I recently attending the Center for Mind/Body Medicine’s conference entitled “Food As Medicine”. The conference was inspiring, to say the least. It made me think about diet in general and how it affects our health. According to the many speakers, diet can be the difference between living a long, healthy life or not. One speaker asserts that by eating a healthy diet can affect the expression of genetics, specifically in the case of cancer! No matter the presenter’s background, all agree that our diet and food choices are ultimately our best medicine or worst poison. If you want to talk about preventative medicine, diet cannot be ignored. After 4 days of lectures, the amount of information can be overwhelming but I have come up with a few dietary basics that are good “food for thought” as we prepare our next meal. [Read more…]
Working in healthcare, I’ve found that people often assume that when someone is skinny, they must be healthy. By the same token they assume that when someone is overweight, they must be unhealthy. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), we know that there are many different body types and ways that people manifest health as well as disease. Oftentimes, looks can be deceiving.
Personally, my family tends to be thin. But, we also tend towards heart disease and diabetes. Although we don’t gain weight, we manifest disease with other symptoms and pathologies. For example, when I eat poorly one of my eyes gets red and swollen. In TCM, the Stomach meridian travels through the eyes. Therefore, red eyes would be classified as stomach heat (red and swollen = heat).
Western Medicine might treat the symptom (branch) using eye drops or other medication. However, TCM is able to see that the issue arises from a deeper internal imbalance and treat the underlying condition- the Stomach heat (root) with acupuncture, herbs and diet/lifestyle changes. This is a reminder that I need to focus on eating well and taking better care of myself.
In TCM, Spleen and Stomach “Qi” are responsible for transforming food and drink into Qi energy. Qi energy is used for all of the body’s functions – from digestion to immunity to hormonal regulation. The Spleen and Stomach become overtaxed with inappropriate eating habits, excessive worrying, and limited physical activity. In order to keep the Spleen & Stomach functioning properly, it is best to limit the following foods: greasy foods, processed sugars, spicy foods, and excessive amounts of raw, cold foods.
Modern holistic medical approaches are starting to recognize the strong connection between digestive health and overall wellbeing. This news is especially exciting for the Chinese medical community because it is something that has been understood for thousands of years!
Natures First Aid Kit
Our health food and grocery stores shelves are lined with many different supplements and medicines – trying to determine what to take can be overwhelming. There are many choices that extend beyond the supplement aisle! There is much to learn about the food universe – even plants, herbs and spices have medicinal benefits!
Tea Tree Oil is an essential oil. Essential oils are the oil of a plant from which it is extracted from. The usually carry a specific scent or “essence” of the plant. When used topically, tea tree oil is thought to have anti viral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial benefits. To this end, tea tree oil can be very helpful in treating fungal infections (athlete’s foot), acne, dandruff (when added to shampoo), and yeast infections. I experienced the benefits of Tea Tree Oil personally during a recent beach trip. My legs were bitten over 100 times by sand flees and I found recently found the topical application of tea tree oil to be very effective in reducing itching and swelling. Tea Tree Oil is also good for inflammation and as an assistant in recovering from injury.
Turmeric , a spice (often used in curry) has widespread use in preventative medicine. According to the American Cancer Society, “Some proponents believe turmeric may prevent and slow the growth of a number of types of cancer, particularly tumors of the esophagus, mouth, intestines, stomach, breast, and skin.” Turmeric’s active ingredient is curcumin and both are thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. In addition, the American Cancer Society’s web site states that “ Early research has suggested that curcumin may help lower “bad” cholesterol, reduce inflammation, help ulcerative colitis, and reduce arthritis symptoms, although more reliable human studies are still needed”. Turmeric can be used liberally in one’s daily diet and can also be taken as a supplement at a dose of 500 mg 1-4 times a day. [Read more…]