Tag Archives: health

The Legend of the Sesame Seed and Immortality


 

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Black Sesame Seed / Hei Zhi Ma,  Image credit

The Legend of the Sesame Seed and Immortality

There is an ancient Chinese legend from the Qing dynasty that pays tribute to the importance of sesame seeds in one’s diet. It is said that during this time, a governor was sent to Yin Tai, a region in the North China Sea, now known as Japan. The Emperor had requested he find a “holy medication” that could give the Emperor immortality. It was thought that the combined energy of 3,000 young men and women who were “pure in spirit” was one source of producing everlasting life. The governor searched high and low through treacherous terrain in mountains and forests for this miraculous remedy that would ensure longevity. Finally after many years of searching, he returned with sesame seeds. His instruction to the Emperor was to take the sesame seeds and its oil everyday in order to be granted a longer life.

Sounds like a good idea to me!  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, black sesame seeds and their oils can be used medicinally to treat a wide variety of symptoms often associated with Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency including constipation, alopecia (hair loss), premature graying of hair, tinnitus (ear ringing), dry skin, chronic low back and knee pain, as well as menstrual health and infertility. It can also be used to help women with insufficient lactation produce more breastmilk. Here’s one way you can gain the health benefits of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Black Sesame Pudding Recipe

160 grams – toasted black sesame seeds

4 tbsps – white glutinous rice

8 cups – distilled water

400 g – raw honey, or other natural sweetener of your choice

Directions:

Wash glutinous rice and allow to soak for two hours. Combine toasted sesame seeds and glutinous rice with 2 cups of water, and blend in food processor until the texture is creamy and smooth. Transfer mixture to a sauce pan and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil at medium heat. Stir regularly to keep consistency smooth. (Story and recipe adapted from Dan-On Foods and Dan-D Foods )

Want to know more about the many benefits of Black Sesame Seeds?

“Taking black sesame seeds can heal all the chronic illness after 100 days, improve skin tone on body and face after 1 year, reverse gray hair after 2 years, and regrow teeth after 3 years.” says the Compendium of Materia Medica, the largest and most comprehensive medical writings in the history of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This herb is also known as Semen Sesami Nigrum and Hei Zhi Ma and related experiments show that the content of vitamin E contained in this herb is the highest in all foods of plant origin. It is well known that vitamin E can promote cell division and delay cell senescence. Long-term use can counteract or neutralize the accumulation of cell senescence substance of “radicals” and then delay aging and extend life expectancy.” -from Chinese Herbs Healing

 

Singing Our Way Through the Day


Hands up if you like to sing throughout the day (e.g. in the shower, in your car during your commute to or from work, school, etc.) If not, here let me get you started – Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ has been playing on our XM radio 80’s station quite a bit lately and J, R, and I enjoy boppin’ to the beat of the tune in our car:

“Material Girl” – Madonna

Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me
I think they’re O.K.
If they don’t give me proper credit
I just walk away
They can beg and they can plead
But they can’t see the light, that’s right
‘Cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always Mister Right, ’cause we are
[Chorus:]
Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl…[continued]

Note: the lyrics leave much to be desired so feel free to pop another tune in your head!

Great!! And do you also have a song or rhyme for a special part of each day? Well, it seems one of my daughters has recently decided to make this a daily practice for our family. Not only will she insist on rhyming everyone’s names (e.g. Alex Balex, Rosie Posie, Silly Lily) but she delights in listening to all sorts of rhymes throughout the day that we manage to create (I will spare you these particular rhymes as they are probably only funny to us, potentially embarassing, and therefore best kept in the family).

I have to admit, singing and rhyming more regularly has been a pretty fun experience for us all. When J and R were just a toddler and infant respectively, I did come up with a few of my own made up rhymes or short songs just to giggle our way though transitions such as a diaper change, meal, bath, or attempt to get out the door. On days where I was less light-hearted and didn’t, things always seemed to be that much more challenging and my patience with the children would be lost that much faster. In fact, this is still the case even now!

At the end of the day, the girls will often request that I say a special verse, song and/or prayer (especially just after turning the lights out). A favourite verse is Star Light, Star Bright ever since we put up some glow in the dark stars just above their beds.

Star light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.

Comet Lovejoy

Photo credit courtesy of Jia Hao, TWAN

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/05/pictures/120515-best-earth-sky-pictures-2012-comet-milky-way-space/

For the different seasons and weather there are some great rhymes as well. We have a lovely resident robin who visits our front lawn each day and sings ever so sweetly at just a bit before 5am. This is naturally a time when most of the family should still be asleep, but I may or may not be (depending on how the pregnancy insomnia is going that night or on which kid decides to pile into our bed before sunrise).

Photo courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Turdus-migratorius-002.jpg

So in honour of our friendly, little Robin (and courtesy of J’s wonderful teacher who reminded us of this song in her song and poetry reading book), here’s what we’ve been singing lately:

Robin in the rain,
Such a saucy fellow.
Robin in the rain,
Mind your socks of yellow.
Running in the garden on your nimble feet,
Digging for your dinner with your long strong beak.

Robin in the rain,
You don’t mind the weather
Showers always make you gay.
Bet the worms are wishing you would stay at home,
Robin on a rainy day — don’t get your feet wet,
Robin on a rainy day!

Lyrics can be found here as well: http://www.grandparents.com/gp/content/activitiesandevents/sing-alongs/article/robin-in-the-rain.html#ixzz20CANeDUz

What about songs inspired by what you do or see that day? On an expedition to the local bank machine the other day, we came across a bunch of cyclists riding bicycles built for two, which of course brought the following song Daisy Bell by Henry Dacre in 1892 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisy_Bell) to mind:

Photo courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daisybell.jpg

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage —
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’d look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.
-Henry Dacre, 1892

Singing and rhyming with your children throughout the day may not only provide you with laughter and enjoyment, but may actually improve your health and well-being according to this article by Alice Wignall:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/26/healthandwellbeing.fitness

Singing can also increase your children’s language development, academic performance and emotional well being. According to an article by Amelia Hill published in the Guardian (May 08, 2011):

Singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before they learn to speak, is “an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional wellbeing”, argues Blythe in a book. “Song is a special type of speech. Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the ‘signature’ melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child’s ear, voice and brain for language.” Blythe says in her book, The Genius of Natural Childhood, to be published by Hawthorn Press, that traditional songs aid a child’s ability to think in words. She also claims that listening to, and singing along with rhymes and songs uses and develops both sides of the brain. “Neuro-imaging has shown that music involves more than just centralised hotspots in the brain, occupying large swathes on both sides,” she said.

For the full article click here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/08/singing-children-development-language-skills?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

Here’s to more sing-song, and carrying on thoughout your day today!

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)

Qi Gong


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What is Qigong and what can it do?

Qigong is a meditative exercise (which Tai Chi has its roots in) that can nourish and build Qi (energy and blood circulation), increase balance, decrease cortisol production, and increase strength.

For more info, Daisy Lee of Radiant Lotus Qigong has a great introduction to Qigong on YouTube that you can watch:

Daisy Lee Talks About the Gifts of Qigong at World Tai Chi and Qigong Day – Dallas 2009

http://youtu.be/dtUHbZFu-BI

For more info, please visit her site at: http://www.radiantlotusqigong.com/