Natural Health: Preparing for Sleep

Do you have insomnia? Trouble falling asleep? Waking at strange hours unable to return to sleep? Countless health issues can be caused or aggravated by inadequate sleep. Here is why Chinese medicine can help and tips to properly prepare for and optimize quality sleep.

Sleep is supposed to be easy: just stop what you are doing, turn off the lights, lay down and close your eyes, right? This does not necessarily work for everyone and Chinese medicine gives us insight into why.

For thousands of years, the Chinese and undoubtedly other ancient cultures understood that we should follow the natural rhythms of the planet. The Chinese Medicine 24-Hour Circadian Clock (illustrated in the picture) explains how qi (energy) flows through our organ systems (including all channels & organs) throughout the day. The qi is concentrated in the corresponding element/organ systems at the time noted.

Tips for a Healthy Night’s Sleep

  • Wake up (ideally between 5 & 7 am) and and go to sleep (ideally before 11 pm) at the same time
  • Dim all lights and turn off electronics such as computers, phones, tablets, & televisions an hour before bedtime – use blue light filters after sundown
  • Listen to soft soothing music, relaxing binaural beats, or meditate to relax your mind
  • Practice qi gong or tai chi slowly for 30 mins
  • Read or listen to a relaxing book – try fiction or psalms in the bible
  • Take a relaxing bath with calming essential oils or at least a shower to wash away the frantic energy from the day
  • When you lay down practice abdominal breathing – when you inhale your abdomen expands (not your chest)
  • If any thoughts or worries come up when you try to sleep, try writing them down. Tell your mind, those are for tomorrow after a good night’s sleep gives me strength and clarity
  • If you have a hard time falling asleep, try progressive muscle relaxation or self-hypnosis as you lie in bed
  • If you awake, avoid the temptation to get up and do something, train your body and mind – nothing exciting going on here
  • If you have a problem with a particular organ system, meditate or take a nap during that time (see Chinese body clock picture – ex: metabolic issues 9 pm bedtime)
  • If you try all of this and still have trouble sleeping your qi may be blocked: be prepared to tell your acupuncturist exactly what the problem is. Trouble falling or staying asleep? What time are you waking up? What happens when you awake – mind racing, have to urinate, can/can’t go back to sleep? Do you have vivid dreams?
  • Acupuncture can release energy blockages often improving sleep in the first treatment
  • A series of treatments and learning how to support your organ systems is needed for sustained results

Practitioners of Chinese Medicine a.k.a. Acupuncturists study for years and are trained to recognize patterns and symptoms that illuminate an overarching issue that could be affecting your sleep and as a result your health in general. Sleep quality is just one of the signs acupuncturists use to diagnosis and treat patients to optimize wellness.

Contact us or use the form on the contact us page for an appointment to improve your sleep today!

Chinese Medical Nutrition: Bone Broth

What is Bone Broth? Who needs it? What should I look for in my Bone Broth? Why do we eat/drink it? What does that have to do with Chinese Medicine? 

Bone broth is simple, bones cooked in water for a long period of time ranging from 4-36 hours.  Why would anyone want to do this? As it turns out, this is an herbal decoction!  The two main macronutrients obtained from doing this are marrow and gelatin (which contains collagen) which the body can use for healing and repair.  In addition to these, small amounts of synergistic micronutrients including minerals and trace minerals are also present.

What does this have to do with Chinese Medicine?  Everything!  As a traditional medicine built over thousands of years, Chinese medicine has retained the knowledge of our ancestors on what to eat to attain and maintain health and how to prepare food for maximum digestibility and assimilation.   There are entire books which describe the eastern nutrition properties of foods and how to use them for medicinal purposes! TCM suggests these ingredients for certain conditions and some Chinese Medicine herbal formulas contain these ingredients as well.

Marrow is known to replenish the Jing or Essence, a yin substance located deep in body structures such as the brain, bone marrow, and reproductive organs.  Jing is associated with growth and development. E Jiao is a type of gelatin traditionally used as a blood builder and should be used whenever there is a situation where the blood or blood vessels are damaged or healing is not taking place somewhere in the body.

Who can benefit?  People with pain and injury including athletes;  those trying to conceive or pregnant; those with digestive difficulties such as indigestion, gas, constipation; people with chronic illness or low body weight and children.  Organic and fresh as possible bones and meat are recommended especially when there is compromised health.

If you research traditional cultures around the world, you’ll find bone broth has been used in other cultures as well.  Some notes about bone broth:

  • Your bone broth should turn to gel when refrigerated, the more solid it is, the more gelatin it contains
  • Some sources of gelatin are ham hocks and bovine hooves
  • Some sources of marrow are large bones such as short ribs or oxtails – cook a long time until the marrow falls out
  • Bone broth protein powder is an awesome digestible protein powder, but it is not bone broth
  • If you find it difficult to digest your bone broth, try adding ginger to the recipe 

If you still have difficulties with digestion or healing, you should be assessed for other issues that may be preventing your healing.  Contact us for an acupuncture or herbal appointment today!

A final note:

There has been controversy on the treatment of animals for medicinal use.

  • Most herbal medicinals are not animal based products and are vegan
  • Use of animal products is indicated for more serious illness
  • You can avoid the use of animal products IF you can eat a significant amount of fresh raw fruits and vegetables – herbal formulas can help you do that too
  • You can use your own bone broth or gelatin to mix in your herbal formula from your acupuncturist

Sources and Favorite Books on Nutritional Health:

Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig, Ph.D.

Chinese Natural Cures by Henry Lu

Wishing you the best in health!