The Science of Acupuncture - BBC Documentary

For thousands of years, what we now think of as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) was the only medicine; now, traditional cures are being treated with a fresh respect. For BBC TWO, scientist Professor Kathy Sykes from Bristol University Kathy Sykes investigates why science is starting to respond to these centuries-old remedies....

Part 1: Alternative Medicine: The Evidence on Acupuncture

Kathy begins her journey in China where she sees some incredible demonstrations of acupuncture. The most astonishing is a scene in a Chinese hospital in which doctors perform open heart surgery on a young woman - using a combination of acupuncture and conventional pain relief instead of a general anaesthetic. In China, she discovers, acupuncture is used alongside western medicine and, at times, as a replacement.

So, what does western science make of these claims? Kathy meets the key scientists, both in the UK and in the US, who have put them to the test. She discovers that - although for most conditions and illnesses acupuncture cannot be shown to work - scientists have, intriguingly, uncovered a number of conditions relating to chronic pain in which they can be fairly certain acupuncture is having a powerful effect.

Kathy recruits a team of top scientists and alternative practitioners to find out if acupuncture might be having an effect. Over several months they devise an experiment which they hope will find the answer and finally uncover the secrets of acupuncture. Kathy and her team scan the brains of volunteers undergoing acupuncture. The conclusions challenge current understandings of the workings of the brain and throws new light on this ancient practice.


Allan Savory: How to Green the World's Deserts and Reverse Climate Change

What, you may ask, does a talk on greening the deserts and climate change have to do with Chinese Medicine? Well, let me tell you. The ancient Chinese lived in complete harmony with nature. Their lives and their health depended on a connection to their surrounding environment. With the desertification of so much of the planet, the balance between humans and nature is being thrown even more severely out of balance, and with this hopeful talk, the answer, it seems, could be incredibly simple and cost effective. This is a talk everyone should see.

"Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert," begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world's grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.

Below is Allan Savory in a Q&A Session about his theories regarding reversing Global Warming


Spring Recipe for Nourishing Liver

By Vicky Chan of Nourish U

The arrival of spring brings a new season of growth to all living things on earth. That is why Chinese medicine identifies spring as wood. According to the TCM five-element theory, wood represents our liver and gallbladder system. What this means is that spring is the season when the liver energy is most intense; therefore it is the best time to address and promote liver health.

The liver is the only organ in our body which is responsible for removing poisons and toxins from our blood, making bile to support digestion and making new blood and protein to support growth.

Diet has an immediate impact on liver health. Over eating, especially rich and greasy foods can make the liver system sluggish and can slow down liver functions. Too much alcohol can damage liver cells and can cause hardening of the liver and cancer. Besides food, exercise and emotions can also affect liver health. Too much sorrow is known to suppress liver energy and cause system failure. Unhealthy lifestyle such as not sleeping at night can interfere with the liver detoxification and blood building cycles. Therefore, a healthy diet and lifestyle and the right state of mind and balanced emotions are the keys to good health.

Spring cleaning is not only necessary for our homes and gardens, it is also necessary for our bodies, especially the liver to clean out toxins after a winter season of heavy foods and indulgences. A cleansing diet with emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables is most appropriate. Adding a bit more sour taste to our foods and drinks such as lemon and vinegar can produce effective contracting, astringent and cleansing effects.

After cleansing the liver, nourishing it is also very important. There are many foods and herbs which are excellent for promoting liver health such as asparagus, dandelion, goji-berries, bean sprout and chives. Liver meats are best for promoting liver health. One common misconception about liver or organ meat is that they are full of toxins and cholesterol and therefore is not good for health. In fact, liver meat has exceptionally high content of quality protein, vitamin A, B vitamins and in particular B12, folic acid, minerals such as copper, zinc, chromium, copper and CoQ10. The by-products of liver detoxification cannot be stored in liver cells because there is no room for them. The World Health Organization has just recently included pork liver as one of the most healthy foods to eat.

Please refer to our website to see more foods and herbs suggestions and recipes for promoting liver health for spring. Here is a recipe using pork or chicken liver to nourish our liver. It is very easy to make, delicious and suitable for the whole family.

IMG_3080

Stir-fry Liver with Chives and Goji-berries

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Nourishes liver, promotes good eyesight and increases yang energy.

INGREDIENTS: (2 to 3 servings)

Chicken or pork liver – 250gm

Chinese chives – one bunch (about 300gm)

Astragalus (huang qi) 黃耆 - 30 gm

Goji-berry / Chinese Wolfberry (gou ji zi) 枸杞子 - 20 gm

Minced or grated ginger – two tablespoons

Soy sauce – one teaspoon

Potato starch – one teaspoon

Cooking wine – 2 tablespoons

IMG_3082

DIRECTIONS

1. Rinse astragalus, cut into short sections and put with 2.5 cups of water in a pot and
let it soak for 30 minutes. Then bring water to a boil and lower heat to medium low and
cook for 30 minutes to yield 1/3 cup of tea. Discard astragalus and put tea aside.

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

3. Wash liver with salt, rinse, cut liver into thin slices and season with soy sauce, half
portions of ginger and wine, and lastly mix in starch.

