Oyster Noodles for Osteoporosis

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition of weakened bones caused by an imbalance in bone building and bone repair, which is usually accompanied by aging. It is a common problem affecting women after menopause when their bodies are not generating enough estrogen to build bone. People with low calcium intake, physically inactive, smoking, a small frame or very low body weight have a higher chance of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis may lead to easy bone fractures at the wrist, hip and spine, and eventual immobility.

Osteoporosis Recipe : Chinese Medicine Livingthis image from  cdn.nof.org

The Bandage Approach

After many decades of subscribing drugs and calcium supplements to treat osteoporosis by modern medicine, there is enough clinical evidence to show that these interventions did not work. The results showed not only no improvement in preventing bone fractures but worse, it caused serious side effects such as nausea, abdominal cramping, flatulence, diarrhea, severe constipation, inflammation and ulceration of the esophagus, chest pain, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, etc. It clearly demonstrates once again that the bandage approach used by modern medicine is doing more harm than good.

The fact is that by increasing bone mass artificially makes bones more brittle and makes fractures more likely when there is a fall. And when injecting a heavy dosage of calcium into the body, it can cause "calcium in the wrong place" such as calcification of joints and arteries causing heart disease which is so dangerous.

Leaking Calcium

To treat osteoporosis, it is the underlying problem of leaking calcium which needs to be addressed. Diet and other health problems should be the main concern in diagnosis and treatment. A diet that is highly acidic can upset the body's PH balance. To compensate, the body’s natural response will draw calcium from bones to neutralize the acidity. When the acidic condition persists, severe bone loss is the result. Stress is the main cause of depleting calcium from our bodies. Many people living very stressful lives are suffering from adrenal fatigue. The fight or flight response of the body will produce large quantities of the stress hormone cortisol in order to cope. Calcium is the main ingredient used to make cortisol, so it uses up calcium and depresses bone repair and bone formation. Calcium loss can also be a side effect of pharmaceutical drugs treating other health problems.

The Best Defense

The best defense to prevent and fight osteoporosis is through diet, exercise, and sleep. Exercise promotes better blood circulation which in turn promotes healthy metabolic functions of the body including the repair and building of bones. Weight lifting exercise is found to increase bone mass. Eating a healthy diet which is slightly more alkaline than acidic can prevent calcium loss. Fruits and vegetables are mostly alkaline. Meats, dairy products, soft drinks, coffee and tea are acidic, so milk is bad for bone not just cardiovascular health. Sleeping the eight hours sleep, especially at night is vital. The body detoxifies and makes new blood, repairs and builds bones at night.

Dark leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, turnip greens and cabbage are rich in calcium and vitamin K and are best to promote strong bone. Other foods with vitamin K include spinach and collard greens. Parsley, green olives, basil and thyme also have vitamin K. Garlic, onions and egg are rich in sulfur which is needed for healthy bones. Onion is found to be more effective than drugs to prevent osteoporosis. Egg yolks and organ meats such as liver are rich in vitamin K2. Canned salmon and sardines with bones, soy products, sesame seeds and almonds are all good for bones. Soy products, which are high in isoflavon, can reduce bone loss or even increase bone density. Shrimp is high in vitamin B12, which aids bone density and is crucial in the generation of new cells. It is also a good source of vitamin D, an essential ingredient for bone strength. Your best source of vitamin D is sunshine. You don’t need more than 20 minutes out in the sun to get all your vitamin D for the day.  Other food sources of vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, tuna fish, sardines, eggs, beef and cheese. Reduce sodium intake and use herbs and spices for natural flavoring. Selenium protects bones. The best source of selenium is Brazil nuts, which contain a whopping 544 micrograms in just one ounce. You can also get selenium from red meat, tuna, eggs and walnuts.

Chinese medicine sees osteoporosis as blood deficiency and blood coagulation, kidney and spleen deficiency. Food treatments are for promoting kidney health, improving blood production and circulation.

Oyster Noodles Recipe

SYMPTOMS

Blood deficiency syndrome of osteoporosis, constipation with hard stool, dizziness, dry lips and mouth, fatigue, fever, blurred vision, muscle spasm, pale complexion, and insomnia.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Act on the kidneys to produce bone marrow, energy (qi), and blood.

He Shou Wu : Chinese Medicine LivingHe Shou Wu Root
This lovely image from www.stemcellnutrition.net

INGREDIENTS

  • Chinese cornbind (he shou wu) 何首烏 - 10gm
  • Fresh oysters -100gm
  • Rice noodles - 50gm
  • Salt, soy sauce or miso

Oysters for Osteoporosis : Chinese Medicine Livingthis delicious image from www.tastewiththeeyes.com

  1. Cook cornbind with 3 cups of water over medium-low heat and boil down to 1 cup of tea and strain.
  2. Cook rice noodles in hot water for a few minutes and put noodles through cold water bath and drain.
  3. Wash oysters a few times, and then use a spoon of salt and then a spoon of corn starch to wash them again. Rinse clean and drain.
  4. Re-boil cornbind tea, add oysters and bring to a slow boil. Add noodles and seasoning to serve.

Oyster Noodles for Osteoporosis : Chinese Medicine Livingthis pretty image from www.dishinanddishes.com

USAGE

Eat as or with meal. No restrictions.

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**Featured image from foodamentals.com

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Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living


What is Cupping?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

With the close of the Olympics, there has been a sudden flurry of interest in Chinese cupping. It seems that many members of the US swim team were touting large red circular marks on their backs which got a lot of attention in the media and piqued people's curiosity about the ancient technique. Those marks are from a modality that is part of Chinese medicine and is many thousands of years old. It is called cupping.

There are many modalities that fall under the umbrella of Chinese medicine. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, tui na (Chinese therapeutic massage), moxibustion (the burning of the Chinese herb Artemesia), auricular acupuncture (acupuncture of the ear), gua sha (scraping) and cupping are all the modalities of Chinese medicine and the tools that the TCM practitioner uses to rebalance and heal their patients.

Cupping is a little discussed (outside Chinese medicine circles) but much-loved practice by both practitioners and patients. Even though the results may look a bit alarming, it is painless and in fact, a very relaxing treatment and many of my patients request cupping when they are feeling stressed out or "wound up" because it helps them to unwind and relax. Cupping has many health benefits, which make it an invaluable part of the expansive toolbox that is Chinese medicine.

What Does Cupping Treat?

At the heart of Chinese medicine theory is the concept of "Qi". Qi can be described in many ways, energy, life force, prana... and all would be correct. It is the force that brings things to life and must be kept moving for us to be healthy. Each one of us has Qi. It is a close partner of blood and the two work together to keep things circulating throughout the body. If our Qi is abundant and moving smoothly, then we are healthy. However, if Qi becomes blocked, or "stagnant" then illness can occur. Diseases in Chinese medicine are seen as blockages of Qi, and often the longer the Qi has been blocked, the more severe the illness is seen to be. So, one of the main goals of all Chinese medicine modalities, including cupping is to move Qi. There are specific things, though, that cupping treats very well. They are listed below.

