Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring and Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine each season has a corresponding organ of the body. Spring is the season of the Liver. As such, Spring is the best time of year to cleanse the liver. There are a number of ways to accomplish that and not surprisingly, they are things we're naturally drawn to at this time of year.

Don't you just love God and His infinite wisdom?

I should stop and let you know right now that I believe in the Bible as God's Word and fully support following it in every way. But I see some of God's truth reflected in the belief and practices of other religions. I have no problem believing that the Chinese may understand something about the human body or herbs that we in the West do not. Nor do I have a problem incorporating a practice as long as I refuse to violate Scripture. All truth is God's truth, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I simply ask myself if it is in line with God's character as revealed in the Bible.

As far as Chinese medicine, I see it as another method of diagnosis and health care, always careful to separate that aspect of it from the Daoist philosophy, which would often contradict Biblical understanding of life.

 Here's my quick description of TCM: Traditional Chinese Medicine is a science of diagnosing and treating symptoms as is Western Medicine. However, the two approach it from a different perspective. Chinese medicine sees the organs as the basis for all health and/or sickness. These organs are connected to all other tissue by means of channels and blood vessels. Therefore, outward symptoms point to internal problems, similar to western medicine. In my simplistic understanding, Chinese Medicine seeks to adjust or balance the flow of energy between organs or between organs and tissue to produce change and thus healing.

So how can Chinese Medicine be helpful in this time of new beginning and new life, which we call Spring?

It's a time to lighten up. Over the Winter, we crave comfort food, mashed potatoes with butter, meat, soups and stews, for example. But as warmer weather arrives, a longing grows in us to eat light and move more. Light, leafy greens tempts us, but without sin. Go ahead indulge! Take a big bowl of baby spinach, dandelion greens, scallions and sprouts. Eat them with celery, daikon radish and fish, if you like. These kinds of foods cleanse the body of toxins and tones the liver naturally.

Here are some more ideas:
- Light exercise such as stretching. Activity causes the liver to release blood to the tendons providing tendon health and flexibility.
- As mentioned above, eat green. (And to my boys, "No, I don't mean green jello").
- Eat sour foods, they stimulate energy flow. Try some lemon squeezed into your water.
- Outdoor activities provide fresh air, which also stimulates the flow of energy, and it gives us an excuse to exercise.
- Try a tea of Milk Thistle. It's cleansing and helps protect liver cells.

Yes, our Creator, the Lord God Almighty, is perfect in wisdom. He created in us right desires (if they haven't been tainted) and provided, through His creation, exactly what we'd need to fulfill those desires. And He made them to feed us the perfect nutrients needed for the season.

We praise and magnify Your name, Emmanuel, forever and ever!

References Used:

Spirit of Renewal: Spring and TCM

Guide to Seasonal Eating: Spring

TCM Information Page

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Simply Natural

 "Nature, in all her revelations, seeks to teach man the greatness of simplicity. Health is but the living of a physical life in harmony with a few simple, clearly defined laws. Simple food, simple exercise, simple precautions will work wonders. But man grows tired of the simple things, he yields to subtle temptations in eating and drinking, listens to his palate instead of to Nature, —and he suffers. He is then led into intimate acquaintance with dyspepsia (digestion problems leading to numerous physical problems), and he sits like a child at his own bounteous table, forced to limit his eating to simple food that he scorned." ~From Self Control, Its Kingship and Majesty by William George Jordan, 1905

How true? Even more today than when first penned by Jordan in 1905. "Health is but the living of a physical life in harmony with a few simple, clearly defined laws." Not laws set by Congress or the State Senate, but laws set by us and for us, individuals who desire a better life.

What kind of laws? Laws that set forth balance. Specifically speaking of diet and health here, but the principle applies to all areas of life. Jordan points out a few: simple food, simple exercise, simple precautions.

Simple Food: Get back to the basics. Raw, organic produce. Locally raised meat without hormones. I remember the three basic principles of good eating I learned from the book, "What the Bible Says About Healthy Living" by Rex Russell, M.D. Number One, eat what God made. Number Two, eat it as close to the way that God made it as possible. And Number Three, avoid all food that is, or could be, an addiction for you personally. Such simple, practical advice. Not always easy to apply, I admit, but so beneficial.

