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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Case Study: Chinese Herbs for Flu

Here’s a little story of a colleague who desperately emailed me earlier this month about an acute stomach flu, seeking suggestions:

I got really really suddenly & violently ill last night - I'm doing much better today. My husband has a final exam in 4 days and it would be really nice if I managed to not pass this on to him.

Three nights ago I stayed with my parents for the night. I was woken shortly after midnight to the sound of pretty wretched vomiting [from her mother]. Last night it was my turn, so it looks like this has a 2 day incubation period. Which would have my husband puking tonight or tomorrow night instead of studying. bad!

Her main symptoms were simultaneous vomiting & diarrhea (sudden turmoil disorder) “Several hours of misery followed” + severe chills and burning pain in the stomach, esophagus and throat. I recommended an herbal formula she might have on hand.

:) I think you may be our hero. I found my bottle of the sudden turmoil formula [her nickname for the herbal formula I recommended] with a whole 12 pills left in it. When my husband started feeling an odd stomach pressure last night we gave him a dose. he said things settled significantly. I won't be sure that he's in the clear until tomorrow with no vomiting, but I've got my fingers crossed and am feeling optimistic.
thank you again.

. . . The week could've been a LOT worse. My husband only ever had one bout of diarrhea, no vomiting at all was pretty much fine. (I think he was eating normally again by the next day. I'm still not quite at normal, but close.) He managed to skip the hours of misery that my parents & I went through. & when I finally got to take my dose of the herbs, it immediately got rid on the awful bouts of heartburn & most of the lingering nausea I'd been having since the vomiting . . . that's far better than the godawful sick we'd had before the herbs. Apparently my mom, who was the first to get sick (10-11 days ago) is still getting queasy after meals, so the two of us got off lightly.

So thank you again, Karoline Gostl, MS, LAc – New York, NY

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Study Finds Meditation as Effective as Drugs in Preventing Depression

Looking to avoid depression or the holiday blues? A recent study published in The Archives of General Psychiatry shows that once the depression had been treated, meditation could be used in place of drug therapy. The medications can be discontinued rather than staying on Prozac or Paxil ad nauseaum. I know this is terrific news as I often have patients telling me they do not like taking drugs, esp. staying on them long term. I have many blog posts about meditation and depression you can look at for alternatives to drugs in order to stay happy.

I recently read an interview with a well known Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh about integrating one's mindfulness practice into daily life to be happy. His ideas illustrate how the study participants were able to be free of depression and medications.

Chinese Medicine is also quite effective in treating emotional disorders: anxiety, depression and more advanced psychiatric conditions. We use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to address these problems. Acupuncture has well known benefits of reducing stress and releasing endorphins, those 'feel good' biochemicals responsible for the runners high. Often my patients comment after a treatment about how stressed they felt coming in and how much better they feel after.

We use herbs rather than drugs to treat all manner of clinical complaints, including mental-emotional problems. Chinese medicine does an individualized pattern diagnosis. This means that rather than giving everyone with the same complaint the same treatment or herbal formula, we look deeply at the individual nature of each person, and customize the treatment. We call this approach pattern diagnosis.

There are many patterns responsible for psychiatric conditions, too many to name them all here. I would like to describe a couple of common patterns responsible for depression.

Liver Qi Stagnation is a big one, common in our western culture for those under stress. In Chinese Medicine, the Liver is responsible for circulating qi (energy) through out the body, through the channel or meridian system. When we get stressed or tense, we tighten up, and the qi stops flowing. This stuck qi often leads to a physical depression, causing stomach/bowel problems (acid regurgitation, IBS), gyn problems (cramping, moodiness) and hypertension because the qi is not circulating or moving through the organs. Liver patients are irritable, stressed and often have a physical problem in addition to anxiety, depression, insomnia and other emotional problems.

Another common pattern of depression is Yang deficiency. Yang is our body's heat and activity: qi (energy) is yang in nature. When yang is deficient, one feels cold easily or has cold feet. Cold causes qi to slow down, heat causes qi to quicken up. Think ice and boiling water - ice moves at a glacial pace, boiling water has volcanic action. Cold in the body causes qi to slow down in the body, causing a physical depression, which can lead to a mental depression. In this case, the person feels cold, complains of a lack of motivation, just wants to curl up in a ball and retreat from the world.

Once we diagnose the pattern (or combination of patterns involved) we customized the acupuncture point prescription and Chinese herbal formula. A common herb for treating liver qi stagnation is mint. Drinking mint tea is beneficial as it moves and circulates the liver qi, responsible for the qi stagnation. For yang deficiency, warming spices are important to use: cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, fenugreek and cloves.

The combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs is effective in treating mental emotional disorders,and I have successfully gotten many patients off medication. This 2007 study reported on in Psychology Today shows a 50% effectiveness for acupuncture in treating depression. Adding herbal therapy and customizing treatments in private practitioners' offices dramatically increases effectiveness. As a control, studies pick one to 3 protocols, and give them to all participants. Practitioners do much more customization of treatments exponentially increasing efficacy.
Dr Allen, the study's author notes in Psychological Science, the precision of needle placement allows for treatment of individuals' personal symptoms—a flexibility drugs just don't offer. KB

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Eloquent TDay Message Reaches From the Past

This eloquent Thanksgiving Day Proclamation was issued by Gov. Wilbur L Cross of CT in 1936. The Governor's words reach across time to speak to our modern hearts. it begins:

Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Studies Demonstrate Acupuncture Significantly Reduces Insomnia

In 2007, Kalavapalli and  Singareddy published a review of studies of acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. The selected studies included many clinical case series and few open or randomized clinical trials. The authors noted that "all of them consistently indicate significant improvement in insomnia with acupuncture"

 There are so many Americans who are on sleeping medications needlessly. I see wonderful results treating insomnia in my practice, as this article describes. I use a winning combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy.                   KB


 Photo: RelaxingMusic, Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stress & Anxiety is Caused by the Drive to Avoid Suffering

The first of the Four Noble Truths given by Sakyamuni Buddha is that life involves suffering. it is our wish, our strong desire, our struggle to avoid suffering that is the root cause of stress and anxiety. Buddhism fundamentally teaches to accept suffering as part of the condition of living. if we can accept the truth of suffering as part of living, then the struggle to prevent suffering diminishes.

of course we have goals in life and we do what we can to achieve them. the struggle against obstructions in our path to achieve our goals causes stress and anxiety due to fear of the suffering involved in not achieving our goals. if we can accept that suffering is part of life, then the stress and anxiety involved in the struggle to prevent this suffering from occurring diminishes.

