Welcome to Spring!
Spring has *finally* sprung, and spring is the time of the expansive energies of the liver. We can all look forward to the coming warm weather, the green of new plants and spending more time outside after, for some, a long winter. This month an article on how to keep your liver healthy in spring, the second installment of alignment (woo!) and how to fight off the common cold with black elderberry from our resident EthnoHerbalist Dr. Kevin Curran as well as an excellent detox tea recipe using black beans and licorice from Vicky Chan at NourishU. Have a lovely April and we will see you in May. :)
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Here Are This Months Articles...
Spring & The Liver in Chinese Medicine
By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP
Spring is here, and Spring is the time that the Liver flourishes and its energies are at their peak. Spring is a time of new life and the growth and activity of plants and animals after a long winter hibernating. The Liver is associated with new growth and expansive energies, just like plants in Springtime stretching up and out, reaching for the sun. Spring is the best time to support the Liver, eating fresh green foods and being mindful to express our emotions.
The Liver has many responsibilities in Chinese medicine, as you will see below, and the Springtime is the best time to treat the Liver, as its energies are at their full expression. First we will discuss the Liver's responsibilities in the body, then, in part two, we will move onto the emotions and in part three we will discuss the ways that we can keep the Liver healthy and happy through diet, the emotions and making sure you get to bed by 11pm. :)
What Does The Liver Do in Chinese Medicine?
One of the most vital functions of the Liver is that it is responsible for storing blood. This means that it regulates the volume of blood in the body at all times, and this serves an important function during physical activity. The Liver stores the blood when it is not being used by the body, but when we are active, the Liver sends the blood to the muscles, nourishing and moistening them. This function also has an important influence on a person's energy level. The Liver sends the blood to specific parts of the body, nourishing the necessary tissues. If the Liver is healthy, we will have energy to do our daily activities. If the Liver is impaired however, the blood will not get to the parts of the body that need it and we will become easily tired.
The Livers function of storing blood also directly influences our ability to fight off pathogens. If the Liver function is normal, the skin and muscles will be well nourished and the body will be able to fight off attacks by exterior pathogens. There are other factors that affect our ability to fight off pathogenic factors, like our defensive Qi and the strength of our Lung Qi, but it is important not to overlook the Livers role in our ability to fight off invaders.
The Livers function of storing blood is also extremely important in gynaecology and specifically, menstruation. If the Liver is functioning normally, the periods will be normal. If the Liver is deficient, the periods will be late, irregular or absent. If the Liver is in excess or has excess heat, there can be excessive bleeding and pain. The Liver is very important in Women's physiology and pathology. Many gynaecological problems are due to pathologies of the Liver. If there are gynaecological problems, the Liver will be involved. Because the Liver governs the smooth flow of Qi, the bodies energies, stagnation of Liver Qi is a common diagnosis and manifests in the periods as painful periods, pre-menstrual tension and clots.
Controls The Smooth Flow of Qi
The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body. In Chinese medicine, illness or disease is seen to be a blockage of the flow. When things, like blood, are not flowing properly, the results can be catastrophic, like a stroke. So, the Liver's function of keeping Qi moving in the body is important for our health. A blockage of the flow of Qi is central to almost all Liver disharmonies and is one of the most common patterns seen in clinical practice. In Chinese medicine, each organ also is seen to have a specific direction in which its Qi naturally flows. The Lungs Qi flows downwards (a pathological upward flow causes coughing), as does the Qi of the Stomach (when it moves up we get vomiting and belching), and the Qi of the Spleen naturally flows up (when it moves down we get diarrhea). Part of the Livers function of moving Qi smoothly throughout the body is also to ensure the proper flow and direction for all the organs. This is a big responsibility as you can imagine. It is a big job which is why it is so important to have a health, happy Liver.
The Liver function of ensuring the smooth flow of Qi also has an impact on the emotional state. If the Liver is functioning normally, the Qi will be flowing and the emotional state will be balanced. However, if the Qi is obstructed, there can be anger, frustration, depression and a feeling of being "wound up" as well as physical symptoms like hypochondriac pain, a sensation of oppression in the chest, a feeling of a lump in the throat and distension in the abdomen.
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.
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.
Fending Off the Common Cold with Black Elderberry
By Dr. Kevin Curran
We all know there’s no cure for the common cold. But the question remains…is there a natural way to treat the symptoms of a cold. Plant-based, natural remedies for cold or flu infections are popular because they tend to be less invasive and yield fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs. Black elderberry is one of these popular natural therapies. However, just because a remedy is popular, that doesn’t always mean it’s an effective approach. In this article, we explore the biology behind the proposed health benefits of black elderberry.
What is black elderberry?
