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19Oct/09Off

Make alternative healing become mainstream, discussion part 3

In part 1. I posted an article written by a few wise medical authorities called "Alternative Healing is mainstream". In part 2, I showed my support to the integration of alternative healing and making these healing methods more popular. I'm not even a doctor myself, but I know a few TCM doctors who can give thousands of examples on how Healthy Check works with "the power of simple, low-tech and low-cost" as said in the article. One of the examples I heard was from an acupuncturist. There's a middle aged guy whose three coronary arteries are already congested. He was arranged to have a coronary artery bypass surgery. However, in a physical check right before the operation, they found that one of his kidneys totally malfunctioned, so the operation got canceled to avoid the risk of dying in the operation room. However, after he went home, his friend knew about his situation and then recommended him an acupuncturist. The day when he came to the acupuncture office he was so painful on the chest, and couldn't stop the shallow and difficult breaths and of course, very nervous. The acupuncturist just had him lay down, just right after a few needles pinched into the acupoints, the chest pain is gone. After a deep breath, he told the acupuncturist that he never felt that well with his heart. 20 minutes later after pulling off the needles, he's so happy that he just knew he's already much better. He told the acupuncturist that usually he had to stop and take a breath every 10 steps. Just right after this treatment he could already walk without stopping at all. He was so surprised that acupuncture can be so efficient. When he found out the bill was just $50. He was even more amazed. If he take the surgery just for a reduction of pain, it's going to cost him $50,000. And even after the surgery, the congestions still occur, and he knows few years later he'll have to do it again. 10 days later, he faxed and told the acupuncturist after the last session and take some herb medicines, his chest pain is totally gone, and he can walk like usual and can even do some exercise. He went to the hospital and had check up. Suddenly there were no more congestion in the coronary arteries.  He immediately questioned why American medical system never use acupuncture to treat heart problems. Because it's efficient and much more affordable. There's no side effects and no need to cut a hole on your chest. This is just one of the stories the acupuncturist talked about. The point of this example here is not about how great this acupuncturist is, it's about how this example tells the new hope of the future. The economy can recover much quicker if our burden of medical expense is relieved by alternative healing methods, and President Obama probably already knew that. Alternative healing may be used as an option for bargain against the American medicines.

17Oct/09Off

Make alternative healing become mainstream, discussion part 2

In the last post I posted an article written by a few wise medical authorities called "Alternative Healing is mainstream". To save our country in long term, or even in the short-term, I do hope President Obama will put some efforts on promoting alternative healing methods, while he's still fighting for healthcare of all public against the medical companies. Again, the huge medical expense can be reduced by just switching healing methods, especially the huge expense paying the medical professionals who take care of the chronic disease patients. A lot of studies already prove that traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, acupressure and Qi Gong can relieve those chronic pain. As Healthy Check being much more cost effective compared to the expensive medical care in America, President Obama should really find out a way to intergrate both Chinese and American medical system so that we can make medical insurance more affordable. Honestly, if more resources can be put on alternative healing research including Healthy Check and natural ways of healing from other countries, it's going to change the health of western world from the basis and save the medical budgets for at least 80%. We already the average life span of Asians are longer than Americans and Europeans. The longevity is not based on the cutting edge medical technology and equipments, it's based on the natural healing and health protection. Of course, we know Western medicine has their incomparable value, especially in the surgery areas. However, there's an old saying that said, "Prevention is always better than cure." And alternative healing is definitely great in terms of preventive medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine especially recommends, "Cure before the disease." It means not just to have a regular physical check, but cure yourself regularly with decoctions, diet, exercise, acupressure, Qi Gong etc. It's just a matter of whether Americans can believe these or not.

Health insurance policy for retired seniors now is ridiculous. It's like you either a very poor senior with no properties, no income and nothing to get healthcare, or you retire rich that you don't ever have to worry about your healthcare. For most people in the middle class, who own something but getting old, the health insurance is so ridiculously hard to afford. If this direction keeps going wrong like that and the medical companies keep making profits for investors without thinking what medicines are really for, someday, or even now, America will be so screwed.

13Oct/09Off

How to find out if you pick the right medicine or a right doctor

I recently read a Chinese article written by a traditional Chinese medicine doctor and found it interesting. It's about how we know if we find the right doctor, right treatment or right medicine. Of course, this doctor didn't say he's the best. Rather, he respect whatever treatment or whoever we believe in. The point he's trying to make is to tell us how to indicate by ourselves that we're really getting proper treatment and are going on the right direction. I'll try to translate what he said here.