Sakyamuni Buddha taught that the acceptance of suffering as a noble truth of the condition of living is fundamental to the path of enlightenment. if we can accept that life involves suffering, then when we are confronted with suffering in our lives our inner struggle against it diminishes. we still do what we can to achieve peace and happiness and freedom from suffering for all living beings (which includes ourselves) but we are able to accept the suffering that arises in our lives as a natural course of life. this acceptance of suffering as a natural condition of living decreases stress and anxiety.

the Dalai Lama emphasizes in the book "The Art of Happiness" that adversity is necessary for spiritual development. Mark Howard, MD, elaborates (p181) that if we continually stay in the cocoon of infancy: being coddled, fed soft food and so on, there is no impetus for spiritual growth. the Dalia Lama asserts that the adversity, negative emotions such as anger, hatred, resentment and so on provides the shenpa or the hook. in recognizing shenpa while it is occurring, we are thankful for the opportunity presented for emotional and spiritual growth.
(pp178-9) the struggle with avoiding suffering provides the motivation for spiritual growth to occur. emotional and spiritual growth is essential in order to transcend suffering.
so, the Dalai Lama says, we should thank our enemies and the suffering that arises in our lives for the opportunity that comes with it for emotional and spiritual growth. without the shenpa, we will stay wrapped up in our cozy cocoon. while that seems warm, pleasurable and inviting, there we are in a place of emotional and spiritual stagnation. no transformation can occur in that place.

so by accepting that suffering is part of the condition of living, when we are confronted with situations having the potential to cause suffering, we acknowledge that we are going to face suffering in our lives, and this may be one of those instances. that acceptance diminishes the inherent struggle against suffering, thereby decreasing stress and anxiety in our mind. we still try to chart a different course, but with the necessity of avoidance of suffering negated, we preform our actions with the peace of mind that we are getting by as best we can. that suffering may occur. we cannot prevent all suffering from occurring in our lives, and that suffering is necessary for emotional and spiritual growth. thereby we accept our situation with grace, dignity and peace. KB

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Solution to Flu Prevention

The NY Times reported saturday on the difficulties in developing antibiotics to treat the antibiotic resistant super-viruses which have become common in recent years, causing a serious public health issue. The US is considering subsidies to the pharmaceutical companies to encourage future development. Antibiotics are not typically profitable for the pharmaceutical companies in comparison to drugs for chronic diseases like diabetes, allergies, or HIV. the reason for the lower profit is that antibiotics are only taken for a couple of weeks at which time the disease is cured. Chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, blood sugar disorders, thyroid problems or MS, require lifelong drug therapy as the drugs do not provide a cure. Therefore it is profitable for the pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs to treat these type of disorders. Because of the drug resistant super-viruses, & because flu viruses frequently vary, antibiotics must be changed year to year, so it is more difficult for the pharmaceutical companies to recoup the cost of research and development.

All of this means fewer drugs available to treat flus. So what is one's best strategy for fighting the flu? Prevention.

Prevention means staying healthy. Keeping your body in optimal condition so that the immune system is strong and can prevent the virus from gaining the advantage in the fight. The TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) strategy for wellness highlights preventative care and intervening early, before disease takes hold. In contrast, the western health care model dominate in our country does not stress prevention. Rather, doctors wait for disease to get fairly advanced before commencing treatment. While TCM effectively treats both acute and chronic disease, this distinction in emphasis on preventative care is one of the many important differences between the two diametrically opposed systems.

Prevention includes the basics of eating nutritious food (3 balanced meals/day) getting optimal rest (minimum of 8 hours of sleep) and exercising regularly (several times/week) to keep the body strong. A good percentage of Americans are not emphasizing these basics, especially in this deep recession where we find ourselves running faster and faster on the rat wheel to keep from falling farther behind.

Living a healthy lifestyle takes effort and prioritizing. It is imperative for maintaining health and disease prevention. With the cost of health care skyrocketing in this country, it also makes economic sense to protect one's health as disease treatment is becoming more and more expensive, and insurance companies are covering less and less of the costs.

In addition to the basics of healthy diet, sleep and exercise, other aspects of a healthy lifestyle must be incorporated for disease prevention. Stress reduction is a key factor. Stress is well known to cause illness. One of the first questions i ask patients with acute symptoms of any condition is has your stress level increased recently? after years of experience, i have learned that in over 60% of cases increased stress positively correlates with the onset or exacerbation of any health problem, including neck or back pain, headache, high blood pressure, stomach problems (i can't stomach this situation) MS, chronic illness, colds and flu, and so on.

There are many articles in my blog and on the resources page of my website discussing stress reduction. Briefly this involves identifying and eliminating stressors from your life and implementing stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, qi gong & incorporating quiet time to your life so to help you deal with the life stressors that cannot be eliminated.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy are helpful in calming the mind so that you are more able to deal with life stress. Acupuncture releases endorphins, the feel good chemicals responsible for the runner's high. Acupuncture and herbs reduce irritability, depression, worrying and treat insomnia, all of which weaken the immune system, causing disease to take hold in the body.

Acu/herbal therapy strengthens the immune system, so it can fight off illness. TCM is effective in treating most health problems, including colds and flu. My patients are continually surprised at how quickly TCM methods eliminate colds and flu, or reduce the symptoms so that recuperation comes easier.

So the TCM solution to addressing super-viruses is three-fold. First: living a healthy lifestyle to stay strong so that a virus would have difficulty overtaking you. I haven't looked at the CDC stats on who dies from super viruses, but i'm sure i can postulate that it is the elderly, weak and infirm in much higher numbers that healthy adults. Being healthy is your number one defense against disease.

Second: integrating preventative care techniques. Regular acupuncture treatments keep the body and immune system strong. This might mean monthly treatments during flu season, and 4-6 weeks intervals at other times of the year. There is an oft used herbal formula to strengthen the immune system and prevent the onset of colds, flu and allergy symptoms called Jade Windscreen. Jade refers to something precious (this effective herbal formula) and windscreen means screening out allergens and germs from entering the body. This formula can be taken long-term, from fall to spring, for allergy or cold and flu prevention.

Other preventative care techniques include stress management activities such as tai qi, qi gong, meditation, yoga, acupuncture and Chinese herbs in addition to eliminating stressors from your life.

Thirdly, beginning acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy to treat the disease as soon as it strikes and to help the immune system win the battle against the viral onslaught. KB

Monday, September 27, 2010

NY Times Reports: Only 23% of US Meals Contain Vegetables

Alarmingly, the NY Times reported Saturday that only 23% of American meals include a vegetable. In that statistic, fries don't count as a vegetable, but paradoxically a piece of lettuce on a hamburger does. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that merely 26% of Americans are eating vegetables 2-3x/day.

