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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jun 24 2019 08:26AM

Acupuncturist Philippa Summers shares her new passion for broadbeans and a delicious and simple recipe to enjoy them this summer.

I have discovered a new love of broad beans. We have a bumper crop on the allotment – picked young, podded and lightly steamed is a simple and delicious way to fully appreciate their unadulterated sweet earthy flavour. They are loaded with nutrients, in particular protein, minerals, folate and vitamins. In Chinese Medicine they stimulate the action of the spleen and calm the stomach. Eat them on their own with a dollop of butter, toss them in a salad or add them to risotto, use them instead of chickpeas to make humous or try these tasty easy to make falafels. I have used half dried chickpeas and half fresh broad beans but you can vary the proportions as you like, especially if you have a glut of broad beans.

Falafels with minty yoghurt sauce (adapted from a recipe in The Guardian)

Serves 4


150g broad beans, 150g when podded but skins left on

150g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (no need to cook!)

3 cloves garlic, crushed

½ leek, finely chopped

1 tsp gram (chick pea) flour

1 tbsp chopped coriander

1tbsp chopped parsley

1tsp ground cumin

1/2tsp bicarb of soda

A pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt and Black pepper

3 tbsp Sesame seeds

Oil (Rapeseed or sunflower) for frying

Minty Yoghurt Sauce

250ml plain yoghurt

3tbsp Tahini

1 garlic clove, crushed

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt and black pepper

2 tbsp chopped mint

Flatbreads and salads to serve.


1) Steam the broad beans for 3-4 minutes.

2) Whizz all the ingredients (except sesame seeds and oil) together in a food processor or mash them and mix well.

3) Divide the mixture into 12-16 golf ball sized pieces and press to form small patties.

4) Sprinkle sesame seeds onto a plate and coat patties on both sides.

5) Heat 1 cm of oil in the pan until hot, then turn down the heat a little.

6) Fry the patties 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

7) For the sauce, simply whisk all the ingredients together and thin down to pouring consistency with cold water if needed.

8) Serve with warm flatbreads and a salad. Delicious and nutritious!

By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 16 2019 09:34AM

Acupuncturist Philippa summers considers the view from her allotment and how this interpretation of nature and environment mirrors Chinese medicine's approach to our bodies.

I have recently found an unexpected place of peace, tranquillity and contemplation in the heart of London. It is particularly beautiful at this time of year, with spring flowers, fruit trees in blossom and song birds in full chorus. Sitting on a hill above the worst of the pollution with spectacular far reaching views across the city, it is a world of discovery and unexpected surprises. Today we found lizards beneath some wooden boards. It’s an allotment, or rather a share of one, which is even better and far more manageable, in a stunning location close to Brockwell Park. I frequently use metaphors of nature, landscape and environment to illustrate the way that Chinese Medicine views the body. Working on the allotment has fuelled those ideas.

The allotment is quite different from my garden. More mess and earth, getting down and dirty in the soil, with plenty of muck involved. I’ve learnt a thing or too already from the other plot holders generously sharing tips on what grows well up there and how to improve the soil. It’s clay, which is rich in minerals but heavy, and by adding well rotted horse manure and straw the texture and drainage is improved. It feels good to look at the soil more closely, feel its texture rich in fat worms, and know the difference it will make to the health of the plants and the taste of the produce if the slugs don’t get there first.

The muck is like eating really good fresh vital food, as opposed to processed foods and vitamin pills, the equivalent of chemical fertilisers. An organic approach to gardening builds strength in the plants naturally so that they withstand pests, akin to having a healthy immune system. Nurturing and nudging health in positive directions through good nutrition, appropriate exercise, adequate rest and relaxation, affects how we feel in body, mind and spirit. Even when it comes to genetics, we now know that how we live influences which genes are switched on and off.

People often ask if acupuncture can help, such and such a condition. Of course, acupuncture is better suited to treating some things than others, but it is the bodily landscape that is at the heart of a Chinese Medical diagnosis and treatment, rather than the condition. The landscape - be it hot, cold, dry, damp, stagnant, depleted, etc - creates the conditions in which certain imbalances are more likely to arise and progress. The disease label is very often not as important as the landscape against which it has arisen. Two people with migraines may have very different types, arising from very different bodily landscapes and they will be treated differently. A landscape that gives rise to stomach pains in one person, may cause anxiety in another and the treatments may be very similar. So the landscape, rather than the disease label, is more important when it comes to treating with acupuncture and often has more influence on how easily a health issue will resolve. By addressing the imbalance people often find that their overall health and wellbeing improve, not just the issue that they sought treatment for.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as an interconnected whole, where every part of the body is interrelated, and each part exerts an influence on the whole. With climate change we can see just how delicately balanced and interdependent the whole planet is. This too is reflected in our small allotment, with its lizards, foxes and insect life. Our bodies are not so different, as an example I think of the influence that a healthy gut biome has on brain function.

I find the Daoist view, where the internal landscape of the body is influenced by the same forces that influence nature, to be enlightening, inspirational and nature is a great teacher, as well as a great healer. We often give priority to nurturing our physical health and we can do the same for our mental health and wellbeing. Being out in nature is a soothing counterbalance to the bustle of city life. I have found that tending the allotment and looking out over the view in quiet contemplation, or while hanging out with friends, is food for mind, body and soul, both literally and metaphorically. I certainly wouldn’t do it for economic reasons – at an hourly minimum wage it probably works out about £100 a spud!

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Sep 13 2018 09:00AM

Acupuncturist Philippa Summers shares some Chinese medicine wisdom around supporting your digestive system particularly around this time of year.

