Chinese Medicine To Support Sensible Weight Loss

By Sally Perkins

According to the CDC, around three-quarters of all American adults are overweight. With around two-thirds of these trying to change their eating habits and lose a few pounds, it’s no surprise that weight loss plans and programs are big business, with a huge range of suggestions and options touted as providing miraculous results – some with more success than others. Chinese medicine offers the opportunity for mindful, realistic and sustained weight loss, so if you’re looking for a sensible solution for an ongoing, healthy lifestyle, here are some changes you could consider making.

Food and Functionality

Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on many principles relating to food consumption, metabolism and digestion which can aid weight loss and improve your relationship with eating. Excessive weight gain is thought to relate to the accumulation of ‘dampness’ – a condition that occurs when food intake, absorption, digestion and transportation are not balanced. Take the festive season as an example – if you eat too much, or consume food higher in fat, your spleen and stomach will struggle to transform your food, and any excess will be left sitting stationary, leading to an accumulation of dampness.

Elimination of dampness is the main tenet of traditional Chinese weight loss programs, and there are a number of ways to achieve this. According to the guidelines, cultivating a diet of bitter, sour and pungent foods can aid with achieving a healthy body shape, and help you avoid fluctuating weight that can have an impact on your mood, wellbeing and budget – having to invest in different clothes of different sizes gets expensive, and has a negative impact on the environment too. Whether you’re ensuring your favorite bikini will fit exactly come the summer, aiming to eliminate health conditions exacerbated by weight, or simply want to adopt a more mindful lifestyle, changing the way you eat can make a real difference.

Antioxidant Assistance

Many Chinese people drink tea every day, and it is thought to have a number of health benefits. Polyphenols are an antioxidant found in tea and may help to maintain a healthy metabolism whilst you lose weight, repairing cells and easing digestive issues. Green tea, Jiaogulan tea and Oolong all have a soothing flavor and a good level of antioxidants, and just one cup a day is enough to make a difference – something that can be easily incorporated into most daily routines. There are also various herbs known to support weight loss by suppressing appetite, burning fat, and boosting metabolism. He Ye (lotus leaf), Fu Ling and Huang Qi are some of the most well-known, but there are others that may also be suitable, depending on your lifestyle, goals and commitment to weight loss. Consulting a Chinese medicine practitioner can help you to tailor an individual treatment plan based on your personal needs.


Photo by Kristaps Ungurs on Unsplash

Changing the way you eat and drink and supplementing with appropriate herbs is not just about losing weight; it’s about improving your overall wellbeing and health as well. Making one or two small changes at a time can support you to develop positive food habits that’ll balance your body and leave you feeling fit and functional – as well as helping you to stay that way.


Featured image photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash



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Winter Tea – An Add On To The Festive Season

Tea is a wonderful beverage that fills the heart with love and our homes with smiles. The warmth of a steaming, aromatic and delicious cup of tea can make your day! Tea is an evergreen drink and can be enjoyed by everyone irrespective of their culture, place, occasions or seasons. Thus, it isn't wrong to say that a hot mug of tasty tea can be a cosy friend in the misty winter season!

The tea that we consume in the winter season is normally referred to as Winter tea. Winter tea is filled with dozens of flavours that will add an extra layer of warmth to your cold, dull and dark winters. Tea for the winter season enhances the festive mood and spreads all over happiness. As this tea is consumed hot, it balances the low temperature of the winter season and makes you feel homely. During the winter, our body is set at a lower temperature but drinking winter tea increases our immune system and makes us fit as well as healthy. Indian Chai is loaded with lots of health benefits and is a prime tea for winter.

Best Winter Tea

The list of teas for winter contains main types, although you can choose the one which brings you heavenly happiness. Teas for winter are numerous but the best winter teas are as follows.

1. Normal Tea

This tea can also be called Indian Chai. This tea is made out of Camellia Sinensis, a plant cultivated in regions of Assam. This Winter tea has strong and unique flavors and contains lots of antioxidants. It has plenty of nutrients and is also used as a remedy for fever, cough and is considered a top winter immunity tea.

2. Spice tea

This is one of the healthy teas for winter as it is free from caffeine. This tea is packed with lots of medicinal properties. All spices used in tea have their own special characteristics, taste and aroma. Let's have a look at the list of spices.
·   Turmeric
·   Black Pepper
·   Cloves
·   Ginger
·   Mint

3. London Fog Tea

This is another best tea for winter which is filled with delicious chocolate flavors. The tea is made by combining earl grey tea powder with some steamed milk. For making tea sweet and chocolaty vanilla syrup and lavender extract is added. The fog on the tea is because of frothed milk. This tea is considered as luxurious also it relaxes your mood and makes you feel fresh.

4. Ashwagandha Tea

Ashwagandha is one of the ancient and medicinal herbs. It is used as a remedy for anxiety and male fertility. Having this tea in winter keeps our immune system balanced and helps with blood circulation. The tea is made from a small woody plant of yellow colour, and has a pungent and creamy taste.

5. Lemon Tea

This tea for winter is a low in sugar, low-calorie beverage and one of the finest winter immunity teas. Due to its medicinal qualities, it is also a herbal tea. This winter tea contains citric acid and is used as a recovery agent for kidney stones, and aids weight loss. It has a slightly pungent flavor and can be enjoyed with honey.


Photo by Anda Ambrosini on Unsplash

Winter Green Tea

Tea for Winter come in various types such as oolong tea, black tea, white tea, green tea, and ayurvedic tea. Green tea is a type of tea which is made out of Camellia Sinensis leaves but doesn't go under the process of oxidation. They are rich in nutrients, fiber, proteins and considered as one of the healthiest winter immunity teas. Some of the winter green teas are listed below.

1. Jasmine Tea

This is one of the winter green teas made with a combination of leaves and jasmine blossoms. This tea is rich in antioxidants and is used to cure severe illnesses and also is the best remedy for weight loss. It has a slightly sweet aroma and delicate flavors.

