Healing Acne Holistically With Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Acne is the most common skin disease in the United States — 50 million Americans experience breakouts each year which can continue into your 30’s and 40’s, the American Academy of Dermatology reports. While most of us turn to skincare or makeup to externally treat acne, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) addresses the underlying root causes. TCM recognizes acne as typically the result of excess internal heat caused by imbalances in the body. Treatment involves herbal formulas targeted to specific skin types, as well as dietary changes which eliminate inflammatory foods. In most cases, acne improves in as little as one month but takes roughly six months to disappear completely.

Excess Internal Heat


This awesome photo by Ryan Cryar on Unsplash

In Chinese medicine, acne is primarily caused by excess internal heat. Excess heat builds up in the body when it’s under constant stress or hormonally imbalanced. This acne-causing internal heat is generated in the lungs (which control the skin), intestines, menstrual system, and by specific toxins in the body. Often, however, acne doesn’t just originate from one place; there can be multiple influences involved. For example, facial acne can result from a block in both the lungs and stomach.

The Problem of Stagnation

Chinese medicine also recognizes stagnation (or impaired blood circulation) as a root cause of acne. If stagnation is the reason for your acne, your spots may be sore, stubborn, deep red, or even purple. You may also breakout before your period and experience painful menstrual cramps. Alternatively, fluids in the body can stagnate and result in phlegm. Cystic acne is often a result of phlegm stagnation (as well as blood stagnation).

Clean Diet for Clear Skin


This yummy photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

TCM recommends avoiding inflammatory foods — particularly greasy, spicy, and damp foods — as they heat up your blood, which results in breaks outs. Don’t eat anything too hot or cold in temperature, either. Sticking to room temperature food will prevent contributing to excess internal heat. Your body needs to be relaxed in order to function optimally, rather than devoting its energy to digestion. Reducing overall stress also helps calm the body and clear the skin. Low cortisol levels help your skin stay clear and blemish-free.

Restoring the Body with Herbs

Herbs are essential for stabilizing the body. Traditional Chinese medicine treatment includes herbal mixtures which calm the body, cool the blood, boost circulation, and detox the lungs. Adaptogens are used to balance hormones, soothe the nervous system, and improve digestion — with the result of beating acne and calming irritated skin. The specific herbs used depends on your skin type and can be determined by your dermatologist.

Unlike Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine doesn’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Dermatologists tailor treatment to suit each specific case with the aim of cooling excess internal heat, cleansing and detoxifying the body and externally healing the skin. Your dermatologist will work with you to find natural, effective, and holistic treatments to keep your skin healthy and acne at bay for life.

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Beautiful featured image photo by aditya septian on Unsplash


The Qigong Corner - 1: The Basics

By John Voigt

Qi.

A general meaning of this word is “life energy,” and the meaning of Gong relates
to “work,” “cultivation,” and “accomplishment.” Qi is pronounced chee with a fast
descending soft (close to she ) sound. In Cantonese, a language often spoken by
more older people from southern China, it sounds like “hay,” so we have hay gong.
The older English spelling is “chi kung.”

Feel the Qi.

Qi manifests in many ways, one is the flow of bio-electricity in our body.
It is relatively easy to physically experience this by doing the following exercise: Rub
your hands together, then stretch and wiggle your fingers. Tap your fingertips
together, and tap them on each palm. Wiggle your fingers again. Now pretend you
are holding a ball approximately a foot and a half in circumference. Inhale and feel
this imaginary ball expand. As you exhale squeeze it back to its original size.  Do this
for a few minutes or until you feel your palms and fingertips grow warm—or even
better hot—with the energy of life. You are experiencing a manifestation of the
reality of qi, of life force, of bio-energy.

Qigong.

Its origins are Chinese and many millions of Chinese people practice it daily
throughout the world in any number of ways; most often with gentle physical
movements, stretches, meditations, and mentally focused visualizations. The term
actually relates to the harmonious interplay of yin and yang energies in the body:
specifically in the way we hold our bodies and move, the way we breathe which
effects internal energy, and what we have in our minds. Its repeated practice helps
bring about mental, physical, and spiritual well-being and healing.
Stretching is a good example of body work, and you don’t need a park in Beijing to
see thousands of people doing it, just go to a baseball park during a game and take
part in the seventh inning stretch. If there is space for it after the stretching walk
about some. It all helps get the qi moving.

Or do as so many people do, upon awakening in the morning get out of bed and take
several deep breaths—(one definition of qigong is “breath work”)—as you stretch
your hands and arms upwards and pay attention to the way it feels. As with most
qigong this is best done in the morning in a park with people all about doing various
qigong or tai chi (actually the word is taijiquan) or other forms of physical health
regimes.

It is a simple step to see the resemblance of this kind of stretching to a qigong
master doing the first movement of the most popular worldwide qigong form, the
Standing Eight Pieces of Brocade” (Baduanjin). The stretch is called “Holding Up
The Heavens” and it is said to regulate the passage of qi in the body and mind, and
tone and promote healing in the functions of the body’s inner organs.

Take a look at a grandmaster doing it on YouTube:
Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming. Standing Eight Pieces of Brocade. [it runs from 0:17 to 3:26].
More about Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming here

I suggest after you see Dr. Yang in action, you do some similar stretches
immediately. Five of them is enough. And take it easy: as you can see from the video,
qigong does not subscribe to the “No Pain No Gain” school of thought. If fact if there
is any pain stop doing it immediately and go see a health professional.
You now have an idea, and more importantly a physical experience, of what qi and
qigong are. Practice these or any gentle stretches in the morning as you breathe
calmly, smoothly, fully and gently into the lower abdomen.

Don’t do any qigong as if were a forced prison exercise drill, but rather as if you are
a young child having fun playing. And very important: keep noticing how the energy
feels inside of you. That way you become cognizant of the movement of the qi. And
don’t forget to smile. Smiling always helps increase the flow of this vital qi.

For the next issue of Chinese Medical Living we will go to a park near Boston’s
Chinatown and join the elders in the great healing exercise of social walking, and
learn about a simple walking regime that helps in the healing of cancer. If you wish
to learn something about that right now, on your browser explore this name, Guo
Lin and her walking qigong.

Qi has many appearances and definitions. One is “universal
consciousness.” Here is a painting by visionary artist and distance viewer
Ingo Swann titled “Cosmic Intelligence” which is an artistic depiction of such Qi.

Author with painting at the American Visionary Art Museum,
http://www.avam.org/ Baltimore, June 2018

Note: For more about Qi and Qigong go to qi-encyclopedia.com

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John Voigt is a regular contributor to Chinese Medicine Living - you may read his bio here.


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


Your Quick Guide to Personal Happiness - 5 Happiness Habits

By Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP

For many years I have been fascinated by the concept of happiness. Part of my fascination was personal, and the other was professional. I was seeing so many patients who were deeply unhappy and the interesting thing to me was that when I asked them what would make them happy, most of them had no idea. For many, it seemed to be the first time they had given the idea any thought at all. So, what is happiness? And why is it so elusive?

What is Happiness?

