our emotional and physical well being. The lungs and large intestine are also associated with attachment, so if you have a hard time letting go of people, objects, experiences or spend a lot of time reliving the past, this can point to a deficiency of the large intestine which can lead to bowel problems. However, if the large intestine is healthy and its energy strong, the bowels will move freely and regularly, which is what we all want!

We Were Designed to Squat

Years ago when I was working in China, one of the most fascinating (and strange) things there were the toilets. Or the lack of toilets. In most places where I was in Southern China, there were no toilets, but simply a hole or more commonly, a trough in the floor in which to do your business. When you first encounter this, it is a bit perplexing. I remember thinking to myself, how I am I going to DO this? The other thing was that, at least in many of the places where I was, there was no privacy in the loo. For example, in a large university the washroom was a large room with a few sinks on one wall, and a long trough in the floor with a constant stream of water going through it, sort of like a river. There were a few low dividers about 3 feet tall making a sort of stall, but with no doors. This was a very different experience for me, but people came in and did their thing like it was completely natural. And this is because for them, it was. So, in China, even though I learned many, MANY things (I could write a series of books on the subject) two of the most important were how to squat while going to the bathroom and the other was to do it out in the open, often in front of many onlookers. At first it was a bit strange, but after a little while, the experience became quite liberating, and I noticed that especially, for pooping, squatting was a much easier way to do it in comfort and without strain.

What I found out after some investigation is that our bodies are designed to squat to eliminate. The modern invention of the toilet (bless it) has unfortunately compromised the optimum way in which we were designed to poop. But, a sassy little company has taken it upon themselves to elegantly solve the problem. They are called - Squatty Potty. I love this name, it is marvellous, and in their business, it is important to have a sense of humour. What they have done is designed a little stool that you use with your toilet to raise your feet and create a squatting position to allow your colon to align in the proper position for the most comfortable and easy elimination. They have a little video on their website that you can watch below that explains it very nicely.

The Squatty Potty Video

I have a squatty potty and I love it. It is a simple and elegant way to be kind to your bowels and help things move more easily. It stores easily under the sink, and, if you forget to put it away, it is quite the conversation starter! It is amazing how much of a difference it makes and how, for someone who has had elimination issues for a long time, a little stool could have such a big impact. :)

Anyone who has ever experienced problems with elimination - be it constipation, diarrhea or a combination of the two, will tell you that having healthy bowels is something we should never take for granted. Everyone should aspire to keep their poops healthy and flowing freely, and the key is eating well, staying emotionally balanced and working on your ability to "let go". Your bowels will love you for it. :)

How to have happy poop in Chinese medicine

 a happy poop!

Interview with a Paramedic / Firefighter

What paramedics & firefighters can teach us
about health & humanity

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Wayne Fitzpatrick, and as soon as I found out he was a paramedic and firefighter, my mind instantly started wondering about all the things he saw in his job. I had a million questions. Which I probably asked. And I thought, how interesting it would be to interview him so he could share his wisdom and knowledge about not only health and all the terrible things that could happen to the human body, but what his years on the job have taught him about humanity.

You may be wondering about the connection to Chinese medicine. I will say this. To keep me healthy and for most ailments I have acupuncture. I take Chinese herbs to keep my immune system strong and take different formulas when I am not feeling my best. When I am stressed out or can't sleep I put seeds in my ears. When I am run down I will make myself a nice congee (rice porridge). If I've got a cold or flu, I burn moxa. I try not to eat ice cream. I meditate twice a day. I use all the wisdom that Chinese medicine has taught me, and incorporate it into every aspect of my life. I have enormous respect for Chinese medicine and all its wisdom. But, I also know that if I were in an accident, crashed in a car, broke a bone, got shot or any other serious traumatic event, it is the paramedic and firefighters who are the ones who are going to save my life. They are the first on the scene, and they are the ones who know what to do, in an instant, to keep you from dying. So, I believe that using the right tool for the right job is important for health and everything else in your life. Got a cold? Acupuncture is awesome. So are herbs, gua sha, food therapy and moxibustion. Head trauma? Car accident? You want a paramedic, who knows what to do so that you will have the best chance of survival. So, to get a little more info about this exciting/dangerous/intense job, I sat down and asked Mr. Wayne a few questions...

1. What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

I am a Firefighter/Paramedic with Sarasota County Fire Dept. I was hired March 1, 1983, so I have been with the department just over 30 years.

