Chinese Medicine for Swimmer’s Ear/Ear Infection and Summer Colds

Summer is a wonderful time to be outdoors and enjoy the sun.  Many of us splash around in swimming pools for fun and exercise.  Children take swim classes and compete.  Swimming is a wonderful whole-body workout and learning to swim is vital for water safety.  However, many children end up getting swimmer’s ear, ear infections and/or colds because they are in the water so much.  Why does Jimmy get swimmer’s ear or an infection but Johnny practicing next to him does not?  This is directly related to a child’s constitution and daily dietary habits.

Cold-Damp Environment and Ear Problems

Children who are prone to swimmer’s ear and ear infections from swimming tend to have a weak constitution, "Cold" constitution, or their diets promote these ear problems.  (There are children that always run hot, no matter what, even in the dead of winter, and then there are children who always tend to run cool or cold.  There are also children who are in the middle.  When I say “Cold" constitution, I am talking about those children who easily run cold – cold hands, cold feet – in particular.)  In Chinese Medicine, we consider water to have a Cold, and in particular, Damp quality.  Be in a cold, wet, damp environment long enough and the body’s immune system begins to slow down because that environment, in this case, the pool or ocean, is so overwhelmingly stronger and bigger than a child.  So that Cold, Damp, wet energy literally seeps into the body, slowing down the child’s metabolic activity.  This creates a “Damp” condition in the ear, like a mold or mildew growing in a unventilated, damp environment.  Though the body tries to fight this Cold-Damp pathogen, if a child’s immune system is Cold or weakened from swimming, its attempts at fighting off the pathogen is weak.  Instead of being able to properly discharge and eliminate the Cold-Damp pathogen through natural means of lymphatic drainage and heated metabolic activity of dissipating fluids, this weak response turns the Cold-Damp pathogen into a lodged ear infection instead.    

Diet and Ear Problems

The way diet plays into ear problems is similar to the above-mentioned Cold-Damp environment.  The food children consume on a daily basis promotes, from a Chinese Medicine perspective, a cold, damp environment within their bodies.  Foods that are Cold and Damp in Chinese medicine are sweets, juices, carbohydrates, iced drinks, ice cream, nuts and nut butters, processed meats, and dairy products.  Isn’t this what most American children eat and drink on a regular basis?  A child who eats these foods regularly already has a Cold-Damp environment in their system.  This will manifest in the child as cold, clammy hands and/or feet, runny nose, tummy aches, irregular bowel movements, frequent colds and ear infections, phlegmy cough, and/or asthma.  These Cold-Damp prone children then enter the pool, and after repeated exposure to a cold, wet, environment--BAM--the double whammy of Cold-Damp from outside and inside the body turns into ear problems.  The ears are affected by swimming because there is constant assault of water entering the ears, which is not a normal occurrence.  Again, liken it to mold or mildew, i.e., improper water metabolism, happening in a dark, damp, unventilated environment.

Air Conditioners are Cold, Too

Don’t forget air conditioners!  The temperature rises and many of us naturally turn on the A/C to cool down.  This is another Cold environment a child walks into, often right after playing in water.  When a child enters an air conditioned car or house and his/her pores are open from swimming and sweating, this unnatural cold air penetrates into the skin and attacks the body further, festering into an ear infection.  A/C in particular is very damaging to children, and especially to a child with a Cold constitution, because of the unnatural bone-seeping cold air it creates. 

Summer Colds

If you’ve gotten my gist of Cold-Damp and children, you probably already know what I’m going to say about summer colds.  Children who catch summer colds often have this interplay of a weak or Cold constitution and Cold-Damp-heavy diet, plus playing, sleeping or sitting in an unnaturally cold (i.e., air conditioned) environment. 

Chinese Medicine to the Rescue!

