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What Do You Crave?

What Do You Crave?

Not long ago, a young woman, Elaine, came to my clinic to be treated for depression. During her first appointment, I asked her a number of questions about her health and lifestyle. When I asked her what foods she craved, her answer surprised me. She said that she craved frozen vegetables. Not cooked frozen vegetables, but frozen veggies right out of the freezer-crunchy and cold.

 

While her unusual answer surprised me, it also gave me some clues into her condition within the framework of Chinese medicine. Her craving for extremely cold foods told me that she had some kind of a heat condition, most likely involving the Heart organ system.

 

In Chinese medicine, each organ system (Heart, Spleen, Lungs, Kidneys, Liver) has a taste, or flavor, associated with it. The flavor related to each organ is beneficial and healing that specific organ, but in small amounts. Through the foods you crave, you can get a better idea of which Organ systems might be depleted.

 

For example, the taste associated with the Spleen is sweet. The majority of people that I see in my clinic will tell me that they crave sweets. This is frequently because their Spleen, the organ of digestion, is working overtime to digest fat-laden, nutrient-dense, over processed foods. In addition, people who are overweight almost always have damage to their Spleen system. As a result, they crave sweets. Unfortunately, in Chinese history, sweets were eaten in small amounts in the form of natural foods, like dates, yams, and fruits. Today, when we crave sweets, we turn to something like the two pound bag of M&M’s, which only further damages the Spleen.

 

If you crave salty foods, you might look to the health of your Kidney system. The Kidney in Chinese medicine is most damaged by stress, overwork, and keeping long hours without adequate rest. It is also related to how well and healthfully you will age.

 

A friend of mine is notorious for craving dill pickles and other sour foods. The sour taste is associated with the Liver. Interestingly, my friend struggles with pain around her Liver and has been diagnosed with a fatty Liver.

 

The Lung system is associated with foods that are acrid, or strongly flavored. Acrid foods have the ability to make you sweat and cause your nose to run-both activities associated with the Lung system.

 

Elaine, the woman who was craving frozen vegetables, had issues with her Heart system, as well as internal heat. She was suffering from emotional concerns, which almost always involve the Heart system in some way. The Heart is associated with the element of fire, and bitter taste. Her craving for frozen foods, while not bitter in taste, was an attempt to cool the Heart fire. Frequently, people who crave dark chocolate, coffee, and dark bitter ales, also find in the clinic that their Heart system is depleted in some way.…

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Coming of Age Activities and Celebrations

Coming of Age Activities and Celebrations

Have you thought of doing something special for your daughter as she “comes of age?” Many families and communities are finding creative ways to acknowledge girls during puberty.

These ideas will help you honor your daughter’s new maturity, acknowledging change, and create a memory of a passage shared. You and she will create moments unique to you, and, who knows? It may be the beginning of a new tradition that she will share with her own family and community in years to come.

Projects

Does your daughter have a cause she is passionate about? Would she enjoy taking on a more involved community project? She might also be ready for a bigger responsibility at home. Some communities invite girls, as they pass through puberty, to give a presentation to a group of women they know, sharing about something they are interested in.

Research coming of age in different cultures. Navajo and Apache communities, for example, hold coming-of-age to be one of the most important ceremonies of all. Why is that? Why does the entire community honor these girls as having special power, and ask them to say special blessings?

Celebrations and Gatherings

Invite friends of any age and have a party! Have a “red” theme, if you want, to symbolize womanhood and power. Read a verse, sing a song, light a candle, have girls walk through an archway, take photos, and eat yummy food.

Crown the girls with wreaths that they make from ivy, flower garlands, or poster-board. Decorate the crowns with ribbon and lace, and crown the girls during a special moment, welcoming them into the circle of women.

Here are things other families have done: One mother, a dance teacher, is planning a gathering of creative movement activities for women and girls in her community. Another, who loves the outdoors, facilitated an overnight for several girls, where each one could have some time alone under the stars, in a safe environment.…

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Scar Treatments That Work

Scar Treatments That Work

When it comes to the skin, one thing that no one wants is a scar. Scars are extremely frustrating and in addition to that, they tend to make people self conscious, uncomfortable and embarrassed in their own skin. When you have scars you tend to want to hide them and this attacks your self esteem and level of self confidence. One thing that is sure is that there are remedies for scars. These remedies come in the form of natural ingredients, cosmetic products as well as cosmetic procedures. It must also be mentioned that these different remedies also have different levels of effectiveness as well as some risks.

One of the most common natural ingredients that are used to treat scars is Vitamin E. When this is taken both orally and applied as a scar treatment, it not only helps to moisturize the skin and increase the rate of cell turnover but it also reduces the appearance of scars and causes them to decrease in size. Another natural product that works well to get rid of scars is cucumber juice and it also has many healing properties. When cucumber juice is drained, you can apply it to your scar using a cloth, leave it on for approximately 15 minutes and wash it off. This would help in getting rid of your scars. Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and it also helps to reduce the appearance of scars if it is applied to the scar. Cocoa butter and Shea butter are other natural products that, when regularly used can help your scars to fade and they would also become lightened over a period of time.

