Monthly Archives: December 2013

Wassail Recipe

Wassail is an old English drink that is popular during the holiday season. Not only does it taste good, it has many health benefits. As you will see there are many reasons to drink Wassail as you celebrate and perhaps over indulge in the holiday season. Many of the spices used aid digestion and help to eliminate flatulence as well as regulating the blood sugar.

Allspice has long been used as a GI stimulant and to aid in the relief of flatulence. Several studies have shown allspice to have antibacterial and antifungal activity which is why it is a common herb to help with colds. The nature of allspice is warming helping to keep the body warm during the winter months.

Cloves have the highest antioxidant rating. The benefits of antioxidants include powerful protection against all types of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and many more. Cloves have analgesic properties that can be used for treatment of various dental problems like tooth aches. They also boost memory and blood circulation, and are beneficial for the heart, liver and stomach. Cloves can effectively cure many digestive problems like stomach ulcers, flatulence and dyspepsia, since they stimulate your body’s enzymes and boost digestion. Because of the antiseptic and germicidal benefits of cloves, they help fight infections like cold, flu, bronchitis, arthritic pain and athlete’s foot. For more info on Cloves benefits and uses visit here.

Cinnamon: Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol and may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar. Another study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory. It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. Cinnamon is also a common herb used in Chinese Medicine to help fight off colds and can reduce pain in people suffering from arthritis. For more info on the benefits of cinnamon visit here. 

Here is an easy recipe to make at home.

What you will need:
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lime
2 lemons
2 oranges
1 quart of water
1 gallon apple cider or apple juice (or mix 50/50)
sugar to taste if desired

Cut lemon, lime, and oranges in half and juice into a separate container. Leave juice aside for now. Bring water to a boil and add spices and fruit. Bring down to a simmer and add apple cider/juice. Let simmer for 1 hour. Add juice of fruit and sugar if needed. Enjoy hot!

Acupressure for Getting Rid of Cold

Winter is a rough season for many people that suffer from chronic pain, especially pain that is worse in the cold. In Chinese Medicine we call pain an obstruction or blockage and classify the pain based on environmental factors: heat, cold, dampness, dryness and wind. Whatever environmental factors make the pain worse are usually the culprits behind the pain and sometimes its more then one like wind, cold and dampness, for example.

Luckily, there are acu-points that work at removing the factor causing the pain. If you are waking up with sore, stiff,  joints and they seem to be worse now that we’ve settled into winter try doing a little acupressure.

The point to remove cold is poetically named ‘clear cold abyss’ and is located on the san jiao or triple warmer meridian.

To find this point bend your elbow and slide your finger from the tip of your elbow up towards your shoulder just an inch of so. When you extend your elbow their will be a tiny hollow your finger will fall into if you are on the right spot and it might feel achy or tender to the touch if you’ve been really sore or stiff.

Once you’ve found the spot gently massage tiny circles for about a minute on both elbows. You can do this as often as you need to.

Natural Medicine Cabinet Essential: Moxa

Moxa might not be something you are familiar with but it is a great thing to have in your medicine cabinet in the winter time for its warming and prevention properties. Read on.

What is Moxabustion?

Moxa or Artemisia Vulgaris is a species of chrysanthemum and can be used for a variety of conditions. In Chinese Medicine there are several ways to use moxa and all involve burning this herb over or on acupuncture points. If you are afraid of needles using moxa in place of needles is one way to receive the same benefits as moxa and needles can be used interchangeably or together.
smokeless moxa over UB67 can help with turning a breech baby

smokeless moxa over UB67 can help with turning a breech baby

One major benefit of Moxa is that it benefits circulation. It can be used to regulate the energy and blood of the body, expel cold and dampness especially if pain is worse in these kind of environments, warm the uterus, stop bleeding, regulate digestion as well as menstruation, and ease the fetus or turn a breech baby. This is a great post that talks about using moxa specifically for menstrual irregularities and insomnia.

Moxa can be used preventively as well. Burning moxa over the acu-point Zu San Li St36 on a regular basis is a great way to stay healthy. In Notes on Bian Que’s Moxibustion, it says, “when a healthy man often has moxabustion to the points of CV4, CV6 and CV12 he would live a very long life, at least one hundred years.”

