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Insomnia and Chinese Medicine


When you are fatigued and grateful that the day is over. You think that nothing is going to keep you awake tonight or at least that’s what it is supposed to feel like. You rest your head on the pillow it last nights sleep pattern repeats again, that internal activity that has kept you awake for so many nights. You have to endure a constant inner tête-à-tête where you spiral over the same exasperating thoughts, most of which seem unrelated when all you need is some sleep.
We live in stressful times, and sleep disturbance is a complaint frequently encountered in the Traditional Chinese medicine clinic where Western medicine offers little in the way of reprieve. Sleeping pills and antidepressants can help some people, but generally, drug therapy causes drowsiness, interferes with the quality of sleep, and can cause rebound insomnia unless ever higher doses are taken. In my clinical experience, patients suffering sleep disturbance have responded very well to acupuncture and herbal homeopathic remedies.

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To practitioners of Western analytical tradition, it seems baffling that acupuncture points on the surface of the body could affect the psychological wellbeing of people. Unlike Western medical thought, Chinese Medicine does not accept the mind-body duality that has influenced Western scientific thinking since Descartes. It also does not agree with the notion that consciousness is merely the product of chemical interactions in the brain. Chinese medical theory grew out of the insights of ancient Taoist philosophers, who believed that all the phenomena of nature and mind were interconnected. They were manifestations of one essence, Life Energy or Qi. Interestingly this concept is embraced by modern physics where matter and energy are seen as two aspects of one reality – E = mc2.

According to Chinese Medicine insomnia is generally considered to be associated with the Heart, Kidneys and Liver organs. Mental activity and consciousness reside in the Heart, which pumps blood, but is also the seat of awareness and higher consciousness. The view is that if the Heart is agitated or deficient the “Shen” or spirit consciousness cannot root and sleep will be affected. This is because there is too much heat in the Heart which can be a result of weakness in the Kidneys caused by fire and water being out of balance. The Heart is the organ of fire, whilst the Kidney is the water organ. Water normally subdues fire, but if the Kidneys are weak then there is not enough water and the fire gets out of control. With this form of insomnia the acupuncturist will act to sedate Heart fire and nourish the Kidneys.

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Chinese doctors recognise that Insomnia can take many forms. Moreover each individual is unique requiring a distinct treatment approach. Another common form of insomnia is where the individual has no difficulty falling asleep but often wakes during the night and remains restless. This is considered to be due to Liver Blood deficiency and results in the “Three Hun” being deprived of their residence forcing them to wander at night causing restless sleep. The Three Hun are that spiritual part of man which ascends into the Divine at the end of life. Those suffering from Liver Blood deficiency will often have a dull pale complexion, pale lips and an aversion to sunlight. Once again acupuncture can be very effective, and the individual will also be advised to follow a diet which nourishes Liver Blood.

Acupuncture has an tremendously calming effect and it can correct many of the imbalances which cause insomnia without any harmful side effects. Besides improved sleep people often experience a greater sense of well-being and an overall improvement in health and energy.

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Herbal Medicine

Sleep disturbances sometimes require a combination of therapies. In addition to acupuncture, Chinese herbs or Chinese herbal homeopathic remedies are combined to have dramatic effects. An excellent Chinese herbal formula is called Suan Zao Ren and our homeopathic remedy is infused with the potent balancing energies of this formula.

Western Nutritional supplements

We can never forget that medicine progresses and the following are three nutrients that have been shown to benefit suffers of insomnia:

  1. Magnesium: This mineral is known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and has a calming relaxing effect on the body in general. It is particularly helpful if your sleep is being disturbed by cramps as it is a muscle relaxant.
  2. Theanine: This amino acid comes from green tea and not only helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also a deeper sleep at night.
  3. Tryptophan: Your body needs this amino acid in order to make serotonin, the relaxing and calming brain neurotransmitter. Tryptophan occurs naturally in fish, whole grains, chickpeas, almonds, eggs, bananas, dates and organic dairy

What can you do to keep your energies in balance?

  1. Starting about 3 hours before bed, try to unwind and slowly reduce your activities. Stop all technology, phone, computer, TV.
  2. Turn down the lights and start a mediation routine to allow the mind to quiten. Breathing in I am aware I’m breathing in, breathing out I’m aware I’m breathing out. Living in the now so to speak. This will permit your body to relax and let go of the day. Your pulse will slow, your heart rate will balance, and your body’s functions will move to the rest position.
  3. Take a warm to hot shower right before getting into bed. This will heat up your body and in 10 minutes or so after the shower, when you cool down, your body will understand that it’s time to stop and rest.
  4. Lower the thermostat. Creating a cool environment will accommodate the transition to balance, as the sun goes down and the body slowly adjusts to night’s cool.

Finally, your visualization for night-time should be the character of the “Bear” who hibernates during the dark and yin time of year. try being a bear. Bears and other animals can sleep for six months at a time. They slow their heart rate and metabolism down during times when food isn’t plentiful and just chill. Surely you could give yourself 6-8 hours of the same!



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.



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Better Sleep with these Foods


These 8 foods are rich in nutrients that have been shown to improve sleeping pattersn and they are also excellent for overall optimum health



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James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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Chicken Bone Broth


This simple dish is probably one of the most nutritious and energy rich soups you will ever eat. I’m recommending that every house, should have a good old-fashioned reliable stock or broth in the kitchen. Choose only free-range organic meat, bones, vegetables and herbs.
This nutrient rich dish is the perfect boost for modern stress and the affects it can have on our bodies and minds. It will also nourish our constitutions and immune system providing us with that prevention against future ailments and disorders.


It’s also delicious and great tasting.


