Stages in a Woman's Life According to Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

One of the reasons that I fell in love with Chinese Medicine was the beautiful way that it sees the body, health - and when expanded outwards - everything in existence. It is simply a way of looking at things that, to me, makes perfect sense and resonates deeply and profoundly.

Women's medicine is the way that I came to Chinese Medicine - I found it when Western medicine was not able to help me. Just one session with my wonderful acupuncturist and I was left with an overwhelming feeling that this system was what medicine was supposed to be. At its foundation was true healing, empowered by the individual and facilitated by the practitioner.

The Concept of Jing

Jing is a concept that is unique to Chinese Medicine and is sometimes difficult to explain. Jing is considered to be one of the three treasures in Chinese Medicine. Jing, Qi, and Shen comprise the three treasures. Jing is defined as the source of our life, health, and longevity. Qi is like our life force - and the force that animates all living things. Shen is the spirit and is closely associated with the heart and "the mind" in Chinese Medicine. All three treasures must be balanced for us to be functioning at an optimum state of health and wellbeing.

The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine is one of the oldest medical textbooks on earth and was written around 240 BCE. It is in this text that the cycles of women and men are discussed. Women grow and mature in seven-year cycles and men in eight-year cycles.

Cycles for Women in Chinese Medicine

Women - 7 Year Cycles

7 years old

A woman’s kidney energy becomes abundant, teeth change and hair grows strong.

Kidney is a special term in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It not only has the function of controlling the urinary system, but also has a very important role – control the developing, growing, and reproduction. In terms of reproduction, you can think Kidney as a “Small Kidney”- the ovaries or testis.

At the age of 7, a woman’s reproductive system starts to develop.

14 years old

Her menstruation appears as the Ren meridian (the sea of Yin) flows and the Qi and blood in the Chong meridian (the sea of blood) becomes abundant, she can have children.

At the age of 14, her menstruation appears and she is able to have a child. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the age of menarche is one important factor to help make a diagnosis. If menarche is later than 14 years old, it often indicates lower fertility energy.

21 years old

Her kidney energy is balanced, her adult teeth become completely developed and her body grows to full height.

A woman’s energy, especially fertility energy is full at the age of 21.

28 years old

Vital energy and blood are abundant, her bones and muscles are strong, her hair grows to full length and her body is in optimal condition.

At the age of 28, a women’s fertile energy reaches its peak. This is considered the best age for her to have children.

35 years old

Her peak condition declines gradually. Her energy in the yang ming meridian declines. Her face starts to wither and her hair starts to fall out.

From 35 year old, she starts to have wrinkles on her face, and her overall energy and fertility start to decline. She is still however, able to have children.

42 year old

The three Yang channels - Tai Yang, Yang Mind, Shao Yang - energy begins to decline. Her face wanes and her hair begins to turn white.

From the age of 42, her physical energy and fertility energy declines and it becomes more difficult to conceive.

49 years old

The Ren meridian (Conception Vessel) and Chong meridian vital energy declines, her menstruation dries up, her physique turns old and feeble and she is no longer able to conceive.

From the 7-year-life cycle, we can see that, according to Chinese Medicine, a good age for a woman to have children is from 21 to 35, and the best age is around 28 years old when her energies are at their "peak".

These cycles are still relevant in diagnosing and treating women's health issues in the context of Chinese Medicine. These stages are of course just a guideline, but they are immensely helpful in understanding - in a general way - how men and women move through their lives and what strengths, needs and imbalances they may face in different stages. Chinese Medicine is incredibly complex and has a vast body of knowledge that has been collected over thousands of years, and this is why it is still able to treat the health problems that people in our modern world face.

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Beautiful featured image photo by Thomas Hafeneth on Unsplash


The Benefits of Breastfeeding

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Chinese medicine has always seemed like such a logical, common sense approach to medicine, at least to me. It takes what is natural and enhances and supports it to gain the maximum benefits. Whenever I am wondering about something, or how to tackle a problem or health concern, I always go back to nature because while nature may not always be kind, in my opinion, it is always right.

Human beings were brilliantly designed. Chinese medicine believes that the body has its own intelligence (that far exceeds our own which we attribute mostly to our brains), and this is what is really at the heart of the philosophy of Chinese medicine. It is also one of the reasons that it works so well, even now, 4000+ years after its inception. And so, when we look at having babies, it is the same. The body amazingly, has everything it needs to create life and nourish it after it comes into the world. All we have to do is support our bodies and give them what they need, and if everything is in balance and working properly, we are able to have babies and feed them everything they need to grow and develop into healthy children and hopefully, adults.

this sweet image from todaysparent.com

Breastfeeding Statistics

Recently, I was reading an article about the results of a study analyzing global trends in breastfeeding. I was surprised when it cited some statistics on the percentage of women who breastfed. In fact, it stated that only one in two hundred women in the UK breastfeed their babies until they are a year old. That is 0.5 percent and is in fact, the lowest rate anywhere in the world. The article continued...

To put that in context: 27 percent in the U.S., 35 percent in Norway and 44 percent in Mexico were still breastfeeding after one year. The rates were remarkably higher in much of the developing world, with Senegal (99.4 percent), Gambia (98.7 percent) and Malawi (98.3 percent) topping the league table.

The interesting thing to me as I read the article was that breastfeeding rates were far higher in countries that were poor compared to wealthier countries where breastfeeding rates were much lower. The truth is, that women is poorer countries breastfeed because that's what they have always done, for generations. Breastfeeding is not only free, but has immense health benefits for both mama and baby. In wealthy countries like the United States, Canada and Europe pharmaceutical companies have managed to work their way into hospitals and very often new mother's are offered free formula and told it has many added benefits and that breastfeeding is inferior. Out of a desire to do what is best for their babies, mother's often take the formula and never look back. The formula company has now gained a customer, which, at least in my opinion, is the whole point.