4. Soak goji-berries for 10 to 15 minutes with water and rinse a few times. Soak goji-
berries with half of the astragalus tea.

5. Warm one table spoon of oil in a pan. Add the remaining ginger and stir. Add chive
and stir for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Add the rest of the astragalus tea and
cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and put chives aside on a plate.

6. Warm another spoon of oil in the pan and add liver. Let liver cook for one minute
each on both sides. Add in goji-berries with tea and cook for 2 more minutes or to liver
is just done. Put chives back into the cooking and mix. Put everything onto a plate and serve.

USAGE

No restrictions

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

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


Causes of Disease in Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

According to traditional Chinese medicine, we are healthy, happy beings because our bodies are in a state of harmony. This harmony is between yin and yang, the different organs in our bodies and our relationship with the external environment. And yet, this harmony is constantly in a state of flux because of the activities of our daily lives; the way we treat our physical bodies, how we deal with our emotions, the changing weather, the stresses of work and family and the constant uncertainty of life itself.

When a person is healthy and an imbalance is created, it is quickly restored. If a person is unhealthy and there is an imbalance, because the strength of the body is compromised, it takes longer for the body to return to that harmonious state. When the body is in a prolonged state of imbalance, disease will occur. In Chinese medicine, it is the factors that cause the body to lose its harmonious balance that are the causes of disease.

Human beings have always struggled with external and internal threats to their health. External factors such as the weather are not normally causes of disease. It is only when the body is in a weakened state, or the external factors occur too quickly for the body to adjust that the delicate balance is disrupted and illness can occur. Some diseases are also seen to be caused by internal factors, such as problems with the organs, emotional stress, and excess sexual activity.

External Causes

Wind

Symptoms of external wind manifest with fever, chills, and sweating. Wind particularly affects the lungs which leads to coughing, stuffy, runny nose and an itchy or dry throat. Wind is said to be the master of 100 illnesses.

Heat Fire

The difference between heat and fire is temperature. Fire is not only hotter than heat, but it always flares upwards which manifest in symptoms of the upper body. Symptoms of fire include a strong aversion to heat, restlessness, irritability and thirst. Someone with fire symptoms has little sweat, a flushed face and red eyes.

Summer Heat

Symptoms of summer heat occur mostly in the summer season. Of all the external pathogenic factors, summer heat is the only one that is seasonal. It is also the only factor that is caused solely by heat from the external environment. There is no internal summer heat. Symptoms of summer heat include fever, excessive sweating, thirst, irritability, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Heatstroke is a common ailment in the summer season and its symptoms include dizziness, nausea, lack of energy. The best way to combat summer heat is to keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.

Dampness

External dampness includes the humidity in the air, and the water, rain and fog in the environment. Living in a damp environment, such as a basement in a damp climate, can cause dampness to invade the body and lead to disease. Symptoms of external dampness include chills, fever that does not improve with sweating, a heavy sensation in the body - especially the limbs and a cloudy, heavy feeling in the head. One of the main symptoms of dampness is a lack of thirst because the body is already inundated with moisture.

Dryness

Dryness is associated with autumn, so it occurs most often in that season. Dryness enters the body through the nose and mouth so most effects the lungs. These symptoms manifest as dry mouth, nose, throat, skin and cough. Dryness with the addition of heat also causes fever, headaches, sweating, thirst and irritability.

Cold

Cold is the main climatic element of winter, but of course, exists all year round and can combine with other elements such as dampness and wind. When the body is exposed to cold, either from cold weather or staying in a cold place for too long, the body will exhibit symptoms of fever, aversion to cold, headaches, body aches, stuffy nose, coughing and lack of sweat. Overeating raw foods, which are considered very cold in Chinese medicine is another way that cold can affect our health. Symptoms of over consumption of cold foods are pain in the abdomen or stomach, indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea. Staying warm when we go outside and while we sleep is a good way to keep cold making us sick.

Internal Causes

Internal Wind

The main symptoms of internal wind are spasms, convulsions, rigid neck, upward turning of the eyes and opisthotonus (a severe muscle spasm where the back is arched and the head and toes are almost touching). Some less serious symptoms of internal wind are numbness or tremors of the limbs, blurry eyes, and vertigo. In Chinese medicine, the liver is the organ that generates wind, so someone presenting with these symptoms would be suffering from liver wind.

Internal Heat Fire

Signs of internal fire are more severe than external fire and include bleeding from the nose, blood in the urine or stools, bleeding associated with hemorrhoids and eruptions, boils or rashes on the skin and cold sores on the tongue or mouth.

Internal Dampness

Internal dampness usually has to do with a dysfunction of the spleen. The spleen, when out of balance, is prone to dampness. A common symptom is difficult urination. If the dampness is in the upper part of the body like the lungs, the patient will feel tightness in the chest, dizziness and vertigo. If the dampness is in the stomach they will feel fullness and distension in the abdomen, nausea, soft or loose stools, heaviness of the limbs and have a sticky sweet taste in the mouth.

