Tag: nutrition

Autumn Foods & Health: Beginning a Transformation into Yin

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

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Italian Parsley
  • Fennel
  • Jerusalem artichokes (a/k/a sunchokes)
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Shelling Beans
  • Turnips
  • Winter Squash


  • Apples
  • Concord grapes
  • Niagara grapes
  • Pears


  • Duck
  • Pheasant
  • Rabbit
  • Venison
  • Wild Turkey


  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Bluefish
  • Monkfish
  • Native Oysters
  • Pacific Salmon
  • Red Snapper
  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

By Michael Pingicer, L.Ac.


Call 646-504-2251 To Schedule

– – – – –

1 Wang, Bing & Wu, Nelson (trans.). The Yellow Empero’s Inner Classic. China Science & technology Press.
2 Flaws, Bob (1983). Prince Wen Hui’s Cook. Blue Poppy, Boulder, CO.
3 Wang, Bing & Wu, Nelson (trans.). The Yellow Empero’s Inner Classic. China Science & technology Press.
4 http://www.cenyc.org/site/pages/GMKT/harvestcalendar.pdf
5 http://www.eattheseasons.com/Archive/kale.htm
6 http://animalvegetablemiracle.com/EGGS%20IN%20A%20NEST.pdf

Food Remedies for Colds and Flus

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.

Grate fresh ginger into soup or boil 3 slices with water & lemon

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.

Wind-Heat Symptoms:
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.

Chicken Soup

  • 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.

Natural Remedies for Insomnia

Natural remedies for insomnia are a holistic approach for getting a great night’s rest.

Insomnia is a growing problem among people who struggle to fall asleep or who toss and turn throughout the night.

4 Types of Insomnia

Insomnia describes both the common symptoms of poor sleep quality or quantity. But has more recently been expanded to refer to a syndrome which has four basic types:

•Sleep onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep)
•Seep maintenance insomnia (frequent or long awakenings)
•Sleep offset insomnia (waking too early in the morning)
•Nonrestorative sleep (persistent drowsiness despite adequate sleep duration)

Types of insomnia or sleep disturbance are referred to as transient if symptoms last for no longer than one month and chronic if they persist longer than one month.

Balance in the Body

Regulating the balance between Qi and Xue as well as the equilibrium of Yin and Yang is a frequent way to approach sleep disorders. Unhealthy diet or stress, anxiety and otheremotions are believed to stagnate qi and damage the heart while affecting the spleen,gall bladder, liver and kidney energy to result in sleep disturbance and insomnia. A weak spleen and gall bladder are thought to prevent a patient from feeling refreshed upon waking. According to Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible the smooth flow of qi/energy and blood.

It’s energy is at it’s peak during the night, so weak or stagnated or excessive liver energy might result in a struggle to fall asleep.

Acupuncture is a Natural Remedy for Insomnia

Studies from the University of Pittsburgh seem to conclude that acupuncture may help with insomnia. Several weeks of acupuncture treatment can help to increase melatonin secretion in the evening which helps improve the total amount of time asleep.

Acupuncture can also help to relieve low back aches associated with sleep disturbance. Acupuncture can also aid nausea, dizziness and headaches which may result in better sleep and the feeling refreshment.

Learn more about Acupuncture for Sleep Disorders HERE.

Beebalm and other flowers float in a cup of herbal tea made with catnip, motherwort, beebalm, lavender, and lemon balm.

Herbal Medicine is A Natural Remedy for Insomnia

Multiple herbal formulas are reported to assist sleeping pattern. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners will select an appropriate herb blend based on a patient’s symptoms, constitution and medical history.

Chinese herbalists have a Master’s Degree in TCM herbalism.

Be sure to work with a competently trained herbalist and avoid medicating yourself without guidance of a qualified herbalist.

Some common herbs your herbalist might use include:
•Zao Ren (sour date seed)
•Bai Zi Ren (Arborvitae seed)
•Fu Shen (Poria Paradicis)
•Wu Wei Zi (Schizandra fruit)
•Wulinshen (herbal compound)

These herbs can be ingested as capsules, pills, tinctures, water extracts or teas. In The Classic Art of Tea, LuYu writes, “Tea tempers the spirit, harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens the thought and prevents drowsiness.”

MP900313729Nutritional Remedies for Insomnia

An old Chinese proverb advises, “he that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skills of the physician.” The Eastern viewpoint is that a balanced diet includes spicy, sour, bitter, sweet and salty foods and herbs that are chosen for their antibiotic properties. Different foods can contain any mixture of the five tastes plus the taste of bland.

The great principles which can be applied from this diet are primarily the ideas of holistic healing with whole foods. Whole foods can be used for repairing and revitalizing the organs and systems. Rather than a “miracle diet,” a holistic approach attempts to listen to the body.


Contributor bio:  Jessica Socheski is a freelance writer who loves finding ways to improve health naturally and is passionate about private medical care. You can connect with her through Google+.

What are the Best Gluten Free Cookbooks & Recipe Websites?

Dear Professor Juliette,

A patient of my acupuncture practice believes she’s gluten intolerant or possibly allergic and she’s noticed her son is feeling a lot better now that he’s not eating gluten either. They are looking for the best gluten-free cookbooks and recipe website info and resources and I knew you’d be the one to ask  🙂


Picara, NYC


Dear Picara,

How lovely of you to research gluten-free resources for your patient! Gluten-free diets may seem daunting at first, but in a short amount of time it becomes easier and more fun to cook. Gluten-free diets lead to much healthier, happier lives for scores of children and adults. I’ve witnessed amazing health transformations in many of my patients, in myself and in my own son thanks to a gluten-free diet such as; improved digestion, healthy and rapid weight loss, clearer and more focused thinking, elimination of daytime fatigue, blood sugar regulation, reduced or eliminated moodiness and stress levels, improved behavior in children, improved fertility, reduced or eliminated seasonal allergies/rhinitis, eczema, reduced asthma symptoms, reduced symptoms of other inflammatory diseases, and more.

