Lucky Tiger's Autumn Health Newsletter

Put the Ahhhh, Back in Autumn

Suggestions for optimal health, wellbeing and relaxation during fall

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Autumn: a time when the days grow shorter, the harvest is ripe for picking, beautiful foliage show their autumnal colors, the air is crisper, cooler and drier. Fall is an important transitional time from the expansive heat of summer into the contractile cool of winter.  It is during this time that we should begin the shift from expansion to contraction, from cooling the body, to warming the body. There are many excellent and simple practices we can begin including in our daily health regimens in order to flourish through fall.

 

Overview

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the organ system most closely related to the autumn season is the respiratory system (the Lung). The lung in turn, is closely related to the immune system. The lungs are responsible for wei qi, protective qi, which circulates through the skin and around the nose and mouth. Wei qi protects the body against external pathogens, and thus is important to nourish during the fall. Autumn is a time of “ping bu,” peaceful tonify and “run zhao,” moisten dryness. It is therefore important during the fall to nourish the lung/respiratory system/immune system with daily practices like cardiovascular focused exercises, nourishing foods, deep breathing exercises/meditation, acupuncture and herbal medicine, essential oil diffusion, proper hydration, and household organization.

 

Dietary Recommendations

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Fall is the perfect time to incorporate soups, dark green and orange foods, root veggies and more. It is a time to begin limiting raw/uncooked foods and cold beverages in favor of cooked and stewed foods and room temperature or warm/hot beverages. Beneficial flavors include pungent, sour and bland. It is an excellent time to nourish the lungs, yin, and immune system. It is important to trade your morning smoothie for a warming cup of broth and a bowl of oatmeal, and lunch/dinner salads and raw foods for cooked veggies and soups during the fall and winter months. These practices will nourish your digestive and immune system.

"The lungs depend on nourishment from the spleen (Fei ji yang yu pi)"
-To properly nourish the lungs and metal element, it is important to also nourish the qi of the spleen/digestive system.

"Cold body [and] chilled drinks lead to damage of the lungs (Ti han yin leng ze shang fei)"

 

Beneficial foods to include during autumn:

·      Spinach

·      Barley

·      Pears

·      Shan yao (Chinese Yam)

·      Bai he (lilly bulb)

·      Shitake Mushroom

·      Yi yi ren (coix seed)

·      Pork

·      Broth made of mushroom or chicken or pork bones

·      Asparagus

·      Dark leafy greens

·      Apples

·      Millet

·      Persimmon

·      Pomegranate

·      Loquat

·      Seaweed

·      Mushroom

·      Almonds

·      Sesame seed

·      Eggs

·      Capers

·      Leek

·      Watercress

·      Cabbage

·      Turnip

·      Horseradish

·      Oats

·      White onion

·      Sourdough bread

·      Sauerkraut

·      Olives

·      Pickles

·      Adzuki bean

·      Yam

·      Yogurt

·      Grapefruit

·      Oranges

·      Carrot

·      Green beans

·      Oysters

·      Figs

·      Pumpkin

·      Parsnip

·      Beetroot

Beneficial herbs and spices to include during autumn:

·      Huang Qi (astragalus)

·      Bay leaves

·      Caraway seeds

·      Cardamom

·      Chives

·      Cinnamon

·      Cloves

·      Dill

·      Fennel

·      Oregano

·      Nutmeg

·      Rosemary

·      Thyme

·      Turmeric

·      Ginger

·      Pepper

·      Garlic

·      Chili

·      Rose hip

·      Bai mu er (white mushroom)

·      Yi yi ren (coix)

·      Lotus seed

A Few Recommended Recipes for Autumn:

Augmenting Asparagus Soup
This recipe, (which can be easily modified to accommodate vegan/veggie diets) and many more, can be found in this highly recommended cookbook:
Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes for Health, Healing and Long Life
By Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir and Mika Ono

Ingredients:

·      1 heaping TBSP (10 g) dried lilly bulb (bai he)

·      5 C chicken or hearty vegetable broth (you may use the broth recommended in the next recipe if desired)

·      ½ C rice wine or white wine

·      ½ C enoki mushrooms

·      1 heaping TBSP (10 g) goji berries (gou qi zi)

