Creative inventive flexible. A survivor is what this tiny creature represents. Not everyone born in the year of the rat can resonate with their year, as it can carry disease and lives in hidden dark places. All true, but its ability to overcome adversity and defend its community and family is fierce and committed. This year we will need the mettle of both the element and the Rat. Dig deep to mine your creative energy to utilise resources untapped. Use the metal element to cut away anything toxic and hindering you from your development and reason for being. The beginning of a new decade heralds a new Era, as a vibrant young generation imprint their hopes and vocalises their impatience on a generation who took the bounty of the planet as theirs… The rat does not waste its time pondering his next move, but strategises, calculates then implements its plan. They also work within a team. So the message is to be creative, inventive and flexible to get the maximum for this year. I wish all who come across this blog a fruitful venturing and safe passage for the year.
A change of decade is no small event. A crossing point within our lives perhaps to recognise past achievements before focusing our glance through the looking glass of a future. Unknown but with hope? Uncharted but with promise? This I wish for all of us.
As we can no longer remain unconscious. The twenty-first century is now two decades old the twentieth century is our History. Let’s use our energy to preserve what is cherished and conserve what we need to sustain our future entering the portal of the second decade.
The loyal faithful dog will bring to earth the ideas created and forged in the fire of the Rooster. His ability to seek out the best way through obstacles will help humanity overcome the challenges we face … with the planet, as a cultural species, and as
individuals. The Chinese dog is a flying dog guardian to the Temples. But the Earth dog is steadfast in the protection of his charges. The instincts of this animal is that of one to survive, and to serve the one who he is loyal too. He is both a loner and a
companion, a guardian and servant to the temple gods. Let us use this energy with respect honour and compassion and the rewards for humanity will be myriad.
The dawn of the Rooster began at the new moon on the 28th of January 2017.
This proud bird tells all under his domain that it is a new day, the darkness of night has dissolved into the light of the Sun rising.
After the tricks of the Monkey Year there is hope that this Fire Rooster will bring order not chaos. As a Firebird, this Rooster is associated with the magic and healing of the Phoenix. The divisions which became visible in the previous year may yet find space to weave together so as a tribe of human beings we will make the bridges needed to hold the structures of our lives together.
We may have to wait for the loyal Dog Year for those structures to be at least etched out on our visual horizon. Chaos is volatile, but governance takes patience, courage and wisdom. So embrace the Dawn and recognise where your energy and talents will weave the strongest bond to build bridges for not only your world but our Only world the Planet Earth….
An inspiring day at the Chelsea Physic Gardens on Monday discussing the research in Anti Microbial resistance and what herbs can be used instead of antibiotics and the mechanism by which this is done ..
A wonderful collection of research professors from University of Southhampton and Portsmouth. A few GPs working also as herbalists and a lovely collection of RCHM members imparting their wisdom and adding input from the floor!
A useful day for my patients as what was gleaned is that should your GP recommend antibiotics ask first how necessary it is and it might be better to save the antibiotics for possible MRSA or some other life threatening infection. The more exposure to antibiotics you have the more you educate the bacteria how to adapt to them. At the same time you diminish your own natural immune activity. In Scandinavian countries they have introduced doing a CRP test (finger blood test ) before administering antibiotics and this has reduced the usage by about a third. The recent government report has shown there is a big reduction in prescribing but we have still a way to go to use these life saving drugs for just this … feeling horrible with a rotten cold is just that, best advice is to take self to bed and hide. But in the real world where we all have to work to keep the machine of living day to day it is not possible. Hence the over use of the medication which began saving lives about 90 years ago.
Think twice before taking them as you may need it one day to actually save your life.
Lingzhi mushroom has always been like an antenna to transform the ordinary to the extra ordinary. Through medical history and medical anthropology it has been an Imperial Herb within the medical herbal pharmacopoeia. Known for its ability to improve one’s energy not only on the physical level but for spiritual and emotional focus.
