Even though it’s still hot outside, we are fast approaching the change of the seasons – summer into fall – and of all times of the year, this is the most susceptible for colds, flu and allergies. The weather should be cooling soon, school has started, and activities pick up so generally there’s more stress. And this year, “COVID stress” brings the usual fall stress to new levels.
Autumn is the season associated with the Lung and its partner, the Large Intestine. If you tend to catch colds or have allergies in the Fall, it’s important to take care of these organs! Together the lung and large intestines are related to immunity through the strength of the protective external layer of our skin. Generally, outside pathogens most easily enter through the respiratory and digestive systems, and the lung and colon are responsible for maintaining the function of these systems so that they are not penetrated by outside pathogens. According to Chinese medicine, the body’s defensive energy is directly dependent on the strength of the lung and colon. Incidentally, these are the two areas attacked by the Coronavirus.
So how do you stay well through this vulnerable time and keep your family well, too? The good news – there are many alternatives to support health through this time. The serious news – NOW is the time to act.
First of all, change your diet now to reflect the season to come. Cooler weather means ingesting warmer food and drinks.
Here’s what to eat:
Switch from salads to soups.
Eat cooked rather than raw fruit – consider crisps, cobblers or pies.
Use lots of spices such as ginger, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, and fennel.
Ingest root veggies and winter squash.
Increase protein intake.
Here’s what to avoid:
Cold, refrigerated or iced drinks
Ice cream and other iced/cold foods
I recommend the following supplements to keep your immune system in top shape:
Vitamin B Complex
Probiotics – select a formula with a variety of strains of bacteria
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Herbs prescribed by your Acupuncturist/Herbalist for your unique situation. This may include prevention from viruses and other pathogens.
It’s important to reduce stress and plan for the cooler season to come. Even though it may still be warm during the day, the evenings are beginning to be a little bit cooler, reflecting the weather to come. Thus, this is the time to dress warmer. Here are several ways to change lifestyle to support your immune system.
Carry a jacket or sweater as needed.
Wear a scarf or high collar to protect the back of your neck and protect immunity.
Go to bed earlier and get more sleep.
Eat regular meals, especially breakfast, even if it’s late morning (skipping meals lowers immunity).
Take rest breaks during the day.
Include daily meditation or contemplation time to manage stress.
Strengthen the Lungs by exercising, stretching, and moving your body.
Pay close attention to how you feel daily so you can act immediately if you feel something coming on.
Make sure you are having a regular bowel movement too. Here’s why.
WHAT TO DO AT THE FIRST SIGNS OF ILLNESS
What if you do begin to feel sick? Can you prevent it from taking hold? Yes – it is possible to prevent a pending virus or cold if at the first signs of it you do one or all of the following:
Most of us associate the summer season with heat, and rightfully so. In Chinese Medicine, summer is the season of Fire. The Fire element is in charge of the heart and small intestine, and these organs help us optimally digest our food.
In this season of sunshine and heat, it’s smart to find balance with cooling foods and foods with a salty taste. Recipes that include ingredients from the sea like shrimp and cooling fruits and veggies like watermelon and cucumber are ideal. Your body craves these foods in the summertime, and when you allow yourself the indulgences of cool and salty foods, you’ll be able to combat the heat and improve your digestion during the dog days of August.
There is one caveat. I don’t typically recommend cold foods and drinks because they can be difficult to digest and dampen your digestive fire. So use these foods wisely, and don’t overdo it. Use them when it’s really hot out, and when you experience heat-like symptoms such as heavy sweating, hot flashes, dry skin, constipation, thirst or heart palpitations.
See my previous post for a wonderful Watermelon Smoothie Recipe that cools you from the inside out. Watermelon is especially good for improving hydration, recovering from heat stroke, quenching thirst and boosting energy.
From The Chinese Medicine Cookbook by Stacey Isaacs
This watermelon smoothie is truly refreshing during the dog days of summer!
4 cups seedless watermelon chunks 1 cup ice 1 tablespoon goji berries Juice of 1/2 lime
Combine all ingredients in blender and blend. Pour into a glass and enjoy! Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.
