By Dr. Shihan Mary Bolz
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
Master Martial Arts Instructor
If there is one thing that never changes about our world and the entire universe we are in, it is that change is the constant. Cyclical change, in actuality. The ancient peoples of Asia looked at the universe as a continuous circle. No beginning, no end. It just is. Where the circle begins, it ends and where the beginning is and where the end is can not be known. Why should anyone care? To understand how to flow with the cycle was more important than trying to change the cycle. It can not be changed, anyway. At least, not by any of the simple forms of life on this planet, including humans. Go with nature, you are happy. Go against nature and you will pay the consequences. This is still the basic understanding of the people of Asia and the same understanding that is at the root of Traditional Oriental Medicine. While the concepts of acupuncture and Oriental medicine are very ancient, the principles are solid, they are unchanging. This is because the way of the universe does not change. Its setup and cycles are unchanging. But the appearance or manifestation changes. To think otherwise, people are deceiving themselves. Since the principles are based on truths of the way of the universe and on simple physics, it is very adaptable to each era in time. Oriental medicine is based on solid principles that do not change and that is what keeps it so applicable to modern times. That is why it works so well. Many people are so amazed and impressed with the results they get from acupuncture and Oriental medicine in this country. But to us Oriental medicine practitioners, that is the way it should be.
The human body, all other bodies, and the earth itself have their own innate healing and balancing mechanisms. It is only when the species become too out of touch with that mechanism that they can not heal. Humans are the best at becoming out of touch with the power of nature. Too much ego, too much greed get in the way and thus history repeats itself with the fallacies of the humans; wars, sickness, prejudice, pride, unhappiness. Yet those of the human species who have managed to be at peace with themselves and others and who live and eat according to the cycles of the universe, manage to live a satisfied, healthy, happy life while on this planet earth.
What may seem like a new view of health that is being presented here, is actually an ancient view of health. Health is the foundation of life for each of us humans. If we have health, we can enjoy all the wonderful experiences that life offers. Without health, our lives become limited and unhappy. To find health, the first step is to learn how to prevent ourselves from becoming sick. Unfortunately, the conventional and modern understanding of health fails at this very first principle-how to prevent sickness. What we need is a wider view of health. Instead of trying to divide the world into small parts, and to study these parts in greater and greater detail, we need to see the big picture of life. The microscopic way of thinking has created a wealth of knowledge about the detailed workings of atoms, cells, plants, animals and other parts of nature, but misses the wider view of how all these details are related to each other and work together as a whole. Our modern knowledge is made up of fragments rather like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, without having any idea of how they can all be fitted together. Thus, you have fads in science, fads in the medical community, fads in diets, fads in clothing, fads in thinking. What is needed is a good, basic, solid understanding and then people will not be “yo-yoing” in all they do and going crazy seeking truth and balance.
In the conventional field of health, this microscopic approach has created blood specialists, bone specialists, eye specialists, psychiatrists, psychologist, nutritionists and a myriad of other health professionals. While this detailed understanding can be very useful, it does not take into account how all these individual aspects fit together to form a whole person. The person’s relationship with his or her food, activities, natural environment, emotions, and social relations, and other influences affect the person’s health. The Oriental medicine view of health takes the broadest view possible, with a macroscopic way of looking at ourselves and nature. This provides the whole pictures so that the pieces of the puzzle can be easily fitted together. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine doctors treat all diseases and and pain because it is wholistic.
A great advantage of the Oriental medicine approach is that it helps us to understand the fundamental causes of illness, which lie in the way we have chosen what to take into our bodies and give back to our environment. By changing to a more balanced way of eating and other more healthy ways of living, we can usually avoid having to use various symptomatic treatments of the conventional type such as medication, drugs, surgery and radiation. Any, and all artificial treatment has damaging effects on a person’s overall health and the more unnatural or artificial it is, the greater the harm. You can start on the road to good health right now, by making changes in your daily eating and lifestyle. Your health will be restored using the body’s own natural healing powers; food, sun and appropriate activities. For those that need more than merely this, there is the wonderful option to you of acupuncture and traditional Oriental herbology. Based on solid, ancient, unchanging principles, it will help make your body, mind, and soul adapt to this modern world.
Let’s talk about what you, yourself can do to start on the road to health today. Clean out your cupboard and refrigerator. Get rid of all, yes all, that is packaged or has artificial ingredients, refined ingredients, sugar, and preservatives. For many people, this may mean getting rid of everything. Get rid of any canned food and frozen food. Start stocking your refrigerator with fresh, organic vegetables and some fruits. Learn how to cook! Don’t give your money and your health away to the big business of fast food. (Is that still called food?) Well, if I do this, you think, what can I eat? Let’s take a look at what food is more likely fit for humans than what is pervading the market today.
Start by looking inside your mouth. Humans have two incisors, one canine, two premolars, and three molars, I2 C1 P2 M3, in each quadrant of their upper jaws. The numbers for each quadrant of the lower jaw are the same, and the general formula is written I2/2 C1/1 P2/2 M3/3. To arrive at the total number of teeth in the animal’s mouth, sum these numbers (2+2+1+1+2+2+3+3) and multiply by two (=32). Premolars are usually, but not always, slightly smaller and simpler than the molars that follow them. They are distinguished from molars because premolars are deciduous; that is, there is a milk set that is later replaced by an adult set Canines are most often used for stabbing and holding prey in animals, and it is in herbivorous species that they are often reduced in size , such as in horses. Interestingly, they are very much reduced in size in humans. What does this set of teeth tell you? Well, it is very much an indication of what we need to survive as a species. The basics for survival are air, water, and food. Teeth obviously are so we can consume food, not just for cosmetic purposes. What are the functions of these type of teeth? Molars are used for grinding. Incisors are more used for tearing., and humans’ canines are also used for tearing. Stabbing and holding prey for consumption does not sound too appealing to most humans. Seeing our teeth and understanding their function, it appears that we were meant to consume more grain and vegetables; molars are for grinding and incisors for tearing. Look at the horses’ mouth. Quite similar. What do horses eat? If we look at how nature is set up in its natural state, as in the wild before humans have domesticated the animals, we can get a good understanding of what we are intended to eat as a species.
