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...

Question

How did you get the idea for this dress?

Answer

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.

Question

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

Answer

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"!

Question

How did you get into fashion design?

Answer

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.

Question

How did Shenova Fashion get started?

Answer

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.

Schizandra

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 www.nourishu.com for cooking with Chinese yam for health.

Fresh Chinese Yam and Mutton Soup

SYMPTOMS

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

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

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

INGREDIENTS

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

INSTRUCTIONS

  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

USAGE

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

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

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

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


Celebrating Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day - The Love Gallery

Happy AOM Day!! Today - October 24th - is National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine day. It is a day to celebrate! I know that Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is something I live, eat and breathe every day, and I do love it. Deeply. Passionately. Profoundly. So, for all Acupuncture and Oriental medicine has given to me, I wanted to show it how much I (and many people around the planet) love it too.

To celebrate, I have decided to put together a love gallery with photos of everyone who wanted to share their love of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Thank you everyone!!! <3

I Love Acupuncture AOM Day

Billy from San Francisco, CA

I Love Acupuncture AOM Day

Michelle & Emma, Sarasota Florida

I Love Acupuncture AOM Day

Darrell & Jeannette, Manitoba Canada

I Love Acupuncture AOM Day

Cappy & Nancy, El Valle Panama

girls

Susan, Emma & Patricia, Planet Earth

I Love Acupuncture AOM Day

Zach, The Planet Neptune

I Love Acupuncture AOM Day

Ali, Medicine Hat Alberta

I Love Acupuncture AOM Day

Michael, Montreal Canada

I Love Acupuncture AOM Day

Anonymously Awesome.

AOM Day

Annie from Sarasota, Florida.
Cheers to that!! <3

I Heart Acupuncture

What are you going to do to show your love today? :)


Candida - Causes & Food Therapy in Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Chinese Medicine & the Immune System

Chinese medicine's view of the immune system is based on Qi. In Chinese medicine there are many types of Qi, and the body is protected by a specific type of Qi, called Wei Qi or protective Qi. This Qi circulates on the exterior of the body, protecting it from external pathogens - one of the causes of disease. When Wei Qi is strong, viruses and climatic factors like cold and wind attempting to enter the body and fought off easily. If our Wei Qi is weakened, then we will be susceptible to colds, flus and respiratory infections which are considered exterior diseases. If Wei Qi is very deficient, then the disease will penetrate into the interior levels of the body, where it is able to affect the internal organs, and is more serious. In the last 50 years, allergies, degenerative diseases and other signs of poor immunity have reached epidemic proportions. On the list of illnesses that are caused by a taxed immune system are candida infections. Wei Qi & the immune system Candidiasis is the overgrowth of a yeast like fungi in the body and illustrates the concept of dampness in Chinese medicine. Symptoms of dampness are heaviness, sluggishness, mental dullness and edema. Excess candida often exists in high levels in people with a weakened immune systems. Everyone has candida in their bodies, it only becomes pathological when it is present in excess. Candida exists in the digestive system where its function is to help create balance in the gut, but when out of balance it inhibits proper assimilation of nutrients and essential amino acids. A healthy body also has plenty of lactobacillus acidophilus - a healthy bacteria which is important in digestion, and has the opposite effect of candida in the digestive system. When candida is in excess it weakens the immune system and consequently, the entire body.

Although candida exists in the digestive tract of healthy individuals, it can get into other parts of the body where if untreated, it can cause systemic candida infections. Candida slips through weakened areas of the gut lining, or can be spread from the anus to the sexual organs - especially in women causing yeast infections. A systemic candidiasis infection can be life threatening if left untreated, and some believe is the precursor to many major diseases. An extremely weakened immune system makes the body more susceptible to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus. Candida in excess levels also produces deadly toxins in the body which cause allergic reactions from everything from food allergies to environmental factors. If the infection progresses, systemic poisoning will result and the person will experience allergic reactions to almost everything. symptoms of candida in Chinese medicine   Below are some common symptoms that you may have excess candida in your system.

Candida Symptoms

  • Chronic Tiredness
  • Mental Sluggishness
  • Difficulty Organizing / Cleaning
  • Digestive Problems
  • Mucous in the Stools
  • Catching Frequent Colds
  • Cravings for Sweets, Breads, Chocolate
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Itchy Anus
  • Chronic Yeast Infections
  • Recurring Fungal Infections - athlete's foot, aginal yeast infections, fungal toenails, ringworm, jock itch, tinea
  • Itchy Eyelids
  • Bad Breath

Those suffering from a systemic candidiasis infection may suffer from the above symptoms accompanied by symptoms like a scattered and unfocussed mind, depression, memory loss and and in severe cases delusions.