2. How did you decide to become a Paramedic?

I'm not sure if I decided to become a paramedic, or destiny made the decision for me before I was aware of it. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a medic. When I was a child, I loved watching war movies, and my favorite part of every war movie was when the men were in the heat of battle, the wounded would scream, "MEDIC !!". And you would see the guy come running into the scene with his red cross helmet and arm band to the rescue. He would always reassure the wounded soldier everything was going to be okay. He'd bandage him up and whisk the wounded man away to the hospital. I loved that ! When I was a kid all the neighborhood kids would get together and play "army". I was always playing a medic. I remember standing on the street corner watching the local ambulances go screaming by to an emergency picturing myself as the one driving to the rescue. I had always wanted to go into the military and become a Navy Corpsman so that I could go into combat with the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, I suffered from a childhood injury to my left leg that affected the circulation. After I graduated high school in 1980, this same circulation problem disqualified me from joining the military. Several months after I graduated high school, I moved from Massachusetts to Englewood, Florida to work for my uncle's construction related business. At the time, Englewood had their own emergency ambulance service, and shortly after moving there I started to hang out at the ambulance station. In August of 1982 Englewood Ambulance sponsored me through EMT school and hired me as a driver/attendant in December of 1982. On March 1, 1983, Englewood Ambulance ceased to exist and I was hired by Sarasota County as an EMT. I went to Paramedic School a year later, and then firefighting school and they haven't been able to get rid of me in over 30 years. It's been a great career and I haven't one day of regret.

3. What have you discovered about people meeting them, often on the worst day of their lives?

In my 30 + year career, I have treated thousands of people from all walks of life. From the homeless and destitute, to the rich and famous, and everyone in between. The biggest discovery I have made is that despite gender, politics, socio-economic status, fame or infamy - we all suffer from the same vulnerabilities, the same fears. A homeless person and a rich and famous person can both suffer heart problems, or respiratory problems, or traumatic injuries, or any other malady. When a medical emergency arises, especially where a person's life may be in the balance, it tends to be a great equalizer when it comes to vulnerability and fear. It's at that moment that despite their station in life, the only question on their mind is, "am I going to make it through this situation ?". As a paramedic, I follow a standard set of treatment protocols set forth by our medical director because the human body is the human body no matter who it belongs to. I had a patient one time who came from a very prestigious background and she was mortified that what she was going through could happen to her. She was embarrassed and worse than that, was so consumed with what her small circle of friends would think of her because she had never seen or heard of such a condition happening to anyone she knew. As I was transporting her to the hospital I began to explain in detail what was occurring, and then pulled out my protocol book to show her the pre-written instructions given to us paramedics by the medical director on how to care for her condition. I reassured her that despite the fact that she may not have seen or heard of her condition in her small circle of influence, her condition was very common and easily addressed, which was why we had a standard procedure to care for the problem. On one hand I don't think she appreciated being lumped with the "common people", but at the same time, she was comforted knowing she wasn't suddenly a freak of nature.

4. What are some of the best things about your job?

In my 30 + years on the job, no two hours have ever been the same. My job has been and continues to be dynamic and exciting. One minute you're sitting in the station chilling out and the next minute all hell can break loose. Heart attack, stroke, respiratory problems, cardiac arrest, car crash, shooting, suicide, etc., etc. You never know what kind of situation you are going to find yourself in at any given moment. Saving someone's life - knowing that they were facing certain death if you hadn't intervened and being able to snatch them back from the jaws of death, there is no greater feeling. That happens on the job all the time. Lives get saved by paramedic crews constantly because we are able to be there in a short amount of time, and we are given the training to recognize the threat and the tools to treat the threat to the patient's life, and intervene on their behalf. I love working the streets because we get involved in emergency situations soon after they occur. It's raw, it's fresh, it's emotional, it's uncontrolled and chaotic. When we arrive on scene we bring control and order to an uncontrolled and chaotic situation. There is no other feeling like being on the front lines and knowing you're in the middle of it and you're making a positive difference.

5. What are some of the worst things about your job?

There are two parts of my job that I consider major negative sides and that is knowing that despite my best efforts someone is going to die, or have their life changed forever. When dealing with an elderly population, some of their medical conditions are too serious to make a positive difference. They may have a failing heart or a failing respiratory system. They call 911 when their symptoms hit. They are alive and conscious when you get on scene but you size up quickly that their cardiac or respiratory system is failing. Despite aggressive treatment and intervention from the rescue crew and then the emergency room team, their condition is not responding and they ending up dying right in front of you. This has happened many times in my career. The other part that is a negative, is seeing that someone's life and how they live it is changed in the blink of an eye. This happens with something such as a stroke, or a traumatic injury, such as a car crash. You see a once vibrant and active person go from physical independence to dependency in a matter of seconds. As I have gotten older in this business, and have suffered a few of my own health issues, I have come to appreciate every moment that much more because any of these could also happen to me. Those are the two major negatives that stand out, but there are many more. The innocent victims, both adults and children, who suffer because of someone else. The abuses of the 911 and emergency room system ( which is an entire rant in itself that I want get into here ).

