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


HPV - What You Need to Know

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

HPV, or the human papillomavirus, has become a bit of a buzz word lately, especially with the release of vaccines like Gardasil and the controversy surrounding it. Although this will not be a discussion about vaccines, I am careful about what I say to patients about them. It is my belief that everyone should make their own choices about their health, and that includes vaccines and whether or not to have them. I encourage people to always get all the information before doing so, so that they may make an informed decision. It is my job to give them information and allow them to decide for themselves. Below I have listed some helpful resources about HPV and the Gardasil vaccine so that you may read up on them if you like.

What is HPV?

There are approximately 70 types of human papillomavirus which infect the skin and mucous membranes that have been identified. There are many different types of HPV which affect different parts of the body. The types that are most commonly associated with genital infections are types 6, 12, 16, 18, 31, 33 and 35. Infections of these types typically occur through mucous membranes or traumatized skin, although oral infection is also possible.

Certain types of HPV have been strongly associated with certain types of cervical, vulval and anal cancer in women (types 16, 18 and 31). There is also thought to be a connection with certain HPV types with anal and penile cancer in men. Approximately *11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the United States.

The HPV virus is so common, that it is estimated that most sexually active people will be infected at some point in their lives. There are presently *79 million people infected with the HPV virus in the United States.

30 strains of HPV are sexually transmitted and approximately 15 are thought to lead to various cancers if the HPV infection persists over a long period of time. In the majority of cases the HPV virus resolves on its own with a healthy immune system in about 2 years.

There are currently *79 million people infected with HPV in the US. There are *14 million new cases of HPV diagnosed every year.

HPV Transmission

So, how is HPV spread? Well different types are spread in different ways. Most are spread through skin to skin contact and through abrasions or tears in the skin. The genital types of HPV are spread through contact with infected genital skin, mucous membranes or bodily fluids and are spread through sexual contact (not necessarily intercourse), vaginal sex, anal sex or oral sex. Because many people are carriers of the virus but have no symptoms, practicing safe sex is a good way to cut your risk of getting the virus. People can develop symptoms for HPV years after their initial contact, so it is sometimes difficult to figure out where you got the initial infection. Remember, that using condoms does not keep you safe from the infection if it is located in other regions other than the penis.

HPV and Genital Warts

Certain types of HPV cause genital warts. About *360,000 new cases of genital warts are diagnosed in the US each year. Most cases of genital warts are asymptomatic so it is possible to have the strain of HPV responsible for genital warts without manifesting the warts themselves. This means they can be spread even if the person has no symptoms. When they do appear, genital warts are pinkish brown masses, usually in clusters on the penis, vulva, cervix, perineal or perianal region. They can appear anytime between one and eight months or more after infection and then resolve spontaneously after one to two years.

HPV Vaccine

The original Gardasil vaccine, which was first released in 2006, protects against four strains of the HPV virus - 6, 11, 16 and 18. In 2014 the FDA approved Gardasil 9 which vaccinated against five additional types of the HPV virus (making a total of nine) - 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. If you are already infected with one of the nine types of HPV, getting vaccinated will not eliminate the infection. Please do your research before considering the vaccine. There are many helpful resources that you can use to read up on the vaccine and its effects. Some are listed at the end of this article.

 

Pap Tests Prevent HPV : Chinese Medicine Living

HPV Prevention

In the last 5 decades pap tests have become part of most women's yearly health screening, and are by far the best, least expensive and least dangerous way to prevent cervical cancers. Cervical cancer has become one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. Regular pap tests can identify chronic HPV infections and pre cancerous cervical lesions so that they can be removed and treated before they can develop into cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer rates have dropped more than 70% in the United States since the 1960's when pap tests became a routine part of women's health care. Your risks can be greatly reduced if you practice safe sex by using condoms, and by having regular pap tests. Other risk factors include:

  • smoking
  • infection with other STD's like chlamydia or HIV
  • weakened or compromised immune system
  • long term use of the birth control pill

Healthy Lifestyle & HPV : Chinese Medicine Living

Eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly and getting enough vitamin D are important to maintaining a healthy immune system. Because HPV is so ubiquitous, most people are likely to become infected at some point throughout their lives. But, if we stay healthy chances are that it will resolve on its own and never become a life threatening problem. So keep healthy, practice safe sex and ladies, keep getting regular pap tests to keep the lady parts healthy too. :)

I will follow this article with one on how we identify and treat HPV in Chinese medicine as well as prevention including dietary therapy so stay tuned!

 

*These are statistics from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

 

Resources

Gardasil Vaccine - from the Gardasil Website

HPV Vaccine Can Make You Susceptible to More Serious Strains of HPV 

The HPV Vaccine: Herd Immunity or Human Sacrifice?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) - HPV Vaccine - Questions & Answers

WHO (World Health Organization) Vaccinating Against Cervical Cancer

Mushroom Extract Might Eradicate HPV Infection

National Cancer Institute - What are Human Papillomavirus Vaccines?

 

Peace Love & Acupuncture Button : Chinese Medicine Living

HPV - What You Need to Know : Chinese Medicine Living


pH - What Is It, And Why Does It Matter?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

We've all heard of the pH scale and may even remember it from high school science class, but what does it have to do with our health?

The body is constantly working to maintain a delicate balance between acid and alkaline (or base) - the body's pH. The scale ranges from 0-14. 7 is considered neutral and 0 through 7 is acidic, while 7 through 14 is alkaline. An example of something that is relatively neutral is most water weather it be from the tap, the ocean, springs or bottles. pH stands for "potential hydrogen" and represents the hydrogen ions that are present in, when we are speaking about health, the body. But, pH also affects things like the quality of our soil and the water in the oceans.

pH And Your Health : Chinese Medicine Living

The pH Scale And Your Health

When it comes to the human body, the pH varies depending on what part of the body you are talking about. For example, the pH in the bowels, stomach, skin and vagina should be slightly more acidic because they need to fight off invaders in the form of bacteria, whereas the pH of saliva is more alkaline. Also, the body is constantly dealing with the naturally occurring  byproducts of cell breakdown, respiration and metabolism all of which are acidic and affect the body's overall pH levels.

As a culture, at least in the US and Canada, most people are highly acidic. Disease thrives in an acidic environment. It is host to inflammation and degenerative diseases. The most acidic foods are the ones that are the easiest to find and often the least expensive. But in the long run, they really cost much, much more if you take the long term consequences and the future health care costs into consideration. Below is a list of acidic foods.