I remember in my first pregnancy, I got offered more formula than I could ever want. It felt like every time I bought anything baby related, I ended up receiving boxes of formula on my doorstep, and I kept having to give it away. I actually found it pretty aggressive they way it would show up at my door, and I would receive email after email asking me to redeem my coupon for free formula because it was the best thing I could give my baby. I ended up taking all of the formula to the birth centre and offered it to the midwives. They said they didn't want it and politely asked me to take it away. Their thinking was that if a woman CAN breastfeed, she should. And I agree.

Breastfeeding is Not Always Easy

It has been humbling for me to have studied and practiced Chinese medicine for many years, and having treated many pregnant patients because I had some very definite ideas about things, like breastfeeding. I was all about the breastfeeding and knew I would breastfeed my children for as long as I could. But when I had my first baby, I had a really hard time with it. We both struggled, and he finally gave up after five months. At that point I had to supplement with formula which was devastating, and at the time, felt like a failure. With my second baby - who is now two months old - breastfeeding is going smashingly. I thoroughly enjoy my time feeding her (it is a wonderful time to bond with her cuteness) and she is gaining weight and growing like a weed. A completely different experience from that with my first baby. Why has it been so different? Am I more confident as a mother? Yes. Do I still have anxieties about my ability to be awesome and provide for their every need? Of course. Am I under different stresses than I was when I had my first baby? Certainly. Does common sense and intellect go out the window when your hormones are all over the place and you haven't slept for more than 3 hours at a time? Absolutely. The answer is probably a combination of the above as well as the fact that every baby is different. I am just grateful that this time things are easier, for both mama and baby. If being a parent has taught me anything, it is not to be too rigid with my ideas. Being flexible is how you maintain your sanity. It is a constant battle. :)

So, why is it that the numbers of women in wealthy countries who breastfeed are so low?? Well, let me be honest. In my opinion, pregnancy and especially childbirth have been so medicalized (if you would like to watch a sobering film on the subject, watch The Business of Being Born) - that women are taught that they cannot trust their bodies and that doctors always know better. And when it comes to breastfeeding, the pharmaceutical companies now have their formula in hospitals where it is pushed on new mothers who are often overwhelmed, unsure of what to do and wanting to do what is best for their babies. The problem is, and I will be frank, pharmaceutical companies have a profit motive, and are more interested in making money than making sure your baby is getting everything it needs to grow and develop into a healthy toddler. So, if you must use formula, please do your research. Below is an excellent recipe for a home made formula as well as a very good store bought formula with clean ingredients.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Mother's milk is the best thing you can feed your baby. It has everything the baby needs nutritionally (granted mama has a good diet), and gives baby immunity to infection and disease. Colostrum, the fluid that mother's produce in the first days after birth, is the best thing you can give your baby and is an important part of building up their brand new immune systems. Ideally, breast milk is high in fats which your baby needs to nourish their growing brain and nervous systems. Breastfeeding also serves an important emotional purpose as it is a time  for bonding between a mother and her baby which releases hormones that strengthen that bond like oxytocin. Breastfeeding helps the new mother lose her baby weight as well as protecting her from osteoporosis and breast cancer later on. Breastfeeding is also inexpensive (although your investment is in your diet to ensure your breastmilk is the healthiest it can be for your babe), as well as being convenient (you never run out) as well as highly portable (you have a supply everywhere you go!).

Breastfeeding and The Mother's Diet

There is a misconception that new mother's don't need to worry about what they eat, and that their breast milk will have everything that their babies need. This is simply not true. What a mother eats has a huge impact on the quality of her milk and ultimately, how her baby will grow and develop. Mother's milk should contain long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP) which are important for a developing nervous system and cognitive health. Because these long chain fatty acids are stored in the retina an brain, a deficiency can lead to visual problems and learning disabilities. Some of the best sources of LCP's are arachidonic acid (AA) of the omega-6 family, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) of the omega-3 family and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), also of the omega-3 family. Vitamins and minerals are also of vital importance for breastfeeding mothers and the best way to get everything you need is from a healthy and varied diet. Eating organic (foods free of genetic alterations, pesticides and such), foods that grow locally and are in season and that are fresh are the best foods to consume - when you are breastfeeding and at all times for good health. Breastfeeding mothers also need to be getting at least an extra 500 calories a day when they are breastfeeding as it is depleting, so eat up mama! Processed foods should always be avoided, especially processed oils, soy (which is a hormone disruptor amongst other things), and processed sugar (which is in so many processed foods). Also be sure to take caution not to be around any environmental toxins, or things like commercial paints, cleaning products or airborne pollutants. Think of your diet during both pregnancy and breastfeeding as the best investment in your child's (and your) overall health.

The Importance of Water


If you would like this sassy bottle, you can buy it here

One thing that the midwives drilled into me when I was breastfeeding was how important it was to get enough water. Their advice was to always have a very large glass of water beside me wherever I was breastfeeding and to finish it all. Every time your baby eats, you need to be drinking water, and the cleanest and purest water possible. When I was a child, I fondly remember going with my grandparents to a nearby spring to collect drinking water in clear jugs. I remember how amazing it tasted and am so glad that I was able to drink such wonderful, pure water when I visited them (they lived in the Laurentian mountains in Quebec). When I was living in the U.S. I remembered this and found an awesome website - Find A Spring -  where you can do a search for the location of a natural spring where you can get clean water near you. I believe that they post springs from all over the world and you are able to submit a spring if you know of one near you. It is a wonderful resource, so please check it out. The water we drink is so important to our health! I am so grateful to this website for the service they offer all of us for the good of our collective health.

One Last Thought

Not everyone wants to breastfeed for their own reasons. Of course, the choice is up to each individual. In some cases, there are women who are not able to breastfeed and must rely on formula to feed their babies. If this is the case, here is a link to what I think is one of the healthiest formulas you can give your child, and you can make it yourself. Home made baby formula.

If you must use store bought formula, try to find one that is organic (free of GMO's) and especially, free of soy. A good one is Earth's Best Organic Infant Formula.

