Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Couscous
Autumn is here and with it comes many vegetables and fruits suitable for eating at this time of year. Pumpkin is delicious, versatile and easy to add to your diet. Its seeds are also edible and highly nutritious when roasted or stir fried.
Its sweet flavor makes it a popular ingredient in dishes like custards, pies and pancakes. However, it works just as well in savory dishes such as roasted vegetables, soups and stews.
Pumpkins have a very tough skin, so it requires some effort to slice. Once you cut it, scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts, then slice the pumpkin into wedges.
The seeds are also edible and packed with nutrients which offer many other benefits.
Pumpkin is rich in vitamins, especially vitamin A. It also contains many minerals as well as being low in calories. Vitamin A is also important for eyesight and sight loss.
Pumpkin contains many antioxidants which protect your body against free radicals. Free radicals are linked to aging and a host of diseases.
Pumpkin is high in vitamins A and C, which can help boost the immune system. It also has vitamin E, iron and folate which strengthen the immunity.
This vegetarian dish, which is healthy and nutritious, has a Moroccan influence with the addition of Ras el Hanout.
Literally translated as “head of shop,” The Arabic phrase ras el hanout really means “top shelf.” Legend has it this Moroccan spice blend was created by North African Berber spice dealers who would mix together the best of what they had on offer, thus creating a heady, aromatic signature blend-sometimes 50 individual spices.
Ingredients and preparation:
Cut the above ingredients into cubes and place in an ovenproof dish. Mix in:
Place in a pre-heated oven 180 degrees for 40 min, turn once.
Stir, 15 minutes more in oven as grain steams
Let the grain absorb the stock for about half an hour. Steam the couscous grain for 15-20 minutes
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia includes inability to fall asleep, waking up at night, restless sleep. Also included, waking up early and dream disturbed sleep as well as being unrefreshed by sleep. Sleep is vital to us as it is the way the body and mind to restore and refresh itself. Sleep helps to restore the immune, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. These are vital processes that maintain mood, memory, and cognitive function, and also plays a large role in the function of the endocrine and immune system. In TCM terms, good quality sleep as well as a properly functioning digestive system is the way to restore Qi. Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric and medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors. It’s important to first understand what could be causing your sleep difficulties.
There are many medical conditions (some mild and others more serious) that can lead to sleeplessness. In some cases, a medical condition itself can be the cause. While in other cases, symptoms of the condition cause discomfort that can make it difficult for a person to sleep.
Medications such as those taken for the common cold and nasal allergies, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, birth control, asthma, and depression can also cause insomnia.
In addition, insomnia may be a symptom of underlying sleep disorders. For example, restless legs syndrome-a neurological condition in which a person has an uncomfortable sensation of needing to move his or her legs-can lead to insomnia. Sleep apnea is another sleep disorder linked to insomnia. With sleep apnea, a person’s airway becomes partially or completely obstructed during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing and a drop in oxygen levels. This causes a person to wake up briefly but repeatedly throughout the night. People with sleep apnea sometimes report experiencing insomnia.
If you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to review your health as a whole and think about whether any underlying medical issues or sleep disorders could be contributing to your sleep problems. In some cases, there are simple steps that can be taken to improve sleep. Like avoiding bright lighting while winding down and trying to limit possible distractions, such as a TV, computer, or pets. Some people experience insomnia when light levels in the bedroom are too high, especially during the period of the full moon. In that case installing black out blinds can help. You should not simply accept poor sleep as a way of life.
Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric conditions such as depression. Psychological struggles can make it hard to sleep. Insomnia itself can bring on changes in mood, and shifts in hormones and physiology can lead to both psychiatric issues and sleep issues at the same time.
Sleep problems may represent a symptom of depression, and the risk of severe insomnia is much higher in patients with major depressive disorders. Studies show that insomnia can also trigger or worsen depression.
It’s important to know that symptoms of depression, such as low energy, loss of interest or motivation, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and insomnia can be linked, and one can make the other worse. The good news is that both are treatable with acupuncture and herbal medicine regardless of which came first. Exercise systems like Qigong are a mind/body exercise system and can help with insomnia.
Most adults have had some trouble sleeping because they feel worried or nervous, but for some it’s a pattern that interferes with sleep on a regular basis. Anxiety symptoms that can lead to insomnia include:
It’s not hard to see why these symptoms of general anxiety can make it difficult to sleep. Anxiety may be associated with onset insomnia (trouble falling asleep), or maintenance insomnia (waking up during the night and not being able to return to sleep). In either case, the quiet and inactivity of the night often brings on stressful thoughts or even fears that keep a person awake.
Increasing work loads can lead to insomnia as the mind begins to process the days work during sleep leading to wakefulness.
Insomnia can be triggered or perpetuated by your behaviors and sleep patterns. Unhealthy lifestyles and sleep habits can create insomnia on their own (without any underlying psychiatric or medical problem), or they can make insomnia caused by another problem worse.
Examples of how specific lifestyles and sleep habits can lead to insomnia are:
Some cases of insomnia start out with an acute episode but turn into a longer-term problem. For example, let’s say a person can’t sleep for a night or two after receiving bad news. In this case, if the person starts to adopt unhealthy sleep habits such as getting up in the middle of the night to work, or drinking alcohol before bed to compensate. The insomnia can continue and potentially turn into a more serious problem. Instead of passing, it can become chronic.
Once this happens, worry and thoughts such as, “I’ll never sleep,” become associated with bedtime, and every time the person can’t sleep, it reinforces the pattern.
