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 practised 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, anaemia, 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
Chilli
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 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. Please email info@chinesemedicineliving.com for more info.

 

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.

 


Treating Infections with Herbal Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

We all occasionally succumb to infections. Thankfully nature always gives us ways to heal and recover. I am continually amazed at the healing properties of plants and am convinced that every ailment out there has a plant based cure.

Herbs can be used in 2 ways to treat infections; through their anti-microbial action they work directly against microbes and in addition, they increase and the body's defences helping it to better fight things on its own. Fortunately, in most cases they will be performing both functions at the same time.

Myrrh is an example of an herb which combines direct toxic action on bacteria with the ability to stimulate our body's production of white blood cells - or leucocytes - which are an integral part of the immune system and do the majority of the defensive work in the body. Other actions that are indicated in treating infections are those that help to eliminate toxins, such as diaphoretics (things that make you sweat), laxatives and diuretics. Any accumulation of waste materials and toxins are the perfect environment for microbes to breed in. Most herbs can play a role in treating infections.

When treating infections, it is always important to treat the underlying cause and not the symptoms. This is at the root of Chinese Medicine as well. The symptoms are the clues that tell you what is happening in the body. For example, a fever should not be seen as something that needs to be stopped immediately, the fever is often a symptom of the healing process which should be supported, not suppressed. The body has an incredible intelligence and most often knows what to do without our interference. Here is a basic mixture that helps the body work through a fever.

Herbal Remedy for Fever

Boneset - 2 parts
Yarrow - 2 parts
Echinacea - 1 part

Parts refers to the amount of herb mixture used per cup of water. 1 teaspoonful of the mixture per cup of water should be simmered for 10 minutes to make a decoction. Drink half a cup as hot as possible every 2 hours.

Echinacea is included to help the body deal with any microbes, but the simple use of diaphoretics (things that make you sweat) like Boneset and Yarrow are often enough. If the diaphoretic strength needs to be increased, you can add a pinch of Cayenne. If the glands are swollen indicating lymphatic involvement, thenMarigold or Cleavers can be included. If the mucous membranes are involved, Golden Seal can be added as a useful general tonic and is specifically helpful to dry things up. If there is a lot of restlessness, then nervine relaxants like Chamomile and Skullcap can be included. These mixtures can be used not only in fevers where the cause is not clear, but also in diseases such as chicken pox, measles or scarlet fever.  This is because herbs do not simply stop the disease, they bring balance to an unbalanced system. Thus the same herbs  may suit a range of  people with a range of infectious diseases.

If the skin is itching, the irritation may be eased by sponging the body with diluted distilled Witch Hazel. In more intransigent viral infections such as glandular fever, a most beneficial mixture that can help even if the problem has turned into a low level, debilitating weakness  that might go on for months is as follows:

Echinacea - 2 parts
Poke Root - 2 parts
Wild Indigo - 2 parts
Wormwood - 2 parts
Myrrh - 1 part

Parts refers to the amount of herb mixture used per cup of water. 1 teaspoonful of the mixture per cup of water should be simmered for 10 minutes to make a decoction. Drink half a cup as hot as possible every 2 hours.

The mixture should be drunk 3 times a day. If you do not like its unpleasant taste, you can mask it with the use of Licorice.

In any infection, you should increase your intake of vitamin C to at least 2g daily. Vitamin B complex should be included and Garlic (preferably raw) should be added to the diet. Garlic is especially helpful when you feel the first signs of illness. You can take a clove and crush it into a spoon and swallow. This will usually fight off what is trying to take up residence. A diet of fruits, fruit juices and vegetables is important for nutrition. Sometimes fasting is advisable during an infection (but not if you have never fasted before). It is best to continue with the medication for a short while after recovery to make sure that the body is fully rebalanced.

Definitions:

Diaphoretics

Diaphoretics aid the skin in the elimination of toxins and promote perspiration.

Laxatives

Laxatives promote the evacuation of the bowels

Diuretics

Diuretics increase the secretion and elimination of urine.