2. Mango Leaf Tea

This tea is used as a refreshing element as it enhances mood and makes us feel relaxed. It contains nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, and iron. It is used as a recovery agent for diabetes and menstrual pains.

3. Tulsi Tea

Tulsi is stated as the ‘Queen of Herbs’ and has been a widely used herb since ancient times. The tea is made of tulsi leaves which have a peppery flavor. Also, this plant gives relief from tension, asthma,
cough, and fever.

4. Hibiscus Tea

The flower and other parts of the hibiscus plant contain medicinal properties and are used as a remedy in pregnancy, for menstrual pains, hair loss and skin problems. The fruity acid in the tea kills bacterias in the body. It has a slightly tart flavor.


Photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash

Benefits of Winter Tea

·   Infuses our immune system and makes us fit
·   Improves concentration, focus and helps the brain to function properly
·   Generates heat and keeps us warm during winters
·   Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack
·   This tea improves mood and kills depression
·   Best remedy for weight loss
·   It fights against bacteria and protects the body from germs, and viruses
·   This tea can be easily included in our diet
·   It promotes good digestion

Recipe for making winter tea

The recipe for making winter tea is not rocket science and a very simple and easy process. All you need is make yourself comfortable and enjoy this delicious recipe of winter tea.

Ingredients
·   Water
·   Winter Tea Powder (you can switch to your favorite tea)
·   Milk (optional)
·   Sugar (optional)

Utensils
·   Teapot or Saucepan
·   Cup

Time Required – 10 minutes approx.

Procedure to prepare the tea
·   Put water and tea powder together in a pan
·   Start boiling the mixture
·   At boiling stage add milk and sugar (if required) and let it boil for few more minutes
·   Now turn the heat off and strain the tea into cups
·   Serve hot with delicious add ons

Chef notes
·   Add honey instead of sugar to make it sweet as well as healthy
·   You can also add cinnamon powder or maple syrup

Points to remember
· On a daily basis, only 2 to 3 cups can be consumed

What time should winter tea be consumed?

After reading the first half of the article all of you might be having a common question – what time should winter tea be consumed?
This question has a very simple answer, the best time for consuming winter tea is:
·       In the morning as soon as you wake up
·       After your breakfast
·       In the evening from around 4pm to 7pm
·       Before going to bed

Thus the best time for consuming winter tea is totally a subjective matter and can differ from person to person. The only thing common to all is that winter tea gives ultimate satisfaction and bliss to every person consuming it!


Photo by CandyChain on Unsplash

Add on snacks to winter tea

Even though tea is a complete beverage in itself, we sometimes require some additional snacks to make our tea time more delicious and amazing!! Here we present you some wonderful add on snacks to make our tea table look fabulous.
·   Tea can be complemented with namkeen snacks such as bakarwadi, pakora, chivda, sav, chips
·   Sweets such as jalebi, soan papdi, laddu, gulab jamun can be served
·   Diwali snacks can also be added to our tea table
·   Christmas and New Year cakes or pastries can be enjoyed with tea
·   Biscuits or milk toasts can also be consumed with tea

The Bottom Line

We conclude by stating that winter tea is not just tasty and delicious but it is also healthy. All you loving people out there make yourself feel happy with this cup of tea that ‘TeaSwan’ have specially created for this chilly season.

Experience the heavenly feel by having a hot mug of winter tea and enjoy the beautiful winter season!


Featured image photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash


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5 Tips for Athletes to Thrive on a Plant-Based Diet

By Luke Douglas

Over the years, vegan and plant-based diets and lifestyles have become extremely popular around the world. Naturally, this is a good thing for Mother Earth as well as our general well-being, so if you’re contemplating making this transition, rest assured you’re not in the wrong. That said, it’s important to note that sustaining a vegan lifestyle or simply a plant-based diet can be difficult at times, and if you’re a novice, it can seem completely overwhelming. Especially if you’re an active individual who cares a great deal about their nutrition.

After all, you’re eating to fuel your body and your mind in training and perform at your best, so you need the nutrition approach to match your goals. Without a doubt, a plant-based diet fits well into an athlete’s lifestyle, but only if you know that you’re doing. Let’s take a look at the five tips that will help you thrive on a plant-based diet as an athlete.

Mind your caloric intake

First things first, before we get into macro and micronutrients, we need to address the overarching question of calories. As an athlete, you probably know that calories are the predominant factor that influences your figure and performance. While it is true that not all calories are created equal, it’s also true that fueling your body with the right number of calories daily is paramount for peak performance.

Eat too much, and you will gain unwanted weight. Eat too little, and your precious muscle will start deteriorating and you will lose weight. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that a plant-based diet can often be low in calories, whereas meats, dairy, and eggs are calorie-dense.

Don’t let this catch you off-guard, and keep in mind that you will need to eat more food on a plant-based diet to compensate and get enough calories in daily. If you’re unsure how many calories you need, you can refer to Mayo Clinic’s handy calorie calculator

Understand complete vs incomplete proteins

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Protein intake is one of the most important factors that will determine your performance and progress as an athlete. Not only is protein an excellent source of sustainable energy next to carbohydrates, but it is also an essential building block of new muscle tissue. If you’re looking to add lean muscle to your frame and ensure long-term health and well-being, then you mustn’t skimp on protein consumption.

On a plant-based diet, however, you need to be very careful where you’re getting your protein from. This is the matter of complete vs incomplete protein sources, and you need to prioritize the former in your clean diet in order to get all the essential amino acids to build muscle, fuel your body, and reach your weight goals. You can find complete proteins in nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, buckwheat, seitan and soy, whole grains, and the like. 

Supplementation is more important than for carnivores

Before we get into supplementation, understand that supplements are not there to replace a wholesome diet. You still need to eat all your meals and get micro and macronutrients from whole foods, however, getting the right amount every day can be a challenge as a vegan.

