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How to Practice Self-Healing at Home

Self-healing is a mainstay concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine, known as yang sheng. The article shares some yang sheng practices you can incorporate into your life.

Photograph of a woman relaxing among foliage at home

Ah-choo!” One sneeze is guaranteed to make all eyes turn to you nowadays. If you are experiencing significant discomfort or symptoms of illness, be sure to consult a doctor or licensed health professional to get it diagnosed and treated. But on days when you’re feeling good, you can practice self-healing at home. This will boost your immunity against external pathogens for a healthier mind and body. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which focuses on both disease prevention and treatment, has been practised for thousands of years in China. Today, it’s gaining more prominence globally. TCM holds the philosophy that good health results from the harmony of body and mind, which contributes to the concept of yang sheng (养生) or “nourishing life”. It’s something that’s familiar and practised by many.

Yang sheng is a whole set of lifestyle practices to promote longevity and good health, focusing on maintaining jing (life force), qi (vital energy) and shen (“spirit” or mental health). Modern self-healing practices such as acupressure, breathing exercises (Qigong) and a mindful diet have their roots in yang sheng.

Dive right in to discover some ways you can practise yang sheng at home. 

Chinese Herbal Tisanes for a Regular Health Boost

Photo of herbal tisane being poured out of teapot with herbs on the side
Herbal tisanes provide health benefits, are simple to prepare, and have a milder taste compared to herbal decoctions.

One method to promote self-healing and to nourish jing, qi and shen is through consuming the right nutrients. Aside from regular food, Chinese herbal decoctions and tisanes are often drunk to bolster good health. As TCM gains mainstream popularity, common TCM herbs are more accessible for purchase, be it in traditional markets or supermarkets. Furthermore, making basic herbal tisanes is not much different from brewing tea, so consuming them is a convenient way to unwind and help your body heal from daily stressors. 

How to make herbal tisanes 

You’ll need tea bags (food-grade cotton preferable over nylon ones) measuring 6×8 centimetres for 10 grams of herbs or 7×9 centimetres for up to 15 grams of herbs. Pour hot boiled water (200-350 millilitres) over the filled bag of cleaned herbs and steep for five minutes or more for best results. Unlike tea leaves, the herbs can be steeped longer for a bolder flavour.

Below are some TCM-based simple tisane combinations you can steep or brew at home. Serve them warm for an instant pick-me-up! 

For eye health 

To refresh tired eyes from long hours of blue-screen exposure, try a combination of white chrysanthemum flowers (3 to 6 grams), goji berries (3 to 6 grams), and red jujubes (1 to 2 whole jujubes or around 4 to 8 grams).

White Chrysanthemum flowers (bai ju hua, 白菊花) clear Heat from the Liver, which benefits the eyes while goji berries (gou qi, 枸杞) strengthen Kidneys for sufficient yin essence that nourishes the eyes. Red jujubes (da zao, 大枣) add sweetness, have anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in antioxidants that boost your immunity.

Banish Wind-Heat 

Another TCM-based tisane combination you can brew is peppermint (bo he, 薄荷) and unprocessed Chinese liquorice (sheng gan cao, 生甘草) tisane. This tisane can help to expel Wind-Heat and relieve the first signs of the flu, inflamed throat or headache.  

Firstly, wash the herbs (9 grams of mint, and 3 to 6 grams of Chinese liquorice) to remove dirt and dust. For this combination, it is recommended to brew the herbs in about 500 millilitres of boiling water for 10 minutes. You can also add a little sugar to taste. 

Peppermint aids in releasing trapped Heat, which can cause tension headaches, eye strain, a blocked nose, and muscle pain. Chinese liquorice helps to clear Heat. Note that this tisane can help induce sweating, so people with Yin Deficiency (characterised by dry symptoms) or those who sweat profusely might want to avoid consuming it without a TCM physician’s advice. 

Four-Pillar Plan to Fight Chronic Disease

Young Asian man relaxing on a sofa at home
Set a 15-minute, me-time session every day to relax. Doing this will reset your focus and helps with self-healing.

Yang sheng may date back to ancient China, but its underlying concept of a holistic lifestyle is increasingly prevalent in modern health practices. In his book How to Make Disease Disappear, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee proposes a plan to counter the onset of chronic diseases. Four lifestyle aspects are involved: relax, eat, move, and sleep. Incorporating sufficient time to relax, sleep, as well as eat and move in moderation can calibrate your body to work optimally and heal itself from the onset of chronic diseases. That is what self-healing and yang sheng is all about.

Below is a simple checklist you can practice regularly at home according to the Four-Pillar Plan: 

RELAX EATMOVESLEEP
Practice meditation daily Normalise not adding sugar Do strength training exercises twice a week Create a bedtime routine 
Weekly screen-free Sabbath (break from gadgets) Eat within a 12-hour window Move often during the day when possible Spend at least 20 minutes outside every morning 
Keep a gratitude journal Avoid food products with more than 5 ingredients Walk 10,000 steps per day Enjoy your caffeine before noon 

For example, you can practise stillness by doing a simple 3-4-5 breathing exercise. Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds. Gradually step up your “move” portion by walking for 3,000 steps daily for the first week, then increase it gradually to 4,000 and more as your stamina improves. 

Keep track of how you balance the four aspects of self-healing lifestyle habits and fine-tune as you go. 

Chinese Herbal Soup to Go with Meals

Chinese herbal soup with red jujubes and longan in a bowl
Herbal soups are a great way to supplement your meals.

Most of us try to live a balanced lifestyle but there’ll be times when our schedules are just too tight to fit in all the self-healing practices. On such occasions, you can try supplementing your meals with herbal soups using herb mixtures based on traditional Chinese recipes, such as the Ning Shen Calming herbal soup (宁神靓汤). Aside from nourishment for the body, it contains herbs such as lily bulbs (bai he, 百合) and Solomon’s seal (yu zhu, 玉竹), which help relax the shen or calm the Heart for a wholesome yang sheng treat.

Self-healing can bring you some peace of mind and is a great pick-me-up routine you can do every day. But remember, there are conditions that require medical attention, especially if you experience discomfort that hinders you from performing daily activities. Always be in tune with your health, and your body will reward you greatly.

References

  1. National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2019. 5 Key Words to the Essence of Yangsheng【健康养生】5个字概括中医养生的精华! [online] Available at: http://www.satcm.gov.cn/hudongjiaoliu/guanfangweixin/2019-04-29/9712.html, [Accessed 05 October 2022]
  2. Britannica.com. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/yangsheng [Accessed 05 October 2022]
  3. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. 2011. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92756/ Accessed 05 October 2022.
  4. Jiangsu Renmin Chubanshe 江苏人民出版社. 1973. 《食物中药与便方》Chinese Medicine Food Prescriptions. [offline]
  5. HarperCollins. 2018. How to Make Disease Disappear by Rangan Chatterjee. [offline]

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