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Why I Do Taiji

Why I Do Taiji

“Now step forward, and lift your arms like a crane spreading its wings”. This movement got me hooked on taijiquan. Wayne Gorski introduced me to this internal martial art in 1986. As a Buddhist he explained how to use taiji in conflict resolution without causing harm. Redirection of incoming energy was more effective than trying to stop it with countering moves. I thought that was cool so I stuck with his teaching. Over the years I also learned from other teachers with similar thoughts. None of them ever said that taiji would be good for my back. But it was.

There was a period of my life that was very physically demanding. As a farrier I shod the hooves of fifteen hundred pound horses. As a cowboy I spent long days in the saddle over rough country. I loved it, but it took its toll. Once a horse broke loose the fastened end of a ten foot chain, swung around and hit me in the face nearly tearing out my left eye. Another time a rogue appaloosa reared up just as I bent over to pick up its foot and came pawing down onto my bent over body breaking two vertebrae in my neck and upper back. This was in 1978. After time, the wear and tear of shoeing horses eventually herniated discs in my lower back causing relentless pain and neurologic deficits, like not being able to pick up my foot. I was only thirty years old.

A person never fully recovers from this much trauma. There is always some degree of pain. Chiropractic care was the only thing that really helped with the neck pain, numbness of hands and legs, and constant low back spasms. But once the spine is broken the body goes into maintenance mode. Degeneration leads to arthritis, muscle spasm leads to asymmetry of movement, and it feels like you are always clenching your teeth. To this day I can expect a troubling headache several times a week from the aftermath of a fractured neck.

In those early years chiropractic care was the only thing that really helped me keep going. But I kept going too much. One day Dr. Marvin Harris of Great Falls, told me that if I didn’t change my ways in two years I would be crippled. Hard work and hard play had caught up to me. I did an about face, went back to school, became a Doctor of Chiropractic and opened the Bozeman Chiropractic and Acupuncture Clinic in 1985. I met Wayne the next year.

I’ve tried out a lot of exercise programs and rehabilitation systems over the years to manage my condition and enable me to work. Strength training helps hold my body together but I have to be careful of form and not over doing it. I can’t ride a bike or jog because they cause neck pain. Cross country skiing is great but it doesn’t snow year round. Stretching and yoga are good up to a point but seem to lack something essential. I found what was missing in taiji.

I’ve been doing taiji for more than thirty years. I can truly say it is the only type of exercise that seems to bring it all together for me. Taiji practice is multifaceted. It’s more than just a series of slow movements. There are also conditioning exercises, qigong exercises, and partner exercises. Taiji is similar to xc skiing in that they are based on symmetrical coordinated movements that are low impact. They use most of the muscles and joints without pounding on them.

Taiji is unique in that there is a practical purpose to the movements beyond the physical benefits. I know the martial intent of each posture can be transferred to nonphysical interaction with people. Sounds mysterious but it’s very applicable. My taiji practice helps me engage all facets of my life with a calm, kind, and open-minded attitude. The idea of maintaining alert relaxation in every activity carries enormous benefits for a healthy body and mind.

After I do the taiji form for ten minutes I get the feeling my body has lightened up and my mind has settled down. There’s no heavy breathing but breathing is much deeper. My muscles aren’t gorged with blood but they feel stronger. My neck and lower back are open, loose and happy. I feel rooted to the ground yet ready to get stuff done. It’s really hard to explain, but it might be how a crane feels when spreading it’s wings in the morning sun.




Four Reasons Why Taiji Is Exceptional

Four Reasons Why Taiji Is Exceptional

If, like most people, you would like to have a strong stable body, a calm relaxed mind, and a genuine sense of well being in your daily life then learning Taiji is right for you.

One of the principle reasons Taiji (aka Tai Chi) is so therapeutic is that it is an effective form of physical exercise. Seamlessly blended into the slow meditative movements is a sophisticated physical workout that includes moderate aerobic, strength, and flexibility training. According to Dr. Peter Wayne in "The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi", extensive research has shown that Taiji definitely improves balance and lower body strength; increases joint range of motion in the legs, spine, chest and arms; and has the same aerobic benefits of moderately fast walking at three miles an hour.

Constant motion is the essential ingredient of Taiji (pronounced tie gee ) as expressed in the well know description “meditation in motion”. The smooth, mindful, circular movements call upon the entire system of locomotion – brain, nerves, muscles, joints and bones – to function together in a harmonious and deeply satisfying activity.

Motion analysis studies show that the slowness of Taiji movements, the slightly flexed stances, and postures of standing on one leg, can produce significant strength and stability. The mindful movements of the upper body also improve strength and flexibility. When your arms are slowly and fully extended in the various postures it activates more muscle fibers than if the arms were quickly moved. Same mechanism is at work for slowly lifting the legs and mindfully shifting weight from one leg to the other.

Breathing is the most important thing you do from moment to moment. Full relaxed breathing is a key aspect of Taiji. The coordination of inhaling and exhaling while performing the moving steps of the Form and using mental intention is perhaps the single best way to improve respiratory function.

Your brain is another important component of structural integration. The Taiji form is a choreographed series of steps and movements that must be memorized. This surprises some new students who thought it was similar to learning the postures of yoga. Memorization comes from repetition which means you have to practice. Dedicated practice builds self confidence and a pleasant feeling of accomplishment in learning something new.

This necessary memorization becomes ideal training for cognitive thinking. Cognition is the process by which we acquire knowledge through experience, thought, and sensory input. Cognitive skills are used to comprehend, process, remember and apply incoming information. Learning Taiji is an effective way to increase your ability to pay attention, memorize and perform any activity.

The #1 principle in Taiji is “Sung” (pronounced “soong”) because it is so vital to the full appreciation of this internal art. Often translated as “alert relaxation”, this state of calm physical and mental readiness is the optimal attitude for your entire lifestyle. The stance of sung has your spine comfortably erect, shoulders relaxed, and your breath coming from the lower abdomen. When you are in the state of sung, your body has the energy of a pine bough when it is weighted down by snow. You are patiently strong, not rigid, not collapsed. The energy – Qi – is sunk to the core of your structure. When the snow slides off, the bough returns to its original position without effort.

Mentally the state of sung is like a well trained martial artist who patiently waits through the opponents aggressive behavior for the right opportunity to make a statement. He or she is acutely but calmly aware of the other’s intentions, energy output, and vulnerabilities. Then they can have an appropriate response which is action born from the combined awareness of rational thinking, emotional connection, and penetrating insight. Taiji training guides us toward kindness and harmonious interaction with friends, family, coworkers and strangers.

Taiji players understand that well being can only be attained when we consciously cultivate the natural interplay of yin and yang within ourselves and throughout the community. The series of movements in the 24 Step Form are coupled expressions of yin and yang energies. Yin is receptive, protective, and gathering. Yang is projecting, opening, and dispersing. This is the foundation of Chinese medicine. When we perform this “internal martial art” with the intention of flowing between yin and yang we are creating the best possible opportunity for excellent physical and mental health.


The unique process underlying Taiji is awareness of body and mind moving together. Our sense of proprioception tells us where we are in space. The Form is a series of coordinated movements that utilize the full range of biomechanical function. New students often are surprised to find that, while the movements appear harmonious and beautiful, they depend on acute self-awareness of where the feet, legs, arms, and hands are in space. To maintain this sense of moving through space in a coordinated manner, the Taiji player develops total mindfulness of every sensation passing through their body and mind. This use of proprioception is very good for learning to focus the mind in moment to moment reality for every activity you do.

