a bowl of congee

Congee – The Ultimate Comfort Food

Congee is the ultimate comfort food. Congee is a super simple creamy rice porridge, the consistency of oatmeal. Also known as jook, congee is traditionally consumed as a breakfast food, but it’s also suitable for lunch, or dinner. The basics are a small amount of rice with lots of water or stock simmered and stirred for a couple of hours until it reaches a thick, creamy consistency. The rice becomes silkier the more frequently it is stirred. Below is a slow cooker chicken & ginger congee for those of us who aren’t inclined to repeatedly stir their congee on the stove. There are, however, many recipes for those without a slow cooker. Besides its versatility, congee is economical – about 3/4-1 cup of rice to 6-8 cups of water. And like all rice, the dish adapts to almost any sort of addition you’d like.

a bowl of congee

Congee – The Ultimate Comfort Food

Nurture Your Digestion

Chinese Medicine emphasizes a diet that reduces internal dampness to avoid developing digestive troubles and to strengthen immunity. Dampness forms in the body when we’ve eaten a diet rich in dairy, wheat, and animal protein as well as too much raw food like salad and fruit in the cold months. (See the Chinese Medicine Diet links in the Nutritional Counseling section of our website for more information on dampness in the diet.) Chinese Medicine practitioners encourage their patients to eat foods that are easily digested; such as cooked vegetables instead of raw cold vegetables. This is especially true in the winter months. Since congee is cooked for such a long time, it’s easily digested and often given to children or to older people with weak digestion. As we descend deeper into winter, nourishing the digestion with foods such as congee becomes important for our health. This simple dish is very warming in cold weather and is a delicious, nutritious meal for anyone and everyone!

CHICKEN & GINGER CONGEE

INGREDIENTS

For the congee:

  • 8 cups water
  • 3 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, preferably jasmine
  • 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices fresh ginger, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more as needed
  • Optional toppings:

    • Roasted peanuts
    • Thinly sliced scallions
    • Minced fresh ginger
    • Fresh cilantro leaves
    • Tamari or soy sauce
    • Place all the ingredients for the congee in a 5-quart or larger slow cooker. Cover and cook until very creamy and the rice is completely broken down, 8 to 10 hours on the LOW setting or 5 hours on the HIGH setting.
    • Transfer the chicken and ginger to a plate. Stir the congee with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape against the bottom and sides of the slow cooker to incorporate congee that’s sticking there.
    • Shred the chicken, then stir the meat back into the slow cooker, discarding the bones, skin, cartilage, and ginger. If you would like a thinner congee, add additional water 1/4 cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Serve hot with the toppings.

RECIPE NOTES

Storage: The congee can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Recipe from: Christine Gallary  https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-slow-cooker-chicken-ginger-congee-234439

Acupuncture for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Acupuncture can help Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  This is the type of depression that happens at the same time each year, usually in the fall and winter. Doctors attribute seasonal depression to less sunlight. Now that we are turning the clocks back, there will seem like even less daylight as the sun will go down one hour earlier. Even though we gain an hour of daylight in the morning, we lose it at night, leaving us feeling light deprived. Add to all this that we are in the midst of a pandemic and limiting our social interactions, Seasonal Affective Disorder has the potential to be worse for people this year.

hand_holding_a_fall_leaf

Seasonal Affective Disorder is SAD

Fortunately, acupuncture treatment can be effective for people who suffer from symptoms of seasonal depression. But how does it work? First we must understand how acupuncturists view SAD.

Is SAD a Disorder?

Fluctuating moods occur at each change of seasons according to Chinese medicine theory. Composed of the same elements that occur in nature, our bodies are a microcosm of the natural world. Changing conditions in our world create change in our bodies. Shouldn’t our moods be expected to shift accordingly?

Spring and summer mark an expansive time of year both in nature, and for most of us, our mood. On the flip side, the contraction of the fall season sees energy going in the opposite direction. For those who prefer spring and summer’s expansive, outward flow, the inward, reflective cycle of the approaching winter season may have a more severe affect and could become Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Acupuncturists know that our energy is beginning to contract and pull inward come fall; similar to what is happening outside our front doors as the leaves turn colors and trees begin to go dormant. With the waning daylight hours and the cessation of plant growth, there is a natural desire to turn inward as fall becomes winter. As we enter the dark cold winter months, it is normal to want to conserve energy as we seek to renew ourselves for the next cycle of expansion that begins with the first buds of spring.