Candida in Chinese medicine

Candida Causes

One of the biggest contributors to candida infections is repeated use of broad spectrum antibiotics. Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in our bodies, destroying the balance, making us more susceptible to overgrowth of candida. It is always a good idea if you have to take antibiotics, to supplement with acidophilus afterwards to boost the good bacteria in your digestive system and avoid overgrowth of candida. It is also important to consider that if you are eating a diet that consists of commercial meat, dairy, poultry and eggs that you are ingesting antibiotics that these animals are receiving daily in their feed. There are foods which also contribute to an overgrowth of candida, and in Chinese medicine they are foods that cause dampness. These include foods that are cold in temperature, those that produce mucus and foods that have gone stale or become rancid. Many raw foods as well contribute as they are considered very cold and it takes the digestion a lot of extra energy to break them down - accompanying symptoms of diarrhea with watery stools are a clue that too many cold foods may be hampering your digestion. Other foods that produce yeast are alcohol, many fermented foods, yeasty breads and most intoxicants, especially alcohol. Eating complicated meals with too many ingredients can promote pathogenic fermentation in the gut, and yeasts thrive in this environment so simple food combining will help support your digestion if you are having problems with excess yeast.

Candida and the Diet

Carbohydrates should be used in moderation as they can be both acid and mucus forming, conditions ripe for yeast overgrowth. If you must eat carbohydrates, then whole grains and other unrefined complex carbohydrates that are chewed very thoroughly become more alkaline and produce less mucus. Aduki and mung beans are particularly beneficial for yeast conditions, even more so if sprouted first as it makes them easier to digest. Soy bean sprouts are also recommended and are some of the best foods for limiting candida growth. To establish the beneficial acidophilus culture in our digestive systems, cabbage, garlic, green plants, kelp and other seaweeds and raw sauerkraut should be aded to the diet. Garlic has the added medicinal properties of being anti-viral, anti-fungal and does not damage the beneficial bacteria in our digestive systems. Garlic can also be used to treat vaginal yeast infections. A clove of garlic can be threaded through with a cotton pull string and inserted vaginally for a few nights a week for a month. If there is a burning sensation and the garlic feels too hot, leave on a few layers of the garlic's outer peel for extra insulation. Douching with garlic teas during the day are also helpful. Candida infections are extremely common and often don't get treated right away because many people find them difficult to talk about and don't get treatment when they first notice symptoms. The good news is, that there are many simple things you can do like removing some foods from your diet and including others that can help restore the balance of candida in the body. With our busy lifestyles, balance is what we want, but often is not so easy to achieve. The key is to listen to your body and help it to rebalance before the imbalance becomes severe. Letting our bodies know we are listening and doing things to support them go a long way in keeping us happy and healthy. Candida in Chinese medicine


I Know Kung Fu.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Ever since I can remember I have loved kung fu. It is hard to pinpoint where the love came from, but there are a couple of possibilities. I am a child of hippies, and grew up in a house filled with music, ethnic food and martial arts. My parents are martial artists - Aikidoists - and they tried, in vain, to get me into Aikido.

I remember going to class with them and watching the graceful interactions. Students running at each other and, being gracefully flung about and landing, silently rolling out to standing awaiting their next chance to politely attack. It was beautiful to watch, and it looked effortless. The thing that especially impressed me was that strength and size didn't seem to matter. This became even more impressive when I saw my mother, who is five foot four, throw my father who is more than six foot three over her head like he was made of cotton balls. This filled me with delight, and, I suspect, deeply frustrated my father.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba. It is translated as "the way of unifying with life energy" or "the way of the harmonious spirit". One of the interesting things about Aikido is that it is purely defensive. There is no way to "attack" someone using Aikido in its true form. It is purely used and was developed as a way to defend oneself, but also to do so while protecting your attacker from harm. What a lovely philosophy. Because there is no way to attack someone using Aikido, what began to happen around our house was that my father, desperate to show me his new moves and joint locks (which hurt like hell) would ask me, in desperation, to grab his wrist. Only then could he throw me around and bend my joints into pretzels. If I was feeling generous I would oblige, but if I was feeling sassy I would refuse and taunt him. Grab my wrist became the most uttered phrase in our house for years.

