As the holiday season comes to a close and the new year begins, many people turn their thoughts towards healthy living and they work to change habits in hopes of achieving a more healthy lifestyle. One of the things we tend to focus on, especially after consuming loads of holiday goodies, is nutrition – specifically, making healthier choices. Did you know that nutrition plays a big role in Traditional Chinese Medicine? Not only that, but there is a seasonal element to nutrition.
Everybody knows that food is what gives our bodies the energy we need to survive. However, not everybody is aware that certain foods should be consumed during specific times of the year. In areas like the Midwest, where I grew up, fruits and vegetables are harder to keep on hand when the weather becomes colder and this principle is followed a little more closely. But in areas like Hawaii and Southern California, where fresh fruits and vegetables are always available and the climate is more moderate, people sometimes forget to eat according to the seasons.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that has been around for nearly 4,000 years. When this system came into being, people were much more in tune with the seasons and their environment. The foods they consumed were based on the seasons and when those foods were available. This is a system that should be followed for people to remain healthy throughout the year, regardless of where they live.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is a time of reflection and rejuvenation. The body needs the extra hours of darkness to repair. The kidneys are the center of energy in the Traditional Chinese Medicine system and thus, they need to be nourished during the winter months. It is recommended we consume foods that are warming and that will boost the kidney energy. We also need to eat foods that benefit the Shen (spirit) so that the winter months don’t bring about depression.
Things like soups and stews are extremely important during the cold winter months. Energetically, warming foods such as anchovies, bay leaves, chestnuts, chicken, fennel, leeks, mussels, mutton, nutmeg, pine nuts, sweet potatoes and walnuts are all great to incorporate into the diet. Also, foods that boost kidney energy are just as important. Items like millet, sesame seeds, kidney beans, lamb, beef, goose, duck, eggs, grains, seeds and nuts are all good tonics for the kidneys. Bone broth is another important food to consume during the winter months, as it supports the bones and the kidneys. It is recommended that the foods be cooked for longer periods and at lower temperatures to retain as much energy as possible. It is also advisable to eat more food with bitter flavors while reducing salty flavors, so that heart health is promoted and the workload of the kidneys is reduced. Bitter-flavored foods include apricot, asparagus, celery, coffee, tea, grapefruit, lettuce, kale, vinegar and wine.
One of the most commonly used foods is something known as congee. Congee is a thick grain-based soup or porridge. Congee is used in a preventive fashion to promote good health and strong digestion. Congee can be made with a single grain, like brown rice, or a combination of grains, beans, vegetables and medicinal herbs. Incorporating this into the daily diet can improve energy levels over time. Congee is prepared in a crock pot overnight, which fits in perfectly with the aforementioned principles of slow cooking at lower temperatures. It is said that the longer the congee cooks, the more powerful it becomes.
Incorporating the foods listed above during the winter months, can be a wonderful way to boost your energy throughout the season. And this will also help in the seasons to follow, as the body will be healthier and better prepared.
If you would ever like to discuss how food relates to your health or if you have questions about the role of nutrition in Traditional Chinese Medicine, I am always available to answer your questions. We can discuss any questions or concerns regarding nutrition and your health during your next appointment.
Have a splendid and very healthy New Year!
If you are suffering from insomnia or unable to get a good night’s rest, you are not alone. Around 60 million Americans experience insomnia and sleep related problems on a daily basis. Prescription sleeping pills are one of the most highly overused medications and can lead to side effects and addiction. Acupuncture is a centuries-old practice that has been proven to help sleep disorders without the risk of addiction or putting chemicals in the body.
How acupuncture works
Acupuncture works by addressing the root of the problem to return the body back to health. One clinical study found that patients with anxiety had increased sleep time, quality of sleep and felt less stressed with acupuncture treatment. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the meridian system, the body’s channel in which energy flows through, to stimulate Qi to return the organs to balance. When there is an imbalance in the body, illness such as insomnia arises. Acupuncture uses specific points on the body related to sleep problems to treat underlying issues.
There are many problems that contribute to insomnia such as chronic pain, depression and stress. Acupuncture is known to be a great alternative treatment for these related issues. In TCM, insomnia is looked at as a heart and liver imbalance. Acupuncture especially addresses these organs to help calm the nervous system and improve the muscle and nerve channels by increasing blood flow.
