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Eye Problems: Natural Remedies and Diet Tips from Chinese Medicine

Eye Problems: Natural Remedies and Diet Tips from Chinese Medicine

Understanding eye problems through TCM and Ayurveda

Eye problems can make day-to-day life harder and impact well-being and life quality. The most common eye disorders are: red, itchy, burning, dry and bloodshot eyes, as well as a yellowish tinge in the whites or sensitivity to light. Once you know which factors can trigger and aggravate these symptoms, you can start finding ways to reduce or even eliminate them. Moreover, there are natural remedies and diet tips you can apply to help heal eye imbalances.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a saying: “The liver opens into the eyes.” That is why, we always treat the liver as well when seeing eye problems. When stress, overwork, feelings of anger and frustration and poor nutrition take over, the liver qi is no longer flowing harmoniously in the body. Therefore, the energy rises up and generates heat. As a result, it can manifest in forms of migraine-like headaches and eye problems. 

In Ayurvedic medicine we commonly see a Pitta imbalance at the root of eye problems. Meaning, that excess pitta in the form of heat is circulating in the system. Especially in summer, the season of pitta, we see more people suffering from itching, red and painful eyes when temperatures are rising. Whereas, dry and watery eyes are mainly caused by a Vata imbalance and often get worse in late autumn into early winter, the seasons of Vata.

Let´s look at the most common eye problems.

Healing your eyes with Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine wisdom

Red and itchy eyes

Redness and itchiness are signs of heat. Even if your eyes burn frequently, it can show an excess heat in the system. Consequently, we need to cool the liver and avoid things that produce heat.

The best foods to cool the liver are:

  • Green vegetables esp. broccoli, celery and courgette
  • Bitter salad
  • Artichoke
  • Cucumber
  • Watermelon
  • Turmeric and saffron
  • Dandelion
  • Peppermint and jasmine tea

While the following foods and drinks are best to avoid: alcohol, coffee, sausage, fried and grilled meat, leek, sugar and strong spices like chilli, pimento, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Overconsumption of meat, shellfish and cacao can also lead to excess liver heat.

Also herbal infusions can help to reduce heat in the eyes. The best medicinal plants are:

  • Gentian root
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Chrysanthemum flowers

The following tea recipe from Chinese medicine helps to build up liver blood and to reduce heat in the eyes:

Take 1 tbsp chrysanthemum flowers and 1.5 tbsp goji berries. Steep into 500ml of boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Then drink over the day, ideally for a duration of around 2 weeks.

Chrysanthemum flowers are also recommended for conjunctivitis and high blood pressure. Because of their strong heat-clearing properties, it´s important to add goji berries to balance this strong effect. Another possibility is to prepare chrysanthemum flower tea, letting it cool off and to do an eye-wash.

Note: Never drink pure chrysanthemum flowers tea if suffering from low blood pressure. 

Ayurveda recommends washing the eyes with high-quality rose water. This will help soothe and hydrate the tired, red and itchy eyes and give them a refreshed look.

Very dry and / or watery eyes

These are both signs of liver blood deficiency in Chinese medicine. The liver stores the blood and if it gets deficient, the eyes are not enough moistened and get dry. Whereas, watery eyes, indicate that liver wind has risen up to the eyes due to the lack of blood. Furthermore, this can lead to sensitivity of pollen, light, wind or air conditioning. Simply, because the eyes are not able anymore to create a natural barrier to defend themselves from these external factors.

The following foods can help to rebuild liver blood if eaten regularly:

  • Broccoli
  • Cherry
  • Dark berries
  • Molasses or black treacle
  • Lamb´s lettuce
  • Date
  • Egg yolk
  • Carrot, parsnip and other root veggies
  • Lentil
  • Parsley
  • Pine nut
  • Beetroot
  • Black sesame paste

Especially the following things can cause dry and watery eyes: smoking, too much black tea and coffee, spicy foods, red wine, poor nutrition and long hours in front of a computer screen.

