Chinese Herbalism: Goji Berries

Goji berries have been used for 6,000 years in Chinese herbalism to protect the liver, help eyesight, boost immune function, improve circulation, and promote longevity. Goji berries, also known as Lycium barbarum, wolfberry, gou qi zi, and Fructus lycii is a sweettasting, neutral property herb that goes to the Liver and Kidney meridians. They are usually sold dried, but are sometimes found fresh at Oriental markets, and look like red raisins.

Goji berries have been eaten in Asia for ages to promote longevity and currently are used to help treat diabetes, women’s health, high blood pressure, and age-related eye problems. Goji berries can be eaten raw or cooked and are becoming more prevalent in juices, herbal teas, and medicines. Since they have short shelf life it is a good idea to store them in a cool place or even in the refrigerator.

What are the health benefits of goji berries?

Goji berries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene, B1 and B2, and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin’s key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. In fact, increased intake of foods containing zeathanthin may decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).[1]

Some studies using goji berry juice found benefits in mental well-being and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, quality of sleep, and feelings of good health. Significant animal research has demonstrated anticancer, anti-diabetes, anti-hypertensive, anti-infertility, anti-myelosuppressive, antioxidant, hypolipidemic, immune-stimulating, and radiosensitizing properties.[2]

Goji berries are a member of the nightshade family, so if you are sensitive to nightshades, it may be a good idea to avoid or limit your intake of goji berries.

Goji Berry Congee Recipe

Traditionally known as “rice water”, congee is eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. It is a thin porridge, usually made from rice, although other grains may be used. [3]

1 cup rice, millet, or quinoa
6 cups water
1/4 cup goji berries
1 pear, cut in half (optional)
2-3 dates (optional)

Cook in a covered pot four to six hours on warm, or use the lowest flame possible; a crockpot works well for congees and can run on low overnight. It is better to use too much water than too little, and it is said that the longer congee cooks, the more “powerful” it becomes.

Five more ways to eat Goji Berries

  1. Put them in your cold cereal or oatmeal like raisins.
  2. Make a cold or hot tea infusion.
  3. Bake them in cookies or muffins
  4. Combine them with your favorite nuts and dried fruit in a trail mix.
  5. Cover them in chocolate!

Heaven Mountain Goji Berries! The Best!

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Dry Needling

CONSUMER HEALTH ALERT!    THE TRUTH ON DRY NEEDLING:

Physical Therapists (P.T.) are practicing “Dry Needling”                                           Dry Needling IS Acupuncture!

The definition and issue of “Dry Needling” is complicated and completely depends on who you ask. If you ask a Physical Therapist who advertises Dry Needling (D.N.) they will claim that is is NOT acupuncture. They will claim that D.N. is a practice where needles (acupuncture needles) are inserted in the body at myofascial “trigger points” to help reduce pain. This difference is made ONLY to allow a legal loophole in order to avoid prosecution by practicing acupuncture without a license. They lure patients in with the promise that it is covered under their insurance. They then falsely bill insurance as a “manual therapy”.

THE TRUTH: Several organizations, including the world Health Organization, The American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), have all determined that DRY NEEDLING IS THE PRACTICE OF ACUPUNCTURE. The argument that “D.N. is the use of needles at trigger points and as such is not acupuncture” is a ludicrous and invalid statement. In the practice of acupuncture, acupuncturists will utilize “ashi” points, (which is roughly translated as “tender points”). These points correspond to the “trigger points” that physical therapists claim to have exclusive rights to. This has been done since the beginning of acupuncture 4000 years ago and is the primary way I perform acupuncture. Following this argument, virtually ALL ACUPUNCTURISTS fully trained in TCM also do “dry needling”, but with vastly higher levels of raining, expertise, and understanding in the use of needles and how it affects the Qi of the body and the safety of the patient.

THE RISK OF DRY NEEDLING

Many states in the U.S. have recognized the risk and have banned P.T. from doing this to their patients. Unfortunately, Arizona still allows them to try this on their patients. P.T.’s are putting both the patients and the practice of acupuncture at risk in 2 ways: Lack of Training: Insufficient training and education poses a health risk to the public. P.T.’s may only have 24 – 48 hours of actual training in dry needling.  A licensed acupuncturist is required to have over 2800 hours of training, pass a Clean Needle Certification, a National Certification for Acupuncture, and be state licensed to perform needling.  The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) state potential dangers that may result when acupuncture (dry needling) is practiced without the proper training or education: collapsed lung; punctured organs; miscarriage; extreme pain; adverse effects. Misrepresentation: with their lack of training and education, the care given by P.T. during D.N. is considered sub-standard. Unsatisfied patients will often believe acupuncture does not work without knowledge of their (P.T.) lack of training.

