Digestive Health and Nutrition in Chinese Medicine - with Recipe

By NourishU

Digestive Health in Chinese Medicine

The importance of eating a gut-healthy diet cannot be underestimated. Your gut plays a major role in your physical and even mental health, and having a healthy gut entails maintaining a balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria – something you simply will not accomplish by eating highly processed "dead" foods as found in the western diet. When a diet is devoid of "live" nutrients such as healthy bacteria, it contributes to a rise in allergic and inflammatory diseases and set the stage for asthma, eczema, and autoimmune diseases.

Until recently, most doctors dismissed the notion that your digestive system did much of anything outside of breaking down food. But in recent years, scientists have revealed just how inaccurate this thinking was. An estimated 80 per cent of our immune system is actually located in our gut, so supporting our digestive health is essential to also support our immune system, which is the number one defence against ALL diseases. Our gut is also like our second brain, greatly affecting and affected by our mind and emotion. That's is why we have this common expression of 'gut feeling'. When our emotion is upsetting our gut or vice versa, calming the gut is the first step to find a resolution.

To take care of gut problems, you must first avoid soda, doughnuts, pastries and breakfast cereals because they are loaded with sugar and corn syrup which are bad for gut health. You should cut out French fries or deep-fried foods because they are drowning in highly refined and genetically modified omega 6 oils which our body cannot digest. Also, avoid most snack foods because they are highly processed and loaded with artificial seasoning and additives with no nutritional value. When you eat a healthy diet low in sugar and processed foods, it naturally causes the good bacteria in your gut to flourish.


Doughnuts are delicious, but, unfortunately, bad for your health.
Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash

Avoid colon detoxification drugs and prolonged use of antibiotics which can kill the good bacteria. Eat fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, fermented milk, pickled vegetables to support your digestive health, as these foods are rich in naturally beneficial bacteria.

The health of our gut has substantial impacts on the health of our liver because everything absorbed by our intestines passes through to the liver so that harmful substances can be detoxified before they reach the rest of our body. In one study by doctors at Biolab UK, 61% of sufferers of undiagnosed chronic illnesses with predominant fatigue were found to have an overgrowth of both bacteria and yeast in the gut. As a result of their normal metabolism, these micro-organisms produce waste products in increased amounts that are harmful to the liver and overall health. Yeast, in particular, produces a large amount of ethanol which is highly toxic to the liver and damage to the intestinal lining causing 'leaky gut'.

Improving digestive health naturally is an essential part of well-being. When foods are not properly digested, it will cause low-grade food sensitivity.  Landmark studies have linked grain sensitivity to joint pain, cancer, depression, brain disorders, autoimmune diseases, and osteoporosis. Some doctors discovered that treating food intolerance found the other problems fade away without any need for immune-system-destroying medicines.

In Chinese Medicine, out of the “six evils” (the causes of sickness) – wind, cold, hot, wet, dry and fire, wetness is considered as the worst evil for health. It can turn everything sluggish and promote the development of disease. A diet high in meat over time will damage and weaken the digestive system and make the stomach wet and sluggish. When wetness mixes with heat, it is similar to the conditions of a sauna bath which can suffocate our cells. When wetness mixes with cold, it can chill our body and slow down normal body functions. Chinese doctors usually can find clues about the conditions of our gut by just looking at our mouth, tongue, and teeth.

As with everything in life, moderation is the key to balance and health.
Photo by Lukas Budimaier on Unsplash

In fact, there are many clues to tell the conditions of our internal systems. If we are always tired in the morning and have a hard time waking up and getting out of bed, it is the symptom of serious internal wetness. We can also find clues in our faeces. For a healthy body, elimination is regular, easy and in good quantity. It should be in perfect banana shape. If it is scanty, shapeless, too watery, sticking to the toilet bowl even after flushing or you need to use plenty of toilet paper to wipe yourself clean, your stomach system is too wet and at stress. The wetness can cause faeces to glue to intestinal walls and promote re-absorption of toxins into your body which is detrimental to health.