For something that we all seem to be after, happiness seems to be largely misunderstood and pretty difficult to come by for a lot of people. And when it comes to a definition of happiness, well I imagine that would be very different depending on who you asked. For our purposes, I will define it as a general feeling of well-being and joy about the totality of your life - not necessarily the details as those will be constantly fluctuating, but a general sense of wellbeing about your existence. If I were to ask you what would it take for you to be happy? Maybe a better question is - what does your life look like where you imagine your happiest self? This is an interesting intellectual exercise for sure, and one I often ask my patients to do to help them clarify what this scenario would look like for them.

In my experience, I see what happiness isn't. It is not something that can be acquired, some kind of external thing that one must chase after and get a hold of, never letting go. External things don't give you happiness, at least not a happiness that is grounded, meaningful and lasting. The way to happiness is within. And I think this is one of the reasons that we as a species, are largely so unhappy right now. We are taught, from a very young age, to seek everything we need in our lives - "out there". All the things we need to be complete, happy beings are out there in the external world. Good education, a better job, good relationship, nice house, fancy car - and so forth. These seem to be the benchmarks for success and happiness for many of us. But this is changing. There is a movement of young people growing up now who realize that those things often have nothing to do with true happiness and are seeking happiness, fulfillment, and connectedness within. And that is where we will all find it. There has been an explosion of interest in things like yoga, meditation, ayahuasca, etc... to more deeply understand ourselves and our world.

The Chinese Medicine Angle

In Chinese medicine, our ability to feel joy is seen to be an expression of our heart energies. But joy is only one part of overall happiness. In Chinese medicine, how you feel is an important part of your health. Each of the organs has an emotion associated with it to help determine which organ (or emotion) might be out of balance at any one time. If you are overwhelmed by anger and frustration, the liver is the culprit, if sadness is predominant then the lungs are to blame, or if fear and anxieties are making life uncomfortable then we must look at the kidneys for their role in these feelings. I believe that for a feeling of overall happiness and wellbeing that so many of us are striving for is to be achieved, it is balance that we must seek. And there is no better system to teach us to balance ourselves, our bodies, our emotions and our spirits, than Chinese medicine.

The emotions are a more ephemeral and therefore often more difficult thing to contend with, especially in our society with its emphasis on the physical and tangible especially when it comes to health and healing. Because of this, tools we can use to help us manage difficult emotional states or patterns are difficult to come by. Thankfully, Chinese medicine offers many ways in which we can both identify as well as manage and resolve our emotional hardships. Each organ's energies are at their peak in a specific season, so taking care of both the organ, its corresponding emotion and changing our behaviours depending on the time of year are some of the ways we can help to keep ourselves balanced. Changing the foods that we eat according to the seasons and our physical predispositions is another good way to stay in harmony, as well as some basic things like listening to our bodies - as they tend to tell us in subtle ways when something is wrong - taking care of ourselves on all levels, being kind, loving and nurturing to ourselves and others and working on self-awareness is especially important when it comes to dealing with emotions. So much of our demons and the things that hurt us are unknown to us. If we are really willing to do the work to discover our hurts and sorrows, that is the first step in shining a light on them and being able to process them and letting them go.

5 Happiness Habits

Below are some of the most powerful habits that, if you incorporate them into your life, will help you to have a happier experience and feel more joyful overall.

Gratitude

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Some interesting studies have taught us that so much of our ability to feel happiness is in our attitude. Many highly spiritual beings know this too. One way that we can really help to change our attitudes so that we may attract more positivity into our lives is by being grateful. Taking some time every day to focus on the things that you are grateful for, no matter how big or small, will help to literally rewire your brain, making it easier to think about and feel those feelings of gratitude in the future. A helpful exercise that will help you to literally rewire your brain (plasticity) is to take time every day to think of three things that you are grateful for. In doing this, your brain starts to retain the pattern of scanning the world not for negative things, but positive ones, helping to keep you in a state of positivity.

Positivity


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Scientific studies have shown that the brain works better when we are in a state of positivity giving us a happiness advantage. Here are some statistics from Shawn Achor's TED talk (which is embedded below):

  • When we are in a positive state the brain performs better in terms of intelligence, creativity and our energy increases
  • Positive brains are 31% more productive than brains that are negative, neutral or stressed
  • When we are positive, our brains are 37% better at sales
  • When in a positive state, doctors are 31% faster and more accurate at coming up with correct diagnosis

An activity to help you to become more positive is to journal about one positive thing that happened to you (or that you witnessed) that day. Writing about the experience allows your brain to relive it, and releases powerful hormones like dopamine, which not only makes us feel good, but also turns on all the learning centres in the brain.

Conscious Acts of Kindness

Another exercise that you can work into your daily routine is to reach out to one person in your social network and tell them that you appreciate them and why. This only compounds the exercise above and will help not only you to feel grateful, but also spread the goodness around by making the person or people you reach out to feel grateful as well.

Meditation

Meditation has so many benefits to our health and wellbeing, that it is something I would recommend for absolutely everyone, especially living in our hectic culture. Meditation allows us to slow down, relax and reconnect with ourselves in a way that many of us have forgotten. Giving that time to yourself as a way to pull yourself out of the chaos that often predominates modern life and to just sit and listen has so many positive effects that will not only make you feel better, they will ripple out into every aspect of your life and ultimately benefit not only you, but the people around you.

Self Awareness

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

From the years of treating patients, one of the things that I really believe is a huge contributor to our physical health as well as our mental health is dealing with our demons. I use the word demons, because that is what they can become, haunting us and making us miserable. Everyone has difficult, painful and traumatic experiences in their lives. But the way to have a happy life I believe is not to wish for an easy existence, but to learn how to handle difficulties when they arise so that they can be processed appropriately and let go so that they do not become demons from our past that haunt us in our present.

This ability to really look at ourselves and self reflect is not easy, and this important work is not something that is taught to us as children in schools, so finding a way to work through these difficult experiences can be daunting. The tools that will work will not be the same for everyone, but this is some of the most important work we can do in our lives and the work that will help us to be happier beings and enjoy our time on this beautiful planet.

 

Sources

This excellent (and hilarious) video from Shawn Achor speaking at TED about happiness and our brains.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M

 


Keeping Cool this Summer with Chinese Medicine

By John Voigt

Keeping Cool

Here are some techniques from Traditional Chinese medicine to help beat the summer heat.  (If you have a fever, or other health problems see a professional medical practitioner.)

First some common sense suggestions: drink a lot of water, keep cool.  Do your body a favor and stay in the shade. Nothing beats a pleasant stroll in a forest (just have the bug repellant on). If you must be in the sun cover yourself as much as you can. Watch non-human animals for cues on what you should be doing.


Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Food. 

Never put icy cold things in your mouth.  Avoid lamb, fatty red meat, alcohol, tobacco, garlic, onion, scallion, and coffee as these are warming in Chinese Medicine.  Eat less food and drink, drink lots of room temperature fluids--except never any sugared juice drinks, or sodas.   Replace any lost salt … lost from heavy sweating.

To reinforce yin, and clear heat: Watermelon,  Mung beans.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Also: Apple, Banana, Crab,  Mango, Pears, Pineapple, Tofu.

Try drinking mint, chamomile, chrysanthemum teas; and also a weak green tea with a touch of lemon and honey. These are cooling to the body and build yin.