Chinese Medicine is extremely effective in combating ear infections, swimmer’s ear and summer colds.  To treat these kinds of conditions stemming from Cold-Damp, we practitioners of Chinese Medicine look to the Law of Nature first.  What in nature combats coldness and damp?  Heat.  Heat warms and counteracts coldness.  Dry, warm air purges moisture and dampness.  Therefore, in treating children, we will often use Warm/Hot medicinals that contain Cinnamon and Ginger, and techniques that use moxa to treat a child with these conditions.  Shonishin and/or acupuncture will also help to dispel Cold-Damp as well as improve fluid and blood circulation, and strengthen the constitution of the child so that the child’s own body can fight these infections.  Depending on the severity of the condition, or the chronicity of the condition, one to five treatments often resolves these conditions, along with administration of herbs and changes to the child’s diet.  But before you come in to see me, try the home remedies below to prevent these summer ailments.

Home Remedies

Here are some very effective strategies available at home to help combat swimmer’s ear, ear infections and summer colds:

  • Dry off children immediately (including their hair) after they’re done swimming and change them out of wet, cold swimsuits into dry clothes.  If they tend to be Cold, I suggest dressing them in long pants and long sleeve shirts or a light summer jacket or sweater as well to help conserve body heat.  Use a blow dryer to dry them completely if you’re going to an air conditioned environment right after swimming or the sun is not out that day -- or let them dry and warm up completely in the hot sun before going into a cold car or house.  The sun is a powerful tool to help Cold or Weak children really warm up from the core of the body.
  • In addition to drying their hair, use a blow dryer (on low heat setting) to warm the back of their ears where they attach to the head, the back of their necks, their bellies, their lower backs, and their wrists and ankles.  Do this right after swimming and before they go to bed.  Blow drying these body points has a wonderfully warming effect on the whole body and helps to maintain proper fluid drainage and keep their immune system strong.
  • Have children sip warm honey water (babies should be one or older), cinnamon water, or ginger water from their sippy cups after swimming.  Seep a cinnamon stick and/or pieces of ginger in hot water for 5 -10 minutes, let it cool down a bit, remove the cinnamon or ginger, and then fill a Thermos sippy cup for the child to drink from after swimming.
  • Avoid dairy, ice cream, sugary foods and iced drinks surrounding the days that your children swim.  Instead, feed them hot porridge, oatmeal, soups, warm drinks, beef and lamb.  Cook often with warming ingredients like garlic, ginger, and onion to warm up the foods they are consuming.
  • Employ topical Swimmer’s Ear drops right after swimming.  One or two drops in each ear.
  • Dress children protectively at night: have them wear socks to sleep in and tuck their shirts into their pants to protect tummies from Cold and Wind (i.e., fans, A/C, open windows) while they’re sleeping.  Ideally, don’t turn on fans or A/C while sleeping and if you must have a window open, don’t place a child’s feet or head right by the window.
  • Keep the A/C to a minimum.  Keep it at a temperature just enough to get rid of the oppressive heat or humidity, but don’t make it Arctic cold.  If your child’s hands, feet or nose are cold to the touch while in the car or house, you know you’ve got the A/C on too cold.  Reduce the A/C and warm up your child in the sun or the blow dryer to prevent the Cold from seeping deeper into the body.
  • Consider using a fan instead of the A/C, or combine a fan and the A/C.  Use the A/C just to rid the environment of humidity or oppressive heat, and use the fan to keep the air circulating and cool.  Fans are a more natural alternative to cooling the body, so if at all possible, employ just natural air, letting the fan cool you and your child. 
  • Let kids play a lot in the sun to really collect the wonderfully nature-derived warming energy of the sun.  Modern kids don’t get enough sun and nature time.

Our bodies are highly attuned to nature.  In summer, our pores naturally open to help keep our bodies cool by allowing us to sweat more easily.  And summer is when our bodies are supposed to detoxify naturally.  It is important to sweat during the summer because this allows us to also expel toxicity and gunk that has built up over the previous winter and spring, cleaning us out to prepare us for the fall and coming winter again.  We can collect and harness the warming energy of the sun to detox unwanted elements and effectively strengthen the body.  Children who are prone to allergies and asthma in the fall and winter will really do well to play in the sun and sweat during the summer.  This helps them strengthen their constitution during the abundant warm energy of the summer while dispelling toxic heat, inflammation, and mucus/phlegm build up through sweating.  (But of course, do utilize smart sun strategies for your child!)