To clear internal dampness out of our body, diuretic foods, and foods that can improve digestive health is most important. Eat healthy food, exercise regularly to let the body sweat (especially in summer), reduce salt intake to avoid water retention, suck on three slices of fresh ginger in the morning to get stomach energy going (never at night), don't over-consume fluid during the day, quit smoking and drinking, and keep the living environment especially the bed and bedroom dry are effective in reducing internal dampness. Foods such as bitter melon, job's tears, little red beans, hyacinth bean, tofu, Chinese yam, green papaya, purslane, and luffa are all good for removing stomach heat and wetness and promoting gut health. Cabbage is considered as a natural medicine for our gut because it can solve many stomach problems, kill bad bacteria and heal ulcers. That's why we should eat more sauerkraut for increasing good bacteria as well.

Foods for Digestive Health

Chinese medicine believes that we are born with kidney health and stomach health is developed after birth. Since our stomach provides all the nutrients to support life, it should deserve our top attention and care. Many daily foods are for promoting digestive health and gut health.

Water

Water helps break down foods, carry nutrients to the body and remove wastes from the body.

Vegetables are as beautiful as they are delicious
Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

Vegetables

High Fiber Vegetables such as sweet potato, sweet potato leaves, Jicama, chive, cabbage, Chinese yu-choy - prevent constipation by moving waste through the large intestine quickly.

Protein

Protein helps to activate digestive juices in the stomach. A healthy stomach needs enough acid to reduce all the solid things eaten to soup form for absorption. Healthy stomach acid kills off dangerous parasites and bacteria.

Fermented Foods

Foods such as sauerkraut, cheese, yoghurt, beer, miso, tempeh, and kimchi - can increase healthy bacteria in our gut and improve digestion.

Vinegar

Vinegar - helps to break down fats quickly and improves digestion.

Plum

They are sour in taste but alkaline in nature, promote digestive enzymes, anti-ageing, prevent high blood pressure and hardening of arteries, clean blood, are anti-inflammatory and promote gut health.

Cinnamon powder

Cinnamon powder - sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.

Nature's Digestive Aids

1. Nature’s Best Constipation Reliever - Psyllium Seeds

They contain the highest level of soluble fibre of any grain source, relieve constipation, support healthy bowel function and reduce symptoms of haemorrhoids

2. Immune-Boosting Fiber - Oat Bran

It is a great fibre source that helps relieve constipation, help your immune system work better and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

3. Toxin-Fighting Fiber - Beet

Beet Fiber relieves digestive disorders, relieve constipation and binds to toxins, heavy metals, and excess hormones that have been dumped into the gut from the liver.

4. Nature’s Diarrhea-Fighter - Apple

Apple Pectin is a remarkable soluble fibre that soaks up liquid and turns it into a gel. It helps relieve diarrhoea and supports healthy digestion in many ways.

White rice helps to strengthen the spleen in Chinese medicine, which is the main organ of digestion
Photo by Vitchakorn Koonyosying on Unsplash

5. Ancient Chinese Remedy for Occasional Indigestion and Diarrhea - Rice

Rice fibre helps relieve indigestion, reduce diarrhoea, improve circulation, speeds bowel transit time, improves the fecal weight, and increases bowel movement frequency.

6. Relief for Flatulence and Bloating - Alfalfa

Alfalfa is effective at relieving stomach upset, digestive problems, flatulence and bloating.

7. Nature’s Colon Calmer - Fennel Seed

They relieve intestinal spasms and gas, relieves upset stomach and supports healthy digestion.

8. Relief for Intestinal Spasms - Peppermint Leaf

They help calm digestive spasms and relieves occasional nausea and diarrhoea, and naturally soothe the digestive tract.

9. The Green Superfood - Barley Grass

They help provide fibre for the digestive system. It’s loaded with phytonutrients that make it one of the most nutritious foods available.

