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Apr 15

Ways to Prevent a Cold in Chinese Medicine

It’s Autumn already and that crisp cold bite in the air has appeared and with it, the return of sniffles, headaches and sore throats and if we haven’t been looking after ourselves and our immune system is quite compromised, the body aches and pains with chills and fevers of the flu, which can knock us out for many days and have us feeling quite miserable.

In Chinese Medicine, the main cause of common cold is Wind. The common cold caused by Wind is often associated with abnormal or sudden changes in weather, large variations in temperature, the body being wet by rain or blown by wind after sweating.
A few ways that we can minimise the chances of developing a cold are:
  • putting on warm clothes after sweating;
  • drying off and staying warm after getting wet in the rain;
  • wear a scarf to protect the back of our neck which is vulnerable to Wind;
  • being careful not to overwork and tax the immune system;
  • maintain moderate level of exercise to ensure your energy flows smoothly;
  • staying away from ill people as much as possible;
  • having spring onion, ginger and garlic regularly, or if you tend towards feeling hot, having cooling teas with chrysanthemum and/or honeysuckle, which you can buy from a Chinese grocery store; and
  • having acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment to boost weaknesses in your body so that your immune system is strong.

The best time to act is before you get sick! 

Prevention is the best medicine – we know this, yet we often forget it and when we get a cold and are wallowing in our misery, we’ll be able to think of the things that we should have or shouldn’t have done!

Around 4,500 years ago, the Chinese physician Qi Bo wrote,? To take medicine when you are sick is like digging a well only when you are thirsty ?- is it not already too late??

 

Apr 8

Chinese Medicine Soup Recipe for Postpartum Mothers

My cousin had a gorgeous little girl recently and as is common in Chinese tradition, I wanted to help her by supporting her health. What is it that commonly happens to a woman’s energy and vital substances during labour?What does she need to ensure that her and the newborn are at their optimal level of health?

Much Blood is lost during and after childbirth, resulting in Blood and Qi (energy) deficiency, and therefore, a woman is susceptible to contraction of disease. At this time, Kidney energy and Essence is also low as a result of the pregnancy, and Yang is low due to the energy used to push the baby from the Uterus. The deficiency of Yang means that the woman is in a state of Cold and is also susceptible to being penetrated by cold and having it lodged. It does seem like nothing good for the mother comes out of the pregnancy and birth as it is believed that during a period of approximately 40 days after birth, the Golden Month, illness contracted will stay with a person for the rest of their lives but alternatively, this is also a time when existing illnesses can be eliminated. With the appropriate self-care, a woman can end up healthier than before having the baby.

Most of the issues that occur post-partum are a result of Blood loss. An example of this would be hair loss because there is not enough Blood to nourish the hair or insufficient lactation due to deficient Blood. Postpartum depression is also quite common and is also due to lack of Blood. The Spirit resides in the Heart and when there is not enough Blood in the Heart to nourish the Spirit, lethargy, insomnia, despair, anxiety, sadness, worthlessness, apathy or feeling separated from reality can develop. Therefore, it is vital to have foods that nourish the Blood, some of which include:

  • chicken
  • fish
  • green leafy vegetables
  • eggs
  • raisins
  • sweet rice
  • dried logan fruit

A very simple recipe that I used for a chicken soup to bring to my cousin was:

  • 1 x approx. 1.8kg whole chicken
  • 12 cups of water
  • 60 grams of dried logan fruit (Long Yan Rou)
  • 40 grams of angelica (Dang Gui)
  • Place all ingredients into pot, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for two hours. Season with salt.

Both the herbal ingredients can be bought from a Chinese grocery store, with the dried logan fruit found in the refrigerated section of the store. The soup is best had several times in a day and will also help prevent joint pain that is common after childbirth as bone soups contain marrow and in addition to nourishing Blood, also nourishes Essence and the Kidneys.

For further information, check out “Traditional Chinese Medicine for Women” by Xiaolan Zhao and if you are having postpartum problems, please see your Chinese Medicine practitioner for some acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to bring you back to good health!

Sep 25

Pointing the Way – Stiff Neck

Recently, I woke up with a stiff neck from sleeping “funny”. It was one of those bothersome and painful stiff necks where you had to do head checks in the car with your whole body!

However, Chinese Medicine came to the rescue! There is an acupuncture point called “Luo Zhen”, which translates as “fall off pillow”, which I suppose is what may have happened.

