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Having Purpose Can Improve Heart Health

Here’s opening up this post with loaded questions that, as you will find out later, can impact heart health:
What do you aim to achieve in life? What drives you in life? What are you living for?

A recent study conducted by Mount Sinai St Luke’s – Roosevelt Hospital revealed that a “sense of meaning or feeling that life is worth living” can improve your heart health significantly.

So this “sense of meaning or feeling that life is worth living” can mean differently for many people. It could mean completing 20 marathons in a year, baking with your family every week, or just hanging out with your pet dog in the living room.

Whatever task someone chooses to pursue, merely having the drive is beneficial.

Say yes to heart health

This is not the first study to link a sense of purpose with both physical and psychological benefits:

  • A 2009 study of 1,238 elderly people found that those with a sense of purpose lived longer.
  • A 2010 study of 900 older adults found that those with a greater sense of purpose were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Survey data often links a sense of purpose in life with increased happiness.

If you didn’t set any New Year’s resolutions for this year, don’t fret. Today is as good a day as any to make plans to change your life around.

Finding purpose doesn’t necessarily mean one has to start with something big like climbing Mount Everest. Purpose can be found in the smallest of things – what contribution would you like to make to your workplace? What difference would you want to leave upon your friends? What difference can you make in your neighbourhood?

TCM has a few views on the heart and heart health:

1. The heart is the ruler of the five organ networks. It commands the movements of the four extremities, it circulates the qi and the blood, it roams the realms of the material and the immaterial, and it is in tune with the gateways of every action. Therefore, coveting to govern the flow of energy on earth without possessing a heart would be like aspiring to tune gongs and drums without ears, or like trying to read a piece of fancy literature without eyes.

2. The heart is the emperor of the human body. Its subordinate officers are in charge of the nine orifices and their related functions. As long as the heart remains on its rightful path, the nine orifices will follow along and function properly. If the heart’s desires become abundant, however, the eyes will lose their sense of color, and the ears will lose their sense of sound. Thus it is said: ‘Keep your heart empty-this is the art of the heart through which the orifices can be mastered.’

Deviation above will necessarily cause malfunction below. Do not race your heart like a horse, or you will exhaust its energy. Do not fly your heart like a bird, or you will injure its wings. Never frantically move things around just for the sake of seeing what will happen. If you move things around you dislocate them from their proper place. If you will be calm and patient, everything will come to you by itself.

3. If the quality of heart blood is unblemished, the myriad of fine vessels in the face will be well supplied, and the person will present with a rosy and lustrous complexion. Chinese medicine, therefore, has traditionally regarded the face as a mirror of the condition of the heart. Again, the Neijing points out: “If the qi of the shaoyin hand (heart) network becomes obstructed, the blood vessels will cease to function. If the vessels cease to function, the blood will not move. If the blood does not move, the skin and body hair will lack nourishment. Thus the face will turn grey like lacquer and the blood will perish.”

The essential “looking” aspect of the four-fold system of Chinese diagnosis refers primarily to the observation of the face. Since the conditions of both blood and shen reflect here, the face can tell much about the general state of a person’s physical and emotional state. The Neijing’s “superior doctor”-also called shen (different character)-thus knows about the condition of a patient by looking at the face alone.

Perhaps taking care of your heart health doesn’t have so much to do with taking in fancy medicine or supplements. It could be as simple as making goals, sticking to it and believing why.

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What Race Are You Running?

Do themes of how we live life reflect how the world is like – running in a competition, stressful, quick-paced rush to the finish line, whatever the finish line may be?

Is the finish line clinching that *dream* job after graduation? Is it finally being able to start a family? Is it being able to buy a house or a car debt-free?

Two common examples that embody these questions are: Horse Race and Rat Race.

The “Rat Race” Experience

Expending exhausting efforts running around, but ultimately achieving nothing meaningful is the “rat race.” This phrase is used with regard to work, particularly when excessive and competitive. Put simply, if one’s perception is that he or she works frustratingly much, one is in “the rat race.”

