In this article I discuss my experience of using Chinese Medicine for anxiety. I went to see a Chinese Doctor close to where I live. The reason for wanting to try Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was because I have been getting quite bad anxiety symptoms recently.
After boiling many pot-fulls of herbs, receiving acupuncture 3-4 times, and being dairy free and low on alcohol and sugar, my anxiety pretty much lifted. Some symptoms still remain but I noticed a huge difference.
I believe, however, that stopping the adrenal glandular supplements was a big contributor to this change. As soon as I stopped taking them, I felt calmer and more composed. More on the glandulars here: Anxiety Diet Conclusions. When I eventually stopped taking the Chinese herbs because I couldn't afford them, and when I also began eating less well, the anxiety symptoms got worse again. I thus believe that despite the supplements worsening the anxiety, the Chinese medical treatment, diet advice and herbs - as detailed in this article - were instrumental in relieving anxiety. I also had had some - much milder - anxiety symptoms before starting to take the adrenal supplements as well.
Chinese Medicine has a reputation of being one of the most proven effective alternative therapies and to be especially good for emotional issues. In my case, the main diagnosis was dehydrated body, and nutrients not getting into the cells due to Chi Energy not flowing correctly. Dehydration, Dr. Tan explained, was the cause of mucus and the anxiety was caused by too much emotional energy, which went unreleased.
Also, it is possible that the needles the doctor put on the 'third-eye' location between my eyes might have helped to improve my intuition, and helped me also realise that the supplement was worsening the anxiety problems.
A detailed report and many new insights to my health conditions can be found below...
26th October 2013, Saturday
I went to see a Chinese Doctor for the first time in my life, complaining of symptoms including anxiety, phlegmy cough after eating, and menstrual pains. I feel that recently my anxiety has got worse, and it seems to be linked to an inability to handle stress. Sugar intolerance is quite bad, I feel weak a lot if I eat pastries or cake - which I try to avoid but when working long hours, I sometimes end up eating these. (Tiredness causes cravings.) I have resorted back to painkillers for menstrual pains - as although I have found ways to relieve the menstrual pain temporarily, I need to be at home resting to be able to do those, and at work am still forced to take pain killers. No time recently for sick days, and having just started a new job I try to avoid taking time off.
I was impressed by how happy the Chinese Doctor looked and acted. I feel that many people in today's world have not enough energy to stay that happy and friendly - me included - though I try.
An impressive moment was when Dr Tan - the Chinese Medical Practitioner at Herbal Palace - guessed my age outright, very soon after I walked through the door, and only when I had just started explaining my health complaints. She said: "Oh, you're young, you're only 34 so you will get better quickly." I said, "How did you know I was 34?" Her response: "I have a lot of experience in working with people - I can tell." I had not at any point in the booking process told her my age.
She went onto feel my pulse for a fairly long time and looked at my tongue. She also asked questions about whether my belly bloated, my menses, bowel movement, if I drank a lot of water, if I had a lot of emotional stress, etc.
Then she explained that my main problem was 'too much emotional heat' which manifested as bottled up emotions, needing lots of emotional support and overreacting easily. She also said I had a problem with my bowels and absorbing nutrients and that my hormones were out of balance because my body fluids were out of balance. Chinese Medicine thinks of the hormones as being in the fluid, she said. She said I was very dehydrated (despite the fact that I drink quite a lot of water). I needed to not drink tea, coffee, or alcohol, not cook food in the oven because it destroyed nutrients and made it too dry, and make sure I went for a brisk walk every day because of my job of just sitting still at the computer most of the day. She advised against running as it was too tiring for the body at this time.
In terms of food, her advice was towards what seemed to me quite an archetypal Chinese diet: good quality carbohydrate, protein and vegetables on every meal, no cold foods, but stir fries, steamed vegetables and fish, as well as boiled food. No processed food, no canned food, and only little bit of organic meat, if any, as it is hard to digest. No sugar and no dairy.
I asked whether fruit juice was ok and she said only if you make it at home. Store-bought fruit juice, even if labelled not to have sugar, she said, often had sugar - as well as other unlabelled ingredients added! According to her, recently many products had been tested and found to contain many more ingredients than declared on the label. Thus her advice was to eat fresh wholefoods as much as possible, and home-cooked.
