Recipe: Nourishing Beauty with Sweet Rice Congee

For most cultures across the globe, there are beauty constants such as clear skin, bright eyes, and shiny hair. Like calmness and strength, these outward features are universally attractive. While we work towards these qualities with regimens that may include exercise, meditation, or even using a nice shampoo, the foods we eat are key to achieving inner and outer beauty.

In traditional Chinese medicine, foods are prescribed for their effects on organs, blood, yin, yang, and Qi, the major players in our physical and emotional health. Foods such as rice, seaweed, sweet potatoes, and bananas nourish our yin, which in turn hydrates and nourishes organs. Think of a parched plant; after a good watering it becomes more tumescent. Eating yin-enhancing foods nourishes the body in a way that simple drinking water cannot.

Sweet black rice, when cooked with longan berries (euphoria longana) and Chinese dates, becomes a congee that nourishes blood and Qi. In the Chinese system of food cures, these three foods work together to enhance beauty and longevity.

  • The sweet rice promotes the flow of liver Qi, which helps keep angry feelings at bay and leads to calmness.
  • The Chinese dates (different from the Mediterranean variety) nourish blood and spleen, promoting restful sleep and mental clarity.
  • Longan fruit, a blood enhancer, was used by the ancients to add luster to the skin. From a Western perspective, we know that longans contain large amounts of Vitamin C and phenolic compounds, which may help to detoxify and protect the liver.

Sweet Rice Congee
(Taken from Ancient Healing for Modern Women, by Dr. Xiolan Zhao, C.M.D.)

Ingredients:

6 cups water
1 cup black sweet rice (wash before using)
½ cup dried longan fruit
10 Chinese dates
2 tablespoons raw sugar
½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

 

Instructions:

In a large heavy saucepan, add 6 cups of water, black sweet rice, longan fruit, dates, and raw sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally. Garnish with ginger. Makes four servings.

Note: All ingredients are available at most Asian grocery stores.

Foods Men Should Eat Every Day

Adding nutrient-rich super foods to the diet can give men a healthy boost.

Here are just a few foods that can help maintain muscle mass, prevent prostate cancer, and more.

Avocados
Avocados are a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate and copper.  Rich in potassium, avocados contain more of this nutrient than bananas.  Potassium is needed to regulate nerves, heartbeat and, especially, blood pressure.  An added bonus for men: Avocados inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Blackberries
Blackberries are packed with Vitamin C, calcium and magnesium, with more than double the amounts than their popular cousin, the blueberry.  Vitamin C is a powerful stress reducer that can lower blood pressure and return cortisol levels to normal faster when taken during periods of stress.  Magnesium and calcium act together to help regulate the nerves and muscle tone.

Too little magnesium in your diet can cause nerve cells to become over activated and can trigger muscular tension, soreness, spasms, cramps, and fatigue.  Blackberries also score high on the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scale assesses the antioxidant content of food: the higher the score, the better the food’s ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals that lead to cancer.

Spinach
Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence.  Spinach can help protect against prostate cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure and strengthen muscles.

Walnuts
When it comes to their health benefits, walnuts are the king of nuts. Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-oxidants than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken, walnuts are one of the all time super foods.

Yogurt
Eating yogurt that contains live bacterial cultures every day improves digestive health, boosts the immune system, provides protection against cancer and may help you live longer.   Not all yogurts are probiotic though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.”

Let us custom-tailor a treatment plan that will best suit your individual needs so that you can feel better quickly and safely!

Foods to Help Your Skin Look Its Best

Acupuncture views nutrition in a complex light, through the application of Oriental medicine wisdom to dietary habits. In short, certain foods are considered too yang, or hot to eat in excess during the warmer months, while others are prized for their yin ability to cool the body. Overall, the goal is balance between the internal yin and yang of the body.

A healthy, nutritional diet, good sleep and moderate exercise can keep your skin and physical form at its best.

For healthy skin, be sure to integrate these foods into your diet:

Carrots and Sweet Potatoes:

Healthy skin is directly dependent on the amount of vitamin A in our diet. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant to neutralize harmful elements in our skin, helping to prevent wrinkles, resist infection and maintain the skin’s elasticity. Some of the best sources of Vitamin A are vegetables that are deep orange in color.

Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, and Plums:

In a study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, these four fruits weighed in with the highest “total antioxidant capacity” of any food.  The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in these fruits can protect cells from damage and disintegration, thus guarding against premature aging.

Salmon, Walnuts, Olive Oil, and Flax Seed:

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are responsible for skin repair, moisture content, and overall elasticity, but because the body cannot produce its own EFAs, they must be obtained through the diet. Fish, walnuts, and flax seed oil are among the best sources for omega 3 fatty acids. Eating good-quality olive oil helps keep skin lubricated and keeps it looking and feeling healthier overall. Which olive oils are the best for your skin? Those labeled “cold pressed,” “expeller processed,” or “extra virgin” are the least processed forms. As a result, they contain the highest levels of antioxidant substances.

Whole Wheat Bread, Brown Rice, Turkey, Tuna and Brazil Nuts:

Selenium is an antioxidant mineral responsible for tissue elasticity and healthy skin. It may also play an important role in preventing skin cancer, as some recent studies are showing that skin damaged by the sun may suffer fewer consequences if selenium levels are high.

Green Tea:

Green tea’s ability to slow down the development of some signs of aging is attributed to its high levels of polyphenols, which have been well-documented for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea may help prevent or reduce the risk of skin cancer according to a study published recently in the Archives of Dermatology, which shows that whether taken orally or applied to the skin, green tea can reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light and thus reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Water :

Hydration plays a key role in keeping skin cells healthy. It is essential to maintaining your skin’s elasticity and suppleness. Keeping cells hydrated helps cells move nutrients in and toxins out, which helps keep skin clean and clear.

Let us help you to optimize your skin health!

Treatment of Skin Conditions with Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be very effective at treating skin conditions. Treatments can provide quick relief for acute symptoms and significant and lasting relief from recurrent or chronic skin conditions.

The skin reflects and reacts to imbalances within the body’s internal landscape and the effects of the environment. Internal disharmonies caused by strong emotions, diet, and your constitution, as well as environmental influences such as wind, dryness, dampness, and heat, can all contribute to the development of a skin disorder. To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy, blood and lymph circulation improves the skin’s natural healthy color.

Promotion of collagen production increases muscle tone and elasticity, helping to firm the skin. Stimulating the formation of body fluids nourishes the skin and encourages it to be moister, softer, smoother and more lustrous.

General skin conditions that can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine include acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives). Oriental medicine does not recognize skin problems as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques with acupuncture, such as herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for eczema, each patient will receive a unique, customized treatment with different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

If you suffer from a skin condition or would like to know how to optimize your skin health, Contact One Essence Healing to learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you.

Revitalize Your Digestive Health with Acupuncture

digestive-disordersMore than 95 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In fact, more than 35 million physician office visits a year are due to gastrointestinal complaints. Reports are confirming that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can offer relief from even the most complex digestive problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Digestive Disorders

Evidence that Oriental medicine has been used for digestive disorders can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD, where specific acupuncture points and herbal formulas for borborygmus (rumbling or gurgling in the intestines), abdominal pain and diarrhea with pain are discussed.

According to Oriental medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. The spleen plays a central part in the health and vitality of the body, taking a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and qi (energy). Many schools of thought have been formed around this organ; the premise being that the proper functioning of the”‘middle” is the key to all aspects of vitality.

By taking into account a person’s constitution and varied symptoms, a treatment plan is designed specifically for the individual to bring their “middle” back into harmony and optimize the proper functioning of the digestive system. A variety of techniques can be used during treatment including acupuncture, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore digestive health.

Is your digestive system functioning as well as it could? Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are extremely effective at treating a wide array of digestive disorders. Contact us today to learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your digestive wellness plan!

