Gingko - Good for Your Lungs & Brain

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Ginkgo biloba’s natural health benefits are recognized by practitioners of traditional medicine. They use the health benefits to treat circulatory disorders and enhance memory.

Ginko Biloba Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Western researchers have valued ginkgo leaves as effective prevention and treatment for premature senility, dementia, brain damage and a wide range of cognitive disorders.

TCM classifies ginkgo seeds as neutral in nature, sweet and bitter in taste and is beneficial to the kidneys, heart and lungs. Ginkgo seeds are proven to have therapeutic effects such as being astringent to the lungs and relieving persistent cough and wheezing, they are a strong antioxidant, stabilize brain cells and prevent mental deterioration, treat asthma and tinnitus as well as treat impotence, spermatorrhea, nocturnal emission, white urine and frequent urination. Ginkgo seeds are used as a general drug as well as food. However, ginkgo seeds are known to be slightly poisonous if taken in large quantities with symptoms such as vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, etc. **The recommended daily limit is around 10 seeds per person.

Gingko seeds are commonly used in Chinese cuisine in soup, stew, congee, stir-fries and dessert. The following is a dessert recipe which is my personal favourite. It is easy to make and is good for people of all ages including children. Just prepare the ginkgo seeds ahead of time, keep them in the freezer and they can come in handy. This dessert is especially good in winter months because it is warming, soothing to the respiratory system and helps to moisturize skin to combat the dry heat in most households due to the heating system.

Gingko and Bean Curd Pastry Dessert


Clear heat and phlegm, moisturizes lungs and skin, and soothes the throat.

Ginko Biloba Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living


(for two to three servings)

  • Bean curd sheets 腐竹皮 - 2 sheets of fresh or 1 bag of dried sheets
  • Gingko seeds白果- 20
  • Rock sugar – to taste
  • One egg
  • Milk – half cup

Ginko Biloba Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

1.   Remove gingko shells with a nutcracker, cut into halves and put in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, drain and let cool for a few minutes. While the water is still warm, remove membrane and while/green kernel in the middle if any. Rinse and put aside.

2.   Cut bean curd sheets into tiny pieces if fresh one is used. If using dried ones, crush the sheets inside the plastic bag into fine pieces.

3.   Bring 4 to 5 cups of water in a pot to boil and add in ginkgo seeds and bean curd.  When the water comes to a boil again, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until the bean curd is mostly dissolved. Do not cover the cooking with a lid because it will boil over.

4.   When ready, add sugar and milk.  When it boils again, beat the egg and stir it in and immediately remove from heat to serve.

Ginko Biloba Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living


Limit not more than 10 ginkgo seeds per day per person. : )


Gingko - Good for Your Lungs & Brain


Magnificent Moxa

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

One of the many modalities used in Chinese medicine is Moxibustion. Moxibustion is the burning of the herb artemesia vulgaris, or mugwort. It comes in many forms, and can be burned both directly (sitting directly on the skin) or indirectly (burned above the skin without making contact). It can also be applied to the end of inserted acupuncture needles, placed in a box and placed on the skin (to warm a larger area) and a common treatment is to fill the navel with salt, then place a slice of ginger, then place and burn the moxa on the top for digestive and other problems.

Moxa is grown in all parts of China but the most famous type comes from the Jon Zhou area. Moxa is dried so that it can be stored and used. It is not used fresh as it contains so much volatile oil that when burned, it would produce too much heat. When the leaves are dried and pounded, moxa wool is produced, and when dried for ectended periods in the sun, can be stored for later use. Moxa is both bitter and pungent, and its flammability and warming nature make it ideal for building up the body, warming the channels and warding off disease.

So... what is moxa used for? Moxibustion has many practical applications, and is often used a lot in cold climates, due to its properties of warming and expelling cold. Below are some of the main functions of moxa.

