Welcome to the Chinese Year of the Rooster!

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese new year is not based on a solar calendar like ours is in the West but based on a lunar calendar, meaning that it lands on a different day each year depending on the movements of the moon. This year, the Chinese new year falls on January 28th, and we move from the year of the monkey into the year of the rooster. There are twelve animals that make up the Chinese calendar, each cycling in order. Here are all twelve animals, in their respective order. The rooster is the tenth animal in the sequence.

Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey.

You can determine what animal you are by referring to the chart below.

  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970

  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960

  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961

  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962

  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963

  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964

  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965

  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966

  • Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967

  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968

The year that you were born determines what animal you are. People born to certain animals are said to engender the characteristics of that animal. Each animal has symbolic meanings given to it by the ancient Chinese. You may wonder why these twelve animals specifically were chosen? Well, the theory is that they were the most influential animals in the lives of Chinese people. The ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are the animals most commonly raised by Chinese people, and the rat, tiger, rabbit, snake, monkey, and dragon are greatly loved by the Chinese.

2017 - Year of the Fire Rooster

In the Chinese zodiac, each animal also has a cycle of rotating elements. There are five elements - fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The rooster's element is metal, but in 2017, the rooster is the element of fire. This means that fire rooster only happens every 60 years. Each element changes the characteristics of that particular year. Generally, people born under a metal sign have a great deal of confidence and drive for success, but when out of balance, they can be stubborn and hard headed. Metal signs are very charismatic and often have magnetic personalities which make them well liked by everyone they encounter.

The Rooster Personality

Fire rooster is like taking all the metal personality traits and amplifying them so they are off the charts! Fire roosters are dynamic, highly intelligent, extremely organized, independent thinkers and their charisma take it all to the next level. Their drive and perseverance make fire roosters very successful in all of their endeavors and they always have a great many admirers. Fire roosters are very sociable and their friendships are important to them. They love to be the center of attention and are the hit of every party and social occasion. They are fiercely independent and more capable than most which can sometimes lead them to prefer to rely on themselves rather than on help from others. Fire roosters can be extremely strong willed and once they have set their mind to something, no one will be able to change their minds. Fire roosters can become obsessed over details and may be critical if they see others doing a job that fire rooster feels he can do better himself. The good news is that there is no one more capable of executing a task efficiently and to a very high standard than the fire rooster. They may be hard-headed and stubborn, but they get the job done, usually better than everyone else and with such flair that nobody complains!

Because of his fiery personality, fire rooster needs to be careful not to become too intense and learn to slow down and relax. He tends to want to control and take over but could use a little humility when taking on projects with others and not let his ego get out of control. He tends to burn so hot that, although this makes him a charismatic character and draws people to him, it can also burn and hurt people's feelings unintentionally.

Fire roosters are intelligent, organized, hard working and make excellent and loyal friends. They are meticulous and dependable which makes them very successful in all aspects of their lives.

Lucky Things for Roosters

  • Lucky colors: gold, brown, and yellow
  • Lucky numbers: 5, 7, and 8
  • Lucky directions: south, southeast
  • Lucky months: the 2nd, 5th, and 11th Chinese lunar months.
  • Lucky days: the 4th and 26th of any Chinese lunar month
  • Lucky flowers: gladiola, cockscomb

Unlucky Things for Roosters

  • Unlucky color: red
  • Unlucky numbers: 1, 3, and 9
  • Unlucky direction: east
  • Unlucky months: the 3rd, 9th, and 12th Chinese lunar months

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The beautiful featured image created by FauxKiss on Etsy


Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 2

**This article originally appeared as "Happy Fun Qigong."Qi JournalVol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**

By John Voigt

Qi-Balling

1. Sensing qi.

Another fun and seemingly magical gymnastic is to have the group rub their hands together, then have them pretend they are playing small accordions. When their hands go out, they should inhale. When the hands come in, they should exhale. I have them do this for awhile, and then ask, “Does anyone see the qi between your hands?” If no one does, I suggest they look for an ethereal mist, a commonly used description of qi energy. (The Chinese word “Qi” originally meant “vapor”—like the phosphorescent mist you see hovering over a lake very early in the morning.) We do some more squeezing in and out then I ask, “What does it feel like?” If they do sense it, their answers often are, a heaviness, a tingling, magnetic, electromagnetic, prickly, it’s hot, cold, a suction. If they see or feel nothing, I tell them, to imagine it. Using the imagination can be effective in preparing someone to gain more skills in their qigong practices.

2. Forming a qi ball.

Have them mold a ball out of the qi between their hands; as if the qi were a clump of moist flour dough and it was being kneaded on a cutting board. If they don’t get it tell them “Pretend you’re playing a game.”

3. Tossing the qi ball.

Now have them toss the qi ball from one hand to the other. Tell them to watch the ball as it goes back and forth (that will enhance the experience). Suggest they feel the ball in their hands when they catch it.

4. Lifting the qi ball.

Then have them lift the ball from side to side. The right-hand lifts the qi ball up to the left shoulder and holds it there for a few seconds. Then the right hand comes back down dropping the ball into the left hand. Then the left hand lifts the ball to the right shoulder, holds it for a few seconds, and returns down dropping the ball into the right hand. These movements should be repeated for a few minutes. Once people are comfortable doing this, when the hand is at its zenith they should toss the ball a tiny bit straight up in the air, and quickly catch it.

5. Tossing the qi ball around.

This is an exercise in which we create through our imaginations the sensations of sending and receiving qi with other people. We pretend we are all at a playground tossing our newly created qi balls to each other. I occasionally stir the process up by saying, “Hey, not so hard!” when they toss the ball too vigorously at me. Imagination is wonderful. You can do so much with it if you only allow yourself to.

6. Basketball - the Qi way.

Here is a way to combine all the Qi Ball gymnastics. I call it the “Free Throw Game.” I introduce this by saying, Did you ever watch an NBA basketball player shooting a free throw? Next time you do, study how he coordinates his breath, body posture, and mind to project a ball towards a basketball hoop. That is pure qigong ladies and gentleman: body, breath, mind, energy all being used together. Okay, time to play ball. Feel that energy ball as a basket ball between your hands. Toss it from hand to hand. Take a deep breath and imagine you are LeBron James (or your favorite basketball player) and walk around and bounce it off the floor, dribble it. Hold the ball in front of your the solar plexus (the second dantian). Center yourself by breathing into the lower abdomen and allow gravity to ground you. Take a few more deep breaths and fill your lower belly dantian with pure high powered qi-energy. Your whole torso should feel like a balloon filled with water, pleasantly heavy and bouncy. Once again feel the energy resonance between your hands and the basketball. Mentally picture seeing the ball going into the hoop, and after that relax your shoulders and entire body and toss the ball in. Another point for your side.

Happy Fun Animal Frolics.

In ancient times Chinese Shamans, usually women called “Wu”, would do ritualistic dances to gain the energetic powers of animals and birds. As time passed such practices were recast into the first documented qigong form, the classic Wu Qin Xi, or Five Animal Frolics.4 But be prepared for a new spin on an old theme. Our Happy Fun version may look more like dances from1960’s—as in the Bird, the Duck, the Funky Chicken, the Horse, the Pony, the Raccoon, the Dog, the Funky Penguin, the Monkey, etc.

Tarzan Thumps His CV-19 and Makes the Victory Cry of the Bull Ape. The ancient Chinese were not the only ones seeking
to gain the power of wild animals, Tarzan did too. Here is a Happy Fun Qigong TCM version: With closed soft fists, or with percussive fingertips, thump or tap on the center of your upper chest, between the breasts (over and around the acupuncture point CV-19). Do this about twelve times and not too hard. Then you might add your version of Tarzan’s Call of the King of the Jungle - however, this is optional, especially in public. You can hear and see it on many YouTube sites, just type in “Tarzan Call.”