Despite the good intentions of friends and family members, as well as some doctors and midwives, sometimes new mother's can receive a lot of unsolicited "advice". This can be overwhelming and, depending on the delivery, hurtful. Motherhood is wonderful, but often an overwhelming responsibility, especially at first. So let me give you some unsolicited advice. Mother's should trust themselves and their instincts and that they ultimately know what is best for their babies. If you are struggling with something regarding your baby, speak to someone you trust and who will not be judgmental and talk it through with them. Do not isolate yourself, there are millions of mother's out there, so whatever you may be struggling with, just know you are not alone. In an environment of information overload, I always go back to nature. Breastfeeding your baby is one of the best things you can do for them, for many reasons. It is also some of the best time you will get to spend with them in the very brief time that they are babies.

 

**The lovely featured image from motherrisingbirth.com

 


Postpartum Recovery Chinese Herbal Soup – Restoring A Woman’s Body

By Cindy Mai of Root+Spring

During pregnancy, it’s often stressed to mothers that they should take special care of their health, because it directly affects the development and growth of the baby. However, in traditional Chinese medicine, maintaining a woman's health is also greatly important in the postnatal period. Just like the special attention mothers-to-be take during their pregnancy, the care a woman receives immediately after childbirth is often thought to impact her health far into the future.

this image from telegraph.co.uk

In Chinese medicine, the postpartum period refers to the four months following labor and delivery, the first month being of utmost importance to be thoughtful of nourishment to the body. It isn’t until the end of the fourth month after delivery that the yin and blood are considered “replenished” again, and the womb fully recovered.

In addition to hormonal and body changes, during pregnant a woman’s blood also almost doubles in volume in order to encourage the placenta and the developing fetus. However, labor is called labor for a reason: as beautiful as childbirth is, it takes a toll on a woman’s body.  Blood loss during delivery can deplete the mother’s qi and blood. And because breast milk is formed from the same substrate as blood, breastfeeding is comparable to a constant loss of blood. For these reasons, women are often qi and blood deficient after their labor. The overworked spleen, temporarily worn out from replenishing blood, can result in poor digestion, poor appetite, and possibly poor breast milk production. Difficulty falling asleep due to qi deficiency is common as well. The resulting fatigue and sleep deprivation can be a cause of several postpartum health concerns. It cannot be said enough that supporting the middle burner and tonifying qi and blood with healthful food and herbs immediately after childbirth is highly recommended.

There is a superb Chinese herbal formula that is by far, the standard nourishing recipe to give to new mothers after giving birth. It has been taken for thousands of years and is considered a staple in China and Taiwan, usually taken for one to two weeks immediately following childbirth. This herbal medicine is called Sheng Hua Tang, and literally means "generating and transforming decoction" or "giving birth" decoction.

As the name suggests, Sheng Hua Tang aims to help generate and transform the body. Sheng Hua Tang's primary action is moving and warming the blood in the body, contracting the uterus to return it to its normal state, promoting discharge of the lochia (vaginal discharge of old blood, mucus and uterine tissue which occurs for 4 to 6 weeks following labor), warming the meridians, and dispelling pain. It is a great formula to also strengthen the health and immunity of the new mother.

Sheng Hua Tang vitally ensures that the uterus is clean, clear, and warm after childbirth. A healthy uterus will have a positive impact on the breast milk and can prevent a host of postpartum health concerns.

Sheng Hua Tang is almost always consumed as a nourishing soup by adding chicken, pork or beef bones to create a bone broth. Additionally, it can also be consumed as a tea (vegan approved!). Just omit the meat and mushrooms, and add sweetener instead of salt in the below recipe. Chinese herbs are great and versatile in that way.

This herbal soup is most effective when consumed during the week immediately following childbirth, up until one month.

Recipe for Postpartum Recovery (Sheng Hua Tang)

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

this yummy image from superfoods-for-superhealth.com

  • 1 root + spring’s  Postpartum Recovery herbal mix
  • 2 1/2 pounds of chicken, pork bones, or beef bones
  • 4 slices of ginger, each at least a quarter inch thick
  • 5 shiitake mushrooms, fresh or dried
  • 6 - 8 cups of water

this image from authoritynutrition.com

Directions

  1. Lightly rinse herbs under running water.
  2. Optional: Some Chinese people believe par-boiling the meat for ten minutes first helps to remove any residual fat and toxins the meat.  If you’d like to include this step, simply cover the meat with enough water in a pot, bring to a boil for ten minutes, and remove. Rinse the meat. It is now ready for Step 2.
  3. In a pot, combine herbs, meat, ginger, mushrooms and water.
  4. Bring to a boil before covering and simmering for 1.5 hours on stovetop, or 3 hours in a slow cooker.
  5. Salt to taste.
  6. Consume this soup regularly for the first two weeks after labor. Do not consume after one month past labor, or while pregnant.

Natural Pregnancy & Childbirth 2.0

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I am presently pregnant with my second baby. My first is 18 months, and I am expecting to give birth any day now. It has been an intense year and a half. I described motherhood to a friend as like being swept up in a tsunami and just having to let go while trying your best not to drown. It is a kind of chaos, with terrifying moments and wonderful ones, all shaken up together. Your life before you had a baby is a distant memory, as there is nothing that remains from it now as you become unrecognizable, even to yourself. Emotionally, the best way that I could describe it, is that having a child is like having a piece of your heart walking around on the outside of your body.

Pregnancy Number One

This picture of my pregnant belly taken by the lovely Michelle Donner, of Michelle Donner Photography <3

My two pregnancies have been very different. During my first, I was in my lovely healing community of Sarasota. I was having my friend - a ninja massage therapist, yoga instructor and reiki master - giving me massages every two weeks. I was going to her yoga class several times a week. I was meditating on my own and going to my awesome women's meditation group every two weeks. I was walking around my neighbourhood every day and walking on the beach at least once a week. I was taking supplements every day and eating like a superhero. I was meeting friends for tea and doing everything I could to be a healthy, happy human in preparation to bring a life into the world. I felt awesome and didn't suffer with any unpleasant symptoms that I had heard about from so many patients over the years. I was so lucky.

