Category Archives for Nutrition

New Year Detox – A TCM Perspective

New Year Detox – A TCM Perspective

From a natural health perspective, it would be best to maintain optimal health and not have a need to detox in the first place. That is not always possible, so we need to detox our bodies to maintain optimal health. New year is a good time to do this. Detoxing means to remove poisons or toxins. Our bodies have natural waste management system, waste is eliminated via out breath, urine, sweat and faeces. We filter the air we breathe, and the food and drink we consume, and anything we absorb through our skin. Our blood circulation, digestive tract, liver, kidneys and lungs operate efficiently and effectively in the right conditions.

The problems arise when we overload. For example, drinking coffee and alcohol every day, breathing polluted lead laden air, eating processed foods full of additives and sugars. Also, overeating and not getting enough sleep, feeling stressed and upset, partying hard or often add to the situation.  These all exhaust our bodies and gradually their ability to eliminate wastes diminishes and toxins build up. We cease to thrive.

The answer may lay in a Detox. ‘Detox diets” can be severe, eating only raw foods or fasting, taking purgatives and colonics. This can be OK if you are strong but it can drain and exhaust softer constitutions. Detoxing to invigorate and tonify must be appropriate to the individual. It is much kinder and more natural to support our constitutions by working in harmony with what each person’s needs. A gradual detox will be as effective and a lot kinder then extreme changes in diet. Sudden withdrawal from toxins such as sugars, coffee and alcohol can cause great discomfort with headaches, mood swings and cravings. 

Cleansing Creates Well-Being


Our body is automatically programmed to cleanse itself daily. However, with our fast-paced modern lifestyle and exposure to an increasing number of harmful and toxic substances, our body’s natural cleansing ability has become overworked and compromised.

Many signs and symptoms attributed to stress are now being linked to exposure from harmful substances such as PCBs, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and mercury in food and liquids as well as dioxins in the air.

These substances most notably affect the healthy functioning of the liver and immune system. Common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, anxiety and depression
  • Allergies and frequent infections
  • Unexpected weight gain
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty focusing and memory loss
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin rashes and acne
  • Recurrent yeast infections

Harmful and toxic substances from our chemically laden food and polluted environment have also become implicated as a leading cause of many serious illnesses.

To counter this growing situation, TCM doctors have developed a Cleansing and Detoxification Program that is unique and highly useful in ridding the body of many harmful and toxic substances.

Acupuncture


Acupuncture stimulates neurological, immunological, and endocrine responses beneficial to tissue cleansing and cell rejuvenation. It also stimulates the release of endorphins that reduce the pain and discomfort sometimes experienced when detoxifying and withdrawing from addictive substances such as alcohol, caffeine, drugs, nicotine and sugar. Blog on acupuncture: https://www.acupuncturecork.com/what-to-expect-during-an-acupuncture-appointment/

Chinese Herbal Medicine


The proprietary herbal formulations focus on drawing the toxins directly out of the body through increased sweating, urination, and bowel movements. Some of the herbs directly support the filtering function of the liver and assist it in cleansing and promoting cell repair and cell regeneration.

Far-Infrared Heat Therapy


The heat and deep vibratory action of the far-infrared energy promotes the release of toxins through increased circulation and through sweating. The far-infrared heat lamp differs from the conventional sauna in its ability to penetrate deeply beneath the superficial layers of the skin. Studies show that the infrared light waves help to rid the body of toxins that are stored beyond the superficial layers of the skin. The excreted toxins include: cholesterol, fat soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals (such as mercury and aluminum), sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid. The unusually high concentration of heavy metals and other fat-soluble toxins is not found in the sweat from normal exercise or a regular sauna. 

