When I wake up congested, I’ll irrigate my nose with a neti pot and instantly breath more freely. In winter, and during allergy season, I use it daily as natural remedy to prevent and treat nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, allergies, sore throat, and upper respiratory congestion or colds. At the bottom of this post you will find an instructional video which teaches how to use a neti pot. For many years, I’ve recommended the same to my patients. They all so appreciative that I’ve taught them how to use a neti pot because they experience reduction or elimination of sinus pain, sinus headaches, allergy symptoms, the common cold and such.
Nasal irrigation with a neti pot takes five minutes and it’s super easy to use. If you don’t believe me, check out the demonstration video below. You won’t have to spend $30.00 on an expensive ceramic neti pot at a fancy health food store, because most drug stores carry a simple and effective plastic version costing about half the price. NeilMed brand is the neti pot that my family uses at home, along with the pre-mixed saline packets.
Not only can you save money on the neti pot it’s self, you can save tons of dough in over-the-counter and prescription medications when you prevent and treat naturally with a neti pot. On the occasion that your symptoms progress, be sure to visit you health care provider. When my patients symptoms progress they usually call me for an acupuncture appointment and/or for some herbs.
I know that some of you are concerned about neti pot safety. Fill your neti pot with filtered, pre-boiled water that you’ve cooled to room temperature. Doing so will reduce the chance of bacteria entering your nose via the water. Some of my patients make this cleaner water in large batches and store it in a clean glass container so that they don’t have to clean the water daily.
Autumn is a time that provides a cool, crisp breeze in the morning that hits my face and helps me wake up. It represents a time to pick apples so long that my knuckles become scratched and chilled, but it is all worth it when I bite into the perfect, juicy, teeth-aching apple. It means growing a fuller beard for extra warmth. Early autumn stirs thoughts of family and gatherings that will take place in late autumn and early winter. It reminds me that I have to make Bon Appétit’s parsnip, carrot, and potato soup which are tasty autumn foods and remember to puree the whole thing, add more sherry, and let it sit for 1 full day (it just tastes so much better). Autumn is a wonderful time, but it takes some preparation and care to survive this seasonal change.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Theory about Appropriate Living
The Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon) is one of the chief medical books of TCM written thousands of years ago. The style of the book is set up as a question & answer with the Yellow Emperor of China asking a Daoist master Qi Bo questions about many things to do with past and current life in relation to health and disease. The first call and response between the two is as follows:
In Chapter 1, the Yellow Emperor asks:
“I am told the people in ancient times could all survive to more than 100 years old, and they appeared to be quite healthy and strong in actions, but the people at present time are different, they are not so nimble in action when they are only 50, and what is the reason?”
Qi Bo answers:
“Those who knew the way of keeping good health in ancient times always kept their behavior in daily life in accordance with nature. Their behaviors in daily life were all kept in regular patterns such as their food and drink were of fixed quantity; their daily activities were all in regular times. They never overworked. In this way, they could maintain both in the body and in the spirit substantiality, and were able to live to the old age of more than 100 years.”1
The important part about the answer is to live one’s “daily life in accordance with nature.” This is important to remember as we enter the fall season or any change of season for that matter. There is a big change occurring with the earth, and one’s body needs to be in tune with those changes and one should make the appropriate choices or disease will occur.
Autumn Foods & Health
Autumn is a time where the yang/warmth of the sun begins to lessen and give way to the yin/cooler seasons of fall and winter. In autumn one must begin to store vital energy in order to make it through the winter in a healthy state. One must slow down from the sometimes frenetic activity of the summer. The movement of autumn in Chinese medicine is downward, and this is evident in the root-based vegetables that are available during that time2. These veggies reach down into the ground to acquire their energy which we consume to acquire that energy.