Herbs

Boneset

Boneset is perhaps the best remedy for the relief of the associated symptoms that accompany influenza. It will speedily relieve the aches and pains as well as aid the body in dealing with any fever that is present. Boneset may also be used to help clear the upper respiratory tract of mucous congestion. Its mild aperient activity will help clear the body of any build up of waste and ease constipation.

Part Used:

Dried Aerial Parts

Collection:

Boneset should be collected as soon as the flowers open in late summer or early fall.

Yarrow

Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs and is a standard remedy for aiding the body to deal with fevers. It lowers blood pressure due to a dilation of the peripheral vessels. It stimulates the digestion and tones the blood vessels. As a urinary antiseptic it is indicated in infections such as cystitis. Used externally it will aid in the healing of wounds. It is considered to be a specific in thrombotic conditions associated with high blood pressure.

Part Used:

Aerial Parts

Collection:

The whole of the plant above ground should be gathered when in flower between early summer and early fall.

Echinacea

Echinacea is the prime remedy to help the body rid itself of microbial infections.It is effective against both bacterial and viral attacks. It may be used in conditions such as boils, septicemia and other infections of that sort. In conjunction with other herbs it may be used for any infection, anywhere in the body.  For example, in combination with Yarrow or Bearberry it will effectively stop cystitis. It is especially used for infections of the upper respiratory tract such as laryngitis, tonsillitis, and for catarrhal conditions of the nose and sinus. In general it may be used widely and safely. The tincture or decoction may be used as a mouthwash in the treatment of pyorrhea and gingivitis. As a lotion is helps septic sores and cuts.

Part Used:

Cone Flower, Roots

Collection:

The roots should be unearthed in the fall. It is suggested that the fresh extract is more effective than the dried root.

Poke Root

Poke Root has a wide range of uses and is a valuable addition to many holistic treatments. It may be seen primarily as a remedy for use in infections of the upper respiratory tract, removing catarrh and aiding the cleansing of the lymphatic glands. It may be used for catarrh, tonsillitis, laryngitis, swollen glands (adenitis), mumps, etc. It will be found of value in in lymphatic problems elsewhere in the body and especially where it is long standing. Care must be taken with this herb as in large doses it is powerfully emetic and purgative. Externally, as a lotion or ointment, it may be used to rid the skin of scabies and other pests.

Part Used:

Root

Collection:

The root should be unearthed in the late fall or spring. Clean it and split lengthwise before drying.

Wild Indigo

Wild Indigo is an herb to be considered wherever there is a focused infection. It is especially useful in the treatment of infections of the nose and sinus. Taken both internally and as a mouthwash  it will heal mouth ulcers, gingivitis, and help in the control of pyorrhea. Systematically, it may be helpful in the treatment of  enlarged and inflamed lymph glands (lymphadenitis) and also to reduce fevers. Externally an ointment will help infected ulcers and ease sore nipples. A douche of the decoction will help leucorrhea.

Part Used:

Root

Collection:

The root is unearthed in the fall after flowering has stopped. Clean the root and cut; dry well.

Wormwood

Traditionally, Wormwood has been used in a wide range of conditions, most of which have been vindicated by analysis of the herb. It is primarily used as a bitter and therefore has the effect stimulating and invigorating the whole of the digestive process. It may be used where there is indigestion, especially when due to a deficient quantity or quality of gastric juice. It is a powerful remedy in the treatment of worm infestations, especially roundworm and pinworm. It may also be used to help the body deal with fever and infections. Due to the general tonic action it will be of benefit in many diverse conditions  because it benefits the body in general.

Part Used:

Leaves or Flowering Tops

Collection:

The leaves and flowering tops are gathered at the end of the flowering period between mid summer and early fall.

