14 Chinese Medicine Rituals To Try
14 Chinese Medicine Rituals To Try

14 Chinese Medicine Rituals To Try

Experts say there’s much we can learn from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and specifically, its holistic approach to wellness. Prioritising prevention over treatment, TCM says even small changes can bring the body back into balance, helping with everything from chronic headaches to irregular cycles, insomnia and gut issues. From the benefits of eating warm foods to why you should be getting an early night, we asked four experts to explain how to incorporate some of the key rituals into your routine.
By Tor West

Keep Qi Moving

“Chinese medicine is an incredibly sophisticated, natural healing system that has been used by millions of people for thousands of years. It understands that balance within the five organs of the body – heart, lungs, spleen, liver and kidneys – holds the key to good health. At the same time, qi is our energy that continually flows through us, underpinning our physical, emotional and spiritual health. However, it can allow low-level niggles to get a foothold, which can lead to more serious illness. Those with a strong and abundant qi enjoy great health and vigour, but imbalances or blockages weaken qi, which eventually manifests as disease. So, it’s imperative to look after our qi to keep it strong. Gua sha, massage, tapping and qigong can all keep qi flowing.” – Katie Brindle, TCM practitioner & founder of Hayo’u Method 

Don’t Skip Breakfast

“This is my number one rule for anyone who comes to my clinic. According to Chinese medicine, the body works to a 24-hour cycle, with each organ system representing a different two-hour window where it’s most active. For the digestive system – i.e. the stomach and spleen – this is between 7-9am. Therefore, eating a nourishing breakfast during this time will harmonise the digestive system. If you struggle with gut or digestion issues, make sure your breakfast is warm – porridge oats with stewed fruits, or scrambled eggs on a bed of spinach. Around 12 hours later, the stomach and spleen are then in their resting phase, so keep dinner light.” – Joanna Ellner, acupuncturist & founder of REOME

Practice Mindfulness

“In TCM, certain emotions relate to certain organs, and fear, anxiety and anger can all throw the body off balance, triggering other issues like fatigue, indigestion and diarrhoea. Taking time out of your day to practice mindfulness – whether it’s meditation, yoga or breathing exercises – will leave you feeling present and grounded. You don’t need an hour-long meditation class – whatever helps you regulate your breathing will help.” – Ada Ooi, Chinese medicine expert & founder of 001 Skincare

During the cooler months, COLD AND RAW FOODS CAN BE A BURDEN ON THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM, which impairs immunity.

Eat Seasonally

“Time and again, I see patients who aren’t necessarily eating the wrong things, but eating certain foods at the wrong time of the year, which puts the body under strain. To ensure our digestive system is robust, we need to be eating a balanced diet with plenty of organic and locally sourced fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, and a little meat and fish. Avoid too much sugar, processed or overly spicy or greasy foods. Now we are heading towards spring, it can be tempting to reach for large, fresh salads, but you’re far better off having a warm bowl of soup or easy-to-digest, warming stir fry. During the cooler months, cold and raw foods can be a burden on the digestive system, making the body work harder than it needs to and impairing immunity.” – Katie 

Book In For Acupuncture

“Acupuncture is an incredible way to bring the body back into balance, and is particularly effective for women’s health. I’ve lost count of the number of women who come to me having been on the pill for 20 years and are struggling to get their period back. Acupuncture is successful at treating a raft of menstrual imbalances and those that stand in the way of conception, because we can influence the flow and volume of blood in the body, and for women, so much of it is down to a deficiency in that area.” – Joanna 

…But Always Do Your Research

“Like other needle-based treatments – think tattooing, Botox – the acupuncture industry is unregulated, meaning anyone can offer it. The British Acupuncture Council’s online directory is a good place to start – a general rule of thumb is to look for letters after a practitioner’s name. BSc or MSc means they’re educated to a degree level. And steer clear of ‘dry needling’ from a chiro or physio – this is when needles are inserted without any theoretical basis and without a thorough TCM consultation. Dry needling can provide some relief, but it does not tackle the root cause in the way acupuncture does, meaning pain is likely to come back.” – Joanna 