With the acupuncture she sought to open the energy blockages in my body, this time targeting the spleen and the liver. Liver, she said, was the emotional organ, where my 'emotional heat' problem lay. She only put on some 15 needles, to my neck and shoulder area, my lower back, and my feet. Some of the needles hurt, one of them shot a pain from the ankle to my toes - possibly where the energy got unblocked - and most had hardly any sensation at all. This sharp, radiating pain lasted probably less than a second, and so I doubt it was nerve-related, since the acupuncture needle stayed in place but the pains stopped.
I got given a whole shopping bag full of herbs, a sandwich-size paper bag of herbs for each day of the week. The herbal mixture consisted of the following herbs: Bupleurum Root, Processed Pinellia Tuber, Medicated Leaven, Hawthorn Fruit, Scutellaria Root, Cinnamon Twigs, Tuckah (Poria), Magnolia Bark, Liquorice Root, Pueraria Root, Mint, Mugworth Leaf, Dandelion.
From the Chinese Doctor's and her husband's explanation and from google search I gathered that these herbs mainly target to calm the emotions and reduce anxiety, as well as to break down phlegm.
Some time after the session I lay down on my bed at home for a rest as I was feeling tired, and I first got some dull pains in my lower back where the needles had been. The pains kept moving, then that stopped and I got some cold shivers running from my shoulders to the bottom of my back, some fast sharp stings in my lower belly, and then some other feelings, which felt like different kinds of energy movements. I don't think I would have noticed these unless I lay down and concentrated on my body's feelings. This was after I had had my first cup of the herb tea concoction, of which I was to have three cups per day, boiling the same bag of herbs three times before moving onto the next bag next day. The herbs had to also be soaked in water before boiling - without discarding any of the water.
The herbs were expensive, £6 per day, whereas the acupuncture was more affordable, £30 for about an hour-long session, which also incorporated consultancy with Dr. Tan, massage and infrared light treatment. The initial half-hour consultation was also £10.
When I asked why the herbs were so expensive, she said that it was the quality and the quantity that made it cost so much. They were all imported from China and the amount I got to take home, to be honest, was a lot more than I expected. She said that you could take the herbs in small capsules but you wouldn't get as much effect out of them as the amount would be too little. However, she though I may not need that many weeks of herbs, as they were strong, and could possibly move into capsules quite soon. Generally young people got better within six weeks or so of treatment, she said, whereas people in their 50's and over often needed more time.
She was spot-on about many of the things she said, the dehydration, how I was emotionally too sensitive and overreacting easily to small stresses. The allergies were part of the same picture of the body being out of balance, and would clear out with proper diet, daily light exercise, as well as the herbs and acupuncture.
I can provide Dr. Tan's email address on request if needed.
As a result, I am now hoping to shed many health problems within a short period of time, i.e. within the six weeks she mentioned as a typical length of time. I have not yet decided whether to suspend my other supplements for this time or not. She did advice that it would be beneficial to get my Chi Energies working well first before taking supplements, because it was this life energy that transported the nutrients into the organs in the first place! So if there was no good flow of Chi, nutrients would not be absorbed very well.
2nd November 2013, Second Appointment at the Herbal Palace
Massage on the neck and lower back, acupuncture to the front, less herbs (to save money).
Progress: herb drink makes me feel calmer, calms anxiety. Generally been feeling better. Started the week off with a strict diet: no caffeine, no dairy, no gluten - and very little sugar. The only sugar I had was some raspberry jam on my gluten-free pancakes (which came out amazingly nice!).
(I made both, pancakes and spinach pancakes - and both gluten-free. The first one substituted banana for eggs and the second one used eggs. For flour I used a mixture of gluten-free flours: chickpea flour, spelt flour, rice flour and gram flour. It seems to work well, one flavour of flour won't overpower but the result is a mild taste, like wheat, but gluten-free.)
Towards the end of the week I had to do longer and longer days at work, and ended up eating worse food because I wasn't prepared. Next week I will be more organised.
Definitely noticed that cheese causes phlegm, even unpasteurised brie did. Sugar makes me feel weak, even like hangover.
At mid-week mucus started coming loose in my nose. It felt like the dairy congestion was clearing out. Some yellow-colour in the mucus as well which I gather is a sign of inflammation?
I drank some decaffeinated green tea, which has 1/10th of the caffeine of normal green tea - this caused me to be very dehydrated as well.
