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ginger

Scallion and Ginger Tea

1 T sliced scallions (cong tou)

3-4 slices fresh ginger root (sheng jiang)

Brown sugar (hong tang) or honey to taste

Place scallions and ginger into pot and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover with 1 cup water. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid. Drink while warm.

 Traditionally, this tea is taken at the first sign of a wind-cold pattern. It is used to promote sweating and resolve exterior symptoms such as headache, chills with an aversion to cold, body aches and sinus congestion with clear mucus. It is best to drink this formula after taking a hot bath, just before going to bed, so that you can cover yourself with blankets to induce sweating. Be sure to stay warm and away from cold drafts.

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pumpkin

Decrease raw fruits & vegetables, and avoid cold or iced food & drink.


 

Choose warm, nourishing foods that are higher in quality fat and protein to help

build blood and tonify yang energy.


 

Avoid excessively spicy foods and drink.


 

Employ slow cooking methods that use lower temperatures for long periods of time:

roasting, baking, stewing and braising 

help extract the deeper qi or energy from your food.

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Near the end of pregnancy, when the due date begins to loom, most babies will position themselves head down and facing the mother’s back. This is the ideal position for labor and delivery. When a baby is in this position the head descends and puts pressure on the mother’s cervix which helps initiate labor and leads to effective, productive contractions during labor. This position is also ideal for the descent of the baby through the birth canal and out into the world.

While turning head down is the norm, not all babies move into this position on their own. Giving birth to a breech baby who is butt down or feet down is possible, but it carries a higher risk to the baby and mother and most care providers are not willing to do it.

There are two choices in Western medicine when it comes to breech babies. One is to attempt a manual version from the outside. The midwife or OB will use their hands on the outside of the mother’s abdomen to try and turn the baby into the ideal position. This is done with the aid of an ultrasound machine while the heart rate of both baby and mother are monitored closely. It is not without risk and not all practitioners are willing to perform this technique. Some women find it to be painful and opt out of trying it. The second choice, when manual version is not an option, or is undesired, is to schedule a cesarean section.

Chinese medicine offers another option. 

There is a simple technique that can be quite successful if applied correctly and daily within a specific time period.

Moxibustion is applied to the point Zhiyin (BL-67) on both feet for 15 minutes every day.

A practitioner of Chinese Medicine can perform the technique once, showing the woman and a partner how it is done, and then the woman can have it done at home every day for up to 5 days. After 5 days, the pregnant woman should be checked to see if the baby has in fact turned. If not, another 5 days of moxa can be applied.

The ideal week of gestation for applying moxa is week 34, but anywhere between 30 and 38 can be done. If it is applied too early, the baby may turn back into the breech position, while attempting too late may not be successful if the baby doesn’t have enough amniotic fluid or room to make the move.

There have been several studies performed testing the efficacy of this technique. The success rates vary from 60% to 80% success, depending on the study. Most of these studies also conclude that the 34th week of pregnancy is the ideal time to perform moxibustion for turning breech babies.

I have personally seen this technique succeed and feel that it is usually worth trying when cesarean section is the only other option.

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allergy

People who suffer from allergies know that hayfever season has arrived. If your nose has gotten stuffy or runny, and your eyes are feeling itchy and watery, you are likely having an over-reaction to the pollen that is in the air. Allergies are a response by the body’s immune system to antigens found in the environment. The body responds too well, causing all that congestion and itching. There are two main types of allergies, Seasonal and Perennial. Seasonal allergies, also called hayfever, tend to occur in Spring and early Summer, and are a reaction mainly to pollen and grasses. Perennial allergies occur all year and are typically a reaction to animal dander, house dust or dust mites, fungus, smoke or perfume. Both cause much suffering.

The Cause of Allergies

In Chinese Medicine, the reason for both types of allergies is a deficiency of the body’s Wei Qi, also called Defensive Qi. This Qi is like a protective layer at the surface of the body that prevents things from getting into the body, whether it be bacteria, viruses, or allergens. In order to treat allergies with Chinese Medicine we must build up the body’s own protective Qi as well as treat the symptoms that allergy sufferers know so well.

When to Treat Allergies

For Seasonal allergies, the best time to treat the underlying deficiency is at the end of the season of suffering, typically August, September and October. If you are suffering from a stuffy nose and watery eyes right now, see your acupuncturist to get temporary relief of those symptoms, and then even though you may be feeling free of symptoms, continue with treatment in the fall in order to prevent those allergies from returning next year. For Perennial allergies, treatment can take place at anytime.

Herbs to Treat Allergies

In addition to acupuncture, there are a number of Chinese Herbal formulas which allergy sufferers can rely on. Most likely, your practitioner will give you one formula for the symptoms you are experiencing now, and then change that formula to treat the root of the problem once those symptoms subside. If you have been experiencing allergies for many years, it can take more than one treatment season to be allergy free. Your practitioner may advise you to take that Wei Qi building formula for a few seasons in a row in order to be rid of allergies forever.