In addition to learning the steps of the Taiji Form, players also develop the communication skills of listening, projecting and receiving in a physical and energetic training method called Push Hands. This two-person nonverbal interaction often takes the player to a deeper level of awareness. Push Hands uses a close, soft and sensitive physical touch as the two bodies slowly move from a very grounded stance. The two players detect, through touch, the subtle interplay of yin and yang energy that happens between their self and their partner. For those students who choose to play Push Hands the experience is often the most fun part of Taiji training. The principles of nonverbal communication can easily be applied to everyday interactions with others.


The names of some Taiji postures are metaphors for embodied states of mind. “White Crane Spreads Its Wings” is an expansive posture that carries a sense of sharply focused attention. “Snake Creeps Down Through The Grass” brings the body close to earth with smoothly projected intentions. When a Taiji player does “Cloud Hands” there is a wonderful sense of floating through space with ease and power.

These images guide a person toward certain emotional and kinesthetic states of mind not usually accessed in conventional exercise. This adds to the therapeutic effects of Taiji because it activates the healing power of your imagination. Dr. Jeanne Achterberg writes in Imagery and Healing, “Imagery has always played a key role in medicine. It is the communication mechanism between perception, emotion, and bodily change. The image is the world’s oldest and greatest healing source.”

Intention is a major part of Taiji training. Every movement is based on a martial application of offense or defense which gives a practical reason for the various steps. When a player knows why, for example, one hand goes out while the other goes down it adds meaning to the movement. The energy used in Taiji movement is much more than muscular force, it is the very source of your vitality. Most people learn Taiji as an exercise system rather than a martial art because they want to improve their conditioning and well being. Physical vitality and mental clarity are absolutely dependent on your innate energy – the Qi.

When the Taiji Form is done slowly it allows the Qi to move through the body and beyond. Your energy field is bigger that your physical frame. The movement and breathing in Taiji practice cultivates Qi through the interaction of yin and yang postures. Then that enhanced energy is further developed with the intention that characterizes each step of the Form.

Intention sets the tone of what you do, say, and think every day. It guides your existence from this moment forward. Learning the intention of the Taiji postures is a wonderful way to activate and enrich those areas of the brain responsible for processing all the intentions that color your life. When we do Taiji with mindful intentions we are exercising our abilities to receive whatever comes our way with a strong relaxed body and a kind perceptive mind that understands the interplay of yin and yang.

These four features of Taiji practice are what makes this ancient exercise system so remarkably effective for today’s lifestyle. The unique combination of an alertly relaxed mind and a smoothly coordinated body helps us meet the stresses and demands of daily living. Taiji may be the best exercise for the rest of your life.

Daoist Meditation


Mindfulness + Awareness + Visualization = Awakening

The mind has two sides. It can create elegant mathematical order, it can compose stunning artwork, it can express compassion to rise above mere animal existence. But it can also, and often does, make us miserable. The tremendous capabilities of the mind can create both happiness and despair. At the core of our being exists an authentic, open, loving, transcendent spirit that strives for unity with people and place. But our essential nature often lies hidden beneath the travails and distractions of daily life, leaving us with a sense of doubt and insecurity.

The ultimate awakening of the spirit happens when we genuinely realize our interdependence with all things on earth and feel a wholehearted intimacy with the world. Meditation can help us discover the peace and fulfillment that lies deep within our minds by learning how to stop restlessness, end discursive thinking, and let go of negativity.

Most meditations in the Daoist tradition have four aspects: mindfulness, awareness, visualization and spiritual awakening. The first three involve innate mental activities that can be used to train the mind the fourth aspect is the motivation for training.

Daoist meditations use mindfulness to focus on one and only one thing at a time. The subject could be the breath cycle, a qigong movement, or anywhere we want to place our full attention. When we immerse ourselves in mindfulness, we become completely absorbed in something without distractions. The mindfulness that we cultivate in meditation becomes applicable to everything else we may do in our lives. As a technique for honing concentration and composure, practicing mindfulness helps control pervasive stress and daily diversions so that we become productive, attentive and efficient.

Both Daoist and Buddhist practitioners regard awareness to be the gist of their practice. Mental awareness observes our immediate world through sensory and cognitive perceptions. While mindfulness operates wholly in the present moment, meditative awareness has a sense of time to it we were being mindful just a moment ago, but awareness notices that now we are not. Awareness notices when we lose concentration and immediately brings our attention back to the object of mindfulness. It keeps us focused on a single task while at the same time it notices – but does not attach to– the streaming internal chatter, fantasies, and sensory details that occupy our mind. Awareness does not make judgments; it only observes how mindfulness ebbs and flows, but does not comment on it.

Mindfulness and awareness are the yin and yang aspects of meditation practice. For example, when we concentrate on the breath cycle, mindfulness only feels the breath coming in and going out. Awareness knows we are breathing but also feels the room temperature, hears the traffic outside, and notices when myriad thoughts have invaded our concentration and then gently brings our attention back to the breath. During a meditation session, the seamless interplay between mindfulness and awareness cultivates a conscious singularity that feels utterly peaceful, spacious and clear.

The Theravada school of Buddhism uses a technique that applies awareness and mindfulness to “feeling tones”. Every perception can be regarded as being pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. The practice is to simply label each sensation - a voice, that color, some thought – as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral without grasping onto your reaction to the stimulation. It really helps to calm down and realize the true impermanence of everything you perceive.


Daoist meditation uses intentional imagery to make the connection between body and brain, intensify compassion, and develop spiritual awareness. Sport psychologists know that when we mentally imagine shooting a basketball it stimulates the same brain areas that are responsible for physically shooting the ball. Research physiologists found that when long-term meditators practiced visualizing the dissemination of kindness and compassion to individuals or groups, the regions of the brain related to those emotions actually increased in size. The additional neurons of these regions raise the baseline for happiness in the meditator’s mind which imparts enduring tranquility, contentment, and benevolence.

In qigong practice, visualization entails using specific imagery to circulate qi and blood through the meridian system. There are also special meditations, like Lake and Geyser, that visualize an inner brilliant light rising up through the taiji axis and illuminating each energy center as it ascends to the upper dan tian where it kindles spiritual awakening.


Every person has a natural inclination to realize spiritual awakening. An awakened spirit truly understands interdependence and dwells in benevolence. As energetic beings we live in an ecosystem that begins deep inside the body, connects with the mind and emotions, interacts with natural and man-made phenomena, and extends into the boundless universe. We are born to connect with everything that exists.

Until we realize this universal bond really feel it deep in the bones we will continue living in alienation from our true self. When we have a profound comprehension and respect for our place in this ecology, and a genuine sense of generosity and good will toward all sentient beings, we will live in peace and harmony with the world.

A well functioning body and a tranquil mind are prerequisites for awakening the spirit. We should diligently practice qigong, meditation, and healthy eating to set the stage for waking up. The more you practice meditation, the more skillfully you can create the process that leads to awakening. Just as importantly, moving qigong practice functions as a counterbalance to meditation the yang qi that animates the yin qi of sitting.

Spiritual awakening does not lead to divorcing oneself from society. When you experience enlightenment you do not go away from the world. You remain invested in social engagements so that you can help others experience their true nature. Essentially, spiritual awakening can happen once or it can happen countless times because the joy of living a fully realized life does not depend on time.



Power of Intention

The Power of Intention

There are many ways of thinking. You know this because most of the time you are thinking about something. Right? We absorb, analyze, and usually react to, constant stimulation of the five senses. Then at other times our brain is using logic and reasoning to figure something out. And sometimes we may be engaged in the more subtle thinking of intuition. The mind has many ways of being. Two important ones are attention and intention.

