October 26, 2020
Eating Well for Immunity
Fall is here and it’s time to support our immunity! How well we take care of ourselves in the weeks leading up to the coming cold and flu season can greatly enhance (or weaken) our resistance to illness. Once we begin to fall ill, it can be too late! Wise use and nourishment of our inner resources can help us stay healthy, and diet is one of the foundations here. Even just cutting out white sugar, which reduces white blood cell activity by almost 50% for up to 5 hours after eating it, can do marvels.
Fall is the season of the Lungs and the Metal element, and the Lungs control our Wei (Protective) Qi, which acts like a forcefield around our bodies …
September 24, 2020
A Note About the Metal Element
As we enter the fall season, the energy of the Lung & Metal element emerges: the air becomes cool and crisp, our skin and lungs– like the leaves on deciduous trees- may start to feel more dry, and the sun shares less sunshine with each passing day.
We may be in touch with a sense of grief or the poignancy of small, fleeting, beautiful moments as the days shorten. This is a time of year for reflection and for being in touch with that which we find truly important, special, and inspirational. This sensibility aligns well with the Jewish New Year celebrated annually around the same time as the Autumnal Equinox.
This year, I imagine that the aspect of grief will …
August 1, 2020
Welcome to the August edition of the kitchen herbalist. Here, the AIMC herbal pharmacy director Athene Eisenhardt shares seasonal recipes based on the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine.
Blueberries are a wonderful summer food high in antioxidants and support Heart, Kidney, and Brain function. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), all three of these organs are related. The Heart can be likened not only to the heart organ but also to the central nervous system, which includes the brain.
The brain is in turn fed and nourished by the Kidney essence. And, together, the Heart-Kidney axis helps properly regulate our nervous systems’ ability to respond to traumatic events and shock. The beautiful midnight blue color of these berries is a give away that they help nourish the …
June 20, 2020
Flower Essences: Gentle Messages for the Heart Ruler
Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest and brightest day of the year. Summer is the
season of Sun and Light, and the Heart. In Chinese Medicine, the Heart is the Ruler that sits on our inner
throne and ensures harmony in our world. Just as in ancient China, when it was rare to actually glimpse
the revered Emperor, our own Heart Ruler is a behind the scenes presence that rules not through force,
but gently, effortlessly, through the quality we refer to as Wu-Wei. Thus, we approach the Heart Ruler
gently and reverently. For this reason, the Heart channel and Heart Back Shu points were classically
forbidden to needle. The approach is too direct. Approaching …
May 7, 2020
Burdock root is a beautiful spring food that is both nutritive and detoxifying. In TCM, we use Burdock seeds, Niu Bang Zi, to vent early stage cold and flu from the body and treat sore throats. The root, able to penetrate more deeply into the body, cleans the blood and vents out deeper held toxins and impurities.
In springtime, the bodies’ energy is moving up and out from the deep yin storage time of winter. Just like plants, our energy is now moving upwards and outwards to create new growth. When this happens, we can see pathogenic energy that was hidden in winter come to the surface along with it. This could look like a replay of old illnesses, old emotions, or old fears and thoughts….
August 6, 2019
Now that we’re in the height of summer, many of us are looking for ways to stay cool and beat the heat. One classic summer food that can help us do just that is watermelon. Everyone knows how sweet and refreshing a juicy slice of watermelon on a hot day can be, it’s a summertime ritual for many of us.
In Chinese Medicine, watermelon is used medicinally to help cool and clear summer heat. It nourishes fluids and helps promote urination, making it an excellent medicine for clearing heat from the body. It also has a sweet calming nature for the spirit.
Here’s a cooling summer recipe for a Watermelon Salad:
1 small watermelon, sliced into cubes and seeds removed
½-1 cup jicama, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
July 9, 2019
We all think hydration is simple, right? Just drink plenty of water. But staying well hydrated also means our bodies need to actually ABSORB all the water we’re drinking. Imagine a dry, cracked piece of earth in the desert. When it rains, that earth is so parched and hard that it cannot absorb any water. It all runs off the surface.
Our bodies are the same. If we don’t “prepare our soil” properly, all the water we drink just runs right through, and our tissues are still parched and dry. In TCM, we use yin tonics- herbs that are moistening and demulcent, in order to help moisten the body on a deep level and help it to “hold” the water. On a cellular level, yin tonics …
June 13, 2019
With Spring in full bloom, one of our most prized medicinal plants is now in the height of its season- Pu Gong Ying, or Dandelion. Cursed by North American lawn growers, but celebrated by herbalists all over the planet, Dandelion greens are a highly nutritious and tasty food.
They are rich in minerals and Vitamin A. Many of us in North America often shy away from bitter, nutritive foods such as Dandelion. Our palate is so out of balance with sweet and salty, we have lost our taste for other flavors such as sour and bitter. However, the bitter greens of Spring are an important way to attune ourselves to the season and get the Liver and Gall Bladder moving after the stillness of winter. Check …
June 12, 2019
With Summer, the season of Fire upon us, we only need to step out our doors to see the reminder everywhere: Summer is the season of Flowering. We see this in the beauty of our gardens and the bright wildflowers that are still so alive in our local hills. The Nei Jing tells us that the movement of Summer is growth and flowering. Of all the parts of a plant, flowers pertain most to the Fire element. They are light and yang in nature, they lift and brighten our spirits and bring us joy. Flowers in TCM are mostly used to affect the upper parts of the body, where the shen (spirit) resides. Their fragrance is opening and moving.
Many of our local flowers can …
August 7, 2018
Purple Perilla (Shiso) Leaf (Zi Su Ye or Zi Su Zi), in the AIMC Student Garden
As acupuncturists and herbalists in training, the students of AIMC learn hundreds of herbs, sometimes up to 20 new herbs per week. This is a huge task for anyone! And though we often have the opportunity to touch and smell the dried herbs in our classes, it is so much more fresh and immediate to witness their growth. It is wonderful that while located in a dense urban environment, AIMC has a small Chinese herb garden right outside our door.
Some may wonder, what is the purpose of growing Chinese herbs outside of Asia?
This medicine after all, was developed over 1,000’s of years in China and surrounding countries. …