Watercress - The New Miracle Food

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watercress and Fish Soup

Moisturizes and promotes vital fluids

Watercress, Chicken Liver & Gizzard Soup

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

Watercress, Lo-han quo and Pork Soup

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

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

Watercress, Duck Kidney and Pork Soup

watercress soup ingredients

INGREDIENTS (for about 4 servings)

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

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Watercress - promotes vital fluids to lubricate lungs and relieves cough

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

Duck kidney – promotes kidney health

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

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

DIRECTIONS

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

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

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

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

5. Rinse other ingredients.

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

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

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

Watercress Soup for health


Loving Your Heart in Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

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

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

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

Heart Health in Chinese Medicine

The Heart Houses the Shen

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

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

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

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

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

Chinese Tongue Diagnosis

this image from tobybluewolf.com

Opens to the Tongue

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

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

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

What Can I Do To Keep My Heart Healthy?

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

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

Heart Foodsthis beautiful image from gaiahealthblog.com

Foods Beneficial to the Heart

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

Exercises for the Heart

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

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

Clenching Fists

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

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

Reaching for the Sky

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

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

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

Knee Push

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

Tranquil Breathing & Teeth Clenching

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

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

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

The Heart and Your Emotions

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

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

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

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

The Heart in Chinese Medicine :: Chinese Medicine Living


Recipe for Nursing Colds/Flu

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

This winter has been a worse-than-average flu season and many people have been infected. The Western medicine approach of using antibiotics to fight the cold and flu virus is “over-prescribing” because the success rate has only been around 20%. The overuse of antibiotics has caused many experts to project an imminent “antibiotic apocalypse”.

On average, adults can get two to four colds per year and kids can get as many as six to eight. This is why the ailment is called the COMMON cold/flu. Normally by treating it with enough rest and proper dietary care, the body will be able to recover within days if not a week, without having to use drugs. Usually, it is only people in poor health that can develop serious symptoms and complications that can result in death in extreme cases.

Chinese Medicine knows a lot about the common cold/flu. The renowned classic textbook called The Theory of Febrile Disease describes the different stages and manifestations of the illness. It gives a detailed explanation on what and how to use proper dietary care to speed up recovery and to prevent the illness from going deeper into the body. The key to dietary care is to know what not to eat and what to eat, and to stick to it.

For wind-cold type of conformation, it is crucial not to eat cold foods (temperature wise as well as foods that are cold in nature). This includes cold drinks and foods, fresh fruits and raw vegetables, and cooling foods and herbs. Eat only hot and warming foods and drinks. The common condiments found in most kitchens such as ginger, garlic, scallions, vinegar, pepper, chili and onion are all effective in helping the body to raise its internal temperature to drive out coldness and to kill bacteria and viruses. They are tried-and-true remedies and are suitable for most people. We just need to be mindful to not take more than our stomach can handle especially hot spices and vinegar.

For wind-heat type of conformation, using foods that have a cooling nature such as tofu, daikon, Chinese pears, mung beans, water chestnut, chrysanthemum tea and bok-choy are highly recommended.

In all cases, deep-fried foods and hard to digest foods are restricted because they are more work for the body to digest when it needs all its energy to heal. Plain, easy to digest, fluid and semi-fluid foods such as soup and congee are most suitable. Nutrient dense foods, warming and enriching foods and herbs are to be avoided because they can intensify the virus and prolong the suffering.

Here is a recipe which is most suitable for treating influenza and coughing with phlegm. Take it as many times as needed until most symptoms are gone. Please also refer to our website www.nourishu.com for many other related recipes.

Snow-Ear Mushroom, Fritillariae and Pear Soup

SYMPTOMS

Cold and flu with cough, chronic dry cough, weakened lung function with lack of energy and difficulty breathing.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Treats cold/flu with sore throat and headache, nourishes lungs, clears heat in the lungs, clears phlegm, astringes cough and promotes vital fluids.

Recipe1

INGREDIENTS

Fritillariae Cirrhosae (chuan bei mu) 川貝母 – 5 grams

Snow-Ear Mushroom – 20 grams

Chinese Pear – one

Honey – to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Crush chuan bei into powder.

2. Rinse and soak mushroom for 30 minutes. Cut out bottom brown stem and separate into smaller pieces.

3. Skin pear, cut into halves and hollow out seeds in the centre.

4. Put chuan bei powder in the center of pear and put pear in a casserole.

5. Add mushroom and enough water to cover the pear (about 1.5 cups). Add honey to taste (about 2 spoonfuls) and cover casserole with lid.