Benefits

This type of exercise is said to revitalize the thymus gland, a source of T-lymphocytes (T cells), which kill virally or bacterially infected cells and naturally eradicate cancer cells. I have no idea what benefits accrue from making that weird Call of the Jungle - but it is so much fun I like to do it anyway, and suggest you might too.

CV-19 (ZiGong) Acupuncture Point

Note

If any women have a problem with visualizing themselves as a semi-nude male pretending he is a big monkey doing silly things and making funny sounds, this gymnastic can work just as well for them if they turn themselves into a Jane the Queen of the Jungle Beats On Her CV-19. The original Jane did; go to YouTube and search Jane Tarzan call.

Tiger Claws.

Make your hands into tiger claws. The hands are cupped and squeezed in as if squeezing a tennis ball, but the middle finger is a bit extended. Members of the group can walk around waving their claws at each other. Any growling is optional. Occasionally they should bend forward and trust out their arms and grasp at imaginary prey with their paws.

Benefits

Squeezing your hands this way will compress qi and cause it to be absorbed into the fingers, hands, and possibly into the muscles and bones of the arms and shoulders. This resembles a martial art technique called “Iron Shirt” which internally armors the body to prevent injury. Tiger qigong is said to be good for the Liver, and also to stimulate the flow of qi in the du mài and rèn mài channels of the microcosmic orbit (the major pathway of qi up the back and down the front of the torso.) The grasping motions help open the six acupuncture points at the tips of the fingers.

The Phoenix.

The Phoenix is a mythological creature that reincarnates itself by rising from the ashes of its past. In Chinese Mythology it is called Feng-huang, the “Bird of Wonder,” and signifies the merging of masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) life forces, which brings about good fortune. So in this gymnastic there is an implied re-birthing of the self along with the gaining of good fortune. That all sounds pretty good to me.

                       

The Gymnastic

With feet spread apart wider than shoulder width, turn to the right, inhale and keeping the wrists limp and fingers hanging down, lift the arms up by your sides. The heel of the left foot should rise up as you do this. When the hands are level with the ears, open and unfold your hands and arms out to your sides as if you were a beautiful Phoenix unfolding its wings. Pause as if you were floating high up in the sky. Then slowly exhale and float your arms (wings) back down and return to facing forward with arms hanging down by your sides. Then turn to the left and repeat this rising up and down gesture. When turning to the left, the right heel should lift off the ground. Do this exercise for six times or for as long it feels good to do.

Benefits

Shifting the weight of the body from side to side and rising up with extended arms increases the circulation of blood, as well as the flow of qi in all the meridians of the body. Bending to the left and right will smooth strengthen and harmonize the yin and yang energies of the practitioner. Therefore this gymnastic is good for all the organ systems of the body, but especially for the Lung, Pericardium and Heart.

Peacock Spreads Tail To Show Beautiful Feathers.

Raise your hands straight up, palms facing out. As they go above your head spread your arms open. From the sides of your eyes using peripheral vision imagine your beautiful feathers. With your arms uplifted and palms facing out, slightly bend the elbows and slowly sway to the left and right like audiences at a rock concert.

Air Dancer.

In our present day urban environment it is not easy finding free roaming apes, tigers, peacocks, and just forget about the phoenix. But it is easy to find Air Dancers: they’re endemic in the city – they are often used to advertise car dealerships, gas stations and other automotive places. When you do the Air Dancer you freely wave your arms around and bend over a lot. (If you have health issues, especially uncontrolled hypertension, you shouldn’t do this without a doctor’s approval). The Air Dancer I work out with is advertising oil changes. However, I’m advertising we all get “qi changes” by flushing out the old bad qi and breathing in some good new qi. For those skeptical about the reality of this, I propose that circling and bending up and down from the waist facilitates bowel, kidney, and bladder functions. So don’t be shy, try it out for yourself. But do make sure there’s a bathroom close by. You can find varied kinds of Air Dancers doing their thing on YouTube or better yet somewhere in your neighborhood. But seriously, take it easy unless you too are made out of heavy rubber tubing.

Rather than an oil change, the author is attempting a Qi change.

**Beautiful featured image from combinedarts.org

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Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 2 : The Health Benefits of Qi Gong Exercise : Chinese Medicine Living


How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Another year is upon us! The arrival of the new year always causes me to reflect, and think about what I would like to improve upon in the coming year. Health, happiness and well-being are always top of the list, so here is a list of some things that we can all do to be a little healthier and happier in 2017.

Take Time for Yourself

this beautiful image from 68.media.tumblr.com

This is a hard one. Our lives seem to get busier and busier and we all seem to be working more and sleeping less which means less time for, well, us. Even though taking time out for ourselves is often not easy, it is an important part of our health. Psychologically, it is you caring about yourself enough to take the time to do something that feeds you, whatever that may be. Go for a walk, read a new book you've been meaning to start, have a bubble bath, start a new art project... do something that feeds your soul. Your whole body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it.

Meditate

this relaxing image from www.chatelaine.com

Now I know the thought of meditating is scary for a lot of people, especially if you have never done it before. But meditation doesn't have to mean spending hours on a mountainside in complete seclusion. If you are new to it, start slow. Spent ten minutes a day, either when you get up in the morning (the energy of the day is so calm and lovely at this time), or if it is easier, at the end of the day before you go to bed. Just sit or lie quietly without distractions (the TV, your phone, computer, etc..) and just relax. For the first many times you do this, your mind will no doubt be racing and it might not feel relaxing at all, but if you think about it, you never just "let your mind go" like this. We are always forcing our minds into doing things, like work, cooking, driving or what-have-you. Your mind also needs time to empty itself out, but once it does and goes quiet... it is wonderful. With some practice, you will be able to drop into a quiet meditation easily, and your body and mind will crave it because it is so nourishing to every part of you. I find that the benefits of a little daily meditation spill out into the rest of my life causing me to be calmer, more patient and generally happier which is a wonderful thing.

Find a Local Farmer

this image from larahudson.com

Reconnect with your food. Food does not arrive at the grocery store wrapped in cellophane and politely organized and placed onto carts. That food is grown and tended by farmers - people who have one of the most important jobs on the planet - feeding us. Our food is the medicine we use every day to keep us healthy, and many of us have lost our connection to where it comes from. If you are able to, find a local farm where you are able to visit and buy fresh, organic (if possible) foods for your family. If this is not possible, then find a local farmers market and meet the farmers there. This will give you a new appreciation for where your food is coming from, who is growing it and in turn, you will be eating local (very good in terms of Chinese medicine) and supporting your local farmers - who absolutely need and deserve the support of their communities. Farmers markets are also a wonderful place to meet other local, health conscious people, eat local treats and reconnect with your community. Win-win!

Reconnect with Nature

this lovely image from www.drjimtaylor.com

I know I say this one a lot, but it is so imperative to health on every level. One of the reasons we see disease on such an unprecedented scale is that we have lost our connection to nature. We live in huge cities where we spend our days behind desks in buildings under florescent lights instead of in forests and jungles, which is where we belong. We were not designed to live this, well, unnaturally. Obviously, it is not feasible to go completely wild and live in forests (unless you are really hardcore) but in Chinese medicine, we are always striving for balance. So, even if you work in an office or a factory and sit behind a desk or stand on an assembly line, eat your lunch outside. Take off your shoes and put your feet in the grass. Feel the earth, it is talking to you in a language you have probably forgotten. It is feeding you in a way you desperately need to be fed. When you have time off, go for a walk in a forest, swim in a lake or ocean, or instead of working out at the gym, go for a run outside. Our connection to the planet feeds us as much as what we eat and drink, so think of your time outside as food for your body and soul. You will notice how much better you feel, inside and out.

