Friday, July 31, 2009

Have a Good Weekend

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Medicine Hunter

No video? Click here.

The quality of this video isn't good, but the message is terrific. Chris Kilham of Medicine Hunter is on CNBC spreading the word:

"My mission is to get more people using safe, effective plant medicines and fewer people using toxic, potentially lethal pharmaceuticals."

Me too. (thanks to Cathy Margolin L.Ac of PacHerbs)

Click here to watch a higher-resolution version on the CNBC website.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

HR 646: Acupuncture For Everyone!

Obama's 8 Principles for Health Care Reform

Read the Bill, also known as The Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act

How HR 646 can support Obama's Plan

Act now to help make it happen!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Need A Better Health Care System

I just spent over four hours waiting to get an annual reproductive health examination, and I was one of the fortunate ones who had an appointment scheduled. I couldn't believe it.

The waiting room was full of 20-somethings, men and women, all uninsured. Some people had waited over two hours just to pee in a cup, and were still waiting after I left!

I emphatically commend the low-cost health care providers of this country. They have to handle such an incredible work load, with so much paperwork and bureaucracy, it's ridiculous.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Eating Your Way to Health: Chè Đậu Xanh Phổ Tai

Perfect for summer! Đậu Xanh, or 绿豆 Lu Dou, also known as mung bean in English, is an herb that is sweet and cold. It is commonly used in decocted formulas to dispel heat and toxin, and is an effective antidote for overdose of many toxic substances. It can be used topically as well! When I was little, my mom taught me how to mash up some raw mung beans to use as a paste whenever I got a cold sore.

According to Chen's Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology:
Lu Dou is commonly used as a food or dessert in the summertime to clear heat, relieve thirst, alleviate restlessness, and lower body temperature. It is also effective to prevent heat stroke due to summer-heat.

Viet Nam is a hot country, and it's no wonder that a ton of our desserts use mung bean. Here's a recipe you can try that includes not only mung bean, but also two other ingredients used as herbal medicinals: lotus seed and seaweed.

1 cup mung beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1/3 cup dried lotus seeds, soaked in cold water overnight
1/4 cup dried seaweed, best with bladderwrack or kelp
1/4 cup pearl tapioca
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
7 cups water

You can find all the ingredients at any Asian food market.

Combine water and beans in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cook uncovered till beans are tender (about 2 hours). Add lotus seed, seaweed, tapioca, and sugar. Cook until soup thickens a little and lotus seeds are tender, but not mushy (20 minutes). Add vanilla and allow the soup cool down. If it's really hot out, you can add some shaved ice before serving. Some people like to add some coconut cream on top. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dao of the Day: The Universe is Colorful

Photo from the Chandra space telescope. Watch a really cool video here.

Be brave in daring: kill or be killed;
Be brave in not daring: live and let live;
One of the two brings gain, one harm.
But which man knows what heaven condemns,
What precedents it is guided by?

The way of heaven masters all:
It prevails though striving not,
It replies though speaking not,
Comes although uncalled,
And gives good counsel though affected not.
Heaven's net, cast far and wide,
Seems slack yet nothing slips outside.

- Dao De Jing, Stanza 73
Translation and Commentary by Moss Roberts

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Treating Winter Diseases in Summer

Children getting herbal plasters

Here's an interesting story about the use of herbal plasters in the summertime to prevent illness in the winter. It might strike you as an odd idea, but here's the theory...

With the cold weather in winter, the human body tends to contain excessive yin energy due to insufficient yang energy, which makes people liable to attract diseases such as bronchitis, rheumatism, bronchial asthma and cold in the spleen and stomach.

Treating winter ailments in summer means that summer, a season when yang energy peaks, is the time to nourish yang energy for winter, thus relieving and preventing those chronic cold-related ailments that plague people during the chillier months.

You can read the whole story here...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Study Finds Chinese Herbal Formula Effective for Endometriosis

Picture: Amber, one of the main ingredients of Nei Yi Wan No picture? Click here.

Nei Yi Wan has just three ingredients, according to ITM: turtle shell (鳖甲 Bie Jia or 龟板 Gui Ban), vinegar-treated rhubarb (醋炒大黄 Cu Chao Da Huang), and succinum (琥珀 Hu Po). From Reuters:

"I think the positive message is that Chinese herbal medicine may offer equivalent benefits to conventional medicine but with fewer side effects," lead researcher Andrew Flower, of the University of Southampton in the UK, told Reuters Health.