Leaky Gut - What Is It, and Do You or Your Child Have It?

A New Year, a new Iyashi Wellness Health Series!

(The previous series on Healthy, Happy Eating the Whole Family Can Enjoy is found here.)

This is the Leaky Gut Series, and there will be a total of 12 articles written to educate the public on Leaky Gut - what is it, Chinese Medicine approach to treating leaky gut, the Four R approach to healing leaky gut, diets that can help heal leaky gut, the reality of implementing these diets, the importance of parental and child involvement in healing leaky gut through nutrition, and sample meals and swaps to start implementing these changes.  

Part 1 is What is Leaky Gut?

 

What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky gut has been somewhat of a buzzword for the past decade or so, becoming increasingly more talked about as gluten-free and paleo diets continue to gain new devotees. Former vegetarians and sugar addicts everywhere claim going grain-free, gluten-free, or paleo has helped them lose weight and overcome chronic illness. The term “leaky gut” is tossed around amongst Crossfitters, yogis, and Whole Foods shoppers as if it’s something that everyone has heard of and is familiar with. You may have overheard something like, “Excuse me, does this have gluten in it? I’m trying to fix my leaky gut and I absolutely cannot have gluten!”

But what is leaky gut exactly? The term conjures up images of intestinal matter leaking out into places where it shouldn’t be. It sounds pretty gross. Why would anybody admit publicly to having their poo leak out all over the place? Well, leaky gut is not really what it sounds like it is! The proper medical term for it is intestinal hyperpermeability, and it actually is becoming more common than previously thought. It can’t be diagnosed just by looking at a person (or their bowel movements, for that matter), and it can’t be diagnosed based on symptoms alone.

Intestinal hyperpermeability (AKA leaky gut) is a condition in which the semi-permeable membrane of the gut is damaged and becomes too permeable. Instead of simply being a conduit for digested micronutrients to enter the body, the single cell layer of the intestines develops enlarged spaces in which larger, incompletely digested materials are allowed to enter the bloodstream. This creates a variety of vague symptoms that are often hard to diagnose. Sufferers of intestinal hyper permeability - adults and children alike - may experience headaches, skin rashes, acne, eczema, asthma, allergies, bloating, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies/sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, psychiatric disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, fatigue, chronic pain, infertility, or other conditions. Some experts believe that conditions such as autism may even be a result of leaky gut.

If leaky gut is becoming so common, what causes it?  The general consensus seems to be that leaky gut may result from a combination of genetic predisposition in addition to environmental factors. Processed foods found in the modern diet such as breakfast cereals, crackers, cookies, wheat bread, gluten, soda, candy, and all the things that contribute to food cravings and obesity are the usual dietary suspects for causing inflammation in the gut lining that eventually leads to the gaping holes known as leaky gut. There is also some contention that genetically modified foods (GMOs) and foods sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) also may lead to leaky gut. The mainstream medical community is in agreement that NSAIDS such as aspirin can also cause leaky gut. Avoiding processed foods, genetically modified foods, and any foods that you may be allergic to, as well as avoiding foods sprayed heavily with pesticides is critical to repairing a leaky gut and preventing its reoccurrence. As a result, your grocery bills may go up, but your medical bills will likely go down. If changing your diet means no more suffering from chronic migraine headaches or fibromyalgia, for example, most individuals feel that the investment in better quality food is well worth it.

How is leaky gut diagnosed? Intestinal hyperpermeability or leaky gut can be diagnosed by either a urine test or a blood test. For the urine test, you will need to drink a premeasured amount of lactulose and mannitol. The urine sample is collected over the next 6 hours and the amount of lactulose and mannitol in the urine is measured. If either of these parameters is elevated, it is indicative of leaky gut.


Next article, Part 2, I will discuss how leaky gut is addressed in Chinese Medicine, including the Four R approach and traditional pattern diagnosis. Join my email newsletter to be notified when future articles are posted!

