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Self Help


Don’t you just love the coming of Spring? With the sunny days, comes also the wind. For Chinese medicine, the wind is an important agent of illness, if your body is not strong enough to repell its’ effects. Hayfever, migraines, asthma commonly seem to be worse as this season approaches, not to mention head colds and ‘flu.

Self-help for this time prepares one for the sudden changes of weather- especially if out in the afternoons/ evening. When you are hot, the pores open and a light sweat feels quite pleasant after the Winter’s chilliness. But if the weather suddenly turns, the open pores allow the wind to penetrate the surface, and cause disruption to the normal movement of energy . This can then contribute to illness. Do carry a jumper, or light jacket to cover yourself against the chill the wind brings. A light shawl or scarf, or upturned collar can also protect the susceptable back of the neck. (If you are caught out, then try Robbies Soyabean soup )

Prevention is always preferable- a course of Acupuncture and /or herbal medicine to strengthen the body’s ability to look after itself, before Spring arrives, may be appropriate.

Reprinted and updated from the original Greville Street Clinic News, Issue 3, 1993


The pleasure of an afternoon nap is double that of sleep at night. This is especially recommended for summer, but not the other 3 seasons. A summer day is twice as long as a Winter day, and a Summer night is not equal to half a Winter night. If one only rests at night in Summer, then you spend 1/4 of your time recuperating and 3/4 in working. How can your energy last under this arrangement ? Besides, Summery heat is intensive, and naturally brings about fatigue. It is as natural to go to sleep in fatigue as to eat when hungry, or drink when thirsty.

After the midday meal, wait a while for the food to digest, then pace near the bed gradually. Attend to somethng other than the intention to sleep… a book perhaps. When you hold a book in your hand, you have no idea of going to sleep, and when you throw it away, you have no idea of doing any reading. Without conciousness nor effort, the sleep comes sweetly.

(Li Liweng, 17th Centuary)

Second in the series “TCM recommendations for everyday Self-Help” Compiled by Shelley Beer. Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Reprinted and updated from the original Greville Street Clinic News, Issue 2, 1992


Autumn is the time of turning inwards, contracting the expansive summer energy for storage before winter arrives.  At this time, the season becomes very dry. This dryness is seen reflected in the leaves that change from supple greenness through shades of yellow, red and finally, crisp brown. During the change of seasons, it is very easy to become vulnerable and prone to acute lung illnesses. At this time, these illnesses are characterised by dryness.

Now is the time to take the opportunity to use your diet to ward off dryness by ensuring the Lung energy remains supple. You will find recipes for foods that help the lung energy in my new ebook- “Happiness is a warm ballon”. The recipe section details the use of ingredients, which according to Chinese medicine will help to strengthen the lungs. First see section four, for recipes using Lima Beas before autumn sets in. Pecans and Walnuts also strengthen the lung energy. In particular, if your lungs feel dry, Walnut or pecan toffee or pecan pie are a must.


With the arrival of Autumn, and the coming of Winter, now is the time to really enjoy hearty soups and baked meals. The grains, beans and root vegetables warm and strengthen the “Spleen system” . (For those who are unfamiliar with TCM terminology, this loosly translates as the digestive system of western medicine.) Modern research has likened one function of the “Spleen system” to that of immune function. So a strong healthy “Spleen” can help the boost defense against winter illnesses.

Kitchen Soups as remedies

If you have a tendency for a “Damp Spleen” then add some Job’s tears (Chinese Pearl Barley) to your winter soups to help remove damp.

If you catch cold with a light sweat, mild fever and chills, then make a soup with cinnamon sticks. fresh ginger, licorice and peony root (available form Chinese grocers, or from the dispensary). Don’t forget, “Robbies Soyabean soup” can also be used. See also on this site. The article is called “Home Herbal Remedy”. Nothing is quite so tasty while at the same time strengthening of the “Spleen system”, and calming of the spirit as Red Date Congee for breakfast. (1 cup rice, 6 cups water, 5 Chinese red dates, dsp fresh ginger. Simmer slowly for 6 hours until it becomes a thin soup).

Add 1/2 cup dried chestnuts to basic recipe if you know need to support your “Cold Kidney’s lumbars & knees”.

Obviously these suggestions will only make sense if your practitioner has already told you that you have these tendencies. If you don’t know, then a consultation for diagnosis is suggested.

If you’re interested to follow up more by yourself at home, for recipes and guidance see Take This Pebble from My Hand (by G. Wilson) , Prince Wen Huis Cook ( by B.Flaws), Chinese System of Food Cures ( by H. Lu) or Between Heaven and Earth ( by Beinfield & Korngold) .

