How To Strengthen Your Spleen with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Every organ is important in Chinese medicine and that is because they all work in tandem, each benefiting the other. Chinese medicine is a holistic system and each part of the human being is integral to the balance that is necessary to achieve and maintain health.

The organs are in a constant state of flux, moving between excess and deficiency, yin and yang. Nothing in the body is static, it is a dynamic system, always attempting to heal itself and rebalance. If we are able to give the body everything it needs, it is able to heal itself from almost anything. Like a garden, it must be tended, watered, weeded and if it is cared for, it will grow nothing but the most beautiful and healthy plants and flowers that are resilient and able to fight disease.

One of the first steps on the path to health is figuring out what it is that the body needs so that it can heal itself and remain healthy and strong. This, unfortunately, is not easy. This is why we read books on nutrition, exercise and go to doctors, we are all trying to figure out what it is our bodies are asking for. In Chinese medicine, there are organ systems that each have specific responsibilities. Each organ system works with the others to keep the body in balance. The spleen is one of the organs that, because of the society in which many of us live, becomes weak and can cause all kinds of health problems that are very common - from digestive problems, to insomnia, to weight gain to depression. Because the spleen is like the hub at the centre of the wheel, it is the foundation for many of the body's important processes and therefore, we must try to keep it strong and healthy.

Here are some simple (but powerful) things you can do to strengthen your spleen.

Avoid Ice In Your Drinks

The spleen in Chinese medicine is the main organ of digestion. The difference is that it is not only digesting food and drink, but the emotions and everything that comes in through the sense organs. So, you can see that the spleen is busy. The spleen likes to be warm and dry and dislikes cold. It slows down its processes and cold is seen to extinguish its digestive fire. So, cold foods, like foods with a cold thermal nature, like many raw foods and seafood in Chinese medicine, as well as foods that are physically cold like ice cream, and frozen foods and desserts are very hard on the spleen. A simple way to give your spleen some love is to drink water and other drinks at room temperature and not add ice. Your spleen will love you for it. Unfortunately, ice cream too is a bit of a nono, but moderation! Everybody needs ice cream sometimes, no?

Be Mindful

Mindful : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image from mindful.org

As stated above, the spleen has the important task of processing all of the stimulus that comes into our bodies from the outside world. That is no small task considering that we are constantly being bombarded with stimulus. Thanks to advances in technology, we are *always* connected and able to receive phone calls, texts, and emails, but this also means that we never really get a break or time to be away or unavailable. The spleen loves to focus, and do one thing at a time. That way it can concentrate its energy fully and completely to the task at hand, get the job done efficiently and excellently and then can move on to the next thing. The spleen loves to get things done, but it needs to be mindful and concentrate on one thing at a time.

Do One Thing At A Time

Yes! We are a culture that loves to multitask. We are often praised at work or school for the sheer number of things that we can do at the same time with the thinking that it makes us more productive humans. As life becomes more complex and we are more connected that we ever have been it becomes ever more difficult to be able to focus and do one thing at a time. Because of this, the spleen works extra hard and never gets to rest and easily becomes deficient leading to health problems that are often seen in clinic. Digestive problems, muscle weakness, prolapse of organs, bleeding and bruising easily, weight gain, formation of tumors are all symptoms of spleen deficiency. But, trying to focus on one task at a time allows the spleen to focus its energies without scattering its qi, thus keeping it strong and healthy.

Take A Break

Take a Break : Chinese Medicine Livingthis nice image from adweek.com

Because of all the reasons listed above, our crazy schedules, working many hours, often not getting enough sleep, over thinking and worry, the spleen's energy becomes exhausted and we can develop various health issues from digestive problems to depression. We have full lives and many of us don't get enough time to recharge our batteries. Taking small breaks throughout the day is not only good for the spleen, but your entire person, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We are all giving so much of our energy to our jobs, school, our families and often our worries that we need to be feeding ourselves too so that we have the energy to keep going.

Chew Your Food

Because the spleen, with its yang partner the stomach, are the main organs of digestion, they are responsible for breaking down all the food and drink that we bring into the body. The spleen uses the "digestive fire" to break foods down so that they can be used by the rest of the body, so the spleen needs to be strong and have lots of energy to break down foods properly. One of the things you can do to take some of the burden off your spleen is to chew your food well. This means that you are saving some of your spleens' precious energy so other things (and there are a lot of them, believe me!). The better you can break down food with your teeth by chewing means the less work the spleen and stomach have to do to break it down for you.

Eat Soup

Eat Soup : Chinese Medicine Livingthis beautiful photograph from beefandlamb.com.au

Ever wonder why you are told to eat soup when you are sick? Well, when the body is sick it has been compromised in some way leaving it in a weakened state. Its resources are being diverted to fighting the infection or rebalancing from whatever imbalance has caused you to get sick in the first place, so you want to be as gentle and kind with your body as possible. Soups cooked for long periods, full of delicious veggies, especially root vegetables that grow in the ground have a double positive impact on the spleen. The first is that they are warming. Soup is warming, and the longer and slower it has been cooked, the more warming it becomes. Secondly, vegetables that grow slowly in the ground are also considered warming which the spleen loves. The spleen loves to be warm and dry, and soup is like its medicine. The other reason soup is so wonderful when you are sick is that it has been cooked and most of the foods in it have been broken down from the cooking process so it takes the body (and spleen) less energy to break it down so that it can be spending its energy focussed on making you better. So, if you didn't love soup before, you will now! Your spleen loves it too.

