We hear the above phrase often. One of the things I've always loved about Chinese herbal medicine is how accessible so many of the "herbs" are, because they're actually foods and spices. Ginger, scallion, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, raspberries - these are all considered herbs and yet we use may of them daily.
Hawthorn berry (known as shān zhā) is a personal favorite of mine. It's sweet and sour and tart and I could eat them by the fistful. As an added bonus, it promotes digestion of heavier or greasier foods, making it the perfect addition to a holiday meal. Along with orange peel (known as chén pí, another Chinese herb that's good for the stomach) they blend harmoniously into cranberry sauce for a delicious twist on a holiday classic.
Not sure where to acquire hawthorn berry? Click the link and you can order directly from The East | West Company apothecary and we'll ship it directly to your home. It's the perfect solution if you're traveling, too - we can ship to any address you like and it'll be waiting for you!
Hawthorn Cranberry Sauce Recipe
~ 2 cups fresh cranberries
~ 1 cup dried hawthorn berries
~ 1 cup water
~ 1/2 cup sugar or honey, with additional reserved to taste
~ 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1. Wash cranberries and hawthorn berries separately, setting cranberries to the side.
2. Boil enough water to cover the hawthorn berries and soak for 10 - 15 minutes, until the berries soften. Remove the pits by picking them out. Be sure to get all of them as they are very, very hard and sometimes very small. Drain, and discard water.
3. Repeat step 2, ensuring all pits have been removed.
4. Chop the softened hawthorn berries or pulse in a food processor or blender
5. Place hawthorn berries in a saucepan with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add cranberries, bring to a boil again, and simmer until the cranberry skins burst, about 8-10 minutes. Add any additional sugar or honey to taste during this process until it reaches the desired sweetness (additional sweetener may not be needed).
7. Add orange zest and smash the berries a bit. Allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I generally choose to stay apolitical in my business and endeavor to focus specifically on what it centers around - acupuncture, functional medicine, hyponsis, and expanding the social awareness of these forms of medicine.
However, recent changes in the political climate have shifted so significantly in some parts of the United States (and the world, we’re not alone in the women’s reproductive rights issues), that I feel it warrants bringing attention to some of the specifics around women’s health - something I deal with both as a practitioner, and as a woman myself.
For those unaware, Alabama recently passed the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country.* Counter to the 1973 landmark decision by Roe v. Wade that set in place national access to legal and safe abortion**, this law outlaws abortion at any stage of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger or there is a lethal fetal abnormality. It makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, incest being classified by the World Health Organization as a “silent health emergency” in 2014.***
It’s been a while since health class, so let me lay out some basic biology for you. We discuss “women’s reproductive rights” but who are we classifying as “women”? Biologically speaking, it’s anyone born with female anatomy. But when you hear the word “woman” what do you think? A mother, a small business owner, a college or graduate student; generally someone over the age of 18.
What do we think about when we consider a 12 year old girl? Rarely do we refer to her as a “woman.” In most of our minds in the US, she is a child and will continue to be one for quite a few more years. In Alabama, she won’t be able to legally operate a vehicle until she’s 15. She won’t be able to legally vote until she’s 18.
Why are these numbers important? They’re important because according to a 2014 cross-sectional analysis of 610 female participants, the average age of menarche, the onset of the monthly period, is 12.8 years of age****. Which means if a 12 year old girl in Alabama is raped while ovulating and pregnancy results, she will be forced to carry that pregnancy to term. She will have to wait 3 years before she can drive a car and 6 years before she can vote, but she will be forced to give birth. A 1996 study found that “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency” and that “among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator.”*****
The people who passed this law are enacting legislation that could potentially result in forcing children who currently exist to shoulder the burden of bearing children that are the result of rape, in the name of “protecting the children.”
There is so much more here to unpack that I’m not going to get into today because it would result in a book instead of a blog post. But I wanted everyone to remember just how many females this law can affect. Suffice to say, every girl and woman should have access to appropriate healthcare and a legal, safe abortion. It’s up to us to help protect that right. Please take a moment to donate to Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer Fund.
References: (Correspond to the number of asterisks due to editing issues with superscripts)
3. Yildirim A, Ozer E, Bozkurt H, et al. Evaluation of social and demographic characteristics of incest cases in a university hospital in Turkey. Med Sci Monit. 2014;20:693–697. Published 2014 Apr 26. doi:10.12659/MSM.890361
4. Cabrera SM, Bright GM, Frane JW, Blethen SL, Lee PA. Age of thelarche and menarche in contemporary US females: a cross-sectional analysis. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2014;27(1-2):47–51. doi:10.1515/jpem-2013-0286
5. Holmes MM, Resnick HS, et al. Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Aug; 175(2):320-4
It’s wonderful to see integrative medicine make it into the mainstream. Often times this is achieved by celerities and peak athletes (remember those cupping marks sported by Michael Phelps a few years back? 😉) It seems acupuncture and hypno-birthing are getting the royal treatment so to speak.
Reportedly, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, has been utilizing acupuncture in the lead up to the birth of her first child, and intends to utilize hypno-birthing and a doula as well.1 Acupuncture is an excellent modality to utilize from prior to conception all that way through the birthing process itself. It can help with a variety of circumstances including fertility (both men’s and women’s) and morning sickness. In some cases it’s used as a natural alternative to chemical induction for patients who are at or past their due date, and can be employed to help manage contractions. Certain acupuncture and adjunctive techniques can even be used to flip breach babies into the appropriate position prior to birth.
In additional to acupuncture, it’s reported that the duchess will be practicing hypno-birthing, a technique focused on maintaining a relaxed state during the birthing process. Hypno-birthing involves using breathing techniques, positive affirmations, and self hypnosis to help redirect the perception of labor pains and allow a woman to work with her body during birth, instead of fighting against the discomfort many people automatically associate with childbirth.2 Currently, there is a very limited body of research into hypno-birthing, most of it found to be low quality. However, given the interest, authors of a recent Cochrane review suggested that larger, more well designed studies could examine the effects more fully.3
Here’s to more integration of ancient and modern medical techniques for the best outcomes possible!
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New year, is a time of change, new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s also a time of wonderful traditions.
Most people are familiar with the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, but did you know that each year is associated with an element? The five elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, and each contributes it’s own special attributes. An element actually spans two years, so by combining the 5 elements with the 12 zodiac signs, it means that a particular element+animal combination only happens once every 60 years!
2019: Year of the Earth Pig
We are currently saying goodbye to the year of the Earth Dog and entering the year of the Earth Pig. The pig is the twelfth zodiac sign. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order [of the zodiac animals] would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says that a wolf destroyed his house. He had to rebuild his home before he could set off. When he arrived, he was the last one and could only take twelfth place (sound familiar?)1 Pigs are said to represent wealth and good fortune. People born in the year of the pig are said to be realistic, enthusiastic, energetic and action-oriented.
Ways to Celebrate
New Threads: If you’d like to celebrate, a good way to start is some new clothes! They are considered auspicious, and a wonderful way to eliminate the old energy of the previous year and welcome good fortune in the new year.
Make sure your threads are shades of reds: Red is considered a very lucky color. Avoid black and white, as they’re considered negative and unlucky.
Get your nibble on: A great way to celebrate is with seasonal food. Spring rolls are (obviously) representative of the spring festival. Fresh jiao zi, or dumplings, are also traditional.
Lunar New Year begins on February 5th, and celebrations extend through February 16th.
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