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Lesley Tierra's Blogs

Lesley Tierra's Blogs

I decided it was high time again to introduce you to a few of my favorite things (I can’t believe it’s been five years since the last time I did this!). As I tend to focus on healing and not just herbs, you’ll find all sorts of items here, however tune in on Dec. 15 for my latest four favorite herbs. Enjoy! Drinks by Zenergy Naturals Someone really got the right idea going when they created these drinks. Made of both Western and Chinese herbs, these products are tasty substitutes for coffee and caffeine in general. The best way to purchase them is via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This is a small company, so give them time to respond! You can set up automatic monthly delivery as well. For more information go to: http://www.zenergynaturals.com/Home.html Original Zen My favorite, Original Zen, is not only good for you, but delicious as well. It…
The holidays are fast approaching and before you know it, you might need to start cooking up a storm. But what if you’re tired of the same old recipes or you want to try something new? Look no further. I’ve got several ideas here to spice up your holiday eating as well as expand your culinary herbal horizons. And at the very end I’ve included several after-dinner digestive aids to prevent that awful sluggishness most of us feel after over-eating holiday meals. Traditional Meal Many of us love the traditional meals we serve at holiday time so I won’t mess with those plans. However, here are some ways you can sneak spices into your dishes so they are more interesting and healthy ones, too. Creamed onions: Add cardamom, one of the best spices to help digestion and eliminate the dampening nature of dairy. Winter squash: Cut in half and baked…
When I first learned about herbs in the late '70s, they were usually taken as capsules, with food, or smoked! As I began to study Chinese herbs I learned that they were typically prepared as teas. Then the explosion of natural medicine occurred and a wide variety of herbal remedies became available – pills, capsules, tablets, tinctures, powders, syrups, and more. Today there are so many different delivery methods for taking herbs. How do you know which is the best for your clients’ or your own health needs? You may actually feel that just getting herbs down people in whatever way they’ll take them is best – and there’s definitely truth and practicality to this. Yet, the delivery of herbs also does matter. It depends on knowing your herbs AND the person taking them. I was recently reminded about this when I made a sleep tea for my elderly mother.…
We are at the end of the Spleen/Stomach "time of year" – actually the Spleen/Spleen time – meaning that digestive and metabolic issues can be especially strained now. Every organ system "rules" about two and a half months of the year during which its energy should flourish. In addition, the last half-month of each season is also a Spleen time regardless of the organ system, thus Spleen/Spleen now. This will shift into Lung time about mid-September. Until then, digestive issues are up for many. It’s amazing to me how people come into my clinic at the same time of year with similar health issues that match whatever organ "season" we are in. It’s no different now, as from about mid-August to mid-September, people frequently complain of diarrhea, low appetite, poor muscle strength or tone, loose stools or diarrhea, tiredness, inability to focus or concentrate, low vitality, bloating, gas, a need…
In my last blog post we explored patterns of disharmony for the Spleen, which are so prevalent at this time of year. Here, I'll discuss remedies for those patterns. SPLEEN DIET There are many great treatments and herbs for strengthening the Spleen, but it all starts with what we eat since the Spleen and Stomach Organs are directly in charge of breaking down and metabolizing food and drink. This metabolic kitchen is like a pot of soup bubbling about 98-99 degrees on the stove. In TCM the pot of soup is the Spleen, the burner under the pot is the Stomach, and the pilot light of the stove is the Kidneys. Foods that digest easily in this soup pot are thoroughly cooked and warm in temperature. When added to the soup pot, raw foods, cold foods eaten directly out of the refrigerator or freezer and cold energied-foods all stop the…
In Part I of this series I began the discussion about using of herbs to care for the caregiver. As a reminder, many herbs support your body-mind complex to assist in stressful times. They can increase immunity, help sleep, calm the mind and emotions, and treat issues such as anxiety, depression and disturbed Shen, all of which can easily arise during stressful caretaking situations. Shen As a reminder, Shen reflects the entire physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health of the body. It includes the capacity to think and act coherently and appropriately, the personality’s magnetic force or charisma, enthusiasm, innate vitality, and the joy to live life. It is distinguished by the sparkle in the eyes, an overall vivaciousness, and a will to live. As well, it’s the dynamic verve that enables us to surmount obstacles and make things happen. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Shen is "’housed" in…
Now that you know how to be and find a hospital advocate, what about the advocate herself? How does she get her much-needed support? Being a caregiver can be a staggering job and consume your mental, physical and emotional energy. Yet there are many ways that you can be supported at this time. This not only applies to hospital advocates, but all caregivers as well. Herbalists are caregivers, too. In fact, there are many ways to give care: emergency care as I just did with my mom in the hospital, care for someone who is dying, elder care, child care, handicap care, Alzheimer’s/dementia care, and of course everything in between. Caregivers: Earth Element Types There’s a distinct caregiver personality archetype. This is someone who tends to nourish, give and do for others, often regardless of whether it’s needed or wanted. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), this is called an Earth…