 Part 2:  Leaky Gut According to Chinese Medicine  Part 3: The 4 R's to Gut Healing:  Removal (Step 1)  Part 4: The Feingold Diet for Behavioral Problems  Part 5:  Real Food 101  Part 6: Autoimmune Paleo Protocol for Leaky Gut  Part 7: The 4 R's to Gut Healing: Replacement (Step 2) and Part 8: Reinoculation Phase for Healing Leaky Gut  Part 9: Repair Phase for Healing Leaky Gut  Part 10: Challenges of Going Through Dietary Changes and How To Succeed  Part 11: Raising Kids with Healthy Cravings   and Part 12: Leaky Gut: Tying It All Together

Divine Homemade Choco-licious Jello

These adorable hearts, robots, animal faces, and stars are homemade chocolate jello made by yours truly!  And not only are they super cute to look at and choco-licious to eat, but it is as wholesome goodness as it can get!  It's made from grass-fed gelatin, a highly nutritious food element, and in my case, with panela as well, an unprocessed cane sugar that maintains a large amount of nutrients.  And it's so easy to make!  

I was in Colombia earlier this year to visit family, and among other delicious foods, I got to imbibe on one of the national treasures, the chocolate caliente, or hot chocolate.  Drinking chocolate ("chocolateh") always brings me so many good, happy memories of Colombia, so when I was there this winter, I decided to buy the ingredients to make the drink back home in Los Angeles.  So I stocked up on unsweetened cocoa powder, panela, and a molinillo.  I still needed a hot chocolate pitcher to make the chocolate, so back home in LA, I purchased a traditional handmade ceramic chocolate pitcher (similar to this) at one of the stalls that sells artisanal Mexican goods while visiting Mercado La Paloma.   (You can also use this in its place too).  With all the necessary ingredients and tools on hand now, I started making my chocolates and choco-licious jellos for my 4 year old son.  It was a hit (but of course).  To make it more fun for him and I, I just recently purchased these molds - the jellos in the photo are from them, but you can just as well use a glass pan or baking pan to pour the chocolate goo, and then just cut them in to pieces when they've firmed up in the fridge.  That's how I started out. 

So without further adieu, per patients and friends' request, here is my recipe:

Just 6 simple Ingredients:

Gelatin powder - (I like this brand and this brand)

Goat milk

Unsweetened coco powder

Panela (aka Jaggery or Piloncillo) 

cinammon

clove

INSTRUCTIONS:

Now that it's getting cooler even here in Los Angeles, I like to start my morning with something warm to drink to gently encourage my digestion to wake up and have a good appetite :-).  So I have homemade bone broth, soup, tea, or when I'm feeling decadent, like this past weekend, homemade chocolate caliente.  I'll make enough chocolate so that I can also make the choco-licious jellos from this batch.

I pour about 3 cups of goat milk* in the hot chocolate pitcher and start to heat it. (Or 1 cup of milk per cup of hot chocolate).  Don't let it boil, just warm up the milk nice and hot.  With the molinillo inside, I pour in 3-5 tablespoons of the unsweetened cocoa powder and start to whisk it.  (The more chocolate, the thicker the chocolate.) (You can also of course use a regular whisk or blend the milk and chocolate in a blender.  I just like this ritual of using a molinillo and making chocolate in a ceramic pitcher.)  I throw in a stick of cinnamon and maybe 2-3 pieces of cloves for that added delicious hot and fragrant spices.  I break apart the panela and start throwing in pieces, stirring and taste-testing constantly as I don't like my chocolate sweet.  I'm actually not a "chocolate" person, but when I do eat (or in this case drink) it, I like mine more bitter, so the less the sugar, the happier me.  I keep whisk/stirring.  Once the cocoa powder and panela have melted completely, the spices are nice and fragrant, and the milk has frothed up from all the molinillo whisk/stirring, I then pour the steaming chocolate caliente into two mugs - one for me and one for my son - and set it aside to drink later.

Now, while the hot chocolate is still hot in the pitcher and heat on medium-low, I then pour in about 2-3 tablespoons of grass-fed beef gelatin powder, slowly, stirring constantly so that the gelatin doesn't clump up.  I keep whisk/stirring until the gelatin has completely melted into the hot chocolate.

To the side, I have my molds all laid out.  The molds are on wider baking pans or even a cutting board so that I have a flat, hard surface under the molds for easy transport from counter to fridge.  