It is important to note that not all gluten-free foods, gluten-free cookbooks, products or recipes are healthy just because they are labeled “gluten-free”. We eaters must remain aware of our food choices. There are so many gluten-free cookbooks and recipes websites out there that a quick Google search will turn up pages of results, so encourage your patient to do more research on her own. Below you will see a short list of some of my favorite resources.

Eat Well,

“Professor” Juliette

It is important to first learn the foods to avoid when eating a gluten-free diet.

The Celiac Disease Foundation website offers exhaustive resources listing foods, drinks, alcoholic beverages, and condiments to avoid.

Celiac.com also offers this list of foods to avoid along with other support materials.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network created this handy PDF “How to Read A Label for a Wheat Free Diet“. This handout is a start because wheat, along with other foods, contains gluten. This only contains instructions for wheat free diets, so there are plenty of other gluten products to watch for.

Gluten Free Cook Books (just to name a few)

Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back To Health

Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide- Expanded and Revised Edition

For special treats: BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery

Gluten Free Magazines 

Living Without

Delight Gluten Free Magazine

Gluten Free Websites



http://glutenfreegirl.com/  (and be sure to visit her Links page for more resources)

Food Allergy Support

Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies 

One Of The Gang: Nurturing the Souls of Children with Food Allergies

AllergyMoms Website

Kids With Food Allergies Foundation



Natural Support for Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease with Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Food, Vitamins and Self-Care

How Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Diet, Exercise and Supplements
Can Help Manage This Auto-Immune Disorder

Stay warm!

Hashimoto’s disease effects women eight times more often than men. Clinically, the thyroid is enlarged, accompanied by hypothyroidism. The typical medical treatment is lifelong administration of a thyroid hormone.

Patients diagnosed with Hashimoto’s complain that they are extremely fatigued, suffer from a cold body, many have chronic joint pain or inflammation; sometimes they even have numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Some present with allergies to food such as wheat or airborne allergens. In my practice, it seems the severity of complicating symptoms exacerbate with age.

How Can Chinese Medicine Help You?

Chinese Medicine treats the root cause of disharmony in your body. During the first visit with your practitioner, she will take an extensive health history and use techniques called Tongue Diagnosis and Pulse Diagnosis. She will connect all of the information she has gathered into a “pattern differentiation”.

Basically, what that means is she finds your unique pattern of energetic disharmony and treats that instead of administering one cookbook treatment for every patient with the same disease.

It is said in Chinese Medicine, “Same Disease, Different Treatment. Different Disease, Same Treatment”. In other words, your treatment is based upon specific Chinese medical methodology to create an individualized treatment plan for each patient. Chinese Medicine works so effectively because your practitioner acknowledges that you are not merely your disease.

So unlike western medicine which gives all Hashimoto’s patients the same treatment, practitioners of Chinese medicine will design a unique Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture treatment protocol especially for you.

How Many Treatments Will You Need?

Treatments for auto-immune disorders are ongoing. At first you may go to your practitioner every week for about 3 months. Then you and your practitioner will decide the best treatment plan for you.

Auto-immune disorders are chronic; therefore, acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapies can be used to support your health and energy throughout your life especially in times of stress.

I teach my patients the self care techniques listed below so that we can create a healing partnership and so they can take care of themselves on a daily basis.


Call Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs in NYC for an appointment: 646-504-2251

Not in NYC? Schedule a Skype Wellness Consultation: 646-504-2251


Self-Care Techniques and Home Remedies For Patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease:

  1. Diet Adjustments
    Eat cooked leafy greens, black beans, yellow squash, meat and meat broths for blood vacuity. Patients with blood vacuity are often cold, experience fatigue, have dry skin, hair and nails and possible scant menstruation, skipped, late or missed periods.

    Essential fatty acids reduce inflammation

    Therefore blood supplementation is important for Hashimoto’s patients. Eat almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and avocado for essential fatty acids which reduce joint inflammation and are shown to level out blood glucose levels. Avoid white refined flour and sugars. Eat whole grains and rice instead.  Special attention should be paid to your Spleen Qi. The Spleen produces qi, blood and body fluids essential to health.

  2. Supplements
    Take a complete whole foods based multi-vitamin daily and a Calcium- Magnesium blend the ratio of which should be two times the amount of Calcium to Magnesium. Choose the bio-avilable form of calcium; citrate or citrate/malate.  Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) found in fish oils especially Omega 3’s reduce joint inflammation. EFA’s can be found in flax seed oil, hemp seed oil and evening primrose oil, fatty fish oils, nuts, seeds and avocado. Vitamin D3 aids thyroid function. Selenium level are usually extremely low for patient with thyroid dysfunction yet it is important for thyroid health.   Join our e-mail list to gain access to 15% all supplements via our online ordering system, wellevate, every time you order.
  3. Exercise Regularly
    If you feel more energized after exercise keep it up, but if you feel drained try a different form of exercise which consume less energy like simply walking everyday. Exercise will help you feel warmer and reduces stress. Yoga, tai-chi and qi-gong build energy and help many people feel relaxed and centered. In the case of my 25 year old patient, she can work out several times a week, and feel energetic after. But when she stops her routine, fatigue worsens, and it is hard for her to get back into the routine because of the increased fatigue. So maintain a regular program even if that simply means you walk 20 minutes a day.
  4. Dress Warmly
  5. Reduce Stress
    Keep your immune system strong by managing stress. Stress creates over-thinking and worry depleting the Spleen qi. The Spleen transforms and transports food energy into qi, blood and body fluids necessary for balance. Anger, resentment, unfulfilled desires and emotional depression can further stagnate Liver Qi energy. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy for the whole body so it is important to keep it healthy. Expressing feelings in discussions and in writing can be very helpful. Avoid people who usurp your energy. Strengthen your support system of friends and family. Avoid overworking.
    Get enough sleep. Some people find that mediation or prayer is helpful or qi cultivation/relaxation exercises such as yoga, tai chi or qi gong. Seek professional care from a therapist or support group if needed. Make choices that nourish your spirit.
  6. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. TCM offers herbs which help to warm the body, reduce or eliminate pain, and increase energy.  Acupuncture treats pain, relaxes the mind and body and reduces stress.

