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TCM Tip: Spleen-Stomach Super Foods
One traditional Taoist maxim says, “Food is better than herbs; Qi is better than food; and emptiness is better than Qi.” Food is something we eat every day—several times a day—so the choices we make in this area can go a long way to create balance and wellness in our body. It’s certainly something to practice on the way to “emptiness.”
From the TCM frame of understanding, every food, spice, and herb has an energy essence that travels through particular meridians to certain organs. Each organ can be beneficially impacted by eating corresponding foods and spices, or by taking related herbs, if necessary.
There are numerous foods and spices that help strengthen the function of the Spleen and Stomach, the organ pair in predominance in late summer.
The following three are super foods that really benefit this organ pair:
A Powerful Breakfast Cereal
Traditionally, these iconic healing foods are eaten together as a breakfast cereal. (Note: Use with care during pregnancy.) Rinse one cup of each thoroughly and add to a large pot. Add two quarts of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about forty minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on the water level. Add more water if necessary during the cooking time, and adjust the cereal’s consistency with additional water, soy milk, or cow’s milk. This cereal can be sweetened to taste with brown sugar or honey. This recipe makes enough for about five individual servings. You can make it ahead of time and reheat in the morning.
Keep Your Cool this Summer with these Refreshingly Delicious Herbal Teas
Dr. Soraya Faris Applegate, DACM, DAc.
Summer is associated with the Fire element. Fire is associated with the organs and channels of our heart, pericardium and small intestine. Summer Fire is also associated with the mind and the heart. As the external environment heats up, so can the internal environment. We might find ourselves becoming restless and agitated. Herbal Teas are a wonderful way to help us keep our cool and calm our minds and bodies so that we can enjoy the Summer Season.
Chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua) are commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their cooling and calming properties. Drinking Chrysanthemum flower tea every day in summer provides many health benefits such as calming the mind and emotions, cooling the skin and soothing hot, tired red eyes.
Chrysanthemum flowers go well with light green teas, like Jasmine or Mint. Tea is best enjoyed warm. Even though this sounds counterintuitive, a cup of hot tea in the hot weather can actually cool one down! Drinking warm fluids dilates the blood vessels which promotes sweating and the evaporation of the sweat is cooling.
Chrysanthemum Green Tea
Half a cup of Chrysanthemum flowers
2 teaspoons of green or mint tea
Add hot water and then let cool
Add rock sugar or honey to taste
Watermelon Green Tea Recipe
1/4 cup pureed watermelon (strained)
1 cup of green tea
Puree your watermelon and strain through a mesh strainer until you have 1/4 cup of juice then add the green tea. This tea is best drunk at room temperature, while listening to the song: ‘Water Melon Sugar High!’ by Harry Styles
Watermelon is one of the best remedies for dehydration and Summer Heat symptoms. Watermelon is 92 percent water and you can eat every part of it – rind, pulp, juice and seeds. Chinese Herbal Medicine uses the fruit (Xi Gua) and the seeds (Xi Gua Ren) to clear Summer Heat and generate body fluids.
Let’s not forget about being ‘Cool as a Cucumber!’ Adding cucumber to water – simple and delicious!
How to Make Turmeric Congee
These days, digestion has become a big topic of conversation. Whether it’s “getting regular”, what fermented foods to eat, or what strain of probiotics are the best, people are talking about their guts and how to get them healthy. For more than three thousand years, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asian cultures have been using congee, a delicious, digestion-harmonizing dish of porridge. Typically made with rice but also other grains and legumes, congee is pure comfort, especially on cold dreary days. Enjoy a warm bowl of easy-to-digest congee for breakfast!
It can easily be prepared the night before you want to enjoy it or put into a slow cooker overnight. You can even make it with leftover grains by watering them down. This porridge-like dish is warming and nourishing and perfect for those who are feeling dry, depleted, or recovering from being under the weather.
Because congee is so versatile, it can be packed full of beneficial herbs, and topped with savory or sweet toppings. The addition of ground turmeric makes the congee a lovely golden color while also adding the benefits of a supportive herb for joint mobility.* Depending on the season, you can make congee more or less warming just by switching up the toppings and spices you add. Try ginger, chilies, or garlic as herbal toppings in the cooler months and fresh herbs like cilantro, dill, or mint in the warmer months. The sweet option is great for those who need more of the moistening water element, and the savory can be helpful for those needing a warming fire element.