10. The Native American Remedy for Digestive Problems - Slippery Elm

They help soothe the digestive tract and relieves occasional diarrhoea.

11. The Stomach Soother - Red Raspberry Leaf

They soothe stomach aches and relieve bowel disorders, constrict the tissues of the intestines to prevent water loss and soothe occasional diarrhoea.


Parsley not only promotes digestion it also cleanses the palette and freshens breath.
Photo by pintando la luz on Unsplash

12. Ancient Folk Remedy for Great Digestion - Parsley

Parsley has been used for centuries to improve digestion. It stimulates the release of digestive juices that help digest proteins and fats.

13. Grandma’s Favorite for Constipation Relief - Prune Juice

Prune juice has been used for generations to relieve constipation gently and soothe irritable bowel.

14. Special Pro-biotic Blend

Good bacteria helps to boost the immune system and supports good digestion. 80 per cent of your immune cells are in your intestines. That’s why one of the keys to a highly functioning immune system is to restore the balance of healthy flora.

Balancing Digestive Health Herbal Soup


Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

SYMPTOMS

Lack of appetite, yellow urine, dry mouth, and throat.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Clear dampness and strengthen the spleen to improve appetite, diuretic.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • Lean Pork 瘦肉 – 180gm
  • Job's Tears (yi yi ren) 生苡米 – 30gm
  • Lotus Seeds (lien zi) 蓮子 – 30gm
  • Lily bulb (bai he) 百合 – 30gm
  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 – 30gm
  • Solomon's Seal (yu ju) 玉竹 – 30gm
  • Fox Nut (qian shi) 茨實 – 30gm
  • Glehnia (bei sha shen) 沙參 – 30gm
  • White bean 白扁豆 – 30gm
  • Ginger 生薑 - 3 slices
  • Citrus Peel (chen-pi) 陳皮 – one small piece (pre-soaked and with white tissue removed)

1.   Soak herbs for half an hour and rinse clean.

2.   Rinse pork, cut into large pieces and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes, remove and rinse.

3.   Put all ingredients in a soup pot with 3 litres of water and bring to boil. Remove foam, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 3 hours.

4.   Add salt to serve. Eat some herbs with soup.

USAGE

No restriction and should be taken regularly to promote health. Suitable for the whole family of all ages.


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Vitamins! Why You Need Them & Where To Get Them

In Chinese medicine food is the best medicine, therefore, getting enough of all the important vitamins from what we eat is something we should all be constantly working at. It can be overwhelming and hard to remember which vitamins do what and where to get them, so this is why I wanted to have a practical list to help list which vitamins we need, why they are important and where to get them. A good way to think about getting everything you need is to "eat the rainbow" meaning eating as many brightly coloured fruits and vegetables as possible (which also tends to indicate how rich they are in antioxidants). Also, having a small child to feed has made making sure that all the meals I prepare are smashed full of as many vitamins as possible for growing bodies and minds! I hope this information is helpful and will help you to eat a healthier, more balanced diet.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that any extra that you are getting from your diet is stored in the body. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant, which are important for combatting free radical damage which leads to premature aging. Antioxidants also reduce inflammation in the body which helps to combat many diseases.  Because of their effect on free radicals, a diet high in antioxidants helps to combat premature aging, actually slowing the aging process. Vitamin A is important for many of the body's vital functions, and is especially important for children as it helps vision and neurological function, so make sure your babies get plenty of the foods listed below for their brain and eye health.

this image from huffingtonpost.com

Why You Need It

  • Vision
  • Immune System
  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Antioxidant (slows aging and reduces inflammation)

Sources

  • Liver
  • Fish Oils
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Collard Greens
  • Beet & Turnip Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bok Choi
  • Sweet Potato
  • Carrots
  • Butternut Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter Squash
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Green & Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Chicory
  • Apricots
  • Prunes
  • Peaches
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet Red Peppers
  • Yellow Peppers
  • Red Peppers
  • Bluefin Tuna
  • Sturgeon
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Mangoes
  • Papaya