Once the gelatin has completely melted, I turn off the fire and pour the hot chocolate into the molds.  Be sure to remove the cinnamon and clove while pouring into the molds.  

Place the filled molds into the fridge, and in an hour or two, the jellos are, voila! ready!!  Remove the jellos from the mold and replace in airtight container so that the jellos don't dry up.  

Lasts in fridge easily up to a week (though with something this delicious, they rarely last that long!).  

This treat, I let my son eat a good amount (up to about 6-8 pieces) a day because I know he's getting so many wholesome nutrients from these little jellos.  And I know how much sugar has gone into it, which is minimal, so I don't fret about the sugar content.  Now that's he's a little older, he helps me make it, too, so he's learning measurements, cooking, pouring, whisking, taste-testing, and being patient until they are ready (though he gets to drink that little mug of chocolate too!) What a win-win combo!

And just in time for the Christmas festivities.  If you buy Christmas-theme molds, I bet your jellos will be a hit at the next holiday party!

If you try it, let me know how it goes!  

*You're welcome to use cow's milk if you're not sensitive to cow's milk.

Success! Milestones parent-ed talk/fundraising event

My pediatric holistic health and wellness talk was a huge success at Milestones Preschool!  I was able to raise $$$ for the school as well as raise awareness of the power and effectiveness of Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) for pediatric health care needs.  

Parents loved the hands-on portion of my Iyashi Touch protocol (a type of pediatric TEAM massage I teach my families), and I could see their children were curious and eager to have some of these tried on them that night.  I had feedback from one parent the next day that her daughter made sure that she had her special toothbrush just for her :-)

Parents also asked a lot of great questions regarding my holistic nutrition talk.  I loved being able to see how engaged they got with the information, how their minds were turning, reassessing where they were in their dietary approach to their children.  It really thrills me when I see that lightbulb go off in people, and that's why I love teaching, both to the public as well as to my students at Yo San University.  Imagine, families starting to eat healthier and implementing massages on their kiddos, changing the future of our children's health, just from empowering educational talks.  I love that I can make a difference in this world, one child, one family at a time.  

I'm also excited to share that the director has asked me to come back to do more talks on pediatric healthcare and nutrition, so be on the look out for future classes!

Thank you everyone for who attended!

 A picture of me teaching part of my Iyashi Touch last year.  I taught this on 1/29/14 at Milestones.

A picture of me teaching part of my Iyashi Touch last year.  I taught this on 1/29/14 at Milestones.

Healthy Holiday Eating & Drinking

To stay on track with healthy eating, it is absolutely critical during this festive time of year to look for locally grown foods by shopping at your farmer's market or joining a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program for the bulk of your grocery items. When shopping at the grocery store (even Whole Foods), resist the temptation to fill your shopping cart with sweets, dairy, and chips. Filling up on “junk” foods will exhaust your digestive fire, create dampness, weaken your immune system, and make you more susceptible to seasonal illnesses.  It is especially during the winter season, as we all know, that the cold and flu runs rampant at the work place, in schools and at home.  And it behooves you to stay vigilant in what you eat so that you and your family can avoid getting sick.  (To read about home care for when you do get the cold/flu, read my blog here on that topic.)

So, I don't mean to be a party pooper, but  Christmas festivities and New Year's Eve celebrations are no ticket to trash your body (or to not make healthy snacks and meals for your children's growing bodies). While it's okay to indulge in “unhealthy” holiday treats in moderation, there's no reason why you can't make something that is both healthy and a real treat to counter those unhealthy treats!  If you're the host, you can create a healthy feast using plenty of winter root vegetable and body-warming lamb for example.  If you're the guest, don't arrive hungry to the party so that you don't run wild at the snack, cheese and sweets tray.  And if you're planning to partake in alcohol, ALWAYS drink in moderation and determine a designated driver before the drinking ensues.  But life is all about moderation, so do enjoy the festivities!  Let me share a family recipe for a tasty Colombian alcoholic beverage that will warm you up from the inside!