Warms the Meridians and Dispels Cold

Moxibustion warms the meridians and dispels cold. Clinically, it is applied for all diseases caused by cold, blood stagnation and blockages of the meridians, such as cold-damp arthralgia, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, stomachache, epigastric pain and cold herniation. Cold very often can enter the meridians if you have underdressed in cold weather, live in a damp place, or have your neck exposed on a cold day. Sleeping in the room with a fan or with air conditioning running can also cause cold to get lodged in the channels and lead to disease.

Supports Yang to Strengthen Original Qi

Moxibustion has been widely applied to many serious diseases due to deficiency, sinking or depletion of Yang Qi. Among them are enuresis, rectocele, prolapse of the genitalia, menorrhagia, leukorrhea, and chronic diarrhea, just to name a few.

Breaks Up Blood Stagnation

Moxibustion, because of its heat, has the effect of keeping the actions of Yin and stomach Qi in balance, and in turn, it dispels blood stasis and dissipates pathological accumulation. In a clinical setting, it is commonly used to treat diseases related to Qi and blood stagnation (Qi stagnation is a milder than, and usually precedes blood stagnation), such as the early stages of acute mastitis, scrofula and goitre. Masses anywhere in the body are considered stagnations, with the most severe being cancer.

Boosts the Immune System, Prevents Disease and Maintains Health

Moxibustion on Zu San Li (ST36) or other points, has the function of boosting the immune system to prevent diseases and maintaining health. This method was used preventatively in China for thousands of years, and is still used to keep the body strong so that illness never has a chance to develop. This method can invigorate healthy Qi and strengthen immunity to keep one full of vitality and increase longevity.

Below are some different types of moxibustion and some of the different ways it can be applied to the body.

Moxibustion : Chinese Medicine LivingMoxa sticks, and a bag of moxa wool.

Moxibustion : Chinese Medicine LivingMoxa sticks that are stuck directly on the skin

Moxibustion : Chinese Medicine LivingMoxa cones burned directly on the skin

Moxibustion : Chinese Medicine LivingMoxa sticks that are burned indirectly above the skin or over inserted acupuncture needles

Warm Needle Moxibustion : Chinese Medicine LivingWarm Needle Moxibustion -
moxa burned on the end of inserted acupuncture needles

Moxibustion Contraindications

  • Patients with excess heat syndromes or with fevers due to yin deficiency
  • Scarring (direct moxibustion that is allowed to burn on the skin, sometimes leaving a small scar) moxibustion is prohibited on the face and head, and areas close to large blood vessels.
  • Moxibustion is prohibited on the abdomen and lumbo-sacral areas during pregnancy.
  • Precautions should be taken with patients suffering from skin allergies or ulcers.


Chayote for Soothing the Respiratory Tract

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Chayote, also known as closing-palm gourd, is very popular in Chinese cuisine for making soups and stews. It is because the gourd is neutral in nature, mild in taste and is very soothing to the internal respiratory tract and lungs. Especially during the winter months when most people easily catch cold or flu and end up with prolong cough, dry mouth and throat, and lots of phlegm; a soothing chayote soup can help to give some relief and speed up the healing process.

Chayote is a good source of vitamin C. It is also widely grown in Mexico and Latin America. It is used mostly in cooked forms but can also be eaten raw in salads and salsas though the raw ones are often regarded as unpalatable and tough in texture. Whether chayote is eaten raw or cooked, the skin has to be peeled because it is slightly toxic. Here is an easy recipe that puts together all the best ingredients to make a winter soothing soup for the whole family.

Chayote, Snow-Ear Mushroom & Pork Soup Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Chayote, Snow-Ear Mushroom and Pork Soup

Therapeutic Effects

  • Soothes throat and lungs
  • Clears phlegm
  • Promotes vital fluids
  • Lubricates skin

Chayote, Snow-Ear Mushroom & Pork Soup Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living


(4 to 6 servings)

  • Lean pork/pork with bone - 250gm (chopped into smaller pieces)
  • Chayote 合掌瓜 -  three
  • Carrot – 3 to 4
  • Snow-ear mushroom - 2
  • Ginger – 3 slices
  • Apricot kernel – one handful
  • Mandarin Peel – one piece (soaked with white tissue removed)
  • Honey dates 蜜棗 – 4

Chayote, Snow-Ear Mushroom & Pork Soup Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

1.   Rinse pork and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes, remove and rinse.

2.   Soak snow-ear mushroom for about 10 minutes, cut and remove stem at the bottom and separate mushroom into smaller pieces and rinse.