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin meaning any extra you consume that your body doesn't need is stored. The body produces vitamin D from cholesterol, provided there is enough UV light from our exposure to sunlight. We are also able to get vitamin D through some foods and one of its most important functions is regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. The absorption of vitamin D is improved when taken with food or a source of fat, like fish oil. Several environmental factors affect our ability to get enough vitamin D, such as being somewhere with high levels of pollution, using sunscreen, spending a lot of time indoors, living in cities where tall buildings block sunlight and having darker skin (with higher levels of melanin). So, be sure to get enough sunlight (going outside is good for your health on so many levels!) and eating a diet rich in foods with vitamin D.

this image from gizmodo

Why You Need It

  • Bone Health
  • Calcium Absorption
  • Weight Management
  • Nervous System
  • Muscle Health
  • Modulation of Cell Growth
  • Immune System
  • Reduction of Inflammation

Sources

  • Sunlight
  • Sardines
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Caviar
  • Eggs
  • Raw Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin meaning excess is stored in the body and not excreted in the urine. Vitamin E has many important functions in the body including being a strong antioxidant which combats free radical damage helping to prevent disease, reduce inflammation and slow the aging process. An adequate amount of vitamin E is needed for many bodily functions including the proper functioning of organs, neurological processes and the proper functioning of enzymes.

this yummy image from californiaavocado.com

Why You Need It

  • Red Blood Cells
  • Protects Against Cell Damage
  • Immune System
  • Eyesight
  • Balances Cholesterol
  • Prevents Free Radical Damage
  • Repairs Damaged Skin
  • Balances Hormones
  • Thickens Hair
  • Helps Period Symptoms

Sources

  • Sweet Potato
  • Avocado
  • Wheat Germ
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut Butter
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Spinach

 

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is the last of the four fat soluble vitamins, meaning they are stored in the body and not excreted in the urine. Vitamin K is particularly important for blood clotting. Most of the vitamin K we get comes from intestinal bacteria - so the amount of vitamin K we are getting really depends on the health of our GI tract. There are two types of vitamin K that we get from our diets, vitamin K1 which is found in vegetables, and vitamin K2 which is found in dairy products and produced by bacteria in a healthy gut. Eating foods rich in vitamin K as well as making sure that you have a healthy digestive system will ensure that you are getting enough of this important vitamin.

this delicious image from eatrightontario.ca

Why You Need It

  • Blood Clotting
  • Heart Health
  • Reduce Infections
  • Oral Health
  • Improves Bone Density
  • Fights Cancer

Sources

  • Kale
  • Collard Greens
  • Turnip Greens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Beet Greens
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Watercress
  • Miso (Fermented Soy)
  • Prunes
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Spring Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Fer
  • Dried Basil
  • Parsley
  • Endive
  • Okra
  • Pickles
  • Kiwis
  • Peas
  • Tuna

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is part of the complex of eight B vitamins that play an important role in helping maintain a healthy metabolism, liver function, a healthy nervous system, skin and eye health and boost energy levels. Vitamin B6 also helps the body with important functions like movement, memory, blood flow and how the body uses energy. Thankfully, most people in developed nations get enough vitamin B6 from their diets, and some even consume much more than the body needs. Since the B vitamins are water soluble, any extra that you may be getting is not stored in the body and is excreted in your urine.

this yummy image from stylecraze.com

Why You Need It

  • Brain Function
  • Nerve Function
  • Red Blood Cell Production
  • Healthy Blood Vessels
  • Metabolism
  • Skin
  • Protects Eyes
  • Boosts Energy & Mood
  • Pain Management (B6 is a natural pain reliever)

Sources

  • Turkey Breast
  • Grass Fed Beef
  • Pistachio Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Blackstrap Molases
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Chicken Breast
  • Pinto Beans
  • Tuna
  • Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans
  • Amaranth