Get Relief from Repetitive Stress Injuries with Acupuncture

repetitive-strain-injuriesRepetitive stress injuries (RSI) are the most common job-related injuries and are responsible for the highest number of days lost among all work related injuries. One of the most well-known types of repetitive stress injury, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) accounts for over two million visits to physicians’ offices and approximately 465,000 carpal tunnel release operations each year, making it the most frequent surgery of the hand and wrist.

Symptoms of repetitive stress injuries include tightness, stiffness, pain, tingling, numbness, coldness and loss of strength in the arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury that refers specifically to the inflammation of a specific ligament that puts pressure on the median nerve.

Acupuncture is extremely effective for treating repetitive stress injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome; eliminating the need for surgery or the use of anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids. In fact, one of the most common reasons that people get acupuncture is for repetitive stress injuries. Recent studies even suggest that acupuncture may be more effective than corticosteroids when it comes to treating CTS.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of ligaments and bones. The median nerve and the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the forearm pass through this tightly spaced tunnel.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as median nerve entrapment, occurs when swelling or irritation of the tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve causing pain in the palm side of the wrist and pain and tingling in the fingers. The median nerve controls sensations to the palm side of the thumb and fingers, as well as impulses to some small muscles in the hand that allow the fingers and thumb to move.

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the index, middle and ring fingers. Pain can sometimes travel up the arm and affect the shoulder. The symptoms often first appear during the night. As symptoms worsen, people might feel pain, weakness, or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. If not properly treated, CTS can cause irreversible nerve damage and permanent deterioration of muscle tissue.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Repetitive Stress Injuries with Acupuncture

From an Oriental medicine perspective, a repetitive stress injury is seen as a disruption of the flow of Qi and Blood (Xue) within the area and associated with cold, dampness or wind penetrating the muscles and sinews. Acupuncture points, stretching exercises, herbal remedies and nutritional supplements are chosen to treat accordingly.

In addition to reducing the swelling, inflammation and pain, acupuncture addresses any headaches, neck pain, shoulder stiffness and sleeping problems that often accompany this condition. Your treatment may also take into account any underlying conditions that contribute to the development of RSI including posture, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, diabetes, and hormonal changes of pregnancy and menopause.

Reduce Your Repetitive Stress Injury Risk

Managing repetitive stress injuries often requires some lifestyle changes, and it can take time to work out a strategy that works best for you.

Here are a few minor changes you can implement to minimize stress on your hands and wrists:

  • Alternate Tasks – Avoid doing the same task for more than a couple of hours at a time and alternate between tasks that use different muscle groups where possible. Fatigue is a sign that you need to take a break. Take small breaks to gently stretch and bend your hands and wrists and readjust your position.
  • Reduce Pressure – Many people use more force than needed to perform tasks involving their hands, which can increase pressure and cause irritation. Be mindful of the speed and amount of pressure used to perform tasks. Ease up, slow down, and grip using your palm or whole hand to distribute the load. If using tools such as riveters or jackhammers for extended periods, take frequent breaks or operate the tool at a speed that causes the least amount of vibration.
  • Cultivate Good Posture – Incorrect posture can cause your shoulders to roll forward, shortening neck and shoulder muscles and compressing nerves in your neck, which can affect your wrists, hands, and fingers.

Shoulders and neck should be relaxed to open the chest and allow your head to float upwards without strain. When using a keyboard, wrists should be in a relaxed middle position and in a straight line with your forearms at elbow height or slightly lower.
If you or someone you know suffers from a repetitive stress injury, Call us today to learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you.

Difficulties Sleeping? Put Insomnia to Rest!

Our society puts a premium on our waking hours and has the tendency to underestimate the importance of a full-night’s sleep. Often, good sleep hygiene is an afterthought for many people. Millions of people are besieged with insomnia and look for quick fixes instead of exploring the root causes of the problem.

Evening is a time to allow our minds and bodies to turn inward to our subconscious. Excessive lighting at night, evening shift work, evening computing, video games, television and late-night eating all serve to counteract the body’s natural rhythms. It’s no wonder people have trouble sleeping. Exposure to early morning light and dusk helps to regulate sleep hormones in the body. Rather than embrace nighttime we tend to let our minds wander from one element of stress to another keeping us up for hours or perhaps an entire evening. We are then forced to approach the new day without having benefited from the regenerative powers that night time brings.