There are so many diet supplements, Qi Gong classes, and certain doctors are exaggerating how good their treatments are. All these various methods, classes, medicines and supplements are making people wondering which one is working for them. It really doesn't matter which method people believe and insist on trying, as long as it benefits the patient, any kinds of treatment should be respected. However, if those treatments are not working and makes the patients waste a lot of money and most importantly, miss the best timing for the cure, that's going to be the worst.

Actually, there's a simple indication in general to differentiate what works and what doesn't. And the plan is to continue the treatment if the indicator shows that it works, stop the treatment if it's the opposite. Here is the indicator: a healthy person always feel warm with the limbs, and relatively cooler on the face and the head. If limbs are getting cold, that means sickness is already there in the body. So when we don't feel well for whatever reason, the limbs will be colder than usual. Then after you start the treatment with medicines / vitamins / diet supplements / exercises / herbs / Qi Gong / surgery / chemical therapy / acupuncture etc, if your limbs are feeling even colder, that means those treatments fail. If your limbs are starting to feel warmer, that means those treatment works, and you're on the right track of recovery.

So sometimes whenever a person tells you that "I'm taking XXX supplement", ask this person if his/her limbs feel colder or warmer after taking it. If the answer is colder, that means this supplement is not just fail on this individual, it even "feeds" the potential disease like cancer and virus. Same theory, if the Qi Gong master or the TCM doctor or the acupuncturist makes the limbs feel from cold to warm, that means they're good for the patient and fit the needs. If it's the opposite, the patient better switch to some other treatments.

18Sep/09Off

Introduction to Ginseng, part 1

Other than Lingzhi, Ginseng rank the second or almost the first among Chinese herbs. In Chinese history, ginseng has been a legendary herbal medicine that can almost turn death back alive. Of course, those were all myths but you can tell how ginseng became one of the group of medical herbs that are highly respected. It's properties are great for regulating body function, like a big tune up of your body. After western medicine did a lot of research on ginseng, it was told that these properties are due to chemical constituents that are similar to hormones.  Now there are mostly three ginsengs on the market, two of which belong to the genus Panax. "Panax" comes from the Greek "pan" and "akos", meaning a cure-all medicinal herb. There are many species of this genus, the following three are commonly cultivated and marketed.

Chinese or Korean ginseng (Panax Ginseng)

高麗參,人參  (Mandarin: Gao Li Shen, Ren Shen; Cantonese:  Go Lai Sum, Yun Sum)

This is the most commonly used and marketed of the Panax species. It's now cultivated in northern China and Korea. The myths and stories of ginseng mostly referred to this species. It's best for senior people. There was a post I talked about Korean Ginseng Chicken soup.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)

花旗參 (Mandarin: Hua Qi Shen; Cantonese:  Fa Kay Sum)

This grows wild on the forested mountain slopes in eastern North America, mostly in Wisconsin. It keeps you awake and reduce your "heat". The function is quite different from Korean ginseng.

Russian or Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

俄羅斯/西伯利亞參 (抽參)(Mandarin: Chou Shen; Cantonese:  Chau Sum)

Although it's in the same family as true ginseng,  this herb belongs to another genus. It's chemistry and therapeutic properties are similar to true ginseng.

(sources:  Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle)

8Sep/09Off

Chinese herbal concoction: Ng Gwun Tong

Like "Ching Po Leung", this "Ng Gwun Tong" is a general tonic. The name "Ng Gwun" means 5 gentle herbs working together as 5 gentleman. But this is also more powerful in its action, and like Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup, it's not recommended for anyone suffering from "externally-caused illness like flu. The specific ingredients comprising this soup are used to increase the vital energy (Qi) and to dredge the energy channels of the body releasing blockages; when Qi flows more vigorously and freely circulates it harmonize the entire system.

NG GWUN TONG (or Wu Jun Tang in Mandarin) 五君湯

Ingredients:

30g dangshen (黨參一兩)

30g milk vetch (黃忯一兩)

30g Chinese Yam (淮山一兩)

5g wolfberry (枸杞子二錢)

6g cordyceps or 9g China-root(冬蟲夏草二錢或伏神三錢)

(Chicken or lean pork)

Directions:

- Combine everything in a large pot, add about 8 cups of water, or enough to cover the ingredients by 2 times of the volume

- Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered until barley is cooked and liquid is reduced about half, for 2-3 hours, then season to taste and serve.