Adequate protein intake can be one of the biggest challenges. So it’s important to delve deeper into the matter and go through a reliable plant protein guide where you will find out exactly how to maximize your protein intake and find the right supplement that is vegan-friendly and has all the amino acids you need. For vegans, it’s also important to supplement with vitamins D3 and B12, zinc and iodine, iron, and calcium.

Fats and carbs matter as well

Of course, it’s not just about the amount of protein you consume or if you’re getting all the micronutrients – you also have to be mindful of your fats and carb intake. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel source, and luckily, the plant-based diet is rich with slow-releasing carbs that will provide sustained energy throughout the day.

Fats, on the other hand, are essential for the proper functioning of your immune system and are important for brain health. You can find healthy fats in all nuts and seeds, but also in avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil.

Ensure consistency over the long term

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

On a final note, always remember that staying consistent with your new lifestyle will be the key to long-term success. This is a journey, not a destination, so you have to make sure that you’re able to adhere to the plant-based diet in the long run.

This can be a challenge if you’re new to the vegan game and haven’t yet mastered the art of meal prepping. Make sure to use a slow Sunday afternoon to prep the majority of your meals for the upcoming week, and you will have no problem sticking with a healthy plant-based diet no matter how hectic your life might be.

Wrapping up

Switching to a plant-based diet can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you take a calculated approach. Use these tips to transition to a plant-based diet quickly and easily, and most importantly, to make it an inextricable part of your lifestyle.


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
Connect with him on Facebook & Twitter


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5 Tips to Help Fight Colds & Flu This Winter

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I know that we are all pretty worried about COVID-19 right now and that it has been dominating the news, our psyche's and our thoughts for almost a year. Viruses seem to be a part of the human experience and have been around for a very, very long time. Without going into an in-depth discussion about viruses and COVID-19 in particular, let's focus on the fact that we will still have to think about how to manage colds and flu's this season. Below are some of the best ways that I know to help us stay strong and healthy so those nasty viruses can never take hold, and if they do manage to sneak in and make us sick, there are some ways to flush them out as quickly as possible and get back to a healthy state.

A Virus. A microorganism that is smaller than a bacterium which is unable to grow or reproduce outside of a living cell. Viruses invade living cells and replicate themselves by using their host cells' chemical machinery to keep themselves alive.

What's the Difference Between A Cold & The Flu?

A good place to start the discussion is to talk about the difference between a cold (common cold) and the flu (influenza). What is the difference?? It's often hard to tell, but both colds and the flu are caused by viruses. Someone with a cold generally has milder symptoms, that come on more gradually, and someone with the flu generally has symptoms that are more severe, are more systemic and come on quickly. Influenza can be more dangerous as in people with compromised or weakened immune systems they can lead to complications like pneumonia. Below is a chart that lists the difference in symptoms between influenza and the common cold.

This fancy chart was made by Chinese Medicine Living. Yay!

As a mother of two small children, I am acutely aware of the realities associated with influenza and the common cold. There are many factors to consider like climate, the changing of the seasons, staying hydrated, dressing warmly enough, eating well, getting enough sleep and proper hygiene to name a few. In our hectic world, it is near impossible to stay on top of everything and ward off illness all the time, but there are certainly things you can do to keep your immune system built up and keep yourself as healthy as possible in these challenging times. Below are the things that I use, and have found to be the most effective for prevention, or at the first signs of a cold or flu, helping to push it along quickly, shortening its duration and severity.

1. Diffuse Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree, also known as melaleuca, is an essential oil that comes mainly from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil has been widely used throughout Australia for its medicinal properties for at least the last century and is well-known for its powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties as well as its ability to kill many strains of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Tea tree oil is very versatile - it can be used to make homemade cleaning products, diffused to kill toxic mould that’s growing in your home, and applied topically to heal acne, cuts, and scrapes and treat skin infections. Tea tree’s natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions make it one of the most beneficial essential oils for health and healing making it a powerful addition to your medicine cabinet. If you would like to learn more about Tea Tree Oil, its health benefits and recipes, you can read this article - Tea Tree Oil - Benefits, Uses & Recipes.

Tea Tree Oil Steam

This is one that I have used for as long as I can remember, long before I ever became an acupuncturist. At the first signs of a cold or flu, get a large bowl (metal or glass), put 6 drops of high quality, organic tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil into the bowl. Boil some water (filtered if possible as you will be breathing in the vapour). Get a towel. Put the bowl with the tea tree oil on a table, and sit in front of it. Put the towel over your head. Pour the boiling water into the bowl. Put your face over the bowl - be careful as the steam will be very hot and the tea tree oil will be strong - cover your head with the towel and breathe deeply for about 20 minutes. If you do this early enough, the cold/flu will not progress.

Tea Tree Oil Diffuser

When anyone in our house is sick - especially my children - I diffuse tea tree oil. You can also add other essential oils depending on what is happening - I often use lavender as it is soothing and helps my children sleep. You have to be careful in children under 2 years old as essential oils are extremely concentrated, but diffusing 4-6 drops of high-quality tea tree and 4-6 drops of lavender essential oil will often stop a cold or flu in its tracks, especially if you react early enough. If you have a full-blown cold or flu, diffusing tea tree will also help with congestion, cleaning out your sinuses as well as purifying the air in your room and lessening the length and severity of the illness.

2. Acupressure

**There are certain points in the body that are strongly moving and are contraindicated if you are pregnant as they can induce labour. Both Spleen 6 and Large Intestine 4 are in this category so not for pregnant mamas.** 

Acupressure is basically acupuncture without the needles. Awesome, yes? There are hundreds of acupuncture points on the body, and there are a few that are particularly good for giving the immune system a boost as well as treating symptoms if we do come down with a cold or flu. I have chosen 3 powerful ones that I think will be the most beneficial, and have included images so you can find them. When using acupressure, you apply pressure to each point with your finger or thumb for 30 seconds to a few minutes and then rotate to the next point. Most acupuncture points are bilateral, meaning they are on each side of the body except for the ones that are on the midline that runs up the front and down the back of the body. All the points below are bilateral - located on each side of the body.