I was also very lucky to be in a place where I had a whole community of healers who I had relationships with, us all treating each other, to keep me healthy and balanced. There were many birth centre's in Sarasota and a wide variety of midwives which was amazing. I went to a few places and decided on the one I liked the best. My appointments were uneventful as everything was going well and I was feeling great. I ended up giving birth almost a month early to a healthy baby boy. I had him in the tub (where my husband was with me) all natural with no medications and although I was not prepared for how intense it was going to be or how much pain was going to be involved (no words could possibly express this), it was an incredible experience and one in which my husband and I participated fully. There were two midwives present, but they just observed, occasionally checking vitals, but other than that, they were just there to make sure everything went smoothly and not to interfere. A friend who was there said it was incredible, and that my hubby and I totally gave birth to that baby all by ourselves. She cried throughout, and said it was a beautiful thing to have witnessed. I was under the impression that my labour would take a while (first time mamas usually have longer labours) and that we would get to chat and have tea, but I said not one word to her the entire time as my labour went insanely fast. It took 4 hours start to finish. I was busy concentrating and was completely unaware of my surroundings for most of it. I was trying not to pass out from the pain. I was concentrating on making it through each contraction. It also became immediately apparent that the process was almost completely out of my control and that I just had to let go and let it happen or I would make it a whole lot more uncomfortable for myself. So many lessons, oh my!

Baby Liam was born at just after 10pm and for those first couple of hours, he never left my arms. He was measured and checked and left to be with me. There was a brief moment when the midwives lifted him gently into a blanket and weighed him then handed him back to me so he could get maximum skin on skin time. I was given something to eat and escorted to the shower so I could rinse off and baby Liam got some daddy time. Then I was told everything was fine and we could go home and get some sleep. This was about 2am. The midwives asked us to bring in the car seat and helped us put our tiny baby into it safely. The midwives had washed and dried our clothes and had gathered up our things and walked us out to our car. They made sure the baby was put into the car properly and hugged us goodbye. They said they would come to the house in the next 48 hours to check on the baby and I to make sure we were doing well. I then drove us home and we all went to bed.

Pregnancy Number Two

I found out I was pregnant a couple of days before I was to get on a plane, leave my entire life behind and relocate my little family to Central America. This was not planned so it came as a bit of a surprise. I had so much on my mind with the enormity of what we were about to do that I had to tell myself that I would deal with it when I got there, and that the "getting there" part was what I had to focus on at the moment. Now, relocating your entire family to another country is no small thing, especially because we had never seen the house we would be renting and really had to hope that there was a van there to pick us up at the airport. There was a lot of just having faith that things would be ok which, at least in my experience, is what a lot of travel is about. This becomes slightly scarier when you have your entire family in tow including an 11 month old baby, but we did it and the next many months were a kind of chaos and emotional rollercoaster that I could not possibly describe in words. We were living in an extremely remote place on a beautiful but treacherous road learning to drive a standard car and just figuring out how life worked in our new home. It was intense. It was sort of like being thrown off a cliff and hoping that your parachute would open before you hit the ground. Those first many months were hard, and there were a lot of difficult times, but we all got through them, and things started to settle.

I of course realized soon after we arrived that I would need to see a doctor or midwife and began the task of figuring out how to go about such a thing. We were about an hour from anywhere, knew exactly 2 people and spoke only basic Spanish. I got to work.

Luckily, I happened to find a blog written by an American couple who had moved to Costa Rica and had a baby and thankfully, had written about the experience. Amazingly, they happened to live pretty close to where we were. I reached out to them to ask if they might share the name of the doctor they had used who they liked very much and said was very into natural births and would come to your house and bring a pool if that is what you desired. The woman wrote back and said she was happy to share the name of this doctor and said he was located in a city about an hour away. Amazing! I was, at that moment, in love with the internet and the doors it could open when you were in the middle of nowhere.

I called and made an appointment to see the doctor and loved him immediately. He spoke a tiny bit of English and with my tiny bit of Spanish, we could speak to each other. He had wonderful, kind energy and was very laid back and knowledgeable. I thanked my lucky stars to have found him and told myself to write a thank you note to the woman with the blog for connecting me with him.

Pregnancy & Childbirth in Costa Rica

As it turns out, this doctor is an anomaly in Costa Rica. He is an OBGYN and ten years ago he was asked by a patient from the Netherlands if he would deliver her baby at home. He said initially he thought this was crazy, but she was very insistent so he agreed. He explained that after speaking to her about how they handle pregnancy and childbirth in Holland, that he started reading about it. After that, with each foreign patient, he asked about how they viewed pregnancy and childbirth in their country, trying to find documentation so he could learn. For the past ten years he has done almost nothing but home births, with his mostly foreign patients. He says that in Costa Rica this is not a common practice and people still have their babies at the hospital. He shared that when he goes to his yearly gynecological conference in the capital city of San Jose that his colleagues affectionately refer to him as "the crazy" doctor that does home deliveries. I have met many expats here who call him "the baby whisperer" and sing his praises. When I had my first baby I received a binder full of information/articles about pregnancy and childbirth from the birth centre which I brought to one of my appointments and offered to share with him. He was very grateful and very much wanted a copy so he could learn about how one can have a baby in the US, as well as be able to share the information with his Costa Rican patients. I am so happy to have a doctor that is so open and curious. I feel that I am in very kind and capable hands.

I am about to have my second baby any day now. I am trying very hard to finish this article before I do so I can get it published, as after the baby is born, your life slips into a sort of chaos which makes doing anything but feeding and sleeping that baby difficult. My lovely doctor will come to the house when I call and let him know I am in labour or (probably in my case) my water breaks. He will bring a tub so that I can deliver in water if I wish (and I do wish it!). He says he doesn't believe in interventions unless they are necessary, and he brings with him everything that might be needed. We are about 20 minutes from a hospital, and I was told to have at least 10 coconuts (known as pipa's in Costa Rica) as drinking the water inside is one of the best things for hydration, nutrients and electrolytes. I am going to need them in labour. Thankfully, they grow on the property and there is a growing pile of them outside the front door in anticipation for my labour and delivery.

