Back in America, one month on

Weirs Beach, NH ~ Fall 2013

On September 24, 2013 I started my repatriation experience after 8 years of Asianliving (mostly in China). Before leaving China I was told numerous times by foreign, non-Chinese friends and colleagues that I would be back in 6 months… tops… and I told them all I wouldn’t just cave and go back any time soon.
So, how am I holding up…?

Well, after a month in NH and Boston I’ve had a lot of time to prepare for a new career and new living situation. It’s been GREAT seeing my family and helping them whenever possible. I would never take that back. But there have been times when I’ve really missed China. Continue reading Back in America, one month on

Healthy Living resolution in 2013

Welcome to 2013!

It’s been a wonderful holiday back in the US with family and friends. This is definitely the best time of the year because it not only brings loved ones together but it also gives us an opportunity to start fresh again. And in that respect, this new year is no different from previous ones… everyone wants to improve something about their health.

When I asked my family about their New Years resolution I kept hearing a variation of “getting healthy” and that got me thinking… Why not do something easy for your health everyday throughout 2013? Yes, I said everyday. Continue reading Healthy Living resolution in 2013

Getting Poked: A Chinese Way to Lose Weight

Acupuncture

Acupuncture, as with massage, is often misunderstood by the West. Although Traditional Chinese Medicine is gaining popularity, this procedure looks more like a painful circus act than anything truly healthful. With a little bit of belief, it actually serves many purposes for both repairing your body and staying healthy.

But even if you wanted to try acupuncture for whatever reason, where would you get it done? A flight to China isn’t exactly in the cards for most people… Here’s a map that might help you get started. Continue reading Getting Poked: A Chinese Way to Lose Weight

Medicinal Massage in China

~Pure Relaxation~

What is the first thing you think of when someone suggests getting a massage? For those who haven’t tried a genuine massage, it probably sounds dirty, but don’t let the negative press fool you. Massage is genuinely useful and even plays a substantial role in Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques. After a long week of work on my computer or dealing with university stress, I find that a professional body massage really helps. If you play sports regularly or receive an injury, a mix of acupuncture and light massage can bring your muscles back to their healthy state much faster[*]. People with poor circulation can get blood moving again with regular medicinal massage too. My mother often reminds me of the benefit her legs received in 2008, the last time she was in China.

Continue reading Medicinal Massage in China

Fire Cupping and Back Scraping Could Save Your Life!

Fire Cupping (bá guàn)

Back in 2005 I thought I was going to die… literally, it was the worst Flu I had ever experienced. Maybe it was from the new environment in China, or perhaps it was a random winter bug! No matter where it came from, it kept me in bed very achy muscles. I couldn’t get out of bed to visit the bathroom- it was that bad. I quickly decided that I would need help or else I’d be a goner. At the time I was dating a Vietnamese girl who was studying at the Southern Yangzte University of Wuxi, which is what I called home for the first month I was in China. After a distress call she immediately came to my apartment, flipped me face down, and started scraping my back with a washed coin. She poured White Flower Oil (白花油) all over my back during this process. It sucked. It burned. And I could be forgiven for thinking that she was helping the flu kill me even faster! Continue reading Fire Cupping and Back Scraping Could Save Your Life!

My Journey with Chinese Chiropractic (Part 1)

My problem area

Although holistic medicine is generally frowned upon in the US, I have grown up with a chiropractor since birth. Dr. Henry is one of the greatest male figures in my life and I make a point of it to see him every time I go back to the US. His practice is not mystics or voodoo; it’s purely anatomical brilliance.

With a painful, achy shoulder for nearly two months, I decided my problem was not just about sore muscles after some strenuous upper-body workouts. My sleeping was also effected because my posture caused continual pain in the same area. Whatever the reason, I felt it needed to be checked out by a chiropractor rather than a general practitioner.

When I finally got around to visiting the People’s Hospital of Zhuhai, I was prepared for anything. I had never seen a chiropractor in China before, but I was determined to experience it and make some comparisons. After all, Dr. Henry’s practice stems from Chinese medicine. Getting in line was easy; as usual, it only cost 4RMB ($0.70) to register. When I got into the doctor’s office I found a vacant stool next to his desk, which I decided was where visitors were expected to squat on. Actually, it kept my back quite straight during the consultation. After I described my condition, he walked around me and grabbed my neck bones with his left hand. His right hand began to massage the sides, perhaps in order to check for dislocation or abnormalities. When he was finished, he suggested a medical massage and an x-ray.