Many reasons play apart: chiefly households with both adults working full time and the onslaught on convenience foods. Family dinner might be pizza or fried chicken picked up on the drive home at the end of the work day. Children complain and tired parents give in rather that fight for eating healthy meals. Junk food is so dominate in American diets, that a consortium of farmers put together an ad campaign using junk food packaging to sell baby carrots.

Another reason given that many wouldn't ordinary think about is Americans do not know how to cook vegetables properly. If you see yourself in this category, talk to a vegetarian friend, or look at some of the plant-based, healthy & yummy recipes I've included in this blog (check the recipes label on the left column).

Here's a few more suggestions on tasty and easy ways to enjoy veggies:

Roasted Root Vegetables

In the autumn & winter season, when the weather chills, yin dominates. Yin & yang are polar opposites. Yang is upward, warm, sun, male, activity, etc. Yin is female, dark, quiescence, deep, downward, cool. Spring and summer are yang seasons, and fall and winter are yin seasons. Root vegetables, which grow downward, deep in the cool earth nourish yin, so Chinese dietary advice recommends eating them in the fall & winter. Baking and roasting are recommended cooking techniques in the cool seasons as it warms cool yin.

Roasted root vegetables are easy, delicious and the perfect choice for autumn & winter. I like to do a medley of several different vegetables: beets, carrots, rutabagas (there's a vegetable most people won't eat), yams and winter squash. Whatever is available and you like will be fine. You can also roast singles: beets with rosemary, potatoes with oregano, or baked yams &

Peel the veggies & cut into 1 inch pieces: cube a round veg, like rutabagas, cut carrots into 2" segments, halve or quarter beets, depending on size. Put them into a Pyrex dish (9x12 or 9x9, or larger if you are making a big batch) and drizzle with olive oil. You could add a few above ground vegetables for flavor, such as garlic cloves and quartered onions. Cover with foil and roast @375 for about an hour, shorter cooking time in convection ovens. Bake until tender and fragrant.
I make a large batch as the veggies store well and can be reheated easily.

To include the valuable and often missed trace minerals - a rich source is found in sea veggies - toast a sheet of nori, crumble and sprinkle over the top. Nori is used for sushi rolls, and has little favor or fragrance.
Find nori in packages in the macrobiotic section of the natural food store.

Nori is high in vit A (a breath taking 11,000 iu's per 100g) is rich in Calcium (470mg) and phosphate (510mg). Many sea veggies, such a
s wakame, hijiki, arame & kombu are high in calcium (800-1300mg/100g). For comparison, spinach and cow's milk have 93 & 118mg/100g, respectively. The calcium in sea veggies are an easier form for the body to digest and do not cause stone formation. In fact, Chinese herbal medicine uses two sea veggies to dissolve cysts, masses and tumors: hai zao and kombu. Sea vegetables are an important dietary source of calcium for perimenopausal women. Also of note is the high level of potassium in many sea veggies, such as kombu (5800mg/100g), wakame (6800mg), dulse (8060mg), hijiki (get this: 14,700mg) & arame 3860mg). spinach: 470mg, cow's milk: 144mg.

Try floating a few crumbles of wakame in miso soup, with grated ginger, green onion slices, a tablespoon of cooked rice and some tofu cubes for a calcium rich lunch.

Most sea vegetables are black, which is the color of, and thus hones to, the Kidney. The Chinese Kidney system rules the yin, winter season, so this the optimal time to nourish the Kidney. The flavor of the Kidney is salty and its element is water. So black sea vegetables are an optimal choice for nourishing the Kidneys. The Kidney system holds our deep, reserve energy, called jing qi. The western go, go, go lifestyle depletes Kidney jing, so we must take advantage of every opportunity we have to supplement jing.

To bake winter squash, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and put a pat of butter in the cavity. put on a cookie sheet, cover with foil and bake 365 for about an hour until tender and fragrant. acorn, spaghetti & delicata and butternut bake well.

Yams can be baked whole or make yam fries: peel & slice vertically into 1/2 - 3/4" x 3" strips. Put strips in a glass dish, drizzle with olive oil, lightly salt & cover with foil. Bake at 375 for about an hour until tender. yummy.

Apple/yam puree for breakfast & dessert

Quarter & core the apples and cut yams into 3" segments. Add cinnamon stick, 1/4 - 1/2 a whole nutmeg, a few cloves (don't overdo them: they have a strong flavor) and whole anise. Either pressure cook on high for 8 min (add enough water to fill the pot to 1/3 of the fruit level) or put in a glass dish, cover with foil and bake at 365 for about an hour until tender and fragrant. Then puree in the food processor (yes, a chance to use it). No sweetener is necessary: this dish is plenty sweet on its own. Toast broken pecans and sprinkle over the top. I make a fairly large batch and reheat for breakfast & a guiltless dessert.

Vegetable soups are easy and warming in the winter. I enjoy a bowl with a piece of fresh baked bread
for lunch. (slow bread recipe from Mark Bittman: NY Times food writer.) Butternut and rutabaga work well in pureed soups, as do zucchini & broccoli. I'll include soup recipes in future posts this fall and winter.

Use vegetable stock in place in water when cooking grains: it adds lots of flavor.
I save my vegetable & fruit scraps and cooked spices and herbs in a bag in a freezer. I keep a bag of onion skins and garlic peels on the kitchen counter. When the veggie bag is full I put them in a pressure cooker with some fresh carrots, onion, garlic, celery and herbs, salt & pepper & the onion/garlic peels. Cover with water bring to pressure and cook for 12min or so to make vegetable stock. I then store it in the freezer in 1 1/2 - 2C containers to use for cooking grains, beans, or as a base for soups and sauces. Any vegetable or fruit peels, seeds and scraps can be used for this purpose, such as the seeds and pulp from squash, yam peels, apple and pear cores, parsley stems etc.

Using the stock in your cooking will get in a few more veggie servings each day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Poached Pears for Autumn Health

Poached Pears are a autumn/winter favorite of mine. Chinese dietary therapy says pears nourish the Lung system. So those with allergies, sinusitis and frequent colds & flu's, and skin problems should eat them. Each of the organ systems relate to a time of year, when that system is most venerable to disease/disorder. Autumn is time of the Lung, so eating pears now will help protect the Lung against the dryness of the autumn season.

In medieval times, pears were a delicacy (A Partridge in a Pear Tree - lots of pear trees depicted in medieval art). Enjoy Poached Pears for breakfast or a healthy dessert. You could serve them with a chocolate sauce for guests, but i don't think it's necessary: they stand up well on their own sweet flavor.

