Category Archives: Diet therapy

Natural PMS Cures: Part II


In my last post, I addressed the Top Ten Ways To Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally

Dr. Mark Hyman, also addresses some of the points I listed and why they affect our monthly cycles in his article in the Huffington Post titled, Eliminate Suffering From PMS in Five Simple Steps

Dr. Christiane Northrup also has some excellent tips accompanied by footnoted research articles to back up her claims on natural relief strategies for Premenstrual Syndrome

She also is a proponent of acupuncture for PMS relief and offers dietary recommendations for PMS which also relate to menstrual cramps and pelvic pain here

-m.

Top Ten Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally


Many women are confronted with several days leading up to the start of menses when they experience symptoms often grouped under the term: PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

Common experiences include: lower abdominal bloating and cramping, low back pain, anxiety, irritability, depression, poor memory, mental fog, joint and/or muscle pain, difficulty sleeping, sweet or salty cravings, fatigue, and acne.

While these experiences often subside at the onset of menses, or another physiological change in a woman’s body, such as pregnancy or menopause, its monthly recurring nature can create much havoc if left unchecked long-term. A more serious form of PMS is known as PMDD (Premsenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), which is a mood disorder that typically occurs in women 20-40 years old, who have at least one child, a history of post-partum depression or other mood disorder, and/or a family history of depression. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.cfm

So what can you do to kick this PMS monster out of your life for good? Adopting a lifestyle that gives you the optimal chance for overall health will reap rewards on your menstrual cycle and reproductive health as well.

Here is a list of top ten things you can do for yourself now to experience more healthy menstrual cycles. Please note that for the most noticeable effect, changes should be adopted at least a full 1-3 months ahead of your expected period. *As always, the recommendations given here is given as a general guideline only and not meant to replace the advice of your primary attending health care provider or physician.

Top Ten Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally:

1. Exercise those muscles! Strength train, cross-train and just stay active! Join a sports team or gym, run, stroller jog, swim, bike, rock climb, walk, surf, paddle, dance, or jump. Do yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Aim to get at least 30 minutes in a day. Ready, set, go!!

2. Eliminate the bad foods: got grease, salt, sugar, alcohol, or caffeine? An overconsumption of food in general and especially meats and dairy may contribute to poor health overall and disturb natural hormone function. In Chinese medicine we refer to these foods as ones which are heavy and damp in nature and therefore contribute to accumulation of ‘damp and phlegm’ in the body. This accumulation can lead to a whole range of problems such as PMS, poor reproductive health, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint pain and more. These are therefore foods that are not wanted on the voyage!

3. Stick to the good foods: a more vegetable-rich diet with fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and pulses provides you with the necessary fuel you need to get through your day. Healthy fats such as organic avocadoes and fish oils are also good to incorporate into your diet. When choosing your food sources, make sure to select those from local, organic, wild sources and free of GMOs, pesticides, and additives when possible.

4. Drink more water: 6-8 glasses of water a day is essential for proper hydration. The next time you feel like reaching for a snack, consider drinking a glass of water first. Make sure to wait at least 15 minutes before consuming food so that your liquids and solids get digested more readily. Consider the type of water you drink on a regular basis as well. Is it filtered, fresh, and at room temperature?

5. Reduce Stress: regular physical activity, massage, acupuncture, a work load that is contained (doesn’t creep into what should be your off work hours) and manageable are key to reducing your stress levels. Try to get out for at least one night of fun. Do something that makes you happy everyday. If there are additional burdens placed on you through family and friends, consider delegating tasks and just saying “no” to things that are not high priority. Consider counselling or other professional medical and social support if necessary.

6. Get better quality sleep: 6-8 hours of sleep that is uninterrupted and makes you feel refreshed upon waking is best. For those whose sleep is compromised because of work or family, try to get in a power nap of 20-30 minutes in the late morning or early afternoon. Avoid exposure to overactivity or overstimulation before bed to help promote better quality sleep.

7. Socialize with your close friends and family members: those that know you best can also help you through the more trying periods. As well, surrounding yourself with those you love makes you feel supported and happy.

8. Avoid activities that elevate your anxiety or stress levels: is there someone or something that you’d rather not associate with on a regular basis? Cut them out!

9. Meditate: whether through long walks in nature, connecting to your spiritual side, doing regular yoga or qigong exercises, or focusing on your abdominal breathing, meditation can provide you with the necessary tools to see your surroundings from a fresh new perspective and ultimately one that attracts the type of life you want.

10. Live in the moment: each day presents its own unique set of experiences. Try to engage your mind only in what comes most naturally to you at each moment. You can remind your self to do this by focusing on your breath using abdominal breathing (the way you we are meant to breathe!) Breathe in through your abdomen (when lying down you will notice this by pushing your abdomen up towards the sky), open your nostrils and allow your chest walls to expand more fully when taking in the air you breathe. Then slowly release this breath out though your mouth while your abdomen retracts and sinks towards the ground. Focusing on past or future circumstances is nonproductive, creates unnecessary stress and anxiety and can block your natural reasoning abilities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, all dis-ease can be attributed to the blockage of qi in the body. To return the body to its natural state requires that we support and nourish the body where necessary, but also unblock areas to provide for the free flow of qi. In general terms, this means that your body has the ability to function well if all physiological processes (passages of qi”) are not blocked. Proper diet, exercise and mental activity play a huge role in regulating these processes.