Cupping Treats the Following Conditions

  • Pain in the back, neck, legs and arms
  • Colds & flu
  • Detoxification
  • Inflammation
  • Respiratory illnesses - bronchitis, asthma, cough
  • Digestive problems - stomachaches, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Cellulite
  • Migraines
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Arthritis

How Does Cupping Work?

Chinese Bamboo Cupping : Chinese Medicine LivingBamboo Cups
this lovely image from ameliaislandmassages.com

There are different kinds of cups, the traditional type being made of bamboo, and the modern type usually made of glass. A cotton ball soaked in alcohol is lit on fire and placed briefly into the glass cup to heat the air inside. It is then immediately placed on the skin, the heat creating a suction. The skin and first layers of connective tissue and muscles are lifted into the cup, and a mark is usually formed, from a light red to a deep, dark purple. The cups are left on anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes depending on what is being treated. The theory is that the darker the mark left by the cup, the more toxins and stagnation are in the area being treated. The cups come in different sizes and are indicated for large muscle groups like the back, upper thighs and sometimes, the abdomen. The suction created inside the cup can be from heat (this is sometimes called fire cupping), or there are plastic cups that use a manual pump to suck out the air while they are sitting on the skin. The cups can also be moved, with the application of oil to the skin, along meridians or large muscle groups which have a distinct "massage-like" feel for the patient.

Cupping is used to relieve pain, remove heat, increase circulation and pull toxins out of the body. It is also excellent for digestive problems like stomach aches, vomiting, and diarrhea as well as respiratory problems like coughing and asthma. Cupping is an amazing modality for warming, dredging the meridians (where there is often blocked or "stagnant" Qi) and moving Qi and blood. Despite how the results may look, it happens to be incredibly relaxing and is like having a warming massage. The effect, in fact, is like having a reverse massage with the cups pulling up on skin and muscles, instead of applying pressure downwards. The red marks left are often used to diagnose the severity of the stagnation of Qi and blood or toxicity, and although they can look severe, they are painless and go away in a day or two.

How Does Cupping Work? : Chinese Medicine LivingGlass "Fire" Cupping
this helpful image from hoylasnoticias.com

Contraindications

There are several things that you want to look out for before you try cupping. You do not want to do cupping over areas of broken skin or rashes, edema (swelling), areas where there are large blood vessels, or if you have a high fever with convulsions. Also, pregnant women should never have cupping on the abdominal and sacral area. Cupping is also not appropriate if you have a bleeding disorder.

In conclusion, cupping is a wonderfully therapeutic treatment and one that patients always really love. It is warming to the muscles, and the sensation of the skin and muscles being pulled up into the cup is unique and relaxing as well as detoxifying. Cupping keeps Qi and blood flowing smoothly inside the body, which is the key to ultimate health. If you have never tried it, you definitely should. The marks it leaves behind are also always a great conversation starter!


Alignment - Part 3

By Steven Lubka

Performing a Cranial-Spinal Reset

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Finally, I want to offer a technique for resetting the whole system when it is under stress. Anytime you feel tension or discomfort you can perform this to initiate a relaxation response.

The first step is positioning oneself in the above posture. The key points are as follows:

  1. You are lying on a firm surface
  2. The angle of your thighs to your spine is close to 90 degrees
  3. The angle of your shins to thighs is close to 90 degrees
  4. The ankles and feet are pointed
  5. The hips are positioned directly over each other, as well as all joints in the legs.
  6. The forehead is resting on the hands. It is very important that you are not resting the head on cheekbones or jaw joint. Resting the weight on one of these areas will be counter productive

Once one is in the following posture it is important to spent a moment attending to the breath. Allow the breath to shift into the lower belly, this will often happen automatically as the chest is pressed to the ground through the position. As one breathes they will feel an opening in the sides of the back. This mechanism of the breath force kicking back against the chest which is pinned to the floor serves to reset the spinal vertebra.

After one has spent a moment in the position it is time to address the skull. While in the position you now move to adopt correct oral posture. To really perform the reset you want to bring the molars together with a degree of force as you push the tongue against the roof of the mouth with 80% of the total force available to you at that time. If the amount of force available to you at the time with your tongue is enough to overpower the strength of the jaw muscles which keep the molars together decrease the force of the tongue. The aim of this is to release the jaw joint and it will only occur if the bite muscles are being engaged in this way. Performing this oral exercise while the body is rotated in this will serve to remedy any twisting of the skull, as well as the rest of the body. Once you have performed this on one side of your body flip yourself over and perform the same exercise on the other side. I recommend this highly as correcting the various ways the body is rotationally imbalanced is something which is often neglected.  

Finally, there is a quality which is essential the individual cultivates to really bring the total force of their being towards the journey of physical healing. This quality is the driving force of the whole process and if one were to do nothing else, I would simply suggest they cultivate it. The quality I am describing I would call , in my own words, a “felt sense” of the body. In other terms would could call it interoception and proprioception, the sensing of the internal condition of one’s body. This means that one must deepen their awareness of what their body feels like and be able to respond intelligently to the feeling state of the body. This carries emotional connotation as well. It is the refining of one’s sense of the emotional energies that circulate in the body, and the cultivation of a perspective of consciousness which is able to simply observe the impact of emotions without being drawn into reaction or identification with them. This quality can be cultivated through practicing continuous awareness of the various tensions once experiences in the body, as well as attending to each body part individually. What this means is to take a moment in meditation to feel what each body part is feeling. In one sense this is a coming home to the flesh, which we often turn away from or neglect. In another sense it is simultaneously important to develop an observer consciousness which is not attached to these things. This is a coming home to the spirit. If one does nothing else, cultivate these essential qualities.

I clearly remember the first time I ever tried to make myself feel better. Such a normal and commonplace action yet it struck me even at the time. I was 8 years old and I was looking forward to going to a favorite store when I found out it was closed. In that moment my mind reached for something else I could do to cope with the disappointment, something that might bring me pleasure. This is something we often do, and we even raise our children in this way. When there is emotional upset we seek something external to change our experience of those feelings.

However this represents a turning away from Self, from the ever present ground of being. It was my first encounter with the aspect of the ego which is focused on how it feels and is always desiring to feel better. What a mechanism! This was the beginning of my later drug addiction, at 8 years old. Addiction could not possibly exist in a being who is not seeking to experience pleasure and push away pain. And yet this function of egoic consciousness exists in many forms besides that of drug addiction. I think if we look at ourselves with an honest sense of inquiry we will find that we are all seeking a better experience most of the time. If we look with an even more discerning gaze we will also see that in doing this we actually create more pain for ourselves than if we didn't try to do anything about our negative feelings.

