Acupuncture Animal Studies

Zhen Jiu Yan Jiu (Acupuncture-moxibustion Research), published by the Institute of Acupuncture-moxibustion of the Chinese National Chinese Medical Academy and the Chinese National Association of Acupuncture-moxibustion, mainly carries articles on acupuncture animal studies.

Such animal studies help to confirm the “objective” effects of acupuncture as well as test the effects of acupuncture on anatomical structures and physiological functions not easily studied in humans. The following studies all appeared in issue #4, 2006 of this journal.

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Source: The Classic Corner: An Archived Abstracted Report from 2006 by Honora Wolfe on Recently Published Acupuncture Animal Studies

Activating your Shao Yang | Lifestyle Advice from Master Liu He

I am once again sharing my favorite information from Master Liu He.  I didn’t do as well with soaking my feet in warm water this winter as I did in the spring and I noticed the difference.  My hands have been colder in the daytime than they were when I was more diligent about soaking my feet at night.  I will try to get into soaking again for the next few weeks until spring arrives.

With the beginning of the Chinese Lunar  New Year, we all give birth to Shao Yang Qi “Young Yang Qi”.

Just as giving birth to a new baby, this “Young” Yang needs to be tended and developed for the yang to grow through the seasons.

In order to protect your Qi baby or young yang energy, keep the following suggestions in mind as you tend to this new energy allowing growth:

1. Stay warm. In some areas the weather is beginning to warm however you want to keep your feet and legs warm. Not wearing sandals and shorts.

2. Wear loose clothes and relax as much as possible. Do not overexert yourself.

3. Practicing Qigong for the Liver and Gallbladder. Here is the Youtube link for Liver Purification Qigong. Jade Woman is also another form to practice at this time of year.

4. Walk gently for 30-45 minutes outside. No excessive sports or sweating.

5. Drink mung bean juice after breakfast.

6. Eat a small amount of sweet flavored foods to facilitate the gentle rising of the Liver Qi. Do not eat a  lot of sour flavored foods as this draws the Liver Qi in and down.

7. Do not eat spicy foods. Spicy foods contain a lot of heat and has potential to harm the Liver Qi.

8. Go to bed a little later then in winter however not later then 10:30pm.

9. Continue to soak feet in warm water before bed.

Wishing you a happy birth Qi!

Winter Solstice Lifestyle Advice

Here is the winter advice from master Liu He on how to preserve your energy in the winter. If you are able to protect your yang qi in the winter, it supports your health throughout the rest of the year.

Winter Solstice is the biggest Yin to Yang transition time of the year. For many people who are ill or with chronic illnesses, they may experience worsening symptoms from now until January 28, 2017(Chinese New Year).

During this time, the earth starts to bring all of it’s Yang Qi to a deeper level to protect and preserve. In the Spring, the Yang Qi is then able to re-birth with vigor. As we mirror nature, the same theory applies to our bodies.

This is why it is best to not use too much Yang Qi during this season. When Yang Qi is not preserved at this time, all the Spring diseases could occur such as: cold hands & feet, Yang Qi not being able to rise the entire year, difficult digestion, allergies, etc.

With the Yang Qi residing internally, we experience less protection on the outside. To provide protection, we need to wear warm clothing and practice more Qigong. In addition, eat more ginger in the mornings, lamb, and more grains (Eight Treasure Longevity Congee).

Nourish Your Kidney Yin

soupHere we are moving into the cooler months of the year.  I am so thankful for the rain we have recently had in the Bay Area.  Check out these tips for the winter season from Master Liu He

Nourish Your Kidney Yin

As we enter the Winter season, people may experience more yin depletion. Master Liu He advises all students at this time to nourish your Kidney Yin and not bother your Kidney Yang. With sufficient Yin energy, just as in a stage of pregnancy, the Yang can then give a healthy birth in Spring. Winter is considered a time for storage, just as nature and animals take this time to hibernate. She stated, if you do not preserve your Yang Qi,  all the Spring diseases will occur such as: cold hands & feet, Yang Qi will not be able to rise the entire year, difficult digestion, allergies, etc.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Think less and slow down your daily activities/lifestyle.

2. Eat warm and cooked foods. Avoid cold and raw foods.

3. Eat chicken soups and oysters.

4. Go to bed early and get up late.

5. Shower/bathe less – no more than 3 times per week (Especially not a sauna; avoid excess sweat.)

6. Soak your feet in hot water with sea salt for 20 minutes at night.

Autumnal wisdom from Master Liu He

I have been trying out these suggestions myself. I haven’t been able to do all of them (I still have to buy some pear and daikon.), but I have been faithfully eating ginger and soaking my feet in leek water. I am curious to see how this makes me feel come winter.  

