How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Another year is upon us! The arrival of the new year always causes me to reflect, and think about what I would like to improve upon in the coming year. Health, happiness and well-being are always top of the list, so here is a list of some things that we can all do to be a little healthier and happier in 2017.

Take Time for Yourself

this beautiful image from 68.media.tumblr.com

This is a hard one. Our lives seem to get busier and busier and we all seem to be working more and sleeping less which means less time for, well, us. Even though taking time out for ourselves is often not easy, it is an important part of our health. Psychologically, it is you caring about yourself enough to take the time to do something that feeds you, whatever that may be. Go for a walk, read a new book you've been meaning to start, have a bubble bath, start a new art project... do something that feeds your soul. Your whole body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it.

Meditate

this relaxing image from www.chatelaine.com

Now I know the thought of meditating is scary for a lot of people, especially if you have never done it before. But meditation doesn't have to mean spending hours on a mountainside in complete seclusion. If you are new to it, start slow. Spent ten minutes a day, either when you get up in the morning (the energy of the day is so calm and lovely at this time), or if it is easier, at the end of the day before you go to bed. Just sit or lie quietly without distractions (the TV, your phone, computer, etc..) and just relax. For the first many times you do this, your mind will no doubt be racing and it might not feel relaxing at all, but if you think about it, you never just "let your mind go" like this. We are always forcing our minds into doing things, like work, cooking, driving or what-have-you. Your mind also needs time to empty itself out, but once it does and goes quiet... it is wonderful. With some practice, you will be able to drop into a quiet meditation easily, and your body and mind will crave it because it is so nourishing to every part of you. I find that the benefits of a little daily meditation spill out into the rest of my life causing me to be calmer, more patient and generally happier which is a wonderful thing.

Find a Local Farmer

this image from larahudson.com

Reconnect with your food. Food does not arrive at the grocery store wrapped in cellophane and politely organized and placed onto carts. That food is grown and tended by farmers - people who have one of the most important jobs on the planet - feeding us. Our food is the medicine we use every day to keep us healthy, and many of us have lost our connection to where it comes from. If you are able to, find a local farm where you are able to visit and buy fresh, organic (if possible) foods for your family. If this is not possible, then find a local farmers market and meet the farmers there. This will give you a new appreciation for where your food is coming from, who is growing it and in turn, you will be eating local (very good in terms of Chinese medicine) and supporting your local farmers - who absolutely need and deserve the support of their communities. Farmers markets are also a wonderful place to meet other local, health conscious people, eat local treats and reconnect with your community. Win-win!

Reconnect with Nature

this lovely image from www.drjimtaylor.com

I know I say this one a lot, but it is so imperative to health on every level. One of the reasons we see disease on such an unprecedented scale is that we have lost our connection to nature. We live in huge cities where we spend our days behind desks in buildings under florescent lights instead of in forests and jungles, which is where we belong. We were not designed to live this, well, unnaturally. Obviously, it is not feasible to go completely wild and live in forests (unless you are really hardcore) but in Chinese medicine, we are always striving for balance. So, even if you work in an office or a factory and sit behind a desk or stand on an assembly line, eat your lunch outside. Take off your shoes and put your feet in the grass. Feel the earth, it is talking to you in a language you have probably forgotten. It is feeding you in a way you desperately need to be fed. When you have time off, go for a walk in a forest, swim in a lake or ocean, or instead of working out at the gym, go for a run outside. Our connection to the planet feeds us as much as what we eat and drink, so think of your time outside as food for your body and soul. You will notice how much better you feel, inside and out.

Zoom Out

this magnificent image from youtube.com

I love this one, and doing it helps your mental state more than you can imagine. Zooming out just basically means, keeping things in perspective. When you are having a problem or something disastrous is happening in your life, just take a moment and back up. Zoom out of your situation. Zoom out of the building, the street, the neighbourhood, the city, the country, the continent, the planet, and so on. The farther out you go, the better you will feel. It is so easy for our lives to become very small. Problems become huge and often seem insurmountable, but zooming out will help to keep things in perspective. Think to yourself... in the grand scheme of things, does this really matter? In a week, will I be thinking about this at all? Zooming out is a sort of meditation, and one I do often if I am struggling with something. Instead of feeling small, I am always trying to be as big, as expansive with my mind and my awareness as possible. Not always easily done, and certainly takes practice.

Be Grateful

Gratitude is something I try to practice every day. It has been one of the most beneficial practices that I have in my life, and I am so grateful for it. Ha. Being grateful doesn't mean that life is not going to present challenges. Life is full of them. But spending some time each day to consciously think about what in your life you are grateful for will put you in a happy, loving state of mind, which will attract more happy, loving energy to your experience. This energy will help you to cope when difficult situations arise and help you to fully appreciate all the wonderful things/people that you have in your life. Absolutely everyone has things that they can be grateful for, and focusing on this positivity will only draw more of it into your life and that is a wonderful thing.

Unplug

this image from gameacademy.com

We are all connected, and now this is even more true with the advent of the internet and the miracle of cell phones which allow us to communicate with one another from almost anywhere on the planet. This wonderful technology has allowed access to information by millions of people who would otherwise not be able to benefit from it. There are so many positive aspects to our ability to connect, but there are drawbacks too. The pendulum seems to have swung quite far in that direction so that in our attempt to stay technologically connected to each other, we have lost our human connections. I see groups of teenagers sitting together, each looking at their cell phones, instead of talking to each other. People live is vast cities, crammed into apartment buildings, but never interact with each other. As with all things, we are going for balance. Many people could not live without the internet of god forbid, their cell phone, but trying to unplug, at least for parts of the day or week is a good way to bring about that balance. Call a friend, then go and meet with them. Have a coffee and a conversation. We are social animals (not social media animals, although sometimes it seems we certainly are) and human contact is good for us and we NEED it.