·      1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

·      1 small bunch (3/4 LB) asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, separating the heartier stalks from the more delicate tips (these will cook separately in the recipe) and discarding the hard bottom ends of stalk

·      ½ LB crab meat or shelled shrimp (optional)

·      ¼ TSP salt (or to taste, optional)

·      1 TBSP soy sauce (or miso or tamari for gluten sensitivities)

·      ¼ C chopped fresh cilantro (optional) for garnish

Directions:

1.     Soak the lilly bulb (bai he) in warm water for 30 min. Drain

2.     In a medium sized pot, bring the broth and wine to a boil, then add the lily bulb, enoki mushrooms, goji berries, ginger, and garlic.

3.     Bring the soup back to a boil, once boiling, lower the heat to simmer, covered, with the lid slightly ajar, for about 25 min.

4.     Next, add the asparagus stalks and crab meat/shrimp and cook for about one minute. Then add the asparagus tips and cook an additional four to five minutes, until the asparagus is tender.

5.     Add salt, if desired, and/or soy sauce/tamari/miso to taste and garnish with cilantro before serving

"The root of a quiet body must be supplied by food (An shen zhi ben, bi zi yu shi)"
-According to Sun Si-Miao, the root of good health depends on proper diet.

 

Immunity Boosting Stock/Bone Broth

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(Vegan Modifications Included)

Ingredients:

·      1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, cut into 1/8-inch slices (roughly the width of a quarter)

·      3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

·      1 medium-sized leek, washed well and cut into 3-inch pieces

·      1 LB chicken bones (for vegans and vegetarians, please skip to the modification offered under shitake ingredient)

·      4 dried or fresh shitake mushrooms, rinsed

(Vegan/Veggie Modification: substitute chicken bones by using a total of 12 dried or fresh shitake mushrooms)

·      6 medium sized pieces (approximately 20g) astragalus (huang qi)

·      6 dried and seeded Chinese red dates (hong zao)

·      1 large-sized carrot

·      1 medium-sized yam

·      ½ C diced white onion

·      A pinch of salt (optional)

·      Spices to taste (listed above under “beneficial spices to include during autumn”

·      12 C water

Directions:

1.     Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. If using chicken bones, be sure to skim off the fat that floats to the surface of the broth as necessary.

2.     Lower the heat and simmer gently, covered, for 2 hours.

3.     Strain the broth through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer to remove the bones and herbs.

4.     You may enjoy your stock immediately. For the remainder, it is recommended to store in the refrigerator in a glass container with a tightly fitted lid. Refrigerated broth should be consumed within a week, longer storage can be achieved by storing in the freezer if needed.

Note: This stock can be used to make a quick and easy soup. Just add your favorite autumn veggies, rice noodles and soy sauce/miso/tamari and enjoy!

 

Physical Practices

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During fall, any practice that incorporates deep breathing is essential for optimal health: Vinyasa style (breath tied to movement) yoga, Pranayama, brisk walking or jogging outdoors, and deep breathing meditation.

"Movement of the body gladdens the spirit (Dong xing yi shen)"
-A moderate amount of physical exercise is good for the spirit and relaxation.

For an excellent resource for meditation, please download this free app on your smart phone: Insight Timer. It is an app that provides a vast, searchable network of free meditations. You can either opt to complete your own practice using the app’s timer (gentle gongs included) or opt for a guided practice of your choosing. This app allows you to search a myriad of key words related to meditation. During fall, search for meditations related to deep breathing and letting go.

At least 15-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is recommended, especially during the autumn months. This type of exercise strengthens the lungs and immune system. If running or brisk-walking outdoors, please be sure to wear clothing that keeps your warm while also wicking away moisture (no jogging in tank tops and shorts, opt for light-weight long sleeves and leggings instead). 

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Wear a scarf. In TCM, the “pathogen” that is the most likely to tax the immune system is “wind.” One of the most vulnerable areas of the body in this regard is the neck. A simple preventative fix is to ensure that you always have a scarf with you to protect this vulnerable area of the body, it’s stylish and practical!

"Wind is the chief of the hundred diseases (Feng wei bai bing zhi zhang)"
-Of all the external pathogens, wind is the most likely to cause disease.