6. Use a slightly bigger pot with water and a stand at the bottom to steam the casserole for about an hour. Add hot water regularly to the cooking to prevent drying.

7. Serve warm and be sure to eat it all for full therapeutic effect.

recipe2

USAGE

To be taken once a day on an empty stomach. This recipe is suitable for all ages.


Why We Should All Do Qi Gong

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I suspect we have all seen the groups of elderly Chinese in parks, moving gracefully in unison, seeming to be listening to something that cannot be heard by the rest of us. I have this memory as a child, living across from a huge park I would go out to walk the dog and sit in the grass, watching them. They were so beautiful, moving all together, like a flock of birds, communicating by some unseen force, many individuals, moving as one.

I later would discover that this was Qi Gong.

A Brief History of Qi Gong

Qi Gong has been practiced in China for thousands of years. Its purpose was to build the body’s internal energy or qi to promote health and fight disease. In 1122BC the I-Ching or book of changes was one of the first books to introduce the idea of qi. People used the concept of the universe to explain the laws of nature which was seen to be an integration of three fundamental energies - heaven above, earth below and man between them, joining the two. Studying the relationship between the three was the first step in the development of Qi Gong. During the Zhou Dynasty (1100-221BC), Lau Tzu, founder of Taoism, wrote about breathing techniques in his famous book the Tao De Jing. Interest in qi was heightened, and Qi Gong became an integral part of the development of traditional Chinese medicine along with concepts like yin and yang and the theory of the five elements.

Later, duning the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220AD) Buddhist meditation techniques arrived in China from India, integrating meditation with Qi Gong practice. Buddhist practitioners worked to cultivate their qi, strengthen their internal organs and control mind, body and spirit to achieve enlightenment and avoid the cycle of reincarnation.

It was during the Liang dynasty (502 - 577AD) qi gong was integrated into martial arts. This was a powerful union, as external martial arts like kung fu with its quick, explosive movements with an emphasis on strength, power, agility and flexibility, joined with the internal art of Qi Gong which focusses on using mindful breathing to strengthen the body, cultivate the mind and spirit, prevent and cure disease and increase longevity. Qi Gong practices were also introduced from other countries including Japan, India and Korea as information passed more freely from country to country.

Qi Gong developed into many traditions, each having its own purpose and methods. Below is a brief description of each.

Buddhist Qi Gong

Aims to liberate the mind, cultivate virtue and to obtain enlightening wisdom. The human body is considered a tool for attaining enlightenment. (84000 approaches mentioned in history; most popular type of Qi Gong.)

Taoist Qi Gong

Stresses preservation of the physical body and high virtue. Many Taoist Qi Gong masters enjoyed long lives. (3600 approaches are mentioned throughout its history.)

Confucian Qi Gong

Aims to promote high moral character and intelligence

Medical Qi Gong

Medical Qi Gong emphasizes the free flow and balance of qi (vital energy) in the body. The primary purpose is to treat illness or cure a disease. Medical practitioners learn how to use the inner qi for diagnosis and healing.

Martial Arts Qi Gong

Trains the body for protection from cuts by weapons or attacks using the four limbs. It also trains the body to deliver fatal blows enhanced with qi.

There are basically two ways to practice Qi Gong. One is with a series of gentle movements, or sets, where one moves systematically through the set, smoothly transitioning from one movement to the next, concentrating on the breathing and mindful awareness. The other is to practice Qi Gong by standing, sitting or lying  also paying close attention to the breath. This focus on breathing is to strengthen the immune, digestive and circulatory systems as well as strengthening qi and gaining an awareness of what is happening inside the body and mind. It is most effective when practiced outside, being connected to nature and the cosmos, which  is why it is so common to see groups of people practicing it in parks and outdoor spaces.

The doctor of Chinese medicine learns these practices so that he may cultivate his qi, developing an awareness of both his qi and the qi in everything around him. This leads to the ability to diagnose and restore balance in his patients using all of the tools in his Chinese medicine toolkit, including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, cupping, tuina and guasha.

Qi Gong is an excellent way to develop an awareness of your own internal energy and become more sensitive to that energy if it becomes unbalanced. It is also an avenue to restore that balance when it should arise. It is a practice that emcompasses all parts of our being, helping us to become more aware and with skill, to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit.  