Tuina Bodywork


Toxins often accumulate in the connective tissues creating blockages and impeding blood and fluid circulation. Tuina massage consists of special massage techniques, lymphatic drainage, joint rotations, and cupping. The strong suction action of the cupping stimulates blood and lymphatic fluid to flow near the skin’s surface and to key areas of the body for easy and direct release of toxins.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is important for health. Exercises like walking, especially in nature and parks, is important for cardiovascular fitness as well as enjoying being in nature. Tai Chi is a very relaxing routine which exercises the body and calms the mind. So, it is very good for coping with stress as well as stopping stress from getting out of control. See these exercises as developing “me time”, rather than a chore which must be completed to get to a goal. https://www.facebook.com/TaiChiCorkDavidHankey/

Chi Kung Energy Therapy

When undergoing an internal cleanse it’s important to work with dealing with stress as well as the needs of the body. Chi Kung is a Chinese medical energy therapy in the holistic tradition. Chi Kung is a light touch healing technique that serves as the foundation of the practices of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. A Chi Kung practitioner will use their hands and body to sense areas of improper blood and energy flow. They will make subtle adjustments to encourage your physical organs to cleanse themselves and your emotions to release their excesses as well. Chi Kung is also a set of mind/body exercises which help with stress. Blog on Qigong: https://www.acupuncturecork.com/medical-qigong-to-improve-health-and-immune-system/

The liver’s function in TCM

The liver regulates the body as well as the emotions. The liver regulates Chi, the vital energy that sustains life, and stores blood, which carries Chi around the body and supports the functioning of our organs, limbs and tissues. While you’re awake, the liver supplies blood to the muscles. During sleep, blood returns to the liver to be cleansed.

Foods that detoxify and strengthen the liver

Sour foods: According to TCM, sour foods tend to nourish the liver. A refreshing glass of lemon water has a diuretic effect, which can help you flush toxins from your body. Blog on making your own juice: https://www.acupuncturecork.com/health-benefits-of-making-your-own-juice/

Ginger: This yang (warming food) nourishes blood, improves circulation, and has antibiotic and antibacterial effects that can help your body cleanse toxins and fight pathogens. You can easily add a few slivers of freshly sliced ginger to teas, porridge and soups. 

Turmeric: This pungent spice decongests the liver, clears heat from the body, and improves the flow of Chi and blood. Add a dash of turmeric to a bowl of soup or a rice dish, or brew it directly to drink. Turmeric powder is also present in many Indian curry recipes.

Dandelion root: A cleansing, detoxifying herb that cools the blood and nourishes the liver. Springtime is the ideal time to drink dandelion tea. Not only are dandelions in flower during this season, but spring is associated with wood, the element of the liver.

Magnolia berry (wu wei zi): The magnolia berry has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to nourish and protect the liver. Brew it as a tea and drink a cup per day.

Goji Berries: As well as detoxing, it is important to add some tonic herbs and suppliments. Goji berries are high antioxidant potential fruits which alleviate oxidative stress to confer many health protective benefits, such as preventing free radicals from damaging DNA, lipids, and proteins. 

Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which is needed by the liver. Magnesium deficiency symptoms include

  • Fatigue.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Mood problems.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Migraines.
  • PMS.
  • Irregular sleep patterns and insomnia.
  • Heart irregularities.

Dark Chocolate is also in high in iron, copper and manganese and contains prebiotic fibre that feeds your healthy gut bacteria.

Detox Nutritional Protocol


Nutritional therapy plays a distinct and essential role in the detox program. The aim includes selected foods that cleanse the liver and intestinal tract and provide key nutrients such as all the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health.

From the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective each person is different with different needs, there are some basic steps that will help everybody:

  • Eat organic, fresh food.
  • Eat slowly. This helps the digestive system to absorb food better and convert it to usable energy.
  • Have a vegetarian day each week.
  • Drink water each morning.
  • Massage the abdomen each morning in a clockwise direction, up the right side and down the left, the direction that food takes. Ten minutes massage each morning helps with elimination and promotes healthy gut metabolism.
  • Take at least four consecutive days every week where you do   not drink alcohol. 
  • Reduce sugars and avoid junk foods and late night eating.
  • Spend time outside every day.
  • Exercise, meditate or take up an exercise system like Tai Chi which helps reduce stress and promote well-being.
  • Stop drinking coffee and tea.
  • Sleep better and for longer.
  • Consider using natural cleaning products and cosmetics.
  • Switch off mobile phones at night.

