Chinese Medicine considers preventative care as important as treating the disease itself. If we cultivate our health we can prevent illness and injury from occurring and minimize their consequences when 'disease evils' do attack us. Join Kath Bartlett, MS, LAc as she shares thoughts, news articles, recipes & tips derived from a wide variety of source material, as it relates to Chinese medicine and cultivating optimal health for the body, mind and spirit.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Insomnia Trick

Lately I have been listening to Deepak Chopak's Life After Death: The Burden of Proof on audio. It's a fascinating read (listen?) and intellectual journey. Chopak describes alternate realities as detailed by the Hindu risha's and vedics, using modern theories of quantum mechanics and cutting edge physics to back-up the ancient claims.

It it, he briefly discusses karmic law. Early on he talks about the near death experience (NDE: about which he seems to have done quite a bit of research) and the common experience NDE's describe about the life review. Karmically, the life review goes backward beginning with the most recent event and working back to birth. He mentions an exercise that he preforms as part of his nightly routine whereas one reviews the past days activities and events, working backward from the most recent to waking in the morning. Apparently this exercises helps to release karmas that have been aquired while participating in the day's events.

I've implemented this practice, and have found an added benefit: that it induces a quick and deep slumber. I combine it with a qi gong breathing technique as follows: [I do the qi gong breathing morning and evening upon waking and retiring].

Qi Gong 3 Jiao Breathing Technique

I learned this qi gong breathing technique in 1997 from a qi gong master, FaXiang Huo, with whom my qi gong instructor in acupuncture college (PCOM) apprenticed. All Qi Gong methods include a version of this simple exercise. Presented here is Mst. Huo's take on it, passed down in his family. I do this lying down in bed, morning and evening; however, it was taught to me preformed in a standing position (horse stance). That may have been for demonstration purposes, and for abeiting beginner efforts at the practice. Mts. Huo directs that the excercise may be preformed standing, sitting or lying down.
In Chinese medicine (and Qi gong/Tai Qi/martial arts) the torso/abdomen is dividing into 3 regions or jiaos (in Chinese), referred to as upper, middle and lower. The upper jiao is the area above the diaphram, which includes the organs of the lungs and heart. The middle jiao is the area between the diaphram and the navel, which includes all of the digestive organs. The lower jiao is the area from the navel to the public, which incudes the kidneys, reproductive organs and organs of elimination of waste.
In Taoist thought, the Dantian, or Cinnabar Field (so named because of Cinnabar's red color to denote something precious) is located in the lower jiao, 1.3" below the navel, or midway btwn the navel and the pubis, approximately 1 1/2" deep. The dantian is where the precious essence of life, one's vital jing is store. Jing is a type of Qi (energy), decribed as being thicker and more rarified than qi. It is the primordial energy of life itself.
Actually each of the jiao's house the dantian: upper, middle and lower dantian, but the lower dantian is emphasized for preserving and cultivating jing qi. The middle dantian is located at the solar plexus, and is important for developing nutritive qi, the vital essence extracted from food. The upper dantian is said to be located in the brain's pineal gland, located on the intersection of lines drawn inward from the between the eyebrows and traveling deep to between the ears. The upper dantian is the center of spiritual and mental energy.
Mst. Huo describes the middle dantian as the area around the navel and says that it is the main energy storage area. He locates the upper dantian at the spiritual third eye, at the ctr of the forehead, above and btwn the eyes. He further identifies a 'Shanzhoung', located in the chest, btwn the nipples/breasts. He advises that when you concentrate on the shanzhoung, to focus on the chest in general, as if it were large and expansive, as the universe. [For more about taoist cultivation activities, reference "Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life" by Deng Ming-Dao].

When I do this exercise, I have been beginning in the middle jiao, progressing upward to the upper jiao, and finishing in the lower dantian. I sometimes take a few final breathes into the the middle jiao to complete the circle. However, Mst. Huo teaches the exercise begining in the upper jiao, progressing to the lower jiao, and finishing in the center, or middle jiao. This may be because expanding the upper jiao is the easiest: the lower and middle jiao's are more challenging to isolate and expand without affecting the other areas. I will give the directions here as i have been doing the exercise of late, beginning in the middle jiao.
Initially, when I began doing the exercise, I liked to visualize the organs in the respective region i directed the breath to, visualizing their functions and bringing zhong qi (chest qi, as the qi of the air mixes with the qi of the body in the region of the lungs) to each of the vital organs. I eventually dropped that visualization practice, and currently focus on the breathing.

