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Lesley Tierra's Blogs

Lesley Tierra's Blogs

Michael has just done a great blog on hypertension, so I decided to supplement that with further information that I use. I have found a system created by the acupuncturist/teacher, Jimmy Chang, to be very useful clinically, as a couple of these patterns are not normally mentioned in books, classes or articles. He determined a correlation between blood pressure and pulse rate to help determine the TCM patterns involved. What he created follows the Eight Principle Diagnostic system and treats not only hypertension, but hypotension as well. This system starts by first taking the blood pressure with a machine. Now I learned from an MD how to get the best reading when taking blood pressure. First of all, put the cuff on loosely and then completely rest the arm for 10 minutes (lay it down by one's side, it doesn't have to be up at heart level according to this…
I've already addressed strengthening Kidney Yang with Two Immortals in an earlier blog post. Now that we've shifted from Kidney time of year to the Liver season, people may experience more Yin depletion, particularly if they haven't gotten the rest they've needed this winter. If there's Kidney Yin Deficiency, then there's often Liver Yin Deficiency as well, because the Kidneys (Water) are the mother of the Liver (Wood). This can present as typical Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency symptoms with restlessness, irritability, dry mouth and throat at night, hot at night, possible constipation or dry stools, red eyes and the typical general Yin Deficiency signs. At the same time, however, Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency may also cause an uprising of Liver Yang resulting in dizziness, headaches (especially on the top of the head), hypertension, difficulty falling asleep or 'in and out' sleep, tinnitus, red eyes, a tongue that's depressed…
Our emotions, attitudes and self-perceptions are often physiologically rather than emotionally based. This is a very powerful concept. It means that people's emotional outbursts may have more than stress or inappropriate behavior behind them; it also means there may well be an underlying organic imbalance that is triggering the repeated or increased expression of a particular emotion. Thus when the imbalance is corrected, the emotion comes into balance, too. Likewise, if someone overindulges in a particular emotion, even if there's no Organ imbalance behind it, then it negatively impacts its corresponding Organ. I've seen this over and over with patients. Be it their grief, anger, fear or worry, when their respectively corresponding Lung, Liver, Kidney or Spleen imbalances are corrected, those excessive emotional feelings naturally decline. The opposite is also true, for I've seen patients experience the death of a loved one and they grieved so long and hard that…
We are in the depth of Kidney time now and will be for about another three weeks. This is when Kidney energy is supposed to flourish. However, if there's any kidney imbalance now, then those symptoms are more apparent at this time because the Kidneys don't have the energy to flourish. Kidney energy holds and anchors Qi, Yin and Yang in the body. As the mother of the Liver, if mom is weak, the child doesn't get what it needs. The Liver child throws tantrums and 'goes out' to seek what it wants as a result. Thus, if the kidneys can't anchor the Liver Yang energy, that Yang energy tends to rise in the body. If could attack the Stomach (burping, belching, acid reflux, nausea, alternating constipation and diarrhea), the Lungs (tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, cough), or rise to the neck, shoulders and head (tight neck and shoulders,…
Instead of making traditional resolutions this year, lose weight, save money, change jobs, shed light on your life and make the big changes instead by shifting the life patterns and cyclical themes that hold you back. Most recurring problems stem from past wounds and core beliefs. These organize into life themes that repeat over and over regardless of time, place or people involved. They are the tapes that run in your head and that you repeatedly think and believe about yourself, others and the world. Just as a cell has many receptor sites that dock substances such as hormones, so your being has energetic 'receptor sites' that resonate with your limiting core beliefs and life themes. These then attract similar events, relationships and circumstances in your life, creating a disconnection between what you want and what actually happens. For example, you may desire wellness, but since you hold a hidden…
Spice up your holidays this year with three of the season's best medicinal spices: cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Because of their hot energy (or warming in the case of cardamom), they also spark your internal fires, helping to increase metabolism, anchor the yang energies and stimulate organ functions. Thus, they are perfect presents for you and others. Here are two wonderful and time-honored recipes to spice up your holidays this season. Enjoy! Chai This delicious spicy tea is regularly drunk in India everyday. It makes a great winter brew to keep you warm all season long. It is especially good for vegetarians or for people who easily feel cold. To make it less spicy, just add more milk. Chai also helps digestion and alleviates gas and colds with strong chills. Combine together in a pot: 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder 7 peppercorns 1 cinnamon stick…