Zoom Out

this magnificent image from youtube.com

I love this one, and doing it helps your mental state more than you can imagine. Zooming out just basically means, keeping things in perspective. When you are having a problem or something disastrous is happening in your life, just take a moment and back up. Zoom out of your situation. Zoom out of the building, the street, the neighbourhood, the city, the country, the continent, the planet, and so on. The farther out you go, the better you will feel. It is so easy for our lives to become very small. Problems become huge and often seem insurmountable, but zooming out will help to keep things in perspective. Think to yourself... in the grand scheme of things, does this really matter? In a week, will I be thinking about this at all? Zooming out is a sort of meditation, and one I do often if I am struggling with something. Instead of feeling small, I am always trying to be as big, as expansive with my mind and my awareness as possible. Not always easily done, and certainly takes practice.

Be Grateful

Gratitude is something I try to practice every day. It has been one of the most beneficial practices that I have in my life, and I am so grateful for it. Ha. Being grateful doesn't mean that life is not going to present challenges. Life is full of them. But spending some time each day to consciously think about what in your life you are grateful for will put you in a happy, loving state of mind, which will attract more happy, loving energy to your experience. This energy will help you to cope when difficult situations arise and help you to fully appreciate all the wonderful things/people that you have in your life. Absolutely everyone has things that they can be grateful for, and focusing on this positivity will only draw more of it into your life and that is a wonderful thing.

Unplug

this image from gameacademy.com

We are all connected, and now this is even more true with the advent of the internet and the miracle of cell phones which allow us to communicate with one another from almost anywhere on the planet. This wonderful technology has allowed access to information by millions of people who would otherwise not be able to benefit from it. There are so many positive aspects to our ability to connect, but there are drawbacks too. The pendulum seems to have swung quite far in that direction so that in our attempt to stay technologically connected to each other, we have lost our human connections. I see groups of teenagers sitting together, each looking at their cell phones, instead of talking to each other. People live is vast cities, crammed into apartment buildings, but never interact with each other. As with all things, we are going for balance. Many people could not live without the internet of god forbid, their cell phone, but trying to unplug, at least for parts of the day or week is a good way to bring about that balance. Call a friend, then go and meet with them. Have a coffee and a conversation. We are social animals (not social media animals, although sometimes it seems we certainly are) and human contact is good for us and we NEED it.

Be of Service

A part of being human, and one of the reasons that I think we are here, is to serve our fellow human. This doesn't have to mean volounteering in a cancer ward or an old age home (as these are big commitments - but wonderful things to do), it may be as simple as helping someone struggling with their groceries, opening the door for someone with their arms full, giving someone directions when they ask you on the street. These small things make a huge impact. No one makes it through life alone. We all need each other, and by being kind, generous and helpful with our fellow human being is the glue that holds us all together. In a time where there is so much divisiveness in the world, it seems there are so many reasons for us to fear and hate each other, all it takes is the conscious effort to not let in that darkness and to treat each person with love and compassion, just as you would like to be treated. It will go a long way to healing the negativity on this planet and it happens to feel really good too. <3

How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living


Uplifting Kidney 5 Herb Tea - For Treating Kidney Stones

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

A Bit About Kidney / Bladder Disease in Chinese Medicine

Kidney deficiency is the cause of many illnesses and over 80% of people have a certain degree of kidney deficiency. Cold hands and feet, a lack of energy, ringing in the ears, sexual dysfunction, joint pain, menstrual disorders, prostate problems, back pain, hearing impairment, premature aging, and incontinence are some typical examples.

Winter time is the best season to preserve and promote kidney health. Eating black colored food such as black beans is good for the kidneys. Salty taste benefits the kidneys but too much can damage kidneys too. Kidney stones are formed by a buildup of substances which crystallized into stone-like deposits. Diets high in protein and lack of exercise will result in severe overall net calcium loss and increase the amount of calcium presented to the kidneys. Western doctors’ advice in reducing the burden and workload on the kidneys is by eating a diet low in meat, high in carbohydrates, restricted salt and drinking plenty of water to dissolve smaller stones. And by avoiding peanuts, chestnuts, soy, asparagus, spinach, corn, and eggs as well as eating more celery, apple, pear, and beans will help to keep your kidneys strong and avoid problems like stones in the future.

The symptoms of a kidney infection are a sore throat, fever, lower back pain, tiredness, fatigue, thirst and loss of appetite. When there is edema (swelling), the volume of urine decreases and so does the blood pressure. Infections of the urinary tract are more common in females than males. It could be due to poor hygiene or food allergy. Bacteria grows more easily in alkaline than in acid urine and vitamin C can promote acid urine and also improve immunity.

The food treatment for kidney infection should include a low-sodium and high protein diet such as fish, meat, egg and soy products. Water intake should be increased. Diuretic foods such as watermelon, winter melon, black bean, broad bean, see qua, and small red beans are effective in expelling dampness. Corn silk and corn kernel cooked with water to make tea can alleviate urinary tract or bladder infections. Grape juice can treat female urinary tract infections. Avoid spicy foods, garlic, and chives.

The other kidney dysfunctions include frequent urination, nephritis, leucorrhoea in women, and nocturnal emission and spermatorrhea in men.

According to Chinese medicine, kidney problems are caused by yang deficiency, as well as spleen and heart deficiency. Seminal emission is induced by excessive fire due to yin deficiency, weakness of kidney qi or the descent of heat-dampness. Treatments include nourishing kidney yin, removing fire, clearing heat and dissipating dampness.

Uplifting Kidney 5 Herb Tea Recipe

SYMPTOMS

All symptoms of weak kidney function.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Uplifts stomach and kidney energy.


Huang Qi or Astragalus Root

Dang Shen or Radix Codonopsis

Shan Yao or Chinese Yam

INGREDIENTS

  • Astragalus (huang qi) 黃耆 - 30gm
  • Dang shen 黨參 - 9gm
  • Morinda Root (ba ji tien) 巴戟天 - 9gm
  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 -  9 gm
  • Cimicifuga  (Sheng ma) 升麻 – 9gm

DIRECTIONS

1.   Rinse herbs and put together with 6 cups of water and cook over medium heat to one cup of tea.

2.   Drink tea only.

USAGE

Not suitable when you have a cold or flu.


Happy Holidays!!

Wishing you and yours a very happy holidays from all of us at Chinese Medicine Living. <3


Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 1

**This article originally appeared as "Happy Fun Qigong."Qi JournalVol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**

By John Voigt

The Body Heals With Play. The Mind Heals With Laughter. The Spirit Heals With Joy.

— Chinese Proverb

Qi Gong for Health : Chinese Medicine Livingthis adorable image from fanpop.com

Introduction

The goal of my qigong teachings is to have people experience and enjoy the benefits of qi-energy. Depending on the group’s potential for playfulness, I usually interject various Happy Fun Qigong gymnastics and visualizations to liven up the sessions. Several of these are described below.

Preparation

GROUND – CENTER – RISE UP – SMILE

Grounding. I tell the group to feel the gravity of Mother Earth grounding and supporting us, connecting us to her. Together we visualize roots growing down from our feet deeply into the earth and drawing up its nourishing yin energy.

Centering. We breathe down into our lower belly, the body’s center of gravity. We do this nice and easy, slowly, deeply, silently.

Rising up. Keeping our heads straight, and chins slightly tucked in, we straighten our backs and remaining rooted to the earth and breathing calmly and deeply, we feel our head, neck, and upper shoulders rise up toward the heavens. I say things like, “Feel the strength filled yang energy of the sun and stars enter you and protect you.”

Smile enigmatically like the Mona Lisa.