Large Intestine 4

Large intestine 4 is an extremely powerful and versatile point. It is located on the fleshy part between the thumb and first finger of the hand. The best way to locate it is to put your thumb and first finger together so they are touching and the point is at the top of the mound that is created. If you press on it, it is often quite sore. Large intestine 4 is the pain point for the entire body. Whenever there is pain, you use large intestine 4. It is the command point of the head and face, so any problems in this area, this point is appropriate. Its other functions are that it builds qi, strengthens the immune system, stops pain and induces labour - so please DON'T do this point if you are a pregnant mama! (see note above).

Below are some symptoms that large intestine 4 can help to alleviate.

  • headaches, dizziness, congestion, body aches, nosebleeds, toothaches, swelling or pain in the eyes
  • aversion to cold, fever
  • painful periods, lack of periods, difficult/painful labour and childbirth
  • gastric pain, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea
  • pain anywhere in the body and especially in the head/face
  • excellent point for the flu (releasing wind-heat in Chinese Medicine)

LARGE INTESTINE 4

Acupressure for Large Intestine 4

Apply pressure to large intestine 4 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is usually quite sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other hand. Then move on to the next point in the group - spleen 6, then stomach 36.

Spleen 6

Spleen 6 is also extremely powerful and versatile, which is why it is on this list. It is located on the inside of the lower leg, about 3 inches above the ankle bone or medial malleolus. The way we measure the three inches above the ankle bone is to put the 4 fingers of your hand together and place them on the ankle bone and the width of those 4 fingers is approximately where spleen 6 is located. It is just behind the tibia or shin bone. A good rule of thumb is to feel for the tibia and then just roll off and the point is located just behind it. This point is also often tender, especially on women, and even more so when they are menstruating. Because this point crosses the liver and kidney meridians, it can treat many conditions related to all three organs. Spleen 6 is a powerful point to treat gynaecological issues, digestive problems and problems with the emotions. **This is a strongly moving point and is contraindicated in pregnancy so do not do this point if you are pregnant.**

Below are some symptoms that spleen 6 can help to alleviate.

  • irregular, painful or lack of menstruation
  • masses in the abdomen, prolapse of the uterus, infertility and nocturnal emissions
  • impotence, premature ejaculation, hernia, testicular atrophy
  • digestive problems of the spleen and stomach
  • diseases of the skin
  • insomnia, headache, dizziness

  SPLEEN 6

Acupressure for Spleen 6

Apply pressure to spleen 6 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is often sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other leg. Then move on to the next point in the group - stomach 36.

Stomach 36

Stomach 36 is perhaps the most powerful point in the entire body for strengthening blood and qi and fortifying the body to boost overall health. The point is located on the lower leg, about 3 inches below the kneecap. To locate it, place your 4 fingers starting just at the lower border of your kneecap. This is the level of stomach 36, then it is located about one fingerbreadth on the outside, or towards the outside of the tibia or shin bone. The image below illustrates its position.

Stimulating stomach 36 is said to give you energy equal to eating an entire chicken or to walk another three miles (its name zusanli translates to leg three miles). It is command point of the abdomen therefore many problems in the abdominal area are treated with this point. Whenever you can feel a cold or flu coming on, start doing acupressure on this point as it will boost your immunity and help build your external defences which are called our wei qi in Chinese Medicine.

Below are some symptoms that stomach 36 can help to alleviate.

  • vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal distention, abdominal pain, acute mastitis
  • heart palpitations, shortness of breath, low energy, dizziness, insomnia
  • cough and asthma
  • calms the spirit
  • stops pain

STOMACH 36

Acupressure for Stomach 36

Apply pressure to stomach 36 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is also often sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other leg. You can do this set of 3 points, on each side two or three times a day when you are sick, or once a day or week for building immunity and general health.

3. Wear A Scarf


Photo by Kiyun Lee on Unsplash

Now, this one may seem a bit overly simplistic, but according to Chinese Medicine, wind is the master of 100 diseases and it tends to enter the body the most easily at the neck. So, the simple act of wearing a scarf in windy, wet or cold weather protects you against an invasion of wind-cold. It is basically the same as bundling up and staying warm when the weather is cold, wet or windy because these are ways that we can easily weaken our immune systems which make us more susceptible to colds and flus. And we don't want those. I think I may always have been destined to be a practitioner of Chinese Medicine because I have always loved scarfs, and I always seem to have one with me just in case I get chilly. I find it makes a big difference and is like always having protection from external invaders. I have also instilled this love of scarfs in my children, and we try to make it fun, finding scarves that they love (dinosaurs!!) so they WANT to wear them.

4. Eat Warming Soups & Bone Broths

Photo by Hanxiao on Unsplash

If you know anything about the spleen in Chinese Medicine, you know how important it is and how many responsibilities it has. If you don't, then you can read these articles to learn a bit more about it -

Loving Your Spleen with Chinese Medicine

How to Strengthen Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Worry and the Spleen

Dampness and the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

What is Spleen Qi Deficiency?

Digestive Health & Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

In a nutshell, the spleen is the main organ of digestion, and it uses digestive "fire" to power all the work it has to do to break down the food we eat and turn into the energy we need for our bodies and minds to function. But, it doesn't stop there. The spleen is also responsible for "digesting" all the stimulus that comes in from our sense organs, and, in a culture of multitasking, heavy mental work, long hours and little sleep, the spleen is a hard-working little organ. To put it simply, when we are compromised and our immune systems take a hit, we need to be gentle with our bodies. Because all that digesting that the spleen is doing requires energy, eating soups that are already well cooked and take very little energy to digest, they take some of the burdens off of the spleen. And that way your spleen, and all the other hard-working organs in your body can focus on fighting invaders and getting well. But when you are healthy and want to fortify yourself against an external (or internal) attack, then eating soups and bone broths, in particular, is an excellent way to build the immune system, warm your system and strengthen your body so that colds and flus don't have a chance.