Pregnancy & Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, pregnancy and childbirth are considered a very powerful time for women. They are also a time when mothers need to take especially good care of themselves as pregnancy, and particularly childbirth, are extremely depleting of the woman's precious resources. Herbs and acupuncture are used both during and after the birth to build up the mother so that she can regain her strength. There is also something called "golden month" (I will write about this in a post later) in which the mother is supposed to do absolutely nothing for the month after the birth of her child. She is not even supposed to shower and is to be waited on hand and foot so that she can properly and completely rebuild her body and rebalance her psyche and emotions. This is to combat the depleting effects of her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her child. In our modern world, mother's often have to go right back to work after having their children which, in the Chinese medicine view at least, does not give them the time they really need to heal and recover from such a depleting experience. It also does not allow them to bond with their new babies in the same way, which is an important part of the babies' development both cognitively, emotionally and physically. Pregnancy and childbirth are sacred, and must be treated with reverence and respect allowing the mother to fully heal and give her the time needed to bond with her new child.

this adorable image from wishviewkids.com. Look at those cheeks!!!

Women have an enormous amount of pressure on them to do it all. They have careers and often are taking care of their homes as well as raising children. Many women are choosing to have children later in life so that they can establish their careers first, and have their children later. Raising children has also become more difficult financially, and many families struggle as both parents have to work to be able to cope with the costs of doing so. It seems that gone are the days when one parent could support a family with children so that the other could stay home and raise them. Women often go back to work right away after having their babies when they are depleted and exhausted because they financially have to do so. And children are sent to daycares earlier and earlier as their parents must work to keep it all going. I completely sympathize, as I am now in the same situation. Or I was.

Part of my move to Costa Rica was to have the lifestyle that was important to me, and to give the best life to my children. In Sarasota, my husband and I both worked full time and managed to look after a tiny infant. I am still not sure how we did it. We lived in a tiny apartment and were just making it financially because of the high cost of living and debts that needed repaying. We were exhausted and never had a break or any time to recover. I was going to work every day treating patients and trying to help them to stay balanced and healthy and practically killing myself while working with a new baby. It felt wrong. What I really wanted more than anything and what I had always envisioned: to stay home with my babies, especially for the first 5 years (the formative ones) and enjoy them as much as possible. I wanted to be the one to teach them about the world and be able to see the magic of their world through their eyes. In Costa Rica, I am able to be home with my baby son, and soon with my newborn daughter. I still work, but less and mostly from home. My husband works remotely for a company in Canada, where we are from. We live on one salary which we can do here because we choose to live simply and have LESS. There are a lot of things we give up to be here, but to us anyways, it is worth it because we are trying to make a better life for our children, and, ourselves. I know it is worth it when I walk out the door and across to the horses with my son so he can feed them. The look on his face tells me we are doing the right thing. At least for us. We live in a beautiful, peaceful place. And we have a very happy and contented child. We are less stressed and are under less pressure to earn and spend. Living simply suits us, and so it works. It is important for each and every one of us to find the things that will make us happy and go after them. There is nothing more rewarding in this life than knowing what will make your heart happy, and then doing everything you can to make it happen. We all deserve it. <3

 


China Issues First White Paper on Traditional Chinese Medicine

Source -   Xinhuanet.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TCM Development A National Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**The featured image from Apricot Forest Chinese Medicine Hospital


Birth and Beyond

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

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

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

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

Labour

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

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

A Note on Pain

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

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

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

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

Birth

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

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

A Baby

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

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

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

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

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

The Placenta

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

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

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

The Aftermath

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Choice is Yours

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

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

A New Life

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

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

 

Natural Water Birth : Chinese Medicine Living

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

Thank you my friend. I love you.


Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea for Liver Detoxification

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Liver/ Gallbladder Disease

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

1. Drink More Water

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

2. Eat A Regular, Balanced Diet

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

3. Not Too Much Alcohol

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

4. Stay Positive and Be Happy

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

5. Get Adequate Exercise

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

6. Eat Foods That Benefit The Liver

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

The Liver in Environmental Illnesses

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

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

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

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

Herbs for the Liver

Milk Thistle (Silymarin)

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

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

Burdock

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

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

Dandelion

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

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

Hepatitis

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

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

Jaundice

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

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

Gallstones

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

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

Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea

Chrysanthemum Flowers for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Chrysanthemum Flowers 

SYMPTOMS:

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

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

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

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

INGREDIENTS:

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

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

2.   Strain and drink tea.

USAGE:

No restriction.

The beautiful featured image photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash


The Ethics of Healing – The “Hippocratic” Oath of China’s King of Medicine, Sun Simiao

Compiled by John Voigt

Sun Simiao (581-682) was an outstanding Chinese physician, scholar and author who lived during the Tang Dynasty. Called the “King of Medicine” (Yaowang) Sun Simiao is said to have founded Chinese gynecology, pediatrics and geriatrics as individual healing modalities. [FN-1]

 The “Hippocratic” Oath of China’s King of Medicine, Sun Simiao : Chinese Medicine LivingThis image By 猫猫的日记本 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia

Sun Simiao wrote the earliest medical encyclopedia in China, the Essential Formulas for Emergencies [Worth] a Thousand Pieces of Gold (Beiji Qian Jin Yao Fang), and the Supplement to the Formulas of a Thousand Gold Worth (Qian Jin Yi Fang). The first book lists about 5,300 prescriptions for medicines, the second book 2,000. Each book is composed of thirty volumes.