This is why it’s important to address insomnia instead of letting it become the norm.
This varies from person to person. Some people need as little as 4-5 hours of sleep a night while others need 9-10 to function normally. As a general rule look to how much sleep you used to have in the past.
Certain substances and activities, including eating patterns, can contribute to insomnia. If you can’t sleep, review the following lifestyle factors to see if one or more could be affecting you:
Alcohol is a sedative. It can make you fall asleep initially, but may disrupt your sleep later in the night.
Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people understand the alerting power of caffeine and use it in the morning to help them start the day and feel productive. Caffeine in moderation is fine for most people, but excessive caffeine can cause insomnia. Caffeine can stay in your system for as long as eight hours, so the effects are long lasting. If you have insomnia, do not consume food or drinks with caffeine too close to bedtime.
Nicotine is also a stimulant and can cause insomnia. Smoking cigarettes or tobacco products close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep and to sleep well through the night. Smoking is damaging to your health. If you smoke, you should stop.
Heavy meals close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep. The best practice is to eat lightly before bedtime. When you eat too much in the evening, it can cause discomfort and make it hard for your body to settle and relax. Spicy foods can also cause heartburn and interfere with your sleep.
In some cases, insomnia may be caused by certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are known to be involved with sleep and wakefulness.
There are many possible chemical interactions in the brain that could interfere with sleep and may explain why some people are biologically prone to insomnia and seem to struggle with sleep for many years without any identifiable cause—even when they follow healthy sleep advice.
A customised combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas can offer fast and lasting results.
Acupuncture – A TCM practitioner would select specific acupoints depending on the type of disharmony and use stimulating hand techniques to stimulate Qi.
Herbal Medicine –Chinese herbs for insomnia are a very effective treatment for insomnia.
Gui pi wan, for example, is herbal formula in pill form is particularly effective for overworked patients especially if they have digestive issues.
Suan Zao Ren/Sour Jujube Seeds is a herb, which when included in a formula, will help with insomnia, palpitations, anxiety as well as night sweats. Jujubes contain a wide array of different trace elements, including magnesium, potassium, copper, niacin, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron. They contain 20 times more vitamin C than any citrus fruit, strengthening the immune system and fighting infections, which may be why they’ve been used medicinally for millennia in many cultures, as a tea for sore throat, for example.
Medical studies have found that jujube fruits and extracts have the capacity help lower blood pressure, reverse liver disease, treat anemia, and inhibit the growth of tumor cells that can lead to leukemia. Jujube extracts are also used in skin care products used to diminish wrinkles, relieve dry skin, and treat sunburn pain.
Getting enough sleep is one of the best things we can do for good health. If you find yourself short of sleep, TCM can help trace the roots of your insomnia and design an effective treatment for you. In TCM, there is no one solution which cures all for everyone. Rather, each patient receives an individualised formula for them to address the symptoms presented. There are a variety of herbal formulae that have been shown to help those with insomnia, that is, to sleep more deeply and achieve a full night’s sleep and wake up refreshed. Pairing a herbal formula with regular acupuncture treatments helps. Also, mindfulness exercises/Qigong, will help. As a result, TCM can be used to improve the quality of sleep without the sluggish side effects of sleeping tablets.
To make an appointment with David Hankey, call Acupuncture Cork on 087 2744735, or email: email@example.com
Tuesdays 6 – 7.30 pm.
Starting Tuesday 3rd September 2019 in The Teaching Rooms, Cork.
Tel or Text: 087 2744 735 to book a place or for details of classes
Classes will consist of:
Classes will be limited to 9 people, so please book early.
DAVID HANKEY has been practicing Qi Gong, Aikido and Zen meditation for more than 30 years. He has been practicing Tai Chi for more than 25 years and has been teaching for more than 25 years. David has taught in Ireland as well as China. He also received private instruction in Qi Gong from his teacher Prof. Wu Tian Cheng. David is a student of Wudang Europa with Taoist Master Tian Liyang. In addition, David is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Shiatsu and Tuina
Tel : 087 2744 735 for details of classes
The Wudang Mountains in Hubei, China, are the location of many Taoist monasteries and temples. Taoism focuses on the spiritual aspect of being. The objective of people on the Taoist path is living a long and meaningful life by living in harmony with nature. This can be symbolised as a circle which has no beginning and no end. The aim of the practitioner is to find the still spot within the circle.
Taoist Tai Chi
Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient system of physical exercise that promotes total health: emotional, mental and spiritual. Unlike exercises that use exertion and force to build muscular strength, a strength that inevitably deteriorates with age, the gentle and flowing, yet rigorous, movements of Tai Chi focus on relaxing and straightening the body.
Wudang Tai Chi is a 64 posture form developed by the monks in the Wudang Mountains and is based on the original form of Zhang Sanfeng.
Taoist Qi Gong/Chi Kung
Qi Gong is a traditional system of health exercises where the practitioner focuses on three things – posture, breathing and calming the mind. So, we could say that Qi Gong explores the mind-body relationship. Qi means “life-force energy” and Gong means “skill”, so Qi Gong is the skilled practice of gathering, circulating, and applying life-force energy. “Wild Goose” Qi Gong is a set of 64 movements which blend together.
What are its benefits?
After some practice, students will find their Qi or internal energy flowing and will begin to feel more relaxed.
