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When the temperatures drop and the air gets crisp and Uwajimaya has it’s annual 15%-off-everything-sale, we have hotpot. I’ve written about this before, but I thought it would be nice to do so again, since it is such an autumn tradition for us. We pull out the Danube (Japanese clay pot) and our table-top cook stove. We get meat cut very thin by the talented butchers at Uwa who do it specifically for this and for the related dish, Sukiyaki. We pull together veggies, usually Napa cabbage, chrysanthemum leaves (sweet and delish!), several varieties of mushrooms (especially shitaki, enoki, maitake and oyster) carrots, tofu and daikon. Adding rice noodles is a nice touch, especially loved by kids. The broth is a simple 2 hour infusion with kombu, or sea kelp. The dried noodles soak for about an hour to soften them. Everything is put into the broth to quickly cook similar to a Swiss meat/veggie fondu. We prefer to make Japanese-style hotpots, which use broth and are a bit lighter than the Chinese versions which use oil in the cooking pot. Veggies, noodles and meat can be taken from the pot and put into each bowl and individuals can add as little or much garlic-chili paste and shredded daikon as desired. My daughters add none, I add enough to get a medium heat, and my husband makes his pretty hot. It was delicious and fun as usual. As you can see from the photo, this meal is a big hit with my 3 year old!!!
Tags: chrysanthemum, hot pot, hotpot, hotpot recipe, japanese hotpot, kombu, mushrooms, seaweed, soup
The following is a delicious recipe from the book Hungry Monkey by fellow Seattlite Matthew Amster-Burton. It is a family favorite in our house and I make it when I feel the need for some healthy comfort food. The recipe includes star-anise, which is a digestive aid, green onion which helps ward off colds, and and garlic, which does both. I highly recommend giving this easy, delicious recipe a try.
Sticky Chinese-Style Spareribs
From Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton
1 rack pork spareribs (about 3 1/2 lbs), trimmed and cut into individual ribs
1 bunch scallions, cut into 2 inch lengths
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 star anise
1/4 c rock sugar or 2 Tb granulated sugar
1/2 c soy sauce
1 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tb hoisin sauce
2 Tb rice vinegar
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low heat 7-8 hours or until the meat is very tender. Serve with rice.
This time of year I hear a lot of patients talking about how their kids are coughing constantly. When children catch colds, they often get coughs, sometimes dry, sometimes phlegmy, and especially at night. These episodes are miserable for everyone. Western cough syrups are very strong drugs and many parents don’t want to use them but resort to them so that everyone can get some sleep.
There is a wonderful Chinese Medicine alternative. Blue Poppy Herbs makes a pediatric formula called Lung Qi Jr. that works wonders on those pesky coughing fits. I have been giving it to my children since they were infants whenever they had colds with coughs. Not only does it help to calm the coughing, it has several herbs in it that fight the infection at the source of the cough. It is one of those formulas that I think anyone with kids should have in the medicine cabinet. It comes in a liquid form and contains vegetable glycerin to sweeten it up so that it is more palateable to young tongues. I squirt it directly into my children’s mouths, but it can also be added to juice, milk, yogurt, or anything else.
Tags: acupuncture, children coughing, cough syrup, coughs, herbal medicine, herbs, herbs for children, herbs for kids, kids coughing, natural cough medicine, natural cough remedies, pediatric cough medicine
There are some correlations between western nutritional science and Chinese food therapy. One of the ways in which they diverge is on the topic of raw food. Chemically, food contains more of its vitamins and minerals when raw, and the longer a food cooks, the more of it’s nutrients are lost. This doesn’t mean western Nutritionists believe that all people should eat all vegetables and fruits raw at all times. However, in Chinese nutrition, raw food should rarely, if ever, be consumed.
I like to think about the stomach as a pot on a stove. If you put cold water and foods into it, it takes more time for the pot to get the food up to temperature in order to digest it than if you put warm, slightly cooked foods into it. The Spleen/Stomach energy has to work very hard, and use quite a bit of qi to break down raw food into components useable by the body. We believe that when food is consumed that has been slightly cooked, through saute, stir fry, baking, roasting, or the like, the Stomach/Spleen can get the most value from the food with the least effort. This is especially true in the wintertime when the body is already working hard to function in the cold weather, and even more so in those who are diagnosed with having a Spleen qi vacuity.
