Emma Sammels

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5 Easy Ways To Spring Clean Your Skin

‘The Shen of the complexion consists in glitter and body. Glitter means that the complexion appears clear and bright from the outside; body means that it is moist and with lustre in the inside.’  -Shi Pa Nan in Origin of Medicine (1861)

Spring is here so it’s time to start brightening up your skin and feel rejuvenated.  I love how the light is changing now, with the brighter mornings and evenings. Have you noticed this time of year how your skin changes too? Even when it’s freezing cold or extremely warm, I’m sure you’d agree, it’s always nice to have a moist, glowing complexion.

A surprising amount of patients present with all sorts of skin complaints. This is a subject I find very interesting because often how you nourish your body on the inside shows up on the outside too. A traditional acupuncturist is trained to use subtle diagnostic techniques that have been developed and refined for centuries. Part of the diagnosis is to observe a patient’s face, as believe it or not, a healthy mind and spirit show most of all in the skin. There’s often a definable quality of glow to the skin when a patient is in a reasonably good state of health [1].

Many factors such as poor sleep, stress, a bad diet, hormonal imbalances or undesirable environmental conditions, to name but a few, can lead to skin problems. Much advice is also focused on what your put on your skin. This is why I wanted to share some basic factors that may benefit your complexion by focusing on what you put into your body.

I know from my own experience, and working with patients, that the ‘one size fits all’ approach is impossible because we are all unique. But there are certainly simple things you can do to encourage a healthy, natural glow.

I’ve deliberately not mentioned the importance of using good-quality natural oils because this is a complex area and, unfortunately, it is beyond the scope of this blog post to tackle. However, most of the time I am very much in favour of suggesting specific oils to suit a patient’s individual constitution.

I hope you find my tips inspiring and that you can tweak parts to suit your own requirements.

HAPPY SPRING SKIN CLEANING!

*Please discuss with your doctor or traditional acupuncturist if you have a serious skin or medical condition before trying any of my advice. As with all articles on emmasammels.com, this is no substitution for individual medical intervention.  If you are interested in finding out more information please visit my bookings page.

1.WATERCRESS  SOUP

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For spring it’s a good idea to brighten up your complexion by adding plenty of dark green leafy seasonal vegetables to your diet. I absolutely love watercress soup this time of year because it’s so quick and easy to make, and is packed full of skin-boosting vitamins. Most of the time we tend to associate soup as a winter or autumnal food, but for a cold spring day, it’s ideal for warming you up. Good quality watercress leaves and stems are also really flavourful this time of year.

In traditional Chinese medicine, watercress is renowned for its skin nourishing properties, especially when there are signs of Blood deficiency. To keep it simple, our complexion is commonly related to the Blood. If a patient has a healthy glowing complexion with Shen this often indicates a healthy state of the Blood. Conversely, if a patient’s complexion is lacking in Shen and looks dull, somewhat dry and without lustre, this often indicates Blood deficiency [2]. It’s very common to see these signs on the skin when a woman is menstruating or when a patient is suffering from shock, anxiety or eating a poor diet along with other factors.

In the clinic, I treat lots of patients who are ‘running on empty’ from not eating properly or overdoing it. Most of the time I recommend making a delicious Blood-nourishing soup, such as watercress or anything seasonal that’s dark, green and leafy to put some nourishment back into the body.

I came across a recipe for James Martin’s watercress soup many years ago and it has been a favourite of mine ever since. I’ve played around with it, and this is now my version. I hope you find the recipe tasty and that it brings a lovely glow to your cheeks!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp of organic extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots bulbs (golden gourmet)

1 cup of organic peas

2 packets of organic watercress (John Hurd’s)

Organic, gluten-free chicken stock or homemade stock (1.5-2 pints)

Himalayan salt (to taste)

Palm full of flat-leaved parsley

Organic butter

Method:

1.Start by heating the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan and cook the shallots with some Himalayan salt slowly for 10 minutes so they turn translucent.

2. Add the peas, and fry for 3 minutes until softened.

3. Add the 1.5 litres of chicken stock and the 2 bags of watercress. Then bring the mixture to the boil until the watercress has wilted (avoid overcooking as it will turn a dull green colour).

4. Meanwhile, add the flat-leaved parsley and, using a stick blender, start blending the soup, adding the remaining 0.5 litres of chicken stock and a knob of butter.

