Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What is Reiki?

Reiki is an ancient system of hands on healing. What makes Reiki unique is that it allows the practitioner to channel ki/qi (energy) to heal the recipient without taxing their own energy. Rather, the person giving the treatment also receives healing energy.

Reiki was developed by Dr. Mikao Usui 1922. The healing system was brought to the U.S. in 1937 by Hawayo Takata. Reiki is now taught in three levels, each including an energetic initiation and hands on healing. Level I is primarily for physical healing, self-healing, and hands on healing on a recipient who is physically present. It is recommended for anyone who is suffering from illness to empower them to work on their own health. Level II initiates the practitioner to address emotional level healing and long-distance healing. Master Level III is primarily for those who desire to teach, but is also extremely valuable for anyone who is in any type of healing or health care profession. It strongly increases the practitioner's healing ability and allows for deep spiritual level healing. You will find that learning Reiki will not only increase your own physical well being, it will also strongly revitalize your creativity and is highly beneficial for artists of every discipline.

Dale Bach is a Usui and Karuna Reiki Master. She experienced her own healing with Reiki and credits it with saving her life. This prompted Dale to learn Reiki and teach it to others. She has been practicing Reiki for over 20 years. Dale has generously agreed to offer her intensive Reiki I, II, and Master III over 2 weekends in a workshop that promises to be both fun and life-changing. Some are born with natural healing ability. This course allows everyone to have the ability to heal. Please click here for more info or to register.

Discovering the True Fountain of Youth

The disease of old age, the Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor will tell you, is Qi deficiency and Blood stagnation. While Qi deficiency is best treated with acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition, Blood stagnation requires something else, movement. What we call old age is mostly the body adapting to laziness and lack of movement. Weight training and aerobics are necessary components, but to allay the aging process and to retain youthfulness, the movement required is of a special kind: a combination of joint mobility and muscle flexibility.

Qigong from China, and yoga from India have long understood this, and recent science in Russia and the U.S. have supported this. Flexible muscles and mobile joints allow proper blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. Toxins are easily and regularly expelled from the body, wounds and traumas heal, and we feel a sense of well-being and ease. That tired look and stiff gait we associate with age is completely avoidable. But we must make an effort to move.

These are two distinct goals, though one can creatively combine them. Joint mobility requires moving all joints through the entire range of motion on a daily basis. Some, such as Russian surgeon Dr. Janda, recommends moving each joint the full range of motion the same number of times as your age. Others, such as Z Health practitioners require a far modest number. Joint mobility drills are easily added before your regular workout or first thing in the morning to wake everything up.

Most people are familiar with stretching, even though most avoid it. It is best done after you are warmed u or at the end of a workout.

We often recommend Ginastica Natural, or "natural gymnastics," to our patients. It is a full system of strength, mobility, flexibility, balance, and stamina, based entirely on natural movement patterns. Many find Ginastica Natural resembles a fluid yoga mixed with gymnastics. The originator of Ginastica Natural, Prof. Alvaro Romano, is offering a seminar in Los Angles on Sat, Aug 14, 2010 from 10am-4pm. Cost is $175.

You must practice moving your body in every which way it was meant to move or YOU WILL LOSE IT.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Reiki: Chinese Character Analysis

The above are the characters for Reiki.

The modern Japanese writing system, Kanji  (漢字) uses Chinese characters; kanji literally meaning "Han characters" or "Chinese characters", along with hiragana (the characters that look like squiggle lines) and katakana (which look similar to Chinese characters but not quite). In light of the upcoming intensive workshop, I thought it would be interesting to break down the meaning of the Chinese characters in Reiki.

The first character 霊 (靈)is líng, which is an interesting character. It contains the radical for rain 雨 (  or 霝 líng) on top and the shaman 巫 () radical on the bottom. Together the character can mean spirit, spiritual world, intelligent, Divine, mysterious, or effective.

The second character 气 (氣) is qi. Qi is often translated as "life force or vital energy" or simply "energy." 気 is the Japanese version.

Together it would mean Divine energy or effective energy.

Reiki is the Japanese pronunciation of these characters.

If you are interested in attending a Reiki I,II, & Master intensive with renowned teacher Dale Bach please click here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Construct of the Chinese Herbal Formula

Chinese herbology developed alongside but independently from acupuncture in many way. Acupuncture likely emerged out of early Shamanic traditions and qigong and meditation practices. The origins and development are not documented. By the time the earliest medical texts were written some 2,500 years (or more) ago the meridian systems and basics of acupuncture had already evolved.

Chinese herbology, however, shows a path of clear development. Medical texts follow a logical path of trial and error on thousands and thousands of subjects, of all ages, classes, ethnic groups, climates, etc. Ship voyages and diplomacy with other nations were fueled not so much by imperialism as a desire for knowledge, herbal knowledge in particular.

The result is a system of herbology that is far more complex than its Western cousin. It is often difficult for those adept at Western herbology to understand Chinese Herbal formulas. For one thing, Chinese herbs are rarely taken alone. With the exception of such herbs as Ren Shen (ginseng) or Gou Qi Zi (gou gi berries), most Chinese are taken in formulas containing anywhere from 3-15 herbs. The formulas follow a very specific reasoning based on a Confucian ideal of harmony. The ideal Chinese herbal formula has no side effects.