Attention is a receptive state of awareness – our consciousness is being engaged with the object. Most of our sensory experience is done with attention. There is a stimulus, perhaps a shape in the distance, or a muted sound, that compels us to take notice of it. Pure attention – when we are closely observing but not reacting – is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is a yin mental state of total absorption and tranquility. It’s very healthy.

Intention is an out going state of awareness – we are engaged with an object for a specific purpose. We have a goal that we want to achieve. Intention involves the aspiration that a certain action will have a desired effect. Whether it be physical movement, a spoken word, a written plan, or clear concentration, the mental process of forming an intent is a force that can be used to great benefits. This is the healthy yang power of thinking.

Intention in qigong practice is the act of using focused attention, visualization, and hand placement to direct healing energy to certain areas of the body.

In acknowledging the importance of intention, Ken Cohen – qigong master, scholar and practitioner writes in The Way Of Qigong, “All qigong techniques are designed to strengthen and refine intent, so that eventually you can direct the healing energy just through concentration.” This skillful concentration is the basis of Daoist meditations like “Lake and Geyser” and “Seven Stars” that we do in the Winter Qigong practice.

The practice of using images to promote healing is found in the ancient techniques of qigong and the modern methods of therapeutic healing. Most qigong visualizations use “end state imagery” where the area is seen as fully healthy or nourished by healing energy. Western medical visualization uses “process imagery” where specific images are often directed at an area in a sequence. Integration of both methods is useful. For example, a hepatitis patient directs fresh healing energy to enter the liver through the qimen acupuncture point on the chest while imaging that the virus is tiny dots on a board that are being slowly erased by the flow of qi.

Your hands are an incredibly powerful tool of healing. They have innumerable nerve endings and acupuncture points that carry a copious flow of energy and information. The laogong point in the center of the palm is the major entry and exit point for qi healing. Just by placing this point over areas of the body there will be a transfer of energy. Add the power of intention and you have generated a strong current of energy transfer.

The movement of your hands generates even more energy than a static position. The therapeutic method of “meridian tracing” employs the power of moving hands to facilitate qi flow through the acupuncture channels. We can direct pure healing energy with the creative power of the mind and body movement. Most medical qigong exercises combine mental intention with attention to purposeful hand placement.

Qigong practice has three interrelated components: body movement, regulated breathing, and mental intention. Together they are a tremendous force that can help us achieve the inner peace and outward strength of complete well being.

For more information on qigong training go to Winter Qigong Intensive and Winter Qigong Practice.

Go Nuts!


Nuts and seeds are finally getting the accolades from western science that has so long been granted to them by Chinese medicine. Now everyone agrees that these are nutritional powerhouses with a potent mix of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamin E, minerals and monounsaturated fats. Some people refer to them as “the perfect food”.

Over thirty studies have shown serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels favorably reduced when nuts where included in the diet. This got the attention of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In 2003, the FDA made this statement: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” (http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftmar04.htm).

Nuts and seeds have such a positive effect on blood pressure that they have become part of the highly regarded DASH Diet for controlling hypertension. (http://dashdiet.org). This effect may be due to the fact that nuts are excellent sources of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Some findings suggest that, because they are slowly absorbed, eating nuts may lower the Glycemic Index of a meal. That bodes well for people with hypoglycemia or diabetes.

The wealth of nutrients in nuts makes them calorie dense. This worries some people who are concerned about their weight. However, including a handful of nuts in the daily diet may actually expedite weight loss. In addition to all the good things, nuts give people a sense of satiety. Perhaps snacking on a few nuts instead of eating celery sticks will help people stay on a weight loss program and avoid serial dieting.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health found three times as many people trying to lose weight were able to stick to a Mediterranean-style moderate-fat weight loss diet that included nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, versus the traditionally recommended low-fat diet. (International Journal of Obesity, Oct. 5, 2001).

The FDA recommends a daily serving of 1½ ounce of nuts (two – three tablespoons). I agree with this suggestion. Take a look at all the healthy benefits of nuts.

ALMONDS: A one-ounce serving is about 24 nuts with 6 g. protein, 160 calories, and 9 g. monosaturated fat. Almonds are loaded with Vitamin E (an antioxidant that helps prevent heart disease and cancer) and magnesium (strengthens bones).

BRAZIL NUTS: A one-ounce serving is about 8 nuts with 4 g. protein, 190 calories and 7 g. monosaturated fat. Brazil nuts are packed with selenium (an antioxidant) and phosphorus (strengthens bones and teeth & assists with energy metabolism.

CASHEWS: A one-ounce serving is about 18 nuts with 4 g. protein, 160 calories and 8 g. monosaturated fat. Cashews are rich in selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

HAZELNUTS: A one-ounce serving is about 20 nuts with 4 g. protein, 180 calories and 3 g. monosaturated fat. Hazelnuts contain large amounts of
Vitamin E.

MACADAMIAS: A one-ounce serving is about 12 nuts with 2 g. protein, 200 calories and 17 g. monosaturated fat. Macadamias have the highest level of unsaturated fat (cholesterol lowering).

PEANUTS: (not actually a nut, but a legume, though often thought of as a nut so here it is) A one-ounce serving is about 28 nuts with 7 g. protein, 170 calories and 7 g. monosaturated fat. Peanuts are a good source of Vitamin B3 (promoting healthy skin), Vitamin E and zinc (renewing tissue), potassium (muscles) and Vitamin B6 (immunity).

PECANS: A one-ounce serving is about 20 halves with 3 g. protein, 200 calories and 12 g. monosaturated fat. Pecans are packed with Vitamin B1 (thiamine energy) and zinc.

PISTACHIOS: A one-ounce serving is about 45 nuts with 6 g. protein, 160 calories and 7 g. monosaturated fat. Pistachios are full of phosphorus.

WALNUTS: A one-ounce serving is about 14 halves with 4 g. protein, 190 calories and 2.5 g. monosaturated fat. Walnuts are rich in Omega-3s (reducing fat and cholesterol).

Wow. Nuts really are superfoods. They contain more than just proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Chinese dietary medicine sees nuts as beneficial because, in addition to having excellent nutrients, they are seeds. All seeds contain Jing. Jing is the generative essence of the plant. This is the dynamic information (think of a genetic code) that directs the growth of any species, whether plant or animal. Jing determines how you grow, mature, and eventually die.

The Jing contained in nuts and seeds has a positive influence on the Jing within us, especially that of the kidney and skeletal systems. This influence is through the resonance of the generative energetic systems of both species. We not only absorb essential nutrients from the plants we eat, we also obtain Jing, and benefit from those bioenergetic nutrients that feed our essential base of structural growth and maintenance.

So, go out there and have a handful of nuts. The ultimate power food. Go crazy.

Preventive Care in Winter

Preventive Health Care in Winter

There is a long tradition in Asian cultures of having periodic health checkups. Preventing health problems before they become serious is reflected in the well-known Chinese aphorism: “treating a person when they are sick is like digging a well when you are thirsty.” Better early than late.

Perhaps the most common example of preventive health care in China is what is called the Seasonal Tuneup. At the time of transition between seasons people will visit their acupuncturist/ herbalist for a checkup. Any acute problems are addressed and a treatment is rendered that is specifically aimed at keeping the person in balance with the changing energies of that season while also treating any acute conditions. This two-pronged approach uses preventive and remedial treatment at the same time—natural health care at its best.

The best times for a Seasonal Tuneup are near the Autumn and Spring equinox, and the Winter and Summer solstice. As the seasons change the concentration of Qi in the body will shift locations. Acupuncture, herbs and qigong are excellent ways to encourage the appropriate distribution and nourishment of the seasonal Qi flow.

