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Archive for 2014

Keeping Healthy in Autumn

Keeping Healthy in Autumn

Traditional Chinese medicine advice for health and harmony in the fall season


Fall is here!  Days are getting shorter, weather is getting cooler, and the natural world is moving into its dormant phase: leaves and fruits wither and fall, seeds dry, tree sap descend to the roots.  The seasonal change also affects our bodies– particularly the skin and immune system, leading to drier skin and an increase in colds, coughs, and allergies.  Ancient Chinese doctors noted that a key element to keeping healthy (in any season) is to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature, to adjust lifestyle according to the energies of the seasons.  Here are some simple tips for harmonious living in fall:
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China Trip: Guangdong

China Trip Week 4: Guangdong

 

Week 4 of my China trip brought me to the cities of Guangzhou, Guangdong and Hong Kong.  Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, is one of the largest cities in China, with over 44 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area (that’s 9 million more people than the entire population of Canada).  Here, I stayed with a good friend from my college days who has been living in China for the past three years.  After two weeks deep in the Chinese countryside, it was wonderful to spend some time in such a bustling modern city.  I enjoyed too much delicious food, went on a tea shopping spree, indulged in tuina massage, and took in some breathtaking sights.

From there, I headed to Shengzhen for a quick visit with my sister’s sister-in-law and family.  While there, the weather turned as the outer edges of a typhoon started blowing on shore.  Intense wind and rain kept me holed up indoors for the couple days I was there.  And then I headed over the border to Hong Kong.  While still officially part of China, Hong Kong is a bit of a special place.  For one, there is a border crossing complete with customs and immigration (apparently it’s not completely open to all Chinese).  Also, the languages are Cantonese first, English second, Mandarin a distant third.   While there, I braved the wind and rain to explore the city and finished my trip with a visit to one of the outlying islands to check out the giant Tian Tan Buddha.

I had an amazing trip to China: the food, the people, the culture, the scenery were all incredibly wonderful.  Although I spent a month travelling, I hardly scratched the surface of places to go and see.  I’m hoping to return and explore more of the country in the years ahead.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a little of what I was up to last month.  Next post, I’ll be writing about Chinese medicine topics.  Enjoy!

 

China Trip: Guangxi

China Trip Week 3: Guangxi

Week 3 of my China trip brought me deeper into the Chinese countryside.  I took a train to the outpost of Sanjiang and then a bus deep into the mountains of northern Guangxi province, walked across a landslide, took another bus to the end of the roads at the base of the Longji (Dragon Spine) rice terraces, and then hiked 45 minutes up hill to the Tiantou (Heaven’s Head) village.  This is home to the Yao minority, famous for their incredible wooden architecture and impossible rice terracing of the mountainsides.  I spent a few days hiking, exploring the rice terraces, eating locally grown rice and vegetables, and getting to know Yao traditional culture.

From Tiantou, I headed to the small fishing village of Langshi- located midway between the major tourist draws of Guilin and Yangshuo on the banks of the Li river.  Langshi is a beautiful, sleepy village that has remained relatively untouched by the surrounding tourist throngs.  It is only accessible by boat and walking (there are no cars or roads…yet).  This stunningly beautiful area is full of dramatic karsk mountains.  And has inspired artists and poets for centuries.  Back while attending an Asian art history class in college, I became enamored with Song dynasty landscape paintings like these:

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These paintings seemed almost otherworldly to me, and I always imagined there was a lot of artistic license involved in creating these landscapes.  In fact, they are incredibly realistic- these places do exist.  In Langshi, I felt transported into these landscape paintings.  Pictures hardly do it justice, it’s even more beautiful in person.  Some friends and I stayed in a Qing dynasty home for several days, hiking through the karsk peaks, swimming in the Li river, sweating A LOT (it was intensely hot and humid), getting devoured by “wenzi” (aka sand flies), and gazing at the full moon for the Mid-Autumn Festival (a Chinese holiday).  We were hosted in Langshi by a local “barefoot doctor”, a Chinese medicine practitioner responsible for the health of the entire village.  It was wonderful to learn about his practice and tell him about mine in the US.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

China Trip: Hunan

China Trip Week 2: Hunan

 

From Beijing, I flew south to meet up with some friends in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province.  I started the week in the incredibly beautiful Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a stunning natural park area thought to be the inspiration for the floating Hallelujah mountains in the movie Avatar.  The area is full of striking pillar-like rock formations, some reaching over 3,000 feet in height.  It is also a region of incredible biodiversity, and home to many of the herbal species I use regularly in my practice.