Ayurveda suggests drinking licorice tea and putting a drop of Triphala Ghee in the eyes. Also regular consumption of Triphala Ghee in your food preparation can support the healing process.

Yellow eyes

According to TCM, a yellowish tinge in the whites of the eyes is due to too much dampness and heat in the liver. Other signs can be grittiness that feels like sand in the eyes or sticky eyelids in the morning.

That´s why it´s important to avoid everything that produces more dampness like: sugar, white flour, wheat, cow’s milk, fried or oily and too much raw food. Foods that are especially good to reduce excess dampness are: apple, millet, miso, seaweed, radish, olive, kidney bean, mushroom and shiitake. See above for the diet recommendations for reducing excess heat.

A great herbal tea to reduce dampness and heat from the eyes is dandelion tea. Take 2 tbsp of dandelion roots and leaves. Then steep it for at least 15 minutes in 500ml cold water, bring to a boil and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. After that remove the herbs and drink at room temperature. Note: If you suffer from soft bowels or diarrhea, you should combine it with other herbs to counterbalance the strong cooling effect.

Amalaki, a famous ayurvedic plant, helps to reduce heat and strengthens the digestive fire to help reduce dampness in the body. Furthermore, it´s boosting immunity and supports healthy metabolism.

Are you looking for natural ways to improve and protect your eye sight and heal eye problems? Treatment options can vary widely and depend on the underlying conditions causing it. Get in touch with me for a personal  consultation. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

Naturopathy: What it is and whom it helps

Naturopathy: What it is and whom it helps

What’s the main objective of naturopathy?

Naturopathy boasts an impressive variety of effective measures and therapies. As different as they may be, their goal is always the same: to activate and strengthen the body’s self-healing powers.

While conventional pharmaceuticals suppress symptoms and often cause new ones, the goal of naturopathy is completely different. Naturopathic therapies activate the body’s own self-healing powers to bring about real healing and restore healthy balance. 

Ideas and values ​​of naturopathy

The self-healing powers of the organism can be reactivated through protection and relief, or by using certain techniques to activate stimulus.

For a better understanding, let’s take someone with painful joints and look at different treatment options:

  • An acutely inflamed joint is first immobilised and carefully moved passively under tension.
  • A chronically inflamed joint, on the other hand, is trained appropriately depending on the damage.

In addition, the stimulus strength is individually adapted to the patient and his illness. For example, a vigorous and strong person may take cold showers. Whereas an underweight, weaker person would take warm showers or baths. 

Naturopathy thinks holistically

Naturopathy is considered the “teaching of natural remedies and naturopathic treatments”. Naturopathic procedures traditionally root in different cultures around the world. When it comes to physical complaints or illnesses, naturopathy regularly assumes that the harmonic balance in the human organism is casually disturbed.

The goal of many naturopathic procedures is therefore to restore this natural balance in the body gently. It takes into account the relationships between individual organs but also between the physical level and the mental state of the person. Furthermore, it seeks to identify and treat the causes. Especially, in case of chronic diseases, it is important to recognise the “common thread” that led to the profound imbalance.

Natural medicine procedures

According to a definition by Brauchle in 1952 natural therapies methods include: the sun, light, air, movement, rest, food, water, cold, the earth, breathing, our thoughts, our feelings and processes of will.

“Classic” naturopathy generally includes the following naturopathic treatments:

  • Hydrotherapy and balneotherapy (water treatments)
  • Movement therapy
  • Dietetics: support of the treatments by a healthy diet and a diet adapted to the clinical picture.
  • Order therapy: balanced lifestyle in a regular rhythm and in harmony with nature. Very important as the observing of the patient’s network of relationships.
  • Phytotherapy: use of plants active substances as medicine.

