Happy Lunar New Year of the Yang Wood Dragon! Although I enjoy the psychological aspects of astrology very much, the forecasts and recommendations always land rather vague or obvious for me. I take them with the same grain of salt I do seven-day meteorological forecasts. For example, when Gemini is advised for the month to stop, rejuvenate, and take care of ourselves, I assign it about as much weight as I do when the News recommends I bring an umbrella next Tuesday.
The dragon is the most revered animal sign in Chinese astrology, so much so that many Chinese families aim to procreate during these years. As an aside, I imagine this might lay groundwork for a child that feels intense pressure to succeed, between the apparently already competitive nature of their parents compounded by the overcrowded classrooms and job markets they likely find themselves in. Nevertheless, the dragon is considered powerful and brilliant, fortunate, and successful.
The wood element is a strong one as well, typically motivated, proactive, angry, and determined. It corresponds with the liver and gallbladder channels, the former of which is yin and responsible for storing our blood and nutrients and sending them to the central nervous system. The latter of which runs up the entire sides of our bodies and acts as “the pivot” between our yin (organ level) systems and yang (immunological and neurological) systems. Neither of these channels, to my understanding, have any direct connection to their biomedical organs of the same name.
Wood is a creative element, which means a year of the wood dragon is a good one to succeed in creative projects by way hard work. But honestly, what year isn’t?
I will share with you from https://www.thechinesezodiac.org/year-of-the-dragon/ that some of the most promising sectors for business this year are in solar energy, cybersecurity, and AI. In my opinion, this does bear systemic logic. We can think of the liver as acting as cybersecurity for our healthy body fluids, and the gallbladder as parallel to the pivot created by solar energy between the sun and our devices. Pretty cool.
Supposedly lucky numbers for this year are 8, 14, and 21, and the auspicious color is emerald green. So, if you have to choose a date for something like a job interview, a performance, or an IVF transfer, maybe you’ll choose the 8th, 14th, or 21st, and wear an emerald green piece of clothing or accessory for it. Although, an emerald green suit on a job interview is likely inadvisable, unless it’s an audition for Broadway or to act as a Disney park character.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. And ethnicity doesn’t matter, as people of all racial and ethnic groups are impacted. With such serious statistics, many might wonder what treatment options are available. Did you know that acupuncture can help with treating heart disease, as well as many of its contributing factors? Read on to learn how. continue reading
Happy New Year, all! As we continue through one of the worst cold and flu seasons in recent memory, 2020 notwithstanding, I’ll begin with a recipe.
Sweet potato congee with red dates, honey added if desired (and who won’t?):
1 large chopped sweet potato
1 cup of rice, rinsed please
8 cups of water
10-30 grams of red dates sliced open (closer to 10g if you have a “damp heat” body type or pathology—closer to 30g if you are the frail and pale type with tendency to insomnia and/or heart palpitations).
Bring to boil and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes, or until the consistency is as above, like a porridge. In Asia most people take it a bit more watery than this, but either way is fine. Plate and drizzle honey on top to taste.
Although white rice is mostly vilified by Western dietitians, in Eastern Medicine we believe that the gentle support it provides to the internal organs is imperative for optimizing the absorption of all accompanying ingredients, also at generating the healthy stomach fluids needed for digestion. Without strong metabolism we cannot build blood or create nutrients. Without blood we cannot live—more relevant, with subjectively deficient blood all of our parasympathetic functioning may weaken and we may flirt with anemia.
If you are strongly averse to (white) rice, you can absolutely try making this with quinoa, millet, or farro. Risotto or orzo, unfortunately, will not work.
The Eastern Medical diet is somewhat diametrically opposite to that of raw vegans. Besides encouraging at least small amounts of animal protein, we believe the best way to optimize health is through low, slow, and long cooking of foods to extract all nutrients into the dish and make them easy for our guts to process. Anything cold or damp, such as ice, sugar, or alcohol should at least wait until after the food has been consumed and processed for at least 15-30 minutes whenever possible. Which means all of our mothers were correct in echoing the concept of not “spoiling our dinner” by having sweets first. The adult parallel to this might be cautioning to limit drinks before dinner.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent “tonic” for the stomach qi in Winter, and red dates are actually one of the most important herbs in all of Chinese Medicine, appearing in a large percentage of classical formulas, with the intention of protecting the healthy stomach fluids and nourishing blood of the heart. I recommend making this recipe, storing leftovers in the fridge, and eating 2-3 times a week in winter. To reheat just add plenty of water to keep consistency.
