Chinese Medicine Remedies to Strengthen your Kid’s Health This Winter

chinese medicine tea

The dip in temperatures outside means winter has finally hit Hong Kong, and with that comes the cough season and plenty of sniffing red noses conquering subways, schools and kindergartens. You’re probably going to spot one of them among your loved ones and you might even remember last year’s hit on your family – that week when your annual tissue consumption reached an impressive peak.

So, how do you avoid it this year? Some ancient Chinese wisdom might do the trick, offering simple and effective ways to boost your kids’ immune systems and cure the little red noses with natural and mild alternatives to western medicine. Let’s enhance your parental toolbox and have a look at what Traditional Chinese Medicine can do for you and your kids.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history which includes the development of pediatrics within TCM, dating back to the first book on treatment of children called “Xiaoer Yaozheng Zhijue” in 1114 AD. The traditional Chinese childcare strongly focuses on what kids should eat, how much clothes they should wear and how much sleep is needed. What at first glance might look like a very protective way of child upbringing is actually based on a complex and sophisticated system within TCM. To understand this system, we need to take a closer look at how TCM views kids.

Kids are growing humans, as much on the outside as on the inside.

In our young age, organs are still immature and therefore more sensitive. Children’s lungs are yet to be fully developed, but since our lungs are responsible for the circulation of our protectiveqi, weak lungs usually mean an inferior immune system. There’s also a strong connection between weak lungs and upper respiratory diseases such as colds, coughs, allergies and asthma. In autumn and winter especially, your lungs will need some extra help to keep up the necessary protective qi.

To boost your kids’ lung power in winter, try brewing them a cup of the famous “Jade Windscreen Tea”:

Ingredients:
5g Chinese Parsnip Root
10g Astragalus Root
10g Atractylodes Rhizome

Method:
Boil together in 400-600ml of water. Then lower the hear, cover the pot and let it simmer for 30-45min. Turn off the heat, leave it covered and let it rest of 15 minutes. Then filter the tea and serve.Tip: This tea can only use for prevention but not for treatment of colds and flu. 

chinese medicine herbs

Another important organ that is often overlooked by western medicine is our spleen. Together with the stomach, the spleen is responsible for our digestion. Kids under 7 years have an immature and sensitive digestive system, which is worsened by our modern diets filled with unhealthy foods and sweets.

This becomes especially problematic when we look at the close connection between the spleen and the lung: according to the Chinese 5-element theory, the spleen is the mother of the lung. And like in real life, when mama gets sick, the kids won’t be happy either: An improper diet causes a weak spleen, which will weaken the lung and trigger colds and coughs.

A chronically troubled spleen may even lead to respiratory diseases such as asthma and allergies. By addressing the root cause and managing a healthy diet for your family, you can control these diseases easily. Avoid overeating and foods that are high in unnatural elements like processed foods. Opt for the organic choices as much as you can.

To specifically invigorate spleen function, try out this Chinese porridge:

Ingredients:
20g poria cocos (also known as fu ling)
10g Chinese jujube
20g yams
50g sticky rice
A little brown sugar

I recommend to eat small portions of this congee as part of your three meals a day.

The Yin and the Yang

Children are constantly growing and developing. According to TCM, this is accompanied by “Pure Yang” in the body, which easily turns into an overload of heat – your kid is on fire! There is good news and bad news. Bad news is, the lack of cooling Yin and an abundance of Pure Yang usually leads to liver heat. Your kid will have trouble sleeping or not being able to focus in school. In extreme cases, it might lead to ADHD.

The good news is, your kids can use their Yang-power to recover very fast, too. To support your kid you need to take some of the heat out of their system. Simply drinking the right tea or other mild herbs will help to get the right balance back. Avoid foods that contain high amounts of growth hormones, like none organic milk and chicken. Stay away from deep-fried foods, barbecues or chips, as those foods contain a lot of heat. And again, choose organic foods wherever you can.

TCM Treatments

If your kids are already starting to get the sniffles, Kid’s Health Chinese Medicine remedies can be a good alternative to western medicine, with some milder and safer treatments. Pediatric treatments can include acupressure or acupuncture, using small and pain-free needles specifically designed for children. Since younger patients usually don’t like to sit still, they will only be shortly pricked into the qi points and then removed again.

More commonly, traditional treatment for kids involves light herbals, which are consumed as teas. Another common practice is pediatric massages, which you can also learn yourself and use as a comforting way to bond with your child.