It’s Late Summer, the short 5th season in the Chinese 5 element calendar, the time of Earth and the harvest. The Earth element and its associated organs – Stomach and Spleen – play a central role in digestion. In particular the Spleen has a very broad digestive function with an influence throughout the body, very importantly on the quality of qi, blood and fluids. When Spleen Qi is out of balance there is a knock-on effect and many aspects of our health can be affected. Giving attention to the Earth element and the function of the Spleen is frequently a starting point of treatment, so it seems an appropriate time to take a closer look at digestion.

Spleen means pancreas

I should clarify that in Chinese Medicine the Spleen was a mistranslation and the ancient Chinese texts were actually talking about the pancreas. For continuity the digestive system has continued to be named as comprising Stomach and Spleen. The actual spleen actually comes under the role of the Liver in Chinese Medicine and is more concerned with storage of blood. So, whenever we use the term Spleen in Chinese medicine, think pancreas, and the important role it plays in secreting enzymes into the intestines and controlling blood sugar.

A Healthy Earth Element

In health a strong Earth element with good Stomach and Spleen qi provide nourishment for the whole body. It keeps us strong, active and stable with endurance and a good appetite and digestion. It also provides qualities that enable us to nurture ourselves and others, and fosters free thinking, imagination and creativity.

Spleen Qi

When the Spleen Qi is weak we often experience tiredness and a tendency to bloat after eating. Stools may be loose and appetite low or erratic with a tendency to food intolerances It can manifest in other ways affecting concentration, food intolerances, menstrual issues, anaemia, weak limbs and give a tendency to prolapse, such as haemorrhoids. Difficulty regulating weight can be part of the picture, either overweight without overeating or thin and unable to gain weight. If it is allowed to worsen then signs of cold can also appear – cold limbs and a chronic aversion to cold. The Spleen likes easily digestible simple warm food.

Accumulation of Damp and Phlegm

When the ability of the spleen to transform fluids is compromised ‘damp’ builds up which often manifests as feelings of heaviness in the limbs and joints along with soreness and aching. Our head may be affected with foggy thinking, a heavy sensation in the head, mental and physical stagnation and a feeling of being ‘stuck’ which hampers creativity.

As damp gets worse the fluids become thicker, more cloying, toxic and gooey often causing mucousy discharges and encouraging the proliferation of microbes in the body with conditions such as candida and thrush.

If they become even more congealed and stagnation builds up then they can progress to phlegm in the lungs or cysts in the genitourinary tract. Weak Spleen Qi, certain foods and also living in damp conditions all contribute.

Stomach Qi

The stomach is responsible for preparing the food we eat for absorption further down the gastro-intestinal tract. Erratic eating habits, rich food and overindulgence play havoc and can lead to acid reflux, heartburn, burning pains, gas and bloating. The stomach does not like to be hot and dry, so dehydration and too many of the hotter spicy foods can affect the stomach. So can flooding it with too much fluid at mealtimes, overdiluting the digestive enzymes. It is about getting a balance.

Next time: How to Support Your Digestion

My next newsletter piece in a couple of weeks will focus on things you can do to aid digestion and keep your inner Earth element happy and functioning well.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 4 2018 08:00AM

Jade & Gua Sha Beauty Ritual

by Holistic Face Therapist & Natural Skincare coach Veronica Massa

£10 off Special Offer on Jade & Gua Sha Facial for the month of May.

Normal price: £110 (90mins with honey and green tea face pack), £85 (1hour).

Discover the ancient health & beauty secrets of Gua Sha & Jade and how they can help you rejuvenate and release facial tension while leaving your skin with a beautiful glow.

Would you like the beautiful skin of a Chinese empress? This facial ritual created by Veronica, uses the beneficial effects of jade stone massage to keep your skin smooth and youthful.

“Regular facial guasha promotes the growth of new skin cells, helps renew your complexion and can effectively reduce clogged pores, control acne and pimples, reduce acne scars, tighten the skin and enhance the ability of your skin to absorb products,” said Zhuo Junqing, doctor at the Chinese medicine health care centre of Beijing Modern Hospital.

”What an amazing treat the Jade Facial I had with Veronica. Her expertise and gentleness makes this experience so worthwhile. It’s relaxing, nourishing, my skin was feeling radiant and smooth like silk afterwards. You will definitely seem me regularly”. Anamarta - Taoist Teacher at Jade Circle® & Healing Tao

How will you benefit from this beautiful Facial?

• Have a smoother, tighter and stronger skin

• Iron out fine lines, diminish eye bags, dark circles and lift the face

• Relax your face and calm your mind

• Reduce and manage tensions in your face, head and neck

• De-stress, sleep better and replenish your energies

• Nurture yourself and rejuvenate

• Ease sinus pain and headaches, relieve puffiness on the face (as improves lymphatic drainage and dissipated heat)

• Stimulate Qi – what the Chinese call the “life force”.

Gua-Sha is an ancient way to decongest the skin and to improve blood circulation, so it is anti-aging and it is preventative for acne, breakouts and helps decongest the sinuses and has shown lasting effects for smoothing out wrinkles, minimizing hyperpigmentation, dark circles and puffy eyes and to removes blockages.

About Jade Stone

In Chinese culture, Jade is known for its healing properties which relax the nervous system and aid in removal of toxins. Jade carries a soothing and nourishing energy that can feel very healing as it purifies your energy field and creates a serene feeling of harmony and balance.

Jade has an affinity with the Kidneys and the Hearth. It improves the health of the heart, lungs and thymus. It supports with kidneys and adrenal gland disorders. It aids in detoxification by strengthening the body’s filtration and cleansing system.

Boost the immune system.

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