Since the beginning of time, or so it seems, people have continually sought after the elusive dream of immortality, and this desire has resulted in many traditional techniques for longevity being passed down from generation to generation.
Here are several ancient Chinese health tips that are inexpensive, simple to do, and believed to be very beneficial for health.
1. The head is the center of intelligence: Comb three times daily to prevent diseases
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the twelve meridians of the human body, 40-plus acupuncture points, and more than a dozen unique acupressure points, all come together at the head.
The normally suggested routine is to comb three times a day — once in the morning, once after lunch, and again before going to bed, each time for two minutes using 60-100 strokes, for the best results. As long as you persevere in combing your scalp regularly, you’ll feel more clear-headed and energetic, sleep better, your white hair will turn black again, and you’ll have a bigger appetite.
2. The foot is often considered the second heart: Rub the feet often to preserve health
Traditional Chinese medicine states that the foot has more than 60 acupuncture points that are closely linked with the 12 meridians of the internal organs. However, due to the large distance between the foot and the heart, the foot’s resistance is low and is the body’s weakest area, since it is vulnerable to cold and dampness. Therefore, the health of the foot is believed to be closely related to the health of the human body as a whole.
Because of the overall health effects related to the health of the feet, Chinese medicine refers to the Yongquan point as the “fitness point.”
3. Swallow saliva 300 times a day to live longer
The Chinese dictionary, or Ci Hai, defines saliva as — the liquids secreted by salivary glands and the mucus secreted by many small glands in the oral wall, which are mixed together in the mouth. The average adult salivates about 1 to 1.5 liters every day.
Chinese medicine states that saliva, in conjunction with the spleen and stomach, moistens the orifices and limbs and internal organs, replenishes energy, lubricates the joints, and clears the mind.
Modern medicine states that saliva stops bleeding, eases contraction of the blood vessels, dissolves bacteria, kills microbes, preserves dental health, combats viruses, aids digestion, and serves a variety of other functions.
In recent years, American scientists have also discovered that saliva can promote nerve and epidermal cell growth. The Japanese Food Research Institute found that “saliva can eliminate very harmful substances existing in the air and in food” and has a strong effect in preventing cancer.
Studies by experts at the University of Georgia’s School of Medicine show that aflatoxin, which is among the most carcinogenic substances known, as well as benzene and nitrite, will disintegrate 30 seconds after direct contact with saliva. They suggest: “It is best to chew every bite 30 times.”
These studies seem to support the ancient advice to swallow saliva 300 times a day.
4. Click your teeth every day to help prevent their falling out
Clicking your teeth means to rhythmically tap your upper and lower teeth together repeatedly.
Su Wen: Shang Gu Tian Zhen Lun, an ancient Chinese text, suggests that the health of human bones depends on marrow nutrition, and that bone marrow is the origin of the essence of the human body. If this essence diminishes, it may not be sufficient to support the bone marrow, and one’s teeth will become loose or diseased, or fall out entirely.
Traditional Chinese medicine also believes that often tapping one’s teeth can balance yin and yang, encourage blood circulation and meridian energy flow, maintain and enhance the overall function of the jaw muscles and the root portions of teeth, and delay atrophy.
In addition, often tapping one’s teeth can effectively enhance the tenacity of mucosal tissue, improve chewing, promote the overall blood circulation of the mouth and gums, increase saliva secretion, enhance the antimicrobial resistance of teeth, and therefore make the teeth more robust, white, and shining.
5. Massaging the back is an ancient method that provides immediate results
Massaging the back stimulates dozens of important acupuncture points which can help stimulate the nervous system, effectively maintaining the balance of the central nervous system.
The primary benefit is muscle relaxation, preventing and treating back pain and muscle strain.
Secondarily, a back massage promotes better circulation and regulated nerve function. Massaging during the day clears the head and lifts the spirit; massaging during the night soothes the mind, preventing insomnia.