Here's a link to the original study, from the Cochrane Library: Chinese herbal medicine for endometriosis

Finally and most interesting to people in the TCM world, an exhaustive article by Subhuti Dharmananda of the Institute of Traditional Medicine, detailing the many different Chinese herbal approaches to endometriosis: Chinese Herbal Therapy for Endometriosis.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TCM Diet by Xu Xiangcai

Here's an interesting article from Xu Xiangcai on the Traditional Chinese Medicine view of food and nutrition. It answers the burning question "what should I eat?"

Chinese healthcare experts have always advocated light and simple diets. They believe that such diets can prevent diseases, strengthen the body and prolong life. Consumption of heavy, greasy, and sweet foods over a long period of time produces heat, phlegm, and dampness within the body and tends to cause illness. The Nei Jing says, “Heavy and greasy food causes a change that may result in serious illness.”

Take a look at the full article: "Traditional Chinese Health - A Simple and Light Diet"

Xu Xiangcai is the author of one of my favorite TCM books, Complete External Therapies of Chinese Drugs.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Importance of Sleep

The importance of a good night's sleep can't be overstated. We need sleep like we need air and water. Some of our modern American torture techniques include sleep deprivation, which when prolonged can lead to hallucinations and irritability. According to a recent study, night-shift workers have an increased incidence of cancer, possibly due to the disruption of the natural sleep cycle.

The pineal gland secretes melatonin, which is thought to play an important role in regulating sleep cycles. The Chinese medicine explanation for sleep involves blood circulation, the Heart and the Liver. During the day the 神 Shen, or spirit, resides in the Heart, giving us the spark of life that connects us to the outside world. At night the Liver is said to "store the blood", and the Shen goes with the blood to the Liver.

Insomnia can be due to a number of factors, including stress, constitutional deficiency, overeating or eating too close to bedtime. In TCM diagnosis this may correspond to Liver Qi Stagnation, Liver or Heart Fire, Liver Blood Deficiency, or Food Stagnation.

Another cause of poor sleep could be sleep apnea. If the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep, your breathing will be obstructed, there could be very loud snoring, and you won't get adequate oxygen. In this case you may need a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which covers your mouth and nose at night and helps to keep your airways open. While not an ideal solution for the long-term, a CPAP machine can greatly improve the quality of your sleep. To determine if you need a CPAP machine, you may need to stay overnight at a sleep center, where they will observe you while you sleep.

Insomnia is one of the things that acupuncture and Chinese medicine are most effective at treating. If you have occasional or chronic insomnia, go see your local acupuncturist.

Also on the web:
Daytime Lullaby by Verlyn Klinkenborg in the New York Times
Effect of sleep deprivation on driving

Friday, July 17, 2009

A1/H1N1 Flu Prophylactic

金银花 Jin Yin Hua, 板蓝根 Ban Lan Gen, 甘草 Gan Cao, 薄荷 Bo He

The four herbs above are currently being used in China to make a drink that prevents the flu due to H1N1 virus. Below is the full story from

A type of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to prevent the A1/H1N1 influenza, dubbed the “flu prevention drink”, goes on sale on July 2, in every drugstore and hospital dispensary for TCM medicines.

The prescription was formulated and issued by the Committee of Experts for Flu Prevention and Control under Beijing Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine to cope with the A1/ H1N1 influenza and the recent hot weather. The daily adult prescription consists of 3 grams of Honeysuckle, Woad root, Liquorice root and Peppermint. After it is mixed with boiled water, it can be gargled or drunk as a tea substitute. It can be used for seven consecutive days. According to experts from the administration, the prescription can be used by people of all ages, children and even pregnant women. If people don’t like the taste, they can add rock sugar or honey to it, without altering the effect of the medicine. It can be purchased in every drugstore or hospital dispensary for TCM medicines and a daily dose will only cost little more than one yuan.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Disease Smells

This short National Geographic video here shows how dogs can smell certain diseases and can be trained to help those in need. One researcher in the video talks about how one day we humans might even be able to use the dogs' sniffing skills to diagnose disease.

Chapter Four of the Huang Di Nei Jing had stated thousands of years ago that a medical diagnosis could be made or confirmed by the presence of certain smells, ones that humans can detect. According to the five phases theory:

In the five odours, the odour of liver is stink. (urine)

In the five odours, the odour of heart is scorching.

In the five odours, the odour of spleen is fragrance.

In the five odours, the odour of lung is stinking. (fishy)

In the five odours, the odour of kidney is rancid. (rotten)

The above was quoted from: Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine by Wang Bing (Tang Dynasty), translated by Wu Liansheng and Wu Qi.