If you follow these steps, your toxic load and stress levels will drop quickly. This allows the organs to function effectively eliminating waste products and conveying nourishment to every cell. Sadly after years of neglect, it can be hard to return to normal function levels, and imbalances persist. This is when acupuncture and herbs are very helpful. Acupuncture regulates the internal homeostasis which means it gets everything working properly, it is like tuning and servicing a complex machine. Herbs support this function.

A course of treatment and dietary advice from a TCM practitioner will ensure that your detox is effective. Regular visits will help you to stay on course and keep organs functioning well. When we feel well and happy cravings for toxic foods and lifestyle diminish. It is misguided to harshly detox and then return to old habits. Far better to live well most of the time with the occasional indiscretion. Your body will cope perfectly with that when it is all tuned up.

Contact David Hankey for more details or to make an appointment for any of the above treatments, or for details of my Tai Chi and Chi Kung classes.

Phone: 087 2744735

Email: davidwhankey@gmail.com

Link to Acupuncture Council of Ireland website:

https://www.acupuncturecouncilofireland.com/

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Thai Pumpkin Soup is a healthy and nutritious dish which is easily prepared. It freezes well, so once made it can easily be thawed and ready to eat.

Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiberpotassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health. Studies suggest that consuming enough potassium may be almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Protect Your Sight

The bright orange color of pumpkin comes from its rich supply of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This essential vitamin promotes eye health, and just a single cup of pumpkin provides over 200% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A. In addition, pumpkin is a great source of antioxidants, which have been suggested to help prevent cataracts and slow the development of macular degeneration.

Boost Immunity

Pumpkins are ready to harvest and eat in Autumn. The beginning of autumn is often also the start of cold and flu season. Help guard against sickness with a regular serving of pumpkin soup. Its high vitamin A content may help the body resist infections and viruses. If you do catch a cold, pumpkin can help you recover faster, thanks to its high vitamin C content.

Help Avoid Mineral & Nutrient Deficiency

Magnesium is a vital component to more than 600 chemical reactions in the body, including controlling blood pressure, regulating blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and much more. Magnesium is also necessary for healthy menstruation. Yet, the vast majority of adults are deficient in this essential mineral. Pumpkin seeds are a great natural source of magnesium, and are easy to prepare. Save the seeds when preparing the soup. Simply spread them on a sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 180 degrees C. Roast until toasted, about 25 minutes. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of other nutrients, including manganese, copper, protein, and many anti-oxidants.

Support Weight Loss Efforts

Pumpkin contains lots of fiber, which is known to help slow digestion and promote satiety, keeping you feeling fuller longer. In addition, it is also a great low-calorie food, with just about 50 calories per serving.

Promote Younger-Looking Skin

When consumed, the high beta-carotene content in pumpkin helps protect the skin from the sun’s wrinkle-causing UV rays.

So, take advantage of this awesome fruit. Yes, technically it is a fruit, any time of the year!

Thai Pumpkin Soup Recipe

  • 1.5 Kg. pumpkin or Butternut Squash, I use both
  • 1 Onion
  • Grated Ginger
  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400 ml. coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. Thai 7 Spice
  • 1/3 tsp Dried Cumin
  • 1/3 tsp. Dried Coriander
  • 1/3 tsp. Chilli Flakes
  • Pinch of Chipotle Flakes
  • Toasted Sesame Oil or Vegetable oil for sautéing
  • Garnish: Fresh Coriander and Black Pepper

Stock:

Pressure cook some chicken bones with 8 cups of water, a Bay Leaf, salt and pepper to taste. Takes about 30 minutes. Alternatively, used a chicken stock cube or vegetable stock cube.

Dice the onion and ginger and sauté in a large pot with some Toasted Sesame Oil along with the spices. Deseed the pumpkin and remove the skin. Cut into cubes and add to the pot along with the stock. Brin to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Blend the soup into a fine puree and add the coconut milk. Cook for another 5 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with fresh coriander and black pepper and some Lime Zest.

It freezes well, and can be put in tubs and frozen.