Special Note: Women who take thyroid medication have a higher incidence of Osteoporosis. That is why it is very important for them to take a calcium supplement 500-1000 mg/daily along with a blend of co-factors that aid the absorption of calcium such as boron, K2, and Vitamin D3,  eat lots of leafy green veggies and participate in weight bearing exercise regularly. In Chinese medicine it is the Kidney qi energy that nourishes the bones and marrow. So by eating well and exercising, you can supplement the Kidney energy. You can also supplement the Kidney qi with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Call Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs in NYC for an appointment: 646-504-2251 Not in NYC? Schedule a Skype Wellness Consultation: 646-504-2251


Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615N
New York, NY 10003

I’m in a Committed Relationship with Food

I’d like get one fact straight right away. I love food! I love eating food. I love preparing food. I love trying new foods. I love smelling it, talking about it, reading about it and writing about it. And if it weren’t for the fact that I live in New York City, I would grow my own food. I love food so much that if I wasn’t so drawn to a healthful lifestyle and career I would have been a professional food critic well on my way to congestive heart failure.

In my private practice, Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs, every patient I see receives Chinese therapeutic dietary counseling and I, myself, have used dietary therapy for many years. It is with great pleasure I can reach people outside of my office about how to make simple dietary adjustments that will reap great therapeutic value.

Fortunately, Chinese Dietary Therapy usually requires simple, natural changes as opposed to the extreme or hard to follow diets popular in America. My articles will explain how to balance food choices based on Taoist balancing principles called Yin/Yang energetics as well as using common nutritional sense. In certain cases, a patient may need to abstain temporarily from eating a particular food, but balance and moderation are the ultimate keys to a healthful diet.

This article is about our relationships to food which might be physical, cultural, emotional and political. And I will briefly touch on some basic recommendations to begin your journey in healthful eating.

Physically, we need to eat regularly in order for our body to create the energy it needs to function. Since different people have different dietary requirements, some need to eat several small meals a day; others need three large meals a day. Some need a vegan or vegetarian diet to feel well while others have to eat meat. Some need large amounts of protein while others are better off with a higher carbohydrate intake. Cravings often indicate the body’s need for the increase of a vitamin or mineral. According to Chinese Medicine, cravings may also indicate energetic imbalance. I need to drink lots of room temperature water while many of my patients prefer cool drinks. What are your food cravings? When do you experience those cravings? Are they tied to PMS, work schedules, weekends, celebrations, etc.?

Culturally, many of us enjoy the foods we grew up with. Since my family is Italian-American, I love to eat pasta, cheeses and breads. I had to learn how to balance these foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle. From the Chinese medical perspective, eating cheese daily can become detrimental to the spleen qi. Overeating cheese and other dairy products can cause “dampness and phlegm accumulation” which, in some cases, lead to obesity and ovarian, uterine or breast fibroids. When I was twenty years old, I was diagnosed with ovarian cysts. After the diagnosis, I talked with a friend about curing them naturally. She turned me on to the book Food and Healing by Anne Marie Colbin.

I read that amazing book and decided to stop eating cheese, antibiotic/hormone fed meats and chocolate. I had been eating cheese daily because I used it as a major protein source as it was part of my cultural eating habits. I also ate chocolate everyday because, well, I like chocolate. After my change in diet, my cysts did disappear.  Do I eat cheese, chocolate and antibiotic/hormone fed meat now? Yes, but in moderation, and I only eat non- antibiotic/hormone fed meat when I dine out. For home cooking, I buy organic antibiotic/hormone free meats and cheese.

In an Italian-American family, celebrations and gatherings always involve an abundance of food and family interaction. My memories of celebrations and foods we ate elicit warm feelings. I remember the smells, the laughter, and the conversations in the kitchen while preparing food. To accommodate everyone at my grandmother’s house, we put several tables together which filled the dining room and living room. The table became crowded with family, enormous bowls of pasta, meats, jugs of red wine, my grandmother’s cookies, fruits, nuts and boisterous conversation. As a very young child, one of my uncles sat next to me. He would inevitably distract me from my big plate of pasta and meatballs by pointing his arm in the opposite direction of my food and exclaim “Juliette look over there”. When I turned my head, he stole my grandmother’s famous meatball right off my plate and shoved it in his mouth! I fell for it every time, and I laugh at that memory to this day. What are your cultural relationships to food?

Emotional relationships with food can be complex and may lead to acute stomach aches or chronic issues such as anorexia, bulimia, or ulcers. We have all heard the expression “comfort food”. Occasionally eating comfort food can soothe our spirit but not if we binge eat or overeat. Conversely, as a teenager when I became overly anxious or worried, I lost my appetite or felt nauseous after eating. Chinese medicine advises not eating when we are upset because we cannot properly digest and assimilate the foods we eat. Such emotions can cause various qi imbalances. For instance, eating while upset, angry or worried can lead to “rebellious qi syndrome” such as acid reflux, belching, nausea or vomiting. In the meantime, think about your relationships between food and emotions.

