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

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Strengthen Upright Qi to Ward Off Pathogenic Qi.


This initiative to share our knowledge of qigong and Chinese medicine to support people through the Covid-19 pandemic is now in its sixth week, so I wanted to make a few remarks to remind you about our reasons for making the blog, and why we are working concertedly to provide so much information.

Covid-19 has raged in Italy, Spain, England and the United States. Austria, Germany, and Ireland, so far, have managed to contain it somewhat better. But for all of us, no matter what country we live in, or what current effectiveness there is with containment or mitigation, all forecasts assume that we will have to live with the Covid-19 virus for the next one or two years. The threat remains, and how quickly the situation can tip over into devastation of tragic proportions has already been seen in even the wealthiest countries in the world.

Our intention is to show, clearly and specifically, that it is possible to do something for your own health and immune system to make it stronger than the virus with simple means. This is all the more important, since we will have to wait for any solutions from conventional medicine to be developed, the vaccines or medicines that actually work against the spread or potentially deadly effects of the disease. Quarantine, lock-down restrictions and social distancing cannot be maintained in the long run, since the economic damage would be immense. Many of us are, like Kerry and me, de facto unemployed for an indefinite period without income. And, it's not just about economic damage, it's also about cultural and social damage, the possible damage to democracy, and much more that we can't even be aware of yet.

So, that is the reason we make this initiative with TCM and Qigong information in pandemic times.  We have posted a lot, in both a German language blog and a separate one for English speakers, more or less every day. It is quite detailed and specialized information, and we hope to present it in a way that it can be readily followed by those who are not familiar with Qigong and TCM.

What our opinion is, combined with what we have learned through various TCM and qigong experts in China and Europe, is that aside from following all the best possible guidelines for the pandemic, these traditional methods are a very important, as well as a necessary, addition to what we all can do to continue to protect and improve our health, on a daily basis. Everyone agrees - the best medicine is to avoid getting sick and, if infected, then being able to fight the disease with your own health.

There is a common thread in everything we do and post that runs through these blog posts, and connects everything. It is a fundamental treatment principle of TCM, and is equally one of the essential principles of Qigong:

“Fu zheng qu xie 扶正祛邪”, which translates as “Support the upright to drive out the Evil”, or “Strengthen the Zheng-Qi (your normal, healthy upright Qi) to ward off pathogenic Qi”.

With an illness like Covid-19, this is extremely important. There is no conventional medicine to treat Covid-19, and there is (still) no vaccination. However, TCM does have treatment options that are being successfully administered in China.

Rather than fighting the disease, TCM and qigong techniques regulate, order the healthy qi functioning of the person in preparation to either resist invasion by the virus, or to sustain itself while continuing to fight any stage of an infection. When a person’s health is under attack, TCM and qigong methods follow the principle of Supporting the Upright in order to regulate the qi function of our immune systems, bringing a state of imbalance back into balance.

In this way, by using TCM advice or practicing qigong methods, any state of excess is reduced, states of exhaustion of the qi or blood are fortified, what is pushing or rushing up is lowered, what is dropping down or not being held up is raised, what is too hot is cooled, what is too cold is warmed, what is too moist is dried, and what is too dry is moistened, and so forth. This is how our bodies, our health, are regulated- a healthy organism regulates itself, the healthy qi regulates itself. The crucial point is that an organism with regulated qi copes with illnesses by itself - this is the focus, to allow the potential for self healing to naturally arise.

 So what we're doing here on the blog:

Very simply, we are trying to explain how to effectively regulate the qi and strengthen the healthy Zheng-qi with simple means that everyone should be able to use.

Fuzhen qu xie 扶正祛邪 - Support the upright qi in order to ward off or get rid of pathogenic qi. To do so requires more than just one approach.

The qigong exercises, combining movement and breath, are one approach. Each time you practice means you are moving the qi, and every time you move the qi you are creating a pathway for your healthy qi to develop naturally in the direction of a better balance. The more the qi is in balance, the less strain on the organism and the less strain on the qi, itself.

Another approach comes from TCM - It takes a certain understanding of how food and lifestyle can promote and balance qi in its natural order or as important, how they can disorder and impede the qi. This is why we publish lifestyle and food medicine advice and recipes specific to these pandemic times. This follows the TCM notion of “Yao shi tong yuan 药食同源” - “Medicine and food have the same origin”. The theory of Chinese medical dietetics is highly developed, based on the same principles as all of TCM and Qigong. With her recipes, Kerry tries to give everyone the simplest, most pragmatic and practical approach possible for everyone, no matter what their condition.

Simple self-treatment techniques, such as self massage, are another possibility for regulation. We will post some in the near future, methods that can be incorporated into everyday life without much effort.