Internal Dryness

Internal dryness results in the lack of blood and body fluids, and can occur after a feverish illness, not allowing the patient to recover completely and causing their illness to linger. Internal dryness is common after someone has suffered a chronic disease as the body and body fluids are often exhausted and the body is not able to nourish tissues. Many medications are also considered very heating in Chinese medicine and can contribute to dryness inside the body. Symptoms of internal dryness include thirst, dry skin that can be coarse and flaky, dry hair, constipation, emaciated muscles and a dry tongue.

Internal Cold

Internal cold is caused by a deficiency of fire or yang energy inside the body. Yang deficiency can occur in any of our organs. The symptoms a person experiences will correspond to the organ affected. For example, if the yang of the heart is deficient the function of the heart will be compromised as we see with heart failure. These patients feel cold, have palpitations, shortness of breath and a stagnation of their qi and blood which can lead to severe chest pains. Lips and face are often a bluish or purple in these patients.

Emotional Factors

This beautiful photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

It may seem strange that something like emotions could be considered a cause of disease. Of course, emotions are a normal part of being human. But feeling them intensely for prolonged periods, being unable to express your emotions, or experiencing a sudden shock or trauma is the way in which they can become a cause of disease.

Each organ is associated with an emotion in Chinese medicine. When the organ is out of balance, there will be a disturbance in its associated emotion, and conversely, if you are feeling overwhelmed by a specific emotion, it may damage its corresponding organ. Here are the organs and their corresponding emotions...

The Heart - Joy

The Liver - Anger or Frustration

The Lungs - Sadness or Grief

The Spleen - Worry or Overthinking

The Kidneys - Fear

An example would be someone suffering from the sudden loss of a loved one. The shock might cause an overwhelming sense of loss and grief which, if intense could cause lung symptoms like asthma, shortness of breath and cough. This also works in reverse, if someone was suffering from a prolonged cough, they might find that they were feeling more melancholy than usual. It is a constant cycle of interaction.

Then we have what are called the “miscellaneous factors” in Chinese medicine. These are the causes of disease that do not fit into the previous categories of internal, external or emotional.

Diet & Eating Habits

Nutrition and eating habits are necessary for the body to perform its vital functions. One of the major causes of disease is poor diet and bad eating habits. If we are not able to attain enough nutrition to keep our bodies healthy and functioning at optimal levels, then illness will occur. The amount of food and the frequency at which we eat it is also important. Many smaller meals are always better (and easier on the digestive system) than one or two large ones. Everyone is different, but we tend to live in a culture with larger than necessary portions and not enough time to eat regularly, the body loves consistency.

Eating a varied diet, full of fruits and vegetables, being careful to wash foods carefully will help keep the body strong and the immune system able to fight off pathogens from inside and out. Food therapy is a huge component of Chinese medicine, each food having its medicinal properties, temperatures and seasons when they are best consumed for health. The Chinese have used food as medicine for thousands of years and there is a wealth of knowledge on how to use food to keep yourself in the best health possible all year round.

Another thing important in TCM is being mindful when you eat. We are so often doing more than one thing at a time, and people often use their lunch breaks or dinner to catch up on work, watch tv or help the kids with their homework. One way we can relieve some of the burden on our already taxed digestive systems is to really focus and when we are eating, and just eat. The spleen, which is the organ of digestion in Chinese medicine is responsible for digesting not only the food that we eat, but information and stimulus as well which is why allowing it to digest those things one at a time will lift some of the burden. And we all want to have happy spleens right? Of course we do.

Stress

Stress is also a normal part of life. We all experience heightened levels of stress that are often beyond our control. The key to health is being able to maintain that balance and find healthy ways to deal with stress so it does not become overwhelming. Thankfully, Chinese medicine offers us many tools with which to effectively deal with stress.

Qi Gong

Qi Gong is an internal martial art which has been practiced for thousands of years in China is an ideal way to calm the mind and body with its fluid movements and emphasis on breathing.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is another excellent exercise and way to calm the mind, body, and spirit with forms of graceful movements also with an emphasis on the breath. Both are best practiced outside, as nature has a calming, grounding effect on body mind and spirit.

Meditation

Meditation is another tool employed to help combat the effects of stress. It is amazing how dramatic the act of sitting quietly for 20 minutes can affect how you feel. It is a wonderfully simple way to pull yourself out of what is worrying you and become more centered. And, because nature is such a fundamental part of Chinese medicine, the simple act of going outside, taking a walk and taking deep breaths is an incredibly healing, calming thing for mind and body. Make sure to take the time you need to step outside of what is stressing you and give yourself the gift of healing with one of the many modalities that have been used for thousands of years by the Chinese.

Fatigue


Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

In this chaotic time, this is perhaps one of the most common causes of disease. We are a chronically under-slept culture. The incredibly healing restorative power of sleep cannot be overstated. Sleep is the time that our bodies have to heal and repair any damage. It is also a time for the mind to rest, which is an incredibly important aspect of health. Everyone knows that feeling of being run down, and how susceptible we are to illness when our bodies and psyches are exhausted. Give yourself the time to sleep. It is important for the immune system, stress and is your body’s time to rebalance itself which it really needs.