The politics of food are varied and deserve a book or series of books of its own. “To meat or not to meat?” is a big question for many people today. A vegetarian diet can be very healthy and therapeutic. Yet, Taoist balancing principles teach that eating some meat and meat broths is healthy and necessary. As I stated earlier, regardless of your choice, the key to a healthy diet is moderation, energetic and nutritional balance. For some people a vegetarian lifestyle is simply a health choice while for others it is an ethical choice. We know that the more meat we eat the more animals will be raised just to be killed for food and sadly, much of the food raised in the United States goes to waste. Many people believe that animals are imbued with spirit just like you and me. As a dog owner, I agree that animals have spirit. We all know that animals feel pain. I also believe that plants are imbued with spirit and feel pain. Like the killing of an animal, harvesting a plant may well “take” its spirit. Ancient practitioners of Chinese medicine (as well as Shamans from other ancient cultures) recognized that qi and yin-yang energetics are present in humans, plants and herbs, minerals and animals. Everything in existence is made of this qi.

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

So when we eat foods or take herbs, we use those materials that help balance our qi and thrive on this qi. For some people who are qi and blood deficient eating small amounts of animal products will significantly improve their health. The Native American culture reconciles the use of live organisms with prayer and replenishment. As each plant is harvested or animal is hunted, they thank it for providing nourishment to the community. They also give something back to the plant or animal spirit in thanks. When we hold these philosophies in our hearts and mind, we eat with the correct intention or, as the Buddhists would say, “right thinking”.

Not only should we consider “right thinking” within our food politics but “right action” as well. The more we consume McDonald’s food (and other “fast foods”), the more they will farm animals in the decimated rainforests continually harming the environment creating detriment to all existence. This means that eating meat products from these places (as well as spending money, even on fries or a cookie) fund the destruction. Check out the books Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and the movie Food Inc. for more dialogue on this topic.

There are many other politics of food which are not within the scope of this column, such as genetically modified foods, fair distribution of food, and teaching sustainable growing practices vs. food drops in poor countries. I urge you to self educate and create an active position on these and other topics.

I leave you with some basic recommendations for healthful eating:

  • The typical Asian diet consists mainly of grains, vegetables, tofu, tempeh and/or small amounts of meat or seafood for overall balance. Try eating smaller portions of meat. American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world; whereas, Asian men have an extremely low rate of prostate cancer. A study which followed Japanese men who moved to America and adopted an American diet showed that they had the same rate of prostate cancer as their American born counterparts. So, it seems that an Asian style balanced diet is advisable. By the way, Asian women also have an extremely low rate of breast cancer and rarely experience menopausal symptoms.
  • Enjoy your food. Try to avoid eating when you are upset, angry, sad or overly worried; it may cause stomach aches, indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, ulcers or other digestive disorders.
  • Chew your food well. The first step to digestion takes place in the mouth where secretion of the enzyme amylase begins the breakdown of food. By properly chewing food you will avoid taxing the stomach and spleen which would otherwise work much harder to break down the food. Chewing is especially important when eating carbohydrates and tofu.
  • Since tofu is not a whole protein, lacking amino acids and some vitamins, make sure to eat tofu with whole grains and vegetables. I recommended eating whole, unrefined grains and five servings of fresh organic vegetables daily. If you cannot get fresh organics, frozen are O.K.
  • Do not overcook your vegetables. Overcooking kills vitamins and minerals. Lightly steam your veggies instead. Chinese bamboo steamers work great!
  • If you eat meat, buy organic. This way you can avoid consuming synthetic hormones and antibiotics that non-organic farms feed to livestock to increase production. You will also avoid ingesting toxic chemicals such as sodium nitrite and MSG.
  • Integrate beans into the diet slowly to avoid digestive difficulty. Cooking beans with ginger helps remove gaseous properties. Latin cultures add white vinegar to beans for the same purpose.
  • Avoid processed foods such as most boxed, frozen meals and canned foods which are high in sodium, artificial colors flavors and preservatives and low in nutritional value.
  • Read the labels on everything even if you shop at a health food store. A general rule of thumb to avoid harmful chemicals and additives is – if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

Salute! (That’s Italian for “To Your Health!”)

Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615N
New York, NY 10003


Great Benefits from Green Tea

In my private practice, Aiyana Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs, in NYC I work with patients to resolve a wide variety of health conditions. I also make recommendations for lifestyle and dietary changes based on individuals’ concerns and wellness goals. One healthy and easy adjustment that benefits almost every health condition is drinking green tea daily. Green tea is one of the three main types of tea, along with Black and Oolong. All three come from the leaves of the camellia sinesis plant, but each type differs in the processing.



Green Tea for Beauty

Some say that beauty is only skin deep, but inner-body balance will always lead to a natural and radiant outer beauty that shines with health! Cosmetically, green tea can beautify the skin when taken both internally and applied topically to reduce puffiness. It evens out the complexion by reducing acne, smoothing the skin and tightening the pores.

Green Tea for Weight Loss

Also, green tea is an excellent part of an effective weight loss plan! Chinese Herbs and acupuncture for weight loss, along with green tea and other simple lifestyle changes, can be extremely instrumental in shedding those unwanted pounds.

A study from the December 1999 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition¹ shows that substances which are abundant in green tea extracts may promote weight loss. The study concluded, “green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se. The green tea extract may play a role in the control of body composition via sympathetic activation of thermogenesis, fat oxidation, or both.” Also, green tea may be useful as a glucose regulator, meaning it slows the rise in blood sugar following a meal. Green tea has also helped aid weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate, causing those who use it to experience greater calorie burn.

