Below is a recipe for lamb with a tamarind and spice sauce. I wrote this recipe for a patient I've been treating with GERD. Now while this recipe would be too much for most people with GERD, for this patient it hits the spot and gets at what he really needs. Not to sound esoteric but this patient has what could be called a deficiency of wood failing to course earth. Most cases of GERD do not fit this presentation from what I've seen. This patient needs from a TCM point of view to Nourish the liver blood and warm and move liver and stomach qi . This essentially means to eat nourishing foods while correcting the flow of peristalisis in the gastrointestinal tract. I do not believe that this patient actually produces too much acid. The correct persitalic movement in the GI tract is not there, therefore the acid backs up into his throat. This was confirmed as the patient reports that he feels good eating lamb, sour foods, and warm spices. Again, most GERD cases don't fit this presentation. See the Case Studies section for a more typical GERD presentation.
This recipe is good for anyone who likes lamb and/or tamarind. It is also good for the RARE GERD patient who typically is thin, doesn't eat a lot of meat yet feels good when they do, feels good with warm digestive herbs like ginger, cinnamon, etc. Really anyone could eat this except for the GERD patients who can't tolerate acidic foods and have trouble digesting meat.
I love this recipe and the patient thought it was awesome, I hope you do to.
Here you go:
Tart and Spicy Tamarind Lamb
1 pound lamb chops, shoulder or other cut that isn’t too thick. Some fat is good.
3 Tablespoons Tamarind Paste (Adjust to your taste)
Soy Sauce (add to your taste)
1.5 - 2 cups Sake, White Wine, or a light colored cooking wine
6 large slices of fresh ginger
A pinch of Fresh Nutmeg (ok if not fresh)
Powdered clove or 1 whole clove
1 Star Anise
1 Tablespoon Fennel
1 - 2Plums (Optional) – better if hard
½ cup Tamarind Pulp (optional)
If you have a Dutch Oven, Large Cast Iron Skillet, Le Creuset or other pot/pan that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven then use that. Otherwise, start the sauce on the stove and then transfer the sauce to the pot that will go in the oven.
Preheat Oven to 420 degrees.
On the stove, medium temperature mix the wine, tamarind sauce, soy sauce, and tamarind pulp. If using the tamarind pulp break it into pieces. Don’t worry about seeds. Bring to a simmer and let cook, mixing regularly. Lower flame slightly and partially cover. Check on the sauce and mix. Cover again. Repeat for 14 to 20 minutes until the tamarind is mostly dissolved and there is a uniform slightly cooked down sauce that is dark brown to black. It should have a strong but pleasant sour sauce. Add more soy sauce if needed to balance. Remove 75% of the pulp, leaving just some.
Add the Star Anise and Fennel to the sauce and mix. Add a pinch of fresh nutmeg powder. Add a pinch of clove powder or one small clove. Add 3 cardamom buds or ¾ teaspoon if just the seeds. Add the freshly ground pepper. Mix well on very low simmer.
Lay down 3 – 4 of the ginger slices, spaced out evenly. Place the Lamb on top of them. The lamb will quickly brown in the warm sauce. Turn the lamb over to brown the other side. Once flipped, spoon an adequate amount of sauce on top of the lamb. Add the remaining ginger on top of the lamb.
Cover the pot or pan and place in the oven or transfer the lamb and sauce to an oven safe pot. Reduce the oven temperature to 350.
After 15 minutes, taste the sauce. Add soy sauce if needed. Then add plum slices.
Let cook 20 or so minutes depending on how rare or well done you like it. Add black pepper at the end.
Serve with Mountain Yam Rice below if desired.
Mountain Yam and White Rice
4 cups White Rice
1/4 pound Mountain Yam (mostly likely sold under Japanese name Nagaimo; google nagaimo for pictures. It is Shan Yao in Chinese)
Peel or cut off the Nagaimo peel, till it is white and sticky. Cut into slices. Then mash it up or place in food processor or a blender. There should be a sticky pulp left. Keep all of the gelatin.
Cook rice as normal except add the mashed nagaimo to the rice at the beginning of the cooking process.
The Medical Use of Herbal Baths in Liaoning, China
(Originally Published In The California Journal Of Oriental Medicine, Spring/Summer 2014)
By David Heron LAc MSTOM and Changhe Yu MSTCM PhD
More than just decoctions, Chinese herbalism offers many methods of treatment. At Liaoning
University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Shenyang, China, herbal baths are used to
treat disease as well as to maintain health. Are herbal baths a viable treatment modality for TCM
practitioners here in the West? This article aims to raise interest in this specialized practice of
Chinese herbal medicine by offering a virtual tour of one hospital department in China where
herbal baths are used with great success.
