Posts Tagged ‘chinese medicine’

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Riding the wave of the Spring Equinox

March 13, 2015

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Vernal Equinox and the Five Elements

On March 20th, and throughout this entire week for that matter, mother Earth will be going through her cyclical metabolic process or climatic shift called Equinox. The Vernal Equinox is the transition from Winter to Spring, or in the words of 5 elements theory, from Water to Wood.  As children of Mother Earth, our Body, Mind and Spirit also go through a metabolic shift as we adjust to the energies of the season.  This year, the onset of Spring coincides with the first day of the New Moon, a propitious time for new beginnings and or finding new views in that that still feels current to us…

When ancient Chinese physicians spoke of the Five elements, they not only referred to the elements as found in Nature: wood, fire, earth, metal and water but also to Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water as the symbolic expression of how life moves and manifests on our planet and in our bodies and psyches.

Winter time is a propitious season to dwell and look deeply into our fears and habitual patterns.  It’s during that time that some of us hold tight to the aspiration to transform that energy into Wisdom, the virtue of Water, in the knowing that the manifesting power of the Spring would follow.

According to some scholars and practitioners of the Chinese meridian system the first acupuncture point on the Wood channel located very close to the Earth, around the area of the big toe, is called “Great Esteem”.  It refers to “self-esteem as the ability to stand up for the vision that emerges from the depths of the self”.  Remember that during the Winter season the seeds are nourished and protected by Mother Earth until it’s the right time, Spring, for them to manifest their potential into the world. 

Wisely, the Chinese chose to give the name of “Gate of Hope” to the last point of the wood meridian located on the “rib basket”, under the diaphragm. The Gate of Hope empowers the quality of aspiration.  You can picture yourself growing out of your safe shell or seed of potential and joyfully stretching out towards your Heart, your inner sun and from there manifesting your true potential into the world around you.

Sometimes the transition from Winter to Spring may feel a little uncomfortable for some of us since the force of wood will push us to acknowledge and get in touch with areas or aspects of ourselves carefully swept under the rug during the dormant season of Winter. This may translate into a feeling of urgency to finish or start that one project already overcooking in the cauldron of our dreams.  Luckily, the Equinox is also a very propitious time to exercise equanimity, compassion and kindness to ourselves and others!

It is also a time in which anger may come out a little bit easier than at other times; that is why the ancient ones advise us to arise early and go walking (or in modern times, we may go jogging, cycling, rowing…) in order to absorb the fresh, invigorating energy of the season so as to be able to course and transform the powerful energy of anger into discernment and understanding. Expressing ourselves both physically and emotionally is also a healthy way to course the Yang energy of a new sprout.

Spring Foods

The Spring is a propitious  time to attend to the Liver and Gall Bladder. Good time to cleanse the body of the fats and heavier foods of the Winter.
Some of us will undergo some form of “flu” that will invite us to make a pause and allow the junk to come out in the form of phlegm, loose stools and a bit of more sweating.

You may choose to to go on a Cleanse (either a lengthy 21 days one or a more moderate one-day cleanse), if you feel that your liver is somewhat burdened after the wintery heavy foods.  You can also use the following herbs to cleanse and tonify your wood element:

Dandelion is an overall liver cleanser and tonic. Particularly effective for PMS (pre menstrual syndrome), mood swings, bloating and breast tenderness

Peppermint is a mood-elevating, invigorating herb that can aid digestion, bloating and poor appetite.

Milk Thistle is the premier herb for anyone who has been exposed to toxic chemicals and should be taken for at least two months after exposure. In addition, for those who work with chemicals or are routinely exposed to pollution, milk thistle can be taken on a regular basis with a one week break every six weeks

The diet should be the lightest of the year and contain foods that emphasize the ascending and expansive qualities of the spring like:

~ Young plants
~ Fresh Greens
~ Sprouts
~ And immature wheat or other cereal grasses.

Of course, always listen to your own needs, especially in cases in which you may have certain food allergies!

Salty foods such as soy sauce, miso and sodium rich meats all have a strong component of sinking energy and it’s best to limit during this season. Instead, you can use pungent cooking herbs such as:

~ Basil
~ Fennel
~ Marjoram,
~ Rosemary
~ Bay leaf

Certain intensely pungent flavors are employed in the spring by Western folk healers as medicine: a week long daily dose of raw onions and garlic acts as a potion to rid the body of parasites (no romantic dates that week!).

Food preparation

Food preparation becomes simpler in the spring. Cook your food for a shorter time but at a higher temperature, in this way the food is not as thoroughly cooked, especially the inner part. If oil is used, a quick high-temperature sauté is appropriate. When cooking with water, light steaming or minimal simmering is ideal.

Treat yourself with a soothing and delicious tea!

Since coffee is not the most appropriate beverage for this time of the year, I suggest that you treat yourself with this “Liver calming” tea. It’s very simple to make; just gather the following ingredients and make an infusion.

* Mint leaves (fresh when possible)
* Goji berries (look for the ones that are red and not orange since the latter are treated with sulfur), and
* Rose buds

If you want, you may also add a few drops of fresh lemon to your tea. I truly enjoy this combination of herbs especially during Spring time!