Canelazo.jpg

Canelazo 

(Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Recipes Included)

Canelazo is a drink that will warm you up on a cold night and is a popular winter drink in Colombia, where I’m from. It's made from aguapanela (found in Latino markets, but brown sugar may be substituted here), cinnamon, lime juice, and the fiery concoction known as aguardiente (or "fire water"). Aguardiente is an anise-flavored liquor, which can also be found in Latino markets, but rum can be substituted here. This is a delicious drink to serve to friends on a cold winter's night.  A children’s version can be found following the adult version.

 Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups aguapanela (or 1 cup brown sugar mixed with water)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup (or more to taste) aguardiente or rum

Sugar for serving

Preparation:

  1. Bring the aguapanela, lime juice, cinnamon sticks to a boil. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat. Add the aguardiente or rum (to taste). 

  3. Reheat, without boiling. (If it boils, the alcohol will boil away).
  4. Place sugar in a shallow dish.  Moisten the rim of the tea cup and dip into sugar.
  5. Serve hot into tea cup.

 Serves 4

 From a Chinese Medicine perspective, this drink is a Qi tonic, strengthening the digestion (aguapanela/brown sugar, cinnamon, anise), warming (alcohol, cinnamon, aguapanela/brown sugar and clove), stops pain (cinnamon, clove), and lubricates the lungs and stops cough (brown sugar).  So as long as it’s drank in moderation and taken after a healthy meal, an alcoholic drink like this can be warming and tonifying to the body on a cold winter night.  Enjoy!

Child-friendly Canelazo

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups aguapanela (or 1 cup brown sugar mixed with water)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon grass-fed beef gelatin powder

 Preparation :

  1. Bring the aguapanela, lime juice, beef gelatin powder, cinnamon sticks and clove to a boil. Mix gelatin powder well until it melts.  Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. 

  2. Remove from the heat.
  3. Serve warm into mug or sippy cup.

The gelatin may lump up after a while once the canelazo cools down. Warm the drink until it melts again and re-serve.

 

The Yin and Yang of Seasonal Eating

This is Part 2 of an 8-Part Series in Healthy, Happy Eating for the Whole Family.  Part 1 is SAD DIET: ARE YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN EATING ONE?  Part 3 is HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHILD'S IQ AND ATTENTION SPAN WITH NUTRITION.   Part 4 is HOW TO GO GLUTEN FREE AND DAIRY FREE AND HAVE YOUR PIZZA AND ICE CREAM TOO!  Part 5 is 4 TIPS ON HOW TO GET A "PICKY EATER" TO EAT  Part 6 is THE CALCIUM MYTH: IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK   Part 7 is WHY RAW FOODS FOR CHILDREN IS NOT THE BEST IDEA  Part 8: WHY ORIENTAL MEDICINE ROCKS FOR CHILDREN!

 

Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine differ greatly in reference to the word “energy” and “energetics” in regards to the nutritional qualities of food. While in Western nutrition and dietetics the word “energy” is typically used to refer to the caloric content of a food, in Chinese nutrition energy is used to refer to the yin and yang qualities of a food.   It's important to understand that discrepancy in terminology when reading this blog post, in order to avoid any confusion. In Chinese Medicine, different foods are assigned different energetic values regardless of caloric or macronutrient (fat, protein, carbohydrate) content.  Cooking in Chinese culture has literally thousands of years of history, and it is through this culinary trial and error for over a milennia that the Chinese came up with specific energetic values of foods and their creation of Food as Medicine.

It's important to understand the energetic values of the foods you eat so that you can make better decisions about how to help your body heal and stay well. When you learn to “unlearn” what you may have been taught in school or through fashion and health magazines about a “healthy” diet   -- and listen to your intuition and your body's unique signals – the yin and yang of what you're eating will actually make a lot of sense without having to refer to a reference manual or chart!