3.   Peel chayote, cut into halves, remove pit and cut into pieces. Peel carrot and cut into pieces. Rinse other ingredients.

4.   Bring half pot of water in a soup pot to boil and put in all ingredients to boil for about 15 minutes. Reduce heat and let it simmer for at least 2 hours.

5.   Add salt to serve and eat content with soup.

Chayote, Snow-Ear Mushroom & Pork Soup Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living


No restrictions. Suitable for the whole family.



Chayote for Soothing the Respiratory Tract : NourishU


Five Toxins To Avoid For Better Health

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

One of the things that many people don't realize about health, is that it is about balance. Eating well and exercising isn't enough. Sleeping well and drinking lots of water isn't going to cut it. We are living in a world where toxins are so ubiquitous that being aware of them and trying to avoid as many as we can is one of the many things we can do to improve our health.

There are literally so many toxins out there that it would be impossible to avoid them all. But like all things, it is about balance, so lets go through five things that you can do to dramatically decrease the toxic load you are putting onto your body, and make it a little happier, and healthier.

Beauty Products & Personal Care

Hidden Toxins : Chinese Medicine Living

Beauty products including cremes and lotions that you put on your skin, hair products like shampoo, conditioner and styling things, makeup and nail polish, as well as things like toothpaste and deodorant are some of the worst offenders when it comes to toxins. The skin is the body's largest organ. It is an organ of detoxification, as well as one of the most direct pathways in which we can take toxins into the body. A lot of beauty products are smashed with toxic chemicals that are absorbed through your skin and stored in tissues and organs which can eventually lead to illness. Plus, if you can avoid them, you want to, right? Yes.

Some of the worst ingredients that are frequently found in beauty products are:

  • sodium laurel sulfate / sodium laureth sulfate - an industrial degreaser, is used to make soaps foamy
  • mineral oil - a byproduct of petroleum, creates a film on the skin that impairs its ability to release toxins
  • phthalates - plasticizers banned in Europe, linked to endocrine disruption, liver / lung / kidney damage and cancer
  • parabens - preservatives, linked to endocrine disruption, cancer and reproductive problems
  • DEA / TEA / MEA - used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for soaps, suspected carcinogens
  • formaldehyde - probable carcinogen, banned in Europe
  • oxybenzone - found in sunscreens, accumulates in fatty tissues and causes allergies, hormone disruption and cellular damage
  • talc - similar in composition to asbestos, linked to respiratory problems and ovarian cancer
  • triclosan - found in antibacterial products, deodorants and hand sanitizers, linked to endocrine disruption and cancer
  • hydroquinone - used in products for lightening the skin. rated one of the most toxic chemicals and linked to cancer and reproductive diseases

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Clean Water for Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Because water is vital to life and essential to health, drinking the cleanest water with the least amount of chemicals is paramount. If you live in a city, a number of chemicals are intentionally added by city water departments including, in many cases, chlorine and fluoride. Chemicals are also added to prevent water pipes from rusting and to keep water moving through the system.

Fluoride is a controversial chemical, and many countries deliberately put fluoride into public drinking water stating that it has health benefits for strong teeth, especially in children. Although tests were initially carried out with calcium fluoride, it is in fact sodium fluoride and fluorosilicic acid that are put into the public water supply. Sodium fluoride as well as fluorosilicic acid are toxic by-products of the aluminum and fertilizer industries. They are often highly contaminated with lead and arsenic and are difficult and expensive to dispose of. Many cities were persuaded to put them into the water supply citing that they were for tooth decay prevention. Until this time the primary use for sodium fluoride was in rat poison. Food for thought.