So many today have what Jordan calls "dyspepsia." I see it in people of every age, even young people. Eating disorders and digestion dysfunction abounds. People are literally eating themselves sick. We don't even want to hear that what we eat effects our health and we don't want to go there for answers when we do get sick.

Don't get me wrong, I love food. I love rich, gourmet food. I even have a blog just for food complete with recipes (see Foodie4Health in my blog links). But I also love to be healthy and like being a good steward of my body as well as our money. It's expensive to eat gourmet. I believe we can have food that's both delicious and healthy. However we need to commit ourselves to our health and the simple life first, then explore our options within that parameter.

Now don't laugh like that! It's not impossible. But the first step to the simple life in any area is commitment. Not a fun word, but a necessary word that frees us from the consequences of no commitment. A word that, when lived out, offers a life of contentment and success that we never dreamed possible. A commitment and some discipline is all it requires.
"Let us seek to cultivate this simplicity in all things in our life. The first step toward simplicity is 'simplifying.' The beginning of mental or moral progress or reform is always renunciation or sacrifice. It is rejection, surrender or destruction of separate phases of habit or life that have kept us from higher things. Reform your diet and you simplify it; make your speech truer and higher and you simplify it; reform your morals and you begin to cut off your immorals. The secret of all true greatness is simplicity. Make simplicity the keynote of your life and you will be great, no matter though your life be humble and your influence seem but little. Simple habits, simple manners, simple needs, simple words, simple faiths,—all are the pure manifestations of a mind and heart of simplicity."

May we heed these words penned by William Jordan in 1905, grasping their relevance for today and may we endeavor to live them out in our diet and every other area of life.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Microbiology and Antioxidants

**Correction to the following post: My friend has not completely sworn off antibacterial products. She sees the need for them in certain situations. I apologize to her and to you for misrepresenting her. 


A close friend of mine is taking Microbiology. They have the great experience of studying and handling germs. Doesn't that sound fun? But I'm told that it's necessary to take this course if you want to become a nurse. So there she is.

Recently the professor assigned them a project. They were to take a certain germ and find out the most effective way to kill it. She tried a number of different substances but discovered that a few essential oils were the most effective antibacterial substances of all those they tested. The best ones were Tea Tree Oil, otherwise known as Melaleuca Oil, and Lavendar Oil. Personally I buy cleaning products from the Melaleuca company. {Side note: If you're interested in their products, send me an email}

Since taking this class my friend has actually sworn off antibacterial products, even the natural ones. She's learning that to kill bacteria is to kill the good and bad alike and without the good bacteria we lose our ability to fight off the bad. The result: we catch things much easier and the bad germs tend to mutate to something worse.

My feeling is that God provided all we need to fight infection. He made somethings naturally antibacterial and somethings just good cleaning agents because He knew that we'd need to fight the germs sometimes and other times we'd need those 'bad' germs to instigate our bodies to develop a stronger germ warfare naturally.

Following is an excerpt from an article I ran across recently that sums it up nicely.

Are natural antibacterial sanitizers healthier?

"The first reason to avoid them [antibacterial sanitizers], says Rebecca Sutton, PhD, senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, is an  ingredient called triclosan, commonly used in antibacterial products. Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent and pesticide that’s closely related to dioxin. Translation: It’s been linked to liver and thyroid problems. Awesome.  
The second reason to avoid antibacterial products is that even those made with alcohol increase the risk of antibiotic resistance. What that means, in a nutshell, is that as antibacterial products become more common, some germs become immune to them, then come back with a vengeance in the form of “superbugs.” Trust us when we say that you do not want a superbug setting up camp in your bod. And since study after study shows that washing your hands with regular soap and water is as effective as using special germ-killing products, there’s really no point in buying a bunch of disinfectants you don’t need, whether they’re synthetic or natural.
Of course there are situations where you might justifiably need a quick, convenient way to wash up without water — whether you’re hiking or roadtripping. And yes, if you want to throw a hand sanitizing gel in your diaper bag or camping first aid kit, a bio-based product like ethanol would probably have a slight edge over petroleum-derived, isopropyl alcohol, the more common ingredient in hand gels. We all know corn doesn’t exactly have a pristine environmental record, but it definitely never hurts to reduce your consumption of petroleum-based products, even if by just a smidgen."
Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in Plenty in December 2008.                 Copyright Environ Press 2008.