Morihei Ueshiba

The other wonderful thing about Aikido is that you are using your attackers energy and inertia to either direct them out of the way, or, throw them into the next room depending on how much of their energy you want to use. For this reason, the Aikidoist is using very little of their own energy. It is also incredibly graceful, and does not have any of the hard edged movements of many of the Korean and Chinese martial arts. It is one of the most beautiful martial arts to watch. Here is a video so you can see what I mean.

I have an enormous respect for all the martial arts, and Aikido in particular is so elegant, refined, efficient and beautiful, but it wasn't the one that resonated with me. What I wanted to learn was kung fu. Perhaps it was all those years of kung fu movies, but I decided that this was what I was going to learn. It was my dream to be a doctor of Chinese medicine and a master of kung fu - 2 very complimentary pursuits, I thought.

For years I had been obsessed with kung fu movies and every Friday had gone to Kung Fu Friday's at the Royal cinema where a group of enthusiasts would sit and bask in each others euphoria at watching these ancient movies with elaborate fight scenes and terrible dubbing. The nerd level was through the roof, but it was the best hour and a half of my week. Once I finished college, I was excited to seek out a kung fu school and start my training. I went all over, looking for the right school that was teaching a style that felt right for me. It was a long search, but I knew the right place as soon as I walked in the door. It was a very traditional Chinese kung fu school in Chinatown. On the outside it looked like a small storefront painted red and black with the windows covered. The writing was in Chinese but in English it said Kung Fu. I walked in and it was dark and smelled of sweat. There was a Chinese guy sitting at an old counter reading a Chinese newspaper. He looked up at me surprised.

*Perhaps now is the time to explain something. I, at least on the outside, am not Chinese, but am a tall blonde girl. I do not blend in most places, least of all a kung fu school in the heart of Chinatown. If I thought I had been an outsider before, I was about to receive a rude awakening...

The man looked up and thought I was lost. I said no, I was there to inquire about kung fu. His surprised look remained as he slowly explained what styles the school taught, when their classes were and how much a year membership cost. I nodded and asked if I could return to watch a class. He said sure, the surprised look never leaving his face. I had a good feeling I had found the place. This was the real thing. Old school. I returned to watch a class and fell in love. I bought my uniform and showed up for my first class and managed to hold my own. It was tense, as I was one of a few girls and the only white girl. I could see the smirks on the faces of some of the guys. I found out later that the guys had a running bet on my first day to see how long I would last. Most said I wouldn't last longer than one class. A few said I might make it a week. I stayed 8 years. They all lost that bet.

kung fu

The school taught two styles - Choi Lee Fut  - created by Chan Heung, a disciple of the famed Shaolin Temple, and Do Pi - a Southern style . There are many styles of kung fu, and I think finding the one you like is just like anything else, you have to find the one that resonates with you. These styles really spoke to me because they had large sweeping movements which suited by tall body and long limbs. I later tried Wing Chun - a style that focuses on close range combat. I found it cramped and awkward, like watching a spider monkey fight another spider monkey nose to nose. You have to find the style that is right for you. Classes were 2 nights a week and one Sunday afternoon and were about 4 hours each. They consisted of stances, punches, kicks, stretching, callisthenics and finally, forms - a series of movements that you move through beginning to end. They were the most hard core workouts I had ever had and I had been an athlete all my life. I pushed through. Thankfully, in this case, my stubborn nature probably exceeded my physical abilities, at least at first. No one spoke to me for about 6 months. I think they were all waiting for me to drop out and were confused as to why that hadn't yet happened.

After the six month mark I got the occasional smile. I couldn't believe it. Finally, they were accepting me as part of the group. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I was determined to follow my dream of learning kung fu, and I loved it. I am happy to say that after the guys decided I wasn't leaving they accepted my presence and we all became friends. We went to class together and the ritual became to go out to eat Vietnamese afterwards. It became like a family and we had dinners for Chinese New Years and participated in parades through Chinatown in our uniforms, holding banners and doing Lion Dance. It seemed every time a new restaurant opened, our kung fu school would be called upon to do a Lion Dance (a good luck omen for any new business) and I felt like I was always at the school for class or some function. Hanging out with my classmates socially became a window into this culture which had always fascinated me and I felt so comfortable in. We would have big dinners together and spent way too many evenings doing karaoke. I don't think I will ever be able to listen to Hotel California without fondly remembering my tone deaf classmates.