Acupuncture Barcelona Paris

Other methods of naturopathy are:

  • Homeopathy
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine with acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietetics, Qi Gong and Tuina massage
  • Ayurvedic medicine
  • Anthroposophic medicine

How to choose a good naturopath

You can recognise a reputable naturopath as someone that :

  • has successfully completed qualified trainings in the procedures they use.
  • does not offer a variety of treatment methods, but has specialised in a few specific procedures.
  • does not recommend that you stop taking medication that a doctor has prescribed for you.
  • knows their limits and will refer you to a doctor if your disease cannot be successfully treated with their methods.
  • does not give you healing promises.
  • does not advertise with spectacular healing successes.
  • completes regular training programs.
  • does not categorically reject conventional medicine and is also ready to work in cooperation with a doctor.

Today we find many people calling themselves naturopaths after taking some weekend trainings. That’s why it’s always important to inquire about the length and school where the naturopath trained. A comprehensive naturopathic training takes around 20 – 30 months.

Naturopathy is recommended if you:

  • want to change and optimise your diet.
  • suffer from psychosomatic complaints.
  • have sleeping problems.
  • have chronic diseases e.g. rheumatism, gout, arthritis.
  • suffer from acute events such as lumbago or a cold.
  • want to prevent (prophylaxis) and maintain health, e.g. strengthening the immune system.
  • want treatment specifically with a special naturopathic procedure e.g. craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, yoga therapy, etc.
  • suffer from musculoskeletal disorders such as spinal or joint problems.
  • have skin problems like acne, eczema or psoriasis and are looking for an alternative to cortisone & Co.
  • want to address and heal allergies naturally.
  • suffer from digestive disorders.
  • have autoimmune diseases e.g. Hashimoto, Graves’ disease, etc.
  • feel exhausted and tired.
  • suffer from hormonal imbalances and diseases such as: infertility, PMS, hypothyroidism, endometriosis, PCOS, etc.
Watch Peter Mullen’s explanation of naturopathy

Foods, Herbs & Plants to Boost Natural Collagen Production

Foods, Herbs & Plants to Boost Natural Collagen Production

Collagen the Fountain of Youth

Who needs botox when there is collagen? One of the main organic components of the skin (80%) is collagen.

Collagen makes your skin elastic and is responsible for how tight or how flaccid and wrinkled it is. Besides being beneficial for a firm, smooth and glowing skin, it has other benefits on our health:

  • Supports bone health
  • Promotes vascular health
  • Keeps nails strong
  • Prevents hair loss
  • Supports eye health
  • Boosts immune system
  • Promotes joint and cartilage health
  • Supports gut health

Collagen – the inner corset of the body

Did you know that collagen is the most important fiber component of skin, bones, tendons, blood vessels, cartilage and teeth?

In the human body we find it mainly in the connective tissue. Collagen is the most important structural protein of the skin and works like an internal scaffold that holds our body together.

Collagen contains the three amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline, which the body needs to produce its own collagen. A well-functioning collagen formation is essential for the health of our skin.

Our body independently forms the natural building substance daily with the help of certain cells, so-called fibroblasts. These store moisture and promote skin regeneration.

But unfortunately it doesn’t stay that way forever.

With aging the collagen breaks down faster than it is formed. As a result new collagen forms, but more slowly until the collagen renewal lags behind the breakdown.

The result: our skin becomes dull, lacklustre and wrinkles form.

So what to do to keep the skin firm and beautiful for a long time?

Collagen-boosting foods, plants and herbs

There are several foods, plants and herbs that help to boost collagen and promote a more youthful looking and radiant skin. Feed your skin beauty from the inside-out.

Foods rich in Collagen

Bone broth, chicken fricassee, fish, shell fish, egg white and gelatine.

TIP: Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis. The body needs a sufficient supply to produce collagen. To get the most out of your collagen intake, always pair it with vitamin C. Find a list of vitamin C rich foods here.

Aloe vera

Rich in vitamin A and C, antioxidants and highly anti-inflammatory it is a great remedy for the skin. It can be applied topically or taken orally. It has been used for healing wounds, burns and cuts for ages. Find here my recipe for “Skin Boost Smoothie.

Holy basil

An Indian herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. Due to its antioxidant actions it helps with irritations such as acne, eczema and cleans pores and treats successful blemishes. It contains ursolic acid which help protect the skin and has as well anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Furthermore, it increases the elasticity and, as a result reduces wrinkles.