If you prefer the use of cosmetic products, then there are numerous patches and creams that can be applied to scars in order to help them to fade. The use of these remedies varies according to the nature of the scar and also how visible it is. For scars that are not only stubborn but those that require special care and attention, you should visit your dermatologist so that they would be able to prescribe products or procedures that would help to remove the scars. For instance, keloid scars need to be removed surgically so in these cases you would need to seek the advice of a medical professional. The surgical removal of scars may leave scars in themselves but there are many methods that you can use to treat surgical scars so that they would become lighter and smoother as time goes by.…

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Acne and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acne and Traditional Chinese Medicine

People looking for help with their acne vulgaris often try many treatments without much success. For thousands of years, Chinese Medicine doctors have used acupuncture and patient specific herbal formulas to treat acne. Maybe that form of acne management plan can be used today.

Consider this, Chinese traditional doctors think physical, emotional, and environmental factors are important in the individual patient when treating skin problems. From a Chinese medicine viewpoint, acne vulgaris is most often associated with heat and dampness affecting the organs and channels of the stomach, lungs and spleen.

In Chinese medicine, each organ has specific functions and is connected to a specific channel, running from the skin’s surface, internally to connect with the organ. Let’s now examine the Chinese doctor’s theories of the organ’s links to the skin.

Stomach – It is thought that the stomach naturally tends to be warm, which explains how it helps initially in digestion of food. But, this heat can easily form more heat, which can lead to spots and pimples along the stomach channel, which manifests on the chest and the face. They also think, the dampness in the stomach also may be a contributory factor, leading to increased sebum on the skin.

Lung – The lung is thought to control the skin. Any skin disease can therefore be related to the lung. This is often seen in some skin diseases, for example eczema, which often occurs with lung problems. Chinese traditional doctors also think the lung controls the skin pores. So, does this in some way link to the formation of sebum, which we know is a contributory factor in acne and spots?

Spleen – The spleen is thought by traditional Chinese doctors to control digestion. When digestion is underway, it makes large quantities of energy and is able to drive off the dampness. If the spleen is not functioning properly, the associated dampness can build up and again lead to sebum formation, acne and spots.

Stress and inherited life factors are some of the most common reasons for the disease of the organs. Also Chinese traditional doctors think poor food choices are also a common cause. For example eating, greasy, spicy, and heavy foods unbalance the function of the spleen in digestion that can bring about dampness, which again can influence an acne episode. Which is why, it is thought eating greasy burgers, chocolate, and spicy foods can be bad for acne vulgaris.

Treatment

Mild acne can be treated with acupuncture, but more severe and difficult cases often require Chinese herbs as well. The acupuncture treatment is on the lung and stomach ‘channels’, which go along the arms and legs. Lung 5, at the elbow, is often used, as well as Stomach 36 below the knee. Herbs such as ‘pi pai ye’, ‘huang qin’ and ‘sang bai pi’ may be used. If you have tried and failed with many of the traditional acne prescriptions, then contact a registered acupuncturist with experience in treating acne, to find out more about how Chinese medicine might help you.…

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Facial Blemishes – Clearing Up the Confusions

Facial Blemishes – Clearing Up the Confusions

Dealing with facial blemishes can be frustrating and painful. However as long as you have the right treatment options at your disposal, you will be able to deal with anything that comes your way. Because there are so many different kinds of these blemishes, it is important to note the difference between them and how to go about treating each. Knowing which ones are most common can be extremely effective, just in case you ever have to deal with any of them yourself. The first type of blemish falls under the category of acne.

Usually acne is the result of clogged pores deep under the skin, and this can be caused by numerous things. A hormonal imbalance is usually to blame when acne occurs, especially in adolescents who are most at-risk for this type of facial blemish. The nature and severity of these blemishes differs greatly on the person, and they can appear anywhere on the body, including on the face. Some find a prescription topical such as cleocin helpful to kill bacteria on the skin. Others take antibiotics orally for severe cases.

Blackheads and whiteheads are also common problems people have to deal with, and they always seem to appear at the worst time possible. These are essentially a form of acne and go deep into the layers of the skin, making them difficult to get rid of in some cases. When you are able to see all of the oil and dirt inside the blemish, they are called blackheads. Whiteheads tend to form under the very top surface layer of the skin and they can be very frustrating to deal with because of their stubborn resistance to many common treatments.

Cysts are only of the more painful and difficult-to-treat facial blemishes that you may experience over the course of your life. They usually present on the skin as being white in color and bumpy to the touch. Although they may look similar to whiteheads, they are very much different. A cyst is usually defined as a closed sac on the skin which is actually inside the body, making it extremely difficult to treat effectively. These are extremely common in both men and women, and in some cases can become a serious problem if they are not treated as soon as possible.

It is possible to get them on your back as well since that can be oily during puberty.

Another one of the more common facial blemishes is the mole. It most commonly presents as a dark brown or black spot on the surface of the skin, and occurs in all different kinds of people, regardless of race, gender, or any other factors. Some choose to have their moles removed, while others opt to keep them. Making this choice revolves around a purely aesthetic concern that they are not attractive. The only time they are typically dangerous is when they suddenly change color or shape. If that is the case, then you should seek out medical attention as soon as possible. Ignoring a mole such as this could mean serious repercussions on your health, depending what exactly you have and how long it has been around.…