Chinese Medicine and Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatica is a painful condition which begins in the lower back and radiates down one or both legs sometimes into the feet. It is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve which extends from the lower back down the back of the leg.

Sciatica is usually cited as the result of a structural issue; a herniated or ruptured disc, muscle spasm of the low back or inflammation of the vertebrae or sacroiliac joint.

Traditional Chinese Medicine observes that this condition occurs more frequently during the cold damp weather of fall and winter.  Though structural problems are most often used to explain the pattern of pain, TCM also considers individual imbalances along with the external influences of cold, damp, heat or wind in combination as key in creating many painful conditions.

In TCM, sciatica and low back pain are thought to be the result of cold or damp blocking the body’s circulation, trauma creating energy and blood stagnation or from an underlying condition of deficiency in the body.

Acupressure and acupuncture are very effective in treating sciatica.  They help to identify the cause and contributing factors to the condition.  Muscle groups involved in creating the spasm can be successfully released. When the muscles lengthen they no longer pull on sensitive structures and the pain diminishes.

Though many people may present with sciatica, they may have different contributing factors or causes. Therefore, the treatment will depend on the individual’s specific symptoms.

Anxiety and Chinese Medicine – continued

Last week I spoke about the effectiveness of Chinese Medicine when treating anxiety.
Acupressure and acupuncture help to balance the body’s vital energy which affects the body, mind, and spirit.  Each yin organ energy pathway is associated with an emotion.  When an acupressure practitioner takes pulses during a session she/he determines where the energy imbalances lie.  They then treat the imbalance which will also help to balance the emotions.  Over time the anxiety will usually improve.

Kidney health is extremely important when dealing with anxiety.  When the kidneys are run down it slows the healing process.  The kidneys are weakened by overexposure to toxins, overwork, stress, eating too much meat, excessive alcohol consumption, poor sleeping habits, and some medications.  The emotion of fear, which plays a large role in anxiety, is associated with kidney energy.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine the kidneys and adrenal glands are the same organs.  The kidneys are also associated with the bones and hair.
Foods which help to support kidney energy will also help with anxiety.

These foods include:

  • grapes
  • plums
  • boysenberries
  • turnips
  • asparagus
  • millet
  • endive
  • cabbage
  • celery
  • black beans
  • watercress
  • amaranth
  • rye
  • quinoa
  • oats
  • kelp
  • nori
  • tangerines
  • cinnamon
  • dill seed
  • yams
  • chives

For further information refer to www.consciouslifestylemag.com/ Foods For Anxiety

Treating Anxiety and Depression with Chinese Medicine

worry and anxietyAnxiety and depression are mood disorders that are extremely common in our present society.  The symptoms of anxiety can range from mild discomfort to debilitating fear.  Doctors will prescribe an array of medications to treat anxiety and depression but many of these meds have undesirable side effects.

Traditional Chinese Medicine can be quite effective in treating anxiety and depression.  Anxiety is related to our emotional mindset.  When we have our energy balanced it also balances our emotional body.

There are twelve energy pathways in TCM.  These Twelve pathways are composed of six yin (deeper, feminine) organs and six yang (superficial, masculine) organs.

The yin organs are associated with emotions. They are:

  • Lung meridian- grief, sadness
  • Spleen meridian- worry
  • Heart meridian-heart felt feelings
  • Kidney meridian- fear
  • Liver meridian- anger
  • Pericardium Meridian- heartfelt feelings

When you have an acupressure or acupuncture session, the practitioner takes your pulses to see where your imbalance lies.  They then treat the imbalance to bring the body back to homeostasis.

To help with anxiety and depression a series of 8-10 sessions is recommended initially to achieve the best result, after that the practitioner and client will decide on the need for a maintenance schedule.  Chinese herbs may also be helpful.

The Energy of Fall

fall colorsIn ancient China and Japan peopled structured their lives to live in harmony with nature; their practices and eating habits changed with the change of seasons. Living as part of the natural world, they maintained balance and optimal health.

The fall season is associated with the metal element “which governs organization, order, communication, the mind, setting limits and protecting boundaries.  It’s a good time to finish projects” that were begun in spring and summer. It’s also a time for self-introspection and releasing that which is no longer needed.

The organs associated with the fall are lung and large intestine.  The lungs are very sensitive to wind and cold, so it’s important to dress for the weather.  The lungs also control the wei-qi or protective energy which runs just under the skin and helps to warm the body.  When we catch a cold or flu the wei-qi has been weakened.  This also explains why we feel cold.

The energy of the large intestine helps us to release physical waste and old ideas or mindsets which no longer serve us.  Like spring, this is a perfect time to clean house to prepare for the change in weather.

Autumn brings shorter days, cooler weather and harvest time.  Some healthy tips for fall:

  • Eat the foods and vegetables that grow locally this time of year
  • Eat cooked food not raw.  This is a great time for soups and stews.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Enjoy the Energy of Fall: Autumn and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Maintaining Health During Autumn

Now that the weather has finally changed it’s time to prepare for autumn.  In nature, the energies begin to pull back and go deeper into the trees, shrubs, and earth. In our bodies, our vital energies also begin to circulate deeper into our organs to protect us from the cold.

To maintain health and balance during the fall season we need to align our energies and lifestyle to our environment.

To prepare for autumn:

  • A food-based detox helps to protect and prepare our lungs and large intestine meridians (the metal element most active in fall) for the seasonal change
  • Let go of that which no longer serves you. Declutter your environment with a deep cleaning. Let go of old wounds and hard feelings to prepare for the meditative season of winter.  Hard feelings and negative thoughts interfere with our ability to move forward in our lives.
  • Eat warming foods i.e. soups, stews, nuts, and root vegetables.  Use spices such as: horseradish, garlic, cloves, ginger and cinnamon to protect against colds and flu.
  • Dress for the weather.  When exercising outdoors dress in layers.  Remember to carry a scarf or jacket for weather changes.
  • Essential oils such as Thieves (Young Living) or On Guard (Doterra) can help thwart a cold or sore throat. Prepare for and enjoy the change of season!

www.orientalmedicinespecialist.com/Autumn Equinox-Preparing for Change

The Psychological Aspect of Indian Summer in Chinese Medicine

The ancient Chinese believed that to be healthy we should align our energies with those of the current season. Indian Summer (late August till September) is harvest time in nature when there is great abundance. It is a time to gather and distribute the bounty of the earth.

The earth element, which is the most active energy at this time of year, encourages us to be balanced and grounded in our core and to nurture body, mind, and spirit. “Value and nourish yourself as the highest level of personal spiritual practice you can do, so that your love can then flow out to others.” Be careful not to overextend your energy.

The earth element governs the “digestion” of thoughts and reasoning on the mental-emotional level. It emphasizes our need to be rooted, harmonious and stabilized whether in family, community or work environment.

To promote inner calm and harmony avoid absorbing too much negative information. Spend time meditating, walking in nature, listening to positive and inspirational information and music. The beginning of each season is the perfect time to have your energy balanced. Spend time in introspection. Create the life you want.

wuweiwisdom.com-late summer health: The Chinese Medicine & Taoist way

Protecting Against Heat Exhaustion

The heat waves we’ve been experiencing these last few weeks can cause us problems unless we plan our outdoor activities carefully.  Heat exhaustion can drain your energy, create dehydration and physical exhaustion. Those most easily affected are people over 65, children under 4 years old, people who are ill, obese, or those taking medication.

Heat exhaustion is the result of prolonged exposure to high heat and insufficient intake of fluids.

The symptoms include:  heavy sweating, muscle cramps, tiredness, paleness, dizziness, weakness, nausea or vomiting, and headache.