And finally, for all of the different practical approaches and methods - moving and breathing, eating, massaging - it is helpful to have an understanding of what you are doing and why you do it. So, more general, theoretical texts, like this one are included, too.

So, that is our aim...all around fuzhen qu xie 扶正祛邪 - to support the upright qi in order to ward off the pathogenic qi.

 Jia you! 加油!

Árpád

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Congee


Congee (or Zhou 粥) is a simple and plain dish of white rice cooked in water, much like a soupy porridge. It is a staple of the Chinese diet, eaten by young and old, alike, as a breakfast soup, a medicinal remedy, a tonic, or a late night snack after an evening of talking and drinking alcohol with friends.

As food medicine, it is a dish of prime importance because being bland in taste, neutral in temperature, soft yet firm in texture, it nourishes both the yin fluids and tonifies the yang qi function of the transformation of “grains and fluids”. In other words, it has a very definite medical action called “Harmonizing the Middle”, “Tonifying” the stomach qi and the spleen qi, and “Regulating” the qi of the digestive system. These medical actions are key to restoring and maintaining health.

Congee can be added to other food medicine recipes in order to moderate or support the actions of those recipes, it can be eaten on its own to moderate excessive conditions of the body (whether from the side effects of medical treatment such as chemo/radiation therapy, or self induced effects of drinking or eating excessively). It can also be used as the main part of any meal, and how you use its harmonizing and balancing properties as the center of a meal depends on your own healthy make-up, or condition of imbalance.

As a breakfast porridge, it is commonly eaten with a few small side dishes, such as kimchi or other pickles, perhaps a boiled or fried egg, some fried greens or other leftovers...much like a breakfast array of “tapas”!



Ingredients:

1 cup rice
10 cups water

Preparation.

1. Wash the rice thoroughly, rinsing in plain water until the water is clear.

2. Place water and rice in a large cooking pan, cover and bring to boil over a high heat.

3. Immediately after it begins to boil, uncover and turn the heat down very low. Lay two chopsticks or knives on the rim of the pan, so that you can rest the lid of the pan on the. This creates a gap between the pan and the lid, allowing enough steam to escape so that the rice does not boil over, yet keeping it covered enough that the water does not evaporate.

4. Cook for at least 45 minutes or longer (depending on the type of rice you use...it is important to have the rice “break down” to achieve a creamy consistency, yet remain firm enough to have some texture). Stir occasionally, and, if it absorbs to much of the liquid while cooking, add more water.


Monday, April 20, 2020

Method for the Spleen Qi

The qi of the spleen and the qi of the stomach cannot be separated in function - they reflect the yin movement of earth to draw down, absorb and nourish, and the yang movement of heaven to allow the yin to arise like a steam, warming and activating all potential for growth.

Chart of the Spleen Meridian 

The spleen ( pi zang 脾脏) is a yin “organ”, but it’s qi function is yang; it rises up, transforming and refining the yin (with the support of the kidney yang qi), holding things up and in place (both mentally and physically, so that neither thoughts - which are yang, nor organs - which are yin, drop down or out), protecting the integrity of body and mind. It requires a cool (not cold) and dry (not damp) environment for these functions in relation to the qi.

The stomach (wei fu 胃腑) is a yang “organ, but it’s main qi function is yin because it acts as a container - it receives “grains and water” in the middle jiao, churns and ferments them into a mash and then, under the control of the spleen yang qi, it begins the process of separating the “clear” from the”turbid”. It requires a warm (not hot) and moist (not damp) environment for its function in relation to the qi.

The part of the qi considered pure or clear, (like pure spring water), is further refined by the spleen qi, transformed and transported up as a kind of qi “steam” to the upper jiao and the lungs, where it meets with the pure clean qi of air (kong qi 空氣) to form and transport all the qi, blood and the yin aspect of the immune system, called Nutritive/Camp Qi (ying qi 營氣) to the whole organism.

Chart of the Stomach Meridian

That part of the qi that is crude and turbid (like the silt in a stream, that can form a sediment when the water is still), is kept moving down by the motive force of the stomach qi into the lower jiao and the digestive tract, where it is further refined and transformed into our Defensive/Guard Qi (wei qi 衛氣). This yang aspect of our immune system is then dispersed throughout the whole organism by the lung qi. 

Once all these qi separating, refining and transporting processes are complete, the waste of our food and water is moved further down and excreted.

So you see, the pi wei, the spleen and stomach qi functions cannot be understood in isolation because through their yin yang relationship, they work together to replenish all the qi we require, on a daily basis, for our health.