6. What have you learned about humanity from your experiences as a paramedic?

The one aspect of my job I have learned in my 30 years of experience, is that despite a patient's station in life, they all want the same thing. To be treated with respect and kindness. The technical side of my job - my knowledge, my skills, etc. although they must be top notch at all times - pale in comparison to the need for exceptional bedside manner. I could be the most intelligent, most knowledgeable, most technically proficient paramedic that ever existed, but if I am cold and distant and exhibit a poor bedside manner, many patient's will feel as if I didn't give them my best.

7. What have you learned about the human body?

Seeing all that I have seen and doing all that I have done in 30 years, I have learned that the human body is an amazing design. It's vulnerable yet resilient. It's weak yet it's strong. A major traumatic injury occurs and with a few months of healing and rehab and the person is back to full activity. A small bee sting, and the body can shut down and kill you. It can take a lot of abuse and keep coming back for more, or it can suffer what appears to be a minor illness and the next thing you know a person is dead. I can sit here and discuss anatomy and physiology and give you details of why this works and why, yet at the same time, there are times I can't explain why and what for because the body is that complex. All I know is that despite your personal beliefs of how and why we have the bodies we do, it's a wondrous marvel that still fascinates me when I think about all it can do for us on a daily basis.

8. What kind of things do people say to you when they think they might not survive the trip to the hospital?

Many times the patient knows something isn't right and they express concern that they are going to die. From the patient, the statements have always been about the same - "Am I going to die ?" or "I think I'm about to die", or other such statements. I have had people ask for prayers, express confessions of past deeds, contact family members to tell them they loved them, and other such comments. It can be very surreal sometimes.

9. How do you keep your heart open without being overwhelmed by all the difficult things you see in your job?

Cynicism, anger, criticism, hard heartedness can occur very easily if I am not careful. We see a lot of negative on the job, and often times you close your heart as a protective measure, more out of necessity rather than a conscious choice to do so. For me, how I keep an open heart, is to remember I am dealing with people, not conditions. I am constantly reminding myself that I am dealing with flesh and blood, emotional people that are at their worst having a bad day. One way I have been able to do that is to take more of a customer service approach. Instead of trying to fit the patient into my preconceived molds and ideals, I ask them, what are your concerns and how can I address them. I have a saying, "Always be a hero in the eyes of the public". So whenever I get on a scene, I ask them what is their concern and how can I meet their need. As the call progresses, it's about making sure I have addressed their concerns and that they feel that I am meeting their needs. Most of what I respond to is medically necessary but not necessarily a life threatening emergency. So it goes back to the issue of bedside manner. I also try to inject humor when it's appropriate. As a way of assessment and reassurance, I always tell them, when you see me get worked up and excited, then you'll know there a problem, and I don't get worked up and excited. When appropriate, I try to make it an enjoyable experience. No one wants to be sick, injured, dead or dying and I try to make the 911 experience as pleasant as appropriately possible.

10. What do you do to help you cope with the difficult things you see in your job?

That is an excellent question and an extremely difficult task. When I was brand new to emergency services. I was a new EMT student and I had two calls that shaped my response to things I saw. The first was my very first cardiac arrest patient. We arrived on scene and the patient was already without breathing or a heart beat. I was shaking like a leaf as I performed CPR and the paramedic crew worked to save his life. We transported to the emergency room, the ER staff continued to work on him for a while longer until the doctor finally decided saving his life was futile and pronounced him dead. Everyone walked away and went on about their business. I stood there, stunned. "Wait a minute ! What do you mean he's dead ? Aren't we supposed to save lives ? How can he be dead ?". The second was not too long after that. A car crash - a van vs a motorcycle. Two people on the motorcycle and both were lying in the middle of the road - dead. A paramedic told me to get a sheet to place over the bodies. I had the sheet in my hand and I was standing over one of the bodies, staring in disbelief. The paramedic came up to me, yanked the sheet out of my hand and got right in my face and screamed, "Boy, this is the reality of this job. People die and there's not a damn thing you can do about. If you can't handle it, go back to the station, get your ass in your car and don't ever come back !" That same night, the paramedics debriefed me on what I will experience on the job and how to handle it. They reminded me that I didn't cause the problem and I can't take what happens personally. We do the best we can but even the best isn't good enough sometimes. People die and that's just a reality. It's important that you talk with someone about what we see and do on the job. Post-traumatic stress is very real in EMS and you have to have an outlet to vent your feelings. But it has to be to someone who is qualified to hear what you have to say, either a co-worker or a professional counselor. You don't want to transfer the emotions you feel to a civilian or non-professional because despite how much they may love and care for you, they will not have the skills to know what to do with what you told them. You also have to leave the job on the job. When I go home, I go home. My job is my job, not my life. You have to have hobbies and creative outlets. You have to eat right, get rest and exercise. I have also found that I have to make friends with my nightmares. Sometimes what we see and do can cause nightmares; again, related to post-traumatic stress. Aside from all the recommendations above with having healthy outlets, you have to make peace with your dreams. Don't let them intimidate you, but instead, make friends with the images because they are going to be part of your psyche for a long time.