9000 Needles Documentary - Review

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Devin Dearth looks like he could bench press a group of ten year olds without breaking a sweat. He is a championship bodybuilder and goes to the gym every morning to train. A loving husband and father and devout Christian, he and his family live in a small town in rural Kentucky and by all outward appearances, he seems to have the perfect life.

DevinBodybuilder

At 40, Devin suffers a devastating stroke caused by a bleed in the brainstem which leaves him paralyzed on one side, unable to walk, with blurred vision and  difficulty speaking. In an instant, his life is changed forever.

On top of adapting to the challenges of a serious brain injury, the Dearth family begin their difficult journey as they navigate the healthcare system trying to get Devin the care he needs to recover. They face many obstacles as they discover the frustrations and limitations of the US healthcare system.

DevinHospital

As Devin moves from rehabilitation into home care, his family can see that the progress that he showed soon after treatment began has slowed and they worry that without continuous and intensive medical care, Devin will lose his chance to make a full recovery.

Doug Dearth, seeing his brother grapple with his condition and his family struggle to take care of him and administer his care, decides he needs to find an alternative to give his brother a better chance at recovery. He finds a program in Tianjian China that offers a stroke rehabilitation program combining Western and traditional Chinese medicine like herbs and acupuncture. The brothers don’t know anything about Chinese medicine, but they are running out of options and the window for recovery is quickly closing. After proposing it to Devin and his family, they decide to travel to China to try the program.

The community, hearing about this new hope for Devin’s treatment and recovery, rally to the family’s aid and help them raise the funds they need to travel to China so he can participate in the stroke rehabilitation program. Devin and his brother Doug, who is also a documentary filmmaker, go to China and Doug documents the mysterious treatment that his brother receives using acupuncture, herbs and other Chinese medical modalities. We are witness to Devin’s treatment and the struggles he faces while he fights his way to recovery with the encouragement and support of a group of doctors assigned to his care. With their kindness, compassion and wisdom, Devin’s doctors and caregivers in China help him to face the daily challenges of treatment and rehabilitation, and the outcome teaches us that with the fierce determination of the patient and wisdom, knowledge and compassion of the doctor, there is nothing that cannot be overcome.

DevinChinaDocs

An incredibly inspiring story.

Watch the trailer.

 

If you would like to buy the 9000 Needles DVD, please click here.

 

 


Acupuncture Lays Insomnia To Rest

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

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

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

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

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

LIVER HEAT/FIRE

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

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

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

HEAT & PHLEGM

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

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

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

SPLEEN & HEART DEFICIENCY

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

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

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

KIDNEY DEFICIENCY

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

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

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

HEART & GALLBLADDER DEFICIENCY

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

TREATMENT PRINCIPLE

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

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

 


Recipe for Health & Longevity - Ginseng Congee

Invigorating the Qi Recipe - Ginseng Congee

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

Symptoms of Qi deficiency:

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

Ingredients

*Ginseng - 10g / 1/3oz

Polished Round Grain Rice - 100g / 3.5oz

Water - 3 cups

Instructions

1. Cut the ginseng into small pieces.

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

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

4. Add the rice to the ginseng soup.

5. Boil and simmer again for 40 minutes.

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

 

*Ginseng Types

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

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

Chinese Ginseng

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

Korean Ginseng

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

American Ginseng

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

 


Treating Infections with Herbal Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

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

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

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

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

Herbal Remedy for Fever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitions:

Diaphoretics

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

Laxatives

Laxatives promote the evacuation of the bowels

Diuretics

Diuretics increase the secretion and elimination of urine.

Herbs

Boneset

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

Part Used:

Dried Aerial Parts

Collection:

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

Yarrow

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

Part Used:

Aerial Parts

Collection:

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

Echinacea

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

Part Used:

Cone Flower, Roots

Collection:

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

Poke Root

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

Part Used:

Root

Collection:

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

Wild Indigo

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

Part Used:

Root

Collection:

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

Wormwood

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

Part Used:

Leaves or Flowering Tops

Collection:

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

Myrrh

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

Part Used:

Gum Resin

Collection:

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

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


Healing the Gallbladder with Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Gallbladder in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the Gallbladder has many important functions. Firstly, it has a very close relationship to the Liver. The Gallbladder is a Yang organ and the Liver is its Yin organ partner. The Gallbladder stores and excretes bile governs decision making and planning, controls the sinews and effects dreams. On a deeper emotional level, the Gallbladder is responsible for our passion for life, inspiration, action, and assertiveness. When we are having problems being assertive, making decisions or following through, are lacking passion, feeling timid or uninspired, we are experiencing an imbalance of the Gallbladder. When the Gallbladder is balanced and its energy is flowing freely, we are happy, healthy, assertive and passionate.