The Healing Sounds Method for the Spleen Qi expresses this reality in form - first opening the middle, separating the hands as they move up and down, palms turning to face heaven and earth, and then vibrating and activating the qi of the spleen and stomach as we breathe out through the mouth with the lips formed to make the spleen qi “hoo” sound in our imagination.

“陰陽調和 Yin yang tiao he”, yin yang in balanced harmony, that is what the Chinese call health. All qigong methods are expressions of “yin yang tiao he” in every aspect of movement and stillness, in and out, up and down, calming and activating. The method for the spleen qi is central in position and function to the entire set of the 6 Healing Sounds. It relates to Earth, and moves from the middle to raise up the pure as it moves down (and out) the waste. In doing so, it secures our life on a daily basis.



Thursday, April 16, 2020

Healing Sounds - Sound for the Spleen - Video


Here is the next ancient Chinese Healing Sound exercise, for the Spleen, which in TCM understanding is the organ of digestion.

The qi of the Spleen, together with the qi of the Lungs, is also very important for the immune system.

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

This exercise belongs to the same set as the other Healing Sounds. With what we have learned up to now, the correct order for practice is:

Lungs, Liver, Spleen, San Jiao.







Monday, April 13, 2020

Chinese Food Medicine: Mungbean & Barley-Soup


Special soup to eat once per week

Mung Bean and Barley Soup 



Ingredients:

barley: half a cup 
mung beans: half a cup 
water: 6 cups

Just soak them first (overnight, in cold water), cook with quite some water (the ratio should be at least 6 parts water to 1 part beans and barley), until everything is soft, about 3/4 of an hour. 

It can stick to the pan, so after bringing it to a boil, cook it on low, with lid on, but stir regularly. 

You only need to eat a small amount, but can also eat it more often. This clears Damp Heat while supporting the Spleen Qi and regulating the bowels.

If you have made barley water, you can always use the cooked barley in this recipe. Simply cook the mung beans until they are soft, then add the cooked barley and cook another 15 or 20 minutes.







Kerry’s Medicinal Kimchi Recipe

This is my recipe for a non-spicy Kimchi, to really boost the immune system! It is not traditional Korean Kimchi; what I have devised is a highly effective “food medicine” recipe using Chinese medicine knowledge of the action of the qi of plants, and how the dosage, combination and preparation of specific food substances synergize to have a specific set of actions on the qi of the body. It is easy to make and works to strengthen and activate the qi in the middle jiao, and to resolve “phlegm damp” throughout the body. It is balanced in temperature, so as not to add excessive heat or cold to the body. Through a combination of ingredients and fermentation,  all of the 5 Flavors associated with each organ - sweet, salty, acrid/pungent, sour and bitter - are represented here, and work together to make this a real “superfood” for our health. It is a calling together of all the various qi aspects of the immune system, and deploys them to our front lines of defense. 

To get this medicinal effect, you need to eat about a tablespoon per day. As in all traditional Chinese methods that work with the qi – whether it is food medicine, medical prescriptions, qigong, taijiquan, acupuncture, massage, meditation – every daily dosage (or daily practice, or treatment) builds on the last, increasing the beneficial effect exponentially. To put it simply, eating a spoonful of this food medicine and doing a few minutes of qigong practice, every day, fortifies your defenses, and regulates your body and mind in a way that builds on the foundation of what you did the day before, the weeks before, and so on.

A few words on ingredient and possible substitutions: 

Any kind of green or white cabbage would work in this recipe if you cannot get the Chinese cabbage, also known as Napa cabbage. The Chinese cabbage is traditionally used because it ferments quickly and, in terms of qi, is slightly more yang in that has a more “floating” action that helps lift the action of the recipe to the lungs.

Any kind of pear will do, but if you can get the Asian white pears (called nashi pears), they are less sweet than other pears, and have a different texture, making them ideal for this recipe. If you cannot get any kind of pear, you can substitute a whole apple instead of only half. 

These optional additions to the recipe have the following effect:

When you add a little sweet red pepper and/or carrot to the kimchi, you not only boost the sweet taste as the kimchi ferments, but you ensure the qi effect of the kimchi goes more into the blood, nourishing  the qi aspect of the heart and liver.

When you add a little of the long, white Chinese radish, you slightly boost the pungent taste of the kimchi, and strengthen the effect of clearing phlegm from the lungs as you open the qi of the middle. If you cannot get the Chinese radish, you can substitute a little white turnip.



Recipe Ingredients:

1 small Chinese cabbage (about 300 to 400 grams)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 teaspoon minced ginger
2 scallions, sliced
½  apple, peeled and chopped
½ pear, peeled and chopped
½ yellow or white onion, peeled and chopped
sea salt
water

(Optional) - 1/2 sweet, red pepper, thinly sliced, or 1 carrot, grated, or small piece of Chinese white radish, sliced



Preparation:

Separate cabbage leaves and chop into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.

