By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
February 7th, 2008 in the Chinese calendar is the first day of the Year of the Rat. The Chinese calendar is an amazingly accurate system, which not only records the time, but is also a tool for forecasting. The energetic relationship between the Five Elements, an ancient symbolic system that expresses the energy transformation in nature, and the calendar system helps one foretell what is to come so that one can be better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities and guard against potential pitfalls and health problems.
The Rat is the first in the 12-animal signs in the Chinese zodiac and represents the start of a new 12 years cycle. As such, the Rat year can usher in a shift or new beginnings in political, economic and social cycles like new governments, international policies and social trends. So this is a good year to start global initiatives, personal health regiment, or change in leadership. This is a great time to initiate a 12-month as well as a 12-year plan for personal and professional development with a focus on personal health, well-being and longevity. It is also a good time to start new relationships or renew old commitments.
The year 2008 corresponds to Earth and Water elements. These elements are symbolized as a mountain atop the ocean, which gives the appearance of stability but is actually fragile underneath as the earth is floating above water. The Rat year contains abundant Water energy and therefore may bring heavy rain or flooding. The fiery Earth energy signifies an unsteady earth energy, which may portend disasters such as landslide, bridge or building collapse or earthquakes.
The effects of global warming may step up in 2008 with the imagery of floating earth or ice on the ocean as the melting of glaciers will be certain to accelerate. Encouraging efforts are under way globally to reduce greenhouse gases and sustain the environment, but we all need to do more to slow and reverse this precarious decline of our planet. We can do our part by buying “green” and preferring organic in our diet and lifestyle. The Year of the Rat shall bring more acute awareness and urgency to this issue.
On the health front, the Earth and Water elemental energies of 2008 correspond to one’s digestive and hormonal/kidney systems. One needs to be on the lookout for health problems relating to the stomach, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, adrenal and reproductive organs. Preventive steps include eating more mindfully, smaller more frequent meals, and organic locally grown foods. Avoid foods that are hard on your digestive system such as rich, fatty, greasy, deep-fried and highly processed foods with preservatives, artificial coloring, flavoring and chemical additives. Additionally, sweets, sugars and sugar substitutes should be minimized as these directly assault the digestive organ network, leading to obesity, diabetes, unstable energy and moods.
Since the digestive organ network is also associated with the muscles, one may encounter a higher tendency to more muscular injuries, so warm up and stretch before exercising and cool down with ice pack or cool shower afterwards to prevent muscle injuries. Moreover, tai chi, qigong and yoga, along with adequate rest have been found in studies to stimulate and promote healthy functions in the kidney/adrenal, hormonal and reproductive systems, which correlate to the Water element. Black beans, walnut and blueberry are supportive foods for the above organ network.
Regarding the economy, the dominating element is Water so 2008 is a year of cooling down from the heated economic environment of the last couple of years. Industries related to the earth element such as commercial real estate, hotels, mining, natural resources, high tech and healthcare should do better than other sectors. Industries that are associated with the Fire elemental energies such as finance, banking, entertainment, energy and stock markets may not do as well in 2008 since the Water energy dominates over the Fire energy.
Having an understanding of the energetic dynamics of a new year can help you increase awareness and preparation to take advantage of the natural cyclical trends in every aspects of your life. In summary, 2008 may bring you new relationship opportunities and renewal of previous associations, fresh endeavors and a whole new life direction. So go forth with an open mind, earnest heart and a firm life purpose that will help you profit from opportunities and weather any and all challenges!
Happy New Year!
By Dr. Daoshing Ni
Infant colic, a condition notorious for the unrelenting screaming and crying of young infants, is not a new thing. For centuries families have been driven to distraction by the shrieking and crying of their newest members. Commonly parents are plagued by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness as they are unable to sooth their suffering baby’s plight. My first born suffered from colic and on occasions he would scream so loud, and for so long, his voice would go hoarse. So with first hand experience on what it is you go through when your child has colic, I would like to offer you some Chinese medical advice.
Colic can affect both full-term and premature babies, with premature babies having a greater chance of being affected by the condition. Colic is on the rise in this country and this can be due to a number of reasons including complications during delivery, the rise of the average age of first time mothers and bottle feeding.
