Summer Diet

Candace Liu, LAc, B. Med

by Candace Liu LAc, B. Med, MSOM, DAOM

Hot summer days make people want cold drinks and foods. It seems that the food and drinks in the refrigerator are beckoning. From a TAM (Traditional Asian Medicine) perspective, cold food can cause cold and damp in the body. It will damage the Yang Qi of the organs and decrease the body’s circulation. Everyone’s tolerance to ice drinks and cold food is different. The damage may not show up right way but we still need to pay attention to the side affects of ingesting ice drinks and cold foods. Summer is the season when bacteria easily breed and cause infection. Common diseases caused by improper diet during the summer are diarrhea and gastroenteritis (food poisoning). Some common conditions that can be caused by cold and damp in the body from a TAM perspective are:

  • Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
  • Decreased metabolism
  • Edema
  • Eczema
  • Allergic rhinitis, asthma
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Hypertension

How can we eat for health in the summer? The summer diet should be fresh and light which helps to maintain a healthy heart and gastrointestinal functions. The following foods can be used to reduce body temperature and replenish water and vitamins.

Ideal summer foods:

Fruits –

Apples, mangoes, pineapples, cantaloupes, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, papaya, dragon fruit, mulberries, figs, peach, watermelon, bananas, lemons, limes

Vegetables –

Bittermelon, asparagus, lettuce, cucumber, sweet potatoes, sweet potato leaves, cilantro, jicama, purple carrots, sweet peppers, corn, garden peas, green beans, turnips, blackberries, portabella mushroom, summer squash, cabbage, arugula, lettuce, thyme, celery

Meat –

wild Alaskan salmon, soft-shell crab, arctic char fish, catfish, rainbow trout, crayfish, sardines, turkey

Other–

Mung bean, barley, wheat, oats, kidney beans, lima beans

Tips:

  • Drinking boiled water moisturizes the body organs (Boiling water improves metabolism and regulates body temperature)
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Do not eat deep fried food
  • Limit caffeine, alcoholic and sweetened drinks
  • Limit cold foods or iced drinks
  • Limit dry, spicy and salty foods

The Benefits of Community Acupuncture

Hillary E Catrow L.Ac

By Hillary E. Catrow, MSOM, L.Ac.

At Chicago Healing Center, we offer community acupuncture. Which means that anyone can come into
the clinic and be treated in a group format. Each person is at various stages of their healing process and
are treated individually based on their specific health concerns. We love this model of treatment because
it allows us to see more patients at a time, keep prices lower without sacrificing the treatment quality and
offer a more convenient appointment schedule, plus leave availability for walk-in treatments.

But by far, the biggest benefit of the community acupuncture model is precisely that treatments are done
as a group.Humans are social animals. We evolved over thousands of years among large family groups and
cultural tribes. We learned to communicate and develop techniques to protect the group from the natural
elements and competing predators. Together we gathered and prepared food, took care of our young and
elderly. It is because of our group mentality that we survived and thrived.

Our vision is that people will come together to heal through acupuncture. To gather their friends, families
and community groups and visit the clinic together. Coming together in this way to heal our bodies gives
all of us the rare opportunity to repair that natural human connection, without having to talk or share more
than just proximity. In a group acupuncture treatment we have the chance to notice what it feels like when
another person’s heart rate slows down and their breath becomes more even. This collective
environment creates a barometer that can help us become more in tune with how our own bodies feel
which is turn allows us to recover and heal faster.

I’m curious. Have you noticed group resonance in your last acupuncture treatment? How about at another
time in your life? Afterwards, what did you notice about your body? Your mind? How did that experience
change your relationship or connection to the people around you?

 

TAM Accessory Techniques

Sarah BartleSarah Bartle LAc

If you have visited Chicago Healing Center you have most likely experienced moxabustion, cupping or gua sha along with acupuncture. Moxabustion, cupping and gua sha are considered accessory techniques practitioners use to further a treatment. Moxa is the dried mugwort herb and is used to treat a myriad of symptoms such as fatigue, plantar faciitis, tight IT band, low libido and general inflammation. It is generally burned on the skin or close enough to generate heat. Cupping uses suction to pull stagnant blood from an inflamed area to encourage fresh, uninflamed blood to rush the area. Gua sha is a scraping technique performed on the skin with a flat stone. It is used to reduce cold and flu symptoms and muscle pain. Each of these techniques could have its own blog post and many books have been written about each technique. I am going to share a short case study to demonstrate the power of these accessory techniques to reduce inflammation.

My partner began experiencing De Quervain’s tenosynovitis pain in November 2017. He had pain in the tendons at the base of his thumb, the extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis brevis were inflamed.

De Quervain’s is caused by repetitive motion such as lifting a baby or painting. My partner is a painter and his job was taking a toll on the tendons in his forearm. Since he is lucky enough to know an acupuncturist who makes house calls (our house) I took on the job.