The point is located in a small depression on the back of your hand just past the knuckles of the index and middle finger. It can be found by sliding a finger from between those two knuckles towards the wrist and your finger will drop into it.

Luo Zhen Acupuncture Point

To use this point effectively:

  • Locate the point on the opposite side of the pain. For example, if the right side of your neck hurts, press the Luo Zhen point on the left hand.
  • Press firmly with the tip of a finger into the depression of the point so that you feel a tender sensation. I find I get the best pressure by using the tip of my thumb.
  • Maintain the pressure whilst rubbing in small circles on the point.
  • Whilst pressing the point, turn your head from side to side and you will notice that with time, the amount you can turn increases and the amount of pain decreases.

For me, it took a couple of minutes and I could really notice the difference. I have heard that it may take longer for other people so keep persisting!

 

Sep 13

Spring into Action and Get on Top of Hayfever

Spring is so lovely – with all the leaves unfurling, blossoms budding and warmth returning to the world so we can step out into the sunshine and breathe it all in.

However, this time of year often has the effect of producing itchy and watery eyes, constantly running noses and sudden attacks of sneezing in people, which can all result in people feeling drained of energy. Many Melbournians understand very well the effect hayfever can have on their lives and Melbourne, even though it is the most liveable city in the world in 2016, does have a black mark against it as it is the hayfever capital of Australia! Even in inner city Melbourne or the Melbourne CBD, where there are less parks and you might think less allergens, hayfever is still rife!

Chinese Medicine treats hayfever by expelling pathogens, normalising the function of your immune system and treating any underlying energetic imbalances. We use acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine as well giving you some diet and lifestyle advice if necessary.

A trial investigating the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture in the treatment of hayfever was conducted by RMIT, and it was found that there was significant improvement in hayfever symptoms. In clinical practice, we have found that it may take only 4 weeks to get rid of your hayfever symptoms but it is best to get on top of it early in the season. This way, you can frolick happily all you like in the parks when the weather is warm!

In the meantime, check out our post on acupressure points for temporary relief of hayfever symptoms here: http://healthinflow.com.au/pointing-the-way-hayfever/

Jul 25

How to Beat your Cold with Food – Chinese Medicine Style

Lemon and Ginger Tea

Colds are often something that we often just deal with and ride out – we continue to push through doing what we do daily and “soldier on”. They usually happen when we are tired, run-down and our immune system is isn’t able to protect ourselves from the viruses and bacteria out there.

In Chinese Medicine, Qi is the energy that flows through our body. There are four levels of Qi in the body and the outermost level is called the Wei Qi, which is the defensive Qi of the body. When we have become run down, overworked, eaten poorly, not exercised and generally just not looking after ourselves, our Wei Qi weakens and we become more susceptible to getting a cold. If you catch colds often, this is a sign that there is an underlying deficiency in your body, which Chinese Medicine can help you with.

A cold generally manifests fairly suddenly in a couple of ways, cold-natured or heat-natured, and there are steps that we can take to get rid of it so we can get back quicker to what doing what we love!

Cold-natured signs and symptoms:
  • feeling more chilled than fever-like
  • phlegm is clear or white
  • aversion to cold
  • no or limited sweating
  • sneezing
  • stiff neck and/or body aches
When you feel some or all of the above signs and symptoms, the foods to have are:
  • ginger
  • onions
  • garlic
  • hot peppers
  • soups
  • ginger tea
In addition, you can also apply sweating therapy by drinking a cup of ginger tea, having a hot shower, putting on lots of clothes and covering yourself with blankets to get yourself to sweat. You don’t need to sweat excessively and do not apply sweating therapy if you are severely weak or dehydrated.

Heat-natured signs and symptoms:

  • feeling more fever-like than chilled
  • phlegm is yellow or green
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • thirst
  • body aches, headaches
Some foods to have when you have the above are:
  • mung beans
  • apples
  • spinach
  • peppermint tea
  • chrysanthemum tea

Overall, if you have either cold or heat signs and symptoms:

  • eat less food
  • drink more warm fluids
  • drink honey (particularly raw honey), which has antibacterial and antiviral properties, with lemon and its Vitamin C to boost your immune system
  • keep your neck covered
  • rest when tired

Above all else, prevention is the best cure and make sure you look after yourself, rest well and do things for yourself that nourish you!

