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


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


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.
Please email info@chinesemedicineliving.com for more info.

 

Hawthorn - Lower Blood Pressure & Cholesterol


Winter Congee Recipe for Colds & Flu

Congee

Traditionally known as hsi-fan or rice water, congee is eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. It is a thin porridge or gruel consisting of a handful of rice simmered in five to six times the amount of water. Although rice is the most common grain for congees, millet, spelt or other grains are sometimes used. Cook the rice and water together in a covered pot for four to six hours on warm, or use the lowest flame possible; a crockpot works very well for congees. It is better to use too much water than too little, and the longer the congee cooks, the more powerful it becomes.

Healing Properties

This simple rice soup is easily digested and assimilated, tonifies the blood and qi, harmonizes the digestion and is demulcent, and nourishing. It is also useful for increasing a nursing mother’s supply of milk. The liquid can be strained from the porridge to drink as a supplement for infants and for serious conditions.

Other therapeutic properties may be added to the congee by cooking appropriate vegetables, grains, herbs or meats in with the rice water. Since rice itself strengthens the Spleen-Pancreas digestive centre, other foods added to a rice congee become more completely assimilated, and their properties are therefore enhanced. Listed below are some of the more common rice based congees and their specific effects.

Winter Congee Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

  • Aduki Bean - Diuretic, curative for edema and gout
  • Carrot - Digestive aid, eliminates flatulence
  • Celery - Cooling in summer, benefits the large intestine
  • Water Chestnut - Cooling to viscera, benefits digestive organs
  • Duck or Carp Broth - Reduces edema and swelling
  • Fennel - harmonizes the stomach, expels gas, cures hernia
  • Ginger - warming and antiseptic to viscera, used for deficient COLD digestive weakness: diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting and indigestion
  • Leek - warming to viscera, good for chronic diarrhea
  • Mustard - Expels phlegm, clears stomach congestion
  • Black Pepper - expels gas, recommended for pain in bowels
  • Poppy Seed - relieves vomiting and benefits the large intestine
  • Purslane - detoxifies, recommended for rheumatism and swellings (phlegm)
  • Radish - Digestant, benefits the diaphragm
  • Pickled Radish - benefits digestion and blood
  • Taro Root - nutritious, aids the stomach, builds blood

Congee Recipe

Use 1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice, unless you already have some cooked rice in your fridge. You’ll have to extend the cooking time to 1-1/2 to 2 hours with uncooked rice, but you will be rewarded with a bowl of yummy goodness that is soothing both spiritually and physically. There are so many things that you can add to congee that add both flavour and texture to the final dish. You can refer to the list above or see what you have in the fridge and be creative!

Time: About 1 hour

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

Winter Congee Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 pound chicken bones or 2 chicken thighs
  • 3, 1/4-inch-thick slices fresh ginger
  • 1 plump clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 green onion, tied into a knot
  • 1/4 of a whole yellow or red onion
  • Soy sauce, salt, and white pepper to taste
  • Sesame oil and/or kecap manis for drizzling (optional)

Garnishes:

  • Shredded chicken (from the thighs above or leftovers)
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Fried garlic
  • Fried shallots

Winter Congee Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, combine the rice, water, chicken bones, ginger, garlic, green onion, onion and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any scum or foam that rises to the surface.
  2. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of pot and burn.
  3. If using chicken thighs, remove them after 20 minutes and scrape off the meat and shred or chop. Set the meat aside and return the bones to the pot. Continue cooking for another 40 minutes or so.
  4. When the rice grains are swollen and the mixture is as thick as oatmeal, the congee is ready. If it gets too thick, add more water. If it’s too thin, cook it until it reaches the desired smoothness and thickness.
  5. Remove the bones, ginger, garlic, green onion and onion. Add soy sauce, salt, and white pepper to taste.
  6. Ladle into individual bowls, drizzle with sesame oil, and garnish as desired.

Winter Congee Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Winter Congee Recipe for Colds & Flu : 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 Winter Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Winter Season in Chinese Medicine.

