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.

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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.

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