Red Phoenix Healing Arts Blog - Feng Shui, Herbs, Acupunture, Chinese Astrology

September 2009 Archives

tumeridc flower.jpgAs Yogi Berra so famously said, "It's déjà vu all over again."  While yet again researching Vitamin D ~ I stumbled upon a report singing the praises of the spice Turmeric. It reported that Turmeric ~ in combination with vitamin D ~ helps fight Alzheimer's disease and obesity (by suppressing growth of fatty tissue). Researchers have been examining the anti-inflammatory properties of Turmeric for many years.
ground tumeric.jpgTurmeric is made from the roots of a plant in the Ginger family (Curcuma longa) and is known as Jiang Huang in Chinese Herbal Medicine.   For the details on this versatile healing botanical, I would like to quote Registered Herbalist David Winston, RH (AHG), a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild and author of "Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief".

Winston writes that Turmeric has a wide variety of healing abilities...
* Powerful anti-inflammatory components safely reduce the pain and swelling of arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis and tendonitis.
*Anti-inflammatory benefits also extend to gastrointestinal (GI) problems, such as gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
* Potent antioxidants help squelch unstable oxygen molecules that can otherwise run amok, damaging cells and opening the door to dangerous diseases, such as cancer. 
* Curcumin, an active compound of Turmeric, has been shown to modify more than 250 oncogenes and processes that trigger cancer tumorigenesis, proliferation and metastasis.
*Turmeric helps curb excessive immune responses that characterize conditions such as allergies, asthma and possibly even multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease, where (in animal studies) Curcumin appears to inhibit development of amyloid plaques.
* Studies suggest a still wider range of healing benefits, such as lowering cholesterol, preventing atherosclerosis and protecting the liver against chemicals and viral damage.


Don't confuse Turmeric with its most well-known active compound, Curcumin. Turmeric contains a variety of inflammation-fighting compounds known as curcuminoids ~ the most widely known and extensively studied of which is Curcumin.
Importantly, large doses of Curcumin can cause gastric upset, while the herb Turmeric contains a number of active ingredients that combine to have a gastro-protective effect.

Winston says that he prefers the herb Turmeric (commonly in capsule or tincture form) for some uses (gastritis, gastric ulcers, arthralgias)
Standardized Curcumin for others (cancer prevention and treatment, Alzheimer's prevention and treatment, and protecting the liver against hepatitis B and C). Check wth your Doctor or Practitioner regarding dosage and vendor
soy_cardturne more.jpgI fell in love with Chinese Medicine because it is so balanced. Chinese Nutrition is really about the Middle Way.  When I was in my twenties and I was searching for a cure for my migraine headaches I lived in Health Food Stores - and I researched and visited Healing Gurus around the world as I pursued my career in television.  I remember that Macrobiotics was very popular and people were constantly trying to convert me. I remember looking at many of them and thinking you have 3 hairs on your head - your skin looks gray and you're only twenty-five - so why should I listen to you ~ and yes sometimes I voiced my thoughts.  I still feel that way today ~ my hair color is still the one I was born with and my skin is holding up.  As friends and later colleagues embraced the Church of Soy ~ I just never bought into it.

Soy has become synonymous with healthy eating. Who hasn't heard of the benefits of Soy? Even Dr.Weil has jumped onto the Soy band wagon. The USDA recently approved the use of Soy in children's school lunches. But could something that sounds so healthy actually be dangerous?  Before you reach for that next bite of tofu and wash it down with some great tasting soy milk, I want to share with you ~ the Dark side of Soy.
When I was studying Oriental Medicine I discovered Sally Fallon the author of Nourishing Traditions: "The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats."  I credit her and  The Weston A. Price Foundation, Washington, DC. with much of this research and with not being afraid to voice it.

There has been a decade-long marketing campaign to gain consumer acceptance of tofu, soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese, soy sausage and soy derivatives, particularly soy isoflavones like genistein and diadzen, the estrogen-like compounds found in soybeans.

The propaganda that has created the Soy Sales Miracle is all the more remarkable because, the soybean was considered unfit to eat - even in Asia.  During the Chou Dynasty (1134-246 BC) apparently the soy plant was initially used in crop rotations as a method of fixing nitrogen.