Currently in Africa moxabustion is being used as a treatment for tuberculosis through the organization Moxafrica. There is research evidence from Japan in the 1930s and 40s where moxabustion was used effectively and cheaply to treat and in many cases cure TB.

Moxa is available for purchase at Neighborhood Acupuncture Place and is also available as a treatment. It is also a great therapy to use for post partum recovery.

Lentil Stew

This is a great recipe to stay warm in the winter. Its also an awesome recipe for post partum recovery. If you are a mom-to-be and are getting close to the end this is a great soup to make and freeze or give it to someone who is willing to cook for you! 🙂

What you need:

4 cups homemade chicken stock, preferably cooked with beet greens and/or red chard (kidney/urinary bladder)

3 carrots chopped (spleen/stomach)

3 celery stalked chopped (liver/gall bladder)

1 onion diced (lung/large intestine)

3 cloves of garlic (lung/large intestine)

1 tablespoon of olive oil or clarified butter

2 yellow zucchini (spleen/stomach)

1 green zucchini (liver gall bladder)

1 bell pepper (I used yellow) (spleen/stomach)

1/2 bag of red lentils (heart/small intestine)

1 jar of tomato sauce (heart/small intestine)

3 cups chopped kale, chard or spinach (liver/gall bladder)

Pink Himalayan sea salt, to taste (kidney/urinary bladder)

crushed black pepper (kidney/urinary bladder)

other spices to taste, I prefer the 21 spice salute from Trader Joe’s

What to do:

melt oil or butter and heat onion, garlic and all veggies (except greens) until tender, about 5 minutes. Add stock, lentils, and tomato sauce. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Let cook for 30 minutes. Add greens just before eating, the heat of the soup will allow the greens to gently wilt. If freezing wait for stew to cool first and make sure you label and date the container. Enjoy all winter long and especially the first 4 weeks post partum. 🙂

Natural Remedy for Leg Cramps

Leg Cramps at Night? Try sleeping with a bar of soap in bed!

One of my yoga students awhile back shared that putting a bar of soap in bed while you sleep can help prevent night time charley horses. A bar of soap in bed can help leg cramps?

Sounds a little crazy even to me! Apparently this is an old remedy that many people swear by. I had to dig around and see what the fuss was all about. Here is what I found:

Snopes has yet to confirm or deny that the bar of soap in your bed works. 

At the peoplespharmacy they took a poll with 485 votes and got a 4.35 star on a 5 star scale.  One thing I read here that I really found interesting was that the bar of soap needs to be changed every couple of months or it will stop working.

I have recommended this several times to patients during acupuncture treatments and on a few occasions other patients have chimed in that they use it and it works as well. One patient recommended if the cramps are really bad, especially in the toes to take the bar of soap and massage it over the area in spasm for fast relief.

If you are having leg cramps or restless legs grab a bar of ivory or Irish spring soap and unwrap it and put in underneath your bottom sheet. Let me know how it works! 🙂

Natural Medicine Cabinet Essential for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

I’ve recently noticed that there have been a couple concerns of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease in the area. According to the Center for Disease control Hand foot and mouth disease is a common viral disease usually seen in children younger than 5 years of age. Symptoms include fever, blister sores in the mouth and a skin rash (most notably on the hands and feet).

The best way to prevent this disease is to wash your hands regularly and to avoid close contact with those that have been infected. This can be very contagious.

If your child has been exposed to hand foot and mouth disease it is important to stay hydrated.


There are 3 essential oil blends that may help to shorten the duration of symptoms: thieves essential oil blend, mountain savory, and purification essential oil blend. (personally if exposure has taken place I would put one of these in a diffusor preventatively too)

Mix one drop of essential oil of your choice with one tablespoon coconut or olive oil. Massage into the spine and/or bottoms of the feet. Use what you have available or alternate between all 3 oils. You can do this as much as every diaper change until symptoms are gone.