One day I had an argument, which was not initiated by me - instead I tried to calm the situation down - but it was quite a realisation to notice that it made me very dehydrated also! Even the next morning I woke up veery dehydrated, despite drinking lots of tap water. I realised, however, that putting natural salt in the water helped to curb the dehydration better than usual. I read online of people who felt the same, and who declared that natural salt was healthy and an important part of the diet. (Beware of chemical table salt, however.)
On Tuesday, 5th November I was still caffeine, gluten, dairy and sugar-free. I had just a hint of a headache at some point on that day, and occasional spells of weakness in the muscles (fevery feeling), despite eating plenty of protein (oat porridge for breakfast, lentil soup for lunch, egg fried white rice with kidney beans and baby courgettes for dinner).
At this point I was still taking the hair mineral analysis supplements, including endo-dren adrenal glandulars. I also occasionally took GABA to feel less anxious - it seemed to work a little. I hardly ever took digestive enzymes, though carried them with me, and I took the Chinese Herbs 2-3 times every day, boiling the herbs more times than recommended, resulting in some dosages being weaker. The reason I was taking less of the herbs than recommended was to save money.
I suspect the fevery, muscle-achy feeling is a detox symptom. In addition, I have a coated tongue and mouth but maybe a bit more energy than usual.
Despite these small symptoms in the beginning, this time my gluten and dairy detox was generally very easy (writing this some six weeks later). I occasionally have some butter (e.g. when eating out) and I get some gluten in soya sauce, and possibly in the oats I eat, and whatever gluten is hidden in restaurant meals, but otherwise I have cut out all cheese, cream and gluten-containing products, such as pastries, pasta, bread and cake. The challenge to stay off alcohol and sugar took a bit longer to achieve, but am getting there in the end).
On Wednesday morning I woke up with a very strong 'weak muscles' -feeling, as if I had fever, even though I had had a long, good night's sleep. This may be due to dehydration as I had a little argument last night or it may be the white rice that I have been eating. It shouldn't be lack of protein, and it shouldn't be wheat, dairy, gluten, caffeine or alcohol, since I haven't had any of those. I quickly felt better after waking up, however, and I also drank some Himalayan pink salt in water to help as well. (Five weeks later I still get the same ill feeling, at least during my period. It is perhaps slowly getting less, however. Drinking spirulina mixed with grapefruit and water seems to help quite quickly - perhaps because it is easily-absorbable protein?).
2nd December, Monday.
A month and one week later, I had another appointment with Dr. Tan. I have now in total had four appointments and I haven't yet written about the last two. However, I have taken a lot less herbs than advised so as to save money, as I am on a tight budget at the moment.
My anxiety has gotten better, not so much blushing and I feel a bit stronger and more confident, more like my normal self. But the problems are there still, though lot less severe... the improvement is gradual.
What seems to have made a huge difference is stopping the adrenal glandular supplements. I don't know how I realized this but it perhaps had to do with the fact that Dr. Tan during two appointments put needles in the 'third eye' chakra, which helps to improve your intuition. In any case, I stopped the grandulars and for a few days took one pill instead of four. I felt less anxious straight away. So that has been a huge improvement.
The nutritionist who recommended the adrenals in the first place (about a year ago), did warn that they might be quite strong and told me to 'see how I feel'. His first recommendation were less strong thyroid glandulars. However, after taking the adrenal glandulars I felt better and had more energy straight away. The nutritionist was not very clear about the dosage but did say 3-4 a day would be ok. I didn't get my three-monthly check-ups so as to save money and so I think there is a chance that my adrenal glands have recovered and the supplements have made them go on overdrive. And whether they have recovered or not, it certainly feels like they have been on overdrive and been causing my anxiety and other symptoms. [This was confirmed in a later, updated hair mineral analysis: my adrenal glands had healed and the glandulars were causing them to go on overdrive.]
This leads me to make a quick conclusion that anxiety in general, as well as unusual blushing symptoms, may be related to adrenal gland function. According to Dr. Wilson majority of the people in the USA are adrenal fatigued, although your average doctor will not be able to detect this.
So it seems that if you experience similar symptoms, unexplained blushing and an inability to handle stress, anxiety, etc., they may well be adrenal-related. However, according to the Chinese Doctor, dehydration certainly plays a big part too - and 'emotional heat' contributes to dehydration. I have definitely noticed that alcohol and sugar worsen the anxiety symptoms, and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine this is because they are very dehydrating.