Without going into a potentially huge discussion about water filtration, which type is best and the pros and cons of each, I will keep it simple by saying that water is something the body needs to survive. We can live for far longer without food that we can without water, so see drinking and cooking with clean water as an investment in your health and do your best to have access to as clean a water source as possible. There is a website, called find a - - that kindly lists springs across the United States and Canada where you may find natural and clean water. If you are elsewhere, there may be similar websites to help you find clean water close to home.

Laundry Detergent

Natural Laundry Soap : Chinese Medicine Living

Laundry detergent might not be something you think as containing toxins, but the commercial stuff is full of ingredients that you don't want to have next to your skin. I have been making my own laundry detergent for years, and I can make it smell the way I like by adding essential oils, or changing the kinds of natural, organic soaps that I add to it.

The average family washes 80 pounds of laundry a week! Not only are you coming into contact with the toxic chemicals that may be in your laundry detergent, but they are being washed right into our waterways, streams, rivers and oceans affecting animals and the environment. Here is a list of the four worst offenders, but if you would like to read a more in depth discussion on toxins that may be hiding in your laundry detergent, see this article on Toxins in Laundry Detergent on

  • Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • 1,4 - Dioxane
  • NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)
  • Phosphates

I have, as I said, been making my own laundry detergent for years and have, after multiple requests, put it in the Chinese Medicine Living store for sale - Natural Laundry Soap. It is natural and chemical free, and comes in glass jars, as well as burlap bags so that shipping isn't as expensive. Because you only use a spoonful for each load, it goes much farther than the usual store bought stuff, and, well, it helps me sleep better at night knowing that I am perhaps absorbing less toxins through my skin than I might be otherwise. :)

Cleaning Products

Natural Cleaning : Chinese Medicine Living

Vinegar, alcohol, lemon and baking soda are natures cleansers. I am always amazed at how many cleaning products there are at the grocery store when these simple and inexpensive things do just as good a job and keep toxins out of your home and your life.

Unless you are dealing with some serious dirt of the chemical kind that needs nuclear type cleansing, then things like lemon and vinegar, alcohol and baking soda work wonders around the house. Recipes abound on sites like pinterest for how to make your own natural cleansers for your home as well as natural beauty alternatives to the harsh store-bought ones. Cutting out harsh cleansers from your life is an excellent way to remove a whole host of toxins from your home, which will keep you and your family healthier in the long run.


Clean Food : Chinese Medicine Living

I think it is a new generation that has come to, unfortunately, associate food with toxins. In my parents' generation I don't think this was ever the case, and certainly not in the generation before that and beyond. But it is true that our food is now smashed with unpronounceable ingredients and other unholy additives that were more likely created in a laboratory than they were grown in the ground or on a tree. The issue if further complicated by the fact that there is an ongoing debate as to whether the people consuming these foods should have the right to know what is IN them, natural or unnatural. Although this seems insane, most consumers, of course, would like this right. It is only large corporations, that usually create chemicals, and not food, that are pumping millions of dollars into campaigns to stop the labelling of GMO's (genetically modified organisms), and unfortunately, at least so far, many of them are winning. I am hoping, with things like the internet which creates a new transparency, that these companies will no longer be able to lord over the population with their agendas and that as people discover their intentions that they will no longer be able to continue controlling our food supply.

That said, there are still many people (evidenced by my trips to the grocery store) that don't seem to understand that food is a major factor in keeping us heathy and impervious to disease. My stance on food is simple. Try to stay away from anything in a can or a box. Eat fresh, clean foods that are as close from the way they came out of the ground or off a bush or tree as possible and with as little processing as chemicals are often used in this process. Eat organic if you can afford to do so. The way I think about food is that it is the preventative medicine that I take every day so that I can keep my body healthy and avoid getting sick.

