The Energies of Summer – Triple Burner Meridian

Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

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 like 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) or difficulty urinating, abdominal distention, tinnitus, pain in the throat, eyes, the shoulder and upper arm.

The Energies of Summer – Small Intestine

During summer, the time of the fire element, there are 4 meridians that are active inside our bodies instead of two. We’ve already spoken of Heart Meridian, there is also Small Intestine Meridian, Pericardium Meridian, and Triple Warmer Meridian.

Today I want to discuss the partner of heart, Small Intestine Meridian. The small intestine is most active between 1pm and 3pm. Its role in digestion is to separate the pure from the impure, absorbing minerals and nutrients from ingested food.

The Small Intestine Meridian controls the reception, transformation, and separation of solids and fluids and it is very sensitive to cold. If we consume lots of cold, raw foods, we can create problems in Small Intestine. These problems or imbalances can manifest as abdominal pain, digestive problems and appetite problems (i.e. overeating or poor appetite).

The energy of Small Intestine plays both a physical role in digestion and a mental role. The mental role is to discriminate between clear thoughts and chaotic ones. Small Intestine Meridian along with the Heart Meridian helps us with discernment and clarity of judgment.

Some foods which support the Fire Element are:

  • Asparagus, celery, lettuce
  • Chocolate, coffee, wine
  • Pumpkin, ginseng, sunflower seeds, vinegar

www.hendersonhealinghub.com/The Heart and the Small Intestine

The Five Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Together with the Yin-Yang theory, the Five Element Theory forms the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, diagnosis, and treatment.  

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 chi, 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
  • The direction is east
  • 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 can manifest their goals. Planning and decision making are their forte.

www.tcmworld.org/what-is-tcm/five-elements

Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally here.  The weather has warmed, the air is lighter, and you can see the birds getting active.  The energy pathways most active in spring are Gall Bladder and Liver Meridians.

Spring is associated with the wood element;

the energy of plants breaking through the soil and buds appearing on the bare trees.  This time of year is perfect for cleansing both externally and internally; letting go of the old and making way for the new.  The color of spring is green and the taste is sour.

To support the Liver and Gall Bladder Meridians incorporate leafy greens such as dandelion, chickweed, watercress, sprouts, lettuces, chard, and arugula into your diet.  These greens help to purify the Liver and Gall Bladder.

“The Liver and Gall Bladder work together to move blood and bile, and play pivotal roles in:”

  • The ligaments and tendons- which aid flexibility and strength.
  • The eyes and clear vision.
  • Spleen and lung health- closely aligned with the immune system and susceptibility to seasonal allergies.

Apple cider vinegar or lemon in a glass of warm water first thing in the morning is also beneficial for the Gall Bladder as are artichoke and radish. Other detoxification foods for spring are:

  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Beet
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli Rabe
  • Celery
  • Coconut milk
  • Grapefruit
  • Brown rice, millet, potatoes
  • Green tea
  • Sea vegetables

Treating Chronic Inflammation with Chinese Medicine

upset stomach chinese medicineIn today’s deadline riddled, multitasking society, chronic inflammation seems to be an all too common occurrence. Though inflammation is a normal response to toxins, infections and foreign bodies; chronic inflammation can predispose an individual to various medical conditions. These conditions include: allergies, reflux, diabetes, heart disease, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and inflammatory bowel disorders.

“From the perspective of Chinese Medicine modern life generates excess heat.  In western terms, this is a result of sympathetic overdrive – too much cortisol and adrenalin- that set the stage for inflammation.”

The treatment for excess heat in Chinese Medicine (CM) is to nourish the yin (moisture and blood) which will calm the heat of inflammation.  Chronic stress keeps us in a fight or flight response which raises heart rate, blood pressure and releases glucose into the blood.

In CM chronic stress creates stagnation of energy and blood and forms phlegm.  This stagnation interferes with circulation (hot head and trunk and cold limbs) thereby increasing body heat, drying secretions and making them difficult to release.  Having your energy balanced with acupuncture or acupressure and utilizing Chinese herbs will help to restore the body to homeostasis clearing heat and phlegm and increasing moisture and blood.

www.chinesemedicineworks.com-Turns Out Some Don’t Like It Hot

Living in Harmony with Nature during Winter

This is the time of year when nature is seemingly dormant.  Trees have lost their leaves, plants have shriveled and faded, and many animals hibernate.  Nature is pulling back its energy to rest, restore and renew to prepare for the activity of spring.

We are also part of nature.  What happens inside our bodies is mirrored in the outside world.  This is a time to rest, nourish our bodies with warming foods and reflect on our life’s journey.

The kidney and bladder meridians are most active during winter. “The kidney provides the essence that feeds and renews our life energy.” They also support the reproductive organs, bone, marrow, spinal cord, hair, teeth and brain.

The kidneys are adversely affected by cold weather, excessive cold drinks, lack of sleep, excessive physical work, excessive sexual activity, also excessive salty and spicy foods.

To support the kidneys during winter:

  • Get plenty of rest, 7 – 8 hours a night if possible
  • Stay warm
  • Stay hydrated, many heating systems are drying.
  • Eat warming foods – soups, stews, whole grains, root vegetables, roasted nuts, garlic, ginger, walnuts, and fish.
  • Exercises which produce energy such as tai chi, yoga, and qigong help to keep the body warm.
  • Have your energy balanced with acupressure or acupuncture.
  • Meditate to calm the body and mind.

www.futurelifenow.com/Winter Warmth and Happiness Tips from Chinese Medicine

The Energies of Winter – Bladder Meridian

river trees in winter sunThe bladder meridian is the longest meridian in the body. It runs the entire length of the spine and has two parallel trajectories on either side of the spine. The bladder meridian runs through all the other meridians and so has an influence on them.  This meridian begins in the inner corner of the eye and runs over the top of the head, down the neck and back into the sacrum.  It then goes down the back of the legs into the feet ending in the small toe.

The bladder meridian partners with the kidney meridian and plays a role in controlling fluid transformation and excretion, but because of its location and association with the kidney It exerts a powerful influence on the body.  The kidney meridian stores one of our deepest levels of energy, and weakness in the kidneys can be treated through bladder acupoints.

The points on the bladder meridian are excellent for treating neck pain and any type of back pain. The emotion associated with the kidney is fear.  Imbalance in the kidney and bladder meridians will create both physical and psychological symptoms. When there is bladder imbalance, emotions of suspicion, jealousy and the inability to let go of grudges may occur.

The back reacts to emotional stress basically the same way it reacts to physical stress by becoming tight.  “In short back tension is putting your problems behind you.  With chronic back pain or tension, whatever the cause, there are likely to be some powerful suppressed feelings.  For example, after a back injury, there may be fear and anger about the pain or disability.”

——Iona Teeguarden, The Joy of Feeling

Having your energy balanced by a licensed bodywork therapist can help release both chronic and acute tight muscles.  Staying hydrated, stretching, exercise and rest help support the bladder meridian.

The Energies of Winter

greg rakozy winter-forestDuring the season of winter, the energies of nature are pulled back down into the earth.  Trees lose their leaves, flowers, and shrubs cease growing and go dormant. Many animals hibernate to conserve their energy when the abundance of food in nature is reduced.

We are part of nature and it is also important for us to slow down and renew our energies in winter.  Rest, warming foods such as bone broths, and activities which relax and calm the mind, such as Tai Chi and meditation are recommended.

Some people love winter sports and are energized by the cold; others are the opposite.  If we follow the recommendations for health in winter; we can also enjoy our personal activity preferences.

The Chinese Medicine associations of winter include:

  • Kidney and bladder meridians
  • The element of water
  • Flavors – salty, bitter
  • Emotion- fear
  • Organs- ears, bones
  • Time of greatest activity- kidney (5pm-7pm)
  • Time of greatest activity – bladder (3pm-5pm)

Last week I spoke about the kidneys holding the body’s essential energy or essence, the Jing Chi.  When we deplete our Jing energy, aging is accelerated.  To nourish kidney energies, cook food longer at lower temperatures with less water.  Eat foods which grow locally in this season; squashes, potatoes, root vegetables, cabbage, apples, and pears to name a few.

Simple tips to improve kidney health are:

  • Massage your ears for several minutes a day.  This will stimulate kidney energy.
  • Go to bed before midnight, take breaks during your day to de-stress and rest when tired.
  • Stomp your feet slowly for about 5 minutes a day. The kidney and bladder meridians have important acupressure points in the sole and heels of the feet.

www.tmcworld.org/ kidney health

Maintaining Health in Winter with Chinese Medicine

The ancient Chinese believed that living in harmony with the seasons of nature could prevent disease and promote health.  Winter is the most yin season when the flow of energy is cold, damp, slow and inward.  The days are shorter, and darkness comes early.

The organs associated with winter are the kidneys and bladder. Today, I want to discuss the kidneys.  The kidneys hold our body’s fundamental energy, the Jing chi or essence.  To strengthen kidney energy, it is important to get adequate rest and spend time in self-reflection and meditation.  Practices such as Tai Chi and yoga help to relax body, mind, and spirit, and connect us to our inner selves.

The kidney energy is also associated with our ears and bones.  Our hearing ability is connected to the health of the kidneys.  We can hear more clearly in the stillness of winter than in the activity of the spring and summer.

Bone broths are a good way to tonify kidney energy and nourish the bones which produce Jing Chi.  Other foods which support the kidneys include:

  • rye
  • oats
  • miso
  • quinoa
  • seaweeds
  • salt
  • warm
  • hearty soups
  • roasted nuts
  • black beans
  • black rice

Prolonged extreme stress harms the kidneys. It is also recommended to avoid excess salt and anything in excess.

www. Chinesemedicineliving.com/Living According to the winter season…

Treating Kidney Stones with Chinese Medicine

back pain

Kidney stones is a condition which has become much more prevalent in recent times.  A New York Times article by Laurie Tarkan on October 28, 2008, cites that urologists in some parts of the USA are reporting a noticeable increase in kidney stones, especially in women and children.  Recent statistics reported that 12% of men and 7% of women get kidney stones at some time in their life. These statistics also suggested that the percentage of women with kidney stones was higher than reported.

Kidney and urinary stones are created when minerals in the body combine with other substances and accumulate in the small ducts and tissues of the organ “eventually forming a thick sludge then stones.” Many times, these stones have no symptoms and pass through the ureter unnoticed.

The problem comes when the stones cannot be passed into the urine.  Some reasons for the inability of the stones to be passed are: size, inflammation, and scarring of the ducts, hardness, and sharpness of the stones.

An excess of certain chemicals in the body which are unable to be broken down completely along with poor diet, inadequate fluid ingestion, metabolic deficiencies, genetic predisposition, obesity, and chronic inflammation play a role in the formation of kidney stones.  The most important factors though are healthy liver and kidney function, regulation of acidity or alkalinity, hormonal regulation of the body’s minerals and the health of the large intestine.

There are many different types of kidney stones, so it is vital to have a comprehensive, individualized approach to preventing and healing them.  Finding the right healthcare practitioners is of utmost importance in treating this painful and at times debilitating condition.

“It is estimated that 350,000 Americans visit the emergency room each year to deal with kidney stones.” Most of these stones are made up of calcium oxalate.

Last week I spoke of some of the causative factors for kidney stones.  There are four types of stones and myriad causative factors and predispositions creating them.  The four types of stones are:

  • calcium stones– These are the most common and account for ¾ of all kidney stones. They are composed of calcium oxalate.
  • uric acid stones-These are found in gout and genetic disorders. They are caused by faulty protein metabolism.
  • Struvite stones– These are found in women with frequent urinary tract infections.
  • Cystine stones– The least frequent type, they are caused by a genetic disorder.

Traditional Chinese Medicine takes into consideration a person’s lifestyle, diet and constitution when treating any medical condition. Finding the causative factors is key in effective treatment and each person is unique.  The treatment goal will be to dissolve the hard masses, drain dampness/congestion and promote the free flow of energy(chi).

Current dietary recommendations include;

1) Reduce high oxalate foods in your diet. Some of these foods include:

  • Almonds
  • Beets
  • Black beans
  • Black tea

  • Carrots
  • Cannellini beans
  • Chocolate
  • Cornmeal
  • Eggs
  • Eggplant
  • Potato chips
  • Peanuts

2) Reduce your sugar intake.  Sugar causes the body to excrete calcium.
3) Limit your consumption of alcohol.  Alcohol creates heat in the body which add to the toxicity and accumulation of wastes.

woman with back pain

It is recommended to keep your diet at 40-50 mg of oxalate a day or less for prevention of stones.

  • Limit consumption of carbonated drinks– i.e. soda, seltzer.  The bubbles are very acidic and if you are creating stones your body is too acidic.
  • Reduce animal protein consumption– rich foods are part of the problem. Recommended -3-5oz, 3-5x a week of clean, lean meat
  • Reduce consumption of eggs– they are rich and can promote dampness if eaten too often.
  • Avoid processed and refined foods– cold cuts and hot dogs contain too many chemicals that will overburden the system.
  • Reduce dairy, it creates phlegm

You’re probably wondering what to eat at this point.  It will depend on the type of kidney stones that are being produced but here is a list of things you can do:

  • Increase water consumption to about 2 liters a day, if athletic you may need more
  • Increase calcium-magnesium ratio foods;     avocado, banana, bran, brown rice, dark chocolate, lima beans, oats, potatoes, barley, coconut, cashews, rye, sesame seeds, soy
  • Get your calcium from sources other than dairy, such as kelp or broccoli
  • Add B6, magnesium, cranberries- very beneficial
  • Add foods that dissolve hard masses; crab, agar, kelp, miso, nettles, octopus, spirulina, tofu, wheat grass
  • Choose low oxalate foods; alfalfa sprouts, cauliflower, chives, cherries, boiled asparagus, chestnuts, cucumber to name a few

The most important is to be followed by a medical professional. Acupuncturists will treat someone with just oxalate stones differently than someone with oxalate and uric acid stones or someone with kidney stones and high blood pressure.

For more information refer to:

www.aprilcrowell.com/Treating Kidney Stones with Asian Medicine
and
acupunctureintegrated.com – kidney stone prevention