In Part I we discussed the essential need for having or being an advocate when you or a loved one is in the hospital. An advocate can operate long distance via phone, but in person is best and may even be necessary. Here are some of the roles I found extremely useful for an advocate to know and perform: Ask if there is a hospitalist in charge of the patient. If so, this is the person in charge of overseeing the patient’s entire case and hopefully, coordinating tests, procedures and medications given. If not, then the admitting doctor is in overall charge, but s/he may not be present or reachable. In this case, step in as the "hospitalist" to oversee everything that is prescribed -- tests, procedures and medications alike. Know that the admitting doctor is generally the discharging doctor. This is not necessarily the same doctor but could be…
I hope this never happens to you, but it’s usually inevitable that one day either you or a loved one may end up in the hospital. This is most typical when caring for elderly parents, as happened to me in the last couple of years, yet you never know when you’ll end up there, too. And what we all need when in a hospital is an informed advocate. This can make the difference between life and death, as I just experienced. My recent foray into the hospital scene when my mother became ill taught me this lesson. Generally, most practitioners there truly have each patient’s best interests at heart. They care, they love their work and they want to do the best job they can. Despite this, I have found the hospital system to be fractured; in spite of all the individual efforts made to save lives and heal people,…
In Part I we learned about the many signs and symptoms of Food Stagnation. In this segment we’ll cover how to treat and prevent it. Therapies for Food Stagnation Diet Therapy Foods to Eat: Adequate amounts of protein (but not too much!), lots of cooked vegetables and dark leafy greens, and small amounts of grains and fruits (room temperature or cooked and with spices). Foods to Avoid: Fatty, greasy, fried foods, excessive protein, cold drinks with fatty foods, excessive intake of dampening foods (see Part I for specific foods to avoid!) Emotional Therapy Appropriate expression and release of emotional issues that cause emotional eating Lifestyle Therapies One of my Chinese teachers always taught this healthy digestive sequence: eat calmly, rest 15 minutes, walk 15 minutes and then rest (nap) 15 or more minutes. This ensures good digestion and prevents Food Stagnation. Other Therapies Stretching or yogic postures that compress and…
We made it! We got through Qi, Blood, Cold and Damp stagnations, and now we are on the fifth and last one: Food Stagnation. This one is perhaps the easiest to understand and relate to because certainly most of us have experienced over-eating during holiday meals. All you have to do is remember how you felt after eating too much food, and you’ve got it. Generally, Phlegm and Food stagnate in the Middle Warmer, the location of the Stomach. However, symptoms may also arise in the Lower or Upper warmers. In fact, people often go to the emergency room thinking they have heart problems while actually it’s acute Food Stagnation causing heart symptoms. Food Stagnation may be either acute or chronic. The acute type is how you feel after over-eating; with the chronic type, you may not experience any symptoms or you may have any of those listed below. Ayurvedic…
In Part I we learned about the many signs and symptoms of Damp Stagnation and its far reaching affects on health. In this segment we’ll cover how to treat and prevent Damp Stagnation and Phlegm. Of course you’ll be immediately interested in the herbs and formulas to use, but first I’ll cover other therapies since they are integral, even essential, to preventing and treating this issue. Therapies for Damp Stagnation Diet Therapy Foods to Eat: Protein, grains, legumes, cooked vegetables, cooked fruits, spices added to food, warm drinks Foods to Avoid: Cold foods and/or drinks; iced foods and drinks; raw foods such as raw veggies in salads, fried and fatty foods, greasy foods, dairy (yogurt is the consistency of mucus, right?!), sugar, alcohol, tofu, soy milk, and all flour products (bread, muffins, bagels, pastries, doughnuts, cake, crackers, pasta, and so on!) Emotional Therapy Appropriately express and release emotions on a…
Whether you've had April showers or are experiencing May ones, rain is a great metaphor for Dampness in the body. Just as rain collects and congests traffic (Qi or Blood stagnation) it can also flood and eventually swamp an area (Damp Stagnation). Damp Stagnation can be likened to standing swamp that breeds bacteria. In TCM, when Dampness collects over time, Heat develops and dries Fluids. The Dampness then congeals to form Phlegm. Phlegm is a more serious condition that can cause such conditions as cough, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, GERD, scrofula, goiter, arthritis and lymphadenitis, or it can lead to major diseases like cancer, stroke, atherosclerosis, plaque in the arteries, coma, lockjaw, contracted limbs, cerebral vascular accident, and seizures. While Phlegm is a secondary pathogen, it is considered "the mother of 100 diseases" by the Yuan dynasty physician, Wang Gui. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is called kapha, or…