Back to the TCM and Dr. Tan, however. During my appointment on Saturday she carefully took my pulse from both wrists and concluded that I am getting a lot better. She said I could take capsules now instead of the herbs, which I am happy about because they are less expensive. £24 per week instead of £42. So that was great news!
There are two types of capsules of Chinese Medical Herbs I am taking now.
BU ZHON GYI QI WAN ("Invigorator Tea Pill Extract")
Radix astragali (Astralagus)
Radix Codonopisis (Dang Shen)
White atractylodes tuber
Chinese angelica root
Radix bupleuri (Bupleurum root)
Black Chinese date
Second bottle of Chinese herbs, ingredients:
Radix rehmanniae (Rehmannia, Shu Di Huang)
Fructus corni (Cornus fruit, Shan Zu Yu)
Cortex moutan (Peony bark)
Rhizone alismatis (Oriental water plantain rhizome)
I have stayed pretty much dairy free, bar from a little butter here and there, e.g. when eating out at a restaurant. I was doing quite well until last week, when I had to do a lot of overtime at work, and when my mind is tired and overworked I crave alcohol in the evening... so I had a glass of white wine or a cider every day after work. I still stayed away from gluten but the alcohol affects me very strongly and the next day I would notice that my face looked more red and puffy straight away after having even one drink. Needless to say, this must have made me even more tired and by the end of the week I felt exhausted and sleep deprived.
I spoke to Dr. Tan's husband while waiting for the appointment and he said that asthma, for example, is helped with sugar- and dairy free diet since these are dehydrating and mucus-producing. Dr. Tan had earlier explained to me that sugar dehydrates you and dehydration causes everything fluid in your body to become sticky - the result is phlegm. (I have also read elsewhere that gluten may cause asthma and many asthmatics find relief by being gluten free).
She also explained at one of the earlier appointments that sitting-down office work can make you very tired because you are not moving. Your energies become stagnant. Movement and exercise are very important from the Chinese Medicine point of view. Last time the doctor recommended I do TaiChi, which she thought was better for doing at home than QiGong, because the latter was difficult to do without a teacher, and you might create wrong kinds of energy movement if just doing it at home from a DVD.
On a previous appointment some weeks ago I had a little scare as she had put a needle on my temple. At the end when she took the needles out, I realized the skin at my temple was swollen. She said the needle had hit a vein! I immediately asked if it was dangerous, and she assured me it wasn't, although she warned that I might get a little bruise afterwards. She said I should put a warm towel on it when I got home. The swollenness quickly disappeared and there was no bruise, but the area still feels a little sensitive over a week ago - not sure if I am imagining this or not! A little scary though. Nevertheless, this didn't put me off the acupuncture because it seems to be doing me good, and the dietary advice seems to be filling a lot of blanks I had regarding my symptoms.
Other recommendations I have received from Dr. Tan so far includes:
10th December 2013, Tuesday.
I didn't see Dr. Tan last week, because I am on a tight budget. However, I will just write an update here on my progress.
Initially Dr. Tan said that it would take six weeks on her herbal protocol, acupuncture, and following the diet, for me to cure my anxiety. However, due to financial reasons I have done a lot less than required, perhaps 1/3 or the recommended supplements and acupuncture.
There has still been some good progress. Since I started, six and half weeks ago, I have lost a few kilograms of weight, but am still a few kilos off my ideal target weight (I'm currently 58kg).
I took a day off work yesterday because of my menses, which started on Sunday. So the usual fatigue, backache and period pain were still there pretty much the same as usual. So no progress on that front. I had to take some pain killers after not being able to sleep all night on Sunday, because of the pain. This was despite using grounding sheets, wild yam cream and Vitex essential oil, all of which help, but not enough this time. (Before I have managed to make the pain go away completely by these means, and the menstrual pain I get is quite severe.) I also felt extremely dehydrated through the whole night, and ended up drinking so much water that it made me sick and I had to throw up (the menses also make me feel nauseous).
I have been almost completely gluten- and dairy-free for a month now, and I haven't had alcohol since Friday. I eat very little sugar, gradually reducing it all the time and I've been caffeine-free for ages, apart from a period at the beginning of this trial where I drank decaffeinated green tea, before realising that it also had small amounts of caffeine in it. The gluten-free part, by the way, has nothing to do with Chinese Medicine, that is my addition.
