He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the time of his doctor. (Ancient Chinese Proverb)
If you are one of the many who have decided to clean up your diet, at least for the month of January, let me toss a few things out for your consideration.
For years I have asked clients about what they ate, and noted that they weren’t getting enough water (1/2 of their body weight in ounces daily). Their usual response is, “I don’t eat well enough.” A little deeper probing usually gets to the root of their statement which includes (my words) refined, white, food. (Sugar is linked to most of our diseases, including heart disease and, according to Dr. Robert Lustig (UC)) all calories are not created equal.) If you are craving something sweet, your body may be telling you that you are dehydrated. Drink a glass of water instead.
The truth is, it can be hard to eat healthily, even if you grow your own organic food. (Speaking of eating, did you know that there is no reason to three meals a day, or that the concept of “grazing” or eating several times a day is a concept from our food industry?) Our soils are diminished, our water contaminated, even the air we breath is filled with pollutants. It’s a wonder we made it past childhood, yet, on the other hand, most of us made (and ate) mud pies. Today we know that children lacking this culinary experience, i.e: don’t play in the dirt, have weakened immune systems.
But this blog isn’t about what my clients eat, or don’t eat. It’s about what I am discovering/re-discovering about my self, health, and the medical establishment, on my road to balance and health. These are things that I thought I knew, but in hindsight, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. (Surprise, surprise.)
(For instance, I have long known that as little as 3 Tablespoons a day of Lecithin Granules bring your lipids (cholesterol) into balance. (Because of the great cholesterol myth perpetuated by the pharmaceutical industry, I have many clients, including myself, who use lecithin instead of statin drugs.)
Through my own digging I discovered how many nutrients I was missing. For instance, I didn’t know the value of magnesium/calcium to heart function. (Traditional medicine failed to suggest that I might want to add that supplement to my diet, not to mention many other vitamins that I was washing out with my massive amounts of tea!)
Acupuncture has re-ignited my fascination with Chi, and the way it flows through the body. (Many of you already know that when I scan a body I read Chi as it flows (or not) along the meridians. Meridians, flowing through the body’s soft tissue integrate body and consciousness in the same way that our physical anatomy integrates the body’s fluid and solid natures. (Meridian in Chinese is Jingluo, roughly translated as threads that connect, like a net.) Daverick Leggett (Recipes for Self-Healing) suggests that the Eight Extraordinary Meridians link us to a sense of oneness, where we know our connection to the cosmos, inseparable from the whole. Could it be that within the meridians lie our inherited patterns of karmic health?
Reading Chi energy in this way comes naturally, making me think I have another life “somewhere” where I actively practice Chinese Medicine. If what the Ling Shu (one of the oldest texts of Chinese medicine), suggests is true: our meridians receive subtle information from the environment: stars, planets, trees, plants, humans and animals, meridians could be the basis of all intuition, all psychic information..
My world of complimentary medicine continues to expand. At Wildwood, the local acupuncture clinic, I met Lauren Breau, a fantastic acupuncturist who writes their blog. What I like about Lauren’s blog is not just that she is witty and full of useful information, she often posts delicious, healthy, recipes like this (one of my favorites):
A Liver-Lovin’ Sippin’ Tea!
Feeling irritated? Stagnant? Angry? Explosive?
Honestly, I can’t recommend this tasty beverage enough. Dandelion root (pu gong ying) can quickly cool liver heat , and can act as a great substitute for alcohol or coffee. It’s best when you are feeling stagnant and irritable, or irritable and overly-heated (possible diagnoses would be “liver qi constraint with heat,” “liver fire,” or “excess heat with dampness”). That goes double for me (WR).
As for those who SHOULDN’T USE dandelion root (though a single cup of roasted dandelion root tea is unlikely to do any harm, no matter what your diagnosis), scroll down and check out the contraindications.
ROASTED DANDELION ROOT MOCHA
(original version from The Herbal Kitchen, by herbalist Kami MacBride)
3 cups water
3 tablespoons roasted dandelion root (Mountain Rose Herbs carries high quality organic roasted dandelion root, or visit your local apothecary to see if they carry it)
1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs
NOTE: Cacao nibs and cacao powder are the cacao bean in its raw state. Cocoa powder is the product of the bean being cleaned, roasted, and powdered. Any option is fine for the recipe, though cacao has more healing/health properties than the cocoa.
1/2 cup almond milk: can substitute rice, hemp, full-fat cow’s milk
1/2 tsp. powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 tsp. sweetener: brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agave, stevia, honey
Step 1: Add water to roasted dandelion root and nibs (if you’re using powder, add powder in Step 3).
Step 2: Bring to a boil, and immediately lower temperature and simmer for 15 minutes (hot, but not boiling).
Step 3: Strain the tea, add remaining ingredients, sweeten to taste, and drink up! Feel your liver qi moving? Good!
Because dandelion could act as a mild diuretic, it should be avoided by those who take lithium or diuretic drugs.
Spironolactone and triamterene may react adversely with dandelion products.
Now in a full body/mind/spirit press, I have added Yin Yoga, not just to my exercise routine, but to my life. In Yin Yoga, we hold the posture for 3-5 minutes, allowing chi to be concentrated in the deeper yin tissues (bones and ligaments). What originally sounded so easy has been anything but easy. As I attempt to settle into the stillness, I meet resistance from my body. This is not surprising. It is the same resistance I feel when I become defensive, only in the yin pose I am more aware of my physical discomfort and the thoughts riding along with it. Usually grumbling about pain, I stay with the pose, until my body relaxes. The end result is that I not just helping my physical body, but I am recharging my batteries…my spiritual energy. I believe that it would be good for all of us need to find a way to recharge our spiritual energy. It helps us meet daily challenges. Recharging may be meditation, yoga, gardening, playing the piano, writing, or anything that puts you in the meditative, creative flow. Challenges can come at any moment, and usually when we least expect them.
It’s a good time of year, especially here in the Northeast, to cozy up next to a fire, a good book, and perhaps a cup of dandelion mocha. For me, that book is a recipe book, often one promoting food and healing. While many of us gotten away from our connection to food, nature, subtle energy, it is still there…waiting to be discovered.