 

Soak your feet. Doing foot soaks is excellent year-round, but during the autumn and winter seasons, it is essential. A simple 15-20 minute soak before bed will boost your immune system, ease the parasympathetic nervous system, circulate qi and ease you into a restful night’s sleep. 

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Recipe for Basic Evening Foot Soak

Items Needed:

·      A deep bucket or basin that allows both feet to be comfortably submerged up to the bottom of the calves

·      Hot water (as warm as you can stand it without it being too hot, keep a kettle near by so that you can add more warm water as it cools).

·      ½ C Epsom salt

·      Optional: 2-3 drops essential oil of choice (please see recommended EOs in the next section)

Instructions:

1.     Heat enough water to fill your bucket so that the water level comes to the base of your calves. We want the water to be warm enough to have you break a sweat, but not so hot that it scalds you.

Note: Those with diabetes should be especially careful when heating their water. Be sure to test the temperature with a thermometer as to avoid any burns due to decreased sensitivity as related to peripheral neuropathy associated with diabetes.

2.     Mix the hot water with Epsom salt, and, if desired, your chosen essential oil, and stir.

3.     Insert feet into basin/bucket. Soak until you break a sweat or reach 20 minutes (whichever comes first). 

4.     Once soaking is completed, dry feet and take rest. Elevating the feet while you are lying down post-soak is also beneficial. It is important to take rest after soaking, which is why it is ideal to perform the soak before bed.

 

Spiritual and Emotional Practices

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Autumn is a time for organization, letting go, inward movement and grief-work. In TCM, the organ systems of fall, the lung (yin organ) and large intestine (paired yang organ), not only have physical considerations, but also emotional and spiritual correlations.

The emotion of the lung is grief.

Any grief that remains unexpressed and balanced can greatly harm the lung (and by default the immune system). This is why fall is the essential time to check in with ourselves and see if we are carrying grief, sorrow, and/or depression in an unhealthy and unexpressed way. Grief that is not properly balanced with counseling, meditation, physical practice and spiritual practice, can greatly damage the immune system. Fall is a time to make sure you have the systems in place to work through grief and sorrow in a healthy way in order to release it, and move on.

Think of fall as your perfect opportunity to do an emotional inventory: take an honest look at where you are emotionally; put the systems into place to heal any emotional, psychological and spiritual imbalance; begin practicing with these systems in order to work through and let-go of depression, grief, sorrow and trauma.

This leads us to the large intestine. The yang-paired organ of the lung is the large intestine.  The large intestine is all about letting go. Physically, this literally involves the “letting-go” of feces, byproducts our body does not need. So take care to “poop in style:” utilize tools like a toilet stool (like the Squatty Potty), gentle abdominal massage and heat therapy, bidet, adequate fiber intake, etc.

In a similar fashion, fall is an excellent time to practice letting-go emotionally as well. Do you find yourself still seething over that person that cut you off on the freeway earlier today? Are you hanging on to past regret or emotion surrounding a difficult situation? The memories we choose to carry surrounding emotional trauma can greatly affect our overall health and immune system. They also make it very difficult to move forward in life in a wholesome and healthy way. Practicing daily with meditations that emphasize letting-go, seeking out counseling, and engaging in conscious self-care are all excellent ways to practice letting go.

Traditional Lakota Inipi (sweat lodge) as led by Daniel Hawk and Roberta Moon in Southern CA. This particular monthly Inipi ceremony focuses on letting-go of things that no longer serve an individual and personal purification.

Traditional Lakota Inipi (sweat lodge) as led by Daniel Hawk and Roberta Moon in Southern CA. This particular monthly Inipi ceremony focuses on letting-go of things that no longer serve an individual and personal purification.

One of the ways I practice letting go is in the Native American practice of cleansing Inipi ceremony. This ceremony is centered on purification and letting go. Whatever your tools for letting-go and growth are, fall is the penultimate time to utilize them.

Fall is also the perfect time to take stock in your household items, organize, and discard unneeded/unwanted/unused things. I know, I know, the common adage “spring cleaning,” would have you believe that spring is the only time to do such things, but according to TCM, spring isn't the only time to clean and organize the home.