Myrrh

Myrrh is an effective anti-microbial agent that has been shown to work in two complementary ways. Primarily it stimulates the production of white blood corpuscles (with their anti-pathogenic actions) and secondarily it has a direct anti-microbial effect. Myrrh finds specific use in the treatment of infections in the mouth as well as the catarrhal problems of pharyngitis and sinusitis. It may also help with laryngitis and respiratory complaints. Systematically it is of value in the treatment of boils as well as glandular fever and brucellosis. It is often used as part of the treatment of the common cold. Externally, it will be healing and antiseptic for wounds and abrasions.

Part Used:

Gum Resin

Collection:

The gum resin is collected from the bushes that secrete it in the arid regions of East Africa and Arabia.

This info and recipes from The Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman. One of my herbal bibles, it is a wonderful book and offers a huge variety of ways to keep yourself healthy with herbs.


Interview with Andrew Schlabach - Co-Founder & President of The Acupuncture Relief Project

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Andrew Schlabach, who is co-founder and president of the Acupuncture Relief Project, kindly agreed to sit down and answer a few questions about his organization and all the good things they are doing with their clinic in Nepal.

For those who don’t know about your organization, could you tell us a little bit about it?

Acupuncture Relief Project (ARP), along with our local partners, operates a small primary care clinic in a rural village of Nepal. Founded in 2008, Acupuncture Relief Project provides healthcare practitioners of various disciplines an opportunity to gain valuable field experience while making a positive impact on the local community. Our efforts include the treatment of patients living with HIV and AIDs as well as people suffering from extreme poverty and social disenfranchisement. We are a completely volunteer-based project and rely on a grassroots approach to sustainability and community support.

Why did you choose Nepal? Did you have a personal connection to it, or did you think it would be the place that would most benefit from this type of clinic?

I had the privilege of working as a mountaineering instructor at the notorious Himalayan Mountain Institute in Darjeeling India and participated in several expeditions in Nepal, Tibet and Northern India. Through this experience I fell in love with Nepal and its people. Later when I trained as an acupuncturist I envisioned a program which would not only provide service to a community that had very little access to medical care but would also provide an opportunity for healthcare practitioners to experience the complexities and hardships of the developing world. Hopefully providing an experience which challenges practitioners to connect to a deeper understanding of their medicine and foster the growth of compassionate wisdom.

Were the local Nepalese people open and receptive to coming to the clinic to get acupuncture, or did it take some time for them to warm up to it?

We don't characterize ourselves as an "Acupuncture" clinic even though we are primarily staffed by acupuncture physicians. Mostly we are just a primary care clinic... a place where anyone can come to get medical care and advice. Like anywhere in the world, some people are very open-minded about acupuncture and some are very skeptical. Once we establish trust, it doesn't really matter whether we are using acupuncture or allopathic medicine, people know they can come in and we will do our best to help them. It is very difficult to describe to people in developed countries what it means to live without access to care. Many times our job is more about patient education, assessment and referral than it is about any particular treatment modality. Just the fact that we can assess whether a child's fever is manageable or an emergency provides the community with a priceless resource.

Acupuncture Relief Project

Did the locals have any prior knowledge of what acupuncture was?

Not really. We get asked many times a day "what kind of medicine is on the needle". We explain that there isn't any and that we are simply assisting their body in healing itself. That is probably a bit mystifying but then, after couple treatments, they start getting better. Then they bring their whole family.

You have a group of wonderful local interpreters who work with the practitioners. Is the language barrier still difficult?

Our interpreters are world class professionals and they continue to improve. Several of them have worked with us since the beginning. The difficulty for both us and the interpreters is the limitation of the language itself. There are three common languages in the area in which we operate. Nepali, Newari, and Tamang. Each language has it's own unique limitation. For example in Newari there is only one word for the torso which translates in English to "heart". A patient may come in complaining of "Heart Disease" which for us only narrows it down to the torso. They could be suffering from anything from indigestion to angina to hepatitis. They don't have specific words or an understanding of internal organs so our interpreters do the best they can and we rely on many non-verbal cues and diagnositics to direct our assessments.

What are some of the conditions that you treat most?