Photo by Anda Ambrosini on Unsplash

Chinese Herbs

American Ginseng. 


This image from ernestherbal.com

Check with a health professional knowledgeable about Chinese herbs if you have health issues.  Dosage: Usually American Ginseng extract is about 200 mg per day containing at least 4 to 7% ginsenosides. 0.5 to 2 g of dry root per day on a short-term basis, with the ginseng taken in tea form or chewed. Capsule formulas are generally prescribed in a dosage of 100 to 600 mg per day, usually in divided doses.  [from] <http://www.online-health-care.com/herbal-medicines>.

Internal Qigong.   

In the cycle of Seasons, this is the time to prepare for winter.  Sit in meditation and visualize it is winter all around you. Take the hot yang energy on the surface of your body and with your mind and breath direct and guide this heat into the energy storage battery in your lower abdomen, the Dantian.  Do from five to fifteen minutes.

Self Acupressure.

  • Kidney 1 (Yong-quan)
  • Kidney 2 (Ran-gu)
  • Bladder 40 (Weizhong)

Kidney 1 is one of the most powerful points in the body and is located between the balls of the foot in the depression. It is a very strong point, so be gentle. It is excellent for building yin and cooling the body as well as being a powerful tonification point for the entire body.
Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash 

Kidney 2 is located on the inside (medial) aspect of the foot along the border of the red and white skin (where the skin transitions from the soft part on the top of your foot to the tougher type of skin you have on the bottom of your foot.)
Image from wanderingdawn.com

This point is located behind the knees at the midpoint of the crease. It is very sensitive, so always be gentle.

Gently press and massage the  Kidney 1, and 2 points, then the Bladder-40 points for about three to five minutes (or longer). 

Putting ice on the Bladder 40 wěizhōng points works to cool you down too.

External Qigong.

With fingers pointed down and knuckles facing each other almost touching, raise hands up center front -- go above head and open palms up to the heavens. With palms facing downward,  fingertips pointed at each other,  bring hands down the center line,. Repeat six times. Softly sound “Sheee.” (Or just hear it in your head.)  This harmonizes the body’s organ functions, the “Triple Burner".

john.voigt@comcast.net


What are Superfoods and Why Should I Care About Them?

By Dr. Kevin Curran of EthnoHerbalist

Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that deliver multiple benefits to our health and well-being.
Each superfood is different, but in general, these foods contain some combination of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial phytonutrients.

At the EthnoHerbalist, we are interested in the cultural history and biology of effective medicinal plants. So, as you move through my list, you will also learn a bit about the cultural history of each superfood.

Below is an excerpt of my alphabetical list of superfoods, click here for the full list.

Açai

Açai is a small purple berry from the rainforests of South America.
Indigenous tribes living in the Amazon basin have eaten these berries for
thousands of years. The Shuar tribe, a group native to Ecuador and Peru,
used the açai berry for medicinal purposes (immune strength, vitality). We
now know that these bright colored fruits contain lots of powerful
antioxidant pigment molecules called anthocyanins. Antioxidants have
been researched in regards to fighting certain cancers, reducing
cholesterol and heart diseases. Açai also contains oleic acid, the same
healthy fat that’s found in olive oil. Try buying unsweetened açai and
working the material into a fruit smoothie.

Almonds


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Almonds have always been highly regarded by humans. In ancient Egypt,
almonds were a prized ingredient in breads served to the Pharaohs.
Explorers transported this nut along theSilk Road, from Asia into the
Europe. Soon, almonds were flourishing amidst the Mediterranean
climates of Spain and Italy. In the 1700s, Spanish missionaries
introduced almonds into California. Today, almonds are a multi-billion
dollar business in California.
In the nut world, almonds are about as superfood as it gets. They offer
generous amounts of nutrient per serving. Almonds are especially high in
protein, fiber, B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, calcium, iron,
magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, choline, and potassium. They’re
also enriched with dietary fiber and various polyunsaturated fats that
may help lower LDL cholesterol. Try switching from peanut butter to
almond butter. It’s only a few bucks more per jar and you’re getting a
much more nutritious nut.

Amaranth

Amaranth has been used as a food source for about 8,000 years. The
Aztec people of ancient Mexico ate this plant often and even incorporated
amaranth into their religious ceremonies. It’s now regarded as a
superfood grain. Amaranth is high in protein and delivers a lot of energy
per serving. More importantly for people with gluten intolerance,
amaranth is one of the gluten-free grains.
Amaranth is also high in lysine, which is an amino acid often missing from
other popular grains.

Avocado

Avocados are the gift that keep on giving. You can eat them right out of
their skin or blend them into guacamole. The superfood is native to

central Mexico and have been enjoyed in this region for the past 10,000
years. The word avocado originates from the Aztec word for
testicle, ahuacatl. Clearly, these ancient Mexicans were referencing the
oblong, pear-shape of the fruit. A cup of avocado supplies you with high
amounts of fiber, protein, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and
potassium. A clinical study found that eating avocados can improve the
lipid profile of both healthy people and people with high cholesterol levels.

Beets


Photo by FOODISM360 on Unsplash

Beets are the large root from the beet plant, Beta vulgaris. The original
beet, called wild seabeet, grew natively along the Indian coastline. Upon
discovering its thick edible roots, many cultures began domesticating the
beet throughout the Middle East. This purple superfood vegetable is
packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help strengthen our
body. In addition, preliminary research indicates that beetroot juice can
lower blood pressure in hypertensive animals. This opens the possibility
that beets can help people battle cardiovascular diseases.

Click here to see my entire alphabetical list of superfoods.

Question:
What is so special about garlic and broccoli and colorful fruits and veggies?
Answer:
Phytochemicals

To put it simply, phytochemicals are chemicals that are naturally
produced in plants. The prefix "phyto" means plant.
Phytochemicals are a collection of different chemical compounds that
can deliver all sorts of health benefits to the humans that eat
these plants.

You may have heard of some of these chemical groups:
 carotenoids
 flavonoids
 phytosterols
 fiber


Photo by Heather Seymour on Unsplash

Garlic is packed with allicin.
Broccoli and the other cruciferous veggies are enriched with glucosinolates.
Carotenoids and flavonoids are present in many of the colorful fruits and
veggies - including carrots, grapes, and blueberries.


Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

These phytochemicals are not as well known as the vitamins and minerals
that are also found in plants. We are just starting to figure out the
various ways phytochemicals interact with our body. Recent studies
demonstrate that phytochemicals offer multiple health benefits to our
body:

 antioxidant activity
 anti-inflammatory
 anti-diabetic
 lower LDL cholesterol

I think this is an exciting time in nutrition science. We are starting to
sort out all the ways phytochemicals interact with our own cell biology and physiology.
To learn more, read this article I just wrote. I summarize the actions of the main phytochemical groups.

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Delicious featured image photo by Maja Petric on Unsplash


Digestive Health and Nutrition in Chinese Medicine - with Recipe

By NourishU

Digestive Health in Chinese Medicine

The importance of eating a gut-healthy diet cannot be underestimated. Your gut plays a major role in your physical and even mental health, and having a healthy gut entails maintaining a balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria – something you simply will not accomplish by eating highly processed "dead" foods as found in the western diet. When a diet is devoid of "live" nutrients such as healthy bacteria, it contributes to a rise in allergic and inflammatory diseases and set the stage for asthma, eczema, and autoimmune diseases.