It is obvious that we are affected by the local weather, but we are also influenced by the powerful and subtle changes in planetary and cosmic forces. In winter the exterior world contracts and slows down, but the interior of things is very much alive. Fish live at the bottom of frozen lakes, plants send nutrients to living roots, and our bodies store energy at its core. In this Ultimate Yin season our bones, brain and kidneys become reservoirs for the jing – the essence that keeps us alive. This is the time to nurture our health at the very deepest levels of life.

The Seasonal Tuneup for Winter will consist of an acupuncture treatment selected from those points that can influence the Kidney Network: kidneys, bladder, bones, spinal cord, brain, fear, Jing, and more. Any specific problem the person may be currently having will also be treated. The treatment is done with the patient lying down on their back or their stomach depending on the point selection. Usually one session of acupuncture is enough for the Seasonal Tuneup.The best herbal formula for staying healthy this Winter is Astra Eight. It is a combination of astragalus, ginseng, eleuthero, ligustrim, schizandra, etc, has been carefully selected for the tonification of the immune system and Kidney Qi.

If you ar interested in scheduling a Seasonal Tuneup with Dr. Ron and/or purchasing Astra Eight please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Tea and Health

Tea and Health

There are two really good reasons for drinking tea: remarkable health benefits, and a wonderful variety of tastes. People have enjoyed tea for over five thousand years. There must be something to it so let’s take a closer look at the types of tea, the scientific research, why drinking tea in winter is especially important, and how much should you drink.

True tea is a beverage brewed only from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. Herbal “teas” that come from other plants are properly called tisanes. Camellia leaves are harvested and processed in different ways to give us four types of tea: white, green, oolong, and black.

White teas are fairly rare. New tea leaves are plucked from the plant and allowed to wither and dry in the shade. They produce a pale infusion the color of straw with a delicate taste.

Green teas are from leaves that are dried in the shade until limp then heated until fully dry to prevent their natural oils from interacting with air. The heat can come from the sun, a warm air source, or "pan fried" in a wok. This is the most common beverage in Japan. Most of the research into the health benefits of tea has been focused on greens.

Oolong teas are "semi-oxidized". Leaves are plucked and immediately placed in direct sunlight. They are then lightly bruised through shaking in a bamboo basket in order to release some of the natural oils. At a certain point, judged by the tea master, the natural oxidation process is halted by quickly heating the leaves until they are dried. Oolongs are very popular in China along with green teas.

Black teas are also withered and bruised allowing the oils to interact with air. This turns the leaves copper to red in color. Then they are quickly “fired” at very hot temperatures to stop the oxidation process and fully dry the leaf. This last step of "firing" turns the leaf black. When steeped about 5 minutes the leaves only slightly expand in volume. Black teas are popular in Europe.


Age-old wisdom about tea is now being taken seriously by mainstream researchers. Funding for studies has come from groups such as the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health. Tufts University, the University of Arizona, the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Kansas, Indiana University School of Medicine, Rutgers University, the USDA, and others are now studying tea and health.

A group of scientists from around the world met at the US Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC for a Symposium on Tea and Human Health in September 1998. The event was co-sponsored by The American Cancer Society, the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association, the American Health Foundation, and others. This conference marked a milestone in the medical and science communities’ recognition of the health benefits of tea.

Dozens of new studies reaffirmed earlier work done in Europe and Asia concluding that three or more 6 oz. cups of tea a day help fend off cancer, reduce heart disease, fight the negative effects of aging, and promote elimination of dietary fats, among other health benefits.

Whether you drink tea because you like it or for health – or both, you might be interested in some of the current research findings and trends:

Polyphenols – Experts believe that the health benefits of tea come mainly from polyphenols, natural compounds found in all four tea types at various levels. Many of the polyphenols are antioxidants which have antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. The most potent are catechins and flavonoids. According to the USDA, the antioxidant activity of green tea is more potent than that found in 22 fruits and vegetables including orange juice, carrots, and broccoli.

Cancer – Some antioxidants - like the catechins - will counter the damage from "free radicals" and make DNA more resistant to mutation. This prevents some cancers from forming and inhibits the growth of some tumors already in existence. Green tea shows special promise against cancers of the skin, lymph, mouth, stomach, esophagus, liver, bladder, colon, prostate, and lung.

Heart Disease and Stroke – Studies show that tea can lower fatty deposits in artery walls, decrease blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and reduce the clotting tendency of blood.

Immune Booster – Tea has been shown to enhance and increase the number of immune system components including "B" cells, "T" cells, and "killer" cells.

Digestion – Tea is thought to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, stimulate digestive juices, break down dietary fats, and help control levels of glucose in the blood stream.

The bottom line is that tea has wonderful health enhancing effects for your body and mind.



White teas are very delicate and should be brewed only a minute or two in water that is hot but not boiling, about 170-175 Fahrenheit degrees.

Green teas taste fresh and grassy and must be brewed in 175-180 F water for only 1 – 3 minutes in order to achieve the best flavor. Of all tea types, the greens have the highest catechin content. This polyphenol compound is largely responsible for the health benefits but it is also bitter in taste. If brewed too hot or too long the taste becomes more bitter.

Oolong teas should be steeped for 4-6 minutes in water just off the boil, 180-190 F. The leaves will unfurl until three or four times the dried volume. Always brew oolong tea in a pot so there is room for expansion. Don’t use tea bags. Oolongs have a wide range of tastes and colors and are midway between greens and blacks in the degree of their healthy components.

Black teas are steeped about 5-6 minutes in very hot water, 208-212 F. They have a robust and lingering flavor. Black tea is very helpful for overall digestion and metabolism of dietary fats. It is the tea of choice for those wanting a coffee substitute.

Drinking tea is most rewarding when a heaping teaspoon of loose tea is brewed in a clay teapot for the appropriate time. Then, with deliberate attention, the tea is poured into a cup that is reserved for only tea. The ritual enriches the experience. However if you’re on the go, brewing white, green and black tea in bags is acceptable. But not for oolongs – they must be allowed to expand and a teabag prevents this from happening.

True tea has caffeine which accounts for some of its appeal. Coffee and tea are tied for second as the most frequently consumed drinks in the world. Caffeine has good and bad effects mostly determined by the amount imbibed. The following chart shows the range of caffeine in tea and coffee.

Beverage        Caffeine Per 8 oz Serving
White Tea       30-55 mg
Green Tea      35-70 mg
Oolong Tea    50-75 mg
Black Tea       60-90 mg
Coffee            100 mg



Tea will warm you up. In fact, I personally find that drinking tea makes me feel warmer than drinking coffee. Over the years of enjoying both tea and coffee I have come to the conclusion that tea is more of a “head trip” while coffee tends to affect my body. Tea gives me a pleasant sense of mildly increased alertness and warm composure. Coffee, in excess, makes me feel jittery and oddly acidic.

My series of classes, Qigong Through The Seasons, presents a complete plan for staying healthy throughout the year. The program is tailored to those specific health needs that change with the seasons. The Five Phase paradigm of Chinese medicine tells us that winter is the time to focus on the bones, teeth and other aspects of the Kidney Network. Tea has very beneficial effects on bones and teeth. Below are some of the details from research.

Evidence That Green Tea May Help Improve Bone Health
Journal reference: Ko et al. "Effects of Tea Catechins, Epigallocatechin, Gallocatechin, and Gallocatechin Gallate, on Bone Metabolism". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 57 (16): 7293 DOI: 10.1021/jf901545u

Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting evidence that green tea may help improve bone health. They found that the tea contains a group of chemicals that can stimulate bone formation and help slow its breakdown. The beverage has the potential to help in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and other bone diseases that affect millions worldwide.