This terminology implies that people experience work as a seemingly endless pursuit with little reward or purpose, both boring and meaningless. The increased image of work as a “rat race” in modern times has led many to seek better alternatives and a more harmonious work-life balance. Long hours, unpaid overtime, stress, time commuting, and less time for family and friends have led to a disgruntled workforce. Yet, nowadays, economic constraints force people to continue to work and endure these pressures, so we keep running.

Rat Race Running

The “Horse Race” Event

Experiencing life as a horse race implies several things: competition, ambition, gambling, and chance. Competing to win occurs from the school yard, the classroom, the workplace, through the political arena.

The added lure of randomness looms in the background to whet one’s appetite for potential success—a prize, the enticement of gambling and chance. There’s always something to win, something to aim for.

Using nonhuman, animal analogies to describe human experiences dehumanizes people. It reflects a de-”person”-alization of one’s life and is a perilous step before experiencing the self as an animated “device” —robotic in nature and mechanical in function.

But weren’t humans made to feel and connect? That we aren’t animals meant to labour till death?

Some can answer, “Oh well, what to do?”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Money isn’t everything though it can buy a lot of things. At the end of the day, what will make a happier memory? Working till 1am in the office every night, or building up relationships, picking up new interests and living an enriched life all in all?

Running A Race Is Tiring

Feeling worn out? We have some soups to fight the fatigue/tiredness.TCM aims to treat the source of fatigue, not merely the symptoms of it. Anyone can consume an extra cup of coffee or (worse yet) gulp down energy drinks each day. Not only will that approach notsolve your fatigue issues, over the long run, it will make them worse. Approaches like acupuncture,mindfulness, dietary changes, and qigong practices, on the other hand, may put your fatigue to rest for good.

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You Might Have Hair Problems Natural Remedies Can Fix

It can be long or short, luscious or frizzy, tough or manageable, smooth or shiny. Hair comes in different colours, textures, styles, colours and shades. We all want a mane we can be proud of, a mane that will attract praises, a mane that isn’t too difficult to take care of.

In our quest for that, we might have popped into one too many salons, dyed one too many colours, undergone one too many chemical treatments.

Hair Problem Supplements Can Fix - Ariana Grande

That colour and that volume, Ariana.

Sadly, subjecting our hair to all those treatments could have given rise to some hair problems you might not have wanted to begin with. Identifying your hair type can help in deciding which hair problems natural remedies can fix.

1. Normal hair
Normal hair can be managed easily and has an adequate level of moisture, with no excess oil.

2. Dry hair
This is the result of insufficient production of oil. The frustration of a dry scalp and hair tips that break easily can be managed by frequent conditioning and staying away from harsh shampoos.

3. Oily hair
Here, the scalp secretes more oil than is required and this results in (you guessed it!) oily hair. Oily hair attracts dirt more easily and  people with oily hair are more prone to having dandruff as well. You could add lemon to the water you use to wash your hair to help with the oily scalp, and stay away from harsh shampoos as well. Leave the lemon juice on the hair for 45-60 minutes and then wash the hair using clean water only. You don’t need to shampoo. Allow your hair to dry before combing them. This will effectively remove any traces of lemon on the hair. Do this treatment every day if possible or every alternate day. Regular application of lemon juice on the hair will curb the excessive secretion of oil from the hair. The massage will open the clogged hair follicles which will reduce hair fall and allow hair to grow. Lemon is also an effective remedy for dandruff.

Alternatively, tomato juice can help. Apply the tomato juice paste on the hair as well as the scalp. Wear a shower cap and leave for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes wash off the tomato juice on the scalp and hair using cold water. Massage the scalp as you remove tomato juice. This provides good stimulation to hair follicles.

 

4. Combination Hair
The combination of greasy roots and dry tips each require pretty specialist treatment, and finding a product that effectively manages to deal with both is a bit of a nightmare. Many people with combination hair end up alternating shampoos — using a clarifying one to get rid of excess oil and a moisturising one for dry brittle ends. However, not only is this not cost effective in the long run, it may worsen the condition of your hair.

Healthy hair isn’t so far away, actually.