Move Your Body

Our bodies were designed for movement! Unfortunately, many of us have sedentary jobs that require that we sit at desks and in front of computers for many hours a day. Our poor bodies are not designed to sit for extended periods, and it causes all kinds of problems. When we were all living in hunter-gatherer societies, we spent our days hunting, cooking, traveling, always moving. We all have energy in our bodies. The Chinese call is "Qi". That Qi needs to be in a constant state of movement or it gets stuck or becomes stagnant. A blockage of the flow of Qi is also at the root of many illnesses. The spleen has its own unique Qi, and for the body to be healthy, we must keep that Qi moving. And what is the best way to keep your Qi moving? That's right, by moving your body. It can be as simple as walking around the block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, sitting outside on a park bench instead of inside the cafeteria, or standing up at your desk a few times a day to do some stretches. I promise, just doing this one small thing will make you, and your spleen, feel so much better,

Stop Worrying

Every organ in Chinese medicine has an emotion associated with it. And the emotion associated with the spleen is worry and over thinking. We are a culture of worriers and over thinkers. Worry hurts the spleen and leads to deficiency of its energies and the reverse is also true, that a deficiency of the spleen can cause a propensity to worry. A vicious cycle. It is an easy thing to stay to just stop worrying, lord knows I haven't been able to do it and I've been trying for years, but I know that when my spleen is being overworked, the worries come more often and more intensely and that is always a sign that something is out of balance. The wonderful thing is, that with a balanced spleen, you will find that everything else in your body and your life will fall into place as well. This is not to say that you will never have a worry or a cause to over think, but it will not be the dominant emotion in your life. The whole philosophy in Chinese medicine is balance, in all things.

Self Love

I think as a people and society we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about what is "wrong" with us and not nearly enough time focussing on what is "right" with us. When I turn on the news (and I try not to turn on the news unless really necessary) I am always bombarded by the darkness in our world. But, when I spend my days treating patients, and listening to their struggles, I am confronted with the light. There are so many wonderful things about this planet and so many of the people living on it. In the newsletter every month I deliberately seek out stories of inspiration, and I always find them. There are wonderful, joyous, generous, kind and loving things happening all over the planet. People being kind to people. Helping the environment. Saving animals. Saving themselves. I believe that we all have a light and that if we feed it, it will reach out and touch others, helping them to see the light in themselves. Self-love isn't unique to the spleen, or any other organ, I think it is important for human beings. We often have so many worries, fears, and troubles, that we forget to focus on the positive, wonderful things about being human, happiness, joy, kindness and love.

This lovely spleen chart by Chinese Medicine Living

**The beautiful featured image from technogym.com

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Would you like to learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine? Check out these downloadable info sheets available on www.learnchinesemedicine.com -

The Spleen - Theory in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Dampness in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Patterns in Chinese Medicine


Strengthen Spleen and Remove Dampness Soup

By NourishU

Symptoms

Weak digestion, lack of appetite and loose bowels.

Therapeutic Effects

Promotes spleen and digestive health, relieves dampness in the digestive system (stomach & spleen).

Chinese Medicine Fuzzy Melon Recipe : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Fuzzy Melon

Ingredients

(6 servings)

  • Pork bones 豬骨 – 240gm
  • Fuzzy melon 節瓜 – 480gm
  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 – 10 slices (5ogm)
  • Job's Tears (yi yi ren) 生薏仁 – 90gm
  • Dangshen (dang shen) 党參 – 90gm
  • Pitted red dates 紅棗(去核) - 6
  • Ginger 生薑 - 3 slices
  • Citrus Peel (chen-pi) 陳皮 – one piece (pre-soaked and with white tissue removed)

Chinese Yam : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Yam

Directions

  1. Rinse pork bones and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes. Remove and rinse.
  2. Rinse herbs and put all in a soup pot with pork bones and about 3 litres of water. Bring to boil and lower heat to medium and cook for  one hour.
  3. Peel melon and cut into large pieces and add to the cooking. Continue to cook for another hour and add more water if necessary.
  4. When done, add salt to serve. Eat melon with soup.

Chinese Red Dates : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Red Dates

Usage

No restrictions.

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Would you like to learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine? Check out these downloadable info sheets available on www.learnchinesemedicine.com -

The Spleen - Theory in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Dampness in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen - Patterns in Chinese Medicine

The Spleen Associations in Chinese Medicine - Poster


Fending Off the Common Cold with Black Elderberry

By Dr. Kevin Curran

We all know there’s no cure for the common cold. But the question remains…is there a natural way to treat the symptoms of a cold. Plant-based, natural remedies for cold or flu infections are popular because they tend to be less invasive and yield fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs. Black elderberry is one of these popular natural therapies. However, just because a remedy is popular, that doesn’t always mean it’s an effective approach. In this article, we explore the biology behind the proposed health benefits of black elderberry.

What is black elderberry?

Black elderberry is a shrubby tree native to the temperate regions of Europe. Black elderberry, or Sambucus nigra, has become widely used as a medicinal plant. This deciduous tree grows up to 30 feet in height and produces clusters of small, white flowers. These flowers generate green berries, which turn black at the end of summer.

The use of elderberry by humans is not a new concept. Archaeologists discovered that early humans buried their dead with elderberry branches. In North America, early settlers have been using black elderberry for the past 10,000 years. Native Americans ate the berries for food but they were also aware of the healing properties of the plant. They consumed the berries, leaves and flowers as a means to defend against rheumatism and viral infections.

Lately there’s been a resurgence in interest the health benefits of this medicinal plant. Fortunately this resurgence of interest has been accompanied by quality clinical and laboratory studies. These studies explore the capacity for black elderberry to strengthen our immune system and, thereby, minimize the negative effects of a cold or flu.

Below, we’ll explore some of this published work and, in doing so, we will explain how elderberries can help us stay healthy.

Black Elderberry for Fighting Colds : Chinese Medicine Living

Clinical tests probe the ability of black elderberry to treat colds or flu infections.