Acidic Foods

Acidic Foods for Health : Chinese Medicine Living

  • Coffee
  • Meats, especially red meat
  • Soda
  • Cheeses
  • Processed foods
  • Chemicals like aspartame, nutrasweet & sweet 'n' low
  • Vinegar
  • Black Tea
  • Wine
  • Pickles
  • Fruit juices
  • Grains
  • Pasta

In contrast, here is a list of some alkaline foods.

Alkaline Foods

Alkaline Foods for Health : Chinese Medicine Living

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Sprouts
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Green juices
  • Green tea
  • Figs
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Cabbage

To help, below is a chart which shows the entire pH scale and the foods that belong in each category.

Acid & Alkaline Foods & Health : Chinese Medicine Living

 

The body's pH is extremely important to maintaining health. The way we most often measure pH, is in the blood. The pH of blood should be slightly alkaline at around 7.4. The body is constantly working very hard to maintain this balance, so if we are feeding it all kinds of acidic foods (like the ones that comprise the average American diet), the body is forced to work even harder, taxing the body's resources to achieve that balance. Your incredible body, in fact, if it needs to restore that balance will take alkalizing materials like calcium, magnesium and potassium from other parts of the body like the bones and teeth and even your organs to restore the pH. Amazing, but this can have long term, detrimental effects like osteoporosis, cancer and stroke to name a few.

Here is a list of diseases that can be caused by a highly acidic body.

  • migraines
  • gout
  • allergies
  • stroke
  • obesity
  • osteoporosis
  • arthritis (both osteo and rheumatoid)
  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • arteriosclerosis
  • diabetes
  • constipation
  • gout
  • cancer
  • acid reflux
  • nausea
  • kidney stones

Now, this may all sound like very bad news, but it isn't. The good news is that you can, through a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits alkalize your body and prevent disease. It's all up to you!

How To Have A More Alkaline Body

Here are some tips on how you can shift your body's pH balance in a more alkaline direction.

  • Eat a diet rich in leafy greens, sprouts, avocado's - plant based, fresh foods
  • Drink fresh, green juices daily
  • Drink lemon water every morning (this is very alkalizing)
  • Exercise daily, even if it is just going for a short walk to move your qi around
  • Manage your stress
  • Stay away from chemicals in your food, beauty and cleaning products
  • Keep environmental toxins to a minimum
  • Get enough sleep

If you want to test your pH you can buy litmus paper strips (for about $10) that you pee on, usually first thing in the morning (or the second pee of the day is usually better and will be a little more balanced). This will allow you to see where you are on the pH scale. You can track your progress with changes to your diet and the other things on the list and see if you are moving in a more alkaline direction. Even doing one or a few of the things on the list will have an impact on your overall health, and probably make you feel a whole lot better too.

The important thing to remember is that if you are flooding your body with unhealthy foods, you are forcing your body to work even harder to maintain the pH balance and health in general. If this is ongoing it can lead to problems down the road. So, being kind and giving it fresh, natural foods and doing things like exercising, sleeping enough and managing stress are huge when it comes to keeping your body healthy and happy for many years to come.

Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living

 

pH - What Is It And Why Does It Matter? : Chinese Medicine Living

 


The Dao of Sexual Love

By John Voigt

Too many people have lost much of the passions and pleasures of sexual intimacy.  It need not be that way. Even the practice of a few of the ancient Chinese secrets of sex may help bring back past joys, and even offer the practitioner the best love making she or he ever experienced.

When working with men and women in various qigong groups I am continually amazed at the blockages I see in the flow of sexual energy. I want to tell them sex is not about mechanical proficiency (although that may be gained through various Daoist energy qigong practices), but instead making love should be about physically sharing energy (qi) and becoming one with your partner in spiraling unfolding fields of ecstatic love energy.   

The Dao of Sexual Love : Chinese Medicine Living

Image by Alex Gray : www.alexgray.com

These blockages and deficiencies in the flow of sexual energy may be seen in the way people carry themselves when moving and walking: men in the way their hips and lower bodies often seemed hardened as if muscularly protecting themselves against a physical attack.  It is harder (for me at least) to see this blockage in women, especially younger women, but here also many women show a fear of free flowing movement in parts of their bodies, especially in the hips.

I would never tell this to a qigong group I was working with unless I had been teaching them for a very long time and I was sure that they could be comfortable, or at least open minded, with it.  Also, since I am a man, I would treat any such exposition to female students as if I was “walking on egg shells”— if I were to do it at all! Even with private male students it is a potentially dangerous venture: men usually are more frightened of sex than women.

However in my qigong classes I often try a quick semi-fix for blockages in sexual qi-energy (without the participants even knowing that they are being worked on). Keeping the back straight, we swing our hips in oblong-like circles in the ubiquitous qigong form known as “Hip Rotations” or “Hula Hoops.”  I tell them be a little kid again in a playground with your friends. Have fun and be happy. Done properly this loosen them up and they laugh and have a great time.  Sometimes we pretend we’re all Elvis “The Pelvis” Presley.

If I have a private student who seems capable of learning about spiritual sexual energy—someone who is not frightened about the potential infinite power housed in their bodies—I might talk about some of the following things: first and most obvious: When a person is sexually aroused, the heat, the power that they are feeling is a manifestation of qi.  And that this energy may be directed and manipulated for spiritual and psychological growth and well-being.

Double Sexual Macrocosmic Orbiting

This has both partners continuously aware of and guiding the cycling merged qi electrical-like energies running through both their bodies. This is somewhat similar to what is called the “Macrocosmic Orbit” or the “Great Heavenly Circuit”; but rather than cycling qi-energy only up and down and through your own body, here it is cycled between both of the lovers.  When done fully, each partner may enter into a state of continuous body orgasm (there is no loss of sperm). It is an ultimate physical, energetic, and spiritual ecstatic love experience for both.  As with any advanced qigong,  it is best to learn it directly from a master and practice it over time. This article only outlines the process. But if the reader is comfortably adept in moving their internal qi energy, they cautiously, and carefully might begin with the approval of their lover. Approach this slowly. As with any intense spiritual  practice there is a possibility of a dangerous qi “short circuiting.” Use common sense: if anything doesn’t feel right stop doing it;  and if you want to continue learning it find an experienced and ethical Daoist master teacher.

