Staying Healthy In Springtime

healthy in springtimeThe season of spring is fast approaching with days getting longer and glimpses of warm weather here and there. It’s time to review the recommendations of Traditional Chinese Medicine for optimum health in springtime. TCM is based on a holistic approach of man (woman) as an integral part of their environment and nature. We are greatly influenced by changes in weather both directly and indirectly and have to adapt in order to maintain good health and live harmoniously.

The practice of eating foods according to the season would help man to remain in balance with nature and adapt better to seasonal changes. When we are in harmonious balance with our environment we experience good health.

Spring is the time of year of new growth and birth in nature. It is represented by the wood element and liver and gallbladder meridians. In springtime the yang energy (chi) flows outward; we are more active with the weather getting warmer. In order to stay healthy, we need to support and replenish the yang energy.

Foods which support liver and gallbladder energy are:

  • Onions
  • leeks
  • Chinese yam
  • dates
  • wheat
  • cilantro
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • Fresh green leafy vegetables
  • sprouts

Keep consumption of frozen, raw and fried food to a minimum. We can build excessive heat in our bodies during winter by inactivity and overeating. Foods which help to clear excessive heat from the body are:
Bananas, water chestnuts, pears, celery, and cucumber.

Traditional Chinese medicine – www.shen-nong.com

Going with the Flow- The Bladder Meridian

The bladder meridian is the longest energy pathway going from the corner of the eye to the outside of the smallest toe.
ducks in the snowIt is represented by the water element and it crosses all the other meridians and greatly influences them. Physically it is responsible for storing and excreting the urinary waste fluids passed down from the kidneys but energetically it is closely related to the functions and balance of the autonomic nervous system. The bladder meridian runs the entire length of the back with two parallel branches on each side of the spine. These four branches of the bladder meridian greatly influence the sympathetic and parasympathetic functions of the autonomic nervous system. The peak hours for bladder meridian energy are between 3-5 pm. It is important to stay hydrated for optimum function of this meridian.

Imbalance in this system can create both physical and psychological symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • back pain
  • urinary problems including excessive urination and incontinence)
  • pain in the eyes
  • tearing and colds

Lack of energy, being inflexible and fearful, resisting change and negative attitude

Chinese Medicine during Winter

The winter solstice is fast approaching and with it the beginning of the winter season.  In nature, the trees and plants have pulled their energy back into their roots to survive the colder weather. The season of winter in nature is cold, damp, and inactive.  The ancient Chinese believed that in order to stay healthy humans should live in harmony with their natural surroundings.  The cold and shorter days of winter signal us to slow down, reflect on our health, conserve our strength and replenish our energy.

Winter is a time for rest and introspection.  We conserve our energy to be prepared for the burst of energy needed in the spring.  Winter is represented by the water element. The associated organs are kidney, urinary bladder, adrenal glands, ears, and hair. The emotion associated with kidney is fear.

Foods which help to support the kidney energy are:

  • Soups and Stews
  • Root vegetables
  • Beans
  • Miso and seaweed
  • Garlic and ginger
  • Black beans, black rice

Emphasize warming foods and avoid raw food as much as possible. Go to bed early, get plenty of rest, stay warm and minimize stress to stay healthy during winter.

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.

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

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.

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.

Happy Fathers Day

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.

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