There are two notable clinical studies that both demonstrate the ability of black elderberry to reduce the symptoms associated with a cold or flu (Zakay-Rones, 1995; Zakay-Rones, 2004). One of these clinical trials, performed in Norway, tested 60 patients of varying ages. All of these test subjects had just begun to feel the effect of a flu (extreme fatigue, high fever, aching body, congestion). These recently ill patients were given 15 mls. of black elderberry syrup for a duration of 5 days. A similar control group was given a placebo treatment. The scientists found that patients who received elderberry treatment became healthy approximately 4 days earlier then the control group. The authors conclude black elderberry treatment is an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza.

In summary, these clinical trials demonstrate the capacity for black elderberry to reduce the time duration of a flu.

How does black elderberry strengthen our immune system?

The primary job of our immune system is to attack and kill invading pathogens. In regards to a cold or flu, these invading pathogens tend to be either a bacteria or a virus. When our bodies fight a sickness - our immune system shifts into battle mode. Specialized immune cells are sent out to destroy the pathogens that have caused our sickness. Laboratory studies have explored the benefits of black elderberry syrup for colds. These studies have concluded that black elderberry strengthens our body by regulating our cytokine levels and by delivering antioxidants. We will explain all this biology below.

Anti-oxidants prevent cellular damage

First of all… what are anti-oxidants? Anti-oxidants are small molecules that defend our cells from free radicals. Free radicals are small, charged molecules that can bang around the inside of our body and cause inflammation and cellular damage. This is why you want to eat foods that are full of anti-oxidants.

Plants are a rich source of antioxidants. Turmeric, for example, the tropical plant used as a curry spice, is enriched with a powerful antioxidant called curcumin. Curcumin is a potent bio-active compound that fights free radicals. This antioxidant capacity makes turmeric a natural remedy for inflammation related health issues, such as arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Black elderberry is another plant that is enriched with antioxidants. In particular, black elderberries contain molecules called flavonoids. Flavonoids are a class of antioxidants often found in leafy plants and dark colored fruits. Multiple studies demonstrate that flavonoids in black elderberries protect cells from oxidative stress. In these experiments, living cells are exposed to damaging, oxidizing free radicals such as hydrogen peroxide, AAPH and α-tocopheroxyl. The authors then present data showing that the presence of flavonoids protects these cells from this free radical damage (Abuja 1998).

In summary, taking black elderberry delivers antioxidant flavonoids to our body. These flavonoids help protect our body from the damaging effect of free radicals.

Black elderberry controls our cytokine levels

Cytokines are small molecules that are incredibly important for our immune system. These small molecules move throughout our body and act as chemical messengers. Cytokines send signals that tell our body to either increase or decrease the intensity of an immune response. When cytokine signaling is functioning properly, our body will only mount an aggressive immune response when necessary. In contrast, if there is no threat to our body, then we want our cytokines to tell our immune system to take the foot off the gas. If our immune system is overactive, our body will experience chronic inflammation and tissue damage. We need our cytokines to help us mount an appropriate response to an infection.

Multiple laboratory studies reveal that a treatment of black elderberry can increase and regulate the cytokine levels in our immune system (Middleton, 1992). One especially convincing report by Barak et al., demonstrates that black elderberry extract activates a series of cytokines that are critical to our immune system (IL-6, IL-1 and TNF-α).

In summary, taking black elderberry when we’re sick can modulate our cytokine levels. Properly regulated cytokine levels leads to an appropriate immune system response.

When taken together, the clinical and laboratory studies discussed in this article certainly suggest that using black elderberry is a reasonable course of action. Our body is bolstered by the cytokines and antioxidants derived from the black elderberry tree. So, next time you feel a cold or flu sneaking into your body, consider lending your body a hand with this medicinal plant.

Black Elderberry for Fighting Colds : Chinese Medicine Living

Citations:

Abuja, Peter M., Michael Murkovic, and Werner Pfannhauser. “Antioxidant and prooxidant activities of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) extract in low-density lipoprotein oxidation.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 46.10 (1998): 4091-4096.

Barak, Vivian, Tal Halperin, and Inna Kalickman. “The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines.” Eur Cytokine Netw 12.2 (2001): 290-296.

Middleton, Elliott, and Chithan Kandaswami. “Effects of flavonoids on immune and inflammatory cell functions.” Biochemical pharmacology 43.6 (1992): 1167-1179.

Zakay-Rones, Zichria, et al. “Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1.4 (1995): 361-369.

Zakay-Rones, Z., et al. “Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.” Journal of International Medical Research 32.2 (2004): 132-140.

Image Credits

Featured image - www.tophealthremedies
Black Elderberry closeup - www.gartenjournal.net
Black Elderberry Bush - science.halleyhosting.com

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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.

 


10 Ways Chinese Medicine Changed My Life

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I feel very fortunate that I discovered Chinese medicine early in my life. Well, early-ish. I was 15 and had been suffering with terrible cramps for a couple of years and was unable to find anything that could help me other than drugs or the prospect of surgery that might have left me unable to have children. Going to that first appointment was a profound experience and, although I didn't realize it at the time, started me on a journey that would last me the rest of my life. Chinese medicine has improved my life in so many ways, it was like poking a hole in my consciousness that has been stretched out and gotten ever bigger the deeper into the medicine that I get. And that's just it, it is not just a medicine, but a way of life, and my goal with Chinese Medicine Living is to share that ancient wisdom with you, so you can learn to live it too. Below are some of the ways that Chinese medicine has changed my life.

