Health tips for the cold weather

For a warmer you in colder weather.

According to Chinese Medicine, one very important way to stay healthy is to adapt the body to the changing temperatures, paying close attention to one’s diet. This time of year it is recommended to eat food that are easy to digest and that protect internal warmth and strengthen the digestive organs. Traditionally, foods that help in this regard for example, include: rice, glutinous rice (in moderation), yams, peanuts, clear soups like chicken soup, and cooked vegetables. In general, I recommend avoiding raw vegetables and fruits, cold foods and beverages, very greasy meats, and very sweet deserts. This is because so much energy is required for digesting raw, cold and greasy foods that the energy needed to perform other functions gets drawn to the digestive organs and away from the systems that help keep us warm and our immune system strong. We are like a high performance car and we want our high performance engine running at its optimal level and keeping our digestive system strong accomplishes this goal!

Another great tip is to massage the bottom of the feet and warm soaks in the evening. The Kidney organ is associated with winter, and the Kidney channel starts on the bottom of the feet. It is recommended, in Chinese medicine, to massage the bottom of the feet regularly. Also, wear socks that are comfortable and warm. Cold feet mean a cold Kidney! You also might enjoy a warm Epsom salt soak in the evening before bed. It’ll soothe the feet as well as warm the kidney channel.

Congee (rice soup)

One cup rice and 6 cups water in crock pot, let cook 4-6 hrs. until the water becomes milky and the rice becomes ‘poufy’. You may need to add a little water if the level drops.

This will store nicely in the refrigerator for a week. Take out desired portion (maybe sauté onions, garlic mushroom? as a flavor base) bring to a boil and add any desired vegetable and/or
beans. You might like to drop an egg and some kale in as a breakfast food.

Options: add in one bone-in breast of chicken (w/out skin) and an inch of fresh ginger root (optional) peeled and shredded. When fully cooked, de-bone chicken, shred meat and add it back in.
Adding the chicken will give it a nice chicken soup flavor. You can also cook the rice in bone broth for enhanced nutritional value.

The Benefits of Congee

Traditionally known as hsi-fan or “rice water,” Congee has a myriad of healing properties. It is both easily digested and absorbed and consists of an uncomplicated rice soup. Congee tonifies the qi (pronounced “chee” which we consider to be our”life force” or “life energy”) and the blood (blood is thought of a bit differently and may be considered as solidified qi or the transport vessel of qi). Congee harmonizes digestion, and also acts as a moderating agent when there is heat and inflammation in the body. With the aid of a nursing mother supply of milk may be increased. Although rice is the most common grain for congee, a variety of additional vegetables, grains, and herbs can be added to enhance the therapeutic properties.

Brown rice: diuretic, thirst-quenching, nourishing: Used for constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting bloating and indigestion +++
Ginger: warming and antiseptic to the organs, used for cold digestive weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and indigestion.

Tea and Healthy Bones

Reposted from the email newsletter of Henry McCann, DAOM, LAc & Candace Sarges, MAc, LAc:

“Aside from water, tea is perhaps the most frequently consumed beverage in the world.”


All tea comes from Camellia sinensis, a plant native to the southwest of China. Originally Camellia plants grew as very tall trees but today the plant is grown to the size of a bushy shrub to make leaf harvesting easier. Some varieties of tea such as Puerh are still harvested from wild trees that are centuries old, growing in ancient forests alongside camphor trees. Right now as I sit writing this I’m sipping a Puerh tea aged and fermented for the last 18 years that was harvested from such a forest.


“Tea has numerous health benefits and originally was consumed as medicine rather than daily leisure beverage.”


In Chinese though we say that food and medicine are of the same origin and tea is no different! Modern research has confirmed numerous benefits from regular tea drinking and a study published this past March reconfirmed something people may find surprising – tea drinking is good for your bones.


This study found, “beneficial effects of tea consumption on [bone mineral density], especially in the lumbar spine, hip, [and other locations].” What is particularly interesting about this study is that it was a meta-analysis, in other words it pooled information from numerous other published articles and included information on over 12,000 participants. To read the original study please click here.


The exact reasons for the benefit to bone health is yet unknown, but we do know that tea is high in polyphenols, in particular catechins and epicatechins. These compounds have been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.


Tea is also a good natural source of fluoride, which may explain why tea drinking is associated with greater dental health (with the exception of possible cosmetic staining of the teeth) and lowered risk of oral cancers. While the full reasons for why tea is healthy are still being discovered, there seems to be general consensus that it is.”


Go enjoy a cup!

To be well or not…Digestion is the question.

My recent experience with “being sick” was a great reminder of this physical body’s functions and limitations. This experience also reinforced one of the first things I learned when I was in school studying Chinese Medicine.

“The digestive system is our fuel tank. It is the mechanism through which foods are transformed into energy and nutrients are processed to feed every part of body right down to the cellular level.”

I have not been sick in more than nine years. My body told me to stay in bed. I was so surprised at how agreeable I was to this suggestion. I slept more than not for a day or two. I had little energy to read or engage in much moving about. Every part of my body wanted rest. Even eating was fatiguing. Just a small amount of soup and I was ready to go back to bed. WOW! This is a clear example of how much energy is required for digestion. That in itself is what inspired me to write this in hopes of instilling the importance of the strength and integrity of our digestive system as it relates to our whole being.

I’m sure many of you already know about the importance of eating “clean and healthy foods” for Heart health, minimizing sugar and carbohydrates in monitoring blood sugar etc. But did you know that anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia (to name a few) can also be related to digestion? Not to mention chronic pain, inflammation, immune deficiencies and premature aging.

Digestion is a corner stone of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In fact, in ancient China treatment began with dietary therapy because food was not viewed differently than medicine.  Whole schools of thought were developed in the 12th century stressing “the importance of Preserving Stomach-Qi” as the most important treatment method. Zhang Jie Bin, one of the most important doctors in the history of TCM wrote, “The doctor who wants to nourish life has to tonify stomach and spleen.”

Current research has now begun to validated this ancient knowledge, verifying that diet does play a major role in our health. We now hear more often from many nutritionists and doctors that eating whole, organic, unprocessed food is the single most important thing we can do to improve our overall health. I will not dispute this. However, this is only half of the equation, digestion is the other less focused on issue.

Western science is “discovering,” what we have known for thousands of years and this science is giving us tools in the form of information to educate our patients of the critical importance of digestive health.

The condition and strength of our digestive system dictates the absorbability of nutrients from the food we eat. The source of indigestion lies in the disruption of our digestive network system.  This network system is responsible for processing the food and nutrients that form the basis of the body’s constituents and is also responsible for distributing these constituents. When this basic and essential activity is impeded or weakened by over-consumption of food, eating irregularly, eating poor quality de-natured foods, eating under stress, over use of antibiotics etc., we are left with an inefficient transformation mechanism, diminished absorption, the formation of gas, and the retention of undigested material. Without a healthy, well-functioning digestive tract, even eating the best foods and taking the best supplements will do you little good because your body, in this weakened state, struggles to process the vital nutrients locked away in your food. The fact is, that you cannot fully assimilate what you eat.

Thankfully within the body of Traditional Chinese Medicine there are very clear understandings of various digestive imbalances and health issue as well as a full range of treatment modalities including: healing cuisine, herbs, acupuncture to name a few.

“I believe that by combining the knowledge western science is discovering with the wisdom of Chinese Medicine, we have great opportunities for long term healing.”

There is so much more to say on this subject so I will leave it at this, and give you time to “Digest.

Until it’s time for another course, please feel free to write or call with any questions.

~Tamara Graf