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Here You Will Find a Regualrly Updated Selection of Articles on various aspects of the Philosophy of Chinese Medicine

10 Tips for a Healthy Diet

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10 Tips for a Healthy Diet

What is a healthy diet? This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer! There is an incredible amount controversy about what is healthy for a human being to eat. The vast majority of research on diet and nutrition is funded by the food and supplement industry itself. They design their studies to show their products in the most beneficial light possible whilst discrediting the health benefits of their opposition’s products. This leads to a large amount of poor quality research that is deliberately manipulated and taken out of context. As well as the food producers all of the various the dietary philosophies need to sell and defend their image of a healthy diet. From the paleo diet and ketogenic diet to the raw food diet and vegan diet. All of these diets claim they have the solution to optimal health for everyone and select their research carefully to justify their claims. The world of diet and nutrition is plagued by poor research, health exaggerated claims of ‘super foods’ and misleading marketing campaigns. The vast majority of nutritional advice is based on propaganda and poor quality selective research. In light of such a confusing mess it is no wonder people are confused about what they should eat! In this article I will give 10 tips for a healthy diet that anyone can apply to their lives straight away. This is not an in-depth article and does not include references to different studies although some general research is mentioned. It is an attempt to shed some basic common sense on the core basic principles of diet and healthy eating. 1. Cut out processed foods, website refined sugar, salt and refined grains Every single diet and research study unanimously agrees that eating processed foods are bad for us! The single most important thing anyone can do for their health is cut out the vast majority of processed foods, refined sugar, table salt and simple white carbs from their diet. This includes ready meals, takeaways, soft drinks, junk food etc. It’s so very simple; we all know it, yet so many of us continue to eat poor quality harmful food! Instead of using table salt use good quality sea salt. Instead of refined sugar and artificial sweeteners use natural sugars found in fruit, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Naturally some processed foods are no doubt of superior quality than others and there are increasingly respectable and ethical businesses trying to supply us with healthier food. But processed foods, even from some so-called healthy organic brands and businesses, are generally motivated by shelf life and economics. Foods are designed to last as long as possible and be manufactured as cheaply as possible. Your health and nutrition is rarely their number one concern. So use your common sense, cut out the sugar and junk! 2. Cook and prepare your own food The best way to avoid processed foods is of course to cook and prepare your own food! There is simply no substitute for spending some quality time and energy in the kitchen. Every popular diet emphasises the fact that we need to take responsibility for cooking and preparing our own food. This involves some planning, work and time if you are not used to it, but ultimately it is a thoroughly rewarding process. There are an enormous amount of resources, books and online guides that provide information on simple, easy to make, healthy recipes. 3. Eat Organic whenever possible and purchase good quality ingredients Eating organic food largely decreases our exposure to harmful chemicals, preservatives and additives. There is a growing amount of research (along...

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How Does Acupuncture Work?

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How Does Acupuncture Work?