The practice takes time, so you need to give it time. It takes about a year to learn the full Tai Chi form, on the basis of one class a week and practicing every day for about 15 minutes. As Tai Chi embraces many aspects of movement and stillness, it can be practiced by any age group. Consistent daily practice promotes relaxation, concentration and increased vitality due to improved circulatory and respiratory functions.
Classes, which typically last 60-90 minutes, begin with a series of breathing exercises and move on to slow and precise body movements or “forms” that may take up to twenty minutes to perform.
The first principle of Tai Chi is relaxation, without which there is no Tai Chi; the whole body must be relaxed, loose and open, so that the Chi/Energy can pass through without blockage. Later on in our study, as we begin to relax we realise that relaxation is not simply becoming limp, there should be a quality of vitality about it. Building on that foundation, the practitioner will feel the difference between going limp, which is lifeless, and the relaxation of a cat, which is completely vital and alert. Tai Chi master Cheng Man-Ch’ing described it as like a bale of cotton: soft, but the more compressed it is, the firmer and more substantial it becomes.
Ramen is another quick and nutritious dish which is fairly easy to prepare and make. What gives it the Japanese flavour is the inclusion of miso/soybean paste, seaweed, and gomashio/roasted sesame seed and salt.
Eating seaweed is good for you, so good, in fact, that seaweed might soon be an ingredient in functional foods – to make white bread. Seaweed is high in fibre. Scientists at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne have researched alginate, and found that it can strengthen gut mucus (which protects the gut wall), slow down digestion (so you feel fuller for longer) and make food release its energy more slowly. A Japanese study showed that high seaweed intake increases the good bacteria in the gut. The enzymes in kombu/kelp, which you can add in dried form to soups and stews, help pre-digest pulses, which in turn reduces wind. Seaweed may also improve heart health and is also good for detoxing. Seaweed is very high in lignans – these are plant substances that become phytoestrogens in the body, which help to block the chemical oestrogens that can predispose people to cancers such as breast cancer.
Sesame seeds add a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible, crunch to many Asian dishes. They are also the main ingredients in tahini (sesame seed paste) and the wonderful Middle Eastern sweet call halvah. Not only are sesame seeds an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fibre.
Miso means ‘fermented beans’ in Japanese. In Japan, people begin their day with a bowl of miso soup, believed to stimulate digestion and energise the body. A traditional ingredient in Japanese and Chinese diets (hoisin sauce), miso paste is made from fermented soybeans and grains and contains millions of beneficial bacteria. The protein-rich paste is highly popular as it provides an instant flavour foundation. It adds the fifth taste, known as ‘umami’, to all sorts of dishes including soups/broths, salad dressings, vegetables, stews, glazes, and marinades.
Miso is rich in essential minerals and a good source of various B vitamins, vitamins E, K and folic acid. As a fermented food, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria that help us to stay healthy, vibrant and happy; good gut health is known to be linked to our overall mental and physical wellness. Miso is a live culture, especially the ones sold in health food shops. There are different flavours of miso, I like to use mugi/barley miso as it is particularly suited to a northern European climate.
Ramen is a broth based dish with noodles, meat, hard boiled eggs, stir fried vegetables, garnished with spring onions, toasted seaweed and Goma Shio/toasted sesame seed and salt. Ramen contains 3 protein sources, so it is very good to keep out the cold.
Preparation takes about 10 minutes and the cooking another 10 minutes.
This doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare, and the cooking time is not that long either.
Put the eggs in cold water, bring to boil and simmer for 8 minutes. While this is happening you can do the rest of the preparation.
For the Ramen broth, put some toasted sesame oil in a saucepan along with some garlic and grated ginger. Saute for a few minutes and add hot water and bring to a simmer. Amount of water depends on the number of portions you are making, about 100 ml. per serving. Add the 5 spice, stock cube, soy sauce, chilli sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes until the stock cube is dissolved.
Marinade for meat:
Thinly slice the beef and place in a bowl. Slicing thinly will maximize the surface area to catch more flavor as well as ensuring a quick frying time. Add a clove of garlic, the rest of the grated ginger, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil to taste, chilli sauce to taste and a few drops of rice wine. Allow to marinade until ready to start cooking.
To make Goma Shio, add 6 tablespoons of sesame seeds to a dry frying pan and slowly roast until they are brown and starting to pop. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt to the pan and roast for another minute or so. Combine these ingredients in a mortar and grind them together until they are fairly fine. This is enough Goma Shio to last for a while and can be stored in a jar or spice pot.
Take a half sheet of Nori Seaweed and slowly roast in a dry pan until crispy. This takes about a minute. Rub the toasted seaweed between your hands to make small flakes.
Slice the spring onions.
Bring some water to the boil, add the noodles and cook until done. Fry the beef in a hot wok until it starts to turn brown. Add the chopped pepper, Chinese cabbage and beans/peas and cook until done, another couple of minutes depending on the temperature of the wok. Some people don’t like raw spring onions, in that case add them to the wok for frying.
Heat up the broth. Add the miso paste. Make sure the broth is not boiling. Miso is a live culture so boiling would kill it.
Peel the eggs and cut in half.
Drain the noodles and place them in a serving bowl. Arrange the meat and vegetables to one side and the hard-boiled egg on the other. Cover with the broth. Garnish with the spring onions, toasted seaweed and gomashio.