Until recently, most doctors dismissed the notion that your digestive system did much of anything outside of breaking down food. But in recent years, scientists have revealed just how inaccurate this thinking was. An estimated 80 percent of our immune system is actually located in our gut, so supporting our digestive health is essential to also support our immune system, which is the number one defense against ALL diseases. Our gut is also like our second brain, greatly affecting and affected by our mind and emotion. That's is why we have this common expression of 'gut feeling'. When our emotion is upsetting our gut or vice versa, calming the gut is the first step to find a resolution.

To take care of gut problems, you must first avoid soda, doughnuts, pastries and breakfast cereals because they are loaded with sugar and corn syrup which are bad for gut health. You should cut out French fries or deep-fried foods because they are drowning in highly refined and genetically modified omega 6 oils which our body cannot digest. Also, avoid most snack foods because they are highly processed and loaded with artificial seasoning and additives with no nutritional value. When you eat a healthy diet low in sugar and processed foods, it naturally causes the good bacteria in your gut to flourish.


Donuts are delicious, but, unfortunately, bad for your health.
Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash

Avoid colon detoxification drugs and prolonged use of antibiotics which can kill the good bacteria. Eat fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, fermented milk, pickled vegetables to support your digestive health, as these foods are rich in naturally beneficial bacteria.

The health of our gut has substantial impacts on the health of our liver because everything absorbed by our intestines passes through to the liver so that harmful substances can be detoxified before they reach the rest of our body. In one study by doctors at Biolab UK, 61% of sufferers of undiagnosed chronic illnesses with predominant fatigue were found to have an overgrowth of both bacteria and yeast in the gut. As a result of their normal metabolism, these micro-organisms produce waste products in increased amounts that are harmful to the liver and overall health. Yeast, in particular, produces a large amount of ethanol which is highly toxic to the liver and damage to the intestinal lining causing 'leaky gut'.

Improving digestive health naturally is an essential part of well-being. When foods are not properly digested, it will cause low-grade food sensitivity.  Landmark studies have linked grain sensitivity to joint pain, cancer, depression, brain disorders, autoimmune diseases, and osteoporosis. Some doctors discovered that treating food intolerance found the other problems fade away without any need for immune-system-destroying medicines.

In Chinese Medicine, out of the “six evils” (the causes of sickness) – wind, cold, hot, wet, dry and fire, wetness is considered as the worst evil for health. It can turn everything sluggish and promote the development of disease. A diet high in meat over time will damage and weaken the digestive system and make the stomach wet and sluggish. When wetness mixes with heat, it is similar to the conditions of a sauna bath which can suffocate our cells. When wetness mixes with cold, it can chill our body and slow down normal body functions. Chinese doctors usually can find clues about the conditions of our gut by just looking at our mouth, tongue, and teeth.

As with everything in life, moderation is the key to balance and health.
Photo by Lukas Budimaier on Unsplash

In fact, there are many clues to tell the conditions of our internal systems. If we are always tired in the morning and have a hard time waking up and getting out of bed, it is the symptom of serious internal wetness. We can also find clues in our feces. For a healthy body, elimination is regular, easy and in good quantity. It should be in perfect banana shape. If it is scanty, shapeless, too watery, sticking to the toilet bowl even after flushing or you need to use plenty of toilet paper to wipe yourself clean, your stomach system is too wet and at stress. The wetness can cause feces to glue to intestinal walls and promote re-absorption of toxins into your body which is detrimental to health.

To clear internal dampness out of our body, diuretic foods, and foods that can improve digestive health is most important. Eat healthy food, exercise regularly to let the body sweat (especially in summer), reduce salt intake to avoid water retention, suck on three slices of fresh ginger in the morning to get stomach energy going (never at night), don't over consume fluid during the day, quit smoking and drinking, and keep the living environment especially the bed and bedroom dry are effective in reducing internal dampness. Foods such as bitter melon, job's tears, little red beans, hyacinth bean, tofu, Chinese yam, green papaya, purslane, and luffa are all good for removing stomach heat and wetness and promoting gut health. Cabbage is considered as a natural medicine for our gut because it can solve many stomach problems, kill bad bacteria and heal ulcers. That's why we should eat more sauerkraut for increasing good bacteria as well.

Foods for Digestive Health

Chinese medicine believes that we are born with kidney health and stomach health is developed after birth. Since our stomach provides all the nutrients to support life, it should deserve our top attention and care. Many daily foods are for promoting digestive health and gut health.

Water

Water helps break down foods, carry nutrients to the body and remove wastes from the body.

Vegetables are as beautiful as they are delicious
Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

Vegetables

High Fiber Vegetables such as sweet potato, sweet potato leaves, Jicama, chive, cabbage, Chinese yu-choy - prevent constipation by moving waste through the large intestine quickly.

Protein

Protein helps to activate digestive juices in the stomach. A healthy stomach needs enough acid to reduce all the solid things eaten to soup form for absorption. Healthy stomach acid kills off dangerous parasites and bacteria.

Fermented Foods

Foods such as sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt, beer, miso, tempeh, and kimchi - can increase healthy bacteria in our gut and improve digestion.

Vinegar

Vinegar - helps to break down fats quickly and improves digestion.

Plum

They are sour in taste but alkaline in nature, promote digestive enzymes, anti-aging, prevent high blood pressure and hardening of arteries, clean blood, are anti-inflammatory and promote gut health.

Cinnamon powder

Cinnamon powder - sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.

Nature's Digestive Aids

1. Nature’s Best Constipation Reliever - Psyllium Seeds

They contain the highest level of soluble fiber of any grain source, relieve constipation, support healthy bowel function and reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids

2. Immune-Boosting Fiber - Oat Bran

It is a great fiber source that helps relieve constipation, help your immune system work better and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

3. Toxin-Fighting Fiber - Beet

Beet Fiber relieve digestive disorders, relieve constipation and binds to toxins, heavy metals, and excess hormones that have been dumped into the gut from the liver.

4. Nature’s Diarrhea-Fighter - Apple

Apple Pectin is a remarkable soluble fiber that soaks up liquid and turns it into a gel. It helps relieve diarrhea and supports healthy digestion in many ways.

White rice helps to strengthen the spleen in Chinese medicine, which is the main organ of digestion
Photo by Vitchakorn Koonyosying on Unsplash

5. Ancient Chinese Remedy for Occasional Indigestion and Diarrhea - Rice

Rice fiber helps relieve indigestion, reduce diarrhea, improve circulation, speeds bowel transit time, improves fecal weight, and increases bowel movement frequency.

6. Relief for Flatulence and Bloating - Alfalfa

Alfalfa effective at relieving stomach upset, digestive problems, flatulence and bloating.

7. Nature’s Colon Calmer - Fennel Seed

They relieve intestinal spasms and gas, relieves upset stomach and supports healthy digestion.

