Diet, food, recipe, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Preserved lemons: I just can’t get enough – so here’s two recipes

I am fairly new to the preserved lemon.  I stumbled across a recipe a few years ago which used this delicious, sour-salty ingredient and ever since I have been hooked.

Preserved lemons fit in really well for cooking in the winter – spring change of season.  Traditional Chinese Medicine values the salty flavour to support the water element (which is dominant in winter).  The wood element encompasses spring, and you guessed it, the corresponding flavour is sour.

You can buy them at gourmet delis and fancy supermarkets, or you can get creative and use DIY preserved lemons.

Here are two preserved lemon warm salad recipes that are perfect for spring eating:

Mediterranean eggplant salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants, cubed, salted, drained and dried
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon currants
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 6 roma tomatoes, quartered lengthways
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 red chillies, sliced finely
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, discard flesh and slice rind finely
  • a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves

Method:

  1. Warm olive oil in pan and fry eggplant until golden in small batches.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  2. In same pan, saute cumin seeds, garlic, currants and almonds until golden.  Add tomato and oregano until browned.  Remove from heat.
  3. Add fried eggplant, chilli, lemon juice, parsley, preserved lemon and spinach to the tomato mixture.  Season with black pepper.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving.

Spicy chickpea salad

Ingredients:

  • 400g chickpeas (tinned)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons harissa (chilli paste)
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 preserved lemon, flesh discarded, rind thinly sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 yellow capsicum
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped (to garnish)

Method:

  1. Boil chickpeas for ten minutes.  Then drain.
  2. In the meantime, fry garlic in oil.  Add capsicum and onions and stir fry for ten minutes.  Remove from heat.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and garnish with coriander.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, exercise, herbal medicine

The healing arts of the samurai

I have recently returned from my first (of many, I hope) trip to Japan.  It was my passion for karate that enticed me to visit this country, however I was fortunate to encounter some traditional medicine as I was taking a break from training in the dojo.

We visited the preserved samurai village, Kakunodate.  Here we were guided around one of the most impressive old samurai houses.  The house belongs to the Ishiguru family.  During the time of the samurai, this family obtained the first edition of Japan’s first anatomical text.  The family studied and practiced herbal medicine and acupuncture to treat illness and recover from injury.  The museum displayed their acupuncture needles, herbal medicine preparation tools and medicinal texts.

On returning to Tokyo, I had the opportunity to visit the Nihondo Kampo College.  Kampo is medicine system predominantly focussed on herbs.  It has its basis in Traditional Chinese Medicine but has been adapted by the Japanese to become a unique style of medicine.  Kampo medicines are part of Japan’s national health system.  The Nihondo Kampo college included a small but beautiful herbal medicine museum and many Five Element Theory displays.  (I’ll discuss some of these theories in future blogs.)  Their little shop sold medicinal herbal teas and soup stocks.  I could observe the student practitioners (in their white clinic coats just like in Australia) consulting with their patients and herbal medicines being prepared in their immaculate dispensary.  The college also boasted a vegetarian restaurant with meals cooked for the health of the patient.  Needless to say I was in my element!

These were just two highlights from my trip to Japan.  I look very forward to visiting this wonderful country again.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

beauty, Diet, food, health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Nourish your dry winter skin

As I have been treating my patients this winter, I have noticed many of them have had very dry, often flakey, skin – some even to the point of having significant scratches from the itchiness that can accompany dryness.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dryness is usually attached to the season autumn, however in Brisbane this year, we are experiencing the dryness right now.

According to TCM five element theory, dryness is characteristic of the metal element and is also matched up with the lungs and skin.  Our lungs are responsible for creating a mist of the (good, pure) fluids in our body and spreading them to our skin and mucous membranes, to keep them well-nourished.  When this function goes wrong, we might experience situations where we accumulate too much fluid in places that we don’t need it (such as a phlegmy cough and runny nose) and not enough moisture where we do need it, leading to dry, itchy skin.

So, how can we bring the moisture of our skin back into balance?

  • Inside out:
    • Choose foods to be used in nourishing meals that will moisten dryness such as soy-based foods, apples, pears, most nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil and honey.  Add a few pungent foods to these meals (such as onions and garlic) to aid in the dispersing of the fluids).
    • Make sure you are also consuming enough water – are you drinking two litres?
  • Outside in:
    DIY salt scrub
    • Choose a good natural moisturiser to apply to your body after showering. (Long hot showers in winter, whilst being lovely, tend to dry out your skin).  You may need to upgrade your facial moisturiser during the dry months (and even use a night cream or facial oil) – again look for a good one free of synthetic chemicals.
    • Use my favourite DIY salt scrub recipe when you have dry skin (it’s very versatile being great for sticky, congested skin in summer and dry, itchy skin in winter).  You may need to do this 2-3 times per week until your skin is soft and silky again.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

acupuncture, food, health, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The art of war: Your Defences v The Common Cold

There’s nothing worse than being stuck on public transport and the person behind you is sneezing constantly and coughing up something repulsive at the back of your head.  You can almost feel the ‘goobs’ sinking into your skin and infecting your body.  This could happen anywhere though, in the office or even in your own home – think: kids – they seem to take the ‘sharing is caring’ sentiment a little too literally!