In TCM, organs are categorized as either Yin or Yang. Yin organs are defined as organs that produce, transform, regulate and store fundamental substances, such as Qi, Blood and body fluids, and in general, the Yin organs are not empty cavities. They are function versus form. The Yin organs in TCM are the Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lungs, and Kidneys. The Yang organs are organs that are mainly responsible for digestion and for transmitting nutrients to the rest of the body. Usually, they are organs with empty cavities and have a connection to the outside of the body. The Yang organs in TCM are the Gallbladder, Stomach, Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Bladder and San Jiao (Triple Burner).

The Gallbladder is unusual in the sense that it is the only Yang organ that does not have direct contact with food and drink or a direct connection to the outside of the body. Because of this, it is also considered an extraordinary organ.

Just as in Western medicine, the Gallbladder receives bile from the Liver which it stores until it is needed in the digestive process. When the Gallbladder releases bile, it is considered to be regulated by the energy of the Liver, or Liver Qi. When digestion is smooth, so is the Liver Qi. The Gallbladder also needs the Liver Qi to be able to release its bile smoothly. If this relationship is impaired, it can adversely affect digestion and cause problems like vomiting, regurgitation, belching and hiccups, which are all symptoms of rebellious Stomach Qi.

It is common in the modern age to see many patients who have had their Gallbladders removed because of gallstones and other problems. In ancient China, the organs were never removed. That has remained the thinking in Traditional Chinese Medicine today, and if a patient is having problems with their Gallbladder, the practitioner of TCM would always explore dietary options, herbs and acupuncture, and possibly cleanses before considering surgery as a last resort.

Why Do So Many People Have Problems With Their Gallbladders?

So, why do so many people have problems with their Gallbladders? It is a good question. I believe that one reason is diet, and the other is stress. These are 2 of the things that affect the gallbladder the most. Another, in Chinese medicine, is the emotions. Each organ in TCM is associated with an emotion. And the Liver/Gallbladder’s emotion is anger. Now, experiencing emotions is a healthy part of life and one of the things that make us human. But in TCM, the philosophy is that having a healthy emotional life is just as important to our health as eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping your Qi strong (your immune system) so that you can fight off pathogens. The effect of anger on the Liver/Gallbladder works 2 ways.

1. If you repress anger, hold it in and never express it, it will eventually hurt the Liver/Gallbladder and cause imbalance, which will lead to disease.

2. If you are experiencing unusual levels of stress because of things going on in your life (a traumatic event, death, an illness, breakup of a relationship), or stress at work, and/or are eating badly (lots of greasy, fatty, rich or spicy foods), then eventually, the Liver/Gallbladder will become impaired and can cause an excess of anger which can manifest in symptoms like red face & eyes, irritability, angry outbursts, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and migraines. These are symptoms of Liver Fire (excess heat in the Liver).

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

So, How Can You Take Care of Your Gallbladder?

Here are some things that you can do to keep your Gallbladder healthy and happy.

1. Avoid Greasy, Fatty, Rich or Spicy Foods

Sharp abdominal pains after eating these types of foods point to Gallbladder stones and other problems. Because the Gallbladder is responsible for releasing bile which helps break down fats, you want to keep intake of these foods to a minimum and not overload your Gallbladder.


Photo by Robin Stickel on Unsplash

2. Express Emotions Freely

This may be easier said than done, but any stagnation or blockage in TCM is what causes disease and pain. This includes emotions, so it is important to have a healthy emotional life, and always try to express what you are feeling instead of allowing it to build up. Emotions specific to Gallbladder are anger (frustration, resentment, etc..) associated with its partner, the Liver. Emotional changes such as depression (which is considered anger turned inward) can also point to a Gallbladder imbalance.