The scientists exposed a group of cultured bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) to three major green tea components — epigallocatechin (EGC), gallocatechin (GC), and gallocatechin gallate (GCG) — for several days. EGC in particular, boosted the activity of a key enzyme that promotes bone growth by up to 79 percent. EGC also significantly boosted levels of bone mineralization in the cells, which strengthens bones. The scientists also showed that high concentrations of EGC blocked the activity of a type of cell (osteoclast) that breaks down or weakens bones.


Green tea may help promote healthy teeth and gums
Science Daily (Mar. 13, 2009)

A study recently published in the Journal of Periodontology, uncovered yet another benefit of green tea consumption. Researchers found that routine intake of green tea may also help promote healthy teeth and gums. The study analyzed the periodontal health of 940 men, and found that those who regularly drank green tea had superior periodontal health than subjects that consumed less green tea.

"It has been long speculated that green tea possesses a host of health benefits," said study author Dr. Yoshihiro Shimazaki of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. "And since many of us enjoy green tea on a regular basis, my colleagues and I were eager to investigate the impact of green tea consumption on periodontal health, especially considering the escalating emphasis on the connection between periodontal health and overall health."

Male participants aged 49 through 59 were examined on three indicators of periodontal disease: periodontal pocket depth (PD), clinical attachment loss (CAL) of gum tissue, and bleeding on probing (BOP) of the gum tissue. Researchers observed that for every one cup of green tea consumed per day, there was a decrease in all three indicators, therefore signifying a lower instance of periodontal disease in those subjects who regularly drank green tea.

"Periodontists believe that maintaining healthy gums is absolutely critical to maintaining a healthy body," says Dr. David Cochran, DDS, PhD, President of the AAP and Chair of the Department of Periodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "That is why it is so important to find simple ways to boost periodontal health, such as regularly drinking green tea – something already known to possess certain health-related benefits."



Most things that are good for you can be bad if consumed in excess. This applies to caffeinated beverages. I find that two cups of tea a day is just right for me. It helps me be alert but relaxed, and I feel fully united in body and mind. Although I’ll drink green and black tea, my all time favorite is oolong, actually a certain variety called Tung Ting from China.

The active agents in tea – the catechins and flavonoids – are incredibly helpful in limited doses. But like all good things, if overly ingested they may have detrimental effects on body tissues or physiology. The amount of tea shown to be helpful in many research studies ranges from two to six cups a day.

Buy good tea for goodness sake. Bulk teas stored in gallon jugs exposed to light have lost a lot of their flavor and potency. The best teas come in loose leaf form from reputable suppliers like Strand Tea in Oregon. You can get relatively high quality green and black teas in bags if they are well-sealed in foil, paper or plastic.

If you are already a tea drinker you may want to expand your experience by trying different varieties. If you haven’t yet tasted tea the coming cold weather may be just the right time to try this highly acclaimed and delicious drink.

Let’s raise a cup to our health!


Relaxed Wanderer

Relaxed Wanderer
Xiao Yao San "Free and Easy Rambler"

This is a much revered herbal formula that has been used, with a few variations, for hundreds of years to relieve problems related to Liver Qi Obstruction and Blood Stagnation/Deficiency. It helps the Liver and Spleen work together for better food digestion, nutrient absorption, blood production, and qi circulation.

I have found in my clinical practice that Relaxed Wanderer can be exceptionally helpful for women’s disorders of premenstrual syndrome, blood deficiency, and stagnation of qi flow through the reproduc- tive system. This formula can also be beneficial to men and women who suffer from tension headaches, muscle pain, upper abdominal pain, bowel disorders, frustration, irritability and inappropriate anger.
Relaxed Wanderer contains thirteen herbs carefully combined to produce maximum intended results with minimum side effects. These are the chief herbs in the formula:

Dang Gui root (Angelicae Sinensis). This famous herb can take the edge off the anxiety, irritability and pain that comes from Liver Qi Stagnation. It is commonly used for cramps associated with Blood Stag- nation, and it will nourish the blood in cases of deficiency.

White Peony root (Paeoniae Lactiflorae). This has similar effects as Dang Gui with a bit more emphasis on soothing abdominal pain, calming volatility, and treating tension headaches. It is a gentle remedy for many menstrual disorders like irregularity, clots and pain.

White Atractylodes rhizome (Atractylodis Macrocephalae). A modern variation to Xiao Yan San, this herb is used to treat Spleen and Stomach deficiency. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, epigas- tric pain, and listlessness. It also relieves excessive dampness that can cause many digestive disorders of bloating, irregular bowels, or loose stools.

Bupleurum root (Radix Bupleuri). Excellent herb for several types of heat in the body especially from constraint of qi or blood in the Liver. Symptoms could include fever, vomiting, dizziness, vertigo, stifling sensation in chest, flank pain, breast distension, belching, headaches, irritability, and prolonged frustration.

Many people will benefit from taking Relaxed Wanderer (from K’an Herbals) during the spring of the year. At this time the weather is driven by the Rising Yang Qi that often creates tempestuous and fickle storms which affect the flow of energy everywhere in nature, including
our bodies. This well balanced formula can be taken as a tonic to temper the Yang Qi, relax the liver, and aid our smooth transition from winter to summer.

The usual dosage is three tablets a day for 10 to 30 days for most people. You should always consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner before taking this product especially if you are also taking prescription medication. Relaxed Wanderer is available from The Health Movement. Send inquires to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Foods and the Four Directions

Foods and the Four Directions

Humans are a reflection of the universe. All cosmic energies are mirrored in us—as the Qi of Heaven and Earth circulates in seasonal, planetary cycles it also is moving in natural patterns within us. In Spring the energy comes up through the abdomen and into the chest; in Summer the energy moves to the head and the extremities; in Autumn the energy retreats toward the trunk; and in Winter the energy moves down and inward to the body’s core. This seasonal circulation of internal Qi can be enhanced by eating specific foods.

The physical traits of plants (what herbalists call the “doctrine of signatures”) support this movement within us. Green, sprouting food is best in Spring. Flowers and leaves that grow outward are best for Summer; downward growing vegetables for Autumn; dense, concentrated grains, seeds and nuts are best for Winter. Natural eating habits, like eating from a garden, tend to emphasize the appropriate type of food for the season.

The Liver is the organ that corresponds to the season of Spring. We can nourish it and enhance the Rising Yang energy that naturally emerges during the Wood Phase by eating foods that have specific actions. Sour is the flavor for Spring. It has an astringent action that releases stagnation from the Liver and moves Qi. Excellent sources for the sour flavor are rhubarb, citrus fruits and yogurt. Here are some other foods that will have particular effects on the Liver:

Relax the Liver and Move the Qi: asparagus, bupleurum (the major herb in Relaxed Wanderer herbal formula), cabbage, lemon, basil, black pepper, cayenne, celery, coconut milk, dill, garlic, ginger, safflower oil.
Detoxify the Liver and Purify the Blood: Dandelion, milk thistle, bupleurum, alfalfa, echinacea, angelica, yarrow, ginseng.

Lemon Liver Cleanser
This delicious drink has lemon and cayenne to move qi stagnation and
maple syrup to embody the rising yang qi of spring.

Mix one tablespoon of pure maple syrup, the juice of one lemon, and about 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne into 8 ounces of warm water, stir. Enjoy 2–4 times a week.

Our ancestors developed a method of agriculture and trade that enabled them to eat a wide variety of foods regardless of season or weather. This, in turn, allowed the early healers to study and develop a profound understanding of what food does to us. This resulted in the growth of such healing arts as herbal medicine and dietary therapy, which depend on our ability to eat a diversity of foods and herbs.
While we should increase our consumption of sprouting seeds, young greens and other seasonal foods this Spring, we should also eat those herbs and foods that have been shown to, regardless of the season, stimulate the flow of Liver Qi and detoxification of the Blood.