By simply observing the subtle imbalances in your body and integrating preventive TCM advices into your everyday life, you will find it easy to keep your family healthy throughout winter!

Judy

Judy

Judy Xu
Certified Holistic Health Coach and Chinese Medicine nutritionist at Balance Health and Oriental Health
Chinese Medicine Nutritionist, Chinese University Hong Kong
Holistic Health Coach, IIN New York (Institution of Integrative Nutrition)

Judy Xu is a Holistic Health Coach, combining integrative medicine from the West with the ancient wisdom of Chinese Medicine for a modern lifestyle that helps patients to naturally achieve balance and health. Judy believes that creating balance is the prerequisite for health and self-healing. In her coaching she takes a holistic approach to address imbalances and create a long-term basis for health. She enables clients to achieve weight loss, a peaceful mind, improve energy levels and manage stress. Judy is originally from Shanghai and a long-term resident of Hong Kong. She speaks and writes English and Chinese.

 

Originally published 12 December 2014 on Sassy Mama HK

Treating People, not Diseases. Know Your Chinese Medicine Body Type.

Prof. Wang Qi from Beijing University explains the story behind the Body Type System.

One of the most fascinating treatment methods in TCM is to determine the Body Constitution Type. Oriental Health is working with this system, because it enables the doctor to identify the optimal treatment for every patient. Even more importantly, it gives the patient the chance to understand the own body and live healthy. On the International Conference of the Modernization of Chinese Medicine & Health Products in August 2014 we were honored to talk to one of the most important figures for the development of the Body Constitution Type System, Prof. Wang Qi from Beijing University.

 

Oriental Health:
Prof. Wang, thank you very much for this interview and sharing your thoughts with us. For many years you have been doing intensive research on TCM, and you already published a great volume of scientific literature in national and international journals. Regarding your research on the Body Constitution Types, we would like to know: When you started your work thirty years ago, what was your original motivation?

 

Prof. Wang Qi:
My motivation… Well, I was wondering: How come we can cure one person with a certain drug easily, but for the next person the exact same medicine doesn’ t seem to work at all? Is the medicine gone bad within a blink of an eye? Or is it something else, that we might overlook?

 

If two people have the same illness, but the same treatment can’t cure both of them, we shouldn´t wonder about the drug, but switch our focus to the patient. Every patient is different, so the treatment must reflect that. In fact, we must change the order of treatment altogether: Patient comes first, only then followed by the illness. In a second step it is then important to make sure we don’t look at „Sick People“, but at „People’s Sickness“.

 

Oriental Health:
Could you explain to us how the system of the Body Constitution Types / Chinese Medicine Body Type came to life?

 

Dr. Wang Qi:
We were looking for a modular framework, that could easily be applied to all kinds of different patients. So we started our project and categorized health statuses, illnesses and their similarities of 12000 probands. It took a while, but step by step we managed to reduce the categories and in the end we established nine different Body Constitution Types. Similariy we developed a questionnaire to identify each patients constitution easily.

 

Oriental Health:
From your experience, how long does it usually take for a patient to reach a balanced level?

 

Prof. Wang Qi:
Once identified, the doctor will consider the Body Constitution Type and chose the treatment accordingly. Due to this customized but easy to apply treatment, the recovery of the whole body system to a balanced level will usually need only half a year, followed by another six month of stabilization.

 

Oriental Health:
Now let’s have a look at the bigger picture. Where do you see the Traditional Chinese Medicine on an international level? In your opinion, does TCM apply to everybody and can non-Asians profit from it, too?  

 

Prof. Wang Qi:
As I said, every patient is unique. Moreover, the environment and circumstances we live in vary a lot. But as we look closer at China, we see a vast country with many kinds of geology and living circumstances. People from Guangzhou and Tibet traditionally differ in diet and lifestyle as well as their looks, but still the Body Constitutions apply to both of them. It works, because the system assesses the individual body traits, not race or skin color. Interestingly though, living circumstances and DNA play a vital role as they can influence the proportional distribution of the Body Constitution Types in a society.

 

Oriental Health:
Could you give us an idea about the future of TCM? For example, may we ask what are you currently working on?

 

Prof. Wang Qi:
We currently analyze which Body Constitution Type is prone to which illness. We know for example that among Blue Discomfort Types a common illness is Depression. If patients and doctors are aware of these susceptibilities, spotting symptoms and curing developing illnesses will be much more effective.