8. Relief for Intestinal Spasms - Peppermint Leaf

They help calm digestive spasms and relieves occasional nausea and diarrhea, and naturally soothe the digestive tract.

9. The Green Superfood - Barley Grass

They help provide fiber for the digestive system. It’s loaded with phytonutrients that make it one of the most nutritious foods available.

10. The Native American Remedy for Digestive Problems - Slippery Elm

They help soothe the digestive tract and relieves occasional diarrhea.

11. The Stomach Soother - Red Raspberry Leaf

They soothe stomach aches and relieve bowel disorders, constrict the tissues of the intestines to prevent water loss and soothe occasional diarrhea.


Parsley not only promotes digestion it also cleanses the palette and freshens breath.
Photo by pintando la luz on Unsplash

12. Ancient Folk Remedy for Great Digestion - Parsley

Parsley has been used for centuries to improve digestion. It stimulates the release of digestive juices that help digest proteins and fats.

13. Grandma’s Favorite for Constipation Relief - Prune Juice

Prune juice has been used for generations to relieve constipation gently and soothe irritable bowel.

14. Special Pro-biotic Blend

Good bacteria helps to boost the immune system and supports good digestion. 80 percent of your immune cells are in your intestines. That’s why one of the keys to a highly functioning immune system is to restore the balance of healthy flora.

Balancing Digestive Health Herbal Soup


Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

SYMPTOMS

Lack of appetite, yellow urine, dry mouth, and throat.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Clear dampness and strengthen spleen to improve appetite, diuretic.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • Lean Pork 瘦肉 – 180gm
  • Job's Tears (yi yi ren) 生苡米 – 30gm
  • Lotus Seeds (lien zi) 蓮子 – 30gm
  • Lily bulb (bai he) 百合 – 30gm
  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 – 30gm
  • Solomon's Seal (yu ju) 玉竹 – 30gm
  • Fox Nut (qian shi) 茨實 – 30gm
  • Glehnia (bei sha shen) 沙參 – 30gm
  • White bean 白扁豆 – 30gm
  • Ginger 生薑 - 3 slices
  • Citrus Peel (chen-pi) 陳皮 – one small piece (pre-soaked and with white tissue removed)

1.   Soak herbs for half an hour and rinse clean.

2.   Rinse pork, cut into large pieces and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes, remove and rinse.

3.   Put all ingredients in a soup pot with 3 liters of water and bring to boil. Remove foam, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 3 hours.

4.   Add salt to serve. Eat some herbs with soup.

USAGE

No restriction and should be taken regularly to promote health. Suitable for the whole family of all ages.

 

Featured image photo by Sudeera Seneviratne on Unsplash


Traditional Chinese Medicine in Today’s Cuban Health Care

By John Voigt

In Cuba, the legends abound about outstanding Chinese doctors of the nineteenth century who helped create a foundation for the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in twenty-first century Cuba.  (See “Not Even the Chinese Doctor Can Save Him” in the May issue.) Nevertheless, TCM’s acceptance and use by the Cuban medical establishment did not happen overnight. Historically and during the beginnings of the Revolution, TCM along with most other Alternative Medicine was rejected by the Cuban government and by a majority of its western trained doctors.  As in the past century, the Establishment considered such healing modalities “antiquated occult quackery.” Such things were an anathema to Marxist Communist beliefs.

 

Photo by Alexander Kunze on Unsplash

The Political and Economic Situation.

With the US Embargo beginning in 1960, and the withdrawal of USSR support in 1991, along with the internal problems of their socialist-communist economy, Cuba was and remains economically devastated. There were and still are massive shortages in pharmaceutical drugs and medical supplies for the doctors, clinics, and hospitals that service the Cuban people. (Things are much different for tourists. See Modern Health Care for Tourists below.) Today in 2018 hospitals and clinics for the common people of Cuba all too often have little or no drugs, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, bed sheets or pillowcases—not even aspirin! Often there are no hypodermic needles, or used ones are washed in bleach and reused. Relatives living in Florida smuggle in prescription drugs.

Amazingly even with these horrid conditions, the World Health Organization’s latest report in 2016 has Cuba with an average healthcare expenditure of $2,475 per person; Cubans have approximately the same life expectancy (males 77/females 81) as Americans (males 76/females 81) who average a healthcare expenditure of $9,403 per person. Source: http://www.who.int/countries/cub/en/ and http://www.who.int/countries/usa/en/

Cubans even have a lower rate of infant mortality than that of the USA. Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

These figures — $2,475 and $9,403 are not typos — they represent among other things Cuba’s extensive use of alternative medicines and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); as well as governmental enforced implementations of beliefs and lifestyles somewhat similar to Chinese and Asian ways of life, such as the paradigm that preventing an illness is easier than curing one, or the importance of daily socially required group gymnastics such as taijiquan or qigong. Or of small teams of doctors and nurses going throughout the entire country rigorously enforcing mandated medical examinations, or actively having people reduce or end smoking. Both Cubans and traditional Chinese health practitioners believe health is not just the absence of illness, instead, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. For both Cuban leaders and Confucius, the health of the human body and mind is an integral necessity for the very important health of the society. In Cuba, revolutionary health practices are a part of a continuing revolución. For Cuban lawmakers, if for no other reason, healthy people are important because they make healthy workers, soldiers, and government officials. The political reality is clear: no health means no revolution.  Admittedly Cuba is a totalitarian government, something that Americans understandably will not accept, but at least in a theoretical — yet highly practical sense — there is much for us in America to learn from Cuba.

Returning to past historical realities, since the 1960s until the present the enormous difficulties presented by the American Embargo, and especially the subsequent lack of medicines and supplies, the Cuban medical establishment was forced to search for new approaches.  Health officials began to incorporate techniques outside the scope of what doctors had previously been taught in the universities. After all, for a century Chinese doctors in Cuba had shown that TCM affected cures for certain illnesses that western medicine had not. Some skeptical doctors even started planting medicinal herbs in their backyards; at least they would have something to give to their sick patients.

Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

TCM Becomes Official.

Beginning in the late 1980s medical students in Cuban universities began to be trained in alternative techniques. An executive report, “The Analysis of The Health Sector in Cuba” issued in 1996 by the Ministry of Public Health (Ministerio de Salud Pública) outlined this new approach:

The strategic objective of the National Health System is to give priority to the development of natural and traditional medicine. The “Program of Development” initiated in 1991, includes the search for active medicinal principals of plants, their clinical testing, and the subsequent generalization of the results so that they can be progressively incorporated into the techniques and procedures of the East Asian medical tradition.

By 2009 the Ministry moved to a full acceptance and legally enforced implementation of these radical methodologies as befitting a revolutionary culture.  These changes were made official in August 20, 2009, with the publication of Resolución Ministerial No 261/2009. Below are key excerpts from this document along with several annotations made by the author. TCM is only a part of the Resolution no.  261,  nevertheless it is hoped the reader will find the document interesting. With it, Cuba is probably pursuing Alternative Medicine more than any other country in the world.  The original text in Spanish may be found at “Resolución Ministerial No 261/2009” at http://legislacion.sld.cu/index.php?P=FullRecord&ID=210

  Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash

MINISTERIAL RESOLUTION NO. 261/2009 Republic of Cuba

RESOLVE - FIRST: To approve for medical care, teaching, and scientific research in health services throughout the country national, [with] the following types of Natural Traditional Medicine.