To protect against heat exhaustion

  • Carry water with you and sip throughout the day
  • Pace yourself when working outside, exercising or playing
  • Replace minerals and salts with fluids such as Gatorade or other drinks with potassium. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Wear light-colored lightweight clothing
  • If feeling ill, seek air conditioning, and cool shower
  • Plan your outdoor activities to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • If you feel dizzy and/ or stop sweating, get out of the sun immediately. Drink cool water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. This will help replace electrolytes and minerals

Dehydration can stress the heart and impair the kidneys function of maintaining the balance of fluids and electrolytes.

www.pacificcollege.edu/SummerandTraditionalChineseMedicine

Chinese Medicine in Late Summer

The weather in late summer is usually hotter and heavier with humidity than the rest of the season. Dampness is associated with the earth element which is most active this time of year. Late summer is a time for slowing down and gathering in. The earth element gives us the ability to nourish and care for ourselves.

The excessive rain and hot weather we’ve been having are a perfect medium for a damp condition. The dampness can mix with pathogens to create ailments such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, aching joints and heaviness in the chest. These conditions impede the flow of chi through the body.

“Inner dampness is caused by excess cold consumption of liquor, tea, cold melons and sweet greasy foods. These impede spleen functions.”

To counteract dampness, eat a healthy, nutritional diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, get a good night’s sleep and exercise at least three times a week.

PacificCollege.edu/Summer and Traditional Chinese Medicine

The 24-hour Organ Clock of Chinese Medicine

24-hour Organ Clock

Every so often I like to revisit the 24-hour meridian clock.  It has valuable information on how our energy cycles throughout our body during a day.
“In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that each organ has its point of highest energy and lowest energy.”

The 24-hour Meridian Clock shows the times when each meridian is most active and the best times for different activities.  For example: Gallbladder Meridian is most active between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am.  This meridian is responsible for decision making and everyday stress. The Body Clock shows the optimum bedtime to be between 10 and 11 pm.  Following the natural rhythm of our bodies enhances our health and wellbeing.

The summer meridians include: Heart, Small Intestine, pericardium and Triple Warmer.  These meridians are most active in the summer, so this time of year their 24- hour energy cycle times are heightened.

Heart Meridian – most active between 11 am and 1 pm. The activities are blood circulation, high energy, lunch

Small Intestine Meridian – most active between 1 pm and 3 pm. sort and absorb food, low energy, nap

Pericardium Meridian – most active between 7 pm and 9 pm. protection, light reading, sex, taking care of self

Triple Warmer Meridian – most active between 9 pm and 11 pm. Endocrine and metabolic balancing, sleep

Traditional Chinese Organ Body Clock/www.foreverconscious.com

The Value of Living in the Present Moment

enjoy life now

“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry- all forms of fear- are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

– Eckhart Tolle

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

– Buddha

“Remember then: there is only one time that is important- Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.”

-Leo Tolstoy

Chinese Medicine and Sciatic Pain

The sciatic nerve originates from the lower spine and goes down the side of the leg to the foot. When inflamed or compressed it sends intense pain down the buttocks to the back of the leg and foot. It can also cause numbness or tingling and difficulty walking or standing.

Some causes of sciatica, aside from the structural issues of herniated discs, tight muscles or spinal stenosis, could be prolonged sitting on hard surfaces, keeping a wallet in your back pocket, sudden twisting or improper lifting of heavy objects.

Since many of us are traveling this time of year, it’s important not to overstuff suitcases and lift carefully. Acupressure and myofascial release are very effective in treating sciatic pain. They help to balance the energy, release tight muscles and increase circulation to alleviate discomfort.

Pal Dan Gum- a Way to Balance Energy and Increase Awareness

Pal Dan GumPal Dan Gum or the eight silken movements are a set of qigong exercises used in Korea and China for thousands of years to increase spiritual awareness and promote health and longevity. These 8 silken movements take only 10 minutes to perform and when done daily along with focused breathing strengthen the vital essence and balance the energy in the meridians.  They also increase circulation, promote flexibility and strength. Each movement stretches the energy in a specific meridian.

You can find a video of the Pal Dan Gum exercises on YouTube.

Staying and Healthy All Year Round

We’ve talked about the energy pathways most active in summer and the importance of staying balanced both physically and emotionally to promote optimum health.  The advice for the summer season includes staying hydrated with fluids and eating cooling foods such as fruits and salads to maintain a comfortable body temperature.

The importance of eating healthy food cannot be understated to maintain good health.  It is also important to minimize the ingestion of stimulating foods every season of the year.  Foods such as coffee, sugar, and chocolate, which are also addicting, if overdone will deplete our adrenal glands.

In today’s world where so many people are multitasking and subject to deadlines; coffee, chocolate, and sugar can be very comforting.  When these foods are used as an energy source adrenal exhaustion which may lead to chronic fatigue and a weakened immune system may result.

The adage “everything in moderation” still makes sense.  Have fun outside during the beautiful weather!

Pericardium Meridian – Heart Protector

Pericardium is the partner of Triple Warmer Meridian and like TW it is not a physical organ. Anatomically the pericardium is the protective sack around the heart. In Chinese Medicine, the Pericardium Meridian is defined as a fire -energy organ which protects the heart.

The Pericardium Meridian protects the heart both physically and emotionally. Physically it buffers the heart from trauma. Emotionally it protects the heart from damaging excessive emotions generated by other meridians. Extreme emotions of anger, grief, and fear over an extended period of time are regarded as causes of disease in Chinese Medicine. The pericardium also helps with the regulation of circulation in the major blood vessels of the heart.

Pericardium energy is related to the loving feelings associated with sex. It links the physical with the emotional: it moderates the sexual energy of the kidney with the loving energy of the heart.
Peak time for the pericardium is 7 pm -9 pm.

Triple Warmer- Summer Meridian

springtime meridiansThe Triple Warmer in Traditional Chinese Medicine is not associated with an organ, but this energy flow is responsible for moving and transforming various fluids and solids throughout the body. It also plays a huge role in maintaining and creating the body’s protective energy or immune system.

This meridian has three parts or burners:

  • The upper burner- head and chest
  • The middle burner- abdomen
  • The lower burner-pelvis

The upper burner controls intake

the middle burner controls transformation

and the lower burner controls elimination


The Triple Warmer is important because it is in contact with all systems of the body, including the nervous system. When the TW is imbalanced physical and emotional symptoms can occur.

These symptoms can include:

  • overwhelm
  • anxiety
  • sleep difficulties
  • mood instability

To calm the Triple Warmer have your energy balanced. You can also check YouTube for exercises to calm Triple Warmer https://blog.timesunion.com/holistichealth/stress-management-through-energy-medicine/16325/

The Summer Meridians

summertime

Nature is most energetically active in summer and it is also the same within our bodies.

Summer is associated with the fire element which includes four meridians: heart, small intestine, pericardium and triple warmer.  This is two more meridians than all the other seasons, so it is important to be balanced.

The heart moves the blood through the vessels.
Heart imbalance may include,

  • insomnia
  • nightmares,
  • palpitations,
  • feverish feelings
  • restlessness.

The pericardium meridian protects the heart and “works with the emotions.”  Balancing the pericardium can help with hot flashes or heat in the upper torso.

The small intestine meridian separates the pure from the impure.  In this way, it helps with digestion and elimination.  Mentally small intestine meridian is active in prioritizing our lives.

The triple warmer (which like the pericardium meridian is not associated with an organ) helps to control the body’s temperature and coordinates all the water functions in the body.  It also governs the sympathetic nervous system, the flight-fight -freeze response.

Foods which support the fire element have a bitter taste. Some examples are: coffee, chocolate, vinegar, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, asparagus, and wine.

Essential oils can also be helpful to support the fire element.

For palpitations or fluttering of the heart:

  • lavender
  • melissa
  • chamomile
  • peppermint
  • rose

Irritable bowel can be helped by:

  • lavender
  • tea tree
  • chamomile
  • eucalyptus

For further information refer to:
www.acudebra.com/summer time-heart/small intestine
and
www.suebovenizer.com/summer-Heart/Small Intestine and Pericardium/Triple Warmer

Staying Healthy in Summer

Summer is the most energetically active of all the seasons with expansion, growth, and activity. It represents the fire element which is associated with the heart and small intestine. The color is red, the emotion is joy and it is a time to bring to manifestation all that we have been planning during the spring.