1. Looking at Things Holistically

One of the most wonderful things about Chinese medicine is the way it looks at things holistically. In Western medicine there is a trend towards specializations, breaking the body into smaller and smaller parts, but the very core of Chinese medicine is to see not only the body as a whole and complete unit, but all aspects of a human being as pertinent to health and wellbeing. Our culture is very aligned with this Western view, so one thing I am very grateful to Chinese medicine for, is this new (or old, it is very very old) perspective. I find that it has bled into the rest of my life, and I am always trying to look at the big picture, step back and look at any situation in a complete way, rather than focussing on specific details which has been of great benefit to me in all aspects of my life.

2. Creating Empathy

One of the biggest things that I have learned since I started practicing, and something that I wasn't expecting, is that I have a new appreciation of how much pain and suffering people go through on a daily basis. Because of the in depth process of the initial consultation that I have with patients, I learn about all the things that are going on in their lives. I have been really humbled to learn the kinds of difficult things that so many people are dealing with every day. A lot of these things never get discussed, and they can and often do lead to illnesses. I noticed that this new awareness allowed me to have a new kind of empathy when I was taking a crowded subway to work and someone slammed the door in my face, or didn't smile or say thank you when someone opened a door for them. I realized that we have no idea the kinds of difficult things people are dealing with in their lives, and I try to remember this when someone is rude or unpleasant out in the world, which helps me treat them with more kindness and compassion.

3. Helping Me to Heal Myself

I think it is pretty common that people get into a profession like the healing arts and go through the sometimes difficult process of having to heal themselves. This was definitely the case for me, but was also part of what fascinated me about Chinese medicine. In school you begin to learn how multi-dimensional it really is, and that you could literally practice and study it for the rest of your life and never know it all. For me, this is the appeal. I love that it is something that I can practice and be constantly learning forever.

We all acquire wounds through experiences we have in our lives. It is impossible to avoid, and those wounds are often difficult to recognize and even more difficult to resolve. Learning Chinese medicine with its many tools helped me to heal a lot of my own broken places and gave me ability to apply what I was learning practically to my life - a skill which I could later bring to my patients. The ability of Chinese medicine to heal on a variety of different levels is to me, part of the reason why it has consistently been able, for thousands of years, to heal such a wide range of conditions with such effectiveness.

4. Realizing Sensitivity is a Gift

I have written about this one in detail previously in the post called - How my curse became my gift, but this was a big one for me. I was an extremely sensitive child, and, until I discovered Chinese medicine I was taught that that sensitivity was a weakness and something I should work hard to overcome. When I was in school studying Chinese medicine and acupuncture I slowly began to realize that this sensitivity I had, this "curse" was actually helping me connect, diagnose and treat patients. I could feel what was wrong with someone without them saying a word, and could read subtle cues and create connections that others missed. The realization that something I had been taught was a weakness and an undesirable trait was allowing me to be a better healer and help more people to feel better was an incredibly healing experience (see number 3 above), and helped to heal a wound that I had had ever since I could remember. It also made space for self acceptance and some self love which I am sure we could all use a little more of.

5. Reverence for Tradition & the Past

One of the things that I think we have lost as a culture, is our respect for the ancient wisdom of times past. Chinese medicine is a system that has been around for almost 5000 years. There is an enormous amount of information that has been gathered, documented and applied in those thousands of years. Much of that information is still in use today and is still being used to treat modern diseases with impressive efficacy. In the present, we tend to revere technology and all the ways that it can help make our lives easier. In many ways technology does make life easier, but at what cost? We are living with more people and closer together than at any time in history, and yet, despite our technology, we are so alone. Many people think that the old ways are simple, out of date and not useful but I think that the pendulum has swung so far the other way that our reliance on technology is hurting us in some ways. I believe that there is a need to get back to that "simpler" way of life. Where family, your tribe, and nature were the most important things in your life, and it was about the "we" instead of the "I". Chinese medicine teaches many of these principles as they are ways that a person and a community can stay healthy and balanced which is good for the people and the planet.

6. Looking to Nature for Healing

One of the things I love about Chinese medicine (and yes, there are so many things I love about Chinese medicine), is that it was developed out of a complete reverence and respect for nature. Nature is integral to the medicine because human beings are designed to live in harmony with it. In my opinion, it has been the disconnect between people and their natural environment that has lead to the drastic rise in the incidents of disease in our population. Chinese medicine also teaches that the earth with all her wisdom and gifts such as plants and animals offers the remedies to all of the ailments that afflict human beings. Eating our medicine, living in harmony with our environment and with the seasons and using herbs are only a few of the ways in which Chinese medicine relies on nature to help to heal us. In a culture that has tried to dominate and control nature, the ancient Chinese understood that it is only when we live in harmony with nature that we can thrive and live our lives to their fullest potential.

7. Using Food as Medicine

Using food as medicine is one of the fundamental principles of Chinese medicine. And, in a perfect world, we would be able to get everything we need for optimum health and longevity from the foods we eat. Thousands of years ago, there was no need for synthetic medications, people ate their medicine. There was also a common knowledge of what the healing properties of the foods that grew locally were so that they could be chosen according to any presenting illness. This is built into Chinese medicine and is one of the ways that a practitioner helps to advise their patient. Nutritional therapy is part of most treatment plans, as food is something we all need every day, and everything we eat has healing properties that can help both prevent and fight disease.