In Chinese medicine there is a family of herbal formulas that are used as constitutional tonics for each of the Five Phases. These herbal recipes are for nurturing those aspects of body, mind and spirit that are specific to each Phase. Relaxed Wanderer is the recommended tonic for Spring.


Relax Into Spring

Spring is the busiest time of year, and often the most frustrating. There is so much we want to do, especially outdoors, and yet the tumultuous weather often interferes with our desires. Expectations for a gentle unfolding of winter’s prolonged icy grip are frequently crushed with yet another blast of cold air. So we get tense, irritable and downright cantankerous. Call it “spring fever”. The remedy is to relax. Of course, you know that. We hear it all the time, “just relax”.

And yet it often seems nearly impossible. Like we actually don’t know how to relax the body and turn off the chatter of the mind. Getting the body and mind into a state of true quietness seems beyond our understanding and ability. So I want to share a simple and very effective technique from Daoist Qigong to help you enter a state of deep quiet. Why is this important?

The Qi can only circulate with maximum benefit when the organs, the surrounding muscles, the web of connective tissue, and the intrinsic vessels and nerves are calmly relaxed. This state of physiological quietness is unique to Qigong. It is a kind of alert peacefulness that melds the body and mind together into a complete whole.

Dr. Jiao Guorui, a well respected contemporary Qigong practictioner in China, calls this state entering quiescence. He describes it in his book Qigong Essentials for Health Promotion:

"Entering quiescence is a major requirement of qigong exercise. But how to achieve this is a common problem for beginners. First of all we must understand the quiescent state correctly. This state exists relatively as compared to the dynamic state. Life is movement and the quiescent state is actually stillness in movement. It is not motionless. Therefore, qigong exercise is essentially quiescent motions. When we enter the quiescent state we are entering a special state of movement within the body.
What then is quiescence? It is a special state of inward quietude. In this state the brain eliminates interferences from both inside and outside the body, providing favorable conditions for the central nervous system to carry out the active, natural regulation of body functions and mental abilities.
Some people, after entering quiescence during qigong, feel like a frozen river that is melting during the springtime...their whole body is completely relaxed and comfortable."

The state of being “completely relaxed” is especially important for the liver. This amazing visceral structure has more functions that any other single organ. During the process of filtering and detoxifying the blood, producing hundreds of enzymes and hormones, and regulating the volume of circulating blood, the liver tends to become congested. For it to work properly it must be decongested and supple. The Chinese say that a healthy liver is like “a free and easy wanderer,” responsible for the smooth and harmonious flow of blood and Qi throughout the body and mind.

Spring is the time of year when the concentration of Qi is rising up from the kidney area and into the middle chest. This rising Qi often becomes obstructed by a stagnant liver that is clogged with the debris of its functions. Qigong for Spring helps the liver to become free and easy by the use of special qigong exercises, herbs and foods. A special exercise to enable you to enter quiescence and benefit the liver is Inner Nourishing.

Inner Nourishing
This exercise may be done sitting or lying down. Rest and be comfortable but alert.
Start to inhale and think of bringing the qi up the back, over the head and to the mouth. While inhaling gently place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and silently say, “I am calm.”
Then start to exhale and bring the qi down the front of your body to the lower dan tian. While exhaling let the tongue rest gently on the floor of your mouth and silently say, “and relaxed.”
Do this for a few minutes.

Inner Nourishing, "Nei Yang Gong", was a secret Daoist healing method developed during 
the Ming dynasty that was transmitted by qigong masters to only one select student. It enhances the Qi circulation through the two major meridians: Governing Vessel from tailbone up to the mouth and Conception Vessel from mouth to perineum. In 1947 Dr. Liu Guizhen began to teach this powerful qigong exercise to the public for the greater good of society. He knew that one of the greatest benefits of Qigong is the internal relaxation of the body.


Grow Fresh Air

Grow Fresh Air In Your Home

Our long cold-weather season means that we spend an enormous amount of our time indoors. Modern building materials and designs often result in toxic air and super-insulated houses with poor ventilation. Added to the low humidity of most homes, dangerous volatile compounds from household chemicals, and the constant release of fumes from furnishings, this equation results in an unhealthy environment. However, there is a simple and beautiful remedy for this dire situation.

NASA has had to develop systems to purify the air in the International Space Station and planned lunar bases. To simulate our terrestrial atmosphere in tightly closed space vehicles they extensively studied how living plants purify air on earth. After more than twenty five years of research they have categorized 50 houseplants according to their ability to remove chemical vapors, transpiration rate of water and oxygen, ease of growth, and resistance to insect infestations.

How To Grow Fresh Air by B. C. Wolverton is a wonderful book that describes the problem of indoor pollution and the solutions found in houseplants. This is great information that any of us can put to good use in homes, offices, and studios. The author presents everything you need to know about caring for these natural air purifiers. And the book has gorgeous photographs of over fifty plants. I’ll list a few that are among the best.

It’s interesting that the top three plants are in the Palm (Arecacae) family. Lady, Areca and Bamboo palms earn an 8.5 rating on a scale of 10. They are exceptional at removing chemical vapors, transpiration rate, and ease of growing. Because of their natural size they are suitable for larger rooms.

Closely following the palms is the well known Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta). This one is very easy to grow with a rating of 8. It’s large flat leaves are super at detoxifying the air. The straight single stem form is especially attractive. I once had a six feet tall beauty; I air-layered it several times and the offspring grew easily.

The Dracaenas are in the 7.0 – 7.5 category. The “Janet Craig” variety earns top honors for removing trichloroethylene and other common toxins. The “Corn Plant” is popular in contemporary decors and office buildings. My favorite Dracaena is the Marginata maybe because it’s blood red color gives it the moniker “Dragon Tree”.

And then there is the ubiquitous Pothos. Probably the easiest of all houseplants to grow, the Golden variety of this pretty vine rates a 7.5. I have these plants all over my house and studio. They grow like crazy and are easily maintained in semi-shade conditions. They readily make new plants from cuttings so you can always have more.

Make your indoor environment healthy and beautiful with a few of these amazing natural air purifiers. Most of these plants are available at local nurseries and big box stores. They are generally easy to care for, however they don’t all like the same growing conditions. Consult books like How To Grow Fresh Air for advice on caring for the species you have. Or google the information on line.

What a great gift idea! Give someone you care about an attractive living companion for the holidays.



Autumn Tuneup

Preventive Health Care by the Seasons

Natural forces have a profound influence on our health because we are inescapably part of Nature. When the energy changes in nature, it changes within us as well. The purpose of a seasonal tuneup is to keep us physically, mentally, and energetically in tune with the ever changing forces of the seasons.

Each season has a unique energy that will definitely influence a specific organ network in our bodies. These networks are diverse elements that interact on certain organs. The Lung Network consists of physical structures, mental/emotional conditions, and climatic influences: Lungs, all mucus membranes, the skin, grief, courage, decision making ("separating wheat from chaff"), the chest, season of autumn and the west wind. These aspects of the Lung Network are especially important to your health in Autumn.

A seasonal acupuncture treatment consists of two aspects: 1) selecting acupoints that have a powerful influence on the predominant organ network of that season and 2) selecting points that will treat any immediate problems you are having.

This approach uses preventive and corrective treatment at the same time. It is natural health care at its best.

Acupuncture, herbs and qigong are excellent ways to encourage the appropriate distribution and nourishment of seasonal Qi flow. I often do some external qi healing after the needles are placed. This sets up a comfortable and nurturing energy field that strengthens the acupuncture treatment. Herbal tonics are usually taken for a short while during each season. I will make specific recommendations for your personal condition.