In summer the focus is on enjoying life and relationships. When our energy is balanced our life runs smoothly.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is associated with thought processes, memory, emotional wellbeing, and consciousness. When the heart energy is imbalanced depression or manic behavior may result. “When the heart energy is balanced, the mind is calm, and we sleep deeply and wake rested.”

For Optimum Summer Health:

  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • Wake earlier in the morning
  • Rest at midday
  • Go to bed later in the evening
  • Add pungent foods to your diet
  • Refrain from angry outbursts

www.chinesemedicineliving.com/nutrition/season/summer

Eating For your Health

eating for your healthThe weather is finally beautiful and with that comes an abundance of local fresh fruits and vegetables.  Though fresh fruit and vegetables are considered to be an integral part of a healthy diet, buying non-GMO, organic produce or carefully washing your non-organic produce is extremely important. The overabundance of GMO food and pesticide spraying has compromised our food supply.  So much of our corn and soybean production is genetically modified. These seeds have been changed to resist pesticides, drought, and insects and there is much controversy over the safety of this practice. Many of the studies on this subject have been financed by the biotechnological companies who produce the GMO seeds.  To err on the side of safety seems to be a good idea. The pesticides used in farming can also pose a problem. Delicate fruit such as raspberries and strawberries soak up pesticide that is sprayed on them like a sponge. When buying non-organic fruit, it is better to choose thick-skinned fruit such as melon or oranges.

When buying produce:

  • Buy local if you can. This produce is fresher and therefore will have more nutrient value
  • Foods to always buy organic (even if on a budget)
    • Wine
    • coffee
    • apples
    • dairy
    • strawberries
    • raspberries
    • celery
    • blueberries
    • tomatoes
    • corn

 
 

When buying non-organic produce wash with a veggie wash or something non- toxic that will remove a waxy residue.

The Springtime Meridians

springtime meridiansDuring spring the life force in our bodies is most active in the Liver and Gallbladder meridians (energy pathways).  These meridians are responsible for the liver and gallbladder organs as well as the eyes, blood, tendons, and ligaments.

The liver meridian, among other functions, stores, and filters blood, regulates chi and prana, rules the health of muscles, tendons, nails, hands, and feet and is responsible for balancing emotions.

The major functions of the Gallbladder meridian are:

  • Secretes digestive enzymes to break down fat
  • Gives us the ability to follow our path in life
  • Helps with our capacity to regain equilibrium aftershock

These meridians also affect anger, frustration, and courage.  The liver controls the ability to plan one’s life, while the gallbladder controls the capacity to make decisions.

Some symptoms of impaired Gallbladder function are:

  • Pain over eyes
  • Gas, bloating
  • Pain along IT band
  • Cramping at the 4th toe, knees, and thigh

Some symptoms of a congested liver are:

  • Skin problems; rashes; brown skin spots
  • Difficulty losing body fat
  • Distended stomach on a thin body
  • Ringing in the ears

Tips for supporting and rejuvenating your liver and gallbladder:

  • Start your day with a cup of lemon water
  • Juice or blend beets, apples, lemon, carrots and dandelion greens
  • Eat more sulfur-rich foods: garlic and onions, and vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collards, and cabbage
  • Have your energy balanced

Staying Healthy In Springtime

healthy in springtimeThe season of spring is fast approaching with days getting longer and glimpses of warm weather here and there. It’s time to review the recommendations of Traditional Chinese Medicine for optimum health in springtime. TCM is based on a holistic approach of man (woman) as an integral part of their environment and nature. We are greatly influenced by changes in weather both directly and indirectly and have to adapt in order to maintain good health and live harmoniously.

The practice of eating foods according to the season would help man to remain in balance with nature and adapt better to seasonal changes. When we are in harmonious balance with our environment we experience good health.

Spring is the time of year of new growth and birth in nature. It is represented by the wood element and liver and gallbladder meridians. In springtime the yang energy (chi) flows outward; we are more active with the weather getting warmer. In order to stay healthy, we need to support and replenish the yang energy.

Foods which support liver and gallbladder energy are:

  • Onions
  • leeks
  • Chinese yam
  • dates
  • wheat
  • cilantro
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • Fresh green leafy vegetables
  • sprouts

Keep consumption of frozen, raw and fried food to a minimum. We can build excessive heat in our bodies during winter by inactivity and overeating. Foods which help to clear excessive heat from the body are:
Bananas, water chestnuts, pears, celery, and cucumber.

Traditional Chinese medicine – www.shen-nong.com

The Emotional Aspect of Disease

the emotion of angerDoctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine considered a person in entirety when diagnosing an illness or disease. They noted presenting symptoms but looked for the cause of the problem in the person’s lifestyle, dietary habits, exercise, disposition, etc. They studied the pattern of the person’s life so they could advise them how to prevent or minimize re-occurrence of the problem.

The causes of disease in TCM are listed as:

  • Internal: emotions
  • External: weather/climate
  • Others: constitution, fatigue/ overexertion, excessive sexual activity, diet, trauma, epidemics, parasites, poisons, wrong treatment

I’ve already spoken of climatic causes of disease called the six pernicious influences. The climatic conditions create disease when they are excessive or endured over a long period of time. The same is true of the emotional aspect. Emotions only create disease when they are very intense and prolonged over a long period of time or suppressed and unacknowledged.

In TCM the body-mind is seen as a “circle of interaction between the internal organs and their emotional aspects.”

—Giovanni Maciocia

Emotions can be the cause of disease or they can be a symptom of organ imbalance.
The Chinese list seven emotions but today I want to talk about the effects of prolonged anger. The emotion of anger can also include: resentment, repressed anger, frustration, rage, indignation and bitterness. Anger causes chi (energy) to rise and will create symptoms such as headaches, tinnitus, dizziness, redness on the face and neck, thirst, red tongue and bitter taste in the mouth. It can also cause vomiting of blood and diarrhea. Repressed anger can present as depression or sadness.

The emotion of anger often affects the stomach and spleen as well as the liver. This can happen when there is turmoil during mealtime. Releasing long-standing emotions is essential to health. There are many ways to do so: talk therapy, bodywork, exercise and reading self-help books are just a few.

the emotional aspect of diseaseDoctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine when diagnosing illness or disease would evaluate the person in totality. The emotional wellbeing was considered as important as the physical condition along with dietary habits, lifestyle, and disposition. The interaction of the body, mind, and spirit and the pattern of the person’s life provided clues to the source of the illness.

In TCM emotions are listed as the internal cause of disease but only when they are very intense and prolonged over a long period of time, repressed or unacknowledged. Emotions can be the cause of imbalance or they can be a symptom of organ imbalance.

Last week I discussed anger; today I would like to talk about the emotion of sadness. Prolonged sadness weakens both the heart and the lungs. The emotion of sadness initiates in the heart and affects the lungs which are in close proximity. The lungs control the qi (energy) with the intake of breath and sadness depletes the qi. People experiencing intense grief are unable to take a deep breath. Other symptoms of sadness are breathlessness, depression, pressure on the chest, tiredness, and crying. “In women, deficiency of lung qi often leads to blood deficiency and amenorrhea.

Intense sadness or grief can be helped by counseling, acupressure, acupuncture, and exercise. Moving through intense emotions is critical to our overall well being.

emotional headacheTraditional Chinese Medicine considered the body, mind, and emotions as an interactive whole when diagnosing disease. The Chinese identify seven emotions as the internal cause of disease. These emotions are: anger, joy, sadness, worry, pensiveness, shock and fear. Human emotions are generally a healthy part of life; emotions become toxic when they are extremely intense for a prolonged period of time, repressed or denied.

