Eight Treasures Dessert - The Nutrient Powerhouse

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Warming & Nourishing Dessert

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

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

Eight Treasures Dessert

SYMPTOMS

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

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Promotes vital fluids, lowers internal heat and moisturizes skin.

Eight Treasures Dessert : TCM Recipe

INGREDIENTS (3 to 4 Servings)

  • snow-ear mushroom – one

  • honey dates – four

  • gingko seeds – 20

  • apple – one

  • banana – one

  • fresh lily bulb – 50gm

  • egg – one

  • tapioca pearls / sagu – 25gm

  • sugar – to taste

    INSTRUCTIONS

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

USAGE

No restrictions and is suitable for all ages.

Remarks

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

 


Chinese Herbs - Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

A Brief History

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

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

Traditional Chinese Medicine - Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbalism is complex and can take a lifetime to master. Each herb has many different properties which interact with both the person taking them as well as the other herbs in the formula. Chinese herbs function much in the same way as acupuncture in that the goal is to rebalance the body using Qi (the body's intrinsic energy), Yin and Yang. Each herb has a thermal nature, a flavour, specific organs it acts upon and a direction in which it moves, and all must be balanced with incredible precision to achieve their desired outcome in the body. Because herbs are taken internally, they have a strong and often immediate effect and are incredibly powerful. They can be used in conjunction with acupuncture or other modalities, or alone, and are often chosen for chronic problems, long standing deficiencies or degenerative diseases because of their powerful nature.

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

Chinese Herbs for Health & Longevity

Modern Applications

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

Astragalus IV

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

Duanwood Reishi Spores

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

Schizandra

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

He Shou Wu

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

Goji Berries

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

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

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

Yin Yang Chinese Medicine


Chinese Yam – Nourishing to Spleen, Lungs & Kidneys

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

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

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties

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

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

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties

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

Fresh Chinese Yam and Mutton Soup

SYMPTOMS

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

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

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

INGREDIENTS

Recipe makes about 6 servings

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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

Chinese Yam Recipe & Healing Properties

USAGE

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

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

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

The Spleen - Theory in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Dampness in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Patterns in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen Associations in Chinese Medicine - Poster


Snow-Ear Mushroom - The Natural Internal Moisturizer for our Bodies

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

The best part of Chinese food culture is to eat according to the seasons. With fall in the air and the weather getting dryer, it is important to eat foods that can combat dryness and promote vital fluids to lubricate our lungs, joints and skin.

The best food that can do just that is snow-ear mushroom. The botanical name is Tremella fuciformis.  It is a species of fungus producing white, frond-like, gelatinous fruit bodies. They grow wild in the tropics on recently fallen branches of broadleaf trees. Nowadays, they are commercially cultivated and are one of the most popular fungi in Chinese cuisine. The snow-ear mushroom is commonly known as silver ear fungus or white jelly mushroom and is referred to as the poor-man’s bird’s nest because of its low price but with comparable health benefits.

Chinese Snow-Ear Mushroom

Chinese medicine defines snow-ear mushrooms as neutral in nature, sweet in taste and are known to lubricate lungs and joints, promote vital fluids, promote cell regeneration and blood circulation, moisturize and whiten skin and promote energy.

The mushrooms are sun-dried and are very light in weight but they can expand to 2 or 3 times their size after soaking in water for 5 to 10 minutes. The best ones are slightly yellowish in colour (the very white ones are probably bleached), but will become whiter after soaking, rinsing and cooking.  They are softer after being cooked but still retain some crunchiness. Snow-ear mushroom is mostly used in soups, desserts and vegetarian stews.

Chinese Snow Ear Mushroom Soup Recipe

My favourite recipe for snow-ear mushroom is to make soup with apples or pears (or both) and with pork. The ingredients can vary according to your taste and liking. The soup is very refreshing with fruity, sweet and sour taste and yet is also meaty and rich. It is very easy to make. With apples and pears being so abundant at this time of the year, it is the best soup for the whole family, both for taste and health benefits. Please also search the NourishU website  for other snow-ear mushroom recipes.

Chinese Snow Ear Mushroom Soup Recipe

Snow-Ear Mushroom, Apple and Pork Soup

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Promotes yin, improves vital fluids, benefits lungs, clears phlegm, moisturizes skin and the large intestine, promotes digestion, and improves skin complexion.

