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Asthma and Oriental Medicine

breath deeply

Having read a somewhat disturbing article that talks about more and more people being negatively affected by asthma due to climate change, I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell you a little bit about treating asthma from an Oriental Medicine point of view.

While neither Western nor Oriental Medicine have a cure for asthma, Oriental Medicine does have treatments for mitigating asthma symptoms which can bring much welcomed relief, and if you, or someone you love, suffers from asthma, you know how welcome that relief is.

Relief Is Possible

Oriental Medicine can’t promise dramatic relief of asthma symptoms in everyone, but because everyone’s body is unique, it makes sense to try Oriental Medicine for asthma relief—especially if what you’re currently doing isn’t helping or causing unwanted side effects. For example, I once treated a child with severe asthma, using only gold beads (a needle-free method of acupuncture), and his breathing improved significantly.

Proper diet and exercise can help strengthen the Lungs, which according to Oriental Medicine, also strengthens the Immune System. A vibrant Immune System is better able to combat allergens, bacteria and viruses that can weaken the Lungs and make you vulnerable to respiratory problems.

Treat the Lungs in Summer

Oriental Medicine is very attuned to how your health is affected during each season of the year: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. With each new season your body needs to adapt to new environmental factors like: temperature, amount of daylight, what foods are in season, to name a few.

Everyone knows in Autumn and Winter that the Lungs are vulnerable to infection by cold bacteria and flu viruses. This is also the situation in early Spring. It’s only Summertime when we can relax and enjoy being soaked by the seasonal warmth, making Summer the best time to work on strengthening the health of your Lungs.

My breathing has become more shallow over the past few months and recently I had an asthma attack. The herb formula you gave me opened my lungs up and I can breathe deeply again. Clearly I’m deeply concerned now and will follow your advice about how to rebuild my lung energy. Thank you, Kitty! — Testimonial

tai chi

Tai Chi & Chi Kung for Your Lungs

Tai Chi and Chi Kung are excellent exercises for building and maintaining healthy Lungs. These gentle movements focus on physically expanding the Lungs, which increase your capacity to inhale more air. These exercises also focus your body’s ‘Chi’ or energy in a way that compounds the benefit your Lungs get by simply stretching them—it’s like giving your Lungs a massage with your muscles and your mind.

And while we’re on the subject of ‘exercise,’ if you suffer from asthma you should explore and understand the need to exercise your Lungs in a way that does not overtax them.

When the Lungs are weak, as they are if you have trouble breathing, strenuous exercise can deplete energy from your Lungs. That’s why Chi Kung and Tai Chi are prescribed for Lung health.

When people with breathing problems come to BIOM for treatment, I often show them one or two simple Chi Kung exercises they can do to get deeper breaths today, while we work on building stronger, long-term Lung health.

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The Taste of Your Food Affects How You Feel

Yi Xing  teapot

As many of you know, we offer an online course called Healthy Eating: The Five Element Way, where you can learn and practice how to combine foods in a way that balances the energy in your body. And a balanced body is a healthy body.

The course has a great Q&A section where you can ask us questions and interact with other students.

Here’s an interesting question someone asked in the course that we want to share with you.

Question: I have a question about ‘taste enhancement’. Since I have found I enjoy the addition of a sour component to several foods I often eat, does that indicate my liver may be out of balance? I would not describe the situation as being a craving as such. It seems like it is more of a flavor enhancement kind of thing.

Answer: Yes, your choice of adding the ‘sour’ taste to your food is an indication that your Liver could use some rebalancing—and enhancing the flavor of your meal with a bit more of the sour taste may be just what your Liver needs.

On the other hand, to make the point: If one were ‘craving’ sour food, that would indicate a more significant imbalance with the Liver energy, which might require a more vigorous technique like acupuncture or Chinese medicinal herbs to get the Liver rebalanced.

Keep an eye on your consumption of ‘sour tasting’ foods and see how much of them you’re choosing; perhaps make some notes in your food journal.

There are also Chi Kung exercises you can do to keep your Liver balanced; (we’re planning to show some in a future course). In the meantime, here’s a book to get started if you want to know more about Chi Kung.

Please let us know if you have any other questions.


Headaches and Stress

Is everything going on in the world these days giving you a headache? If so, you’re not the only one because this is National Headache Awareness Week.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that too many people today are suffering with all sorts of headaches. According to the National Institutes of Health the most common type of headache is a tension headache, which they say is often related to stress, depression or anxiety.

And why is there so much tension these days? I suppose everyone has their own answer to that question, but one thing is for sure: we’re all being affected.

The Stress Factor
Stress is a huge factor in peoples’ lives today; a trigger for headaches, and a catalyst for many other chronic illnesses. And how stress affects your health depends on how you respond to it.

We experience ‘global’ stress, like the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, the conflict in the Middle East, the war in Afghanistan. And we feel it ‘locally’ in countless ways: driving in traffic, shopping in a crowded store, people we run into who are having a bad day, and the list goes on. Each of us has our own unique brew of stress to contend with and manage.

A Simple Step
We’re not the first generation to live in ‘exciting’ times.  Thousands of years ago Chinese Taoists counseled people living in stressful times who wanted peace in their lives to “Lay low.”

In those days that often meant retreating to the mountains. An option that we, in the 21st century, don’t find that appealing. So what to do? One simple step is to read “Hope For The Flowers” to get some inspiration and a fresh perspective for getting down and away from the ‘caterpillar pillar.’ 


What Do You Say?
Being able to talk in a healthy way — not in a blaming, ranting way — about what’s causing your stress is a huge advantage to you. Talking in a realistic way about your stress enables you to grapple with what’s causing it and figure out ways to diffuse it.
It’s healthy to talk about what’s stressing you out, even if you don’t see any way to change things. Noticing the patterns in your life that feed your stress is an important step toward understanding how to defuse the situations that cause it.

Those of you who come to BIOM for treatment know how much value I place on taking the time to talk about what’s going on. This kind of conversation helps me with a diagnosis, and perhaps creates for you an opportunity for healthy insight.

So who to talk to? Doctors and therapists are an obvious place to begin the conversation. Friends and family are an option too: provided the relationship is a ‘trusting’ one and your friend or family member is not too stressed

More Balance — Less Stress
When your body’s energy or Chi is balanced you have less stress. The body naturally can process a certain amount of stress when it’s balanced. That’s what a healthy nervous system is designed to do. 

Imagine a wetland - like those along the Gulf Coast or anywhere else: as long as it’s healthy it can handle a certain amount of toxicity or storm intensity, but only up to the point where it’s overwhelmed.  So too, your body can only tolerate a certain amount of stress, and beyond that point health begins to deteriorate.

The body is analogous to Nature because it is Nature - from it and of it.

Staying Sane In A Crazy World
So in a crazy world, how do you stay sane? ‘Breathe ... Consciously.’ This is what I call ‘foundational’ Chi Kung.

Take some minutes each day to breathe slowly and deeply, and pretty soon you’ll be saying to yourself: “I don’t feel as stressed out as I used to.”

And when you know how to avoid or minimize stress, you’ll be able to ‘celebrate’ National Headache Awareness Week next year ... because you won’t have any.

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IMPORTANT: All information on this Web site is provided for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of a local Oriental Medicine practitioner, biomedical doctor, experienced coach, or martial arts instructor.