Qi Gong for Health : Chinese Medicine Livingthis image of the Mona Lisa from the Wikipedia commons

Doing this secures and increases all we have just experienced from Grounding-Centering-Rising up.

This entire procedure only takes a few minutes to do. It cleans and increases the amount of qi throughout the body and brings about the sensations of our being interconnected with the entire universe.

Experiencing (Self) Love.

You can not fully love others until you have first learned to love yourself. I tell the group. “Close your eyes and look inside yourself at your heart. Have it be in the center of your upper chest, in about the location the heart chakra of the yogis. Have it be a happy smiling heart. Silently tell it, I love you.

Have it look back at you and imagine hearing it say, I love you too.” Repeat this several times.

Doing this visualization usually produces a flood of warm loving qi that flows out from the Heart and fills the entire body. I call it “Qi with a Love Spin.” This experience is absolutely wonderful. You can see the love-qi radiating from the faces of those experiencing it.

If the group is advanced, I might ask them fill the space around all of us with this radiating love energy. The participants can now freely move around in it, improvising their own spontaneous qigong forms by themselves, or with other members of the group.

Let’s Wake Up (or) Slapping the Sleepy Walrus.

Qi Gong for Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely photo from Pixdaus, photo by Fredrik Odman

Many people come to qigong sessions wanting to gain a quick energetic wake me up, or pick me up. Raising my left eyebrow, and putting on a trickster expression I ask, Who wants a jolt of wake up super qi? And is it okay if I touch you? (with such intimate work the director should always ask permission to touch, or to send qi to anyone.) It won’t hurt much, just a little bit — (that captures their attention every time). I go to the ones who bravely volunteered and ask if they have any health issues, especially in their upper body and or heart. If they are physically fit, I quickly and sharply slap the sides of their shoulders once — not too hard, but hard enough for them to feel it.

This immediately gets the qi flowing and wakes them up. Then I offer the same to anyone who wants it. Usually, I have some takers. I might explain that most problems happen because qi (or life energy) is blocked and qigong can open up these blockages. I ask the slapped ones if they feel the qi moving in them now? They usually do. Or at least they feel something that could be called qi, or at least a manifestation of qi.

Lubricating the Joints.

I begin this gymnastic by asking the group to, “Wiggle your fingers, then squeeze them hard around an imaginary tennis ball. Now wiggle them again.” After they have done this several times I tell them, “Now have your wiggling fingers turn into the hands of a concert piano virtuoso, with fingers, hands, arms and hair wildly swinging all over the place — like Franz Liszt the 19th-century romantic era genius superstar composer and concert pianist. Then comes, “Now turn your piano fingers into spider fingers; then into two crazy racing centipedes.”

This practice opens the six energy meridians (which begin or end in each of the fingertips), the Lung, Large Intestine, Pericardium, Triple Burner, Heart, and Small Intestine. Five more meridians begin or end in the toes and one more on the bottoms of the feet. So in addition to the hands, possibly wiggle, squeeze and shake the feet and toes.

Another Happy Fun joint lubrication is Hip Rotations—I also call them Hula Hoops. It is a version of a Hawaiian religious dance that smooths out and increases what the Kahunas, or priests, called mana—a combination of qi energy mixed with muscular strength.

Doing the Hula Hoops releases our hidden inner child as it tones the abdominal muscles and lubricates the joints in the hips and upper thigh bones. We don’t actually use physical hula hoops, although I have seen qigong done that way. We Hula Hoopers by the White just rotate our hips in circles, first one way then the other. Keep the back straight, but not stiff, with the hands on the hips or wherever else they feel good to be. And remember the basic rule of Happy Fun Qigong: if it feels good to do then do it. If it does not feel good, STOP!

More Happy Fun Gymnastics.

Qi Gong for Health & Happiness : Chinese Medicine LivingThis joyful image from vineyardchurch.com

These gymnastics are not necessarily meant to be done all in one session. Instead, they are like possible selections on a menu from which a qigong presenter may pick and choose. For maximum benefits, movements should be performed slowly with deep, silent and consciously aware breathing.

These gymnastics are not necessarily meant to be done all in one session. Instead, they are like possible selections on a menu from which a qigong presenter may pick and choose. For maximum benefits, movements should be performed slowly with deep, silent and consciously aware breathing.

Going in the opposite direction qigong, or Freeing Our Inner Grumpy-Grouch.

I tell the group something like this, “Let’s do qigong the Wrong Way! That way we’ll all see how this qigong stuff works."

Anyone with health, breathing or heart issues should just watch this from the sidelines. Now get the meanest frown that you can get and stick it on your face. Crunch over so you can hardly breathe. Now complain about anything, everything. ‘The world is going to hell in a hand basket. I’ve never seen it so bad. Everything is so yucky.’ If you people don’t know what words to say try making noises and sounds of an old grump: uggg, yuk, phooey! Make some disgusted gestures with your hands. You know the one when you raise your limp hand and drop it at someone like you’re saying, ‘Get that out of my face.’ Continue complaining, ‘I can’t breathe, I’m dying. I’ve never seen it so bad, I’ve never felt so bad. I feel like a rotten piece of meat being overcooked in a dirty frying pan.’ ”

Of course, many of our “complainers” will be breaking out in laughter as we reveal our cantankerous, crotchety, cranky, grumpy selves. But that offers you, the director, a way to increase the silliness by going up to the laughing per- son and frowning and shaking a finger of guilt in their direction, telling them something like, “Stop laughing, there’s nothing to laugh about, we’re all grumpy grouches here!”

We don’t want to do this for too long, just a few minutes is enough to make the point. Then you the director loudly clap your hands and shout “Stop! Now check out how you feel. Notice that the energy in your body and brain seems stuck. Well it is stuck. We’ve just been doing a pretend “bad” qigong. Now let’s do it the good way. Let’s take some really deep breaths and exhale with a nice full “ahh.” Now Close your eyes. Picture this: the weather couldn’t be better. A peaceful sunrise in early spring and the overnight clouds are breaking. It is a perfect Feng Shui setting: You are standing on a mountain and a beautiful lake is right before you. All is silent except for the peaceful sounds of singing birds. Inhale fully, slowly, deeply, smoothly, silently as you lift your arms up, and as if you were a swan flying in slow motion, bring your arms out horizontally to your sides. Exhale and bring your arms and hands back into your upper chest. Let your hands sink grace- fully down. Pause for a moment then again inhale and raise your hands back up to the upper chest and once again unfurl your “wings.” Do this routine for several minutes.

I finish by telling them to open their eyes. Then I ask, Was there any difference in the way the Grumpy-Grump and the Feng Shui visualizations felt for you? It’s obvious what their answers will be.

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**Beautiful featured image from combinedarts.org


Winter Recipe - Mutton & Carrot Soup

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Symptoms

Blood and qi deficiency which manifests as lack of energy, dizziness and headache, numbing of extremities, lack of appetite and night blindness.

Therapeutic Effects

  • Nourishes the spleen and liver to promote blood and qi
  • Improves eyesight
  • Improves appetite
  • Strengthens and tonifies the body

Winter Kidney Recipe : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Yams

Ingredients

(2 to 3 servings)

  • Mutton - 640gm
  • Carrot - 320gm
  • Chinese yam (shan yao) 淮山 - 80gm
  • Ginger - 5 slices
  • Honey dates - 5

Chinese Red Date Recipe : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Red Dates / Honey Dates - This image from katjuju.com

Directions

1. Wash mutton and cut into pieces and stir-fry them slightly with cooking oil and ginger.

2. Cut carrot into pieces. Rinse herbs.

3. Put all ingredients into a pot with adequate water (about 10 cups) and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 3 hours.

4. Add seasoning to serve. Drink soup and eat some meat only.

Usage

Not suitable for people with hot liver syndrome which manifests as red, itchy eyes.