1- Phytotherapy.  [Medical treatment based on the use of plants and plant substances.]

2- Apiterapia. [Therapeutic use of bee venom, and other bee products such as honey, pollen, and royal jelly.]

3- Traditional Asian Medicine:

  1. a) Acupuncture. b) Catgut sutures sewn into acupoints.
  2. c) Stimulation of acupuncture points: [by use of]
  3. Drugs
  4. Light
  5. Temperature
  6. Mechanical [devices].
  7. Ultrasonic [devices].
  8. Electricity
  9. Magnetism
  10. Microsystems of the Asian Traditional Medicine [such as ear acupuncture].

4- Ozone therapy.

5- Homeopathy.

6- Flower Therapy:

  1. a) Bach Flower Remedies, [solutions of brandy and weak dilutions of flower material in water.]

7- Hydrotherapy: mineral springs, mineral baths, Peloids [clay or mud baths], thermal baths.

  1. Helium Therapy – (Heliotalasoterapia). [Heliox is a breathing gas composed of a mixture of helium (He) and oxygen (O2). It is a medical treatment for patients who have difficulty breathing,  For example, croup, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.]
  2. Traditional Therapeutic Exercises: [The Pan American Health Organization spelled out these exercises as:  Taijiquan (usually Yang Style).  Lian Gong Shi Ba Fa (created by Dr. Zhuang Yuan Ming; see ‪ Lian Gong Shi Ba Fa 18 Terapias Anterior on YouTube).  Wushu (commonly called “Kung Fu.”) Qi Gong,  and Hatha Yoga.] “Each movement is to be chosen with a modifiable therapeutic purpose according to the traditional medical diagnosis of the subject or patient.”] Ejercicios Terapéuticos Tradicionales.

http://www.paho.org/

  1. Naturist Nutritional counseling.  [“In addition to meeting established nutritional requirements. Can include a vegetarian or macrobiotic diet, and traditional practices as used in Traditional Asian diagnosis. You should be aware of existing products in Cuba.”]  Ministerio de Salud Pública, 2011. http://files.sld.cu/mednat/files/2014/08/prog-nac-mtn-2012.pdf ].

THIRD: The Deputy Minister attending Medical Assistance is authorized to issue the instructions considered necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this resolution.


Starting in 2016 all medical graduates in Cuba, including nurses and dentists, are required to learn Medicina Tradicional y Natural (MTN) which includes various Cuban versions of TCM.  Almost all local clinics and hospitals of Cuba now offer Traditional Chinese Medicine, where acupuncture, reflexology, massage, heat treatments and liniments are the order of the day. Also, 30% of Cuban legally approved medicines are herbal. [Source: author interview with a Cuban physician in Havana, June 2016.]


TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE IN THE CUBAN STYLE.

[Note: If you have any medical problem see a health professional. This article uses information derived from Cuban sources and is to be used only for educational purposes.]

Acupuncture and Acupressure are used in a majority of hospitals and health clinics, however often with variations such as Auriculoterapia or Ear Acupuncture which is based on the theory that the auricle, the outer portion of the ear, is a microsystem which reflects the entire body. Auriculoterapia is said to cure many conditions such as headaches, sciatica, lumbago, joint pain, depression, melancholy, insomnia, liver and digestive problems. In Cuba, it is also used to control obesity, addiction to cigars and cigarettes, and as an anesthetic in surgery.

Cubans have extended this concept to using acupoints on the face, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet to function as mirror images of the acupoints throughout the entire body. Patients may be prescribed a do-it-yourself continuous treatment where a tiny seed is taped to the body part and the patient is instructed to press the seed during the day.

Taping a seed to an auriculotherapy point.  

 

An aspect of Herbal medicine is added to this by using the seeds of the Mexican Thisel, also called the Mexican poppy, which the Spanish found the natives in Mexico used for healing. This plant can be poisonous; nevertheless the colonial Spanish added this plant to their pharmacopeia and called it cardosanto. It was used to relieve kidney pain, to help expel a torn placenta, and in general to help cleanse the body after childbirth. It has also been used to treat malaria [see Argemone Mexicana, Wikipedia.]

Electro-acupuncture – (Electropuntura) combines the use of needles with electrical stimulation by sending a small electrical current through the needle after insertion into an acupuncture point. Instruments used usually consist of two parts: a needle and  an electric current stimulator. There are different types of stimulators, some use AC or DC electricity, high or low frequency, continual or intermittent electrical pulsations. It is primarily used as an analgesic for all types of pain. It is also applied to alleviate the pain during childbirth, as well as anesthetic for some operations, including caesarean sections.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Diet Therapy is used in relation to healing a specific illness; often it is used with pharmaceutical drugs if they are available.

Tuina or therapeutic massage is used to promote a more harmonious balanced flow of qi (bio-electrical energy) to cure diseases and promote health. In Cuba, as elsewhere, the practitioner’s hands are used to massage muscles and tendons. Acupressure techniques to affect the qi flow, and manipulation techniques to restructure musculoskeletal and ligament relationships may be added. Liniments, poultices and herbal balms, often from plants native to Cuba, may be used to increase the benefits of the treatment.

Moxibustion - (Moxibustión) is a method that treats and prevents diseases and corrects energy imbalances by applying heat through cones or moxa cigars burning on certain points of the human body. The raw material most commonly used for this technique is the dried leaves of the mugwort plant ground to a fine powder. In Cuba incense, and the wicks of oil lamps also are used.

Indirect Moxibustion – (Moxibustión Indirecta) is a method Cubans use that combines acupuncture with moxibustion. It is indicated for the treatment of joint pain due to cold and moisture. A little burning moxa is carefully applied to the handle of the inserted needle.

Another technique also called indirect moxibustion has an insulating ingredient placed between the slowly burning moxa cone and the skin of the client. The healing properties of the substance are considered added to the healing properties of the moxibustion. For example, one slice of ginger approximately 0.2 cm thick is recommended for a weak spleen and stomach, joint or abdominal pain and other symptoms of yang deficiency.

Garlic is used in the same manner as ginger. It is indicated for scrofula, skin infections and poisonous insect bites in their early stages.

Salt: the navel is filled with salt and a large moxa cone is placed over it. This is indicated for cases of cold limbs, weak and imperceptible pulse, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Phytotherapy (Fitoterapia – or “Plant Therapy”). This refers to the use of medicinal plants and vegetables and their derivatives to prevent, alleviate or cure diseases. Given Cuban history there is a heavy influence of Afro-Cuban practices. Currently various governmental health agencies are investigating methods and techniques to streamline and modernize Phytotherapy in line with the basic requirements of “safety, quality and efficacy.” American and African techniques are being actively studied and used along with traditional Chinese and native Cuban methodologies.

[The species most frequently used in Phytotherapy are Cocos nucifera L. (Arecaceae), Bidens pilosa L. (Asteraceae), Cissus sicyoides L. (Vitaceae), Erythroxylum havanense Jacq. (Erythroxylaceae) and Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (L.) Vahl. (Verbenaceae).] Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15013195].