How does Acupuncture work? This is a question that is often not answered very well. In this article I will briefly discuss the Modern Western Science and Traditional Eastern Philosophy behind the practice of Acupuncture. The use of Acupuncture dates back more than 2000 years and has historically been used to treat a wide range of conditions. With its resurgence in popularity in the western world there is a greater desire to understand more about this ancient medical practice. .   How Does Acupuncture Work? The Western Understanding Acupuncture has been shown to have an effect on every physiological system in the body. The musculo-skeletal, circulatory, sildenafil immune, this web digestive, hormonal and nervous system are all affected by Acupuncture to varying extents. A surprising amount of research has been conducted on the subject since the 1970’s (Cheng 2008). And whilst it is clear Acupuncture has direct physiological effects, more research is needed to establish the exact mechanisms behind these effects.   Increase in Circulation The most obvious physical effect of Acupuncture is that it increases circulation of blood and lymph fluids in the area stimulated (Komori 2009 and Kavoussi 2007). With an increase in circulation come numerous physiological benefits such as: Increased Oxygen and Nutrient Supply to the area which improves the process of tissue repair Improved Immune response and lymphatic drainage of waste products from the area. This has an anti-inflammatory effect and may help reduce areas of chronic inflammation The proper flow of Blood and Lymph throughout the body is the essential mechanism behind the healing of all injuries and illnesses. The Acupuncture needle is inserted in an attempt to gently release and breakdown areas of tight or tense connective tissue and fascia. As the soft tissues relax, the blood vessels become dilated and blood flow is increased. With an increase in circulation comes an increase in healing response. Put simply, blood and body fluids can’t flow effectively through tight muscles or joints!   Stimulating Tissue Repair When an Acupuncture needle is inserted, this creates microscopic traumas in the soft tissue that require the body to heal. One theory suggests that as the body heals the microscopic tears created by the Acupuncture needle, it may also stimulate the repair of any other surrounding damage left over from old injuries at that site. This is the exact same mechanism of soft tissue repair which occurs in muscle hypertrophy (building of muscle) after intensive exercise (Schoenfeld 2010).   The Nervous System Another major effect of releasing the connective tissue is the release of pressure on trapped or impinged nerves. Again, like blood and body fluids, nerves can’t function efficiently when restricted by a tight muscle or joint. The release of pressure around nerves by Acupuncture can improve function of the nerve. These functions could be control of basic physical movements or more fundamental aspects of physiology such as digestion. Chen Shao Zong maintains that; ‘For 95% of all (Acupuncture) points in the range of 1.0 cm around a point, there exist nerve trunks or rather large nerve branches.’ It is important to emphasise that Acupuncture does not aim to needle nerves directly! This is both painful and damaging to the body. It aims to release the connective tissue around the nerve pathway in order to improve its function.   Stress and the Parasympathetic Nervous System The vast majority of Acupuncture patients report feeling extremely relaxed during and after treatments. Acupuncture is being increasingly favoured as a mode of treatment for stress and psycho-emotional issues (MacPherson 2006). A national survey in the UK (Hopton et al 2012) has revealed that...

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Living With The Rhythms of The Seasons

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Living With The Rhythms of The Seasons

Living with the rhythms of the seasons is an often ignored aspect of modern Chinese Medicine. This is the idea of adapting ourselves and our lifestyles to the Earth’s natural cycles and the seasons. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine (commonly recognised as the key doctrine on the subject) emphasises living in a natural synthesis with the seasons as the single most important principle of health and healing. The reality is that modern lifestyles move us away from the movements and cycles of nature. Most of us live in over-crowded urban environments a world away from nature. No distinction is drawn between the food we eat and activities we pursue throughout the seasons of the year. Our immune systems are weakened as we are less exposed to the natural elements and need to filter out more pollutants and chemical material from our bodies. It is a sad truth that the vast majority of humans have lost their natural rhythm. Therefore it is not entirely surprising to see our world plagued by sickness, stress and imbalance. In Chinese Medicine it is recognised that most sickness can be prevented and treated by reconnecting the individual with nature and the cycles of the seasons. Below I have included a short summary of each of the seasons inherent nature, along with suggestions on how we may live in greater harmony with them. Treatment for any illness is only temporary unless we are able to harmonise ourselves with the natural cycles of our planet. Living with the rhythms of the seasons is an intelligent, simple and peaceful way to to live. The beauty of living a natural lifestyle is that by and large, it involves doing and spending less rather than more. Spring ‘The three months of the spring season bring about the revitalization of all things in nature.’ Spring is the season of birth, growth and rejuvenation. It is the most beneficial season to begin new projects and endeavours, to be active and free in our movements. This is the time of year it is advised to stretch, open the body’s joints and lengthen the tendons and ligaments in order to improve the circulation and remove any stagnation trapped in the joints. It is advised to avoid holding onto or indulging in any excessive emotional states, especially anger and resentment as this will injure the Liver, the organ associated with Spring. Instead it is desirable to be ‘open and un-suppressed, both physically and emotionally.’ With diet, as the weather warms we can begin to eat more raw food in than in winter and cook our food for a shorter amount of time. Lightly steaming and stir frying are the chosen methods of cooking. Summer ‘In the three months of summer… plants mature and animals, flowers and fruit appear abundantly.’ Summer is the season where all things in life come into blossom. In this season it is advised to enjoy the fruits of our endeavors of Spring and fully appreciate life’s pleasure and beauty. If we remain somber and withdrawn in this period it is said we will injure the Heart, the organ associated with summer. As in Spring we should be physically active to keep the joints supple and sweat regularly to release any excessive heat from the body. Our diets in summer should match the climate, with the heat this is the season to enjoy more raw food than the other seasons. We should make use of the abundance of fruits, berries and salads that naturally grow this time of year. When we cook it is advised that it be lightly as in...