Excess Sexual Activity

This is one that surprises people. Is it really possible that excess sexual activity can be bad for you? Yes. It is true, that in Chinese Medicine excess sexual activity is a cause of disease, and let me tell you why. First of all this problem is more relevant for men that it is for women and that is because sex for men usually ends in ejaculation. That ejaculation contains the man’s fundamental essence, called Jing. A substantial and ongoing loss of this Jing can have long term health consequences which become more severe as the man ages. A loss of Jing causes the body to age prematurely. For women this loss of Jing, the body’s fundamental essence can occur by having too many children too close together. Pregnancy is traumatic to the body and supplementing and allowing the body to heal sufficiently afterwards is important so that you are not unnecessarily draining your Jing. Also, marrying too young and engaging in excess sexual activity before your body is fully developed is another way you can injure Jing. Don’t get me wrong, having a healthy sex life is a very important factor in good health, but, like everything in Chinese medicine, it is all about balance. So, my advice to you would be moderation. :)

Injuries & Trauma


Photo by Julian Paul on Unsplash

Injuries and traumas are unavoidable and often out of our control. Broken bones, sprains, cuts, pulled muscles and animal bites and accidents happen to all of us. The damage is usually localized, and if treatment is sought right away and given correctly then there are usually no long term effects. But, if treatment is not received quickly enough or things like infections develop, they can lead more serious problems and eventually be causes of disease.

Parasites

Parasites are still a problem in many parts of the world where there is poor sanitation and health regulations. Parasites have a profound effect on the body often causing pain in the abdomen, poor appetite, and emaciation. Parasites drain the body of essential nutrition leading to deficiencies and weight loss. Children especially are susceptible to parasites and worms and should be checked if any of the above symptoms are observed.

Chinese medicine was developed over thousands of years and as a result has a robust understanding of the human body and the causes of disease which is why, there is, and always has been, a huge emphasis on prevention. The idea being that if the body is strong, healthy and in balance, disease will never have a chance to develop. There is a quote that illustrates this and basically sums up the idea that is at the core of Chinese medicine. It was written in the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty by the famous emperor Huang Di.

Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure disease after it has appeared is like digging a well when one already feels thirsty or forging weapons after the war has already begun.

~ Huang Di / The Yellow Emperor   476 - 221BC


Welcome To The Chinese Year of the Snake

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

1905 ~ 1917 ~ 1929 ~ 1941 ~ 1953 ~ 1965 ~ 1977 ~ 1989 ~ 2001 ~ 2013

2013 is the Chinese year of the Snake, the sixth in the cycle of twelve animals that make up the Chinese zodiac. In Chinese culture, a person’s personality is said to be governed by the animal ruling the time of their birth. There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and 5 elements, so each animal year (occurring every 12 years) also has an element (which happens every 60 years). In 2013, we are in the year of the water snake.

People born in the year of the snake are considered to be intelligent and cunning, methodical in their approach to things, and successful in business due to their skills in moderating and communication.

Snakes are thoughtful, private people and not outwardly emotional. From the outside they can appear cunning and devious as they have the ability to keep their composure not matter what drama is unfolding before them and are not easily flustered. They are the most calm and collected of the animal signs. They are generally attractive, graceful and refined people with a hint of darkness and mystery that can seem both enticing and dangerous to the outside observer. Some of the most beautiful women and the most powerful men are born in the year of the snake.

Snakes are generally ambitious and material possessions are very important to them. If they decide they want something, they are willing to plot and scheme to attain what they most desire. When out of balance, the snake can become greedy, possessive and will resort to cunning and deceit to get what he wants.

Chinese Year of the Snake

The Water Snake

The last water snake year was 60 years ago, in 1953. People born in a water snake year are insightful, and good organizers. They tend to manage others well, and thrive in managerial positions in the workplace. They are ambitious and determined to be successful. They are intelligent and work hard for what they want and they believe that the goal is worth their efforts as well as the praise that comes with it.

Snakes are warm and affectionate with their families, devoted spouses, and responsible, loving parents. The snake, however, does not generally show this sensitive side to friends or colleagues.

Snakes love taking time off and going on vacation. They most enjoy just lying around and being lazy. When they take a trip, they go all out eating at the best restaurants, shopping at the best boutiques and visiting spas and health clubs, the snake loves to indulge! The snake has to be careful however, as his love of luxury can sometimes overcome his financial means, so snakes must be careful about money. Although they are ambitious and hardworking, they love to spend money, often on things they don’t need.

Snake Health

The snake personality is calm and serene, so their surroundings must be the same for them to feel relaxed and happy. The snake can become easily stressed or anxious if put in a loud, hectic or chaotic environment. To thrive and succeed, they need to lead a calm and quiet life. Some people love the adrenaline of parties, lots of people and loud music, but not the snake. The snake would much prefer a quiet afternoon alone with a good book. A snake must get lots of sleep and stay relaxed to live a long, healthy life.