Another clue is to open an anatomy book of humans and that of the various animals. The human intestinal tract, especially the small intestine is very long, as well as that of the herbivorous animals. Look at the intestinal tract of the carnivorous animals. It is short. the reason it is short is so that the flesh of other animals they eat will not get stuck in the intestines and rot there. In species with long intestinal tracts, undigested meat will get stuck in the intestines and remain there for years, even life. That is a breeding ground for bacteria and excess growths, like cancer.
All of the older societies and cultures of our earth used grains as their staple. In Europe, wheat was more often used, whereas in Asia it was rice and still is for the most part. The problem with these modern Asian societies is that they have changed to eating refined rice (i.e. white rice). Rice, in its natural state is loaded with nutrition, but when the bran and germ are taken off in the refining process, almost all of the nutrition is gone. What you have left is calories with little nutrition. To add insult to injury, almost all commercially grown rice that is refined is then bleached. That is because the manufacturers believe that people like to see it white and beautiful. In addition, talc is added as a preservative. Then, you have one of those horrible “carbs” that is criticized so often in the news and advertising today.
The fact is, carbohydrates are the most important and the basis of our energy source. It is only the refined carbohydrates that are unhealthy, refined means simple sugar. Unrefined grains are classified as complex carbohydrates in the modern nutrition realm. They take a long time for the body to break down into glucose which is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles and used as the energy is needed. Refined grains, i.e. simple sugars do not take long to break down and if not used immediately, their excess energy supply is stored as fat in the human body. Grain should be taken in its whole form, not in the form of bread, for the greatest benefit. Bread tends to produce phlegm in the body and stays in the digestive tract because it is sticky. Cook whole wheat berries and eat them. That is whole food, not whole wheat bread. Modern yeast used in the making of bread is also unhealthy and creates bloating and digestive problems.
There are many forms of good carbohydrates from whole grains, to nuts, to vegetables to fruit. Remember that all refined sugar is like a drug. In modern recent times, there is much research that implicates sugar as a large cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is also important to eat with the seasons. This means eating vegetables and fruits that are locally grown and become ripe where you are. If you eat avocados in the winter here, they are likely imported. If they need to be imported, then you know they are out of season, don’t eat them. Eat seasonally!
This time of year, it is summer. That means you will be eating fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans, eggplant, cucumbers, etc. Eat what is grown here. Go to the farmers markets, but always look for organically or biodynamically grown. At the time of this writing, it is the earlier part of June. There are loads of local and organic strawberries at good farmer’s markets. When you eat with the seasons, you will be better able to tolerate the local climate. For example, searing a large beef steak on your barbecue grill in the summer is definitely not seasonal. In the summer, more vegetables and fruits that are freshly picked are available. Vegetables and fruits will cool you down. Steak from your barbecue grill will make you feel even hotter. When people eat their grilled steak in the summer, they try to cool down with cold beer and other iced drinks. Wrong! Taking in iced beverages harm the digestive system and will not cool you down in the long run because it is weakening your entire system. Our digestive system needs and creates heat to function. Cold foods and drinks put our our digestive fire and then our gut must work so hard to try to make up for all these cold things put in it.
To cool off in the summer, steam or grill the local organic vegetables, eat lighter grains. More fruit is allowed in the summer because they are in season. Make barley tea from roasted whole barley and chill slightly. Do not use ice and do not sweeten it! This will help you cool down. Refined sugar will make you thirstier and hotter.
Here is a very nice cooling dessert that I just made on this fine, beautiful day in June. It is a cooling, sweet, fruitful gelatin without using common gelatin such as in the “Jello” product. The production of gelatin starts with the boiling of bones, skins, and hides of cows and pigs, a process that releases the protein-rich collagen from animal tissues. The collagen is boiled and filtered numerous times, dried, and ground to a powder.
This dessert does not use common Western gelatin and is not only not harmful, it is good for you and loaded with vitamins and minerals and so delicious!
Boil two quarts of water in a saucepan and put in one cup of agar agar flakes which are available from your local health food store and even at my clinic. Agar agar is a kind of seaweed which cleanses toxin from the body and contains many minerals and vitamins and very low in calories. After it is boiled and cooled, it will become hard like “Jello” at room temperature. It does not need to be refrigerated to get hard, but after you put the fruit in, you should refrigerate it so the fruit does not rot.
Stir this mixture of water and agar agar until all of the agar agar is melted and the water seems thick. Add one jar of organic brown rice syrup (available at health food stores, some grocery stores, and yes, also at my clinic). Brown rice syrup is one of the safest sweeteners for adding to desserts. It is made just by fermenting the brown rice until it becomes very sweet. It is still 60% complex carbohydrate, so it doesn’t all go into the blood stream at once like simple sugars. If this is not sweet enough for you, add 1/4 cup of real organic maple syrup. Stir well. Take off the stove. Slice two or three baskets of freshly picked organic strawberries and/or any other fresh fruit. Lay the fruit in an oblong glass baking dish and pour over the agar agar water mixture. Let it get hard. A delicious dessert that is cooling, sweet and refreshing without the harsh effects of sugar, chemicals, gelatin or coloring. The real key for good flavor is the quality of your raw materials. Choose just picked, local, organic produce. Sit back and enjoy it. Ah!