The soybean did not serve as a food until the discovery of fermentation techniques, sometime during the Chou Dynasty. The first Soy foods were fermented products like tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce.

The Chinese did not eat unfermented soybeans as they did other legumes such as lentils because the soybean contains large quantities of natural toxins or "antinutrients". First among them are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. In test animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors cause enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.

Soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together.  Trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinin are growth inhibitors. Rats fed soy containing these antinutrients fail to grow normally.

Soy also contains goitrogens - substances that depress thyroid function.

In 1992, the Swiss health service estimated that 100 grams of soy protein provided the estrogenic equivalent of the Pill.

The claim that Soy prevents osteoporosis is considered false by many researchers given that Soy foods block calcium and cause vitamin D deficiencies.  Once again - I've been able to fit in Vitamin D.  If you learn anything,  from this blog it's to test for and then take your Vitamin D.  If Asians indeed have lower rates of osteoporosis than Westerners, it is because their diet provides plenty of vitamin D from shrimp, lard and seafood, and plenty of calcium from bone broths.

There is a very important discussion and there is much more to write about ~ so stay tuned.

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no_image_lg.gifD3  I thought that I wouldn't be writing about Vitamin D again for at least a few weeks and then this morning I opened my daily newsletter from a Dr. Mercola and there it was again ~Vitamin D and I thought that it was important enough to share.
According to Dr. Mercola's post, Swine flu, H1N1, has killed thirty-six children in the U.S. and an outside analysis of CDC data indicates Vitamin D deficient children are at higher risk of death....almost two-thirds of the dead children had epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or other neurodevelopmental conditions like mental retardation.

Dr. Mercola states that all of these neurological conditions are associated with childhood Vitamin D deficiency. Exacerbating the problem further, many of these kids take Anticonvulsant Drugs, which lower Vitamin D levels. ***This is a note to adults on Anticonvulsant Drugs  to get their Vitamin D levels checked.

The Connection Between Your Vitamin D Levels and the Flu ~

Previously, a Dr. Cannell found that people with the lowest blood Vitamin D levels reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu.  The positive correlation between lower vitamin D levels and increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections was even more pronounced in individuals with Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Part of the explanation is that Vitamin D creates over 200 antimicrobial peptides in your body that serve as natural broad-spectrum antibiotics,

So when your vitamin D levels fall, you also reduce your natural capacity to ward off colds, influenza and other respiratory infections.  During flu seasons, Vitamin D levels in your blood are typically at their lowest point due to lack of exposure to sunshine.

At least four other recent studies show this inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and 25(OH)D levels. That is, the higher your Vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections:

Please view the entire post for more studies:
green-tea sm.jpgIs there any more one can say about Green Tea?  Like the supplement Vitamin D which never seems to amaze me, it seems that there is always new research coming out to promote the health benefits of Green Tea.
Now researchers are reporting new evidence that Green Tea could help improve bone health. They found that the tea contains a group of chemicals that can stimulate bone formation and help slow its breakdown.  The beverage has the potential to help in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and other bone diseases that affect millions worldwide, the researchers suggest.

In this study, the researchers note that many scientific studies have linked tea to beneficial effects in preventing cancer, heart disease, and other conditions.  Recent studies in humans and cell cultures suggest that tea may also benefit bone health.  But few scientific studies have explored the exact chemicals in tea that might be responsible for this effect.

These scientists exposed a group of cultured bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) to three major green tea components: epigallocatechin (EGC), gallocatechin (GC), and gallocatechin gallate (GCG) for several days. They found that one in particular, EGC, boosted the activity of a key enzyme that promotes bone growth by up to 79 percent. EGC also significantly boosted levels of bone mineralization in the cells, which strengthens bones.
The scientists also showed that high concentrations of ECG blocked the activity of a type of cell (osteoclast) that breaks down or weakens bones.
The green tea
components did not cause any toxic effects to the bone cells.