Predictions for the Year of the Snake

Ahead for this snake year is a time that will be powerful for inner reflection, growth and self discovery. This year promises to bring a deeper awareness of spirituality and things whose meanings were hidden in the past, will be revealed this year. It is a year of release and renewal. So this is a good year to look deep into yourself and find the things you are holding on to, work through them and let them go, so that you can create space that you can fill with the new, wonderful and fulfilling experiences that are coming to you this year.

yellowsnake

 

Famous People Born in the Year of the Snake

John F. Kennedy
Queen Elizabeth, I
Dick Cheney
Charlie Sheen
Daniel Radcliffe
Marlon Brando
Sarah Jessica Parker
Liv Tyler
Ronan Keating
Bob Dylan
James Joyce
Pablo Picasso
Virginia Wolf
Hulk Hogan


Watercress - The New Miracle Food

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Watercress is categorized by Chinese Medicine as cool in nature and sweet and pungent in taste. It acts on the lungs, has a cooling effect and promotes vital fluids to lubricate the lungs and relieve cough.

Watercress is commonly used in Chinese cuisine as the main ingredient for making soup, congee and dumplings or is eaten just as a plain vegetable dish. It is mostly consumed in the summer months for its cooling effect and in fall for its moisturizing properties.

In fact, watercress has its origin in the West. The Chinese name for watercress is ‘sai-yeung-choi’ which means western vegetable. Historically, watercress was used by the Romans, Greeks and Persians as a natural medicine, prescribed for migraines, anemia, eczema, kidney and liver disorders and tuberculosis.

According to modern research, watercress has been found to be the new miracle food with anti-cancer properties.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February of 2007 showed that, in addition to reducing DNA damage, a daily dose of watercress increased the ability of cells to further resist DNA damage that may be caused by free radicals. In the study, 60 men and women, half of whom were smokers, consumed their usual diet plus 85-grams of raw watercress daily for 8-weeks. Blood samples were analyzed for plasma antioxidant status and DNA damage in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Watercress consumption significantly reduced lymphocyte DNA damage.

Another study published recently in The British Journal of Nutrition, the consumption of a three ounce portion of watercress reduced the presence of a key tumor growth factor six to eight hours after eating the watercress in healthy patients who had previously been treated for breast cancer. The study was conducted by the Cancer Research Center at the School of Medicine, Southampton General Hospital in the United Kingdom and concluded watercress is as therapeutic as traditional drug treatments with tamoxifen & herceptin, commonly used chemotherapy drugs.

The study also said that through regular consumption, watercress "has the potential to confer valuable protection against cancer in general. Watercress has the ability to turn off HIF1, a signal sent out by cells calling for blood supply," said noted aging scientist Dr. Nicholas Perricone. *When HIF1 becomes incorrectly regulated, otherwise harmless precancerous clusters of cells have the opportunity to grow to form invasive tumors. Scientists have been looking for anti-angiogenesis agents for years because if we can turn off the blood supply, we can kill the cancer," said Perricone. "And it looks like watercress can do that."

Since watercress is available almost year round and is very inexpensive, we should eat a lot more of it for our health. Making watercress into a plain vegetable dish is really simple. Just put watercress in boiling water with a spoon of salt and some oil and blanch it for a few minutes and serve. Putting watercress into soup makes it easy to eat a lot more of it in one serving.

We have many watercress recipes on our website - www.nourishu.com-  for your reference.

Watercress and Fish Soup

Moisturizes and promotes vital fluids

Watercress, Chicken Liver & Gizzard Soup

Clears heat and moisturizes internal systems, clears phlegm and stops coughing

Watercress, Lo-han quo and Pork Soup

Treats dry mouth and sore throat, clears toxins and phlegm.

Here is another recipe suggestion for you and your family. Other than the watercress, all other ingredients are optional and can be omitted according to availability and your liking.

Watercress, Duck Kidney and Pork Soup

watercress soup ingredients

INGREDIENTS (for about 4 servings)

Watercress – 3 bundles
Apricot kernel – 2 tablespoons
Duck kidney – about 200gm
Lean pork or pork with bone – 240gm
Mandarin orange/citrus peel – one piece
Honey dates – 2
Dried figs – 2 (cut into halves)
Ginger – 3 slices

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Watercress - promotes vital fluids to lubricate lungs and relieves cough

Apricot kernel – relieves cough, wheezing, chest distension and spasms in the throat; moisturizes the intestine; and relaxes bowels.

Duck kidney – promotes kidney health

Citrus peel - regulates energy stagnation in the spleen and stomach; relieves nausea and vomiting, oppression in chest, cough and excessive phlegm; relieves chest and abdominal swelling; relieves local infection.

Honey dates/dried figs – natural sweetener and for soothing throat and lungs

DIRECTIONS

1. Wash duck kidney with some salt and rinse clean.

2. Wash pork and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes, discard water and rinse clean.

3. Rinse watercress in plenty of water a few times, discard all small leaves fallen off and drain.

4. Soak orange peel with water for 30 minutes and scrape out the white tissue from the back of the peel to prevent bitterness.

5. Rinse other ingredients.

6. Put all ingredients, except watercress, in a pot of about 10 cups of water and bring to a quick boil.

7. Add watercress only after boiling (to prevent bitterness). Continue boiling for about 15 minutes and reduce heat to medium boil.