-m.

Rice Congee for Healthy Labour And Delivery


Here is a common recipe used to prepare rice congee with other healthy ingredients to promote a normal and efficient delivery. It can also help to encourage labor that is prolonged or delayed.

Sweet Potato Congee (Yu Tou Zhou)

Ingredients:
Sweet Potato (You Tou) – 250g
Polished Rice* (Da Mi) – 50g (Please note: polished rice is gluten-free!)
Salt (Yan) – small amount, according to preference

Directions:
Remove skin of sweet potato, wash rice, and combine these two ingredients using a ratio of 6 parts of water with 1 part rice (e.g. 600g water: 100g rice, change amounts but keep ratio if you desire more or less). Once rice has been cooked into porridge, add a touch of salt or tamari/soy sauce for flavor.

Note: Congee can also be prepared in a crock pot or slow cooker. Simply add all prepared ingredients into the pot, put on low setting, and allow it to simmer overnight for approximately 6-8 hours. In the morning, presto! Your breakfast is ready and waiting to be served with any additional seasoning (e.g. a pinch of soy sauce/salt).

(Flaws, Bob. The Book of Jook. Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO, 1995)

For more information on acupuncture for delivery and postpartum please visit my practice site at: http://www.acupao.com

Rice Congee for Colds and Flu (Gan Mao)


Here is a common recipe used to prepare rice congee with other healthy ingredients to treat symptoms relating to the common cold and flu, by helping to release heat through the discharge of sweat.

Ingredients:

Scallions – 5 whole ones

Fresh Ginger – approx. 15g,

Glutinous/Sticky White Rice* -100g ( Please note: glutinous rice is gluten-free!)

Directions:

Boil 6 parts of water with 1 part rice (e.g. 600g water: 100g rice, change amounts but keep ratio if you desire more or less). Once rice has been cooked into porridge, mash scallions and ginger into a pulp, add to congee and simmer.

Note: Congee can also be prepared in a crock pot or clow cooker. Simply add all prepared ingredients into the pot, put on low setting, and allow it to simmer overnight for approximately 6-8 hours. In the morning, presto! Your breakfast is ready and waiting to be served with any additional seasoning (e.g. a pinch of soy sauce/salt).

(Flaws, Bob. The Book of Jook. Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO, 1995).

Rice Congee to the Rescue


What is rice congee, you ask? Also known as Shi Fan (water rice), in mandarin, rice congee is a porridge that is typically eaten in the morning but can be taken throughout the day in replacement to other meals. It is especially useful to prepare for babies starting solids, the elderly, those recovering from a brief illness, delivery or surgery, and/or those with a long-term illness or weak constitution.

Rice congee also has a practical relevance for all of us. It is of particular importance for those that wish to focus on proper eating for overall health and longevity, using a Qing Dan diet. Qing refers to clear, pure, light. Dan refers to those foods which are considered more bland and have less flavor.

Examples of a Qing Dan diet include, grains, legumes (beans and bean products), vegetables and fruits. Animal protein, fats, and oil such as meat, eggs, milk and fish are kept to a minimum (e.g. if eaten, they are taken in small quantities and not eaten every day as they tend to produce “heaviness and dampness” in the body long-term, which in turn can lead to unhealthy accumulations and growths in the body if not properly cleared).  A Dan diet also uses much less spicy, flavorful and fermented foods, such as soy sauce, vinegar, salt and alcohol as these also produce heavier ‘turbid’ fluids and substance in the body which can cause or aggravate ‘dampness and heat’ conditions (e.g. skin rashes/mouth or throat irritations, nasal congestion, heat in any of the orifices, including urinary tract infections or IBS, and/or diarrhea symptoms, and more).

Interestingly, the Qing Dan diet corresponds quite well with the “Eating Right Pyramid” in the United States (e.g. a healthy diet consisting of whole grains and complex carbohydrates at the bottom of the pyramid, followed by a smaller portion of vegetables and fruits above this, then an even smaller amount of animal protein and dairy products, and finally reserving the top part of the pyramid for very small amounts of sweeets, salts, fats, and oils). The Qing Dan diet is essentially the same as the Pritikin Diet  http://www.webmd.com/diet/pritikin-principle-what-it-is  and the Macrobiotic Diet http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/macrobiotic-diet.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, rice congee is used in dietary therapy since it not only boosts energy, but is easily digested (as it is prepared in the form of soup and therefore warmed to at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Since the water to rice ratio is typically at least 6:1 in preparing congee, the rice porridge helps to moisten fluids in the digestive system’s stomach and intestines which can deplete due to old age or chronic illness. Since it is water-based, it can replenish these fluids without producing further “dampness or phlegm” accumulations in the digestive tract.

Many quotes by famous doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine and even the Buddha, have been documented attributing excellent health to the consumption of rice congee. I leave you with one as food for thought:

“[Shi Fan] confers 10 things on those who eat it: life and beauty, ease and strength. It dispels hunger, thirst, and wind. It cleanses the bladder. It digests food. This food is praised by the Well-farer.” – Shakyamuni Buddha, Makavagga. Winanaya Pitaka (Book o the Discipline) trans. by I.B. Harner, London, 1951, Vol. IV, p. 302

(Flaws, Bob. The Book of Jook: A Healthy Alternative to a Typical Western Breakfast, Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO, 1995)