Pearl powder (Zhen Zhu)

One of the most used Chinese herbs for a glowing complexion and can be found in pills, tooth pastes and face masks. It´s rich in many trace minerals, amino acids, boosts antioxidants and fibroblasts in the body.

Huang Qi

It´s commonly used in beauty formulas as it increases the blood flow to the skin. As a result it flushes out toxins and fights free radicals and acts as a great immune system booster. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial actions help the skin to maintain its firmness and elasticity.

Schizandra (Wu Wei Zi)

Another Chinese herb that is considered to be a great anti-aging herb. It is said to protect fibroblasts from UV radiation and to eliminate stress-related signs of fatigue. Furthermore, it detoxifies and protects the liver.

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM herbs.

Chinese medicine offers as well Gua Sha for the face, a specific type of facial massage with a scraping tool to encourage circulation, lymph flow and to smooth wrinkles. Learn more about it and save your spot at my next online live workshop.

Gua Sha Face Massage – Get rid of Wrinkles and Pimples Naturally

 

Online Facial Gua Sha Course

Pamper your skin with the treatment once reserved for Chinese royalty. This course will provide you with the Gua Sha techniques to use as part of your home beauty regime.

Encourage your collagen where you want to, tighten facial muscles, move your lymphs and remove puffiness for a younger and brighter looking face.

Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Fertility in Chinese Medicine and your kidneys

The kidneys belong to the water element in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They create our sense of being rooted in our life and feeling inner security. Most importantly, they are the foundation for all of the body’s yin and yang energies. Some of their functions are: govern growth, development, water metabolism, reproduction and aging. Furthermore, they store the kidney essence. Also called jing which is considered to be the root of life of all aspects of human life. In Chinese medicine we see a kidney deficiency as one of the most common causes for fertility issues.

Some mental-emotional signs that your kidneys are out of whack are:

  • Not wanting to be by oneself.
  • Fear of social gatherings.
  • Difficulties to love oneself.
  • Feeling of unworthiness.
  • Searching for the purpose in life.
  • Not feeling secure and rooted in life.
  • Not using one’s full potential.
  • Feeling critical with oneself and others.
  • Fear of financial insecurity and the future.
  • Defining oneself by its roles and status in life.

Do you identify yourself with many of these aspects? Then it’s very probable that your kidneys are out of balance.

Your kidneys strongly influence your fertility and menstruation. Consequently, a kidney deficiency is at the root of many women´s problems like: infertility, amenorrhea, scanty or heavy periods, irregular periods, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and miscarriage. Let´s look today at their role in fertility.

Understanding kidney-yin and kidney-yang

The kidneys in Chinese medicine have a yin part (left kidney) and yang part (right kidney).

Kidney-yin corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system and is responsible for restoration and regeneration. When deficient it can show symptoms of:

  • exhaustion
  • feeling of heat
  • frequent and sudden urination
  • restlessness and anxiety
  • insomnia and sleeping disorders
  • dry skin, eyes and mucous membranes
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth and throat
  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • spontaneous sweating
  • often constipation esp. before period
  • vaginal dryness
  • dark scanty urine
  • a pale face with flushed red cheeks
  • a red peeled tongue

Kidney-yang is the foundation of the yang qi in the whole body. Its mission is to warm the whole body to promote the proper functioning of all organs and tissues. Therefore, when deficient we can experience symptoms of:

  • exhaustion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of joie de vivre and vitality up to depression
  • feeling cold and aversion to cold
  • declining or loss of libido
  • difficulty in urination and incontinence
  • excessive passage of urine at night
  • water retention and edema
  • lower backache esp. with menses
  • low BBT readings
  • often diarrhea esp. before or at the beginning of the period
  • cold feet
  • pale tongue

In practice we nearly always see a simultaneous deficiency of both as the two are inseparably linked. This can also lead to contradictory symptoms in women e.g.: feeling of heat of the face while having cold feet.