8. Continue the cooking for about another 45 minutes and add salt to taste to serve.

Watercress Soup for health


Loving Your Heart in Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

One of the things that made me fall in love with Chinese medicine was its beautifully poetic way of explaining the world, our universe, the human body and the nature of disease. Ancient wisdom taken from Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism all had their influence in the way this incredible medicine was developed, and so did the profound way in which they saw the world, human beings and existence.

The way Chinese medicine explains the human being is complex and yet seems completely logical. The ideas and theories were developed at a time when people lived in complete harmony with the world around them. Life revolved around nature and the ebb and flow of the seasons. People practiced preventative medicine, always striving for balance, and thus, health.

In Chinese medicine, every organ has its functions or “responsibilities” . These are not all physical, they are psychological and spiritual as well. The heart has special importance in TCM as it is seen to be the “ruler” of all the other organs, and when the body is healthy and balanced, it is a kind and benevolent leader.

Heart Health in Chinese Medicine

The Heart Houses the Shen

The Shen in Chinese medicine is a difficult concept to explain. The best comparison is to say that the Shen is equivalent to the spirit or soul, but it also encompasses the mind. Shen describes our mental activity or consciousness, and is seen to be at the centre of all of our mental and physical activities. It is the source of thought processes, mental focus, planning, intelligence, any thought, idea and the will to carry it out can be seen as a manifestation of Shen.

The 7 emotions - anger, worry, sadness, fear, joy, grief, apprehension and the way they are involountarily manifested in the body as laughing, sobbing, moaning, sighing, gestures, body movements and facial expressions are also considered a reflection of Shen.

Each Yin organ (each Yin organ having a Yang organ partner) is considered to have its own soul or spirit, and the Shen is seen to have a controlling and regulating effect on them all.

  • Hun refers to the self-awareness and self-control mechanism associated with the liver.
  • Po refers to the body's basic reactive instincts associated with the lung.
  • Yi refers to the ability of thinking and remembering associated with the spleen.
  • Zhi refers to the function of memory associated with the kidney.
  • Shen refers to the function of processing all incoming sensory and intuitive information and supervising the body/mind reaction to it associated with the heart.

One of the most important ways in which we can determine the state of the Shen is through a person’s vitality, and can be seen especially in the eyes. The saying “the eyes are the window to the soul” is especially relevant. If one has dull, lusterless eyes, we can assume that there is a problem with the Shen.

Chinese Tongue Diagnosis

this image from tobybluewolf.com

Opens to the Tongue

The tongue is the root of the heart, therefore, problems with speech are a good indication that there is an imbalance in the heart. Symptoms like talking incessantly, speaking very quickly or laughing inappropriately indicate a heart imbalance. More serious heart disharmonies can lead to things like stuttering and aphasia (the inability to speak). In many ancient spiritual traditions around the world, speech is regarded as a powerful force and one is often urged to speak the truth of their heart which demonstrates the connection of the heart to expression via the words we speak.

The sense of taste is also a reflection of the heart’s energy, so if the heart is healthy, we will be able to taste all the flavours and enjoy our food.

Pathology of the heart is clearly reflected on the tongue, especially the tip. A tongue with  a red tip indicates a heart imbalance, usually heat. Heat in the heart can manifest as symptoms such as sleep problems, palpitations, red complexion and bitter taste in the mouth. Excessive heat in the heart can be caused by excessive grief or worry, chronic stress or emotional trauma.

What Can I Do To Keep My Heart Healthy?

There are many things we can do to keep our hearts healthy. From what we eat, exercising, expressing ourselves honestly and openly and living in accordance with our true natures all feed and nourish the heart.

The colour associated with the heart is red, therefore, red foods are seen to nourish the heart. Most are considered warm in nature and are used to nourish blood, improve circulation and build yang or fire energy in the body. They are recommended especially for people suffering with cold symptoms, or a deficiency of yang or fire energy in the body. These symptoms include cold limbs, pale face, anemia, muscle weakness and palpitations.

Heart Foodsthis beautiful image from gaiahealthblog.com

Foods Beneficial to the Heart

Tomatoes
Beef
Cherry
Saffron
Red Beans
Watermelon
Red Apple
Beets
Radish
Strawberries
Rhubarb
Red Lentils
Longan Fruit
Red Dates
Chili
Cumin
Cow Milk
Goats Milk
Egg Yolks
Coffee
Tea - Green tea is colder in nature than black tea

Exercises for the Heart

The heart meridian starts in the axilla, or armpit, and runs along the inside of the arm, terminating at the corner of the nail bed on the baby finger. For this reason, exercises stretching and strengthening the arms are the most beneficial to the heart.

There are many ways to protect the heart. For example, going to bed later in the evening and getting up earlier in the morning; wearing lighter clothing and changing more often; eating less warm food and more sour, sweet and spicy food to make up for excess sweating; and keeping in a good mood. Here are some exercises for keeping the heart healthy:

Clenching Fists

Sit up straight. Place the both arms between the thighs and let them hang naturally. Breathe evenly. Then slowly make fists, exhale when clenching and inhale when loosening. Repeat six times.