- For double-boiling, the ingredients and an equal amount of water are put into a small lidded ceramic container within a larger pot. Water is added to the larger pot and brought to the boil. Ingredients in the inner container are hence cooked, but the lid retains the delicious subtle flavors otherwise lost when boiled directly. Double-boiling requires at least 3-4 hours.

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle)

1Sep/09Off

Chinese herbal tea: Chrysanthemum tea

Chrysanthemum is a milder, sweeter relative of chamomile. Both are members of the sunflower plant  family. Chrysanthemum flowers have the ability to cleanse and cool the liver without interfering the function of the stomach. It's an herb for all people in all ages. And there are few popular styles of making the tea popular.

  • Simple preparation - infuse the flowers alone as you would tea, using about one tablespoon of flowers per cup of boiling water.  Drink either hot or cold, plain or sweetened.
  • Flowers can also be added to regular Chinese tea. A very common Cantonese called "Gook Po" is referred to Chrysanthemum flowers added to the tea "Po Lei". It's perfect balanced with Yin and Yang, which makes it a very healthy Chinese tea drinking style.
  • Chrysanthemum flowers can be boiled. If they're combined with equal amounts of honeysuckle flowers; add water with a tablespoon of flowers per cup; bring to the boil and then simmer until the tea is well flavored. Add some crystal rock sugar for even better taste.
  • If you are too lazy to make your own tea, there are actually a lot of different pre-made Chrysanthemum tea in cans or bottle or powder mix in packets in almost all Chinese supermarket or grocery store. Probably one of the easiest drinks you can find there.

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle, photos from ckchy.com, nummynims.wordpress.com and noobcook.com)

25Aug/09Off

Chinese herbal concoction: Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup

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KOREAN GINSENG CHICKEN SOUP

Korean Ginseng is one of the best herb for Chinese herbal medicine. Ironically, it's not grown originally in China. I can talk about Ginseng forever, but we'll save the detail for later. Today I just want to introduce a nourishing soup that is beneficial for older people year-round or for anyone during the winter. It's not for those who are suffering from "exopathic" diseases such as viral flu caused by external factors of the body. This soup will "nourish" the sickness itself other than the human body, which is definitely a negative effect. This soup is very easy to make, and you can find a lot of delicious recipe on the internet. Just type "Ginseng Chicken Soup Recipe" if you'd like.

Ingredients:

1 small chicken about 500g

25g Korean Ginseng

750ml water

Directions:

-  Combine all ingredients in a pot that is not made of metal. Earthenware will be ideal.

- Simmer gently or double-boil for 4 hours.

- Season with salt as desired, some spring onion and garlic will be nice for the taste too.

Here's another nice recipe with nice directions.

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle, photos from sandylee.pixnet.net,)

21Aug/09Off

Preparation of Chinese herbal medicines – decoction

Although herbs can be prepared in many ways including oils, liniments, pills, capsules, tablets, ointments etc.  - decoction (tea) and medicinal wine are the most popular and most functional methods for Chinese herbs consumption.

In many countries, tea is considered as one of the beverage choices. However in China, tea is a major beverage that is not only considered as refreshment but therapeutic and life-sustaining.

Shen Nong, is an ancient legend figure who first introduced tea-drinking. He's also the one who wrote the earliest text available about Chinese herbal medicine. So in China culture use of herbs for healing is always related to the technique of decoction, which is like brewing tea. Decoction is particularly effective for acute disorders, because herbal tea is quickly absorbed into bloodstream and become effective in healing.

Although preparation is simple, there are still something to remember:

  • Never cook a decoction in metal pot. Use porcelain, Pyrex, enamel or glass. Because metal can adversely affect some herbal constituents. You can find those special porcelain pot for decoction in most Chinese herbal shops.
  • When preparing a decoction, bring the water to a rolling boil first and then add the herbs; This is to extract the therapeutic properties of the herbs.
  • Always simmer the decoction over a low flame.
  • Never store the decoction using plastic containers.

Instruction for preparing a decoction in general:

  • Immerse the herbs into a required amount of room-temperature water for half to one hour.
  • Bring that required amount of room-temperature water in a large pot to rolling boil. Add the herbs again, stir, and return to a boil;
  • Lower the heat to simmer and cover the pot until rolling boil;
  • Simmer over a low flame with partial lid on and wait until certain amount of water reduced to certain amount of water - depending on the directions. For example, "3 bowls of water reduced to one" is a common directive.
  • Remove the pot from heat with the lid on, and allow the cooked tea to cool.
  • Strain off the herbs and discard them, or boil twice in order to extract all its goodness - as directed by the doctor.
  • Place the herbal tea into a glass container if necessary. It could be stored in the refrigerator for about 10-14 days. Avoid using microwave to heat it back up, though.