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The Daoist Influence on Chinese Medicine

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The Daoist Influence on Chinese Medicine

The theories of Daoism remain to this day the underlying theories of diagnosis and treatment in Chinese Medicine. In this article I will briefly introduce and examine the theories of the San Bao (3 treasures), Yin and Yang and the theory of the Wu Xing (5 elements). The natural and holistic elements of Chinese medicine originated from the ancient Daoist’s observation of the changing energies within the human body and the outer environment. They examined and codified the patterns of movements they witnessed and based their practices and arts on these theories. The Daoist Creation Process: The Fractal Principle and The San Bao (3 Treasures) The underlying principle behind the Daoist ontology is that of a hologram or fractal; the definition of which is that each part within a structure directly mirrors the whole structure and vice versa. That is to say that everything that exists is a result of a coordinated fractal division which originated from the Dao itself and in this respect everything that exists is a fractal manifestation of the Dao. This process of refraction begins within consciousness and continues to decrease its base resonant frequency until it becomes dense enough to be classified as physical matter. The Dao De Ching states that ‘Dao is void, Yet inexhaustible, It is the fathomless origin of the myriad things’. This is the primordial original state of being literally translated as ‘the way’ but accounting for the underlying nature of everything which can neither be named nor understood. From this state emerges the realm of consciousness (Shen), energy (Qi) and physicality (Jing). Together they form the San Bao (3 treasures). Shen vibrates at the highest frequency closest to Dao and is the most refined form of substance. Qi vibrates at a lower frequency and becomes less refined than Shen. It is still however a more subtle substance than Jing which vibrates closest to level of physicality. However it is not the case that something is simply Jing, Qi or Shen for in reality there is no such thing. Rather the San Bao (3 treasures) indicate a spectrum of vibrational frequencies which all phenomenon maybe categorized into or labeled as (Fig. 1). For example the mind is categorized as vibrating at the frequency spectrum of Shen whereas the physical body is categorized as vibrating at the frequency spectrum of Jing. Shen                              Qi                              Jing The vibrational states are always more fundamental than the lower states. Each lower state of vibration exists only in virtue of a higher state existing above it; thus consciousness is more fundamental than physical matter and physical matter cannot exist without consciousness. In regards to the example given above the physical body is a direct reflection of the mind and cannot exist without the mind and not vice versa. Already we can see a core belief within Chinese Medicine emerge here in regards both to the inherent link between the mind and body but also in physical disease being a lower vibrational expression of a fundamentally mental imbalance. It is crucial to understand that in actuality Daoism and Chinese Medicine claim that there is no difference between physical matter and consciousness; it only appears so because they are vibrating at different frequencies. For example in Chinese Medicine a lack of will power may exist within the realm of Shen whereas a weak lower back and knees may exist in the realm of Jing. But in reality there is no...