This Lingzhi mushroom is found around the world not only in the East and now it has been identified here in UK by Kew and named Ganoderma lucidum rooney. It has also been treated with enormous respect in ancient cultures as evidenced with very old paintings and statues in Chinese and Japanese culture where sages and the Goddess Kuan Yin is holding the mushroom like a staff or rod. Or my interpretation a Wand…
This mushroom has also been discovered in Caribbean cultures of Arawak and Carib Indians who also identified it as something to revere as it is placed on Altars or over doorways. We can then say it is a world wide link across cultures. From this unique perspective its connection to primitive use to 21st C scientific applications is something to take note.
Properties of Lingzhi mushroom
Welcome the energy of the Fire Monkey!
It’s acrobatic skills, wisdom, cunning and magic will be vital tools needed to enhance our navigation for this year, 2016. The Legend of the Monkey in Chinese Mythology tells us that he was borne from a stone egg spewed out of a mountain.
The monkey likes to move with his tribe but the fire monkey leads, he does not follow.
The monkey became king only to realize that wealth and power are empty. He left his kingdom to seek immortality. The monkey is synonymous with the wind. This is also a Fire Year so use the alchemy magic of the fire to transcend any challenging situations. Our fire resides in our hearts, utilize this energy wisely. Allow it to flow so it generates, creates and produces our true manifestation as a New Era begins. The monkey loves jokes creating havoc, be aware.
Of all the animals in the Chinese Zodiac the monkey is most capable of humanity. Holding both wisdom and boredom. Loving both freedom and belonging. Recognize this in ourselves, this is our challenge for 2016!
This roast chicken recipe has my favourite ingredients such as chicken, salted black beans, fresh shiitake, ginger and herbs.
Why this chicken dish is good for you
The chicken nourishes blood and therefore strengthen your energy. The shiitake mushroom strengthens the stomach and spleen therefore helps make blood. The black beans have detox and anti-bacterial properties. And the ginger warms and protects the stomach. So together energetically this roast chicken dish will help fortify you for the winter season.
How to prepare and cook
• one good size organic chicken
• 250-500 grams of shiitake mushrooms (organic if possible)
• 2 table spoons of salted black beans (you can find it in your local Chinese grocery shop)
• sliced fresh organic ginger (a good chunk of the root)
• salt (and herbs such as thyme and spices such as chili to taste)
• sherry or Chinese wine: two table spoons
• one organic onion or shallot
• sesame oil
Clean the chicken. Rub the salt all over the chicken. Pour sherry over chicken. Put ginger and black beans in a bowl, after slicing the ginger and dicing up the black beans together with the sesame oil – and then crush it together gently to release the juices. Once you have done that rub the mixture all over the chicken. Also put some of the mixture in between the flesh of the chicken and the skin on the breast. Slice as soon as you can the shiitake mushrooms. Stuff some of the mushrooms in the cavity of the chicken. Then put the rest of the mushrooms around the chicken in the baking tray. Place the sliced onion or shallots under the chicken. The chicken is now ready to go in the oven. Put at 200° C for about an hour and a half. After about 45 minutes check your chicken and if it is nice and brown you can add some of the gravy on top for another 15 minutes and then you can turn it to the other side for the rest of the time. After about two hours of cooking take out the chicken and test it to see if it’s cooked.
This roast chicken is best served with rice.
Serves four. Preparation time 20 min. Cooking time 1.5-2 hour depending on the size of the chicken.
The Wood Goat year is a year of new possibilities originating from the opportunities the Year of the Horse revealed. Literally the Horse kicked the stable door down and ran free, causing chaos and havoc in our lives. The Goat or Sheep has come to calm him down.
Horses are never put in a field on their own. Sometimes sheep or goats are put in the pasture to keep them company to calm the horse. They are good friends. The horse being more yang and the more sure footed goat or sheep holds the yin within the relationship.