The Dao of Sexual Love : Chinese Medicine Living

Image by Alex Gray : www.alexgray.com

Still in its simpler forms it is relatively easy to learn. Once the lovers can sense and then direct the qi through mental focus and breathing it should be able to be done at a rudimentary level. In a comfortable position one of the lovers enters the body of their lover. Find the positions that feel most comfortable and easy to move for both you and your mate.  Slowly and gently begin the intercourse.

One Daoist method of heightening the arousal of sexual qi is to gradually increase the penetration of the penis, tongue or fingers until full penetration is reached, then begin this pattern again with the partial penetration. Daoist master and medical physician Dr. Stephen T. Chang in his book The Tao of Sexology calls it the “Sets of Nine.”  A man slowly penetrates his lover's vagina with just the head of his penis. He does this nine times, followed by one firm deep stroke into the vagina. Next a "set" of eight shallow strokes and two deep strokes; followed by seven shallow strokes and three deep strokes, and so on until a final set of one shallow stroke and nine deep strokes. Then this process is repeated from the beginning. When the woman is entered, she loosens the walls of her vagina, and when the man is withdrawing she could tighten as if to prevent his leaving.  Here Dr. Chang is using Daoist theory in patterns of alternating yin and yang as in slight to full, and loose to tight.

However the love making is done it should not be a race to see who orgasms first, or for how many times. In fact in the highest Daoist practices the man does not ejaculate semen, he internally guides it through the center of his body up into his brain. That certainly is beyond the scope of this short article, but those interested should reference  Daoist (or “Taoist”) Alchemy.  For our purposes here the man should hold back orgasm as long as comfortably able to do so. That lengthens the love making which should give the woman even more pleasure. A woman is free to repeatedly orgasm because she is not loosing any Jing (“essence-qi”).

The Dao of Sexual Love : Chinese Medicine Living

Image by Alex Gray : www.alexgray.com

Back to the lovers: fully aroused both slow their movements until hardly moving at all. Intertwined together they touch the tips of their tongues (electric sparks can be literally perceived) and by using focused awareness and breath begin directing the qi to flow between them. Using the genitals and tips of tongues as the connecting junction points, like electricity it flows in the meridian networks up and down the front and back of their bodies. Notice the vital qi energy is flowing both up AND down the governing (back) and conception (front) vessels. Then the qi does the same throughout the arms and legs and wherever else they touch. The sensations in the sexual organs are “cosmic” and “heavenly.”

One partner can playfully move qi from their body into the lover; or each in turn can move the qi back and forth from each of their bodies; or both can do this cycling at the same time like two Ferris wheels spinning in opposite directions (that’s advanced). Any aggressive movement and ejaculation is not needed: It becomes possible to have both partners orgasm in their entire bodies, effortlessly, many times, and for extended periods of time.  A good teacher certainly helps, but in any case much can be accomplished by practice (I think a nice way to spend your time).

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John Voigt teaches qigong in the Boston area.  He is Editor for the online publication, qi-encyclopedia.com

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These incredible images from Alex Gray - www.alexgray.com

Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living

The Dao of Sexual Love : Chinese Medicine Living


Antibiotics. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The term antibiotics literally means "against life." In this case, against microbes. When most people think of antibiotics they think of antibacterial drugs, used to treat bacterial infections, but antibiotics actually covers a much larger group of medications including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic drugs.

A Brief History

The History of Antibiotics : Chinese Medicine Living

Treating wounds and infections with moulds goes far back into ancient history, long before the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming, the Scottish biologist, in 1928.

  • Greeks and Indians used moulds and other plants to treat infections.
  • In Greece and Serbia, mouldy bread was traditionally used to treat wounds and infections.
  • Warm soil was used in Russia by peasants to cure infected wounds.
  • Sumerian doctors gave patients beer soup mixed with turtle shells and snake skins.
  • Babylonian doctors healed the eyes using a mixture of frog bile and sour milk.
  • Sri Lankan army used oil cake (sweetmeat) to serve both as desiccant and antibacterial.

The discovery of penicillin from the fungus Penicillium notatum perfected the treatment of bacterial infections such as syphilis, gangrene and tuberculosis. Alexander Fleming also contributed immensely towards medical sciences with his writings on the subjects of bacteriology, immunology and chemotherapy.

One sometimes finds what one is not looking for.
- Sir Alexander Fleming on the discovery of penicillin

The discovery of antibiotics, made by a succession of cultures and people throughout the ages and perfected by a handful of scientists spanning from 1640 to 1932 was one of the most significant discoveries in Western medical history. Antibiotics have led to the eradication of many infectious diseases in the developed world and saved countless lives.

Antibiotic Resistance

The problem we face presently, is antibiotics being over prescribed, often unnecessarily and this has led to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and "superbugs". Each year in the United States an estimated 2 million people are infected with such antibiotic resistant bacteria and a staggering 23,000 people die every year as a result of these infections.

Perhaps the most famous of these drug resistant bacteria is MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is caused by antibiotic resistant strain of staph bacteria used to treat common staph infections. About one third of people carry the staph bacteria in their nose or on their skin and have no symptoms. A MRSA infection contracted outside a medical setting usually results in a skin infection. MRSA infections are particularly dangerous to hospital workers or other health care providers which is where many MRSA infections are contracted. MRSA infections are typically associated with invasive procedures or devices, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing or artificial joints. In medical facilities, MRSA can cause life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections. MRSA is usually spread through contact with an infected wound or from contaminated hands or equipment. People who carry MRSA and do not have any symptoms can also spread the infection to others which is why rigid disinfecting procedures are practiced for all hospital equipment and by all medical staff that have access to patients.

This is a cute animation on what causes antibiotic resistance. Video by Kevin Woo for TED Ed

Antibiotics & Chinese Medicine

Widespread antibiotic use is something commonly seen in clinic. I have many patients who come to me for the express purpose of getting off of many of their medications and looking for more natural alternatives to treat their ailments. For serious infections antibiotics are sometimes necessary, but there are consequences to the body. Antibiotics may be good at killing the infection, but they generally weaken the body and cause imbalances in other organ systems that need to be corrected.