Considering its short history in the U.S., TCM seems to have grown exponentially in the
consciousness of the average American. Yet, when we look at the breadth of TCM as it is
practiced in China, it is clear that we are still in the process of transmitting this medicine to the
U.S. Thus far, acupuncture has overshadowed herbal medicine to such a degree that acupuncture
is generally perceived as the central modality of TCM by the American public. However, in
China, the opposite has long been true, with herbalism dominating the field for many centuries.
China has developed many external medical treatments using Chinese herbs. Some, such as
liniments, are already quite common in the U.S. Beyond liniments, there are baths, pastes, steam
applications, enemas and powders that can be prepared with herbs for external use in the
treatment of both internal and external medical ailments. This plethora of applications for
medicinal herbs offers TCM doctors in China more options for treating patients than pills or
decoctions alone. For example, a TCM doctor treating a nephrology patient suffering from
edema may prescribe the patient sit in an electric herb steamer to assist with the removal of
excess water from the body, as well as an internal decoction to address other symptoms or underlying patterns.
At Liaoning University of TCM Hospital, the practice of using herbal baths has been elevated to
an art. The university hospital boasts a state of the art integrative rehabilitation center with
specialized areas of care that include orthopedics, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
What makes this hospital truly unique, however, is its Chinese Medicine department, which
includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, tui-na, moxibustion, and herbal baths. The level of
importance that the herbal baths have been given is noteworthy.
While it is possible to find spas where baths might be available with herbs, possibly even
medicinal herbs, it is rare to find a bath center comparable in size and in depth of knowledge to
that offered at Liaoning University of TCM. Here, TCM doctors select herbs based not only on
disease and pattern, but on each person’s unique clinical presentation of both disease and pattern.
The doctors writing the herbal prescriptions have treated between hundreds and thousands of
patients with Chinese herbs, both internally and externally. While there is some overlap between
the internal and external use of herbs, writing formulas for external usage is considered a
separate skill, with unique applications, dosages, cautions and contraindications. Considering the
vast resources devoted to the herbal bath center, including its staff, amenities and facility
placement and size within the hospital system at Liaoning University of TCM, one can
understand the rarity of this skill. The doctors at Liaoning University of TCM believe that they have one of the largest medicinal herb bath centers, not only in China, but in the world.
Dr. Xiaotong Wang, Dean of the Herbal Bath Center at Liaoning University of TCM, states that the diseases the Herbal Bath Center treats most often and most effectively are bi-zheng (bi syndrome), insomnia, xu lao (taxation fatigue), orthopedic injuries, and female infertility due to cold in the uterus. All of these conditions have successful treatment rates, with bi syndrome being the most successfully treated among them, Dr. Wang reports.
Patients are referred to the Herbal Bath department from other departments within the Rehabilitation Center, from the university’s main hospital across the street, and via word of mouth. Some even travel from abroad to take advantage of the baths, as well as the integrated rehabilitation facilities. Once patients arrive for the herbal baths, they are examined by a TCM physician who then constructs a formula of herbs that will be used in that patient’s bath. Typically one herbal formula is prescribed for about ten visits which are then carried out over a 10 – 15 day period. After the first series of treatments has been completed, the patient is re-evaluated.
The Herbal Bath department is spacious, modern and relaxing. Except for the communal baths,
the department is divided by gender. Rows of beautiful wooden tubs are accented with bamboo
plants, creating a peaceful atmosphere. Amenities include showers and locker rooms, as well as a
foot bathing area. Workers continually clean and filter the baths and bathing area.
Taking an herbal bath is also considered a yangsheng or nurturing life practice. With five
communal baths – one for each of the Five Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood) –
many Shenyang residents use the baths to maintain their health. Each of the five elemental baths
is made with herbs known to benefit the physiological systems which that particular element
governs. Therefore, if practicing yangsheng, one can move from bath to bath, ensuring that every
system of the body is cared for. A bather may also focus on one particular element, based on the
season or on a doctor’s recommendation. Moderation is encouraged since sweat is a vital
substance. Overall, the use of herbal baths as yangsheng differs greatly from the spa culture that
is prevalent in the West.
So, are herbal baths a viable treatment modality for TCM practitioners here in the West?