Watermelon is considered a Chinese herb(xi gua). It is the perfect answer when you are overheated on a hot day; it cools you from the inside out and quenches thirst. The rind of the watermelon is also a Chinese herb (xi gua pi), and it is even more powerful at relieving summer heat and generating fluids in the body. So the next time you are cutting up a beautiful fresh melon, don’t remove all of the white/light green rind. It will do your body good.
Especially good for: improving hydration, recovering from heat stroke, quenching thirst, boosting energy.
Summer is officially here and that brings a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
By now everyone knows that eating more vegetables and fruits is beneficial for our health. Most “standard” dietary recommendations suggest at least five servings of vegetables and fruits daily, however many studies show that more is better. The benefits of eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits are many, including:
Reduced obesity and hypertension
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
Improved mental/cognitive performance
Improved lung function, particularly those with COPD
Reduced adverse effects of environmental pollutants
Reduced risk of cancer
Diet Suggestions for Summer
Summer is the time of heat and fire, and that equates to the heart and small intestine in Chinese Medicine. These organs help us optimally digest our food. During this time of sunshine and heat, it’s smart to find a balance of cooling foods and foods with a salty taste.
Seafoods and seaweeds can be a great addition to your diet during the summer to combat the heat and improve digestion.
Cooling foods include fruits like kiwi, citrus and watermelon, and veggies like cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, mint, and cilantro.
Drink lots of water and try watermelon juice to expel toxins and cool the heart fire. See the recipe below for Watermelon Smoothie with Goji Berries and Lime for a refreshing summer beverage on a hot day.
Avoid: Hot and dry foods such as coffee, excessively spicy foods, ice cold foods like ice cream since they cause the digestive system to slow down.
What to look for
It is best to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; variety in color being one of the more important characteristics. The color of a fruit or vegetables can be a good indicator of the nutrients it contains, and therefore by eating a wide variety in color, you are getting a wide variety of nutrients.
Look for vegetables and fruits that are in season, fresh and ripe. We have a few local farmers markets in our area that are definitely worth a visit. We’ve mentioned before that attuning your body the the seasons is important to maintain balance in our health. While its nice that we can get a variety of fruits and vegetables from all over the world at the supermarket, it’s best to stick with those that would normally be found in your area and to pass on those that have been picked unripe and shipped across the world. It is best to eat fruit fully ripened to get the most antioxidants.
February 12th is the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. The year 2021 is represented by the Ox. According to renowned Chinese Astrologist, Lillian Bridges, the Ox (Cow) is a respected animal valued for its ability to work hard and endure. She says “The Ox is credited with the values of constancy and cooperation. These are usually slow-moving animals that are even-tempered and placid unless they are provoked. This implies a calmer and more stable year with less anger, less contentious behavior and much less potential for violence as that behavior will simply not be supported or be sustainable. This year is about the future and our hopes and dreams, which can start to inspire us again. Life will feel more peaceful and less stressful, but this year requires patience. Forward movement will be mostly slow going toward desired and more ideal outcomes in the future. There will still be some restrictions on growth and movement, but these will lessen.”
She goes further to say “The most important ideals this year are kindness and compassion. It is not wise to provoke anger or act in aggressive ways, as the elements will not be with you. Instead, caring for others in small ways will be remembered and make a big difference.”
You can read her entire forecast here if you are interested.
Here’s wishing you a stress-free 2021 filled with peace, good health and good fortune!
Whew! What a year! We’ve all been through a lot this year and I have to say I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’ve learned to enjoy solitude and spending time with my family(lots and lots). I’ve figured out how to get my business back up and running during a pandemic. Never before have I ever taken six weeks away from work! And I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who is paying close attention to their health. You all have brought a renewed focus on your health and that makes me happy!
Now for the Really Exciting Part….