Be of Service

A part of being human, and one of the reasons that I think we are here, is to serve our fellow human. This doesn't have to mean volounteering in a cancer ward or an old age home (as these are big commitments - but wonderful things to do), it may be as simple as helping someone struggling with their groceries, opening the door for someone with their arms full, giving someone directions when they ask you on the street. These small things make a huge impact. No one makes it through life alone. We all need each other, and by being kind, generous and helpful with our fellow human being is the glue that holds us all together. In a time where there is so much divisiveness in the world, it seems there are so many reasons for us to fear and hate each other, all it takes is the conscious effort to not let in that darkness and to treat each person with love and compassion, just as you would like to be treated. It will go a long way to healing the negativity on this planet and it happens to feel really good too. <3

How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living


5 Things That Have The Biggest Impact On Your Health

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Attitude

Positive Attitude for Health : Chinese Medicine Livingthis adorable image from entrepreneur.com

As we are all beginning to realize, health is not just about the physical body, it is so much more than that. We all know how much better we feel when things in our lives are going well and we are happy. Staying positive is not always easy with the many stresses that our modern lives present to us, but it has been scientifically proven that people who are positive get sick less often and recover more quickly when they do get sick. Negative energy depresses the immune system as well as the psyche and makes us more susceptible to illnesses. Being cheerful has become more difficult as our lives become increasingly complex and we become more and more disconnected. This is why internal practices like meditation, qi gong and tai chi are excellent ways to cultivate the happiness and positivity we need to stay healthy. Also, zooming out and looking at the macro instead of the micro in any situation really helps to put problems into perspective. Zooming out also reminds us that we should be grateful for all we have and to try to focus on the positive instead of the negative (because it just FEELS better). Your attitude makes a huge difference when it comes to your health, a positive attitude will also ensure that you live a happy life. :)

What You Eat

Nutritious Food for Health : Chinese Medicine Livingthis beautiful image from www.brigitte.de

The food that we eat every day is the best medicine out there. Eating clean, fresh foods, free of chemicals and as unprocessed as possible is one of the best ways to ensure that we never get sick. Chinese medicine was designed as a preventative medicine, and nutritional therapy is one of its most important aspects. In a culture that tends to wait until there is an illness to get treatment, the Chinese believed in living a healthy life, with balance in all things so that illness never had a chance to develop. In modern society, it has become more difficult to live in a balanced way. Our lifestyle is often full of stresses with relationships, finances, work, etc... and eating in a healthy way has become particularly difficult in the age of industrial agriculture with huge factory farms that use pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Our foods are much further from their natural state, and our health suffers. Another factor when it comes to food is the way it is prepared. This is also emphasized in Chinese medicine, with the energy of the person preparing the food and their intention when preparing and cooking it having an effect. A meal prepared with love and care is more delicious, and indeed more healthful than one put together at a drive through window by a stranger. Having a connection to your food makes a big difference in the healing benefits it provides you. There is nothing more healing that lovingly preparing a meal for yourself, then mindfully sitting down to eat it, taking in its nutrients as well as its good healing energy derived from this beautiful earth.

Expressing Your Emotions

Expressing Emotions for Health : Chinese Medicine Livingthis excellent image from livingstingy.blogspot.com

Expressing our emotions is essential for being a healthy, happy human being. Unfortunately, our emotional health is not something considered by many mainstream doctors, but it is absolutely vital for our health. In Chinese medicine, each organ is associated with an emotion, and often, symptoms in a particular organ can point to a disharmony with its respective emotion. People are more likely to come into clinic with complaints about physical problems, but their symptoms often point back to emotional issues. In Chinese medicine, not expressing the emotions can be a cause of disease, which illustrates how important emotional health is in the TCM model, and how powerful our emotions are and how much impact they can have on our health. It is difficult to know what to do when you are struggling with powerful emotions. It certainly isn't always easy to express them. Acknowledging them is the first step, then working through your feelings and finding a way to express them in a way that is productive so that you can let them go and move on is a good road map of how to cope. Until you express emotions and let them go, they are taking up valuable space, which you could be filling with other, wonderful things. Suppressing emotions also uses an enormous amount of qi or energy and tends to stagnate and block the flow of things in your body and your life. Talking with a trusted friend, journaling or simply giving yourself the time to reflect and work through your feelings are some good ways to feel through things and be able to ultimately let them go.

Connecting With the Earth

Connect with Nature for Health : Chinese Medicine Livingthis is beautiful Vancouver island. This image from blog.hellobc.com

One of the great joys of life is being outside and connecting to this beautiful planet. There is nothing more healing than taking off your shoes and putting your feet onto the earth. If you are sensitive enough, you can literally feel the earth's healing energy being absorbed into your body and filling you with light. Chinese medicine was developed in a time when all people lived in complete harmony with their natural environment. People changed their daily habits according to the seasons and were very attuned to nature, their lives depended on it. A lot of illnesses today come from an almost complete disconnect from nature, and each other. If you want to do something good for your body, mind, and spirit, take a walk in a forest or on a beach, take off your shoes and walk through the grass, or sit outside and read a book. Instead of going to the gym, run outside, allowing yourself to absorb some of the earth's energy. We spend so much of our time indoors, sitting at computers or in front of televisions when we were designed to run and jump and MOVE outside, at one with the elements. Our modern lives have pulled us away from nature when our happiness and indeed our health depends on being connected to it. So go outside, it's good for your health!