When people think of toxins, I think it is often of chemical plants, oil spills or biohazardous waste. In reality, it is the combination of all the toxins that we come into contact with on a daily basis. Toxins in the air, our skin, the food we eat, the water we drink and the people we surround ourselves with (emotional toxins are just as unhealthy!!) all have an impact on overall health. The first step is to become aware of it so we can be a little more mindful of the choices we are making. Thus, we can be healthier, and as a result, happier human beings which is what we all want in the long run. :)

Toxins Stages : Chinese Medicine Living

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Five toxins to avoid for better health

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The Ebola Virus Infographic

By Aris Grigoriou, Managing Director of Study Medicine Europe Ltd.

Ebola as a disease is not a new phenomenon. It was first seen or ‘discovered’ back in 1976 when there was a simultaneous outbreak in the African countries of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the villages where the first outbreak occurred was in the village of Yambuku, which is situated close to the river Ebola, thus showing how the disease got its name.

The current strain of the disease broke out back in March of this year in Guékédou which is in Guinea in West Africa. This current strain has developed into an epidemic which has resulted in worldwide attention. Due to international intervention in the form of health workers, we have seen the disease transcend borders and as a result bringing diagnosis to countries outside of Africa.

This infographic looks at the Ebola effect on the countries that it has permeated. It looks at the costs predicted or forecasted on the West African countries worst hit. Controlling the disease is vital and the infographic looks at methods used in attempting to achieve this.

The Ebola Virus Infographic : Chinese Medicine Living

The Ebola Virus Infographic

Featured Image from

Chestnut for Kidney Health

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

According to TCM, winter is the season for promoting kidney health. Kidneys have astringent and active storage functions which help in preserving energy. In winter, our body is also designed to better absorb rich and nutritional foods to stay warm and healthy. For people who have a cold constitution with cold hands and feet, weak kidney health with frequent urination, cold and stiff body and constant pain in their lower back and ankles, winter is the best time to correct these health problems as it is when the body is most responsive to nutritional treatment. Winter food should be eaten with less salt to reduce work burden on the kidneys. Elderly people in particular should take winter/kidney tonics which can greatly improve their body constitution and promote better resistance to illness.

Winter/kidney tonics include superior warming herbs, fatty and meaty foods. Warming herbs such as dang shen, ginseng, astragalus, reishi mushroom, longan fruit and deer horn are most popular for promoting yang energy. Warming foods include chive, chicken, mutton, shrimp, ginger, garlic, walnut, mushroom, chestnut, mustard, vinegar, wine, gingko, red pepper and spring onion.

Chestnut for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Chestnut is plentiful in winter and is best for making hearty soups and stews. Chestnut is warm in nature, sweet in taste and acts on the spleen, stomach and kidney. The following is my favourite winter recipe with chestnut which is very delicious but needs some work for preparing the chestnuts. It is well worth the effort!

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Pork Ribs, Shiitake Mushroom
and Chestnut Stew

Therapeutic Effects

  • Strengthens spleen
  • tonifies kidney
  • strengthens tendons
  • promotes blood circulation and stops bleeding
  • cures asthma, cough, back pain and diarrhea
  • promotes weight loss
  • protects the heart
  • lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
  • combats cancer


Chestnut for Liver : Chinese Medicine Living


(3 to 4 servings)

  • Chestnuts – about 20
  • Pork ribs or chicken pieces – about 400gm
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms – 6 to 8
  • Carrot – one
  • Minced ginger – 2 spoonfuls
  • Minced garlic – 2 spoonfuls
  • Spring Onion – 3 pieces
  • Dark soy sauce – 3 spoonfuls
  • Light soy sauce – 3 spoonfuls
  • Sugar – 2 spoonfuls
  • Sesame oil – one spoonful
  • Cooking oil – about 3 spoonfuls
  • Cooking wine – 2 spoonfuls
  • Potato starch – one spoonful