INGREDIENTS (6 to 8 servings)

  • Snow-ear mushroom 雪耳 – 2

  • Apples - 4

  • Northern / Southern apricot kernel 北南杏 - a handful

  • Lean pork / pork with bone- 240gm

  • Citrus peel (chen-pi) 陳皮- one piece (soak and scrape out white membrane)

  • Ginger – 2 slices

  • Dried figs – 3 to 4 (rinse and cut into halves)

Chinese Snow Ear Mushroom Soup Recipe

INSTRUCTIONS

1.   Wash pork, cut into large pieces and put them in boiling water to cook for a few minutes. Remove and rinse.

2.   Soak snow-ear mushroom for about 10 minutes or until fully rehydrated. Cut out the brown stem and separate them into smaller pieces, and rinse.

3.   Put pork with about 2 to 3 litres of water in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Remove foam if necessary. Add all other ingredients except apples and let it cook over medium heat for about one hour.

4.   Remove skin and core of apples and cut each into large slices and add to the cooking. Add more boiling water to the cooking if necessary and let it cook for another 30 minutes.

4.   Add salt to taste and serve.

Chinese Snow Ear Mushroom Soup Recipe

USAGE

No restrictions.


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

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

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

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

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

sex in Chinese medicine

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

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

Men and Women Are Not the Same

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

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

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

Sex in Chinese Medicine

Too Much Sex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Enough Sex

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

Sex and Love in Chinese Medicine

Sex is Not The Same as Love

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

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

Libido - Sex and Chinese Medicine

Problems with Sex

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

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

Chinese Herbs for Sexual Problems in Chinese Medicine

Chinese Herbs & Acupuncture

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

 


Winter Melon Healing Properties and Recipe

Winter Melon for Summer Heat

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Winter Melon

Winter Melon/Wax Gourd/Tong Qwa

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

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

Winter Melon

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

Winter Melon

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

Winter Melon

Winter Melon, Job’s Tears and Dried Mussel Soup

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

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

INGREDIENTS (4 to 6 servings)

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

DIRECTIONS

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

Winter Melon Soup Recipe

USAGE

No restrictions.

 


Curing Disease with Nutrition - Using Food as Medicine

Nutrition and dietary therapy is an essential aspect of Chinese medicine. The Chinese have known for thousands of years the direct correlation between what we eat and our health. Even before the development of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, foods were used by traditional peoples to heal diseases and build immunity.

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

Fighting Disease with Nutrition

Whole Foods

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

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

refined sugar is bad for your health

Refined, Unhealthy Food

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

Healthy Alternative

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

unrefined oils are bad for your health

Refined Oils & Fats

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

Healthy Alternative

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

eating for health - Chinese medicine nutrition

The Thermal Nature of Foods and People

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

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

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

Heat Patterns

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

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

watermelon is good in summer

Cooling Foods

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

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

Lemons Cooling Foods

Cold Patterns

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

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

cold

Heating Foods

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

heart fruits and vegetables

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

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

 

Hippocrates

If you are having health concerns and would like assistance, Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP offers Skype consultations.
Please email info@chinesemedicineliving.com for more info.


Loving Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Taking Care of Your Spleen Will Do Way More Than Improve Your Digestion

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

One of the most common things I see in my practice is problems with digestion. Interestingly, this isn’t usually the reason that people come to see me, but when I am going through the medical history, it usually comes up. The sad thing is that most people live with digestive problems when in TCM they are relatively easy to fix with a little treatment ,nutritional counselling and some tips on how to help support and strengthen our digestions.

Now, a lot of people think of the spleen as in the western medicine spleen, part of the immune system and responsible for the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes) and removal of old red blood cells. It is not the same as it is in TCM. The spleen in Chinese medicine is paired with the Stomach, and both are the main organs of digestion for the body. The difference is that they not only digest food, but also stimulus and information - everything that comes into the body through our sense organs.

What you learn your first year in Acupuncture school when learning TCM theory, is that we live in a Spleen deficient culture. We are constantly taking in information, and that information has to be processed by, you guessed it, the Spleen. We eat in front of the TV (taking in food, and stimulus at the same time), we are constantly looking at our mobile devices on the road and wherever we go, and we are always multitasking. Never doing just one thing at a time. And thus, we are overloading our poor Spleens.

So, what can we do? There are lots of things that, once you are aware of them, can help take the burden off your Spleen.

Don’t Put Ice In Your Drinks.
Avoid Cold Foods.

The Spleen hates cold, so one easy way to help your Spleen is to avoid ice in your drinks. Because the Spleen is responsible for breaking down your food through the process of digestion, and this is powered by heat. Eating and drinking cold foods such as icy drinks, eating ice cream (a TCM nono!), or eating a lot of frozen or very cold foods (many foods in raw form are considered “cold”) taxes the Spleens energy, as it has to heat up again to be able to do the work necessary for digestion.

