Acupuncture and Herb Clinic

Paths to Health

The first article on this page addresses the obesity epidemic in our country and offers a number of solutions to put individuals on a path to lose weight and feel healthier. The next article is on osteoarthritis and combating it through diet and Chinese medicine. If you would like Ráven to provide a Chinese-medicine perspective on other specific health issues, please request an article on our Contact page!


Weight loss is a simple equation: Eat less, exercise more = reduction of weight! What holds most people back is lack of discipline and determination. This is not surprising in our self-indulgent, consumer-oriented culture. Most contemporary Americans have a sense of entitlement. They have been brainwashed by advertising to believe that they "deserve" to eat unhealthy food and spend far too much time watching TV, texting, playing computer games, etc. THERE ARE NO COUCH POTATOES IN NATURE! You need to get in touch with your CISTERNA CHYLI!

As a child growing up in the early 1950’s, it was highly unusual for me to see someone who was obese. Just about everyone was able to tuck their shirts or blouses into their pants. Now the common fashion for women are tops which resemble maternity clothing.



  • Vegan diet until you reach your desired weight. No root vegetables except raw carrots.
  • Avoid the nightshade family if you have joint issues: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and of course potatoes.
  • NO GRAINS, especially bread, pasta, and cereals.
  • Use water or bone or vegetable stock to cook with. (Bone stock is OK on this diet.)


  • ALL PROCESSED FOODS (canned, frozen, packaged).
  • Restaurant food for the first month or so.
  • SMOOTHIES: These cold, sweet concoctions are not healthy for the digestive system.
  • Iced beverages. All beverages should be room temperature or hot.
  • Tropical fruit except lemons, limes, and grapefruit.
  • Condiments except miso, a little organic tamari, and lemon juice. Freshly ground flax seeds, nutritional yeast powder, and all culinary herbs are great!


Choose something you enjoy and can safely do every day. Make it simple. If in doubt, consult with your Western medical Doctor. Walking is a good exercise for most people. But there are thousands of simple, effective ways to exercise. Don’t put this off; do it now!


As our wise grandmothers taught: Early to bed, early to rise. Be in bed no later than 10pm and out no later than 6am. If you wake later than 6, it is twice as difficult to lose weight.


  • Make it simple: In monasteries, all food is simple. Brothy soups, simple broth or water sautes, and steamed vegetables are easy to prepare. They also help us get in touch with the delicious flavors inherent in the food.
  • Eat organic: Organic vegetables have 300 to 500 times more nutrients than non-organic, and it is the nutrients which give food true flavor. That is why wildlife are attracted to fresh food! Once your tastebuds are adapted, you will no longer find the taste of condiments appealing.
  • Avoid unhealthy substitutions. Almond, hemp, and soy “milks” in boxes are entertaining but not sustaining. Like their soup counterparts, they have been ultra-pasteurized for shelf life, which means they cannot possibly support your life. They also create more garbage pollution.
  • Keep a record of your weight and/or measurements. It is fun to see the pounds melt away and feel your body come alive. It is very nice to make life in the kitchen much simpler.
  • For moral support, watch “Forks over Knives,” “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.”
  • DON’T PROCRASTINATE. One feature I have observed since I began helping people with their health in 1994 is that obese people are great procrastinators. They will commonly use one or more of the following excuses:

  I want to finish all the food in the house first. (This generally never happens.)

  I want to wait until I have the right cookbook, personal trainer, etc.

  I will begin when…..

  I am too upset to tackle this right now.




Our over-crowded and polluted planet is a reflection of our gluttony and poor planning. Most modern people have too many material possessions and too little time. Once you begin to lose your bad eating habits, you should find yourself wanting to help your home environment as well. Getting rid of clutter and reducing unnecessary stimulation (TV, texting, etc.), will give you more time to enjoy the beauty of nature. We live in an amazing place. Join the growing number of people who have come to look forward to walks in the park and by the rivers, and/or hiking in the mountains. Watch the wildlife and the plants. They are profound examples of the potential life force in all living things. How do wild animals survive terrible heat, cold, smoke, starvation? The strength that is in them is in all of us. If you are in doubt, watch the BBC production “Human Planet.”

 “'Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free, ‘tis a gift to come down where we all should be. And when we find ourselves in the place just right, ‘twill be in the garden of love and delight...”



The Odyssey of Osteoarthritis

Anatomical and Physiological Considerations

Based on the lectures of Lee Carroll, Bsc, BHSc (WHM)

Mediherb, Australia

Osteoarthritis (OA) statistically effects 40 to 50 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability in seniors. Interestingly, OA is not merely a disease of the joint but may also involve metabolic and circulatory factors. The exception to this is OA developing as a result of injury or genetic joint problems. Although OA has been commonly thought of as a “wear and tear” problem, modern clinical evidence points to a lack of exercise being a strong pre-disposing factor. However, runners, professional athletes, and enthusiasts of strenuous exercise routines are also at risk. This is particularly interesting as, for centuries, Chinese physicians have taught that moderate exercise is the key to a long and healthy life.