In Chinese Medicine, the bones are associated with the kidneys, our bodies' most fundamental energy and the source of our yin and yang. Therefore, eating bone broth is strengthening to both the bones and the kidneys, whose element is water, emotion is fear and whose season is winter which is the best time to tonify the kidneys for health and longevity.

5. Good Hygiene

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Wash Your Hands Often & Don't Touch Your Face

If the recent proliferation of COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has brought our awareness back to the basic importance of good personal hygiene. There probably isn't anything better you can do to keep yourself healthy and stop the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses than simply washing your hands often and trying to be conscious not to touch your face. With two small children around it is frightening to see how unaware they are of things that are logical to adults like not putting dirty things into our mouths, not always washing their hands after going to the washroom, picking random things up outside, just to name a few. So teaching them to wash their hands, not to touch their faces but most importantly WHY we need to do these things is a huge step in the prevention of preventable illnesses like colds and flu. Things like showering often especially when you or someone in your house is sick, wiping surfaces, changing clothing and doing laundry often are also ways to reduce our exposure to germs and help us stay healthy all year round.

 



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Nutrition for Every Season

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

He that takes medicine and neglects his diet wastes the skills of his physician.

Chinese proverb

Hippocrates also said, "let food be thy medicine" in the fifth century BCE. These two pieces of wisdom tell us that it was well understood many hundreds of years ago, in very different parts of the world that what we ate was an important factor in maintaining health as well as recovering from disease. And even today with advances in medicine and technology, food is still the best medicine and the easiest and most impactful way to stay healthy and disease-free.

Food As Medicine

Nutrition is one of the foundational elements of Chinese Medicine. The ancient Chinese understood very well that the best medicine is not the herbal remedy given when you have a cold or the salve when you scrape your knee, the best medicine is the food we ingest every day. It helps to build our immune systems, fortify us against disease, cool excess heat, drain dampness, move stagnation and warm us when we are deficient.

Our ancestors were intrinsically connected to nature, and this connection was necessary for survival. They paid attention to the seasons, but more specifically, changes in the weather, the cycles of crops, migration of animals, and the cycles of the sun and moon. They were attuned to the natural rhythms of the planet and were able to adjust their behaviours to maintain a sort of equilibrium with their surroundings. This focus on prevention was also very important and was knitted into the foundation of Chinese Medicine as it was practised then as well as today. But, the key to living preventatively is that we have to really be attuned to our bodies and our surroundings. We have to be able to hear what our bodies are telling us so we can give them what they need, and that is something that many of us have lost living in the fast-paced city life in the modern world. But this listening, this attunement is something that Chinese Medicine teaches. Your body is always communicating with you, you only have to listen.

The Thermal Nature of Foods & People

So, how does it work, to use food as medicine? Good question. Chinese Medicine has a pretty elegant system for understanding how to use food as medicine and stay healthy in every season. Foods have a thermal nature and so do people. It is that delicate balance of yin and yang. Some foods are cooling and some are heating. People also have a thermal nature. They usually have a thermal nature that occurs naturally when they are in a healthy state and knowing this is very helpful as you move forward. And then, the weather and surroundings also have a thermal nature, so it is a dynamic balance of these three ingredients that we are after. Granted, this can all get a little complex and you can get pretty deep into it (if you are a nerd practitioner like me), but there are some basics that will help you get started. Think about the seasons as a continuously fluctuating cycle of yin (cold) and yang (hot) energies. Summer is the height of yang or heat energies and winter is the peak of yin or cold energies. Summer gradually cools off and moves into fall, which cools further to transition into winter. Winter comes to an end and the yin energies gradually are infused with yang with spring, which further heats up as it moves into summer.

So, you want to balance the temperature of the season you are in with foods that are generally its opposite. Cooling foods in summer, and warming foods in winter. Gradually more warming foods in fall and gradually cooling ones in spring as those are the transitional months. You can also affect the thermal nature of the foods you eat by different cooking methods, which is why those change according to the season too. This is very very general, but it gives you an idea and a place to start. Then you can introduce the idea of constitutions and it adds another layer of complexity, but as you practice and becoming aware of the seasons and the thermal nature of the foods you are eating, it actually becomes this really beautifully nourishing and healing way to eat, and one your body will love. I will work on an article about constitutions to explain that a little bit more, but in general, a person is also a dynamic balance of yin and yang energies. Some people are naturally more yin and some are naturally more yang. When you know what you are, you work that into the equation too, which will only help you to keep all those energies balanced and this will help keep you healthy. When that article is finished, I will link it here.

The Seasons

Chinese Medicine was developed over thousands of years of observations of nature, human beings and their relationship to each other. In times past we have always had a symbiotic relationship, the earth nourished us with its bounty and we tended and nurtured the planet in a continuous cycle of loving interaction. Human beings followed the natural cycles of the planet and lived in harmony with the seasons.

The Summer Season

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Summer is the season associated with the heart, the colour red and the emotion of joy. In the hot summer months, people rose early and went to bed later to capitalize on the yang energy represented by outward expression and activity. They ate foods that grew in abundance, like fruits and fresh vegetables, eating salads and lighter fare, many of which are considered cooling to balance the external heat. People also took time to get together with family and friends, connecting and feeding their heart energy, as the heart is the organ associated with summer and with it, the emotion of joy. Everything we do in summer should be an attempt to cultivate the joy in our lives. Summer is the season to feed the heart energy, and in terms of foods, many red foods are good for the heart. Cooking methods should be lighter and of shorter duration to preserve all the freshness and nutrients the food has been soaking up from the summer sun. Eating should be lighter and in smaller portions and working to keep yin fluids plentiful to counteract the intense heat of the season.