Many infections in Chinese medicine are seen as a combination of heat and dampness. Antibiotics are generally good at resolving many of the heat symptoms (fever, swelling, sort throat, redness), but they do nothing to treat dampness (phlegm, loose stool, vaginal discharge, dizzy, heavy feeling, edema, tiredness and a fuzzy feeling in the head). The spleen is the organ responsible for dampness is the body, so if you have an infection, chances are that your spleen is already deficient. If you add to this the fact that antibiotics are very cold in nature according to Chinese medicine, the spleen is taking another hit (the spleen likes to be warm and dry). On top of that the spleen is the main organ (paired with the stomach) of digestion, and the use of antibiotics severely decreases the amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. There are over 500 different species of beneficial bacteria that collectively destroy pathogenic microbes while also neutralizing harmful chemical toxins that the body is trying to get rid of. When the amount of beneficial bacteria is compromised the result can a proliferation of colonies of harmful fungus and bacteria that can be detrimental to health. This beneficial bacteria is also an important part of a healthy immune system, so although use of antibiotics can deal with an infection, it can wreak havoc on the rest of the body, weakening it and making it more susceptible to future infections.

One of the important things to do after you have done a course (or many courses) of antibiotics is to get the beneficial bacteria built up again. You can do this in many ways be taking acidophilus, or eating yoghurt with a high count of beneficial bacteria (in the billions if you can). I often use Chinese herbs to strengthen the immune system and tonify the spleen after a patient has taken antibiotics to attempt to bring them back into a healthy balance.

The other thing to consider before taking antibiotics is that there are many Chinese herbal formulas with antibacterial properties that combat infections very effectively with no side effects. They do not weaken the body or immune system and attempt to restore the balance of the entire organism. Chinese herbal formulas do not use a single herb but a combination of herbs that work synergistically to treat various types of infections often in a few days. If the infection is not serious (an outpatient infection), consider seeking out a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine who can prescribe the right formula for the type of infection that you are experiencing. Repeated use of antibiotics often causes subsequent infections due to the hit on the immune system, and patients often come in who have been on one or several antibiotics that have either not worked for the initial infection, or dealt with the initial infection but have caused subsequent infections that are being treated the same way, more antibiotics. It is a bit of a vicious cycle. Many Chinese herbs have antibacterial and antiviral properties and have been well documented over thousands of years. Before getting that prescription, consider all your options.

Detoxing from Antibiotics Use

Antibiotic Resistance : Chinese Medicine Living

 

Drugs, both medicinal and recreational, are stored in the body long after use in various tissues such as the liver, and brain. The residues of these drugs, like alcohol, nicotine, LSD, pain medications, birth control pills and antibiotics build up in the body and their accumulation can cause reactions that cause a buildup of toxins that threaten health. A grain and vegetable based diet along with green foods helps to cleanse these residues from the body.

If the use of medications or drugs is prolonged, an excellent remedy is the herb chaparral (Larrea tridentata), also known as greasewood and creosote bush, which cleanses toxins and drug related deposits from the body. Chaparral's medicinal properties can be extracted in water, but for maximum effectiveness the entire plant should be consumed, or it can be taken in a tincture (extracted with alcohol).

Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India) uses an herb called calamus root (Acorus calamus) which helps to restore mental damage resulting from prolonged drug use.

Eat Your Medicine

Thankfully, there are many foods that also have antibiotic properties, and can be added to the diet in the event of an infection. Here is the list of some of the best ones:

Natural Antibiotic Foods : Chinese Medicine Living

  • Honey
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Coconut Oil
  • Fermented Foods
  • Turmeric

Ginger Natural Antibiotic : Chinese Medicine Living

 

There are also herbs and tinctures with strong antibiotic properties like:

  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Oil of Oregano
  • Echinacea
  • Golden Seal
  • Olive Leaf Extract

Essential Oils Natural Antibiotics : Chinese Medicine Living

It is unfortunate that today, with more information than ever about the human body and natural medicines, that antibiotics are so overprescribed. Although sometimes they may be necessary, often times they are not. I believe that this has led to both the prolonged weakening of the immune systems of their recipients as well as the development of antibiotic resistant organisms that put both health care workers and the public in danger. Thankfully, there are numerous natural ways in which we can treat infections from various microbes, from foods to herbs to acupuncture. Chinese medicine has been developed over thousands of years and has many herbal formulas that are excellent for treating infections of various kinds often more quickly and effectively than antibiotics would, and without the damage to the immune system, side effects and risk of subsequent infections. I am a firm believer that the body has an incredible ability to heal, if we only give it what it needs to do so, and often that is a change in diet, or a rebalancing with natural but powerful medicines like acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

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Healing with Whole Foods - Paul Pitchford
Explorable - History of Antibiotics

Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living

Antibiotics and Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living


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.

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Jellyfish - For Brain & Heart Health : Chinese Medicine Living


Birth Without Fear

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I would like to preface this by saying that I believe that everyone has the right to choose how they live their lives and how they choose to give birth. If there is anything that travel has taught me, is that I am very lucky to live in a place where we are able to have choices over a great many things. What I wish to present here is how I have chosen to travel this path, and to give information. I have seen through many years of clinical practice that many people are unaware of how medicalized the process of pregnancy and especially birth has become in this country. I only wish to educate so that people may make the most informed choices possible and fully understand all possible outcomes for the choices they are making.

Giving Birth Naturally : Chinese Medicine Living

This beautiful image from http://www.hartshornportraiture.com/

It was years ago when a pregnant patient told me about a documentary that she had watched called The Business of Being Born. The doc discusses the history of prenatal and natal care and the increase in the use of doctors and hospitals as well as medical procedures during the birth process in the last century. It is also a film about midwives and the important role they play in pregnancy and birth. Here are some statistics taken from the film (which was released in 2008):

  • Midwives attend more than 70% of births in Europe and Japan
  • Midwives attend less than 8% of births in the US
  • The US has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world
  • The US has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among industrialized countries
  • In 1900 95% of births took place at home
  • In 1938 half of all births took place at home
  • Since 1996 the cesarean rate in the US has risen 46%
  • In 2005 cesarean sections were performed for one out of every three births
  • A cesarean section is now an elective procedure
  • The US spends two times as much per birth than any other country in the world

Natural Pregnancy and childbirth : Chinese Medicine Living

This lovely image from blog.vonbon.ca

Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth

I am presently pregnant with my first child. Ironic as I have treated many pregnant women in the past with the book knowledge but without the direct experience. I watched the film again and it was with a fresh, and perhaps more invested perspective.

