Last week during qi gong class, Dr. Wang, an acupuncturist and herbalist, gave a discussion on eyes.
Over the last five years or so, there has been a noticeable deterioration of my eyesight. This is probably due to age, as well as the more frequent use of staring at a monitor. Our lifestyles today have us using some form of a monitor throughout the day whether it is on the phone, computer, ipad or t.v.. So, my ears perked up to see what I could learn to do to improve my eyesight.
Dr. Wang, an acupuncturist, says that the eyeball, or the white of our eyes is connected to our liver, so in Chinese medicine they treat the liver for vision problems. The iris and retina is connected to your kidneys, so often they also treat the kidneys. When you drink alcohol, the liver breaks down the alcohol so it can be removed from the blood. The blood cells must work hard, making the blood vessels expand, turning the white of the eye red. According to Dr. Wang, to improve eye sight we must limit alcohol. In class we learned how to help treat others with eye issues, however, he said that this method could not be self administered. I was a bit disappointed because I like to know how to treat myself. I believe that many of our health issues are based on our habits, whether good or bad. Anything excessive can cause an imbalance. So, what can we do to help our own eyesight?
Diet: Dr. Wang suggested we eat chrysanthemum leaves. For the non-Asian, this may sound strange, as not all chrysanthemum leaves are edible, so don’t go chopping your flowers. There is a particular species called garland chrysanthemum that is edible and is very commonly used in Asian hot pot dishes. In Japanese, we call this shyungiku. At Asian markets, even in the U.S., they sell these dark, leafy, green vegetables that really look like regular chrysanthemum leaves without the flower. These leaves are very high in minerals and vitamins, especially potassium and vitamin A.
So what does it taste like? The leaves have a bit of a sharp bite, that cleanses your palate. I find it very refreshing, but it could be an acquired taste. Here is a simple recipe that is commonly used in Japan called “Ohitashi” – which is par-boiled greens in a soy and fish stock sauce. However, for everyday cooking, I have used a store bought “ponzu“, which is sweet and sour soy based sauce. I like the tartness to it. When I runout of the bottled ponzu, I use the quick alternative of just a squeeze of fresh lemon and soy sauce – no stress.
- 1 bunch crysanthemum leaves
- ponzu/if not available ½ lemon and soy sauce.
- Chop of end of stems and wash in a big bowl of water. Keep the leaves whole as they will shrink quite a bit.
- In a pot of boiling water, add the chrysanthemum leaves. They will cook very quickly. Just leave it in for a minute and quickly drain.
- Place the leaves in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking and keep the leaves from turning brown.
- Drain the water. Using both hands, gently squeeze as much water as you can from the leaves.
- Chop into thirds and plate.
- Pour ponzu or squeeze lemon and add shoyu and enjoy.
Exercise: To ease eye strain, in Asia they often recommend looking at nature – or something “green” such as trees, plants and the landscape. If you sit at a desk all day, try and place your desk near a window. From a feng shui perspective, it is preferable to have the window on either side of your desk and not directly in front. Having your desk face directly toward the window becomes a distraction and your qi energy is said to go out the window, instead of focusing on your work.
Another way to exercise your eyes from monitor overload is to change your focus. If your situation allows, try to look out the window or as far away as possible. By changing your focus from near to far, exercises your under trained eye muscles. Have you ever noticed that those with jobs that require little desk work don’t wear glasses? Maybe it has something to do with staring at a certain distance for too long a period of time. So, when given the opportunity, try to look far in the distance, such as when driving home, or going on a walk. Do the opposite of what you normally do to balance the yin and yang. When we make the effort to balance our energies, it brings about healing.