5. Blend the soup until smooth. Lastly, season with salt and pepper.

Useful tip Ladle the soup into a large bowl and garnish with some flat-leaved parsley. Serve with a warm crusty roll and some delicious organic butter.  As with most soups, it tastes better the next day and freezes well for emergency situations.

2.ROYAL JELLY

If you have a soft spot for unadulterated products then maybe royal jelly is appropriate for you? Its direct connection with mother nature is anything but difficult to love.

A research study has shown that royal jelly may help to support your natural skin health because the honey-bee product contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, free amino acids and minerals. One amino acid is thought to have the capacity to stimulate collagen production [3]. Interestingly, in Chinese medicine, royal jelly is considered an effective Blood tonic, meaning it can have a knock-on effect on your complexion due to its moistening properties.

Extraordinary lengths are taken by the bees and beekeepers to make any bee-related products and so if you are going to use royal jelly please be respectful.

I particularly like recommending the ARKOPHARMA LABORATORIES royal organic jelly ampoules, especially for menopausal women, as it can help to rebalance the hormones. Royal jelly is also a firm favourite of mine when the body, mind and spirit are in alignment because it can naturally make your skin glow. Along with regular traditional acupuncture treatment, royal jelly is also renowned for boosting your overall energy levels due to its Kidney strengthening properties.

*There are certain instances where taking royal jelly is not advisable. If you have any bee allergies or other allergies, please discuss this topic with your doctor or traditional acupuncturist before using any bee-related products (visit my bookings page for more info).

3.GREEN PEAR SMOOTHIE

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The fashion for smoothies keeps growing but in Chinese medicine, they’re not necessarily suitable for everyone. You might be surprised to hear that many patients’ digestive functions don’t respond well to a deluge of raw fruit or vegetables in their smoothies, or as part of a regular diet, because it can create a Qi deficiency. So they’re normally best consumed once your digestive system is strong enough to withstand them.

The ancient Chinese believed that the seasons, and the foods that we eat, can have a profound effect on human health and so, therefore, we should try to live in harmony with them. In fact, if you want to look after your digestion, a key point is to use seasonal fruit and avoid adding raw vegetables to your smoothies. For example, use a pear or an apple during the spring, and in the summer stick to the wonderful rainbow of berried fruits.

I have been making this green smoothie recipe for a while and just adore it. Many patients used to wince trying the spirulina powder but now they find the taste quite flavoursome. It takes only a few minutes to make and is packed full of the superfoods spirulina, chlorella and wheatgrass powder, which are alkalising and energising for your body [4].

The nutritional benefits of spirulina have been linked to all sorts of health benefits in Chinese medicine, from moistening the complexion when it’s dull or dry to increasing your energy levels. I also think it’s a good idea for women to have spirulina before, during or after the menstrual cycle and throughout the menopause because it can enrich the Blood at a time when the body is physiologically in need of extra nutrient support.

I’m a firm believer in the adage ‘less is more’ so I normally advise patients drink the smoothie no more than three times a week. It’s also inadvisable to consume it as a meal replacement.

I hope my smoothie becomes a firm favourite of yours and that you enjoy its delicious flavour!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of Naturya blends organic greens

1 ripe conference pear or 1 organic apple

½ teaspoon ndalorganic vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon organic vanilla bean paste

1 long glass of organic rice milk or goats’ milk

Method: 

Blend all the ingredients until milky and pour into a long, elegant glass.

Useful tip I like to use either goats’ or organic rice milk because in Chinese medicine they are less Mucous forming. Also, normal milk may not suit your constitution, as it can create lots of Phlegm, so you might want to try the quantity of half goats’ and rice milk. Another tip- if your pear is extra ripe it seems to concentrate the sweetness so you may not need to add the vanilla powder.

*Please discuss with your doctor if you are taking any blood-thinning medication or prescribed medicine before using the Naturya organic greens blends.

 4.WHITE TEA

What’s so special about white tea? Research has shown that one benefit is its ability to produce antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity in skin connective tissue. Another advantage is that it contains an effective herbal extract for preventing or reducing oxidative stress [5].

White tea is often sourced from China, originating from immature tea leaves, that are picked shortly before the buds have fully opened. Its name is taken from the silver fuzz covering the buds that turn white when the tea is dried. Immediately after harvesting, the leaves are steamed and dried to preserve the high antioxidant content [6]. The end result is a wonderful tea with a delicate flavour.

