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!)

Real Food Nutrition for 7th graders

Since we're not with our kids 24/7, we must help them make good food choices all on their own.  And you can start early!  My upcoming talk about how to Optimize Your Child's Brain and Body Through Nutrition reminded me about an experience I had teaching Real Food nutrition to 7th graders last year.  

I had a wonderful opportunity to spend time with four 7th grade classes at a local middle school.  Mrs. Broussard, the 7th grade teacher, invited me to teach her students about Real Food nutrition.  She had already included nutrition education from a mathematical point of view (how to count calories, how to burn off calories based on exercising, how many hours to burn that off, etc.)   Mrs. Broussard is also a Real Food advocate, and wanted me to teach a more holistic perspective to eating and nutrition.  So I came in with a very interactive lesson plan.  I incorporated several videos, posed questions to students to elicit feedback, showed them a healthy lunch box and the breakdowns of each food category.  I also talked to them about how to shop for Real Food and the major differences between processed, convenience food versus real, homemade food.  We covered the dangers of sugar addiction, being aware of different colors on their plate, the 5 flavors of food, and the meaning of being hungry as opposed to eating out of an emotion or an addiction.  

The students all had wonderful answers, questions, and feedback.  One child was devastated to find out that mac and cheese had pasta in it.  I was explaining that eating all "white" foods all the time, like mac and cheese, pizza, and bread doesn't provide you with a balance of nutrients and flavor.  And to that, students were incredulous that I would consider mac and cheese "white" and corrected me that it was "yellow".  I was perplexed, so I told them, "Well, there's white pasta underneath the cheese, right?"  (Sort of tells you how important it is to educate our kids about what's in their food.  Mac is "macaroni", a definite pasta product!)  What I was shocked to find out was that if you eat mac and cheese from a box, it's all yellow.  (Explanation: I'd never eaten mac and cheese from a box, having grown up in Japan, and on the rare occasion that I make mac and cheese as an adult, I grate my own parmesan cheese onto pasta, so it's all "white" in color to me.)  On top of that, in boxed mac and cheese, the yellow is super-yellow.  Not usually an indication of healthy nutrition!  So students and I both learned a lot about nutrition.

I taught the children to shop the perimeter of the supermarkets because that is where you find "real food".  Kids again were perplexed, so I broke it down further for them.  "Real food is food that needs refrigeration, that actually starts to mold if you don't refrigerate it.  Anything that can last on a shelf in a box for years is processed food."  The aaahs and the lightbulbs that went on after this revelation was music to my ears.   

In regards to the 5 flavors,  I taught them that they should have 5 different flavors on their plate: sweet, salty, sour, spicy and bitter.  This will guarantee that a child is eating foods from many different food groups as well as even food processing styles, like sour will most likely be a lacto-fermented food (like sauerkraut or kimchi).  These foods are incredibly high in naturally-occurring probiotics and lactic acid, which both aid in digestion of foods.  Same goes with eating a colorful plate.  We can learn something from the Japanese here.  I remember growing up as a child, my Japanese aunt (I lived in a multi-generation house at one point) used to count on her fingers as she thought about how many colors of foods were on the plates for our dinner.  She'd be counting "green from the spinach, purple from the eggplant, red from the chicken, white from the rice" and so forth.  She always made sure there were 5 colors represented.  So if you follow this, like with the 5 flavors, it will help to ensure you and your child are eating a variety-filled meal each time.  

I know I only came in for one day, teaching 50 minutes of nutrition per class.  These students learn all kinds of important things the rest of the year.  But my hope is that I was able to plant even one new seed, nurture one new outlook.  That's all I ask.  By looking at food differently, our children will follow a different health trajectory than the one of deterioration that an alarming percentage of Americans experience today.  

Thanks Mrs. Broussard and the 7th graders for letting me come and teach your wonderful class!  And a major kudos to all the teachers out there.  They teach day in and day out with very little recognition, often under immense stress from administration as well as from students with behavioral issues.  But they do it because they love what they do and they too want to make a major difference in the lives of our children.  Big hats off to teachers!!

The Feingold Diet For Behavioral Problems

Many individuals are still not aware that the food they are eating and feeding to their kids has a strong impact on their behavior as well as mental and physical symptoms.  It goes far beyond simply having “too much sugar”.  Minute amounts of food coloring, artificial flavorings, preservatives, and other food additives are known to cause the following conditions in susceptible individuals:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Developmental delays
  • Asthma
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Extreme sensitivity to lights, noise, or touch
  • Nystagmus and crossed eyes

Chemically sensitive children and adults alike may seem like they “have a short fuse” when they are exposed to environmental toxins and food additives. Paying close attention to the ingredients in foods can prevent angry outbursts and other behavior-related symptoms.

