It’s interesting that, as we age, our ears and noses seem to grow. According to the western medical outlook, our bones stop growing after puberty, but our cartilage doesn’t. Cartilage, of course, is what the tip of the nose and the ears are made of. There is an overall decrease in the production of collagen and elastin which is why we become wrinkly and saggy, and why our ear lobes become thin.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has an interesting perspective.
When we are conceived, we inherit “Essence” from our parents which is what creates our constitution. This rarefied and precious substance is stored in an area located between the kidneys in a place called the “Gate of Vitality” or “Ming Men”.
This original essence cannot be increased but it can join with the energy which we receive from the food we eat and by living a healthy lifestyle.
General living, stress and ageing depletes our Essence and once it is finished, we die.
According to TCM, the kidneys are related to the ears, there are two of them and they have the same basic shape.
Again, as we age and slowly lose our Essence, we develop ear problems like hearing loss and tinnitus. The fact that our ears no longer have the same full shape as in our youth is another example of depleting Essence. I’m so aware of how difficult it now is to get my earrings through the holes in my ears. Of course, wearing earrings, especially heavy ones, is detrimental to the collagen in the ears.
Ear shape is another fascinating subject and part of Chinese physiognomy (face reading). People who have large ears with long fleshy lobes show a great constitution, and a successful life; statues of the Buddha all show him with long ears. Long ears are also a sign of wisdom in old age, so one would hope that, as we age, and our ears grow long, we’ve acquired some wisdom.
Fever blisters or cold sores are caused by a virus called Herpes simplex, referred to as HSV1. Once you’ve had an infection, it’s likely that you’ll get more when you’re stressed, and your immune system is low.
Once an infected lip has ‘cleared up’, this nasty little virus doesn’t die, it scuttles back down the nerve to settle in a small area called a dendrite, waiting for the person to get stressed in order for it to attack again. Interestingly, after the first attack, the body produces antibodies to the particular strain of virus which prevents an infection at a different site.
This virus is very infectious and is spread with direct contact. The other main strain of the virus is HSV2 which is commonly known as genital herpes. Studies have shown that 50% of the cases of sexual transmission occurred when the infection was not active. People who have had outbreaks of HSV1 are, fortunately, less likely to contract HSV2.
Both shingles and chicken pox are caused by the same virus. HSV1 is also the primary cause of other dreadful conditions like inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the gums and mucous lining of the mouth and sometimes it even effects the eyes.
But there’s hope. Nutrition and knowing what not to eat are very important.
Two amino acids come into play here – L-Lysine and L-Arginine.
L-Arginine changes in the body to form a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax which improves circulation. This can be very beneficial in the flow of blood in the arteries of the heart. Because it improves circulation, it may benefit those suffering erectile dysfunction.
L-Lysine helps in the creation of carnitine which is important for energy. It also plays a role in the absorption of calcium and formation of collagen so benefits bones and connective tissue including the skin.
Unfortunately, L-arginine “feeds” the herpes virus. L-lysine, on the other hand, inhibits this feeding function of L-arginine. Therefore, if you are prone to cold sores, it’s a good idea to avoid foods high in L-arginine and increase the amount of L-Lysine you consume.
Foods high in L-Arginine are: nuts, chocolate, pumpkin seeds, squash, oats, wheat and spirulina.
Foods high in L-Lysine are: red meat, tuna, shrimp, eggs, cheese, milk, and white beans.
As soon as I feel the tingling on my lip, I take L-Lysine supplements along with an increased quantity of multivitamins and Vit C. Topically Aloe Vera is great - and it contains a good quantity of L-lyysine.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are different ways to diagnose the disease, dependent on other symptoms and tongue diagnosis. However, the presenting condition is one of Heat. Quite a few meridians run around the mouth so there is often a connection with those organs. They are the Large Intestine, Stomach, and Liver meridians. The Conception Vessel and Governing Vessel meet in the mouth and the Heart meridian runs up the cheek. Herbal formulations will work to clear toxicity, nourish Yin, allevate Heat, clear Wind, and sometimes resolve Dampness. Acupuncture will be used to clear these pathogenic factors and points can include: GV14, GV20, LI4, LI11, St36 and Sp6.