This exercise regulates the qi and stimulates blood flow through the arms. Exerting strength following the breath is beneficial to the normal functioning of the meridians through which the qi circulates. When making fists, the movements of the fingers can massage the lao gong points (the 8th point on the Pericardium meridian) at the center of the palms, which is good for heart maintenance.

Reaching for the Sky

Sit up straight. Use the left hand to wrap around the right wrist.

Breathe evenly. Raise both hands above the head as if lifting something heavy. Exhale when the hands are up and inhale when they are down. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Then put the right hand around the left wrist and do the same. Also repeat 10 to 15 times.

This exercise promotes the normal functioning of the meridians, regulates qi and blood flow, and stretches the muscles and joints of the arms.

Knee Push

Sit up straight. Clasp the two hands. Bend the right knee, put the knee between the two palms. Exert strength against the knee, then relax. Change to the left knee and do the same. Repeat six times each. This exercise can treat ailments in the chest area. It also stretches and strengthens the muscles and joints of the limbs.

Tranquil Breathing & Teeth Clenching

Sit up straight. Place both hands on the knees naturally. Close the eyes slightly. Breathe evenly. Close mouth slightly. Sit still for a while. When the saliva accumulates, swallow it in three gulps. Then clamp the teeth 10 to 15 times. This exercise can tranquilize the nerves, strengthen the teeth and invigorate the function of the spleen.

Note - Do exercises in a quiet place with cool, fresh air. Early morning or in the evening is best. Elderly people, people suffering from weakness and those with heart troubles should do more in the summer.

Joy & the Heart : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image from indianparentingsociety.com

The Heart and Your Emotions

The emotion of the heart is joy. When we experience this wonderful emotion honestly, we are feeding our hearts. When there is a lack of joy in our lives, the heart is the most affected. When heart energy is depleted, we can suffer from insomnia and dream disturbed sleep, an inability to think clearly, forgetfulness, concentration problems  and poor memory. In extreme cases we see manic behaviour or even coma. Living a joyful life and expressing emotions freely is an excellent way to keep your heart energy full, and your body healthy.

In Chinese medicine theory the heart is at the centre of perception itself. Therefore, self awareness, the ability to connect with others to have meaningful relationships and living a fulfilling, happy life is the essence of a happy, healthy heart. The path to joy is living with wisdom and purpose, seeking truth in all things and having meaningful connections to ourselves, others and the planet.

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If you suspect you are having problems with your heart and would like an expert opinion, Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP offers skype consultations. For more information or to schedule a consult, write to emma@chinesemedicineliving.com.

The Heart in Chinese Medicine :: Chinese Medicine Living


Acupuncture Lays Insomnia To Rest

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

We will all, at some time in our lives suffer with problems sleeping. Whether it is trouble falling asleep or waking in the night and not being able to get back to sleep again, I think most of us have been there. Although it may not often be the reason someone seeks out acupuncture, in my experience, it is often discovered during the initial consultation. Insomnia is one of those ambiguous problems that is often difficult to treat. I am happy to say that acupuncture works wonders.

Like most things, insomnia has many different causes. This is why Chinese medicine handles it to effectively. Acupuncture treatments are so highly individualistic that things with potentially many causes like insomnia are treated with great results. I can say that it wasn't often that a patient came to see me with insomnia as their chief complaint, but I did find that many people suffer with it, both periodically and on an ongoing basis and that acupuncture always helped to resolve it.

So why is it that insomnia is something people rarely seek treatment for? Well, perhaps because its causes are so numerous. In Chinese medicine, a detailed medical history and thorough analysis of all aspects of a persons health and lifestyle are important for coming to the correct aetiology and diagnosis. In a busy world, doctors don't often have the time to sit down with a patient and really get to the bottom of what is going on. For an acupuncturist, it is an essential part of diagnosis and treatment.

Below are some of the common root causes of insomnia. There are many factors to consider and difficulty falling or staying asleep is often a combination of many factors (physical, emotional, psychological), and not just one or two, but here are some of the common physiological symptoms and their organ interactions to help you better understand why you may be having trouble with your sleeps.

LIVER HEAT/FIRE

If you are experiencing chronic insomnia and have symptoms of irritability, are easily angered, have pains in your ribs and often have a bitter taste in your mouth, it points to too much heat in the liver - an imbalance in the liver system. In TCM the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi throughout the body. It stores the blood and its emotion is anger. Any repressed emotions can particularly affect the liver, and excessive anger or frustration is a sign that the liver is out of balance.

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

For extra heat in the liver causing insomnia the treatment principle is to drain liver heat, and balance out the shen, or mind/spirit. Heat often speeds up not only body processes but thoughts as well, causing the mind to race making it difficult to sleep. Acupuncture is used very effectively to remove excess liver heat and return sleeping patterns to normal.

HEAT & PHLEGM

If you have insomnia with a full, heavy feeling in the chest, have poor digestion and lack of appetite, nausea, dizziness and perhaps also a bitter taste in the mouth, this points to phlegm heat. Another diagnostic tool to use to diagnose heat and phlegm is to look at the tongue, it will often have a yellow, greasy type coating.