Babies are born with very weak digestive systems. Basically the organs in charge of digestion and assimilation of food, such as the stomach and the intestines, are immature and cannot effectively perform their functions. This leads to a buildup of gas and acid which in turn produces terrible pain. Typically as the digestive system matures the number of colic attacks decrease. However, the time it takes for your child to be colic free varies from weeks to months, and for desperate parents reducing this time is crucial.
In traditional Chinese medicine colic is said to result, not only from the weak digestive system an infant is born with, but a sensitive nervous system. The transition from life in utero to life in the outside world is a traumatic event, especially if there are complications during birth. Having an awareness of this and easing the transition will help your baby’s nervous system adjust as quickly as possible. Not all babies react to the indigestion with distress, only the ones with a sensitive nervous system will react in this way.
These are some home remedies you can use to sooth your baby’s nervous system, strengthen their digestive system and help ease episodes of colic.
Create a nurturing environment
The 4 S’s stand for: Swaying, Sucking, Shhh and
Brands of formula
Topical ginger application
Papaya or pineapple digestive enzymes
Massage your baby’s feet
Finally consistency is my most sincere advice
If you have taken all this advice, put it into action and your baby is still suffering from colic, please bring your child to receive some acupuncture and herbs. We have treated children as young as one or two weeks old in our clinic with great results. Pharmaceutical intervention is rarely needed but in cases of severe reflux can be helpful.
By Jessica Chen
“Can acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine help with weight loss?”
This is a question frequently asked by many patients. The answer is “yes”, but it all depends on how serious you are about making some eating and lifestyle changes. There are a number of weight loss programs out there and the majority of them work well to help you loose weight. It is easy to loose weight regardless of what type of diet you are on. But the question comes down to “can you keep the weight off?” This is the struggle I see in many patients. Weight loss programs are great in helping with portion size control and knowing when and what not to eat. They are also great at providing a support system while you battle through the challenges of dropping a few pounds. But here are some reasons these programs do not help with keeping the weight off. Programs are standardized and in some cases have rigid protocols which are difficult to maintain in your day to day life. Also the goal of these programs is geared to helping you loose weight fast, which physiologically is not an efficient way of doing things. When we loose weight fast we do not loose pounds of fat, we loose pounds of muscle mass, when we loose muscle mass we slow down our metabolic rate which means our ability to gain weight is enhanced, which means we end up back on the program again a few months down the line.
“Inches off, eat right” refers to the weight loss nutritional program we offer at the Tao of Wellness, which is based on Chinese nutritional principles. Chinese nutrition, like acupuncture is based on balancing the body’s energetic system. Yes! Through diet we are able to balance your body’s physiology and energy so it may function more efficiently. It is also a program which caters very much for the individual and his or her specific needs. Not everyone is built the same way, so why should our diet and eating habits be the same. The weight loss nutritional counseling we offer differs from traditional Western nutritional assessment as it does not focus on counting calories, making rigid dietary plans, or giving out processed bars! Our focus is to educate you on the energetic properties of food and how these complement you as an individual. All food is composed of a particular taste: sweet (sweet potato), salty (seaweed), pungent (ginger), bitter (arugula) and temperature: hot (lamb), warm (cherries), neutral (artichoke), cool (asparagus) and cold (lobster). Based on the Traditional Medical diagnosis of your specific condition, your nutritional counseling will be tailored to what most appropriately suits your body energetically. When you ingest foods that are energetically fitting to you, your body will respond better naturally. With the dietary recommendations that we give you not only will you be feeling more energized, but within a short period of time you will notice you are shedding the pounds at the same time.
Losing weight is not just about the image anymore; it is about preventing future disease. Losing weight and keeping it off can help prevent obesity related diseases like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and joint pain to name a few. The goal here is not only to help you loose weight; it is also to stay healthier for years to come.
What will I expect in my first nutritional counseling session?
How many sessions do I need?
What else should I do besides nutritional counseling?
Remember, the Year of the Rat is about new beginnings, fresh endeavors and a whole new life direction. Call us today to start your new health plan at (310) 917-2200.
Not unlike a legendary dragon slayer, I have been battling my weight related demons starting around the onset of puberty. Countless times I bravely raised my mighty sword determined to do battle with that malevolent, overbearing dragon only to find myself failing yet again. At each attempt I was quite successful at losing the weight; it was the maintenance that would leave me sitting high on my horse, holding a mangled sword, enveloped in abject defeat and disgrace.