 


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


Fuzzy Melon - A Diuretic to Expel Toxins

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Fuzzy melon, also known as fuzzy squash or mo gwa (hairy melon) is named for the fine-textured fuzz or hairs that cover the outer thick skin. It is a very common and easy to grow vegetable in backyard home gardens during summer.

This mild, sweet-flavored squash, which is common to Asian cooking, is low in calories and high in fiber. Chinese Medicine regards mo qwa as nutrient rich, sweet in taste, neutral in nature and a diuretic which helps to increase urine output to eliminate toxins from the body. It is suitable for people of all ages, even for the very sick and weak.

The melon is easy to prepare and is incorporated into a variety of cooked dishes such as stir-fry's, soup and stew. When selecting the melon, the more hairy ones the better and the smaller ones (around one pound) are tenderer than the bigger ones. When preparing the squash, peel the skin away first and then cut the squash into cubes for stew and soup or Julian cut them into match sticks for stir-fry. Since the squash itself is very mild in favour, it is usually cooked with ingredients such as dried shrimps, dried scallops or dried mushrooms to give it the sweet and salty tastes

The following is a very common household mo qua stir-fry recipe which we all grew up with. You can always add more ingredients to the dish such as meat or fresh mushrooms to increase the tastes and nutritional values.

Stir-Fried Fuzzy Melon with Dried Shrimps and Vermicelli

Chinese Medicine Fuzzy Melon Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Therapeutic Effects

Diuretic, increases urine output to flush out toxins from the body, benefits stomach and spleen.

Ingredients

  • Fuzzy melon - one
  • Vermicelli – one bunch
  • Dried shrimps – about 2 tablespoons
  • Minced ginger – one teaspoon
  • Minced garlic – one teaspoon
  • Oyster sauce – two tablespoons
  • Cooking wine – one tablespoon
  • Sesame oil – one tablespoon

Directions

1.   Soak vermicelli with warm water for about half an hour and rinse.

2.   Peel skin of fuzzy melon and trim off both ends. Rinse and Julian cut into match sticks.

3.   Rinse dried shrimps slightly and drain.

4.   Heat pan over medium heat with two spoonful of cooking oil. Add ginger and garlic to stir briefly. Then add dried shrimps and stir until slightly brown.

5.   Turn up heat and add melon to stir for a few minutes. Add salt and a little pepper to taste. Sprinkle in cooking wine and add water to just cover the melon (about one cup). Cover with lid and let it cook for about 5 to 6 minutes to melon become soften but still firm and with about one-third of water left. Add vermicelli and mix in. Add oyster sauce and sesame oil and cook until most of the liquid is being absorbed and serve.

Chinese Medicine Fuzzy Melon Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Usage

No limitations

Acupuncture Mug : Chinese Medicine Living

Fuzzy Melon - A Diuretic to Expel Toxins


Lo-han Fruit for Soothing Throat and Cough

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Luo Han Guo or Lo-han fruit is a fruit which has been used as a medicinal herb for treating cough and sore throat for centuries in China and is popularly considered to be a longevity aid.

The fruit is collected as a round green fruit that turns brown upon drying. The outer surface of the dried fruit is round and smooth, dusty yellow-brown or dusty green-brown. It is covered with fine, soft hair. The fruit is covered by a hard but thin shell. Inside is a partly dry, flexible substance containing the juice, as well as a large number of seeds. The skin, juicy part, and seeds all have a good sweet flavor. Its nature is cool, and it has no poison.

The sweet taste of Lo-han fruit primarily from mixed mogrosides and are estimated to be about 300 times as sweet as sugar by weight, so that the 80% extracts are nearly 250 times sweeter than sugar. It has more recently been developed into a non-caloric sweetener to compete with other herbal sweeteners in relation to diabetes and obesity, because it can substitute for caloric sugars normally consumed in the diet.

The dried Lo-han fruit is very inexpensive and each one is about the cost of a fresh lemon but has many medicinal benefits. It is known to help relieve sunstroke, moistens the lungs, eliminates phlegm, stops cough, and promotes bowel movements.

