NW VEG VANCOUVER POTLUCK AND CHINESE MEDICINE TALK

NW Veg Business Member

Thursday, March 26 (6:30 PM)

Join us for a community potluck followed by a presentation on Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective on Healthly Vegan Living by Genevieve Johnson, L.Ac., acupuncturist and herbalist. Genevieve will also give us a demonstration of how to balance our foods using a Chinese Medicine Perspective.

Genevieve Johnson, L.Ac. is an acupuncturist and herbalist that focuses on plant-based nutrition and a healthy lifestyle for optimal well-being. She first became a vegetarian at the age of 12 when she was given her first pet, Buddy a parakeet. A few years later she decided to go vegan. When she was in college she had great success with acupuncture, herbs and diet dramatically impacting her health and decided to become an acupuncturist. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings ranging from hospitals to drug rehab facilities and private practice. She now practices at Portland Family Acupuncture in SE and downtown. Genevieve has lots of great recipes and resources available on her website veganacupuncture.com.

Come to the potluck at 6:30, the talk at 7:30, or both! The potluck and demo will be in the Oak and Elm Rooms at the Marshall Center, 1009 E. McLoughlin, Vancouver, WA 98663 [see map]. This is just over the I-5 Bridge – very quick to reach from Portland.
For the potluck, please bring a plant-based (no animal products, including honey) main dish, salad, or dessert; a card listing its ingredients; and plates and utensils for your use. Need plant-based ideas? Click here. If you come alone, figure the amount to serve 4-6; increase the amount 4 servings for each additional person in your party/family. Northwest VEG potlucks are alcohol-free events. For more information email info@nwveg.org. A donation of $2-5 is suggested to help cover the cost of the room rental.

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What does Vegan Acupuncture mean anyway?

I first moved to Portland 10 years ago to attend graduate school for Traditional Chinese Medicine at OCOM. There were two things that greatly surprised me: that Portland was a vegan mecca and that I would face many challenges as a vegan at a school for TCM.

Unfortunately veganism is not something that is looked very highly upon in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncturists will often say that if someone is vegan or vegetarian that they are “blood deficient” or need to build up the blood. Why is that? It is because in TCM we look at the nature of the foods we eat as important to our health. If someone has a weak constitution or recovering from an illness or surgery they need strong, nutrient rich foods to build them back up… i.e.. animal products (this is the theory anyway). Now I am a vegan and was a vegan many years before I went to school for TCM and I have studied vegan nutrition extensively along with nutrition from a TCM perspective. There are many other foods that nourish the blood and are super nutrient rich that are plant-based. I will get to those shortly, but first I want to talk a little bit about the theory that makes many TCM practitioners believe you have to eat animal products to be healthy and build the blood.

In TCM theory our blood is made by the Spleen (this is obviously much different than what we know of the spleen in western physiology). The Spleen and our digestion need to have digestive fire in order to transform the foods we eat into the essence that will become the blood.  Animal products already have a warming nature (they are mostly warm-blooded and active creatures) so the pathway is shorter in that they turn into blood faster than eating plants. This is where the theory of TCM directly conflicts with my personal beliefs and clinical experience.

I get around this cognitive dissonance by eating plant foods that build my blood. Below is a list of foods that build the blood.

Blood Building Foods: dark leafy greens (kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, parsley, cilantro, nettles, dandelion greens), beets, carrots, black sesame seeds, blackstrap molasses, goji berries, kidney beans, legumes, peanut skin, avocado, apricot, grapes, almonds, and brown rice. You can see from this list that it’s pretty easy to get lots of blood building nutrient dense foods in a vegan diet. My favorite way to get lots of those dark leafy greens is through green smoothies!!!

Enjoying a Green Smoothie

Clinical Experience: many people that I treat have chronic pain, allergies, fatigue, digestive issues, and trouble maintaining a healthy weight. These are all symptoms usually related to diet and lifestyle or inflammation in the body. When I can get someone to cut out processed foods and animal products the results are amazing! I get to see people totally transform and feel better than ever before. This is what inspires me everyday and makes me so grateful to be able to help people heal themselves.