Boosting Younger Yang Qi to Protect and Nourish Your Yin Qi!

Strong Yang Qi gives you the foundation for a strong and vibrant life. The form (body, organs, etc.) is Yin Qi, we need Yang Qi to animate and bring to life. In our fast paced modern society, we drain and consume our Yang Qi on a daily basis. In order to support the Young Yang Qi, here are some suggestions:

1. Eat 2-3 slices of fresh ginger root each morning after breakfast. Do not eat in the evening, morning only.

2. Eat warm and cooked foods, especially high fiber whole grains. Avoid cold and raw foods.

3. Look at the sun rising and the sun setting.

4. Eat pear and/or daikon in the evening.

5.  Soak your feet in warm water with the white part of the leek for 10-15 minutes.

6. Drink 1 cup warm water when you first wake up and 1/2 cup warm water before bed.

Image credit: © Dietmar Rabich, rabich.de (edited by Sting), CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Spirit of Renewal: Spring and Traditional Chinese Medicine

100_3023Spring: It is the long-awaited change of winter to spring. Seeds sprout, flowers bloom, and the sun warms the earth. There is a sense of renewal and new life all around.

While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings, and a renewal of spirit.

The Principle of the Five Elements

The five elements refer to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in Eastern philosophy. The Principle of the Five Elements (known as the Wu Hsing in Chinese) describes the flow of Qi and the balance of yin and yang.

According to the principle, all change – in the universe and in your body – occurs in five distinct stages. Each of these stages is associated with a particular time of year, a specific element in nature, and a pair of organs in the body. Change links together the seasons of the year, aspects of nature, and your body’s organs and bodily processes. A practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine uses this principle to diagnose and treat health problems, linking specific foods, herbs, and acupuncture points to the restoration of yin-yang and Qi.

Spring

Spring is the ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenation for overall health and well-being. As spring is represented by the wood element and includes the liver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder, these two organs are usually the primary targets for springtime cleansing and health regimens.

Element: Wood
Color: Green
Nature: Yang
Organs: Liver, Gallbladder
Emotion: Anger

Learn more about the Liver and Liver Qi Stagnation

Put Some Spring into Your Step

Spring corresponds to the “Wood” element, which in turn is conceptually related to the liver and gallbladder organs. According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health this spring, move your Qi!

Stretch – The liver controls the tendons. According to Chinese medicine, the liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining tendon health and flexibility. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Try yoga or tai qi.

Eye Exercises – The liver opens into the eyes. Although all the organs have some connection to the health of the eyes, the liver is connected to proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when looking at a computer monitor for extended periods of time and do eye exercises.

Eat Green – Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants – fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses – can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of qi.

Taste Sour – Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the liver’s qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing. Garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle.

Do more outdoor activities – Outside air helps liver qi flow. If you have been feeling irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver qi stagnation. Try hiking or take up golf.

Enjoy milk thistle tea – Milk thistle helps protect liver cells from incoming toxins and encourages the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances, such as alcohol, medications, pesticides, environmental toxins, and even heavy metals such as mercury.

Get Acupuncture treatments – Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration, which are often associated with liver qi disharmony.

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM
Source: www.acufinder.com

Why do we feel healthier and happier when we spend time in nature?

Have you ever wondered why you feel healthier and happier when you stroll through the trees or frolic by the sea? Is it just that you’re spending time away from work, de-stressing and taking in the view? Or is there more to it?

For more than 20 years, scientists have been trying to determine the mechanisms by which exposure to biodiversity improves health. Japanese scientists pioneered the search when they travelled to the island of Yakushima, famous for its biodiversity.

The Japanese already had a name for the experience of well-being in nature: shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”.

We do know that a diverse ecosystem supports a varied and beneficial microbial community living around and inside us.

We also know that exposure to green space, even within urban environments, increases our physical and mental well-being. But what are the mechanisms?

The forest air

The Japanese researchers suggested that we are taking in beneficial substances when we breathe forest air.

Research has identified three major inhaled factors that can make us feel healthier. These factors are beneficial bacteria, plant-derived essential oils and negatively-charged ions.

From birth to the grave, beneficial bacteria surround us; they live in the environment and, importantly, in the air we breathe. We also share almost our entire body with them. The more interaction we have with them, the happier and healthier we are.

This is in part due to our gut-dwelling bacteria, which break down the food we cannot digest and produce substances that benefit us both physically and mentally.

Plants and the bacteria living on them can produce essential oils to fight off harmful microorganisms. These are referred to collectively as phytoncides, literally, “plant-derived exterminators”.

Research on the health benefits of plant essential oils is in its infancy. But one recent study found that a phytoncide from Korean pine trees improved the health and bacterial make-up of pigs.