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Applications:

1. Heat stroke with thirst: Take one fruit, break it open and stir into boiled water. Drink the liquid in place of tea.

2. Acute or chronic throat inflammation:  Take half a fruit and 3-5 seeds. Cover with hot water and simmer for 20 minutes, then swallow the tea very slowly.

3. Chronic cough:  Take 1 piece of fruit, cover with water, simmer, and drink the liquid. Do this twice each day.

4. Constipation in the aged:  Take 2 pieces of fruit, obtain the juicy part and the seed (put the shell aside for other uses), break apart, cover with water, and simmer. Drink before going to bed.

5. Diabetes:  Take an appropriate measure of the fruit and crush it or simmer it into a thick juice and add to food being prepared, using it as a substitute for sugar.

The following is a very easy recipe for general detox or soothing throat infection with phlegm. It can be consumed regularly especially in late fall and early winter months. Please explore other recipes on our website (www.nourishu.com) using the fruit to cook as tea or soup.

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Lo-han Quo Green Tea

Symptoms

Throat infection with phlegm.

Therapeutic Effects

Clear phlegm and toxic materials in the lungs. This recipe is good for prevention too.

Ingredients

  • Lo-han quo  羅漢果 – half
  • Green tea - adequate

1.   Put both ingredients in a teapot and pore in adequate boiling water, cover lid and brew for 5 minutes. Serve as tea.

Usage

Drink throughout the day with no restrictions.

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Lo-Han Fruit for Soothing Throat & Cough : Chinese Medicine Living

Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living


Insomnia Cure – Lotus Seeds, Longan Fruit and Egg Yolk

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Insomnia can be caused by many psychiatric and medical conditions and has become a very common health challenge to many people in modern societies. To fix insomnia, finding the exact cause is very important in winning the battle.

In Chinese Medicine, insomnia can be due to unsettled gut, unsettled liver or unsettled mind. To deal with unsettled gut, one has to fix digestive issues first, and then eat a healthy and easy to digest diet and adhere to healthy eating habits. To balance liver energy, it is important to promote liver yin and lower liver heat. To calm an unsettled mind, Chinese Medicine believes that by enforcing kidney functions, it can keep the over excited mind energy in check.

Personally, I have found much success using lotus seeds, longan fruit and egg yolk to calm the over active mind at night. There is substantial evidence proving that egg yolk is not harmful but healthy for us. Egg yolks are home to tons of essential but hard-to-get nutrients, including choline, which is linked to lower rates of breast cancer (one yolk supplies 25% of your daily need) and antioxidants that may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. The belief that egg yolks cause high cholesterol is now found to be untrue. Chinese Medicine finds egg yolks to be great for promoting blood and yin; lotus seeds for strengthening spleen, benefiting the kidney to preserve essence, and keeping the heart-fire and the kidney water in balance; and longan fruit for invigorating the heart and spleen, nourishing blood and calming the mind.

The following is the recipe. It is a very delicious dessert recipe with no adverse side effect and can be taken by people with no problem sleeping. I will strongly recommend anyone who has problems with shutting their eyes at night to give this recipe a try. It is very inexpensive and easy to make. For convenience, you can cook a batch together to be served for a few days. Please explore our website www.noursihu.com for recipes treating other causes of insomnia.

Insomnia Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Lotus Seed, Dried Longan Fruit and Egg Yolk Dessert

Symptoms

Insomnia due to imbalance of kidney and heart energy.

Therapeutic Effects

Keeps heart fire and kidney water in balance, nourishes heart and tranquilizes the mind, nourishes blood, and tonifies yin.

Ingredients

  • Lotus seeds (lien zi) 蓮子 - 20 (best to use lotus seeds with red membrane and green centre still not removed)
  • Dried longan fruit (long yan rou) 龍眼肉 - 10
  • Egg yolk – one
  • Sugar or honey – to taste

Directions

1.   Soak lotus seeds for one hour and rinse.

2.   Rinse longan fruit and put the two ingredients to cook with 3 to 4 cups of water over medium heat for about 45 minutes to about 1 cup of water left and lotus seeds are soft to eat.