The importance of the seasons comes up specifically in chapter 2 of the Huang Di Nei Jing which is a classic text on Chinese medicine:
“In the 3 months of autumn, the shapes of all living things on earth become mature naturally and are ready to be harvested. In autumn, the wind is vigorous and rapid, the environment on earth is clear and bright, so during this period, one should go to bed early to stay away from the chilliness, get up early to appreciate the crisp air of autumn, keep the spirit tranquil and stable to separate oneself from the sough of autumn by means of restraining the spirit and energy internally and guard the mind against anxiety and impetuosity. In this way, one’s tranquility can still be maintained even in the sough of autumn atmosphere, and the breath of the lung can be kept even as well.”3
What foods should you eat during autumn?
One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to get in touch with the energy of the harvest through fresh foods. It is important to transition into eating warmer, cooked foods during this time and keeping the salads and raw foods at bay until next summer.
Food in Season during Autumn:4 Veggies
Jerusalem artichokes (a/k/a sunchokes)
Scallops (bay and sea)
A good guideline about what to eat during the autumn is to locate what is available at your local farmer’s market and use that as a template for building a meal that is appropriate to the season. This goes for autumn and any other season as well. Check out the NYC Harvest Calendar to figure out what is available each season.
Kale is a great ingredient for seasonal eaters as it is one of the few green vegetables that are more abundant and flavorful during autumn and winter. It can be substituted for cabbage or spinach and makes a fine side dish when blanched. Kale is a nutritionally rich food containing:
vitamins A, C and E
a substantial mineral content including manganese, iron, calcium and potassium
phytochemicals such as sulphoraphane (linked to cancer prevention)5
One of my most favorite fall recipes uses kale and is as follows:
Eggs in a Nest6
(This recipe makes dinner for a family of four, but can easily be cut in half.)
2 cups uncooked brown rice
Cook rice with 4 cups water in a covered pot for 50 minutes or in a rice cooker while other ingredients are being prepared. Olive oil – a few tbsp 1 medium onion, chopped, and minced garlic to taste
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil in a wide skillet until lightly golden. Carrots, chopped 1 cup dried tomatoes
Add and sauté for a few more minutes, adding just enough water to rehydrate the tomatoes. 1 really large bunch of kale, coarsely chopped
Mix with other vegetables and cover pan for a few minutes. Uncover, stir well, then use the back of a spoon to make depressions in the cooked leaves, circling the pan like numbers on a clock. 8 eggs
Break an egg into each depression, being careful to keep yolks whole. Cover pan again and allow eggs to poach for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over rice.
I like to doctor this recipe up with some hot sauce and tamari sauce.
Other Autumn Tips
Carry around a sweater/sweatshirt/scarf – even if it feels warm because during autumn it is cold in the shade and warm in the sun. This is typically the season where people are still dressing like it is still summer because the sun still has warmth during the high point of the day. This drastic change in temperature without the proper protection from the environment can put your body at risk.
Eat soup – this is the time of season to begin thinking about making more nourishing wholesome, all-encompassing foods like soups. Soups usually contain meats, veggies, and carbohydrates. They are a great meal in one! The temperature is also warming to the yang to prepare oneself for winter.
Keep hydrated – autumn is the time of dryness. The moisture of the humid summer gives way to autumn dryness. It is important to remember this and drink tea or room temperature water to help your body remain hydrated.
See your acupuncturist – winter is often the time when people catch the most head colds. Seeing your acupuncturist can shore up your protective qi and lessen or eradicate head colds during the winter.
Get out and enjoy the weather change from summer to autumn, but remember to be prepared like your local boy scout. You don’t want to be caught off guard.
Aside from coming into my office for daily acupuncture treatments for labor induction, I also suggest the following techniques to stimulate labor. Be sure to use them several times daily, for several days in a row. Good luck!
3. At night before bed poke a small hole on one EPO capsule and insert it vaginally. The EPO suppository helps soften and ripen the cervix.
4. Walk, walk, walk.
5. Several times daily, sit on birthing ball and relax pelvic floor muscles as if doing an opposite Kegal- like water flowing down out of the vagina. Or do this in squatting position for about one minute several times per day.