It is an important step in our journeys to heal the state of our body-mind, indeed this whole article has dealt with the process of healing. However, it is important to be aware of our motivation for doing so. Are we attempting to run from pain, to push it away as unacceptable, or are we seeking to meet our pain with the redemptive force of our loving attention?  For the rare individuals who are after Truth and not simply a better experience this is of the utmost importance. The path of self-improvement and healing is an ENDLESS path. One never reaches an end point. The only thing left for those who’s goal is something beyond this is direct insight into the nature of the Self. The act of trying to heal oneself or feel better is a pointer and a path in of itself, however this path does not lead to the ultimate goal. It prepares the seeker to be able to recognize and accommodate the divine perspective which will emerge later.

For me remembering the first time I ever engaged in the act of turning away from my pain, also always reminded that there existed something outside of it. It indicated that there was another state of being which was not concerned with how it felt and never attempted to change what was.

As always, this is a fantastic teacher for me. In remembrance of the Great Self, we turn ourselves towards our source , with endless devotion, without ceasing. The true God is a silent one, and a small one. There is nothing other than this.

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Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living


Alignment - Part 2

By Steven Lubka

There are many ways to begin addressing spinal alignment, infinite ways really. I am going to outline some basic habits that can produce tremendous benefits. These are simple modifications to one’s lifestyle that one can implement immediately and don’t require complex explanation nor the learning of technique. Later I will delve into technique, but for now it’s best to start at the beginning. I will also describe how to perform a basic cranial-spinal reset.

The easiest way to begin restoring the muscular-skeletal systems of the body is through awareness, sitting postures, sleeping habits, and the mouth. If one can say that posture starts anywhere, it starts in the mouth. Many people never touch on this component and those that do address the mouth neglect the other parts of the body. Malocclusion, the development of a bite in which teeth do not properly connect and poor oral posture have existed as long as civilization has existed. Hunter Gatherer populations typically have excellent bites and good oral posture. This creates well balanced and beautiful facial structure. Civilized populations often have poor oral posture and misaligned teeth. There are many explanations for this but no definitive conclusion for why this is.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

See the difference?

Addressing oral posture keeps the skull sitting properly on top of the spine. Atlas chiropractors have found that by bringing the Atlas Vertebra into alignment it balances the rest of the musculoskeletal system.

To do this one must maintain a consistent awareness of their oral habits. Correct oral posture involves keeping the mouth closed, the back molars touching, and tongue on the roof of the mouth. The tip of the tongue should rest on the bump just behind the front teeth. To find this location simply make the sound “nah-nah-nah-nah”. The spot your tongue goes to is where the tip should rest. One should also attempt to raise the posterior part of the tongue so that it is pressing up on the palate. This is incredibly important but also very difficult for most people at first. It is important to simply do what one can do , if it’s only the tip at first start there, eventually you will be able to raise the whole tongue. One should hold this mouth posture at all times when not eating or breathing, but this is something you will work towards. By doing this you will not only take huge steps to balancing your spinal alignment but will over time improve the form of your facial structure.

By pressing upwards with the tongue while keeping the jaw closed you create an upwards force which moves the maxillary bone of the skull forward and a downward force which unsticks the jaw  and allows it to hinge properly. This can greatly help in alleviating TMJ and other jaw disorders  as well as improving breathing. This technique also helps train one in a practice of consistent body awareness which even on its own is a powerful restorative force.

Developing new sitting postures will confer great benefit as well. The most useful posture to learn is a resting squat. This will help to align the spine and bring greater health and mobility to the joints. A resting squat means the heels are flat on the ground and your butt is as low as it will go. For the purpose of a sitting posture it doesn’t matter if your spine is straight or curved. Find whatever way of positing your feet is comfortable for you, there is no one correct way.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

For most this may be challenging at first, but it will come easily eventually. A great way to make this posture one of comfort and ease is to spend 30 minutes a day for 30 days in it. The 30 minutes are a cumulative time goal, you simply do a minute or two many times throughout the day. Soon it will be easy. Try watching the sunrise every morning in a deep squat, with your bare feet on the earth. This will bring many benefits. The first is that it will ensure proper circadian rhythm which is crucial to your whole system. The second is that it will put you in touch with the electromagnetic field of the earth while developing your squat. It is important that you view the sunrise without glasses or contact lenses in as the early morning UV light will not penetrate glass or lenses. It is crucial this early morning light reaches your eyes because it is the signal which turns all your daytime metabolic and hormonal processes on. This will influence everything from mental health and dopamine levels, to proper melatonin production, reduce the risk of alzheimer's and dementia, and combat diseases such as diabetes, MS, and autoimmune disorders.

There are many other sitting postures one can use that will bring benefit. The traditional Japanese meditation posture where one’s legs are folded underneath oneself and you are sitting on top of your ankles is a good one. The half and full lotus meditation postures can also be useful if they are comfortable for you. There are many variations one could use, the most important thing is to simply start sitting on the ground and allowing your body to support itself instead of using chairs and furniture.

Along with sitting habits it is important that one also begins to develop the ability of the body to hang. Simply grab a tree branch and hang from it passively. If this is too hard to do with a tree start with a standard pull up bar.

Sleeping habits are the next key area to address. It is imperative that you get rid of your mattress and transition to a firm sleeping mat on the ground. All primates suffer from musculoskeletal problems however nature has given us a way to correct this. However one cannot take advantage of this while sleeping on a mattress. It is similarly important to get rid of one’s pillow but take one step at a time. Many of these sleeping postures create a mechanism where the diaphragm movement during sleeping in these postures resets the vertebra of the spine.

The first involves sleeping on the side using an externally rotated arm as a pillow. The shoulder that is used as a pillow is hunched and the feet are relatively pointed. One can also sleep with one’s head directly on the ground if the shoulder is hunched properly.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

The second involves using both folded arms as a pillow.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

The third and my personal favorite creates an unwinding of rotational imbalances of the spine.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

These all make fantastic sleeping and resting postures that will yield tremendous benefit simply from relaxing in these poses.

Here is what I was able to achieve in 2 years, from age 19 to age 21. I am now 23 at the time of writing this and have continued to experience great benefits from these kinds of practices. I did not even learn about the oral posture work until well after the photos displayed below. It held the key to correcting my forward neck posture.  

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

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Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living


Cloud-Ear Mushroom - For Spring Detox

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Spring is in the air and it is time for many households to start their spring cleaning projects around their homes and gardens. Our body, after a whole winter of inactivity and over indulgence in greasy and highly dense food, should also be in great need for a good spring cleaning.