3.   Put egg yolk in a serving bowl, pour the hot liquid in and stir to cook the yolk. Then mix in longan fruit and lotus seeds, and add honey/sugar to serve.

Insomnia Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Usage

Eat one hour before bed. Take continuously for 7 days as one course of treatment.

Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living

Insomnia Cure – Lotus Seeds, Longan Fruit and Egg Yolk


Jellyfish - For Brain & Heart Health

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

The primetime commercial that I have been seeing lately describes the proteins in jellyfish to be the miracle ingredient to help people fight age related cognitive decline. Normally our brain produces calcium binding proteins of its own, but as we get older, these reduce in number. This is a problem as the proteins are used in order to regulate the amount of calcium in the brain cells and this can then slow down various brain functions. The research found jelly fish to contain a lot of calcium binding proteins which improve memory. Dried jellyfish contain collagen which is helpful for the treatment of arthritis and visible signs of aging. There are beauty products now using jellyfish as one of the key ingredients. Now that with all the scientific research behind the various health claims, I am hoping that more people will come to know about jellyfish. Instead of just running out to buy the supplement, I strongly suggest you to go straight to the real food and adopt it as part of your regular diet. It will certainly make your meals more interesting and palatable.

Jellyfish is one of Asia's most popular foods. It has certainly been our family’s favourite and we used to fight over it when we were young. Jellyfish are actually not fish because they have no fin and backbone structure as in any other fish. They are typified as free-swimming marine animals consisting of a gelatinous umbrella-shaped bell and trailing tentacles. The bell can pulsate for locomotion, while stinging tentacles can be used to capture prey. Jellyfish are about 95% water with only about 5% of proteins. The interesting thing about jellyfish is that they are almost immortal. Any small pieces of tentacles separated from the body can grow back into full size jellyfish rapidly. The fast production of cells is ideal for humans to stay young!

Chinese medicine has been familiar with the benefits of jellyfish for centuries and has been using them for clearing heat, eliminating congestion, lubricating intestines, clearing sputum, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and for dilating blood vessels to prevent hardening of the arteries. Jellyfish is highly recommended for people who are overweight and have problems with heart health.

I Love Acupuncture Button : Chinese Medicine Living

Jellyfish are dried before being sold because they can spoil easily after being caught. When preparing jellyfish, they are soaked in water for hours to get rid of salt and to get rehydrated. Then they are cooked by boiling in water for a few minutes which will turn them crunchy but rubbery and cause them to shrink a lot in size. They need to be soaked again in cold water for a few hours (best to keep in the fridge overnight) which will inflate and soften them. Jellyfish can then be chopped into small pieces (if not already cut) to either eat cold as an appetizer or to add to other dishes.

Jellyfish as an appetizer or in a salad is very popular in Chinese cuisine and banquets. They are actually very easy to make. You just need to season the jellyfish with a little vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. You can serve it as is, or serve with some fermented vegetables such as cucumber and sprinkle a little roasted sesame seeds on top. Adding jellyfish to a stir-fry at the very last minute will add crunchiness and authenticity to any dish. Please search our website, NourishU for other recipes using jellyfish for many therapeutic benefits.

The following is a delightful jellyfish salad recipe which is my personal favourite for the summer months. I hope you and your family will enjoy it as much as I do. Bon appétit!

Water Chestnut and Jellyfish Salad

Jellyfish Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Symptoms

Cough with phlegm

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Clear cough with phlegm and detoxify lungs.