I started out doing local acupuncture on his arm, particularly the channels that passed through the area that caused pain. I was shocked that this therapy made his pain worse. Next I tried gua sha with white flower oil. Gua sha is a scraping technique performed on the skin usually with a flat stone and white flower is a cooling oil. This also made his pain worse. I was getting frustrated. Nothing frustrates an acupuncturist more than a therapy not getting favorable results.

My partner had the month of December off from work. I told him that having a prolonged rest from work would surely give the inflammation time to reduce. After 4 weeks of no painting the pain was only getting worse. Now he was getting concerned he would need to quit his job. I got even more frustrated.

The major breakthrough came when he described the pain to me as ice shooting through his arm. Ah, ice! That is a symptom I can work with! Acupuncturists frequently ask their patients about perceived body temperature and for good reason. We use this as a diagnostic tool to help us know what temperature we should be using in our treatments. To combat an icy sensation we use heat. I began using moxabustion on his arm and wrist everyday. After two weeks the pain was down by 50%. Then I incorporated Po Sum On oil with gua sha on the forearm. Po Sum On is a warming oil with cinnamon, quite different from the cooling white flower oil that increased his pain. After 2 more weeks his pain was down 80%. The last step was incorporating cupping on the upper arm and shoulder. This released the last amount of pain and his pain was completely gone. After six weeks of regular moxa, gua sha and cupping he went from pain so bad he thought he would need to quit his job to the pain being completely gone. Now he requires maintenance treatments since he is still painting and does repetitive motions.

What I like so much about this case study is that it does not involve acupuncture. I was able to reduce his pain and inflammation using only “accessory” techniques. This demonstrates the importance of each technique under the umbrella of Traditional Asian Medicine. Acupuncture is the best known technique in America but moxabustion, cupping, gua sha, herbs and nutrition are extremely powerful techniques to heal the body.

Traditional Uses of Ginger

Candace Liu, LAc, B. Med

By Candace Liu, LAc, B. Med

Ginger is a regularly used spice in the kitchen but it is also an important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Nutrition therapy is an important component of TCM and ginger is commonly used in formulas or kitchen recipes. The nutritional content of ginger includes dietary fiber, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium.

The many uses of ginger include:

  • Reduces nausea especially due to morning sickness or motion sickness
  • Induces sweat during a head cold
  • Stops cough and decreases clear sputum
  • Stimulates blood circulation
  • Increases appetite
  • Promotes the secretion of digestive juices
  • Detoxifies

Fun fact: Fresh ginger counteracts seafood poisoning, which is why it is always served with sushi.

Due to the warming nature of ginger it is best to avoid if you regularly experience constipation, sore throat, yellow and sticky phlegm or feel hot.

Here are a couple home recipes to add to your self-care regimen.

Brown Sugar Ginger Tea

Ingredients: Brown sugar, Fresh Ginger, water

Practice:

  1. Cut thin slices of ginger. The amount depends on how much you enjoy the spicy flavor of ginger
  2. Put the slices of ginger in water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes
  3. Add a pinch brown sugar, continue boiling for 3-5 minutes

Contraindications: Don’t drink before you go to bed. Eating or drinking sweets before bed may lead to excessive sugar reserves in the body which can cause diabetes, obesity or tooth decay.

Note: The best time to drink the brown sugar ginger tea is in the morning. Morning is the time that Yang begins to rise in the body. This tea can have the effect of strengthening digestion and strengthening Yang.

Honey Ginger Tea

Ingredients: Honey 1 spoon, Ginger 10g, water

Practice:

  1. Grind ginger into a paste
  2. Put ginger paste into a cup
  3. Add warm water
  4. Add a spoonful of honey and mix

Functions:

  1. Increases the body’s antioxidant levels
  2. Improves skin circulation
  3. Promotes digestion
  4. Aids the immune system and prevent colds

Contraindications: This tea can promote digestion so it is not good to drink before sleep.

Sources:

Kastner, MD, LAc, Joerg. Chinese Nutrition Therapy. Thieme. 2009.

Yifang, Zhang. Your Guide to Health with Foods & Herbs. Better Link Press. 2012.

Building the Potential for Growth

Hillary E. Catrow, MSOM, L.Ac.

By Hillary E. Catrow, MSOM, L.Ac.

Spring is here and if nature has anything to teach us about making changes in our lives it is this: Today may be cold and gloomy but regardless of what’s happening on the surface under the soil great things are brewing. Lush roots are stirring, and a force much greater than us is propelling the seasons forward. You could try but there is no stopping the season’s potential for growth and blooming.

Similarly change in our own lives can be hard, regardless of how badly we want change to eat better, be more active, run a marathon, lose weight, be healthier, smarter or stronger. Having a few tools in our toolbox can be helpful in making the process less daunting and more enjoyable.