On the subject of cleansing and detoxifying our body, you may find yourself being overwhelmed by too many product advertisements in health magazines, newspapers, online newsletters and blogs and you may find it hard to decide where to start and what product to use. I think the best approach is to have a good assessment of your body condition first and then use it as a guideline to help determine your right course of action. This, together with your honest answers to how much time, money and effort that you would like to put into the exercise, are the determining factors on how successful you can be. I think it is only sensible to take a longer time and more moderate approach rather than going through some drastic regimens of extreme and punishing diets which can only kill your will power and good intension. May I suggest just changing your food choices to more healthful ones as a start which may take longer to see the effects but at least more doable and enjoyable?

Cloud Ear Mushroom Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Overall, if you can manage to feed yourself with more good clean and nutritional fluids such as good clean water, freshly squeezed fruits and vegetables juice and homemade broth, cut down on meat consumption, eat a little bit less and do sweat inducing exercises daily for about 45 minutes, you are on the right path to spring clean your body for better health.

On healthy food choices for detoxification, vegetables with high fiber content would be the best choice. Chive, garlic stem, daikon, bok-choy, watercress, yu-choy, collard green, kelp and seaweed are good in cleansing our stomach and digestive tract. Mushroom, beans and seeds are other good detox agents. Most mushrooms have anti-oxidant properties and are effective in fighting tumors and abnormal cell development. Beans and seeds are effective in helping the body to eliminate abnormal retention of water and waste products.

Mushrooms have a good reputation for delivering great health benefits. Most western people know about Asian shiitake mushroom and consume it regularly but they may not know about another black mushroom called cloud-ear mushroom.

Cloud-ear mushroom is smaller in size, thinner, more fragile and very different than shiitake. It is more a fungus than mushroom and the shape is like human ear. They are grown on wet tree trunks and cluster together like a stack of clouds. They are known to be very effective in cleaning the lungs, reducing plague and cholesterol. They are commonly used in Chinese home cooking because they are easily available and affordable. They are mostly sold dried therefore can be kept for a long time. They can be fully rehydrated after soaking for about 15 minutes and a little can turn into a lot so very easy and economical to use.

The mushroom itself is almost tasteless, just needs a few minutes to cook but its slippery and crunchy texture makes it a very unique culinary ingredient. Even with longer time cooking will not change its texture. Therefore, cloud-ear mushroom is best for putting in a stir-fry, quick soup recipes and vegetarian stew. You can also put it in salad or some appetizer dishes after quick cooking in hot water.

Last week, I was so pleasantly surprised when I found fresh cloud-ear mushroom for sale in Chinese supermarkets in the Greater Toronto area. They are now being farmed in some Ontario mushroom farms together with many other exotic species. I am so happy to be able to use them fresh in many recipes now.

Whenever I buy cloud-ear mushroom, my 95 year old mom (living with me) will tell her story again on how her father made them all eat a bowl first thing in the morning before breakfast when they were young and how much he loved and cared for them. They were using the dried ones then and have them soaked in an open pot overnight on the roof-top terrace to get some morning dews before cooking with a little sugar to make it tasty for children. This is the kind of breakfast that will make so much difference to our heath compared to eating a bowl of sweet cereal. However, I think this is a hard act to follow and I truly admire the grandfather whom I had never met.

The following is an easy stir-fry recipe which I have put together just for demonstration. I used ingredients I have on hand. Crunchy and easy to cook ingredients such as onion, zucchini, cucumber and sweet peppers go well together with this mushroom. You just vary them according to your liking.  Sometimes I put the mushroom in vegetable soups and finish the soup with egg wash to make it a little bit fancier. I have also come to notice some Chinese dim-sum restaurants are using cloud-ear mushroom in their appetizers other than just in their usual steamed chicken.

Cloud-Ear Mushroom with Chicken Stir-Fry

Cloud Ear Mushroom Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Ingredients

  • Cloud-ear mushroom
  • Asparagus
  • Red onion
  • King mushroom
  • Chicken breast
  • Minced ginger and garlic

Cloud Ear Mushroom Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Directions

  • Rinse and cut ingredients to desire thickness and length.
  • Rinse and slice chicken breast thinly. Season with salt, pepper, cooking oil, soy sauce, potato starch and sesame oil.
  • Heat wok, add mined ginger and garlic and stir briefly. Add onion and other vegetables to cook for a couple of minutes. Then add mushrooms and mix in seasoning to taste. When the cloud-ear mushrooms starting to make popping sound, sprinkle in a little cooking wine and a little water. Mix and cover with lid to cook for a few minutes.  Then put everything aside.
  • Heat wok with a little oil and add minced ginger and garlic to stir-fry chicken slices. When about 70 % cooked, sprinkle in cooking wine and return mushrooms & vegetable to the cooking to mix the ingredients. Put everything to plate when chicken is completely cooked.

Cloud-Ear Mushroom - For Spring Detox : Chinese Medicine Living

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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.

 


Alignment - Part 1

By Steven Lubka

I write this in the beginning of the year 2016. In the last several decades we have experienced increasingly rapid and dramatic changes in the ways in which most humans live on this beautiful planet. We have developed incredible technologies that have made the impossible , possible. Our environments are filled with invisible wavelengths of light (wireless internet technologies)  which transmit the sum of human knowledge instantaneously to most points on the planet. With nuclear energy we generate power from invisible particles on a scale previously unheard of. We have discovered ways to alter the genetic information of plants and animals, to travel through the skies at incredible speeds, to travel into outer space, and many other feats which were delegated to the realm of imagination 100 years ago.

From a certain perspective one can view all of these inventions as coming from a pure seed of potential, a dream in the collective mind of man. Of course it is our nature to attempt the impossible. Of course it is our nature to dream, and yet we now find ourselves dealing with the fallout of all of these technological breakthroughs. Our inventions have changed our lifestyles and the face of the earth and these changes have happened faster than the biologic systems of the Earth and the human body can handle.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Our bodies evolved over millions of years sheltered in the magnetic resonance of the planet. As we slept on the earth and walked barefoot on her landscape we were constantly attuned to her vibrations and frequencies. Our science is now discovering how essential our attunement to these magnetic fields are for the function of our cellular health. Magnetic frequencies and light cycles impact every aspect of our biology down to the cellular level, and yet in a hundred years we have completely disconnected from these nourishing vibrations in favor of artificial sources. We have migrated from a life lived in communion with the Earth and all her medicine to one that is lived in an artificially lit indoor environment that is becoming increasingly saturated by the electric fields and wireless radiations of our technological brilliance.