Drink More Tea

“Keeping your core organs warm aids proper blood flow and reduces stagnation. Drinking tea is a great way to keep the body warm, and even better if you can add herbs to support the body. Black sesame tea (one tablespoon of black sesame seeds boiled with 300ml of water and then strained) can support the body in the first phase of the menstrual cycle until ovulation; blackberry leaf tea is good for menopausal symptoms like hot flashes; and goji berry tea can help nourish the blood to aid in better blood flow.” – Renata Nunes, acupuncturist


Protect Your Neck

“Even if there is the slightest breeze, keep your neck wrapped up with a scarf. According to TCM theory, wind can penetrate the neck, and once in the body, can cause itching, eczema, psoriasis and even eye ticks. The same goes for using fans in the summer – never place a fan directly onto your body as the same theory applies. If you sleep with a fan directly on the body, it can leave you with a cricked neck come morning.” – Joanna 

Stock Up On Goji Berries

“Goji berries are great for nourishing the blood and fortifying the liver, making them ideal for women with either heavy or light periods, especially if you don’t eat red meat. Sprinkle over porridge and salads, or eat as a snack throughout the day. And if you suffer with PMS, schedule your cardio for the week before your period. The liver is the organ responsible for storing and releasing menstrual blood, and it likes movement. When there’s a lack of movement, that stuck feeling takes over and manifests as frustration and irritability.” – Joanna 

Keep Your Feet Warm

“Our feet are the part of our body that ground us to the earth. They’re also connected to our kidneys, the organ most associated with our overall health and longevity. In fact, I can tell a lot about a patient’s long-term health just by looking at their feet. It’s common for my female patients to have cold hands and feet, which implies a certain pattern of deficiency. Always keep your feet warm, even in the spring, with natural-fibre socks and hot water bottles.” – Joanna 

Tap Away Stress

“Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health concerns, bringing with it a multitude of symptoms including tense muscles, headaches, dizziness, panic attacks, increased blood pressure and feelings of overwhelm. Chinese medicine believes anxiety is most associated with the heart. Key signs of heart qi imbalance include a lack of joy, feeling withdrawn or easily startled. Using a bamboo tapper to lightly tap the body – especially on the inside of the elbow – will alleviate anxiety and calm the mind. Tapping can also support gut health – concentrate on the stomach area to encourage circulation and energise your meridians. This, in turn, will reduce stress that can affect how efficiently the gut works.” – Katie 

I can tell a lot about a patient’s long-term health just by looking at their feet. COLD FEET ALWAYS IMPLIES A DEFICIENCY OF SOME KIND.

Cut Back On Cardio

“Chinese medicine has long recommended gentle exercise with coordinated breathing as a way to support the body and improve resilience. Gentle exercise like qigong – like tai chi – can aid detoxification, relax body and mind, and in turn, aid weight loss more effectively than traditional forms of cardio. A martial art that’s been practised for thousands of years, it’s made up of sequences of flowing movements where the body, mind and breath are coordinated.” – Katie 

Have An Early Night

“Aim to be asleep by 10.30pm. According to TCM, this will ensure you are in deep REM sleep before the liver organs start detoxing. This will give the body the best chance to regenerate and repair, so you wake up refreshed. If you stay up till, say, 1am, when your liver energy starts to flow, you deprive it of its full energy capacity to do its job of cleansing and rebuilding our blood. If you go to bed late, you won’t feel refreshed in the morning and will shift your body’s circadian rhythm.” – Katie 

Soak Your Feet

“If you struggle to fall asleep, get into the habit of soaking your feet for ten minutes in warm water. According to TCM, when your head is hot and your feet are cold, you will struggle to relax and sleep. Not only is this detoxifying and calming, but it slightly raises your body temperature, which helps to clear energy channels and promote sleep. After the soak, dry your feet and pop on a pair of cosy socks.” – Renata 

For more information or to book a consultation with one of the experts visit AdaOoi.com, KatieBrindle.com, RKNTherapist.com & REOME.com.

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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