Be Mindful.

This is not just good advice for helping your Spleen, but a good life philosophy. One of the best things you can do for your Spleen is to do one thing at a time and be absolutely mindful when you do it. This means when you are eating, JUST EAT. Don’t sit in front of the TV, read, study or catch up on work. In such a fast-paced world where everyone is short on time, it is understandable that people are always doing many things at once, but this small thing will not only help your Spleen, it will relax your mind and body as well.

Chew Your Food.

We can all help our Spleens by making sure that we really chew our food well. We tend to all be in such a hurry that we do not chew our food nearly as well as we should. Chewing will help the breakdown of the foods before they get to the stomach, making the Spleens job a little easier.

Eat Soups.

Since most of us have at least some Spleen deficiency, one of the best things you can do to be kind to your Spleen is to eat soups. These are warming (the longer and slower they are cooked, the more warming they become) and they are very easy to digest which is why they are prescribed to you when you are sick - your body requires less energy to digest them, focussing its energies to fighting pathogens and getting you well. Soups do not take a lot of energy to digest, saving the Spleens energy for other things. There are many foods that are beneficial to the Spleen which I will list later in the article. I will also list foods that the Spleen is not so fond of so you can at least be aware of what they are and avoid them when you can.

Take A Break.

Because we live in a culture that is so bombarded by stimulus, most people have deficient Spleens. The Spleen must take in and process ALL that information, including the food we eat and liquids we drink, so you can imagine, it is a very hard working organ. Something that you can do to give your Spleen a break, is to literally, take a break. Go for a walk outside. Leave your phone at home. Sit somewhere quiet and meditate away from the TV, the phone and try to avoid interruptions. Doing this even once a day for a few minutes will really help the Spleen and you will notice a big difference in how you feel. You will notice that you are calmer, more aware and feel more at peace. And your Spleen will love you.

The Spleens Functions in TCM

The Spleen is responsible for many functions so that if you have symptoms in any of these areas, they point to a disharmony of the Spleen.

The Spleen Controls Blood

The Spleen is responsible for manufacturing the Blood and the Spleen Qi keeps it in the vessels. If Spleen-Qi is weak, a person will bruise easily, and/or will have problems with bleeding.

muscles

The Spleen Controls The Muscles And The Four Limbs

The Spleen is responsible for circulating nutrients to the muscles and tissues. If the Spleen is weak, then the muscles and limbs are not nourished and become weak and tired.

The Spleen Is Responsible For Transformation & Transportation

The Spleen is responsible for the intake, processing, and distribution of nutrients extracted from food and drink. The Spleen takes these nutrients and creates Qi and Blood, both vital substances for all the body’s functions and maintaining proper health. If transformation and transportation is functioning properly, the Qi is strong, digestion is smooth and the body is kept moist. When malfunctioning, the Qi is weak (lassitude and lethargy), the appetite is poor, digestion is sluggish and the stools are loose and watery.

The Spleen manifests on the lips

The Spleen Opens Into The Mouth & Manifests In The Lips

Chewing is necessary for the functioning of the Spleen and if the Spleen is deficient, the sense of taste may be dulled. Red, moist and vibrant lips indicate a healthy Spleen. If the Spleen is deficient, however, the lips will be pale from lack of nourishment.

Controls The Upright Qi

The Spleen is responsible for the body’s “holding” function. This is called the upright Qi. It is specifically the force that counteracts gravity when it comes to holding things, specifically the organs, in place. This is very important! Without healthy upright Qi, all of our organs would be at the bottom of our abdomen! When the Spleen is weak, we see prolapse of organs (uterus, bladder, stomach), prolapse of the vagina as well as things like hemorrhoids (prolapse of the anus, PLUS bleeding also attributed to the Spleen).

Houses Thought

Every organ in TCM is seen to have its own unique Spirit, and the Spirit of the Spleen is called the Yi. The Spleen is directly related to our capacity for thinking. How well we manage our thoughts, concentrate, exercise discernment, and form intentions are dependent on the strength of the Spleen.

Young Woman Biting Her Finger Nail

Worry - The Emotion of the Spleen

All organs in TCM also are associated with an emotion, and the emotion of the Spleen is worry. This works in two ways. Excessive worry will damage the Spleen Qi, and a deficient Spleen can weaken the mind and our capacity to think clearly and focus, leaving us susceptible to worry.