My cough is slowly and surely getting better, and my anxiety has definitely improved a lot, although not completely gone yet. I feel like I'm on the right track. I am meant to take two types of capsules, 3 x 8 capsules of each type per day. I am taking less, however, to save money. My next appointment for acupuncture and assessment will be in the new year.
My nose is still blocked and I get some headaches these days, which is unusual for me. I am suspecting that the mucus is still caused by some food item, and I have to see whether maybe sugar, eggs, nuts, or something else may be causing this. It may also be that I need to stay on gluten- and dairy-free diet for longer, before all the mucus goes. [Update: Sugar gives me mucus as well, and the headaches are a detox symptom I get when I quit sugar, processed carbs and dairy.]
I am excited about this Chinese Medicine experiment, and I love taking herbs instead of supplements. I hope that my anxiety completely disappears, as well as my asthma-like symptoms (tightness in the chest); occasional weakness in the muscles (or bones?), i.e. an achy feeling; I hope my cough improves further and I hope that my energy levels keep going up and the period pain goes away. If I manage to correct the dehydration, it seems that according to my Chinese Doctor, the hormones will balance out, nutrients will get into the cells better, energy levels will increase, my digestion will improve, and mucus be cleared out. Fingers crossed!
[Update: My breathing problems (asthma-like symptoms) are slowly clearing, especially since I moved out of London to an area where there is more country side and fresh air (still within commuting distance of London). I have also noticed that the breathing problems come whenever I drink alcoholic drinks and last for a day or so afterwards. I don't if other foods/ chemicals cause it as well. Trauma Release Exercises usually relieve the breathing problems so I think it is at lest partly anxiety-related - it feels like I can't fill my lungs all the way.]
Meanwhile, I have started to do more for my health in terms of the subconscious mind/ spirit/ Chi energy, and started a morning and evening 'ritual' last weekend. I will write a separate article on this, but first thing in the morning when my alarm goes off I listen to 5 minutes of affirmations I recorded for myself. I then get up and do 10 deep breaths, a few yoga movements, the five Tibetan rites (energy-exercises), 5-10 minutes of silent meditation and 'being in the body', 'I love you' mantra to myself three times or more (ho'oponopono), and a written list of my goals for the day. One of my daily goals is always to stay in high vibrations as much as possible.
For an evening ritual I do 10 deep breaths, some exercises (running or muscle work depending on the day), stretches, especially concentrating on the neck area due to office work, meditation, gratitude (I go through things that I am grateful for that day) and then I listen to some affirmations I recorded for myself. Then I eat, and if I still have time, I listen to guided meditation.
I also have short versions of each of the rituals for days when I have less time. The main point is to do something and keep the 'ritual' going.
I will write a separate article on the importance of subconscious mind work. A famous book on the topic is 'Think and Grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill and the Law of Attraction is a widely discussed supposed natural law that makes our thoughts become 'things'. The idea is that our mind is a very powerful tool and we often use it the wrong way. I have recently listened to inspiring talks on this topic on Gaiam TV, by Bob Proctor among others, and have also started to listen to Brain Sync subliminal message tracks by Kelly Howell, which were recommended to me by a reader. But more on this later.
[Update: The morning ritual, affirmations and subconscious mind work seem to work very effectively - after continuing them for a little while, say a month - to improve my moods, make me see new opportunities, and even to improve my financial situation. I think there is more to this than changing your own thinking, it actually changes the world around you to some degree. My financial situation especially hugely improved since I started doing the subliminal messages for that purpose - I started getting little refunds, from the estate agents and the utility bill companies, I got a payrise, found ways to buy things cheaper than usual, managed to reduce my loan interest, etc. But of course you have to work actively to improve your own situation as well, mostly it seems to work in a way, in my experience, that new opportunities pop up if you are actively working to find them.]
11th December 2013
I emailed Dr Tan with the following questions:
The Chinese doctor's response:
... When you feel physically low you will normally be more emotional. The emotional stress can easily upset the stomach function. Therefore if you want to try some probiotics or eat fermented food that is fine.
Stomach weakness can cause the whole body to be ran down, including tiredness, thirst, muscle-ache, etc. As you work a lot in the office, you're physically not active enough, and your body will not generate enough heat to help it get warm and keep your circulation flowing normally, and the stomach to function well. So, your stomach does not distribute the nutrition, including body fluids, to the right places. To correct this problem, you need (1) do regular gentle excise; (2) eat warm food, take warm drink; (3) in the meantime take some herbs to help free emotional stress and strengthen your body's physical function...