Fortunately, with a solid foundation of Chinese medicine firmly established in the U.S., this
treatment modality is possible for any TCM practitioner who wishes to pursue deeper study.
Sincere interest by Americans in TCM has led to the development of a bona fide TCM
community in the U.S. in just about 40 years, and this interest continues to bring many Chinese
TCM teachers to the U.S., and many American TCM students to China. Continuing on this path,
practitioners may soon be writing herbal bath formulas as readily as they give acupuncture
treatments, and in the process, may help to broaden views of what TCM is and the full array of
effective, non-invasive methods Chinese medicine offers for balancing health.
Wang, Xiaotong. “Herbal Bath Department.” Personal Interview. March, 2012.
Chinese herbal medicine can reduce some of the symptoms associated with Autism especially those related to mood and irritability.
One herbal formula in particular, Yi Gan San (Yokukansan (TJ-54), has been studied by Japanese researchers for it’s affect on children suffering from Pervasive Developmental Disorder(PDD-NOS) and Asperger’s. Yi Gan San was developed in 1515 to help treat irritability in children. So far, two different studies have shown that Yi Gan San may have positive effects for those in the Autism spectrum. In the June 2013 issue of the Journal Of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology researchers reported that Yi Gan San “may be effective and well tolerated for treatment of severe irritability, lethargy/withdrawal, stereotypic behavior, hyperactivity/noncompliance, and inappropriate speech in patients with PDD-NOS or Asperger's disorder.”
Multiple studies have found positive effects for the use of Yi Gan San in the treatment of behavioral changes associated with dementia, enuresis(bed-wetting) in children, and schizophrenia. (See links below).
In my experience, Yi Gan San is a safe and effective herbal formula. I have used Yi Gan San and modifications of Yi Gan San to help patients of all ages suffering from a wide variety of conditions including irritability, anger, insomnia, and bruxism(teeth grinding).
In addition to Yi Gan San, there are many other herbs that may be of benefit to children in the Autism spectrum. Two of these herbs worth mentioning are Yuan Zhi( Polygalae Radix) and Shi Chang Pu (Acori Tatarinowii Rhizoma). Yuan Zhi and Shi Chang Pu have a wide range of actions but are used together commonly to calm the mind and increase awareness in patients of all ages, including those on the Autism Spectrum.
While it can be hard to get children to take medications, I can offer you a few ways to sweeten the taste of the herbs so that children see the herbs as a treat rather than a medication.
It is important to consult with a trained herbalist before beginning any sort of herbal regimen. It is not enough to match your symptoms with some read information regarding herbs. In addition, while the overwhelming majority of herbs are safe it is still important to alert your herbalist about any other medications you might be on to be sure that those medications will not be affected. Please feel free to contact me for more information regarding this or any other matter.
Below please find links to Pubmed abstracts for research on Yi Gan San. Free full texts are available for most of these studies, look for the appropriate links: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23782127 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23194148 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25246794 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23773379
Oakland Hills Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine now offers community acupuncture in addition to our private acupuncture sessions. Community acupuncture offers many of the same benefits as our private acupuncture sessions. Patients with complex cases may consider booking a private session so that an in depth history can be taken and then switch over or mix in community acupuncture into your treatment regimen.
Come relax in our zero-gravity recliners during a community acupuncture session. Each session is $25. Contact us for more info.
"The three months of summer,
they denote opulence and blossoming.
The qi of heaven and earth interact and
the myriad beings blossom and bear fruit.
Go to rest late at night and rise early.
Never get enough of the sun.
Let the mind have no anger.
Stimulate beauty and have your elegance perfected.
Cause the qi to flow away,
as if that what you loved were located outside.
This is correspondence with the qi of summer and
it is the Way to nourish growth.
Opposing it harms the heart.
In autumn this causes fevers and malaria, and
there is little to support gathering.
Multiple disease develops at winter solstice."
~excerpt from the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, Chapter 2, translated by Unshculd and Tessenow,
UC of California Press
"The three months of spring bring about the revitalization of all things in nature. It is the time of birth. This is when heaven and earth are reborn. During this season it is advisable to retire early. Arise early also and go walking in order to absorb the fresh, invigorating energy. Since this is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenates , one should correspond to it directly by being open and un suppressed, both physically and emotionally.