In Oriental medicine sleep occurs when the yang energy of the day folds into Yin – nighttime. Yin energy of the body is cooling and restorative. It is the time of day when our bodies turn inward and regenerate. This is the time we dream and explore the caverns of our unconscious mind. Conversely, daytime is yang, which is expansive. We expend the energy we have built up from the process of sleeping. Together, this is the cycle of yin and yang.

To apply the concept of yin and yang to your everyday life try eating your last meal at least three hours before going to bed. If you are a hot excess type, you can cool your body down by avoiding hot and spicy food and drink. Avoid alcohol, coffee, chocolate any other stimulants, especially late in the day.

Help circulate your body’s energy by working out or by gentle exercising. Build your body’s nutritive aspect by eating marrow based soups and stews, dark pigmented vegetables and fruits. Avoid overworking or over rumination as well.

Meditation is an invaluable tool to help your brain unwind. Helping the body create a sense of calm meditation can reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being, and improve overall health. It is of specific use to help one increase alertness, relaxation and reflection even in “waking” states. Meditation is best practiced during the day to help ease your sleep patterns at night.

One contributor to insomnia, stress, weakens the function of the liver, which in turn affects the health of your nerves. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have a calming effect on the nervous system clearing obstructions in the muscle and nerve channels, assisting the flow of oxygen-enriched energy and relaxing the system. Common noted benefits include deeper breathing, improved digestive abilities, better sleeping patterns, and a general sense of well being.

Practicing good sleep hygiene and keeping your body in sync with the rhythm of day and night can help your body cope with sleep deprivation give it an opportunity to get stronger and heal.

By implementing just a few of the following suggestions you should notice a great improvement in your sleep and how you function in the daylight hours.

  • Maintain a routine sleep schedule.
  • Make your bedroom a sanctuary.
  • Keep it dark, cool, and quiet.
  • Establish a sense of safety with your surroundings.
  • Reduce nicotine, caffeine and alcohol use.
  • Avoid rigorous exercise 3-5 hours prior to bedtime.
  • Avoid heavy meals near bedtime.
  • Position clock away from the bed.
  • Limit television and computer use to early evening.

 

Acupuncture Effective for TMJ

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 2.05.11 AMPatients suffering TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) can find relief from acupuncture.  Research conducted at the Ribeirão Preto Dental School, São Paulo University in Brazil, found that after 3 months of acupuncture, patients with TMJ experienced significantly less pain, increased strength of their bite and decreased EMG activity of the masticatory muscles.

Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.  17 patients were studied using acupuncture points for TMJ.  EMG measures were acquired before and after the treatment. The data collected at rest, protrusion, left and right laterality, and clenching were normalized by maximum voluntary contraction. Maximal bite force in right and left molar regions were also measured.

The researchers found decreased EMG activity at rest, protrusion, left and right laterality, and clenching; as well as increased values of maximal bite force after acupuncture treatment.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15 Issue 12: December 15, 2009

Study Supports Acupuncture Effects in Pain Control

By: International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS)

The scientific validity of traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of pain received a nod of support in the May issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).

Dr. Philip Lang and colleagues of the University of Munich used quantitative sensory testing to identify changes in pain sensitivity with acupuncture in 24 healthy volunteers. After applying acupuncture to the leg, the researchers found that pain thresholds increased by up to 50 percent. Effects were noted in both the treated leg and the untreated (contralateral) leg.

Tests Show Measurable and Specific Effects of Acupuncture on Pain

Quantitative sensory testing is used clinically to help physicians understand specific injuries in nerve fibers associated with chronic pain. It includes tests of both thermal perception (heat and cold), and mechanical perception (pressure applied to the skin). The patterns of response provide diagnostic information in patients with nerve injury regarding the type of nerve involved, and possible treatments.

The results pointed to two nerve fibers—the “A delta” pain fibers and the “C” pain fibers—as being specifically affected by acupuncture. Although the effects were modest, the researchers believe they provide the basis for future studies in individuals with chronic pain, where the effects might be more dramatic.

