Temporary blog with Chinese Medicine and qigong information for the time of the coronavirus pandemic

Sunday, March 29, 2020

White Radish Soup to Clear the Lungs and Relieve Cough

Here's a Chinese food medicine recipe: White Radish Soup  

White radish is a traditional Chinese food medicine used to clear the lungs to resolve phlegm, control cough, and “release exterior” from pathogenic heat that enters the body. Garlic is an important food medicine to ward off disease in all traditions, and in this recipe, it also supports the action of the radish to relieve cough. White pepper has a particular association with the qi of the lungs, immediately and strongly activating the qi to expel phlegm, and it ensures the medical effect of the recipe is brought directly to the lungs. Olives and olive oil act to protect the yin aspect of the lung qi, and in this recipe is used to moderate the yang and somewhat drying action of the pepper.

As a preventative food medicine recipe, this soup can be eaten once or twice per week to keep the lungs clear and improve breathing, in general, thus strengthening the qi of the lungs and guarding against viral infection.

As a recipe to relieve the symptoms of a viral attack of an external heat pathogen, with excessive phlegm that blocks the nose and throat, restricts breathing and causes hard, persistent coughing, it can be eaten daily.


300 gm white radish (if not available, use white turnip), sliced thin
2 pinches salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced very fine
½ teaspoon white (or black) pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 finely chopped spring onion


Place radish, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in one liter water, bring to boil over high heat, then turn heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until radish is very soft.

Sprinkle cooked soup with freshly chopped spring onion.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Introduction to the Healing Sound Exercise for the San Jiao by Kerry

An Introduction to the Healing Sound Method for the San Jiao

The san jiao 三焦, in Chinese medical theory, is best understood by its function, because it is a concept that does not exist in Western medical physiology. It is called “an organ that has function, but does not have form”. 

It is sometimes recognized as a particular threefold division of the physical space of the body - the area above the diaphragm is the upper jiao; between the diaphragm and the navel is the middle jiao; everything below the navel is the lower jiao. Each of these san jiao spaces includes all the organs contained therein and, equally important, the space around the organs. Furthermore, they include all space in the body between muscles, skin and connective tissue.

All the individual organs of the body have particular functions in terms of qi. For instance, it is the qi function of the lungs that determines the quality of qi and blood in the body, circulates qi, blood and breath (with the help of the heart qi), regulates the opening and closing of the pores of the skin so that we can sweat, and acts as the first line of defense against viruses.

With the san jiao, it’s overall job is to coordinate all various qi functions in the body, and provide communication between the organs. This “organ that has no form” is essential to life - without its regulation, the whole bodily system falls into chaos, and our health is compromised.

The Healing Sound Method for the San Jiao qigong method activates the external acupuncture points (i.e. those on the body surface) along the channel associated with the san jiao, moves warming yang qi up through its passageways in order to activate and strengthen every organic function, and then brings cooling and moistening yin qi down to keep the body and organs supple, and help rid the body of waste. 

The san jiao directs the movement of qi and fluids up and down, and in and out of the body. In health, this means all our normal bodily functions are regulated, we can move comfortably, and our organs are strong. But when we are attacked by an external disease, a virus that invades and disrupts the vital functions of our health, it is the san jiao that communicates the call for urgent action, and coordinates the qi of the organs to quickly bring the full force of our defenses where needed.

Chart of the San Jiao Meridian.

From Shisi Jing Fahui 十四经发挥  - Careful Elaboration on the 14 Meridians by the physician Hua Shou 滑寿 (~1304-1386).

Healing Sounds - Sound for the Sanjiao 三焦 - Video

Sound for the Sanjiao 三焦

Here is another ancient Chinese Healing Sound exercise, for the Sanjiao 三焦  (usually translated as "Triple Burner"), which is the passageway and space through all three regions of the body, upper, middle and lower.

The sound associated with this exercise is "SHEE", which again we only think in our imagination while we're exhaling the breath through the mouth.

Like the Healing Sound for the Lung method this exercise a part of the same set which can be practised together, and the Sanjiao method would be the last method of the practice.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Few Words on the Healing Sound Method for the Lung Qi

The Liu Zi Jue 六字诀 (Healing Sounds) method for the Lung Qi that we present here is part of a Daoist health tradition that combines specific lifestyle, meditation and qigong techniques in order to rid disease, calm the mind and prolong life. It uses a sophisticated combination of elements that act synergistically, much like a medical prescription, on the Qi system in the body that controls the circulation of breath, qi and blood throughout the body.

A TCM perspective of a few of the key elements can be helpful in understanding why and how this method works. But remember...the main thing is simply to practice the qigong, a little, and then a little more, every day. This is what has an effect on your health - not an understanding of Chinese medicine or Daoist philosophy, or even of  qigong technique. Everyone, of any age or condition, and with no prior experience can practice these methods and gain the beneficial effects that restore, protect and increase your health, strengthen your immune system, calm your mind, and bring a sense of ease and comfort.

The Liu Zi Jue method for the Lung Qi (and,in fact, all qigong methods) begins with allowing yourself to become quiet, and relaxing the body as you align yourself from head to foot, in order to enter into a certain “space”. This is not a physical location, nor is it simply a state of mind. It is more of an opening inward, a silencing of the noise of the mind, a softening of the body and breath, so that the qi of the body is aligned between the “Qi of Heaven and Earth” (the greater yang and yin aspects of the universe), allowing a resonance with the true reality of nature. This resonance is a type of communication that is literally grounding, and that calls forth the innate strength of your body’s health as it flows with your breath, uninhibited by the disruptions, blockages and weaknesses that occur through the physical and mental stress of ageing, illness and everyday life.