------------------

Modern Health Care for Tourists. Today hospitals for tourists are in much better condition than those for native Cubans.  These hospitals can be world-class 21st century facilities, and they are expensive. Generally speaking they are closed to regular Cubans, who have their own Government controlled free healthcare. The turismo de salud [“Health Tourism”] programs are understood to be a method to raise money for the impoverished country.  Tourists and foreign diplomats combine vacations with state of the art health care which often includes Traditional Chinese Medicine and other more exotic health care alternatives.


Hydrotherapy at a turismo de salud [“Tourism of Health”] clinic.
Source:
https://cubanosporelmundo.com/2015/09/28/turismo-de-salud/

Children Learn Plant Medicine

Children begin studying the multiple uses of medicinal plants in primary school, learning to grow and tend their own plots of  faloe, chamomile, and mint, and later they conduct scientific studies about their uses. Radio and Television programs instruct people on how to relieve common stomach upset and headaches by pressing key points. Acupuncture is offered at all three levels of health care [primary care physician, clinic, hospital]. Cuban biochemists have produced a number of new alternative medicines, including PPG (policosanol), a natural product derived from sugarcane wax that is effective at reducing total cholesterol and LDL levels, and Vimang, a natural product derived from the bark of mango trees. [source: Healthcare in Cuba. Wikipedia.]

In Cuba since 2006 no cases of acute hepatitis B reported in children under 15 years of age.
Source: http://www.radio26.cu/2016/05/11/cuba-sin-hepatitis-b-aguda-en-menores-de-cinco-anos/

A short coda as a conclusion.  ¡A Ese No lo Salva, Ni el Medico Chino! —“Not Even The Chinese Doctor Can Save Him!” is a popular slang expression that first appeared in mid-19th century Cuba. This article ends with the thought that in 2018 whoever that “Chinese Doctor” was, he or she might now actually be able to “Save Him!” and bring “Him,” (their patient),  back to a state of health. Or better yet, with the use of TCM and other alternative medicine preventative techniques, the patient never would have gotten sick in the first place.

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

This article originally appeared as part of “Traditional Chinese Medicine in Cuba” in Qi Journal, vol. 26/3; autumn 2016. It is used with the permission of the author, who may be contacted at john.voigt@comcast.net


Sources.

Beautiful Decay: Cuba's Race To Save Havana's Architecture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9roxiC-fBDk

Sean Brotherton. Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba. Duke University, 2012.

Lisa Chiu. A Short History of the Chinese in Cuba. http://chineseculture.about.com

“Cuban Characters.” http://www.thecubanhistory.com/2015/02/cuban-characters-not-even-the-chinese-doctor-can-save-you-personajes-de-cuba-no-te-salva-ni-el-medico-chino/

EcuRed: Medicina tradicional asiática.  http://www.ecured.cu/Medicina_tradicional_asiática

Carlos García. Cham-Bom-Biá: el médico chino. http://www.canarizame.com/2014/12/23/cham-bom-bia-el-medico-chino/

Enrique Jorge Hernández González. La Medicina Bioenergética y Natural: su aplicación en la Isla de la Juventud (página 2).

http://www.monografias.com/trabajos72/ natural/medicina-bioenergetica-natural2.shtml

Enrique Jorge Hernández González. Perfeccionamiento del desempeño profesional en la aplicación de la medicina natural y tradicional. http://www.monografias.com/trabajos-pdf2/desempeno-profesional-medicina-natural-tradicional/desempeno-profesional-medicina-natural-tradicional.shtml

  1. Jácome. No Te Salva ni el Médico Chino. https://www.facebook.com/CubaEnLaMemoria/posts/1209701712375197:0

Junior Vega Jiménez. “Juan Cham-Bom-Bian: itinerary of the"Chinese Doctor" from the Havana to ward Cárdenas. Brief historical notes. http://scielo.sld.cu/pdf/rhcm/v14n5/rhcm03515.pdf

Paul Kadetz and Johann Perdomo Delgado.

Slaves, Revolutions, Embargoes, and Needles: The Political Economy of Acupuncture in Cuba.” Asian Medicine 6 (2010–11), 95–122. [also at]

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275506985_Slaves_Revolutions_Embargoes_and_Needles_The_Political_Economy_of_Acupuncture_in_Cuba

Yovanny Ferrer Lozano. Chang Pon Piang: Un médico chino. http://scielo.sld.cu/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1684-18242014000600010

La medicina china y su presencia en Cuba.

http://bvs.sld.cu/revistas/his/his%2095/hist0595.htm

Medicina tradicional asiática. http://www.ecured.cu/Medicina_tradicional_asi%C3%A1tica#Fuente

Ministerio de Salud Pública. Programa Para el Desarrollo y la Generalizacion de la Medicina Tradicional y Natural, 2011. [Ministry of Public Health. Program for Development and Generalization of Traditional and Natural Medicine, 2011.] http://files.sld.cu/mednat/files/2014/08/prog-nac-mtn-2012.pdf

Moral R. Peñalver.  “Juan Chambombián; el médico chino. Averiguaciones en torno a un popular personaje.” Revista Bohemia 1981; 5(16), 7-10.

La pluma del Tocororo: El Médico Chino. https://almejeiras.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/el-medico-chino/

Resolución Ministerial No 261/2009. http://legislacion.sld.cu/index.php?P=FullRecord&ID=210


**Beautiful featured image photo by Ellen Carlson Hanse on Unsplash

 


Meditation: Improve Your Health in 20 Minutes a Day

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Chinese Medicine Says - Balance Equals Health

Chinese Medicine is all about balance. Balance in all aspects of life is what keeps us healthy and keeps disease away. In a time long ago, this balance was the normal way of life for most people, and they understood the importance of doing things in moderation - like eating, physical activity, expressing of emotions and all aspects of life. Chinese Medicine has always taught that this moderation in all things is the way to achieve balance and is ultimately the path to health. When something in life becomes unbalanced, illness can result. When this happens there are wonderful tools to help put the body, mind, and spirit back into a harmonious state - like acupuncture, Chinese herbs, moxibustion, gua sha and tui na. These are just some of the tools that Chinese Medicine has in its formidable toolbox. But ultimately, the goal is to live a balanced life so that illness never has a chance to develop, Chinese medicine is a medicine of prevention.

Losing Our Equilibrium

Now, many of us are living unbalanced lives in an increasingly unbalanced world. Finding the equilibrium that our ancestors enjoyed becomes more difficult as we live in a world that is more complex, and needs us to work more in a time where most of us are able to have less. There is a growing disparity between people who have and those who have not. Cities are growing as nature dwindles. People are being pushed, working more, sleeping less and getting sick because that balance has been lost. So what can we do? It is not realistic to quit the jobs we need to survive, and many of us live lives that we must and not the lives we would like to. One of the ways that we can get back to that balance, that equilibrium that keeps us aligned and happy is to slow down, sit and listen.

What is Meditation?

Meditation - Finding A Way Back to Balance

There are many ways to meditate, and everyone needs to find the one or the ones that are right for them. For some, walking is a wonderful healing type of meditation. For others, painting, cooking or writing poetry is their meditation of choice. I like to define a meditation as being in a state of complete harmony and flow. Like you are completely connected to the universe and in a state of bliss where time completely disappears. This is only my definition, but a similar sensation has been described by others in a state of deep meditation. It is like being in a complete and all-encompassing state of mindfulness.