He is also known for his essay "On the Absolute Sincerity of Great Physicians," which has been called "the Chinese Hippocratic Oath." It is found in the opening chapter of the first of the above mentioned books. This portion of the book is still required reading for Chinese physicians. [FN-2]

Sun Simiao - China's God of Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

Sun Simiao is also portrayed as a god of medicine, here seated on a tiger and holding a dragon above his head.
This image from itmonline.org

On the Absolute Sincerity of Great Physicians: The Healer’s Oath of Sun Simiao [FN-3]

  • When I go to treat an illness I first must calm my mind and make steadfast my intentions.
  • I shall not give way to idle wishes and desires but should first develop an attitude of compassion.
  • I vow to rescue all living beings from their sufferings.
  • If anyone comes to me because of an illness or any other difficulty I will not concern myself with whether they are powerful or humble, rich or poor, old or young, beautiful or ugly.
  • Enemies, relatives, good friends, Chinese or barbarians, foolish and wise, they all are the same to me. I will think of each of them of them as a close and loved relative - or indeed as if it was I who had been struck down by an illness.
  • I shall not worry about my own life or my fortunes or misfortunes. My purpose is to preserve the life of others.
  • I shall not hide away in the mountains. Day and night, in cold and heat, in hunger, thirst and fatigue, I will single-mindedly go to the rescue.  If I am able to act in this manner I may approach being a great doctor for those who are sick. If I act contrary to these precepts I am no more than a great thief to those who are alive.
  • People all too often look with contempt on those who suffer from abominable things, such as ulcers or diarrhea, however I shall maintain an attitude of compassion, sympathy and care. Never in a great physician should there arise an attitude of rejection.
  • I will not glory in my reputation. I will not discredit other physicians while I praise my own virtues.
  • Thus I shall fulfill my responsibilities and my destiny as a physician until I am no longer capable of fulfilling my obligations, or until the end of my lifetime.

China’s King of Medicine, Sun Simiao : Chinese Medicine Living

Sun Simiao.
This image from chinaexpat.com

In many ways Sun Simiao was a product of Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian thought.

For example, Sun Simiao’s thoughts about showing complete compassion to all living things is distinctly Buddhist. In Essential Formulas for Emergencies [Worth] a Thousand Pieces of Gold he wrote: When love of life is concerned, man and animal are equal [therefore] I do not suggest the use of any living creature as a medicine or healing agent. This does not concern the gadflies and the leeches. They have already perished when they reach the market, and it is therefore permissible to use them. As to the hen's eggs, we have to say the following: before their content has been hatched out, they can be used in very urgent cases. Otherwise, one should not burden oneself with this. To avoid their use is a sign of great wisdom, but this will never be attained.

He also shows Daoist beliefs in rejecting the praise of others. He wrote: Lao-tzu has said, When the conduct of men visibly reveals virtue, the humans themselves will reward it. If, however, men commit virtues secretly, the spirits will reward them. When the conduct of men visibly reveals misdeeds, the humans themselves will take retribution. If, however, men commit their misdeeds secretly, the spirits will take retribution. When comparing these alternatives and the respective rewards that will be given in the time after this life and still during this life, how could one ever make a wrong decision?

Confucian ideology shows itself in various admonitions about the virtuous characteristics required of a physician: “In the homes of patients a physician must speak politely, and not indulge in fine food and drink.” “Wherever someone's life is at stake, one should neither act hastily, nor rely on one's own superiority and ability, and least of all keep one's own reputation in mind. This would not correspond to the demands of humaneness.”

Sun Simiao is not devoid of a sense of personal irony when he writes about physicians conceited about their own skills.  “Someone who has accidently healed a disease, walks about with head raised, shows conceit and proclaims that no one in the entire world can measure up to him.” … “In this respect all physicians are evidently incurable.”  When he write “all physicians” might he also be pointing a finger at himself?

In summary,  Sun Simiao placed the cause and treatment of illness within a social and spiritual context. He articulated the need for a physician to understand the relationship between the art of healing and their own inner state of being and enlightenment, and the society within which they and the patient lived. He believed such understanding would help the overall effectiveness of the provided treatment, as the healer recognized and gained a deeper connection to their role in restoring the patient to health. This is the basis of his code of ethics for physicians.

Further Comments

There is another classic Oath for Chinese Physicians which was written by Hua Tuo (c.140-208) [ https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hua-Tuo]. Sun Simiao may have used it as a starting point for his code.

The Vow of Hua Tuo

Treat people equally irrespective of their high or low status, of their poverty or wealth, of their distinction or obscurity.

Do not run after riches, fear no hardships and toils, and take it as your first duty to take pity on the old and help the young. [source: Bob Flaws. Master Hua’s Classic of the Central Viscera.]

Hua Tuo - Chinese Master Physician : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from alchetron.com

Footnotes

[FN-1] Newland magazine. [ http://www.newlandmagazine.com.au/vision/article/429]

[FN-2] [Wikipedia, “Sun Simiao.”] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Simiao

[FN-3] The translation used in this article was compiled from the following sources:

Gregory M. Casey. “Mystic Dao.” http://www.mysticdao.com/#!The-Healers-Oath/cfkc/2ECEF164-1D5B-4F27-94EE-F8600BA10F38

“Code of Ethics.” http://www.heartofhealingacupuncture.com/code_of_ethics

Albert R. Jonsen. A Short History of Medical Ethics. pp. 36-37.

