Traditional Chinese Medicine Practice
“Energy goes where attention flows”
This saying is one of the basic principle of Qi Gong. In Qi Gong, we direct the energy (Qi) to specific parts of the body by focusing on those parts. This can help with healing or activating a specific body part. It is also used for enhancing the flow of energy in the body in general. Focussing our attention is often the most difficult part and takes practice. However, it is accessible to anyone. You can practice this by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a part of the body. Start with your hands. With time, you will start feeling a warming or tingling sensation in the part of the body you are focusing on. Qi Gong is a wonderful self-help tool that has been used for thousands of years in TCM for healing. There are many resources freely available online to help you on your healing journey.
Sadness and Grief
After a few months of online absence, I am back to bring you topics of interest that come up in my practice. This month’s topic is grief and sadness and their impact on the body.
Sadness and grief are often labelled as “bad” emotions - something to hide or repress. If not allowed to flow, these repressed emotions have significant physical consequences on the body, particularly on the lungs.
Consequences can be a poor immune system, lung problems, shortness of breath, allergies, skin conditions, inability to let go of the past, poor boundaries, burn-out.
With a few self-help tips, you can mitigate these effects.
A healthy expression of sadness and grief through crying and singing eases unhealthy blockages in your body.
Massaging your arms (path of the lung meridian) with the intention of releasing the emotion helps.
Eating foods such as cooked pears, apples, quince, supports the lung function.
Medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi are great supplements to work on the physical, mental, and emotional impact of grief.
Walking in the forest and breathing consciously helps strengthen your lungs, which in turn helps processing the emotions.
A daily routine of Yoga, TaiChi and/or QiGong exercises are excellent ways to strengthen the lungs.
Most importantly, give yourself the love and the time to feel and go through the (e)motions and don’t rush the process .
Imagination: a key to healing
Did you know that one of the key ingredients to healing is imagination?
How does that work, I hear you ask . Well, everything that was ever created was first imagined by someone. Everywhere you look around, everything you see, was once an image in someone’s mind .
The same rules apply to health. You create the world you imagine. You create the health you imagine.
Can you imagine your body in perfect health ? Can you imagine what you would do if you didn’t have that ache, that pain, that illness ? What would your life be like?
It takes a few moments a day to visualise and to feel with all your senses what you wish for. What does that new life taste like, smell like, feels like, sounds like, and looks like?
Of course, it will not happen in an instant, and of course you may need support by means of therapy, and take some actions, but it will certainly accelerate your healing process.
In TCM, visualisation, imagination and action-taking are mainly governed by the liver and gallbladder. We therefore work with the liver energy and with the acupuncture point “Yintang” (corresponding to the third eye) to support the process of creating the healthy state you wish for.
Recipe of the month
March - Spring clean!
This month is the start of spring, and the energy of the body is slowly transforming. You may feel like your digestion is sluggish or slow. That you feel uneasy and full most of the time. These are signs your digestive system needs a spring clean!!
So let me share with you a TCM nutrition recommendation for the change of season. It consists in eating rice (and only rice) for at least 3 days and up to 15 days. You can drink tea, herbal teas, water, a little coffee. Avoid alcohol, sugar, salt and strong spices during the rice cure.
After the rice cure, slowly reintroduce fruits, vegetables, (and meat) in your meals. The cure will help reset and strengthen your digestive system and detoxify your body.
Fry 3-4 slices of fresh ginger, cardamon seeds (1tsp), fennel seeds (1tbsp), cumin seeds (1 tbsp), cloves (1tsp) in olive oil for a few minutes. Add 600g rice which has been rinsed over cold water, mix it well with the spice mix. Cover with boiling water so that the level of the water is about 1cm above the rice. Cover up and let the rice cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Your breakfast, lunch and dinner are ready!! J
The rice cure is great for detoxifying the body, draining dampness from the body and strengthening the spleen. The cure should be done at the start of spring and at the start of autumn for at least 3 days and up to 15 days.