All of the moves reinforce this resonance, with a specific focus on both the physical and more subtle qi aspects involved in breathing, circulating qi and blood throughout the organism, opening and strengthening the connection between your Original Qi, (so, all the capacity for health that you were born with), and the qi you acquire, from the minute you are born, with every single breath you take.

As you breathe in with the first movement, you rotate arms, hands and palms outwards to physically widen the chest as the air pours in. You can feel the chest and lungs open, allowing the breath to flow more easily and smoothly.  At a deeper internal level, this opens and smoothes the qi as it flows with the incoming breath, through the core of the body. With more practice, you may begin to feel a subtle pulling in, a kind of magnetism, from the extremities of your hands and feet, fingers and toes. In Chinese medical terms it is like a powerful acupuncture treatment that opens the flow of qi from the lung organ, through the acupuncture points along the lung qi channel (手太阴 经 Hand Tai Yin Channel).

Then, as you breathe out and rotate the arms back in so that the palms face the belly, the upper back, spine and specific acupuncture points located in this region open, allowing the warm qi to return to the physical center of the body in the area of the kidneys, lower back and belly (in the region called the Dan Tian 丹田 , where the Original Qi is stored).

It is in this region that the qi of the breath fortifies your Original qi, motivating its circulation along the deep internal channels of the body, literally infusing your whole organism with warmth and strength. When you breathe in, it is like magnetically attracting something and pulling it in; when you breathe out, it is like opening and spreading the warmth and magnetism throughout the body. With more practice, you may feel this current, perhaps a tingling, moving from the center of your body to the extremities.

Breathing in again, you briefly and lightly touch the tips of the fingers together in front of the heart area, and direct your gaze to the fingertips. This is combining the movement of the mind (directed through your gaze), with the movement of the body and the flow of qi and breath in order to have a certain effect.

Nothing in life moves faster than the mind. In qigong practice, we rein that movement in and quieten the constant, distracting noise it makes by allowing the mind to follow our breath, creating a quiet internal space where the natural force of life can unfold and flow freely. In day to day life, our constant, conscious effort to identify and control everything only serves to separate us from the whole reality of nature, and impedes our own natural ability for health, for balance.

In the few instances in qigong where we use the imagination, then, or focus our gaze or attention to something specific, it is like throwing a spear with precision and speed (to literally “spear into action”). The effect of consciously touching the fingers and directing the gaze to the fingertips activates the qi of all the yin and yang channels, and motivates the qi of the heart and lungs to strongly circulate throughout the person. We do this only for a second, but the effect resonates throughout the body, more and more, for a  longer longer time, with each practice of the qigong method. Eventually, it takes only this second, like walking into a dark room and turning on the light switch, to change the nature of our internal space.

A medical qigong method is like a herbal medicine prescription - the main effect of the prescription is supported and moderated by all the other constituent elements, and so the next movement of the Liu Zi Jue method for the Lung Qi is the medically crucial part. 

The arms move up, and the chest expands as the head moves back to open the throat and thorax; the out-breath arises as a “steam” as it passes through the open mouth, and the internal resonance of the imagination of sound enables the entire force of the True Qi (Zhen Qi  真气 - basically the comprehensive reality of the qi of nature, of which we are merely a part)  to pour down into the lungs. Also, the bending of the wrists so that the palms face upward is an activation of important acupuncture points of the heart and lungs located on the inner aspect of the wrists.

The resonance of the imagined healing sound associated with the lungs is the spearhead of the medical effect (if you were to use the vocal cords to make an audible intonation, this has a completely different effect that is not so useful in this particular qigong “prescription”). Moving the head back and breathing out through the mouth is like turning on a faucet, and the shape of the mouth as you imagine the sound “Hay” is like opening that faucet completely, so the the qi, like water, pours through the “Gateway of the Lungs” (the throat), through the “Passageway to the Lungs” (the thorax) to the organ itself.

The rest of the steps of the method open and strengthen the connection between the qi of the lungs and the qi of the kidneys, ensuring the breath flows freely into the body, is then firmly grasped so that a kind of combustion of energy can take place before the breath is the easily expelled. It is a consolidation of the qi of the air we breathe with the Original Qi of the Dan Tian.

Here I will end this only very partial explanation of the traditional medical workings of the Liu Zi Jue method for the Lung Qi. Hopefully it helps to give you an idea of the sophistication of the workings of all qigong methods, and motivates you to practice the qigong more regularly, every day, in an easy and relaxed manner, with the full confidence that you can always improve your health and trust in the regenerative ability of the body. Even the most basic methods, such as making circles with the arms while quietly breathing, have layers of meaning and potential benefit for the healthy state of your body and mind. Enjoy your practice; enjoy the quiet space of genuine meaning you can enter into, as often as you like, to recover from the onslaught of daily worries and feel the lightness, the creativity, the regenerative force of your own, true nature!

Jia You! 加油!

Kerry McBride

Chart of the lung channel  (Hand Taiyin Channel 手太阴经)

17th century Chinese woodblock illustration showing the course of the lung channel of hand taiyin, one of the Twelve Channels. 

It originates at the zhongfu 中府 (Middle Palace) and yunmen 云门 (Cloud Portal) points on the chest, and terminates at the shaoshang 少商 (Lesser Shang) point on the outer side of the thumb. 

These points are mainly used in the treatment of pulmonary complaints such as coughs and asthma, soreness and inflammation of the throat, cold pain in the shoulders and back and pain in the inner and frontal parts of the hand and arm.

Jia you! - Concluding Remarks

We started the Jiayou group as a qigong and TCM initiative to give people methods to protect their health, and cope with the reality of t...