I should say that for me, I always knew that when I had babies that I would have them with a midwife, preferably at home and in water. This has always been normal to me. Perhaps it is because my mother also had me with a midwife, in England, where apparently, that sort of thing is considered more "normal". Once I was born I remained in the same room as my mother, and my father was allowed to also stay in the room,  and bring my mother any foods or drinks she liked. Anything to make her more comfortable. I have been pretty surprised by some of the reactions that I have gotten from people when I tell them I will not be having my baby in a hospital, but in a tub, at home, with a midwife. The eyes get very large and there is a pause, as if they are waiting for me to say that I am just kidding. This reaction surprises me, but after watching that film, I realize that it shouldn't. Among me and my close friends, this way of having a baby reflects the way in which we choose to live our lives. Naturally. Gently. Kindly. And with the reverence and respect for our bodies and that they know exactly what to do without intervention. Anyone outside that small circle seems to be a bit horrified and sometimes angry at the idea, saying that it is irresponsible and dangerous if anything were to go wrong. So let me tell you a few things about how having a baby with a midwife works, because many people simply don't know, and knowledge is the best antidote to fear.

Natural Childbirth : Chinese Medicine Living

One thing that really surprised me was that people in the US on the whole seemed to not know very much about midwifery in general. One person, when asked, likened it to having a baby in a barn which made me laugh out loud. And then I realized that they were serious. The other thing was that a bunch of women with small children were asked if they had ever considered having their baby with a midwife and none of them had and they seemed a little freaked out by the idea, like it had never ever crossed their mind.

Midwifery

In the film it states that in the 1900's began a bit of a smear campaign demonizing midwives as primitive, dangerous and unclean. Up until that time throughout the world, they had been the ones delivering all the babies. But modern medicine was being developed and techniques that were thought to make the birth process safer, cleaner (and certainly more profitable), began to be employed, and births moved from the home to the hospital.

I think because of this there is a lingering idea that if you decide to have a baby with a midwife she will somehow not be as qualified as a doctor or OBGYN if there are problems or complications with the birth. I believe that this is completely untrue.

Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living

First of all, midwives (at least in the US) only deal with low risk mothers. I am sure this is determined in different ways depending on where in the world you are, but here it is a point system. At your initial appointment, the midwife takes a detailed medical history about you and your partner. This is similar in scope and detail to an acupuncture initial appointment (without the spouse part ;) And there are certain criteria that are given points, like certain medical conditions, genetic history, age of parents, etc... In this system you are allowed 3 points. More than that and you will not be offered care because you are no longer considered low risk. At that point, you must have your baby with a doctor in a hospital as you are considered slightly higher risk.

The appointment continues with the midwife listening to your heart and taking a lot of blood for labs. They check for the same things a doctor would, making sure that you are free of disease, infection, STD's and to make sure that all your levels are within a normal range. You are also asked to do a series of urine tests to test for levels in your body and determine your general health. You are asked where you would like to have the baby, at the birthing centre, or at your home, and if you would like to have the baby in water (which is available in both places). You and your midwife have to know where you are planning to give birth and if it is at your home, then the midwife makes a trip to your house and makes sure everything is ok before the event. They also bring with them everything they need for you to give birth, everything they would have at the centre. You must also be within 15 minutes of a hospital in case of an emergency so that you can get there safely and quickly.

Natural Childbirth : Chinese Medicine Living

Although birth centres vary in design, the ones that I have seen have many of the following features. They are often in old houses and non commercial structures. The appointment rooms are designed like large, comfortable bedrooms, with normal beds, lots of pillows, a rocking chair and bathtub and shower. Like a lovely bedroom in a quaint bed and breakfast, a place you would want to be. They are not clinical environments, and the energy is relaxed. Although all the medical equipment needed for each appointment is in the room, it is put away in drawers and cupboards, to keep the environment comfortable and to keep the mothers and their spouses relaxed.

The rest of the centre also has a relaxed atmosphere, and people smile and say hello. You get to know your midwife (often several midwives, as they are all on call all the time) and the staff. When you arrive there are often mothers having their babies in the adjacent rooms, and children playing. There is often a lending library with books on a wide variety of subjects that can be borrowed. There are various classes offered for you and your partner from birthing, to breastfeeding to help prepare you for what is happening, and what is coming.

Meeting with your midwife for appointments, there is always a discussion and they are happy to answer any questions that you have. Midwives are there to answer questions and give you information, not to make decisions for you about your pregnancy or birth. The decisions are always up to you. They also have a great respect for the process of pregnancy and birth and are there to support it and help when they are needed.

What Have We Lost?

Ina May Gaskin is a pioneer in the field of midwifery and has been delivering babies at The Farm Midwifery Centre in Tennessee where she is founder and director since it opened in 1971. I have posted a TED talk she did below where she discusses the culture of fear surrounding birth in the US. It is a powerful talk.

Ms. Gaskin's talk really resonated with me for many reasons. The main one is that she states that women have become afraid of the act of childbirth and that the confidence in their own bodies and their innate knowledge has been lost. To take that thought even farther, I think that we have largely lost our connection to our own bodies. And, more importantly, I think that we have forgotten to trust that our bodies have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to do things like give birth. One of the reasons that I chose to study Chinese medicine, and the reason that I connected with it so strongly is that the entire system has not lost this connection. In fact, the medicine has been built with this at its foundation. We are not doing something to the body, we are supporting the body and giving what it needs to heal itself. And this is the way, the graceful dance of the midwife and childbirth, that the process can happen. Without fear, and with joy. They are not standing over you, calling the shots, telling you what to do because they know best. They are supporting you through the process and giving you what you need to do what you already know how to do.

I believe that the medical industry has exacerbated this problem and fed the fear that women now overwhelmingly feel about childbirth. Countless images of childbirth in the media have women screaming in pain and begging for painkillers. Medical interventions for women giving birth in hospitals are commonplace and seem to be based on the doctors convenience rather than concern for the wellbeing of the mother and baby. The rate of Cesarian section in the US is much higher than anywhere else and increasing every year.

For me, a hospital is where you go when you are sick. Having a baby is not a sickness. And doctors are not trained in health, they study and treat disease. They are experts in illness. Things aren't exciting for a doctor unless there is a pathology, something is going wrong. That is what they are trained for. Most doctors or OBGYN's haven't even experienced a natural live birth. They are familiar with administering pitocin (a drug that induces or speeds up labour), episiotomies (a cut in the perineum which is the space between the vagina and the anus) and epidurals (an injection into the lower spine through which pain medications are administered). All of these procedures have their downsides, and those are the ones that they will likely not discuss with you. Sometimes, of course, these procedures are necessary, but unfortunately, many times they are not. I urge you if you are having a baby, or care about someone who is to arm yourself with all the information so that you can make the most informed decision possible.