Green Tea for Serious Health Concerns

The Oriental Medicine newsletter published in the all of 2006 by Pacific College of Oriental Medicine has a terrific article on green tea and its multitude of health benefits. Highlights from the article are as follows:

Results from recent studies suggest that green tea may be useful for the following conditions:

Atherosclerosis – the antioxidant properties of green tea may help prevent atherosclerosis, particularly coronary artery disease.
High Cholesterol – green tea has demonstrated an ability to lower total cholesterol and raise HDL (“good” cholesterol) in both animals and people.
Cancer – research is showing that polyphenols in green tea help kill cancerous cells and stop progression.
Bladder Cancer – male bladder cancer patients in a study by the Saitama Cancer Research Institute who drank green tea had a substantially better five-year survival rate than those who did not.
Breast Cancer – polyphenols in green tea inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Studies have shown that women with early stages of the disease who drank at least five cups of tea every day before being diagnosed with cancer were less likely to suffer a relapse after completion of treatment.
Skin Cancer – scientific studies suggest that components in green tea have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties that may help prevent the onset and growth of skin tumors.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis can be helped by the anti-inflammatory agents in green tea. Also, if green tea proves to be helpful in preventing colon cancer, this would be an added benefit for patients suffering IBD, as they have a risk for colon cancer.
Diabetes – green tea has been used traditionally to control blood sugar in the body and help regulate glucose levels.
Liver Disease – green tea appears to protect the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances such as alcohol.

In addition to the illnesses mentioned above, green tea boasts the following benefits:

  1. preventing and hastening recovery from colds and flu
  2. aiding with the prevention and relief of type 2 diabetes
  3. blocking key receptors in producing allergic reactions
  4. aiding Parkinson’s disease sufferers
  5. slowing the HIV infection process
  6. maintaining healthy fluid balance
  7. relieving fatigue and stress
  8. boosting the immune function of skin cells
  9. relieving and preventing arthritis
  10. reducing the risk of stroke
  11. preventing osteoporosis
  12. reducing DNA damage in smokers
  13. delaying the signs of aging
  14. improving bone structure
  15. preventing dangerous blood-clotting
  16. boosting calorie-burning
Drink at least three cups per day of green tea–you’ll be taking the first step towards a healthier you!
By Jessica Silver, L.Ac. whose practices in New York City.


¹American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 6, 1040-1045, December 1999

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

New Year’s Diet Resolutions: How to Make Them and How to Keep Them

Throughout the holidays many people have over consumed rich, fatty, sugary foods more than they should have. To bring in the New Year, many people have resolved to go on another diet. New Year’s diet resolutions are easy to make, but not many people keep them. Are you one of those people?

Those extra holiday pounds added to the rest of the weight you want to lose makes dieting seem like an overwhelming task. Which diet will you chose: Atkins, Fit for Life, The Zone, Weight Watchers, Raw Foods, Juicing, Cabbage Soup?

It’s usually with an anguished moan that we declare we are going on a diet. But, weight loss doesn’t have to be a chore. We can make it much easier to lose weight and keep it off when we shift our perception about dieting. The most important shift is the realization that dieting doesn’t have to be about deprivation. You don’t have to live on bland salads, eating only soups or prepackaged diet plan meals, or go on controversial induction or crash diets to lose weight. Chinese Medicine (CM) advises quite the opposite. We advise balance, not deprivation, as the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body.

In fact, even Western nutritionists agree with the CM viewpoint. Dr. Dean Ornish, author of Eat More, Weigh Less comments on the unhealthiness of high protein diets, “You can lose weight from fen-phen, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.”

Katherine Tallmadge, nutritionist and author of Diet Simple, says, “I’ve found the biggest cause of overeating is under-eating. Most overeating is due to poor planning. It is amazing what a well stocked refrigerator full of delicious prepared foods does for preventing that stop to the fast food joint. Most of your cravings and uncontrolled overeating will be conquered when you feed your body what it needs regularly during the day and have the food at your fingertips when you need it. Studies show that you are most likely to eat whatever is in your environment. If you surround yourself with delicious, healthy, wholesome foods, that’s what you’ll end up eating.”

I can vouch for the wisdom of Katherine Tallmadge because I prepare several meals to have at my fingertips. Every Sunday, I teach a yoga class in the morning, then I go food shopping. I stop at the health food store, the grocery store and maybe even the local Italian market. Then I go home, put on really loud music that makes me move, sing and dance around the kitchen while I get cookin’. I cook several meals in large batches that last me the week offering myself a variety of foods and flavors. Then I freeze some servings and store servings in the refrigerator to eat over the next few days and take to my office. I plan the meals and shopping list ahead of time. Experimentation with new recipes from some of my favorite magazines like Food and Wine and Gourmet keep my discriminating palate satisfied. Believe it or not those magazines have many healthful recipes. I also find recipes in Vegetarian Times , Cook’s Illustrated,  and Eating Well, which also rates the degree of difficulty of the recipes as Easy, Moderate or Labor Intensive and gives you the caloric value, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, protein, fiber and sodium per serving.

What To Eat

Chinese medicine teaches us to eat whole cooked foods and avoid raw foods diets and juicing for every meal. Avoid overeating dairy products, many of which we westerners consider healthy diet foods like cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

The reason Chinese medicine does not advise eating raw foods and juices and dairy products is because they are classified as cold and damp. It is said in Chinese Medicine that “The Spleen hates cold, the Spleen hates dampness.” Cold and damp foods harm the Spleen qi. The Spleen is viewed as the vital organ for the digestion and assimilation of food. It’s job is to transform and transport food. It transforms the food into qi and transports the qi to other organs. When the other organs receive qi, they can properly perform their functions in preserving physiological balance and harmony. When organ systems do not receive enough qi it causes disharmony which can lead to disease. We also want to avoid fatty, greasy fried foods, and over consumption of alcohol, (anyone out there have a beer belly?), white flour products and sugar, all of which are classified as cold or damp foods.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Many of my patients skip breakfast and wait until late in the day to eat lunch or even miss it, blaming a busy day at work. Then when they finally eat they gorge on whatever is fastest. But what happens physiologically when we regularly deprive our bodies of food then finally binge? Our body goes into a state of emergency and thinks that it has to store the calories we ate for future use. So it stores these calories as fat, an efficient fuel because it is hard to burn. And what if we eat a quick sugary pick me up like a candy bar or Powerbar instead of a meal?