For getting a better understanding how they work together you could imagine that kidney-yin and kidney-yang are like an old-fashioned oil-lamp. Where kidney-yin is representing the oil and kidney-yang the flame. In other words, if there is not enough oil, the flame can die down and vice versa.

How the kidneys influence the fertilitzation process

In the reproductive system the kidney-yin is responsible for the quality of the ova (substance). While, the kidney-yang matures the follicles and provides the heat that ovulation can happen. Additionally, it is in charge of that the lining of the uterus thickens to prepare for the fertilized egg. As a result, we can see if ovulation happened in the BBT monitoring (basal body temperature) by a temperature rise after ovulation.

Consequently, we can conclude that if there are not many ova and / or the quality of the ova is poor the kidney-yin is weak. Whereas, a deficient kidney-yang can show the following symptoms: the ova is not ripening, ovulation is not happening and the uterus lining not thickening.

Furthermore, the ovaries produce the two sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Both are crucial for conceiving and a healthy pregnancy. As a conclusion we can say that if there are low oestrogen levels, a woman can show symptoms of kidney-yin deficiency. Whereas, in case of low progesterone levels, symptoms of kidney-yang deficiency can be detected.

A kidney deficiency can be one of the reasons for recurrent miscarriages.

The main reasons for a kidney deficiency are: poor diet, chronic stress, long persisting emotional problems, certain medications, an inherited poor constitution, smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Optimizing female fertility with natural therapies

Hormonal balance is then given when the warming (yang) and cooling (yin) functions of the body are well-balanced. For women showing any signs of kidney deficiency and menstruation problems the following treatments can be applied in my practice: dietary recommendations, acupuncture, herbal and yoga therapy and Bach flower essences.

References

Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine. 2nd Edition. by Giovanni Maciocia

Also see my other articles

What are low AMH levels or Anti-Mullerian hormone and how does it affect fertility?

How to Improve your Fertility Naturally

Female Sexuality & Chinese Medicine: Solving Sexual Problems Naturally

Hormone Yoga Therapy: Balance your Hormones for Optimal Health

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you!

Weight loss with Chinese Medicine – lose weight and keep it off for good!

Weight loss with Chinese Medicine – lose weight and keep it off for good!

How to lose weight and fight obesity with Chinese Medicine

Weight loss with Chinese medicine wisdom means you can finally reach your feel-good weight and maintain it. The added benefits are that you’ll not just reach your desired weight, but you’ll also feel more energised and self-confident.

How many times have you tried a diet but failed for different reasons? Maybe you lost some weight but then put it back on again? Are you ready to quit trying yet another diet? Maybe you belong to the group of people who have tried a bunch of different diets and could write a book about the experience.

The restrictions and varied advice from internet “experts” include everything from: cutting out carbohydrates, drinking 3 litres of water per day, to eating low-fat products. The short term results are often accompanied by feelings of frustration and disappointment.

How Chinese medicine views overweight and obesity

Being overweight is often linked to incorrect eating habits from the perspective of TCM. An excess of strong cooling foods such as large amounts of raw foods, dairy products, tropical fruits, fruit juices and sweets, weakens our spleen which belongs to the earth element in TCM. The spleen is responsible for transporting and transforming the food we eat to nourish our system and to keep our “digestive fire” burning. The stronger it is, the better our metabolism.

If our spleen is weak, the transformation process can no longer be completed as the body fails to transform the dampness in the body and therefore stores it as additional body weight. Consequently, it promotes the formation of dampness and phlegm. As a result, we feel tired, listless and we’ll suffer from indigestion and heaviness. If this condition persists, water retention, cellulite, swollen face and hands in the morning and obesity can result. We also speak here of a weak spleen-Qi in Chinese Medicine.

Another reason why losing weight does not work can also be stagnation in the body. In this case, it’s the liver that is usually affected as it tends to stagnate under stress, time pressure, recurrent anger, lack of exercise and regular intake of alcohol and deep-fried and grilled foods.