The energetics of fall and its associated organs (lung and large intestine), LOVE organizing and discarding. So, in actuality, fall is the perfect time to organize and discard in order to create enough space in the home so that we can comfortably contract, to get cozy and comfortable without impediment (versus spring which is a time of expansion, so we “spring clean” in order support our efforts to expand outward without “stuff” getting in the way). Let the organizational side of you flourish this fall. You will thank yourself come winter when you have an organized and comfortable home to settle into for the winter months.

 

Essential Oils (EOs):

The autumn months can be drying. This is why using a diffuser (which can also act like a small humidifier) with the proper essential oils is a great idea. In states where early autumn is dry (mainly West-coast and central and mid-West US states), diffusers and humidifiers during fall are essential. In states that are prone to early-autumnal-hurricanes (mainly East coast and South-Eastern states) you may not need a diffuser or humidifier until the moist, rainy season has abated. Below are some recommended EOs to include in your diffuser (typically 1-3 drops of one EO or a blend of several EOs is recommended).

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Recommended EOs to diffuse for autumn:

·      Allspice

·      Anise seed

·      Bay leaf

·      Bergamont

·      Black pepper

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·      Cardamom

·      Cassia

·      Clove bud

·      Corriander seed

·      Fennel seed

·      Ginger

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·      Juniper berry

·      Mandarin orange

·      Nutmeg

·      Oregano

·      Roman Chamomile

·      Vanilla

 Note: if you feel a cold coming on, 1-2 drops of a “Thieves Oil” style blend applied to the bottoms of the feet can be helpful in curbing the common cold.

 

 

Congratulations!
 

You have lots of tools to use this autumn to ensure that your body and spirit are properly cared for. Remember, do what you can, and never beat yourself up over “not doing enough.” Take this article as a guideline, a resource for you to pick the self-care items that call out to you the most. You are worth it. As always, please be sure to coordinate your care with your chosen medical professional. For those with serious health concerns, please ensure that your primary care physician is involved in your healthcare choices.

Please check in with our blog regularly for more helpful articles and advice on how to achieve your best health!

 

"The superior doctor, doctors [when there is] no disease, the mediocre doctor, doctors [when one is] on the point of [being] diseased, and the inferior doctor, doctors [when there is] already disease (Shang yi yi wei bing, zhong yi yi yu bing, xia yi yi bing)."
-A superior doctor should prevent disease from arising, not just seek to eliminate it after it has taken hold; An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 

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So, My Acupuncturist Prescribed Me Herbs, Now What?

So you've been given healing herbs, now what?

You are about to benefit from some amazing ancient herbal wisdom, with very real modern medical benefits! Taking specifically prescribed, customized-to-you, Chinese herbal formulas from your Licensed Acupuncturist is an excellent way to continue the healing process between visits. It can even shorten the overall number of treatments needed because it helps to achieve the desired results quicker when used in conjunction with acupuncture.

There are many forms these powerful herbs (see our herbs page for more details) can be prescribed in: granules, powders, pills, tinctures, raw herbs, topical herbs, etc. At Lucky Tiger, we mainly use granules and raw herbs, (we also offer pills for those who aren’t fond of tasting their herbs) and prescribe other forms as needed. We take great care to ensure that our patients are given detailed instructions on how to take their herbs. Always default to the specific instructions your acupuncturist provides (and never be shy about asking us questions), but below are some general instructions for ease of reference.

 

Enjoy, and happy healing!

 

Granules:

Tea Method: “Pour contents of granule packet into cup Add approximately 6oz. of warm water, stir to dissolve granules. This is a natural product, residue may exist after dilution.” Dry Granule Shooting Method: “Open granule packet, pour entire packet directly into mouth [taking care to aim towards the center-back of the tongue while not taking a breath]. Immediately swallow/chase with water (warm or cold).”

Tea Method: “Pour contents of granule packet into cup Add approximately 6oz. of warm water, stir to dissolve granules. This is a natural product, residue may exist after dilution.”
Dry Granule Shooting Method: “Open granule packet, pour entire packet directly into mouth [taking care to aim towards the center-back of the tongue while not taking a breath]. Immediately swallow/chase with water (warm or cold).”

It is important to take your granules as many times per day as your Acupuncturist prescribes them. Usually it is best to take all prescriptions on an empty stomach (unless specifically instructed otherwise). That means allowing for a gap of at least an hour or two of not eating at either end. That being said, the most effective herbs, are the herbs that a patient takes, so when faced with a decision between taking herbs with a full stomach or not taking them at all, just take them instead of skipping a dose.