The Fall Season

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Fall is the season associated with the lungs, the colour white and the emotion of grief. As the summer season winds down and the weather begins to cool, our behaviours go from the outward expressions of summer to the more inward and reflective activities of fall which will inevitably prepare us for winter. We eat foods that grow in abundance in this season (which varies greatly depending on where on the planet you are), but in North America, we see many foods with beautiful fall colours - squashes, gourds, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins... foods that grow in the ground and have more yang properties nourishing our inner heat as we prepare our bodies and spirits for the coming cold. Fall is a time to clear out the old, making space for the new. The energy of the lungs is "letting go" so that is the focus. Cleaning, reorganizing and donating are good practices in fall and make space for all we will cultivate over the winter. Emotionally, making sure that we have let go of any emotional hurts that have lingered is strengthening to the lungs both physically and psychologically. Many white foods are beneficial to the lungs and are good to add to the diet in the fall season. Organizing life and becoming more introspective before winter is what fall is all about, checking in to make sure we are emotionally healthy and not hanging on to things that no longer serve us.

The Winter Season

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Winter is the season associated with the kidneys, the colour black and emotion of fear. Winter is the height of yin energies and even though it seems like a time of death, decay and inactivity, it is a season that is very active, just deep, deep beneath the surface in preparation for the regenerative activities of spring. It is a season of consolidation, gathering all energies and pulling them inward. Winter is the time of year to go to bed early and sleep later, profiting from the healing, restorative energies sleep offer us. In winter we eat less fresh foods as they are no longer available and eat more preserved foods we have prepared during the summer and fall. Eating warming foods, especially hearty soups and stews will help build our yang and counteract the cold. Our energies should turn inward in winter, while we focus on our fundamental energies, in Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are the source of our fundamental energy. Spending quiet time reading, writing or meditating are strengthening to our bodies and spirits. Keeping warm, especially our lower backs where our kidneys reside is especially important as they are the source of all our qi. Many black foods are strengthening to the kidneys and should be added to the diet in the winter months.

The Spring Season

Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

Spring is associated with the liver, the colour green and the emotion of anger. Spring represents the upward and outward energies of newly growing plants, flowers and trees. The energy in spring is expansive, so it is a good time to shake off the sleepiness of the winter months and slowly start moving our bodies with gentle stretching going for long walks outdoors, taking in the revitalizing green of new plants through our eyes, which are the sense organ associated with the liver. Spring is the best time to detox from everything we have accumulated over the winter. We can detox physically, as well as emotionally. Acknowledging and processing any feelings of anger, resentment or frustration will keep our liver energy moving freely. Many green foods benefit the liver and cooking methods should be lighter and shorter duration to the slow cooking of winter, and as things begin to thaw, we are able to introduce more fresh foods into our diet. Awakening and cleansing our bodies and spirits are what we need in spring as well as gentle exercises like tai chi and qi gong which, especially when done outside in nature nourish body, mind and spirit.

If we can become aware of our surroundings and make slight adjustments to our behaviours and diet depending on the season we will see a huge benefit physically, emotionally and spiritually.

 

Beautiful featured image photo by Marta Filipczyk on Unsplash



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The Positive Impact Of Chinese Medicine On Men’s Health

By Sally Perkins

There is an undoubted disparity in how men and women engage with healthcare globally, with the global life expectancy of men five years lower than that of women, according to The Lancet. With this disparity more present in highly developed countries than the converse, this indicates that the problems are not merely related to gender but are actually a holistic reflection of the lives men are leading. In this respect, the all-encompassing approach of Chinese medicine can have a wonderful impact on men’s health.

Mental Health

Mental health is a key driver behind many of the problems impacting men. From simple mental illness to heart disease, there are a wide range of problems in men of which the risk factors are enhanced by mental health conditions. As one influential study published by The College of Family Physicians of Canada found, the idea of being masculine and keeping a stiff upper lip contributes to this. The impacts of mental health can filter into several areas of life that you might not expect. For instance, even a relatively mild diagnosis of depression can lead to weight loss or gain, feelings of resentment for family and physical conditions such as erectile dysfunction. The spiritual basis of Chinese medicine provides a good remedy to mental health conditions; Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism all provide a philosophical and spiritual basis on which to live life and ultimately keep people feeling mentally healthy.

Protecting the Heart

Mental health and the heart have a symbiotic relationship, and using Chinese medicine to protect against vascular disease and stress can have an all-round positive impact. Tomatoes, beef, cherry, saffron – there’s a long list of foods that will benefit the heart and also produce a feeling of wellness and content. With this feeling the body can protect against the types of stress that men will often harbor when not paying close attention to their mental health. In turn, this can provide a safety jacket against the stresses of the world as a whole and improve health overall.

Relieving the Strain

Prevention is one matter; remediation another. A powerful way that Chinese medicine can rectify issues is through acupuncture, which is noted by The Mayo Clinic to have studies showing it’s efficacy. The act of acupuncture itself is often described as relaxing and stress-relieving, and the impact after the fact is long-lived and has a great benefit on all-round health. Men can work towards all-round areas of health that intersect, like the heart and mental health, and likely feel greater ranging benefits as a result of the holistic treatment.

In holistic treatment lies the key to improving men’s health. The issues that predominantly impact men and lower their life expectancy have an impact on one another, with vascular and mental health being particularly interlinked. Reducing stress and protecting those vital systems is an ideal pursuit for Chinese medicine, and can possibly help to close that life expectancy gap wherever men are in the world.


Featured image Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash
Man image Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash
Tomato image photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash



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Can Chinese Medicine Help People with Autism?