We once woke up with the sun and moved through complex natural environments to fulfill the tasks of our daily lives. As we moved, the very act of movement caused the vital fluids of our bodies to circulate to all the organs and muscles. The heart is not the only mover of blood. The contractions of muscles pull blood and circulate nutrients to all parts of our physical form. Yet now we sit and stare into screens endlessly, robbing ourselves of the replenishing aspects of movement and the joys of it.

At night darkness fell and our activities ceased with it. We learned the wisdom of having a time for darkness and inactivity, something which our industries which strive for growth at all times could serve to remember. The period of darkness experienced at night is a critical as the period of light experienced during the day. The morning sun triggers a massive shift in hormonal function as the bodies shifts into its daytime processes, and similarly the onset of darkness triggers the onset of our nocturnal processes.

The Chinese knew the importance of Yin and Yang, and what can occur when these forces are out of balance. In their language I would say our light environment has become Yin deficient because of our use of artificial lighting. I also find our constant illumination of our world to be symbolic of the masculine conquest of nature. We have created eternal daytime, we have conquered darkness, and we have lost touch with her feminine receptive nature. We have lost the ancient experience of stories told around a fire. and of quiet conversations with our loved ones under the night sky. In scientific terms we are impairing the product of melatonin and damaging our eyes via blue light toxicity during the dark portion of the photoperiod.

These are just some of the changes that have taken place in the last hundred years and I cite them now as an example of how our way of living has shifted so dramatically and so quickly. As a result of all these changes a general malaise has come to afflict the human population. We have become numb to the sound of it as most take this state of being as “normal” for it is all they have ever known. How does one know they are sick if they have never been well?  All you need to do is turn on a television ( but I do not recommend it) to hear the advertisements for medications for depression, anxiety, cancer, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, MS, and a variety of other diseases which were  unheard in ancient societies and among hunter gatherer populations.

However, the innate intelligence of life is stirring within us and many people are becoming increasingly disillusioned with this culture we have manufactured. A great awareness for physical healing and restoration is emerging and I feel it is one of the most important ways that we pay homage to the Earth, by healing the gift of the body we have been given. Through the miracle which is the Internet I have watched for years as people from all over the world have gathered in virtual space to find solutions and it is here in this virtual realm that I am sharing my contribution to the whole. We can’t say that the times we live in are boring!

The body is a complex system, a unified whole made of many parts. In this way it reflects a fundamental principle inherent to all levels of creation. All manners of form in this existence are simultaneously a singular whole and the many parts which it is composed of. This is an important reference point to hold when one attempts to bring their body back into a state of health. The state of health is the singular holistic manifestation of all parts working in harmony. So where does one begin in their journey? For each person different pieces will hold different magnitudes of importance. This is individual and must be discovered by the individual. What is most important for one person will not typically be what is most important for another and I don’t truly find there to be a hierarchy of the various systems. The heart is not intrinsically more important than the liver. The brain is not intrinsically more important than the gut. The alignment of the spine not intrinsically more important than the circadian biology. All of these things work together, much as rivers don’t exist without the land they flow through nor without the clouds which replenish the waters of this magnificent biosphere.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

I say all of this and yet now I must create a starting point for one cannot address the whole without starting with one of it’s parts. The Chinese viewed a human life as something of great value. The human being was seen as a conduit between heaven and earth, between form and formlessness. In other words the human being was bridge between two worlds. In my eyes nothing manifests this role or relationship better than the spinal column. The spine is something of incredible function. It not only is the literal foundation of our physical form but it also is the ground through which an immense of amount information travels in the forms of nerve signaling and sensory input from all parts of the system. It is the central axis of the body. A properly aligned spine yields a properly aligned being who is a conduit of both heaven and earth. I find that the spine is also the antenna of the body and when the antenna is calibrated properly it allows one to become receptive to “information” from the greater systems we are a part of. It allows one to receive “information” on the level of frequency from the magnetic field of the earth, the frequencies of the stars and cosmic bodies, and from the interconnected biosphere of life on this planet. A hunched and collapsed spine is a sign that the organism is heading towards death, yet most live in this state from a young age now.

This concludes the first of this three part series. In the next part I will outline some basic habits one can cultivate to to easily improve one’ alignment. In the third I will show how to perform a basic cranial-spinal reset and delve into some further discussion of our motivation to heal ourselves, where this motivation is useful, and where it is limited.

 

Alignment Part 1 : Chinese Medicine Living

*Images
The beautiful featured image from picturesdotnews.com
Earth image from Mother Earth by Commander on Youtube.com
Tree image from veganfeministnetwork.com
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Peace Love & Acupuncture Button : Chinese Medicine Living


Qi Gong for Weight Loss - One

By John Voigt

Before commencing this or any other weight loss program consult with your appropriate healthcare providers. If any procedures in this article cause any mental or physical discomfort stop doing them and see a professional healer. If you have had or have any mental illness do not do the following visualizations.

THE CREATION OF THE SLENDER YOU

The Chinese alchemist begins from the point of energetics and used guided visualization and physical techniques to effectuate the fusion of the energies. The fused energies are then purified, transformed and projected to create an energy body or energy double.” George A. Katchmer. The Tao of Bioenergetics, pg. 92. YMAA, 1996.

The body is activated by the interplay of two psychic structures: first, hun, which because it belongs to the yang principle, I have translated as animus - p'o which belongs to the yin principle, as anima. Carl Gustav Jung. Secret of the Golden Flower, pg. 14.

Qi Gong for Weight Loss : John Voigt

Michelangelo’s David. Florence, Galleria dell'Accademia.

Yang is archetypal Masculine energy—as in father, sun, fire, phallic, aggressive, logical, left brain. Yin is archetypal Feminine energy—as in mother, moon, water, womb, receptive, intuitive, right brain. They are not separate entities: all yang contains yin, all yin contains yang. Every man has a hidden female alter-ego that Jung named “Anima.” Every woman has a hidden male alter-ego Jung called “Animus.”

Qi Gong for Weight Loss : John Voigt

Daphnis and Chloe (1827), Jean-Pierre Cortot. Louvre.
In a second century C.E. Greek story, as infants they are found by shepherds, and grow up secretly in love with each other. After adventures they are happily married. In the sculpture their bodies seem to represent an anima/animus perfection.

The interaction of yang and yin (as in father and mother) gives birth to the child. By imagining the anima or animus within you, then externalizing, and returning them into you, it becomes possible over to give birth to a new slender you.