Chinese herbs for sleep
There are many Chinese herbs that have been known to help insomnia and to get a better quality sleep. These herbs are easy to find at the store and are widely safe to use.
Chrysanthemum tea: Chrysanthemum is known to help the clean the liver. When the liver is not working properly, it can cause insomnia, irritability and dizziness. Chrysanthemum tea can be found at your local Asian market, such as Assi or H Mart. If you are trying to cut back on sugar, know that many brands of chrysanthemum tea come as a powder mixed with sugar that you would simply add to hot water.
Ginseng tea: Ginseng is used for a number of health benefits. It is commonly used to help fatigue, dry mouth and shortness of breath. Although ginseng is typically known as being a stimulant, the root works by normalizing your body’s stress levels. Because of this, when taken during the day, studies have shown that it can help increase quality of sleep at night.
Schisandra tea: Schisandra berry tea can be found at health stores and is known to promote lung and kidney function. Because of this, it is a great tea to help insomnia and fatigue.
There are many options when it comes to treating insomnia. Traditional Chinese Medicine offers an effective treatment that leaves out the dependency of sleep-aid medications.
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7 tips to sleep better
Many of us find it hard to fall asleep at night and stay asleep, as a result we often wake up feeling groggy and not rested. Sometimes improving sleep is as simple as changing your habits during the day. Below are easy ways that can dramatically help you get a good night’s rest!
Cut yourself off in the afternoon. Believe it or not, even having caffeine at 2 pm can affect your sleep. Make sure to get that last cup of coffee in beforehand and watch out for certain drinks you may forget have caffeine in them such as soda and many teas.
Try restorative yoga. Practicing deep breathing and stretching before bed can help relax the mind and body. Try spending even just ten minutes to stretch and practice mindfulness.
Limit your screen time. Let’s face it, we are all addicted to our phones and computers. It’s tempting to look at your phone until the moment you fall asleep. Turn off all electronics an hour before bed to help the brain get into sleep mode. The screens on your devices make it hard for the brain to relax.
Acupuncture. If you are finding yourself struggling with insomnia you may want to consider acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is non invasive and has been proven to reduce stress, help chronic pain and increase quality of sleep. B.J. Putnam, at Putnam Point Acupuncture, has found that the two biggest reasons her patients have problems sleeping are stress and pain. Acupuncture has a great track record of treating both.
Aromatherapy. Lavender has been proven to lead to a better, deeper sleep and help those with insomnia fall asleep more easily. Sniff or rub lavender oil on your wrists before bed to feel the effects.
Exercise. Exercising regularly has many health benefits. It can also help you get a better sleep. Even just 20 minutes of some form of exercise a day can make a difference.
Cut down on the alcohol. Although some drink a glass of wine before bed to unwind and fall asleep, you are actually more likely to get a poorer quality of sleep. If you do decide to drink, do so earlier in the night to ensure a deep sleep.
Colon cancer is rarely talked about, yet it is the third most common cancer in the United States with about 60,000 deaths from it every year. Like all cancer, treatment can be long, uncomfortable and come with many side effects. Those getting chemotherapy may experience nausea, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety and fatigue. Surgery can leave someone with postoperative pain. The chronic pain can significantly impact quality of life. Most patients are prescribed medications such as opioids for pain that have side effects and are highly addictive.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that colon cancer comes from a number of underlying factors such as spleen yang deficiency, kidney yang deficiency, kidney yin deficiency and liver yin deficiency. Acupuncture works by addressing these deficiencies to return the body back to balance. Using specific points on the body related to these organs, acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural energy flow, Qi, and blood flow to improve organ health.
Going through chemotherapy treatment can cause severe fatigue. One study showed that acupuncture resulted in a 30 percent improvement in a baseline fatigue score.
Insomnia and anxiety are one of the most common symptoms that cancer patients experience. Acupuncture has been proven in numerous studies to be just as effective, if not more, than prescription drugs in improving sleep and decreasing stress and anxiety levels. This alternative treatment has also been shown to improve overall mood.