Community

In a recent TED talk on longevity, some National Geographic researchers were investigating why there were some places on earth where the people lived much longer than others. The researcher giving the talk cites a study that found that only approximately 10% of how long a person will live is dictated by their genes, and the other 90% is lifestyle. 90%!!! They looked around the world for the places on earth (called Blue Zones) where people lived the longest and tried to figure out what is was about their lifestyles that they all had in common. The one thing these places shared was that they were part of small tight-knit communities that all knew each other and looked after one another. It turns out that connecting to others and a feeling of belonging had a huge impact on how long people lived.

I know this from treating patients too. I see so many patients that have problems with depression, sadness, and anxiety who feel alone and disconnected. People used to live in small communities where everybody knew each other, but now, many of us live in big cities, away from our families and friends. Humans are social animals, and we need to be connected to each other to be healthy. This has become increasingly difficult, and the results manifest in many health conditions, especially emotional and psychological ones. We also live in a society, at least in the West, that values the "self" and not necessarily the "other". Our connections, the love, and friendships we have in our lives, are just as important as the food we eat and the exercise we get when it comes to health. Even connecting with strangers - holding a door open for someone with their arms full, smiling at someone on the street who is looking like they need it, or just being friendly and open when you are out in the world lets people know that we really are all in this together and that we all care about each other. It will make you feel good too.

Trying to stay healthy can be daunting. There is so much information out there, and it is easy to get overwhelmed when trying to figure out what to do. Chinese medicine teaches us how to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle using common sense tools that are easy to apply. Nutrition, emotional health, exercise, internal practices like qi gong, tai chi, meditation as well as modalities like acupuncture, herbs, massage and listening to your body and knowing what you need when you need it, are all ways that this wonderful medicine teaches us how to live a long, healthy and happy life. Chinese Medicine Living is dedicated to helping you do just that. <3

 

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Resources

How to Live to be 100+ by Dan Buettner - http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100

The beautiful featured image photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

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


Alignment - Part 2

By Steven Lubka

There are many ways to begin addressing spinal alignment, infinite ways really. I am going to outline some basic habits that can produce tremendous benefits. These are simple modifications to one’s lifestyle that one can implement immediately and don’t require complex explanation nor the learning of technique. Later I will delve into technique, but for now it’s best to start at the beginning. I will also describe how to perform a basic cranial-spinal reset.

The easiest way to begin restoring the muscular-skeletal systems of the body is through awareness, sitting postures, sleeping habits, and the mouth. If one can say that posture starts anywhere, it starts in the mouth. Many people never touch on this component and those that do address the mouth neglect the other parts of the body. Malocclusion, the development of a bite in which teeth do not properly connect and poor oral posture have existed as long as civilization has existed. Hunter Gatherer populations typically have excellent bites and good oral posture. This creates well balanced and beautiful facial structure. Civilized populations often have poor oral posture and misaligned teeth. There are many explanations for this but no definitive conclusion for why this is.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

See the difference?

Addressing oral posture keeps the skull sitting properly on top of the spine. Atlas chiropractors have found that by bringing the Atlas Vertebra into alignment it balances the rest of the musculoskeletal system.

To do this one must maintain a consistent awareness of their oral habits. Correct oral posture involves keeping the mouth closed, the back molars touching, and tongue on the roof of the mouth. The tip of the tongue should rest on the bump just behind the front teeth. To find this location simply make the sound “nah-nah-nah-nah”. The spot your tongue goes to is where the tip should rest. One should also attempt to raise the posterior part of the tongue so that it is pressing up on the palate. This is incredibly important but also very difficult for most people at first. It is important to simply do what one can do , if it’s only the tip at first start there, eventually you will be able to raise the whole tongue. One should hold this mouth posture at all times when not eating or breathing, but this is something you will work towards. By doing this you will not only take huge steps to balancing your spinal alignment but will over time improve the form of your facial structure.

By pressing upwards with the tongue while keeping the jaw closed you create an upwards force which moves the maxillary bone of the skull forward and a downward force which unsticks the jaw  and allows it to hinge properly. This can greatly help in alleviating TMJ and other jaw disorders  as well as improving breathing. This technique also helps train one in a practice of consistent body awareness which even on its own is a powerful restorative force.

Developing new sitting postures will confer great benefit as well. The most useful posture to learn is a resting squat. This will help to align the spine and bring greater health and mobility to the joints. A resting squat means the heels are flat on the ground and your butt is as low as it will go. For the purpose of a sitting posture it doesn’t matter if your spine is straight or curved. Find whatever way of positing your feet is comfortable for you, there is no one correct way.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

For most this may be challenging at first, but it will come easily eventually. A great way to make this posture one of comfort and ease is to spend 30 minutes a day for 30 days in it. The 30 minutes are a cumulative time goal, you simply do a minute or two many times throughout the day. Soon it will be easy. Try watching the sunrise every morning in a deep squat, with your bare feet on the earth. This will bring many benefits. The first is that it will ensure proper circadian rhythm which is crucial to your whole system. The second is that it will put you in touch with the electromagnetic field of the earth while developing your squat. It is important that you view the sunrise without glasses or contact lenses in as the early morning UV light will not penetrate glass or lenses. It is crucial this early morning light reaches your eyes because it is the signal which turns all your daytime metabolic and hormonal processes on. This will influence everything from mental health and dopamine levels, to proper melatonin production, reduce the risk of alzheimer's and dementia, and combat diseases such as diabetes, MS, and autoimmune disorders.