Colour food circle

Foods Beneficial For The Spleen

  • Organic lightly cooked vegetables, corn, celery, watercress, turnip, pumpkin, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, radish, caper
  • Brown rice, barley, amaranth, rye, oats
  • Legumes, kidney beans, adzuki beans, lentils
  • A small amount of lean organic meat, poultry and fish, tuna
  • A small amount of whole fruits (as opposed to just the juice), lemon
  • Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Seaweed, kelp
  • Green tea, jasmine tea, raspberry leaf tea, chai tea
  • Raspberry, peach, strawberry, cherry
  • Walnut, chestnuts, pine nuts, pistachios
  • Lamb, venison
  • Lobster, mussels, prawns, shrimp, trout
  • Black pepper, cinnamon bark, clove, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, sage, turmeric, thyme, horseradish, cayenne, nutmeg

preparing food

Foods That Hurt The Spleen

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Cold drinks
  • Fruit juice
  • Processed foods
  • Refined flour, pastry, pasta, bread
  • Cold raw foods
  • Refined sugar and sugar substitutes
  • Coffee, alcohol
  • Deep fried foods
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Bananas, avocado

When the Spleen is functioning well a person will feel energetic, their digestion will be smooth, their bowel movements will be regular and firm (not soft), thoughts will be clear and one will be able to concentrate.

When the Spleen is imbalanced there will be symptoms of digestive upset, loose stools, poor appetite, low energy, edema (water retention), nausea, vomiting, weakness in the four limbs, pale lips, organ prolapse, bruising and a feeling of cold.

Because most of us have some level of Spleen deficiency, we can all help our Spleens by being aware of simple things we can all do to take some of the pressure off this important organ. Your Spleen will love you for it. :)

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If you suspect you are having problems with your spleen and would like an expert opinion, Emma offers skype consultations. Please email emma@chinesemedicineliving.com for more information or to set up an appointment.

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

The Spleen - Theory in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Dampness in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Patterns in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen Associations in Chinese Medicine - Poster

Loving Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

 


Daikon - The Cancer Fighting Radish

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

The Oriental white radish is very common in most Asian cuisines because it is plentiful all year round and therefore very inexpensive. Besides price, daikon is known to many to be a healthy food choice. The Japanese, Korean and Chinese use daikon a lot in soups, stews and in pickles. It may be one of the reasons why Asian people, especially those eating their traditional diets are living healthier, longer lives than most others in the Western world.

Chinese medicine regards daikon or “lo-bak” as slightly cool in nature and sweet in taste. It acts on the lungs and spleen to clear phlegm, stop coughing, promote digestion, move stagnant qi or energy downwards, cool internal heat and prevent/stop the development of cancer cells. “Lo-bak” is commonly used in many home remedies.

One of the main reasons cancer is becoming more and more common nowadays is because our modern diet is creating the internal body environment to foster cancer growth. The over indulgence of food, especially meat, sugar and dairy products and the lack of high fibre vegetables, are making our gut too acidic. The over processed foods especially deep-fried and grilled foods are too hot in nature and are lacking the digestive enzymes necessary to break down food quickly therefore creating indigestion, heart burn, constipation and leaky gut syndrome. To correct all these internal problems and imbalances, daikon is most suitable and it is far more effective than any modern medicine can do without any side effects.

The best way to eat daikon on a regular basis is to make pickled daikon. It is most simple to make and can be kept in the fridge to last for months. It is best to eat it as a starter or eat with salad to promote appetite and to get the digestive juices flowing before eating the main meal. There are many other recipes on our website www.nourishu.com using daikon for curing cold/flu, for weight loss and for promoting qi.

pickled daikon

Pickled Daikon to Beat Cancer

There are numerous reports of how people have beaten cancer just by eating pickled daikon, even those with  cancer at an advanced stage. They did not only eradicate cancer, they regained good health as well.

This is really very good news. I believe we have nothing to lose by eating pickled daikon regularly. People who have cold and weak spleen/stomach conditions should not eat too much daikon because it will give them stomach pain.  Also, when people are taking potent herbs such as red ginseng, they should stay away from daikon for a few days because it will lessen the effectiveness of the herbs by passing it through too quickly.

cut daikon

INGREDIENTS

  • Daikon – one (large)
  • Salt – 2 spoonfuls
  • Rice vinegar – one bottle
  • Organic cane sugar – one cup or to taste

daikon radish

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Wash daikon (with skin) with a vegetable scrubber and rinse clean.
  • Cut out the top and bottom part, cut daikon into a few large sections and then cut each section diagonally into eight or ten pieces.
  • Put all in a stainless steel pot or container and add salt. Toss daikon to mix with salt for about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer all with juice to a glass container and add sugar and then vinegar to cover the daikon.
  • Shake well until all sugar is dissolved and put it in the fridge. The daikon is ready to eat in a week.

pickled daikon

USAGE

Use a clean fork to take out the required amount each time to prevent contamination. Use the vinegar separately for cooking or use it to cure mouth sores by drinking a small cup.