Studying kung fu was an amazing experience. It was not just learning a martial art, but becoming part of a living breathing organism. The school was an integral part of the Chinese community and it was fascinating and wonderful to feel like a part of something that perhaps few people had been able to experience before. I learned so many things. I learned that a martial art is not about just training your body, but training your mind, understanding the mind of your opponent and honing internal skills like Qi Gong to develop your internal power. I was privileged to become immersed in a culture that I have so much respect for, and I think it made me a better person and a better acupuncturist. I learned discipline, and that usually things that are worth learning, take a lifetime to master. I also learned that I love Vietnamese food. I later dabbled in a few more martial arts - Wing Chun, Jeet Kun Do, Muay Thai, Escrima, Kali and Savate (French kick boxing), and although I loved them for what they had to offer, my heart will always belong to kung fu. <3

 

Here are some clips you can watch which demonstrate the awesomeness of kung fu. Many of my favourite movies are too old to find now (I have them all on VHS!!) but these are some of the masters. Enjoy.

Shaolin Kung Fu

Here is a National Geographic Episode on Shaolin Kung Fu which gives some history and shows some of the monks incredible skills.

Bruce Lee - The Chinese Connection

Bruce is, and will always be, my hero. <3

Ip Man - Donny Yuen - Kung Fu Fight Scene

Jet Li - Fist of Legend

Jackie Chan - Drunken Style Kung Fu - Drunken Master

Master Killer / The 36 Chambers of Shaolin - Trailer

My favourite kung fu movie of all time. :)

A clip from Master Killer detailing Kung Fu training at Shaolin.


Can Too Much Sex be Bad for Your Health? Sex and Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

SEX.
There, I said it. It seems that sex is everywhere in Western culture, plastered on billboards, all over TV and in magazine ads - scantily clad beautiful people looking seductive and, well, sexy. So lets talk about sex and its role in our health.

Sex, or our drive to reproduce, is hard wired and a very primal physiological need. But sex has had a rough go throughout history, with many religions and groups trying to convince people that they should abstain, hide their desires and longings, or that sex itself is simply a sin.

Luckily, in Chinese medicine, sex and sexual activity is a healthy part of being human. It is perfectly natural, and we need it to be healthy, happy individuals.  I can hear the collective sigh of relief. But its true. The Chinese are realists. Pragmatists. Buddha bless them.

sex in Chinese medicine

Chinese medicine was developed out of prolonged observations of people, animals and their relationship to their environment, and the result was a deep understanding of what it is to be human - and sex is a fundamental part of the whole package.

Chinese medicine also views sex (either too much or too little) as a cause of disease. This may seem strange to us in the West, but allow me to explain how that is seen to happen. First, there are a couple of things to clarify when speaking about sex and its potential role in disease.

Men and Women Are Not the Same

The first is the difference between men and women. Men and women differ physiologically and this why too much sex is seen to affect men more than it affects women. To understand why we must look at how Chinese medicine views how boys and girls develop, the Tian Gui (heavenly water) and something called Jing.

In Chinese medicine growth and development is governed by the Kidneys and happens in cycles of 7 years for girls, and 8 years for boys. According to the ancient Chinese medical text called the Su Wen - at 14, girls "Tian Gui" arrives (menstruation), and she is able to reproduce." At 16, the Tian Gui is said to arrive for boys, meaning they are able to produce viable healthy sperm. Tian Gui is the essence that allows girls to conceive and become pregnant and boys to fertilize a girls egg, leading to conception. Tian Gui manifests as sperm in boys and eggs or ovum in girls.

Both girls and boys ability to successfully reproduce however, depends on the strength and vitality of Kidney Jing. We are all born with a finite amount of Kidney Jing, but it can be supplemented and supported by the food we eat. When Jing is abundant, one is fertile and can conceive easily. If Jing is deficient, conceiving becomes difficult, and one can develop symptoms like weak and brittle bones, problems with development both physically and mentally, prematurely greying hair, and loose teeth that are prone to cavities. In young people, a deficiency of Jing can lead to delayed menstruation in girls, and delayed arrival of sperm in boys as well as developmental problems.

Sex in Chinese Medicine

Too Much Sex

In Chinese medicine too much sex is seen to affect men more than women. The reason for this is because when a man reaches orgasm and ejaculates, he is losing some of his precious Jing. A man who engages in frequent sexual activity, or masturbation that results in ejaculation, can deplete his Jing and this can lead to a deficiency. Yes, that's right guys. Too much sex can be bad for your health. There are many ancient Taoism practices that teach ways for men to reach orgasm without ejaculation - a master of these techniques is Mantak Chia who has written many books that offer instruction on how to cultivate both male and female sexual energy, which are techniques that are useful not only for your sexual life, but have wide applications to your life in general.