If you’re like me and dislike strong builders’ tea then white tea might be up your street. I find it’s light, refreshing flavour makes a wonderful delicate cuppa!

Here’s how to make a cup:

1.Always use fresh water in the kettle.

2.Boil the water to 80 degrees C (you can get variable temperature kettles that are good for green, white and herbal teas).

2.Put 2 teaspoons of the white tea buds into a teapot of boiling water.

3.Steep the tea anywhere from 5-10 minutes (the exact amount of time will depend on your personal preference). The smaller buds generally infuse quicker than the larger ones.

4.You may wish to taste the tea at the 5-minute mark.

5.When brewed white tea can range in colour from pale yellow to a light orange shade.

Useful tip For general convenience, I also like to use organic white tea in teabag form. To add an extra twist, I pour in some unhomogenised organic milk with a quarter of a teaspoon of raw organic honey, which may sound sacrilegious but its delicate, caramel flavour tastes rather good.

5. TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE

I truly believe that traditional acupuncture can make a difference to your skin, especially if you make other lifestyle changes too. I’m also of the opinion that it is far better to treat someone as a  whole person rather than just addressing symptoms that are likely to come back again if you’ve not tackled the root cause of a complaint.

Let me give you an example of a patient I treated with a skin problem.

Mini Case study: skin

I was asked for help by a lady in her mid-50s who was experiencing anxiety, palpitations, insomnia and a red, angry rash covering both of her shins. She also had a very dull, pale complexion.

We discovered that her anxiety was connected to work, where she was having difficulties. She also had a poor diet, eating very few fresh seasonal vegetables or fruit, and often skipped breakfast. To add to the poor lifestyle habits, she also drank two glasses of wine a night.

So, we took baby steps, and after several acupuncture treatments, her anxiety started to disappear. Some basic changes were also made to her diet by introducing breakfast and eating more seasonal fruit and vegetables. Another habit we changed was to gradually reduce her alcohol intake.

My acupuncture treatments primarily focused on treating her as a whole person and, secondarily, her other symptoms that were not isolated. When one system or organ is struggling, it is likely other organs or systems are struggling too. My training taught me that symptoms are nearly always regarded as the branch of the root cause of a complaint [7] (Although there are some exceptions to this rule that are way too complex for the breadth of this blog).

And slowly but surely the lady began to feel like her old self again. The nasty rash on both shins completely disappeared and she rekindled her natural glow.

I hope this short case study has given you some food for thought in terms of how traditional acupuncture can help to enhance your overall health and wellbeing, but also improve your skin from the inside-out. If you are looking to try some treatment please make sure you work with a qualified practitioner who is a registered member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) to guide you safely.

 

YOUR TURN…

Thank you for taking the time to read my 5 Easy Ways To Spring Clean Your Skin.

Please leave your thoughts and write a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time stay healthy and well!

Business good wishes,

Emma xo  

 

REFERENCES / LINKS :

1,2.MACIOCIA, G.

Obstetrics and gynaecology in Chinese medicine 

Maciocia, G. (2011). Obstetrics and gynaecology in Chinese medicine. 1st ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, p.78.

6.PACIFIC COLLEGE. (2017)

Health Benefits of White Tea. [online] Available at: http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/07/23/health-benefits-white-tea

 7.TAN, E., MILLINGTON, G. AND Levell, N. (2009).

Acupuncture in dermatology: an historical perspective. International Journal of Dermatology, 48(6), pp.648-652.

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Three Hearty Spring Soup Recipes

Let a hearty, delicious soup be part of your health secret!

It’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner, as the warm weather still feels a way off yet. This month I want to focus on some lovely hearty soup recipes ready for spring, which I hope will inspire your cooking. 

Little can beat a delicious bowl of homemade broth. So, why not feel a sense of time vanish – put some of your favourite music on, forget your household chores, switch off from social media, and excuse the cliche, start preparing your soup with some love? I’m sure you’ll be surprised by your tasty result!

There are so many reasons, in Chinese medicine, to make soup. Often used for medicinal purposes, they can be a great way to complement a patient’s traditional acupuncture diagnosis to support their overall health and well-being. 