There are many other sitting postures one can use that will bring benefit. The traditional Japanese meditation posture where one’s legs are folded underneath oneself and you are sitting on top of your ankles is a good one. The half and full lotus meditation postures can also be useful if they are comfortable for you. There are many variations one could use, the most important thing is to simply start sitting on the ground and allowing your body to support itself instead of using chairs and furniture.

Along with sitting habits it is important that one also begins to develop the ability of the body to hang. Simply grab a tree branch and hang from it passively. If this is too hard to do with a tree start with a standard pull up bar.

Sleeping habits are the next key area to address. It is imperative that you get rid of your mattress and transition to a firm sleeping mat on the ground. All primates suffer from musculoskeletal problems however nature has given us a way to correct this. However one cannot take advantage of this while sleeping on a mattress. It is similarly important to get rid of one’s pillow but take one step at a time. Many of these sleeping postures create a mechanism where the diaphragm movement during sleeping in these postures resets the vertebra of the spine.

The first involves sleeping on the side using an externally rotated arm as a pillow. The shoulder that is used as a pillow is hunched and the feet are relatively pointed. One can also sleep with one’s head directly on the ground if the shoulder is hunched properly.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

The second involves using both folded arms as a pillow.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

The third and my personal favorite creates an unwinding of rotational imbalances of the spine.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

These all make fantastic sleeping and resting postures that will yield tremendous benefit simply from relaxing in these poses.

Here is what I was able to achieve in 2 years, from age 19 to age 21. I am now 23 at the time of writing this and have continued to experience great benefits from these kinds of practices. I did not even learn about the oral posture work until well after the photos displayed below. It held the key to correcting my forward neck posture.  

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

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Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living


Alignment - Part 1

By Steven Lubka

I write this in the beginning of the year 2016. In the last several decades we have experienced increasingly rapid and dramatic changes in the ways in which most humans live on this beautiful planet. We have developed incredible technologies that have made the impossible , possible. Our environments are filled with invisible wavelengths of light (wireless internet technologies)  which transmit the sum of human knowledge instantaneously to most points on the planet. With nuclear energy we generate power from invisible particles on a scale previously unheard of. We have discovered ways to alter the genetic information of plants and animals, to travel through the skies at incredible speeds, to travel into outer space, and many other feats which were delegated to the realm of imagination 100 years ago.

From a certain perspective one can view all of these inventions as coming from a pure seed of potential, a dream in the collective mind of man. Of course it is our nature to attempt the impossible. Of course it is our nature to dream, and yet we now find ourselves dealing with the fallout of all of these technological breakthroughs. Our inventions have changed our lifestyles and the face of the earth and these changes have happened faster than the biologic systems of the Earth and the human body can handle.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Our bodies evolved over millions of years sheltered in the magnetic resonance of the planet. As we slept on the earth and walked barefoot on her landscape we were constantly attuned to her vibrations and frequencies. Our science is now discovering how essential our attunement to these magnetic fields are for the function of our cellular health. Magnetic frequencies and light cycles impact every aspect of our biology down to the cellular level, and yet in a hundred years we have completely disconnected from these nourishing vibrations in favor of artificial sources. We have migrated from a life lived in communion with the Earth and all her medicine to one that is lived in an artificially lit indoor environment that is becoming increasingly saturated by the electric fields and wireless radiations of our technological brilliance.

We once woke up with the sun and moved through complex natural environments to fulfill the tasks of our daily lives. As we moved, the very act of movement caused the vital fluids of our bodies to circulate to all the organs and muscles. The heart is not the only mover of blood. The contractions of muscles pull blood and circulate nutrients to all parts of our physical form. Yet now we sit and stare into screens endlessly, robbing ourselves of the replenishing aspects of movement and the joys of it.

At night darkness fell and our activities ceased with it. We learned the wisdom of having a time for darkness and inactivity, something which our industries which strive for growth at all times could serve to remember. The period of darkness experienced at night is a critical as the period of light experienced during the day. The morning sun triggers a massive shift in hormonal function as the bodies shifts into its daytime processes, and similarly the onset of darkness triggers the onset of our nocturnal processes.

The Chinese knew the importance of Yin and Yang, and what can occur when these forces are out of balance. In their language I would say our light environment has become Yin deficient because of our use of artificial lighting. I also find our constant illumination of our world to be symbolic of the masculine conquest of nature. We have created eternal daytime, we have conquered darkness, and we have lost touch with her feminine receptive nature. We have lost the ancient experience of stories told around a fire. and of quiet conversations with our loved ones under the night sky. In scientific terms we are impairing the product of melatonin and damaging our eyes via blue light toxicity during the dark portion of the photoperiod.