Lamb Carrot Winter Soup for Kidneys : Chinese Medicine LivingThis delicious image from meichubang.com

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

 


China Issues First White Paper on Traditional Chinese Medicine

Source -   Xinhuanet.com

BEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government published its first white paper on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) Tuesday, detailing policies and measures on TCM development and highlighting its unique value in a new era.

"TCM has created unique views on life, on fitness, on diseases and on the prevention and treatment of diseases during its long history of absorption and innovation," said the white paper, Traditional Chinese Medicine in China, published by the State Council Information Office.

As ideas on fitness and medical models change and evolve, traditional Chinese medicine has become more and more profound in its value, the document said.

"TCM has been comprehensively developed in China which is now able to offer health services covering the life cycle of citizens," said Wang Guoqiang, director of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

TCM and Western medicine have different strengths. They work together in China to protect people from diseases and improve public health. This has turned out to be a unique feature in the development of China's medical and health sector, Wang said.

Hailing the establishment of a TCM medical care system, covering both urban and rural areas in China, the white paper said there were 3,966 TCM hospitals, 42,528 TCM clinics and 452,000 practitioners and assistant TCM practitioners across the country by 2015.

In addition to making contributions to the prevention and treatment of common, endemic and difficult diseases, TCM has played an important role in the prevention and treatment of major epidemics, such as SARS, HIV/AIDS, as well as Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, it said.

TCM also played an important role in the reform of the medical care system, according to the white paper.

With relatively low cost, TCM has contributed rather a higher share of services in relation to the resources it has received, it said.

The medical care services provided by TCM institutions increased from 14.3 percent to 15.7 percent from 2009 to 2015, according to official statistics.

In 2015, out-patient expenses per visit and in-patient expenses per capita at public TCM hospitals were 11.5 percent and 24 percent lower than those at general public hospitals, respectively.

There were 910 million visits in 2015 to TCM medical and health service units across the country.

China has established a modern Chinese medicine industry based on the production of medicinal materials and industrial production, tied together by commerce, said the white paper, while also noting the rapid development of TCM pharmaceuticals.

A number of laws and regulations have been passed to protect TCM medicinal resources in the wild; and artificial production or wild tending has been carried out for certain scarce and endangered resources, the document said.

To date, 60,000 TCM and ethnic minority medical drugs have been approved, and 2,088 pharmaceutical enterprises that have been approved by the Good Manufacturing Practice of Medical Products to manufacture Chinese patent medicines.

In 2015, the total output value of the TCM pharmaceutical industry was 786.6 billion yuan (114.21 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 28.55 percent of the country's pharmaceutical industry, making it a new source of growth in China's economy.

TCM Development A National Strategy

Wang stressed the need for comprehensive reform of TCM, including supply-side structural reform, to lift service capability, noting disharmony between TCM and existing laws, policies and institutions.

Elaborating the country's policies and measures to promote TCM development, Tuesday's white paper said China has made TCM development "a national strategy."

A series of major policy decisions have been made, and a number of plans have been adopted to promote TCM development since the Communist Party of China's (CPC) 18th National Congress in 2012.

In 2015, the executive meeting of the State Council approved a draft Law on Traditional Chinese Medicine, submitting it to the top legislature for approval, intending to provide a more sound policy environment and legal basis for TCM.

In 2016, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the Outline of the Healthy China 2030 Plan, a guide to improving the health of the Chinese people in the next 15 years.

In the same year, the State Council issued the Outline of the Strategic Plan on the Development of Traditional Chinese Medicine (2016-2030), which makes TCM development a national strategy, with plans to develop TCM in the new era.

The white paper described these plans as "a grand blueprint" that focuses on the full revitalization of TCM, saying they ushered in a new era of development for TCM.

Stressing the innovative development of TCM for health preservation, the white paper said China aspires to enable every Chinese citizen to have access to basic TCM services by 2020, and make TCM services cover all areas of medical care by 2030.

Meanwhile, TCM is going global, with the white paper saying TCM has spread to 183 countries and regions around the world.

In the past, international exchanges were basic, but now substantive cooperation at the operational level of TCM is taking shape, said Zhang Boli, president of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences.

According to the World Health Organization, 103 member states have given approval to the practice of acupuncture and moxibustion, 29 have enacted special statutes on traditional medicine, and 18 have included acupuncture and moxibustion treatment in their medical insurance provisions.

"TCM offers a valuable reference to other parts of the world in terms of curbing the fast growth of medical expenses to make medical care affordable," Wang said.

At present, governments of 86 countries and regions have signed agreements for TCM cooperation with China as TCM gains more popularity and recognition globally, Wang said.

**The featured image from Apricot Forest Chinese Medicine Hospital


Birth and Beyond

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I thought I might write about what my birth experience was like and how motherhood has changed me, both as a person and as a practitioner. Because this could easily be a 50-page article, I will be succinct. At least I will try. My baby is 10 months old now! He is talking, walking, laughing and growing like a weed. That sweet baby is the light and love of my life.

It has been a fascinating/joyful/frightening/blissful experience to have a baby. Nothing could have prepared me for what it was and is like. And that is the thing about it, I don't think there is anything you can do to prepare for how it is going to make you feel, and how it will, in every way, change your life.

Natural Pregnancy & Birth : Chinese Medicine LivingMy very pregnant belly! About a month before I had Liam.

Labour

I was at work, treating a patient when my water broke almost a month early. I knew, and my midwives told me, that what we see in movies - the pregnant woman in the grocery store whose water breaks - is not usually the way you go into labour (this only happens in about 10% of cases). I also knew that most first time mamas go beyond nine months, often by a couple of weeks. So, let's just say that I was a bit unprepared when I was writing out notes with a patient on the table when my water broke. I wasn't sure at first what had happened, probably because I wasn't expecting it. It only took a second to figure it out, and then my mind took me all the way to the end of the thought... I was going to have a baby. Today! I politely waited for my patient to have her time on the table and then went in and whispered to her (thankfully, she was also my friend), that I thought my water had just broken and that I should probably call my midwife. Her eyes got as big as saucers and she said "just calmly take out my needles, and I am going to help you. My gods, we're having a baby today!"

My midwife said that I should come in and make sure that my water did in fact break. I asked if I could go home and get my hunny first and she said of course. I texted him and told him my water had broken and his response was shock, disbelief and surprise. My friend piled up some towels on my car seat (when your water breaks, the amniotic fluid keeps producing so it is like a continuous flow) and I drove, as calmly as I could, home. When I arrived, everything I needed was in a bag and on the bed. My hunny had been busy and looked like he was having a small heart attack when I walked in the door. We looked at each other and smiled, knowing our baby was on its way. We got into the car and drove to the midwives where they checked and confirmed that my water had indeed broken. If your water breaks before you are in labour, you have 24 hours to begin labour (at least this is the rule in Florida where I live) or you put the baby and yourself in danger because the "water" or amniotic sack is there to protect the baby and keep everything sterile, so there is some pressure to get things going once your water has broken. The midwives checked me over and said everything seemed fine, but that I needed to get things moving. They told me to go get a couple of homeopathic remedies to help speed up labour and said to go home and make out with my hunny, which was a sure fire way to kick start the process. They told us to call them as soon as my contractions were about 5 minutes apart, or in 4 hours, whichever came first.

A Note on Pain

Now, I want to be really honest with you about what came next. And by that, I mean the pain. I don't think there is anything I could have done to prepare myself for what contractions and ultimately birth felt like. I know that everyone has a different experience, and I certainly watched a thousand videos of women giving birth in the months before I was due. But none of them accurately conveyed what it *felt* like. It is a difficult thing to accurately describe, so let me say this. I think, because of various things and experiences that I have had in my life, that I have, or had a pretty high tolerance to pain. Previous to having a baby, my pain scale went from one to ten. I was blissfully unaware of any pain, capable of breaching the ten ceiling. My pain scale now goes to 37, and that is not an exaggeration or an inflated number used to be dramatic - that is a relative increase, a mathematical equation used taking my maximum experience of pain before birth and multiplying it appropriately.