Sinus Rinsing for Relief from Nasal Congestion

Himalayan Institute Original Neti Pot, CeramicThe Neti Pot or a modern Sinus Rinse can also be helpful to clear nasal congestion. Used every day these tools open the nasal passages by clearing out bacteria and allergens, and calming inflamation of nasal tissues.  Using the Neti Pot takes practice but once mastered, allergy sufferers swear by it. It involves irrigating the nostrils with a salt water mixture using a small pot with a spout, not unlike a watering can. It has a long history of use in Asia, although modern plastic squirt bottles may be easier to use and can be bought for pennies at drug stores.

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It is fairly well known that acupuncture can help women who are struggling to acheive pregnancy. Many of the women I have seen for fertility ask me what they can come in for once they are pregnant. What can acupuncture do for them? There is a long history of obstetrics in Chinese Medicine.

Commonly treated pregnancy symptoms:

Morning sickness

Headaches

Threatened miscarriage

Edema, or swelling

Leg Cramps

Insomnia

Fatigue

Colds and Flus

Diarrhea or Constipation

Urinary Tract Infections

Depression and Anxiety

Gestational Diabetes

Hypertension

Malposition of the fetus (breech)

Back Pain and Sciatica

Labor Induction

Why Seek Acupuncture Treatment for Pregnancy Related Symptoms?

Many of these issues are difficult to address with western medicine, since so many of the drugs and treatments for them are dangerous to the developing embryo or fetus. Acupuncture is a safe alternative to cold medicines, migraine medications, pain medications, and other western treatments.

Post-partum problems can also be addressed with acupuncture

Excessive bleeding

Urine retention

Depression and Anxiety

Dizziness

Fatigue

Uterine Prolapse

Back Pain, Hip Pain or Rib-side Pain

Headache

Edema, or swelling

Night Sweating

Diarrhea or Constiption

Insufficient Lactation

Mastitis, or breast infection

Acheiving pregnancy is no reason to stop visiting your favorite acupuncturist. Not only can he or she help you manage the often difficult, and sometimes debilitating symptoms of pregnancy and the post-partum period, it is always good for a pregnant woman or a new mom to have an hour to herself in a meditative, nurturing environment.

A woman who is taken care of will better be able to take care of herself and her children. Every woman, and mothers in particular, deserve some time alone to come back to center and heal.

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Gua Sha, which literally means “friction for congestion”, is an ancient technique used to move stagnation and draw out toxins. It is both diagnostic and therapeutic.

The technique involves the use of a smooth-edged tool, typically a ceramic soup spoon, that is rubbed or scraped repeatedly over areas of the body creating heat and activity in that area. When this friction is applied in repeated, even strokes, the “sha” surfaces as tiny red dots, or petichiae. When a lot of sha appears, it tells the practitioner that there was a lot of stagnation in that area. This discoloration disappears within hours to a couple of days. Most patients find that it relieves mild to severe muscle tension, soreness, and pain in a similar way that cups do. Like cupping, gua sha is mainly used for musculoskeletal complaints, but can also be used to treat internal health problems.

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cuppingCupping is an ancient technique, likely predating acupuncture and the use of herbal medicines. Glass or plastic cups are kept in place on the skin by suction. A vacuum is created in the cup with fire or a pump. The cups may be left in place, but are sometimes moved across larger body areas, such as the back, giving the feeling of a moderate massage.

This technique invigorates the area, moving stagnation of qi and blood and drawing out toxins. Skin is not broken with this technique, however the technique may leave temporary marks which look like small “hickies”. Your practitioner is most likely to use cupping over sore, achy muscles, but they may be used to treat internal issues as well.

Cupping gained national media attention when actress Gwyneth Paltrow wore a strapless dress to a movie premier, revealing what appeared to be reddish-colored bruise marks on her back. Paltrow had been to her acupuncturist and received a cupping treatment.

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Congees are a simple, easy way to prevent and treat illness. A congee is essentially well-cooked rice, often with the addition of simple herbs or foods to prevent and treat specific ailments. Congees are easy to digest, so they are easy on the Pi, or Spleen energy.

The following is a simple congee for cold and flu season. It contains ingredients found in most American households and can be taken at the first sign of infection, or when you are exposed to those who are sick.

Scallion & Glutinous Rice Congee

Herbs: 5 whole Cong Bai (Scallions), 15 grams raw Sheng Jiang (Ginger), 100 grams Nuo Mi (Glutinous Rice*)

Directions: Place rice in a pot on the stove and add twice as much water as rice. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for a couple of hours until the porridge is reduced to a thin gruel. Mash the scallions and ginger into a pulp or process in a food processor. Add this to the porridge and simmer until combined and warm. Eat the congee and then retire under a blanket until you break into a sweat. Sweating releases the pathogens causing illness.

*Glutinous rice is sometimes called “sticky rice” or “sweet rice.” It is more starchy then ordinary medium grain rice and these days can be found in most major grocery stores. When these fail, take the opportunity to try an Asian grocery in the International District such as the infamous Uwajimaya.

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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

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