For women, this is not an issue. Since the eggs or ovum are considered the direct manifestation of Jing, they are obviously not lost during sexual intercourse and orgasm, so they cannot become deficient in Jing by having too much sex. Good news, right ladies? There are things, however that can lead to a loss of Jing for women. Having too many pregnancies and births too close together can be depleting to a woman's Jing. Pregnancy and childbirth are extremely taxing to the body's resources, so it is important to give the body time to recover and rebuild in between pregnancies to keep your Jing strong and your overall health at optimum levels.

Under normal circumstances and in a healthy individual, the loss of Jing can be quickly made up so it never leads to a deficiency and potentially disease. It is only when sexual activity is in excess and/or engaged in by an unhealthy person that the body does not have the time or energy to recuperate and restore the Kidney essence. You may be wondering how you would know if you are engaging in too much sex. If you have weak kidney essence, then some symptoms you may experience after sex are:

  • marked fatigue
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • lower backache
  • weak knees
  • frequent urination

These are all symptoms of kidney deficiency. So if you are experiencing any of these you might want to cut back on the sexual activity and seek out an acupuncturist who, with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, can help strengthen your kidneys and get you back to your normal sexual activities. So, this may be one of the best motivations ever for staying healthy, right guys? For a quick list, you can read - 10 Easy Tips To Get Healthy Right Now - which will get you going in the right direction and help you stay in tip top shape. :)

Another factor is that the Chinese believe that sexual activity should be adjusted according to ones age. We can get an idea of what frequency might be appropriate from references from ancient Chinese classics. Here is a helpful chart...

AGE           IN GOOD HEALTH          AVERAGE HEALTH
15              2x day                               1x day
20              2x day                               1x day
30              1x day                               Every other day
40              Every 3 days                     Every 4 days
50              Every 5 days                     Every 10 days
60              Every 10 days                   Every 20 days
70              Every 30 days                   None

Of course, this information should only be used as a broad guideline. The great thing about Chinese medicine, and why it works so well, is that each individual is diagnosed and treated according to their specific issues and imbalances, so knowing how much sexual activity is good for you is about you knowing your body and perhaps, if you are having problems, getting a thorough diagnosis and working with an acupuncturist/herbalist to rebalance so you can get back to healthy sexual activities.

Not Enough Sex

One subject that is not frequently addressed in ancient Chinese texts is a lack of sex, but this can definitely affect us both physically and psychologically. There is a physical component to not having enough sex in our lives, especially if we have the desire, but I think what can be even more detrimental is the psychological impact this has on us. As human beings we are social animals and most of us need connections to other people to give us a sense of belonging and connectedness. These are also important for our health and survival. This is a difference I see between Chinese culture and our culture in the West. In China, it is common for many generations to live in the same household. In the West, it is common for the children to move out of the house as quickly as possible as things like independence and self sufficiency are seen as desirable and fostered traits in our culture. This leads to a society with many people living closely together, but being alone. Chinese medicine really teaches us balance, and to have healthy, meaningful connections in our lives is an important part of both physical and psychological health and wellbeing on every level.

Sex and Love in Chinese Medicine

Sex is Not The Same as Love

When speaking about sex and its potential role in disease, we are speaking at the level of physiology. We are discussing the level of the body and not about the psychological aspect that accompanies sex (although not always), affection, companionship and love. When assessing a patient the practitioner would ask about the persons sexual life from a physical level, but would also be careful to discern the emotional component as well in order to get a complete picture (read about the importance of the emotions in Chinese medicine here). Ailments of physiology, at least in Chinese medicine, do not exist in isolation. They are one part of a larger picture, and it is important to bring into focus the entirety of that picture in order to determine where the root of the imbalance lies, and how to correct it.

Because ideas about sex differ wildly from culture to culture, the sexual problems encountered within that culture will differ also. In the West, we are perhaps seen to have a quite relaxed attitude towards sex compared to much of Asia and the middle East, but we seem rather uptight in comparison to much of Europe and Central and South America. But the basics remain constant. Sex is natural. It is something most everybody does and having a healthy and satisfying sexual life in an important aspect of our health. As important is having love in our lives, as this is proven to release endorphins which make us happy, give us energy and increase immunity helping us to fight off disease. If you can have sex and love together, you are exponentially increasing the benefits of both.