  1. Beautiful hair starts on the inside. A diet rich in essential fatty acids (fish/flaxseed oils), proteins (lecithin, wheat germ oil), and minerals and trace elements (like silica and zinc) that contain the basic building blocks of hair will produce significant results.
    Good Food For Hair Problems Natural Remedies Can Fix

2. Acupuncture can assist in hair loss in a couple of ways:

  • By tonifying the kidneys with specific acupuncture points on the body
  • Through tapping your scalp with a 7-star or plum blossom needle (that consists of 1 mm needles arranged in a star shape at the end of a paddle) that stimulates blood flow to your scalp.

3. Herbal medicine can also accelerate hair growth. Rehmannia root, fo-ti root, dong-quai root are common herbs used in decoctions to tonify kidney yin and nourish blood.  So yes, these hair problems natural remedies can fix!

Fo-Ti Root
Fo-Ti root is rarely used in recipes, and for a very good reason. In large quantities, the plant can be quite harmful. There are some concerns about liver toxicity in both adults and children. So no, you do not want to eat Fo-Ti root. Alternatively, you can purchase Fo-Ti root extract tea, which is a tasty and enjoyable way to get some of the benefits of this plant. But a supplement containing concentrated Fo-Ti root extract is a more cost-effective way to do it. It is important to make sure that you do not exceed a reasonably low dosage. Researchers are still working on establishing the best dosage of Fo-Ti root, so aim to play it safe here. You only need a little bit, and a little bit goes a long way.
Fo Ti Root For Hair Problems Natural Remedies Can Fix

Dong-Quai Root
Traditionally used to stop hair loss and regrow hair, dong quai phytosterols can reduce the formation of the androgen DHT. DHT, a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, is the enemy of hairfollicles on your head. Simply put, under certain conditions DHT wants those follicles dead.

Dong Quai For Hair Problems Natural Remedies Can Fix
Rehmannia root
In  Chinese medicine, hair is thought to be nourished by the blood, which is influenced by the liver and kidneys. Chinese medicines for the hair are intended to help and nourish these organs and promote new hair growth; they include such herbs as polygonum (Polygonum multiflorum), lycium fruit (Lycium barbarum), Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia glutinosa).

Hair problems natural remedies can fix are plenty, so don’t worry!

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6 Chinese Soup Making Techniques

In a recent blog post, we talked about making congee. If a bowl of warm, comfort-zone-inducing porridge does not appeal to you as much as a bowl of hot, soupy nourishment does, here are 7 techniques on how to make Chinese soup.

Chinese tonic or herbal soups are all about putting together various blends of natural ingredients which balance nutritional value and medicinal or therapeutic function, with taste or palatability.

Soup Making Technique #1. Double boil
Double steaming, sometimes called double boiling, is a Chinese cooking technique to prepare delicate food such as bird’s nest soup and shark fin soup. The food is covered with water and put in a covered ceramic jar and the jar is then steamed for several hours.

Soup Making Technique #2. Egg drop soup
Chinese Egg Drop Soup should be savory, soothing, a little warming heat from the white pepper. The eggs should be delicate, floating, whisper-thin silky strands.
Chinese Egg Drop Soup Making Technique
When you add an egg to soup, you are adding nutritional value to the soup as well.

Soup Making Technique #3. Quick Boil

Unlike simmering, quick boiling soups need a good soup base. Since it is cooked quickly, there is insufficient time for the ingredients to “impart” any flavour to the soup. So, instead of water, make sure you start with a good soup stock.

You will be surprised at how good a soup taste even if just a store-bought stock cube was added to flavor the soup. Water with seasonings like salt and pepper is not enough.

Soup Making Technique #4. Always Season As You Go
When making soup, it’s blending and stirring together different ingredients with different textures to form a cohesive whole. Taste a few sips every now and then while making the soup and season as you go, not just throw a chunk of salt at the end. By tasting constantly and adjusting accordingly, you can get a soup that’s got a taste just right.