New Year New You

Sunrise

The New Year inspires change and reflection. It is a time to look at the past year retrospectively and decide what we would like to change and focus on for the upcoming year. We tend to make New Year “resolutions,” but what does a resolution mean? It is a solution to a problem. What do you see as a problem or something you would like to improve on this coming year? For me since I am kind of a health fanatic I almost always choose something impossible and then it’s easy to feel like I have failed in my attempts. So what have I learned all these years of making resolutions? I have learned to set more realistic goals and make slight changes to facilitate the bigger picture of what I have in mind. This year I decided to do more yoga and seek out more health care for myself. As a new mother and healthcare practitioner it is really easy for me to just focus on others. One valuable lesson that I am learning everyday is that the more I can give myself the more I am able to give others. I recently joined a local yoga studio, Yoga Refuge and feel so much more vibrant when I can take that time for myself to honor my body and spirit. And as far as getting more health care I am not talking about going to the hospital to get every test under the sun. I am talking about preventative health care. Getting health care and body work that is rewarding because it instantly makes me feel better. I am blessed to work at An Sen Clinic (Integrative Medicine Clinic at 4424 NE Glisan) as an acupuncturist with other great practitioners that have wholistic health care in mind. If you want to do one simple thing for yourself this coming year just come in and we can help you get your health on track.

Acupuncture Works!!!

Our cat and dog relaxing during the holidays

Ok so if you haven’t had acupuncture before you are probably wondering how can getting stuck with needles help with stress? Even for me, as an acupuncturist, I don’t like to get poked with needless when I go to the doctor… but I love getting acupuncture. So in other words, I can relate to your hesitation.

For those of you who have had acupuncture before you know this is a typical acupuncture experience… coming into a nice office (obviously some serious feng shui going on), relaxing atmosphere, nice calm acupuncturist who is listening to all that I want to work on. Then after having my pulse taken I get to lay down on the treatment table getting some points done (wow, did I even get any needles in?) and then just drifting off to acu-land where I feel like I am somewhere between sleeping and floating. Then my acupuncturist does some additional body work (maybe moxa or massage) and off I go back to the world. But now my world feels much more carefree and I have more energy to deal with all that life throws my way. Ah such happiness with free flowing qi.

I hope I have painted a picture of how relaxing and beneficial acupuncture is in reducing stress. But now I want to talk about how acupuncture actually does promote relaxation and stress reduction.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

I will answer this question from a western medicine perspective since this is the perspective most of us have, unless we have been trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Acupuncture works by:

  • Stimulating our parasympathetic nervous system (aka the “rest and digest” system by releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins into the body).
  • Regulating our immune system (that’s how it can both treat allergies/autoimmune diseases AND also boost the immune system of someone immunocompromised).
  • Reducing inflammation by changing circulatory patterns (i.e. brings fresh blood to an acute or chronic injury and takes the inflammatory process away leading to pain relief and increased healing).

Another great source for explaining how acupuncture works comes from the John Hopkins Medicine Health Library

Acupuncture Works!!!

I recently joined NW Veg as a business sponsor and if you are a NW Veg member you get $20 off your first treatment. Call the An Sen Clinic at 503-236-6633 to book an appointment.

 

Holiday Body Products Class

Some of the products we made in the Body Product Class

A great Holiday Class on making all natural vegan body products for gifts or for pampering yourself! This class will be about 2 hours long taught by Genevieve Johnson, L.Ac. with snacks and tea provided. We will make: a spicy body scrub, face cream, facial toner and fresh feet salve.

When: Saturday, December 13th at 10:30 am – noonish

Where: This class will be located at the An Sen Clinic, 4424 NE Glisan, Portland, Oregon 97213. Registration is limited, please email Genevieve at genevegan@hotmail.com to confirm registration.