Today I want to discuss the emotions of worry and pensiveness. “Each of the emotions has a particular effect on qi (energy) and affects a certain organ:

  • Anger makes qi rise and affects the liver
  • Worry and pensiveness knot qi and affect the spleen ( worry also affects the lungs)” Giovanni Macioci

Excessive thinking, studying or mental activity is the definition of pensiveness. This emotion creates exhaustion, loss of appetite, loose stools and weakens the spleen. The spleen is responsible for transforming food and drink into energy (qi) and transporting it to the organs and muscles of the body. The food qi creates energy and blood. The spleen functions also to separate the usable food from unusable, to maintain fluid balance in the body and to support the immune system and healthy blood cells. The emotion associated with the spleen is worry.

In our fast-paced society, worry and pensiveness are extremely common. Demanding studies or occupations can deplete both the spleen and lung energy causing stagnation and formation of phlegm. Symptoms of worry are: anxiety, tight shoulders and neck and breathlessness.

To improve spleen function and counteract worry and pensiveness

  • Eat regular meals, mostly cooked food
  • Don’t overeat
  • Drink room temperature or warmer beverages
  • Don’t multitask, be mindful and calm
  • Take breaks during your day: walk outside, turn off your phone, meditate, do yoga, tai chi, exercise, have energy work.

I would like to discuss the emotional impact of extreme shock and fear on the human bodymind. Fear depletes kidney energy and blocks the upper level of the triple warmer (which is located above the diaphragm and includes the lungs and heart). When this happens the energy descends to the lower body.

In children fear may cause bedwetting. In adults, fear and chronic anxiety create depletion of kidney energy and rising of heat in the heart and face, night sweats, palpitations, dry mouth, and throat.

Shock halts the energy flow and also affects the kidneys and heart. The symptoms of shock are breathlessness, palpitations, insomnia, night sweats, tinnitus or dizziness and dry mouth.

When these extreme emotions are present over an extended period of time they can affect the physical organs. Balancing the body’s energy with a licensed acupressurist or acupuncturist can manage fear along with proper diet, rest, exercise and talk therapy.

In Summation

Traditional Chinese Medicine regarded the human body as a totality of body, mind, and spirit. TCM considered emotions, diet, and patterns of a person’s lifestyle when diagnosing physical illness. Extreme emotions held over long periods of time were considered to be the internal causes of disease.

The Chinese list 7 emotions which, when extreme, can create disease. I have discussed all of these except joy. It seems strange that joy would be listed as a cause of disease, but the state of happiness and contentment we know as joy was not what the Chinese meant.

In Chinese Medicine, the emotion of joy is controlled by the heart. Therefore a state of excessive excitement (euphoria) over a long period of time can injure the heart. People who live life in the “fast lane”, living and playing hard can over time create heart conditions.

Emotions are a healthy part of our lives which make us more human. The emotions are meant to be felt fully and then released. When we get stuck in an emotion for an extended period it upsets our equilibrium. Health is created when we are in balance body, mind and spirit

Going with the Flow- The Bladder Meridian

The bladder meridian is the longest energy pathway going from the corner of the eye to the outside of the smallest toe.
ducks in the snowIt is represented by the water element and it crosses all the other meridians and greatly influences them. Physically it is responsible for storing and excreting the urinary waste fluids passed down from the kidneys but energetically it is closely related to the functions and balance of the autonomic nervous system. The bladder meridian runs the entire length of the back with two parallel branches on each side of the spine. These four branches of the bladder meridian greatly influence the sympathetic and parasympathetic functions of the autonomic nervous system. The peak hours for bladder meridian energy are between 3-5 pm. It is important to stay hydrated for optimum function of this meridian.

Imbalance in this system can create both physical and psychological symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • back pain
  • urinary problems including excessive urination and incontinence)
  • pain in the eyes
  • tearing and colds

Lack of energy, being inflexible and fearful, resisting change and negative attitude

Living In Harmony with the Season of Winter

“The wise nourish life by flowing with the four seasons and adapting to cold or heat by harmonizing joy and anger in a tranquil dwelling, by balancing yin and yang ….. So it is that dissolute evil cannot reach the man of wisdom, and he will be witness to a long life.”

–Huangdi Neijing Suwen

yin yangThis quote is taken from Traditional Chinese Medicine Classics. In the season of winter the associations are:

Element: water
Nature: yin (slow moving, inward energy)
Organs: kidney, urinary bladder, adrenal glands, ears, hair
Taste: salty
Emotion: fear and depression

Kidney energy is important for maintenance of vitality and to prevent premature aging. It also governs energy reserves which allow adaptation to life’s constant changes.

In our present-day world, multitasking and constant stress are common occurrences. These conditions break down kidney energy creating exhaustion and a predisposition to hypertension. A major life challenge for all of us is adapting to change and maintaining body-mind balance.

Things you can do to maintain balance are:

  • Manage your to-do list
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Find ways to relax on a daily basis,( i.e. deep breathing, yoga, meditation)
  • Eat warming foods (cooked) and local fruits and vegetables

Chinese Medicine during Winter

The winter solstice is fast approaching and with it the beginning of the winter season.  In nature, the trees and plants have pulled their energy back into their roots to survive the colder weather. The season of winter in nature is cold, damp, and inactive.  The ancient Chinese believed that in order to stay healthy humans should live in harmony with their natural surroundings.  The cold and shorter days of winter signal us to slow down, reflect on our health, conserve our strength and replenish our energy.

Winter is a time for rest and introspection.  We conserve our energy to be prepared for the burst of energy needed in the spring.  Winter is represented by the water element. The associated organs are kidney, urinary bladder, adrenal glands, ears, and hair. The emotion associated with kidney is fear.

Foods which help to support the kidney energy are:

  • Soups and Stews
  • Root vegetables
  • Beans
  • Miso and seaweed
  • Garlic and ginger
  • Black beans, black rice

Emphasize warming foods and avoid raw food as much as possible. Go to bed early, get plenty of rest, stay warm and minimize stress to stay healthy during winter.

The Metal Element and Grief

Autumn is when the metal element is most active.  The metal element is represented by the Lung and Large Intestine Meridians.  It is the perfect time of year to tonify lung energy which helps to protect the body from colds and illness.  The lungs also carry the emotion of grief.

Everyone experiences grief or loss in a lifetime.   Whether it is the death of a loved one, end of a relationship or loss of a pet; grief is a difficult emotion which is part of life.  If we allow ourselves to feel and express the pain, we can begin to let it go.  We don’t let go of the love and memories just the painful emotion.

When our grief is repressed, expressed without control or felt intensely over a long period of time it is harmful to lung energy.  In TCM the lung energy is associated with openness to new ideas, clear thinking, communication and our ability to relax and enjoy life.  When we are out of balance or are experiencing excessive grief it is difficult to cope with a loss.  We can also experience alienation which overtime can lead to depression.

Some healthy ways to deal with grief are:

  • Acknowledge your feelings without judgement.  Be kind to yourself.
  • Deep breathing exercises help to release grief. Practices such as yoga, tai chi, meditation and chi gong all utilize breathing exercises.
  • Walk in nature
  • Foods that nourish lung energy include: garlic, onion, cabbage, radish, walnuts, almonds, banana, sweet potato, and cinnamon.

www.chinesemedicineliving.com

Damp Condition Revisited

I’ve spoken about the six pernicious influences or causes of disease in Chinese Medicine before, but now that we’re in the season of autumn it is a good time to revisit it.  These six climatic conditions are considered causes of disease within the body.  They are: cold, wind, dampness, heat, dryness and summer heat.  Many times these conditions occur together such as damp and cold or wind and cold.

It is also possible for these pernicious influences to develop from chronic internal imbalance.

One of the most persistent conditions which takes some time to resolve is dampness.  When internal dampness occurs it creates stagnation and a feeling of heaviness. It can occur from spending a lot of time in a rainy environment or from sleeping on the ground.  It can also occur internally from eating large quantities of cold foods and drinks, sweets and greasy foods.

Some symptoms of dampness include: edema, phlegm, and discharges.  It can also cause feelings of dizziness and heaviness, water retention, coughing or vomiting phlegm and skin rashes.  A damp condition will also make weight loss difficult. There are many different types of dampness, such as cold damp or damp heat.  Each condition has its own set of symptoms and treatment including herbs to drain the dampness, dietary changes and possibly moxibustion.  Dampness is a difficult condition which needs to be treated by a licensed acupuncturist in order to improve.