Last month, I mentioned that one way to look at what is happening is to try and find the opportunities that lie amidst the chaos. Recently I learned of an opportunity that will allow me to expand my clinic, and I’m excited to announce that we will be doing just that! This expansion will give me more treatment space so I will have more appointment times and can help more people, and it will give me more space for sharing some of the wonderful herbal products that I can offer. And the best part is that it’s right next door! Same building, literally 10 feet from my current door. I’m putting the final details together now and it looks like a move could happen as early as February. Of course I couldn’t even consider this without your continued support and encouragement and I’m so very grateful for that. Stay tuned for more details as things unfold.
In the meantime, please stay safe. I am wishing you and yours some well-deserved downtime and a very happy new year to come. Cheers to health, happiness, and prosperity in 2021! No matter what happens, we are in it together.
In past holiday newsletters, I’ve offered advice on how to have a less-stressed holiday season. This year requires a different twist on that theme.
A long time ago, I had a boss who taught me how to take advantage of change/chaos. The secret is to figure out what the opportunity is. And I’d like to offer that in these times, the opportunity is to take time for yourself, find joy and gratitude. There is no doubt that these are stressful times, and honestly, adding a family gathering or holiday party to the mix at this time would add even more stress. Most times I’m giving advice on stress relieving techniques to cope with the chaos of holiday shopping, family gatherings, and work parties. But all of that is so last year!
How is stress affecting you now? For some we turn to food to calm our nerves. How about looking at food preparation and eating as an opportunity to express thanks? Our mindset before eating or preparing foods has a big impact on how we digest food. I’ve taught classes on mindful eating and one thing that I always emphasize is practicing gratitude during preparation, cooking and eating what we have. That is the idea of preparing and eating meals with calmness and enjoyment so that the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged which, incidentally, helps with digestion. Taking time to appreciate the work that went into growing and harvesting the fruits and vegetables, is an example. Eating slowly and appreciating all of the flavors is so beneficial to your body and mind.
Bring in Gratitude and Joy
Did you know that you can’t experience two opposite emotions at the same time? So by expressing gratitude or joy, you can’t simultaneously feel sorrow or fear. So look for those opportunities to do the things you enjoy doing during the holidays, even if you are by yourself and can’t be with family members. Do you love to decorate for the holidays? Then do it, even if you are the only one who will see it!
How can you express gratitude during this time? What comes to mind when I ask “what are you thankful for?” Notice, I didn’t ask “what is missing from your life?” It’s all about how you frame things. While I’m missing my family this Thanksgiving, I am grateful that they are all healthy and safe. I’m also thankful that there will be less stress and I can cook whatever the heck I want to cook without having to worry about the special requests from everyone. I can take a deep breath for a few days! I’m looking forward to it. I’m also grateful to spend some quality time with my partner, David and my cute doggie, Jess!
This year, I am extremely grateful for you, my patients! You bring me great joy and I care about you all. Please see the special holiday offers below and take this opportunity to treat yourself, friends or family to the gift of wellness!
Well, we couldn’t avoid it for long and
now COVID-19 is here, right in our county. We have our first
presumed case at Fayette Piedmont. Let’s not panic, but we can
expect it to get worse before it gets better. There are many things
we can do to protect ourselves, and we all need to be vigilant about
it. Here’s what I’m doing at the clinic, and I’m asking for your
cooperation so that we can all stay safe and well.
Firstly, if you have a fever, dry
cough, fatigue and respiratory symptoms, contact your medical
doctor, urgent care clinic or Emergency Room right away to seek
testing and treatment. I am not equipped to test or provide
comprehensive treatment for COVID-19.
If you feel ill, even if it’s just
a tickle in your throat, or a low grade fever, PLEASE DO NOT come
into the clinic until we speak. I welcome your phone call, text or
email to ask whether or not you should come in, and am happy to ship
herbal formulas to your home should you need them.
Please use the hand sanitizer on
the table when you enter the clinic I encourage you to wash your
hands or use hand sanitizer when you leave the clinic as well.
I’ll be taking extra precautions
to wipe down door knobs, bathroom fixtures, surfaces and treatment
tables frequently. And just so you know, table linens are changed
and I wash, wash, and rewash my hands between patients.