Sugar Facts

The American Heart Association’s Committee on Nutrition recently informed healthcare professionals that sugar consumption promotes obesity and raises triglycerides (blood fats). Sugar is a fuel that delivers calories with great efficiency, and any extra calories are converted into body fat for storage. Extra fat on the body usually produces extra fat in the blood along with added body weight (Eating Well, Fall 2002, p20). But if we eat regularly and avoid massive amounts of sugar consumption our bodies won’t need to store as much. The body will use or burn the most of the calories instead of storing them.

Sugar is hard to give up because we love and crave sweets. It is in so many products we want to eat, even in some brands of bread!

Our sugar cravings date back 2 million years when we would seek out sweet foods dense with energy, like ripe mangos hanging from the tree, berries clustered on the vine and honey seeping from the comb. Thousands of years later, in a land of overabundant processed foods and sedentary lifestyles, that primitive impulse works against easy weight control and healthy energy balance. (Eating Well Fall 2002, p19). Our sedentary lifestyle is one of the reasons why I advise my patients that they must combine an exercise program with the dietary change. There is just no getting away with evading exercise to lose and maintain weight loss.

Sugar addiction is a real and important issue. If you eat lots of sugar it is best to reduce your intake rather than go cold turkey. Sugar stimulates the brain to produce the opioid chemicals which in turn stimulates elevated dopamine levels. Elevated dopamine levels cause us to seek out more sweets, like a drug. This is same chemical process that a morphine or heroin addict’s brain experiences. Fortunately for sugar addicts it is not as hard to quit. Although I have a theory that it is harder for people who are in recovery from drugs or alcohol to quit sugar, it can still be done. Try to reduce your intake by half for a few weeks then by half again for a week then in half again (or lower).

When I decide to eat sweets I go all out to satisfy my craving by going to a local bakery, gourmet or specialty chocolate shop. This way instead of buying a whole pie or cake I can buy one slice, or just 2-3 chocolate raspberry truffles instead of a whole box of cheap chocolate from the drug store. The result is that I lower the potential sugar and caloric intake and the superior quality chocolate or baked delicacy substantially satisfies my craving more than low quality grocery store or quickie-mart junk food. So basically I don’t have to eat sweets as much or as often.

Be Kind

As you embark on a new way of eating, be kind to yourself if you slip into an old habit. Just acknowledge the awareness that you slipped and explore why. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead ask yourself questions like: Was it because I had no food in the house that I went to a fast food joint? How can I prepare my refrigerator to avoid fast food? Was I feeling emotionally vulnerable when I ate that entire box of cookies? What else can I do to feel better in the future?

Finally, I’d like to direct you my article, I’m in a Committed Relationship with Food, which offers many other important recommendations for dietary change.

Good luck, be well, and remember that moderation and balance are the keys to creating a sustainable, successful and healthful diet.


Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com

Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615 N
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

Call 646-504-2251 To Schedule

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Revive Exhausted Spleen Qi with Food & Diet

This article was originally printed in The Pulse of Oriental Medicine in 2002. It was been edited and revised in 2017.

Chicken soup.Before we discuss how to revive the Spleen with diet, it is important to understand the causes and effects of Spleen qi vacuity dampness. One function of the spleen is the assimilation of nutrients from food in the stomach to form qi, blood and body fluids. Therefore the spleen main function is its governance of transformation and transportation (referred to as T&T throughout this article) of grain and water into essence which is distributed to other organ systems in the form of Qi and Blood. Thus it is vital to keep the spleen healthy because it is the source for qi and blood production for your entire body.

An important saying in Chinese medicine states,

“The spleen hates cold and the spleen hates dampness.”

So we must do what we can to keep the spleen warm and free of dampness. Spleen vacuity occurs when the process of transformation and transportation malfunctions, thus causing dampness to gather and stagnate instead of transforming which further weakens T&T. Then a vicious cycle begins.

Since other organ systems depend on receiving qi and blood from the spleen, they will become weakened when a patient suffers from chronic or long term spleen qi vacuity.

Spleen qi may become vacuous due to one or a combination of the following factors:

  • Over work in general and/or working at a desk all day.

  • Fatigue

  • Too much worrying, stress, anxiety

  • Over-thinking and obsessive thought patterns

  • Unhealthy dietary habits

  • Lack of exercise

  • Childbirth, child rearing

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

For example, students who work in addition to going to school or college, need to find time to study and may, quite naturally, worry about exams. In other cases, some patients have fatiguing chronic illness like cancer and fibromyalgia. Dancers and actors worry or even obsess about their weight despite the fact that many of them are underweight. Over weight patients worry and obsess about their weight for health or aesthetic reasons and feel a ridiculous amount societal and self-induced pressure to lose weight.

Many of my patients (over weight or not) are mentally obsessed with their weight and thus are constantly over-thinking about counting calories and sticking to hard to follow diets with point systems, blocks, deprivation diets or set meal plans of foods they don’t even enjoy eating.

And no matter who the person is that is dieting, whether skinny or overweight, many feel guilt instead of pleasure when indulging in a food they like but which isn’t in the meal plan. This feeling of guilt fits into the worry category.