Here's a simple exercise to help you start thinking in the right sense about Chinese Medicine energetics:

First, think of the different kinds of whole foods that seem most enticing during the hot summer months. How about watermelon, gazpacho and other cold soups, pineapple, cucumber salad, white fishes, clam chowder, cow's milk dairy products, smoothies made with frozen bananas and strawberries, tofu, lemonade, green tea, coconut water and young coconut? Each of these foods, whether heated or not, are regarded as “cold” foods in Chinese Medicine. They actually help bring your body temperature down, and if you were to eat these types of foods year-round, as many vegans and vegetarians do, you may actually begin to experience symptoms of “yin excess” which could include a slowed metabolism, cold hands and feet, tiredness, and weight gain.  (This is not a complete list and having any one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have a yin excess. )

Next, think of the different whole foods you tend to crave during the cold Winter months. How about chicken soup, roasted lamb or beef slow-cooked in the crockpot, wild salmon and other fatty fishes served with cream or butter, hearty stews made with root vegetables, rich and fatty desserts, baked cobblers, scrambled eggs and bacon, and heavier foods in general? These are “warming” foods according to Chinese Medicine, and if you base your diet on these types of foods during the summertime you may become overly yang. Signs and symptoms of excess yang include sweaty or oily skin, foul body odor, red rashes or boils, hyperactivity, insomnia, and hypertension. (This is not a complete list and having any one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have a yang excess. )

As a rule of thumb, fruits are usually “cold” foods and animal-derived foods are usually “warm” foods. Some exceptions include durian fruit, lychee berry, and mature coconut, which are warm fruits. If you eat a large quantity of any of these fruits, you may even begin to sweat. Red meats tend to be warmer than white meats, and red or blue-fleshed fishes tend to be warmer than white fishes. There is a tendency for foods with more fat in them (such as durian, mature coconut, lamb, beef, eggs, full-fat dairy) to be warmer than foods with a miniscule fat content (watermelon, apples, chicken breast, coconut water, unseasoned vegetables, tofu). Rice is considered to be a neutral food that imparts neither warming nor cooling effects on the body. It can therefore be consumed at any time of year.

It also just so happens that the foods that are ready for harvest at a particular time of year are the foods that contain the yin and yang qualities that our bodies most need for the climate in which we live. Winter officially begins on the shortest day of the year (the Winter Solstice), which is December 21, and during this time we should not expect to see fresh strawberries, bananas, watermelons, and dandelion greens in the grocery store! (We will inevitably see these cold, summertime foods in grocery stores, but they've been shipped from afar and are probably devoid of important vitamin and mineral content.  Here in Southern California, where I live, you will also see many summer time fruits and vegetables because of our temperate climate, but please remember that we are still entering the winter season and it's best to eat foods that normally grow during the winter season.)   Instead, we should reach for turnips and turnip greens, kale, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, celery root, clementines, kumquats, grapefruit, mandarins, horseradish, leeks, rutabagas, Jerusalem artichokes, and of course plenty of grass-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free meats and fatty fishes. While not all of these foods are warming or yang-promoting per se (such as the vegetables, citrus fruits, and sweet potatoes), they are more neutral than summertime foods and provide a good balance when combined with plenty of meats, eggs, and healthy saturated fats. (And no, that's not a typo. I meant saturated fats, which is a topic for another time!)

 

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and A Happy 2014!

 

 


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Club MomMe Mother's Day Event a Success!

 This beautiful red-head mama enjoying her ear acupuncture while holding her sweet baby girl

This beautiful red-head mama enjoying her ear acupuncture while holding her sweet baby girl

The May 11th Mother's Day event was a huge success!  I had the pleasure of introducing ear acupuncture to 21 mamas at this event (out of 25!!)  Most were newbies to acupuncture of any kind, and so many moms marveled at the effects they felt right away - tingling in the ear and body, warming sensation taking over the ear and body, relaxation, and going inward.  One mom said she felt so much energy, it felt like she had just drank a whole pot of coffee!  Just from 5 intsy bitsy needles!  And I know most of these moms had had a great night of sleep that night, because that's one of the effects of getting ear acupuncture, too.  Mamas loved it!  So happy to be able to share to a whole new audience about the powers of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

My second of three Mother's Day event is tomorrow, Thursday, 5/16 at Bird Pick.  For more information, go to A Rose for Mom.  RSVP to make sure you get in!

To see more photos from the event, go to Facebook Club MomMe Mother's Day Event