Grief and the Lungs

Each of the 5 organ systems of the body is assigned a season and an emotion in Chinese Medicine. Fall is associated with the Lung organ system and the emotion of grief. Because of this, it is in the fall that the lungs need more help than at other times of the year. We tend to catch more colds and flus starting in the fall and to feel the emotional effects of the season associated with grief. Acupuncturists know how to regulate the Lung organ system to help achieve strength at a time when it is most vulnerable.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Here is a list of symptoms for seasonal affective disorder according to the American Psychiatric Association.

  • Sadness
  • A Loss of interest in activities that one previously enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Changes in sleep
  • Loss of energy
  • In more severe cases, thoughts of suicide

People with depression experience many of the same symptoms. The difference is that seasonal depression symptoms are shorter in duration, ending with the change of seasons.The National Institute of Health suggests a diagnosis of seasonal depression isn’t necessary unless symptoms occur for two consecutive years. However, if these symptoms are severe, seek help immediately.

The American Psychiatric Association encourages anyone feeling severe symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts to contact a doctor immediately or seek help at the closest emergency room. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-TALK (8255) or via online chat.

If your symptoms are manageable, you may be able to get by with natural solutions. Exercise, getting outside for more daylight, and keeping up with social activities can help.

Acupuncture Treats Symptoms of Seasonal Depression

Seasonal moods are part of our human design. It is normal for them to change as the seasons turn. Adapting to change is a sign of good health and balance. This year is different, however, because there is a collective trauma many are undergoing as our globe is experiencing a pandemic. Even the most resilient of us may be feeling unable to adapt to the change of seasons this year. When you are unable to adapt and your mood begins to affect your daily function, it could be seasonal affective disorder.

The good news? Acupuncture can help with seasonal depression. Acupuncture helps your body move into the changing season so you can ‘go with the flow’. It does this by increasing neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. A series of acupuncture treatments can help people who are prone to S.A.D. adapt to the seasons more readily. People who get regular acupuncture report an overall balance in their emotional life with less severe ‘ups and downs’.

For more information on Acupuncture and Depression please visit our Treating Depression with Acupuncture page.

Weight Loss With Acupuncture

Weight loss is more successful with acupuncture. Obesity is rampant in our country and seems to be on the rise. Acupuncture for weight loss is proven successful in research studies.

Acupuncture Weight Loss Research

Research on acupuncture and weight loss show positive benefits for people with obesity. Most studies focus on auricular acupuncture tiny needles or magnets placed at key spots on the ear. Why would an acupuncturist treat the ear? The ear represents a small version of the human body – a microcosm of the larger macrocosm of the body. Many acupuncturists do not perform acupuncture weight loss treatment on the ear, however, so don’t be confused if your acupuncturist chooses body points exclusively.

Acupuncture Points for Successful Weight Loss

Acupuncture points on the body are known to affect brain chemistry and regulate hunger signals. Some of the major points for treating weight gain are located on the arms and legs near your knees and elbows, as well as near your ankles and wrists. One of the main points for weight loss is called “Stomach 36” or Leg Three Miles (Zusanli in Chinese). Stomach 36 is located on the muscle near your shin just below the knee about one hand’s width below the kneecap.

Legend has it that the “Leg Three Miles” point helped soldiers walk ‘three more miles’ when they would become fatigued on long marches. Stomach 36 known to increase energy production because it boosts metabolism by regulating stomach function. Chinese medicine recognizes that weight gain is caused by blockage in the acupuncture meridians, or channels that course through your abdomen and body. Certain foods block the acupuncture meridians because they affect the underlying organ system that regulates the meridian. Foods such as dairy, wheat, and sugar affect an organ system responsible for extracting energy from food. When the extraction process is disrupted, metabolism slows resulting in unwanted weight gain.

Chinese Medicine & Nutrition

Acupuncture doesn’t work alone – diet is important. Choosing lighter foods such as an abundance of cooked vegetables (not raw), rice, and small quantities or animal or vegetable protein helps keep the meridians flowing because these foods nourish the underlying organ system responsible for regulating the Stomach meridian. Bottom line? Acupuncture combined with proper food choices is a winning combination for weight loss.