Recipe of the month
Each month, I will be sharing with you a recipe which incorporates principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to TCM, nutrition is medicine and it’s become obvious to me how nutrition can help relieve many physical and psychological problems. I hope you can enjoy these recipes and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Salmon and spinach quiche
Fry an onion in olive oil. Add 1kg of fresh spinach and cook until the water has evaporated. Add thyme, salt and pepper to the mix. Separately prepare the dough by mixing 125g butter with 250g flour, a pinch of salt and ½ glass of cold water. Spread the dough, add the spinach and slices of smoked salmon. Add 200ml cream, 200ml milk and 2 eggs (pre-mixed) to your dish and cook in the oven at 210°C for 45 minutes.
This recipe is good for strengthening the kidneys, especially the kidney yin. The kidney yin becomes naturally depleted with ageing or with chronic illnesses.
Chickpea and Aubergine curry
Soak about 100g of dried chickpeas in water overnight. Cut 3 aubergine in cubes, salt generously and leave to drain at least ½ hour. Fry an onion until golden brown. Add a tablespoon of tomato puree and a tablespoon of curry powder. Add the aubergine and the chickpeas to the pot. Cover with 1/2L of stock and leave to cook for 1 hour or until the chickpeas are soft. Season to taste. Serve with rice.
This recipe is good for strengthening the spleen and the yang. A great support for the start of the winter!
Cut a leak in thin slices. Fry in oil with a slice of ginger for 5 minutes. Add 2 sliced carrots, 250g of barley, a tin of red beans and a bay leaf. Cover with broth (at least about 1,5 L), bring to the boil and let the soup simmer for 40 minutes. Adjust taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
Option for non-vegetarians: add diced bacon to the frying process.
This soup offers a good balance of yin and yang and can be enjoyed as a standalone meal or as a starter.
The Dai Mai also known as the “belt meridian” is a meridian that circles your hips like a hula-hoop. When it is in balance and the Qi (energy) flows freely across it, not only are the top half and bottom half of your body in harmony but also the hips, genital area, the waist, lower back, and legs all benefit from a healthy Dai Mai.
Often though, this meridian is not functioning optimally, due to lack of exercise, medical operations, or emotional blockages, which impede the free flow of energy.
Typical signs that the Dai Mai is out of balance is that you may feel hip or leg pains, tension in the breasts, tension in the abdomen, headaches, or may suffer from recurring herpes infections.
A sensation that the top half and bottom half of your body are not connected or the sensation that all your symptoms occur in one half (top or bottom) of your body are also signs that your Dai Mai may be out of balance.
A great way to maintain a healthy Dai Mai is to regularly exercise your hips with circular movements (why not try hula-hooping… really!!) and to activate the flow of energy by gently tapping on your lower abdomen, hips and lower back. Qi gong exercises for the Dai Mai can be found here.
As with everything, consistence is the key so try to integrate some of these in your morning routine.
Acupuncture is also an excellent tool to activate the Dai Mai as well as relieve symptoms associated with it.
May your Dai Mai stay well and healthy 😊
I would like to introduce you to the fascinating world of therapeutic mushrooms. Perhaps you already know Reishi for its reputation as the "mushroom of immortality" according to the Taoists? Or have you ever tasted Shiitake in the kitchen?
Therapeutic mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years for their virtues of purification, regulation, strengthening and protection of the body. They are also used in the medical field as an accompaniment for cancer treatment and strengthening of the immune system.
The advantages of these therapeutic supplements are, apart from their medicinal properties, that they are free from harmful side effects and can be used from an early age.
I often recommend them as a supplement to my therapies for example for weight disorders, sleep disorders, weak immune system, stress, depressive states. They are also very useful for recovery, for example post-COVID.
Feel free to contact me if you would like to know more!
Meditation in TCM
"Half an hour of meditation is essential, unless you’re really busy.
In that case, a whole hour is needed.”
St. Francis de Sales
TCM recognises meditation as one of the key instrument to maintain and promote health.
Its benefits on the mind, the emotions, and the physical well-being of an individual have been recognised by many.
The great thing is that meditation is a practice that is accessible to everyone, regardless of age, background, social standard, religious beliefs, physical state etc.
All you need is the willingness to try it out, to make time for it and to persevere… once you notice the benefits, you will not be able to stop!!
I really encourage you to try it out and to contact me if you need any tips.
Autumn in TCM
Autumn marks a time of slowing down. After the exultation, the warmth, and the sweetness of the summer days, it’s the time to start looking inside ourselves, inside our homes, inside our bodies to make them a place we will want to spend time in, once the cold winter months arrive.