For those who're too busy to boil the herbs, they can tell the herb shop to boil for them for a small charge, and keep it warm until the customer comes back.

(sources: Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner, Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle)

18Aug/09Off

Chinese herbal concoction: Hui Sup Liu

Last post we started to talk about some herbal concoction, or herbal soup that's very important in maintaining good health for Chinese, especially Cantonese. While Ching Bo Leung is for anyone in any condition, there are other very common soups for specific needs. Like the following soup is about taking away the excess "dampness" in our body. Where does the dampness come from? One of the reasons is that when summer is hot, people like to have ice-cream or cold drinks that would affect the function of spleen and stomach. In Chinese theory, spleen governs transportation and transformation of "nutrients". When spleen is not fully functional because of the excess "coldness", the excess water in the body can't be cleared out. Besides in South China most areas are humid during summer, so our body is holds and absorbs dampness "from inside to outside."

HUI SUP LIU (or Qu Shi Liao in Mandarin) 去濕料

This soup regulates the electrolyte and water balance inside our body. This is specifically appropriate in hot humid weather. Ed俄ma, fungal infections (e.g. athlete's foot) and red, puffy eyes are symptoms associated with a "wet" condition which would benefit from this "Dampness-chasing" or "dewetting"  soup. This is also a soup with premixed packets that are easy to find in Asian grocery or supermarkets.

Ingredients: (Usually it's easier to buy the premixed packets, but if you do want to prepare, Chinese translations are here for you to print out as well.)

20g Job's tears barley (苡米七錢)

30g adzuki beans (赤小豆一兩)

30g hyacinth (lablab) beans (扁豆一兩)

30g tree cotton flowers (木棉花一兩)

1 lotus seed pod (蓮房一個)

(Winter melon) (冬瓜)

(Some Pork)

Directions:

- If using the melon, wash it first but don't peel or remove the seeds: chop coarsely, and add into the soup pot, combine everything.

- Add about 8 cups of water, or enough to cover the ingredients by 3 times of the volume

- Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered until barley is cooked and liquid is reduced, for at least 1 hour, 2-3 hours if you're using meat.

- Season with salt and serve. (The melon, pork, beans and barley are edible, but not the kapok flower or lotus pod.)

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle, photos by Christina @ forum.uhk.com,)

17Aug/09Off

Chinese herbal concoction: Ching Bo Leung

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To Chinese, especially Cantonese, soup plays a critical part in the daily meal as a source of nourishment and for the maintenance of good health. According to the season, different soups are made like cooling soup in summer and warming soup in winter. Certain individual with specific conditions from arthritis and flu to stress at work can be relieved by corresponding soups.

CHING BO LEUNG (or Qing Bu Liang in Mandarin) 清補涼

Ching Bo Leung is a soup that is a mild and general tonic, meant to be good for anyone in any condition. Many  ingredients in the soup which targets the cardiovascular system, help the body function better without stimulating any particular organ too much.

I introduce this soup for Americans also because there are premixed packets of this soup sold in Asian grocery stores and supermarkets, as well as in any Chinese medicinal herb shops. The other reason is that it's pretty easy to prepare. It can be prepared both as a savory soup using pork meat or bones in flavor, or as a sweet dessert soup like the one you can order in Vietnamese restaurant. Both will add sugar at the end. It's a drink that we can always take and help balance our Qi and Blood.

Ingredients: (Usually it's easier to buy the premixed packets, but if you do want to prepare, Chinese translations are here for you to print out as well.)

15g pearl barley (薏米半兩)

30g polygonatum (玉竹一兩)

30g lotus seeds (蓮子一兩)

30g foxnuts (茨實一兩)

15g Chinese yam (淮山五錢)

30g lily bulbs (百合一兩)

10g dried longan (optional) (元肉或龍眼肉三錢)

(Some Pork, maybe around 1lb, not too fatty; No pork needed if it's for dessert)

Directions:

- Put all the ingredients in a large pot.

- Add about 8 cups of water, or enough to cover the ingredients by 3 times of the volume, and pork meat or bones if desired.

- Make it boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered until barley is cooked and liquid is reduced, that takes about 1-2 hours.

- Season with salt for a savory soup, or sweeten with sugar as a dessert. Dessert can be served cold as well.

(sources: Streetwise Guide: Chinese Herbal Medicine by Wong Kang Ying and Martha Dahle, www.herbcompanion.com)