The Renewal of Spring


Although there is still snow on the ground, the air has a feeling of lightness with the coming of spring. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the time of renewal, cleansing, creating, activity, growth, and movement.

Spring is associated with the wood element and Gall Bladder and Liver Meridians. This is the perfect time to release emotions that no longer serve us; specifically, anger, resentment, frustration, and lethargy. Many people spring clean their homes; it is also desirable to clean our internal environment to create mental clarity, optimum health, and emotional wellbeing.

Today I want to focus on emotional spring-cleaning strategies. Liver Meridian is the energy pathway most active in spring. The emotions associated with Liver are anger, frustration, and resentment. The liver is also “the organ most affected by stagnant emotions and stress.” Gall Bladder the partner of Liver “is responsible for storing and excreting bile and governs decision making, planning, dreaming, inspiration, and assertiveness.”

Supporting these meridians, especially this time of year, can help to make changes to inspire a spiritual or emotional breakthrough. To aid in emotional balancing and de-stressing:

  • Get outside to exercise and meditate as much as you can.
  • Add to your exercise program or if sedentary, begin some type of physical exercise.
  • Spend time with friends.
  • Walk in nature.
  • Spring clean your home.
  • Enjoy a sauna, steam or soak to aid detoxification
  • Laugh
  • “Forgive as much and as often as you can.”

Herbs that Support a Strong Immune System

Last week I spoke about the importance of a strong immune system to prevent illness and maintain good health. To continue with that theme, there are eight herbs that Chinese Medicine considers invaluable to bring balance and boost the immune system.
They are:

  • Echinacea- anti-viral and anti-bacterial
  • Astragalus- fights stress and can improve blood count
  • Honeysuckle Forsythia- good for lungs and stomach
  • Garlic- anti-oxidant
  • Elderberry-good anti-inflammatory
  • Andrographis-fights infection
  • Ginger- antihistamine, and decongestant
  • Medicinal Mushrooms- i.e. shitake, reishi, maitake

When taking any herbs, it’s always good to consult with an acupuncturist or herbalist to get the correct formulation.

You can read more here: www.mindbodygreen.com/Essential herbs to boost immunity

Boosting the Immune System with Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, good health is associated with free-flowing energy or qi.  Every organ of the body has its own energy flow, but there are three types of qi which are most important for the immune system.  These are: wei qi, ying qi and yuan qi.

The wei qi is our outer protective energy, it circulates both inside and outside the blood vessels and protects the surface of the body from harmful pathogens which cause disease.  Keeping the skin hydrated during winter with water and lotions will prevent cracking and risk of infection.

Ying qi is the energy we derive from food.  Good nutrition is vital for a strong immune system.

Yuan qi is “a mix of energy that comes from the kidneys which activate the liquids and the essence of our blood.” It is important to get adequate rest to support kidney energy.

A strong immune system is the best defense against illness; and a healthy diet full of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables will strengthen it.

During winter, foods such as garlic, onions, ginger, and mushrooms are great diet staples. It is also important to drink plenty of water and exercise in nature to get the qi moving.  Breathing in fresh air is great for the lungs and circulation.  Exercise is also a good way to balance stress, which if prolonged is harmful to the immune system.

A qi imbalance in the body can lead to muscle pain, lethargy, high stress and a tendency to catch a cold or flu.
Keeping your energy balanced with acupressure or acupuncture helps boost the immune system.

Treating Shingles with Chinese Medicine

I have a friend who is suffering from complications from shingles, so I wanted to research what Chinese Medicine has to offer for this condition.

Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the skin surrounding it, which is caused by the same virus as chicken pox. Shingles usually occur in people over fifty but can appear at any age.

The areas of the body usually affected are the neck, upper back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and sometimes even the face or eyes. It appears with a tingling sensation followed by a painful rash which develops into itchy blisters. Many times, the symptoms can include severe nerve pain that can last long after the rash is gone.

Many people who have had chickenpox as children, may be left with the virus dormant in their nervous system. Certain conditions in later life can reactivate this virus to cause shingles.

Possible causes of this reactivation are:

  • Lowered immune system
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Conditions such as HIV, AIDS, cancer
  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments
  • Injury of the skin where the rash appears

“It is not possible to catch shingles from someone with this condition; however, you can catch chickenpox if you’ve never had it before.” The usual duration for a case of shingles is 2-4 weeks. The tingling sensation will be followed by a band of localized pain in the affected area. The continuous pain can range from dull to burning and mild to severe. Some people cannot bear to have the area touched; not even by clothing.