Dong Ling Cao is a herb used in Chinese Medicine for the treatment of tumours and cancer. When treating tumours and cancer it is normal to use a combination of herbs to make a formula which is specific for that patient. Dong Ling Cao is usually prescribed as well as a single herb, in tablet form. While the herbal formula is prescribed specifically for the symptoms of that patient, Dong Ling Cao acts against tumours in general. In my practice, I have treated many patients successfully using this herb, alone and with herbal formulae.
Overview This herb is the dried whole plant of Rabdosia rubescens of the family Labiatae. It is grown in the northern provinces of China. mainly in Henan province and areas south of Yellow River Valley. Dong Ling Cao (Rabdosia) is an antipyretic. Many medications have antipyretic effects and thus are useful for fever but not specifically “heat” illness. It detoxes the body, is a blood-circulation activating agent, and is an anodyne/relieves pain, as well as an antitumor agent. It detoxifies the liver and improves liver function.
Use of Dong Ling Cao (Rabdosia) in TCM
Bitter in taste and cool, it acts on the stomach, liver and lung meridians.
Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations
The herb is potent. Do not overdose. Not for pregnant or breast feeding women without consulting a qualified practitioner.
Side Effects and Toxicity
As reported in classical Chinese materia medica, the herb may sometimes cause nausea, stomach pain, a feeling of fullness in the stomach, and diarrhea after administering the herb to cancer patients.
Rabdosia is antimicrobial and antitumor.
As part of Chinese Medicine strategy, it clears heat and toxins, nourish yin, remove blood stasis, reduces swelling, and relieves pain.
Dong Ling Cao (Rabdosia) is used to treat cancer of esophagus, and gastroesophageal junction, breast and liver. For swelling of throat, insect bites, snake bites, and inflammation of the tonsils.
It is effective for epithelial hyperplasia of esophagus; for stomach ache due to stomach-heat, inflammation of the throat, cough, mammary abscess, chronic bronchitis, and chronic inflammation of the pelvic area.
These herbal tablets are not sold over the counter or are generally sold without a proper diagnoses by a practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine.
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or would like a consultation with me, please email:
or phone 087 2744 735
With winter approaching, now is a good time to increase your juice and vitamin intake to boost your immune system to help fight off Colds and Flu. Juice is also good for you.
Here is a simple recipe you can use to make your own citrus fruit and berry juice. It stores well in the fridge so only needs to be made once a week.
Method: If using dried cranberries, soak them in the water until they are reconstituted. Zest all the fruit. Put the water, cranberries, the blueberries and the zest into the blender. Blitz the mixture for 3-5 minutes at maximum speed until all the pulp and skin are completely blended. Juice all the fruit and add to the juice mixture. Add the cranberry juice, about 500 ml. Cranberry juice drink is usually sweet to taste, so the sugar will balance the tartness of the juice. Experiment with the ratio of cranberry juice drink to find your desired taste. Store the juice in a container. It will keep in the fridge for a week or so. This amount of ingredients makes about 2 litres of juice.
Blueberries are sweet, nutritious and wildly popular.
Often labelled a “superfood,” they are low in calories and incredibly good for you.
They are so tasty and convenient that many people consider them to be their favorite fruit.
Antioxidants are important. They protect our bodies from damage by free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cellular structures and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.
Blueberries contain the highest antioxidant capacity of ALL commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.
The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries belong to a large family of polyphenols, called flavonoids.
Flavonoids have been shown to directly increase antioxidant levels inside the body.
Bottom Line: Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids appear to be the major antioxidant compounds.
The antioxidants in blueberries have been shown to protect LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) from oxidative damage, a crucial step in the pathway towards heart disease.
Regular blueberry intake has been shown to lower blood pressure in numerous studies.
There is some evidence that regular blueberry consumption can help prevent heart attacks.
The antioxidants in blueberries seem to have benefits for the brain, helping to improve brain function and delaying age-related decline.
Like cranberries, blueberries contain substances that can prevent certain bacteria from binding to the wall of the urinary bladder. This may be useful in preventing urinary tract infections.
Cranberries are a very versatile fruit and their benefits make them useful in food as well as in medicinal products. The cranberry plant is native fruits of North America. Cranberries have a tremendous amount of antioxidant capacity as compared to other fruits and vegetables like broccoli, spinach and apples.One cup of cranberries offers a total 8983 antioxidant capacity.
Cranberry juice can help lower the risk of heart related ailments and assist in sustaining cardiovascular health. The flavonoids present in cranberries have antioxidant properties and may decrease the threat of atherosclerosis.
The health benefits of cranberry juice include relief from urinary tract infection, respiratory disorders, kidney stones, and heart disease. It is also beneficial in preventing stomach disorders and diabetes, as well as gum diseases caused by dental plaque. Phytonutrients, which are naturally derived plant compounds, are present in cranberries and have been found to prevent a wide range of health problems.
According to conducted studies, cranberry juice helps to inhibit certain strains of the flu, which is a common cause of ear and respiratory infections in children. The juice inhibits the bacteria’s hair-like structures, inhibiting them from adhering to the surface of the skin.
Saying that lemons are a superfood is an understatement. Not only do they add abundant flavor to a variety of dishes, but they also boast a ton of health benefits. The flavonoids within the juice are said to contain antioxidants, which is why lemons are useful in treating so many ailments and conditions. Here are some reasons to enjoy them ASAP.
Lime and lemon add refreshing zest to almost any drink which cleanse and enhance immune properties of your already healthy glass of juice.
Limes and lemons contain potent detoxifiers with anti-biotic effect that is protective against bacterial infections.
Despite all the goodness that limes/lemons provide as mentioned above, remember always to take only in moderation. More is not always better.