From the Body/Mind point of view, fever blisters are a clear message that intimacy is unwanted. Fever blisters often flare up after emotional stress or conflict. It needn’t be just relationship-related, it can be work related too. It is a signal to be left alone, often in a case where the desire cannot be verbally expressed.
Like a car carrying wood to the braai, L-Carnitine carries long chain fatty-acids (the wood) to the mitochondria (braai) of the cells. It also carries the toxic waste (ash) away from the cells. In other words, Carnitine increases the use of fat as an energy source, and it prevents fatty build-up, especially in the heart, liver and skeletal muscles.
L-Carnitine is formed in our liver and kidneys and is found in our muscles, including the heart muscle, because these muscles use fatty acids as fuel. Carnitine is made from two essential amino acids: lysine and methionine (essential meaning that our body doesn’t make them, we need to get them from the food we eat). The name carnitine is derived from the Latin word carnus, or flesh, as the compound is isolated from meat.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Carnitine may be helpful in treating chronic fatigue syndrome because a lack of function of the mitochondria may be a factor in fatigue.
Aging: As we age, concentrations of carnitine in the tissues declines which means that there’s less to fuel the mitochondria. Supplemental carnitine may help in the management of cardiac ischemia (restriction of blood flow to the heart) and peripheral arterial disease (poor circulation in the legs).
Diabetes: Carnitine is beneficial to diabetics because it reduces the health risks posed by poor fat metabolism.
Cancer: Chemotherapy, radiation treatment and resulting poor nutrition can lead to extreme fatigue. Supplementing with carnitine may lead to less fatigue, improved mood and better-quality sleep.
General: Carnitine inhibits alcohol-induced fatty liver and can lessen the risk of heart disorders. Carnitine can aid in weight loss, improve muscle strength and improve the quality and motility of sperm.
Possible symptoms of deficiency include heart pain, muscle weakness, obesity and confusion. Vegetarians are more likely to be deficient in carnitine because it is not found in vegetable protein.
The best sources for carnitine are animal products like meat, fish, poultry and milk. The redder the meat, the higher its carnitine content. However, the consumption of too much red meat can lead to cardiovascular disease, gout, and other health issues. Dairy products contain carnitine primarily in the whey.
Excess carnitine is excreted in the urine.
It was late evening on Christmas day and it was raining. I took my mother back to her retirement complex then decided to drive home on the back road instead of the highway. It’s a pretty desolate road for about two and a half kilometres, especially in the gloom of a wet evening
As I drove I passed a nurse. She was elegant as she walked tall in her uniform and carried a bright stripped umbrella. My immediate reaction was pity that she had to walk in the rain, and on Christmas day. I felt a flash of guilt as I drove past.
The voices in my head spoke to my gut and told me to turn around and give her a lift. “But this is South Africa, we don’t do that here”, I argued back. The further I drove the more I was compelled to turn around and fetch her. Eventually I could ignore the feeling no more.
As I reached her, I called to her through the open window, I was by now going in the opposite direction. “I have to give you a lift” I said. She looked surprised then smiled as I did a U-turn in the middle of the empty road. As she climbed gracefully into the car and told me that it took her an hour to walk to work and that she was grateful for the ride. She even called me an angel, which I strongly refuted.
As I dropped her off at the hospital some part of me knew that she had to arrive early, that she had to be there then. It was just feeling of accomplishment, of having done something right. I know nothing else, just that the angels used me.
Correct, in many parts of the world, the main component of sand is silica. In fact, silica is the second most abundant element on the planet – the most abundant is oxygen.
According to Wikipedia, silica is most commonly found in nature as quartz.
Silica is astonishingly useful. It is the main ingredient in the production of glass and optical fibres. In food production it is used as an anti-caking agent in powdered foods like spices and non-dairy coffee creamer. It is even used in the manufacture of wine, beer and juice to help remove particles in the liquid. It aids the powder flow when tablets are formed and because of its natural absorbency, it’s used in cosmetics and toothpaste. And it makes great cat litter.