  1. With eyes closed, begin by becoming quiet and noticing the body and breath. Relax the body, and begin noticing the breath coming in and out. Notice the breath becoming slower, more even and rhythmic. Keep the inhalations and the exhalations even as you preform this exercise, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. [This is Mst. Huo's instruction. When I practice the exercise, I inhale and exhale through the nose]. Mst. Huo cautions not to take big, loud or deep breaths while doing the exercise, and advises to push out the stale energy on the exhalation.
  2. Direct the attention to the middle jiao, drawing the breath to this region. Working with the inhalations and exhalations, allow this area to expand as fully as possible, without affecting the other areas of the torso (keeping the upper and lower jiao's flat). Mst. Huo instructs during the exhalation to pull or suck in the middle jiao region as you push out the stale energy with the breath.
  3. Direct the breathing to the upper jiao/chest region. Begin to fill this area fully and completely with clean, fresh qi, isolating the chest from the other areas of the torso. Expand the chest fully, the stomach may contract and become a bit concave while you do this. Exhale quietly, slowly and steadily, drawing out the stale energy as you contract the chest and lungs fully.
  4. Now progress to the lower dantian, directing the breathing into the lower jiao. Expand the lower jiao as fully as possible, keeping the middle and upper jiao's flat. As you exhale fully and completely, the middle jiao may contract slightly as well.
Mst. Huo discussed the difference btwn formal and informal practice. In formal practice, one practices with eyes closed with deep concentration focused on one's location btwn heaven and earth. [This is a position rooted deep in chinese philosophy, with human's position lying in the middle with heaven, or sky above and the earth below one's feet]. Men practice 36 cycles of breathing, and women practice 24 (these are Taoist numbers).

I practice somewhat informally, meaning one can practice for any length of time. I work with each jiao until it feels that it is time to move to the next region. In this deep field of concentration i am aware of my body's inner dialogue and signals.

Informally, this exercise can be practiced at any time, while in line in the supermarket or bank, during a television commercial, while waiting at a traffic light, or during a work break: whenever you find a moment to do it.

So, at night i have found that the following meditation promotes a quick, deep and relaxing slumber. This is my own eclectic combination of yoga & qi gong relaxation and breathing with a karmic review finish:

Kath's Karmic An Mian Tang
or Meditation to Calm the Mind & Promote a Peaceful Slumber
  1. Lie on your back, relax your body and begin to notice the rhythm of your breath. Allow your body to relax, letting go of any tension. Focus your attention to the rhythmic nature of the breath. Watch the breath without attempting to adjust or change it in any way.
  2. Relax your eyes, allowing the eyes to drop back into the eye sockets. Relax the teeth, gums and jaw, releasing any stored tension here. Allow the tip of the tongue to rest on the upper palette (This is a mudra, or yogic seal). Relax the muscles of the faces, allowing the flesh to release and drop off the cheek bones. Relax the neck and throat, releasing any tension stored here. Allow all of the tension to leave the body. Let your arms and legs be like rivers, the tension through them out of the body. The body becomes limp, sinking into the floor (mattress). Bring your attention to the brain, allowing it to fall back against the pillow, as the mind relaxs fully.
  3. Turn the attention back to the breath, noticing the even, rhythic nature. Direct the breath into the middle jiao, and begin the 3 Jiao Breathing Excercise.
  4. After completing the 3 Jiao breathing cycle, let your attention remain on the breath for a few moments. Then begin the karmic review of the past days activities and events, beginning with the 3 Jiao breathing exercise, and working backward to the moment of awakening in the morning.
Copyright 2009 Kath Bartlett

I find that i often fall asleep before completing the karmic review. I sleep deeply and soundly. When I wake in the morning and come to consciousness, I begin the 3 Jiao Breathing Exercise before rising. Upon completion, I try to remember where I left off in the karmic review before falling asleep, and then I complete the review before rising. This practice, in combination with regular yoga and meditation allows me to remain in a rather calm and peaceful place. I especially notice the calm and peaceful nature of my mind in the morning, before the activities of the day take me into the physical realm.

If you find that you wake during the night and have difficulting falling back to sleep, do the relaxation exercise and the 3 Jiao Breathing Exercise. If your mind is busy, complete the karmic review, and then meditate on your breath.

I would appreciated hearing your comments about your experience with this exercise, and whether the practice aids your slumber and calms your mind. KB

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kidney Stone Flush, Colon & Parasite Cleanse/Flush

Here are 3 more cleanse/flushes for kidney stones, parasites and the colon. In Chinese medicine cleanses/flushes utilizes the purging technique in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) herbology. Purges are only to be used for robust patients with excess conditions, and are contra-indicated for deficiency (fatigue, pale complexion and other signs). Please consult with a TCM practitioner prior to commencing a flush/cleanse to be certain it is an appropriate technique to use with your constitution. See comments about this issue included with the comments about the liver cleanse in the previous post. KB


¼ cup dried Hydrangea root

¼ cup Gravel root

¼ cup Marshmallow root

Black cherry concentrate

4 bunches of fresh parsley

Goldenrod capsules or herb

Vegetable glycerine

Ginger capsules

Uva Ursi capsules

Vitamin B complex ( brewer’s yeast tablets)

Magnesium oxide tablets (300 mg)

2 clean glass jars with lids


Soak the roots in 10 cups of clean cold water in a glass container overnight.