Nutritional Counseling & Digestion Treatment

For more information on acupuncture for weight loss, digestive problems, and success stories, read our Acupuncture for Digestion page

For more information on Chinese medicine diet recommendations check out our Nutritional Counseling page for printable articles on how to make the Asian medicine diet a part of your healthy lifestyle for 2014!

Acupuncture and Restless Leg Syndrome

In 2002 Bob Flaws reported the results of a study treating restless leg syndrome with acupuncture. “Twelve of the 18 cases in this study were judged cured. This meant that bilateral pain and strange, uncomfortable sensations disappeared. Another six cases were judged to have gotten a marked effect, meaning that their lower limb pain or uncomfortable sensations, were decreased. Therefore, the total amelioration rate was 100% using this protocol.”

In 2001 Wang Jian-bo published an article titled, “The Treatment of 18 Cases of Restless Leg Syndrome with Acupuncture,” in the Zhe Jiang Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Zhejiang Journal of Chinese Medicine), #10, 2001, p. 457.

An abstract of that article appears below.

Cohort description:
Among the 18 patients in this study, there were six males and 12 females aged 54-72 years, with an average age of 63 years. All suffered from RLS. The disease course had lasted from as short as three days to as long as 16 months. In 10 cases, this was the initial diagnosis. The other eight cases had been previously diagnosed and treated with Western medicine but without effect.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) & Acupuncture Vol II

All these needles were retained for 20 minutes and one treatment was given per day, with 14 days equaling one course of treatment. Patients were reassessed after 1-3 such courses of treatment and, during the time of this treatment, Western medications for this disorder were suspended.

Treatment outcomes:
Twelve of the 18 cases in this study were judged cured. This meant that bilateral pain and strange, uncomfortable sensations disappeared. Another six cases were judged to have gotten a marked effect, meaning that their lower limb pain or uncomfortable sensations, were decreased. Therefore, the total amelioration rate was 100% using this protocol.

http://bluepoppy.com/cfwebstore/index.cfm/feature/526/research-report-294-restless-leg-syndrome–acupuncture-vol-ii.cfm

Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes in Menopause

Acupuncture for hot flashes? Don’t sweat it! Research shows acupuncture reduces hot flashes. Women in menopause may needlessly suffer through hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms such as vaginal dryness, irritability, and weight gain.  I treat menopausal symptoms regularly at my Downingtown acupuncture office with great success! Read more

Acupuncture for Osteoarthritic Knee Pain

Recently, a very large study of knee pain treatment with acupuncture – involving almost 4000 participants – showed acupuncture was far more effective in relieving knee pain caused by osteoarthritis than alternative methods. This conclusion came as a result of 14 different trials in clinical settings supporting various similar studies conducted in the mid 2000’s.

Read more

Acupuncture Effective for Sinus – Sinusitis

A new clinical study examined acupuncture for treatment of chronic sinusitis. A test group of 85 patients with sinusitis participated. Chronic rhinitis [sinusitis] is due to the Chinese medicine concept of wind-cold or wind-heat obstructing lung qi. Wind is similar to the concept of virus or bacteria in western medical terminology. Lung qi is a concept of lung function. In Chinese medicine, the lung system includes the nose. It is easily blocked by ‘wind’ or viral/bacterial invasion. Acupuncture releases pathogens trapped in the body by stimulating acupuncture points associated with the lung and nose.
Read more

Acupuncture and Foot Pain

Studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in relieving certain types of foot pain. A study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine found acupuncture to be effective in relieving otherwise unresponsive chronic foot pain. Another study found that stimulation of acupuncture points on the feet could increase blood flow to the foot and lower leg. Many anecdotal reports exist of individual acupuncturists using a variety of acupuncture techniques to relieve pain associated with the ankle, heel, and ball of the foot. Read more

The Nine Best Health Steps To Take

Did you know that diet choices can determine how much inflammation and pain you experience from one day to the next?  People are always asking how to make changes in their lifestyle once they learn that lifestyle might be contributing to their pain or illness. Here is an article that describes nine simple steps you can take to ensure optimal health. Read more

Robert Downey Jr. Loves Chinese Medicine!

Turns out Robert Downey Jr. uses Chinese medicine and has been for years. In the most recent edition of Acupuncture Today, Robert Downey jr. is awarded for his support of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Read more