These are just some of the changes that have taken place in the last hundred years and I cite them now as an example of how our way of living has shifted so dramatically and so quickly. As a result of all these changes a general malaise has come to afflict the human population. We have become numb to the sound of it as most take this state of being as “normal” for it is all they have ever known. How does one know they are sick if they have never been well?  All you need to do is turn on a television ( but I do not recommend it) to hear the advertisements for medications for depression, anxiety, cancer, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, MS, and a variety of other diseases which were  unheard in ancient societies and among hunter gatherer populations.

However, the innate intelligence of life is stirring within us and many people are becoming increasingly disillusioned with this culture we have manufactured. A great awareness for physical healing and restoration is emerging and I feel it is one of the most important ways that we pay homage to the Earth, by healing the gift of the body we have been given. Through the miracle which is the Internet I have watched for years as people from all over the world have gathered in virtual space to find solutions and it is here in this virtual realm that I am sharing my contribution to the whole. We can’t say that the times we live in are boring!

The body is a complex system, a unified whole made of many parts. In this way it reflects a fundamental principle inherent to all levels of creation. All manners of form in this existence are simultaneously a singular whole and the many parts which it is composed of. This is an important reference point to hold when one attempts to bring their body back into a state of health. The state of health is the singular holistic manifestation of all parts working in harmony. So where does one begin in their journey? For each person different pieces will hold different magnitudes of importance. This is individual and must be discovered by the individual. What is most important for one person will not typically be what is most important for another and I don’t truly find there to be a hierarchy of the various systems. The heart is not intrinsically more important than the liver. The brain is not intrinsically more important than the gut. The alignment of the spine not intrinsically more important than the circadian biology. All of these things work together, much as rivers don’t exist without the land they flow through nor without the clouds which replenish the waters of this magnificent biosphere.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

I say all of this and yet now I must create a starting point for one cannot address the whole without starting with one of it’s parts. The Chinese viewed a human life as something of great value. The human being was seen as a conduit between heaven and earth, between form and formlessness. In other words the human being was bridge between two worlds. In my eyes nothing manifests this role or relationship better than the spinal column. The spine is something of incredible function. It not only is the literal foundation of our physical form but it also is the ground through which an immense of amount information travels in the forms of nerve signaling and sensory input from all parts of the system. It is the central axis of the body. A properly aligned spine yields a properly aligned being who is a conduit of both heaven and earth. I find that the spine is also the antenna of the body and when the antenna is calibrated properly it allows one to become receptive to “information” from the greater systems we are a part of. It allows one to receive “information” on the level of frequency from the magnetic field of the earth, the frequencies of the stars and cosmic bodies, and from the interconnected biosphere of life on this planet. A hunched and collapsed spine is a sign that the organism is heading towards death, yet most live in this state from a young age now.

This concludes the first of this three part series. In the next part I will outline some basic habits one can cultivate to to easily improve one’ alignment. In the third I will show how to perform a basic cranial-spinal reset and delve into some further discussion of our motivation to heal ourselves, where this motivation is useful, and where it is limited.

 

Alignment Part 1 : Chinese Medicine Living

*Images
The beautiful featured image from picturesdotnews.com
Earth image from Mother Earth by Commander on Youtube.com
Tree image from veganfeministnetwork.com
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Peace Love & Acupuncture Button : Chinese Medicine Living


Traditional Chinese Medicine - The Medicine of Prevention

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I like to use the metaphor borrowed from the wonderful book Between Heaven and Earth that compares the body to a garden. Chinese medicine sees the body as a garden; something that needs to be tended and nurtured. You must water a garden, pull weeds and be mindful of pests for your garden to thrive. You must look at your garden every day so that you can detect subtle changes and make adjustments so that your garden will flourish.

In the West, the body is seen more as a machine. Parts break and must be fixed or replaced. It is a reductionist model, reducing the body to parts, that instead of working together are seen in isolation. We tend to wait until something "breaks" before we seek out a mechanic to do the needed repairs. This is one of the fundamental differences between the Eastern and Western models. In the West, we tend to wait until we are diagnosed with a disease before we seek out treatment, and in the Eastern model, we are learning to take care of ourselves on every level so that we can stay healthy so sickness never develops. Chinese medicine is a medicine of prevention.

Chinese Medicine - The Medicine of Prevention

The thing that many people don't know about Chinese medicine is that it is not just going to have acupuncture for a headache, or when your allergies flare up - it teaches a way of life, or better yet - a way of LIVING. In acupuncture school, we are all taught the acupuncture points and their functions, but this is only a fraction of the overall picture. We are mostly looking at the entire body and its relationship to the environment. We are also looking at the body and its various parts in relation to each other. In the garden, if you tend it every day you see which plants are happy and which ones are struggling. You can see which ones need fertilizer and which ones are getting too much sun. It is the same with the body. If we are paying attention, we can feel the subtleties happening inside, if we have an excess liver, a deficient spleen or a disturbance in our shen. This kind of attunement is possible, and vital to being as healthy and balanced as we would all like to be. The thing is, that we have to learn how. And this is what Chinese medicine teaches.

This learning, or teaching - the sharing of information - is the job of the acupuncturist. That is the entire intention of Chinese Medicine Living and why I started it in the first place. It is not to hand over your health to someone else, it is to participate and empower everyone to achieve the healing, health, and happiness they want because they can have it.