Personal Transmutation: Projection and Assimilation for Physical Realization of the Imaged Slender Self

Go into your standard meditative posture. See (imagine) sitting facing you, a healthy slender, full of youthful energy, beautiful/handsome you. A truly perfect you: all you would ever want and wish to be--BUT OF THE OPPOSITE SEX. Feel their presence by fully imagining them with all your senses. Then though practicing visual imagining,  run life energy (qi, prana, or whatever you call such things) up their back and down their front. This is called the Microcosmic Orbit. As an advanced option in time you may add the bio-life cosmic energy coming into the fingers and toes up through the limbs and jointing with the flowing inner-river of qi. This is called the Macrocosmic Orbit. Imagine/see/perceive your vision of radiating qi from their entire body. Picture their energy pathways aglow. Then have this image move toward you and mentally hold and turn them so their back is to you and bring them, squeeze them, into your body. As they enter you their sex automatically transforms into your sex. [If you are gay then adapt this so it fits your personal sexual proclivities.] They were in so many ways the true you anyway—perhaps even possibly your hidden subliminal dream lover. All the glowing radiating energy pathways in their body have now become yours.

After you have drawn in your projected perfect-self, do another short imagined running of  life energy orbiting up your back and down your front, then if you are up for it into the tips of the fingers and toes to add more qi into this bio-electric streaming inside you. As always, finish by finally cycling the qi-energy into your navel into the dantian, the living energy storage cauldron in the center of your lower abdomen. This is an absolute necessary step: such inner and outer cosmic power must be stored in the dantian.

It is necessary to daily repeat this visualization/transformation. It is like gaining skills on a musical instrument, but now the instrument is your mind and body, as well as your mental habits of eating, and your body habits of movement and exercise. To gain qigong skills it is necessary to practice the exercises. Any qigong, especially such advanced Daoist exercises,  is always best done under the thoughtful observations of a master teacher. So when doing this qigong, as with any advanced spiritual health practices, if anything does not feel right, or gets too weird or spacey: STOP IMMEDIATELY!

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Qi Gong for weight Loss : John Voigt

Nüwa and Fuxi.
According to legend the earth was swept by a great flood (circa 3000 BCE). Only Fuxi and his sister Nüwa survived.  Like Adam and Eve, they began procreating the human race. That they seem to be hermaphroditic—therefore a manifestation of joined yin yang—and that the intertwined serpents or dragons appear to relate to primordial creative energy—what the Hindus called “Kundalini,” and the Chinese called “Jing Qi” —is pertinent to this article.

The slender anima (female soul in the male) or animus (male soul in the female) now exists inside you buried under your excess weight. Like a butterfly crawling out of a chrysalis spun by its former caterpillar self, she/he will—if allowed to—grant you the power to almost automatically do and not do the things necessary to become slender in time: he or she eats properly and is not a lazy couch potato but  moves; that is why they are slender. And that is why you (if you allow it) will do the same as they do: thereby becoming slender and more healthy.

Personal Comments by the Author: My anima alter-ego does things I like to describe with words my parents used:  Such a finicky eater.” “Just picks at  their food.” “Eats like a bird.” “Never finishes what’s on their plate.” And “Always running around. Never gives it a rest.”

So every time I am around food—shopping, at a restaurant, opening my refrigerator’s door, cooking, or eating—I feel her presence in me automatically guiding me to do the right thing.

She loves to do body movement qigong and exercise—and therefore so do I.  And we both love to walk—I try to do that at least a half hour a day.

She seems immune to hunger and being physically tired, no wonder I am glad I have found her and that she is me.

Present day media improperly—and potentially dangerously—offers too thin models or actors, or professional athletes as goal models. Trying to have the body of a model, movie star, or athlete is counter productive for most of us. Nevertheless, the healthiest, longest living, most energetic, most beautiful people are usually not overweight or obese. Here Daphnis and Chloe,  and David are offered as artistic examples of a perfect weight; something to strive for in theory and practice.

Achieving and maintaining the proper weight for wellbeing is a very honorable goal. Over time, through qigong visualizations, exercises, and Traditional Chinese Health dietary practices it may be accomplished. These themes will be expanded upon in my upcoming articles in  HYPERLINK "http://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/" http://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/.

John Voigt may be contacted at john.voigt@comcast.net

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Books to Learn More:

Mantak Chia . Awaken Healing Energy Through Tao. Aurora.

Lu K'uan Yü. Taoist Yoga. Weiser.

Wikipedia websites were consulted for the following subjects or images:  Body Mass Index. Daphnis and Chloe. Fuxi. Carl Jung. Michelangelo’s David.  Microcosmic orbit. Taoist alchemy.

As a possible aid in imagining how a resonating anima/animus might appear look at the art of Alex Grey. I suggest “Adi Da Samraj,” “Alex,” “Holy Fire,” “Namaste,” and “Psychic Energy System.”  All are on Alex Gray's website at www.alexgrey.com.

 

The lovely featured image by Core Spirit


Sang Ji Sheng – with Many Health Benefits

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Sang Ji Sheng (桑寄生) or Taxilli twig is also known as mulberry mistletoe. It has long been characterized by increasing lifespan and preserving health in many medical classics. The health benefits include lowering blood pressure, treating an abnormal heart rhythm, increasing coronary blood flow, improving coronary circulation, enhancing cardiac contractility, reducing myocardial oxygen consumption, inhibiting platelet aggregation, preventing thrombosis, promoting microcirculation, suppressing tumor growth, curing hepatitis, and so on.

TCM classifies Sang Ji Sheng as bitter and sweet in taste and neutral in nature. Medicinally, only the dried aerial parts of the plant are used. They are usually collected in winter and spring with the big stems removed and the smaller parts cut into sections and dried. Sang Ji Sheng is used in TCM remedies for nourishing liver and kidney, building strong bones and muscles, expelling wind-dampness and preventing abortion. It is also used in resolving health problems such as aching lumbus and knees, weak physique, hemiplegia, rheumatic pain, light headedness, threatened abortion, uterine bleeding, and blood in stool.
Sang Ji Sheng with its neutral nature is commonly used with few restrictions. Since it is a parasitic plant and lives on other woody trees, there can be slight toxicity derived from the host plant. Therefore, the recommended dosage is from 20 to 25 grams in making a decoction. When slight symptoms of adverse effects are found such as dizziness, headache or upset stomach, the whole batch of herb should be discarded. However, adverse effects are not commonly known because Sheng Ji Sheng tea is a very common street food found in many corner stores in China. The Sang Ji Sheng tea with egg dessert is an all-time favourite snack for many.

Sang Ji Sheng Recipe : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image by Vicky Chan

The easiest way to get the health benefits of Sang Ji Sheng is to cook it into a tea. It is a very inexpensive herb and you can buy it in most Chinese herbal shops. You can get 500 gm in a box for less than the price of a small box of tea bags. Make sure you rinse the herb thoroughly first (or even a quick blanching) before boiling it for 45 minutes to make tea. You can add milk and sugar to serve just like making English tea and it is very delicious. I will highly recommend you to try this and treat you guests with this new healthy tea for a change.