Metabolic Syndrome (i.e. diabetes) is a known risk factor for developing OA. Excess carbohydrates and fats in the diet lead to a cascade of events which deteriorate the sub-chondral bone and cause inflammation in the synovium. The ingestion of excess carbohydrates leads to AGE, or Advanced Glycation End products. Simply put, these are proteins, including red blood cells, which become encumbered by glucose molecules. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus spoke of the relationship of diet and the condition of the blood in the Essene Gospel of Peace (Dead Sea Scrolls): “…And his blood becomes thick and evil-smelling, like the water of swamps; it clots and blackens like the night of death.” He was describing AGE imbalance due to too much wine and bread in his day. Today, this relationship is measured in the hemoglobin A1C test. This test measures the viscosity or thickness of the blood. Carbs make the blood sticky and thick due to AGE. Notably, mosquitoes are more attracted to people with this type of blood.

In the joint, reduced blood supply to the sub-chondral bone results in bone marrow lesions and cysts, especially in the knees. Sub-chondral bone supplies 50% of the nutrients needed by the joint cartilage to remain healthy. With AGE, the supply of blood to the cartilage is severely depressed. When fragments of diseased cartilage find their way into the synovium of the joint, an inflammatory response results. Modern medicine approaches to the reduction of inflammation in the form of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) medications do nothing to heal the joint and, over time, increase damage to the joint and potentially to the cardiovascular system.

Insulin also damages the linings of the arterial walls. Imaging confirms this in OA of the knee where the popleteal artery is damaged. Increased fats in the diet to a point of excess blocks veinules in the sub-chondral bone. A study done in Finland showed that men with OA in any finger joint were 40% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, studies have also shown that OA of the finger joint is associated with obesity.

So--the first approach to relief from OA begins in the kitchen! The basic “spleen diet” of Chinese Medicine is a balanced approach that can relieve OA. In this diet, most foods are cooked, which renders them easy to digest. Individual suggestions will be offered to patients based on their unique needs. If this diet is not desirable, a low-carb diet is the first, most important alternative. While not carbs, potatoes are strongly associated with OA of the hips, and all the solanine family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes) irritate joints. Garlic, on the other hand, helps to reduce inflammation. Ginger root as a cooking ingredient and as a tea increases peripheral circulation and supports digestion. GINGER CANDY IS NOT EFFECTIVE IN THIS WAY! Turmeric as a cooking herb is also important as an anti-inflammatory and pro-circulatory ingredient. One can simply take ½ teaspoon of turmeric in a small glass of water, or it can be added to food such as white fish or roasted squash. Berries and apples have also been shown to have a positive effect on OA. The main key is to avoid processed foods, heavy foods, and overeating.

Once diet has been addressed, we can move onto treatments specific to OA. Acupuncture, moxibustion, and the use of the TDP (heat/mineral) lamp improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Each treatment moves the body closer to balance. Over time, the paths of energy or Qi circulation become stronger and healthier. This not only reduces pain, but also helps the joints to heal as much as possible. Attention to the overall health of the body is essential to treating OA, as it is in any holistic method.

Herbal formulas can either be custom made or, in some cases, a ready-made patent medicine can be used to address general needs. MediHerb’s Boswellia Complex has an excellent track record for reducing pain and inflammation in joints. Standard Process also makes nutritional supplements (Ligaplex, etc.) which address this issue.

Above all, diet is essential to the ultimate outcome. It takes courage to change. It also takes discipline and determination. But the results are well worth it. Moreover, you will find that preparing food in a “non-American” way will save you money. That is because you will choose soups over smoothies and mixed legume/grain dishes over slabs of meat with potatoes. Processed, packaged, and fast foods, seemingly cheap but with no lasting value, will also depart from your diet. You will no longer need to rely on an array of expensive condiments but will instead enjoy cooking with herbs. You may even save more money by growing some of your own culinary herbs. Finally, you will come to enjoy both herbal and, if appropriate, Chinese teas instead of expensive, pre-made beverages.

We will help you on this journey without judgment. We are your mentors and your friends. Our staff are experienced gardeners and cooks and can offer concrete suggestions and tips to ensure you enjoy this exciting time of change.

A vôtre Santé!


I started getting monthly migraines after a few years of using birth control. Every doctor and nurse I talked to said that this must just be my "new normal," and they had no help to offer. The pain was so bad it kept me and my partner awake through the night, sometimes for two or three nights in a row. My mother had been a patient at Ráven's clinic, and she suggested I seek help there. Ráven taught me that it is never normal to be in pain. Thanks to her thoughtful prescription of Chinese herbs and diet adjustments, I finally stopped getting migraines. I'm so grateful to no longer fear a headache every month.

    Kayla Rau