By Sally Perkins

Around one in 68 children in the U.S. have autism, and following a diagnosis of their child, parents consider a wide range of options that includes educational interventions and, at times, alternative approaches. Among the many natural approaches utilized with autism, one of the most often discussed is Chinese medicine. Relatively few studies have been conducted on the efficiency of this approach, but those that have been carried out show promising and positive findings for specific symptoms and behaviours.

Herbal Medicine Treatment for Children with Autism

Parents of children with autism often turn to traditional therapies, including behavioural treatments such as applied behaviour analysis (ABA), occupational therapy, and the Early Start Denver Model. Each child or adult with autism has unique talents and challenges, though, and for some parents, combining one or more of these therapies with Chinese medicine has been useful. A 2017 review of existing research on the efficiency and safety of herbal medicines for the treatment of autism found that when used alongside conventional therapies, the use of Chinese medicine in relieving symptoms led to a significant improvement of the patient's Child Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score.

Commonly Used Herbs

Some of the herbs which are commonly used to reduce autism symptoms include Poria cocos, Panax ginseng, Acorus gramineus, Schisandra chinensis, and Glycyrrhiza uralensis. These herbs have been studied in different settings. For instance, Acorus gramineus has been found to have a sedative effect, as has Poria cocos. Researchers have stated that these herbs may aid in the reduction of some behaviours as well as inattention. However, they added that further research would be required to demonstrate the specific behaviours that each herb could address, and to see if polyherbal formulations could wield similar benefits.

The Use of Ukgansangajinpibanha Granule in Children with ASD

One small trial currently being led by S Haeng Lee is focusing on the efficiency of Ukgansangajinpibanha (UGSJB – a legitimately prescribed herb for nervousness, insomni, and night crying) in the treatment of children with ASD. The trial is set to conclude at the end of this year. Currently, the trial has already established that this herbal treatment can reduce aggressive behaviour by suppressing the excess activity of a particular neuron type in the hippocampus. It has also been found to successfully reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Acupuncture for ASD

A review report by academics at Cochrane has found that needle acupuncture might be linked to an improvement for people with ASD, specifically in the area of communication, linguistic ability, cognitive functioning, and global functioning. Other small studies have limited the success of acupuncture to cognitive and global functioning alone. Two additional studies, on the other hand, showed no benefits for acupuncture when compared to conventional treatment, yet acupressure did seem to lead to small improvements.

Although herbs and acupuncture are considered ‘alternative therapies’ for autism, few studies have been carried out on their efficiency. Those that have been carried out seem to indicate the utility of some herbs, and one current trial is seeking to discover that of UGSJB. Acupuncture does not seem to be too effective overall, but as stated by the Cochrane scientists, this may be because we have only a small number of studies to rely on, and all of these have been carried out on children. Further research, therefore, needs to be conducted to see whether or not acupuncture can make a positive difference in the treatment of ASD.

Featured image photo by:

S. Laiba Ali



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Acupuncture for Weight Loss

By Dr Bruce Stafford

For over a millennium, health practitioners living within the Far East have been using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help their patients with their mind, body and spirit. Studies have shown that within recent years, more people within western countries are now searching for ‘alternative’ methods to improve their general health – particularly towards acupuncture for weight loss. Acupuncture helps identify with the root causes of the weight loss to help your body deal with it
accordingly:

Here’s how acupuncture can help you finally lose the weight:

Repairing Your Digestion

If your digestive system is not functioning properly, this will also inhibit your body’s ability to lose weight. You will know if it’s not working properly if you experience symptoms of bloating, reflux, nausea, constipation, lose bowels or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

This is because your body will be producing an excessive amount of ‘Damp’ or ‘Phlegm’ in Chinese Medicine terms (The closest term we can use to explain this would be ‘inflammation’) and you’ll know if you have a lot of Damp or Phlegm if you experience sinus problems or chronic allergies, if you feel exhausted or lethargic in the mornings, have loose bowels, feel sluggish and tired and experience bloating.

Acupuncture for weight loss helps return your digestion back to normal by stimulating your body’s natural blood flow to your stomach and spleen to strengthen their function so they start to work properly again which is important for weight loss as not only will you be able to lose weight more easily, but you’ll also feel lighter and have more energy.

Balancing Your Natural Hormones

The body naturally produces fat-producing hormones such as cortisol, estrogen and insulin as well as fat-burning hormones such as adrenaline, human growth hormone, testosterone, insulin growth factor and glucagon. For many people, their fat-producing hormones are over-stimulated and much too active, while their fat-burning hormones are under-stimulated and not active enough.

Acupuncture for weight loss corrects your organ function, particularly your Liver, Kidney, Stomach and Spleen which are all crucial in the synthesis and secretion of the correct number of hormones for weight-loss.

Furthermore, Acupuncture may also assist with better sleep, reduce your pain and stress levels, which will in turn reduce the amount of cortisol (a key fat-making hormone) your body is producing to help you lose weight. When all these organs start to function properly again, your natural fat-controlling hormones will start to stabilize making it easier for you to lose weight.

Making Weight Loss Easier

Acupuncture for weight loss is also used in appetite suppression, to prevent you from feeling hungry all the time and to stave off cravings (especially for sweet or savoury foods) and keep you ‘cool’ and relaxed while you lose weight.

Whilst it’s extremely important to get your digestion and hormonal balance working in balance, you will also need to watch what you eat. It is this combination that makes acupuncture for weight loss so effective.

Correcting the Root Cause of Weight Gain

Not only does acupuncture for weight loss help you to lose weight, it is also helps facilitate in the identification of the root cause of the source of the problem and why you gained weight in the first place.

On top of this, acupuncture is also helping to improve your overall health. So if you want to lose weight and feel great doing it, acupuncture may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Here is a handy infographic with 5 Chinese Medicine Weight Loss Secrets.