Some people are allergic to citrus peels, so when you take lime/lemon juice extracted together with the peel, check yourself to see if there is any allergic reaction afterwards.
Oranges have been a staple of eating healthy for thousands of years, and the fruit probably originated somewhere in Southeast Asia. Historical records of oranges date back as far as China, more than 4,500 years ago. It is one of the most popular citrus fruits, and its scientific name is Citrus sinensis. There are a number of different orange varieties, but this is the sweet orange, the most popular and commonly eaten variety. This provides some of the most delicious types of orange juice, although there are some people who prefer the juice from blood oranges, mandarin oranges, or even bitter oranges.
The zest in citrus fruits holds higher levels of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) than its juice. 100 g of fresh zest provides 136 mg per 100 g of vitamin C while its flesh carries just about 71 mg/100 g. Likewise, the zest is also a good source of vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, minerals such as calcium, selenium, manganese, and zinc.
Is it true that there are as many, if not more, nutrients in the zest of citrus fruits as in the fruits themselves?
Yes, the rind or zest, seems to contain more nutrients than the flesh. Citrus peels are packed with immune-boosting vitamin C, bone-building calcium and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant bioflavonoids. They also provide potassium, which helps keep blood pressure in check, and limonene, a phytochemical that may have anti-cancer effects and can help with heart burn.
However, if you have low calcium levels or a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones, check with your doctor before zesting every day. Citrus peels contain oxalates, which interfere with your body’s calcium absorption.
What’s the best way to get at the citrus peel: zest or chop?
A zester is best. And if you don’t own one, use a grater instead.
Is it best to use organic, or does it matter?
Yes, it is better to choose organic especially when you’re eating the zests because conventionally grown citrus fruits can contain pesticide residue as well as wax.
Cupping Therapy is receiving lots of publicity with many top athletes and celebrities using it. Relatively unknown to most people living in the West until recently, cupping therapy is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some records show that variations of cupping practices might actually be much older, possibly dating as far back as 3000 B.C.
And for good reason. Cupping therapy has a host of health benefits that can often outweigh modern medicine techniques.
One of the biggest advantages of cupping therapy, is that it doesn’t pose the risk for unwanted side effects unlike pharmacological drugs or surgery do.
In fact, there’s really no downside to trying cupping, since studies show it can help boost the immune system and speed up healing time without the use of any medications or even herbs. And these are just some of the benefits of cupping therapy.
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
Cupping techniques have been used extensively to treat a range of disorders and symptoms sometimes on their own, or other times in conjunction with other TCM practices such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage (Tuina). What we do know is that cupping works by expanding the blood vessels and increasing the amount of fluid entering and leaving tissues. Besides this, cupping therapy seems to provoke a relaxation response in some people, which means it’s useful for lowering stress and its negative effects.
Helps Reduce Pain
One of the most common uses for Cupping Therapy is to naturally reduce joint and muscle pain. Cupping releases tissues deep inside the body, relaxes tense muscles and eases stiffness associated with chronic back and neck pains, migraines, rheumatism, and fatigue. Some athletes and martial artists have been known to use cupping therapy to naturally improve performance and reduce stiffness, muscle cramps, joint pains and scar tissue caused by injuries.
Cupping targets soft tissue by applying local pressure to pain points and areas of swelling. As blood flow increases within vessels and capillaries, tissues receive much-needed nutrients and oxygen.
It might seem counteractive, but cupping often helps alleviate physical complaints and allows people to enter a more relaxed state since it sedates the central nervous system. This is similar to acupuncture.
Boosts Skin Health
Cupping is used to treat certain skin conditions like cellulite, acne and skin inflammation. While studies haven’t shown it can necessarily help with weight loss, the fact that it tones and firms skin by improving blood flow and expanding capillaries makes it popular among celebrities and people in the spotlight who want to appear to have toned skin. As part of a skin-clearing or cellulite treatment, oil is commonly first applied to the skin before the cups are suctioned and moved around.
Helps Treat Respiratory Conditions and Colds
Commonly used to help nourish the lungs and clear away phlegm or congestion, cupping therapy can be useful for speeding up healing time from respiratory illnesses like the flu and common cold. Cupping helps improve immune function by moving blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body, which is why it’s been associated with reductions in lung diseases (especially chronic coughs), allergies, infections and asthma. In fact, if cupping therapy is done at the onset of a cold or flu, it may completely cure the situation.
Treating respiratory conditions like pulmonary tuberculosis is one of the oldest uses for cupping and was utilized long before prescriptions were available.
Acupuncture and cupping are both popular ways to improve digestion and reduce symptoms from disorders like irritable bowel syndrome. This might primarily be because they can lower a patient’s stress response, which is highly tied to healthy digestive functioning.
Cupping therapy has been found to be beneficial for people with frequent stomach pains, diarrhea, acute gastritis, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal diseases and water retention. For digestive disturbances, cupping is commonly performed in the following areas: around the navel, over the bladder, around the kidneys or over the stomach.
What Is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping can remove toxins from the body, which in turn improves immunity.
Cupping therapy can treat a variety of conditions safely, including:
How Cupping Therapy Works
Cupping therapy is used to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove heat and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.