● 1 cup organic basmati, brown, or jasmine rice
● 6-8 cups water or broth
● 1/2 Tbsp. organic turmeric powder
1. Add the rice, water, and turmeric to a medium pot.
2. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a low simmer for about an hour. Add more liquid if needed.
3. Serve hot in bowls with your favorite toppings.
● Toasted nuts or seeds, such as walnuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds
● Berries and sliced fruits (can be stewed), such as persimmon, apple, or pear
● A drizzle of maple syrup or honey
● Toasted coconut flakes
● Ground spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom or ginger
● Toasted or black sesame seeds
● Protein of choice
● Tamari or soy sauce
● Organic dulse flakes
● Freshly grated ginger or garlic
● Seasonal sautéed or steamed greens, such as bok choy, spinach, or swiss chard.
● If time permits, consider cooking for 2 to 6 hours, since the longer the congee cooks, the more digestible it becomes.
● You can prepare congee in your slow cooker by combining the ingredients and cooking at a low setting for 6 to 8 hours.
Winter Solstice Nourishing Wine
Prepare in summer or fall so it will be drinkable by winter.
黃耆 Huang Qi, 100g
甘草 Gan Cao, 100g
黨參 Dang Shen, 60g
白朮(土炒) Bai Zhu, earth-stir fried, 50g
白茯苓 Bai Fu Ling, 40g
川芎 Chuan Xiong, 20g
白芍 Bai Shao, 30g
肉桂 Rou Gui, 10g
靈芝 Ling Zhi, 20g
鹿茸 Lu Rong, 10g
天門冬 Tian Men Dong, 20g
地黃 Di Huang, 20g
Place the herbs in a ceramic jar.
submerge the herbs in high proof Chinese clear grain liquor (between 38-56%).
Seal the jar tightly, better with clay, for 3-6 months.
Drink a shot glass per day in the late afternoon or 3 hours before bed.
Five Flowers Tea
Cooling Summer Herbal Teas
Five Flowers Tea, or Wu hua cha 五花茶 is a traditional Chinese folk tea, enjoyed especially during the summer months by Cantonese people in the hot and humid south. Sweet and slightly cold, its’ main TCM functions are to clear heat and toxins, drain dampness, promote urination, cool blood, and alleviate summertime wind-heat.
There is no official version of the recipe in the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia, but most herbal tea shops in Asia use five kinds of flowers: Honeysuckle, Chrysanthemum, Japanese Pagoda tree, Kapok, and Frangipani. In herbal clinics, the tea is modified for individual prescriptions based on the drinker's constitution. Modifications can include Roses, Magnolia, Dandelion and Self-heal flowers as well as non-flower herbs such as Mulberry leaves, Hedyotis diffusa, and Bamboo leaves.
Try these Summer Tea ingredients:
Honeysuckle / Lonicera japonica / Jin yin hua
Chrysanthemum / Chysanthemum morifolium / Ju hua (white is recommended for lighter taste)
Japanese Pagoda tree / Sophora japonica / Huai hua
Kapok / Gossampinus malabarica / Mu mian hua
Frangipani / Plumeria rubra / Ji dan hua
Roses / Rosa rugosa / Mei gui hua
Magnolia / Magnolia denudata / Xin yi hua
Dandelion / Taraxacum mongolicum / Pu gong ying
Self-heal / Prunella vulgaris / Xia ku cao
Mulberry leaves / Morus alba / Sang ye
Hedyotis diffusa / Bai hua she she cao
Bamboo leaves / Lophatherum gracile / Dan zhu ye
Hawthorne fruit / Crataegus pinnatifida / Shan zha
Goji fruit / Lycium barbarum / Gou qi zi
Whatever combination of herbs you prefer, simply:
Soak about 2 gram each of the dried flowers for 5-10 minutes in a tea pot or mug
Drain water and pour 8-10 ounces of freshly boiled water over flowers
Cover and let steep for 10-15 minutes
Strain out flowers
Sweeten to taste
Can be enjoyed hot or put in fridge to cool into a refreshing, cold drink.
Forage your own ingredients!
Depending upon the region where you live, some flowers and herbs can be found fresh in your garden or on a hike. You may consider harvesting them for your tea, but be sure that they are an edible species, have not been sprayed with dangerous pesticides, and wash thoroughly before using.