Patients who do not exercise do not invigorate the Yang warming aspect of the body’s qi. Chinese medicine asserts that too much sitting or lying down creates qi vacuity. So for those who work at a desk all day, Spleen qi damage is imminent.

Many people damage the spleen qi by eating too many cold foods. Cold foods are literally cold from refrigeration or frozen, like ice, are foods that are cold in nature (see the list below) and include cold beverages and salad and last nights left over cold pizza (yeah, we’ve all been there).

Other detriments include our society’s over eating of wheat as our main source of grain, and too much beer drinking. Both are cool and dampness producing. Not to mention our over consumption of dairy. Imagine all the Spleen qi vacuity amongst college students between all that studying, beer and pizza!

Elevate-your-plateDietary Therapy

The treatment principle for spleen qi vacuity dampness is to fortify the spleen and disinhibit the dampness.

Yang tonics will help to warm the spleen and to motivate the energy for the T&T cycle. They maintain and improve our ability to generate warmth and stimulate our system.

Yang tonics include:

Basil Fenugreek Seed Rosemary
Chestnut Chive Garlic Sage
Seed Cinnamon Dried Ginger Savoy
Bark Lamb Shrimp
Clove Lobster Star Anise Thyme
Dill Seed Nutmeg Walnut
Fennel Seed Pistachio Raspberry

Qi circulation is stimulated by the sweet and pungent flavors. The spleen likes the sweet taste and pungent flavors circulate the qi.  

Qi circulating foods include:

Basil Dill Seed Radish
Caraway Garlic Star Anise
Cardamon Jasmine Tea Tangerine Peel
Carrot Marjoram Turmeric
Cayenne Mustard Leaf
Chive Orange Peel
Clove Coriander Peppermint Tea

Cold conditions are improved by warming foods. In chronic cases, warm and sweet/pungent foods are used to warm us steadily. In acute cases of pathogenic invasion, warm or hot foods are combined with stronger pungent flavors to drive out the Cold.

Warming foods include:

Anchovy Garlic Quinoa
Basil Ginger Rosemary
Bay leaf Kohlrabi Scallion
Black Pepper Lamb Shrimp
Coconut Lee Spelt
Cayenne Mussel Squash
Cherry Mustard Leaf Sweet Potato
Chestnut Mutton Sweet Rice
Chicken Nutmeg Trout
Coriander Oats Turnip Vinegar
Dill Seed Onion Walnut
Fennel Seed Peach Wine

Dampness results from the body’s failure to transform fluids.
Dampness is treated by avoiding dampening foods, strengthening the body, including bitter foods and foods which counteract Dampness.

Foods to reduce dampness include:

Aduki Bean Alfalfa Green Tea Parsley
Anchovy Horseradish Papaya
Aramanath Jasmine Tea Pumpkin
Barley Kidney Beans Radish
Buckwheat Kohlrabi Rice Bran
Celery Lemon Rye
Corn Mackerel Scallion
Cranberry Marjoram Turnip Umeboshi Plum
Daikon Mushroom (button)
Eel Mustard Leaf
Garlic Onion

Some foods will exacerbate the tendency towards Dampness and need to be reduced by people with damp conditions. Avoid or significantly reduce consumption of these foods:

  • Dairy Products, especially dampening are reduced fat and low fat dairy, as well as  (sheep and goat products are less dampening)

  • Wheat and highly refined Gluten-free flours

  • Yeast

  • Beer

  • Bananas

  • Sugar and sweeteners

  • Greasy, fried and oily foods

  • Iced or cooled beverages

  • Uncooked raw vegetables and salads, juices

  • Antibiotics, while not a food, are very damaging to the Spleen qi and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

Phlegm refers to a condition of dampness where moisture is retained as Phlegm or Mucus.

Phlegm-resolving foods include:

Almond Marjoram Radish
Apple Peel Mushroom (button) Seaweed
Clam Mustard Leaf Shiitake Mushroom
Daikon Mustard Seed Shrimp
Garlic Olive Tea
Grapefruit Onion Thyme
Lemon Peel Orange Peel Walnut
Licorice Pear Watercress

woman buying fruits and vegetablesTake these recommendations to your kitchen and cook some delicious meals for yourself to be well and stay healthy.

Chinese dietary therapy is a necessary component to healing this qi disharmony. I urge my readers to continue to take the herbs and acupuncture treatments that your practitioner recommends and incorporate the above information about diet into your therapy.




Manage IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) with Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs & Diet

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the proper function of the large intestine. It is one of the most common disorders in America with no biomedical explanation or cure. But Chinese medicine is effective in eliminating or reducing the problem. The chief signs and symptoms of IBS are as follows1:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation or both

Other signs and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome that may or may not occur are as follows2:

  • Mucous in the stool
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Anal or rectal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying of the colon after a bowel movement.

These signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and can really put a damper on a person’s day as the symptoms can sometimes last for an extended period of time resulting in a canceling of activities for a day spent near the toilet. This disorder really reduces the quality of one’s life.

Do you suffer from IBS? Give a call to schedule an appointment 646-504-2251
Call 646-504-2251 To Schedule

IBS affects 1 in 5 (20%) Americans, it occurs more often in women than in men, and it begins before the age of 35 in about 50 percent of people.3 As was stated above, there is no known biological cause for irritable bowel syndrome which is why it is characterized as a disorder and not a disease. It is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that an IBS diagnosis is made after ruling out all other possible diseases that could be causing the signs and symptoms of IBS. It is necessary to perform tests in order to make sure a serious disease is not presents, and diagnosing can be a long and aggravating process.