How To Stay Healthy and Prevent Illness

The wonderful thing about the Chinese medicine approach to health is that it is all-encompassing. You are not just your body, you are so much more! You are spirit, emotions, energy, light - they are all part of you. You are also flesh, bones, muscles, and tendons, and all must be maintained so that you remain healthy. Every aspect is important, they all matter. The intake process of the acupuncturist or practitioner of Chinese medicine is comprehensive and extremely thorough. The theory is that we are trying to paint a picture of the entire organism because every part is connected to every other part, nothing exists in isolation. If you have a headache, we do not just look at the head, we must look at the entire body in all its aspects. The headache is only the symptom, we must determine the main cause. The other reason is that we are treating the root problem and not the symptoms. This is at the core of Chinese medical theory. Any illness that manifests is seen as a symptom of a deeper problem, and that is what we are trying to correct. People sometimes wonder, what if they have many symptoms? Do you treat them all at the same time or can you treat them all at once? This situation depends on the severity of the symptom. If it is acute and causing distress to the patient, then we treat the symptom immediately and then treat the root afterwards. If the symptoms are causing discomfort, then both symptom and root would be treated at the same time, and if the symptoms are not causing distress, then the root would be treated, and once the root is discovered and corrected, the symptoms simply disappear. This is one of the reasons why Chinese medicine treatments are so effective. They are individualized treatments, seeking out the root of the problem and correcting it. It is not treating a headache, it is treating YOUR headache by figuring out why you are having them.

Why Emotions Matter


Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

A thorough exploration of the emotions is of vital importance for every patient. Sometimes someone will come in with problems they see as reasonably superficial and when I get to the part about the emotions they ask "what difference does that make? What could that possibly have to do with having stomachaches?" And this is my answer. It could have everything to do with your stomachaches and everything else that is going on with you. Emotions are a huge factor in our health and Chinese medicine takes them very seriously. They are as important to the practitioner of Chinese medicine as the virus you caught in a third world country or the chronic asthma you have been suffering with since you were a child. In my opinion, the emotions are responsible for a huge percentage of all the imbalances I see in clinic, and that is why they really matter.

Living in Harmony with Nature


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People used to live in complete harmony with the world around them. After the development of agriculture, we began to break this connection, and instead of living in harmony with nature, we began to dominate and control it. People were aware of subtle changes in weather and were deeply connected to animals, the seasons and the planet. The natural world governed behaviour; what people ate and when as well as eating what was in season. This is the way our bodies were designed and evolved over thousands of years, and how we could best stay healthy and ward off disease. Things like the weather, the ebb and flow of the seasons and the migration of animals were all a vital part of life, health, and survival.

In the present day, this connection has largely been severed. We suffer and die from diseases at an unprecedented rate. Many of us sit in front of computers for many hours a day and eat foods that are highly processed and full of unnatural chemicals. Going outside is something to "do" and not our natural state as it once was. Our relationship with nature and the planet is no longer harmonious and mutually beneficial, human beings live unnatural lives and get sick and die from many diseases that did not affect our ancestors.

Chinese medicine teaches a way of living, and that is to live as close to nature as possible. Eating with the seasons, rising early in the summer months and spending time outside being active, eating more cooling foods, and sleeping more and turning energies more inwards in the colder months, eating warming foods and conserving energies. It is simple, and it works well to keep us healthy so that disease doesn't have a chance to develop.

Food as Medicine 

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Food is perhaps the most important aspect of good health. There is a lot of information and therefore confusion about how and what to eat. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there about foods, diets, what is harmful and what is beneficial, so it is understandable that nutrition is a huge and confusing subject for many. Chinese medicine uses food as medicine. Food is something you put into your body every day, so eating well is the best way to stay healthy and avoid disease.

There is a huge amount of evidence that diet alone can reverse many of the most devastating diseases in Western society - heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The trick is not to wait until you get a diagnosis of one of these diseases to take action. Eating well is something that you can do every day, at every meal. Chinese medicine sees foods as having a thermal nature, or temperature. Along with your constitution (you may be a hot or cold person), you can add or take away foods that will help keep you balanced. The key is to be constantly paying attention so that you can adjust accordingly. You must listen to your body.

Listen to Your Body

listen to your body : Chinese Medicine Living

This is perhaps the thing that, in my experience, we are missing the most. I fully believe that the body has an intelligence that far exceeds the one we attribute to our brains. Your body is a miracle. It is a miracle of healing. There are stories about this healing from all over the world. Your body wants to be healthy and heal from illness, you must only give it what it needs to do so. But you must listen. It is always trying to communicate with you. Take the example of pain. This is a communication tool used by the body to tell you that something is wrong. Instead of listening, doctors prescribe painkillers so that we don't feel it. We don't want to feel pain, but it is the body's way of trying to get your attention. There are many, many ways that the body communicates, but we have largely lost the ability to listen. So many times I have patients who have been diagnosed with illnesses like MS, cancer, heart disease and are completely shocked when their doctors tell them they are sick. Once we speak and I learn of their history, be it medical, emotional or psychological it is usually obvious that there were signs, many, many signs before there was a diagnosis of one of these serious diseases.

We live in a world where we are overworked, underslept, in debt and stressed out. Many of us feel we do not have the luxury of listening to our bodies because we have to go to work so that the mortgage can be paid, or the children can go to school. We push ourselves harder and harder and our health - both physical and spiritual, suffers. It's not easy. But it is WORTH it. Deep down we all have that sense, that gut feeling that we know when something is wrong. Something is out of balance. We need more sleep, we need to eat better. This is your body speaking to you. It wants you to be healthy and to live a long, happy life. It only wants you to listen.