11. Do you have any stories?

I do have stories, of all kinds and many shapes and sizes. I have sad stories, happy stories, bizarre stories, funny stories, gross stories, and stories that if I didn't see it for myself I'd never believe it stories. Time and space do not permit me to share them here, but maybe for another interview.

12. How has being a paramedic changed your view about life and death?

I see death on a regular basis, and I have learned to appreciate life for the fragile and wonderful gift it is. I used to be invincible. Injury, illness and death was what happened to "other" people. I was the paramedic. I was the one who rescued the sick and injured, dead and dying. As I have gotten older and have been experiencing my own maladies and vulnerabilities, it's made me a better paramedic. No longer do I look at patient's as an outsider but rather I have learned to be more empathetic. My bedside manner has gotten better, because I no longer see myself as an "It won't happen to me" type of person but now I am "one of you". I've learned to appreciate life more. I've learned to stop and smell the roses. I'm more prone to hold a patient's hand than I am to keep my distance. Death still mystifies me - one minute you're here, the next you're gone. I don't try to analyze it or explain it - I just know that death is real, and it makes me appreciate my life and loved ones all the more.

13. How has your experience being a paramedic changed you?

I appreciate my life and loved ones more, especially as I get older. I am at the age and experience that I know it's just a matter of time before I see my life winding down to the end. Dealing with elderly patients and their medical concerns, I know that at one time they used to be young and vibrant, and now they are facing their own mortality. My 30 years in the field have given me a front row seat to the seasons of life. I see the young kids coming up behind me and I encourage them to enjoy the journey. I see the elderly reaching out to me, reminding me that my time will soon come so enjoy the time I have left. How has being a paramedic changed me ? I live for today - enjoy the moment. I try not to walk over dollars while looking for a dime. Our lives can change in an instant for a myriad of reasons - often times not of our own fault. Don't take any breath for granted. Enjoy the sunrise, as well as the sunset. I've learned to live - learned to love - and more importantly, have learned to forgive, others as well as myself.

14. What do you think happens to us after we die?

A loaded question to say the least. Based on what I have seen over the years, I believe that there is a spirit inside of us that departs when we die. When you look into the eyes of someone who is living, you see a spark, a twinkle. When you look into the eyes of someone who is sleeping, you still see that spark, that twinkle. But, when you look into the eyes of someone who has died, it's obvious that something is missing. When you look at the body of someone lying down, it has a sense of "air" to it. When you look at the body of someone who is sleeping, it still has that sense of "air" to it. But when you look at the body of someone who is dead, you can see that the "air" has gone out of it. The body suddenly looks "heavy" and deflated, as if something were taking away from it. Having studied world religions in college, and having some insight to the varying religious beliefs that are in the world, there seems to be a common thread that "something" departs and seems to go "somewhere". As to my personal belief as to what happens to us when we die, I'm still on my own personal journey of discovery. I don't believe that we just cease to exist and we are now worm food. I believe that we have a spirit, and that spirit lives on, hopefully in a much better place than we had here. But if religious scholars and even those of the same belief system can't agree on exactly what happens to us when we die, it would be presumptuous of me to think I knew the true answer. It is my prayer, that whatever happens, I've lived a worthy life during my time while here.

15. Do you live your life differently because of your experiences as a paramedic?

A definite YES. Seeing how life is so fragile, and so short, I don't want to take anything for granted. I live and enjoy each moment. I enjoy my family, my friends. Strangers are just friends I haven't met yet. There is a saying that says, "You don't stop playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing." It's about always being young at heart, and not getting hung up on your limitations, but maximizing your strengths and gifts. Bob Dylan said it best: May God bless and keep you always, may your wishes all come true May you always do for others, and let others do for you May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung May you stay forever young May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true May you always know the truth and see the light surrounding you May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong May you stay forever young May your hands always be busy, may your feet always be swift May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift May your heart always be joyful, may your song always be sung May you stay forever young May you stay - Forever Young So, as I am winding down my career as a Firefighter/Paramedic, I made myself a "living bucket list". What do I want to do with the rest of my life when I leave the fire department. I believe that humor is a tremendous healer and laughter can be a wonderful medicine, so I decided to become a professional entertainer. I am going to perform comedy, as a comedian/ventriloquist and comedy magician. I am putting together shows that are encouraging and uplifting. When people leave one of my shows I want them to feel encouraged, refreshed, and uplifted. Both George Burns and Bob Hope performed until they were 100 years old, so I am going to keep on laughing til my dying breath, staying, as the song says, Forever Young !

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Years ago after my first CPR/First Aid course, I wrote a blog post about my experience. This three days gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the difficult job of the paramedic. I have posted it as a bit of a preface to this article. It is called - First Aid / CPR is Hard Core.