The foods we eat have enormous healing energies and eating for me has always been one of my favourite things, but it now helps me to stay healthy so I don't get sick. I see food in a completely different way, not just a feast for my taste buds, but a delicious type of healing that I do for myself every time I put something in my mouth. Also, it is not just the food itself that is healing, it is also the way it is prepared, the more love and good intention you put into it, the more healing (and more delicious) it is for whomever is eating it. :)

8. Improving My People Skills

This was an unexpected benefit of practicing Chinese medicine. I remember the day that, while I was still in school, it was announced that we would begin student clinic where we had to do all the hours necessary to graduate. This immediately set of a chain reaction that started with the realization that I would have to start putting what I was learning into practice, but more importantly, I would have to be talking to PEOPLE. I was terrified. I have always been a shy person and struggled with my ability to speak with people, especially ones I didn't know. And now, speaking with people I didn't know was going to be my profession. Wow. It was going to be quite an education. Those first few months of student clinic were tough, but as I did it more and more I found that my ability to connect with people beyond words was the way I was able to retrieve the most important and useful information about their condition, and observing the way they spoke, moved and looked was just as important as the words coming out of their mouths. I began to create a balance and a way to take in information about a person while we were speaking in their treatment. This was a huge learning curve for me, and once I got over the shyness, I came to really enjoy working with people which definitely helped me outside of my practice and made it easier to connect and speak to people outside of work. I am now able to speak quite comfortably with people I don't know because of the skills I developed practicing Chinese medicine.

9. Prevention is the Best Medicine

In the West, and I have seen this over and over again in my practice, people tend to wait until they get sick before they seek out help to try to get well. In some cases, people wait until things are catastrophic to get medical help, at which point it is always more difficult to fix the problem. Chinese medicine, at its foundation is a medicine of prevention. This is not to say that it is not capable of treating illness and disease because it most certainly is. But, the way that it has been designed is as a preventative medicine. It is a way of life that is conducive to health with the objective of never getting sick. I have tried my best to institute it's principles into my life so that I do many small things every day to keep myself healthy rather than not paying attention to my health and waiting until I get sick to attempt to get better. My medicine is my way of life. It is the way I conduct myself in the world, the way I treat others, the food I eat, the emotions I process, my state of mind and my attitude - all of which have a bearing on my overall health and wellbeing. And I learned this from Chinese medicine.

10. Loving My Work

One of the ways that I think I am very lucky is that I love what I do. Deeply. I know that many people get up every day and go to a job that they do not love. I get to go to work and do what I love, which feeds me physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is an incredibly rewarding profession and something I love more and more every day. I feel honoured that I get to spend my days in service to my fellow human beings, and that I can in some small way help them to feel better, one person at a time.

Love Your Work : Chinese Medicine Living

10 Ways Chinese Medicine Changed My Life : Chinese Medicine Living

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The beautiful featured image photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

Would you like to learn more about Chinese Medicine and why it is so awesome? See our sister site Learn Chinese Medicine Living for downloadable info sheets and other resources to help you learn about this wonderful medicine. <3


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


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


How to Get Healthy in 2016 with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Eat Your Medicine

There is a huge emphasis in Chinese medicine that the food we eat is our best medicine. Food, after all, is the medicine we take into our bodies many times a day. This philosophy makes sense, especially when you are talking about Chinese medicine, which is a medicine of prevention. Why not eat to stay healthy so that you never get sick? So how, you might ask, can I eat in the healthiest way according to Chinese medicine? Well, eating with the seasons is one of the fundamentals. This used to be the way that not only the Chinese ate, but the way all of our ancestors ate as well. What was eaten was what was grown in that particular season - which is what our bodies, and especially our digestive systems were designed for. Part of the reason that we have so many digestive problems in our present culture is because we are able to eat foods that grow in all seasons (because of the miracle of mass transportation and refrigeration): strawberries in winter, root vegetables in summer, etc... Although it is wonderful to have this kind of variety all year around, it is not what our digestive systems were designed for, and they are still catching up as far as evolution is concerned. In Chinese medicine there are also many foods and recipes that are used when we come down with something like a cold or flu. Congee is a good example - and there are a few excellent recipes here - Winter Congee for Colds & Flu, Chicken & Corn Congee, Ginseng Congee for Health & Longevity.  Part of the job of the Chinese medicine practitioner is not only to administer acupuncture and herbs, but also to consult their patient about nutritional therapy to help the body to rebalance and heal, because, food is some of the most powerful medicine. :)

Reconnect With Nature

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from sheknows.com

There is nothing more healing that walking on the beach by the ocean, or strolling through an old growth forest. And nothing reconnects you better than lying in the grass, or taking your shoes off and walking directly on the earth. As a species, we are presently more connected to each other than at any other time in our history, which is amazing and makes out lives better in many ways. Access to information, sharing of knowledge and being connected to people who are far away has never been easier. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost our connection to nature. Children, instead of playing outside as they once did, often sit inside, in front of the TV instead of exploring the natural world, running and playing outdoors. As we grow into adults we spend years in schools sitting at desks, until we venture out into the working world where we sit indoors for many hours a day until we can go home to rest. Our bodies were designed to MOVE, and our lives used to be completely connected to the outdoors, where we were in constant contact with the incredible healing energy of nature. So make some time to go outside every day. Smell a flower. Hug a tree. Walk barefoot in some grass or gaze at the sky. Your body (as well as your mind) will love you for it.

Live With the Seasons

Chinese medicine tells us that to be in harmony with our bodies and in good health, we must also be in harmony with nature. This means living with the seasons. Every season has its own unique energy - winter contracts, spring is expansive, summer radiates and fall begins to withdraw. Each of the seasons has its own unique energy, and Chinese medicine teaches us the ways in which we can aspire to live in harmony with those energies. For example, in winter we go to bed earlier and sleep later, we pay close attention to the kidneys (the organ associated with winter) and eat foods that grow slowly and deep in the ground - like root vegetables - that are warming in nature. We look inward and nourish our inner selves in this season. Our lifestyles should reflect the season we are in, and Chinese medicine gives us many ways in which to do this. You can learn how in the following posts...