Libido - Sex and Chinese Medicine

Problems with Sex

There are many issues both physical and psychological that can create complications when it comes to our sexual lives. In many ways we are fortunate to live in a time and place where talking about those issues has become more commonplace and a dialogue can begin to help heal whatever problems have arisen. Many people are still quite shy to talk about sex, but in the comfort of their doctor or acupuncturists office can open up and talk about the sexual issues they are struggling with. Acknowledging and talking about your concerns, fears and questions is the first step in the healing process.

There are many different issues that can hinder a healthy sex life. Erectile dysfunction (inability to get or maintain an erection), inability to reach orgasm, vaginal dryness, low libido, excessive libido, infections of the sexual organs, and pain during or after sex are just a few of the issues that we can experience. And most of us will experience them at some point in our lives. The wonderful thing about Chinese medicine, is that instead of prescribing medications (which only deals with symptoms and not the root problem) the reason for the problem is sought and using Chinese herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion, Gus Sha, and the myriad other modalities that practitioners of Chinese medicine employ, a person can rebalance the system and enjoy a healthy and satisfying sexual life.

Chinese Herbs for Sexual Problems in Chinese Medicine

Chinese Herbs & Acupuncture

The good news is that acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used to help sexual problems for thousands of years. There are myriad treatments for everything that could be hampering you in the bedroom. Sometimes, people find these types of problems difficult to talk about, but because sex is such an important part of our lives, health and wellbeing, it is worth it to sit down and discuss any problems or concerns with your acupuncturist as there are many things that they can do to help you sort out any problems you may be having. Like anything else, knowing your body and being able to tell when things are out of balance is important, and going and speaking to someone when you notice a problem is the first step to rebalancing the system and having a healthy and satisfying sex life.

 


Winter Melon Healing Properties and Recipe

Winter Melon for Summer Heat

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Winter Melon

Winter Melon/Wax Gourd/Tong Qwa

Winter melon is one of the most common, easy and fast growing fruit-vegetables in summer. Each plant can produce numerous large fruits on vines like watermelons up until late fall, and each melon can weigh up to 50 pounds. The reason why it is called winter melon is because it can be stored in a cool place without refrigeration and can last for months - even throughout the winter. But the best time to consume them is at harvest time. It is not just because of freshness, it is because this is when nature intended us to eat it; winter melon is for helping our body to counter summer heat and humidity. Also, people generally tend to consume a lot more cold fluid in summer and usually they are drinking much too fast for the body to process the water properly. Therefore water retention is common with people at the end of summer, especially those with slow metabolic function or people with weak kidney or digestive functions.

In Chinese medicine, winter melon is neutral and slightly cool in nature, sweet in taste and acts on our lungs, bladder, large intestine and small intestine. It helps to detoxify, clears out mucus and phlegm and promotes digestion. It is most suitable for people with kidney problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, over weight and with coronary heart disease. For people with weak and cold stomach/spleen constitution, weak with lack of yang energy or with loose stools, they should eat winter melon in moderation.

Winter Melon

Chinese cuisine uses winter melon in soup, stew, congee and stir-fry. Making winter melon tea in the summer and especially during the hottest days is the most common home remedy people make to combat heat waves and to prevent sun stroke. The tea is highly recommended for children and outdoor workers who often stay outdoors. Making winter melon tea is very simple. Just cut melon into large cubes (with or without skin), cook with a large pot of water for about 30 minutes and add cane sugar to taste at the end. It can be served warm or cold with melon and good for keep in the fridge for up to a week. It is a very healthy summer beverage for the whole family.

Winter Melon

Winter melon soups are most soothing and delicious. They are easy to make and can go with almost any combination of ingredients. You do not need to follow any specific recipe if it is not for specific treatment purposes. Winter melon goes well with most meat such as chicken, pork, duck or seafood such as crab meat or shrimps and vegetarian ingredients such as most beans, nuts, mushrooms and common food herbs such as lotus seeds, dried lily bulb and fox nuts, etc. You just need to cook up a soup base first and then add the melon to the cooking at the last 30 minutes. Here is one example recipe for your reference. You can also search our website for other therapeutic recipes using winter melon.

Winter Melon

Winter Melon, Job’s Tears and Dried Mussel Soup

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Cools internal heat, diuretic, lowers blood pressure, promotes yin and helps to lose weight.