In Part I we learned about the many signs and symptoms of Cold Stagnation and its effects on physical and mental health. In this segment we’ll cover how to treat and prevent Cold Stagnation. You may be most interested in herbs and formulas that treat this condition, but first I’ll cover other therapies integral to preventing and treating this issue. Therapies for Cold Stagnation Diet Therapy: Foods to Eat: All cooked foods, warm drinks; spices added to food; animal protein (except crabmeat and shellfish); cooked and spiced vegetables and fruits Foods to Avoid: Refrigerated foods and drinks; raw foods (including salads); iced drinks; frozen yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, etc.; most fruit and vegetable juices; melons, bananas; crabmeat and shellfish (except shrimp); soy milk and tofu Emotional Therapy: Appropriate expression and release of emotions Lifestyle Therapies: Dress warmly and adequately for the weather; cover neck with a high collar or scarf;…
Years ago when I worked in Cleveland, I’d stare out the office window at a sunny spring day. Ecstatic to finally have warm weather, I’d rush out at lunchtime without a coat – it looked warm after all – only to find it was still cold. It’s behaviors like this that are one of the reasons why the winter-into-spring turning point of the seasons is one of the two most vulnerable times of year for colds and flu. For this reason, I’m choosing to discuss Cold Stagnation in this blog. In April, there is often still a chill in the air. While we want it to be warm outside and so dress more lightly, generally it’s still frigid, particularly with wind, and so this is one of the times of year when cold can penetrate or congest more easily. Coldness Cold itselftends to contract like ice. It causes a person…
In Part 1 we learned about the many signs and symptoms of Blood Stasis and its effects on health. Now, we’ll cover how to treat and prevent Blood Stasis. Of course you’ll be immediately interested in the herbs and formulas to use, but first I’ll cover other therapies that are integral, even essential, to preventing and treating this issue. Note that because Blood Stasis is frequently an underlying factor in many health problems, it’s important to not only focus on moving Blood but also on resolving the causative factors. Further, because there’s an interdependent relationship between Blood and Qi, it’s important to promote the movement of Qi when moving Blood and vice versa. Therapies for Blood Stasis Diet Therapy Eat: A balanced diet of protein, complex carbs and fats of cooked foods and warm drinks. Avoid: Raw and cold foods and iced foods and drinks (review the list in Part…
After briefly covering the five stagnations in January (Parts 1 and 2) and Qi stagnation in February (Parts 1 and 2), it makes sense to cover Blood stasis next. Qi and Blood are intricately connected in many ways, which means that tonifying or moving one, tonifies or moves the other. So now that we’ve gotten your Qi moving, your Blood is probably flowing better, too. However, Blood stasis can appear by itself and eventually cause Qi to stagnate. And you definitely don’t want your blood to stagnate – it can be MOST uncomfortable! Blood Stasis When Blood doesn’t circulate freely, it stagnates. This can occur as sluggish circulation, localized coagulations or fixed masses. Blood stasis tends to be more severe than Qi stagnation partly because it is a substantial fluid in the body. When Qi stagnates, pain is like rush-hour traffic – it comes and goes and changes location and…
In Part 1 we learned about the many signs and symptoms of Qi stagnation and its far reaching affects on physical and mental health. In this segment we’ll cover how to treat and prevent Qi stagnation. Of course you’ll be immediately interested in the herbs and formulas to use, but first I’ll cover other therapies since they are integral, even essential, to preventing and treating this issue. Therapies for Qi Stagnation: Diet Therapy: Foods to Eat: Foods that decongest and aid the Liver include vegetables, bitter foods and dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, dandelion, mustard, beet and mustard greens. Lemon juice also helps decongest the liver. A good morning liver cleanse is a fresh squeezed lemon in water with 1 or 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a couple of "00" sized capsules of cayenne pepper. This is followed with fennel seed tea. Foods to Avoid: Avoid fried,…
Last month we discussed the five stagnations in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) along with two formulas to treat all five. In honor of Spring, which begins this year on Feb 10 (Chinese New Year), we will focus on Qi stagnation now. Spring is represented by the Wood Element and its organs, the Liver and Gall Bladder. Since the Liver rules the smooth flow of Qi, now is a perfect time to discuss Qi Stagnation along with how to prevent and treat it. Qi Stagnation When Qi congests, flows improperly or moves in the wrong direction (called rebellious Qi), it stagnates. This is just like rush hour stop-and-go traffic, or cars piling up in a traffic jam. One of the most common disharmonies in the body, it affects not only the Liver, but the other Organs and the Seven Emotions as well. When administering herbal therapy for Qi Stagnation, it is…
In Part I of this blog, I discussed the Five Stagnations in general along with some non-herbal treatments. Here are two general herbal formulas that can be used for all types of stagnation. Stagnation Relieving Pills (Yue Qu Wan) This formula can be found as a patent medicine easily from Chinese herb stores or herbal suppliers. As a bonus, for each Chinese herb ingredient I’ve included a substitution easily found in your spice cabinet! Indications: This formula moves all five stagnations, treating symptoms of feeling congestion in the chest and abdomen, possible hypochondriac pain, bloating, belching, acid regurgitation, nausea, vomiting, mild coughing, and indigestion with a lack of appetite. It may be considered for nervous stomach, gastrointestinal ulcers, pain in the chest, hepatitis, cholecystitis, or gallstones. Chinese herb pinyin Latin Kitchen equivalent 9-12g cyperus xiang fu Cyperus rotunda citrus peel 9-12g black atractylodes cang zhu Atractylodes lancea cloves 9-12g ligusticum…
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