When I’m feeling cold this time of year all I want, still, is some warming food. I don’t tend to hit the salads until the consistent warmer weather kicks in because, in Chinese medicine, it’s far healthier for our digestion to keep in alignment with the current climate and seasonal changes. I encourage patients to do the same too. Simply put, most soup is a great way to warm you up from the core during the colder months. The ancient Chinese recognised soup or congee as being a great way to regulate the body’s natural thermostat and may also prevent putting out our digestive Yang (I’ll talk more about the temperature of food and how it can affect your digestive system in another post).

So, let’s focus on your soup-making to see how beneficial it might be for your nutritional health. You can choose from my beetroot, tomato or green broth depending on what takes your fancy. All of the recipes taste lovely with some warm bread at lunchtime, and they’re often even more flavourful the next day. Plus they freeze well for emergency situations too. 

Here are three delicious hearty soup recipes to set you up for spring. Above all take satisfaction in your cooking and enjoy the eating!

Please keep me posted with your feedback; I would love to hear from you.

Until next time, stay healthy and well!

Emma xo

Please discuss with your doctor or traditional acupuncturist if you have a severe medical condition before trying any of my advice. As with all articles on emmasammels.com, this is no substitution for individual medical intervention. If you are interested in finding out more information, please visit my Bookings page.

GREEN BROTH

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Spring will soon be here – yay! It’s time to cleanse your body physically, emotionally and spiritually ready for the months ahead. And there’s no better way to do that than by making this green broth. 

I concocted the recipe for its blood-oxygenating properties. From a Chinese medicine perspective, most dark green leafy vegetables are essential building blocks for enriching the Blood where there’s a pattern of Blood deficiency. Typical traits are a dull, pale complexion, premature greying, thin or dry hair, dry skin, pale lips and floaters in the field of vision plus many more symptoms way too complicated for the scope of this blog post [1].

Dark green vegetables continue to pack a punch in the press due to their broad health benefits. A study showed that most leafy greens contain nitrates – linked to reducing blood pressure and enhancing exercise performance in healthily individuals along with other positive health factors [2]. Basically any green broth, for most of us, is healthy for the whole body.

I hope you enjoy making this recipe; it tastes delicious despite its very green colour!

Notable: If you are taking any blood thinning medication or have a thyroid/low iodine levels, please talk to your doctor before trying the green broth.

ADDITIONAL HEALTH TIPS:

In Chinese medicine, spinach and broccoli are both Cooling in nature. The rich chlorophyll content helps to build the Blood, however, if you have kidney stones eat sparingly. Also, if you experience symptoms of Heat, such as odiferous stools, feel hot or thirsty first thing in the morning and feel agitated from being in a warm room try substituting the chives for basil due to its Cooling effect. Avoid using the red chilli flakes too.

INGREDIENTS

700ml organic, gluten-free chicken or vegetable stock

200g organic spinach

200g organic tender stem broccoli

1 tbsp organic extra- virgin olive oil

1 large white onion

1 tbsp of chives

Himalayan salt

Pepper

Optional: pinch of chilli flakes

METHOD

Slice the onion. Heat the oil in a pan and gently saute the onion with a sprinkle of Himalayan salt until translucent.

Chop the broccoli into small pieces. Stir in with the onion and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. Then pour in the stock and leave to simmer for approximately 4 minutes until the broccoli is al dente

Add the washed spinach, so that it wilts. Be careful not to overcook as it may turn a murky green colour. Stir in the tablespoon of chives and add the Himalayan salt and pepper to taste.

Lastly, blitz all of the ingredients with a hand blender.

BEETROOT SOUP

If you like sour tasting food, I’m sure this beetroot recipe will be up your street. Despite looking garishly pink it has such a delicious flavour!

Beetroot soup 1Eating seasonal vegetables, in Chinese medicine, are beneficial for your digestive system, but sometimes it’s okay to fall by the wayside to avoid extreme diets. Even though beetroots aren’t in peak season during the spring it’s worth adding this soup recipe to your repertoire.

Inspired by Dr Michael Moseley’s gut-friendly recipe I’ve come up with my version. Gut flora is the gatekeeper of the digestive system, so, I try to make this soup regularly, and encourage patients to do the same too. Beetroot is also an excellent Blood tonic, essential for good health where there are signs of Blood deficiency (see green broth for Blood deficiency symptoms). I usually recommend making this recipe to help purify the Blood, benefit the Liver and promote menstruation.