The following recipe, Sang Ji Sheng tea with egg dessert, is not only a healthy snack, it is also good for improving complexion and promoting better skin because Sang Ji Sheng is anti-inflammatory and promotes blood circulation. You will be healthier and prettier eating this on a regular basis.

Sang Ji Sheng Recipe : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image by Vicky Chan

Sang Ji Sheng Tea and Egg Dessert

Ingredients (2 servings)

•    Sang Ji Sheng – 50 gm
•    Egg – two
•    Red dates – 10
•    Lotus seeds – (optional) a handful
•    Organic cane sugar – to taste

Directions

1.  Bring 5 cups of water in a pot to a boil and put herb (sang ji sheng) in to cook for half a minute. Remove from heat, discard the water and rinse the herb for a few times to get rid of dirt.

2.  Put herb back into the pot with 5 to 6 cups of fresh water. If lotus seed is used, the herb should be put in a soup bag so that it is easier to discard it at the end.

3.  Rinse eggs, red dates and add to the pot. Bring water to a medium boil for 10 minutes. Remove eggs, put in cold water bath to remove the shell and put eggs back into the cooking. Continue cooking for another 35 minutes to about 2 cups of tea left.

4.  Pick out dates and eggs and add to serving bowls.  Filter tea and add to the bowls. Add sugar to taste and serve.

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Sang Ji Sheng – with Many Health Benefits : Chinese Medicine Living


Black Foods for Kidney Health

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The kidneys, in Chinese medicine, are considered the "root of life" as they are responsible for many vital functions in the body. The kidneys store what is called "essence" which is derived from each parent and is established at conception. The essence determines our health and vitality throughout our lives, which is why the health of the parents at the time of conception is so important. The kidneys also govern birth, growth, reproduction and development and are important for sexual health, so we want to always make sure that our kidneys are healthy and functioning optimally. Winter is the season associated with the kidneys, and for this reason winter is the best time to strengthen the kidneys. There are many ways to keep your kidneys strong like martial arts, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and conveniently, the foods we eat.

The colour associated with winter and the kidneys is black, so in Chinese medicine eating black foods is beneficial for the kidneys, helping to strengthen and protect them. Below are five black foods that are excellent for strengthening the kidneys, they also all happen to be delicious, which is awesome.

Black Rice

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

this lovely image from dailyhealthpost.com

Rice is a staple food in most of Asia and has been for thousands of years. You may not have heard of black rice, or ever seen it in the grocery store, but black rice has been eaten throughout Asia for centuries. It is often referred to as "forbidden rice" because in ancient China it was grown in very small quantities and reserved solely for the emperor. Thankfully, black rice is now available to everyone, but it is still very rare, especially compared to other rice varieties. You can sometimes find it in health food stores, and it is worth trying as its health benefits are impressive. Black rice is literally smashed with antioxidants, in fact it has the highest level of the antioxidant anthocyanin of any known food. Black rice also reduces inflammation, protects the heart from atherosclerotic plaque which can lead to heart attacks and stroke, detoxifies the body, helps to prevent diabetes by slowing down sugar absorption in the blood, improves digestive health and is naturally gluten free. Black rice is also... excellent for kidney health. :)

Black Lentils

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

this lovely image from dailyhealthpost.com

Lentils are loved by vegetarians worldwide for their high levels of protein and the ease with which they can be added to any meal. They are low in calories and high in nutrition. They lower cholesterol because of their high levels of soluble fiber - which also helps to stabilize blood sugar. Lentils improve digestion and protect the heart because they are an excellent source of folate and magnesium which are both important for heart health. Lentils help with weight loss because they are good sources of fiber and protein, yet they are very low in calories and contain virtually no fat. Lentils are also an excellent source of energy due to their fiber and complex carbohydrates and their high iron content helps to produce energy and aids in metabolism.

Black Garlic

 

 

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living
this lovely image from dailyhealthpost.com

Black garlic was developed in Korea and has been gaining popularity for the past several years for its distinctive flavour and its impressive health benefits. The process of how black garlic is made is described below (its pretty elaborate!) - this description is from Dr. Mercola's website -

Black garlic is produced by “fermenting” whole bulbs of fresh garlic in a humidity-controlled environment in temperatures of about 140 to 170 degrees F for 30 days. No additives, no preservatives... just pure garlic. Once out of the heat, the bulbs are then left to oxidize in a clean room for 45 days. This lengthy process causes the garlic cloves to turn black and develop a soft, chewy texture with flavors reminiscent of “balsamic vinegar” and “soy sauce,” with a sweet “prune-like” taste.

This process of "fermentation" seems to supercharge garlic's already enormous healing properties. For example, the compound S-allylcysteine which is a natural component of regular garlic and a derivative of the amino acid cysteine was found to be in much higher concentrations in black garlic than its white garlic counterpart. This compound is thought to reduce the risk of cancer and lower cholesterol. While regular garlic has antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, black garlic seems to have these properties, but on steroids which makes it even more effective than its white garlic cousin at fighting infections. Black garlic has also been proven to have twice the amount of antioxidants as white garlic making it excellent for fighting disease. Antioxidants protect cells from damage (free radicals) which leads to disease and accelerate the aging process. Eating foods high in antioxidants is one of the best things we can do to keep our immune systems strong and help fight disease.  They also help to keep the body from aging prematurely by protecting it from free radical cell damage.

Black Beans

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

this lovely image from dailyhealthpost.com

Black beans are one of my favourite foods. They are easy to prepare, high in dietary fiber, an excellent source of protein, full of antioxidants and very affordable. My favourite way to eat them is to fry up a chopped onion in some butter, add a pinch of Himalayan salt then add a can of black beans and fry them up until the liquid is almost gone. They are delicious and good for the whole body, especially the kidneys! (they even look like little kidneys). Black beans also help protect the body from inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and are excellent to add to your diet if you are trying to lose weight. Black beans improve your overall digestion as their high fiber content helps to flush toxins out of the digestive tract which helps protect against digestive problems like constipation, Crohn's, IBS and others. Black beans are also excellent to include in your diet as they provide long lasting energy as they keep blood sugar levels balanced. Black beans are a wonderful addition to any diet as they have so many amazing health benefits!

Blackberries

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Oh delicious blackberries! I am always anxious for summer to arrive as it is the season of all those delicious berries. Blackberries have many health benefits. They are rich in bioflavonoids and packed with vitamin C. Blackberries are also very high in those desirable antioxidants that help us fight damaging free radicals - which can lead to cancer and other diseases. Blackberries are low in both sodium and calories which makes them part of a healthy diet and helpful if you are trying to lose weight. Something less known about blackberries is that they help to promote the healthy tightening of tissue which makes them a great way to keep skin looking young and healthy. Prolonged consumption is also beneficial for the brain, increasing brain function (and we could all use a little more of this, no?) keeping you more alert, thinking clearly and improving memory. The tannins in blackberries also help to reduce intestinal inflammation, relieve hemorrhoids and soothe the symptoms of diarrhea. Blackberries are also often used in oral care products like gargles and mouthwashes because of the astringent effect of their tannins.