And even though the Body Constitution Types already play a successful part in the Chinese Medical System, much work still needs to be done to ensure greater access for every patient. Especially in rural areas with only a limited number of hospitals preventive measures will be of tremendous help. A broader knowledge of the personal constitution and helpful nutrition will empower everybody to take care of their own health.

[staffbio staffname=”Judy Xu” staffimage=”http://orientalhealth.com.hk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/JAN_6493-e1387943852637.jpg” stafftitle=”Practice Manager
Chinese Medicine Nutritionist, CUHK, INI
MBA HKUST” staffemail=”judy.xu@orientalhealth.com.hk”]Judy is the founder of Oriental Health and a practicing TCM nutritionist. [/staffbio]

Chinese Medicine Menopause – Balance Your Body Naturally

What Is Menopause and What Are Its Main Symptoms?
Menopause occurs as a natural part of a woman’s life transition. As a woman ages, her ovaries slowly stop producing the estrogen hormone, leading to biological changes throughout the entire body, from the brain to the skin. Menopause is not a disease, but for many women these hormonal changes bring about many unwelcome side effects that require medical intervention by health care professionals. The main complaints associated with menopause are hot flushes, genital atrophy, insomnia, and psychosomatic complaints such as irritability, depression and mood swings. These symptoms will usually last for 2-3 years but in some serious cases they can last for 5-10 years.

Women experiencing such symptoms should not be alarmed. According to recent research, in the US 80% of women who go through menopause experience light to severe menopausal symptoms; in both cases there are many solutions available. If you do suffer from the physical or mental symptoms mentioned above, please seek support as those that neglect to do so risk subjecting themselves to hypertension, heart attack, arteriosclerosis, or bone fracture due to osteoporosis.

Treatment Through Western Medicine and Its Limitations
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is commonly used to treat menopause symptoms in Western medicine. The purpose of HRT is to supply the body with an external source of hormones, including estrogen and/or progesterone. Premarin (conjugated estrogen) and Provera (medroxyprogesterone) remain the most popular brands.

However, recent research has indicated that the beneficial effects of HRT might last only up to 16 weeks, after which no difference was observable between the placebo and the control group. Despite the possible benefits, there are numerous controversies surrounding estrogen replacement therapy due to the staggering number of side-effects, including (but not limited to) an increased risk of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, gallbladder diseases, and liver diseases amongst others. Progesterone is prescribed with estrogen to minimize the risk of cancer, however, it can cause side-effects such as an increase in cholesterol levels, edema, weight gain and bleeding.

Due to these side effects, women who have a family history of hormone related cancer, liver and kidney disease or diabetes probably should avoid HRT.

TCM Solutions and Their Benefits
Chinese Medicine Menopause herbs have been used to treat menopausal symptoms successfully for many years, and it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy. The strengths of Chinese Medicine are:
• Chinese Medicine is a holistic treatment; treatment is based on syndrome differentiation. It analyzes the root cause of each individual’s symptoms and offers a specially tailored herbal therapy that not only addresses the symptoms but also corrects the fundamental imbalance inside the body. As a result, women can leverage this unique life transition period not only to replenish but also to strengthen the immunity system, prevent issues such as osteoporosis or cancer, and prepare the body for a healthy and long life in the years to come.
• Chinese Medicine effectively treats menopausal symptoms; it is safe and does not have the same side effects seen in the application of Western hormone therapies. The Chinese Medicine approach involves leveraging the natural healing power of herbs to slow down the aging process of the reproductive system, and increase its capacity to generate essential hormones during the process. If the change is slow and gradual, it makes it a lot easier for the body to adjust. This is very different from the HRT approach, wherein the injection of hormones into the body often decreases the body’s capacity to generate its own hormones. This is probably one of the reasons that the benefits of HRT wear-off after 16 weeks of usage.

How Chinese Medicine works
Chinese Medicine regards the root cause of menopause as being the result of; a weakening of the kidney, weakness in the reproductive organs, a lack of Yin (water, blood, body fluids) and hampered Qi and blood circulation. A lack of fluid inside the body leads to obstruction of the circulation to the liver and hence leads to an excess of heat accumulating inside the body. Internal humidity and restricted blood flow further exacerbate menopause. Even though a weakened kidney is often seen as the root cause of menopausal symptoms, the spleen, heart and liver can also be implicated. An excess of heat along with the production of phlegm in the heart & liver are often cited as major causes of symptoms. A given treatment should focus on the (1) kidney or (2) liver, spleen and kidney, or (3) heart, liver and kidney, or (4) the phlegm and slow blood inside the body. The practitioner will often offer treatment based on the combination of causes highlighted above.