Fortunately, there is a range of foods that strengthen our spleen, and help to move and drain dampness-phlegm and eliminate stagnation. In addition to that we can achieve a lot by avoiding unfavourable habits.

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9 Top Tips for Weight loss with Chinese Medicine wisdom

1. Don’t skip any dishes
Eating regularly, and ideally at similar times, is important to keep your blood sugar level balanced. This will prevent any cravings for sweets and other unhealthy foods and keep your “digestive fire” burning. It will also produce Qi to keep your metabolism burning calories and fat.

Therefore, never skip meals to save calories as it is counterproductive. Often I hear people telling me that they are not hungry in the morning. That ́s a result of a weak spleen-Qi. After eating small quantities in the morning for several weeks, the sense of hunger will come back.

2. Excessive drinking without thirst
In TCM it differs for each single person how much water intake is healthy. From the point of view of TCM, the spleen has the ability to absorb excess liquids, which we consume through our food. However, if the spleen is weakened then too much water will not be excreted via the kidneys but stored in the tissues. People suffering from a weak spleen-Qi should not drink more than 1.5-2 litres per day. If you are not feeling thirsty, you should drink less.

3. Drinks for eliminating dampness and strengthening the spleen
Barley tea is a wonderful drink to eliminate dampness from the body. Every day about half a litre of it can help the body excrete the existing damp-phlegm and to dissolve stagnation.
As an ideal thirst quencher and to strengthen the digestive strength, I recommend hot, boiled water. This can be drunk in the long term and helps to dissipate the moisture and thus detoxify the body.

4. Avoid dietary products
Light products, reduced-fat foods and diet products often contain flavour enhancers and artificial sweeteners that increase appetite, are difficult to digest and strain digestion. They are often found hidden on the ingredients list under E numbers, maltodextrin, oligofructose and sodium nitrite.

5. Avoid bread
Bread is difficult to digest and produces dampness. As a result it won’t be completely digested and stores the remains as dampness in the body. Many people experience gas, bloating and soft bowels after consuming it. The more moisture the bread has, the worse the impact.

6. Avoid foods that produce dampness
As explained in the beginning, Chinese medicine considers that accumulated dampness is a factor that causes weight gain. Dampness within the body is produced when we are eating too much, too greasy and the wrong foods and when we are under stress. As a result we can become overweight, and so therefore, we must eliminate this dampness.

Foods and ingredients to avoid include: White sugar and sweets, ice-cream, noodles and bread, overconsumption of raw foods esp. salads, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Furthermore, avoid fruits like: Pineapple, kiwi, rhubarb, lemon, banana, kaki, mango, papaya, watermelon and honey melon lead to dampness.

Drinks that weaken the spleen: Cold drinks, soft drinks, fruit juices, algues and soy products.

The same applies for cow milk products like: yogurt, cheese and others.

Instead you should consume more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish which are abundant in calcium.

7. Start your day with a cooked breakfast
Do you love your yogurt bowl with fresh fruits in the morning? Do you often catch colds and feel tired despite having a healthy breakfast? Maybe this “cold” combo in the morning is completely wrong for your organism.

The most active time period of the stomach and spleen is between 7 and 11 am, according to the Chinese organ clock. Therefore, the most important meal of the day is breakfast. The ideal breakfast is a warm cooked meal that will fuel your digestive fire, and provide a good basis for the metabolism throughout the day.

Finally, If you belong to the group of people who skip breakfast, you may expect a weakening in your spleen.

8. No snacking in between
Many diets recommend five or more meals a day. Studies show that this leads to weight gain. In order to burn fat optimally, three meals a day are better with 4-5 hours between them. In addition to that, the blood sugar level is much better balanced (does not apply to diabetics). Eat more wholesome foods because they simply fill you up longer.

Be patient and you will get there

Instead of going on a crash diet, a diet change is better. You will be supplied with all nutrients and the metabolism of the body will not be slowed down, as it is the case with radical diets. Weight loss with Chinese Medicine will not only help you achieve your desired weight, but will also help you maintain it and avoid the yo-yo effect.

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.