The Feingold Diet dates all the way back to the 1960’s when Dr. Feingold began to link diet with behavior. At that time, conventional doctors believed that some children (usually boys) were just naturally hyperactive. Any parent who has seen their child’s behavior transform when using the Feingold Diet can attest that the old conventional medical wisdom was just not accurate. Now most conventional medical doctors have revised their beliefs about the connection between diet and behavior.

Medications for ADHD were not typically prescribed for children because these medications are amphetamines. It was also believed that dietary change was the best method of treatment. Beginning in the 1990’s, however, stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall entered the mainstream and were prescribed with little thought about addiction and side effects.

For parents seeking Oriental Medicine and other natural therapies, the amphetamine route to treating ADHD is definitely not their first choice! I strongly advise you to try the Feingold Diet, which eliminates any foods containing:

  • Artificial coloring (Yellow #5, Red 40, Blue #1, etc.)
  • Artificial flavoring (Vanillin, etc.)
  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, TBHQ)
  • Undesirable food additives (MSG, sodium benzoate, nitrites, sulfites, etc.)
  • Aspirin (very high in salicylate)
  • Minimize foods high in salicylates (dried fruits, dates, canned olives, peppers, tomatoes)

It’s true that food additives are not new to the food supply, but cases of ADHD and other behavioral problems have been on the rise. However, in the 1960’s, children did not consume food additives at each meal or even on a daily basis. They might have eaten the occasional lollipop or cupcake with red sprinkles only at birthday parties or the occasional trip to town for a special occasion. Today, children are getting a dose of food additives for breakfast in their Pop-Tarts or breakfast cereal, in their Sunny-D orange beverage, and during snack time at school in the form of a cookie or donut. Then at lunch, they eat nitrites in their lunch meat, preservatives and dough conditions in their sandwich bread, and MSG in their bag of chips. Finally, at home for their “home-cooked” meal of the day, they may have vegetables with artificially-flavored margarine, rice laced with an artificial seasoning, and fish that has been preserved with TBHQ. What may seem like a healthy dinner at a glance could be a behavioral outburst just waiting to happen.

Your first step towards having a “new” child by tomorrow is to read all ingredient labels before you buy anything at the store (even vitamins and over-the-counter medicines). If there’s an ingredient you’re not sure about, don’t buy the product until you find out more about that “questionable” ingredient. If an ingredient sounds like a chemical name instead of a food, a good rule of thumb is that it’s probably not something you want to feed yourself or your child.

Here is a very educational video from the Feingold institute that illustrates how pervasive and toxic processed foods, preservatives, and food colorings are for children today.  

Next up in this series: how to transition to a Real Food diet.

This is Part 4 of my 12-Part Series on Leaky Gut and Family Health.  Part 1: Leaky Gut: What Is it, And Do You and Your Child Have It?  Part 2:  Leaky Gut According to Chinese Medicine  Part 3:  The 4 R's to Gut Healing:  Removal (Step 1)   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)  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

Healthy Kids Virtual Summit - March 30 ~ April 20

Here at Iyashi Wellness, we're always looking for ways to make it easy for parents to raise happy, healthy kids. That's why I'm so excited to share the Healthy Kids Summit with you.  It's hosted by Jaime Boggeln, a mom and entrepreneur, who works to help families better themselves, lead healthy lives and have fun doing it.

During this amazing: "Healthy Kids Virtual Summit" you'll have a chance to watch an interview with pediatric acupuncture expert, Robin Green, and learn more about how acupuncture can help kids.  

In addition, you'll find a compilation of some of the top experts on how to build and keep healthy family habits for parents and kids who want to thrive in life! All this great information and resources are right in one spot and easy to access!

Sounds cool, huh?

-------> REGISTER FOR FREE NOW for the Healthy Kids Virtual Summit

Could you use help with these?   

-Step by step directions on how to make healthy lunches a priority!  
-Staying motivated and sticking to family fitness routines!  
-Getting kids calm using meditations and imagery!
-Toxic Free cleaning!  
-Making your life more meaningful on all levels….including your marriage! 

What if there was a way to discover how to get your family fit, strong and mindful all while in good balance? Would you be interested? 

Well, now there is! And the best part? -it won’t cost you a dime. 

...Because every family should be a well-rounded healthy family! 

-------> REGISTER NOW for the Healthy Kids Virtual Summit FOR FREE!

For a limited time, Jamie is offering this online virtual event for FREE, delivered straight to you!   

Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn how to get your family healthy the simple, fun, and exciting way.

Get Access Now!

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) 




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!



(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


  • 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


  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


  • 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.