Natural Water Birth : Chinese Medicine LivingYup, that was the pain. Woo, it hurt.  

The things I have heard over and over again from women about birth are the fears they have of how much it is going to hurt. This is why there is a delectable assortment of drugs used to dull the pain of childbirth and I would never judge any woman for using any of them. Especially not now. Of course, the intensity and quality of pain varies from person to person, but I have to say, the pain I experienced during childbirth was something that I could not possibly express in words. It was a pain I never knew existed, and the most painful experience I have ever had in my life.

But I don't want to scare you about the pain. Do I regret it? No. Would I do it again? Yes. Do I wish I had been a little more aware of how intense it was going to be beforehand so that I could have been more psychologically prepared? Honestly, I'm not sure. Maybe. Was it worth it and one of the best, most incredible experiences of my life? Yes. The pain, much like the giving birth, were literally cutting new experiences into both my body and my psyche. They were experiences so intense that they literally take you to another place that anything less would never be able to take you. Words, again, cannot possibly express the depth and breadth of the experience, but alas, they are all I have at this moment.

Birth

My labour, once it started, went so quickly that my contractions were almost immediately on top of each other. I was unaware of anyone or anything else in the room, except my love, who was clutching me through each contraction. I would lean into him, gritting my teeth, crying out, focussing all my energy on making it through each one. I didn't have time to think. I didn't have time to fear. I only had enough energy to focus on making it through each contraction. I didn't even have time to think about something that might help the pain. Not once did this thought enter my head, which was swimming in a pain I scarce thought existed. The only time I came out of my pain was when I looked up and said "girls?" There were two midwives in the room, apparently watching closely, but sitting back, not wanting to crowd the experience. I saw them then and Christina asked, "yes?" I remember asking - "Can you die from pain?" She smiled and assured me that I could not. I remember then deciding that if I couldn't die from it, then I could endure it, and that was what I was going to do. That was the only time I remember being aware of the room or the people in it. My friend Michelle was there, sitting in a rocking chair in the corner, photographing the whole thing, but I was completely unaware of her presence. I had ridiculously told her that we would have a wonderful chance to catch up and perhaps have a tea while I was in labour and it would be so great that she would be there. Unfortunately, I didn't say one word to her the entire time, I was engrossed in my work.

After what seemed like an eternity (but was in fact only a couple of hours from the start of my intense contractions), I was checked and told that I had dilated to 6 centimeters and asked if I would like to get into the tub. It had been my plan to have a water birth, but I knew that I had to be flexible and decided I would see how I felt when the time came. I eagerly said yes and thought that the warm water might dull the sharp nature of the pain. It did. The tub was a large jacuzzi style in the pretty bedroom we were in at the birth centre. My hunny and I both got into the tub and the contractions continued with me changing positions every few seconds as nothing felt comfortable. I kept trying to find a way to position myself that made the pain tolerable. Very quickly I got the urge to push. I remember looking up and there was one of my midwives smiling at me. I asked her if I could push, and she said if I felt like I wanted to, then I should. Things are a bit of a blur after that, but I remember only pushing a couple of times, and when I finally did push out my baby I didn't realize it right away. I remember hearing Christina, my midwife, calling my name, telling me to catch my baby. I then have a vague memory of Mathieu diving across me and scooping up the baby and putting it into my arms. It was a feeling of disbelief. The baby was here!! I looked at this tiny creature in my arms with wonder and disbelief. I remember coming out of it and asking if it was a boy or a girl... it was a boy. A boy!! We had both thought from the beginning that our baby had been a girl, even after an ultrasound had said it was a boy. He was so tiny! Tiny feet and tiny hands and he lay still curled up into my chest as I held him close. He did not cry. Mathieu and I looked at each other and then at this tiny being that had been so active in my belly for months. He was beautiful. And a darkish purple. And covered with a waxy substance all babies are born with called vernix. He had a full head of dark hair. I sat, in the tub with my new little family in a sort of daze, with love pouring out of every pore of my body and being. It was done. He was born. :)

A Baby

Sweet baby Liam was born in the tub and all natural after 4 hours of labour. He arrived more than three weeks early but was born a healthy baby to very happy parents.

After a few minutes in the tub together, the midwives said I should get out and come over to the bed so that they could listen to the baby's heart and prepare for the arrival of the placenta. As I held him, I was helped to stand up and get out of the tub making my way over to the bed where the midwives listened to his heart and measured him. All the while, he never left my arms. I laid on the bed, marveling at this tiny creature who seemed so calm. His eyes were closed and he snuggled into me as I stared in wonder at his tiny body.

The midwives checked him over and made sure he was healthy. My husband got to cut the umbilical cord after some time so that the baby could benefit from the blood coming from the placenta. I was then told that I would have to deliver the placenta. My midwife said that I shouldn't be concerned, as although it was about the same size as the baby, it had no bones and would be easy to deliver. One of the midwives held on to the umbilical cord and pulled slightly at the same time that she told me to push. The placenta came out in one push and was taken by the midwives to be processed, as I had requested for it to be encapsulated.

After that, I was sewn up. I had torn quite badly - probably because everything had happened so fast (one of my midwives remarked that my labour had been the fastest first-time mama labour she had ever seen). The sewing up was intense and there was no anesthetic. It felt like it took forever, and my midwife kept telling me to focus on my beautiful baby and stop focussing on the pain. I remember wondering how much more trauma my poor lady parts could endure...

I was then asked to sit up and eat a little something and was handed a plate of cottage cheese and fruit which I ate, not realizing how hungry I was. While I was eating, the baby was taken out of my arms and weighed beside me, then given back to me. I was told that I needed to have a shower and that a couple of the midwives would help me to the bathroom and stay in the room in case I felt a bit faint. I remember getting up and feeling a bit woozy. I had a shower (which felt great) but soon did feel a bit dizzy so was told by the midwives to sit and just soak in the hot water for a bit. After that, I was lead back to my room where I was shown how to nurse and then told to relax until we were ready to go. It was so nice to just all sit in the bed together, my new little family and bask in our love for a little while. It was surreal and wonderful. I remember thinking that it was the reason we were here and that I couldn't have felt any more love at that moment. Once we had sat for a bit, we dressed the baby in his tiny shirt and pants and a hat and the midwives helped us to put him into the car seat, showing us how to strap him in safely. The midwives gave me the clothes I had worn when I arrived, nice and clean from the wash (they had washed and dried them, bless them!) and we dreamily got into the car. I hugged my midwives and drove my little family home. I remember being so grateful for having such a wonderful birth experience. I felt safe and like the midwives were there if I needed them, but that they were hanging back and letting us have our baby ourselves. My friend Michelle said to me the next day - "my gods, you guys had that baby yourselves, it was incredible!!" She took amazing (and emotional) pictures of the birth. They really convey the intense emotions of the experience.

The Placenta

Now, I wasn't sure that I would talk about the placenta, as it is a subject that many people find strange. For me, ever since I could remember I knew that I wanted to ingest my placenta, as many animals in the wild do. The placenta offers many vitamins, nutrients and health benefits to the mother after the hardship of pregnancy and birth. I am not sure they would give you this option at the hospital, but most midwives and birthing centre's have the option to keep your placenta. Something that was new to me, was that they can now do something called "encapsulation" which means that the placenta is taken after delivery and refrigerated, then dried and made into capsules to make it easier to ingest. This is pretty cool as you used to get the placenta in its entirety and would have to cut it up into bits and be creative about what you did to it, either juicing it, adding it to a stir-fry or whathaveyou.