Pregnancy and childbirth are a wonderful, exciting time in a woman's life. It can certainly be an overwhelming time for a lot of reasons as well. There is a lot of information out there and we tend to be bombarded with advice, books and websites telling us the best way to do things. My advice would be to listen to your gut. Your instinct. You have it for a reason, and it has evolved over many thousands of years to serve you and keep you safe. It does not have to be a scary experience, in fact it can and should be a wonderful and edifying experience, one of the most powerful ones you are bound to have in this lifetime. To create life is one of the most profound and beautiful experiences that we can ever hope to have, and I wish for any of you who go down that path that it is incredibly joyous and empowering, and one you will never forget.

Midwives : Chinese Medicine Living

 

Reducing Fear of Birth in US Culture -
Ina May Gaskin at TEDx Sacramento

The Business of Being Born

Resources
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The Business of Being Born
Ina May Gaskin
The Farm Midwifery Center - The Farm Midwives
Books By Ina May Gaskin
Birth Matters: A Midwifes Manifesta
Ina May's Guide To Childbirth
Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding
Spiritual Midwifery

Peace Love & Acupuncture Button : Chinese Medicine Living

Birth Without Fear : Chinese Medicine Living

 


What is Qi?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Qi is a huge and complex subject, and one that is central to Chinese medicine theory. Qi is a difficult concept to explain because it is difficult to measure, and impossible to see. To the Chinese, it is a given. It is the very force that governs life and all of its processes, but for us in the West, it is a little more difficult to wrap our minds around. In the West, we live in a culture that is largely ruled by science, and science is all about things that we can see and prove. Although science is now able to prove the efficacy of things like acupuncture, the HOW is still largely under debate. Qi is at the core of why all of the modalities in Chinese medicine - Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, gua sha, tuina, moxibustion, cupping, auricular, it is one of the main reasons that they are so effective, and have been for more than 5000 years.

Qi is a subtle energy that can be loosely translated as vital energy or life force. In India it is called Prana. In Japan, Ki. Many of the Eastern cultures know and understand this concept and its role in keeping the body healthy. In Chinese medicine, Qi is the force that animates all living things. Qi flows through energy pathways throughout the body called meridians or channels. There are 12 main meridians that correspond to specific organs and run bilaterally, mirroring each other. There are also extra pathways that run deeper in the body, but all are the channels through which Qi travels. Qi must move freely throughout the body for health to be maintained. A blockage of the Qi in the body usually results in pain (a main symptom of Qi stagnation) and if left untreated can cause a whole host of other, more serious problems. In addition to Qi running through the meridians, each organ also has its own unique Qi. Each organs’ Qi can become deficient, excess, or stuck, or stagnated. A stagnation of Qi starts energetically, but if left untreated, can manifest physically as things like tumors and other masses. This is why it is important to keep Qi flowing freely.

Acupuncture Meridians : Chinese Medicine LivingThis image from Acupuncture Media Works

The Qi in the body also flows in two hour intervals through each of the organ systems. This is used as a diagnostic tool by TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) practitioners. If, for example, you are waking up consistently at a specific hour every night, it points to an imbalance in that specific organ. If there is a certain hour of the day when you feel particularly productive, then it would suggest that the organ that corresponds to that hour is strong. You can see the chart below for the organs and the corresponding times.

Qi Clock : Chinese Medicine Living

Because of the importance of Qi and its ability to flow freely through the body, the Chinese have developed many exercises to help build Qi, as well as keep it moving freely. The external martial arts, like Kung Fu are excellent for cultivating Qi and keeping it moving, and the internal martial arts like Tai Chi and Qi Gong are excellent ways of cultivating and strengthening Qi and keeping it flowing throughout the body so that health can be maintained.

Kung Fu : Chinese Medicine Living

There are many ways to build Qi. Good food, clean air, and participating in positive activities all build Qi. And many things diminish Qi, like stress, not getting enough sleep and having an unhealthy lifestyle. It is almost impossible to stay away from stress and other things that can deplete Qi, but the good news is that we are always able to rebuild it by simply doing things that give us energy. Keeping Qi moving is extremely important and the best way to do this is simply by moving your body. The act of walking (preferably in nature) is a wonderful way to keep Qi moving and stay a healthy, happy human being.

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This article also appears on the website Qi Encyclopedia at -
http://qi-encyclopedia.com/index.asp?article=WhatIsQi-3

Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living

What is Qi? : Chinese Medicine Living


What is Spleen Qi Deficiency?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The spleen is my favourite organ in the body. As an acupuncturist, I am not really supposed to play favourites, saying you love one organ more than the others is like a parent declaring that they love one of their children more, but I feel like I have a special connection with the spleen. I talk about it a lot and I seem to write about it even more. It is a hard working and often under appreciated little organ, so it is my duty, and my privilege to give it some much needed love and attention.

The spleen is an organ that doesn’t really get discussed very much in relation to the other organs of the body. I think its role in Western medicine is perhaps seen as less ‘vital’ than the other organs, but the role of the spleen in Western medicine is very different than its role in Chinese medicine.

The Spleen In Western Medicine

In Western medicine the spleen is part of the immune system and the largest organ in the lymphatic system. It is where red blood cells are recycled and where white blood cells, called lymphocytes, are stored. It is possible to live without a spleen. You can lacerate or rupture your spleen in a car accident or playing contact sports (or via any severe physical trauma) and the spleen may have to be repaired or removed completely (called a splenectomy). Although it is possible to live without a spleen because other organs overcompensate and take over many of its important functions, it makes a person more susceptible to infections and ultimately compromises their immune system.

The Spleen In Chinese Medicine

5 elements chart : Chinese Medicine Living

This lovely image from http://thespicedoc.com/content/glossary and designed by Patricia Callison

The spleen has a fundamental role in Chinese medicine. It, paired with the stomach, are the main organs of digestion and are responsible for digestion and distribution of food and nutrients throughout the body. The spleen extracts qi from the food we eat that is used by the body to build immunity (wei qi), keep things moving freely (stagnation leads to disease), the proper functioning of the other organs and helps to regulate mental functions and emotions.