Hope all are warm and healthy!
This is the time of year when many are looking to start (or restart) their wellness routines. Self-care Saturdays may have fallen by the wayside during the holiday season and now is the time to get back on track. As you examine your health goals and wellness priorities this year, have you considered adding acupuncture to your wellness routine? If not, here’s why you should and some things to consider to set yourself up for success.
Acupuncture provides numerous health benefits from a holistic approach to wellness. It’s a non-pharmacological approach to health and wellness and addresses a variety of health concerns you might be struggling with. continue reading
Why do many women crave chocolate or dairy more while on their menses? Why do men generally crave beer more than women? Why do some people crave sweets more at night, or wake up in the morning feeling everything from ravenous to having no appetite at all? And how do these tendencies influence future tendencies within our bodies?
Western medicine has no clue—“some people are just like that,” they shrug, or my personal favorite: “That’s normal (as you get older).” Without an intricate understanding of the paradigm of internal (Chinese) medicine, unique preferences and/or habits can be difficult to explain, hence impossible to change.
“I just have a sweet tooth,” people say, which is an expression. What if your will power was not entirely psychological, but partially a result of the state of your internal organs, making it much harder for you to resist temptation than others?
Dryness is an epidemic. It stands to reason in a society that over-prioritizes the yang, masculine energy. While yin is represented by rest, stoppage, sleep, coolness and moisture, yang is work, working out, going out, staying out late, everything out; burning it at all ends, not to mention excessive caffeinated diuretics and overly seasoned or spicy foods.
In Chinese Medical terms stress “depletes the healthy body fluids,” as do NSAIDS, most meds, skipping breakfast, poor sleep, overwork, over-working out, or excessive masturbation. Unfortunately, these are not fluids that can be supplemented through hydration. While it’s great to hydrate, from our perspective this loss is of metabolic/organ fluids that can be restored only through proper rest, herbal medicine, and diet, namely eggs and red meat.
In the meantime, whether consciously or not, we are all craving the ultimate yin. Think breastfeeding: An opportunity to stop everything, be comforted and nuzzled by some soft, fatty, support structure, nourished by its sweet, thick, delicious juice. Since few of us have that opportunity, we opt instead for ice cream or cheese, boba tea, or some delectable hazy IPA—anything thick, sweet, and nurturing in lieu of the adult version of nursing, which might be an early bedtime after a relaxing day. Imagine that. Do we deserve such a thing?
“Nighttime belongs to the blood,” is an expression in Classical Medicine that refers to our healthy body fluids being in charge of evening operations, whereas cellular energy and sympathetic manage the day hours. When a symptom, such as sweet cravings, is worse at night, it further confirms fluid deficiency as part of its etiology. What many women are craving during their cycle, is frankly, more blood. Most don’t have the opportunity to necessarily get more rest, eat more red meat or go to sleep earlier (though if you do, you should!). Instead, they reach for sweets and/or dairy to temporarily satiate the desire to supplement yin. Unfortunately, in doing so this creates more dampness in the microbiome, which makes it harder for the organs to then convert future foods into healthy nutrients, which causes more cravings, and so on. Healthier options for sticky, yin-nourishing substances might be nut butters, smoothies, non-dairy yogurts, or baked apples with some honey.
“Yin-nourishing herbs” are damp. I always think of the foxglove root, one of the most herbs in our pharmacopeia, which looks, but does NOT at all taste like a chocolate brownie. It is rare to meet a patient, man or woman, who does not need some amount of foxglove to supplement lost fluids; although it is even more rare to meet someone whose gut is ready for it. Foxglove is thick and heavy, like boba tea or breastmilk, so if someone has weak digestion, loose stools, acid reflux, etc. it is probably not ideal for them. It is important in our “moments of weakness” to access at least enough will power to reach for healthier alternatives enough of the time, so as to protect our gut health—so that one day our herbalist will give us the green light to truly nourish our yin organ fluids with brilliant substances like foxglove.