It’s also linked to some amazing health benefits such as containing antioxidants and anti-carcinogens associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and various forms of cancer. Other advantages of beetroot are its anti-microbial, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties excellent for many gut syndromes [3].

I have always enjoyed eating beetroot soup with a lovely warm roll and a smidgen of goats’ cheese, as the two flavours complement each another. Also, in Chinese medicine, goats’ cheese is considered less phlegm forming than dairy cheese, which may help to minimise catarrh.

Notable: According to the Harvard Medical School if you have kidney stones, it’s worth talking to your doctor before consuming any Beetroot in your diet [4].

OTHER HEALTH TIPS:

Beetroot is a Neutral and Sweet vegetable in Chinese medicine and can help to improve circulation, cleanse the Blood and also strengthen the Liver. As with any food, avoid overeating. Word of warning, the deep red colour of beetroot can show up in your urine!

INGREDIENTS

1.2 litres of organic, gluten-free chicken or vegetable stock

4 large beetroot bulbs, peeled and chopped

2 banana shallots

1 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil

800g celeriac, peeled and chopped

2cm fresh ginger

Juice of 1 lemon

Himalayan salt

Pepper

Optional: a small pinch of chilli flakes

METHOD

Put the olive oil in a pan and blanch the shallots with some Himalayan salt until tender.

Add the sliced beetroot, celeriac, ginger, lemon juice and chilli flakes and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Usually, at this point, I leave the ingredients in the fridge overnight as I find this soup tastes better the next day.

In the morning, I may add some extra stock, salt and pepper before blitzing with a hand blender.

TOMATO SOUP

Tomato Soup 1 2There is nothing quite like a bowl of fresh tomato soup, and it will soon be time to get your fill as we approach the spring!

This recipe is quick and easy to whip up, and it’s great for a Saturday lunch – all you need is a big baking tray, six ripe tomatoes, a red chilli pepper and some little extras. I usually make a batch and eat it within a couple of days because it tastes better fresh.

For a treat, I enjoy tomato soup with a warm fresh gluten-free wholemeal roll and some organic butter. Alternatively, you can use organic non-hydrogenated coconut oil in moderation. But if you want something extra-filling throw in some rice noodles with a dash of extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon of seaweed. Seaweed is a favourite part of Eastern food, and it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals renowned for good health.

Research has discovered that lycopene, a carotenoid that is present in tomatoes, is one of the most potent antioxidants. Dietary intakes of tomatoes and tomato-based products have been associated with a decreased risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. They say there is no better way to kick-start your health regime by incorporating lots of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet. So, why not find out how delicious and easy my tomato recipe is to make!

Notable: If you are taking any blood-thinning medication or have a thyroid/low iodine levels please talk to your doctor before trying the seaweed. Also, tomatoes can upset calcium metabolism and may not be suitable for patients with arthritis.

ADDITIONAL  HEALTH TIPS:

Tomatoes, in Chinese medicine, are very Cooling, Sweet and Sour in nature, which means in a soup they may help to cleanse the Liver, purify the Blood and detoxify the body. Also, tomatoes are an acidic fruit. but after digestion, they tend to alkalise the blood, therefore, helping to reduce blood acid levels [5].

INGREDIENTS

700 ml organic, gluten-free chicken or vegetable stock

6 organic ripe tomatoes

1 large organic red chilli pepper

1.5 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp of  organic balsamic vinegar

1 large organic red onion

1 large handful of sunkissed oregano 

Himalayan salt

Pepper

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 220/200c. 

Slice the tomatoes, red chilli pepper and onion. Pour onto a large baking tray.

Sprinkle with some extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Scatter over the sun-kissed oregano and Himalayan salt and pepper.

Place in the oven and roast for approximately 20 minutes.

Add the roasted vegetables to a large saucepan and then add the chicken or vegetable stock.

Lastly, whizz through a blender until smooth and heat up ready to be eaten.

 

YOUR TURN…

Thank you for taking time to read Three Hearty Soup Recipes.

Please leave your thoughts and write a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time stay healthy and well!