We have definitely entered the most crucial time of year '" winter. Whether you live in tropical Hawaii or frosty Minnesota, the energy of winter is the same: storage. Conserve and preserve your resources and essence in winter; it is not a time for extravagance. At this time winter's cold drives your life fire deeply inward, collecting itself like a hibernating bear for the coming spring. This means winter is the time to retreat and go within to replenish your reserves. What you do now, or don't do (as rest implies), determines your health for the year ahead. Thus, now is the time to protect your vital constitutional energy and metabolic fires. Doing so helps prevent winter's imbalances and keeps you well throughout the entire year. Winter gives us cues to follow: the sun sets early and rises late. With less sunlight and colder weather we naturally stay inside more.…
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is an amazing herb. It is probably under-utilized and under-appreciated, so I'm going to give it its due thanks! Calendula is a very old herb, employed since the 12th century in Europe and even earlier in Egypt, where it originated. It is often used as a dye; in fact, cheese was originally dyed yellow by its flower. The larger flowers are more medicinal and make beautiful garden plants. Calendula is sometimes called 'pot marigold,' but the common garden marigold is a distinctly different plant. The volatile oils of calendula stimulate blood circulation and cause sweating, thus lowering fevers and assisting skin eruptions to come out faster. For this reason it is specific for the beginning stages of measles, rashes and other eruptive diseases. When my son had the chicken pox, I only had to apply calendula tincture once to each pox for the itching and eruption to…
The energy of fall is cool and dry. You can feel it in the air and your lungs regardless of rain or snow. Coughs tend to be dry, even when there's phlegm stuck deep inside and is difficult to expectorate. Several approaches can remedy these coughs, if you can distinguish what sort of cough you have first. A general technique, and one of the tastiest, for all types of dry coughs is to eat pears cooked with raw sugar. This moistens the lungs enough to help them expel the phlegm. If this doesn't work, then the dry cough could be due to either Excess Heat, which dries the phlegm, or Yin Deficiency where there is minimal phlegm and its deficient heat dries what ever is there. If the dry cough is from Excess Heat, try loquat leaf (Eriobotryae japonica), useful for both non-productive cough and viscous yellow sputum. It's fascinating…
I have to admit I've been a bit irregular with my blogs lately. But there's a good reason. I've been working with East West student and editor Anne de Courtenay for two years to revise the East West School of Planetary Herbology Herb Course. Given both of our varying schedules it has been an on and off project until last July. It was then that we both put our noses to the grindstone and now we'll soon have a revised and beautifully laid out Section I, available to all. Anne also does our e-news and some of our website content maintenance. But she's also a superior editor and designer. Her work on the revised herb course is incredible, astute, thorough and enhancing. You will all love the end result! Anne is also an East West grad and many of you may know her from the seminars, forum and chats. So…
We have reached the joint of the seasons, late Summer into Fall. This is the most vulnerable time of year for many people. With days and nights alternating between hot and cold, the body undergoes extra stress when adapting to swinging temperatures. Because of this, colds and flu most often arise now. This is due not only to climate changes, but also because we are entering the Metal time of year. The energy of its Organs, the Lungs and Large Intestine, should flourish now, and yet they are often taxed as temperatures flux. The Lungs open to the nose and control breathing and the skin, including the opening and closing of pores, while the Large Intestine rules elimination. If the Lungs are weak, or you overindulged in cooling summer foods or over-activity, then excessive mucus builds in the Lungs, impairing their breathing function. The result is asthma, bronchitis, allergies, shortness…
Digestive issues are up now for many people '" this is the time of year people often gain weight and can't lose it; some may have summer diarrhea or loose stools; or others may get more burping, belching and gas. This is the end of late summer period and, in fact, is actually the Spleen time of the Spleen time of year. (the last two weeks of each season is ruled by the Spleen and since we are at this time, it is now the Spleen time of the Spleen time of year!). This will last through approximately mid September and makes it a particularly challenging time for digestion and metabolism. For those with diarrhea or loose stools, these symptoms often occur due to the excess hot temperatures outdoors at this time of year. The heat can lock the coldness inside the gut, which, of course, is compounded by iced…
As we are well into the season of late Summer, more cases are presenting at my clinic with Spleen and Stomach issues. One of my latest was a GERD client, whom I will call Bob. In his late 40s, Bob has had GERD for over 20 years and has tried everything. He currently is on two medications but still experiences terrible burning at night. Most GERD cases I see are a combination of the patterns Cold Dampness in the Spleen and Liver Qi Stagnation. The Cold Dampness in the Spleen congests and slows digestion while the Liver Qi Stagnation attacks the Stomach, causing its contents to move upward instead of down. In this case we use Damp-dispelling and Qi-regulating herbs to clear the GERD. Bob, however, presented with different patterns. He has Cold Dampness in the Spleen, yes, but with little Liver Qi stagnation, although he does lead a stressful…