I also ask most tuneup patients if they would like to learn an essential Qigong Exercise that relates to the season. This only takes a few mintues and beautifully complements the acupunture treatment. It is something they can do at home for their own benefit.

Treatment sessions are $75 by cash or check. Price of herbal supplements varies.

My home studio is about a thirty minute drive from downtown Bozeman. In a sense, the treatment begins when you turn off the highway onto the gravel road. The studio is serene and comfortable with plants, sunlight and twenty acres of quietness. You should expect to be away from town for about two hours. How nice is that?

You may contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for scheduling or more information.

 Wishing you a glorious Autumn,

Dr. Ron Davis

Autumn Recipes

Recipes for Autumn

These four recipes are my favorite meals for the crispy cool days and dark starry nights of autumn. Read the little bit of the info at the top of the recipes to understand why these foods are so good for you and sooo tasty. Autumn is the time to settle down, get your stuff in order, and enjoy the beauty of our Gallatin Valley.

Peace and Love,

Dr. Ron


Russian Cabbage Borscht
This beautiful soup is the perfect autumn meal. The wonderful ground dwelling beets, potatoes and carrots are combined with the yin-yang flavors for the Metal Phase: vinegar (yin), and both dill and caraway (yang). Delicious with whole grain bread and butter.

2 tbls butter 4 cups stock or water
1 ½ cups chopped onion 2 tsp salt
1 ½ cups thinly sliced potatoes black pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced beets ¼ tsp dried dill
1 large sliced carrot 1 tbls + 1 tsp cider vinegar
1 stalk chopped celery 1 tbls + 1 tsp honey
3 cups chopped cabbage 1 cup tomato puree
1 scant tsp caraway seeds

Place beets, potatoes, and stock in a saucepan and cook until everything is tender. Reserve stock.

Begin cooking the onions in the butter in a large kettle or pot. Add caraway seeds and salt. Cook until onions are translucent, then add celery, carrots and cabbage. Add reserved stock. Cover and cook slowly until all the vegetables are tender.

Add beets, potatoes and all other ingredients to the vegetables in the large pot. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add seasonings to taste. May serve topped with sour cream.



Carrot Soup
The simplicity of this dish belies the deep flavor that develops from the alchemical mixing of carrot, orange, cardamom, cayenne and butter. A superb soup for nurturing the qi of autumn.

4 pounds carrots cut into 1–inch rounds 8 tblsp (1 stick) butter
1 cup chicken stock (optional) ½ cup fresh orange juice
2 ½ tsp ground cardamom 1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Place the carrots in a large pan, cover with water, bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the carrots and place in a large bowl (you may want to reserve the liquid to use if the soup is too thick after pureeing). Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor in small batches, and puree until smooth. Return the puree to a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes. May serve topped with yogurt.


Potato-Cabbage Casserole with Dill
Potatoes and cabbage are maturing at this time of year with their dense yin energy. Dill adds a pungent yang tonic for the lungs. Sesame oil is cooling to the stomach. This is another timely and healthy dish for autumn. For a smaller casserole, cut down the ingredients in proportions.

1 large onion 1 tblsp sesame oil
1 small cabbage (1 ½ - 2 pounds) ½ tsp salt
3 pounds potatoes ½ cup chopped fresh dill
¼ tsp pepper (white preferred) ½ cup water
Options: rounds of carrots, bite-sized pieces of polish sausage, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop onion into large chunks. Heat the oil in a heavy 6 quart stovetop-to-oven casserole. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat for about 4-6 minutes.

While the onion cooks, quarter the cabbage (cut out the core), then cut each quarter in half lengthwise, then cut across into one inch slices. Add cabbage to the onion, stir, sprinkle with salt and continue to sauté.

Wash and cube the potatoes. Add them to the casserole along with the dill, water,,and pepper. Cover and bake for one hour. Garnish with fresh dill and serve.



Beets with Horseradish and Sour Cream
The deep yin pungency of horseradish is especially beneficial for the lungs.

2 bunches of beets (6-8 small to medium) Boiling water
1 medium finely chopped onion ¾ cup sour cream
¾ tsp salt ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp prepared grated horseradish

Wash beets well, leave skins on and an inch of the stem to prevent bleeding. Cook the beets in boiling water until tender. Then let them cool and peel the skin. Slice beets in ¼ inch pieces. Arrange the sliced beets in a bowl and top with the chopped onion.

Blend the remaining ingredients in another bowl and spread this mixture over the beets and onion. Serve chilled.

Best wishes for a gorgeous autumn to everybody!



Angry Winds of Spring

Angry Winds of Spring

This is a heady season in many ways. The rush of spring energy has an upward trajectory throughout nature and through your body. Rising Yang Qi is the theme of the Wood Phase. This is strong but necessary energy. It fuels growth and regeneration, it moves stagnant blood out of the liver, and it stirs the kettle of bubbling emotions. Spring has an exuberant energy that we welcome after this year’s record setting winter. There’s a sense of relief when the day comes that we can say, “It feels like spring!”.

However, a good thing can go too far. And this is easy to do in spring weather. Chinese medicine assigns a “pernicious” environmental factor to each season. An East Wind is the culprit for spring because it often portends barometric changes. Fluctuating air pressure + stormy weather + upward moving Yang Qi = Hyperactive Liver Qi.

In springtime, the Liver takes center stage in our lives. It has to dissolve and move the obstructions of blood and qi that occurred over winter. It has to control upward moving qi from the lower dan tian. Hundreds of toxins and debris have to be metabolized. It’s a lot of work. And tumultuous windy weather makes it even more difficult. When the Liver is overworked or unhealthy it develops Stagnant Liver Qi.

In Chinese medicine, the Liver is responsible for “the smooth and harmonious flow of qi and blood”. We know the Liver is at its best when we feel tranquil, amiable, and freely moving in body and mind. This isn’t possible if the Qi of the Liver is sluggish. If that is the case, the rush of spring energy can disturb Liver function and lead to the ubiquitous and most detrimental malady of humankind…Inappropriate Anger.

Anger is a normal emotion that should be expressed like a lit match that burns brightly for a short time and then is extinguished. Feeling angry is not a fault, but it is a responsibility. Anger causes different health problems in men and women. You can read about this and more in my book, Qigong Through The Seasons. Chinese medicine and Daoist qigong practices have many ways to help you deal with anger. Acupuncture and meditation can really be beneficial.

Please read my blog post “Spring Tuneup” dated 03 April 2017 . It describes the best example of preventative medicine using acupuncture and herbs. To schedule a treatment please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A simple yet profound meditation is called Inner Nourishing. Here’s how you do it.

Sit in a chair or on a cushion. Rest there, be comfortable but alert. Take two deep breaths and watch your body relax down from head to heels. There are three levels of refinement in this meditation. Start with 1 and, when you feel ready, proceed to 3.

Inhale slowly and say silently to yourself I am calm. A slow easy effortless breath.
Exhale slowly and completely as you say and relaxed. Let the breath all the way out.
Repeat for several minutes. Then, if this is as far as you wish to go, stop saying the mantra and just relax there for a few more minutes. Or proceed to 2.

Inhale slowly, saying I am calm, and lightly place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
Exhale completely, saying and relaxed, and release the tongue to rest in neutral position.
Repeat for several minutes. Then, if this is as far as you wish to go, stop saying the mantra and moving your tongue and sit there for a few more minutes. Or proceed to 3.

Inhale slowly, saying I am calm, and lightly place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth at the same time you mentally visualize energy moving from your tailbone, up the spine, over the head to the roof of your mouth.
Exhale slowly and completely as you say and relaxed, release the tongue to rest in neutral position and visualize the energy going down the front of your body to the lower dan tian behind the navel. Let the breath all the way out. Repeat this for awhile. Then stop the mantra and tongue moving and sit there in tranquility for a few more minutes.