Eight Treasures Dessert - The Nutrient Powerhouse

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Warming & Nourishing Dessert

In winter months, we all tend to eat more to keep warm and exercise less, therefore it is hard to avoid packing on extra pounds. Especially with all the festivities and celebrations happening at the same time, surely we will be tempted to indulge in more heavy, greasy and high calorie foods. The worst culprit are desserts, such as Christmas puddings and cakes. They are packed with sugar, butter, dried fruits, chocolate, cheese, cream and alcohol which inevitably can quickly add pounds to our bodies and create an extra burden to our health.

If you are health conscious but do not want to give up on desserts completely and are hoping to find healthier alternatives, here is a perfect recipe for you. It is quick and easy to make, very soothing and warming to the body, not heavy and is easy to digest. It can even give your family and friends a new surprise. Each ingredient chosen is a powerhouse of nutrients by itself with so many health benefits to offer. (You can search our website to see the therapeutic effects of each ingredient.) The best part of this recipe is you can vary the quantity of each ingredient according to your own likings. You can even skip one or two ingredients if they are not conveniently availability to you. No matter what you do, it will just come out perfectly.

Eight Treasures Dessert


Dry skin, dry throat and/or with occasional dry cough.


Promotes vital fluids, lowers internal heat and moisturizes skin.

Eight Treasures Dessert : TCM Recipe

INGREDIENTS (3 to 4 Servings)

  • snow-ear mushroom – one

  • honey dates – four

  • gingko seeds – 20

  • apple – one

  • banana – one

  • fresh lily bulb – 50gm

  • egg – one

  • tapioca pearls / sagu – 25gm

  • sugar – to taste


  1. Soak snow-ear mushroom with plenty of water for around 30 minutes. Cut out the brown base and separate mushroom into smaller pieces. Rinse a few times.
  2. Rinse honey dates and gingko, and put together with mushroom in a pot with about 8 cups of water. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove skin and core of apple, cut into small cubes and add to the cooking.
  4. Add sagu and stir until they become transparent (about 3 to 4 minutes) to act as healthy thickener.
  5. Add sugar to taste. Add more water if necessary.
  6. Separate lily bulbs and rinse clean. Cut banana into small cubes. Add the two to the cooking for just another 2 minutes more.
  7. Beat egg, pour and stir into the cooking and turn off heat. Serve warm.


No restrictions and is suitable for all ages.


Fresh gingko seeds and fresh lily bulbs can be found in most Chinese supermarkets in the refrigerated fresh produce section.


First Aid / CPR is Hard Core.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

This is a post that I wrote years ago after I took my first CPR/First Aid course. I thought as it fits in with the theme this month (and it makes me laugh), that it might be an entertaining read. I hope you like it. :)

Let me just say that I have a renewed respect for all those people who arrive on scene at an accident, meeting people often on the worst day of their lives, and knowing in an instant exactly what to do to keep them from dying. I say renewed respect because it was there in the first place, but I really didn’t realize the degree to which these people have to know their s@#!.

I spent 20 hours this weekend doing a medical professionals version of the Canadian Red Cross First Aid/CPR course. And, my god, what a humbling experience. I am always struck with awe to realize that there is infinitely more that I don’t know. And even more that I don’t know I don’t know. You know what I mean? I couldn’t believe all the things that we covered. I thought, that after working in clinics for more than 4 years, and seeing a lot of things happen to the human body that I at least had a rudimentary knowledge of what was possible. It turns out that this is not so.

Our teacher, who was awesome, listed his credentials for a full 5 minutes. I missed most of them, but he is both a paramedic and a fire fighter and has been working for a very long time. He regaled us with stories from his years in the field and they were horrifying. I think the high point was as I was sitting there eating my sandwich he asked “in what situation you would NOT administer CPR?” Everyone thought for a minute and someone finally said, “well, if they’re dead?” “Absolutely not!!” he said with vigor. “That is when you absolutely must perform CPR! The only person who can pronounce a person dead is a physician, so by god, you better continue to administer CPR until a paramedic or other qualified professional gets there to take over.” This was met with blank stares and everyone looking around the room at each other. I knew what we were all thinking; well, if you continue to give CPR to a dead person, what else is there? After a long silence he knew we had nothing else to give him. He very matter of factly said: “decapitation, if someone has been cut in half (separated top and bottom – a transverse cut), or if they have been eviscerated (all a person’s essential organs are outside the body). We were stunned. I think I can safely say that no one in the room had given much thought to the fact that these things actually happened in the real world, much less that we might actually have to deal with them someday. He then added that the reason that there was no need to perform CPR in these cases was that there was no way to resuscitate a person in this condition. Like it was the most obvious thing in the world. He then enthusiastically launched into the story of “his first decapitation”. This apparently happened at Warden subway station in a suicide attempt (I believe the attempt was successful, ewww). It was at this point that I had to finally put down my sandwich for a minute. Hard core.