Black elderberry is a shrubby tree native to the temperate regions of Europe. Black elderberry, or Sambucus nigra, has become widely used as a medicinal plant. This deciduous tree grows up to 30 feet in height and produces clusters of small, white flowers. These flowers generate green berries, which turn black at the end of summer.
The use of elderberry by humans is not a new concept. Archaeologists discovered that early humans buried their dead with elderberry branches. In North America, early settlers have been using black elderberry for the past 10,000 years. Native Americans ate the berries for food but they were also aware of the healing properties of the plant. They consumed the berries, leaves and flowers as a means to defend against rheumatism and viral infections.
Lately there’s been a resurgence in interest the health benefits of this medicinal plant. Fortunately this resurgence of interest has been accompanied by quality clinical and laboratory studies. These studies explore the capacity for black elderberry to strengthen our immune system and, thereby, minimize the negative effects of a cold or flu.
Below, we’ll explore some of this published work and, in doing so, we will explain how elderberries can help us stay healthy.
Quote of the Month
My father used to say don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.~Desmond Tutu
Peruvian Farmer Wins David-And-Goliath Battle Against Mining Giant
In a David-and-Goliath battle, community activists in Peru have, so far, succeeded in shutting down the creation of a $5 billion open-caste gold and copper mine next to a pristine lake.
The story of Maxima Acuña – a farmer who owns a 60-acre plot of land on the exact site where the giant Newmont Mining Corporation has pursued a land grab, is a reminder that even the world’s largest companies can be held in check by activists.mining licenses across the country. Despite these promises, rural peasant farmers, who were rarely consulted in the development of mining projects, largely continue to live in poverty. In many communities, mining waste has polluted the local waterways, affecting local people’s drinking water and irrigation needs.
The plans for Conga Mine called for draining four nearby lakes. One of these would be turned into a waste storage pit, threatening the headwaters of five watersheds and an entire ecosystem of high-altitude biologically diverse wetland.
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in the News
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If you would like to read about the latest scienntific studies involving Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, please see our "Current Research" page to find all the latest. :)
Recipe Of The Month with NourishU
Black Bean & Licorice - Best Detox Combination
Nowadays, detoxification is the centre of attention when it comes to sickness prevention, health promotion and treatment of all kinds of illnesses including cancer. It is not hard to understand why we all need to detoxify for better health because we are living in such a toxic world with the air, food and water being highly polluted. Together with the industrialization of food and the modern healthcare approach of overusing toxic pharmaceutical drugs, our body is constantly bombarded by toxins. It is only a matter of when our body succumbs to the toxic effects and fails to function properly. Cancer is a typical example and is happening far too often to too many people now. I agree with the doctor who said `` if you breathe, you need to detox``.
If we understand the importance of detoxification, we will also understand that detoxification is not just a spring time event or a once a year exercise. It is necessary to flush out toxins from our body on a continuous and regular basis. This means that rather than taking a drastic detox program in a short period of time, it is better to take a more regular and gentler approach. The effect will be far better and easier for the body to handle.
Chinese medicine is big on detoxification. Making detox teas regularly for the whole family is a common approach towards sickness prevention and cure. It is especially important for young children and teenagers throughout their various development stages. The results are they have better digestive function, much more balance internally and therefore become calm and less agitated. They have less skin related problems therefore feel more confident and with better self-esteem. Besides homemade detox tea, it is also very common to find tea houses, herbal shops and retail stores selling all kinds of detox teas rather than coffee or unhealthy drinks. The most popular ones are the five flowers tea and cooling herbal tea. The homemade detox teas have more variety, milder in taste and nature, and are using more food ingredients such as beans, sugar cane, water chestnut, carrot, winter melon, lotus leave, etc., therefore are more delicious and easier for children to take regularly.
Black bean and licorice tea is one detox formula that I recently found in TCM literature which has very high rating and with lots of documentation to back up its efficacy. It is praised as the best detox tea for taking out almost all toxins from our body from all sources including toxins from pharmaceutical drugs and herbs. The only toxin that it cannot remove is cortisone. That is why we have to be very weary when taking cortisone injection. My understanding is that our body can only tolerate up to two cortisone injections in one life time. Any more than that will cause a lot of havoc to our body.
Black Bean & Licorice Detox Tea
INGREDIENTS (About 6 Servings)
About Chinese Medicine Living
Chinese Medicine Living is a place where Chinese medicine principles are applied to the way we live our lives to improve health on every level. In our articles, interviews and information we strive to teach how the body and the world is seen through the eyes of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so you can better understand its theories, and how to live a healthy balanced lifestyle according to its principles. How TCM views the body and its connections to emotions, living in harmony with the world around us, and how to achieve the balance synonymous with health are the ways in which we strive to impart the limitless wisdom of Chinese medicine. Welcome.
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