Ingredients

  • Water chestnut 馬蹄 – 10
  • Dried Jellyfish 海蜇 – 160gm
  • Celery 西芹  - 100gm
  • Soy sauce  生抽
  • Sesame oil 麻油
  • Sesame seeds

Jellyfish Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Directions

  1. Soak jellyfish until soft, rinse clean and shred thinly (if it has not been cut). Put jelly fish in boiling water to cook for a few minutes. Remove and rinse and put in cold water (keep covered and inside the fridge) to soak for a couple of hours until becoming soft again. Put in strainer to drain away water.
  2. Peel water chestnut and shred thinly.
  3. Wash and peel celery and shred thinly.
  4. Put all three ingredients in a bowl and mix in soy sauce and sesame oil to taste. Put ingredients to plate and sprinkle in sesame seeds on top to serve.

Jellyfish Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Usage

No limitations.

Acupuncture Mug : Chinese Medicine Living

Jellyfish - For Brain & Heart Health : Chinese Medicine Living


Lily Bulb – for Soothing Lungs and Mind

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Lily flower has long been used by many cultures as a symbol of tranquility, peace and prosperity. The Roman Catholic Church used lily flowers to symbolize the Virgin Mary and to represent its own state of independence and prosperity. The Chinese culture uses lily bulb to make desserts for festivities and weddings to symbolize good luck and longevity of marriages.

Chinese medicine classifies the lily plant as bitter in taste, mild in nature, and beneficial to our hearts and lungs. The flowers are dried and used in cooking stews or soups. The more potent scale leaves of the bulb have a whitish surface, sharp at the tip and broad at the base, hard and brittle in nature and with a thin margin. The healing properties of lily include moisturizing the lungs, relieving cough from lung-dryness, clears heart-fire and tranquilizes the mind. Dried lily bulbs are commonly used in herbal formulas for promoting lung health, treating yin-deficiency of the heart which manifests as irritability, insomnia, dreaminess, palpitation and absent-mindedness, and promotes vital fluid and improves skin complexion.

Lily Bulb Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

In recent years with the increased availability of fresh lily bulbs, they are appearing more in the menus of Chinese fine cuisine.  The fresh scale leaves can be eaten raw as fruit or sprinkled on top of cold dishes or salad. Using fresh lily bulbs in stir-fry or congee is popular for increasing the health value of the dishes. Since over cooking fresh lily will dissolve most of it, it should only be added at the very last minute. When using lily in soups and desserts, they should not be cooked for more than two minutes.  For treating the very young and old with lily, steaming it for about 10 minutes will turn it into a paste, making them easy to both eat and digest.   

The traditional Chinese wedding dessert uses lotus seeds and lily bulbs for good luck. It is because saying the two ingredients together sounds like saying ‘Hundred Years Good Union’. The recipe is delicious and is better using fresh lily bulbs instead of dried ones. The following is the recipe. It is very simple and easy to make, tasty and healthy for the whole family, therefore is commonly served at home and in family restaurants all year round.

Red Beans, Lotus Seeds and Lily Bulb Dessert

Lily Bulb Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

 

Therapeutic Effects

Promotes blood and improves circulation for better skin and complexion, calming the heart energy for better sleep, promotes vital fluid for soothing lungs, lowers internal heat and promotes yin balance.

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • Red beans – 1 cup
  • Lotus seeds –1 cup
  • Fresh lily bulb (bai he) –  one bag (of 2 or 3)
  • Mandarin orange peel – 1 piece (optional)
  • Organic/natural sugar –  to taste

1.   Soak beans and lotus seeds for about 2 hours and rinse clean.

2.   Discard outer leaves of lily bulb which are brown and dirty. Cut out brown tips and base of inside leaves, separate them and rinse clean.

3.   Soak orange peel for 30 minutes. Use a small knife to scrape out and discard the white membrane from the back side of the peel (to get rid of the bitter taste). Rinse clean.

4.   Put beans and lotus seeds in a pot with 8 to 9 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and lower heat to medium and cook until the beans and seeds are tender and turn into a thick soup (about 1.5 hours). Add boiling water to the cooking if necessary.

5.   When ready, add sugar to taste and wait until the sugar is dissolved. Add lily and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and serve.

Lily Bulb Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Usage

No restrictions.

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Acupuncture Mug : Chinese Medicine Living

Lily Bulb – for Soothing Lungs and Mind