Chinese Medicine can simultaneously target the symptoms and the root causes, making it very effective. In the case of menopause, Chinese medicine can replenish internal energy flows, whilst strengthening key internal organs including the kidney and liver. The body can be cleared of internal blockages & accumulations, which are often the source of common symptoms. Chinese medicine can help patients to reach new levels of balance in the body, improving the body’s overall health in the long-term.

Furthermore, herbal therapies can also be complimented with acupuncture, moxibustion, Tui Na, cupping and so forth to improve blood and energy circulation. Other elements of a patient’s lifestyle – particularly one’s diet and exercise regime – also need to be adjusted to maximize the benefits of Chinese medicine therapy, and to live a healthy life through the menopause period and beyond. We will share more information on such diet, exercise and lifestyle adjustments in our future blogs.

[staffbio staffname=”Judy Xu” staffimage=”http://orientalhealth.com.hk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/JAN_6493-e1387943852637.jpg” stafftitle=”Practice Manager
Chinese Medicine Nutritionist, CUHK, INI
MBA HKUST” staffemail=”judy.xu@orientalhealth.com.hk”]Judy is the founder of Oriental Health and a practicing TCM nutritionist. [/staffbio]

How Chinese Medicine helps Strengthening your Kids’ Health

Antibiotics Harm Your Child
A recent study published in the journal Lancet confirmed long-held suspicions against the use of antibiotics when they showed no effect in the treatment of coughs.
Prof Paul Little commented in the BBC: “The overuse of antibiotics, particularly when they are ineffective, leads to the development of resistance and has side effects like diarrhea, rash and vomiting.”
Children are particularly vulnerable since an overuse of antibiotics hurts their immune system and leads to less resistance against illnesses. How can we restore your kids health with a natural solution?

Chinese Medicine can be a potent alternative
Fortunately there are alternatives to treating mild forms of chest infections and coughs as Traditional Chinese Medicine is as useful today as it has been for centuries.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is especially effective in the treatment of coughs because of its careful differentiation of the various types of coughs.

Coughs due to excessive Heat
For instance, coughs due to heat produce a sticky phlegm that’s difficult to spit out, so it is treated with cooling, moistening herbs and acupuncture directed at specific points on the body which clear heat from the lungs.

Coughs due to excessive Cold
By comparison, coughs due to cold is accompanied by chills and plentiful mucus. It is treated with warming, drying herbs and the application of moxibustion, a traditional Chinese medicine therapy using mugwort herb.

Coughs caused by Wind
Treating a dryness cough caused by wind is another possible type. Usually contracted due to overexposure to a dry environment, symptoms are a dry, non-productive cough accompanied by a sore throat with a ticklish sensation. The focus is to repel the dryness; a typical formula includes Sang Xing Tang, which helps moisten the lungs and repel the dryness. The treatment should be accompanied by a diet of soups and plenty of liquids.

An experienced TCM doctor can differentiate the types and the root cause of a cough, and then applies unique techniques to not only fix the immediate symptoms but also address the illness at its source.
Continued use of Chinese Medicine will tackle the root cause of the health imbalance and strengthen your child’s immune system to prevent an illness to occur in the first place.

Yu Ping Feng – A powerful recipe to prevent colds
Jade Windscreen Tea, also known by its Chinese name as Yu Ping Feng, has been used by TCM practitioners for centuries to prevent the common colds experienced during the flu season.

Jade Windscreen Tea, also known as Yu Ping Feng (玉屏风)
Ingredients: Chinese parsnip root (防風), Astragalus (黄耆), Atractylodes (白术)
Cooking Instructions:
1. Clean all the ingredients, add 200ml of hot water, and bring to boil
2. Turn the heat down to a low simmer and cover. Do not lift the lid, as this will diminish the “flavor”. Cook the herbs for 30 – 45 minutes. Let the boiling liquid cool down for 15 minutes.

[staffbio staffname=”Judy Xu” staffimage=”http://orientalhealth.com.hk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/JAN_6493-e1387943852637.jpg” stafftitle=”Practice Manager
Chinese Medicine Nutritionist, CUHK, INI
MBA HKUST” staffemail=”judy.xu@orientalhealth.com.hk”]Judy is the founder of Oriental Health and a practicing TCM nutritionist. [/staffbio]