“King of Medicine: Sun Simiao.” http://www.newlandmagazine.com.au/vision/article/429

“The Oath of Sun Si Miao for Physicians of Traditional Chinese Medicine.” http://www.heartofhealingacupuncture.com/code_of_ethics

“On the Sublime Sincerity of the Eminent Physician.” http://www.happygoatproductions.com/qianjinfang-ethics

Subhuti Dharmananda. Sun Simiao: Author of the Earliest Chinese Encyclopedia for Clinical Practice. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/sunsimiao.htm

Daniel Fu-Chang Tsai. “Ancient Chinese medical ethics and the four principles of biomedical ethics” [in] Journal of Medical Ethics 1999;25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC479240/pdf/jmedeth00005-0025.pdf

Paul U. Unschuld. Medical Ethics in Imperial China, A Study in Historical Anthropology. https://books.google.com/books?id=T8mB9rfZCBMC&pg=PR3&lpg=PR3&dq=Medical+Ethics+in+Imperial+China,+A+Study+in+Historical+Anthropology&source=bl&ots=lMi2Gb4Eiu&sig=Otaed6OOK9rLv622amqw7qb58hA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjT0rOlrNvNAhWJVz4KHQpRBgAQ6AEIGjAB#v=onepage&q=whenever%20a%20great%20physician%20&f=false 1979 University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

For Further Information:

“Hua Tuo.” http://alchetron.com/Hua-Tuo-1042352-W

“King of Medicine: Sun Simiao.” http://www.newlandmagazine.com.au/vision/article/429

“Lessons from Sun Si Miao - a Chinese patron deity of physicians.” pss.org. http://www.pss.org.sg/whats-happening/e-bulletin/issue-no-30/lessons-sun-si-miao-chinese-patron-deity-physicians#.V30DEyMrJL8

The story of China’s ‘King of Medicine’ is being told through ancient art. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5jCXq97vO8

“Sun Simiao.” tcm.cchinesecio.com. [ http://tcm.chinesecio.com/en/article/2009-09/18/content_66490.htm]

“Sun Simiao.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Simiao

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*** The lovely feature image of Sun Simiao from Amazon.com

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Peace Love & Acupuncture Button : Chinese Medicine Living


Liver Flush Immune Elixir Recipe

The ReFresh Cookbook - Ruth Tal with Jennifer Houston

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks, that comes from one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto - Fresh. It was a wonderful place to eat with a diverse menu of fresh, raw, vegan (and non vegan) dishes that tasted delicious and you knew were amazing for you. You can learn a little bit more about them and their vision here.

This juice recipe is one I have recommended to patients for years and have made for myself many times. It is especially helpful if your liver is congested - you are experiencing a lot of anger and/or frustration or you are having any menstrual problems like cramps.

Some Signs of Liver Stagnation

  • Pain along the sides of the body
  • Anger (that is overwhelming, inappropriate or not easily controlled)
  • Frustration
  • Signing
  • Hiccups
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Extreme stress that is difficult to manage
  • Mood Swings
  • Sensation of having a lump in your throat

Women

  • Menstrual cramps where the pain is dull, distended, localized, sharp or stabbing in quality
  • Blood clots
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Urinary problems
  • Depression
  • Sciatica
  • Infertility

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or if you just want to do some regular liver maintenance I would highly recommend this delicious juice to help your liver get its energies moving. Here is the recipe straight out of the book.

Liver Flush Immune Elixir

Formerly called Bukowski's Liver Flush after the prolific poet and devout alcoholic Charles Bukowski, this combination is spicy, sweet, and intense. You can gradually increase the amount of beet juice in this recipe as you become accustomed to its detoxifying effect on your body. Beet juice has powerful cleansing benefits to the liver, kidneys and blood. Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 inch ginger root
  • 2 medium beets, scrubbed
  • 1/2 lemon peeled
  • 2 large pink grapefruits
  • 2 shakes cayenne pepper
  • 20 drops milk thistle

Method

Juice the ginger first. Follow with the beets and lemon. Finish with the grapefruit. Stir in the cayenne pepper. Drop in the milk thistle. Pour into a tall glass. 

**Caution!!**

Something I want to be sure to note to the uninitiated, is that drinking beet juice has a direct effect on your poop and will make it bright red, looking like blood. I say this because of the number of times that I have had patients call me in a panic sure that they were dying because they were bleeding from the inside. It can be scary indeed.

 

The lovely featured image from foodgawker.com

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

 


Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go

By Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP

Pregnancy, until recently, had been a bit of an abstract concept for me. I have always thought of it as a wonderful, magical and beautiful experience, and one that is probably one of the most important and profound in any woman's life, I just hadn't ever done it before. So far, it has been an amazing education, and it is only going to get more intense in the next couple of months, especially when I get to the birth part. I have always found that going through things is the best way that I can learn and bring those experiences to my patients. And what I have learned so far, is that pregnancy is the ultimate exercise in letting go.

In my experience, how you are pregnant (and give birth) has a lot to do with how you live your life. It has been interesting to see all of the pregnant ladies coming and going from the birth centre over the past many months. Most seem relaxed, and that meshes well with the general atmosphere of the birth centre, as it is quiet and very comfortable, looking more like a little house - with comfy couches with lots of pillows - than a medical facility with bright lights and people rushing around in scrubs.

My experience with people outside of the birth centre environment has been a little bit different. There are always a lot of questions and anxiety surrounding pregnancy and birth. Inside my circle of friends, there is support and calm about the whole situation. We are all on the same page when it comes to this subject. Many of us are healers. Hippies. Trust in the universe, nature and our bodies. There is no anxiety, only love and support. But from the outside, the reaction is noticeably different. For one, pregnancy seems to be the ultimate conversation starter. Complete strangers will come up to you and ask about how far along you are, if it is your first baby and if it is a boy or a girl. It is sweet to see how seeing a pregnant girl really brings out feelings of joy in complete strangers. People in the grocery store see your belly and smile. Random strangers will come up to you and congratulate you, or tell you that you look beautiful and radiant which has been really lovely. Everyone seems to be really excited and happy about impending babies. And they are pretty cute, so who can blame them?

From what I can tell from past patients and many mothers that I have spoken to, is that I have been really lucky with my pregnancy so far. I have not had any morning sickness or any problems whatsoever. There were periods of intense eating (which was alarming to anyone around me who had the pleasure of witnessing me eating for eight or nine people), and a few weeks, after a large growth spurt, some intense sciatic pain accompanied with pain in my back. But thankfully the pain resolved itself and the insane eating has slowed down a little and now it seems I am only eating for five or six. It is still impressive to watch and my mother almost cries with joy to see me eat that much as I have always been thin, *too* thin as far as she is concerned.