Acupuncture can help boost the immune system. Chemotherapy can greatly lower the body’s immune defense, leaving one in a vulnerable state due to a decrease in white-blood cell count. By increasing blood flow and stimulating Qi, acupuncture is a great way to improve immune function.
Cancer and cancer treatment is nothing to take lightly. A diagnosis can drastically change one’s life not only physically but mentally as well. If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer and/or going through chemotherapy, it is important to remember that there are alternative, safe treatments that can help make the process easier. Some cancer treatment centers now offer acupuncture within their facilities. Even if in-treatment acupuncture isn't offered where care is being given, acupuncture can still be added to your plan through private acupuncture clinics such as Putnam Point Acupuncture in Lansdale, PA. If a loved one is going through treatment, support is the best thing you can do for them. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and there is no better time to get tested and become educated on the facts.
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The second week of March is Brain Awareness Week. This is a perfect time to explore ways to keep your noggin working and healthy. Below are easy, simple ways to keep your brain in good shape.
A healthy diet is a healthy mind
There are many reasons to keep a healthy lifestyle and feed your body with foods that make you feel and perform your best. Diets that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol and higher in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to promote brain health and protect brain cells. Taking a fish oil supplement with DHA or eating fish such as salmon can help improve brain development at any age. DHA, a type of omega-3, may also help prevent certain neurological disorders. Vitamin E and lutein can also help brain health. Incorporate leafy greens such as spinach and kale into your lunch or dinners.
Keep your brain stimulated
At any age, brain exercises are a great thing to get into the habit of. Keeping your brain stimulated can help retain your memory as you get older as well as your capability to learn new skills. The brain is never done learning. Exercises like reading, crosswords, number problems and games like sudoku can help keep your brain stay active and working. If you find yourself experiencing chronic stress, practice daily meditation for as little as five minutes a day to help reduce inflammation and support immune health, which are both controlled by the same area of the brain. Dancing is one of the most effective ways to stimulate your brain. Partner dancing, especially for the follow, has been shown to strengthen cognitive ability while increasing physical endurance and balance. Or if you are interested in trying something more exotic, consider taking a bellydance class! Dancing ties brain stimulation with our next point...
Keeping in touch with friends and family and continuously working on building relationships helps your emotional state as well as your physical health. Surround yourself with people who challenge you, understand you and keep a positive tone. Join organizations or clubs you are interested in and make new connections. Feeling connected to others is always important for your mental wellbeing.
Quit the bad habits
If you smoke, now is never a better time to quit. Consuming an excess in substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs can lower cognitive processes and decrease overall functioning and health. If you would like help in changing your habits, consider talking to B.J. Putnam at Putnam Point Acupuncture to see how she can support you.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that the spleen, kidney and heart organs all impact mental capacity and brain activity. These organs influence memory, concentration and recall. When one of these organs is experiencing deficiency or an imbalance, our brain can not function to its fullest. Acupuncture addresses the organs with specific points on the body to return the body back to balance and health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that eye diseases are related to deficiencies in the liver and kidney organs and result from an imbalance in the body. There are many ways to improve eye health and prevent damage down the road. Finding the root of the problem and taking preventative measures is important when it comes to eye health. Below are simple ways for healthier vision.
Eat right. Certain foods are great for eye health. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been known to improve eye health. Specifically, try adding in more spinach, kale or collard greens into your diet. Fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which are also great for eye health.
Give it a rest. If you’re like most working adults and spend hours on the computer every day, make sure you’re taking breaks from screen time to reduce eye strain. The best strategy is the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes looked 20 feet away from your computer for 20 seconds.
Protect your eyes. Protect your eyes just like you would your skin when in the sun. Make sure to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from damaging UV rays. Make sure to find sunglasses that offer both UVA and UVB protection.
Quit smoking. There are many health reasons to quit smoking. A lot of people aren’t aware that smoking can expose your eyes to high levels of oxidative stress, which damages blood vessels. Smoking can increase your risk for many health problems that affect the eye. Contact a doctor to discuss ways to quit.
Know your history. Many eye problems can be genetic. See if family members have any eye conditions and make sure to get regular check ups if this is the case to help maintain healthy vision.
