Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Gardenia: Chinese Herbal Medicine and Zhi Zi

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Chinese Herbal MedicineGardenia is a popular ornamental shrub that is a genus of flowering plants in the coffee family, Rubiaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and southern Asia and is found in warm climates worldwide. Best known for their fragrant white flowers and deep, glossy green leaves, Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the orange, berry-like fruits, better known as Zhi Zi or Cape Jasmine fruit, in many herbal preparations. These berries are harvested in autumn and winter, and used either raw or after being fried and parched and made into a tea or soup for consumption.

According to Chinese herbal medicine, Gardenia possesses a bitter taste and thermally is cold in the body. Zhi Zi enters the Heart, Lung, Stomach and San Jiao Channels. Due to its affinity for multiple channels, it is one of the safer herbs in Chinese medicine for eliminating pathogenic heat in the body through urination. Heat in the body can present as irritability, sores in the mouth, or jaundice. Zhi zi also can act directly on the blood to help cool the blood to stop hemorrhaging. Zhi Zi also facilitates faster healing of traumatic injury by circulating stagnant blood.

In Western Medical terms, Gardenia is recognized to help to lower blood pressure and is effective in treating certain presentations of insomnia and delirium. Zhi Zi has also been shown as an effective agent in urinary tract infections. It is also considered a mild antiseptic and can help to reduce swelling and alleviate pain associated with sprains and abscesses when applied topically.

Healing, Health and Self-Responsibility

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
self-responsibility and healing

self-responsibility and health

Look around. You may have noticed that our lives are faster and more hectic than ever before. The pace of everyday life has accelerated and we want quick results. This is true in our professional lives (how many emails did you have to answer today?), our personal lives (instant status updates on Facebook, anyone?) and even when it comes to our health. While chronic conditions like pain, arthritis, inflammation and even obesity can take years for our body to develop and affect us, we often want to fix them instantly with a pill or even a surgery.

Chinese Medicine is built upon a wholly different approach and philosophy. Your health is a long-term investment, one that you make in yourself and are personally responsible for every day. It is achievable when you invest in it, open yourself up to it and make it a priority in your life. Healing your body and maintaining your health is a result of putting long-term effort into balancing your body, your mind and your energy. Exercise. Healthy eating, relaxation techniques to calm your nerves. It’s all about self-cultivation and pursuing activities that engender your spirit and pique your passions.

So, it all starts with the individual. Simply put, maintaining your health is a matter of self-responsibility.

I’ve recently read some great articles and blog posts that talk about this and how it ties in to some of today’s hot topics – the health care debate, the economics of health care treatments, Americans’ increasingly sedentary lifestyle. I think it’s very telling that more Americans change their car’s oil on a regular basis than go in for regular medical or dental check ups and that it’s become entirely normal for someone to spend 4 hours a night watching TV but to get less than 15 minutes of physical activity a day.

The good news is that if your health has not been optimal, YOU can make changes and empower yourself towards better health. Like many other things, health is achieved by working at it, one day and one small effort at a time. Also like many other things, being healthy (or unhealthy, for that matter) isn’t something that happens instantly – it takes time. For this reason, it’s very important to be patient and to be strongly committed to your goal.

Chinese Medicine approaches the cause of disease more broadly than traditional Western medicine, outlining five root causes:

  • Emotional factors
  • Dietary factors
  • Environmental causes – exposure to excessive coldness, heat, wind, damp, dryness, and environmental toxicities
  • Lack of movement, or exercise
  • Our inherited genetics

In Chinese medicine, these five factors are seen as the cause of interruptions to the body’s normal physiology. The body will work to quell and block damaging habits and activities, but if it’s trying to do so on a daily basis, it often will compensate – this can result in symptoms like heartburn, chronic constipation or diarrhea. Your body is trying to tell you that it is stressed and working hard to compensate for another illness or problem. Today, many people will take an over-the-counter medication to counter these symptoms, but that is only a temporary fix. Chinese medicine asserts that you should “listen” to what your body is telling you and work to fix the root cause, not just the uncomfortable or undesirable symptom.

To do that, we look for stagnations or obstructions in the flow of humors or vital energy – these obstructions can create blockages and over time will manifest as disease. And it’s not just a physical phenomenon. Emotional issues like stress, if unresolved at the source, can also affect your body and its systems. If dealing with them is pushed to the bottom of your “to do” list, your body will work to compensate in some other way and these type of issues can take a negative toll on your health.