We did a lot of CPR this weekend. We thankfully didn’t have to do it on each other, we had the pleasure of intimately knowing several dummies, both adult, and child. There were some infant dummies as well, and I remember thinking to myself: at what point should I start to feel like lines are being crossed? We got very intimate with those dummies, oh my. But, the good news is, that as long as your head is still firmly attached, your bottom is still connected to your top and your important organs are still inside you, I may be able to breathe life back into your body and persuade your heart to start beating. We even learned how to use a defibrillator which is a very good thing to know. We learned what to do for an infant if you find one that isn’t breathing or unconscious (although the thought of this is still terrifying). We learned what to do if someone drowns, is electrocuted, has first, second or third degree burns (what they have to do to you if you have 3rd degree burns to remove dead tissue almost made me puke), how to deal with someone who has been impaled by an object – this was followed by many bizarre stories of things our instructor had seen impaled in people over the years – how to cope with shock, anaphylaxis which included how to use an epi pen (I had never actually seen one before), how to deal with broken bones, arterial bleeding (you can bleed out in less than 2 minutes, so knowing what to do it super important), how to recognize if someone is having a heart attack, what to do if a diabetic goes into a diabetic coma, what to do if someone is having a seizure, I could sit here and list things for an hour.

I think one of the things that most impressed my nerd self, was learning how to tell, when there is blood coming out of the nose or ears, if it is coming from the brain. Our guy showed us a little technique so you can tell which is great as bleeding in the brain is mucho serioso.

All in all, I am so glad I took it. I was a little sad beforehand as I knew I was giving up a precious summer weekend, but it was so worth it. Our teacher was amazing, and absolutely smashed us full of information. My brain was absolute poo by the end of both days. After a whopper exam at the end we got our little card and were sent into the world after having seen a glimpse of all the crazy and terrible things that can happen to human beings. One thing I am sure of, if something terrible ever befalls me, I hope and pray that Dave is the one who shows up. Then I will know that everything will be ok.

To all those who do this kind of work everyday, my humblest respect.

Thank You.

On this day of thanks, we would like to thank everyone around the world who has supported Chinese Medicine Living this past year, you are all the reason we do what we do. We would also like to thank Chinese Medicine for being so awesome and such an inspiration. <3


Traditional Chinese Medicine + Modern Fashion = Awesome

Have You Seen This Dress?

Acupuncture Point Dress
Acupuncture Point Dress

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Have you seen this dress? Well I have, and it is awesome. Those are meridians and acupuncture points on the dress if it isn't immediately obvious. : ) I was instantly intrigued and suspected the designer was a lover of Chinese medicine. I am very happy to announce that her Chinese medicine inspired designs will now be featured in the Chinese Medicine Living store. The designers name is Holly Renee, and her company is called Shenova Fashion and I would like to warmly welcome her.

To learn a bit more about what inspires her and how this and her other fashions came about I sat down and asked her a few questions...


How did you get the idea for this dress?


The idea for this dress came from looking at the ancient point location maps in my TCM textbooks. I thought it would be really interesting to position it on the body in such a way that would be as anatomically proportional as possible. I like the idea of making clothes that are not only fashionable but educational as well. I wanted to do a spin on a classic little black dress and make it special.


What is your experience with TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)?


My first experience with TCM was in Hong Kong in 2005 when I saw an herbalist and he seemed to know everything about me even though I told him nothing! I was utterly amazed and intrigued. When I went back to the states I bought all the books I could get my hands on and started studying on my own and looking into schooling. I ended up attending the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley. I spent about three years there and enjoyed the intense challenge, but eventually my heart tugged at me to follow my childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer. I think perhaps what happened was that after years of tonic herbs and treatments my inner self really was able to come alive, like peeling layers off an onion, and my true core emerged. I finally felt I had the energy to "go for it"!


How did you get into fashion design?


I have always been a very visual person. I began designing my own clothes at age 13 for concerts and events then even had my first fashion show at age 15. I had an intense passion for it ever since then.


How did Shenova Fashion get started?


Shenova started out of my own search for something to wear that I liked. I felt frustrated with the choices in locally made or eco-fashions, nothing I saw was edgy enough! Also, there was a serious lack of interesting "smart" prints. I wanted something different. I wanted prints that meant something, had a sense of spirit, and told a story.  I've always been a huge fan of digitally print fabrics because they can be a canvas. Since I had a background in design I started "photowhizzing" with my designs and found an amazing local printer here in SF that does incredible photo quality work. I enjoy playing with the surface design of how patterns look on the body, almost like projections.