Pregnancy and Letting Go

One of the most profound things I have experienced being pregnant is the overwhelming feeling of having to let go. Perhaps this is difficult to explain, but I will try. The first thing that went, although I did have to willingly let it go, was all sense of dignity. Granted, after med school and learning about all the things that can happen to human bodies, your sense of dignity is significantly altered. But going through something like pregnancy takes it to a whole new level. First of all, your body is doing things that you never thought were possible. There are the things that you learn about pregnancy in your textbooks, and then there are the "other" things that happen when you are pregnant that are new and surprising. Not everyone experiences all of these things of course, and there is a wide array, but without getting into details let me just say that this has been humbling.

 

Pregnancy and Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from www.thespiritscience.net

We have a lot of body issues in our culture. Women are taught to not only be wildly successful in their careers and at home, but they are taught that being beautiful, fit and thin are virtues as well. It is a lot of pressure, and I know from the ladies I see in my practice, that it takes a toll. Many women come with feelings of inadequacy, who are constantly fighting their bodies and who give way more to the people in their lives than they give to themselves. And it still amazes me how these women - beautiful, successful women with amazing talents, who have incredible children and great relationships can still feel that they are not enough and should be doing better. We could all, in my opinion, use a little more self-love.

Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

When you are pregnant everyone wants to give you advice, and the number of books and blogs out there about pregnancy are overwhelming. I actually found some articles about how to lose weight when you are pregnant. Yes. Why in gods name would you want to lose weight while you were pregnant? The answer is that you wouldn’t. And there are lots and lots and LOTS of articles about how to lose weight after pregnancy, how to tighten up belly skin (and other things), get rid of stretch marks and so forth. I see a lot of information about how to get your post-baby body back and I know it is a concern for a lot of ladies. The thing is, that when you have a baby growing inside you, you are supposed to gain weight. Granted, you should be eating well and getting everything you need to help your baby grow and develop but that is going to cause your body to change. And that is ok. It is marvelous actually. You are making a human being, and that is awesome.

I know that this whole process, the process of pregnancy and birth, is a lot easier if you can relax and let go. Easy to say I know but for some, so much harder to do. One of the reasons that I chose to have a baby not with a doctor or OBGYN and instead with a midwife, is that midwives respect this process. Their job is not to intervene, but to support you and your body because they believe (and I also believe) that your body at least, knows EXACTLY what it is doing. It was designed to do it. If you can really accept that this is true, then pregnancy and birth will be a lot easier for you.

There are a lot of things that women fear about childbirth, which is understandable. For instance, pain is one of the biggest. It is completely normal that when you actually think through what is going to happen, that you would have some feelings of anxiety about it. Of course. But there are many ways in which we can cope with that pain. Women, especially, are very good at this. Many meditative practices are excellent for pain management. Deep breathing. Internal martial arts. And being in control of your state of mind are some. Fear, as an emotion, contracts. It tightens and makes things small. And many women go through pregnancy and labour with these feelings which actually intensifies pain. The hospital environment also, with all the chaos, bright lights and doctors taking control away from the mother, all feed this fear and can intensify pain. Creating a relaxed and calm atmosphere can decrease feelings of discomfort and pain enormously. Because everyone has a different idea of what a comfortable environment is, it is good to think about it so that you can consciously create it for yourself. Not just with things like pregnancy and childbirth, but with any situation that you know scares you or makes you uncomfortable. Do things for yourself that calm and soothe you and help yourself get through the experience with positivity, expansiveness and joy instead of fear and trepidation.

Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

Another thing that I have noticed that I have really had to let go of, is my ideas about how I want this whole thing to go. Not only my pregnancy but giving birth as well. I am a strong willed and extremely stubborn person, so this whole letting go thing has not come easy. I have been working on it my whole life. A lot of it came from the discipline of many years of martial arts (bless them). A lot of it has come from some serious work on myself, self-reflection, writing and working through demons, and some more has come from my meditation practice which has helped me more than I can express to get through difficult times and put things in perspective. These things have helped in every aspect of my life, and I know are helping me now with my pregnancy and will help with the birth process.

When thinking about it I realized that I had some fears when it came to the birth. I had to be honest with myself and realize that what scared me was what I didn’t want, which was to have a baby at the hospital. I didn’t want to deal with doctors who might try to force me to have drugs or a cesarean which might inevitably lead to me putting said doctor into a headlock or worse and us both ending up on the evening news. So I had to face this fear and really come to terms with the fact that if for whatever reason I do have to go to the hospital to have a baby, I will have to accept it and not fight. I will have to let go and accept it or the entire process will be unpleasant for me, and for my baby.

In conclusion, I have tried to keep my ideas about pregnancy and birth pretty loose as far as how I would like everything to go. I keep my desires about things general like - I would like to have a healthy baby, rather than I must have a water birth with a midwife with no drugs on or after my due date. Of course, I have an idea of how I would like things to go, but I am not married to it and if it changes I have worked through my feelings so that I will not be devastated or disappointed. A lot of this is the excellent keeping things in perspective skills I have acquired over the years. So, what is amazing about this experience. I have had an amazing, practically symptom-free, healthy pregnancy. At the ultra sound (which was a mind blowing experience, wow!!) I learned and saw that I had a fully formed beautiful baby who has all fingers, toes, organs and is super healthy. I am having this baby with a person that I love madly and who is an amazing partner and will be an incredible father. Every one of those things is a blessing and I am grateful for every single one of them, and I make sure to be thankful for them every day. I am grateful and I want to make sure my baby can feel that too.  In the end, the most important thing is that whatever happens, a healthy baby is the result. How he or she decides to come into the world is largely up to him or her. I for my part, will do my best to be calm and relaxed and make the journey as easy and lovely as possible. And I am thankful for all these lessons in letting go and look forward to applying them to the rest of my life - and I am sure that they will be useful when raising a tiny human too. :)

Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living

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Pregnancy - The Ultimate Exercise in Letting Go : Chinese Medicine Living