Notwithstanding some of the pseudoscience that gets wrapped around negative ion generating machines, there is evidence that negative air ions may influence mental outlook in beneficial ways. There are relatively higher levels of negative air ions in forested areas and close to bodies of water. This may factor into the benefits of walking in a forest or near the ocean.

But as the German writer Goethe once said: “Nature has neither kernel nor shell; she is everything at once.”

Bacteria, essential oils and negative ions interact and influence each other. For example, negative ions and phytoncides may dictate the microbial make-up within a natural environment. There is evidence that this could also be taking place in the human gut.

More to be done

Nature-relatedness, or biophilia in which an individual feels connected to nature, has been linked with better health.

But we have a long way to go before we can more fully understand the mechanisms by which an innate love of nature can benefit our health. An important part of this discussion – an overlooked one in our opinion – is further understanding of an individual’s connection to nature.

Psychologists have convincingly demonstrated connections between nature relatedness and mental well-being. But how does a greater personal affinity to nature interact with dietary habits, personal microbiome, physical activity levels and many other lifestyle variables that might be intertwined with having such an affinity?

In the meantime, while scientists turn over stones and search for important mechanistic clues – including those related to biodiversity – there are many simple ways to capitalise on our biophilia.

Why not run in the park or by a river instead of on a treadmill, or take a walk through a park on the way to work or at lunchtime?

Critically, there is increasing evidence that we can help shape our children’s mental and physical health by exposing them to more green environments as they work, rest and play. The US-based Children and Nature Network is a great resource of research news and activities bringing children and nature together.

In the World Health Organization report Connecting Global Priorities – Biodiversity and Human Health, released in December last year, it was concluded that: “Considering ‘microbial diversity’ as an ecosystem service provider may contribute to bridging the chasm between ecology and medicine/immunology [… ] the relationships our individual bodies have with our microbiomes are a microcosm for the vital relationships our species shares with countless other organisms with which we share the planet.”

It is easy to see that discussions of natural environments and human health are no mere matter of intellectual fancy.

In a paper published last month in Journal of Physiological Anthropology, we’ve called for more research into the links between biodiversity and human physical and mental well-being, particular in relation to childhood, that most formative of times.

Wouldn’t it be good if by nurturing our environment we were also nurturing our children’s future health?

Written by: Jeffrey Craig and Susan L. Prescott

Giving birth to Shao Yang Qi “Young Yang Qi”

QigongI love to share the seasonal advice from Master Liu He: she always gives very practical advice.  I admit that I have a hard time following all of it, but I do my best! Perhaps you will find some pearls of wisdom in her words as well.

With the beginning of the Chinese Lunar  New Year, we all give birth to Shao Yang Qi “Young Yang Qi”.

Just as giving birth to a new baby, this “Young” Yang needs to be tended and developed for the yang to grow through the seasons.

In order to protect your Qi baby or young yang energy, keep the following suggestions in mind as you tend to this new energy allowing growth:

1. Stay warm. In some areas the weather is beginning to warm however you want to keep your feet and legs warm. Not wearing sandals and shorts.

2. Wear loose clothes and relax as much as possible. Do not overexert yourself.

3. Practicing Qigong for the Liver and Gallbladder. Here is the Youtube link for Liver Purification Qigong. Jade Woman is also another form to practice at this time of year.

4. Walk gently for 30-45 minutes outside. No excessive sports or sweating.

5. Drink mung bean juice after breakfast.

6. Eat a small amount of sweet flavored foods to facilitate the gentle rising of the Liver Qi. Do not eat a  lot of sour flavored foods as this draws the Liver Qi in and down.

7. Do not eat spicy foods. Spicy foods contain a lot of heat and has potential to harm the Liver Qi.

8. Go to bed a little later then in winter however not later then 10:30pm.

9. Continue to soak feet in warm water before bed.

Wishing you a happy birth Qi!

Master Liu He

Happy New Year!

On February 8, 2016 we will shift out of the year of the nurturing Yin Wood Sheep and into the year of the passionate Yang Fire Monkey.

As the name suggests, the year of the Yang Fire Monkey is all about having fun, taking risks, being proactive and going after what you truly desire.

Yang energy is action based energy, so 2016 will really favor making bold decisions, getting ahead and staying assertive.

When abused, however, the Year of the Fire Monkey can leave you financially ruined, left behind, or stuck in hot water.

The Fire Monkey knows exactly how to get what it wants and is not afraid to play games in order to get it, so just be mindful over getting sucked into this energy.

Another thing to be mindful of in the year of the Fire Monkey is to avoid getting stuck in a repetitive pattern or cycle.

Sometimes the monkey, as smart as he is, can get stuck in leaping in a circle again and again and wondering why he is not moving forward.