  1. Prepare chestnuts ahead of time by cutting a few crosses on the outer shell by using scissors. Then put chestnuts in a toaster oven (a few at a time) to bake on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Use a small knife to remove the shell and membrane together while still hot (please wear gloves!). The alternative method is to remove the hard shell first with a small knife, then put chestnuts with membrane in boiling water to cook for about 8 minutes. Strain and remove membrane while warm.
  2. Soak mushrooms for 30 minutes or until soft, rinse and slice into halves. Peel carrot and cut into pieces.
  3. Wash ribs/chicken pieces. Put them in boiling water to cook for a few minutes to remove foam and fat. Retrieve, rinse and strain.
  4. Warm one spoonful of oil in a skillet. Put chestnuts in, stir to brown for a few minutes (so chestnuts will not be so easily disintegrated when cooked), remove and put aside.
  5. Add one spoonful of oil to the skillet, put in half of the ginger and garlic to stir briefly and put in the mushrooms. Stir, add one spoonful of sugar to mix well and follow by one spoonful of cooking wine and half a cup of water. Cook for a couple of minutes and put aside.
  6. Add one spoonful of oil to the skillet, put in remaining ginger and garlic and ribs/chicken to stir for a couple of minutes. Add in remaining sugar, cooking wine and stir for a couple of minutes more and then add mushrooms, carrot and enough water just to cover everything. Add soy sauce, bring to a slow boil, cover with lid and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add chestnuts and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes to just a little sauce is left. Add water if necessary.
  7. When the meat and chestnuts are cooked to the desired softness, add salt to taste if necessary. Wash and cut spring onion into sections and add to the cooking. Mix potato starch with 2 spoonfuls of water and sesame oil, add to the cooking and cook for another minute and serve.


Chestnut Recipe for Kidney : Chinese Medicine Living


Serve with rice. No restrictions.

Chestnut for kidney health

* Featured image from

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Acupuncture. Just Do It.

Acupuncture. Yeah, Just Do It. :)

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The Acupuncture Kit : Chinese Medicine LivingSilver Om Earrings : Chinese Medicine Livingblogmug

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Osteoporosis is the gradual loss of bone density that causes the bones to become brittle, thus increasing the risk of fracture. Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis because of the steady loss of estrogen after menopause. There are some risk factors that contribute to your chances of developing osteoporosis and they are:

  • Age – bone density decreases naturally as we age
  • Heredity and genetics – osteoporosis tends to run in families
  • Being thin with fine bones increases your risk
  • A diet high in sodium
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Stress
  • Dieting
  • Caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Excess sugar intake
  • Certain medications such as the birth control pill and drugs for hypothyroidism weaken bones
  • Lack of exercise – weight bearing exercises cause the body to lay down new bone, increasing bone mass
  • A diet lacking in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D
  • Too much animal protein in the diet can leach calcium from the bones
  • If you have broken many bones in your adult life, you are more susceptible

Although some of these risk factors cannot be avoided, many can and things like diet and exercise are vital to the health of your bones. Eating a diet high in calcium and balancing that with adequate levels of vitamin D which is responsible for the absorption of calcium, are important for the strength and density of bones. Most people associate dairy products with foods high in calcium, but for those who prefer not to eat dairy, there are many foods that are extremely high in calcium. Here is a list of non dairy sources of calcium.

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

Non Dairy Sources of Calcium

  • Tofu
  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Sesame seeds (ground or pulverized for better absorption)
  • Tapioca
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Bok Choy
  • White beans
  • Figs
  • Black eyed peas
  • Broccoli
  • Sardines with the bones
  • Seaweed
  • Turnip greens
  • Oranges

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

Vitamin D & Calcium Absorption

Getting enough vitamin D is crucial to absorption of calcium. Common wisdom says that 30 minutes of sunshine a day is adequate for the average adult. Note that people with a diet high in animal proteins will cause calcium to be absorbed poorly, so if you are trying to build up calcium and strengthen bones, consider limiting your intake of animal proteins. It is also important to note that if we are not getting enough calcium in the diet, the body will take the calcium it needs from the bones, so make sure you are getting enough! The recommended daily amount is between 800 milligrams – 1200 milligrams for lactating women.

Fosamax and Boniva

Fosamax (Alendronate) and Boniva (Ibandronate) belong to a group of drugs called bisphosphonates. They alter the cycle of bone formation and breakdown in the body, decreasing the rate at which bone cells are absorbed. They are both commonly prescribed to postmenopausal women for osteoporosis.