Cost: $30/person… you get a container of body scrub, face cream, toner, and foot salve. And the chance to personalize/decorate your containers for gifts.

Finally it is Fall in the Pacific Northwest

leaves

Well we finally moved back to Portland, Oregon after living at the coast for the past 5 years. This has not changed my passion for all things vegan and gluten free. Especially since my daughter was born almost 2 years ago. With her arrival I have been on the quest to not only do vegan and GF, but also as many super densely packed nutritious meals with minimal ingredients.

As all of you Portlanders know we have had an amazingly beautiful spring, summer and fall! Very dry in fact. At times a little too dry with the surrounding droughts. But alas the rains have finally come and mother nature has indicated that Fall is here.

Fall in Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Fall is a time of the Lungs, which belong to the Metal Element. This is traditionally a time when dryness and wind have a factor in our health. The Lungs are associated with the exterior of our body and when we catch a cold (or wind-cold in Chinese Medicine) the Lungs have been compromised. This is evident by the chills, fever, body aches, sniffles, and cough that may be productive or dry.

What can we do in Chinese Medicine to treat a cold/flu?

First and foremost there are many common herbs you probably already have in your kitchen that are great for those beginning stages of a cold; ginger, green onion, mint, garlic.

Make a really strong ginger tea with a 2-3 inches chopped fresh ginger root in 6 cups water. Boil the ginger and let simmer for 15 minutes and add some maple syrup or honey to cut the super pungent flavor (optional). Let the tea cool slightly and drink throughout the day.

Go see your acupuncturist or get one!! They will have some great formulas on hand like, Yin Qiao San, Gan Mao Ling or Chuan Xin Lian. These are all great formulas to have on hand for the cold and flu season, but you want to make sure to get them from a trusted source. Also acupuncture can cut the time you are sick in half and who doesn’t want to feel better now.

How we can strengthen our immune system to prevent getting a cold/flu

The best way to strengthen our immune system is to eat a whole foods diet that has lots of veggies!!! This is probably redundant to many of you who would be reading a health blog. But still eat lots of veggies!!!

In TCM we look at things a little differently, our immune system has a direct link to the Lungs (remember they govern the exterior of the body to protect us).

Some simple foods to support or tonify  the lungs are: nourishing soups (recipe below), pears, pumpkin, apple, brown rice, porridges, and mushrooms.

Foods that can help get phlegm out of the lungs are: garlic, fresh ginger, fennel, and seaweeds.

Foods for a dry cough (meaning the Lungs need to be moistened) are: microalgaes, pears, string beans, herbs like lily bulbs, marshmallow root, and licorice tea.

Miso Ingredients

Time for Fall Soup (Nourishes the Lungs)

  • 2-3 stalks green onions
  • 3 cloves garlic (double with a cold)
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger (double with a cold)
  • 2 astragalus roots (optional for extra immune boosting)
  • 4-5 mushrooms (I prefer shiitake)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 package tempeh
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup miso

Chop the green onions, mushrooms, carrot, celery, and tempeh (the garlic and ginger can be grated ro finely chopped). Add the 2 astragalus roots whole (so you can remove them before eating the soup). Add all ingredients to the water and boil for 8-10 minutes. After all veggies are tender turn OFF heat and add sesame oil and miso. A tip for the miso is to whisk up with 1/2 cup water before adding to soup so it will be uniform in texture. Also we add miso at the end after heat is turned off to preserve all the healthy probiotics.

This soup has nourishing ingredients (astragalus, carrots, mushrooms, celery, tempeh and miso) to boost the immune system. And it has Lung opening and phlegm reducing herbs (green onions, garlic, and ginger).

Also by boiling the ingredients we preserve the nutritional elements in the soup broth and this method of cooking is seen as very neutral in Chinese Medicine. Meaning that it is great for all constitutions so enjoy!!!

Miso Soup