A rash will develop several days after the pain appears. Red spots will become itchy blisters and then dry out yellowish and flat. They may leave minor scars on the skin.

People with weakened immune systems or the elderly may experience complications due to shingles. The most common of these is Post-herpetic neuralgia which can create severe pain if the nerves are damaged. This pain may last for months or possibly years.

In Chinese Medicine, shingles is seen as an imbalance in gall bladder and liver meridians. It is considered a condition of damp, heat and wind.

If a person presents mostly symptoms of dampness, lesions will usually appear in the lower part of the body with fluid discharge from the blisters. If a person presents more with heat symptoms, the blisters will be very hot and red and the pain more severe. A person who presents mostly with a wind condition will likely have an itchy rash on the upper part of their body.

The most common acute shingles pattern is either damp-heat or wind-fire in the liver and gallbladder meridians. Damp heat in the spleen meridian is also found. These patterns can create stagnation of blood and energy, which is also a component of post-herpetic neuralgia.

The most common pattern for chronic shingles is a more deficient condition of kidney yin energy and blood along with stagnation of chi(energy) and blood.

Chinese Medicine can effectively treat shingles with acupuncture and herbs. There is no cookie cutter recipe; treatment will depend on the patient’s inner environment and energy imbalance. It is best to be treated early, but treatment during an acute case can help prevent post-herpetic neuralgia.

The frailer the person, the longer the duration of the condition or complications. The underlying condition or imbalance must be treated to avoid relapse; therefore, acupuncture can also help during late stages of shingles. Avoiding spicy, hot and fried foods and alcohol is recommended during a shingles outbreak.

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

Supporting Bladder Energy During Winter

In past blog posts, I’ve spoken about the connection between bladder meridian and back pain.  Balancing the energy of the bladder meridian will help to relax tight back muscles and promote a state of deep relaxation.

During the winter season, the energies are very strong in the kidney and bladder meridians.  It is especially important to nurture and support these energy pathways at this time.

When the bladder energy is blocked, we feel exhausted. Feelings of isolation, anxiety, and fearfulness can also occur. The desire to hide away may be present: seeing the world as an unsafe place.

The bladder energy imbalance can also appear as a totally different extreme, lack of fear or false bravado.  This behavior is based in fear and can lead to engaging in dangerous sports and activities.

Tips for supporting the bladder meridian during winter:

  • Drink plenty of water (spring or carbon filtered is recommended)
  • Use only quality salt such as Himalayan, Celtic or unprocessed sea salt
  • Eat an alkaline diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Some foods which support bladder energy are: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, mushrooms, radishes, yams, garlic, onion, seaweed, pine nuts, all beans, bone marrow, bone broth, venison, pork, chicken, bananas, blueberries, and pears.

www.fiveseasonsmedicine.com/ the bladder meridian

Bladder Meridian and Back Pain

back painI’ve spoken of the Bladder Meridian being the longest and most influential since it crosses all the other meridians.  During winter the energies are most active in Bladder and Kidney Meridians.  This is the time of the water element.  When the Bladder Meridian is out of balance both physical and emotional symptoms can occur.

Some physical symptoms associated with an imbalance in the Bladder Meridian are:

  • headaches
  • urinary problems (i.e. frequent urination, incontinence)
  • back pain
  • eye pain
  • colds

Emotional symptoms of Bladder Imbalance include: being fearful and inflexible, low energy, resisting change and a persistent negative attitude.

The Bladder Meridian is closely aligned with the autonomic nervous system because it runs down the entire length of the spine with two branches on either side of the backbone.  These four branches directly influence the sympathetic and parasympathetic trunks of the autonomic nervous system which regulate our flight or fight response and all the body’s basic functions.

In today’s stressful world many people have overly stimulated sympathetic nervous systems; creating a constant state of fear or anxiety.  Over time this anxiety tightens the muscles of the spine creating pain.  Back tension and pain can be relieved by stimulating the energy flow along the Bladder Meridian.

Opening the energy channels of the Bladder Meridian will create a state of total relaxation and switch the autonomic nervous system over to the restful parasympathetic mode. Having your energy balanced with acupressure or acupuncture will positively affect both body and mind.

 

www.natural-health-zone.com/Bladder Meridian of Peace