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Author Bio
Dr Bruce Stafford (Chinese Medicine) is the owner and founder of Emperor’s Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Australia

He has trained with some of the world’s best-know Masters in Australia, Taiwan and the USA. Bruce has treated thousands of patients using acupuncture for weight loss at Emperor’s Acupuncture and Chinese herbs to help improve organ function to rebalance the body’s natural fat-controlling hormones.


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Supporting a Safe and Healthy Pregnancy Using Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnoses are now included in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) of the World Health Organization (WHO) beginning 2022. The inclusion is good news for practitioners and patients, as TCM is increasingly becoming a part of global health care. One of the areas where TCM can help is during pregnancy where a woman can manifest symptoms that need intervention or treatment.  Chinese medicine, when used properly, could offer a safe option to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Herbal Medicine for Expectant Mothers 

TCM has several components such as acupuncture and herbal medicine. Much in the same way that traditional medicine can assist in improving fertility rates and eventually in conceiving, it can also help during the gestation period. Pregnant women can take herbs such as ginger, chamomile, or peppermint that reduce the symptoms of early pregnancy specifically nausea or morning sickness.

However, it should be noted that there are other complications that may arise if you are pregnant. As the body undergoes hormonal changes, you will also experience side effects. For example, the placenta produces hormones that can contribute to an accumulation of glucose in the blood. If your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, sugar levels will increase and a pregnant woman might develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Fortunately, it resolves once a woman has completed pregnancy or has given birth.

In the meantime, there are several things that you can do to control GDM. If properly used, herbal medicine can help bring down glucose levels. Other ways to manage the symptoms of GDM include wearing of stockings for good circulation, paying attention to diets, and exercising.

Acupuncture to Consolidate Energy

Acupuncture is another key component of TCM that can benefit pregnant women. It should be noted that the usual precautions apply -  avoidance of infection and dangerous pressure points.

For expectant moms, you don’t want to touch pressure points that can induce any pain, touch vital organs, or puncture the fetus. In addition, there is a list of acupuncture points that must be avoided because of their oxytocic effect which may induce the mother to go into labor or at worst, a miscarriage.  Overall, acupuncture may be practiced using gentle needling that will aim to enhance a woman’s energy without over stimulating or disturbing the pregnancy.

TCM can benefit a pregnant woman in several ways. It can consolidate her energy, improve mood and enhance overall health contributing to a safe and healthy pregnancy.

 

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The Five Best Ways To Boost Your Fertility With Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Aimee Laurence

Trying for a baby is a time to build a closer connection with your partner and to focus on what life will be like with another member of the family. Though when you feel you have been trying for a long while, your fertility starts to come into question. This can put pressure on couples and families, lead to lower self-worth and prolong increasing your family. There are many natural ways that women and men discuss that aid fertility; these are five tried and tested methods that use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help you have a baby.

1. Focus on your health: diet and exercise and mindfulness

A woman’s reproductive system requires the whole body to be in balance and good health for a balanced and healthy pregnancy to occur. Men’s reproductive systems also require the body to be in optimal health to produce healthy and strong sperm. Diet and lifestyle are key. TCM takes a focus on bettering the health of the entire body alongside targeting the reproductive organs.

With age, we are more exposed to potential health hazards and toxins in our environments and may make poorer dietary and lifestyle choices. Eliminating mucous-promoting foods such as gluten and dairy will improve the health of your reproductive tract. Minimize caffeine, alcohol and white foods – sugar, salt and flour.

“Foods that increase sperm quality are seafood (especially squid, eel and cuttlefish), Chinese yam and ginkgo biloba. Alcohol has a negative effect on sperm quality and sex drive is increased with zinc-heavy foods such as peanuts, chicken and eggs,” says Lee Connolly, traditional Chinese medicine expert at Academized and Assignment Service. Fertility can be reduced when taking part in intense exercise more than four times a week. On the other hand, gentle and regular exercise is brilliant for the health of the blood – vital for good fertility.

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Also take time to promote a positive mindset in your life. Keep a healthy sleep hygiene and stay present. This will help you avoid stress if you have been trying for a long time.

2. Find a TCM specialist

There is a huge range of resources that can teach about TCM, but the best place to go for advice is someone properly educated in it. AcuFinder and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine are great reputable places to look. An ideal practitioner will be experienced in understanding women’s health and fertility.

3. Knowing when there is a problem

If you have been experiencing a lack in fertility for more than a year and are under 35 (and your partner is under 35), or if you have had this issue for at least six months and are over the age of 35, it may be in your best interests to simply go to a doctor. This could be a TCM practitioner or medical doctor. Identifying if there is an issue early will increase your chances of having a baby.

4. Understanding hot and cold foods

Internal heat is developed when a person has too many “hot” foods. And there are many ailments that are caused by an over-consumption of “cold” foods. This isn’t about temperature, but about the actual properties of the food substances. “Neutral foods stimulate the spleen, appetite and enhance nourishment. Always keep moderation in mind when thinking about your diet,” says Karen West, health writer at Big Assignments and Ox Essays.

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

5. Warm your abdomen

In TCM, the lower abdomen is seen as carrying the fire of the body. Infertility can, therefore, be caused by a cold abdomen affecting the uterus. This can easily be counteracted by using a hot water bottle or heating pad each evening after a period up until ovulation. Ovulation pains or severe cramping can be aided with using castor oil to accompany the heat. TCM is one of the oldest medicines in practice and has grown from millennia of use, encompassing nutrition, sophisticated herbalism, tui na and qigong as well as acupuncture. Aside from fertility, a woman’s reproductive cycle is a major indicator of her health – talk to
a TCM specialist for more information on this and for personalized advice. TCM can be as beneficial as stimulating ovulation in women with no periods, helping make cycles more regular and reducing endometriosis.

Image from Chatelaine Magazine


Aimee Laurence can be found offering her expert insights as an educator at Essay Writing Service and BoomEssays, where she mostly writes about college life. Aimee also tutors at Essay Roo academic service.



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