Soup Making Technique #5. Thickening 
The use of cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot to thicken soup and sauces is uniquely Chinese. The most well-known is the hot and sour soup, and the Westlake beef soup. A newer trick is to use rice instead of cream or milk for creamy soups. Good news for the lactose-intolerant.

Soup Making Technique #6. Blanching/Pre-Boil
Blanching or pre-boiling is a two step process in which food is plunged into boiling water, usually for only a minute or two, then quickly put into ice cold water to stop the cooking process.

How to blanch:

  1. Prepare an ice bath: put water and ice into a large bowl or into a clean sink.
  2. Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil, about 1 gallon per pound of food to be blanched.
  3. Add salt to the water; the water should be very salty.
  4. Immerse the food into the boiling water for the specified amount of time.
  5. Remove food to the ice bath to cool quickly.
  6. Once cool, remove food from ice bath and pat dry.

Having a hot pot of soup simmering on the stove is such a comforting welcome, and equally as much fun as drinking the soup itself. In our next post, we will be sharing popular Chinese soup recipes and why Chinese soups can be healthy.

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Tips For Anxiety Relief

Anxiety – you probably know what it feels like to be anxious. Going for your first job interview, asking someone out for the first time, cooking dinner for your family for the first time, driving your boss to an important conference, the list could go on.

However, if anxiety is persistent and exists even in unwarranted situations, it could interfere with normal living. The major types of anxiety disorders include Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Taking care of the kidneys is crucial for optimal health and healing anxiety with food, as you’ll soon see. The kidneys are the source of yin and yang and our vital essence. If they’re at all compromised, the rest of our organs will be sickly as well. If the kidneys are run-down, the healing process is much slower. Unfortunately, modern living is taking its toll on almost everyone’s kidneys. What weakens the kidneys? Overwork, exposure to toxins, eating too much animal protein, stress, excessive intake of alcohol, drugs and many medications, and poor sleeping habits are some of the key culprits.

In Chinese medicine, your adrenal glands are actually considered the same organs as your kidneys. There’s no distinction between the two.

 

Your adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys and help create energy.

They regulate your stress response and secrete hormones, including aldosterone.

When they’ve been overtaxed, they become fatigued, leading to the following symptoms: chronic fatigue, insomnia, being easily overwhelmed, craving salty and/or sweet foods, sensitivity to light or cold, difficulty concentrating, poor digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, frequent colds, PMS- and menopause-related problems, low blood pressure, allergies, arthritis, low libido and especially anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

There are some herbs that can help reduce anxiety.

1. Chamomile
Some compounds in chamomile bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium.

Chamomile Tea Can Fight Anxiety

2. Green tea 
There is an amino acid in green tea called L-theanine. Research shows that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure, and a few small human studies have found that it reduces anxiety. In one study, anxiety-prone subjects were calmer and more focused during a test if they took 200 milligrams of L-theanine beforehand.
Green Tea Can Fight Anxiety

3. Lemon balm
Other traditional medicinal uses for lemon balm have included improving appetite, and easing the pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic). It was, and continues to be, used as an ingredient in Mediterranean dishes, as a garnish, as a fresh flavouring for deserts and sweets and to make hot and cold teas. Animal data shows it relieves stress and anxiety and sleeping disorders effectively.

Lemon Balm Tea For Anxiety
You can even try a lemon balm fruit salad!
Cut up your favorite fruit- melons, oranges, strawberries, etc. and top with chopped fresh lemon balm leaves.

4. Magnesium
 The supplement magnesium has been found to aid in the management of anxiety symptoms. Taking 200-300 mg of magnesium 2 to 3 times daily has been shown to help.

To fully relieve anxiety, one might need to undergo therapy or see a doctor, but these food has been proven to help. Sit back, have a cup of tea and a fruit salad, and take some deep breaths.

The grass is greener where you water it, and one moment of worrying just takes away a minute of happiness.

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TCM Tips To Help You Get Pregnant

Chinese New Year is coming up soon and we will welcome the year of the Monkey! Many Chinese try to give birth in a year of the Monkey because it is believed that babies born in the year of the Monkey are perceived as clever.