People in the village are mostly subsistence farmers and they work very hard throughout their lives. About 65% of patients that we see are coming in for chronic pain. Low back, neck and knees particularly. This is something acupuncture is quite good at addressing and we see very good results in getting people back to work so they can take care of their families. We also see a multitude of other conditions including digestive disorders, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, febrile stroke, uterine prolapse, asthma, tuberculosis and typhoid. We also sometimes deal with social issues like domestic violence and substance abuse.

Do you only use acupuncturists?

No. We primarily use acupuncturists because this treatment modality allows us to treat a large number of people for very little money or overhead. The clinic also hosts herbalists, Tibetan traditional practitioners, homeopaths and massage therapists. We have also had several allopathic and naturopathic physicians work with us. We try to provide as much care as possible and we find that we do very well without the overhead of a pharmaceutical dispensary. We do utilize a small stock of antibiotics and other drugs when we need to but we will try to get a patient to an appropriate facility a patient has a serious or emergency condition.

Acupuncture Relief Project

What were some of the things that surprised you about running the clinic in Nepal?

I think what continues to amaze me is how much impact a small clinic can have on so many people. Not only our patients who of course benefit from our care but also our interpreters who have meaningful jobs supporting their own communities. Additionally our volunteer practitioners continuously report to us the effects of their experience in Nepal. Many have shared how they have gained a new appreciation for patient care and that has carried forward into their own practices and communities.

About how many people do you treat a day?

The clinic sees about 80-120 people per day. We also conduct several outreach clinics in outlaying villages each week.

Do you have any idea how many patients you have treated since the clinic began?

Well over 100,000 patient visits.

Is the clinic operational full time, or only at certain times of the year when you can bring volunteers?

Yes. There are practitioners at the clinic year round, however the clinic runs at varied capacity depending on the availability of volunteers and other resources. Organizationally, we focus particularly on our training program which operated from September to March every year. During this time the clinic opperates is at it's maximum capacity. The availability of healthcare in the winter months is particularly critical to the village so we prioritize our efforts for this time of the year.

Acupuncture is very cost effective compared to Western medicine. How much does it cost to run the clinic?

Again, we characterize ourselves as a primary care clinic and not an "acupuncture" clinic. We utilize a variety of modalities (including Western medicine) and attempt to determine the "best" care for a particular patient. In many cases, acupuncture is the "best" care.  The total cost of operation including all of our herbal and western dispensary, we provide primary care year round for about $4.80 USD per patient visit. I don't wish to take anything away from other types of service projects but for sake of comparison, you can compare us to a visiting medical/dental camp which operates in Nepal for a few weeks each year which costs $24-30 USD per visit. I will say that the dental services that they provide are worth every penny to the communities they serve.

Acupuncture Relief Project

What is the most difficult thing about running the clinic?

I think with any service project there are constant stresses around resources. There is never enough money, time or volunteers to accomplish everything you might envision. Also, as a US based non-profit there are many logistical complexities of operating a clinic half way around the world. All of these are relatively minor in the grand scheme but they must be constantly addressed in order to insure our long term sustainability.

What would you like to see the Acupuncture Relief Project do in the future?

Training local practitioners is our ultimate goal and one that we are actively trying to solve. In 2011, we fully funded a scholarship for one student only to be setback as the only Oriental Medicine school in Nepal became defunct. We have now adopted an apprenticeship program for two students and we are also exploring the possibility of sponsoring a student to study in the US, Canada, Australia or China. Our major obstacle is a lack of legitimate accreditation and licensure in Nepal so obviously this issue will be on our list for awhile.

Acupuncture Relief Project

Here is some more information about Andrew from the Acupuncture Relief Project website...

