fall may be just around a corner...

If you’ve seen this month’s newsletter, then you’ve likely seen what’s posted here. If so, take a second look. If not, here you go.

September in Central Texas does not mean that actual fall is nearly here. It does mean days getting shorter, still-gorgeous sunsets, big red and orange harvest moons, new crops of veggies at the farmers' markets along with students back in school and football in full bloom. And just like summer, we need lots of water - inside and out - because it's still hot! Stay hydrated. Visit your favorite swimming hole.

Make one last before-the-cool-comes trip to the beach…

SUNSET. ON THE TEXAS COAST.

SUNSET. ON THE TEXAS COAST.

Now. The best way to ready our insides for fall and the coming cooler (we hope) weather is a slow shift in the foods we eat every day. We can head to the farmers' market now to check out the fall veggies. Yum.

Winter squash …

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and crucifers!

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If these don't look like a feast in the making to you now, let's get to working on those chef skills!

Here's one simple recipe for roasting winter squash ...

  • Winter Squash

  • Oil

  • Salt

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half top to bottom. Scrape out seeds. (You can clean and roast the seeds too.) Oil a baking sheet. Oil the squash all around Salt the top. Place squash open side down onto pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until tender. (You can test with a fork for softness.)

Sound simple? It should be! Cooking should (can) be easy and understandable.

These three ingredients are the BASICS. This preparation is BASIC. I'm a big fan of Learning How To Cook first and foremost even before learning how to follow recipes. Although I am giving you one recipe here, it is in the style of Learning How To Cook. Gather ingredients and tools, understand, explore, experiment, taste - with the BASICS. Then, build and blossom from there.

So. You may ask: which squash? what oil? and salt? My favorite answer is: Experiment! There are many winter squashes of course: acorn, butternut, buttercup, carnival, kuri, kabocha. Oil? I love olive and sesame personally and the most when it comes to their flavor profiles and cook-ability. Test them out. Other varieties too! As for salt, sea salt, good quality. Fine or coarse. Your choice. Your preference.

With this one recipe under your belt, you can embellish and explore, in order to learn more (about cooking) and taste more (delicious versions of foods):

  • Roast winter squash skin down, cut side up.

  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds, crushed nuts.

  • Mix herbs with salt for a fragrant 'rub'. Add cumin, thyme, coriander, pepper, cayenne.

  • Try the different oils for their subtle flavor changes.

  • Cut the halves into 1 inch or 2 inch thick rounds. Oil, salt and bake.

  • Add a sweetener to top: honey, maple syrup, agave.

  • Roast skin down and 'stuff' with a spoonful of cooked grain plain or mixed with veggies.

And this is just ROASTING! Wait until you try other cooking methods. Check in again for more methods and recipes to come.





COLD or FLU: Which Is It?

 

Seems like everyone’s got it. You’re down for the count and you’ve got the flu. Or is it a cold??? The test says: it’s viral but it’s not the flu. Or, it says it IS the flu so it’s time for Tamiflu. (FYI: I am probably not a fan. Of Tamiflu. Or the flu, of course. I’d prescribe some HERBS!! Of course).

Would you be able to diagnose with this chart

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Whether you figure out that it’s a cold or the flu, you can fix it, cure it, or at the very least endure it less symptomatically with remedies from our awesome Chinese Herbal Pharmacy. Our upper respiratory formulas are just that good. I am not being un-serious here. Chinese Patent Medicines are EXCELLENT curers of upper respiratory ailments. Please come find me. Or an acupuncture practitioner or herbalist near you. If you have not discovered our pharmacy it is time that you do. Please check back as I’ll be posting more with the hope that ever more of you will learn and turn to Chinese herbs for your everyday remedies.

 

fertility and acupuncture

 
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Next month, another Mother’s Day will come around which will include me since I am definitely a mother. I mark the occasion with sons and now a daughter-in-law! I’ve been lucky in life to have been pregnant, given birth and to have experienced parenthood with all its challenge, reward -  and love. 