Glass cups are applied to a patient’s back in a series of positions and a vacuum is applied which sucks the surrounding skin into the cup. This promotes the blood flow to the areas of skin and deep tissue within the area. This is beneficial for dulling pain, breaking up deep scar tissue, and relaxing tender muscles or connective tissue. In this way, cupping is almost like the opposite of getting a massage since instead of applying pressure to swollen areas, it draws pressure out. For this reason cupping is often done in patients who experience chronic lower back pain, muscle knots, tightness due to anxiety, swelling or stiffness.
The cups are left in place for 5 to 15 minutes.
Moving cupping is similar but involves applying massage oil to the skin first, which helps the heated cups glide over tense areas on the patient’s back.
Back when cupping first originated, animal horns, clay pots, brass cups and bamboo were used to create the cups, but today cups are commonly made out of more durable materials, such as glass or heat-resistant plastic and rubber.
Traditionally, a piece of cotton wool is burned in the cup which uses up all the air in the cup. The cup is quickly applied to the area of skin. The lack of air in the cup creates a vacuum which holds the cup in place. I use a vacuum pump to remove the air and create the vacuum. This means that there is no heat on the glass which can burn the skin. Also the gauge on the device means that I can apply an exact pressure.
Is Cupping Therapy Safe?
Cupping might sound a bit scary to someone who’s new to the practice, but rest assured that cupping isn’t usually painful and most trained practitioners are very careful to use sterile equipment. During a cupping session, it’s common to feel some heat and tightness around the cup, but many people find this to actually be relaxing and soothing.
Cupping is considered a safe practice, While the different cupping techniques seem to be similar in terms of effectiveness.
Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for skin discoloration to develop after cupping, which can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. For people with bleeding disorders or who are prone to bruising, cupping should be avoided. It can cause minor and temporary bruising in some people, but this can become problematic for those who don’t heal well from bruises.
For more information about cupping therapy, or to book an appointment,
Contact David Hankey Acupuncture Cork.
Phone: 087 2744 737
Acupuncture and the treatment of PMS
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the cyclic recurrence of a group of symptoms that peak 7 to 10 days before menstruation and disappear a few hours after the onset of the menstrual flow. This condition is characterized by multiple and diverse symptoms including, but not limited to: breast tenderness, transient weight gain, bloating, constipation, insomnia, acne, headache, pelvic pain, irritability, depression, mood swings, poor concentration, confusion, social withdrawal, impulsiveness and appetite changes. While many women experience mild symptoms of short duration, other women have more severe symptoms that last for many days and temporarily disturb their normal functioning.
There can also be painful menstrual issues that can mean that in some cases the woman may only feel well for one week at a time, each cycle. Estimations state that up to 80% of women suffer with some issues and only 5% suffering severe life disrupting symptoms.
PMS is due to unbalanced hormonal fluctuations. A mixture of correct diet, adequate exercise, and emotional clarity, along with acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs can correct imbalances and bring long-term relief.
What is clear here is that PMT symptoms only occur when there is ovarian function. Therefore any woman who is pregnant or has gone through the menopause or had her ovaries removed does not suffer with any symptoms. So it is quite clearly a disharmony of the hormones and the second half of the cycle, i.e. an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels that can be also exacerbated today by poor nutrition, stress and poor sleeping patterns.
From a TCM point of view a balanced woman should not suffer any abnormal issues coming up to her period. Her periods will be regular (24-35 day cycles) and she should feel comfortable. When the body is in balance, a woman will have periods on a regular basis, they also don’t complain about issues such as pain, water retention, emotional upheaval or PMS-related fatigue. So, many of the symptoms associated with PMS (breast tenderness, irritability, cramps, headaches), from a Chinese medical perspective, are simply symptoms of blocked energy. Acupuncture helps to open those blockages thus allowing the energy to flow without restriction. This brings the body back to balance by eliminating PMS altogether by working on the liver qi in particular, and the blood in the spleen. These are all energetics that are central to a healthy reproductive system.
Lots of women attend me for lots of reasons. What is interesting is that whatever the case in front me is, I always ask about the health of the woman’s menstrual cycle. A few women have often looked surprised when I ask them about about their menstrual health and PMS. They say that they thought PMS was normal.
What is always interesting is the woman who comes for help, for say skin issues for example, and they mention while having acupuncture treatments that this was the first month that they didn’t have PMS coming up to their period. This is because TCM looks at the overall woman and treats the root which can be causing layer after layer of very different symptoms.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are wonderful for helping and should be something to consider if looking for natural solutions. A herbal formula to help smooth out the energy of the liver is Xiao Yao Wan/Free and Easy Wanderer. The name suggests the ideal state. However, I would also recommend various lifestyle suggestions including adequate rest, nutrition and exercise.
Balanced nutrition is crucial for overcoming PMS. Certain foods such as alcohol, caffeine, cold temperature foods, sugar, salt, and animal fats exacerbate symptoms of PMS and should be avoided. In addition, commercial red meats and poultry, which have a residue of steroids composed of female animal sex hormones, should be eliminated from the diet. Food necessary for a harmonious menstrual cycle include: plenty of organic vegetables, small amounts of fruit, whole grains, legumes (especially soy), seaweed, small amounts of lean hormone-free meats, and fish (especially salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel).
Exercise plays an important role in the treatment of PMS. Thirty to forty-five minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times per week improves blood circulation and significantly helps reduce symptoms. Exercises like Tai Chi not only give a good workout to all the muscles but it is also good for reducing stress.
In addition to diet and exercise, some form of meditation can be very helpful. Our emotions and hormones influence each other, since they are registered in the same part of our brain. Stress can cause hormonal imbalances and therefore worsen the symptoms of PMS. Some quiet time everyday helps bring emotional and physical equilibrium.