During the winter months, avoid excessive raw food and cold beverages. Give your digestive system the benefit of partially broken down veggies and even fruits (baked pears are fantastic!!) until the weather warms again. You might even consider having a cup of miso or tea before a meal, this helps warm the stomach so that it will be best prepared to digest effectively.
Tags: acupuncture, chinese medicine, chinese nutrition, chinese nutritional therapy, raw food, raw food diet, Spleen qi deficiency, Spleen qi vacuity
Until January 31, 2010 I am offering 10% off cough syrups, Yin Chiao, Yin Chiao Jr., and Gan Mao Ling to current patients and to new patients who make an appointment for acupuncture.
Don’t forget that acupuncture increases immune function and that these and many other formulas can be used preventatively during this cold & flu season. I have a pharmacy full of herbal remedies to stop colds and flus in their tracks, and at the very least, shorten their duration and the intensity of many symptoms including cough, chills, fever, nasal congestion, headache and fatigue.
There many things we can do to help support our body’s natural immune function. Certainly getting enough rest, fluids, and quality fresh food is essential. Acupuncture is also a good option, since one of the proven effects of this therapy is increased immunity, even when this isn’t the focus of treatment. Regular acupuncture helps bring our bodies back into balance, and a body in balance has the ability to fight foreign contaminants such as bacteria and viruses. In Chinese Medicine terms “expel uninvited guests” such as wind cold, wind heat, wind damp, etc.
Aside from acupuncture, many Chinese herbs, including mushrooms, have been proven to increase immune function in several ways. There are herbs that are simply antibacterial and antiviral, helping our bodies to stave off infection when we come in contact with these agents. There are also herbs which increase the number of Killer T and Natural Killer white blood cells which attack microbes preventing us from getting sick, and helping us to recover from illness.
One of the key immune enhancing herbs in Chinese Medicine is Huang Qi, or Astragalus. The root of this plant tonifies the qi and blood of the entire body, especially the Spleen and increases the Wei, or Protective Qi. There are several classic herbal formulas that contain Huang Qi which can be used to prevent illness. There are also formulas, which when taken at the early stages of illness help the body recover quickly and decrease the severity of an illness. These formulas are important to have on hand in order to provide a quick means of protection. That way if you find yourself around people sick people, or if you will be traveling on airplanes, or simply have a tendency towards decreased immune function, you can give your body as much support as possible to keep from getting sick.
Tags: acupuncture, acupuncture for immunity, chinese medicine, chinese medicine for immunity, cold prevention, colds, colds and flus, flu season, flu shot, flus, how to not get sick, immunity, increase immune function, increase immunity, respiratory flu, TCM, traditional chinese medicine
Medicinal mushrooms have been a part of the Chinese Materia Medica for several thousand years. These mushrooms, including reishi, oyster, maitake, shitake, and many more, have a strong effect on increasing immune function. For instance, Ling Zhi, or the reishi mushroom, has been studied for its immune enhancing effect, and has been found to increase T cell function. Classically, it is said that Ling Zhi tonifies Lung qi, transforms phlegm, and stops cough and wheeze. Additionally, it has been found to have a carcinostatic effect, meaning that it stops the growth of cancer cells. Nutritionally, mushrooms provide fiber while being low in fat and contain several groups of vitamins, particularly thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, ascorbic acid and Vitamin D.
Eating raw mushrooms is not advised, since some are toxic uncooked, and most do not break down enough in our digestive systems to offer much benefit this way. Mushrooms should always be cooked when used as food. A stronger concentrated extract (either capsule or liquid) will give you the most benefit for immunity.
Fungi Perfecti is a locally based producer of medicinal mushrooms and is considered the best source of organic, high quality mushroom extracts by most experts, including Bastyr University and Dr. Andrew Weil. Fungi Perfecti has a number of extract combinations that address a number of immune issues. A popular, general immune tonic is their Stamets 7 formula.