The Thyroid in Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland that wraps around the trachea (windpipe) in the throat. The thyroid’s function is to secrete hormones (thyroxine) that help regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy. Thyroid hormones are essential for the function of every cell in the body. They help regulate growth and the rate of chemical reactions as well as our body’s metabolism. Thyroid hormones also help children grow and develop.

thyroid

The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral found in some foods and in iodized salt, to make its hormones. The two most important thyroid hormones are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary gland, acts to stimulate hormone production by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland also makes the hormone calcitonin, which is involved in calcium metabolism and stimulating bone cells to add calcium to bone.

Thyroid disorders fall into two categories, hypo - or under active thyroid, and hyper - or over active thyroid. Here is a description of both, with a list of their symptoms.

HYPERTHYROID (over active)

Hyperthyroid results from an overactive thyroid that produces too much thyroid hormone. Below are a list of hyperthyroid symptoms.

  • high blood pressure
  • rapid heartbeat
  • moist skin
  • increased sweating
  • tremor
  • nervousness
  • increased appetite with weight loss
  • diarrhea, and/or frequent bowel movements
  • weakness
  • eyes that seem to bulge out of their sockets
  • and sensitivity of the eyes to light

 

HYPOTHYROID (under active)

Hypothyroidism is characterized by an under active thyroid gland. Symptoms of hypothyroid are below.

  • hoarse voice
  • slowed speech
  • puffy face
  • drooping eyelids
  • sensitivity to cold
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • dry hair and skin
  • depression

Traditional Chinese medicine regards both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism as imbalances of the Yin and Yang energy of the body. In Chinese medicine, Yin and Yang are considered the essential components of the material universe. Everything that exists has both Yin and Yang aspects. In the body, when Yin and Yang are in balance, we are healthy and able to ward off disease, but when Yin and Yang become imbalanced, illness develops.

When treating hypo or hyperthyroidism, a TCM practitioner will use acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary therapy and energy work like Tai Chi and Qi Gong to rebalance an individual's Yin and Yang. Chinese Medicine theory states that external factors (like diet, weather and physical injury or trauma) and internal factors (such as emotional states, mental stimulation and hereditary factors) are all contributors to changes in Yin and Yang.

acupuncture needles

Hyperthyroidism in Chinese medicine is considered a deficiency of the Yin energy of the body which is unable to control Yang and, because Yang is Fire, it flares upwards giving rise to hyperthyroid symptoms like anxiety, anger, dry mouth with a bitter taste - all symptoms of heat in the body.

Hypothyroidism is considered a deficiency of Yang causing excess Yin, which represents water or cold energy which causes symptoms like lassitude, poor memory, edema, being pale and feeling cold.

yin yang

There is some question as to why there seem to be so many cases of thyroid disorders in recent years, and why the numbers are increasing. Some theories suggest that we are getting better at diagnosing the disease, and others speculate that there is not enough iodine in the diet. I believe that in a world where we are constantly in a hurry, eating nutrient depleted foods covered in pesticides, and overloading our bodies with toxins like fluoride, that it is our lifestyles that have become toxic and are no longer as able to support health as they once were. If we were to look back even a generation ago, the food that was eaten was much closer to what grew out of the ground and people didn’t have to work 2 jobs to pay the mortgage. Other things that contribute are wearing tight, constrictive clothing that inhibits the movement of qi or energy throughout the body, energy that is important for all our physiological processes and psychological well being. We seem to have lost the balance in life and perhaps in some cases the meaning of life itself. In many traditions like those of the Native Indians, Ayurvedic medicine (the medicine of India) and Chinese medicine, there is a deep connection to nature and the world around us that is inseparable from the human being, and health on every level is an integral part of supporting us on the journey we are all on in this life and on this planet. In some ways, this seems to be getting lost.

girl

The good news is that these ancient systems like Chinese medicine are a treasure trove of wisdom that have thousands of years of practice and development. It would be overly simplistic to say that Chinese medicine is a medical system, it was designed as a way of life. Chinese medicine can teach us the art of living, and the goal is for every being to live harmoniously with themselves, the people and creatures around them and the natural world so that they can live long, happy and healthy lives.