Because the encapsulation process takes between 24-48 hours, my midwife kindly cut a piece off to give to us so that I could have it for the next day or two until she could get the capsules to us. My husband and I ate it the next evening fried up with some oyster mushrooms. It was a bit spongy but surprisingly good (oyster mushrooms make everything delicious, don't they??). And let me just say that if you are lucky enough to find someone who believes the same things you do, will be in the tub with you while you have a baby and also eat the placenta with you, you are very lucky indeed. <3

I honestly feel that in those weeks after giving birth I felt better, stronger and more even keeled emotionally because of the fact that I was taking my placenta capsules. In Chinese medicine, pregnancy, and especially childbirth are very depleting to blood and qi, so resting (the Chinese concept of "golden month' is something I will write about later) and doing everything you can to build blood and qi are important for the mother's recovery.

The Aftermath

Calling this section "the aftermath" may seem a bit negative, like the phase experienced after a war, but that is literally what it felt like. Physically and emotionally, I felt like I had been through a sort of war. I was very lucky to have had an easy pregnancy with very few symptoms or discomfort. My appointments at the midwives usually consisted of a conversation like this:

Midwives - "How are you feeling?"
Me - "Great! I am feeling really good."
Midwives - "Ok, excellent, we will see you next month."

Near the end, things got a little uncomfortable - and that is just because you are so enormous. Things like sleeping, lifting things, and getting around get a little harder too. All in all, I had a very easy pregnancy. I remember thinking during all those midwife appointments that I barely needed them. Little did I know, I would need them later. A lot. :)

The first couple of weeks after the birth were the hardest. The worst part was that I couldn't sit. Everything was so, um, sore that sitting was impossible. I had to get very creative about nursing. My body was exhausted, and all of my focus was on this tiny person, who, for many days didn't even have a name. My husband and I were so absolutely sure that we were having a girl that we didn't have a name for a boy and it took us some time to choose the right one. ;) The baby was nursing every few hours and he was so tiny that I was terrified that he would get crushed or that we would roll over on him or that the cat would try to eat him... and you are so tired that everything becomes very surreal and your ability to cope becomes eroded because of a serious lack of sleep. I also had terrible digestive problems after Liam was born that went on for about 6 months. We had a lot of company in those few months after he was born too, which was difficult. Of course, your friends and family are so happy and want to see the baby, but you are not at your best and still figuring out your new life with your babe and having people there all the time was stressful and made me more exhausted than I already was. I think if I were to do it again I would take some time, at least a month or two before I would have family come and stay just to get some time to bond with my new family.

I also had a hard time nursing and the baby was underweight at my first postnatal appointment which was hard and very emotional. He was put on a rigorous feeding schedule and I had to keep track of every feeding for weeks as well as have him weighed constantly to make sure that he was gaining enough weight.

All in all, those first few months after Liam was born were the most difficult. You have this new life to worry about that is completely dependent on you and your good judgment. Everything is new and you are trying your best to do everything right while only sleeping a few hours at a time (if you're lucky). You are feeling like an emotional train wreck because your hormones are readjusting and everyone around you is giving you advice and telling you what to do. Your body feels ruined and like it will never be the same. You want to cry because you are so happy. You want to cry because you are so tired. We got through it, and things got better once I set up a bit of a schedule and returned to listening to my instincts, which have never failed me.

The Choice is Yours

With all the books, blogs, doctors and mothers out there, having a baby can be a daunting experience. Everyone has advice they want to give you. Often when you have not asked for it. There are a billion theories on how to have a baby and raise a child and it is hard to know what to do. If you are strong willed and stubborn like I am, then you have some pretty clear ideas about how you want to do those things and you may spend a lot of time justifying and explaining to friends and family who don't agree with the way you are doing things. This uses up precious energy that you should be spending on your sweet baby!

I think that we live in a world of magnificent diversity, and there are many ways to do all of the things we do. Each person needs to find the way that resonates with them. This is sometimes easier said than done, but having a baby and raising children is an intensely personal experience and I believe everyone needs to do it in a way that makes sense to them. I decided to have a baby at a birth centre, in the tub, with midwives because that was important to me. I wanted to bring my child into the world in the most natural and gentle way possible. I wanted to be in control (well, as much control as possible) of my birth experience, and I knew that my midwives would respect my wishes. They absolutely did and I ended up having a wonderful birth, exactly the way I wanted it. I feel very lucky that I could choose to have that experience because I know that many women do not have the luxury of choosing how they give birth.

A New Life

Sweet Liam is now 10 months old, and a very sweet, good-natured, happy baby. I learn so much from him, and I love watching him discover and explore the world. He is a pure Buddha in that he is absolutely in the moment and the embodiment of joy and love. I realize that all of the experiences that I have had and all the things I have done in my life were to make me a better mother for him, so that I could share the things I learned and give him the wisdom of those experiences. I also feel so blessed that I get to be his mother in this life. I believe that children choose us, and I am honoured that he chose us to be his parents. I love him more than I knew was possible.

Something else that I have noticed, is a razor sharp focus on my child and my new family. I want to fully experience every moment and look forward to every day I have with my new family. I have had a crazy life. I could write several books on the insane experiences, wild travel and other crazy things I have done. Let's just say that I have lived my life FULLY. I am so grateful now, that I did all those things before I had Liam. I can't wait for the next chapter when I get to live this new adventure with him and my sweet little family. <3

 

Natural Water Birth : Chinese Medicine Living

** to my wonderful friend and excellent photographer Michelle Donner who was there throughout (although I didn't say a word to her as I was really concentrating) who beautifully photographed the entire event. She took all the photographs in this post. Please see her site here for more of her beautiful photographs. **

Thank you my friend. I love you.


Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea for Liver Detoxification

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Liver/ Gallbladder Disease

The liver is the sole organ in promoting and detoxifying the blood. Promoting liver health is similar to promoting blood. Spring is the best season to address liver health because it is the beginning of a new cycle of growth and the liver needs to produce more blood to support the growth. To protect and improve liver health, we need to observe the following guideline:

1. Drink More Water

Water is important to keep fluid moving and to clean out toxins from the body. Water helps in digestion, circulation of nutrients and detoxification of blood. The more toxins we can clean out of the body, the lesser burden it will be for the liver. Green color foods can increase the detoxifying function and mung bean is the best choice. Cooking mung beans in boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes and drink the green water regularly throughout spring and summer is best to support detoxification and can cool down internal heat.

2. Eat A Regular, Balanced Diet

Both overeating or under eating can cause abnormal production of digestive enzymes and bile by the liver, therefore affecting its normal function. Foods should be bland in taste in spring and not too hot or spicy. It is best to eat more fruits and vegetables.

3. Not Too Much Alcohol

Moderate drinking can uplift liver yang energy but too much alcohol can damage the liver by giving it too many things to detoxify.

4. Stay Positive and Be Happy

Anxiety, anger, sad and worry are the emotions that can cause suppression to liver energy and damage the liver. Controlling these emotions can give positive and uplifting energy to the liver so that it can work at its best.

5. Get Adequate Exercise

Light outdoor exercise in spring such as hiking, jogging, and tai-chi can promote blood circulation which is good for promoting liver function.

6. Eat Foods That Benefit The Liver

Foods such as chrysanthemum, animal's liver, goji-berries, angelica, etc. can lower liver heat and enrich the blood. Eating some sour taste foods can help to promote liver health but overdoing it can suppress liver energy.