Winter

•   Living According to the Winter Season with Chinese Medicine

Spring

•   Loving Your Liver with Chinese Medicine
•   Loving Your Liver with Nutrition
•   The Liver & Anger

Summer

•   Living With the Seasons - Summer
•   Summer Foods & Preparation According to Chinese Medicine

Autumn / Fall

•   Living With the Seasons - Autumn / Fall

Be Grateful

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This pretty image from fastcompany.com

This is one that I have learned from experience both in my own life and from many years of treating patients. For me, I have noticed that when I am having a difficult time, down in the dumps and struggling, one of the best things that I can do to pull myself out of it is to take time on a regular basis to go through a mental list of all the things that I am grateful for. When it comes to my patients, I noticed after a few years that the patients that I had with the most problems, chronic imbalances, pain and recurring illnesses were generally the ones who were the most unhappy, the most negative and the least optimistic. I am a firm believer that we attract what we think about, and I have experienced the benefits of a positive attitude, especially when things in our lives are difficult. I know that I have worked this into my morning routine, taking time every day when I get up to go through all the things that I am grateful for. This is a really good way to remind yourself of what is awesome in your life and by doing this, you are more likely to attract positive things, people and experiences into your life as well.

Meditate

We are now starting to understand scientifically the benefits of meditation on the mind and body, but many cultures around the world have been aware of the enormous benefits of meditation for thousands of years. Places like India and much of Asia have a long history of meditation. A lot of people are intimidated at the thought of meditating, especially if they are doing it for the first time. Of course, there are many techniques when it comes to meditation, but I believe that even a few minutes a day of sitting quietly, allowing your mind to just "relax" is of huge benefit on many levels. If you want to get really hard core, there are many, many meditation techniques out there, you just need to find the one that feels right to you. I have done a couple of Vipassana meditation retreats which were amazing experiences (you can read about them here - My Ten Day Vipassana Meditation & Vipassana 2.0). Meditation helps us to decompress in a world that leaves us overstimulated and exhausted, without enough time to relax. Its benefits include alleviating stress, improving sleep and boosting the immune system. I know most people cannot dedicate an hour or more to meditation every day, but even just ten to twenty minutes will make a huge difference, just try it out and see.

Get Enough Sleep

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from psychologies.co.uk

When we sleep our body gets a chance to heal and repair. Problems with sleep, either problems falling or staying asleep, are common. As a culture, we tend to not get enough sleep and the quality of our sleep is compromised, which means more stress on our immune systems which can lead to illnesses. There is no magic number when it comes to optimum number of hours a person should sleep at night, but that feeling of exhaustion should not be present when we wake up (and it so often is). Think of sleep like you think about the food you eat, that it is medicine for the body. Another good thing to remember is that melatonin - the hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates sleep - is released according to cycles of light and darkness. We were designed to be awake when it is light and to sleep when it is dark. This has largely changed with the invention of electric lights, so a good way to improve sleep is to keep your bedroom as dark as possible with as few electronic devices as possible in the room, especially close to your head. Being in complete darkness will ensure a better, deeper sleep which will allow your body the rest it needs as well as to repair and heal which will ensure that you stay healthy.

Breathe Deep

It seems simple, but the breath is a big part of health. Taking long, deep breaths increases the amount of oxygen that the body, all of its tissues and especially the brain, is getting. There is a theory out there that this is the function of yawning- to increase the amount of oxygen that is taken into the body. Because we spend so much time sitting, we tend to breathe more shallowly, getting less oxygen and making things like thinking, concentrating and remembering more difficult. Taking some time every day to sit up straight, or even better stand and walk around and breathe deep into your belly (like children do naturally) will help you stay awake and think more clearly. This is extra awesome because it is so easy, so breathe deep!

Express Yourself

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This lovely image from penmastersonline.wordpress.com

As you may know, Chinese medicine is a holistic medicine, meaning it is not just about the physical body, but about all aspects of a person. This includes the emotions, and Chinese medicine places special importance on the emotions and expressing them freely. Keeping things in, suppressing your feelings or expressing them in an inappropriate way can lead to imbalances in the body and its organ systems and lead to illness. Yes, that's right. Not expressing how you feel can make you sick, and I see this all the time. I am not telling you the next time someone cuts you off in traffic that you should follow them, wait until they get out of the car and scream at them, I mean to be aware of your feelings, and that they are appropriate to what is happening, and if not, think through where they might be coming from. If you are feeling particularly irritated by that person who cut you off, try to sort out where that frustration might be coming from (it is probably the liver). This is particularly important in our personal relationships. Holding on to things like anger, guilt, shame and other negative emotions can be detrimental to health. Journal, go for a walk to clear your head or sit and talk to a friend, or better yet, speak to the person who may have made you upset in the first place. If you get your feelings off your chest (in a kind, respectful way) you will be amazed at how much better you feel, and you will be keeping all the energy or qi flowing smoothly, which is the key to health and happiness.

Moderation

Moderation is both a concept important in Chinese medicine and I believe, in any happy, balanced person's life. In my practice I try not to tell my patients not to do this and not to do that, instead I try to communicate the importance of moderation. When I am asking about a person's diet, they inevitably will give me a sheepish look and tell me about the 2 pieces of chocolate cake they ate the night before, or the quart of ice cream or glasses of red wine they had at a party expecting looks of disapproval from me. Not at all. I try to express the importance of enjoying your life for one - if you are really desiring that piece of cake, or that glass of wine and it will give you extreme pleasure to give it to yourself, then by all means DO IT. The worst thing you can do is to have it and then feel horrible about it. That is negating any positive benefits that thing has given you. So if you do it, OWN IT. Enjoy that piece of cake or glass of wine. Allow yourself to have it if it makes you happy. Just don't do it every day perhaps, keep it balanced. Make sure that you are doing things, the good and the not so good, with moderation. Everyone needs chocolate cake sometimes. ;)

Laugh

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from livescience.com

Joy is the emotion of the heart in Chinese medicine. Makes sense, right? When we feel joy, happiness, laugh, all of these emotions we tend to feel in the heart. The heart is the benevolent ruler of all the other organs, and to feed it, we need an ample amount of joy in our lives. You can think of this also as medicine; something you must seek out to keep yourself healthy. Think about how you feel when you laugh. You feel amazing. When you hear a story about something good happening to someone, you feel happy. Notice how your body feels the next time you are feeling joy. It feels delicious. Conversely, the heart is injured if there is not enough joy in our lives, and there is certainly plenty of that. What is it like to be around someone who is deeply unhappy? Someone unable to feel joy? Their energy is dark and it is difficult to be around. Sometimes it is easy to get bogged down by all the stresses in our lives, and there are a lot of them, so this is a reminder to go out and find some joy. Seek it out. Laugh. Sing. Dance. Smile. It's good for you.