In summary

According to Chinese Medicine, this is the most appropriate time of the year to reorganize our internal space by cleansing and nourishing our bodies and mind. This invitation will create a “pause” in our habit-energy which will allow us to shed new light into old assumptions about ourselves and others.

Through the “Gate of Hope”, the energy of this season as manifested by the Wood element presents us with the opportunity to discern our path, to stay clear on our direction, to move forward toward manifesting our dreams and to take a stand for what we believe is wholesome and  in accordance to our Destiny.

This is certainly a time for birth and renewal; may you enjoy every bit of it!

To our Health!

Yamin Chehin L.Ac, Dipl O.M


References

“Nourishing Destiny” Lonny S Jarret
“Love of Mother Universe” Hua-Ching Ni.
“Five Spirits” Lorie Eve Dechar.
“Healing with Whole foods. Oriental traditions and modern nutrition”, Paul Pitchford

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Healthy Summertime with Chinese Medicine

July 10, 2010

chinese medicine, pomegranate, summer diet, summer foods

Summer is here! Our garden is bursting out with chamomile flowers, baby pomegranates are proudly standing in the bushy green tree, baby guavas are blooming out of their flowers…
The “Morning Glory” found a crack through my herbal pharmacy window and is slithering along bottled herbal tinctures and essential oils…
Our wolfie-dogs choose to stay outside and sleep right on the dirt under the moonless sky… My patients celebrate this time of the year by wearing lighter clothes and brighter colors.

The scent of summer ascends from Mother Earth in its full potential EVEN when it is rather chilly in coastal LA…

No wonder the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (1st century BCE) teaches us that “[In the three months of summer] Heavenly energy descends and the Earthly energy rises. When these two energies merge there is intercourse between Heaven and Earth. As a result plants mature and animals, flowers and fruit appear abundantly”(1).
No doubt, Summer is a period of luxurious growth!

When we practice Taoist and Chinese Medicine and Lifestyle, we pay attention to the seasonal cycles. We do this just because we are another expression of this marriage between Heaven and Earth and as such, we have the potential to mirror and manifest the cyclical changes that Mother Earth will consistently go through.

Movement Tips

Tip #1: To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer you may want to awaken early in the morning and reach for the also awakening sun for nourishment.

~ Face the rising sun: if for some reason you cannot see the sun just face East and connect with its rising energy.

~Take a mindful breath: feel your chest and abdomen expanding as you breathe in and slightly contracting as you breathe out. You don’t need to force the air in or out, just breath normally and above all joyfully.

~Feel your feet: if you have a chance, stand barefoot on the grass (provided it is not too chilly or too wet). You can also do this simple exercise before starting the car engine or as you are waiting for the bus.

Bring your awareness to the ball of of your feet and feel “roots” growing out of that area. In Chinese medicine we call that area “Bubbling Spring”. Feel the Earth supporting you whether you are standing on the actual soil inside the car, your apartment or in the street.

Take a few moments to appreciate the miracle of your breath and the solid, nurturing motherly energy of the Earth.

~Invite the Sun in: now that you are rooted on Earth, invite the Sun to visit your shrine by breathing in through your nose and breathing out through your mouth.
Feel the healing energy of this bright star flooding your lungs with millions of vibrating particles and activating your body as it runs through your veins, your organs, your bones, your flesh…Allow for the Heavenly energy of the Sun to bring inspiration and strength to your Body, Mind and Spirit.

If you would like to recite an invocation as you face the sun, you may want to explore the “Harmonization with the Sun” by Spiritual Teacher Hua-Ching Ni. It is short and very inspiring.

Tip#2: Brush your skin! Yes! create your own inexpensive spa at home. Skin brushing will enhance circulation and stimulate your immunity so you can enjoy the summer at your best potential!
Just get a loofah and enjoy these revitalizing and simple skin-dry-brushing tips.

Tip#4: Enjoy some outdoors life! Early morning and late afternoon Sun can be quite enjoyable! I am planning to walk with the wolves (it’s rather hot for running!) at least once a week. Swimming, cycling, walking are also excellent ways to get our summer CHI healthy and moving!
Remember to take electrolytes with you since dehydration is one of the main causes for ER visits!

Tip#3: What about my diet?
Mother Earth is bursting out in bright colors. I am sure that you are too getting the brightest colors out of your closet! It only makes sense to follow Paul Pitchford’s recommendations to “use plenty of brightly colored summer fruits and vegetables”(2). I truly enjoy his tips on “Summer Food and Preparation”, always handy when we run out of ideas!

My dear friend and colleague Kirsten Cowan L.Ac also has quite smart and simple tips in case a heat wave attempts to leave your body dehydrated and weak.

The Best of Tips: follow your intuition.
Our ancestors will speak through our genes and will let us know what is the most appropriate way to live a joyful and healthy Summer!!!

To your abundant Health!

Yamin Chehin, L.Ac.


References:
(1). “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine”, translated by Maoshing Ni, Ph.D.
(2) “Healing with Whole Foods” by Paul Pitchford, page 331.