I’ll be using moxa on most
everyone. If you aren’t familiar, it’s an herb that is burned that
has properties that clear viruses and bacteria. It is also used to
boost the immune system. Not only does it help you, but it also
clears the air. Even though the clinic may smell a little smokey,
the smoke has been shown to be beneficial. I use a smoke cleaning
air filter, but the smell does tend to linger.
During this pandemic, we are asked
to limit activities and contact with others. Fortunately, with a
small clinic, I rarely have more than one person in the waiting room
at any one time, so there is minimal contact with others. However,
if you are uncomfortable coming in at any time, please give me as
much notice as you can and I’ll reschedule your appointment for
The Role of Chinese Medicine in this Pandemic
Back in February, the Chinese
government declared that Traditional Chinese (herbal) Medicine should
be used in conjunction with western interventions in the treatment of
COVID-19. Through my contacts here and in China, I’ve been getting
reports about those efforts and am relieved to report that the
patients who are getting incorporated TCM treatments are recovering,
even from the most dire circumstances.
With all of the scare about the coronavirus, you may be asking yourself what you can do to keep from catching it or any other flu-like virus this year. Chinese medicine is being used along side western medicine in China to combat it, and I’ve been keeping up to date on the formulas being used. Rest assured, I have both preventative formulas and formulas to treat these viruses in stock. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
Let’s talk about prevention first as that’s the easiest way to keep from getting sick.
Wash your hands frequently. This is by far the best way to prevent the spread of sickness. You need to wash with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. That’s the amount of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice, or Twinkle, twinkle little star.
Clean your environment regularly – We know that most respiratory viruses are spread by droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The virus can live on surfaces for a period of hours to days. Door knobs, sink and toilet handles, kids toys, etc. are all breeding grounds that need to be disinfected, especially if someone in your home is or has been sick. I also burn moxa or sage to help fumigate a sick room (also great for an immune system boost).
Keep your hands away from your face. For some of us this is hard. A simple itch of the nose and the hand goes up instinctively. But this is exactly how germs get into your body. Eyes, nose, mouth and ears are all places where viruses can enter.
When traveling via plane or public transportation, wipe down surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes. Arm rests, seat back tray tables and the video screen – anything you might touch are all candidates for disinfecting. You may even want to take a mask in case your seat mate is coughing or sneezing. You may want to wipe down your hotel room when you arrive as well.
Stay away. It goes without saying that you’ll be better off if you stay away from sick people. But sometimes that’s difficult when you have a sick child or relative who requires your care. Double up on all of the precautions above, keep that person in a designated sick room, and keep everyone else away. If there’s lots of sneezing and coughing, consider wearing a mask. And by all means if you are the one who is sick, stay away from others. They will appreciate that you aren’t sharing the bug with them.
Stay warm. The weather can be really fickle this time of year. One day it’s cold and rainy, and then the next day is 70 degrees. Make sure to dress appropriately especially on cold, windy days. In Chinese Medicine we say that all pathogens come on the wind, so protect your head and neck and keep warm by wearing a scarf or hoodie.
First let me say thank you to all of my patients and colleagues in the healthcare business for making 2019 a great year. I treated more patients than ever before and as always learn so much from talking with my patients and seeing their healing happen.
If you’ve ever seen the Chinese Astrology charts (like on a Chinese Restaurant placemat), you might observe that this is the Year of the Rat, more specifically, the Metal Rat. Learn more about the Chinese Astrology forecast here. But the New Year, in Chinese culture, doesn’t start until later this month on January 25. Why? Because Chinese New Year is really the celebration of the beginning of Spring.
For most of us we consider January mid-winter. It’s cold, and usually rainy here in our area. In the US, we typically say spring officially begins on March 21st, the spring equinox. However the Chinese feel that, energetically, spring begins when the light begins its return, the days start getting longer, and the dormant forces under the frozen ground begin to come to life again. It signifies new beginnings and a fresh start. Continue reading →