–Bill Schoenbart & Ellen Shefi—health.howstuffworks.com

Holidays Have you Feeling Frazzled?

With the holidays fast approaching, busy schedules are about to be strained even more. To stay healthy and enjoy the holidays it is important to maintain a strong immune system. Most of us don’t become ill from exposure to germs. It’s when our immune system is compromised that we get sick.

Our immune system is compromised by a number of situations:

  • Exhaustion (most important)
  • Consuming too much junk food or foods that don’t nourish us (i.e. abundant sugar, dairy or carbohydrates).
  • Stress, which creates blocks in our flow of energy

When our body’s energy is free flowing we are symptom-free and feeling calm and well. We are able to navigate our lives fairly smoothly without losing our balance. If we are exhausted, every task becomes a burden and our frustration level increases at the slightest glitch in our routine.

Make time for yourself this holiday season. Get plenty of rest, eat healthy and schedule a bodywork session. The holidays can be joyful if we know our limits, simplify our plans and schedule ourselves into our lives.

Chinese Medicine and the Season of Autumn

In autumn the expanded energy of summer slowly begins to contract. The earth’s energy is pulled back from the leaves of trees and plants to go deeper into the trunk and roots to survive the winter. Within Chinese Medicine, humans are regarded as microcosms of the natural universe; subject to the same cycles that occur in nature. The cold signals us to prepare for winter ahead by bringing out warmer clothing. It is a time of gathering in, stocking up, mingled with a sense of loss as the light begins to fade and the air chills. It is a time to eliminate what is unnecessary and become aware of what is essential.

Autumn is associated with the element of metal which is represented by the organs of Lung and Large Intestine. The Lung pulls in and refines the Qi, (energy) sending it downward to nourish our roots. The lung rules the skin, the outer layer of the human body, protecting against external invasion and safeguards internal resources. Since autumn is a dry season, we need to protect ourselves from cold air evaporation of moisture from our skin.

Large Intestine is associated with letting go; not just on a physical level but also of thoughts and emotions that no longer serve us. The metal element nourishes our capacity to be analytic, critical, methodical, efficient and disciplined.

The emotion associated with the metal element is grief or sadness. We are leaving the warm abundance of summer and preparing for a quieter, reflective time of year. Keeping our energy balanced helps us to release the past and create space for things to come.

Nurturing foods for this time of year include:

  • white rice
  • white beans
  • pears
  • radishes
  • sea vegetables
  • potatoes
  • cabbage
  • turnips
  • parsnips

The flavors of metal element are spicy or pungent.

Dr. Frank Lipman

Lung Meridian Most Active during Autumn

Last week we discussed the Large Intestine Meridian. Today I want to talk about its partner the Lung Meridian. The Lung energy pathway is associated with the emotion of sadness or grief, the skin, boundaries and the immune system. Since most pathogens enter through the respiratory and digestive systems, healthy lungs and large intestine are very important to overall health.

On a psychological level the lung represents our personal boundaries and sense of self. It is closely aligned with feelings of self esteem and self worth for ourselves and others.

To maintain a healthy Lung Meridian:

  • Eat pungent foods (i.e. ginger, garlic, onion, cloves, cayenne pepper, cinnamon…)
  • Dress for the weather to avoid colds
  • Walk in nature and breathe in crisp dry air
  • Find time for introspection and let go of that which no longer serves you.

www.meridianpress.net

Feeling Stuck? Large Intestine Meridian Can Help

The fall season is the time of the metal element in Chinese Medicine which is associated with Lung and Large Intestine energy pathways. Large Intestine helps us to let go of that which is no longer needed physically, emotionally and spiritually. “Consciousness and meridian energy are deeply connected. The Large Intestine’s metal energy is concerned with matters of prosperity and self protection.” It also organizes the useful from the useless and governs discernment and discretion.

When our Large Intestine energy is strong and balanced, we are organized physically and clear headed. If the LI is unbalanced our thinking becomes clouded and our judgment is impaired. Physically you may become constipated which is associated with bottled up emotions. Two areas of life which may be affected are money and relationships.

To keep a healthy balance maintain proper nutrition (fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy protein and fats and plenty of water) and have your energy balanced. There are also deep breathing exercises that help to improve circulation, digestion and constipation. For more information on these exercises consult www.changeyourenergy.com.

The Importance of Wholesome Food on our Health

I’ve been discussing the importance of balanced energy to our overall health and well being. Each season is associated with specific energies that can be supported by certain foods and stretching exercises especially Tai Chi or Yoga.

Today I want to talk about the importance of purchasing fresh, pesticide free, whole and local food and water that is relatively chemical and bacteria free. Most people are aware that our food supply is challenged. GMO”s, pesticide, heavy metals, salmonella and many other possible chemicals and bacteria seem to be a regular part of our food supply. Finding pure wholesome food can seem like an obstacle course but the impact on our health can’t be overstated. Our diet will, over time, make a difference on our health whether for better or worse. Anyone who saw the documentary “Supersize Me” can attest to that. A steady diet of heavy salt and unhealthy fats for a month can compromise the health of just about anyone.

No amount of exercise and energywork can make a difference in our well being if we have a diet of mostly GMO and pesticide laden food. If we are not eating relatively pure whole foods we are compromising our health.

Some of the most important foods to buy organic are:

  • Coffee
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches

Buy Non GMO:

  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Wheat

When buying meat look for:
•   Pasture raised, hormone free, antibiotic free, grass fed

When buying fish:
•   Wild caught is best – if farm raised make sure they are antibiotic free and kept in clean circulating water.

Eggs should be cage free, antibiotic free and hormone free.

For more information on this topic The Self- Health Revolution by J. Michael Zenn is a good read. I’m including a link to an article on spraying wheat with glyphosate. “Why Is Glyphosate Sprayed on Crops Right Before Harvest?”

Hopefully with enough public outcry these practices can be changed.

Chinese Medicine Tips for Autumn

The Lung and Large Intestine are the two energy pathways most active in fall; both organs eliminate waste. The Large Intestine eliminates digestive waste and the Lungs eliminate respiratory waste. The Lungs also control the skin and sweating. Sweating helps to cleanse the skin and detoxify the body but excess sweating can deplete our bodies. It is important to stay hydrated especially when exercising.

Foods that support the Lungs and Large Intestine are: pear, radishes, daikon radish, cauliflower and cabbage. Immune support for the Lung energy includes reishi mushrooms and astragalus.

If you develop a fall cold or flu with fever you can bring on a sweat at the early stages of infection to help detoxify the body. Spending time in a sauna or hot bath and eating spicy food will help.

Living in Harmony with Nature during Autumn : Traditional Chinese Medicine

As the days begin to get longer, leaves begin to change color and earth energies begin to slow and cool; we turn our attention to more serious pursuits. The season of fall is associated with the Metal element which governs order, organization, communication, the mind, setting limits and protecting boundaries. It is a time to finish projects and clear out that which no longer serves us. We begin to organize our lives for the colder weather ahead.

The internal organs associated with autumn are Lung and Large Intestine. The emotions related to these organs are sadness, grief and letting go.

This is a good time to begin a practice of meditation, yoga or any exercise that helps you to control your breath. Control of the breath can promote, physical vigor, mental clarity and emotional tranquility.

Some tips for the change of season:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Dress for the change in weather- too many people get sick holding on to summer attire too long
  • Protect your lungs- moderate amounts of pungent foods : garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger and mustard are beneficial.

Support for Spleen and Stomach Energy

We’ve been talking about Indian Summer and spleen and stomach meridians which are associated with it. To promote healthy spleen and stomach energy avoid chronic worrying and over thinking which can negatively impact stomach health. Our digestive systems process our internalized thoughts and emotions along with our food.