Regular eating of warm cooked foods, avoidance of cold raw and frozen foods through our Autumn or Winter should put you in good stead. You have the final say over what you eat. Food is your first step to self-help. Reprinted and updated from the original Greville Street Clinic News, July, 1993


As winter is with us, colds and flu are common. One simple and traditional effective herbal combination at preventing a cold developing,has been used for over 2,000 years. “Prepared soybean and spring onion Decoction,” the traditional formula name can be translated to miso and spring onion soup. Instructions:Simply take 1 heaped teaspoon of soybean miso paste (available at Health food and Oriental grocery stores) and simmer in 1 cup of water until dissolved. Add 2 slices of fresh ginger and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the miso soup into a bowl and garnish liberally with finely chopped whites of the spring onion. Drink the soup and chew the onion well, and soon a mild sweat should develop. At this time stay indoors and rest. The mild sweat treatment is typical of traditional cold prevention methods. If the cold virus is strong and develops in spite of home treatments stronger herbal measures are called for. Please call me if you need help or advice. Robbie Todd, Traditional Chinese Herbalist.

Reprinted from the original Greville Street Clinic News, 26 July , 1993


CHINESE MEDICINE is the privilege of those who can spare or prioritizc how they spend their money As thc nature of most conditions which people seek help for is chronic – that is, it took a long time to get to where you are now – it will take a long time to completely eradicate your problem You can assist your return to balance (ie health) and conserve money by engaging in behaviour that will facilitate healing, and avoid those that will hinder it. If stress is part of your lifestyle, try to engage in at least one quiet activity per day- to encourage the breath to flow smoothly around the body .

If you cant see how to inset a quiet activity, then try this exercise – “Balloon breathing”

Imagine you have an inflated balloon sitting below your belly button.

Hold the image in your mind of the balloon below your belly button. Imagine what happens when you let the airout – the balloon collapses. (Allow your belly to collapse as you exhale).

Now to fill it up with air, the empty balloon has to expand. (Breathe in, allow your hand to rise as the belly expands with the in-breath). Your breath is naturally warm. As you use your breath to fill the balloon, it must become warm with your vibrant energy.

When to do this? If you use this technique every time you notice a trigger- do at least one round- exhale, inhale, exhale again. If there’s time, do a second round (inhale, exhale). If there’s still time, do a final third round. (inhale, exhale). Never aim for more than that. One, two OR three cycles. Please note: if you only do one cycle it has three parts (out/in/out), rather than just in/out of the final two breaths.

What are the triggers? Any time you feel stressed, have to wait, feel anxious or feel angry you can employ this method. You’d be surprised how many opportunities there are in a day to employ this technique: waiting at the supermarket, at traffic lights, the bank queue, waiting for the kids, filling the sink, filling the bath tub. If awaiting opportunity is not obvious, then do this once, twice or three breath cycles every waking hour.

Why do this? Filling and emptying the breath deliberately in this way is surprisingly relaxing! It helps moderate anger, improves flat moods and moves energy that is sluggish. If you have asthma, this will help connect the diaphragm/lung co-ordination to improve your lung capacity. You will feel calmer, more relaxed, less wired.

You can’t help but improve your health this way. If you feel relaxed in the face of stress, are able to breathe more freely and feel calmer in the face of anger, you can’t help but feel happier! Stillness and health naturally follows.

————————————————————- Copywrite Shelley Beer 2014. Happiness is a warm balloon. Curious tricks Turn stumbling blocks in to stepping stones. Excerpt/ Sample from ebook and Limited print editions.


Chronic and occasional energy loss are commonly encountered conditions I see in the Clinic. Excessive mental and Physical work, stressful home and occupation situations and inappropriate food intake, relate directly to ongoing vitality. Often mild forms of energy deficiency can be relieved by regulating lifestyle and diet. If energy loss is pronounced, the ongoing effects can give rise to further symptoms including weak mental concentration, morning lethargy, appetite and bowel disturbance and others. Herbs can be taken that stimulate and build depleted energy levels. They are known to the Herbalist as ‘Qi Tonics’ (‘Qi’ is the Chinese term for energy). These tonics. when carefully matched and weighted to the presenting condition, can effectively relieve energy loss and its accompanied symptoms in a short period of time. Once the body is strengthened by this method it will generate its own energy at the required rate. One can then dispense with herb taking and reevaluate diet, rest, work, play and exercise requirements. Robbie Todd, Director and Herbalist

Reprinted from the original Greville Street Clinic News, July 26, 1993


Stress Reduction with Tai Chi Exercise is one way to reduce the effects of stress on the body. Tai Chi practise can be particularly helpful in alleviating stress related symptoms given that this form of exercise has the effect on the body, mind and spirit. Through the practise of taichi the internal organs are massaged, qi and blood are encouraged to move harmoniously around the body and the mind and spirit are settled. As the various movements are practised and perfected, the art form will permeate all aspects of the life. A sense of ease and playfulness begins to manifest in situations. Alison Jones, Traditional Chinese Acupuncturist, Tai Qi Teacher Reprinted and updated from the original Greville Street Clinic News, 1994