The study also supported the effects of three different forms of acupuncture: manual acupuncture needling alone and with the addition of high-frequency and low-frequency electrical stimulation. All treatments were performed by an experienced acupuncturist, applied to acupuncture points commonly used in pain management.

The results provide a scientific background for the ancient practice of acupuncture, according to Dr. Dominik Irnich, Head of the Multidisciplinary Pain Centre, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Munich, and the study’s leading author. Additionally, Dr. Irnich notes, “Our results show that contralateral stimulation leads to a remarkable pain relief. This suggests that acupuncturists should needle contralaterally if the affected side is too painful or not accessible—for example, if the skin is injured or there is a dressing in place.”

Dr. Steven L. Shafer, Editor-in-Chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia and Professor of Anesthesiology at Columbia University, views the results as an important preliminary finding. “Reproducible findings are the cornerstone of scientific inquiry,” Dr. Shafer comments. “The authors have clearly described their methodology, and their findings. If other laboratories can reproduce these results in properly controlled studies, then this provides further support for the scientific basis of acupuncture. Additionally, the ability of quantitative sensory testing to identify specific types of nerves involved in pain transmission may help direct research into the mechanism of acupuncture analgesia.”

Are you plagued by chronic headaches?

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 2.00.33 AMMore than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, 20 million of whom are women. Scientific research shows that acupuncture can be more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches.

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives.  A widely accepted form of treatment for headaches, acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause.

Headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes have been treated successfully with acupuncture and Oriental medicine for thousands of years.  Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used alone in the management and treatment of headaches, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Oriental Medicine does not recognize migraines and chronic headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques such as acupuncture, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables including:

  • Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head?
  • When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)?
  • Do you find that a cold compress or a darkened room can alleviate some of the pain?
  • Is the pain dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

Your answers to these questions will help your practitioner create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs.  According to Oriental medical theory, illness or pain arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture stimulates specific points located on or near the surface of the skin to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions that cause aches and pains or illness.

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some headaches, migraines and related symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

Headaches Dramatically Reduced by Acupuncture

Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines and headaches.  Researchers at Duke University Medical Center analyzed the results of more than 30 studies on acupuncture as a pain reliever for a variety of ailments, including chronic headaches. They found that acupuncture decreases pain with fewer side effects and can be less expensive than medication.  Researchers found that using acupuncture as an alternative for pain relief also reduced the need for post-operative pain medications.

In a study published in the November 1999 issue of Cephalalgia, scientists evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of migraines and recurrent headaches by systematically reviewing 22 randomized controlled trials. A total of 1,042 patients were examined. It was found that headache and migraine sufferers experienced significantly more relief from acupuncture than patients who were administered “sham” acupuncture.

A clinical observation, published in a 2002 edition of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, studied 50 patients presenting with various types of headaches who were treated with scalp acupuncture. The results of this study showed that 98 percent of patients treated with scalp acupuncture experienced no headaches or only occasional, mild headaches in the six months following care.

In a case study, published in the June 2003 Issue of Medical Acupuncture, doctors found that acupuncture resulted in the resolution or reduction in the frequency and severity of cluster headaches, and a decrease or discontinuation of pain medications. It was concluded that acupuncture can be used to provide sustained relief from cluster headaches and to stimulate the body’s natural production of adrenal cortisol to aid in discontinuing corticosteroids.

According to the July 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal, a randomized controlled trial in Germany found that acupuncture cut tension headache rates almost in half.  Researchers divided 270 patients who reported similarly severe tension headaches into three groups for the study. Over the project’s eight-week period, one group received traditional acupuncture, one received only minimal acupuncture, and the third group received neither treatment. Those receiving the traditional acupuncture reported headache rates of nearly half that of those who received no treatments, suffering 7 fewer days of headaches. The minimal acupuncture group suffered 6.6 fewer days, and the non-acupuncture group suffered 1.5 fewer days.  The improvements continued for months after the treatments were concluded, rising slightly as time went on.

Do you or someone you know suffer from headaches or migraines?

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