You may want to add Gouji berries (gou qi zi) to the cooking water. gouji berries tonify the Lung, Liver and Kidney organ systems in Chinese herbal medicine. The dry autumn air injures the Lung Qi and Yin (moistens tissues). Gouqizi moistens Lung, especially useful for a dry cough (though not often used for this purpose by Chinese herbalists). "In folk medicine, 10g of this herbs are steamed and taken 2-3 times a day for" diabetes. (1)

Poached Pears

Whole pears, or halves
nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves
gouji berries, optional

Put pears in a pot with whole nutmeg, cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves. Sprinkle in the gouji berries & add some spring water (1/2"). Cover, bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer for approx. 10 min, until fragrant and tender. remove pears. reduce cooking water to a glaze and drizzled over pears in serving dish. If using whole pears stand them up in the pot. place halves cut side down.

Enjoy! KB


1. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica Revised Edition, Bensky & Gamble. Eastland Press, Inc. 1993: p. 234.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eat Your Veggies: Roasted Cauliflower, Yum

It's a well-known fact that Americans do not eat enough fruits & vegetables. In fact many often go through the day without eating any. Here's an easy & delicious recipe for Roasted Cauliflower. Cauliflower is probably not one of most peoples favorite veggies, but cooked well it is surprisingly tasty. My mother used to bake it in a cheese sauce, which I loved. I find baking it will a little oil is much more satisfying than the usual steamed. Look for purple and yellow cauliflower in a natural food store with an adventurous produce section. It's colorful and more flavorful that the plain standby, white. KB

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
olive oil
salt & pepper

Rinse and cut the cauliflower into 1 1/2" fleurettes. place in a 9x9 Pyrex dish. Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast until fragrant and tender (30 min +/-). Serve.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Inspiration for Overcoming Depression & Adversity

Depression is not an easy emotion to manage, as the millions of Prozac, Wellbutrin and other household-word drugs attest. It is as individual a disease as the person experiencing the painful mind-state, hence a myriad of treatments, some effective, some not so.

Chinese medicine is effective in treating depression. I have helped many patients find there way to happy thoughts and feelings using acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas which calm the mind and treat the TCM patterns (Traditional Chinese Medicine) causing the imbalance in the body & mind.

Today I'd like to discuss how to shape your frame of mind to see the upside of your life rather than focusing on the negatives. And i do not mean to over-simplify or diminish true problems that may be arising. the point i wish to make here is that regardless of how real or difficult our life problems may be, it is our out look about them that causes us to fall into depression, a state of emotional pain and inactivity, or to focus on the positives of our situation so that we prevent ourselves from falling into the downward spiral.

The technique i am going to outline has worked effectively for me for a number of years. I have begun sharing it with patients who are grappling with difficult life issues and i'm being told that this inspiration is helpful.

This technique involves seeking the positives in any situation. that does not mean pretending a challenge is not difficult. rather, it means finding an upside so that one doesn't wallow in self-pity and victim hood.

I first began using this technique after seeing the movie "Water" at the Blue Ridge Film Festival. What struck me most about this deeply moving piece was the plight of the oppressed women. The movie is set in 1938, the time of Mahatma Gandhi in India. As the movie opens, a young female child is be woken and told that her husband ("Do you remember your wedding?") is dead and you are now a widow. Because the family cannot afford to take care of her, and they are now losing the income from her 'husband' to support themselves, she is being sent off to a 'widows home', where she will live her life in abject poverty. Gold bracelets are broken from her pump wrists, all trapping of wealth removed, her head is shaved. She is deposited at the widows home, where the widows sleep on grass mats on concrete floors in stark, desperate rooms with no furniture, and eat a small portion of bread and gruel for meals. The are ostracized from Indian society: treat as lepers and bad omens. Under these intolerable conditions they live out their lives.

As a woman, i was deeply affected by the images i saw. I felt that by some slim grace of divine intervention i escaped this fate by the luck of a birthright. What if i had been born some years earlier in India? might i have borne this unfortunate circumstance, rather than being a free, educated woman with many opportunities in 21st century America?

The images in the film disturbed me, and i found myself contemplating the circumstances of my life juxtaposed with those of the women represented in this film. Especially when I got low, feeling bad about something that may have happened my life, I would think of these women and look around at where and how i was living. immediately my outlook changed as i realized how fortunate i truly am, and whatever the trouble affecting me, it is minor compared to how difficult life could be.

I found this to be a reliable way of gaining perspective on my situation, and pulling me out of gloomy moods. I began consciously developing the technique as a practice. I would remember trips to mexico and the abject poverty i witnessed there, and added that to the images i would conjure up to remember how fortunate i am to be living here, in this country at this time. In time i found myself becoming happier. I didn't allow myself to go into self pity about an undesirable or 'unfair' circumstance. I began taking adversity in greater stride, realizing how difficult my life could be, and how fortunate i am.

A couple of years ago, I read the autobiography "Infidel" about a muslim woman in africa who suffered much mistreatment, including genital mutilation and being forced by her family into an arranged marriage on another continent. She describes the plight of muslim women as little more than indentured servants, beaten, uneducated and unable to leave their families and survive as individuals on their own. She escapes to Holland, gets freed from this prison of a tortured life, writing movingly about her experience. Her story was an eye opener for me. I was not aware of the pitiful life that muslim women in under-developed countries are forced to lead. Since i have found programs through Global Giving to help these women who are a forgotten percentage of the worlds population. These programs help these women escape abuse, become educated and live independently, an ability western women take for granted.

I added the plight of these Muslim women to my contemplative practice. As i have been cultivating this practice for many years now, i can now draw upon it reliably when times get rough. I think of how much worse my life could be. I draw upon the suffering of the earthquake victims and people of Haiti, the poorest nation on earth, and what it would be like to be in their situation. I think of the flood victims in Pakistan. Recently there was an article in the NY Times about a man who lost everything, home and jet ski business when a decaying dam broke during a summer flood in Iowa. He had no flood insurance, due to the expense of the policy. thinking of these people, i remember that i have a lovely and comfortable home, i have a livelihood that gives me great gratification. When difficulties arise, i remember that others have problems that are exponentially worse, and i can overcome the adversity i face.

No matter how real and difficult problems may be that arise in my life, they pale in comparison to circumstances like these. Though i may feel scared, stressed and blue, i do pull out of it quickly when i call forth these images.

You don't need to use my images, you can cull through your own life experiences to remember those who are suffering. When you think of those who are abused, hungry and truly have nothing, you will be able to put your life problems in perspective. This is a practice one must cultivate to see results. meaning, contemplate the lives of those less fortunate on a regular basis. then, when troubles appears on your doorstep, you'll have a foundation practice to work with to fend them off.

may you find these words useful to help you deal with adversity and difficulties. KB

Monday, August 16, 2010

Excercise Moderates Anger

There was an interesting article in the NY Times Magazine Sunday about a study demonstrating that exercise diminishes anger. The columnist, Gretchen Reynolds, points out that exercise is long known to improve clinical depression. In this study, University of Georgia men were better able to control their anger
after exercising than when they didn't exercise. The researchers didn't test stress hormone or brain chemical levels, though they suspect serotonin is a player here, as low serotonin levels are thought to contribute to mood disorders.