Check out Holly's amazing designs in the Chinese Medicine Living store and show your love! -

The AcuPoint Dress

Acupuncture Point Dress

The Nebula Yin Yang Space Opera Gown

Nebula Yin Yang Space Gown

Ginseng Print Dress

Ginseng Print Dress

5 Elements Maxi Dress

5 Elements Maxi Dress

Yin Yang Space Skirt

Yin Yang Skirt

We are super happy to have Holly's awesome designs in the store, and she is working on more and they will be coming shortly so keep checking in! Until then, you can see all the amazing Chinese Medicine nerd things we have in the store. :)

Chinese Herbs - Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

A Brief History

Traditional Chinese Medicine is the oldest medical system on the planet. It predates the rise of the Roman empire, the discovery of electricity and the life of Jesus. The Chinese have been using herbs to treat illnesses for thousands of years, and that knowledge is still with us today and very much a part of the present system of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chinese herbal medicine is a vital part of the broader umbrella of Chinese medicine which includes modalities like acupuncture, gua sha, moxibustion, cupping, auricular and tui na.

The first formal manual of pharmacology was the Shen Nong which lists 365 herbs and dates back to the Han dynasty in the first century. The next major and still most influential text on Chinese herbs was the Bencao Gangmu (Compendium of Materia Medica) written by Li Shizhen in the Ming dynasty in 1596.  The book was compiled over a forty year period and contains more than 1800 herbs, with 1,100 illustrations and 11,000 formulas.

Traditional Chinese Medicine - 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.

The entire Chinese medical model has been developed over thousands of years (five thousand, actually), and it is not only a medical system, in its essence, it is a way of life. There is emphasis on living in harmony with ones environment, changing eating habits, sleeping patterns and workload depending on the seasons, keeping a healthy and balanced emotional life, exercising, meditating - they are all are part of the complete package to keep us healthy on every level. The Chinese also put great emphasis on prevention - encouraging people to live well so that illness never has a chance to develop which is very different from our present way of thinking in the West. Although there are many acupuncture protocols for correcting imbalances when we get sick, there are just as many for building immunity and keeping the body strong so it is able to fight off the constant barrage of bacteria and viruses we encounter on a daily basis. It is the same with herbs - there are countless formulas that are able to restore health once we have come down with an illness, but there are also many formulas and creative ways of combining herbs to create a strong barrier that is able to ward off illness and disease.

Chinese Herbs for Health & Longevity

Modern Applications

In the modern world we have lost much of that connection to the world around us, and I believe that is one of the reasons why we are suffering from diseases on an unprecedented scale. We are disconnected from the planet, from each other and most importantly, from ourselves. In our society, we often wait until we get sick before we seek out treatment or take steps to correct it. This is wildly different from the Chinese view in which people were more connected to the natural world and their bodies, noticing even small changes and knowing how to change their behaviour, what foods to eat, or herbs to use to rebalance at the early stages so that problems didn't get serious and require more drastic intervention. One great example is a company that has taken the wisdom of Chinese herbs and created a tonic that can be taken daily to improve health and longevity. The company is Imperial Tonics and they are taking powerful Chinese herbs and combining them into a tonic to be used for prevention by strengthening the body and building immunity.  The product is called Ancient Wisdom and it's something they refer to as a “tonic superfood". It comes as a powder making it convenient to add into smoothies and other drinks and contains some of the most powerful Chinese herbs you can get, including…

Astragalus IV

Astragalus IV is considered to be the ultimate nutricuetical developed in the world. Astragalus is known the world over for its strengthening abilities to the body. It is said to fortify and support the body's major energy meridians and the Three Burning Spaces and is a potent immune system modulating tonic.

Duanwood Reishi Spores

Known as the Mushroom of Immortality, Duanwood Reishi is grown in mountainous environments in Northern China on original, specific logs that are known to be twice as potent as conventional Reishi. The spores from Duanwood Reishi are gathered once a year towards the end of growing season and it is these cracked spores, studies show, that have seventy-times the immunological activity of conventional Reishi Mushrooms.


The Empress of Chinese herbalism, Schizandra contains all five classical flavours, tonifies all five yin organs of the body and possesses large amounts of all three treasures. It is said that if Schizandra is taken for 100 days continuously, it will sharpen the mind, purify the blood, improve memory, rejuvenate the Kidney Jing energy, and cause the skin to become radiantly beautiful. Today Schizandra is recognized for its broad-spectrum effects as a Phase I & II liver detoxifier, not only cleansing toxins from the liver but effectively binding to them and removing them from the body.

He Shou Wu

He Shou Wu, which translates as "Mr. He's Black Hair", is known in Chinese herbalism for it's role as a restorative. As legend goes, Mr. He was an old man who was unable to bear children. Upon seeing the vine of Polygonum growing intertwined in the forest he was advised by a Daoist monk to take it. Mr. He is said to have regained his virility, restored his health and return his hair to jet black hair when he was 130 years old.