Business good wishes,

Emma xo  

 

REFERENCES / LINKS:

1. Pitchford, P. (2009). Healing with whole foods. 1st ed. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books, p.387

2. Lidder, S. and Webb, A. (2013). Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75(3), pp.677-696.

3. Vasconcellos, J., Conte-Junior, C., Silva, D., Pierucci, A., Paschoalin, V. and Alvares, T. (2016). Comparison of total antioxidant potential, and total phenolic, nitrate, sugar, and organic acid contents in beetroot juice, chips, powder, and cooked beetroot. Food Science and Biotechnology, 25(1), pp.79-84.

4. Pendick, D. (2018). 5 steps for preventing kidney stones – Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard

5. Rao, A. and Agarwal, S. (1999). Role of lycopene as antioxidant carotenoid in the prevention of chronic diseases: A review. Nutrition Research, 19(2), pp.305-323.

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Coffee: A New Perspective!

Even if you’re not a ‘coffeeholic’, we all have different stories to tell about drinking coffee, good or bad…

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Nowadays we live in a world full of coffee.

And guess what, a regular conversation that crops up in the clinic is coffee too!

So, I’d like to throw light onto the topic from a Chinese medical perspective. Personally, I’m not into drinking coffee but enjoy a morning cup of tea instead. However, rest assured I’m not going to suddenly tell you to cut it out of your diet entirely because I’m a firm believer in everything in moderation. Besides, some coffee contains polyphenols that are thought to contribute to antioxidant activity renowned for good health [1].

Also, in Chinese medicine, there is no such thing as a bad food or drink. The emphasis of coffee is placed on how well it matches the need of the individual. I find myself working with some patients who are lucky and can drink it with little or no side effects while, for others, it can ultimately create chaos in the system. Therefore, it’s important to explain why this may happen.

It’s also no wonder that some of us are feeling confused when it comes down to drinking coffee, as the media giving some very conflicting advice about it. There’s a lot of research showing how it might be suitable for you; equally, there’s lots of inconclusive information too. Nevertheless, I would love t to share a sneak peek of how coffee may be affecting your health and well-being from a Chinese medical perspective.

Please note: I’m giving you only some suggestions, which are not intended to substitute any medical advice.

HERE’S TO COFFEE: A NEW PERSPECTIVE!

Please discuss with your doctor or traditional acupuncturist if you have a severe medical condition before trying any of my advice. As with all articles on emmasammels.com, this is no substitution for individual medical intervention. If you are interested in finding out more information, please visit my Bookings page.

COFFEE & THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE 

Apologies guys, this one is for the ladies!

If you feel like your menstrual cycle is controlling your life, then this simple piece of advice might be for you.

Women who are menstruating may benefit from minimising coffee in their diet because in Chinese medicine it can create an imbalance in the Chong Mai and Liver channels, often leading to a disruption of the menstrual cycle. When these channels are imbalanced, a range of premenstrual tension (PMT) signs and symptoms can develop resulting in irritability, tearfulness, sore breasts,  or period pain (before during or after the cycle).

Cutting back on your coffee consumption, alongside regular acupuncture treatment, with some necessary nutritional changes may improve your menstrual symptoms by helping to balance your hormones. When our emotions are tangled and not flowing smoothly – such as bottled up feelings of frustration or resentment – it’s likely to impact your menses. An important thing to remember is when the body is relaxed, and our emotions are flowing harmoniously, then physiologically this will have a positive effect on your cycle and overall health in the long-term.

Indeed, working through any repressed emotions, alongside reducing your coffee intake, is a straightforward and natural way of taking care of yourself around that time of the month.

Why wouldn’t you give it a go?

If you are interested in finding out more about how traditional acupuncture or Chinese nutritional therapy can help you during your menstrual cycle, please post a comment or visit my Bookings page.

COFFEE & ANXIETY

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In the clinic, I’ve discovered that coffee and anxiety are frequently part of a vicious cycle. Many patients are stressed and anxious when I work with them – and coffee is a popular coping mechanism.

The ancient Chinese recognised that anxiety can affect the Heart energetically, resulting in signs and symptoms including palpitations, disturbed sleep, feeling easily startled or reduced short-term memory (to name but a few).

Interestingly, coffee can also energetically agitate the Heart. When our Heart is energetically out of balance (not the physical organ itself), you may lack in the sense of self-solidity and will feel out of sorts. For example, the mind, body and spirit will become imbalanced.

So, it makes complete sense if you’re suffering from anxiety to gradually cut back on your coffee consumption instead of using it as a pick- me- up. For calming effects, you could check out healthier options such as dandelion coffee, barley cup, caro or a relaxing herbal tea, e.g., rooibos or chamomile. Not only do they taste nice, but they’ll also induce a cleansing effect too.