The past few years have been very difficult for me, filled with much heartache and loss. My father passed away five years ago, and I lost my beloved mother and best friend twenty one months ago. There are no words that can even come close to conveying the pain and emptiness that overcame me after my mother left this earth. I felt helpless, hopeless, empty, and started to numb my pain with pastries and chocolates, which only proceeded to add twenty five pounds to a person who was already overweight, but did very little to help her move forward in her life.
Slowly, though, I did begin to notice a correlation between the amount of sweets that I consumed during the course of one day, and the severity of the panic attacks that would occur on the following morning. One afternoon, while sitting at the kitchen counter finishing a bag of chocolates, I noticed that I was completely devoid of all feeling, numb like a zombie. This was the first time that I consciously realized what I was doing to myself and I felt not unlike an alcoholic. A sobering thought that steered me toward a completely different path in life. I needed to do something to save myself from myself.
At the suggestion of my dear friend Agneta, I went to see her M.D., since I could not remember the last time I had paid one a visit. The session did not go well, but it was yet another catalyst for my change. After hearing that the doctor wanted to put me on three or four different medications, I went into full blown hysteria and ran back to Dr. Mao for help.
I have known Dr. Mao for close to twenty years, and he has always been there for me, guiding and helping me through all of my physical and emotional travails. On many occasions Dr. Mao would gently suggest that it would be good for my health if I would lose some weight, but I was not ready and did not listen. Both his and Dr. Chen’s hands were always outstretched to me, but I was not yet at the point where I felt comfortable taking hold of them. The best doctor, the best nutritionist could not do this for me. They could guide and instruct me, but the spark, the desire had to come from deep inside of me. Fear is a magnificent motivator, and so on Dr. Mao’s advice I went to see Dr. Chen who has been my wonderful teacher, guide and cheerleader over these past six months.
Exactly what or who has been the cause of my weight issues throughout the years is only now becoming ever so slightly perceptible through a thick veil of fog. Time heals, time reveals and I have faith that the image will eventually become unobscured, but for the present I knew that I had to focus every cell of my being on my rebirth. I completely changed my perception of food and exercise, starting to follow Dr. Chen’s “grazing” meal plan which consists of three meals and two snacks per day. Following the plan has kept me satiated, and keeping a food journal has kept me focused and inspired.
An integral ingredient to my success has been exercise. I remembered the advice of an old chiropractor who recommended that any exercise program should start slowly and gently, as to prevent injury. Since I was suffering from panic attacks, Dr. Mao also suggested that I initially watch my heart rate so as not to exacerbate the attacks. I started with only ten minutes on the stationary bicycle, and would increase the duration by two to three minute increments every few days. I looked forward to my hour of yoga because it incorporates both relaxing stretches and meditative breathing. Later on I incorporated the treadmill into my routine, also starting at just ten minutes. Presently, on a “perfect” day, I happily ride my bike for forty five minutes, walk on the treadmill for fifty minutes, do one hour of yoga, and thirty five minutes of “conductorcise”. At the end of these days I feel a great sense of accomplishment.
Having lost 75 pounds I know that I am getting closer to my goal, making me feel better, stronger, and lighter with each passing day.
There still remains an extant undercurrent of fear surrounding the possibility of a repeated failure, and a query as to the reason for my past failures. On reviewing my past attempts at weight loss, I believe the answer to my question is chocolate. I finally realized that the “all or nothing” approach simply did not work for me. Each time that I would completely deny this pleasure from my life, I would ultimately start binging and would spiral into failure. This time, I chose a different approach…moderation, allowing myself one square of high quality chocolate every evening after dinner. I no longer inhale the chocolate, but slowly savor its taste and texture, abating the probability of an ensuing overpowering craving. Each one of us is different and has to find a formula that will work for oneself. Thankfully, I believe that I have finally found my recipe for success.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge that I was always aware that Drs. Mao and Chen were here ready to help me. It was I who was not ready. Now I would like to thank them for their patience, for their persistence and, mostly, for their loving, caring, masterful direction. Their assistance in my journey holds a very special place in my heart, and will never be forgotten. Thank you.
— Liz S.K.
By Ban B. Wong
There are many ways to bring a smile to someone’s face and having a healthy bowel movement is one of them.
In ancient China, constipation was not a rare condition. When the Emperor of China was constipated, his doctors would have to move heaven and earth to help him go. Fortunately wise ancient Chinese doctors found that acupuncture and herbs helped the Emperor regain regularity in his bowel movements.