Get an Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture is one of the best ways I know to stay healthy and to heal if you are sick. Obviously I have a bit of a bias, but I also have a lot of experience both having acupuncture, and seeing its beneficial effects in my patients. Because Chinese medicine was designed as a preventative medicine, having regular "tune ups" with acupuncture is a great way to keep your immune system strong so that you never get sick. In our culture, we tend to wait until things become catastrophic (like getting a disease) before we seek out medical advice, but in many cultures, like Chinese culture, they understand that prevention is the best medicine. Acupuncture is a powerful tool to help rebalance the body, boost the immune system and keep you strong so that you never get sick. It is the thing I have used since I was a teenager, and the gift that I try to bring to my patients every day when I go to work. I am deeply in love with it, because I know it works.

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Featured image from huffingtonpost.com

 

How to Get Healthy in 2016 with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living


Hawthorn - Lower Blood Pressure & Cholesterol

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

High blood pressure and cholesterol are very common health problems to people in western societies living a hurried lifestyle, eating an unhealthy diet and lacking adequate exercise. The matter is worse during the winter months when many festivities occur (like thanksgiving and Christmas) and people are indulging more in high calorie and fatty foods.

Prevention is better than cure and self-care is better than healthcare. Preventing illness from happening is so much cheaper and more effective than curative care.    

To help with fighting high blood pressure and high cholesterol which is believed to be the culprit to most heart diseases, I highly recommend you to try hawthorn.

Hawthorn Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Hawthorn is a very common fruit which is widely grown in many parts of the world. Chinese hawthorn can be commonly found in most Chinese fresh food markets or herbal stores. Dried, candied hawthorn slices are a popular snack for children to help improve appetite and promoting proper digestion. A few hawthorn fruits are commonly added to meat stews to make the meat more tender and easy to digest. In recent years, food scientists have discovered that the Chinese hawthorn fruit can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, improve the functioning of the coronary artery and can be effectively used for the prevention and cure of coronary heart disease.

Dried hawthorn is very inexpensive and can be stored for a long time. It is sour in taste and is very acidic. It is not recommended for people with acid related digestive issues. Research suggests that hawthorn can lower low density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad cholesterol”), and triglycerides (fats in the blood). It seems to lower accumulation of fats in the liver and the aorta (the largest artery in the body, located near the heart). It also increases the excretion of bile and has antioxidant properties.

Hawthorn Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Simple ways to use hawthorn are:

1.  For treating indigestion

Boil 10 hawthorn fruits with 15 grams of brown sugar in 2 cups of water and cook down to one cup and drink the liquid before each meal.

2.  For treating lack of appetite (in humid summer weather)

Make a tea using 5 grams of hawthorn fruit, 3 grams of orange peel, 5 mint leaves and a little white sugar.

3.  For treating overeating after a big meal of meat or greasy foods

Boil 10 grams of hawthorn fruit, 5 grams of fried sprouted barley, and 5 grams of crushed radish seeds in 1-2 liters of water for about 5 minutes and drink the tea as frequently as desired.

4.  For preventing and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol

Boil 15 grams of hawthorn with 6 to 8 dates (cut into halves) with 3 cups of water and cook into one cup. Drink once a day and as often as necessary.

5.  For more advanced problems with the arteries, please try the following recipe.

Cornbind and Hawthorn Tea

Hawthorn Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

SYMPTOMS

High blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, and deficiency of yin, liver and kidney.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Enriches blood, nourishes yin, moisturizes dryness and calms wind, invigorates kidney and liver, clears away toxic materials, promotes blood circulation, disperses blood stasis, lowers blood pressure and level of blood lipids.

INGREDIENTS

  • Chinese cornbind (ho shou wu) 何首烏 - 20gm
  • Hawthorn (shan zha) 山楂 - 16gm
  • Mulberry (sang shen) 桑椹 - 12gm

DIRECTIONS

1.     Rinse herbs and put them all in a pot with 5 cups of water.

2.     Cook over medium heat until 1 cup of water left.

3.     Drink tea only.

USAGE

Drink regularly for long term effects.

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Featured image from whisperingearth.co.uk

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If you are having health concerns and would like assistance, Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP offers Skype consultations.
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The 5 Best Foods for Colds & Flu in Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Eat. Your. Medicine.

The changing of the seasons, especially the transition from warm to cold weather makes everyone more susceptible to colds and flu. The good news is that nutritional therapy is one of the pillars of Chinese medicine and contains a huge arsenal of foods for combating colds and flu. There are also a great many foods and herbs that build the immune system which will help you get over your cold or flu, as well as make sure that you get through the rest of cold and flu season with the best health possible. Below are the most effective foods for dealing with colds and flu in Chinese medicine. Remember, Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years, so these have been used for a long time and they really work. ;)

1. Congee

Chinese Medicine for Colds & Flu : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from seriouseats.com

Congee or "Jook" is a like the Chinese version of chicken soup. It is a traditional breakfast in China, as well as an all purpose remedy when we are sick. Congee is made with rice and water (about a 1:10 ratio of rice to water). Other ingredients are added depending on what type of cold or flu you have, whether it is a heat type with symptoms like severe fever, mild chills, sore throat, sweating, and thirst, or the cold type with symptoms of severe chills, profuse, clear discharge from the nose, mild fever, no sweat, headache and general aching. White rice is very easy to digest which makes the spleen happy and is less work for the body when should be directing all its energy to fighting the pathogen. Congee is also delicious, nutritious and you can eat it any time of the year, but it is generally eaten in the colder months for its warming and nourishing properties. Here are some delicious congee recipes you can try.