The Year of the Goat will lead us to a higher perspective of the chaos and drama of the Year of the Horse. A higher truer panorama of the internal and external landscape in which we now inhabit. Goats and sheep move in herds so we intuitively will create, develop and home in on those who will become part of our tribal family and soul connections. Formulating a strategy to move forward. A deeper truer life will manifest in new and different forms to the past few years. As the Cosmic energies at play create a new symphony of our healing hearts, mind and physical self. All is as it should be, we just have to adjust to the new Order!
New Year of the Wood Horse
30 January 2014
(a Horse in the Clouds year)
If everyone has not yet felt the pull of the giant planets transforming our lives then wait no longer, for the Year of the Wood Horse starts the race. The Horse can be a stallion who leads, it also can be quick and temperamental. Ride the year as an intuitive jockey as then you have a chance to finish the course set by the Gods…Traditionally a good year for business Horse years are always welcome but it is also a year where you will have to be flexible in your approach. For what was once dependable is no longer so…It is a changing of the Guard! Be mindful of what is set in motion as in a horse year it will go at a galloping pace, whether it is of the heart or in your professional life. Whether you are part of the herd or a leader, the challenge this year for us all is to be ready for movement…this is not the year for relaxing in the meadow.
Collect the roses when the flowers are full. Pull off the petals and put in a bowl. Pour 2 Litres of boiling water over the petals, allow to infuse overnight with a lid over the bowl. The next day strain the liquid out into a saucepan. Add 1 or 2 table spoons of xylitol (natural, alkaline and very healthy option to sugar) or honey to taste, and one lemon with peel and juice. Bring to the boil and pour into sterilised bottles and seal. Leave to cool and use as desired. Dilute to taste. This is a summer drink and will keep you cool. This recipe can also be used for elderflower (traditionally used for a summer cold, so it’s very handy to have in the house. Latin for elderflower is sambucus nigra). Pick the flowers only in sunshine. This way the maximum amount of vitamins are absorbed. With elderflowers shake before you add the water so as to get rid of the little insects and pollen beetles which also love his special summer flower.
The beautiful Peony is now flowering in my garden. This plant is one of the most used herb in our Materica Medica. We use both the red peony and the white. The red shown here is for invigorating the blood and is most commonly used for painful periods and for softening lumps and fibroids. As its flavour is sour and bitter it used to cool the blood in hot syndromes, and can be one of the herbs used for the typical symptom of the menopause. The white peony is more nourishing. Also used with painful periods and stops pain especially if experiencing migraine or headaches that is associated with the mense. As with all herbs its use should only be under the supervision of a qualified medical herbalist. Chinese herbal medicine uses a combination of herbs put together to create a dynamic palate to transform the patients pathology. It is never just one herb as that creates an imbalance. It would be like supporting one leg of a table and not the other three so the table would be uneven…. You could not eat off such a table. So enjoy seeing this flower in gardens everywhere knowing that Ancient Chinese Medicine found a use for the root of the peony beyond the beauty of the flower. I wonder how this use was discovered and have yet to come across any research to enlighten me on this fact.
In Feb 2011 the Government announced that herbalists were to be statutorily regulated saying that “this is the right decision, which will benefit both practitioners and the public who use herbal medicines”. Two years on, because the Government has failed to honour its commitments, herbal practice is in peril. As a result of an EU directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal products which came into force in April 2011:
• The future of practitioners of herbal medicine is threatened.
• Herbal practitioners have lost the right to prescribe many commonly used herbal medicines
• The public has lost access to a wide range of herbal medicines available from practitioners
• The loss of the right to supply many herbal medicines is driving many herbal practitioners and their herbal suppliers out of business
• Patient and public safety is threatened
Hay fever and acupuncture
Spring at last burst out of its box, for us a few weeks ago. The blossoms of Magnolia and Cherry signal that the fields of Rapeseed, pictured below, is almost ready to release its pollen for the misery and pain of perhaps millions of the population. It seems that instead of the usual wheat or barley, farmers have chosen to plant the fields with rapeseed. This pollen can cause a very strong allergic reaction generating an equally strong immune response in people who are sensitive to dust and air borne particles, (hay fever). This immune response is typically a runny nose, watery eyes, constant sneezing, and in more severe cases a tightness in the chest with a slight fever and a malaise.