From Zhangjiajie city, we took the world’s longest cable car ride to the top of the breathtaking Tianmen (Heaven’s Gate) Mountain.  This mountain reaches an elevation of about 5,000 feet.  The time we spent there we were enveloped in clouds which obscured our view of the mountains and valleys below.  We were just able to make out the outline of the famous Tianmen Dong (Heaven’s Gate Cave), A hollow opening in the mountain, located at the top of an extremely long and steep staircase.

From Zhangjiajie, I headed further south into the Miao minority village of Fenghuang.  The village has an exceptionally well-preserved ancient town situated on the banks of the Tou river.  It’s a beautiful location, and a nice peak into Miao minority architecture and culture.  

I hope you enjoy the photos!

 

China Trip: Beijing

China Trip: Beijing

I apologize for the lack of posts the past few weeks- it turns out the Great Firewall of China blocked my access to my website even despite my VPN.  I am now back in Olympia, but will be posting my back-logged blog entries over the next 4 weeks.  I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Herbal Medicine Travel Kit

Chinese Herbal Medicine Travel Kit

 

A week from now I’ll be in Beijing!  As part of my packing and prep, I’m gathering items for my Chinese herbal medicine travel  kit.  I’ve brought this kit with me all over the US and several second and third world countries, urban metropolises and remote rural spots, freezing mountains and hot tropical jungles.  It has come in handy every trip I’ve taken, so I thought I’d share.  Here’s what I bring to keep healthy while on the road:

What I pack: Chinese Herbal remedies for travel

What I pack: Chinese Herbal remedies for travel

White Flower Oil- This is a topical liniment composed of a variety of essential oils including wintergreen, eucalyptus, lavender, and menthol.  It’s a wonderful topical pain reliever for sore muscles, stiff necks, or achy backs.   After a long day of walking and traveling, I rub this on my legs and feet to rejuvenate and improve circulation.  It also takes the itch out of bug bites and may even repel some insects.  The essential oils have the aromatherapy effects of relaxing and invigorating- so in theory, it could help jet lag, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and home sickness.  I’ve also used it to mask bad ambient odors by dabbing some on my neck so all I smell is minty goodness.  Alternatively, you could sprinkle some oil on the source of the odor (dirty laundry, smelly shoes, etc.)

Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Shui- This herbal liquid  is an incredibly effective remedy for traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning, nausea and vomiting.  Luckily, I’ve only ever had to take this on a few occasions.  It tastes terrible, but it really works, really quickly.  A couple of years ago I got food poisoning and was so sick I couldn’t even keep water down.  This stuff saved me: a couple swigs and no more vomiting.  It’s a good thing to keep on hand, wherever you are- when you need it you probably won’t feel up to a trip to the pharmacy or doctor’s office.

Bi Yan Pian- This is my favorite formula for most nose, sinus, ear, eye, and throat problems (colds, flu, allergies, postnasal drip, sore throat, cough, sinus headaches, stuffy ears, itchy eyes, etc.)  Many of the ingredients have antiviral properties, and I have found it helpful for both preventing and treating many viral infections.  I even found it helpful when I came down with dengue fever in southern Mexico (dengue is a virus transmitted through mosquito bites).  For prevention, I take a dose before getting onto a plane or other high-germ environment.

Ginger candies-  First off, these are delicious.  They’re also great for treating nausea from motion sickness, soothing an upset stomach, and helping ears “pop” on airplanes during take off and landing.  Ginger is also used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat mild colds and flu manifesting with chills and body aches.  I always have a couple in my handbag for emergencies (or a tasty treat).  I buy mine from an Asian market, but you can also find them at stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

Yunnan Baiyao-  This is a very famous formula.  The Chinese government has given it a Class-1 protection status, as status granted to only 2 herbal patents.  Considering there are thousands of different Chinese herbal patents out there,  this should give you an idea of just how precious and important this formula is.  It is an incredibly powerful remedy for stopping bleeding, treating traumatic injuries, preventing and treating infection.  It can be used topically for scrapes, cuts, bruises, even gun shot wounds.  And can also be taken internally for internal bleeding, severe bruising, broken bones, sprained joints, abscesses and infections.  Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it; but it’s good to have on hand in case.

I also bring enough acupuncture needles to treat friends and family on the road (and myself when needed).

And that’s basically it!  This is by no means a complete medical kit, but it does address some of the more common travel health conditions.  Of course, I would recommend bringing all the usual first aid items (like bandages, sterile gauze, alcohol swabs, antibiotic ointment, and pain relievers, etc.)   Get your vaccinations.  And always pack a good supply of prescribed medications, supplements, or herbs.

Wishing you fun and healthy travels!

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Services

Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body’s own natural healing ability and improving functioning by the insertion of very fine needles into specific points.

Acupuncture treatment sessions generally last between 50-60 minutes and include herbal consultation.

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