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Bone broth is crammed with nutritional powerhouses, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, essential minerals and gelatine. Take a look at the ingredients and discover that bone broth is simple and inexpensive to make. The cider vinegar used in this recipe helps to release more minerals from the bones.
The recipe below can be altered to suit whatever leftovers you have in the kitchen. Other broths can be made using whole, raw chicken.

To prepare this wholesome nutritious, chicken broth full of essential nutrients, I recommend a heavy-bottomed stock pot and a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. You can use kitchen leftovers and scraps, such as carrot peelings, onion ends, celery leaves and bits of leek, which may have been kept in a large plastic bag in the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 1 Roast Chicken Carcass leftover
  • Vegetable leftovers (onion trimmings, celery leaves, carrot peels, garlic etc)
  • 2 Bay Leafs
  • 1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar

Instructions

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  • Pick the chicken carcass clean of useable meat and keep for another dish.
  • Add the chicken carcass, vegetable leftovers and bay leafs to the heavy-bottomed stock pot.
  • Pour filtered water over contents to cover.
  • Add cider vinegar.
  • Simmer for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 12, adding more water as needed or desired.
  • Skim any scum that rises to the top.
  • Strain solids from the broth through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
  • Bottle and reserve the stock.
  • The broth should gel, but it is not necessary.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Nutritional Healing

Nature: Warming

Organ: Spleen and Kidney

Vital Substances: Qi, Blood and Essence

This warming dish Invigorates the Kidney, Strengthens DNA, Supports the Digestive System and Builds Blood. It is perfect in Autumn/Fall/Winter when we are susceptible to cold. Always serve hot and with hot food, but not spicy.


Drink every day for maximum benefits



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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Nourish the Brain Soup


This hearty nourishing soup has been eaten for centuries as a health food to nourish the brain and especially memory. It nourishes Qi Deficiency and Essence (Jing) Deficiency. It is packed with nutrients from a Western viewpoint, however we don’t need to know all the long worded names in order to enjoy and gain maximum benefits from this easy to make soup.


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Ingredients: 1 big fish head (Salmon, Carp, etc) transparent noodles (100g), golden mushrooms (200g), scallions and garlic.
Seasoning: 2 star anis seeds (aniseeds), 2 Tablespoons white wine or dry sherry, 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon dried chili, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 pinch salt, 4 teaspoon starch.

Preparation:
1. Wash ingredients, dip fish head in starch.
2. Lightly fry the head. Fry aniseeds, chili, scallions and garlic.
3. Make soup with all ingredients, add soy sauce, white wine, sugar and salt.
4. When soup is almost done, add mushrooms and noodles. Cook at gentle heat for 20 minutes.

Eat occasionally.

Function: Reinforces the brain, strengthens memory, fortifies constitution



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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Hypertension


Hypertension in the Ping-Yang Seaweed Culture Unit in the Province of Zhejiang, China, 110 cases of hypertension were treated by seaweed root powder; in 19 cases (17.3 percent), diastolic blood pressure was reduced by over 20mm of mercury and in 65 cases (5 9.1 percent), diastolic blood pressure was reduced by 10 to 19mm or to lower than 90mm of mercury and systolic blood pressure reduced by more than 20mm of mercury. The report concluded that the total effective rate of 76.4 percent was achieved and that seaweed roots are waste materials, readily available without any side effects, thus making the therapy both effective and economical. In a clinical report, 30 to 40g dried peanut plants were boiled to make tea as a daily dosage for 2 weeks; patients were instructed to drink the tea from peanut plants on an irregular basis after blood pressure returned to normal. Twenty cases of hypertension were treated by this method; the majority showed improvements within 3 days with a significant decrease in blood pressure (the mean value-systolic pressure was reduced by 29mm and diastolic pressure by 30mm of mercury). A patient of hypertension in Tianjin, China, wrote to an editor to say that he had been suffering from hypertension with dizziness and constipation for many years but had been unable to find a cure; subsequently, he began to eat 5 bananas every day, which eventually cured his disease.

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A Chinese physician reported a 49-year-old female patient suffered from hypertension with occasional constipation, headache and dizziness; she had taken honey for 2 months, which reduced her blood pressure to normal and cured her constipation as well.

There are basically 3 ways to cope with hypertension, according to the Chinese Nutritional Therapy.

First, eat more foods that can soften the blood vessels, such as kelp, sea grass, mung bean sprouts, fruits and others, to prevent arteriosclerosis.

Second, use vegetable oils such as sesame, peanut, olive, sunflower and corn oil, instead of animal fats and oils to reduce the level of cholesterol; and avoid foods with a high cholesterol level, such as egg yolk, liver and kidneys.

Third, eat more foods that can reduce blood pressure, such as celery, hawthorn fruit, banana and persimmon.

Recipes:

  • Wash 500g fresh celery and squeeze out the juice; mix the juice with 50ml honey in a small pan. Divide and drink twice a day for 15 days. Leave a gap of 20 days and repeat.
  • Soak mung beans in water overnight; the next day, boil with an equal amount of seaweed and some rice. This recipe should be consumed on a regular basis.
  • Eat 1 to 2 fresh tomatoes on an empty stomach first thing in the morning for 15 days. Repeat from time to time as a treatment program. This is also good for constipation.
  • Cook 2 fresh tomatoes with 3 stalks of celery as soup; season with a little salt and drink this narural simple soup once a week.
  • Chop 750g water chestnuts and 750g radishes; squeeze out the juice; mix with a few teaspoonfuls honey. Drink the juice twice a day, half of the portion each time.
  • Fry 20g kelp with 20 black soybeans; boil kelp and soybeans in 3 cups water until water is reduced by half. Eat as soup.

I recommend that you regularly eat seaweed, mung beans, hawthorn fruit, clams and mung bean sprouts.



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


Please share! Help the word get out. Pin the graphic too.