Why Our Culture Is Hard On The Spleen

It is very common in our culture to have a deficiency of the spleen. Because the spleen is the main organ of not only digestion, but processing, it is responsible for processing the food and drink that we consume, as well as all of the stimulus that comes in through our sense organs. We are a culture that values doing many things at once. The more productive we can be, the more we are praised at our jobs and in life. This philosophy is contrary to the health of the spleen. In Chinese medicine, to keep the spleen healthy, it is important to do one thing at a time, and as mindfully as possible. The idea is that the spleen is then able to use all of its energies to process one thing, rather than having to process many things at once, which wipes out its energy stores, or spleen qi. Examples of doing many things at once are eating (taking in food/drink) while watching TV (taking in stimulus). Or eating while sitting at your computer working. These are commonplace in a culture where everyone has too much to do and is always short on time. This is one of the biggest reasons that so many people suffer with a deficiency of their spleen qi. So, do one thing at a time. If you are going to eat, just eat. Really concentrate and be mindful about what you are doing. Enjoy and savour your food, this will not only help your spleen, but lead you to be more relaxed and help you digest more efficiently too.

The Spleen in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

A Strong And Balanced Spleen

People with strong and balanced spleen energy have the following characteristics:

  • responsible
  • practical
  • hard working
  • strong
  • like to nurture themselves and others
  • active
  • stable
  • excellent endurance
  • good appetites
  • good, healthy digestions
  • strong limbs
  • are orderly and careful
  • often very creative
  • have fertile imaginations

 

Chinese Medicine Living : Traditional Wisdom for Modern Living

A Spleen Imbalance

People with an imbalance of their spleen often display the following characteristics:

  • chronically tired
  • a feeling of being “stuck” in their lives
  • physical and/or mental stagnation
  • weak digestion (lots of digestive issues)
  • poor appetite
  • diminished sense of taste
  • loose stools
  • abdominal bloating and tenderness
  • masses in the abdomen
  • weight problems (either overweight without overeating or underweight without the ability to gain)

Spleen Qi Deficiency

A deficiency of spleen qi can be caused by many things. Eating a poor diet of mostly refined, highly processed foods where the body is not receiving enough nourishment is certainly common, especially in industrialized nations where foods tend to be overly processed and many people make poor food choices. Another cause is simply our hectic lifestyles. As I mentioned above, we are a culture of multitasking, and this is particularly hard on the tiny organ that is responsible for doing all the processing. If it is constantly overloaded, then it will become exhausted, leading to spleen qi deficiency. Another cause, and this is also extremely common, is the emotional aspect of the spleen. In Chinese medicine, every organ is associated with an emotion. An excess of that emotion can damage the related organ, and likewise, when the organ is out of balance, it can have a strong effect on the corresponding emotion. The emotion of the spleen in worry/over thinking. If there is one emotion that I see more than any other in clinic, it is WORRY. An excess of worry and over thinking, as well as having a hard time just shutting off your brain, is damaging to the spleen. And we do that so much in our society. The pressures on us are enormous, and people are simply overworked and overstressed. So, poor nutrition, multitasking and a propensity to worry are all part of our culture, and all are affecting our poor, overworked spleens. It's no wonder spleen qi deficiency is so common.

Here are some symptoms of spleen qi deficiency so you know what to look for:

  • weakness of the whole body
  • fatigue
  • loose stools with undigested food
  • a pale tongue with a thin white coat and teeth marks on the sides
  • a weak pulse
  • weakness of the arms and legs
  • weak muscles
  • prolapse of organs (such as hemorrhoids, uterus, bladder, intestines)

The symptoms above all point to a spleen imbalance. There is good news though. There is wonderful nutritional therapy for deficient spleen qi, and as many Chinese doctors have known for centuries, food is the best medicine.

The Thermal Nature Of Foods In Chinese Medicine

When we talk about nutritional therapy in Chinese medicine, which is an important modality, we talk about the thermal nature of foods. This can be a bit of a difficult concept to understand at first, but once it's explained, it actually starts to make a lot of sense. Thermal nature is not just how physically cold or hot a food is as a result of cooking. In Chinese medicine, all foods are seen to have a fundamentally thermal nature, either warming, cooling or neutral, and these are important to know as they have a direct effect on the body. In the context of Chinese medicine it is also important to know the thermal nature of your body, which is measured by the relative yin and yang energies it encompasses. For example, if a person comes to you with a red face, bloodshot eyes, outbursts of anger and is shouting, it is pretty safe to determine that that person has an excess of yang energy and thus, should eat cooling foods and stay away from warming ones until the balance of yin and yang is reestablished. Every organ also, has a temperature that it prefers, so it is good to know all these things when thinking about food therapy in terms of health and disease.

Foods for Spleen : Chinese Medicine LivingBeautiful Foods

Food Therapy For Spleen Qi Deficiency

With foods thermal nature in mind, the spleen likes to be warm and dry. So if you have spleen qi deficiency, you want to eat foods that are warming, or at least neutral to help build the spleens energy. Cold foods should be avoided as they weaken digestion. Also, foods that are cold in temperature take more energy for the spleen to digest and are seen to extinguish the digestive fire. The flavour associated with the spleen is sweet, so as a rule, sweet foods are prescribed to correct a deficiency.

One of the best foods to build spleen qi is cooked white rice, often eaten in the form of congee or jook. Congee is essentially a porridge made of overcooked rice and water. You may add other ingredients depending on your condition and taste. For spleen qi deficiency or any weakness of the spleen, warming ingredients would be appropriate. See the list below.

Beneficial Spleen Foods

Vegetables

  • pumpkin
  • yam
  • black beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • carrot
  • parsnip
  • squash
  • peas
  • sweet potato
  • onion
  • leek

Spices

  • black pepper
  • ginger
  • nutmeg
  • cinnamon
  • fennel
  • garlic

Sweeteners (in small amounts)

  • barley malt
  • rice syrup
  • molasses
  • cherries
  • dates

Animal Products (if the deficiency is severe)

  • mackerel
  • tuna
  • halibut
  • anchovy
  • beef
  • beef liver or kidney
  • turkey
  • chicken
  • lamb
  • butter

Chewing foods well is also important when spleen energy is weak. This helps to break down foods before they get to the spleen and means the spleen has less work to do and conserve its energy. Eating things like soups are beneficial because they are cooked until soft and are less work for the spleen to digest. And finally, the preparation of food is also a factor in helping to build up spleen qi. Eating on the run and eating out mean that you are not taking the time and intention to mindfully prepare the foods that you are eating. To prepare foods with care infuses them with healing energies that the whole body, and especially the spleen, needs. So take the time to prepare the foods that you are eating with love, your spleen will appreciate it. :)

Spleen in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

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What is Spleen Qi Deficiency? : Chinese Medicine Living

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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


The Spleen and Dampness in Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Spleen is an extremely important organ in Chinese medicine and imbalances in the spleen system are some of the most common. It is sometimes confusing to refer to the spleen, as it is very different than the spleen of Western medicine. In Western medicine, the spleen is part of the immune system, where the blood is purified and red blood cells are recycled taking things like iron and cycling them back into the bloodstream so they can be used by the body. The spleen is the largest lymphatic organ and plays an important part in the body's immune system by helping it to recognize foreign invaders. The spleen also holds a reserve of blood which is valuable in case of hemorrhage. It is possible to survive without a spleen, with the liver taking over many of its functions. Removal of the spleen, however, does make one more susceptible to certain infections. The spleen is approximately 3x1x5 inches in size, weighs seven grams and is located in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen, between the 9th and 11th ribs on the left hand side, beside the stomach.