My personal preference is  Japanese Green Tea.
box geen tea.jpg
1. Ping Chung Leung, et al. Effects of Tea Catechins, Epigallocatechin, Gallocatechin, and Gallocatechin Gallate, on Bone Metabolism. American Chemical Society. ACS News Service Weekly ressPac:
small congee.jpgWhat is a traditional Chinese Breakfast? Many Chinese begin their day with a warm bowl of Congee, a watery rice gruel that bears a marked resemblance to porridge.  Congee can be sweet or savory; seasoned with everything from chicken to mushrooms.   Often, the meat is marinated before being added to the rice.
The word Congee (also known as Jook in Canton) comes from the Indian "Kanji", which refers to the water in which the rice has been boiled.  In parts of India today the word Congee still refers both to the boiled water and the rice dish itself.   In Chinese Food, Kenneth Lo notes that Congee serves two purposes - besides warming the body, it also takes the place of a beverage.

The weather is cooler and I thought that it might be nice to share a recipe to boost immunity.This is ideal for those suffering from exhaustion, post partum mothers or those recovering from an illness.

Congee is traditionally made by cooking 1 cup of rice with 5-6 cups of water. The pot is set on very low heat and cooked for 5-6 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes to prevent it from sticking.
Serves 4-6
1 medium (3-5 lbs) free range chicken, (skin removed
1 cup of mixed grains (brown and wild rice)
6-8 Shitake Mushrooms, chopped
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
 Sea Salt
Optional: Organic Milk- preferably Goat's Milk

In a large Soup Pot, saute 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil and Onions until they turn translucent or sweat,
Put the Chicken and Rice mix into the pot and cover with water.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1-2 hours or until chicken is falling off the bones.

Remove the pan from the heat, remove and discard the chicken carcass and bones.  Shred the Chicken and return it to the Congee.

In a separate pan, saute the Shitake Mushrooms with a tablespoon of Olive Oil ~Add to the Congee.

Simmer the Congee for another 30 minutes
Add Sea Salt to taste - or add non MSG  Boullion instead.

Serve and add Scallions to individual servings
** To make a heartier soup ~ add 1/2 cup of Organic Milk or Goat's Milk during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
Enjoy ~
* This recipe is from a former classmate of mine ~ Laura Kaufman - however I have modified it slightly according to my beliefs. 

Peace in Oneself ~


Thich.jpgI'd like to share a lesson taught by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, and author Thich Nhat Hanh that I thought might be appropriate for the times:

Please treat your mind as a garden. Plant positive seeds and water them with loving kindness and attention.

Remove the weeds of negativity that may be choking the beautiful flowers and thoughts that are naturally within you and you will see abundant and magnificent growth.

~ Thank you Lillian for teaching me...
thumbnail.aspx.jpgIs there anything more to say about Vitamin D ~ It seems so.  I thought that I'd exhausted the discussion of Vitamin D until a patient called with his recent laboratory results and his vitamin D level was very low. His doctor told him to get out in the sun.  This was very upsetting because eight years ago he had melanoma ~ the deadliest form of skin cancer.  This prompted me to do even more research on this miracle supplement.

Pick up any popular book on vitamins and you will read that ten minutes of daily exposure of the arms and legs to sunlight will supply us with all the vitamin D that we need. Humans do indeed manufacture vitamin D from cholesterol by the action of sunlight on the skin but many researchers feel that it is actually very difficult to obtain even a minimal amount of vitamin D with a brief walk in the sunlight.

Ultraviolet (UV) light is divided into 3 bands or wavelength ranges, which are referred to as UV-C, UV-B and UV-A.   UV-C is the most energetic and shortest of the UV bands. It will burn human skin rapidly in extremely small doses. Fortunately, it is completely absorbed by the ozone layer.

UV-A, known as the "tanning ray," is primarily responsible for darkening the pigment in our skin. Most tanning bulbs have a high UV-A output, with a small percentage of UV-B. UV-A is less energetic than UV-B, so exposure to UV-A will not result in a burn, unless the skin is photosensitive or excessive doses are used. UV-A penetrates more deeply into the skin than UV-B, due to its longer wavelength. Until recently, UV-A was not blocked by sunscreens. It is now considered to be a major contributor to the high incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers. Seventy-eight percent of UV-A penetrates glass ~ so windows do not offer protection.