On the physical level it is good to exercise more frequently and wear loose fitting clothing. This is the time to do stretching exercises to loosen up the tendons and muscles. Emotionally, it is good to develop equanimity. This is because spring is the season of the liver, and indulgence in anger, frustration, depression, sadness, or any excess emotion can injure the liver. Furthermore, violating the natural order of spring will cause cold disease, illness inflicted by atmospheric cold, during the summer." - from Ni's translation of the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen Ch. 2
March is sleep awareness month. You can spend up to a third of your life sleeping, but how much do you know about it? Did you know how much or how little you sleep contributes to how healthy or unhealthy you are?
Health is a complex state with many factors. The same is true of many disease states. Proper sleep is integral to our health, while poor sleeping habits often contribute to illnesses. Lack of sleep may contribute to heart disease, heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, depression as well as reduce your sex drive and increase your chances of having an accident. Fatigue is estimated to be involved in over 100,000 car crashes per year by the National Highway Safety Administration.
Sleep is essential at every age. While many people believe that it is "normal" to sleep less as you get older that doesn't necessarily mean that it's good for you. Not every "normal" occurrence is a healthy one.
Luckily, regardless of your age, if you suffer from insomnia there is help. Acupuncture and herbal formulas can help treat insomnia so that you can have a proper nights rest. Insomnia is a common chief complaint of patient's presenting at acupuncture clinics. At my clinic I seen improvements in patients presenting with insomnia and anxiety, insomnia and excessive heat, insomnia coupled with fatigue, waking during the night, etc. Results are usually within only a few visits.
The following links contain very useful information about sleep, what happens during sleep, and why we need it:
The following link leads to research reviews about Chinese Medicine and Insomnia:
Men’s reproductive health issues occur more frequently than many people realize. The main reason for this is probably that men are less likely than women to talk about their health problems as they fear that talking may make them seem less masculine. The sad thing is that often the conditions and symptoms that men aren't talking to anyone about are the real threat to their masculinity. Talking about issues is the first step to resolving them and it’s the silence around men’s health, particularly their reproductive health, that leads to many men suffering without realizing that they can get help for their condition.
The other day, I was speaking to a young male patient about prostate health. I was treating this pt. for non-bacterial prostatitis with pelvic pain being the main symptom. I was surprised to hear from the patient that I was the first healthcare provider to discuss prostate health with him and what to look out for as he got older. This same patient had been examined, tested, and diagnosed by his primary care physician and specialists yet it seems that none of them took the opportunity to educate the patient about general prostate health.
Most men, who live long enough, will have prostate issues at some point. Yet if you were to compare the awareness around prostate health to breast cancer or ovarian cancer, one would find that women and even men are far more aware of women’s health issues than about issues affecting men. Granted, in the last 10 to 20 years the awareness about men’s health issues has grown but we still have a long way to go. In that light, I told my patient that I would be sure to use this blog to help spread some awareness.
Many people don’t realize that a significant amount of young men suffer from various ailments ranging from premature ejaculation, to reduced sex drive, to non-bacterial epididymitis and prostatitis. Luckily there are treatments available for these symptoms and conditions.
Chinese Medicine has a lot to offer men as far as their health. I feel lucky to have been exposed to Chinese Medical Andrology early on in my studies by two different teachers who specialized in this field. I can confidently say that with herbs and acupuncture there are safe and reliable ways to treat:
· Premature Ejaculation
· Low Libido
· Erectile Dysfunction
· Prostate Enlargement *
· Epididymitis and Prostatitis*
· Pain on ejaculation
· and more
*There some conditions that are best to worked on in an Integrative fashion in conjunction with your MD, DO, or ND in order to perform labs and possibly imaging and to rule out certain conditions such as infection or cancer.
What is important here is that men feel comfortable talking to a health care practitioner about their symptoms. This is especially true with herbal treatments because otherwise you might fall victim to buying the typically ridiculous “sex-enhancing” products sold online and in some stores.
Acupuncture has a wide range of therapeutic benefits. Traditionally, acupuncture can be used for almost all ailments either as the primary mode of treatment or as a secondary treatment. Despite the broad uses that acupuncture has had, most of the modern research into acupuncture mainly has focused on the ability of acupuncture to treat pain. Recently though, research has begun to expand into examining the benefits that acupuncture may have on other conditions, including memory.
A recent study (link here) found that acupuncture with electrical stimulation on the scalp improved the performance of patients with mild memory loss. The study involved patients with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment. Essentially, Mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI is state where someone may show some deficits in their memory and cognition but do not show the level of memory deficits seen in the different types of dementia. Researchers have been studying for years whether or MCI is a transition stage into different types of dementia such as Alzheimer's Disease or a stable state. Currently there are no cures for the different types of dementia, so positive research findings regarding minimally invasive techniques like acupuncture are encouraging.