Untrained persons are practicing acupuncture without licensure in Arizona. If you know about the unauthorized practice of acupuncture or know someone who has been injured by dry needling, file a complaint with the Arizona Board of Acupuncture.  The Coalition of Arizona Acupuncture Safety (CAAS) has been formed to protect the public safety and economic health resources by calling for proper education, training and licensing levels in order for P.T.’s to be allowed to perform any type of acupuncture, including dry needling, on their patients.  www.azacupuncturesafety.org

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Chinese Herbal Medicine Instructions

Your Practitioner is licensed to prescribe Chinese Herbs and holds a Diplomat in Chinese Herbology (Dipl. C.H.) from the National certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) since 2003. You are being prescribed a Chinese Herbal Medication in order to assist with your acute or chronic problems. It is hoped that your condition will improve more rapidly, and reduce your pain and symptomology with the addition of the herbs. If you are not sure what they are for, please ask.

Chinese Herbal formulas are based on a pattern diagnosis, are customized for each individual, and may change according to your presenting symptoms, tongue, and pulse. Please take them as prescribed. Do not share them with other individuals. Do not take your herbs at the same time with other western medications…you may take them 2 hours apart from any other medication. Please notify your practitioner what medications you are taking prior to receiving any herbal medicine. Please avoid taking them with green tea, sugar, or honey. It is best to take them on an empty stomach unless instructed otherwise. Because they are herbs, you may need to take several grams, pills, capsules, teaspoons, or cups per day. Please notify your practitioner if you have any ill effects or allergic reactions to the herbs.

Chinese herbal medicine treats the full range of human disease, both acute and chronic. It promotes the body’s ability to heal, balance, and recuperate, and is based on a syndrome of signs and symptoms, along with the individual’s bodily constitution, tongue, and pulse readings. There may be several different herbs in the formula which are carefully crafted to balance other herbs, temperatures, and tastes, in addition to addressing the main symptoms.

Most raw herbal teas tend to taste very bitter as they are made up mostly from roots and barks, where the strongest medicinal ingredients are found. The majority of herbs come from vegetable sources, however, some ingredients are from animal and mineral sources. Your practitioner makes every attempt to purchase herbs from reputable, safe, and responsible companies who have stringent production and safe manufacturing processes, in order to receive the highest quality products that are safe and effective for you.

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Acupuncture for Stress Reduction

Got STRESS??  Who doesn’t? Especially while driving in Tucson! :-)  Many patients ask me if acupuncture can be helpful for reducing stress or helping with anxiety. Yes, it can! Emotional stress and anxiety can seriously affect health, cause chronic inflammation leading to more chronic disease such as cancer, affect sleep, impair relationships, weaken the immune system, lead to heart disease, and reduce our ability to make simple decisions or problem solve. Acupuncture has been shown to be helpful for ameliorating stress by releasing endorphins and activating stress reducing hormones in the body. The needles create a natural relaxation response in the body, lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and reducing cortisol levels in the blood. Needling certain points in the body can activate the release of certain neurotransmitters such as beta-endorphins, serotonin, adrenocorticotropic (ACTH) hormone, met-encephalin, and Substance-P, which help to re-balance the  brain and induce a relaxation response. This, in turn, can relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, promote a sense of well-being, improve sleep,  improve self-confidence, allow for clearer thinking, and promote calmness and creativity. Acupuncture once or twice a week, along with practicing a daily regime of breathing and relaxation, can improve your life, reduce your stress and help with anxiety.

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Qigong: Healing yourself with Energy

Qigong is a medical and spiritual healing method used in China to improve health, strengthen the immune system, relieve pain and illness, and promote mental, physical , and spiritual balance. It is sometimes used by oneself, or emitted by another person, usually a Qigong master or healer. The benefit of doing Qigong yourself is that it is free, empowering, and effective!

The best way to learn how to heal yourself with Qigong is to learn from a knowlegable instructor who has experience in teaching others the correct methods. There are simple qigong exercises one can pick up from videos, but these often leave out important information, and of course, there is no feedback to correct malpositions or incorrect breathing. So I do recommend learning from a qualified instructor.

The positions in many popular sets are relatively easy to learn for anyone, and can be modified for your particular structure, age, or handicap, if any. Learning to breathe correctly and coordinate the breath with the movement are a bit challenging, but that is what Qigong is all about; practice! Learning to use the breath and the Yi, or intent, are key components to the practice of qigong. Once you learn how to relax in the movements and how to coordinate the breath with your movements, the Qi (vital energy) will flow accordingly and the healing process will begin. You will notice unique feelings and warmth, your energy and mood will improve, and your spirit and soul will soar! The more you practice, the better you will feel, and the illnesses or imbalances you once experienced will dissapate, replenishing balance and health to your being.

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Follow-up Appointments

I just want to mention how important it is to follow up on your appointments. Healing is a process, and I can’t stress enough how important frequency of treatment is, especially in the beginning. a rule of thumb: if your discomfort is greater than 5/10, you would benefit greater by coming in twice a week; if your discomfort is 8-10/10, three or four times/week is better. When your discomfort reaches an acceptable level, once weekly is fine, but be sure to continue treatment for a few weeks even AFTER you feel good, to keep the pain or discomfort away. Nothing is a quick fix, and most people have discomfort for months to years before they even get acupuncture. Your feedback is also important to me for my treatment to be effective. Blessings to you all!

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