 


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Recipe for Health & Longevity - Ginseng Congee

Invigorating the Qi Recipe - Ginseng Congee

This recipe is for invigorating the Qi, increasing the function of the immune system, increasing your adaptability adapt to the environment and strengthening the function of tissues and organs in the body.

Symptoms of Qi deficiency:

Fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale complexion, sweating with little or no exertion, poor appetite, stomach distention, loose or soft stools, diarrhea, cold extremities and frequent urination.

Ingredients

*Ginseng - 10g / 1/3oz

Polished Round Grain Rice - 100g / 3.5oz

Water - 3 cups

Instructions

1. Cut the ginseng into small pieces.

2. Soak the ginseng along with 3 cups of water for 60 minutes in a ceramic or glass pot.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 1 hour.

4. Add the rice to the ginseng soup.

5. Boil and simmer again for 40 minutes.

6. Separate into 2 portions and take one in the morning and one in the evening.

 

*Ginseng Types

Ginseng is a sweet and slightly bitter root well known for its ability to strengthen the body. There are 3 types of ginseng, Chinese, Korean and American. They all have different natures and healing properties depending on where they are grown and how they are prepared. Wild ginseng which is collected in the mountains and forests is the most prized and most expensive.

When cooking ginseng, it is important to use only glass, ceramic or porcelain cookware rather than metal. One should avoid drinking tea, or coffee or eating radishes or turnips immediately before or after eating ginseng as they decrease its effectiveness.

Chinese Ginseng

Chinese ginseng is slightly warm and is especially beneficial to the lungs and digestive system. Its warm nature makes it excellent for treating cold conditions and deficiency syndromes. Chinese ginseng strongly tonifies the lungs and is used to treat breathing problems, cold extremities, profuse sweating and a weak pulse. It also strengthens the digestive system and is used to treat symptoms of fatigue, lack of appetite, and chest and abdominal distension. It is able to promote body fluids so it used to treat dryness and relives mental stress. It also benefits the heart and is used to treat palpitations (racing heart) insomnia, amnesia and irritability which are all due to a deficiency of the body's Qi and Blood.

Korean Ginseng

Korean ginseng is produced in Korea and has the same properties and functions as Chinese ginseng, although it is considered hot and should be used very cautiously.

American Ginseng

American ginseng is produced in the United States, Canada and France, with the best quality coming from the state of Wisconsin in the United States. It is cool in nature, , sweet and slightly bitter in flavour. It benefits the lungs, heart and kidney. American ginseng is used for strengthening the digestive system, promotes the body fluids so helps with dryness and is excellent for heat problems and general weakness of the body.

 


Asian Black Rice Salad Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 cup black rice

1 carrot shredded

1/3 green bell pepper

1/2 half pint grape tomatoes

1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped

1/4 cup slivered almonds

Sauce

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp light sesame oil

1/2 tsp black pepper

Boil black rice in 2 cups of water until softened, adding additional water as necessary. Remove from heat and let it completely cool off.

Add the sauce and all other ingredients to a bowl and marinate for 15 min or longer. Add cooled rice to mixture, toss and serve.

This recipe from BlackRice.com

Black Rice Nutritional Information

Black rice is considered very high in nutrients, minerals and has many anti-aging effects. Because of its dark colour it is extremely high in antioxidants (a good rule of thumb is the darker and richer in colour a food is, the higher in nutrients, minerals and antioxidants). Black rice is a whole grain rice with its bran layer intact. Black rice is sometimes referred to as Forbidden Rice, or Emperor's Rice since in ancient China it was served only to the Emperor to aid in his longevity and because of its many healing properties.

Black rice is considered yin or cooling. It has the actions of invigorating the liver, benefits the eyes and moves the blood. It treats anemia, dizziness, blurred vision, and signs of aging like greying hair, sore lower back and knees and hearing loss.

Black rice has higher dietary fiber and has a low glycemic index (55 - white rice is 87) and does not cause dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels. It is high in potassium, magnesium and helps to control blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, including black rice in your diet is an excellent for prevention, but added to the diet can help to reverse these conditions.


Acupuncture for Weight Loss

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

There are so many diets out there and it seems like every doctor, nutritionist and medical professional has a different approach on how to help you lose weight. This can be overwhelming and confusing to the average person trying to find information about how to eat better, exercise and lose excess pounds. I am here to tell you about the Chinese medicine approach.
Nutrition and dietary therapy are a very important aspect of Chinese medicine. The difference with Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it has 4000 years of history to back it up and it belongs to a culture that generally, do not have problems with their weight. China, and indeed much of Asia are cultures of slim people. So, they must be doing something right. The key is that, as a culture, they have a different approach to food and nutrition.
In North America we live in a culture with an excess of food and most importantly, an excess of unnatural foods full of additives and preservatives. Never in human history have we had such an array of chemicals, additives and pesticides in the food we eat. Things like MSG and aspartame – which are both extremely toxic and major causes of disease, are ubiquitous.One of the most important things we can do, and a concept that is integral to Chinese medicine, is to eat REAL FOOD. This may seem ridiculously simple, but it is not that easy to do. It is becoming increasingly confusing for the consumer to know exactly what is in the food we buy and how much it has been modified. Laws about labelling vary from country to country so it is difficult to know what exactly is in the food we are eating.The Chinese have a holistic view of the body, and a very different approach to diet and nutrition than we do in the West. It may seem strange at first, but it has been practiced for thousands of years. They believe that it is not only WHAT you eat, but HOW you eat. Here are some examples:
  1. Being MINDFUL when you eat, that is not dispersing energies by watching tv, working or studying
  2. Sitting while you eat without crossing your legs, as this crosses energy that should flow freely and unhindered
  3. Chewing your food very well
  4. Eat organically and locally
  5. Eat with the seasons
  6. Wearing loose fitting clothing so Qi can flow and not become obstructed