INGREDIENTS (4 to 6 servings)

• Winter Melon 冬瓜 – 300gm
• Chicken breast – one piece
• Lean pork – one piece (optional)
• Job’s tears (yi yi ren) 薏以仁 – 30gm
• Dried scallop乾瑤柱 – 4
• Dried mussel 淡菜 – two spoonfuls
• Dried Shitake Mushroom 冬菇 - 6
• Dried longan fruit (long yan rou) 龍眼肉 – 8 to 10
• Ginger – 2 slices

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash chicken breast and pork, cut into a few pieces and put in boiling water to boil for a few minutes, remove and rinse.
  2. Soak dried mushroom until soft (about 30 minutes) and rinse. Soak other dried ingredients for a few minutes and rinse.
  3. Remove melon skin and seeds in the middle if any, wash melon and cut into large pieces and put aside.
  4. Put all ingredients (except melon) in a soup pot with about half pot of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer for 1.5 hours.
  5. Add winter melon, bring heat up to medium and let it cook for another 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
  6. Add a little salt to serve. Eat melon with soup.

Winter Melon Soup Recipe

USAGE

No restrictions.

 


Curing Disease with Nutrition - Using Food as Medicine

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 Chinese medicine model of nutritional therapy, or using foods as medicine, is sophisticated and there are many factors that contribute to determining what to eat when trying to heal from certain diseases or imbalances. Below, I will attempt to explain some of those factors and the way they can be used to not only heal us when we are sick but to keep up healthy so sickness never has a chance to develop.

Fighting Disease with Nutrition

Whole Foods

One of the things we’ve lost in our modern society is access to whole foods (not the grocery store) and an understanding of their value. We now live in a culture where refined foods such as white rice, white sugar, salts and processed oils (many extracted with chemical solvents) are ubiquitous and more desirable than their whole grain counterparts. What’s worse is that stores make these processed foods readily available to meet demand and whole foods become harder and harder to find. In many larger cities there may be access to health food stores, but even there, you’ll find scores of packaged foods with the same highly processed ingredients. Many people don’t realize that it is just as important to read labels in a health food store as it is anywhere else. Some of the worst offenders are foods sweetened with cane sugar. As an example, many products labeled organic use white sugar and various organic cane juices and cane juice powders – which are actually refined sugar. If you are striving for less processed foods in your diet, you should be looking for products that are specifically labeled unrefined. Alternatives to processed sugars include unrefined cane juice or powder, barley malt, rice syrup, date sugar or whole green stevia powder or green stevia extract.

Another unhealthy product which is difficult to metabolize and detrimental to our health is refined oils. Often these are labeled with words like “organic” or “expeller pressed” which are both desirable, but again, unless they are specifically labeled unrefined they are refined and best avoided.  Refined oils and fats include canola oil, vegetable oils, margarine, shortening, virtually all oils used in restaurants, nearly all oils used in prepared foods in both supermarkets and health food stores and in things like breads, pastries, chips, and soups. The healthy alternative is unrefined cold pressed flax oil, unrefined olive oil, unrefined sesame oil, and all other quality, unrefined and cold pressed oils. Below is a chart of the refined foods found in supermarkets and some healthy alternatives.

refined sugar is bad for your health

Refined, Unhealthy Food

  • white sugar
  • cane juice
  • dried cane juice (often used in the health food industry)
  • cane sugar
  • *all above items should be labeled “unrefined” on labels or they are refined

Healthy Alternative

  • *unrefined cane juice or powder
  • barley malt
  • rice syrup
  • date sugar
  • whole green stevia powder
  • green stevia extract

unrefined oils are bad for your health

Refined Oils & Fats

  • canola oil
  • common vegetable oils
  • margarine
  • shortening
  • virtually all oils used in restaurants in fried and deep fried foods
  • nearly all oils used in prepared foods sold in supermarkets and health food stores like pastries, cookies, chips, breads and soups

Healthy Alternative

  • unrefined and cold pressed flax oil
  • unrefined olive oil
  • unrefined sesame oil

eating for health - Chinese medicine nutrition

The Thermal Nature of Foods and People

In Chinese medicine, all foods are seen to have a temperature, either hot or cold. Although this may seem overly simplistic, their actions on the body come from thousands of years of observation and empirical evidence and therefore have incredible diagnostic value in treating disease. What is also significant, however, is the thermal temperature of the person eating the foods as there is an important interaction which allows foods to be used to heal disease. There are some theories that help to explain the warming and cooling properties of foods.