Nov 23

6 Self-Care Tips for PMS

6 Self-Care Tips for PMS

Most women know about PMS as over 90% of women experience one symptom of PMS and over 50% of women experience more than one symptom. Symptoms can include:

  • mood changes such as irritability, aggression, tension, lower self-esteem, depression
  • fluid retention such as bloating of the stomach, swelling of the feet and ankles, breast swelling and soreness
  • pain such as abdominal cramps, back pain and headaches
  • food cravings, binge eating
  • nausea

In Western Medicine, this collection of signs and symptoms is considered a normal part of a woman’s reproductive life. However, in Chinese Medicine, it is your body expressing disharmony within itself.

The Liver organ system in Chinese Medicine controls the free flow of Qi (energy) in the body. Emotions are also a form of energy and when they are not expressed appropriately or at all, the free flow of energy starts to get blocked, creating Liver Qi Stagnation. This can cause emotions which are associated with the Liver anger, frustration, resentment and annoyance, which are emotions which can cause the Liver Qi Stagnation, so a cycle is created.

To break this cycle, here is some self-care you can apply:

  1. Avoid coffee, alcohol, hot and spicy foods, rich and fatty foods, and large amounts of red meat before and during your period.
  2. Acupressure “Nei Guan (Inner Gate)”, located three finger-breadths from your wrist crease, this point moves Liver Qi, calms the mind and reduces nausea.PC6 Neiguan Acupuncture Point LocationPC6 Neiguan Acupuncture Point
  3. Practice gentle and mindful exercise such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Yoga. It cultivates your body through physical movement as well as develop mental awareness.
  4. Regular meditation cultivates mindfulness and gives you the ability to deal with your emotions in a healthy way. You can just “watch” your anger and by doing this, it removes the “charge” of the anger and your conscious and unconscious reactions to it.
  5. Write in a journal to help you stay in touch with your emotions.
  6. Avoid excessive work and maintain a balanced and regular schedule for eating, sleeping, working, exercising and resting so no undue stress is placed upon your physical, mental and emotional self.

As you can tell, the main culprit in causing PMS (and in fact most diseases) are emotions. If we can learn to be aware of them, recognise them and allow them to flow through us and out of us constructively, we can reduce the disharmony that is created and causes illness.

Sep 13

Pointing the Way: Hayfever

It is definitely lovely to be seeing growth abound in nature at the moment, but for 1 in 5 of the Australian population, this may be accompanied by a groan because it marks the start of the “hayfever season”.

Hayfever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, occurs in people who have a hypersensitive reaction to pollens. It causes symptoms including itchy and runny nose, nasal congestion, red, watery and itchy eyes, itchy throat and sneezing. It can affect concentration and productivity, as well as sleep quality, causing hayfever sufferers to get tired and run down.

In Chinese Medicine, airborne pathogens are caused by “Wind” and if our defensive energy, “Wei Qi”, which is essentially our immune system, is functioning well, we are not affected by the Wind and will not have hayfever. What Chinese Medicine can do is strengthen the Wei Qi before the hayfever season begins, reducing the severity of the symptoms and over several seasons, the symptoms can be eradicated altogether! However, having acupuncture and Chinese herbs during the season can still decrease the intensity of the symptoms.

The following are a few acupoints you can use on yourself when you’re feeling some of the woes that are hayfever! Press each point for 30 seconds, relax the face and breathe deeply. The points, when being pressed correctly, should feel a bit achey.

BL2 (Zanzhu “Gathered Bamboo”): A small bony depression at the end of your eyebrow (your “bamboo”) near the bridge of your nose.

BL2 Zanzhu
ST2 (Sibai “Four Whites”): A small bony depression below the pupil, found by placing your finger on the bottom edge of the eye socket and slipping the finger down slightly.

ST2 Sibai
LI20 (Yingxiang “Welcome Fragrance”): Slightly sidewards from your nostrils and pushing up towards the bridge of your nose (for some welcome fragrance).

LI20 Yingxiang
LI4 (Hegu “Joining Valley”): On the back of your hand between your thumb and index finger (the valley), found by bringing the thumb to the index finger and pressing towards the index finger into the high point of the muscle bulge.

LI4 Hegu
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to press BL2, ST2 and LI20, all at the same time on both sides, whilst getting that good ache!