The happiness in the reason for the day has me thinking about a particular happiness in my practice: working with hopeful moms-to-be, some just coming to the decision to start ‘trying’ and some coming after a time of 'trying' - even a long time of ‘trying’. Moms - and dads - come for treatment to increase or restore fertility and then they continue to come for support during their pregnancies. For those undergoing additional fertility methods like IVF, acupuncture increases their chances for pregnancy too. On behalf of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, let it be known:  we can play a helpful and success-fulfilling role in bringing fertility where it seems hard to be.

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Chinese herbs and acupuncture have a long history of use promoting fertility. Can Americans benefit from the experience and the results afforded by East Asian medicine to treat infertility? Clinical studies conducted in China indicate that about 70% of all cases of infertility (male and female) treated by Chinese herbs and acupuncture resulted in pregnancy or restored fertility. These are cases of infertility that include obstruction of the fallopian tubes, amenorrhea, absent ovulation, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, low sperm count, and non-liquefaction of semen. Depending on the particular study and the types of infertility treated, success rates range from about 50% to more than 90%. We don’t see quite that percentage of success in the United States with East Asian medicine therapy but that is because the Chinese integrate both traditional and modern methods of medicine somewhat easily and have a long experience and confidence in using herbs and acupuncture. Nevertheless, practitioners here (and this includes my own practice) have had many experiences and success in treating infertility.

No single herb is considered the ‘miracle’ fertility herb. Instead, herbal formulas have been developed with the purpose of correcting the functional or organic problem that is causing infertility.

Formulas vary for men and for women, but there is overlap in the compositions of the formulas. Some “exotic” ingredients are found in some fertility formulas but for the most part, ingredients are roots, barks, leaves, flowers, and fruits.


Using the language of traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis, infertility presents with one or more of these three significant factors:

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1. DEFICIENCY. Our delicately balanced system of hormones is not able to sufficiently or properly influence and direct the sexual and reproductive functions. The symptoms may show as lack of or infrequent or irregular menstruation, impotence, frequent urination, weakness and aching of the back and legs, difficulties regulating body temperature. Deficiency syndromes are treated with tonic herbs (ginseng, astragalus, dong quai) and tonifying acupuncture points that nourish qi and blood especially. 

2. STAGNATION. The sexual and reproductive organs are blocked and prevented from functioning despite normal hormone levels and normal ability to respond to hormones. When ‘qi’ and ‘blood’ are ‘stagnant’ or blocked in some way, proper circulation to the tissues is impossible. The signs of this condition can be muscle tension, anger that feels restrained, chronic inflammation, formation of lumps (cysts and tumors) and digestive problems with abdominal pain or bloating. Blood stagnation often occurs after a childbirth, surgery, injury or serious infection. When there is severe pain (like very strong and debilitating menstrual cramps) or lumps or swellings that are hard (rather than soft and fluid filled) we think, stagnation. Stagnation is treated with points and with herbs that are ‘moving’ and directional.

3. HEAT. Infection or inflammation can cause organs to function abnormally. Heat syndromes in males may produce abnormal semen quality. Gynecologic infections can cause female infertility by blocking the passages, altering the mucous membrane conditions, or influencing the local temperature. For this presentation, we use herbs that reduce, clear and inhibit infection and inflammation and with acupuncture protocols that do the same.


In each of these three conditions, the purpose of the acupuncture treatment and an accompanying herbal formula is to correct the underlying body imbalance in order to restore normal function. Western medicine will diagnose tubal blockage (which usually corresponds to blood STAGNATION) and infection (which corresponds to HEAT) and in many cases successfully treats these causes of infertility. Western medicine does not generally assess or diagnose DEFICIENCY presentations and many of the STAGNATION presentations as we know them in Chinese medicine. With herbs and acupuncture we address these issues with our patients and improve the potential for achieving and maintaining pregnancy all the way to giving birth.