Chinese medicine has known about the relationship of exercise on anger and depression for several millenniums. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, the Liver is responsible. The Liver system in Chinese Medicine has the function of moving our Qi (pronounced 'chee', or energy) throughout the body, through the meridians (channels) and organs. When we get angry, we tighten up. This constriction prevents the liver qi from moving, exacerbating the anger in a vicious cycle. As qi stops moving in the body, physical depression ensues, leading to mental depression.

The remedy is to keep the liver qi moving, and exercise is important to doing so. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas also move liver qi to prevent anger and depression. I've successfully treated hundreds of patients with liver qi issues, and find they respond well to TCM. These liver qi issues can lead to physical problems, such as hypertension and migraine headaches when the stuck liver qi looks for an escape valve, and shoots up to the head. Digestive problems, such as acid reflux, ulcers, GERD and IBS are often due to liver qi not moving in the digestive organs. The stuck qi accumulates heat as it sits in the G/I area, the heat causes acid reflux, GERD and ulcers. IBS is due to the erratic movement of qi, stuck during stress, then moving, causing alternating constipation and diarrhea, related to the emotions. KB

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Anxiety, Depression & Fear Allow Us to Avoid Dealing With Life

Everyone experiences anger, depression, anxiety/fear, some more so than others. Some get overwhelmed and blocked by these emotions.

Did you ever consider how these emotions are coping devices, allowing you to avoid dealing with life's difficulties? When one is caught up in any of these negative emotions we are so consumed by feelings that we avoid dealing with the circumstances causing them. Buddhist's refer to
kleshas, mental states which temporarily cloud the mind and manifest in unskillful actions.

Anger allows us to feel self-righteous in our view. This burning hot emotion keeps us stuck in seeking vengeance and retribution so that we don't move forward or feel compassion. No progress is made. This emotion allows our wounded pride to dominate so that we stay where we are and avoid dealing with the circumstances in a meaningful, productive manner.

Anger often hides hurt, which can lead to depression. We don't want to feel the hurt, so we stay in our self-righteous anger as avoidance behavior.

In acknowledging the hurt,we must admit that trust was broken, and the other party did not protect our best interests. Either we showed poor judgement in trusting this person/entity, or we must acknowledge their flaws and feelings towards us, which may not be as loving as we would like. Anger allows us to avoid looking at these circumstances and feeling the hurt.

The hurt can lead to depression. Depression is a sinking emotion which slows down all movement, creating inertia. Those suffering with chronic depression are not able to generate the momentum to get out of their situation. This inertia allows us to avoid dealing with the circumstances causing the depression. Life isn't working out as planned. Toxic relationships, dead end or unfulfilling jobs often top the list. Changing our lives requires dealing with all of the circumstances, and that's not easy or pretty. So the inertia of depression is a coping strategy that allows us to stay where we are rather than digging ourselves out.

Likewise fear/anxiety is similarly paralyzing. Fear causes us to freeze. Another coping strategy that allows us to skip out on dealing with the future we find so terrifying. Paradoxically, if we get started working on finding a solution to the problem causing the fear, we would find we are too busy to have time to feel the fear. Anxiety is due to uncertainty. If we work on finding solutions, we eliminate the uncertainty, and therefore the source of anxiety.

Chinese medicine can help support you in dealing with these emotions. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) recognizes 7 emotions (anger, grief, sorrow, joy/happiness, worry, fear, fright). TCM organizes disease processes into organ systems (different that the western physiological organ systems). Each of these organ systems has an emotion, taste, sound, color, body part & season associated with it.

Anger is the emotion of the Liver, it's color is green (spring, jealousy), its season is spring, its energy is upward (spring growth) it's sound is shouting. The Liver system in Chinese medicine is responsible for circulating the qi (energy) throughout the body and organs. When we get anger we tighten up, so the qi doesn't move, and we don't move forward in dealing with the situation, other than to seek retribution. In Chinese medicine we use acupuncture and herbs to move the Liver qi, to eliminate the constraint and calm the mind. In this way we support you so that you are able to move forward and deal with the situation.

Sadness can affect many organ systems: the Liver, as a continuum of anger (hurt) causing Liver Qi depression (qi stops moving due to the tightening). Sadness affects the Lungs when associated with grief, the emotion of the Lung. And the Heart, as it affects the Shen, or mind/spirit, which is housed in the Heart. Chinese medicine uses herbs to help calm the mind and tonify the depleted Heart and Liver Blood and Yin
. An effective herbal formula, called Happy Tea has 3 herbs to tonify the heart and liver: licorice, dates and wheat. It's a sweet tea. These herbs are often added to other shen calming formulas for people who cry often, maybe after an emotionally traumatic experience, such as death or divorce, or for perimenopausal women. Acupuncture moves the Liver qi and also calms the mind to support you in moving out of this inertia.

Fear is the emotion of the Kidneys in Chinese medicine, associated with the color black, winter, ears, salty flavor and water (ocean). TCM uses herbs and acupuncture to build depleted Kidney qi, resulting in fear, lack of will, drive and motivation.

Acu/herbal therapy is effective in treating depression, anxiety & insomnia, giving you strength to deal with the life circumstances. KB

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Duke Univ Study Says Acupuncture Beats Pills for Headache

At last! When acupuncture first publicly arrived on the scene in the US in the 70's, the medical establishment's first concern was to be certain that the 'new' therapy was safe and wouldn't harm the public. After the millennium the safety concerns began to be put aside
following a landmark NIH study in 1997 that confirmed acupuncture is safe & effective and encouraged researchers to turn to efficacy.

Most of the researchers seem reluctant to verify that acupuncture is highly efficacious, consequently the studies' highest accolades seem to be acknowledging that acupuncture can match western medicine in terms of effectiveness.

Duke University has a integrative medical department that is in the forefront of the field. It has recently released a study showing acupuncture is more effective than drugs for headaches. This is the first of its kind that i have seen. the study documented 62% relief in acupuncture patients compared to 45% effectiveness for those using drug therapy. Here's a 3min video from Duke University talking about the findings and interviewing an acupuncture migraine headache patient.