First the core disease pattern(s) is chosen for the patient. The underlying constitution, most pronounced symptoms, and other factors are taken into consideration. One or two king herbs are chosen to address the pattern of greatest concern. Herbs that directly support its action are added. Then herbs to to address specific symptoms, additional patterns, neutralize potential side effects, etc. are added.

There are more than 400 herbs in the Chinese pharmacopoeia, originating from all over the world. They are organized in categories of main function, thermal property (hot, cold, neutral, warm), and the channels they affect.

Herbs are taken in various forms: raw herb decoctions, tinctures, honey pills, tablets, and tea pills. Externally they are used as soaks and plasters.

Chinese herbology is part of the training of Licensed Acupuncturists in the state of California. It takes 3600 hours of schooling to be licensed, and a lifetime to master.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Constipation-Home Remedies

Constipation in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be caused by a variety of patterns. Most common are Yin and Blood (Fluid) Deficiency (common in older patients, after loss of blood, childbirth, or prolonged illness, or in some cases simply constitutional), Liver Qi Stagnation (irregularity due to stress or emotional upset), and Heat or DampHeat (often caused by rich diet, longstanding emotional strain, or constitution.) All types should be treated with acupuncture and individualized herbal formulas, but there are some home remedies that can offer some temporary relief. Other therapies such as colonics and exercises such as qigong, meditation, and yoga are often a necessary component for treating constipation.

Yin and Blood Deficiency Type
In this case we want to lubricate the bowels to make evacuation easier. Eat moistening foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and good fats such as avocados. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The following is a particularly effective remedy, only take care not to take too often as both prunes and spinach are high oxalate foods that can leach calcium from the system.

Mix the following in a blender:
1 pear
4-5 prunes
1/2 cup of raw spinach
1 tblsp. flaxseed meal

Liver Qi Stagnation Type
This type benefits the most from lifestyle changes such as a regular meditation practice, which is usually the last thing overly stressed people want to/can do. Acupuncture and appropriate herbs can start creating a sense of peace that the patient can then maintain. The same is true for getting a hypnotherapy session or attending a meditation class where someone else can direct you on how to relax so you can later do it yourself.

First thing upon awakening have a warm/hot glass of water with lemon/lime juice and a teaspoon of raw honey. The water should be warm as it will go to the bowels. Cold water sits in the stomach.

Heat or DampHeat Type
This type often involves a variety of factors including stress and inappropriate dietary habits.  more personalized acupuncture and lifestyle plan are often necessary. This is the type of patient who often does well with a high raw foods diet.

In this case lemon or lime juice with hot warm/hot water first thing in the morning is often helpful. People with DampHeat often have trouble drinking enough water, so adding a little lemon juice, cranberry juice, or greens formula to drinking water can be very helpful.

Daikon radish eaten between meals will help cool and decongest the body.

Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are 1 of the few oils that is actually beneficial for this constitution type and can be eaten regularly. A tea made with boiled water and 1 tblsp. of flaxseed meal can be taken 1-2 times a day on an empty stomach.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Natural Probiotics - Rejuvelac Recipe

Probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. These microorganisms help keep yeast and less friendly bacteria in check. Probiotics can be purchased in health food stores, but you can also make your own inexpensive fermented culture at home to introduce healthy bacteria into your body.

Every traditional culture has fermented or cultured foods in its diet. They were a way to preserve food in times before refrigeration. They also have the benefit of balancing the body's bacteria. Probiotics are beneficial for everyone to maintain health in our increasingly sterile environment. Probiotics are especially indicated after any course of antibiotics, in cases of yeast infection, or digestive issues.

For recipes on making your own fermented cultures I recommend Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. What follows is a simple recipe for Rejuvelac, modified from Paul Pitchfork's classic Healing With Whole Foods:

2 cups wheat berries
1 quart water

  • Soak 2 cups wheat berries for 1 day. Discard soak water. Rinse berries and soak them again in a jar containing one quart of water. Cover the mouth of the jar with a cloth or sprout screen and let stand for 2 days. Pour off rejuvelac. Add 1 quart of water to wheat. After 1 day, pour off second batch of rejuvelac and compost wheat. Begin soaking more wheat berries to make a fresh batch of rejuvelac.
  • Makes 4 cups.
  • Rejuvelac tastes sour. If too sour, reduce fermentation time. If it tastes foul discard. Rejuvelac ferments faster in hot weather. Once made, keep refrigerated.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Beets & Carrots: Build Your Liver

An easy way to gently cleanse and strengthen your liver is to eat beets and carrots together. This can easily be incorporated in salads and juicing.

I further simplified a recipe I found Vegetarian Times Magazine, "Jewel-tone Pancakes with Creamy Yogurt-Dill Sauce," found on page 73. The original recipe in more involved so I recommend checking it out. Here was my fast version this morning:

1 beet, grated
1 large carrot, grated
4 eggs
olive oil
Salt, pepper, tarragon, etc. to taste

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add grated beets and carrots and seasoning. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium high. Spoon out about 1/4 cup of the beet mixture into the frying pan for each "pancake." Allow to brown for a few minutes and turn. And they're done!

I put the beet pancakes on toast with vegenaise and a slice of tomato. Surprisingly really good.