When she talks about stomach weakness, the Chinese Doctor means the energy of the stomach chakra. She explained this to me later. Apparently I have weakness in the stomach Chi, which causes weakness in the lungs as the stomach is not able to 'feed' the lungs properly. By 'feed' I think she means energetically, or in terms of warming the lungs up.
I suspect that the feeling of thirst after eating a large raw salad is due to difficulty in digesting so much raw fibre. So I take the thirst now to be an indigestion symptom but clearly linked to the other problems as explained by Dr. Tan above.
21st December 2013, Saturday
I booked another acupuncture appointment with Dr. Tan, on the first morning of my Christmas holiday, when I was feeling pretty ran down from working long hours and the office Christmas party on Wednesday and some drinking also apart from that. I didn't get enough sleep through the week either. I was drinking small amounts and very sensibly, with a lot of water as well as B vitamins in between and going to sleep early, but even then the alcohol affects me very strongly and makes me tired.
I also explained that my last menses had been perhaps a little more painful than usual, where I struggled a long time to try to not take pain killers but eventually gave up, after being up all night. I felt 'like I had been hit by a bus' and took a day off work. I felt extremely dehydrated all through the night while in pain and drinking (tap) water didn't seem to help. In fact I drank so much water that I ended up throwing it up. But on the positive side I didn't get diarrhea like I normally get, so I thought perhaps that was a sign of my liver getting stronger.
Dr Tan felt the pulse from my wrist and suggested I go back to herbs to strengthen myself quicker. She proceeded to do acupuncture on my back, legs and head and couple of the needles hurt quite a lot. It's a good kind of pain, though, I think, meaning that the needles are effective.
I also explained that I had started to get night sweats and my Chinese Doctor thought that this could either be due to a too hot room (possible) or due to the body not being able to 'hold the heat in'. The latter, she explained, was to do with cold and damp body constitution, and with the general problem of the body not generating, holding on to, or having enough heat within it.
So the emotional heat dries me out, keeping me dehydrated, whereas the lack of heat as generated by the body keeps me phlegmmy, hormones not flowing properly, and nutrients not getting into the cells. It seems a little contradictory, I will have to ask her to clarify this.
I asked Dr. Tan if she could explain to me a little bit about how the Chi energy worked and she tried to start explaining it but I couldn't really follow as it seemed very complicated. She did, however, explain that she thought I had weakness in the kidneys, since I woke up to go to the toilet at nights, and that my stomach Chi was weak and not feeding the lungs properly. Some of these could possibly be genetic weaknesses.
As a solution, apart from the acupuncture and herbs, she said I could go for a gentle 20 minute run or do some other exercise to strengthen the lungs and to massage the Middle Chakra 100 times every day. The Middle Chakra, she explained, was located between the belly button and the lower rib cage.
I was curious also about her stance on raw foods, so I asked why she thought all the animals ate so much raw food and the humans were the only ones eating cooked food. She responded that the animals were in movement a lot of the time, running, chasing other animals, etc. whereas humans generally lived much more sedentary. As a result, we didn't generate enough heat and had to get some heat from our food. When I got stronger, she said, I could eat raw food without problems.
I also saw the electrical acupuncture kit and asked whether I could try that or if it was too strong for me. Too strong, she said. According to her, the electricity treatment combined with acupuncture was best for conditions where there was stiffness or the inability to move very well.
I also reported still having mucus and she thought it was because of the sugar. I could agree with that, as the mucus does seem to get worse with sugary foods and alcohol. Hopefully after the holidays I can give these up completely. As for now, I am going for a run almost every day, and doing yoga and other energy exercises and stretches, meditation, affirmations, goal writing and gratitude every day. I continue on almost no-gluten, almost no-dairy, and low sugar, low alcohol diet.
The batch of herbs I got this time included: astralagus root, angelica root, codonopsis root, wild jujube seed, tangerine peel, processed pinellia tuber, Yan Zhi, bupleurum root, cinnamon twigs, honey-prepared liquorice, dandelion, motherwort.
Update: I have had increasing lower back pain, probably since we got a new bed couple of months ago. I thought for a while it might be kidney pain but this is at the bottom of the spine and on two sides, not high enough to be related to kidneys, as I understand it. Apart from that, been boiling the herbs once a day on most days - this way the herbs will last longer.