Take care of your contacts. It is easy to get into bad habits when it comes to contact wearing. Make sure to replace your contacts at the recommended time. Wash your hands before touching your contacts and take them out at night to give your eyes the rest and oxygen it needs.
Acupuncture. A number of studies found that acupuncture may have positive effects on people who suffer from chronic dry eye. One study showed that acupuncture could help reduce tear loss that those with dry eye usually experience. Common eye problems that acupuncture can treat include glaucoma, cataracts, chronic dry eyes, macular degeneration, optic neuritis, optic atrophy. Ask B.J. Putnam, Putnam Point Acupuncture, about how she may be able to help you strengthen your eyes.
High blood pressure affects one in three adults in Lansdale, just as it does all Americans. It is one of the most common health issues in Pennsylvania and most often the result of busy schedules and high-stress jobs. Sometimes it can be hard to slow down, however, addressing high blood pressure is very important to improving overall health and quality of life. Below are natural ways that can help lower your blood pressure.
Working less hours is one of the hardest commitments for Americans for multiple reasons. According to a study done by the University of California, Irvine, those who worked more than 41 hours a week had an increased risk of hypertension by 15 percent. Whether you own your own business, work at Merck, or teach at North Penn, try to stick to 40 hours a week in the office. Take advantage of those vacations days when you can, you deserve it!
Drink less caffeine
A study done by Duke University Medical Center found that consuming around three cups of coffee has a lasting effect on blood pressure. Caffeine tightens blood vessels, which results in an increase in blood pressure. When caffeine increases blood flow, it magnifies the feelings of stress you are probably already feeling. Try to cut down on the coffee and turn to decaf. Many stores like Giant and Wegmans, even Walmart, carry herbal tea which is naturally caffeine free. Consider expanding your taste bud's horizons, you may find your new favorite drink.
Researchers at the University of Florence in Italy found that listening to calming music for 30 minutes daily can help lower blood pressure. Listeners who practiced this daily on top of deep breathing lowered their average systolic reading by 3.2 points. Taking the time every day to listen to music and relax is simple and effective.
Acupuncture is an effective natural treatment for hypertension. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that when one has high blood pressure, the body is out of balance. Acupuncture works to relax the body and mind and return the body’s natural energy flow back to balance. TCM believes the Liver and Kidney organs are associated with high blood pressure and focuses on these acupuncture points to relieve stress.
Massage therapy is well known for reducing stress and hypertension. A study done at the Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine found that patients experienced less muscle tension and a lower heart rate after massage therapy treatment. Massage is non invasive and not only relaxes the body, but the mind as well. At Putnam Point, we often add massage to our therapeutic treatments. We also have a list of local massage therapists who we're happy to refer patients to.
Lowering your blood pressure is not something that happens overnight. Sticking to a healthy diet and exercise plan and finding a natural treatment that works for you can help you get back on the road to health and reduce stress and hypertension.
Heart Healthy Recipe
This recipe is filled with vegetables that not only taste delicious but are heart healthy as well!
30 oz. canned black-eyed peas
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
1 small bell pepper diced
½ cup chopped cilantro
3 diced jalapenos
2 cups of diced tomatoes
3 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. lime zest
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and ground pepper to taste
Combine black-eyed peas, onions, corn, bell pepper, cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes and garlic into a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk olive oil, lime juice, zest and cumin together. Pour over vegetables adding salt and pepper to taste and toss altogether. Served best when chilled for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world with over 375,000 Americans who die from it each year.
A systematic review of 16 trials found that acupuncture can reduce the risk of heart attack when used as an addition to conventional treatment. A study done by the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Peking University Shenzhen Hospital found that specific acupuncture points resulted in significant improvements in patients suffering from coronary heart disease. Researchers found that the 32 patients who received the acupuncture treatment had an
improvement in blood flow to the heart. The acupuncture group was compared to another group who only received nitroglycerin. Contact your acupuncturist to learn more how this natural treatment can decrease your risk of heart disease and improve overall health.
“A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers”- Chinese Proverb
Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show your loved ones how much you care. Below are some ideas to make this year’s holiday a memorable one.