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History of Chinese Medicine

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History of Chinese Medicine

The History of Chinese medicine was intimately connected with the Daoist and Buddhist traditions of China. Chinese Medicine originated from the ancient shamanic practices of ancient China and continued to develop in respect for those principles. The practices of the Wu Yi (shaman doctors) involved highly esoteric arts such as exorcism, store healing, abortion dream interpretation and spirit travel. Throughout the centuries these practices evolved into the highly sophisticated and documented system that remains to this day. The quintessential text on the subject of Chinese medicine was first published in the Warring states period (475-221 BCE) detailing the conversations between the yellow emperor Huang Di and his advisors at the time of his rule (allegedly from 2696-2598 BCE). The classic details methods of acupuncture, herbs, moxibustion, massage techniques and Dao Yin exercises (an early form of Qi Gong). In the Qin dynasty (206-220 AD) depictions of figures practicing Dao Yin exercises were discovered which date to before the 3rd century BCE. In the Zhou dynasty (1028-221 BCE) The I Ching (Classic of Change) was publically revealed although the text may have originated earlier. The text is of fundamental importance to the underlying theories of Chinese medicine and documents all the varying movements of Yin and Yang accounting for all possible combinations of phenomena and their changes throughout the universe. At this time famous Daoists such as Hua Tuo and, Zhang Zhongjing contributed significantly to the development of medicine as did Ge Hong in the later Jin dynasty (265-420 AD). Arguably the most famous Daoist figure to have influence the development and practice of medicine in China was Sun Si Mao of the Tang dynasty (581-907 AD) who wrote the first guide line of ethics for a Chinese Physician. In 1966-76, the time of the Cultural Revolution, ancient art forms such as martial arts and Qi Gong were forbidden by the government. However Chinese medicine was re-invented and re-introduced in order to tackle the serious health epidemic at this time. It was for this reason Chinese medicine was re-though and re-organised into a system called Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. However although the name suggests this medicine is akin to the Chinese medicine as documented in the Yellow Emperors Classic it is in reality and modern creation and bears little similarity to the techniques and theories discussed in the classics. More Articles Book a...

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An Introduction to Chinese Medicine

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An Introduction to Chinese Medicine

‘In the past people practiced the Dao, the way of life… They ate a balanced diet at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided over stressing their bodies and minds and refrained from over indulgence of all kinds… Because they lived simply these individuals knew contentment.’ These days, people have changed their way of life… They indulge excessively in destructive activities seeking emotional excitement and momentary pleasures, people disregard the natural rhythm and order of the universe.’ Taken from; The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine (Neijing Suwen) translated by Maoshing Ni.   Over 2000 years ago the ancient Chinese already demonstrated knowledge of highly sophisticated, effective and natural system of medicine. And whilst western medicine is now also accepted in China, traditional medicine is still the most common form of treatment used. Alongside the mediums of medicine such as Acupuncture, Massage, Herbology and Qi Gong the philosophy behind Chinese medicine encourages us to live a lifestyle of harmony with our environment and within ourselves and help prevent sickness before its onset. The ancient Chinese healing arts are based on a holistic understanding of the human being; their relationship between the mind and body and the relationship with their external environment. In Chinese medicine sickness is caused when the body’s internal rhythms move out of balance with the environment causing the body’s Qi and Blood to stagnate, flare up or become deficient. The method of treatment does not therefore focus on specific individual symptoms but rather seeks to restore the body to a state of internal balance so that the symptoms no longer continue to manifest. Chinese medicine insists that all illness begins as a disturbance of the mind and which later comes to affect the physical body. This can be an instant process or take many years to manifest as something tangible. Qi is the medium which connects the mind and the physical body and allows them to communicate effectively. Subsequently when the mind or body succumbs to illness the body’s Qi is also injured. The primary goal of Chinese medicine is to therefore address and re-balance the body’s Qi which proceeds to have a knock-on effect on the mind and body. Whereas the original theories of Chinese Medicine have a route in Daoist and Shamanic philosophy rather than empirical science; the results and ancient theories prove to be just as consistent and adaptable today as in the ancient world. Although western medicine cannot claim to understand from their own scientific standpoint exactly how practices such as Acupuncture work; countless studies have been produced which validate its effectiveness. In modern Chinese Hospitals the two systems are very much used together with both methods of medicine each having their own specific advantages and specialties. More...

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