Dissolve 2 tablespoons sea salt in a bowl of warm water then pour salt water over cabbage leaves. Give cabbage a gentle toss to distribute salt water.  Allow salted cabbage to sit for at least four hours.

Give cabbage a good rinse to remove excess salt, drain and return the cabbage to a bowl, adding  
minced garlic, minced ginger, and green onions.

Blend the chopped onions, apple, and pear with one cup of water, (with a stick blender, normal blender, or just chop very fine and make a mash of the mixture with a fork), then add this natural sweetener to the cabbage.

Give everything a thorough toss and rubdown. You want to massage together the flavors, and evenly distribute all ingredients.

Transfer seasoned cabbage leaves into one or two large glass jars (such as pickle jars) or ceramic containers that you can put a plate over as a lid. Be sure to use firm pressure with your hands to push down on cabbage leaves as they stack up inside the jar. 

Transfer any liquid that accumulated during the mixing process into the jar as well - this liquid will become kimchi brine. Some liquid will also come out of the cabbage leaves as you press down on them.

Be sure to leave about 2 inches of room at the top of the jar before capping it tightly with a lid (you can use clingfilm to put over the lid of any other type of container you use, then place a plate over it). Allow kimchi to sit at room temperature for at least 24 - 48 hours. This will allow the fermentation process to begin.

Refrigerate and take out portions as needed. The kimchi will continue to ferment, slowly, in the refrigerator over time. So long as you use clean utensils to take out small portions, it will keep for up to a month in your refrigerator.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Breathing Circle - Regulate the Qi

Here's a breathing exercise with a set of simple but powerful movements to regulate the qi and support all its functions in the body. Don't concentrate too much. It is much more important to simply be relaxed and quiet, and do all the movements as natural as possible.

The deeper you enter into a state of quietness, the stronger the movement of the qi. Just follow along, the more you relax the easier the breathing becomes. In this one you only breathe through the nose.





Friday, April 3, 2020

Introduction to the Healing Sound Exercise for the Liver by Kerry

The Liver Qi (Gan Qi 肝气) is the Harmonizer, the General who coordinates all the various qi and blood cycles of the body so that the system runs smoothly, in an uninterrupted flow that recurs every 24 hours.

The Healing Sound Method for the Liver Qi is, in particular, promoting this timely movement of the yang and yin aspects of our immune system through each of the 12 channels of qi and their associated organs.

In TCM, our immune system is comprised of a yang aspect, called Defensive/Guard Qi (Wei Qi 卫气), and a yin aspect, called Nutritive/Camp Qi (ying qi 营气).

The Guard Qi is the fiercest yang aspect of our qi and, when the body is under attack from a virus, it is first deployed through the pores of the skin to “Release the Exterior”, driving the pathogen out with sweat.

The Camp Qi is the most yin aspect of qi, flowing with the blood throughout all the vessels and organs, supporting and strengthening the Guard Qi from within, continuing the fight against invading pathogens once they have breached our first line of defense.

The qi (and blood) circulate through the body, night and day, and never stop. But according to TCM, there is a cycle created by each in and out breath that moves the qi up and down; it takes 270 breaths to complete a cycle through all the channels, and 50 cycles (25 cycles to pass through the yang channels, and 25 cycles to pass through the yin channels) constitute up the passage of qi in one day and one night....so, a 24 hour period.

During the day (yang time), the qi proceeds along the channels through the body, so we can be active in mind and body; during the night (yin time), when one is asleep and the mind is calm, the qi spreads through the internal organs, replenishing them and preparing for the activity to come on the following day.

It is the harmonizing, free flowing and qi spreading function of the Liver that regulates these cycles, which begin with our first breath upon waking. One cycle begins in the channel of the Lung qi, completes its passage in the channel of the Liver qi, and then begins all over again in the channel of the Lung qi. Breathing in and out, the qi moves up and down.

In the Healing Sound Method for the Liver Qi, both the sound and the body movement “spread” the qi, opening the boundaries of the chest and the middle to allow space for the free flow of breath, blood, and emotions. This, in turn, harmonizes the smooth and easy functions of all bodily activities, giving ease and comfort to body and mind.




Chart of the Liver 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 Liver - Video

The exercises of the Healing Sounds (Liuzijue 六字诀) are very old, and go back to a famous Daoist master and pharmacologist of the 6th century, Tao Hongjing 陶弘景. 

This is the Healing Sound exercise for the Liver, which is the organ responsible for the free and easy flow of energy through your body. 

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

This exercise is part of the same set as the previous exercises for the Lung and San Jiao. 


They can be practised together in this order: Lung, liver, San Jiao.






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...