I've found that after I leave a patient in the room with the door closed, their distinctive smell is always much more noticeable when I come back. I've definitely smelled the scent of burnt or scorched, but I haven't yet encountered a person smelling like stink and urine during treatment. That's probably a good thing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Exercise Prevents Senility

Master Guo Lian Ying (aka Kuo Lien Ying)

Yet another reason to exercise...

For the past week I've been getting up at roughly 6 a.m. and going to Mar Vista park to stretch and engage in a little "physical culture." I've been doing a mix of kung fu exercises, qi gong, tai ji quan. People get out early to this park - there's a dedicated group of middle-aged Chinese women who are out practicing their tai ji sword form, and occasionally you see others doing different kinds of tai ji. The basketballers and the soccer players are out pretty early too. People are there with their dogs, too, but mostly they let the dogs play for them.

It's been a long time since I've dedicated myself to practice everyday. The difference is incredible. My digestion is better, my energy is flowing and relaxed at all hours of the day, my jokes are funnier and my mood is better. This is one of the benefits of running your own business - you can set your own hours.

Monday, July 13, 2009

California Acupuncture Licensing Exam on August 5th, 2009 in Sacramento

It's coming.

I'm taking it.

Nini's taking it.

We're studying. We finally got in our studying groove. Right now I could rattle off the ingredients to almost all the 63 board formulas, or most of them. Other random facts: 威灵仙 Wei Ling Xian can be used to dissolve fish bones stuck in the throat. 陰溪 Yin Xi (HT6) and 復溜 Fu Liu (K7) for night sweats. Posterior pituitary releases ADH and oxytocin, anterior pituitary releases all the other ones, LH, FSH, prolaction, ACTH, etc. In case of a broken needle, remove with forceps. If below the skin, contact a physician (seriously, that's the law).

By September 5th, we'll know the results. My personality dictates that I treat this exam as an enemy to be destroyed, and right now I'm deep in training. Wish us luck!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Chinese Herbs on Twitter

People are talking about their Chinese herbs on Twitter. I like to highlight what patients say about their herbs - here's a selection... You can follow us on twitter at

  • On_bike_normal
    CyclistOnChemo: The Disgusting Chinese Herbs tasted OK this morning. Wonder if it's because I was concentrating on something or if my taste is changing
    Jul 10, 2009 08:21 AM GMT · from TwitterFox · Reply · View Tweet
  • Img_5029_normal
    msservalan: Found my seat, realised I left my chinese herbs at home! Sigh... Wonder if it's worth getting them sent to meet me?
    Jul 10, 2009 03:42 AM GMT · from TwitterBerry · Reply · View Tweet
  • My_photo__normal
    HerbalPatricia: It's official. Brenda 43 is pregnant. FSH was 34, one ovary was partially removed with a cyst. 5 months of Chinese herbs and success today
    Jul 10, 2009 01:21 AM GMT · from web · Reply · View Tweet
  • Vinh_6_normal
    iPewp: Chinese herbs are crazy old fashioned. Hurts the nose.
    Jul 9, 2009 04:36 AM GMT · from txt · Reply · View Tweet

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Time Magazine on Placenta Consumption

Here's a humorous article about eating your own placenta from Time Magazine.

For more information on placenta, take a look at our previous post, Human Placenta Consumption, from April 16th.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chinese Rice Wine

Ever tried Chinese rice wine? Apparently some of it is pretty good! This company imports high-quality rice wine for drinking (not cooking or degreasing engine blocks) from China.

I don't remember when I first tried 白酒 bai jiu, but I remember that it takes some getting used to. First of all, it's usually 100 proof or more. The kind I'm familiar with has an acrid, sharp smell that feels like it's going to make your eyes bleed if you're exposed to the fumes.

Bai jiu, it should be noted, can be made from a variety of different grains, typically sorghum or barley. Although the characters can be translated as "white wine", a more accurate description would be Chinese-style vodka. It's very useful for making herbal liquor - the higher proof helps to extract the active ingredients of the herbs.

Someday I'll have to try the rice wine this guy is selling. I wonder if it's at Ranch 99.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Here's an interesting website of original TCM products. The company is based in Hangzhou, China.

Besides the usual product descriptions, there are also stock quotes and the local weather in Hangzhou. Here's a highlight:

You wanna order our products?

Please before you do send us an email for which kind of desease you want to use.

Send us your clinical picture discribe your symtoms as good as possible your complete health situation. Why? We want make sure which products are the best for your way back...........