If you do not have any essential oils on hand you might try placing or massaging a clove of garlic on the bottom of the feet and put socks over it during nap time. The soles of the feet are porous and can absorb the garlic (and its antiviral properties) in fact the wearer of the garlic can actually taste the garlic usually in about 15 minutes. Here is a link to make a garlic poultice. 
Remember it always a good idea to contact your health care provider about any questions or concerns you may have before starting any treatment.

Homemade Granola Bars (healthy-ish)

I’m cautioning you now that if you make these granola bars you might be tempted to eat them all in a very short period of time, they are that good. 🙂 So don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I came across this recipe awhile back for homemade granola bars. They are quick to make and they are delicious. Here are my adaptations so there are a few healthy additions for extra protein and healthy fats.

What you need:

1/2 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup local honey
1/2 cup almond butter or sunflower butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups quick oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup chocolate chips or cacao chips ( you could add or freeze dried strawberries or cranberries as well or use instead of the chocolate chips too)

What to do:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Melt coconut oil, brown sugar, almond butter and honey on stove in a sauce pan over low heat. When ingredients are all smooth turn off heat and add the rest of your ingredients and stir until well blended. Press mixture into cookie sheet and and chocolate chips on top. (if you mix the chocolate chips into the mix they will melt) and put in freezer for 15 minutes to harden. Take out and cut into bars. I usually keep my bars in the refrigerator but they should do fine in a container in the pantry as well. 🙂



Natural Remedy for Phlegm

I’ve shared this recipe before and it seemed fitting to share again with all the damp weather we’ve been having and for those of you still recovering from a Thanksgiving food hangover. In Chinese Medicine when dampness sits for a long time it will congeal into phelgm and/or cause heat in the body.

If my daughter has congestion or a cough sometimes the only thing I can get her to eat are cooked pears, her body knows why. 😉 I’ve also used this a time or too and felt some immediate relief.

This is a remedy from senior acupuncturist Miriam Lee.

What you need: 

1 winter pear (dark skinned variety)

* Remove skin if phelgm is white

* Leave the skin on if phlegm is yellow

1 cup of water


Cut the pear in half, remove and discard the core. Fill the hole with appx 1 teaspoon of rock sugar. (break up the sugar if necessary) Place pear with sugar in a pot and add 1 cup of water.

Cover the pot with a lid. Boil 5-10 minutes. Eat the pear and drink the liquid.

If the congestion is deep take twice a day. If a cough is keeping you up at night take before bed. If phlegm is worst first thing in the morning take then to facilitate expectoration.

Don’t forget to tell me what you think! 🙂

Feeling Tired? This Could Be Why

The last 2 days we’ve been living in the clouds, literally. The fog yesterday was pretty intense. If you are feeling sluggish this could be why.

We are transitioning into winter. This is a time of turning inward and for many animals it’s also hibernation time. We’ve talked about this already. The sunless sky and all the fog is a very damp environment. It may even feel like the dampness is in your bones. Dampness in Chinese Medicine is an obstruction or blockage that can cause you to feel weighed down, it’s also mother nature’s reminder to slow down! Cold causes energy to constrict and move slow and so as much as you can let your life reflect that.

You might be thinking, “this all sounds great, but I have stuff to do.” Here are some simple ways to prepare for winter so that you can be mindful of what your body needs and realistic of your life as well.

1. Eat warming foods and spices. The season of winter is cold and is associated with the bones and low back and the color is black. Incorporate stews, soups and chilis in to your menu and add warming spices like black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, ginger etc. Look forward to some yummy winter recipes. 🙂

2. Because this is a season of turning in it is important to avoid stimulants like coffee. Also avoid damp causing foods like dairy, processed foods and refined sugar as this can contribute to fatigue.

3. Take some time to hibernate. If extra sleep isn’t possible try incorporating meditation or quiet time into your routine even if its just for 5 minutes. There is a saying that says meditate everyday for 20 minutes and if you are really busy meditate for an hour!

4. Switch up your exercise routine. Avoid high impact cardio exercise in the winter months to replenish your system.  Add restorative yoga, walking and weight training to your routine.

5. Surrender! It is few and far between the number of comments I hear of someone looking forward to the dark and cold or winter. Find beauty in the season, it is after all the balance to the summer and the sun is always shining behind the clouds! 😉