The spleen in Chinese medicine is quite different. The spleen is considered the major organ of digestion, and is partnered with the stomach. The spleen in yin and the stomach is yang. There are many factors that affect the spleen.

Emotions

Every organ in Chinese medicine has an emotion associated with it. The emotion of the spleen is worry and overthinking. We live in a culture where both of these things are extremely common. We work long hours, often don't eat properly and don't get enough sleep. We eat at our desks, multitasking, which puts more of a burden on the spleen because it is responsible for taking in not only the food and drink we consume, but all the stimulus as well. This is why doing one thing at a time and doing it mindfully takes the load off the spleen. Chewing your food very well and not eating too many raw foods will also help take the burden off the spleen. Intense thinking, concentration, studying, brooding and obsessing are all emotions that, if in excess, also weaken the spleen.

Nutrition

What we eat is of vital importance to the spleen. This is good news, because there are many foods that are beneficial for this important organ. The spleen likes to be warm and dry, so eating warming foods that do not create too much moisture are excellent for the spleen. Also, the colour associated with the spleen is yellow, so as a rule, yellow foods are healing for the spleen. Below is a handy chart.

Foods The Spleen Loves

  • Corn
  • Celery
  • Watercress
  • Turnip
  • Pumpkin
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Button mushrooms
  • Radish
  • Caper
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Amaranth
  • Rye
  • Oats
  • Kidney beans
  • Adzuki beans
  • Lentils
  • Small amount of lean organic meat, poultry and fish, tuna
  • Small amount of whole fruits (as opposed to just the juice), lemon
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Kelp
  • Green tea
  • Jasmine tea
  • Raspberry leaf tea
  • Chai tea
  • Raspberry
  • Peach
  • Strawberry
  • Cherry
  • Walnut
  • Chestnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Lamb
  • Venison
  • Lobster
  • Mussels
  • Prawns
  • Shrimp
  • Trout
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon bark
  • Clove
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Turmeric
  • Thyme
  • Horseradish
  • Cayenne
  • Nutmeg

 

Spleen Foods : Chinese Medicine Living

Foods That Hurt The Spleen

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Cold drinks
  • Fruit juice
  • Processed foods
  • Refined flour, pastry, pasta, breads
  • Cold raw foods
  • Refined sugar and sugar substitutes
  • Coffee, alcohol
  • Deep fried foods
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Bananas
  • Avocado

The Spleen and Dampness in Chinese Medicine

The concept of dampness in Chinese medicine is related to a deficiency of the spleen's function of transporting and transforming body fluids. When the spleen becomes deficient, it will cause it to produce more dampness, creating a vicious cycle. Dampness can come from both internal and external factors.  The characteristics of dampness are that it is heavy, sticky, difficult to get rid of, slows things down and tends to settle in the lower parts of the body like the legs and abdomen. Dampness often starts in the legs and can work its way up to the organs in the abdomen. If it settles in the female genital system it causes vaginal discharges, often with a foul odour. If it settles in the intestines it will cause loose stools and if it gets into the bladder it will cause cloudy urine, difficulty, frequency and even a burning sensation upon urination.

Dampness has several clinical manifestations, which can be broken down into a few categories. Each has specific symptoms associated with it. Below are some common symptoms of dampness.

Dampness Symptoms

  • A feeling of being tired
  • A heavy feeling in the limbs
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning and getting going
  • A heaviness or fuzzy feeling in the head
  • Unclear thinking
  • A feeling of fullness or oppression of the chest
  • Cloudy urine
  • Urinary difficulty
  • Vaginal discharges
  • No appetite
  • Sticky taste in the mouth
  • Dull ache and swelling of the joints
  • Skin diseases with weepy discharges
  • A thick, sticky tongue coating

External Dampness

Dampness can be acquired externally by living in damp conditions (like moist basements), being out in damp weather, wearing wet clothing or sitting on damp ground. It can then get into the channels causing the above symptoms. External dampness generally invades the lower body, typically the legs and can cause aching and swelling of the joints. It can work its way up the leg channels and cause symptoms in the urinary system, female genital system, and intestines. Because of the heavy, sticky nature of dampness, especially when it mixes with heat, it is difficult to get rid of and tends to return again and again.

Being careful to stay covered up and warm as well as staying out of damp environments as much as possible is the best defense against an invasion of external dampness. If you are out in the rain, dry off right away so dampness doesn't set in.

Dampness in Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

Photo by Dannyst @ Deviantart

Internal Dampness

Internal dampness mainly affects the spleen, but can also affect the kidneys. If the spleen becomes deficient and its ability to transport and transform fluids is affected, it will lead to the accumulation of fluids, creating dampness. The symptoms for both internal and external dampness are the same, the difference being that internal dampness will have a slow onset, as external dampness' onset is more sudden. Another difference is subtleties in the tongue and pulse. In external dampness, the tongue will have a thick, sticky coating, whereas in internal dampness, the tongue coating will be thin. The pulse in both internal and external dampness will be slippery, but with internal dampness, it will be fine, or weak and floating. An external damp pulse will be slippery and full.

Acupuncture as well as Chinese herbs are used in the treatment of dampness. Most commonly points on the spleen meridian are used to clear dampness and strengthen the spleen, and Chinese herbal formulas are used to drain dampness, expelling it from the body (often through urination), as well as building the spleen so that more dampness is not created. Dampness can be difficult to treat because of its heavy, sticky nature, but with nutrition therapy - eating foods that strengthen the spleen and drain dampness - as well as acupuncture and herbs, you can get rid of dampness, and have a happier spleen as a result - which is what we all really want. :)

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The featured image is this adorable spleen, brought to you by the nice people at I Heart Guts

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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