Chinese medicine offers even more tools to address premenstrual syndrome. Acupuncture removes energy blockages and in turn stabilizes hormonal fluctuations. It also provides deep relaxation that helps to calm the mind. Chinese herbs work together with acupuncture to regulate the flow of energy and substances in the body. Together they stimulate the body’s natural functions and encourage it to establish optimum balance.
Women do not have to accept and live with premenstrual syndrome. When the symptoms of PMS are reduced or eliminated, women feel more energetic — physically, mentally and emotionally.
The use contraceptives such as pills and patches (all of which inhibit ovulation) may be of value as regards contraceptives. But, they reduce the hormonal variability of the natural menstrual cycle and may cxontribute to PMS and Fertility problems. . For those women wishing to conceive, relief from PMS symptoms and regulating their monthly clcle can ultimately lead to improved fertility.
Acupuncture and the treatment of PMS.
Chinese medicine has developed treatment for the many complaints of PMS over the past two thousand years, and recently, the National Institute of Health in America endorsed acupuncture for the relief of premenstrual pain and discomfort. Treatment and prevention involve the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, along with nutritional guidance and lifestyle counseling. For the highest success rate and to bring long-term relief, Chinese medical treatment should ideally be received consistently for a sufficient period of time, traditionally considered to be at least weekly, over the duration of three menstrual cycles, in order to bring the body back in to a state of balance.
I have been treating women for the symptoms of PMS for twenty years. If you would like any more information, or would like to contact me for an appointment, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pho – Fertility Nutrition – Food to build up the body.
Pho – Fertility Food. Pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish of rice noodles, marrowbone stock, beef and vegetables. So why have I called it Fertility Food? According to Chinese Medical theory when a woman has fertility issues it is best to tonify the body at a deep level. Bone marrow, which is in the centre of long leg bones, contains a lot of essential nutrients which will tonify the body and make it stronger.
It is also fast and easy to prepare and cook. Well, once the broth is made it is certainly fast. If you have a supply of broth, it only takes 10 minutes to prepare and cook this dish!
Pho tonifies the three treasures: Jing, Qi, and Shen. The marrowbones in the stock nourish the Jing, which in Chinese Medicine terms is the constitutional strength, or essence, stored in the kidneys and bones. Also in the stock is cinnamon, which in Chinese Medicine is a Yang tonic and has a similar action to that of ginseng. Ginger appears in this dish at two stages, cooked in different ways for each stage. The ginger in the stock has been roasted and then simmered slowly in the stock for a long time, which has the effect of concentrating its essence. The very fact of roasting it effects a transformation, which is consolidated by the simmering. On the other hand, the ginger used in the later stage is freshly grated and only cooked very briefly but at a high temperature. Yin and Yang. Ginger should be ranked among the so-called miracle foods or super foods as it is good for your digestion. In Ayurvedic medicine toasted sesame oil has a similar status. Energy, in oriental philosophy, is called Qi. The long cooking time of the stock translates into a slow release of food energy, whereas the rice noodles, which are pure rice starch, provide a quick release of energy. Also, the character for Qi is the same as the character for steam rising from rice. You will see lots of steam in the photos below. Garlic is a blood cleansing tonic and helps to boost the immune system. Red peppers are full of vitamins and antioxidants, which are responsible for cleaning up free radicals, associated with the symptoms of aging. Green vegetables are also packed with vitamins and as we all know, are good for us. Shen, in Taoist philosophy, refers to the mind or consciousness. This is a hot dish: not as hot as a vindaloo curry, but hot enough that you know you are eating it … it concentrates the mind. You can find out more about Chinese medicine at http://www.acupuncturecork.com
The key to this dish is a good stock. Ask your butcher for marrow bones – they’re very good for you, and they cost very little.
As Pho contains many of the ingredients needed, it is very good for people who do lots of activity or are trying to build up their strength. According to the principles of Chinese Medicine, it is very good for people who are trying to conceive, as it builds up the constitutional strength.
Ingredients: (to serve 2 people)
Broth: (this makes more than you need – the remainder can be frozen)
• 3 kg marrow bones/knuckle bones
• 4 l water
• 2 onions
• 1 piece of root ginger about 3 inches long
• 5 heads of star anise
• 1 piece of cinnamon stick, 3 inches long
• 5 dried chillies
• 6 cloves
• 4 tablespoons fish sauce
• 200 g sirloin or round steak
• chilli sauce (to taste)
• 1 generous thumb of ginger, grated
• 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 tblsp. toasted sesame oil
• 1 red pepper (bell pepper)
• 2 heads pak choi or 10 leaves of Chinese cabbage
• 200 g rice noodles
Roast the bones, the two onions (in their skins) and the ginger in the oven at 180°C for 30 minutes. While they are roasting, cover the bones with water in a large stock pot and bring the water to the boil. As soon as the water starts boiling, drain the bones and rinse them. Cover them with fresh water, bring the pot back to the boil, and skim off any scum or impurities. Reduce to a simmer. Remove any burnt skin from the onions, and peel the ginger. Add the onions and ginger to the stock, together with the star anise, cinnamon, chillies, and cloves. Cover the pot and leave it to simmer for three to four hours. At the end of the simmering time, strain the stock and leave it to cool. After chilling, the stock should have a jelly like consistency and there will be a hard layer of fat on the surface. Don’t be tempted to throw out the fat: a lot of flavour is locked up in there. It also gives a lovely golden sheen to the finished soup.