  1. First comes first, you are already enough and you are the best you right now. Period. There are
    no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Celebrate how far you have come and your willingness to move
    forward, write it down, take stock and relish in it. Repeat often. Change can be slow and the
    journey itself deserves to be celebrated.
  2. Start Small. As Lao Tzu says “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Breakdown your big goal into smaller and smaller segments. What can you do today that will set you on your path? Can you add veggies to every meal? Or choose to walk to the coffee shop that’s a block farther than your go-to cafe. Add a few squats in while you’re waiting on hold with customer service. Stay present and build on each day. Before you know it you’ll be 100 steps closer.
  3. Have fun. You’re more likely to succeed if you enjoy the process. If you don’t like going to the gym, maybe you prefer dancing or grab your pup and hit the trails. Make meal planning social by inviting some partners in crime over for a cooking soiree. There are tons of phone apps that can make meditation, food logging, working out more of a game than a choir. Be creative.
  4. Change your language. How we talk to ourselves matters, especially when it comes to doing things that are challenging. Replace phrases with “I can’t have this” or “I have to do that” with “I choose to…” Create a self-love mantra like “I love myself enough to take the actions required for my happiness and health”. Focus on what change is adding to your life, not what it might be taking away.
  5. Be prepared to fail and know it’s ok. Just like Spring, change will often move in like a lion and out like a lamb. So what if you ate eight cookies today or you laid around all weekend watching The Office. Success is just as much about the rest, recovery and reflection as it is about the hustle. Revisit Step One of this list and remember how amazing you and how far you’ve come. Love yourself and move on. Tomorrow is a new day.

Spring Colds and Winter Flu Blues

Sarah BartleAh, Chicago weather. One day we are wearing parkas and are barely recognizable under hats, gloves and scarves. The next day is warm but wet and gray. The third day half the city is sniffling and wondering why their joints hurt. I will share some tried and true methods of Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) to keep you healthy during weather fluctuations.

  1. In TAM we view fluctuating weather as a potential “wind invasion”. A preventative technique is to keep the wind from blowing on your skin, specifically the back of your neck. Simply wearing a scarf is enough to keep your neck protected.
  2. Practice gua sha as soon as you feel cold symptoms. Gua sha is an ancient technique to release “wind” (Chinese concept of how we get colds/flus—from the time before there were microscopes and the concept of bacteria/viruses) that has invaded the neck area. Follow the instructions below and let us know if you need a gua sha tool or white flower oil.
  • Sprinkle a drop or two of White Flower Oil (or other lotion/oil) on the skin.
  • Smooth it around with your fingers or a cotton ball.
  • Use the GuaSha tool to scrape the skin until the skin turns pink and/or small red dots (petechiae) show up on the area around the C7 vertebral bone (sticks out the most on your neck when you bend your head forward). Stroke from base of head down the neck and across shoulders. Focus on the area close to the bone. If your sinuses are congested, include the area on the back of your head and upper neck near your hairline.
  • Ideally, scrape the skin in the same direction, usually from the area that is closest to the center of your body out to the outermost end (not circular).
  • Remember – do not cause pain when scraping the skin – apply just enough pressure to bring up the red dots but not so much that it hurts. Sometimes the skin will just turn pink without developing the dots – this is ok. If you do not have a gua sha tool, you can use a spoon with the rounded lip and gently scrap over fabric. Be careful not to rip the fabric or cut your skin!
  1. Foods to eat:
  • Eat “pungent” herbs to release “wind” pathogens. Garlic, ginger, onions etc. have a warming, pungent quality. These foods are good to incorporate in your meals when you feel under the weather. Add these ingredients for your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe.
  • Cold and Flu time tea + Licorice tea contain a unique formula of herbs to release “wind” pathogen. Add lemon and honey to soothe a sore throat.

Practicing these techniques will keep you in tip top shape during cold and flu season.

Elimination Diet – Whole 30

Sarah BartleOn November 1st I started a new career and a new diet. Health conscious people might call it a new lifestyle, but I don’t consider myself a health conscious person yet. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years completing my Masters degree in Oriental Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. During that time my life consisted of going to class, studying, interning and working multiple part-time jobs. The energy needed for so much focus left little else for self-care.

Despite studying a holistic field and knowing full well the importance of self-care, my exhaustion let it fall by the way side. In 3 1/2 years I gained 30 pounds. I was fully aware that I was gaining weight, but could not make it stop. There was simply not enough energy left in my reserves after my schoolwork was completed. This was my personal excuse, and anyone who struggles with weight issues knows what I mean by that. I may get further into the emotional component in a later post, but this blog is not going to get that deep. What a relief! This is about what I’m eating and what I’m not eating. (more…)