Herbal Living

3 Ways to Stay Healthy this Winter Season

via New Mobility

With temperatures changing, the holiday season in full swing and the everyday stressors of life, it's important to be proactive when it comes to self-care and your overall wellness. Here are 3 easy tips to stay healthy this season. 

1. Catch it Before It Starts

If you feel a cold coming on, it's important to catch it before it starts. If weekly acupuncture sessions aren't in your wheelhouse, come in for a session if you are feeling under the weather. Acupuncture and a cupping session can cut your sick time in half. 

2. Get Your Elixir Ready

Starting to get a sore throat or just indulged too much at a holiday party? Try an apple cider vinegar elixir. Just mix 2 tablespoons of warm water with honey once a day. This will help your immune system and balances blood sugar (for those looking to maintain or lose weight, this can also be helpful). 

3. Devote Time to Rest

Be sure to rest! The days are shorter and the nights are longer; we should be slowing down and resting more this time of year. Be sure to get good, quality, uninterrupted sleep at night. If there are disturbances to this, a few weekly sessions can get you back on track. 

 

5 Chinese herbs to Have on Hand!

Interested in Chinese herbs? 

Traditionally, chinese herbs are prescribed by an herbalist in custom formulas containing 5-10 herbs, and rarely prescribed singularly.  At 8 Point Wellness, formulas are still prescribed in this traditional manner.  The other way to consume herbs is by adding them into your food or eating as a snack as some are readily available to you!

 


Goji Berry (Gou Qi Zi) 

Functions: Nourish Yin and Blood

Meaning: they help to nourish dryness- improve vision, nourish a dry cough, and nourish tendons.

What to do with them: Take a small handful- roughly ten berries and put them in a shallow pot of water, just enough to cover the berries.  Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Keep the liquid! To gain the full benefit of goji berries pour both the berries and the liquid into your oatmeal, smoothie, etc.  If you have a sensitive stomach consider eating goji in moderation as they can be hard to digest- 1-2 times a week at most.


Ginger (Gan Jiang (dried), Sheng Jiang (fresh))

Functions: Warm the middle 

Meaning: Improve digestion irritated by too many cold/raw foods (Spleen and Stomach) 

What to do with it: Add it to your smoothie to balance out the cold/raw nature of the other ingredients and protect your digestion; throw it in your marinades, or stir-fry; eat it with your sushi as it can reduce toxicity (food poisoning)


Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi)

Functions: Warm Yang and open the channels 

Meaning:  Improve circulation by warming the channels, and assisting in the flow of qi throughout the body; best for menstrual related pains with cold sensations, palpitations, and thin layers of water retention.

What to do with it: Add it in to your smoothies to warm them up (like Ginger), steep a stick or two in hot water to make tea.


Black Sesame Seed (Hei Zhi Ma)

Functions: Nourish Yin and Blood, Moisten Intestines

Meaning: They help to nourish dryness- blurred vision, dryness in the intestines, itching from dryness

What to do with them: Sprinkle them on your veggies, use them in marinades

 


Red Dates (Da Zao)

Functions: Tonify Spleen Qi, and Nourish Blood

Meaning: By nourishing blood it may help you sleep better

What to do with them: Add them to your trailmix, or remove the pit and stuff the nut in the date for a one-bite snack.

How Willpower and Follow-Through Affect Your Overall Wellbeing

When one thinks of something, decides on it, and then acts on it, this is called willpower (zhi).”    - Zhang Jiebin

Winter is the time of year when many people lose their motivation. The days become shorter, the weather gets colder, and finding that extra motivation can be a challenge. 

Whether you’ve set a resolution and are beginning to waiver from it, or are looking for new motivation to complete lingering goals, take a few minutes to understand how follow-through and completion can impact your physical and emotional wellbeing.   

In Chinese medicine, we correlate organs with their respective seasons. Winter is the season related to the kidneys. The kidneys are the root of yin and yang, which are the essential forces necessary to maintain a balanced life. In a spiritual sense, the Kidneys also correspond to zhi, or willpower. Willpower determines whether or not you complete a task, and also carries a component of destiny. When your actions are aligned with your life's purpose, zhi comes easily. When you place yourself in situations that do not serve you, zhi presents obstacles to steer you back on track. The kidneys represent this guiding light, giving you the power you need to become your best self. By cultivating zhi and being true to your word, the kidneys become stronger as well.

I often explain to patients that the kidneys are like your savings account. It’s always best to leave what you have in your savings account and spend only from your checking.  Every time we make a conscious choice to invest in the things we love, our savings account grows. We do this by keeping our emotions in check, doing the necessary life work to eliminate our fears, eating kidney nourishing foods*, and setting obtainable goals. Set yourself up for success by completing small tasks; then stretch yourself out of your comfort zone one day at a time. Throughout the process, always remember to acknowledge your achievements and enjoy the journey. 

Every season brings different opportunities for growth. In the winter, we seek to nourish our kidney yin and yang, take extra time for self-care, and slow down from the hustle of life. By needling specific points, acupuncture can amplify the kidneys' power and therefore provide clarity around any life changes or goals. Through acupuncture, herbs, and dietary education, Chinese Medicine naturally supports the kidneys, provides balance to the overall yin and yang of the body, and cultivates essential zhi.

*Examples of foods that nourish the kidneys: cloves, ginger, cinnamon bark, quinoa, chicken, lamb, trout, salmon, millet, barley, most types of beans, & spirulina 

Goji Berries Goodness & How To Eat Them Properly

For the past few years goji berries have gained popularity as a superfood.  They can be found at nearly any grocery store now.

Most people use them as a topping - I don't know about you but the first time I had a dried goji berry I was unimpressed with the hardly chewable texture.  It was in my first term of grad school that a classmate passed around a jar of hard, dried goji berries. I tried one and wished I hadn't.  Shortly thereafter I learned how to prepare and eat them properly-- like an herbalist, and now I love them. 

Take a small handful- roughly ten berries and put them in a shallow pot of water, just enough to cover the berries.  Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Keep the liquid! To gain the full benefit of goji berries pour both the berries and the liquid into your oatmeal, smoothie, etc.  What are goji berries good for? Nourishing yin, and blood- helping with vision, nourishing a dry cough.  If you have a sensitive stomach consider eating goji in moderation as they can be hard to digest- 1-2 times a week at most.