So, what do you do? How should we practice self-responsibility and take ownership of our health?

I am suggesting that we all work to create mindfulness toward better health. Take a moment to see – really see – the everyday factors that could be affecting your health. Factors like stress, anger, frustration or junk foods and a sedentary lifestyle. What is negative in your life and how might it be affecting your health? What can you do to change it?

You can change it.

In fact, even small changes like a 10 minute walk or an apple instead of chips can be hugely beneficial for your body. Also, an overall healthier outlook or attitude can have an impact. You can reach your health goals if you take tiny steps forward…and keep taking them.

All this being said, I do want to be clear that there are health conditions that can strike anyone and are devastating in their anonymity. What it does mean is that there is a whole spectrum of entirely preventable conditions that by staying in tune with your body, treating it with respect and care, YOU can combat. You are your own best champion for health and balance.

And, in the end, don’t you (and your body) deserve that?

Eight Amazing Lessons I’ve Learned from Being an Acupuncturist

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
accupuncture

acupuncture needles are used by acupuncturists and Chinese medicine practitioners

I have the best job in the world. As an acupuncturist, I have a parade of lovely, interesting people who come through my clinic looking for help and healing. As an acupuncturist, I get to use the tools of an ancient healing tradition called Chinese medicine. These tools include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, body work, food therapy, and healthy lifestyle traditions.

One of the best parts of what I do is that I learn a little something from each and every patient who comes in through my door. Some of those lessons are uneventful, but some are profound. Here is a short list of some of the incredible things I have learned from my patients:

-Aging is a state of mind. I have had people in my clinic in their 60’s who seemed very old. I have also had a number of 80 and 90-year olds who have appeared to be much younger and more vital than their age would indicate. The difference? Those people who are aging so well have a love for life. They get out of their house, they’re active, they have places to go and things to do. This is not to say they don’t have health problems; they do. However, they are somehow able to stay active, engaged, and upbeat despite their health issues.

-Your emotions are the key to your health. The Chinese have a saying that the emotions are the root of 100 illnesses. I have found this to be true in the clinic. Chinese medicine is all about treating the root of an illness, and in the majority of my patients, that root is emotional in nature. Strong emotions, such as anger, depression, fear, anxiety, grief, and intense longing have the ability to affect your health, causing symptoms as diverse as insomnia to digestive problems.

-Never make assumptions. That ass of u and me thing is so right! Whether it’s a patient’s ability to heal, their willingness to change unhealthy habits, or their ability to pay me for my services, more often than not when I have made an assumption, I have been wrong.

-Unless you change the behaviors that are making you sick, you will never heal completely. This may include a funky diet, an overwhelming lifestyle, working too hard, and stressful relationships, to name a few. Remember, Chinese medicine is effective because it gets at what’s really making you sick. If you’re unwilling to change, you’re going to stay…uh, sick.

-Shut up and listen. This has been a hard lesson for me. However, over time I have learned that if I just close my mouth and really hear what my patients are saying, they will tell me exactly what I and my patient need for them to heal. Part B of this lesson is that most people already know what’s making them sick. From the man who was “trying to fight his way out of a wet paper bag” (damp heat) to the woman who just needed a dark, quiet place (Yin deficiency), if I just open my ears, they will tell me what’s going on.

-There is no magic bullet to better health. Many years ago, a woman came to me for help with weight loss. She had tried every diet under the sun, but couldn’t lose the weight. I treated her and began talking about dietary therapy and some lifestyle tweaks. She came back for her second appointment and told me that she hadn’t lost any weight, and that she would not be coming back to me. People, Chinese medicine is an incredibly effective system of health and healing, however, you have to give it time and help it along. Geez…

-The best thing you can do to improve your health is to exercise regularly. Simple. Exercise improves your mood, reduces stress, improves the health of your heart, brings your blood pressure down, and keeps you young. I have seen patients completely turn their health around simply by adding exercise to their routine (plus the acupuncture, of course!)

-Learning is never complete. I will never know everything. Every patient that I see teaches me something, and I thank each and every one for their insight, lessons, and confidence in my ability to help them

This posting was graciously offered to me to by acupuncturist Lynn Jaffe. I am a fan of her blog. I hope you will be too!

Lynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist practicing in Minneapolis, MN.  She is also the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health.  You can check out her blog Acupuncture Health Insights or order her book here.