Inner Nourishing is an internal energy cultivation practice that originated in the Ming dynasty. This neigong exercise was a closely held secret of ancient Daoist masters; they transmitted it to only a few select students. In the late 1940s, the Chinese government decided that it should be available to everyone so that they could enjoy a happy and healthy life.

I wish the same for you!

Scourge of Smoky Air

The Scourge of Smoky Air

We have to clean out the dog’s eyes at least once a day. Lulu is sensitive to everything in the environment, like an early warning system of unhealthy living, and recently her eyes have been very irritated. We are all suffering from this prolonged bout of air pollution. For those with asthma, emphysema, OPD and other respiratory disorders, this is a serious situation. For the rest of us too, this is a serious situation.

Hold your breath and see what happens. After six or seven seconds you feel tension in your chest and creeping anxiety because the lungs are not moving. Normally they expand and contract twenty times a minute to spread oxygen through your body and to expel metabolic debris. The movement of breathing sustains life – every breath cycle is a microcosm of life and death – inspiration and expiration. Respiratory function becomes sluggish when the air is polluted. This is not good.

Healthy lungs are absolutely essential to your well being. Even though we can’t control the fire smoke in our valley we can do things that help our lungs deal with this pollution.

Quit smoking, Now! It’s that simple. If you are still smoking cigarettes now is the time to quit. There are several programs that will help you do that. Ask for help and get on the program. If you are a recreational or medical pot smoker, don’t do it now. The long term effects are debatable, but the short term combination of wood smoke and pot smoke is not healthy.

Do the nasal flush. This technique has an immediate benefit of cleansing the nasal passages. There are numerous devices - netti pot, squeeze bottle of saline, etc. – that can be used but the simplest, and therefore most useful, method is at your hands.

Here’s what you do:

Lean over a sink. Run a pool of lukewarm water in the cupped palm of one hand. Insert your nose into the little pool and draw the water up into your nostrils. Really, it’s not as scary as it sounds. You will not drown. Then close off one nostril with a finger and forcefully blow the water out the other nostril. Clean off your nose, then repeat and blow out the other nostril. It’s a refreshing, even exhilarating, sensation to have clean nasal passages.

Do Qigong. This is one of the best things you can do for your lungs. All medical qigong exercises use body movement, regulated breathing and mental intention to various degrees. Lung Qigong puts special emphasis on mindful breathing. My AUTUMN QIGONG class is all about the lungs. Everything you will learn - qigong exercises, breathing meditations, diet and herbs – will have a beneficial effect on how you breath. One exercise in particular, White Healing Mist, has been shown to ward off colds and improve overall lung function.

Get an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture, and specific herbs, are really good for relaxing and opening the airways. Research studies show that people with asthma or emphysema usually feel better after an acupuncture session. From my clinical experience, I know that everybody will benefit from having better qi and blood flow through their chest, lungs and meridian channels. My “seasonal tuneup” for autumn consists of one acupuncture treatment and an herbal tincture designed to enhance respiratory function. To schedule a treatment or for more information contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Autumn is the time when the lungs are most sensitive to outside influences – both good and bad. Poor air quality is a toxic problem, but the good news is that this season is the best time to nurture the health of the lungs. The advice I’ve given above will definitely help you surmount the negative effects of this smoky air. Now, if only I can get Lulu to do qigong exercises.

Spring Tuneup

Preventive Health Care by the Seasons

I feel that one of the most interesting examples of preventive health care is the Seasonal Tuneup. Because we are inescapably part of Nature, natural forces have a profound influence on our health.The purpose of a seasonal tuneup is to keep us physically, mentally, and energetically in tune with the ever changing forces of the seasons. It is obvious that we are affected by the local weather, but we are also influenced by the powerful changes in planetary and cosmic forces throughout the year. If we want to be naturally healthy we need to be in harmony with these changes.

Each season has a unique energy that will definitely influence a specific organ network in our bodies. These networks are diverse elements that interact on certain organs. For example, the Liver Network consists of physical structures, mental/emotional conditions, and climatic influences: liver and gallbladder, blood, eyes, muscles and tendons, anger and kindness, communication, the middle dantian, season of spring and the east wind. These aspects of the Liver Network are especially important to your health in Spring.

A seasonal acupuncture treatment consists of selecting acupoints that are have a powerful influence on the predominant organ network of that season. During the visit, I will ask about any acute problems that you are currently having. Then I will examine your wrist pulses and tongue to assess the energy balance of all organ systems. After carefull analysis, I will offer an acupuncture treatment that is specifically aimed at keeping you in balance with the energy of spring while also treating any current conditions. This approach uses preventive and remedial treatment at the same time. It is natural health care at its best.

Acupuncture, herbs and qigong are excellent ways to encourage the appropriate distribution and nourishment of seasonal Qi flow. I often do some external qi healing after the needles are placed. This sets up a comfortable and nurturing energy field that strengthens the acupuncture treatment. Herbal tonics are usually taken for a short while during each season. I will make specific recommendations for your personal condition.

The Liver network needs tender loving care in spring. This huge organ becomes clogged with stagnant blood, toxins and metabolic debris during the winter season. As the Rising Yang Qi comes upward in spring it encounters this obstructing situation with unpleasant results. Spring is an exciting transition out of winter because the Yang Qi is tremendously active. But it can also cause frustration and irritability. The Seasonal Tuneup will help you be happy and healthy during this time of invigorating change.

Treatment sessions are $75 by cash or check. Price of herbal supplements varies.

My home studio is about a thirty minute drive from downtown Bozeman. In a sense, the treatment begins when you turn off the highway onto the gravel road. The studio is serene and comfortable with plants, sunlight and twenty acres of quietness. You should expect to be away from town for about two hours. How nice is that?

You may contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information about scheduling and fees.

 Wishing you a happy Spring,

Dr. Ron Davis

Year of the Rooster

Happy New Year of the Fire Rooster!

Jan 28, 2017 – Feb 15, 2018

rooster217You are a Rooster if you were born in one of these years: 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017. You will have to be extra careful in 2017 because being in the year of your birth animal may bring misfortune and disappointments. You should avoid the color red, the numbers 1, 3 and 9, and traveling toward the east. You can mitigate the down side of 2017 by wearing yellow, brown and gold colors and traveling south in the 2nd, 5th and 11th months. Be aware of your lucky numbers 5, 7 and 8. And reduce your consumption of chicken.

The Chinese Zodiac depicts 12 animals that take turns being dominate every 12 years beginning at Chinese New Year. Each animal has 5 types: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. One type is dominate every 12 years. 2017 is the Fire Rooster, the previous one was 1957 and the next will be 2029. The energy of the Rooster is lively, amiable, outspoken, nimble, hard working, observant and certainly a “morning person”. They tend to be vain and flamboyant, so Roosters should control these traits in 2017. Bob Marley was a Wood Rooster, Jennifer Lopez is an Earth Rooster and Britney Spears is a Metal Rooster. Wonderfully dynamic people for sure!

The Health Movement Facebook

ronPhoto250Hello Everyone. This is my new FB page for The Health Movement. The mission of The Health Movement is a triad of offerings: 1) to help people access their deepest level of well-being, 2) to teach them how to enhance their vital energy for better health, 3) to provide therapeutic services that will guide their body, mind, and spirit toward a life of peace and happiness. This mission is accomplished through public classes and personal acupuncture/qigong treatments. Please Like this page and help share the energy of The Health Movement. www.thehealthmovement.com.