3. Eat Foods Grown Locally and in Season

This is a big one in Chinese Medicine, and, if you look at history, it is the way we are designed to eat. Our digestive systems have evolved to digest the foods that people were able to grow once we were able to leave our nomadic roots and start farming. People only ate foods that were available to them and grew in the present season. With the recent proliferation of air travel, we have been spoiled by being able to have whatever foods we want, any time of the year (strawberries in winter, blueberries in the tropics, mangoes in the far North...). And although this is wonderful, it is not the way our digestive systems were designed, so we are overloading them with too many kinds of foods at all times of the year. To be kind to your gallbladder, try to eat foods that grow locally and are available in the season you are presently in.

Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

In Chinese Medicine, nutritional therapy is a huge aspect of the medicine. What better way to heal the body than to use the food that we eat 3 times a day? In TCM, every food has a temperature, that interacts with your body, adding heat, cold, or keeping it neutral. Foods also all have healing properties, so the Chinese felt it very important to eat the proper foods when they became sick to help rebalance them so they could recover. I will include a list of some foods beneficial for the Gallbladder at the end of this article.

4. Exercise. Keep Moving!

The Gallbladder meridian runs bilaterally along the body starting at the outside corner of the eye (at the end of the eyebrow) and runs along the side of the body, ending at the corner of the nail bed of the 4th toe. Therefore, any exercise that stimulates the sides of the body are beneficial for the flow of Qi and to help remove any blockages in the Gallbladder organ and meridian. Side stretches are ideal. There are many Chinese internal as well as external martial arts that are excellent for mind, body, and spirit. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are 2 examples of internal martial arts that are beneficial for moving Qi in all of the meridians, as well as strengthening the body and the mind. Kung Fu is a bit more rigorous, but has an emphasis is circulating Qi throughout the body to maintain physical and mental health. Movement is the most important aspect for keeping your Qi from stagnating, so if Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Kung Fu are a bit more physical activity than you are used to, just simple things like walking are a wonderful way to keep Qi moving.

 

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

5. Be Kind to Your Gallbladder in Spring

Spring is the season related to the Gallbladder, and its partner the Liver.
The Spring element is wood, the taste, sour and the colour is green. So you can imagine after a lengthy winter, the new bright green shoots of plants breaking through the ground representing new life after a long, cold slumber. This is the reason that it is especially important to give the Gallbladder and the Liver a rest from things like caffeine, alcohol and other intoxicants during this time. It is also beneficial to cleanse these organs by drinking lots of water and eating things like fresh greens to nourish the Gallbladder and Liver, especially in the spring.

6. Know What Time It Is

In Chinese medicine, every organ is seen to have 2 hours out of every 12 where its Qi is at its peak. The time when the Gallbladder’s energy is it's most abundant is between 11pm-1am. During these 2 hours, it is helpful if you can refrain from drinking alcohol or other intoxicants, as they place unnecessary stress on the Gallbladder. It also helps the Gallbladder if you can rest the body as much as possible in these 2 hours.

Foods that are beneficial to the Gallbladder

  • Broccoli
  • Rocket
  • Beetroot
  • Oranges
  • Jasmine tea
  • Green tea
  • Radishes
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne (this may seem contradictory, but Cayenne is very moving for qi. Just remember moderation!)
  • Dill
  • Chive
  • Cardamom
  • Lemon
  • Dandelion root
  • Licorice root
  • Cumquat
  • Grapefruit
  • Kale
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Peppermint tea
  • Chrysanthemum tea
  • Tea with orange peel

 

Photo by Helena Yankovska on Unsplash

Foods that hurt the Gallbladder

  • Deep fried food - (Greasy)
  • Alcohol - (Damp)
  • Spicy foods - (remember moderation is important!)
  • Hot foods - Foods that are considered “Hot” in TCM are:
    • Lamb
    • Beef
    • Curry

If you are experiencing any Gallbladder symptoms, or have been told by your doctor that you should consider surgery, I encourage you to seek out a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and explore the non-surgical options to rebalance your body and heal your Gallbladder.

The wonderful thing about Chinese medicine is that it was developed to be a system that focuses on prevention. That is why, it is not only the oldest medical system on earth, but it teaches an entire way of life, teaching how to live in harmony with nature, eating with the seasons, moderation in work and play, exercise and emotional wellness. By practicing these basic principles, Chinese medicine teaches that you can maintain optimum health so that illness never has a chance to develop.

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If you suspect you are having problems with your gallbladder and would like an expert opinion, Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP offers skype consultations. For more information and pricing, see our Skype Consult Page.