The People's Hospital of Zhuhai

I laughed a little at the x-ray and began to make my case against it. Dr. Henry would never require me to get an x-ray for this kind of discomfort. (Maybe it was just offered to make me feel better… who knows.) When the only option was a “massage”, I felt a natural flight-response pull me towards the door. I tried to make it clear that my chiropractor in the US would never prescribe a massage for this kind of bone-related issue. However, this Chinese doctor couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with it. Continue reading My Journey with Chinese Chiropractic (Part 1)

My Journey with Chinese Chiropractic (Part 2)

The Saw Machine

Chinese Chiropractic (Part 1) started here…

When I came back he was already seeing another patient. As most do in China, I cut in and made my request to try the medical massage. With a flick of his pen, and 64RMB ($9.50) later, I found myself standing in front of a peculiar contraption. It was a mix of metal, chains and leather straps. I was told to straddle it and fix my head in between the front and back leather straps. A crank was turned by one of the doctors, which pulled my head toward the ceiling! At this point, I got a bit nervous; shouldn’t a fuzzy TV screen turn on featuring a scary clown doll with a spooky voice? (Like in the “Saw”series)

15 minutes before completing a full cycle on this thing, I broke free and asked if I could use heat instead. In fact, both methods were being used by patients who were preparing for the massage therapy. When I finally got on the little wooden stool in front of another doctor, he began asking what my discomfort was. After explaining a second time, I started to get a violently strong neck massage. Tears were gathering in the first few minutes and I had no idea what would happen to me! Then he moved to my right shoulder and the muscles around my collar bone. That is when I felt true pain. He found two pressure/acupuncture points “Xue Wei” like some kind of ninja; and seconds later I was subjugated; forced to twitch and move around like a puppet!

The Massage Ninja

Within 20 minutes my right arm was curved over my head and moderate pressure was applied to a chunk of back muscles. I heard light snaps. And the last 5 minutes would help smooth out the nearby knots in my neck and surrounding shoulder blade area. It seemed that my desired “back breaking” had happened.

Then I asked, “are knots OK sometimes?” He said “knots only exist when something is wrong.” It was then that I realized that our skeletons are not always in control of our bodies. Sometimes our muscles, when agitated over months and years, can take control and leave us in naturally-occurring pain. Some bones move out of place and cause any number of problems. In my case the agitation led to sleep deprivation, which caused other health problems. Continue reading My Journey with Chinese Chiropractic (Part 2)

Medicinal Use of Tea

A popular request I get is related to the medicinal use of tea. I’m finally writing this article after discussing this topic with various Chinese friends who have nearly 20 years of experience in the tea business. After discussions with them and other trusted tea connoisseurs I’m ready to post on this topic. I suggest reading a previous post about understanding the world of tea in order to get more familiar with the major varieties of tea.

You’ll find that two major substances in tea do most of the leg work: epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and polyphenol. Remember: I’m not a doctor and the following is a collection of information told by friends, which I’ve cross-referenced with scientific studies. Continue reading Medicinal Use of Tea

Two Kinds of Chee

“Chee” is one of those concepts that floats around in the English-speaking world, but is rarely understood outside of its cultural context. I’ve written about this before in Ginseng and Ginger posts. There are loads of potential benefits to your health if you consider Qi in your daily life. But, first we need to get an understanding of the meaning of the word “Qi” and then we can drape more layers of meaning on top of that.  After all, language defines culture and allows it to breath, which is not too far away from the literal meaning of Qi.

气 [qì]

氣 (traditional character)

Qi Gong Pose

Meanings: Air, gas, breath, mood, smell, manner, anger, etc.

The more familiar of the two Qis (mmmm, cheese…) is something called “Qi Gong”  气功 – literally “air” + “results/success”,and known as “a system of deep breathing exercises,”[*] it is a form of meditation and has been used by martial artists and common people for hundreds of years. The image to the right shows the flow of Qi through the body, with the 3 “elixir fields.” These are basically places where energy is stored. The arrows show how energy flows point-to-point through the body, although it is not always in this direction.

Dantian Energy Flow

Trivia time! Where is the center of the human body? When I was first asked this question I pointed to my naval/waist area. Where did you point? In fact, according to Qi Gong, the center of your body is at your upper lip. Yep, its in your face! This comes from the idea that energy is draped over your body from the top.

Combining body movements and breathing exercises are key to this practice and can have great health benefits, similar to Tai Ji or “Tie Chee”. Due to better blood circulation, relaxed breathing, and reduced stress, these exercises are used for health maintenance by millions of people around the world. As you can imagine, the field of Qi Gong is extremely deep and could take a lifetime to understand fully. Continue reading Two Kinds of Chee

Use Ginger in Dishes

Ginger is commonly used in Chinese cooking. You can find that and garlic everywhere in China! And its no mystery that it is good for your health. Slice it or chop it for added flavor with fried veges. A respected professor and leader in my university here suggested me to eat small cubes of it with warm milk in the morning to support the flow of “Qi” in the body and settle my stomach. Its better to eat (swallow) ginger earlier in the day, but you can use it with cooking at anytime of the day.

Here are some health benefits sourced from Wikipedia:

“Ginger may also decrease pain from arthritis, though studies have been inconsistent, and may have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties that may make it useful for treating heart disease…Ginger compounds are active against a form of diarrhea which is the leading cause of infant death in developing countries…

Ginger has been found effective in multiple studies for treating nausea caused by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy…. Ginger is a safe remedy for nausea relief during pregnancy…Tea brewed from ginger is a folk remedy for colds,… congestion, and coughs.”