When your stress levels have reduced, and you are feeling calmer in yourself, it might be Okay to drink the occasional cup of coffee for a special treat.

Put it to the test –  if you have anxiety there’s no harm in trying this simple advice.

COFFEE & RUNNING ON EMPTY

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I used to be pretty bad at relaxing until I trained as an acupuncturist, but now I know when to listen to my body. If I’m feeling tired or overdoing it, I especially choose not to drink coffee.

When a patient has been running on empty for a while, usually it leads to some Yin deficiency. Typically, the signs and symptoms of Yin deficiency will vary according to the organ involved. But as a general rule, the standard traits for a frequently diagnosed pattern called Kidney Yin deficiency are restlessness, dry throat and mouth at night, urination at night, lower backache towards the end of the day, thirst with a desire to sip in small amounts and a tongue body without a coating and possible cracks.

In particular, what causes Kidney Yin deficiency is overworking or continually being on the go. The Chinese medicine approach encourages a balance between work and rest. Most importantly, when you allow yourself time to relax and slow down, you’ll help to replenish your Yin. Ultimately, traditional acupuncture is a great way to boost your Yin too.

Being a Yin deficient person, you might also be sensitive to stimulants such as coffee, which will prompt you to use up any energy you don’t have [2]. If, however, physically and emotionally there is plenty of water in the well to draw from, then it is likely your Yin is in reasonably good shape. Therefore, it might be alright to drink 1-2 cups of coffee daily.

Having relaxing tools that you can use to replenish your Yin like reading, watching a good film or going to bed at a reasonable hour is essential. Once you start to feel rested, it might be Okay to drink coffee again in moderation.

If you are interested in finding out more about Yin deficiency, please post a comment or visit my Bookings page.

COFFEE & YOUR CONSTITUTION

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When a patient is experiencing side effects from drinking coffee, I like to assess their constitutional health.

A particular reason why some patients seem to tolerate coffee better than others is commonly linked to their constitution known as Jing or Essence. Someone who is born with strong Jing will often overcome illness quickly and has good stamina [3]. Jing also provides the physical basis for life itself and supports our growth, reproduction and development. It’s partly inherited from our parents but also cultivated through our lifestyle, e.g. adequate rest and eating the right types of nourishing food.

Other characteristics, in Chinese medicine, that contribute to signs of good Jing are a strong facial structure (jawline), teeth, hair and the overall strength of the Kidneys energetically.

After ten years, I have found patients with good Jing often find coffee liberating, while someone with poor Jing who is running on empty tends to find it disastrous. To minimise any side effects from drinking coffee, it’s worth considering what type of constitution you have. For example, is it strong or weak?  If you have weak Jing, it’s probably a good idea to drink coffee only in moderation. But, if you have inherited strong Jing it’s likely you’ll be able to drink coffee with minimal side effects.

Assessing your Jing as a guide to how much coffee you should be drinking may sound daft, but I do think there’s a certain amount of truth behind it. Understanding that it can quickly become depleted through a combination of pushing your body too hard or failing to nourish yourself with healthy food and drink plus inadequate rest is essential.

Yes, certainly the fact that coffee can deplete your Jing is something to be aware of.

If you are interested in finding out more about Jing, please post a comment or visit my Bookings page.

HOW MUCH COFFEE?

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It is very difficult to say to how much coffee a patient should be drinking as we are all so unique with our tolerance levels. Perhaps one of the best things to do is take note of how you feel in yourself after drinking it. For me, I know that 1 cup in a blue moon is best suited. But it’s likely to take a bit of fine-tuning before you know your quota.

There appears to be no definitive research out there about how much coffee we should be drinking. There are various hypotheses about coffee consumption associated with inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and weight plus much more [4]. However, few studies show how coffee can affect our general health and well-being.

The Chinese medicine perspective is to match a patient’s coffee consumption according to their diagnosis. When I think a patient will benefit from minimising coffee in their diet, I usually suggest cutting the last one of the day first and then to slowly work up to the morning. For sensitive patients, I advise drinking coffee only in the morning, before lunch, because of its stimulating effects that can disrupt sleep. Sometimes patients are keen to maintain their morning cup of coffee due to finding it enjoyable and satisfying.