The ultraviolet wavelength that stimulates our bodies to produce vitamin D is UV-B.  It is sometimes called the "burning ray" because it is the primary cause of sunburn. However, UV-B initiates beneficial responses, stimulating the production of vitamin D that the body uses in many important processes.  Although UV-B causes sunburn, it also causes special skin cells called melanocytes to produce melanin, which is protective.

The reason it is difficult to get adequate vitamin D from sunlight is that while UV-A is present throughout the day, the amount of UV-B present has to do with the angle of the sun's rays. Thus, UV-B is present only during midday hours at higher latitudes, and only with significant intensity in temperate or tropical latitudes. Only 5 percent of the UV-B light range goes through glass and it does not penetrate clouds, smog or fog.

Sun exposure at higher latitudes before 10 am or after 2 pm will cause burning from UV-A before it will supply adequate vitamin D from UV-B. This finding may surprise you, as it did the researchers. It means that sunning must occur between the hours we have been told to avoid. Only sunning between 10 am and 2 pm during summer months for 20-120 minutes, depending on skin type and color, will form adequate vitamin D before burning occurs.

It takes about 24 hours for UV-B-stimulated vitamin D to show up as maximum levels of vitamin D in the blood. Cholesterol-containing body oils are critical to this absorption process.  Because the body needs 30-60 minutes to absorb these vitamin-D-containing oils, it is best to delay showering or bathing for one hour after exposure. The skin oils in which vitamin D is produced can also be removed by chlorine in swimming pools.

The current suggested exposure of hands, face and arms for 10-20 minutes, three times a week, provides only 200-400 IU of vitamin D each time or an average of 100-200 IU per day during the summer months. 

In order to achieve optimal levels of vitamin D, 85 percent of body surface needs exposure to prime midday sun. (About 100-200 IU of vitamin D is produced for each 5 percent of body surface exposed, most researchers want 4,000 iu.) Light skinned people need 10-20 minutes of exposure while dark skinned people need 90-120 minutes.

Latitude and altitude determine the intensity of UV light. UV-B is stronger at higher altitudes.  Latitudes higher than 30° (both north and south) have insufficient UV-B sunlight two to six months of the year, even at midday.

Latitudes higher than 40° have insufficient sunlight to achieve optimum levels of D during six to eight months of the year. In much of the US, which is between 30° and 45° latitude, six months or more during each year have insufficient UV-B sunlight to produce optimal D levels.

**In far northern or southern locations, latitudes 45° and higher, even summer sun is too weak to provide optimum levels of vitamin D. A simple meter is available to determine UV-B levels where you live.
** Article based on research from Weston A. Price Foundation.

        ***To be continued ~ how we get Vitamin D from food
Thumbnail image for horoscope_monkey.jpgA great month for the Monkey - finally things run smoothly. Money luck is good so it's time to go ahead with those investments you've been thinking about. This is also the month to network ~ build a group of friends and colleagues whom you can count on in the future.  People will listen to you now.  Accept all invitations and don't get careless about your appearance ~ you never know.

Thumbnail image for horoscope_rooster.jpgThe Rooster is feeling restless this month. You won't  be able to sustain the excitement of last month. Start an exercise program to work off that excess energy and accept all social invitations. Your mind is racing and it will be difficult to sleep.  Your good fortune is improving but not if you spread yourself too thin.  You feel scattered this month ~ Focus.

Thumbnail image for horoscope_dog.jpgAnother exciting month for the Dog ~ especially when it comes to money. Be open to all opportunities, but follow your instincts. If you go with your gut you won't be wrong. There is the possibility of making Big Money.  In life there is always Yin, and its opposite, Yang - so you need to be careful when it comes to your Health - you may feel tired and apathetic ~ Resist.

Thumbnail image for horoscope_boar.jpgThis month is magic for the Boar - Wealth ~ Career ~ Health ~ Family.  This is the month for New Beginnings. You have the Midas Touch this month ~ Get Going ~ Be Innovative.  You will be very popular  ~ this is a good month to get married.