The lungs need to be strengthened in this period, as they play an important role in the protection against illnesses. Strengthening the lungs in Autumn, will also help with allergies that appear in Spring.
This can be done with acupuncture, acupressure, Tui Na massage, Qi Gong exercises.
A good example of easy QiGong exercises can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT-1tTnw8Vk.
Nutrition can also be used to support the lungs.
Include some sour (acidic) foods in your diet, for example, apples, pears, grapes, olives, wine, sauerkraut.
These will also help against the dryness of the skin/lips that is often felt in this period.
As in other seasons, it is preferable to eat these foods cooked and warm. Here’s an example of a recipe: place pears in a dish (do not remove the skin), cover with red wine, sprinkle with cinnamon and cook until soft. Enjoy the pears in their juice for breakfast or dessert.
Finally, sadness and grief are the emotions of Autumn according to TCM. Allow the sadness you may feel to flow and avoid repressing it. When allowing the emotions to flow through our bodies, we liberate ourselves and we allow space to learn more about ourselves.
I wish you a wonderful Autumn.
According to TCM, our immune system is governed by three main organs: the kidneys, the spleen and the lungs.
Each of these organs has an emotion associated with it. Kidneys: fear; Spleen: Worry; Lungs: Sadness / Grief.
At all times – and in particular in the current climate - it is essential to avoid succumbing to excessive fear, worry or sadness. This will only weaken the immune system.
Strengthening these organs will contribute to resistance to disease and will also allow a more balanced approach with those emotions.
Here are a few tips on how to take care of these organs:
Kidneys: nourish yourself from what you do in your life, practice meditation, sleep before 11pm, avoid excessive work (physical and mental).
Spleen: eat regularly, eat warm, cooked foods, reduce the amount of dairy products, reduce the sugar, favour cereal and root vegetables.
Lungs: breath! In nature if possible… learn to breath deeply, fully and consciously.
If you need any further tips, just contact me… I’d be happy to help!
Common cold and TCM
TCM has very efficient ways of “treating” a cold before it has a chance to settle in the body.
At the first symptoms of a common cold (runny nose, cold shivers, neck stiffness, headache),
the following acupressure point (Waiguan) can help expel the pathogens that are trying to enter
the body. Press and massage this point several times a day. The point may feel sensitive or even
painful. Keep on pressing and massaging as it will activate your defense mechanism.
According to TCM, a common cold enters the body through the neck or upper back. Therefore, it is also helpful to rub the back of the neck with a warming cream (i.e. tiger balm) for example before bedtime. Keep the neck warm and protected from the wind and cold.
Soups are also a great way to overcome a cold.
Here’s an example of a soup recipe: fry an onion, garlic, leeks and carrots with a piece of fresh ginger, add water (or vegetable broth), cook for at least 20 minutes and season to taste.
Avoid dairy products.
Ginger and other warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cloves, cumin can help expel the cold. Add them to your dishes.
Please note that this advice may not apply if you are already showing signs of a fever.
I wish you a swift recovery
It’s that time of the year again… time to indulge. Indulge in good food, good wine, good spirits, good company…
Do it presently, do it consciously.
Appreciate the good food. Appreciate the good wine. And if you over-do it, don’t beat yourself about it!!
Here’s a few “TCM” tips to go through the end of year celebrations in a healthy way:
Take a few moments each morning to be quiet. Be with yourself. Be thankful. Make the intention for your day to be filled with joy and peace.
Drink a cup of green tea in the morning (especially after overdoing it the night before!).
Avoid stress, anger or worrying while preparing your dinner. Prepare the food in good spirits (it’ll taste much better!!).
Eat consciously. Enjoy your food. Savour every mouthful.
Laugh a lot - Love even more.
Go for a walk in Nature.
After a heavy meal, a few drops of Angostura bitters in hot water will help you digest.
If you’ve overeaten, massage your legs, insisting on the lateral side of the shinbone from the knee to the ankle. You can also massage the point “Jiexi”.
… Yeah, the family dynamics may be a little difficult to deal with at times… and yes, the absence of loved ones is strongly felt… but when you look around, I’m sure there’ll be at least a handful of gems you can be thankful for.
With all my love and best wishes,