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the world. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include chronic fatigue, depression (and other mood disorders), or chronic stress that can lead to adrenal fatigue. Animal foods are the best sources of vitamin B12. Plant sources do not contain any naturally occurring B12 unless they have been synthetically fortified. For this reason, many vegetarians and vegans are deficient in vitamin B12. It is estimated that between 15-39% of people in the United States (NIH & American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) are deficient in vitamin B12. A deficiency is often difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are so common - feeling tired, depressed and unfocussed. If you have been feeling any of these symptoms, try upping your intake of vitamin B12, you may feel a huge improvement.

this delicious image from apparelmagazine.co.nz

Why You Need It

  • Benefits Nervous System
  • Benefits Mood
  • Maintains Energy Levels
  • Preserves Memory
  • Heart Health
  • Healthy Skin & Hair
  • Lowers Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
  • Produces Red Blood Cells
  • Needed for Healthy Pregnancy
  • Aids in Digestion

Sources

  • Beef & Chicken Liver
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Yoghurt
  • Turkey
  • Raw Milk
  • Lamb

Folic Acid

Getting adequate folic acid is particularly important if you are pregnant as it helps to prevent miscarriage and neural tube defects like spina bifida (which is when the fetus's spine and back do not close during development). Folic acid is the synthetic form of B9 - also known as folate. Folate occurs naturally in many foods and since the late 90's has been added to many foods like cold cereals, breads, pastas, cookies and crackers.

this image from livingplate.com

Why You Need It

  • Needed for Copying & Synthesizing DNA
  • Producing New Cells
  • Supports the Immune System
  • Supports Healthy Nerve Function
  • Heart Health
  • Encourages Normal Fetal Development

Sources

  • Spinach
  • Beef Liver
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Mustard Greens
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Kidney Beans
  • Oranges
  • Avocado
  • Wheat Germ
  • Lentils
  • Turnip Greens
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Collard Greens
  • Papaya
  • Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Raspberries
  • Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Corn
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Squash

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin is a water soluble B vitamin which means it is not stored in the body and any extra is excreted in urine. Niacin helps to maintain healthy energy levels and brain function. We need to eat a steady supply of niacin to make sure we don't suffer from a deficiency.

this image from stylecraze.com

Why You Need It

  • Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease
  • Supports Cognitive Function
  • Supports the Nervous System
  • Important for Healthy Digestion
  • Healthy Skin
  • Relief of Arthritis Pain

Sources

  • Turkey Breast
  • Chicken Breast
  • Peanuts
  • Liver
  • Tuna
  • Mushrooms
  • Green Peas
  • Grass Fed Beef
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Avocado

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is one of eight B vitamins. The B vitamins help the body to convert food into fuel. It is important to get enough B2 in your diet as it affects how some other B vitamins like B12 and folic acid do their jobs. The complex of B vitamins also help to synthesize fats and protein. Taking the full complex of B vitamins are also helpful for helping the body to combat stress. It is also the B vitamin that makes your pee turn bright yellow so you can tell if you are getting enough - actually, the flavin in riboflavin comes from flavus - the Latin word for yellow. :) We need to acquire riboflavin from our diets, ideally every day to keep optimum healthy levels.

this image from vitaminsestore.com

Why You Need It

  • Maintains Healthy Blood Cells
  • Is an Antioxidant
  • Boosts Energy Levels
  • Protects Skin & Eye Health
  • Promotes Healthy Metabolism
  • Promotes Iron Metabolism

Sources

  • Meats
  • Organ meats
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Soy Beans
  • Spinach
  • Beet Greens
  • Tempeh
  • Yoghurt
  • Crimini Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Almonds
  • Turkey
  • Sea Vegetables
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Bok Choi
  • Green Beans
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Shitake Mushrooms

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Featured image photo by Jonathan Perez on Unsplash


Lo-han Fruit for Soothing Throat and Cough

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

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

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

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

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

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Applications:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Lo-han Quo Green Tea

Symptoms

Throat infection with phlegm.

Therapeutic Effects

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

Ingredients

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

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

Usage

Drink throughout the day with no restrictions.

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

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

Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living