Another benefit of massage is enhanced immunity and cancer prevention. Japanese scientists have long believed that frequent back massage promotes peptide secretion in the brain. These peptides have strong anti-virus capabilities and can inhibit cell mutation, the basis of cancer cell creation.
Husbands and wives should massage each other’s backs to relieve physical fatigue and prevent cancer.
There are usually two methods of back massage: patting and hitting.
Patting uses an empty palm, and hitting uses an empty fist — empty, in this regard, means gentle. For best results, massage consistently once a day, 50-60 pats or hits.
6. Knead the abdomen daily to promote blood circulation and benefit the spirit
Kneading the abdomen is a method to promote health that uses the hands to rub back and forth between the chest and pelvis. Traditional Chinese medicine says that the abdomen is the “center of the internal organs and the source of yin and yang” in the body.
Modern medicine also says that kneading the abdomen strengthens the stomach and the gastrointestinal and abdominal muscles, promotes circulation, and accelerates digestion. It also helps treat constipation, ulcers, insomnia, inflammation of the prostate, nephritis, hernias, high blood pressure, coronary and heart disease, and diabetes. In particular, kneading promotes self-contraction of the abdomen and reduction of fat; it can even help with weight loss.
To knead the abdomen, first, rub in the clockwise direction with the heel of the right hand 130 times above the navel and then move below the navel area for 120 times. Afterward, rub the whole abdominal area with the full palm of the left hand 120 times. Reverse and repeat.
7. Stretching is the most effective way to lose weight and promote blood circulation
Sun Simiao, a famous physician of the Tang Dynasty, said it best: “If blood does not circulate, the body will be afflicted with diseases.”
According to modern medicine, blood circulation relies completely on the heart muscle contractions, which is especially true for veins farther away from the heart.
When one stretches, the body will naturally bring the arms and ribs upward and expand the chest, which strengthens the diaphragm and assists with deep breathing. This causes many of the muscles to contract and deposit blood back to the heart, resulting in an acceleration of blood circulation.
Lazy stretching can also help the neck vessels efficiently transport blood to the brain, bringing adequate nutrition there, reducing fatigue, and thereby raising the spirits. This also exercises the neuromuscular system, promoting balance within the body; increases oxygen intake and carbon dioxide outtake, promoting metabolism; and eliminates excessive tension, preventing muscle strain and correcting the posture — all of which keep the body healthier.
8. Press the Hegu, Neiguan, and Zusanli acupuncture points once a day for a healthy body
The Hegu point is in the area between the thumb and the index finger. Acupuncture at the Hegu point helps treat headaches, facial paralysis, and diseases involving the five senses.
The Neiguan point is located about 2 inches from the crease of the wrist. Acupuncture at the Neiguan point primarily helps treat heart palpitations, high blood pressure, epilepsy, asthma, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.
The Zusanli acupuncture point is about 3 to 4 inches below the center of the knee. It has the function of regulating the stomach, replenishing energy, promoting circulation through the meridians, and dispelling wind and dampness, according to the language of traditional Chinese medicine.
Modern scientific research confirms that performing acupuncture on the Zusanli point stimulates the stomach and intestines, as well as a variety of digestive and enzyme activity. It can increase one’s appetite, help digestion, enhance the ability of the brain, improve heart function, increase red and white blood cell production and hemoglobin and endocrine hormone levels, and improve the body’s resistance to disease.
Acupuncture on the Zusanli point also helps prevent stomach and abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, hepatitis, gallbladder inflammation, and high blood pressure.
Zusanli, Hegu, and Neiguan are three of the main acupuncture points used by ancient physicians in medical treatment.
In recent years, Chinese scientists have discovered that massaging these three acupuncture points benefits the body’s nerves, muscles, tissues, and organs; positive effects surpass that of any physical sport.
Press the Zusanli, Hegu, and Neiguan points for five minutes each, pressing the point 15-20 times with the thumb or middle finger.
Written in English by Barbara Gay and translated by Irene Luo