The Chinese character “猴” (hóu /hoh/ ‘monkey’) is pronounced the same as “侯” (‘high official’), and the association dates back hundreds of years into feudal times.

The imagery of the monkey as nobility often appears in ancient paintings:

  • A monkey hanging a seal on a maple tree symbolizes getting promoted to a high position with an official seal.
  • A monkey riding a horse symbolizes getting promoted quickly.
  • A monkey riding on the back of another monkey symbolizes maintaining a high official standing from one generation to another.

If you are planning to get pregnant in this year, these Traditional Chinese Medicine tips could prove helpful.

1. Increase blood flow

Increasing blood flow to your reproductive organs is key in TCM as experts say a stressful life actually pulls blood flow away from the reproductive organs and makes it harder to get pregnant. Get up from your seats, exercise, do some yoga and try some acupuncture, maybe.

Acupuncture - A TCM tip to help you get pregnant

2. Nothing damp
According to TCM, “dampness” can build up in our body and lead to cysts and fibroids, making it hard to get pregnant. Therefore, damp foods like butter, cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream, greasy foods and alcohol should be eliminated from a diet if you are trying to conceive. Wet clothing and extremely humid environments should also be avoided. So maybe no late night drinks or weekend binging on Ben and Jerry’s for a while.

3. Eat right to enhance the “yin” and “yang”
In a woman’s cycle, Yin and Yang energies rise and fall throughout. With fertility, the Yin must be sufficient to nourish the uterus and ovaries in the first half of the cycle. However Yin cannot be activated unless there is sufficient Yang energy. When the Yang is in balance with Yin, then the Yin energy is able to fertilize and nourish the egg.

In the second half of the cycle, Yang energy must heat the blood in the uterus to provide a warm and healthy environment for the embryo.

TCM believes that certain food help nourish your bodies during the different phases of your menstrual cycle.

Foods that nourish Yin include: fruits such as raspberries, pineapples and grapes; vegetables such as asparagus and beans; adequate proteins, especially tofu and fish; and organ meats such as kidneys, brains and hearts. Avoid spicy, pungent foods.

Foods that nourish Yang include warming foods: ginger; ginger tea; beans; grains; and vegetables such as mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage and kale.

Foods that nourish blood include: fruits such as blackberries, raspberries and grapes; organic meats and poultry; soup stock made from the bones of the meat and poultry; and vegetables such as turnips, spinach and dark, leafy greens.

Here’s wishing you a prosperous Monkey year filled with the laughter of your own Monkey kid! :)

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What Mum Never Told You About Traditional Chinese Medicine

  1. Traditional Chinese Medicine is MORE THAN just herbal remedies and acupuncture.

    There is a form of traditional Chinese medicine also known as moxibustion. Common, but not as well-known, moxibustion is the burning of mugwort near or on the skin. Moxibustion is often performed in conjunction with acupuncture and is meant to restore the flow of qi.  Other treatments at hand also include massage, tai chi and dietary therapy.

  2. Eat your largest meal between 2-4pm

    According to TCM, your digestive “fire” is strongest when the sun’s fire burns the brightest in the sky. Eat your largest meal between 2-4pm. You should try not to eat after the sun goes down, because your body gets colder and your digestive fire dies out in order to save energy for organ restoration during sleep.  This would also mean no supper!

  3. 19 percent of Fortune 500 Companies offer alternative medicine as part of their health care compensation packages.

    So next time you fall sick, don’t first rush to go to the polyclinic or to your company clinic to claim your medical benefits. Try some traditional Chinese medicine and you might be pleasantly surprised with the benefits. Our webstore offers plenty of herbal remedies you could whip  up in the form of a nourishing bowl of soup so take your time to look around.

  4. Limit Drinks, Especially Cold Drinks With Meals

    We have a bad habit of drinking a cold glass of water or soda with meals. Changing this habit alone will create better digestion of food. Limit fluid intake with your meals and you will stop diluting your digestive enzymes which are so important for proper digestion. Green tea or other hot teas before a meal supports enzymatic activity and helps enhance your digestive abilities. So go easy on the iced coffee and drink more hot drinks if you can.