Winter Health: Tips for a cold and flu free season

•December 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Christmas 2008 (101)

Boost your immune system this winter with 7 easy steps.

  1. The core of TCM rests within herbal medicine. The goal for winter health is prevention and the formula Yu Ping Feng San (Jade Windscreen) excels in this function. Simple and elegant, the original formula consists of only three herbs: Huang qi, bai zhu, and fang feng. Easily modified and customized for each individuals needs and constitution, the basic action of this formula is to strengthen the defensive qi of the body to protect against invading pathogens. Seasonal challenges can be faced head on with the aid of this amazing formula. Yu Ping Feng San is also safe for children, consult your TCM practioner for dosage.

 

  1. One of the most common vitamin deficiences here in the west is Vit D3. D3 plays on integral role in the proper functioning of our immune system for both acute and chronic conditions. As D3 is fat-solube, it should be taken with meals. A D3 supplement can be found in the health and wellness section of most grocery stores. The daily recommended dose is 1,000 IU for adults and 400 IU for children. Taking D3 together with the formula Yu Ping Feng San provides a solid foundation for the prevention of flu and cold during the winter season.

 

  1. Neti pots, common in ayurvedic medicine, are often used in allergy prevention. The basic idea is to cleanse the nasal passages of allergens that get lodged in the nasal cavity. This concept may be applied to the prevention of cold and flu. The nasal cavities lead directly to the lung. Keeping this pathway clean prevents the build up of harmful mucus and phlegm that can drain into the lungs. Proper breathing undeterred by phlegm is essential to respiratory health. While the formula Yu Ping Feng San strengthens the defensive qi, clear lungs can circulate this qi smoothly throughout the body.

 

  1. Crucial to the health of the immune system is proper sleep. Sleep deprevation is an area of concern in our fast-paced culture. Regardless of taking vit D3, yu ping feng san, and use of a neti pot, without proper sleep the immune system will not function properly. The body needs to rest. If insomnia is an issue, acupuncture and herbal remmedies are extremely effective means of treatmet.

 

  1. In ancient and modern China, moxibustion (or moxa, a method of burning the herb mugwort) is used to boost the immune system and prevent colds and flu. By lighting the end of a moxa stick and holding or gently passing it over certian acupuncture points deeply warms and invigorates the body’s qi. We are all born with qi and throughout our lives supplement this qi with the food and drink we take in. In this regard our stomach qi is vital to the daily operations of our body. Acupuncture point ST 36 (or “zu san li”) is the command point of our abdomens and regulates all actions of the digestive system. It is also the most strongly tonifying point of the body. By holding or passing the warm moxa stick over this point, the qi of the body is stimulated, warmed, and strengthened. Warming is an important aspect of health in the winter. Our bodies work extremely hard to maintain a high temperature, a little help in this action goes a long way.

 

  1. Keeping to the theme of warmth, it is extremely important to protect your body from the cold. Take a page from your grandmothers book and keep your head, hands, feet and core warm and well protected from the chill of winter. Harimaki’s, known here in the west as belly bands, are a great winter must have. Our ming meng, the source of fire, of the body is located in the lower back and deep core. The samurai wore harimakis around their middles to keep the lower back warm and to protect the source of their bodies warmth from the elements. So, make like a samurai and protect those middles! Belly bands can be worn discretely under clothing and you may be surprised at how comfortable and cosy you feel with them.

 

  1. It almost goes without saying, but always remember to wash your hands! Proper hand hygiene is key to health in all weather. It’s not a bad idea to carry around a little hand sanitizer either.

 

With these simple steps, immune health can be maintained during this winter making it much easier for your body to combat the cold and flu.

•December 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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Here in the western world, many of us are familiar with the terms yin and yang (pronounced y-aw-ng), but for the most our understanding is limited to the concept of negative and positive, dark and light. The theory behind yin and yang is at the same time deeply complex and yet elegantly simple. As a fundamental principle upon which Tradition Chinese Medicine is built, I believe it deserves a little more clarification. Understanding these basic principles is the beginning to understanding TCM and what it can do for your health.

 

The theory of yin and yang was derived over ages of observing the nature and the way phenomena naturally groups in two pairs: heaven-earth, night-day, sun-moon, winter-summer, spring-autumn, up-down, male-female, inside-outside, movement-stillness… the pairings are complementary of each other and the possibility of pairings are endless. According the ancient Chinese text Huáng dì Nèi Jīng, “Yin and Yang are the way of heaven and earth”.

All things are ascribed as yin or yang and at the same time all things encompass both yin and yang. The four main aspects of this relationship are such:

Opposition: There is a constant struggle between the two to control the other. Yin and yang are opposite cyclical stages to each other but together form unity and compliment.

Interdependence: Yang contains the seed of yin and vice-avers. Each are rooted within the other and mutually indispensable and engendering. They exist by virtue of the other.

Mutually consuming: A dynamic balance must exist with yin and yang as they consume one another. An easy example would be the 24 hour struggle in which Day becomes night and night again becomes day. Fire in excess can turn water to steam, while water in excess can extinguish fire.

Inter-transformation: Under the right circumstances, yin and yang transform into one another. The conditions for this are the extremes. Yang may grow to its extreme and from there must decline allowing yin the take over. The sun reaches its height in the day and from there can only set allowing night to continue this trend.

 

So what are the characteristics of each?

 

Yin

Yang

Stillness

Movement

Quiet

Active

Female

Male

Fire

Water

Earth

Heaven

Condensation

Dispersion

Form

Function

Descending

Ascending

Below

Above

Substantial

Non-substantial

Material

Immaterial

Makes it grow

Gives it life

 

These are of course just a few examples. With these guidelines, yin yang theory may be applied to TCM and rests at the fundamental level of all diagnosis. Body structures, physiology, and pathological change can all be ascribed as either yin or yang in nature. This is truly at the heart of all aspects of TCM.

 

When I first began to study TCM, I found myself looking at my own surroundings with a new lens. I began to take everyday objects, occurrences, even personality types and divide them into their intrinsic natures of yin and yang. The possibilities were endless. Up to this point in my life I had seen the symbol for yin and yang as a black and white circle representing the coexistence of our light and dark natures. What I was missing was so much more. Simple and complex, it is a reflection of true balance.

Now when I look on it, I see the symbol of the entire universe.

 

 

“The Tao gave birth to one,

The one gave birth to two: yin and yang

From these two came three: Creative energy

From energy, then thousand things

The forms of all creation.

 

All life carries yin

yet embraces yang

They blend their life breaths

in order to produce harmony”

 

-Tao Te Ching, ch. 42

 
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