* If you don't know your astrological sign ~ check

*Astrological characters by WOFS

Thumbnail image for horoscope_dragon.jpgThe Dragon's Luck greatly improves this month ~ Unlike the Ox you may enjoy windfall luck so buy that Lottery Ticket. You may also inherit something of value. You are strong and competitive this month, so go for it ~ you will win.  Do not let gossip hold you back  It's usually unnecessary  to say this to a Dragon but this is the time to be Brave ~ something will finally open up for you. You have support this month ~ but to be sure ~ sit with a painting of a mountain behind your chair.  Mountains only ~ no water in the painting.

Thumbnail image for horoscope_snake.jpgLuck also improves for the Snake and things will run smoothly again. You also may receive an inheritance.  This is a good month to invest. Look to a mentor to help you ~ find someone you look up to and enlist their advice. This month you need the help and support of  those more knowledgeable.  Romance luck is good ~ time to make your move.

Thumbnail image for horoscope_horse.jpgProblems for the Horse will be in the form of Ill Health or Accidents ~ you may suffer from backaches and also other aches and pains. This is the time to avoid strenuous exercise or risky sports. This is not a good time to travel. Relax and listen to quiet music as often as you can.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for horoscope_sheep.jpgLuck turns around for the Sheep in such a good way that your head will be spinning.  Projects which you have been working on will finally be completed. Try to stay confident.  Love Luck is strong, so keep your eye out for the right one ~ if you've found them, then it's a good month to make your move ~ or miss your chance.  However, your health luck is not that great so take all Feng Shui precautions.
Check back for Part III ~

* If you don't know your astrological sign ~ check

*Astrological characters by WOFS
On September 8, 2009 we will enter the 8th month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This is the year of the Earth Ox and is considered a well-balanced year.  The Chinese believe that it is always better to prevent bad luck from occurring than to try to reverse it ~ so it's helpful to know what to expect.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for _rat.jpgThe advice for the Rat this month is Beware of ArgumentsOthers should stay out of your way this month as you could fly off the handle for the smallest thing. Your temperament could drive others away at a time when you need them the most ~ So remember the words of Confucius: "Ten Thoughts for every Word"  Wear an Amethyst pendant to promote Harmony in your relationships. Take a vacation this month and maintain a low profile. There is a danger of lawsuits and problems with authorities.
Happy Birthday Monica ~ and I'll see you next month ~

Thumbnail image for horoscope_ox.jpgLuck improves for the Ox this month. Money and Health Luck is good ~ but not from speculation so forget that Lottery ticket.  The harder you work this month ~ the greater your rewards.  If you believe in your projects, others will also. Romantic relationships will be lacking this month, but you will receive support from friends and family.

horoscope_tiger.jpgThis is a month of Change for the Tiger ~ The bad luck that you've experienced for the past 2 months is over!  You will feel positively Giddy as obstacles melt before your eyes.  This is a very positive month ~ So Focus on Goals ~ Do not hesitate.  In Love this is a good time to propose or renew your vows. Oh to be a Tiger for a month.

Thumbnail image for horoscope_rabbit.jpgFor the Rabbit this may be the most difficult month of the year so far. Bad luck and Misfortune comes in many forms.  You could face problems in terms of Money, Health and Relationships. There are losses to be faced.  You could be robbed or conned. It might be a good idea to contact a Classical Feng Shui consultant to learn how best to protect yourself.

 Check back for Part II ~

* If you don't know your astrological sign ~ check

*Astrological characters by WOFS

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Mary Chamberlain, LAc.

I started out in New York City as an actress. Eventually I went behind the camera as a television producer and traveled the world producing commercials and staging large events like Avon’s 100th Birthday. Through my travels I developed a love for all things Asian especially the art and science of Feng Shui. When I worked for NBC on the Olympics in Seoul, Korea I decided then that I would study Acupuncture. I went back to school to earn my Masters in Oriental Medicine and become a licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist. From Oriental Medicine to Feng Shui there is so much ancient wisdom to share - where better than in the city of the Healing Springs.