Within the Chinese Herbal Pharmacopeia, historically there are herbal decoctions which have relieved such symptoms, in modern times the remedy has been adapted for urban pollutants as well. Acupuncture if one can cope with the needles while suffering from the above can alleviate the symptoms and the herbs continue to improve the pathology. However I should also say that a true answer to someone suffering from this condition is to start in the Winter to improve their immunity so that when the season starts they have an advantage over the onslaught of foreign bodies creating havoc with their health.
Dandelion – to cleanse your liver and toxins
The final seasonal treat is another ‘Pest’ in the garden, the Dandelion. The leaves make a great salad like Ruccola or Rocket. I truly recommend this once you do not spray your garden. Again you could say that it cleanses the liver. The dandelion or Pu Gong Ying is used as one of our herbs to clear heat and toxins. It is anti-viral and anti bacterial. I have known people to use the raw juice of the stem to eliminate warts on the skin. Both the plant and the roots are used medicinally. Whatever you are doing this spring take time to absorb the power of the emerging life. It is the source of regeneration.
Asparagus – kidney and liver tonic
The highlight of my culinary year is the arrival of our very own English asparagus. The fact that it is delicious seems a by product considering its valuable health benefits. Given that Chinese Medicine looks at the world as a system of yin and yang you have to see that the asparagus grew out of the yin of winter to produce a ‘spear’ that pierces through the earth. This is yang. It is a yin tonic for the kidney and the liver. It is also full of vitamins. It has a very short season and asparagus growers follow a strict time when they stop cutting the spears. Usually the middle of June. My favourite way to cook asparagus is to just break off the ends, if fresh it will snap. Place in a pan with a little water chop some garlic and add in with a little salt if desired. Bring to boil and turn down and simmer until it is soft but not over cooked. If you really want to be healthy drink the water other wise drain or add into something else you are cooking fish, chicken. I then dress the Italian way with olive oil and lemon or lime, tear some fresh basil and toss. This is great with as I mentioned chicken or fish or as a main with some sort of delicious artisan breads.
The picture shows the top of the nettle. This is the only part of the nettle I recommend that you use and harvesting should be done with a rubber glove. Wash the tips. The amount to collect varies but about half a bucket full should suffice for a soup. There are various recipes that you could find on the BBC food website but they are all similar. Chop about 2 shallots and sauté in olive oil and a little garlic, wild garlic is also in season so that could be used instead. Add some chopped potato (2, or 1 large) once the shallots and potatoes are soft add some stock. About a litre or more depending on how much of the nettles you have decided to use. This is a basic potato soup with nettles, so if you have decided to use more of the nettles then perhaps a litre and a half of vegetable stock is advised. Chop the nettles then add into the stock and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Salt and pepper is added for flavour and if you are happy with the taste take off the heat and use a blender or food mixer to make a smooth soup and so avoid the stringy nettle bits.To serve I would recommend a drizzle of olive oil and or some smetana or sour cream.
A little post script about nettles. Although it is probably the scourge of some gardeners it was a vital part of British life for natural dyes and fodder for animals. Crushed it is used in cattle food and dried and powdered used in poultry food. The flowers of the nettle are loved by butterflies. So always keep some nettles in the garden as they need all the help they can get. Medicinally the Old Herbalists used it as an anti asthmatic, mainly the juice of the roots and leaves are extracted for this. The seeds have been used for stings and venoms, also as an antidote for hemlock and henbane. This information I have retrieved from a wonderful old book called A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve. First published by Jonathan Cape in 1931. I am not recommending that you try the seeds of nettle for poisons but just sharing some ancient knowledge when there were no Glaxo Smith Kline or Astra Zenca!