Goji Berries

Goji berries have long been touted for the promotion of longevity. Goji is known for its role as a Yin Jing tonic to strengthen the blood and revitalize the body. The concentration of 40% Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharides has been shown to be the most beneficial concentration of Goji Berry polysaccharides. It is these polysaccharides that support SOD activity, known as the youth enzyme, and promote Goji's role as a longevity tonic.

After taking Ancient Wisdom for a few days I started to notice a difference. I was sleeping better, thinking more clearly, my concentration improved and I had more energy. After years of cooking up raw herbs - which although very potent, is time consuming and tastes terrible - it is really nice to have the option to put a scoop of herbal goodness into my smoothie and get on with my day knowing it is going to make me feel awesome. Imperial Tonics have done a great job of modernizing Chinese herbs and have made it easier and more accessible so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of these amazing herbs in a way that fits into our modern lifestyles.

I have been taking Chinese herbs for more than 20 years and I am continually humbled and consistently amazed at how profound and immediate their effects. I am always happy to see that more and more people, both regular folks and medical professionals, are discovering the limitless applications of the enormous body of knowledge that is Chinese Herbal Medicine. I believe that if we come to realize the magnitude of our planets ability to heal us, that we will work harder to keep the earth that we all call home protected and show it the love and respect it deserves.

Yin Yang Chinese Medicine

Chinese Yam – Nourishing to Spleen, Lungs & Kidneys

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Chinese Yam (Dioscorea opposita) is called Shan Yao (山藥/山药) in Chinese. It is a spindle-shaped, thick, hard root or tuber up to 1 meter in length and is white on the inside. It is used as both a nutritious food and medicine because of its large amounts of mucilage, which is a thick and slimy substance that has a soothing effect on mucous membranes, linings of respiratory passages and stomach.

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties

Chinese medicine classifies Chinese yam as neutral and sweet. It serves to tonify and strengthen the spleen and stomach, strengthens lung yin and tonifies lung qi and stabilizes, tonifies, and binds the kidneys. It is used to treat weak digestion with fatigue and diarrhea, general weakness, frequent urination, decreased appetite, leukorrhagia (excessive vaginal discharge), premature ejaculation, the symptoms associated with diabetes, chronic wheezing (whistling sound caused by breathing difficulty) and coughing.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses Chinese yam to mix with other herbs to treat specific types of symptoms. There are no side effects associated with the use of Chinese yam, no indications of any interactions between Chinese yam and any drug or other herbal medicines so it is very safe to use. Fresh Chinese yam is commonly used in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisines - mostly in soups. However, in Chinese therapeutic cooking, it is also used to make tea, wine, congee, stir-fry's, cake and dumplings. It can go with almost any cooking with meat or vegetables or can even be eaten raw. Fresh Chinese yam is inexpensive and is widely available in Asian grocery stores and health food stores. If fresh ones are not available, use dried ones instead but make sure you soak them for at least 30 minutes and then rub and rinse them a few times to make sure any preservatives are washed away.

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties

With winter just around the corner, nothing is better for you than making a fresh Chinese yam and mutton soup. It warms the body, soothes the lungs and stomach, and prepares your body to combat the cold harsh weather ahead. There are many recipes on our website for cooking with Chinese yam for health.

Fresh Chinese Yam and Mutton Soup


Yang deficiency manifested as always feeling cold with cold hands and feet, lack of appetite and being underweight.


Promotes yang (fire energy) and nourishes the spleen to improve appetite, digestion and strengthens the body in general.


Recipe makes about 6 servings

  • Mutton with bone (shoulder or thigh)- 640gm (cut up into pieces)
  • Fresh Chinese yam (shan yao) 淮山 - 200gm
  • Dried longan fruit – a handful
  • Ginger - 10 slices
  • Green Onion – 3 (finely cut)
  • Cooking wine – 2 spoonfuls


  1. Wash mutton and place in boiling water to cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove, rinse and drain.
  2. Peel Chinese yam, rinse and cut into slices.
  3. Warm 2 spoonfuls of oil in a pan and stir-fry mutton and ginger for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in 2 spoonfuls of cooking wine followed by a cup of water.
  4. Bring about 2.5 to 3 litres of water in a soup pot to a quick boil. Transfer everything in the pan to the soup pot.
  5. Add Chinese yam and longan fruit to the cooking and let it boil for another 10 minutes. In the meant time, remove foam until the water is clear. Then, reduce heat to medium and let it cook for another 2 hours or more until mutton is tender.
  6. Add salt to taste and sprinkle with green onion and serve.

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties


Can be eaten often to strengthen the immune system, tonify lungs, kidneys, build the digestive system and prepare the body for winter.

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Would you like to learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine? Check out these downloadable info sheets available on -

The Spleen - Theory in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Dampness in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Patterns in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen Associations in Chinese Medicine - Poster