This is an article I have written discussing how acupuncture treats headaches. A few older studies are included. KB

Photo: RambergMediaImages , Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Study Shows 2.5+ oz of Sugar/Day Doubles Risk of Hypertension over 160

In the Science Times Tuesday, the NYTimes reported about a study correlating those consuming over 2 1/2 oz of sugar or corn syrup per day with a 2x risk of developing systolic blood pressure (the higher number) over 160. 120/80 is normal blood pressure. A systolic number of 140 triggers a prescription for anti-hypertension drugs in the doctors' office.

I would extrapolate that those on a high sugar diet are also overweight or clinically obese, a condition positively associated with hypertension.

Acupuncture & Chinese herbal therapy are effective in treating hypertension. This is a condition that takes some time to treat. Usually lifestyle factors, such as stress or over eating play a role in the development of the condition, and these things take time to reverse. But I have seen favorable results in weaning patients off anti-hypertensive drugs and normalizing blood pressure with acu/herbal therapy.

Acupuncture is also effective in treating sugar cravings. We have an auricular (ear) protocol (NADA: National Auricular Detoxification Association) that is effectively used for all types of additions: sugar, caffeine, drugs, alcohol and tobacco. I have found sugar cravings reduce quickly and tremendously using the ear points.

So for someone with a sugar addiction and hypertension, acupuncture is an appropriate treatment option. KB

Friday, July 2, 2010

Study Shows Acupuncture More Effective for TMJ Than Physical Therapy or Drugs

The spring, 2010, issue of the Journal of Orofacial Pain included a review of studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating TMJ. The study concluded that acupuncture is more effective than physical therapy and medication in treating this disorder, and recommends more larger trials. The review also noted the absence of serious side effects in the acupuncture patients.

Here's a video showing a normal
temporomandibular joint (hence TMJ)

Here's a video of a displaced TMJ that is clicking when it's opening.

This video shows a TMJ disc with a thin attatchment.

I seen pleasing results with acupuncture in treating TMJ and other facial pain. I've used both standard TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) style of acupuncture, which is most commonly taught in the colleges and being used today, and Dr. Tan's Balance Method of acupuncture. I've had satisfying results with both methods, but I see more immediate results using the Balance Method, with a more dramatic reduction in symptoms. Using the Balance Method, I expect to reduce pain on the first treatment.

For example, I recently treated a 25y woman (let's call her Michelle) with TMJ pain for 3-4 yrs. Pain was in her jaw, radiating to the temples, neck & spine, causing lockjaw and ear-ringing. Pain could be excruciating in the evenings, and was worse with stress. At the time of treatment her pain level was a 4-5 (1-10 scale) i inserted 3 needles in Michelle's wrist. Pain immediately disappeared in all areas. She no longer had ear congestion or ringing.

Acupuncture is a therapy, and a series of treatments is required. The number of treatments needed to eliminate the pain and symptoms varies, depending on the individual, and whether the condition is acute or chronic. For chronic pain a course of treatment (10-12) visits is usually required, acute pain responds faster and usually fewer treatments are needed to resolve the condition. I generally recommend weekly treatments. If pain is severe, or to see quicker results, twice a week is optimal in the beginning, for 2-3 weeks, until the pain level decreases and symptoms appear less frequently. When symptoms become intermittent, no longer on a daily basis I begin reducing the frequency to 10 days and later 2 weeks, then 3 week intervals to consolidate the treatment before discontinuing acupuncture when the condition is resolved. KB

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Duke University Says Acupuncture Better than Asprin for Headaches

Duke University reviewed 31 studies to access the effects of acupuncture compared to drugs for the treatment of headache. The researchers found acupuncture is more effective (62%) than medications (45%). Findings were published in Anesthesia & Analgesia.

I practice Dr. Tan's Balance Method of acupuncture. Using this method, I expect to dramatically reduce pain on the first visit. Acupuncture is a therapy and a series of treatments is required. The number of treatments needed varies, depending on the individual, and whether the condition is acute or chronic. A course of treatment is 10-12 visits, and generally that is needed to treat a sub-acute condition. Chronic conditions take longer to treat.

All types of pain, including headache respond remarkably well to acupuncture. It is a shame more people are not using Chinese medicine for relief of their symptoms.

As an herbalist, i generally include an herbal formula to enhance treatment. Especially for chronic headaches, herbs give an extra edge to increase results of treatment. I compound individualized formulas for my patients which they drink as a tea.

Here's an article i wrote explaining how Chinese medicine treats headaches. KB

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Green Tea Improves Effects of Antibiotics

Taking green tea with antibiotics enhances the effect of the drug, according to
Matt Van Benschoten, LAc.

Be certain you have a bacterial infection when taking antibiotics. A lab test will show a bacterial process. Antibiotics are useless for viral infections, and you would be taking the drug needlessly. Antibiotics are over prescribed, resulting in super-bacterias which have become drug resistant. Many TCM practitioners (Traditional Chinese Medicine) feel one should only take antibiotics twice in their life: so chose wisely when you decide to take them.

Chinese medicine can treat many of the infections for which antibiotics are prescribed. Many Chinese herbs have known antibiotic and antiviral properties. The anti-viral herbs can prevent viral replication. Sinusitis, cold & flu patients are generally surprised at the strong effect of Chinese medicine in treating these conditions.

After a cold or flu, one may feel tired for some time, or have less energy for exercise and may feel out of breath sooner after running on a treadmill, hiking or on an exercise bike. This is due to diminished lung function. Chinese medicine rebuilds the weakened body during the post-recovery period.

The 8th leading cause of death in the US is influenza. 50,000 people die each year of the flu. The elderly, children, and those who are weakened from chronic disease are most venerable. Also those on chemotherapy, which weakens the immune system are at high risk for diseases such as flu or pneumonia.

Chinese medicine strengthens immune function and weaknesses so that the body has the reserve energy to win the fight against, rather than being over taken by disease processes. KB

Friday, June 18, 2010

Be Like the Orange Tree: Offer Your Sweet Fruit & Fragrant Blossoms to the World

From Thich Nhat Hanh's "World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology":

"When we look at an orange tree we see that season after season it spends its life producing beautiful green leaves, fragrant blossoms, and sweet oranges. These are the best things an orange tree can create and offer to the world. Human beings also make offerings to the world every moment of our daily lives, in the form of our thoughts, our speech and our actions. We may want to offer the world the best kinds of thought, speech, and action that we can—because they are our continuation, whether we want it to be so or not. We can use our time wisely, generate the energies of love, compassion, and understanding, say beautiful things, inspire, forgive, and act to protect and help the Earth and each other. In this way, we can ensure a beautiful continuation."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dr. Oz: Why He Likes Acupuncture

Dr. Oz is an ardent supporter of acupuncture, and is frequently at the microphone touting the benefits of Chinese medicine and demystifying acupuncture. Here's a short piece Dr.Oz wrote for the Houston Chronicle citing studies that demonstrate acupuncture's benefits for insomnia, pain relief, and mitigating the side effects of chemo and radiation treatment for cancer patients.