Now, for those of you who haven't had scalp acupuncture or acupuncture at all, having needles placed in your scalp might sound painful. However though, the scalp is actually one of the least painful areas to receive acupuncture and the buzzing of the mild electrical stimulation is found to be pleasant by many.
Traditionally, acupuncture isn't the only method available to treat mild memory decline. There are a handful of herbs that have been noted to improve memory that may be of help in certain instances.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding acupuncture or where you can have memory/cognitive tests performed. I will be happy to point you in the right direction.
Today I am happy to host guest blogger Rinku Patel. Rinku is a fellow Oakland resident, author, blogger,
and has Masters Of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Please check out her website
There Is No Alternative Medicine
written by Rinku Patel
4.5 years ago, inflammation set fire to my body. I was crippled, in a fourth floor walkup in SF. I couldn't carry my six month old baby across the living room.
I visited doctors very early on, when my joint pain was relegated to one small toe. But as it was late 2009, before the 'microbiome' had made unlocking the mysteries inside poop sexy. So of course these doctors dismissed me as a nut for insisting it all began in my gut a few months earlier.
One physician's diagnosis for the phantom ice picks hacking into my gut on one very long and feverish weekend either in bed or the bathroom, with a pail of vomit tucked into the foot of the baby's cosleeper: You have postpartum depression.
I’ve spent a few years in a research labs and have an MS in biochemistry and molecular biology, I view trolling PubMed as an enjoyable pastime. Despite my credentials, and publications pointing to a role in intestinal permeability and altered gut flora in autoimmune forms of arthritis, I got condescension, which they conveniently called "evidence-based medicine." And so it took the good physicians at Kaiser San Francisco about 4 months to agree that I did indeed have said arthritis, and by then, the problem had gone from something quite minor, a stunted little toe, to a fully disabling disease.
By 2010, a Kaiser rheumatologist recommended I start a treatment of methotrexate coupled with an inflammation stunting biologic. He thought altering my diet as a means to alleviate the swelling was wacky. He meant well, but it is sad that most rheumatologists view themselves to be highly educated drug dispensing machines and nothing more. I said thanks but no thanks to a lifetime of chemo and the terrible side effects that came with it.
Believe it or not, San Francisco was once more of a hotbed for heretics than pour over coffee and the Google bus. I went shopping for different perspective, some of which would have made the rheum's hair stand on end, and rightfully so. This is what I learned:
1. Do listen to the Naturopath on Potrero for his advice on probiotics and building back your colon. Take the supplement popping advice with a grain of salt as it gets to be an herbal pill equivalent of the Kaiser doctor.
2. Do not under any circumstances let the reclusive beekeeper in SOMA (the one behind what is now Twitter HQ) sting you with bees. You’ll only have honey and bee allergies to show for it, and the rheum will say, see! Oh yes you are crazy.
3. Follow the Ayurvedic physician’s orders to take out the dairy, wheat and spicy stuff but resist the urge to bite him when he tells you your tongue, bowel movements, and general tardiness in life reflect your sluggish personality.
4. Thank the Chinese acupuncturist on Clement St. for taking the pain out of your big joints with needles. Do not look too closely at what's in the bag of herbs he’ll have you boil up. It's hard to pretend you're sipping an exquisite single origin pour over when visions of shrivelly white worms are squirming through your head.
5. It could take years, as the learning curve is steep. But it's nice to be walking again.
#3 and #4 are the ancient medicinal systems of South Asia and China. Many people don't know that for millenia--long before the word 'microbiome' was coined--they have been predicated on unlocking the secrets inside our poop. This is the longest running crowd-sourced research out there.
What I think is getting lost in the sound chamber of microbiome discoveries is that lots of us who were sick hacked our way to health with the help of alternative systems, way before a gaggle of scientists (like myself) identified the importance of commensal bacteria cozying up to the lumen of the large intestine.
This deluge of microbiome news has helped The scientific establishment rethink modern panaceas like antibiotics.
And it's showing us that there really is no alternative medicine.
Chronic disease states is not a one size fits all problem. "Evidence-based medicine," faced with the hard truths of data science, will have to change tactics. The future will be personal in nature.
After all, #3 and #4 also will tell you that no two people poop alike.
About This Blog
The purpose of this blog is to provide food for thought about our health and how we relate to life in general. On this blog I will provide quotes from medical classics about living in harmony with nature as well as information about modern research. The materials I draw from will be very different and will resonate with people very differently.