Foods to support stomach and spleen energy

  • Yellow or orange foods (sweet potatoes, yellow squash…)
  • Foods harvested in late summer
  • Root vegetables
  • Consume mostly warm or cooked foods and beverages
  • Eat dinner by 6 or 7 pm- this gives your body time to digest before retiring for the night.

Signs of possible spleen or stomach imbalance include:

  • Bleeding gums, bad breath
  • Muscles that cramp or tire easily
  • Craving sweets
  • Chronic over thinking, especially negative thoughts
  • Constant worrying and anxiety

Balancing your energy, staying hydrated, proper nutrition and exercise will go a long way to promoting health.

Chinese Medicine and Indian Summer


Late summer or Indian Summer is associated with the earth element in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This is a time for slowing down the activity of summer and observing the abundance we’ve created in our lives. We reflect in order to move forward again with awareness. Earth is the balance point it is a time to temporarily stop our doing and just be. Earth is stability. “The process of procuring, absorbing and converting the food into our body, is what the earth element represents.”

The earth element provides us grounding and a center.

When we have a center, we are able to see what we need and what we are lacking. When we can acknowledge our own needs, we are able to be sensitive to the needs of others. Earth element is central to all the elements. It is the transition time at the end of each season when we reflect before we begin anew.

The emotions associated with this element are sympathy, empathy and worry.

If we are in balance we can be empathic to our own needs and those of others. When we lose our balance, we become consumed with worry and often obsessive compulsive thinking. The other end of imbalance is aloofness, inability for empathy and the inability to connect.

Some symptoms of earth imbalance are:

  • Excessive mucous in nose, throat and mouth
  • Craving sweets
  • Heavy feelings in body with achy arms, legs and head
  • Metabolic problems, including hypoglycemia and diabetes
  • Bloating and indigestion
  • Lethargy
  • Chronic worry

Indian Summer in Traditional Chinese Medicine is a time for slowing down and gathering in the abundance we’ve created in our lives so we can move forward with awareness. This time is associated with the earth element which brings balance and grounding into our lives.

When we are in balance we can clearly see our own needs and also be sensitive to the needs of others. The emotions of earth element are sympathy, empathy and worry. When our earth element is balanced we feel empathy for another. When earth is imbalanced we take on the pain of another, are preoccupied with worry and obsessive compulsive thinking. The alternative side of this earth imbalance is the inability to feel empathy, aloofness and incapacity to connect with others.

To support earth element:

  • Find time to reflect on your life and meet your own needs.
  • Get out in nature and connect to mother earth.
  • Nourish yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The Effects of Sandals and Flip Flops on Bladder Meridian

It’s summer

and we’re all enjoying the warm weather and the freedom of summer clothing. Leaving the house without jackets and not having to worry about shoes and socks is great isn’t it?

I’ve been observing the last couple of months that many clients are coming in with very tight calf muscles, sore backs and low Bladder Meridian energy. Plantar Fascitis, an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes, also seems to be more prevalent in this season. Though I’m sure there are many reasons for these symptoms including increased exercising during the warm weather, backless sandals and flip flops are playing a role here.

When we are wearing flip flops or backless sandals our toes are gripping the shoes to keep them on our feet. If we wear them for extended periods of time or for long walks our calf muscles contract and harden and begin to restrict the energy flow of the legs. There are six energy pathways in each leg but the longest of these is the Bladder Meridian.

The bladder Meridian begins at the corner of the eye goes up the forehead over the head and down the back (where it forms two branches), down the leg ending at the outside of the smallest toe. This meridian is associated with the amount of rest that we get. If we overdo physically many times it results in a sore back and legs. Bladder imbalances include: back problems, headaches, urinary problems, lack of energy, fearfulness and inflexibility.

The sandals and flip flops are great for short trips and for lounging around but keep the sneakers ready for any serious walking. Carrying water during your day is also helpful to support the body’s energy.

The Body Organ Clock of Chinese Medicine

I like to revisit this information every so often in case someone missed it. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that the chi or vital energy circulates through each body organ in two hour intervals every 24 hours. There are specific times for each organ meridian. These specific times of chi circulation are when the meridian has its point of highest energy. In TCM this cycle helped inform people of the optimum time to eat, sleep, rest exercise, etc. It also made them aware of their connection to each body organ.

Today most people are concerned with waking up the same time each night and not being able to get back to sleep. The time from 11pm -1 am is when the Gall Bladder Meridian is most active. This is a time that the body should be at rest so that it can wake up feeling energized for the next day. If you are consistently waking at this hour your Gall Bladder Meridian needs balancing. Gall Bladder energy is associated with decision making and everyday stress.

1-3am is when the Liver Meridian is most active and the body should be asleep.” During this time, toxins are released from the body and fresh new blood is made.” If waking at this time you may have restrictions in the Liver Meridian, too much yang energy or issues with anger, frustration and rage.

3-5am the Lung Meridian is most active and the body should be asleep. “The body should be kept warm at this time to help the lungs replenish the body with oxygen.” The emotions associated with the lungs are sadness and grief. If awake at this time, deep breathing is recommended.

During winter when Kidney and Bladder Meridians are most active, the 24 hour circulation for these meridians is even more powerful.

3-5pm is when the Bladder Meridian has the highest energy. At this time metabolic wastes move into the kidney’s filtration system and drinking a lot of water will aid the detoxification process. “This is the perfect time to study or complete brain challenging work.”

5-7pm is when the Kidney energy is strongest. The Kidneys filter the blood and maintain proper chemical balance. “This is the perfect time to have dinner and to activate your circulation either by walking, having a massage or stretching.” The emotion associated with Kidney Meridian is fear.

Pericardium Meridian – The Final Energy Pathway of Summer

The Pericardium Meridianis known as the heart’s protector. Though not considered an organ in western medicine, in reality it is the protective sack which surrounds the heart. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is considered an organ meridian which pairs with The Triple Warmer. The Pericardium Meridian functions to protect the heart both from physical damage and emotional excess generated by other organ meridians. These emotions include: fear from the kidneys, sadness from the lungs and anger from the liver.

In TCM “extreme outbursts of the Seven Emotions are regarded as powerful disruptors of internal energy balance and major causes of disease.” This meridian also regulates blood flow in the major blood vessels surrounding the heart. Emotionally it joins the physical and emotional aspects of sexual activity; the loving feelings of the heart with the raw sexual energy of the kidneys.

Associations are:

  • Color – purple red
  • Peak hours-7pm-9pm
  • Mental qualities- love, sex
  • Physical branches- blood, tongue, throat sweat, facial complexion

The Energy Pathways of Summer

In Traditional Chinese Medicine man’s connection to the earth was the blueprint for living a healthy life. To be healthy one rose with the sun and went to sleep with the rising of the moon. The seasons in nature were associated with five earth elements: water, wood, fire, earth (soil) and metal. The Fire Element is associated with summer.

“Fire is our ability to have relationship, to feel safe, to feel in control, to be intimate, to have fun, to laugh and be excited.” The energy pathways of summer are heart meridian, small intestine meridian, pericardium meridian and triple warmer meridian.

Today I want to discuss the Small Intestine Meridian. This energy helps us to separate the pure from the impure. The color associated with it is pink; it is most active from 1pm – 3pm. Physically it takes partially digested food from the stomach absorbs the nutrients and sends the waste to the large intestine. The psycho-emotional aspects include mental clarity, powers of discernment and judgment. The ability to make decisions with clarity separating the relevant from the irrelevant is attributed to the Small Intestine Meridian.

Imbalances include: insecurity, difficulty assimilating ideas, indecision, forgetfulness, restlessness and difficulty expressing emotions. Some physical imbalances include: profuse sweating, tinnitus, pain around the ear and in the abdomen when pressed.

There are four energy pathways associated with the summer season. I’ve spoken in detail of the Heart Meridian and the Small Intestine Meridian. Today I want to discuss the Triple Warmer Meridian.

The Triple Warmer or Triple Burner Meridian is a concept unique to Chinese Medicine. There is no corresponding organ related to this in western medicine. This meridian has to do with the body’s temperature and includes three areas: the upper, middle and lower burner.