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

The treatment principle for heat and phlegm in the body is to tonify or build up the spleen (a deficient spleen leads to phlegm) and to tonify qi as well so that the spleen has the energy to keep up its vital processes including digestion (it also controls the blood and governs the muscles). We clear heat and tonifying the spleen means it will no longer produce phlegm. The mind is also calmed so that peaceful sleep can be attained. Acupuncture points are chosen to achieve all of this and return the body to relative balance so that sleep can occur naturally.

SPLEEN & HEART DEFICIENCY

Insomnia usually with dreams, poor appetite, fatigue, poor memory and heart palpitations.

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

Acupuncture is used to build up the spleen and the heart so that they have the necessary energy to perform their important functions in the body. The spleen is responsible for maintaining digestion and the heart dominates the blood and vessels, controls the mind and dreaming and its emotion is joy. If the heart is deficient, all of these functions will be diminished, and sleep will be affected. Moxa (the herb mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris) is often burned either directly on the skin or on an acupuncture needle to help warm and build up the affected organs and the body in general.

KIDNEY DEFICIENCY

Insomnia with difficulty falling asleep or waking often in the night, a sensation of heat in the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and centre of the chest, night sweats, heart palpitations, dizziness and poor memory. Symptoms can also include a sore lower back and knees.

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

Acupuncture as well as herbs may be used to build up the kidneys which are responsible for controlling growth, reproduction, and development, they control the body's water metabolism and govern the bones and hearing. Points to build up the kidneys are used as well as points to calm the mind and spirit. Herbs are often used for building up the kidneys as they are so fundamental to so many of the body's processes.

HEART & GALLBLADDER DEFICIENCY

Insomnia with an overall shy or timid nature, easily startled or frightened and difficulty making decisions.

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

Acupuncture points are chosen to build up the heart and spleen, regulate the gallbladder and calm the mind. The gallbladder governs our ability to think clearly and make decisions, so it is important that it is in good health! Herbs may also be used to help these organs get back into balance so sleep can be achieved.

One of the wonderful things about Chinese medicine is its diversity. Depending on the skill and creativity of the practitioner, there are many ways to treat any problem or imbalance. There are a variety of tools at the TCM practitioners disposal - acupuncture, herbs, moxibustion, electro-acupuncture, tuina (Chinese medical massage) auricular acupuncture, meditation techniques and various martial arts. Any and all of these modalities may be used, and it is up to the practitioner to evaluate which would work best for you.

 


Recipe for Health & Longevity - Ginseng Congee

Invigorating the Qi Recipe - Ginseng Congee

This recipe is for invigorating the Qi, increasing the function of the immune system, increasing your adaptability adapt to the environment and strengthening the function of tissues and organs in the body.

Symptoms of Qi deficiency:

Fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale complexion, sweating with little or no exertion, poor appetite, stomach distention, loose or soft stools, diarrhea, cold extremities and frequent urination.

Ingredients

*Ginseng - 10g / 1/3oz

Polished Round Grain Rice - 100g / 3.5oz

Water - 3 cups

Instructions

1. Cut the ginseng into small pieces.

2. Soak the ginseng along with 3 cups of water for 60 minutes in a ceramic or glass pot.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 1 hour.

4. Add the rice to the ginseng soup.

5. Boil and simmer again for 40 minutes.

6. Separate into 2 portions and take one in the morning and one in the evening.

 

*Ginseng Types

Ginseng is a sweet and slightly bitter root well known for its ability to strengthen the body. There are 3 types of ginseng, Chinese, Korean and American. They all have different natures and healing properties depending on where they are grown and how they are prepared. Wild ginseng which is collected in the mountains and forests is the most prized and most expensive.

When cooking ginseng, it is important to use only glass, ceramic or porcelain cookware rather than metal. One should avoid drinking tea, or coffee or eating radishes or turnips immediately before or after eating ginseng as they decrease its effectiveness.

Chinese Ginseng

Chinese ginseng is slightly warm and is especially beneficial to the lungs and digestive system. Its warm nature makes it excellent for treating cold conditions and deficiency syndromes. Chinese ginseng strongly tonifies the lungs and is used to treat breathing problems, cold extremities, profuse sweating and a weak pulse. It also strengthens the digestive system and is used to treat symptoms of fatigue, lack of appetite, and chest and abdominal distension. It is able to promote body fluids so it used to treat dryness and relives mental stress. It also benefits the heart and is used to treat palpitations (racing heart) insomnia, amnesia and irritability which are all due to a deficiency of the body's Qi and Blood.

Korean Ginseng

Korean ginseng is produced in Korea and has the same properties and functions as Chinese ginseng, although it is considered hot and should be used very cautiously.

American Ginseng

American ginseng is produced in the United States, Canada and France, with the best quality coming from the state of Wisconsin in the United States. It is cool in nature, , sweet and slightly bitter in flavour. It benefits the lungs, heart and kidney. American ginseng is used for strengthening the digestive system, promotes the body fluids so helps with dryness and is excellent for heat problems and general weakness of the body.