Chinese Medicine

  • Chinese Medicine,  Spring,  Yangsheng

    Spring Wellness: Ox Horn Gua Sha the Liver, Gallbladder, and Spleen Meridians

    Spring is the season associated with the liver and the gallbladder organ systems, and so it is a great time to work this daily yangsheng practice into your routine.  In the Huangdi Neijing (黄帝内经) it says that the liver is the “general of the human body” (人体的将军), tasked with leading an army to resist toxins that are accumulating within and invading from without. The liver is responsible for maintaining the smooth flow of qi and blood. A variety of problems including poor quality of sleep, waking up in the middle of the night every night (usually between 1-3am), emotional imbalance, procrastination, and irregular menstruation in women are all common signs…

  • Chinese Medicine,  Spring,  Yangsheng

    Spring Wellness

    Spring is the beginning. It is the season of renewal and of nature coming to life. Yang qi has been in storage during the winter and it is now released; its emergence resulting in growth, flourishing, and blossoming. It is a season of harmony and the time to shake off any stagnant energy, get outside for a stroll through the park or a hike in the mountains, and to avoid sitting around and dwelling on things. Spring corresponds to the Wood phase (mù 木) and the liver organ system. In spring it is recommended to get up early, but also to go to bed early to be sure to nourish…

  • Chinese Medicine,  Diet,  Members Only,  Recipe,  Yangsheng

    The Best Zhou 粥 (Congee) to Support the Spleen and Fuel your Neigong

    One of the most important texts for Chinese Medicine, the Huangdi Neijing 黄帝内经, lists the well-known “evils” or environmental factors which can cause us harm along with the organ system most susceptible to each: 藏所惡:心惡熱,肺惡寒,肝惡風,脾惡濕,腎惡燥,是謂五惡。 The hidden evils are: heat in the heart, cold in the lungs, wind in the liver, dampness in the spleen, and dryness in the kidneys. These are the five evils. In addition to climatic factors, modern sedentary lifestyle paired with the greasy, fried, sugary and processed foods so prevalent in modern society make so many people susceptible to excess dampness, and this is especially harmful to the spleen system.  A healthy spleen system is foundational…

  • Chinese Medicine,  Winter,  Yangsheng

    Winter Wellness

    Winter is characterized by the Chinese word cáng 藏 which means “to store/conceal/hide.” It’s the time for hiding out and laying low. Nature is dormant and hibernating. Yin is dominant and at its peak. Yang is completely concealed, hidden inside. Winter corresponds to the Water phase (shuǐ 水) and the kidneys. It is also recommended that one does not overexert oneself. It’s good to exercise, but not to the point of excess where one is pouring sweat. Foods, medicines, and therapies such as sauna that promote excessive sweating are not recommended at this time as too much yang qi can be lost. It is best to moderate sexual activity in…

  • Autumn,  Chinese Medicine,  Yangsheng

    Autumn Wellness

    Autumn is a time of gathering and harvesting. Animals run around collecting food, and plants collect and condense nutrients into seeds. Yang qi was rising and flourishing in spring and summer–vaporizing the yin water in the environment to create moisture, and now it retreats inward into “storage mode,” resulting in cooler and dryer conditions. Yang begins to give way to yin. Autumn corresponds to the Metal phase (jin 金) and the lungs. As a result, we want to focus on diet and lifestyle habits that promote moistening, support the lungs, and nourish yin. Sour tasting foods astringe and nourish the lungs, while pungent tasting foods disperse and purge. It’s best…

  • qi
    Chinese Medicine,  Daoism,  Neigong

    Understanding Qi

    Summary:  Qi is the fundamental stuff of existence according to classical Chinese thought. It is the living, flowing, transforming substratum of existence encompassing everything from matter to energy to consciousness and more. It needs to be understood within the context of classical Chinese thought and should not be cut-and-pasted out from its native philosophical system into other systems of thought lest it simply become some sort of misunderstood “magical energy.”  The Three Treasures (Jing, Qi, and Shen) are important concepts for understanding the body in relation to Chinese internal arts practices. While they are all ultimately just Qi (and the whole of the human body-mind is ultimately also just Qi),…

  • Chinese Medicine,  Summer,  Yangsheng

    Prepare for Winter in the Summer

    There is a saying in Chinese medicine: winter diseases are best treated in the summer “dong bing xia zhi” 冬病夏治. Traditional Chinese health practices are attentive to the interconnections between humans and the cycles of nature. Here, the notion is that disharmonies which tend to present themselves in the winter, especially in those who have a tendency towards yang deficiency, are best dealt with by taking preventative measures in the late summer, particularly a special period referred to as San Fu Tian 三伏天 (sometimes translated as the “dog days of summer”). San Fu Tian, which occurres in three phases that span around forty days, is the optimum time for growth…

  • Apricot Forest Hospital
    Chinese Medicine,  Firsthand Experiences,  Members Only,  Neigong

    My First Journey to the Yellow Mountains 黄山

    It was 2014 and it was the first time I ever set foot in China. I was lying in a small hotel room in the Hongqiao airport hotel, resting after a series of flights that had seemed endless. I turned on the TV in the room and saw that the movie Painted Skin (Hua Pi 畫皮) was playing, a movie in which Zhou Xun plays a seductive, shape-shifting fox spirit who relies on a steady supply of fresh human hearts to maintain her youthful appearance. Despite the movie playing, I kept thinking about what lay ahead in the coming days. The next day, I would take a flight down to…