The year of the Fire Monkey can also be unpredictable, so try not to be too rigid in your plans this year as things are likely to surprise you.

It may also be helpful to keep a sense of humor this year, as the cheeky Fire Monkey has a big bag of tricks to use and may send you on a bit of a roller-coaster in order to get you where you need to be.

In matters of love and relationships, the year of the Fire Monkey favours fun social gatherings, meeting new people and forming new friendships. This would definitely be the year to look for love within your own friendship circle.

By nature, the Fire Monkey is flirtatious, passionate and lively. This year may bring a lot of short, passionate romances as well the desire to explore your sexuality.

Long term relationships can be strained under the Fire Monkey due to issues surrounding trust, ego, jealousy and control. However, when channeled positively, this energy can bring excitement, a stronger sense of intimacy and growth.

The Fire Monkey is here to shake up some energy and help us all to see things with a fresh, new perspective.

2016 is expected to be an innovative and powerful year and those who are able to go with the flow, make bold choices and keep their eyes on their target are likely to do well with the energy of the Fire Monkey.

In Chinese Astrology, the year of the Fire Monkey is most fortunate for those born under the sign of the Dragon, Rat, Snake and Monkey.

Source: http://foreverconscious.com/chinese-astrology-2016-year-of-the-fire-monkey

5 reasons you should get on a yoga mat, today

I love yoga and have been practicing regularly for the past 20+ years. I prefer Iyengar yoga because it emphasizes alignment and because, for me, it is a style that helps me feel grounded and centered. I have not experienced the same effect from Ashtanga-style yoga. Here is an article wriitten by Dr. Laurie Steelsmith, a naturopath and licensed acupuncturist.

Yoga isn’t simply a series of exercises in which you learn to twist your body into a pretzel; it’s also known to have remarkable health benefits. In its original form, practiced for thousands of years in Hindu tradition, yoga was seen as an integral part of a transformative way of life. Although it has been significantly modified in its adoption by Western culture, yoga as we know it today can still help people support their health and well-being.

Yoga has the potential to not only increase your awareness of your body, but also to help you be more conscious as you move through life. Researchers have found that yoga, like meditation, has significant effects on decreasing stress and tension. It can also promote greater vitality and increase your quality of life in the following ways:

1. Increased flexibility. By doing yoga regularly, you can “recruit” new elastic tissue to your tendons and muscles, which in turn can allow you to move in ways that you may not have been able to move in years. This can significantly decrease your risk of getting injured while working out or having fun. One study found that people who practiced yoga regularly for only 8 weeks had a 35 percent increase in flexibility. With improved flexibility, you may notice that chronic aches and pains subside or disappear entirely. Remember “the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone”? Well, when you create greater overall flexibility, a pain you’ve been feeling in your knee may go away simply because you’ve loosened your lower back, buttocks and thigh muscles. Joint pains are often related to reduced flexibility, which can lead to poor structural alignment, and yoga is the perfect exercise for ironing out all those aches and pains from your body.

2. Support for your posture. Many yoga exercises build muscles in your core that are important when you’re sitting or standing. And since yoga brings awareness to your bodily movements, it can help you “check in” with your body when you’re slumping or slouching, so you can make the right corrections. When you have great posture, you feel better, you’re less prone to injuries, you look better and less energy is required to hold your body in one position for long periods of time.

3. Prevention of arthritis. People often get arthritis because of uneven wear and tear on their cartilage, due to poor structural alignment and lack of use. When you do yoga, you can put your muscles and joints through their full range of motion, which bathes these tissues with blood, oxygen and nutrients. You can also loosen your tendon and ligament attachments, which creates additional space for your joints to go through even further range of motion.

4. Helping to build and maintain bone. Some yoga poses are weight-bearing, which means they stress your muscles in ways that stimulate your bone cells to lay down new bone. This can help you prevent osteoporosis, or porous bones, in your senior years. Because yoga also reduces stress, it could have additional positive impacts on bones by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol, which in excess can reduce bone density.

5. Increased sense of peace and happiness. When you practice yoga consistently, you can affect many brain chemicals that promote sensations of well-being. Yoga has been shown to not only decrease cortisol, but also increase serotonin (your “feel-good” neurotransmitter) and boost dopamine (a brain chemical that can induce feelings of happiness and hopefulness).

Yoga is delightfully accessible; it doesn’t require lots of fancy equipment. You can go far with just a yoga mat, some yoga straps and a few yoga blocks. You can do it at any age, and do it anywhere that allows you enough space to move. To get started, you can purchase a yoga DVD, follow a book’s guidelines, or take a class. Remember that yoga can be more than just a form of exercise. It can be a time you set aside to check in with yourself – and ultimately it can become a way of life.

Source: Vitacost.com