In general, I am in favour of patients drinking coffee if they are in reasonably good health and not suffering from anxiety, menstrual problems, adrenal exhaustion, Yin deficiency, poor Jing (as I have mentioned above) or any other contraindications. Usually, 2 cups of coffee a day are enough. If you are drinking more than this, you’ll want to try and wean yourself down to avoid any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Work out your coffee weak spot and then gradually make some changes.

COFFEE & THE LIVER

When I was completing my training as an acupuncturist it used to baffle me how our emotions and diet can have an impact on symptoms in the body. Initially, I wondered if I was studying the right subject because I have been brought up by a very conventional medical approach towards treating illness. But as soon as I started practising, the penny finally dropped as the interconnection between our emotions and bodily symptoms became very clear. Here’s a classic example of how the Liver can be affected by coffee and your emotions.

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In Chinese medicine, a healthy Liver both physically and energetically is essential because together they work towards creating balance in the body on many levels. Emotional stress such as feeling resentful, angry, a bit stuck, trapped or held back in life can cause the Liver energy to stagnate. Over a period of time, these negative emotions with a swig of coffee may not make you feel so good.

Let’s take a look at a short case study of a patient I treated with acupuncture to see how coffee can affect the Liver along with other factors.

Case study: Coffee

I worked with a man in his mid-thirties who was feeling irritable and suffered from low mood. For many years, he had enjoyed eating regularly hot, spicy food and drank daily six cups of black coffee. He had heard about traditional Chinese medicine and decided to give it a go. The only catch? It was going to take a bit of effort with some of his lifestyle habits.

So, I broke down his diagnosis step by step. By the time I saw him his Liver was energetically frazzled and calling out for some help. And why? Because, in Chinese medicine, too much coffee and hot spicy food can warm the Blood resulting in an excess of Heat in the body. The patient presented with classic signs and symptoms of excessive Heat such as a red face, thirst first thing in the morning, smelly stools, a thick yellow tongue coat and a propensity towards outbursts of anger.

I took a realistic approach toward treating him. One habit changed a week and, slowly but surely, he started to make progress. We gradually reduced his coffee and hot, spicy food intake and he started to work through some repressed resentment feelings with a therapist. And slowly, he started to feel better in himself.

This case study shows how coffee in excess can physiologically affect the Liver due to its Heating effect on the organ. Mixed with a bunch of negative emotions it was disastrous for this particular patient.

So, if you’re someone that drinks lots of coffee and has some of these symptoms, it may be worth considering bridging the gap between your coffee habits and emotional well-being too.

“Being mindful of how much coffee you are drinking is key”

Being mindful of how much coffee you’re drinking may help to retrain some of your not-so-good habits. For example, any time you drink a cup of coffee, reflect to see how you feel afterwards. Are you feeling tired or maybe anxious? It’s worth doing this from time to time because they’ll be moments in your life where coffee might suit you more than others.

I hope you find this simple mindfulness tip worthwhile!

OTHER COFFEE TIPS:

Coffee and your digestion: It may be useful to drink coffee after eating meat because it can fend your digestion.

Coffee and curries: To look after your digestion try and avoid drinking coffee after eating a curry.

Drink good quality coffee: When you buy your coffee avoid the processed stuff and opt for the good-quality fresh beans.

Avoid the decaf stuff: Believe it or not, decaf coffee still contains caffeine and other petroleum-based solvents. Drink the fully caffeinated, unprocessed stuff but in moderation.

 

YOUR TURN…

Thank you for taking time to read Coffee: A New Perspective.

Please leave your thoughts and write a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time stay healthy and well!

Business good wishes,

Emma xo  

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS & RESOUNDING THANKS

Thank you to Priscilla Lee for your creative photos, skill and fun while taking the pics!

Thank you as ever to The Northern Cobbler coffee shop in Leicester for the loan of your wonderful facilities.

 

REFERENCES / LINKS:

1. Medical News Life Science Understanding the Antioxidant Properties of Coffee. http://medical news life sciences understanding the antioxidant [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].

2.Flaws, B. and Flaws, B. (2008). The tao of healthy eating. Boulder, Colo.: Blue Poppy Press.

3.Leggett, D. (2017). Helping To Heal Ourselves.

4.http://Patrick Halford The Truth About Coffee [Accessed 6 Nov. 2017].

 

 

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