Granules can be taken mixed with warm water as a tea, or as a “granule shooter” chased with water. Either method is acceptable and completely up to patient preference. Some find the “granule shooter” method to be more convenient (no hot water needed, and a milder flavor) while others find mixing their granule packet with a little warm water to be easier. The choice is yours! You will find easy instructions on the back of most granule packets; See the image below for reference.

 

Raw Herbs:

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Sometimes your Acupuncturist will find it necessary to prescribe you a raw herbal formula. At Lucky Tiger all of our raw herbal formulas are filled by a local pharmacy, San Diego Herbal Medicine, and are usually ready for pickup within a day or two post treatment. Please feel free to call the pharmacy to check on the status of your raw herbal formula at: 619-501-7603

Raw herbs will need to be prepared at home in an herbal decoction.
Decocting herbs is really quite easy once the proper materials are required:

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1.     A non-metallic pot to cook herbs in

2.     A fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth

3.     Filtered water

4.     Raw herbs

Traditionally, raw herbs are decocted in a clay, glass or ceramic pot with a tight fitting lid (like this one or this one, that can be found on Amazon) over an open flame (be sure your pot is safe to use with direct flame). If you plan on regularly decocting raw herbs, it may be worth it to you to invest in an electric herb cooker.

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Step 1:
Acquire a good, non-metallic, cooking pot and pick up your herbs from San Diego Herbal Medicine. Your herbs will come in individual packets. For example, you may find five individually wrapped packets in your prescription; this is usually the equivalent of five days worth of herbs. Each packet usually contains enough herbs to make a total of two to three doses per day.

 

Step 2:
Decoct your herbs. Empty the contents of one packet into the pot. Add filtered water, enough to cover the herbs by at least two inches. Let the herbs soak in the water for an hour before turning the heat on. Once the herbs have soaked, cover them with a tight fitting lid and turn the heat on at least medium. It is important not to lift the lid too much during this process. Let the liquid come to a simmer/mellow boil. Generally speaking, the herbs should be simmered for 20-30 minutes (unless specifically instructed otherwise by your Acupuncturist).

Note: Sometimes a packet may contain a teabag in which a specific herb has been separated. If this is the case, be sure to contact your Acupuncturist to learn if this teabag needs to be added to the decoction separately. Sometimes certain herbs need to be cooked longer or shorter than other herbs, which is why they may be secluded in a separate teabag or packet. 

Once the herbs have been simmering for the allotted amount of time, turn off the heat, remove from burner, leaving them covered, and let sit for at least five minutes so that they can cool a bit before the straining process. 

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Step 3:
Once the decoction has cooled to a comfortable handling temperature, remove the lid and strain the decoction to remove the herbs (don’t throw out the herbs until you know if you have enough liquid/decoction for your prescribed number of doses per day). The remaining liquid is the medicinal solution (decoction) and can be separated into three equal doses for the day (usually between half a cup to one cup, each dose). If your final decoction does not produce enough for three 0.5-1c doses, you may repeat the entire decocting process (using the SAME herbs that you just strained out). Each individual packet can be decocted a maximum of three times if needed. Once you have enough decoction for a full day’s dose, you may throw away the used herbs.

Note: Once decocted, the liquid can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. This way, you can decoct your herbs in advance (rather than every day) if desired. It is usually best if each dose is taken at room temp or warmer, so feel free to reheat your herbs a little in your non-metallic pot or by using a pre-warmed cup. 

Happy Year of The Yin Fire Rooster!

Happy Year of The Yin Fire Rooster!

Ah, yes! 2017, the year of the Yin Fire Rooster.

What a combination! Simply put, it is a year of awakenings, at home and in general (whether we asked for them or not). The Yin Fire Rooster will help to show us our faults, illuminate our path forward, and motivate us to action in our own lives and in our collective communities.

The Monkey of 2015 has left many of us feeling tired and worried about our future. This year, the "wake up call" of the Rooster promises to guide in truth, honesty and empowerment. It will allow us to further explore our intuition and call attention to the areas of our lives that need to be transformed.