Constipation can be one of the most painful and agonizing experiences and it has defined human existence both historically and cross-culturally. A low fiber diet, insufficient water intake, stress, lack of exercise, pain medications and pregnancy are some common precursors to constipation. What is considered a normal number of bowel movements is a commonly asked question. Bowel rhythms can be as unique as people, and these can vary from 3 times a day to 3 times a week. Constipation however, is defined as not having a bowel movement for more than 3 days or having fewer than 3 bowel movements a week. When should you see your doctor? If your bowel movements fit the above mentioned definition you should consult with your doctor. You should also seek medical advice if you are having regular bowel movements but have difficulty in passing the stool or the stool is hard. If you have a sensation of not having totally passed all the stool, or if you have periods of constipation alternating with episodes of diarrhea you may also want to see your doctor.
Should I self medicate? Please be aware that the overuse of laxatives and enemas that stimulate peristalsis (muscle contraction) in the Large intestine, can ultimately tire the intestinal muscle and result in complications. Overuse of laxatives can cause dependence, as the bowel will eventually not move unless it is stimulated by these medications. Using bulk forming laxatives such as bran, prunes, psyllium husk, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which naturally add fibers and fluid to the gut to help promote bowel movement, are a much safer alternative. Making sure you ingest plenty of fluids, exercise regularly, and ensure a high fiber diet are great ways to prevent constipation.
The following is a list of foods that promote regular bowel movements:
Chinese Medicine considers constipation as an imbalance in Qi (energy) and Blood (fluids) of the intestines. But bad food/drink choices and lack of exercise are not the only causes of constipation, negative emotions can also block the energy and deplete the fluids in the intestines. At Tao of Wellness we have helped many unhappy people cleanse their bowels and restore them to a healthy and balanced state by using acupuncture and herbs. Since everyone’s bowel condition is unique, we customize herbal formulas to suit your specific needs. Our staff and doctors wish you many more “ahhs” in the future.
By James Evans
I am often asked what makes Tao of Wellness Detox different from other detox programs. The difference comes from the way we understand how the body works. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we see the body as a natural environment with an efficient system to rid itself of toxins. However, due to our fast-paced modern lifestyles and an increased exposure to harmful and toxic substances in both the environment and in the foods we ingest, the natural mechanisms the body has to detoxify are compromised. We see evidence of this in our clinic everyday, with patients coming in suffering from chronic fatigue, depression, and chronic pain to name just a few conditions.
With chronic health conditions becoming increasingly prevalent in our practice and in society, we decided to develop a unique and intensive detox program. Our program combines Traditional Chinese Medical treatment modalities such as: acupuncture, cupping, tuina, herbal therapies, and chi gong movements, together with diet therapies based on Chinese medical nutrition principles. In addition to the traditional techniques we have included new technology such as the Far-infrared sauna to stimulate sweating and release of toxins through the skin.
Over the last two years that we have run detox retreats we have seen how effective our protocol is in stimulating and improving the body’s natural ability to detoxify. We have witnessed first hand how people’s lives can be transformed, by becoming more energized, vibrant and alive, and most importantly find relief from chronic health issues.
When asked how participants felt after our programs they replied:
“Very relaxed, liberated from stress and addictions, focused and invigorated.” — David
“Clearer in thought and more relaxed; my joints feel less stiff and sore.”— Janet
“I feel refreshed and uplifted, not only do I feel better but I feel more empowered to live a healthier lifestyle.” — Mick
“Motivated, calmer and more loving.” — Roni
“Much more energy. I feel this is only the beginning.” — Elaine
Our January detox retreat is full while our February and March retreats are also filling fast. For those who are unable to attend we recommend our 1 week detox program. As part of the program we will provide you with the list of foods that comprise the detox diet, together with instructions on how to prepare them. For those with hectic schedules we can organize a chef to prepare your meals. To complement the diet plan you will be given our detox herbal formulation, which is key to stimulating the liver, lymph, lungs and kidneys to release toxins. Finally, the most important part of the program involves receiving acupuncture/cupping/ tuina treatments three times during the week-long detoxification process. Each treatment is followed by a session in our Far-infrared sauna. These treatments are aimed at reducing the side effects of the cleansing process as well as expediting the release of toxins from the body.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact James Evans or speak to your practitioner. Happy cleansing!
Dates for future Detox Weekends