So how do we get it? Silica, in the form of silicon dioxide, reacts with water in the soil to form small amounts of Orthosilicic Acid (OA) which plants can absorb. Some of the plants that contain a good quantity of silica are avocados, flaxseeds, onions, wheat, rice, cucumbers, alfalfa, beets, brown rice, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, bell peppers, soybeans, bamboo, and the herb horsetail.
The problem is that we aren’t benefiting too much. The silica content in foods has diminished over the years because of over-production of land, food processing and the way we cook food. When plants absorb silica from the soil, it does not go to every part of the plant, it tends to be deposited in the parts which we remove, e.g. the outer part of grain which is shed prior to grinding the grain into flour.
So why do we need it? Well, it helps to hold us together; silica is the key ingredient in collagen. Collagen makes up about 75% of the dermal layer of the skin and is responsible for its elasticity and resilience. As collagen decreases, wrinkles form, so silica slows down the skin’s ageing process.
Internally, silica is one of the trace minerals that your bones must have to improve their strength and density. Bone tissue is composed of silica, along with calcium and magnesium, which gives it strength. Silica also helps to build healthy hair and nails. It is of benefit in high blood pressure, arthritic pain and for strengthening gums and teeth.
Are you one of those people who carry your tension in your shoulders? I am, and it speaks volumes about who we are.
In Applied Kinesiology and Meridian Diagnostics, the upper trapezius muscle is related to the kidneys. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the negative emotion of the Kidneys is fear. What this means, in reality, is that people whose shoulders are super tight are people who don’t easily delegate. They don’t trust others to do the job properly and feel that they need to do everything themselves. They “fear” that the job won’t be done properly, and they literally carry the world on their shoulders. I tend to rewash the dishes after my husband has done them, it takes every ounce of my strength to not do them! To be honest though, they usually do need to be redone anyway.
In a stressful situation, other than the issue of the dishes, this becomes an area of weakness, so stress will tend to manifest here. We all have our areas of the body where we manifest our stress. A lady came for a massage once stating how stressed she was yet her back and shoulders were soft and malleable. She carried her stress in her stomach and had digestive problems.
So, how do we live with this feeling of burden? I think that accepting the idea that we believe we need to do everything ourselves is a start; we can begin to question some of our decisions.
Breath helps to release tension beautifully. Breathe in four to five times to the point where you’re almost taking a deep breath, but not quite, then breathe out. By the forth breath, when you feel that you really need to take that deep breath, you’ll feel that your muscles begin to relax. This has something to do with carbon dioxide being a natural muscle relaxant. This is why people who are hyperventilating are given a paper bag to breathe in and out of.
An effective by painful way to release tension is to squeeze the muscle. My daughter grabs the top of my shoulders, squeezes and shakes the muscle then releases it quickly. It’s not pleasant but the effects afterwards are good.
Massaging the shoulders properly is different to sliding fingers over the skin, although this can feel quite nice. One needs to press the thumbs into the skin then rotate them around the muscle.
My all-time favourite point, though, is GB 21. This is the twenty first point on the gallbladder meridian and is situated right in the middle of the meat on both shoulders. After warming up the area through massage and rubbing, the thumbs are pressed into GB 21 for four breaths. On the final out-breath the hands are removed, and the shoulders pressed down and out. Pressing this point has a strong downward energy and can make a person feel a little light headed afterwards but the relief felt in the shoulders is worth it.
A vital consideration is that the point must be pressed with pressure and not with force. Force is painful whereas pressure feels pleasant. I often lean into this point with my elbows.
I’ll probably still need to redo the dishes but I’m going to try to not let the opposite to doing them weigh on me any longer.
I was introduced to nutrition as a small child when my mom used it to treat an ulcer. Since then I've been interested in supplements, healthy eating, reflexology, shiatsu, energy work and Traditional Chinese Medicine.