In Chinese medicine we are taught to live according to the seasons. The winter is the season associated with the kidneys, and it is at this time of year that it is the most beneficial to eat foods, or participate in any other activities that benefit the kidneys. The colour associated with winter and the kidneys is black, so eating black foods is healing and strengthening to the kidneys. It is also good to remember that foods with a dark blue, purple or black colour have the highest concentration of antioxidants which have numerous healing properties including protecting against free radical cell damage, the effects of which lead to cancer and other serious diseases. My philosophy is always to eat foods that are as close to nature as possible, and these are some of the best to include in your diet during the winter season. They are delicious, and your kidneys will love you for it. :)

 

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living


Living According to the Winter Season with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The ancient Chinese created a system of medicine that has evolved over thousands of years, and is still used today to effectively treat modern diseases. Chinese medicine is only a part of a greater concept the ancient Chinese used to live their everyday lives. It is a branch that springs from a larger tree that encompasses all aspects of life. This is why the doctor of Chinese medicine does not only deal with the body or physical aspects of one's health, they are teachers educating patients on how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, because this is how we attain health, and the Chinese knew it. It is deeply entrenched in their medicine.

Chinese medicine teaches to live in harmony with the seasons, and according to Chinese medicine theory, there are five seasons - winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. Each season has many associations which help us to change our habits as the season's change so that we may create more balance between our bodies and the external environment.

When Chinese medicine was being developed thousands of years ago, people were living in a state of complete harmony with nature. They rose with the sun, ate what grew in each season and were acutely aware of their natural environment as it had a direct effect on every aspect of their lives. The lives of the people had a flow that changed depending on the time of year. Things like what foods were eaten was dependent on what happened to be growing at that particular time and what was available. When to get up, how to dress and what kinds of activities were engaged in were dependent on the important connection that people had to their environment. Because these simple steps were taken people were able to stay healthy throughout the year and had the tools to keep their immune systems and their organs strong so that they could ward off disease.

This fancy chart was made by Chinese Medicine Living

Winter in Chinese Medicine

Winter represents the most Yin aspect in Chinese medicine. Yin is the dark, cold, slow, inward energy. This is compared to the Yang of summer whose energy represents light, hot, quick, expansive qualities. The summer weather is warm, the days are longer and people are out being active. In TCM we believe that the diet and activities in winter should be adapted to enriching yin and subduing yang.

Winter, in TCM, is associated with the Kidneys which hold our body's most basic and fundamental energy. It is believed that by harmonizing oneself with the seasons you can stay healthier and prevent disease, so winter is a good time to strengthen the kidneys. Rest is important for revitalizing the kidneys, which is why some animals hibernate in winter. It is also a good time to look inward, reflecting on ourselves with meditation, writing, or other inward practices such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong. These practices help us to connect to our inner selves and help to support kidney energy. They are very helpful to relax the mind, calm our emotions and raise the spirit.

The sense organ associated with the kidneys is the ears, and our ability to hear clearly is related to kidney health. The quiet and stillness of winter allows us to hear more of the world than the buzzing activities of summer. This forces us to slow down, rest and relax.

The body part associated with the kidneys are the bones, so it is important to pay close attention to the bones in the winter months making sure to tonify and heal any problems in this area. This is also why winter is a time when Chinese medicine prescribes bone broths as nutritional therapy, as they are warming, nourishing and especially good for the bones. Bone broths are also powerful Jing tonics, as Jing is produced by the bones. Jing is depleted by activities such as extreme and prolonged stress, lack of sufficient sleep, working long hours, and excessive behaviours like too much drinking and drugs. Winter is the best time to supplement the body's Jing supply and bone broths are just what the doctor ordered.

Activities in Winter

Activities should represent the season with a turn inwards, with more self-reflection, quiet time writing, meditating, reading and other soul-nourishing activities. Winter is a time to slow down and feed ourselves both physically and spiritually. Internal martial arts and meditative practices are particularly helpful at this time of year. One should go to bed earlier and sleep later to receive the full healing effects that sleep has to offer.

Many people love winter. They feel energized with the coming cold and love to be out snowboarding, skiing and going for walks in the snow. For others, winter causes them to retract, stay inside and can cause some to feel sad or even depressed because of the lack of light and reduced physical activity. The good news is that winter can be enjoyed by everyone if we live, eat and exercise according to the season and pay attention to our bodies preferences.

Winter Foods

Winter Foods in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

There are many foods that are beneficial for us to eat during the winter season. These foods are the ones that naturally grow in this season - squashes, potatoes, root vegetables, winter greens, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, apples, and pears. In winter, our bodies need warming foods like soups made with hearty vegetables, and rich stocks cooked with animal bones are best. Foods that specifically nourish and warm the kidneys are:

  • black beans
  • kidney beans
  • broths cooked with bones
  • lamb
  • chicken
  • walnuts
  • chestnuts
  • black sesame seeds
  • dark leafy greens.

A small amount of unrefined sea salt is also helpful as the taste associated with the kidneys organ is salty, but remember, moderation in all things is important. For more on the subject, you can read this - Black Foods for Kidney Health.

Cooking should be for longer periods using low heat and less water. This infuses foods with heat that helps to keep the body warm in the cold winter months. Hearty soups, whole grains, and roasted nuts are good on cold days and offer nourishment to feed the body and tonify the kidneys in cold winter months.

The principle of harmony between what we eat and the season is based on hundreds of years of practical experience. Chinese nutritional therapy is an important component of Chinese medicine and truly believes that you are what you eat. The food that we consume has a profound effect on the body, affecting our health and wellbeing. Foods become part of the body after being consumed (internal) and the weather and environment have an effect on us externally. Chinese dietary philosophy suggests that you embrace native foods along with eating locally grown, organic and chemical free foods that grow in season. According to TCM the thing about the modern diet which is the most unhealthy is that we are able to eat foods all year round that may be grown unnaturally with the use of pesticides rather than ones grown naturally for only part of the year. This is the way nature intended us to eat. Eating natural foods that grow in the present season is what our bodies are designed for and prefer. This is one of the main ways that Chinese Medicine guides us on how to remain healthy all year long.

Winter Foods in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This lovely image from TCM007

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If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Winter Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Winter Season in Chinese Medicine. If you are a practitioner and would like this sheet to be able to share with patients, find it here - Winter Season - Professional.

Living According to the Winter Season with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living