Practical Meditation

In all my years of treating patients, I have found meditation to be one of the most effective healing tools, and one of the most empowering for patients. I often give patients a "prescription" for daily meditation to help them with their health and overall well-being. There are lots of reasons why it is such a great healing tool and why people love it so much. Here are just a few:

  • You can choose a meditation technique or practice that resonates with you - it is highly individualized
  • You can do it in the privacy of your own home
  • You do not need any special gear or equipment (although a lovely meditation cushion is so nice)
  • Meditations positive effects can be felt by doing it in as little as a few minutes a day
  • You can use your creativity to design a practice and a space that supports your meditation practice
  • The beneficial effects will ripple out into all aspects of your life
  • The positive effects will be felt by the people around you
  • With time, you will be able to handle stress and other difficult situations with more equanimity
  • Your memory, concentration and mood will be improved
  • You will have better quality of sleep
  • The power of this healing tool is completely in your hands

The list of meditations benefits is really enormous and there isn't enough room here to list them all. But for practical reasons, I can share an example of a meditation practice that can help to rebalance mind, body and spirit as well as all the benefits listed above.

Creating a Beautiful Space

One of the first things you can do, is to create a beautiful, calming, peaceful space where you will do your meditation. If you can, remove all electronic devices so that the space is quiet and you will not be disturbed. Keep the space clean and clutter free as this will help eliminate distractions while you are meditating. If you have a meditation cushion, you can arrange it so that it is appealing to the eye and when you look at the space in its entirety, it gives you a feeling of calm and joy. I am lucky to have a beautiful meditation cushion (which is from the lovely people at Chattra) - whenever I look at it, it makes my heart so happy and I thoroughly enjoy sitting on it. I don't have a lot of space, so I create a tiny space for myself with my cushion and a mosquito net which is lovely and really gives it an enchanted feel. Create your space however you desire, using objects (or the lack of objects) that make you happy and help to create a feeling of calm and serenity.

This is my lovely meditation space with my beautiful Chattra meditation cushion. If you would like one of your very own,
you can see all their beautiful designs here in their shop and enjoy 10% off (see coupon below).

20 Minutes to Health

You can choose however long you like in terms of your meditation practice, but I suggest that if it is new to you, to start slowly. You can start with just five or ten minutes a day and work up from there. I find that a good number is twenty minutes a day, or if you are ambitious, twenty minutes twice a day, morning and evening. Twice a day is ideal as it acts as a primer for the day and a bit of a cleansing of the days energies before bed to ensure a good, restful, rejuvenating sleep. If you can set aside twenty minutes when you wake up before you start your morning routine, you will find that you will set your intention for the day and be better able to focus as well as being better able to handle difficult situations. The more you meditate, the more you will find this equanimity in your life and in all things. In the evening, do everything you need to do and do your meditation right before sleep. You will find that the quality of your sleep will improve and you will wake up feeling more rested and ready to start your day with positivity and awareness.

The Meditation

As mentioned above, there are many different types of meditation, and I always recommend to patients that they find the one that feels right for them. A good way to start if you are looking for ideas is to sit comfortably in your meditation space and begin to focus on your breathing. Focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. I sometimes suggest trying to focus on breathing light into the top of your head, gathering the breath and all dark energy, emotions or experiences we are finished with, illness, pain or trauma and breathe it out with every breath. Sometimes, when you begin, it is good to have something to focus on and this one has worked for me, and for my patients.

Keep breathing deeply in and out focussing solely on the breath. Your mind will inevitably wander, but when you notice you are somewhere else in your mind, gently bring yourself back to the breath. At first, your mind will be all over the place - this is called monkey mind by the Buddhists (and here is a great definition) - but just keep bringing yourself back to the breath. This will get easier and easier the more you meditate. And try not to be hard on yourself. There are days when you will do nothing but bring your mind back to the breath, over and over again. But over time, you will find that you will have to do this less and less and that your mind will settle into a peaceful quiet which will allow you to connect to yourself in a way you may not have done before, and that is a wonderful thing indeed.

Chinese Medicine Living readers can enjoy this 10% off coupon in the Chattra shop. Visit www.chattra.com or click on the coupon below.

Chattra Meditation Cushion Review

If you would like to read my review of the lovely Chattra meditation cushion, you may do so here - Chattra Meditation Cushion Review

 



Mustard Greens & Pork Soup Recipe

By NourishU

Chinese Medicine Nutrition & The Summer Season

The excessive heat and humidity in summer can affect our health in many ways. It can cause the loss of body fluid and energy with profuse perspiration and can weaken our appetite. Drinking too much fluid to fight summer heat can dilute digestive enzymes which can lead to indigestion.

Extreme heat can lead to heat stroke with symptoms such as fainting, spasm, and fatigue. It is important not to over-expose oneself to the immense heat. Drinking excessive ice cold drinks can further damage the spleen system and cause food and energy stagnation. Eating seasonal vegetables such as winter melon and citrus fruits to quench thirst, to promote digestion and to expel heat and dampness is most beneficial to health. It is also important to eat food that can improve appetite, promote digestion and benefit spleen functions. Oily and heavy meat dishes should be avoided because they will cause indigestion.

Potassium

Potassium is the most important mineral of all which is necessary for good health. Potassium's main function is to promote cell tissue and growth. Our body needs to replace dead cells and tissue every day. There is no better source of potassium than vinegar---particularly natural apple cider vinegar. It is probably the best and cheapest agent to detoxify our body. As such, it should be considered as a critical component to the fountain of youth!

In summer months: add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to a quart of water. Drink this on a hot summer day, especially before working out. Your body will feel very clean. In winter months: 2 TBLS of apple cider vinegar in a mug filled with hot water 3 times a day.

Pear

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Eating pear after a meal/BBQ.

The Seoul National University of Medicine Division of Preventive Medicine research team led by Professor Yang Meixi in September 2010 released a report saying that eating a pear after a meal can discharge a lot of carcinogenic substances accumulated in the human body.

The survey results indicate that smoking or eating grilled & roasted meat, the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the body will be significantly lower after eating a pear. The result of the findings indicated that heated pear juice contains a lot more anti-cancer substances - Polyphenol.

Mustard Greens & Pork Soup Recipe

 

This delicious image by INRTracker.com

SYMPTOMS:

Slight internal heat syndrome with symptoms such as slight constipation, red eyes, and bad breath.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Clears internal heat and relieves constipation.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Mustard Greens  芥菜 -  300 gm
  • Lean Pork -  180gm
  • Ginger – 2 slices

1.   Wash mustard greens and cut into pieces.

2.   Rinse pork and cut into thin pieces, season (a little sugar, salt, pepper, cornstarch and sesame oil) and set aside.

3.   Boil about 8 cups of water in a soup pot and put in mustard greens and ginger to cook for about 30 minutes over medium heat. Add pork and cook for another 6 or 7 minutes and serve.

USAGE:

No restrictions.


Beautiful featured image photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash