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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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