Tags: chinese herbal medicine, chinese medicine, colds, colds and flus, flu season, herbal medicine, herbs, immune function, immune system, immunity, increase immune function, increase immunity, medicinal mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms for immunity, natural immune enhancement, TCM, traditional chinese medicine
Several years ago Jake Fratkin, OMD (Oriental Medicine Doctor), made waves throughout the pediatric community by declaring on a radio show that the cause of ear infections was antibiotics. Since that time, several studies have been done which indicate that he was right. The likelihood of a recurrent ear infection during the first six weeks after taking antibiotics is significant. Not only is a child more likely to get another ear infection within six weeks if they are given antibiotics, but the recovery time from an infection is the same whether antibiotics are given or not. Even the Washington State Department of Health has issued a statement that most ear infections clear on their own and that overuse of antibiotics leads to drug resistant bacteria. So why are medical doctors still giving antibiotics to children with ear infections? In some cases, they no longer are. More and more doctors and medical institutions are reserving antibiotic administration for extreme cases of infection as a last resort. Here in Seattle, Dr. David Springer of Wallingford Pediatrics received an award from Premera Blue Cross for his use of “evidence-based best practices” in avoiding and limiting antibiotic use for ear infections.
So if antibiotics aren’t the answer, what do we do for ear infections? Chinese Herbal Medicine is an excellent choice for the prevention and treatment of ear infections. There are two key formulas which, when administered correctly, can alleviate pain within hours and eliminate the infection within only a couple of days. They are safe, they are effective, and they are easy to administer. Several companies have created liquid extracts of these classic Chinese formulas adding a touch of glycerin or stevia to mask the bitter flavor of the herbs so that they are more palatable to children. I have used them with my own children and have avoided any antibiotic use so far. In addition to Chinese formulas, I have used garlic ear drops, which kill microbes and dry fluid when placed directly into the ear canal, and probiotics which help the immune system fight the infection. All three can be combined and your Chinese Medicine practitioner can help you determine the best course of treatment so you can avoid unnecessary, and potential harmful antibiotic overuse in your children.
Tags: acupuncture, antibiotics, chinese medicine, ear infections, herbal medicine, herbal medicine for ear infections, herbs, natural medicine, natural treatment for ear infections, otitis media, pediatric ear infections, pediatrics, TCM, traditional chinese medicine, Xiao Chai Hu Tang, Xiao Chai Hu Wan
While the name “wind gate” refers specifically to a point on the Bladder channel of the upper back, we often use this term to talk about the entire back of the neck and upper back. This area is particularly vulnerable to invasion by wind leading to symptoms of colds and flus such as chills, body aches, nasal congestion, and cough. In the Springtime when the weather starts to turn warm we can be too quick to pull off the winter layers. Exposing the back of the neck and upper back to the elements, particularly the wind, we increase the likelihood of falling ill. Protect your “wind gate” by wearing a scarf, a high collar, or a turtle neck, and you will increase your chances of making it through the spring in good health.
Tags: acupuncture, chinese medicine, colds, colds and flus, flu season, immune function, immunity, spring, TCM, traditional chinese medicine, wind, wind cold, wind heat, windgate
Moxibustion is a wonderful wintertime therapy as it disperses cold, eliminates damp and warms yang. It is one of the best methods for general health and well-being in the Chinese Medicine repertoire. Moxa used daily on the point ZuSanLi is said to prevent all illness and promote longevity. The sensation is generally one of warmth and relaxation, and very popular among patients of Chinese Medicine.
Moxibustion is a form of therapy that developed independently of acupuncture, and may actually pre-date it. There are areas in the northern, colder regions of China in which practitioners use moxibustion in lieu of acupuncture.
The moxa is made from the herb Ai Ye, or Mugwort, which is harvested and laid in the sun to dry. It is then crushed and passed through a sieve repeatedly until it maintains a fine, downy texture. In this form it is referred to as “moxa punk” and is formed into small cones.
The practitioner then places the cone on top of an acupuncture needle or directly onto the skin. The moxa is lit with a stick of incense and the warming and moving properties of the Ai Ye plant enter the point. A slice of ginger or garlic can also be placed between the moxa and the point, infusing the properties of these herbs into the body as well.
Moxa punk can also be made into rolls or small sticks which are placed in a metal tool called a Tiger Warmer. This tool is then moved along the course of a meridian, allowing the moxa to enter the body.
“When a disease cannot be treated by needling it should be treated with moxa.” – Ling Shu
Tags: acupuncture, chinese medicine, moxa, moxibustion, mugwort, TCM, traditional chinese medicine