What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Two of the most common triggers of IBS are food and stress. This is frustrating because the foods and stress that trigger IBS can be different for each person. For one person, coffee causes IBS; for another, grapes are the culprit. Finding the right IBS diet for you is very important for your healing. One person can manage stress at work

Stress reduction can reduce or eliminate symptoms but not at home and vice versa. IBS could possibly stem from these two triggers when considered in conjunction with the decline in food quality and rise in stress in America. TCM teaches that worry, stress, and poor diet are all related factors that can contribute to bowel disorders, and this is just one of many examples of the mind-body connection. IBS can be a real struggle to deal with, but it doesn’t seem to cause inflammation or changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer. In many cases, one can control irritable bowel syndrome by managing one’s diet, lifestyle and stress.

but not at home and vice versa. IBS could possibly stem from these two triggers when considered in conjunction with the decline in food quality and rise in stress in America. TCM teaches that worry, stress, and poor diet are all related factors that can contribute to bowel disorders, and this is just one of many examples of the mind-body connection. IBS can be a real struggle to deal with, but it doesn’t seem to cause inflammation or changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer. In many cases, one can control irritable bowel syndrome by managing one’s diet, lifestyle and stress4.

Are you experiencing IBS symptoms?
We can help.
Call 646-504-2251 for an appointment.

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) Explanation of the Cause of IBS
The cause of IBS can be explained using TCM theory, and the pattern of IBS primarily involves disharmony between the liver and the spleen. TCM offers many natural remedies for IBS sufferers.


In TCM, the spleen is responsible for the transformation and transportation of new qi and blood in the body that is derived from food taken in during each day. A healthy spleen means that one has no digestive issues at all:no heartburn, no gas, no bloating, no diarrhea, etc. If the spleen becomes depleted and weak from overwork, too much worry, stress, poor diet, etc., disease of the gastrointestinal type could result causing any of the signs and symptoms listed above.

Diet Changes for IBS patients with spleen qi vacuity

This is called spleen qi vacuity.

        • Diet Changes for IBS patients with spleen qi vacuity
      • Avoid in these foods:
Raw food can worsen symptoms
      • raw foods
      • fruit
      • tomato
      • tofu
      • milk
      • cheese
      • beer
      • ice cream
      • simple sugars
      • wheat and gluten


    • The liver is in charge of the free coursing or flow of qi in the body. The liver can become stagnant from stress, frustration, or emotional issues creating an inactivity of the body’s physical and mental functions, which go hand-in-hand in TCM. This disease could present with emotional problems such as depression or with physical ailments such as pain. This is called liver qi stagnation. Many patients notice an increase of IBS symptoms when they are under stress.
      • Some foods to avoid in liver qi stagnation:

      • fatty foods
      • excess coffee (1 cup is okay)
      • excess alcohol (1 drink is okay)
      • excess protein
      • junk food/processed foods
      • dairy
      • excess salads


    • The following is a statement of fact in TCM:

“Wood (liver) normally restrains earth (spleen), but if earth is weak, then wood overwhelms it rendering earth even weaker.”5

What does this statement exactly mean?

    The liver and spleen have a relationship that is interdependent; meaning when one is diseased, the other is usually affected. In health, the liver restrains the spleen meaning that it gives proper order to the spleen. It can be thought of as a foreman in charge of a bunch of contractors. If the contractors are healthy, the foreman will keep them ordered and on task, and the team will construct a beautiful building. In IBS, the liver that is normally in control becomes excessively so and overwhelms the spleen that is already weak and vacuous. This could be seen as a foreman who is angry and controlling. He would bully a bunch of already tired contractors into overworking and they would make mistakes. The resulting building will not be well put together and will have many problems along the way.

This dual-disease of liver qi stagnation and spleen qi vacuity draws a pretty distinct parallel between the triggers of food and stress in the biomedical diagnosis. Stress stagnates the liver, and poor diet can weaken the spleen. This is just one of many possible patterns of energetic disharmony associated with patients with IBS. Please consult with a practitioner of TCM who will diagnose your specific pattern and design a tailored treatment plan for you.

Suffer no longer!
Call 646-504-2251 to see how we can help with treating your IBS with acupuncture, diet and natural remedies.

Research Studies

Results of a pilot study on acupuncture’s effectiveness treating IBS showed a significant improvement both in general well-being and in symptoms of bloating.6 A study on Chinese herbal medicine shows that Chinese herbal formula offer improvement in symptoms for some patients with IBS. Compared with patients in the placebo group, patients in the active treatment groups (using Chinese herbal medicine) had significant improvement in bowel symptom scores and significant global improvement in overall symptoms as rated by patients and by gastroenterologists. Patients reported that treatment significantly reduced the degree of interference with life caused by IBS symptoms.7

What can acupuncture do for you?

Acupuncture is very effective in treating IBS. We will take a look at your diet to see if there are changes that can be made. Overall, the goal would be to reduce the daily, physical stress on the gut caused by bothersome foods such as beans, coffee, raw fruits and vegetables. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are natural remedies for IBS that can also help to move the stagnant liver qi and help you deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. We will also provide you with some meditative breathing exercises to perform daily to help with continual, daily stress reduction. Daily herbal medicine will aid in keeping the liver from overwhelming the spleen while simultaneously tonifying & strengthening the spleen to relieve the symptoms of IBS and help get your digestive system working properly.

Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac. Herbalist Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs 32 Union Square East, Suite 615 N New York, NY 10003 (646) 504.2251

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1 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/irritablebowelsyndrome.html
2 http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000246.htm#Symptoms
5Wiesman, N. & Ellis, A. (1996). Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine, revised edition. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications.
6Hepatogastroenterology. 1997 Sep-Oct;44(17):1328-30.
7The Journal of the American Medical Association. 1998;280(18):1551