Monday, July 6, 2009

Dao of the Day - Preventive Medicine

Tackle difficulties when they are easy.
Accomplish great things when they are small.
Handle what is going to be rough
when it is still smooth.
Control what has not yet formed its force.
Deal with a dangerous situation while it is safe.
Manage what is hard while it is soft.
Eliminate what is vicious
before it becomes destructive.
This is called
"attending to great things at small beginnings."

A tree so big it can fill the span of a man's arms
grows from a tiny sprout.
A terrace nine stories high
rises from a shovelful of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.
Thus, one of integral virtue
never sets about grandiose things,
yet he is able to achieve great things.

-Dao De Jing, Capter 64
From The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, translation and elucidation by Huaching Ni.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Summer Drinking

Nothing says booze and summer like the Fourth of July. Why not make yourself a nice, refreshing alcoholic infusion with herbs? It could prove to be delicious and nutritious!

The infusion above was made with 薄荷 Bo He, 生姜 Sheng Jiang and 枸杞子 Gou Qi Zi, popularly known as mint, ginger, and goji berries.


Be merry, be safe, and enjoy the holiday.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Viral Meningitis and TCM

Here are some FAQ's about viral meningitis from the CDC:

Q:What is viral meningitis?
A:Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes ("meninges") that cover the brain and spinal cord. Viral infections are the most common cause of meningitis; bacterial infections are the second most common cause. Other, rarer causes of meningitis include fungi, parasites, and non-infectious causes, including those that are related to drugs.

Q:Can I get viral meningitis if I’m around someone who has it?
A:If you are around someone with viral meningitis, you may be at risk of becoming infected with the virus that made them sick. But you have only a small chance of developing meningitis as a complication of the illness.

Q:Is viral meningitis a serious disease?
A:Viral ("aseptic") meningitis is serious but rarely fatal in people with normal immune systems. Usually, the symptoms last from 7 to 10 days and the patient recovers completely.

Q:How is viral meningitis treated?
A:There is no specific treatment for viral meningitis. Most patients completely recover on their own within 2 weeks. Antibiotics do not help viral infections, so they are not useful in the treatment of viral meningitis. Doctors often will recommend bed rest, plenty of fluids, and medicine to relieve fever and headache.

No specific treatment... that's too bad.

But wait! I hear the sweet, sweet voice of Zhang Zhong Jing telling me that there must be a way to alleviate the symptoms and encourage faster recovery from such a painful disease process.

I had to find out for myself. Really.

Two days of a splitting headache with the sensation of my neck and back wanting to explode, and I found myself in the care of Dr.Yu Hong Chen at the Yo San University Clinic. She's pretty much the most awesome person on Earth. As an intern, I was witness to her genius when she constructed custom formulas for patients that brought them back from hopelessness into well-being. Now it was my turn to be the patient, and she did not disappoint.

The diagnosis? Tai Yang he Shao Yang Bing. Straight from the Shang Han Lun.

The formula? Gui Zhi Tang Jia Xiao Chai Hu Tang, with Ge Gen and a couple of other herbs to address my secondary symptoms.

I also got an amazing acupuncture treatment, working on the Du and Gallbladder channels, followed by some bleeding-cupping along those channels and the Urinary Bladder. Worked like a charm. I feel mostly human again! Life is great!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ban on Popular Pain Killers

A federal advisory panel to the FDA is advising a ban on Vicodin and Percocet, two of the most widely used pain killers in the world. The vote made yesterday stems from concerns that use of the drugs cause irreparable liver damage. The combination of a narcotic with acetominophen, or Tylenol, is the problem. Since people in chronic pain end up having to take higher and higher doses of these drugs over time in order to get the same results, they put themselves at risk of overdose and liver failure.

In 2005, American consumers bought 28 billion doses of products containing [acetominophen].While the medicine is effective in treating headaches and reducing fevers, even recommended doses can cause liver damage in some people. And more than 400 people die and 42,000 are hospitalized every year in the United States from overdoses.

The panel conducted 11 votes in total, including one that suggesting a ban on all combination products that includes acetominophen. The panel voted against that ban, saying that consumers saw the products as valuable. My question is, isn't it their job to ensure that the products are safe? Consumer trends should not dictate whether or not a drug would be allowed on the market, considering that popular products usually become popular due to factors such as marketing and advertising, as opposed to safety and efficacy.

Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in the treatment of pain and has little to no side effects. It is generally affordable and can be administered in virtually any setting. Next time you throw out your back, try acupuncture!