Add black cherry concentrate, heat to boiling and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool.

Pour the remainder through a bamboo or glass strainer into a glass jar and refrigerate.

Rinse fresh parsley, then boil in 1 quart of water for ten minutes. Cool. Discard

parsley and refrigerate liquid.

Each morning, pour together ¾ cup of the root mixture and ½ cup parsley water.

Add 20 drops of goldenrod tincture and 1 tablespoon of vegetable glycerin. Keep cold,

and drink in ¼ cup doses throughout the day.

Take one ginger capsule with each meal ( 3 per day ).

Take one Uva Ursi capsule at breakfast and two at supper.

Take one brewer’s yeast tablet daily.

Take 300 mg magnesium oxide daily.

Ask at your local natural food store about sourcing the roots mentioned. In Asheville the French Broad Food Co-op has a large herbal department. KB


Recently, there has been a growing awareness about the importance of cleansing our bodies of wastes. The colon carries a heavy load of toxins in many people due to improper diet. Cleaning the colon is of paramount importance. However, there may be other treatments required as well, namely a parasite cleanse.

There are over 150 diseases that are related to parasite infestations. In Third World countries, it is customary to cleanse the body of parasites twice a year. Most Westerners have forgotten that their own ancestors used to do this as well, until reminded by the recent books of Dr. Hulda Clark. Many people who travel abroad come back sick, often carrying parasites, which are spread unknowingly to friends and family. In addition, parasites are often contracted from family pets.

Signs of parasitic infestation usually appear when parasites are abundant and actively growing in the body. There may be a yellowish cast to the face; fast heartbeat; chest pain; pain in the navel; loss of appetite; blurry vision; pain in the back, thighs, or shoulders; itchy rectum; unclear thinking; forgetfulness; lethargy; slow reflexes; gas and bloating; numb hands; burning sensation in the hands; dryness of the lips; or grinding of teeth at night. However, there can be a lower grade parasite infestation without any overt symptoms.

To kill the parasites of whatever variety, it is necessary to consume a product containing wormwood, the green hulls of black walnut, and cloves. These come packaged in capsules in various formulations. Hana Kroeger of Boulder Colorado was the originator of this treatment many years ago, and has proven its effectiveness many thousands of times. In addition, citrucidal, garlic, raw onions and goldenseal are beneficial when dealing with parasites.


Bile from the liver stimulates the colon to contract in a rhythmic sequence, pushing along the digested mass. The colon consists of a series of pouches. If any of the pouches becomes filled with putrefying material, it will absorb toxins along with the water it normally absorbs, and disease will result. If the pouch becomes infected, it is designed to swell outward and produces a little bag called a diverticuli. These can be very painful, and the condition of diverticulitis is quite debilitating.

In addition, the colon can attempt to protect itself by secreting a very heavy mucous lining, which interferes with the absorption process. This can be shed through the action of a good quality colon cleanser, such as Magnesium.

Constipation can result from too little bile entering the intestines, usually because the liver is plugged. Constipation results in the reabsorption of toxins, producing a whole host of problems, up to and including cancer. Commercial laxatives are short-term quick fixes that ultimately cause the colon to lose its muscle tone and be unable to eliminate without help. Ozonated water enemas and herbal laxatives are far preferred, with fiber at the top of the list for maintaining good colon health.

In extreme cases, it is sometimes necessary to have a series of colonics with a trained professional. The best results are obtained with ozonated water.

After the parasite cleanse, the liver cleanse and the colon cleanse, it is advisable to have a series of coffee enemas, every other day for two weeks, to pull further toxins from the liver. Use 4 oz of coffee brewed from fresh beans (Folger’s red can), in one quart of warm water.

It is essential to have a thriving colony of acidophilus and bifidus in order to properly absorb nutrients, and to prevent candida from overgrowing. Humans exist because of a symbiotic relationship with these bacteria, which enable us to absorb our nutrients from the intestine.

For all of these reasons, it is necessary to keep the colon clean and in good operating order.