2. Ginger

Ginger is one of the most widely used herbs in Chinese medicine. It has so many medicinal uses, that you should always keep some in your kitchen! Ginger is a very warming herb and has a pungent flavour. It acts on the lungs, spleen and stomach. Ginger warms the middle burner which stops vomiting and warms the lungs to stop cough. Its actions are to direct heat from inside the body to the outside, helping to resolve fever by inducing sweating. Adding a couple of slices of raw ginger to some boiling water and drinking it as a tea is a good way resolve a fever by increasing sweating. Another excellent way to use ginger when you have a cold or flu is to grate some fresh ginger and put it in a old sock, tie a knot in the top and throw it into a warm bathtub. This is a very good way to stimulate sweating and break a fever. It will also leave you smelling delicious.

Here is a nice infographic that lists some of ginger's healing properties.

Chinese Medicine for Colds & Flu : Chinese Medicine Living

this lovely infographic from mindbodygreen.com

3. Bone Broth

Chinese Medicine for Colds & Flu : Chinese Medicine Living

this image from barebonesbroth.com

Many traditional cultures use bone broths because of their numerous healing properties, and in Chinese medicine they are powerful Qi and blood tonics. One of the reasons that bone broths are so good for our health is that they are cooked using the bone marrow of the animal, and the marrow in Chinese medicine is produced by the kidneys and contain kidney Jing. Jing is something that we get from our parents at birth, and it is very precious and vital to good health. Things like working too hard (or partying too hard), not sleeping enough, being under a lot of stress for extended periods of time and childbirth are things that we can deplete Jing. Women lose Jing having too many babies too close together without time to recover, and men lose Jing from ejaculation, but bone broth is a way we can rebuild our Jing essence. Depleted Jing causes premature and accelerated aging. This is why living a balanced lifestyle is so important! Preserving precious Jing is the goal when it comes to health and longevity. Consuming bone broth therefore is extremely tonifying to Jing as it is literally made of Jing. Bone broth is also excellent to stimulate the immune system, so its a good choice when you are suffering from any ailment, especially colds and flu.

4. Honey

5 best foods for colds and flu in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

this image from thespiritscience.net

Honey is sweet in flavour and its energy is neutral. Honey acts on the spleen, stomach, lung and large intestine. Honey tonifies the Qi of the middle burner as well as the lungs, relieves spasms and alleviates pain. It is very moistening to the inside of the body, so it is very good to use when you have extreme heat which is very drying. Honey lubricates the bowels to promote bowel movements, detoxifies, lowers blood pressure and slows down the acute symptoms from colds and flu. It is indicated particularly for chronic cough and constipation. Honey has the added benefits of:

  • boosts the immune system
  • relieves coughs & sore throat
  • heals wounds & burns
  • helps to heal ulcers
  • relieves constipation
  • improves sleep
  • boosts athletic performance

5. Garlic

Surviving Cold & Flue Season with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

this image from livingtraditionally.com

Garlic is one of the most widely used herbs in the world for its numerous healing properties. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India), Chinese medicine (which is super awesome and my personal favourite) and the traditional medicine of much of Europe. In Chinese medicine it first appeared in Chinese texts more than 2000 years BCE as an effective treatment for poisoning. It is also known for its ability to treat infection and cleansing the body of pathogens. Garlic is considered a warming herb in Chinese medicine, and is used to aid the spleen and stomach in digestion and aids to expel harmful microorganisms. It is known to cleanse the blood of cholesterol and is a powerful immune booster. Here are some more of garlic's amazing healing properties:

  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-microbial
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-parasitic
  • Commonly used to treat infections of the upper respiratory tract
  • Taken preventatively for infectious conditions, both digestive and respiratory
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reduces blood cholesterol
  • Used to treat worms (ringworm and threadworm)
  • Promotes circulation
  • Promotes sweating
  • Eliminates yeasts, including Candida albicans
  • Inhibits viruses and other micro-organisms associated with degenerative diseases like cancer
  • Eliminates toxins from the body, including poisonous metals like cadmium and lead
  • A drop of garlic oil in the ear canal once a day relieves ear infections
  • A poultice made of garlic draws out swelling from boils
  • Eliminates worms
  • Used for dysentery, snake bites, warts, hepatitis, asthma, tuberculosis, hay fever, asthma and diarrhea
  • When traveling eating a clove of raw garlic before suspected food or water will protect against dysentery
  • Eating a clove of raw garlic a day will protect against colds and flu
  • Garlic tea relieves poison ivy, poison oak and nettle stings
  • Promotes the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria

One thing to note about garlic is that the medicinal parts exist in the oils which is where all the strong smells are, so using garlic pills with no smell doesn't really work. You are missing all the good healing parts. One of the best ways that I know to use garlic is to take a clove and crush it into a spoon and take it raw. It is intense, but it is the best way to make sure you are getting all the healing benefits. You can do this daily as a preventative, or at the first signs that you are coming down with something. You might want to make sure that you have some juice to chase it with, and even though it is intense, it works to ward off illness almost every time.

For some information on garlic and its incredible healing properties, you can read - Why Garlic is Your New BFF. :)

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Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living

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The 5 Best Foods for Colds & Flu in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living