The upper burner is associated with the heart and lungs and is located above the diaphragm; the middle burner includes the area below the diaphragm to the belly button. The organs associated are the spleen and stomach. The lower burner is located below the belly button. The organs associated are: liver, kidneys, large intestine, small intestine and bladder.

The function of the Triple Warmer is to provide the energy or fire to transport the fluids, blood and food which pass through each area. In The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine the functions of the three burners was described this way, “The upper burner acts like a mist. The middle burner acts like foam. The lower burner acts like a swamp.”

The way the energy is dispersed in the upper burner, the heart and lungs, is compared to a mist. Think of the tender tissues of the lungs and the importance of keeping the heart and lungs hydrated for smooth functioning. In the middle burner the function is digestion. The foam represents the digestive churning. The lower burner separates the pure from the impure and excretes the waste similar to a swamp breaking down plant matter.

“The triple burner is the controller of the entire circulation of body fluid” (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine)

Some symptoms of Triple Warmer dysfunction are: edema (retention of fluid in the tissues), difficulty urinating, abdominal distention, tinnitus, pain in the throat, eyes, back of the ear, the shoulder and upper arm.

TCM Five Element Theory- Metal Element

The Five Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine speaks of the connectedness of all things and how the different aspects of nature interact with each other and with man. It also details how the different structures and systems in our body are connected to each other and to the natural world. The connection and interactions present humans as part of nature and the universe at large.

Today I want to discuss the Metal Element. The associations of the Metal Element are: the Lung and Large Intestine Meridians

  • The nose
  • Skin and hair
  • The emotion of grief
  • Crying
  • Autumn
  • Dryness
  • The color white
  • Spicy flavor
  • Direction- west
  • 3am-7am

“The Lung’s major functions include maintaining healthy immune defenses against pathogens, as well as circulating Qi and fluids throughout the body.” The Lung and large Intestine Meridians help us to let go of that which no longer serves us, whether it’s mental emotional or physical.

Possible symptoms of Lung imbalance are:

  • Runny nose, sinus congestion, sneezing, loss of smell
  • Catching colds easily in the fall and fall allergies
  • Difficulty processing grief and loss, easily brought to tears
  • waking between 3-5am and having difficulty going back to sleep

Tips for supporting the lung:

  • eat spicy foods , fresh vegetables, tofu, beans, white meat and vegetables
  • deep breathing ,especially outdoors in nice weather
  • let go of that which you no longer need ( clean out your closets)
  • keep warm in cold weather, especially your chest and neck
  • practice qigong or tai chi, these exercises stretch the lung meridian and get the energy moving
  • have your energy balanced

Happy Fathers Day

Myofascial Release

Most of my blogs have been about acupressure and Chinese Medicine which has greatly impacted my life for the better. In the almost 30 years that I have been experiencing it and the 19 years that I have been practicing it, there is always more to learn. It is such a rich study and despite the fact that it was developed over 5 thousand years ago, it still holds validity for us today.

In this blog I want to discuss a large part of my practice, Myofascial Release. I was first introduced to Myofascial release in 2009. A friend of mine had a session and recommended that I try it. In those days I had constant neck pain/ discomfort from an old whiplash injury. The acupressure and other therapies I had tried improved my discomfort but if I slept in an awkward position I’d wake up in pain. After one session I knew that this was something I needed to continue with and to study. I could feel that my neck problems were connected to restrictions in the muscles in my back.

Similar to Chinese Medicine Theory, Myofascial Release as developed by John Barnes, describes the entire body connected by the fascial system (connective tissue) a three dimensional web which along with the muscles supports our body and facilitates movement. When we are injured or overworked our muscles and connective tissue can develop restrictions or blockages that obstruct the flow of energy and create soreness or tightness and decreased mobility. Overtime these restrictions grow similar to a spider web and attach to other structures or bones and can create pain. The restrictions become tighter and can squeeze the vertebrae together to create nerve pain.

Myofascial Release helps reduce the chronic pain and improve mobility by utilizing sustained pressure into the restrictions and releasing them one by one. Overtime you will experience relief from not only temporary tightness but also long held tension. Without the pull of tight fascia muscles can stay lengthened. As a result, people often notice long lasting increased comfort and mobility.

Myofascial Release is especially effective in relieving stiff necks, chronic headaches, plantar fascitis, low back pain and shoulder pain.

Happy Holiday!

Essential oils have been known to be a good support in balancing the body’s energy and meridians . It is important when selecting essential oils that you a choose high quality pure product. Doterra and Young Living are two brands that fit this criteria. You can contact me for more information.

The Five Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine was based on an observation of man in his environment. In early times Chinese doctors identified patterns of continuous change and transformation in the universe and how these changes also occurred within the human body. The concept of qi , the vital energy of the body and the yin yang theory, which views the relationships between things as complementary to the whole, are integral to the master blueprint of the Five Element Theory. This blueprint organizes all natural phenomena into five master groups or patterns in nature.

The five groups include: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each of these elements includes many “ categories such as a season, a direction, climate, stage of growth and development, internal organ, body tissue, emotion, aspect of the soul, taste, color, sound …” the list is seemingly endless. This theory gives a template to show “how nature interacts with the body and how the different dimensions of our being impact each other.” It gives a multidimensional view and provides a diagnostic framework to identify where imbalances lie.

We are in the season of spring which is the Wood Element

  • The Liver and Gallbladder are associated organs
  • Eyes and tendons are associated body parts
  • The emotion of anger
  • The color green
  • Wind
  • Calling sound
  • Sour taste
  • East is the direction
  • 11pm-3am time

When the Wood chi is weak indecision and a feeling of being stuck can occur. People who have a strong wood energy have clear goals and vision and are able to manifest their goals. Planning and decision making are their forte.

The Five Element Theory presents a blueprint which organizes all natural phenomena into five master groups or patterns in nature. This theory attempts to show the interaction of nature with the human body and how the many facets of our being impact each other. The Five Element Theory provides us with a diagnostic tool to help identify where imbalances lie and illuminates the interconnectedness of all things. The structures in our body are connected to each other, to our environment and to the natural world. It represents man as part of nature and nature as part of the cosmos.

The Elements are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. We’ve already spoken about the Wood Element of spring and its many associations. Today I want to discuss the Fire Element.

The Fire Element is the next phase of the Five Element theory. Its associations are:

  • Heart and Small Intestine Meridians & Pericardium and Triple Warmer Meridians
  • Blood vessels
  • The tongue
  • Joy
  • Summer
  • The color red
  • Bitter taste
  • Heat
  • Laughing
  • Direction –south
  • Most active 11am-3pm

People with strong fire energy excel at communication and socialization. They can be charismatic and inspirational speakers. If the Fire Element is weak anxiety, restlessness and insomnia may occur. Stuttering, nervous laugh and rapid speech patterns may develop.

Some illnesses associated with this element are: hypertension, palpitations, heart problems and mouth and tongue sores. Walking is beneficial and the bitter flavor of dark green leafy vegetables. People with weak fire energy can be susceptible to heat exhaustion.

Staying Healthy During Spring with TCM

In ancient times people patterned their lives in accordance with nature to maintain good health. They rose with the sun and went to bed with the beginning of night. They didn’t overeat and meals followed a regular schedule. Daily activities were also at set times and they never overworked. “In this way, they could maintain both in the body and in the spirit substantiality, and were able to live to the old age of more than 100 years.” This quote comes from The Huang Di Nei Jing one of the principal medical books of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Times have changed but living according to the changes in your environment is still a good idea to promote health. In spring the direction of energy is upward and outward. The element of spring is wood and the associated energies are liver and gallbladder. The liver and gallbladder also relate to our tendons and joints. The activity of Gallbladder Meridian is decision making and Liver Meridian is responsible for planning. In this way they give us “a connection to the future and the flexibility to plan and design in all areas of our lives.”