6. Have sex. The semen and orgasm help you to go into labor. If you’re not feeling into penetrative sex, the next best thing is orgasm because it stimulates contractions of the uterus. Oral sex or your favorite vibe toy for clitoral stimulation can help that along. Have fun!
7. Daily Creative Visualization. See yourself in labor, your partner assisting, you birthing vaginally, you holding and breastfeeding your baby, and your partner holding the baby.
8. Use the acupressure points on this website several times daily. These acupressure points are very important to stimulate several times per day. The author of the site is a midwife and acupuncturist, Debra Betts who has provided illustrations and videos of the points to use. PDF booklets and You-Tube videos to teach you how to locate the points. I suggest that you use the points she suggests for labor induction as well as the sacral points she lists under Pain Relief on Labor- because pressure on the sacrum releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that stimulates labor.
9. Watch videos of women breastfeeding their babies. Watching will stimulate release of your oxytocin (which also flows after you have the baby- it assists in momma baby bonding/love), and you will learn a trick or two. I absolutely love the videos on You-Tube by BreastFeedingBabies Channel but you find tons of others, too.
The calligraphy above depicts the Three Treasures: Jing, Qi, Shen. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the preservation, protection and nourishment of the Three Treasures form the foundation of optimum health and spiritual well being.
Jing means Essence
Qi basically translates as Vital Energy
Shen means Spirit
Jing – Essence
Jing is the source of life, health and longevity. We all are born with Jing Essence, which is stored in the Kidneys and which fuels all other energies. As we age, we naturally deplete our Jing essence; but chronic stress, illness and imbalance will exhaust our Jing faster than we can replenish it through foods and herbs. We must nourish Jing daily with acquired nutritive energy derived from healthy foods, water, meditation, exercise and Chinese herbs. To preserve and protect our Jing from depletion, we must avoid drug and alcohol abuse, bulimia or anorexia, excessive exercise and excessive sexual activities. The latter is especially important for men. Most healthy women don’t have to worry so much about losing essence through sexual activity. For all women it is more important to preserve blood. Chinese medicine tells us that Blood and Jing Essence share the same source. Blood preservation is especially important for a woman because when she loses blood, she loses Jing. The wisdom of a woman’s body initiates menopause as a way to preserve blood and essence for a longer healthier life. Women who experience very heavy menstrual periods or whose periods are absent may experience an Essence vacuity and require acupuncture and herbal treatment to regain healthy balance.
Qi – Vital Energy
In English, Qi roughly translates as vital energy, but its full meaning is as vast as the universe. The calligraphy of the Chinese word Qi depicts rice steaming, meaning that Qi is invisible like steam but also as substantial as rice. This energy is not an ethereal philosophical concept; Qi is palpable, movable, dynamic, storable, fluid and sustentative. It makes and defines everything about us, in us and around us. We are all made of Qi. Plants, herbs, insects and animals are made of Qi. The air we breathe is Qi. The energy we get from exercise is Qi. Acute or chronic illness, poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyles and excessive exercise or sleep will deplete Qi. Breathing exercises and healthy eating habits replenish Qi. Kung Fu practices such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong and other healing exercises that generate, move and store Qi. To nourish our Qi we must live a balanced lifestyle, eat well, breath, exercise and preserve our energy by avoiding types of situations and people that drain our energy.
Shen – Spirit
Chinese medicine views the Spirit as an integral part of our life and our physical wellbeing. Therefore Qi, Jing and Spirit cultivation is essential for health maintenance. The definition of spirituality is uniquely individual because different spiritual practices work for different people. Though the process of Spirit cultivation is dynamic and ever changing, most spiritual practices call for mindful living, intentionally based on right thinking and right action. In addition, certain herbs and tonics can help enhance and develop Shen energy. Buddhist teacher and writer Llama Surya Das imparts these words of wisdom, “Living spirituality and its religions are not monuments or mausoleums, but ARE more akin to rivers, which need and want to keep flowing and inexhaustibly replenishing themselves, outflowing anew while returning to the source, endlessly recycling and revitalizing themselves. Not static but ecstatic — a living river of Dharma, of truth and love, of genuine spirit.” When we nourish our Spirit, we cultivate truth, authenticity and compassion for ourselves and others in our daily lives, the result of which is energetic balance and mental clarity.
Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs 32 Union Square EAST, Suite 615N New York, NY 10003 (646) 504.2251
Remember how your parents always bugged you about wearing a hat and sweater in cooler weather? They knew that the possibility of a Wind-Cold invasion could lead to the flu, runny or stuffy noses, body aches and fevers.
We often combat Wind invasions by wearing our hat and sweaters but what happens if that doesn’t work? What if you catch a cold and it progressively worsens?
Chinese Dietary Therapy
Food can help prevent and treat most wind invasions. Wind is considered a pathogenic source which enters at the level of the head and face and if not expelled quickly may move deeper into the throat and chest. There are two types of wind pathogens, Wind-Cold and Wind-Heat. Most colds start off as a Wind-Cold invasion and may progress into wind-heat. We want to protect and nourish the Wei Qi or Defensive qi of the body through diet, herbs and exercise. Our bodies are made of Yin and Yang energies. When these energies are balanced we are healthy. Exterior pathogens can create an imbalance of our qi. The nature of food is also yin or yang. Therefore we can use food medicinally to balance our qi. First let’s examine the signs & symptoms of two common exterior conditions and then we will explore dietary prevention and treatment options.
Compare the following two lists of symptoms. You should have most of the symptoms in one category before applying a dietary change. If you have conflicting symptoms, ask your acupuncturist for clarification. Don’t forget that acupuncture is effective to kick a cold or flu!
Wind-Cold Symptoms: Headache, runny nose with clear discharge, neck and shoulder aches, aversion to cold, a white tongue coating.
Special Dietary Consideration: If you are suffering from a Wind-Cold Invasion it is best to stick with foods whose qi qualities are warming, neutral and hot foods.
Sore throat, headache, cough, fever or elevated body temperature, body aches, little or no sweat, runny or stuffy nose with yellow discharge, a red tongue body w/ yellow coating. If the heat is very deep it may cause nausea or vomiting, depressed appetite, abdominal distention, chills and fever, heavy sweating, irritability, strong thirst.
Special Dietary Consideration: If you are suffering from a Wind-Heat Invasion it is best to stick with foods whose qi quality is neutral and cooling (try to avoid too many cold foods because they can damage your qi).
Basic Dietary Considerations for Wind-Cold and Wind-Heat Invasions:
While ill, it is best to eat light, easy to digest foods like soups, veggies, rice and rice noodles. Avoid eating lots of cold foods like salads, cold sandwiches, chilled drinks, ice pops, and soy ice cream. Also avoid foods that may cause Dampness in the body. Dampness is heavy in nature, obstructs Defensive qi and contributes to phlegm production. Therefore, stay away from foods that are damp in nature such as dairy products, fried foods, greasy foods, foods high in fat and alcohol. (Stir fry is usually OK as long you cook with a small amount of oil). Raw foods also contribute to cold and dampness. Salads, fruits and fruit juices should be taken in moderation or are to be completely avoided. Be aware that most chickens and meat contain antibiotics. It is best to eat organic chickens and meats because they are not fed antibiotics. The more antibiotics we consume the faster our body becomes immune to them. Antibiotics are also seen as a cause of dampness and cold in the body and when overused can cause qi imbalances which may manifest as fatigue, a susceptibility to more bacterial infections, yeast infections and more.
Prevention and Treatment of Wind-Cold Invasion:
Generally, I recommended foods to promote perspiration which forces out the wind toxin such as: ginger, scallion, chilies, coriander, cabbage. Avoid vinegar because it contracts the pores.