Andrew Schlabach MAcOM EAMP

Andrew Schlabach is the co-founder and President of the Acupuncture Relief Project having received his Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in 2008. His master’s research project founded a Practice Based Research Network for Oriental medicine practitioners and researchers in Oregon and Southwest Washington in collaboration with the Helfgott Research Institute. Now practicing at Healthwerks - Acupuncture Wellness Clinic, Vancouver Washington he is the author and publisher of the Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine - Clinic Survival Guide. Mr. Schlabach also served as President and Creative Director of Split Diamond Media, Inc. of Portland Oregon for 15 years. Specializing in business-to-business advertising, Split Diamond Media pioneered digital publishing technologies and internet services for a variety of regional and national companies. Mr. Schlabach is also an accomplished mountaineer with expedition experience in the Himalayas, distinguishing himself as an instructor at the prestigious Himalayan Mountain Institute in Darjeeling India. Having travel extensively in central Asia, Mr. Schlabach has become a student of world theology, Tai Ji and yoga. As a veteran of the U.S. Army, he received an Army Commendation Medal for distinguished service to his unit.

To learn more about The Acupuncture Relief Project and the wonderful work they are doing, please visit their website at www.acupuncturereliefproject.org

And be sure to watch the 30 minute documentary, Compassion Connects about their clinic in Nepal. It is incredibly inspiring!


The Needle Fear...

Why a fear of needles shouldn’t discourage you from trying acupuncture

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

It is a terrible thing to admit, but I, an acupuncturist, hate needles.

Whenever I have to go to the doctor to have blood taken, I surprise even myself with the creative ways I manage to not make it down to the nurse to have my blood drawn. My doctor knows this about me, and I am always getting the sass.

The truth is, having blood taken hurts (it hurts me anyways). The needles they use are hollow point, and it usually takes them a few tries before they can get a vein. I am always left with bruises, and this is why I don't like needles.

Acupuncture needles however, are not like the hollow point needles used to take blood or give injections. They are very fine - 4 times thicker than a human hair in fact (the thickness varies, but they are pretty small), and in most cases, the patient can barely feel them. They are also disposable, and one use only.

I have often had patients over the years who reluctantly came to see me, not committing to a treatment, but wanting to talk about their fear of needles. I always say "no problem, have a seat." I explain that the needles that acupuncturists use are not the type used by medical doctors, and that they are tiny in comparison. I take out one out, open it and hand it to them so they can feel it, touch it, and this helps with the fear. I then roll up my sleeve and tap the needle gently into my arm to show them how it works, and that I am not screaming in pain. I explain that I am very gentle, and if they would like to try, I can put a needle into the same spot on their arm. I tell them if they feel anything uncomfortable, or painful for even an instant, then it comes out.

I have never had anyone after the demonstration, not try one needle. Once they see that acupuncture is not painful, we continue with an intake, and then a treatment. People often have to ask me when I will be putting the needles in when I already have put in several.

Here is a chart that illustrates the difference in size between different objects and an acupuncture needle.

 

In my experience, there is a difference in the old school Chinese style of acupuncture which emphasizes strong stimulation of the needles (twirling and twisting the needles to achieve a "qi sensation"), and a gentler style that is better suited to Western patients.

When in China, I got to visit a hospital that offered both Western and Chinese medicine and saw some of the acupuncture techniques used. They were a lot more hard core than most patients are used to here in the West. In China, this is what is expected, but if you are catering to Western patients, gentler and kinder is the way to go. It is relatively new here, so it should be introduced gently to those who are trying it out, and especially those who are a bit nervous about needles.

As a kid I went to a Chinese acupuncturist who was incredibly gentle. I never felt any pain from the needles, and I have always fashioned myself after her. There is an intimate trust relationship between an acupuncturist and their patient. They must trust you, and their body must trust you, which you can feel when you are putting in the needles. At first there is often resistance which decreases as time goes on. Eventually, the body accepts the treatment and trusts that you are doing it good and mean it no harm.

So, if you are curious about acupuncture but haven't gone to have a treatment because of a fear of needles, I would say find an acupuncturist and go and speak to them. Most are aware that fear of needles is common and will do their best to explain and show you so that you can start to reap the wonderful rewards offered by acupuncture. I know I am very glad that I did. :)

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Featured image taken by Jordan Francisco / Flickr
Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living

The Needle Fear : Chinese Medicine Living