This should make about 3 litres of broth. This can be frozen in individual tubs for use later. For two people you will need 400 ml broth. I freeze it in lots of 400 ml in old ice-cream tubs.
Cut the beef on the diagonal into slices about 2 mm thick. Cutting it on the diagonal increases the surface to volume ratio. A very sharp knife should be used for slicing the beef so that there is a clean cut that seals the fibres. Make a quick marinade with the other ingredients and rub it in to the sliced beef. If you can get hold of it, I highly recommend Mic’s Chilli sauce, either 3 chilli Inferno or 4 chilli Inferno Extreme, for the marinade. Set the beef aside.
The chopped vegetables. In this case I have used Chinese leaves (Chinese cabbage).
Cut the red pepper into squares about 1.5 cm wide, and cut the pak choi leaves width-ways into sections about 2 cm wide.
Put the rice noodles into boiling water and simmer for about 6-8 minutes or until soft. Drain.
The hot stock. You can see the golden fat floating on the surface.
Warm 400 ml stock in a sauce pan. In a very hot wok, fry the beef in sunflower oil. As soon the beef starts turning brown, add the sliced red peppers and then the pak choi, making sure it doesn’t burn. To cook the greens add a splash of stock or water to create steam, which will cook the greens. The wok needs to be hot enough that the liquid turns to steam instantly, so that the beef and vegetables are not boiling in water.
Stir frying the beef in a hot wok. It should be sizzling hot – you can see the steam rising.
After a minute the vegetables are added to the beef.
Start assembling the dish by putting the cooked noodles in the bottom of a bowl.
After topping the noodles with the fried beef and vegetables, pour the hot stock into the bowl.
Place the noodles in individual bowls, then top with the fried beef and vegetables and cover with broth. When we had this recently at a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris, it was served with chopped fresh chillies and a wedge of lemon on the side.
Medical Qigong to improve health and immune system
Medical Qigong (pronounced Chi Kung)
What is Medical Qigong? Medical Qigong is another mode of Chinese Medicine alongside acupuncture, herbal medicine and therapeutic massage. Medical Qigong refers either to a practitioner doing Qigong on the patient or to the patient doing a set of mind and body exercises/meditation. Medical Qigong is a set of exercises to improve health and boost the immune system.
When a practitioner does medical Qigong on the patient, he/she is using their hands to open and manipulate the points rather than use acupuncture needles. Just like acupuncture the therapist uses the same diagnostic tools to lead to the point prescription.
The purpose of this blog and accompanying video on YouTube is to show people how to do a set of Qigong exercises for themselves. This will be a very basic model, but that doesn’t mean that it is in any way less effective. Rather, it will be the basic model on which more complicated or specific exercises can be built. Qigong exercises can be very specific to particular complaints, but this one forms the basics.
Medical Qigong exercises also play a part in the patient’s recovery to health and also to improve the immune system and the general health of the patient. Done correctly, these exercises are like doing an acupuncture session on yourself. Medical Qigong exercises can also be done by those wishing to boost their immune systems as well as to improve general health.
All forms of TCM treatment strive to boost, reinforce, strengthen and invigorate the Qi or life-force energy.
The word Qigong is made up of two Chinese words. “Qi” means “life force” or “vital energy” which flows through all things in the universe. “Gong” means “work”. Qigong therefore means “working with Qi”
Qigong is the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movement and meditation to cleanse, strengthen and circulate Qi. Qigong practice leads to better health and vitality and a more tranquil state of mind.
Qigong practices involve various postures, either moving or stationery, breathing exercises and exercises to calm and quieten the mind and help focus intention. Some practices increase Qi, others circulate it. Some practices are to cleanse and heal the body, while others store or emit Qi to help heal others.
The gentle rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality and enhance the immune system. It has been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive function.
Qigong is an exercise routine which promotes relaxation and increases the blood flow. Also, because the person is focusing on, and following the breath in a smooth flow, it is mindfulness meditation. This reduces stress, which can also exacerbating an illness. One of the most important long term benefits of Qigong is that it re-establishes the mind/body/spirit connection.
Tai Chi is a particular style of Qigong which is graceful, relaxed, slow and fluid. Unlike some Qigong methods which exercise specific systems or parts of the body – nervous system, endocrine system, heart, kidneys – Qigong is a whole body, whole mind exercise.
This blog is to accompany a video I have done to demonstrate the important points when doing these Qigong exercises for yourself. All that is needed is the space where you stand and time. With practice, build up to 30 minutes. Every day is best, twice a day if you can manage. To see any benefit it is best to practice every day for a few months. Then review the situation to see whether the exercises have made any difference.
The accompanying video shows the basic postures and important points when doing these exercises.
The video shows in real time how to perform the exercises so you can do them alongside the video. I have included the basic postures/relaxation and 4 exercises which are good for starting this practice. So, just follow along at your own pace. Sitting or standing is ok.
If you suffer from an illness or would like to use Qigong for prevention, why not give it a go? Please follow the link below and follow along for yourself. Firstly, see if you like this form of exercise. To obtain best results, practice for a half hour every day for a month and see for yourself if you have made an progress.
I can perform Medical Qigong on patients and also show how to do the exercises as well as prescribe specific exercises for different complaints.
If you would like more information, or would like to book a consultation to experience a Qigong treatment, please contact me at:
Acupuncture Cork, David Hankey. Phone 087 2744735
or email email@example.com