Teas – In prevention and treatment of a simple Wind-Cold headache try Green tea mixed with Peppermint tea. Fresh Ginger tea with a bit of brown sugar is good when you have the other symptoms as well.
Breakfast Food Example – Hot oats with local, raw honey (or pure maple syrup) and powdered cinnamon. Oats are warm and easy to digest, honey is sweet, nourishes body fluids and cinnamon is warm, pungent and unblocks channels for the upper body aches.
Soups – Miso Soup with Scallions – The fermented miso (soy paste) is sweet, salty and neutral. It strengthens the Stomach qi and detoxifies which will help dispel wind-cold and the scallions are warming and pungent which promotes sweating to relieve the exterior wind-cold invasion.Simply bring 2-3 cups of filtered or spring water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of miso paste, let dissolve. Cook for 10 minutes on low flame. Taste. If the flavor is too strong, add some water, vegetable or chicken broth. Chop the scallions and sprinkle about a teaspoon on top of your miso soup in the bowl. Avoid adding seaweed to this recipe, it is cold in nature.
3 Leeks thinly slice
2-3 Tablespoons Olive oil
6-8 cups filtered or spring water
1 whole organic, antibiotic free chicken or chicken parts
2 cups rice or rice noodles
Veggies for Wind-Cold or Heat as listed below
½-1 teaspoon per serving of freshly grated ginger
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
Take 3 thin leeks, wash. Thinly slice the whites. Add 2-3 tablespoons of Olive oil to the bottom of a stock pot and turn flame on medium. When oil is warm, stir in leeks until they are lightly covered with oil. Lower flame and cover the pot to let leeks “sweat” for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add in the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add 6-8 cups of water to the leeks. Add one washed organic chicken or 1 pound of organic chicken parts with bones. Place in stock pot. Cover with water. Boil for one hour. Cook 2 cups of unpolished white rice (20 minutes) or jasmine rice (10 minutes). Prepare freshly grated ginger, about 1 tablespoon. Turn down heat to let the water and fat settle. Scoop out or strain fat. Remove chicken from stock. You may prepare and add any of these warming veggies: squash, green bean, sweet potato, kale. Add veggies to a simmering stock for 10-15 minutes (or longer if using sweet potatoes). While the veggies are cooking, chop the chicken into spoon size pieces and add to the stock. After all the chicken is back in the stockpot, turn off the flame. Place rice and a ½ -1 teaspoon of grated ginger and desired amount of rice into a bowl and ladle soup over it. You can add a cinnamon stick or a touch of grated cinnamon to each bowl as well. To induce more sweating or clear the sinuses you can add some hot chili sauce to your soup. This soup does take time to make. You may want to make those soup and freeze a few containers of it so that when you are ill and fatigued you can simply warm it up and eat it.
Garlic, cinnamon, ginger and raw, local honey all have antibiotic and anti-viral effects.
Prevention and Treatment of Wind-Heat: Generally avoid pungent tasting foods and foods that have a very warm or hot nature such as scallions, chilies, wine and keep your intake light. Ginger can also be used in this case but avoid dried ginger because it is too hot and may aggravate this condition. It is great to help stop cough and nausea but do not overuse because it is warming. If you have a Wind-Heat Invasion you should also see your practitioner of Oriental Medicine for herbs and other treatments.
Teas – Peppermint and/or Chrysanthemum tea with local, raw honey. These herbs dispel heat and the honey nourishes Yin body fluids that may become damaged by heat. Peppermint is also used for sinus congestion.
Breakfast Food Example – Warm tea and Amaranth flakes cereal with unsweetened almond milk. You may add almonds, walnuts and or honey to help stop coughing.
Soup – We are going to use the same basic chicken soup recipe as above except you will not use cinnamon or chiles, or those vegetables. Instead you can use cooling veggies: bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, corn, mushroom, spinach, swiss chard, turnip, zucchini, bamboo shoots, button mushroom, carrot, dandelion greens, potato.