I have now started a new diet experiment (on 12th of Jan 2014), which is a high animal protein, sugar-free and carb-free diet. Well, almost carb free, I get some carbs from vegetables but am not eating any grains, potatoes, root vegetables, legumes (which have carbs as well), soya, and the only dairy I eat is butter. I have ordered some organic meat for this week and try to have some organic animal protein on every meal, including breakfast (!). I will continue for two weeks and see if my energy levels change. If they don't, I will go back to vegetarianism/ veganism.
A full-report on this experiment can be read here: Low Carbohydrate/ Caveman Diet Experiment
Because of my financial situation I have to cut down on the Chinese Doctor visits. But I will write more here once I resume the visits. I really enjoy the sessions and have got many insights from meeting with Dr. Tan. The herbs also make me feel stronger if I take them three times a day. Now I am down to about one herb drink every other day, as I am busy at work and also trying to make the herb bags last longer.
25th January 2014, Saturday
I booked another appointment with the doctor, as I wished to discuss my recent low carbohydrate diet experiment. I felt more grounded, much less anxious, and mentally quite balanced on the diet. I thought it was easier to wake up earlier in the weekends as well. However I also got very constipated, some skin problems, very blocked nose and a cold with sore throat that lasted for more than a week and has still not completely gone. To read the analysis of the diet in more detail, please refer to the diet diary, link above.
Dr. Tan's analysis of this was that I ate too high fat, which caused the constipation. I also transitioned too quickly into too much protein, so my body couldn't properly digest it. However, she thought the increased protein was one of the main reasons that I felt so much better in some ways: reduced anxiety, more energy, more mental balance - but the low sugar and low carb had an equally big role to play in this. She advised that the diet approach was too extreme, and I should continue eating a good amount of protein and low-carb, no sugar, but reduce fat intake, stick to good quality fats only, and cut back on animal proteins at least until I could digest it well again. She did say some red meat was advisable to women because of the nutrients it contained to replace the monthly blood loss due to menstruation.
We talked for a while and then she proceeded to give me a massage on my shoulders and lower back, and pin the acupuncture needles to my lower back, between the eyebrows, to my calves and to my neck. Some of the needles hurt quite a bit and she explained again that it was necessary to twist the needles which sometimes resulted in pain, to get the desired effect. She said that if the needles didn't hurt, they had no effect.
Then I had the infrared light placed so that it heated my lower back, and later shoulders. This always feels very nice and I assume it draws out toxins from the body.
I asked why my eye-whites were always yellow and why my eyes got red so easily. She said that it was the same reason why my face got red easily - because of weakness in the liver. She said that too much emotional heat (stress and blocked emotions I guess) very effectively weakened the liver. This in turn, manifested in increased blood circulation in the face and eyes. When removing one of the needles from next to my left eye brow, some blood came dripping out (about 1 teaspoon-full) and the Chinese Doctor thought that it was a good sign, that some pressure got released.
I also asked why my face was always so puffy when getting up from the acupuncture table where I had been lying face down. She said it had to do with the fluid imbalance in my body, which was linked to weakness in the kidneys. The Chinese Medical Doctor explained that she targeted my lower back with the needles this time because by strengthening the back the kidneys would be strengthened.
My pulse was better than before, due to having done regular exercise during the Christmas holidays (although for the last two weeks I didn't do any).
In general I was in good health, Dr. Tan explained, apart from a little weakness in the kidneys and liver. I didn't buy herbs or supplements this time because I can't afford it. I still have some herbs left from before anyway.
After leaving the 'Herbal Palace' I came home and soon after fell into a deep sleep. I slept from 2pm-5pm and woke up feeling tired even after that. The need to sleep seems to be a common occurrence to me after acupuncture.
26th April 2014, Saturday
Another visit to the Chinese Doctor after a long pause. I think the acupuncture and herbs have really helped me as I did another mineral analysis from my hair some time ago and there were clear signs of my body getting stronger: adrenal glands healed, stronger digestion, more energy, etc.
I have been suffering from stiff neck, to an extent that it is sometimes painful. Dr. Tan's advice was to keep the neck warm and to put a hot water bottle over the stiff muscles after coming home from work and also to stretch. She put some needles on the neck too. When I got home I used an electronic heat pad on both of the shoulders and the neck, and later my boyfriend gave me a neck massage. All this helped, but when I went back to work on Monday (I have just returned from holidays in Finland) the neck got stiff again. But it is useful to remember that cold makes stiff muscles worse.