 

preparing food

The Chinese believe that one should eat foods that are locally grown, that is to say foods that are indigenous to where you live. This was certainly easier to do in a time before air travel. We have been spoiled by a variety of foods from all over the world that are available to us at any time of the year. And although many people love to be able to eat things like strawberries all year long, it is not considered healthy according to the TCM model, as this was not the way our digestive systems were designed. Weight has not been a problem in China until the last couple of generations because of the introduction of North American food into the diet. It is not necessarily the variety of foods that have caused this change, but the fact that the foods that many of us eat in the West are overly processed and full of unnatural preservatives that are difficult to metabolize. Foods full of refined sugar, wheat, oils and salt are some of the most unhealthy and a large cause of unnecessary weight gain.

One of the main strengths of Chinese medicine is that it is so individualistic. Because it is a holistic system, each part of the body affecting and influencing the others, there is a real emphasis on individual diagnosis. For example, lets take a headache. In Western medicine if you were to complain of headaches your MD might suggest taking something like Advil or Tylenol, and would probably give pretty much the same advice to most people who came in with that complaint. In Chinese medicine there are over 100 different types of headaches and each one is treated completely differently. It is this way with all diagnostics in TCM. There are many different types of obesity and people struggle with their weight for many different reasons. The reasons can range from physical, psychological, emotional to spiritual. This is why the Chinese medicine approach works so well. Each person is diagnosed as an individual according to their specific issues and treatment is designed specifically for them. When people ask me what I “DO” for people to help them lose weight, I have to say that it is a completely different approach for every person I treat. The reasons for gaining and keeping weight on are individual, so then, must be the treatment.

scale

In my experience, I would say that the most important thing you need if you would like to lose weight is the DESIRE. I cannot tell you how many patients have come into my office and asked me to work my magic and make the pounds disappear. And, flattering as this is, it is simply not possible. What I tell them is that they must WANT to lose the weight. And if they do I will gladly work with them using acupuncture, herbs and nutritional therapy, as well as any other TCM modalities that might help in their particular case, to get the weight off. It is a joint effort and the acupuncturist is there to help and support you through the process. With the desire of the patient, and the skills of the practitioner, acupuncture really works to help you lose weight and get back to health.


What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an umbrella term for the many different modalities used in Chinese Medicine. These include Acupuncture (electro, auricular, cosmetic), Tui Na (Chinese medical massage), Herbal Medicine, Gua Sha (scraping), Moxibustion (the burning of the herb mugwort), Cupping, Dietary Therapy and Energy Work (Qi Gong, Tai Chi).

Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest continuous medical systems on earth, with instances dating back more than 4000 years. The philosophy of TCM is based on the Taoist view that human beings should strive to live in harmony with nature and their natural environment. Eating foods that grow locally and in season, practicing Tai Chi and Qi Gong, expressing our emotions, being self aware and listening to our needs and desires are, in the TCM view, the way to a healthy and balanced life.

The TCM philosophy offers us different approaches to looking at the workings of our bodies, the development of disease and the process of healing. The emotional self, for example, is just as important to the TCM practitioner as the physical body. When a patient arrives with a specific complaint, all physical as well as emotional and psychological aspects are evaluated, as it is the entire person who must be rebalanced, not just one aspect. This holistic approach is the strength of the TCM model, and why it is so effective. Treating the whole is in opposition to the reductionist model in the West which reduces the body into parts, not taking into consideration that they operate synergistically as a whole. This is one of the reasons why TCM is still able to treat a huge variety of ailments in the modern world.

acudish

Illness is described in the way it is seen to exist and develop, in natural terms. Terms like water, fire, wind and earth are used to describe a person and aspects of their health, personality and disease. Illness develops when something is out of balance, is deficient, in excess or stuck. The energy of the body, or Qi, must then be rebalanced, topped up, sedated, and moved depending on the presenting condition. Qi moves along specific pathways in the body called meridians. The acupuncture points are places where the Qi comes to the surface and is able to be manipulated by the acupuncture needles.

Herbs work internally to achieve the same goals. They are powerful tools and can be used alone or in conjunction with acupuncture or any of the other modalities, like Tui Na, Cupping or Gua Sha. All are used to rebalance the body and return it to a state of equilibrium. It is up to the practitioner to decide which ones or combinations are most effective for the patient and the imbalance that has led them to seek treatment.

In conclusion, Chinese medicine holds the body and its capacity for healing in great reverence. It does not see itself as an outside force that is able to heal the body, but as a way to help adjust the body and bring it back into balance so that health is restored. In essence, it is not the practitioner doing the healing, it is the body. Advice on nutrition, living with the seasons and moderation in life empowers the patient and enables him to participate in his own healing. The goal of the TCM practitioner is to use these concepts to guide the patient on how to live a healthy, happy and balanced life.