Here Dr. Oz answers the question, "Does acupuncture really work?" He recommends it especially for pain and fibromyalgia. KB

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chinese Medicine Helps Cancer Patients

Chemotherapy and radiation are treatments of last resort, but for those with cancer these standard western medical treatments may seem to be the only options. Because western medicine does not have a way to target only the cancer cells, both treatment kill off all cells in the attempt to kill the cancer cells. Chemo side effects include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite, due to the killing of cells in the G/I tract, hair loss (hair follicles cells affected) anemia and blood cell problems due to damage to blood cells and the immune system, and hot flashes. Radiation causes burns to the affected area and dry mouth and throat.

Chinese medicine is effective in alleviating these side affects of chemo/radiation therapies, decreases pain caused by tumors, increases immune function improves sleep and calms the mind. Chemo patients are at high risk for colds & flu which can easily lead to pneumonia due to immune system damage. In China acupuncture and herbal medicine are included as part of the chemo/radiation protocols.

there are some authoritative web resources showing benefits of Chinese medicine for cancer patients:

HuffingtonPost on Acupuncture for Cancer

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pregnancy: Be in Peak Performance Condition

A dear friend in San Diego is getting close to birthing. The baby's breech right now and she was looking for options to turn the position. I told her about a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) procedure where we do something called moxa on an acupuncture point on the pinky toe to turn the baby. It must be down by week 37 or the baby gets too large to turn. She went to an acupuncturist in her area to have the procedure done, and got a couple sticks of moxa so she could continue doing it at home.

I got to thinking how she only has a few weeks left of freedom and rest. So I advised her to take advantage of that, go out at the spur of the moment, and sleep in a lot cause she won't be able to do that for the next 10-12 years.

Today's pregnant women are thinking of themselves a bit like athletes: eating well, no alcohol or smoking. but i wonder if they are thinking about getting themselves in peak performance condition for the birthing process and being ready to go sleepless while taking care of a newborn? Pregnancy, birthing and raising a child, particularly a newborn puts much stress on the body, physically, hormonally and emotionally/spiritually. so taking care to keep body, mind & spirit in peak performance ability is especially important for mothers. Even beginning prior to conception.

Chinese medicine sees that for conception to take place:
  • qi (energy) & blood must be exuberant - one cannot be run down, stressed and tired
  • the body must be operating in harmony - no reproductive system problems or Chinese patterns of disharmony can be present
  • one's mind must be calm
Actually, whenever one is under stress, taking care to keep one's body, mind & spirit operating at peak level is critical because stress is so damaging to the body's processes. In order to manage the stress, the body, mind, spirit must be strong. If one is weak and rundown it further weakens the body,mind, spirit's ability to cope.

So take care of yourself. Eat well, get proper rest, exercise, incorporate stress management techniques and practices such as meditation, tai qi and yoga.

Chinese Medicine is also able to help you stay at peak performance level and to manage stress. TCM treats all 3 levels - body, mind & spirit. TCM works on keeping the body, mind, spirit in balance or harmony. When we are under stress we are in a state of disharmony. Acupuncture and herbs smooth the tension, calm the mind. It hits the reset button. This can be quite valuable during the stressful times we now find ourselves. KB

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Alzheimer's: Avoid Red Meat, Rich, High-Fat Foods

Eating a low fat diet with lots fresh fruits and veggies is basic for building a healthy body. A familiar '70's mantra is "You are what you eat". The body requires fresh, vitamin rich foods to build strong blood. The nutrition from blood is used to create your body's energy: Qi in Chinese medicine speak. Strong qi and blood are needed for the cells, organs and systems such as immune function, digestion, brain, lungs, cardiovascular, renal (kidney) and so on to be healthy and preform all its vital functions.

So it is not surprising that the NY Times reported in April about a recent study showing seniors with a diet rich in fresh vegetables, nuts, light meats such as fish and poultry are at lower risk for Alzheimer's disease than those eating high fat, dairy & red meats. The brain is dependent on blood: nutrient rich blood is vital for it's function.

In Chinese medicine, we see that health later in life is a result of how one has led one's life. The western 'go, go, go' lifestyle, poor diet, high stress, inadequate sleep all lead to problems later in life when the body begins to age and degrade. One may be able to get by in younger years while abusing one's body with a fast paced, stressful lifestyle, but the price will be paid later on. Therefore, we advocate moderation in all respects of diet & lifestyle.

In this blog i emphasize correct diet and quiet lifestyle and provide direction in achieving this aim. it is difficult in modern times to get off the rat wheel. motivation plays a large role. when evaluating one's life, health is paramount, yet generally taken for granted. One must cultivate the gift of health, take care of the vessel, the body that was given at birth, because without it one cannot enjoy one's life nor achieve one's goals. KB

Monday, June 7, 2010


When happiness is equally dear to others and myself,
Then what is so special about me that I strive after happiness alone?
When fear and suffering are equally abhorrent to others and myself,
Then what is so special about me that I protect myself but not others?


Friday, June 4, 2010

UN Urges Global Move to Meat and Dairy-Free Diet

I don't get asked so much any more, but there were 4 main influences in my decision in becoming a vegan:

  1. Earthsave was putting up graphic photos of mistreated livestock in the windows of my local health food store. Got me thinking.
  2. Diet For A Small Planet by Francis Moore Lappe which laid out the advantages of a planet based diet verses a meat based diet in terms of environmental impact and the challenges of feeding the growing world human population.
  3. I'm a native CA who came of age there during the 70's. Vegetarian diet seemed more healthy and at the time i was making a 180 degree life change from ice cream for dinner and a smoking habit to holistic health.
  4. Spiritually, i do not believe that it's ok to kill other living beings. I feel our first priority should be the welfare, health, peace and prosperity of all living beings.
In 1994 I switched to a vegan diet. Yesterday I received a news article that the UN is calling for a Global Move to a vegan diet, beginning with a once a week meat-free day in an effort to contain climate change and to grapple with the challenge of feeding the billions of mouths in the world. KB

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Getting Through the End of the School Year Stress

The SlowFamilyOnline blog on wordpress is written by a sorority sister of mine from UCLA, Suz Sachs-Lipman. Like many college friends, we live in different states and have gotten out of touch. However a few years back we have reconnected, and I have learned a lot about the woman Suz has become through her blog.

A while back, she and her family decided to get off the rat wheel and slow down. She's been chronicling the journey on her blog. A professional writer, her blog is interesting, well written and fun.