With the cold and flu season upon us, how can you prime your body’s defence force (or wei qi as it is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine) to be ready for combat at the first sign of an invading enemy virus?

  • Keep your lungs strong
    • Not such a crazy idea when you consider that the common cold attacks the respiratory system.  This means avoid smoking, manage or resolve any ongoing respiratory conditions (e.g. asthma, cough, post-nasal drip) prior to cold and flu season and practice good posture that allows you to open your chest so that you breathe deeply and well.
  • You are what you eat
    • We need a strong army of wei qi (immune system) to fight off any invading bugs and the army need to be fed well to do their job – chips and pizza just won’t cut it.  Make sure you are getting your five serves of vegetables each day, preferably stir-fried, steamed or made into soup.
    • Choose pungent foods (such as onions, ginger and garlic) that force your wei qi to the surface of your body.  A great example is a Vietnamese noodle soup.  And don’t forget to sip on some spiced tea or chai. Avoid cold, raw, excessive oily and fatty foods that bring your qi inwards (or encourage your army to become cowardly, retreating and surrendering territory to the lurgy.)
  • If you are in need of some additional weapons – then some astragalus (huang qi) is a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb of choice to build wei qi as a cold and flu preventative.  Western herbalists favour echinacea for the immune system.  It’s best to discuss your concerns with a herbalist to ensure you are taking the right herb/s for your situation.  Acupuncture may also be useful to those who are highly susceptable to every bug around, start treatment just prior to the cold and flu season.

Now is the time to show action and put these plans into play to give your defences a boost.  Attention!

If you have already been bitten by a cold or flu and symptoms are manifesting here are some tips:

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

acupuncture, emotional health, health, mental health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

The acupuncturist and the broken heart

Today is the 16th February, just two days after Valentine’s Day.  It’s gorgeous to see that many people are wandering around still exhibiting the after-glow generated by gifts of flowers, chocolates, champagne and time with their loved one. (Although, shouldn’t it be like this most of the time?)

Valentine’s Day, even though it’s origins are in nothing more significant than a greeting card marketing exercise, has become symbolic to many as a day to celebrate romantic love.  This day has been responsible for igniting new love, but sadly, with the pressures it brings, has also been known to be a catalyst in the demise of relationships.

Recently, I have seen several patients in my clinic, looking for support in matters of the heart.  (Yes, who would have thought it?  Acupuncture can do more than just relieve physical pain!)  So, today it seems timely to discuss ‘the broken heart’ from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective.

Break-ups are rarely ever easy, for either partner, and the emotions they conjure up can create undesired effects in our bodies.  The old saying “time heals all wounds” is applicable here as the broken-hearted embark on an emotional journey (often laced with mysterious physical symptoms like nausea or muscle tension) to mend.  When these issues do not resolve in a timely manner, professional counselling is highly recommended.

The five element theory that is deeply rooted within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) gives us some clues in treating matters of the heart.  This theory pairs the organs of the body with emotional states.  Whilst, the heart is seen as the organ that is tied to our ‘spirit’, many other organs are also tied to common emotions that may be experienced following a break up.  I should point out here, that in TCM each organ is given some additional ‘energetic’ functions in addition to their biomedical functions so you can have a TCM ‘liver disorder’ without having a physical liver problem.

So, simply and generally put, the five elements can explain some of the mental and physical symptoms of a broken heart as follows:

  • Fire Element – Heart and pericardium – the pericardium is the protector of the heart and emotionally characterised by feeling anxious or a lack of joy.  Physical symptoms may include insomnia, palpitations or inappropriate behaviour.
  • Wood Element – Liver – for feelings of anger, ‘stuckness’, resentment, irritation, frustration, depression and mood swings.  Physical symptoms may include neck and shoulder tension, chest tightness, nausea and digestive disorders that have a direct correlation to your emotional state.
  • Earth Element – Spleen & Stomach – for feelings of worry, obsessive thoughts and inability to concentrate.  Physical symptoms may include lack of appetite, low energy, digestive disorders and sweet cravings.
  • Metal Element – Lungs – when grief and sadness are the principal feelings surrounding the break-up.  Physical symptoms may include low energy, respiratory disorders, concave chest posture, weak voice and skin problems.
  • Water Element – Kidneys – when fear is a primary emotion.  Physical symptoms may include poor memory, urinary problems, reproductive system disorders and lower back ache.

Through discussing a person’s emotional and physical symptoms an individualised acupuncture treatment for supporting someone with ‘love sickness’ can be designed.  It would usually include some lifestyle advice so that the patient may begin to take control of their own situation and feel better, more quickly, between treatments.  I have seen many patients respond well to acupuncture treatment in gaining clarity of mind and renewed energy allowing them to face their new path with enthusiasm.

What to do now? Check out my five Chinese Medicine tips for mending a broken heart.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.