Since the liver helps the body to neutralize toxins it can become overheated with the increased activity of spring. Signs of an overheated liver are: dry skin, hair loss, headaches, high blood pressure, migraines and indigestion. Emotional symptoms of an overburdened liver are: anger, depression, mood swings, irritation, belligerence and impatience. A consistently overheated liver creates a burden for the heart.

The remedy for the liver in spring is :

  • Gentle exercise—yoga, light weights, meditation, light cardio, deep breathing
  • Outside air improves liver qi flow, exercise outside whenever possible
  • Eat smaller quantities and lighter foods
  • Steamed or raw foods- fresh greens, sprouts( basil, marjoram, rosemary, dill are good spices)
  • Eat fresh seasonal ,local foods
  • Spirulina, chlorella, apple cider vinegar and honey, omega 3-fatty acids and B complex vitamins are good for cleansing and support

Traditional Chinese Medicine Dietary Tips for Spring

The Spring Equinox occurs on the 21St of March and with the change of season comes the shifting of energy. We’ve seen this already with the return of the robins and budding plants and trees. In spring the energies of the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians are most active. The time of day when liver is most active is 1-3am and gallbladder is at its energy peak between 11pm and 1am. If you consistently wake at these times of day, the liver and gallbladder meridians are most likely out of balance.

Dietary factors which can create gallbladder imbalance are:

Excessive consumption of processed carbohydrates, greasy and fatty foods, trans fats, fructose and dairy, inadequate water intake, fried food and food sensitivities.

Dietary factors which can create liver imbalance are:

Overeating, excessive use of alcohol, overconsumption of fructose, omega 6 fats, trans fats, exposure to toxins and overuse of prescription drugs.

To improve functioning of the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians:

  • Juice or blend beets, lemon, apples, carrots and dandelion greens
  • Eat more garlic, onions ,cauliflower, broccoli, kale and cabbage
  • Liver cleansing foods include: cilantro, turmeric, leafy greens, apples, asparagus, lemon and lime (to name a few)
  • Drink dandelion tea
  • Have a cup of lemon water at the beginning of the day
  • Identify food sensitivities
  • Use coconut oil in lieu of vegetable oil. It does not have to be emulsified by the liver or gallbladder.

Early Spring – Beginning of Renewal

We’ve spoken about the progression of the seasons with winter being the time to rest and conserve our energy and spring a time of activity and expanding our energy. If you are a person who was unable to rest and recharge during the winter months you may be feeling worn thin by now. When our bodies are continually exhausted our immune system is weakened and we can easily get sick.

Our exhaustion is not just physical but many times physical, mental and emotional. This is a good description of modern day stress. Here are some tips to alleviate this cycle of exhaustion.

  • Try to get to bed around the same time every night. The routine will help the body to relax
  • A few drops of Lavender essential oil on your pillow can promote relaxation
    Try to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • To calm your mind, write down any to do lists or things to remember before you go to bed. Get these thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You can also keep pen and paper on your night stand if your thoughts wake you up.
    Develop the habit of deep breathing. Breathe from the bottom of your diaphragm. You can’t deep breathe and be stressed at the same time.
  • Do some type of exercise, yoga, walking, running, etc. at least 3 times a week.
  • Meditation is wonderful for self realization. If you are stuck in your head you may not be aware of exhaustion until it overcomes you.
  • Drink a cup of warm water with lemon every morning. It aids with digestion and helps the gall bladder release toxins more quickly
  • Have your energy balanced or have some type of bodywork.
  • Take care of your body; it’s the only one you have.

Spring – A Time for Renewal

In a few weeks the Spring Equinox will herald the beginning of spring but we can already see the changes in nature all around us. The energy which retreated into the roots of plants and trees is now rising and creating buds and flowers. We are coming out of the season of energy conservation and entering a time of new beginnings and renewal. Our bodies which are a microcosm of the universe are also undergoing change. We look forward to the increased activity, warmer weather and expansion of spring.

The organ meridians associated with spring are the liver and gallbladder. The element of spring is wood and its energy has the ability to break through obstacles. In TCM the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy throughout the body; when liver energy is balanced the physical and emotional activity of the body functions optimally. Liver is also associated with ligaments and tendons and the eyes.

To promote health during spring:

  • Stretch- to maintain flexibility and tendon health, yoga, tai chi, Pilates
  • Eat greens- fresh leafy greens and sprouts can improve the liver’s function
  • Sour tasting food and drinks stimulate the liver’s function. Add lemon, vinegar and pickles to your diet.
  • Outdoor activity- fresh air improves liver flow
  • Eye exercises- take breaks when looking at a computer monitor or TV for extended periods of time and do eye exercises
  • Milk thistle tea is a great detox. It helps cleanse the liver from environmental toxins, alcohol, medications, pesticides and other substances

Have your energy balanced

Sciatica Pain and Gall Bladder Meridian

The Mayo Clinic definition of sciatica from August, 2015 states that it is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg ending just below the knee. There are two types of sciatica: acute (caused by recent injury) and chronic (recurring). Most people who experience sciatica will usually have pain on one side of their body.

Though there are many causes for sciatica, from slipped or herniated discs to infections or injuries, in many cases there is no immediately obvious cause. Sciatica is a symptom not a condition; anything that irritates the sciatic nerve can bring about this symptom.

In the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine, pain is created by blockages (stagnation) in a person’s chi (energy) and blood. When the body’s energy is flowing freely, we are pain free. Most times when I treat sciatica I will work along the gall bladder meridian which flows exactly through the path of the sciatic pain. Sometimes the bladder meridian will also be involved. The bladder meridian travels down the back parallel to the spine, through the center of the buttocks, through the center of the back of the thigh and lower leg to the lateral side of ankle ending in the fifth toe.

When we look at these two meridians from the bodymind connection we know that Gall Bladder is associated with decision making and every day stress. In today’s society there’s plenty of stress to navigate each day. The Bladder is associated with the amount of rest we get each day and also with Kidney energy. We can see how long stressful days and inadequate rest can create an imbalance (blockage) in these meridians. The solutions: get adequate rest, have your energy balanced, exercise, especially stretching.

Chinese Medicine Causes of Disease- Revisited

Ancient Chinese Medicine had no knowledge of viruses or bacteria as causes of disease. It identified instead climatic conditions which can create disharmony in the body if a person is exposed to them over an extended period of time. These conditions include: cold, heat, wind, dampness, dryness and summer heat. These weather conditions can invade the body and cause disharmony.

We‘ve already covered Chronic Cold, Chronic Heat and Dampness Conditions. The last three conditions are usually found in combination with one of the former.

Dryness is many times partnered with heat. Heat creates warmth and redness but dryness causes dehydration and evaporation. When this condition invades the body asthmatic breathing, dry cough, acute pain and fever may occur.

Summer Heat is oppressive. It can invade the body after exposure to extreme heat and can cause high fever and lethargy. It is often accompanied by dampness.

Wind is usually combined with cold when it invades the body. Symptoms of wind include: tics, twitches, stuffy nose and headaches.

Chinese Medicine would treat these conditions with a combination of dietary therapy, acupressure, acupuncture, herbal medicine, heat therapy (moxibustion), exercise (qi gong, t’ai chi) and meditation.

Give the Gift of Energy and Wellness

If you have a friend, family member or associate who can bene t from our services at Optimum Energy and Wellness, why not give them a gift certificate. You can email your gift to the recipient or print a certificate from your desktop to hand-deliver. Give the gift of wellbeing with an Optimum Energy and Wellness gift certificate.

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Jin Shin Do® Disclaimer

Jin Shin Do® Acupressure is not intended for the diagnosis, treatment or cure of disease. It is a relaxation therapy, and a useful adjunct to licensed, qualified medical or psychological care.For any persistent pain or symptom, even a seemingly minor one, the reader is strongly encouraged to consult a medical doctor. When used in conjunction with standard medical treatment, the Jin Shin Do® Acupressure technique can assist the healing process by releasing tension, decreasing stress and encouraging a sense of increased well-being.

For more information go to jinshindo.org

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