[Later note: I think the stiff neck had a lot to do with sleeping on the commute train with my neck bent to the side and also with the position I was sitting in when at work. Correcting these helped quite a bit but I still feel that my neck has chronically tense muscles because of office work and not enough movement through the days.]
The Chinese Doctor checked my tongue and said that my digestion is getting stronger. This is in accordance with the hair mineral analysis report - and good news!
A new insight came about regarding my period. Apparently the painful menses are linked to liver weakness AND to emotional difficulties. The liver is an emotional organ, according to Chinese Medicine, and a weak liver can be caused by negative emotions and vice versa. Weak liver, in turn, causes hormonal imbalances and thus menstrual difficulties, such as period pain. I started taking what Dr. Tan calls 'happy pills', which have herbs to strengthen the liver.
I discussed sunscreens and skin cancer with Dr. Tan because someone I know has been worried about the UV rays of the sun. "There was no skin cancer in the old days when people used to spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun", she said. Skin cancer, then, according to her, is more a problem of internal imbalances in the body, but also the result of chemicals we put on our skin. To prevent skin cancer, Dr. Tan advised, one should not use any chemicals on the skin, should eat alkaline foods (i.e. lots of greens), no bad carbohydrates (rice and complex carbs, she said, are ok). Also she confirmed my understanding that anyone with cancer should stay as far away from sugar as possible, as sugar feeds cancer cells and we all have some cancer cells in our bodies. Oxygen delivery to cells and thus exercise is important in cancer prevention as well. Instead of sunscreen, Dr. Tan suggested wearing a sun hat to prevent the skin from burning.
[Later note: Now that it is summertime, I have reduced the chemicals I wear on my skin even further, especially when out in the sun. I don't use cream or if I do it is aloe vera gel or coconut oil with no added ingredients.]
I didn't feel too tired after the treatment but went to have a nap anyway, and fell into a deep sleep again, as usual after acupuncture. This is normal, and a 'healing crisis' according to Dr. Tan. She said it's a sign of weakness in my body. I have booked another appointment for next Saturday.
[I forgot to record the next visit but it was quite uneventful, I didn't feel like asking too many questions because I was tired and the doctor was busy as well.]
It is now June 2014 and I haven't been to the Chinese Doctor for about a month. I am saving my money because of one main reason: I feel that the biggest obstacle to my health right now is my own self-discipline. I think that at the moment I can make the biggest impact on my health by moving, exercising, by daily motivating my mind to keep focused, and by eating well. Once I have managed to realize a long-term lifestyle with regular healthy habits, I will have another check with Dr. Tan and see what my health looks like then and what should be my next focus.
The knowledge and guidance and warm attention of Dr. Tan has been very important for me during these challenging times of fighting anxiety and being confused about different diets and ways of eating. I feel that I have learned an enormous amount from her, among other things how the physical and energy body as a whole works in unison and has to be kept in balance.
This may seem like a small thing but I have finally understood the deep importance of exercise and movement in general. I always knew I felt good after exercise but now understand on a deeper level how everything in the body has to be kept in movement - as life in general never stops but is always in movement, in flow and dancing. Even doing regular exercise for a short time caused the doctor to report that my body was getting stronger, and I also felt better.
There are some things I disagree about: mainly the recommendation to eat white rice. I don't believe white rice is healthful for me as it seems difficult to digest (I get tired after eating it). I also tend to overeat it so it seems to have the addictive quality that other refined starches have. There may be types of white rice that are less starchy than others but I personally would recommend brown rice because of the fibre and protein content.
Regarding raw foods, I take the point that it is important to combine the diet with exercise. I am keen to try another raw food diet soon and will eventually conclude whether I can make it work or not. If I do manage to eat a balanced and health-promoting raw food diet where I feel good on a daily basis, I will return to Dr. Tan for a check up to see if she thinks I am well or if I have developing imbalances.
I will write Part Two of the Chinese Medicine experiment once I return to Dr. Tan for advice, acupuncture and herbal remedies. In conclusion, this experience has been one of the most enlightening and helpful experiences of my health journey and I would recommend the Chinese Doctor's services to anyone. I can provide her contact details on request (she operates in North Kent, UK). It also seems to be very effective to use Chinese Medicine to treat anxiety.
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Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions. Read more about Ulla and this website here: "About CHR"