The Liver in Environmental Illnesses

The importance of the gut flora in ill health is becoming increasingly obvious as it is implicated as a cause of an increasing number of illnesses. The health of the gut has a substantial impact on the health of the liver as everything absorbed from the intestines passes through the liver so that harmful substances can be detoxified before the rest of the body is exposed to them.

In one study by doctors at Biolab UK, 61% of sufferers of undiagnosed chronic illnesses with predominant fatigue were found to have overgrowth of both bacteria and yeast in the gut1. As a result of their normal metabolism, these micro-organisms produce waste products that in increased amounts can be harmful to the liver and the person’s health as a whole. Yeast in particular produce a large amount of ethanol (drinking alcohol) which is highly toxic to the liver, in fact, alcohol is the single most toxic substance to liver cells. As well as producing increased amounts of toxic substances for the liver to deal with, yeast or bacterial overgrowth also causes damage to the intestinal lining causing 'leaky gut'.

Increased gut permeability results in even more potentially toxic substances from the gut being absorbed to put further stress on the liver's detoxification pathways. A study of liver disease in alcoholics found that only the patients with a leaky gut developed cirrhosis of the liver2. This points to the possibility that in people with gut dysbiosis, not only is there chronic ingestion of alcohol but the leaky gut caused by bacterial and/or yeast overgrowth leads to more severe effects on the liver from the alcohol produced. If the liver is overwhelmed by toxins from the gut and from chemicals in everyday use it won't function correctly and may even become damaged and inflamed. As a result, not all toxins entering the liver are detoxified and gain access to the bloodstream to travel anywhere in the body. These toxins and the excess of free radicals (highly reactive forms of oxygen) caused by poor liver function can cause direct damage to tissues and also initiate allergic or auto-immune reactions. Un-neutralized toxins are also expelled into the bile in this situation and can further damage the intestinal lining, setting up a vicious cycle in which gut dysbiosis and leaky gut cause poor liver function which in turn worsens the gut dysbiosis and leaky gut.

As mentioned earlier, the liver requires large amounts of energy and nutrients to function efficiently. If the liver is overwhelmed by toxins, these nutrients can become depleted and the liver will function inefficiently resulting in numerous symptoms and problems throughout the body. Many of these nutrients can be replaced by supplementation, improving the functioning of the liver. There are also a number of herbs and other methods that can heal a damaged liver and improve detoxification functions.

Herbs for the Liver

Milk Thistle (Silymarin)

Milk Thistle for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from medicinalplantsindia.com

The milk thistle plant contains silymarin and related flavonoids which are some of the most potent liver-protecting substances known. These flavonoids are powerful antioxidants so protect the liver from damaging toxins and free radicals. They also stimulate healing and the production of new liver cells and cause the liver to increase production of glutathione, the bodies most important antioxidant and detoxifying substance. Silymarin has been proven to both protect liver cells and repair existing damage in animals intoxicated with mushroom toxins, medicines, heavy metals or toxic organic solvents3. Human studies have also shown decreased mortality in patients with alcoholic liver damage who are treated with silymarin3. Milk thistle is commonly available in capsule or tincture form and a common dose would be 200mg 2/3 times per day. For hepatitis and cirrhosis doses of 400mg or more 3 times per day are common.

Burdock

Burdock for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from commonsensehome.com

Burdock contains a number of nutrients important to liver function. These include vitamins B1, B6 and B12 which are essential for the function of phase 1 liver detoxification's pathways, vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant and sulphur which is essential for a number of important phase 2 liver detoxification pathways in which potent toxins created by phase 1 detoxification are neutralized. Phase 2 pathways requiring sulphur include those utilizing glutathione. Burdock also contains other substances such as arctiin which act to improve liver and gallbladder function.

Dandelion

Dandelion for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from smallfootprintfamily.com

Clinical studies have shown dandelion extract to have protective effects against lipid peroxidation and free radicals, both damaging products of a poorly functioning liver4. Like burdock, dandelion contains a wealth of nutrients important to liver function, especially the B vitamins. It cleanses the liver and increases the production of bile. Dandelion is often used as a herbal treatment for all liver diseases of the liver including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and jaundice.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an infection or inflammation of the liver due to viruses of "A", "B" and "C". Drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated seafood can result in hepatitis A. It can easily spread through person-to-person contacts. Hepatitis B is usually contracted from bad blood or infected needles or sexual activity. Hepatitis C is always acquired from blood transfusions. The major symptoms are fever, flu-like symptoms, weakness, poor appetite, fatigue, dark urine and light-colored stools. Most people who got hepatitis can eventually recover with proper nutrition and complete rest. However, liver disease caused by alcohol can lead to death.

Chinese medicine sees hepatitis as damp heat invasion causing spleen dampness, liver energy congestion, blood coagulation, disharmony of liver and spleen, and liver-kidney yin deficiency. An Infectious virus, excessive alcohol consumption, and irregular eating habits can impair the normal functions of the spleen, therefore affecting liver and gallbladder's ability to regulate bile. Bile will then deposit in muscles, skin, bladder, creating yellowish eyes, face and urine. Treatments focus on clearing heat, removing dampness, harmonizing spleen, and nourishing yin. Herbs commonly prescribed are capillaris, atractylodes, aconite, persica, and carthamus.

Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowish pigmentation of the skin. Jaundice is often seen in liver diseases such as hepatitis or liver cancer. It may also indicate obstruction of the biliary tract, for example by gallstones or pancreatic cancer. Turmeric in yellow curry is effective in treating jaundice.

The diet for people with liver disease should be low in protein, low fat and avoid raw fish and shellfish. Avoid spicy and highly processed foods. Sweet potatoes can lower the yellowish color in the skin. Foods that are diuretic, such as job's tear, are useful in removing dampness. Drinks made of bitter melon and dates are tonics for the liver. Dandelion and burdock are effective in cleansing the liver and the bloodstream. Licorice is used for treating viral hepatitis. Honey can promote proper functioning of liver cells, lower liver fat and promote proper circulation of blood and lower blood pressure. Green pepper and bitter melon are best for releasing liver fire with symptoms of red and dry eyes. White turnip soaked in vinegar can promote bile movement and help to secrete gall bladder stones and kill cancer cells.

Gallstones

Gallstones are formed by stagnant bile flows, secreted by the liver and passed to the gallbladder for storage. First, it formed sludge and then stones. When the stones are small, they will pass through into the intestines and out. If they are large and got stuck in the bile duct, they will cause a sharp, stabbing sensation. Most elderly people have gallstones due to excess cholesterol, high sugar and fat diet and overweight. Women on the pill are more likely to have gallstones. The symptoms are bloating, upper abdominal discomfort, flatulence and food intolerance.

Diet plays an important part in preventing the formation of gallstones and reduces the frequency of their attacks. The preventive diet consists of fruits, vegetables, fiber, no sugar, and little saturated or unsaturated fat. A vegetarian diet is recommended. Lemon juice with olive oil before bedtime will help to eliminate gallstones. Apple juice, pear juice, and beet juice are good for cleaning out the system. Sour white turnip promotes the production of bile and prevents the formation of gallstone. Walnut and celery can help to pass out small stones and so is sour plum juice.

Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea

Chrysanthemum Flowers for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Chrysanthemum Flowers 

SYMPTOMS:

Eyes with white secretions at both corners of the eyes, especially upon waking up in the morning.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Lowers liver heat and clear toxins in the eyes and liver.

Licorice Root : Chinese Medicine LivingLicorice Root : This lovely image from Mountain Rose Herbs

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chrysanthemum (ju hua) 菊花 – 30gm
  • Licorice (gan cao) 甘草 – 15gm

1.   Rinse herbs and cook both ingredients with 3 cups of water over medium heat down to one cup of tea (about 15 minutes).

2.   Strain and drink tea.

USAGE:

No restriction.

The beautiful featured image photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash