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

The Metal Element – Autumn

autumn brookIn autumn comes the end of the growing season.  The abundant energy and growth of summer is gone and the energy of the earth turns inward.  The leaves fall and enrich the soil, getting it ready for next year’s harvest.

Like nature, we have cycles of creating and releasing or letting go.  Holding on to what no longer serves us prevents us from moving forward gracefully.

The energy of this season promotes introspection.  What is most precious in our lives?  What is stale and outdated?  Who are we in our essence?

This is the season of the metal or air element.  The emotion of this season is grief.  When we experience loss we grieve.  The expression of grief helps to cleanse us of our sorrow.

When the metal energy is imbalanced our expression of grief is also imbalanced.  It may be extreme and ongoing or non-existent.  Either extreme will make it difficult to function, especially when trying to take deep breaths.

The two organs of the metal element are lung and large intestine. The lungs take in the crisp autumn air, the new and pure.  The large intestine eliminates waste.

When these two organs are out of balance we have symptoms of:

constipation, nasal congestion, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and stomach pain to name a few.

Our mind and spirit also suffer if we are unable to eliminate waste and take in the new and pure; symptoms such as stubbornness, depression, isolation, and negativity appear.  We see the glass as half empty.  When metal is unbalanced we’re unable to sense our value; we seek fulfillment outside ourselves.

It is important to maintain balance in every season to live our best life.  In autumn:

  • Have your energy balanced with acupressure or acupuncture.
  • Live in balance with the season- dress for the weather. Don’t overexert your energy.
  • Clean out cluttered areas of your home- desks, closets, garage, etc.
  • Focus on releasing old hurts and resentments. Try to resolve issues around these emotions and let them go. If unable to resolve these issues with the other person (persons) write them down in detail and burn the paper, “symbolically releasing the content.”
  • Walk in nature and breathe deeply.

www.5elements.com/The Five Elements: Metal

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.