  • Plants that take longer to grow, like cabbage, rutabaga, parsnip, carrot, and ginseng, are more warming than foods that grow more quickly like lettuce, cucumber, radish and summer squash.
  • Foods that are fertilized with chemicals, which causes them to grow more quickly are considered more cooling in nature. This includes most commercial fruits and vegetables
  • Raw food is more cooling than cooked food
  • Foods that are blue, green or purple in colour are often cooler than similar foods that are red, orange or yellow
  • Cooking foods at a lower heat for a longer time are considered more warming than foods that are cooked for a short time using high heat
  • Processes like fermenting and sprouting cause foods to be cooler in temperature

Of all the ways we manipulate foods, the most important is the method of cooking. This is why it is important to understand the ways in which different methods of cooking can change the thermal temperature of the foods we eat, especially when we are eating to help us fight disease. Cooking foods (as opposed to eating them raw) is a way for it to be more easily broken down and assimilated, and if the cooking time is short, few nutrients are lost and the ones that remain are more easily used by the body.

Heat Patterns

Imbalances in the body are what cause disease in Chinese medicine. Too much heat can be caused by too many heating foods or not enough cooling foods. It can also be caused by excess physical activity, a high level of stress, long-standing or intense anger (the Liver is prone to heat and its emotion is anger), or being exposed to extreme temperatures. Below are some symptoms of heat in the body.

  • feeling of heat
  • dislikes heat
  • bright red tongue with a thick yellow coating
  • red face
  • red eyes
  • nosebleeds
  • canker sores
  • bad taste in the mouth
  • high blood pressure
  • hemorrhage
  • convulsions
  • delirium
  • very fast pulse
  • local inflammations, swellings, rashes, sores or skin eruptions
  • constipation (heat dries up fluids)
  • dry and smelly stools
  • dark yellow and scanty urine
  • blood in the stools or urine
  • desire to drink cold liquids
  • if stools or urine are excreted forcefully or urgently or have mucus that is yellow or green

watermelon is good in summer

Cooling Foods

One of the best things that we can do when we have excess heat in the body is to eat more cooling foods. Some other things that will help are to take it easy and slow down. Also, expressing emotions like anger and frustration as if these are continually unexpressed they cause heat to build up in the body which can lead to problems. Also, meat is considered very heating to the body, so if you are experiencing a lot of heat, you might try cutting back on meat and adding more cold foods to the diet to balance things out. Below is a list of cooling foods.

  • apples
  • bananas
  • pears
  • watermelon
  • all citrus fruits
  • lettuce
  • cucumber
  • celery
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • summer squash
  • spinach
  • eggplant
  • soy milk
  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • barley
  • wheat
  • amaranth
  • kelp and all seaweeds
  • clams
  • crab
  • spirulina
  • peppermint
  • cilantro
  • lemon balm

Lemons Cooling Foods

Cold Patterns

Too much cold in the body can come from a lack of physical activity, exposure to a cold environment or eating too many cooling foods such as raw foods which are considered cold. Internal cold can also arise from not eating enough warming foods, especially in the colder months. Below are some signs and symptoms of cold in the body.

chilly sensations
dislike of cold
wanting to drink warm foods and liquids
copious, clear urine
stiffness
watery, loose diarrhea
fearfulness (the Kidney is associated with fear and is particularly susceptible to cold)
pain that is fixed
white complexion
a runny nose

cold

Heating Foods

  • Mussels
  • Shrimps
  • Chicken
  • Chicken Livers
  • Lamb
  • Lamb Kidney
  • Beef
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Black Beans
  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Peanuts
  • Pine Nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Kale
  • Mustard Greens
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip
  • Cherry

heart fruits and vegetables

Food therapy in Chinese medicine is complex, but looking at how people and foods are seen to have a thermal nature is a simple way to begin to look at your body, its symptoms and the foods you eat so that you can begin to understand how you are reacting to certain foods, and potentially, how to add and subtract certain foods from your diet depending on the symptoms you are experiencing in an attempt to rebalance and stay healthy.

Food is something we eat every day and the Chinese knew this was (and still is) the best medicine we have at our disposal. Learning how foods can heal us and keep us in balance is the best and most efficient way that we can fight off disease and stay healthy for many years to come. And the Chinese weren’t the only ones who knew the value of eating well…

 

Hippocrates