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs

Although sometimes drugs like this are a good option if your are suffering from severe bone loss and your bones have become dangerously brittle, my suggestion would be to always try to rebuild bone naturally. Medications often just treat symptoms and do not tackle the underlying problem which is what Chinese medicine is all about. Of course there are times when medications are necessary, but even so, I would always encourage a patient to be working towards balance so that eventually they did not need the drugs.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been shown to be extremely effective for osteoporosis. There have been many clinical trials that show that both acupuncture treatments as well as Chinese herbal formulas that treat the kidneys (in Chinese medicine the kidneys govern the bones, growth and maturation) are very effective in building bone mass making the bones less brittle and susceptible to fractures.


Weight bearing exercise is what the body needs to lay down new bone and this type of exercise is prescribed for people with osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise is defined as exercises one does on your feet working the bones and the muscles against gravity. While that doesn’t mean going to the gym and pumping weights, there are many types of exercises that fall into this category and will improve bone health.

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Dancing
  • Climbing stairs
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Golf
  • Gardening or working in the yard

As you can see, these are activities that almost anyone can do. Exercise is not only good for osteoporosis, it is also vital to our overall wellbeing. I always encourage patients to try to go outside every day, take some deep breaths and spend time in nature. It is a very grounding activity and often pulls us out of our heads and reminds us of what is important.

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

In conclusion, my best advise on what to do about osteoporosis is to make changes to your diet, including as many calcium rich foods as possible, as well as making sure that you are getting adequate vitamin D to ensure that the calcium you are eating is being absorbed fully. Remove things like excess salt, sugar and alcohol from your diet and try to limit caffeine. Take some time every day to exercise, even if it is going for a walk to give your bones a workout which will stimulate them to lay down new bone and increase your bone density. And last but certainly not least, I would highly recommend seeking out an acupuncturist for regular treatments with the addition of Chinese herbs which are excellent for building up the kidneys and building strong healthy bones.

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Elimination Issues - How to have a Happy Colon

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

As an acupuncturist, I spend my days talking to people about their poops. Colour, texture, consistency and smell are all discussed in detail in an attempt to ascertain what is happening inside the body, how food is being digested and the overall health of the individual. At first, this is sometimes difficult for people to talk about, and even though this might not be something to discuss at the dinner table or in polite company, it is certainly an important part of diagnosis which is why all aspects of your poop are important to me.

Problems with Constipation & Diarrhea

Problems with elimination are very common. There are many reasons for this, and in my experience, the two most common are diet and emotions. Even though the Chinese medical model teaches us to live in harmony with nature, our modern lives have become, well, unnatural. Most of us no longer eat the types of foods we have evolved to eat. We have more variety than we ever have, and we also consume more chemicals, additives and toxins in our food than we ever have before. All of these things impact our digestion, elimination and of course, the body as a whole. The emotions are also closely related to digestion and elimination. How many of us get stomach aches when we worry, or suffer from diarrhea or constipation when we are stressed?

Nutrition - You Are What You Eat

The most important factor to keeping our colon's happy is what we eat. This has become more and more difficult with a huge variety of foods, many unnatural foods, additives, preservatives, and highly processed foods. It is also harder to know what to eat as there is so much information out there, with many opinions on what to eat for optimum health. My philosophy is simple. Eat real food. Eat local food. Eat seasonal food. Eat organic if you can. If possible, develop a relationship with a local farmer. Avoid processed foods and read labels. The best thing you can do is to keep it simple and eat fresh, local foods that are in season. Below are some foods that are excellent for lubricating the intestines and are beneficial for constipation, and some that simply promote bowel movements which are good to know about if and when you run into problems in the bathroom.

Foods that Treat Constipation

foods for constipation

Below are foods that lubricate the intestines:

  • banana
  • spinach
  • sesame seeds
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • pine nuts
  • seaweed
  • okra
  • soy products
  • prunes
  • peaches
  • pears
  • honey
  • apples
  • apricots
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • beets* (be careful as eating beets can make it look like there is blood in your stool!)