I find it extremely annoying that the west has gone sweet '" that is, sickly sweet. This occurs not just in mainstream food products, but in health food as well. Until recently, it was easy to find sugarless products in health foods stores, but several years ago when one major brand that contained sugar in every product entered the health food market, all the other brands began to mimic that by adding sugar to their foods, too. Now it's nearly impossible to find salad dressings, crackers, spaghetti sauce and cereals for example, without any sugar in them whatsoever. Today people consume 40 more pounds per year '" that's 40 MORE POUNDS '" of sugar today than a generation ago*! This is almost double the amount in only 20 years' time. I find this shocking. Normally this fact would conjure images of people in fast food lines ordering 'super size' meals…
Summer kicharee is not only great for detoxification, but it is also a light summer soup perfect for the hot months of year. It is balanced in protein and can include as many local vegetables as you wish. As well, you can easily cook up a big batch to eat over three days, or freeze for longer, so your time is spent in the garden or hiking, swimming and so on '" you get the idea! Some are surprised with the lightness of summer kicahree and yet how it fills and satisfies them. Many eat it just for breakfast, or for one other meal, while others eat it exclusively for several days or weeks to cool and clean toxins from their bodies. Have fun with it and explore! Your imagination is the limit here. Here is a sample recipe to follow. You can make it as is, substitute what you…
We have just moved into time of year that corresponds to the Spleen and Stomach according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. This means that the energy of those organs flourishes now and is at its strongest '" or should be. This time lasts from approximately July through mid-September, and while these organs' effects are most strongly felt at the end of the season, now is the time to protect these organs and keep them strong. The Spleen and Stomach are partners in the Earth Element. This is the mostprevalent and influential element of all five (the others being Metal, Water, Wood and Fire). First of all, it encompasses the organs of digestion and good digestion is a major key to health. But secondly, the energy of the Spleen and Stomach surfaces at the end of all the other element seasons, so that the last two weeks of every season is a…
Now that I'm on to ginseng-like herbs, here's another one that can be taken during the summer. Its real name is Panax notoginseng, known in Chinese pinyin as san qi, but is best known by its commercial name, Tien qi ginseng. It is definitely in the ginseng family, but has quite different properties from the ones we usually associate with other ginsengs. Rather than tonifying Qi, this herb moves and builds Blood. But even better, while it moves Blood it also stops bleeding. This makes it a perfect application for any trauma from falls, fractures, contusions, wounds, cuts or sprains (for this reason it is used extensively by martial artists) and to stop bleeding in vomit, urine or stool along with nosebleeds and hemorrhaging. In fact, it is used for any internal and external bleeding and should be taken frequently for this, both internally and externally placed on the wound…
Although not a ginseng at all, codonopsis has similar tastes, energies and tonifying properties as ginseng. As well, both herbs affect the Lung and Spleen organs and meridians. Yet, because it is milder in action and far less expensive, codonopsis is often called the 'poor man's ginseng.' Because the body's fires are rising up and out during the summertime, it's important to switch from using ginseng to codonopsis. Its milder energy is more appropriate for hotter weather and so traditionally is substituted for ginseng in the summer. Partly this may be due to codonopsis not having the potential to stagnate energy as easily as does ginseng, but also because it lowers blood pressure while ginseng elevates it. Excess heat in the body not only can congest energy, but it rises as well, just as steam rises from a fire. The strong tonifying action of ginseng more easily congests already stagnant…
We have now moved into the "Heart time" of the year. It runs from about mid-April through June and encompasses the traditional Chinese medical concept of the fire element and the organs of Heart and Small Intestine. At this time of year everything is surging upward and outward. This includes not only our own outdoor activities, but the body's energy as well. The Heart time of year is represented by the energy of summer, even though it may not correspond to what we think of as summer calendar-wise. Summer is the essence of life, growth, heat and activity. Not surprisingly, the fire element and its organs, Heart and Small Intestine, correlate with summer. With the sun at its zenith, nights are short and days are long. Our energy is expansive now, flowing outward to act on the plans and seeds sowed in spring. Similarly, the body's heat, or 'inner fire,'…
There is so much focus on what one should do in order to stay well that I sometimes find switching the tables helps people gain a different perspective of how their habits invite sickness into their lives. Thus, I offer here the easiest ways to get sick. Have fun! Eat all the ice cream, candy, pastries, desserts, caffeine and chocolate that you want, whenever you want. Drink all the iced cold drinks that you desire. Work all the time and definitely don't stop to rest or eat. Or if you must eat, be sure to do so while working, doing business, at your desk, standing up, or on the run. Drink caffeine to wake up in the morning and to keep you going throughout the day. Drink alcohol to relax every night. Don''t rest when you feel the need but use sugar, caffeine or chocolate to get through the day.…
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