Liver Detox Cleanse/Gallstone Flush

Periodically I get requests for liver detox cleanses and gallstone flushes. The detox cleanse is an idea in western holistic medicine, and is not a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) concept. However, with all the environmental toxins we are exposed to I wouldn't say that the practice is contraindicated: in the correct situation may indeed be beneficial. A colleague has researched various flushes and recommends this one to his patients. I thought I would post it here for those who are interested in doing a liver flush, as I believe this one is rather safe. I do suggest consulting with an acupuncturist prior to commencing a flush. We can support you with herbs and acupuncture with to enhance the results of the detox process. Importantly, there are situations, particularly in a deficient patient (fatigue, pale complexion and other signs) where doing a flush would be harmful to what TCM calls rightous qi (your vital energy). A Licensed Acupuncturist can advise you whether the cleanse/flush would be appropriate or contra-indicated in your particular situation.

The springtime is liver season in TCM, so if a flush is appropriate for you, spring is an optimal time to do it.

Foods that benefit the liver, particularly in the spring, include dandelion greens, nettles, and circulating herbs and spices, such as coriander, cumin, mint (peppermint tea), ginger, garlic, onion and foods with a sour flavor, such as umeboshi plums (found in the macrobiotic section of the natural food store). KB

Here's some comments from my colleague about this cleanse/flush:

. . . these kinds of detox protocols should be short-term (1-3 days) and supervised (at least the first time) and are not for everyone, although most replete/healthy people can handle it - and usually greatly benefit.
The one that I posted was originally created in Germany by a holistic physician and designed to take the place of cholecystectomy [gallbladder removal]. Over the years many people have used it with very god results for a host of (excess) inflammatory conditions and general detoxification. There have been no reports of adverse reactions to the best of my knowledge. . .
The biggest problem is when people try to leave things out and butcher up these kinds of protocols. For example, in this liver flush that I posted is it important to understand that it is critical NOT TO ALTER IT IN ANY WAY. Sometimes people like to leave things out the Epsom salt or change the grapefruit to orange juice, and/or not follow the dietary protocols. This (in addition to giving it to the wrong patient), is when harm can and usually will be done.


Ingredients :

4 tablespoons of Oral Epsom salts

1 tablespoon Vitamin C powder

½ cup virgin olive oil

1 large fresh grapefruit

2 glass jars with lids

16 oz. apple juice + beet juice

Drink as much water as you want

Procedure :

First day:

1. 9:00 am: Eat a breakfast of cooked porridge, no milk or butter; 8 ounces apple juice + beet juice; or a baked potato, no butter

2. 2:00 pm : Mix 4 tablespoons of oral Epsom salts and 1 Tbsp of Vitamin C powder

in 3 cups of cold water in one jar, and refrigerate

3. 3:00 pm : Have a warm water enema; rest

4. 6:00 pm : Drink ¾ cup of the cold Oral Epsom salts

5. 8:00 pm : Drink ¾ cup Oral Epsom salts

6. 9:45 pm : Pour ½ cup olive oil into the second jar; squeeze out ½ cup grapefruit juice

and add to the olive oil. Close the jar lid and shake hard until watery.

7. 10:00 pm : Drink the potion. Lie down immediately. Lie still on your back and go

to sleep.

Second day:

1. 9:00 am: Drink ¾ cup Epsom salts. Go back to bed.

2. 11:00 am : Drink ¾ cup Epsom salts. Go back to bed.

3. 1:00 pm : Get up and drink 8 ounces apple + beet juice. Read a book.

4. 2:00 pm : Eat a banana or an orange. Read another book.

5. 6:00 pm : Eat a light supper of salad and fruit; no meat

Many stones will be seen in the toilet upon the first bowel movement after a liver cleanse. It may take several cleanses over a period of months to clear all of them out from the liver.

Following a liver cleanse, it is useful to have several coffee enemas to pull further toxins that are stored in the liver. Use organic coffee beans, and about a quart of coffee each time, retained for ten minutes.

Replace intestinal bacteria by taking acidophilus and soil-based organisms (SBO) for a week after a liver cleanse. Repeat the liver cleanse spring and fall for maintenance.

With Herbs and Foods, Form Dictates Function

Chinese medicine holds the concept the the shape of a plant or the climate it grows in dictates its medicinal properties. Like causes like. Here's something that has been circulating on the Internet that demonstrates this concept with foods. It's an interesting read. I would offer the caveat that i have not verified all of the info presented here. I am sharing it to illustrate the concept. But what i can verify is correct: carrots benefit the eyes, walnuts (in Chinese medicine theory) benefit the brain because it is shaped and looks like a brain, kidney beans nourish the kidney because they look like kidneys. Enjoy KB

[] A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye... And YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.
Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.
A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
[] Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.
Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
[] Avocados, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs.. Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).
Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.
[] Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.
Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries
[] Oranges, Grapefruits, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.
Onions look like the body's cells. Today's research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, Garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.