This week's post discusses ways parents can slow down during the end of the school year and enjoy the process, rather than being so stressed. I believe her suggestions will benefit her many readers, and i encourage you to take a look. KB

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Red Cabbage Salad: Another Summer Fav

Here's another summer favorite of mine: Red Cabbage Salad with Toasted Walnuts & Raisins. I'm posting this at the request of a dear patient of mine who seeking some variety in her diet.

When I was in acupuncture college at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego (PCOM), one of my fellow interns was a macrobiotic chef and supported herself and her son through a take out business of macrobiotic meals which she delivered to the school twice a week. these were delicious, wholesome meals cooked with love and thoughtfulness, and were greatly appreciated by the students, for whom she provided extra large servings so that we would have leftovers for lunch. How i loved these meals, but getting the recipes from Nancy was quite difficult. It wasn't that i think she was being protective, it seemed to be more that she had a lot on her plate, and they probably weren't typed up or maybe not even written down. how i would have loved to have gotten some of the recipes for the sauces, which she drizzled over portions of creamy homemade polenta (nothing like store bought) whole grains (i loved the barley: jobs tears) and other tasty treats.

I did manage to wrestle this recipe for a red cabbage salad, which i still enjoy every summer. As usual, i have made my own modifications to the original recipe. KB

Red Cabbage Salad with Toasted Walnuts and Raisins

You will need organic:
1 head purple cabbage: slice 1/2": jullianne
umeboshi or cider vinegar
1C raisins 1C Walnuts, broken into 1/4" pieces
3-4 green onions, sliced
Dijon mustard
flax or Sesame Oil (i use sesame)
fennel seeds

Put raisins in the bottom of a pots with 1/2" + of filtered water. place the cabbage in a steamer on top and steam litely, just until the color turns bright. remove from heat and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Remove the raisins and reduce the juices to a glaze.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts and fennel in a fry pan with a little oil.
Toss all with oil. Add Dijon mustard to taste. stir in sliced green onions. save a few walnut halves and green onions for garnish on the top.

Friday, May 28, 2010

FDA Warns Drug Co's About Misleading & False Advertising

Several years ago i began noticing a trend where new patients were looking to Chinese medicine to avoid side effects of drug treatments. The FDA at that time began requiring that the drug co's list drug risk and side effects in advertisements. since then, it's become apparent to the public how numerous the potential negative side effects and risks of pharmaceutical drugs are. Now almost all of my new patients cite drug side effects as a top reason for not wanting to proceed with a western medical approach to treatment and for their reason for coming to see me instead.

the drug co's don't want to list the potential risks and side effects of their drugs for obvious reasons: it tarnishes the brand. so they avoid doing so.

according to this report on
the FDA has sent out warning letters to 4 drug cos about violating the rules, and engaging in false and misleading advertising. Actually, the FDA has been sending out a lot of warning letters about these issues.

when Chinese medicine first came on the scene, one of the first questions the medical establishment in this country wanted answered was "Is it safe?", and the early studies were preformed as much to ensure public safety
as they were to show efficacy. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) passed the safety standard with flying colors, and i don't believe safety is even a question in people's minds anymore. i think the top questions now are "Does it hurt?" and "Is it effective? (Does it work?)"

the FAQs page of my website: answers all of the preliminary questions, and more. The resources page contains articles & studies discussing effectiveness of treatment of specific conditions on the Treatable Conditions List, and this blog has many studies about efficacy of Chinese medicine.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Black Soybean Salad - One of My Favs for Summer

When you work full time, taking time to prepare a fresh lunch is a luxury. I found a home that is near to my office, so i am fortunate to be able to go home for lunch. i have quick things i can make or reheat in 10min. This being a vacation week, the pace is a bit slower than usual, so i basked in opportunity to make one of my favorite summer salads for lunch. it took about an hour to prepare & eat. a long lunch for this working professional.

Black soybeans may not sound real appetizing, but they have a surprising nutty flavor. Finding them takes a little Internet hunting, esp. if you want organic. i got this last batch from a CO based web store called Nature's Growers.

The recipe comes from Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Cookbook. this is a well used book in my kitchen, every recipe i have made is phenomenal. Peter is well know among NY vegetarians. He spent many years as the head chef in one of NY's oldest and favorite vegetarian restaurants, Angelica's Kitchen.

Peter and i cook the beans in a pressure cooker, but you can use a regular pot if you like: it will take longer to cook. I've made a few adjustments of my own to the original recipe

You'll Need Organic:

2C Blk soybeans, soaked overnight
1T olive oil
1 clove garlic
handful fresh cilantro
1/2 red onion
1/4t peppercorns
1t sea salt
1 strip kombu (sea veg: find in macrobiotic section of natural food store)

1C sliced celery (2 stalks)
1C thinly sliced red onion (1/2 onion)
1C sliced carrots, peeled (the skin is bitter) (about 2 carrots)
1 sheet nori, toasted & crumbled (nori is a sea veg used for sushi)


1/3C lime juice (about 6 limes)
1/2C oil: 1/3 olive oil, remainder sesame oil
1/4C minced cilantro
1 1/2T chili pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 1/2T sea salt

put the beans in pressure cooker, cover with filtered water & bring to boil. Skim foam, add
oil, peppercorns, cilantro, salt, garlic & onion bring to high pressure. reduce to low heat and cook 25 min. natural release. rinse & drain beans in colander, discarding spices and veg. place on a single layer on a towel in a baking sheet & allow to cool.

Put carrot in the bottom of a veg steamer, then add onion & celery. steam 3 minutes until brightly colored and crisp tender. rinse in filtered water to stop cooking, drain and set aside.

whisk vinaigrette ingredients together until creamy.

in a large bowl combine beans, veg, crumbled nori & toss with vinaigrette.

The black soybeans and nori tonify the kidney organ system in Traditional Chinese Medicine. the TCM kidney system rules growth, reproduction and the aging process. women's menopausal complaints are mostly due to kidney yin deficiency, liver qi stagnation (qi or energy not circulating well) and heart yin deficiency (causing emotional problems: insomnia, irritability, depression [also liver qi issue] and anxiety.

the western/American lifestyle: go, go, go, drink coffee, go, go, go some more (sound familiar) depletes kidney energy which is vital to life and plays a large role in immune function. the kidney rules the low back & knees and hones to the ear, so back/knee pain and poor hearing as well as graying of hair (esp. prematurely) is due to weak kidneys, in TCM. not meaning the western function of the organ: eg. nephritis; although, urinary issues, esp. after age 40 are usually due to weak TCM kidney system.

Each of the TCM organ systems have a color associated with is. Black is the color of the kidney, and salty is its flavor. that is why these inky beans and sea veg tonify the kidneys. actually all beans tonify the kidney, but black beans, adzuki beans and kidney beans (due to their shape) are strongest in this function. KB