Thursday, August 26, 2010

越南肉桂 Vietnamese Rou Gui

Watch this video in full screen HD on youtube

Monday, August 16, 2010

Today's Post By Gichin Funakoshi Sensei

This is taken directly from the preface to Gichin Funakoshi's autobiography Karate-Do: My Way of Life. Funakoshi Sensei systematized Shotokan karate from many different indigenous Okinawan martial arts styles - the very name Shotokan comes from the pen name he used when writing poetry. Here he gives us some excellent health advice.

As I look back over the nine decades of my life - from childhood to youth to maturity to (making use of an expression I dislike) old age - I realize that it is thanks to my devotion to Karate-do that I have never once had to consult a physician. I have never in my life taken any medicine: no pills, no elixirs, not even a single injection. In recent years my friends have accused me of being immortal; it is a joke to which I can only reply, seriously but simply, that my body has been so well trained that it repels all sickness and disease.

In my opinion, there are three kinds of ailments that afflict a human being: illnesses that cause fever, malfunctions of the gastrointestinal system and physical injuries. Almost invariably, the cause of a disability is rooted in an unwholesome life-style, in irregular habits, and in poor circulation. If a man who runs a temperature practices karate until the sweat begins to pour from his body, he will soon find that his temperature has dropped to normal, and that his illness has been cured. If a man with gastric troubles does the same, it will cause his blood to circulate more freely and so alleviate his distress. Physical injuries are, of course, another matter, but many of these too may be avoided by a well-trained man exercising proper care and caution. Karate-do is not merely a sport that teaches how to strike and kick; it is also a defense against illness and disease.

Bay Area Acupuncturists

Dr. Alex Feng
3824 Macarthur Boulevard
Oakland California 94619

Tina Chin-Kaplan
300 Brannan St., Suite 302
San Francisco California 94107

Susanna Puelles
568 Monterey Boulevard
San Francisco California 94127

Anne Park and Kirstin Lindquist
4341 Piedmont Ave 2nd Fl
(between Gleneden Ave & John St)
Oakland California 94611

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"The Boards"

One year ago...

The California Acupuncture Licensing Exam is upon us once again! At this very moment hundreds of anxious test takers are hunched over their tables in a cold, cavernous convention center in Sacramento. Some might be done already.

I sincerely hope that in the future, acupuncture schools in the U.S. and worldwide will focus on transforming students into excellent Chinese medicine doctors, rather than teaching to pass the licensing exams. The exams, as anyone who has taken them will tell you, are in no way a measure of how good a doctor you are. It's a multiple choice test! Fill in the bubbles! All it does is ensure basic knowledge of theory and book learning - certainly an important milestone, but not at all something worth spending four years and tens of thousands of dollars preparing for.

The best teachers I had in school would give a nod towards the exam but focus their time on what they considered most important for the medicine. In California, for instance, that means studying more than the 63 herbal formulas that are on the test. Dr. John Pai once said "The exam is like an old stinky shoe. Use it once and throw it away." Which sums it up pretty well!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dangerous Supplements?

News story: some supplements are dangerous. But why? How much is dangerous? How do you ascertain purity?

Three of the supplements listed are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine: aconite (附子 Fu Zi), bitter orange (枳壳 Zhi Ke), and coltsfoot (款冬花 Kuan Dong Hua). When used in the framework of a Chinese medicine diagnosis, these herbs are very safe. A large part of the problem is when these plants become divorced from the traditional knowledge that governs their use. No one in the TCM world simply prescribes an aconite pill - it doesn't make any sense. This is what happened with 麻黄 Ma Huang (ephedra) - in TCM it's used sparingly for respiratory conditions. But some doofus discovered that it makes you sweat, and decided to put huge doses of it into pill form and market it as a weight-loss supplement. As a result, a man died, and professional Chinese medicine doctors very nearly lost the ability to use this important herb.

When you take something in pill or powder form, you're putting your faith in the company. You're trusting that the label is correct. Companies that have been around for years and years and only sell to health care professionals are a notch up, in my opinion, from those that sell in supermarkets. At Fat Turtle Herb Company, we do business only with industry leaders who carry the very best products. You can learn more about our suppliers here.

Nini Mai L.Ac has a great story from her college days at Berkeley - about a friend who took an ordinary aspirin to the lab and analyzed it to see what was really inside. Hopefully I can convince her to share the story here!

(Thanks to Karen Wright L.Ac for the link!)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Recommended Reading for Beginners

If you're new to Chinese medicine, I recommend the following books:

  • The Web That Has No Weaver An excellent introduction to Chinese medicine for Westerners.
  • Between Heaven and Earth A bit more emphasis on 五行学 Five Phase theory and constitutional types than the previous book.
  • Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine This is a translation of the first year textbook used by students in China studying TCM. More technical than the previous two books. In addition to systematically covering the basic theory, it includes names and functions for all acupuncture points. Also includes a list of the most common Chinese herbs with their names in pinyin, Chinese characters, Latin and English names, with functions and dosage.
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica Probably a bit more money that most civilians will want to spend, but if you're interested in Chinese herbs, this is a great way to get started. Simply reading the introductory chapters will give you a good introduction to the world of Chinese herbology. The herb monographs also contain information on chemical composition of each herb. Also in this category: Chinese Medical Herbology & Pharmacology and Concise Chinese Materia Medica.

Also, the Blue Poppy blog is a great place for information on the internet. Blue Poppy is an herb company based in Colorado.