Foods that promote bowel movements

foods to promote bowel movements

  • castor oil
  • bran from oats, rice or wheat
  • cabbage
  • papaya
  • peas
  • black sesame seeds
  • coconut
  • sweet potato
  • asparagus
  • figs

The Emotions
Why Letting Go will Help Your Bowels

The Bowels and the Emotions

One of the major reasons for problems with elimination is the emotions. This, as well as our diets, are a huge factor in how food moves through the digestive system. The large intestine is the yang partner to the lungs which are yin. Their emotion is grief and the energy is "letting go". The lungs take in new, oxygen rich air, and breathe out harmful carbon dioxide. The large intestine receives the waste after the foods we eat have been digested and all nutrients have been absorbed in the small intestine. It is the last stage in the digestive tract and its job is literally to let go of what our bodies cannot use and do not need. I have found in practice that often people who are chronically constipated have problems letting go of things in their lives. It can be past hurts, a relationship that ended without the closure we needed, a sudden death, or the dissolution of a friendship. There are a million reasons why, and many of us bring these past experiences with us into the present where we allow them to continually hurt us. Therefore, our abilities to accept and be open to new experiences, and to let go of things that are painful or harmful is important to both our emotional and physical well being. The lungs and large intestine are also associated with attachment, so if you have a hard time letting go of people, objects, experiences or spend a lot of time reliving the past, this can point to a deficiency of the large intestine which can lead to bowel problems. However, if the large intestine is healthy and its energy strong, the bowels will move freely and regularly, which is what we all want!

We Were Designed to Squat

Years ago when I was working in China, one of the most fascinating (and strange) things there were the toilets. Or the lack of toilets. In most places where I was in Southern China, there were no toilets, but simply a hole or more commonly, a trough in the floor in which to do your business. When you first encounter this, it is a bit perplexing. I remember thinking to myself, how I am I going to DO this? The other thing was that, at least in many of the places where I was, there was no privacy in the loo. For example, in a large university the washroom was a large room with a few sinks on one wall, and a long trough in the floor with a constant stream of water going through it, sort of like a river. There were a few low dividers about 3 feet tall making a sort of stall, but with no doors. This was a very different experience for me, but people came in and did their thing like it was completely natural. And this is because for them, it was. So, in China, even though I learned many, MANY things (I could write a series of books on the subject) two of the most important were how to squat while going to the bathroom and the other was to do it out in the open, often in front of many onlookers. At first it was a bit strange, but after a little while, the experience became quite liberating, and I noticed that especially, for pooping, squatting was a much easier way to do it in comfort and without strain.

What I found out after some investigation is that our bodies are designed to squat to eliminate. The modern invention of the toilet (bless it) has unfortunately compromised the optimum way in which we were designed to poop. But, a sassy little company has taken it upon themselves to elegantly solve the problem. They are called - Squatty Potty. I love this name, it is marvellous, and in their business, it is important to have a sense of humour. What they have done is designed a little stool that you use with your toilet to raise your feet and create a squatting position to allow your colon to align in the proper position for the most comfortable and easy elimination. They have a little video on their website that you can watch below that explains it very nicely.

The Squatty Potty Video

I have a squatty potty and I love it. It is a simple and elegant way to be kind to your bowels and help things move more easily. It stores easily under the sink, and, if you forget to put it away, it is quite the conversation starter! It is amazing how much of a difference it makes and how, for someone who has had elimination issues for a long time, a little stool could have such a big impact. :)

Anyone who has ever experienced problems with elimination - be it constipation, diarrhea or a combination of the two, will tell you that having healthy bowels is something we should never take for granted. Everyone should aspire to keep their poops healthy and flowing freely, and the key is eating well, staying emotionally balanced and working on your ability to "let go". Your bowels will love you for it. :)

How to have happy poop in Chinese medicine

 a happy poop!