Treating Headaches with Small Intestine Meridian

The function of small intestine in digestion is to separate the clear digestive fluids from the turbid, or the pure from the impure. This can also be related to our thoughts and emotions, clearing the unclear or cloudy thoughts from the right course of action. The heart meridian, which is also part of the fire element, is associated with the mind and thinking. The emotion associated with small intestine and heart meridians is happiness and joy. Imbalance in these pathways can create mania.

Balancing the small intestine meridian (energy) can be extremely helpful in treating symptoms such as tension headaches, sore throat, back pain, neck pain dizziness and earache.

The small intestine point SI #3, which is located on the outer edge of the hand (see diagram) is an important point for treating these imbalances. Small intestine points can also help clear heat from the body, as in fever.

Some foods to support the small intestine are:

  • fermented foods
  • probiotics
  • organic apples
  • raspberries
  • green beans
  • peas
  • carrots
  • celery

Avoid cold food and drinks if you are having digestive issues. If your digestion is weak your body must work harder to break down the food. This will create excess heat or inflammation.
People who have excess heat can eat tomato, eggplant, green beans, and peach.

Balancing Energy and Our Emotions

I talk a lot about the importance of balancing our energy and the different seasonal changes which can impact us both physically and emotionally. We live in a very stressful environment, especially these last two years. If we are not able to manage our stress level it can negatively impact not only our jobs but also all our relationships.

Energy work (acupressure, acupuncture, myofascial release, etc.) impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are energy beings; you only need to walk across a wool carpet and touch a metal doorknob to prove that. Our heart and brain activity can be measured by electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms. When we die it is our energy(soul) that leaves the body.

Many times, during sessions clients can reach an alpha state of mind and relax completely. When this happens, they can reset their mental and emotional state. The burden of stress is lifted, and they can resume their life renewed.

When we are in a state of emotional balance decisions and relationship challenges are easier to navigate. Excess stress impacts our immune system and everyday interactions. Living is a lot more comfortable in a balanced state.

The Emotional Aspect of Liver Meridian

In spring the earth energies are rising up and outward in powerful bursts. There is a profusion of new growth and life in the plant and animal kingdom, the weather is warmer, and we are wanting to get outside to exercise and be in nature.

This is the time of the wood element and the Liver and Gall Bladder Energies. This element is associated with new ideas, new projects, and inspiration.

Today, I want to focus on the Liver Meridian. The function of the liver is to store and regulate blood volume. It also is responsible for the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. The Liver is associated with the eyes, ligaments, and tendons and the emotion of anger and frustration.

Anger can be a great motivator when channeled correctly. When liver energy is flowing smoothly anger can be a clearing force that is dissolved into inspiration, optimism, and wisdom. If the liver energy is blocked or stagnated it can create extreme emotional states such as anger or rage. Repressed anger over time will lead to resentment. Emotions are part of being human and a healthy response, but if we are fixated on any emotion, it will create disharmony and disease.

Excessive resentment and anger create heat in the body which can rise up and cause headaches, high blood pressure, ringing in the ears, and digestive issues. It is wise to not eat when you are angry.

Liver imbalance can also create depression, irritability, frequent sighing, moodiness, lump in the throat, violet emotional outbursts, migraines, cravings for greasy fried food, shingles, and chronic fatigue.

To promote liver health and balance, it is important to have a regular bedtime (before 11 pm is best) eat leafy greens, detox cleansing periodically with liver herbs, limit or avoid alcohol, juicing, practice yoga or Qigong. It is also a good idea to have your energy balance with acupuncture or acupressure.

The Psychological Aspects of the Metal Element

The metal element, which is most active in autumn, is associated with the Lung and Large Intestine Meridians. This energy supports letting go of that which no longer serves you. It is a perfect time to clean out closets and purge attics and basements. This is also a time for reflection on progress made throughout the year and to be grateful for our accomplishments.

When our metal element is out of balance, we can have trouble letting go of past disappointments and losses and obsessively reminisce about the past. Some metal imbalance emotional symptoms are grief, sadness, low self-esteem, loss of personal boundaries, obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism, self-righteous attitude, problems with authority and intimacy, and PTSD.

Some physical symptoms of metal imbalance include

  • Sinus problems
  • Skin disorders
  • Asthma, COPD
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Lung problems
  • Large Intestine disorders
  • Lower immune functioning

The metal element is associated with our personal boundaries and self-worth. A person experiencing PTSD usually has had a violation of their personal boundaries by physical assault, war, or an environmental disaster. This affects their ability to connect with others, creating sadness and isolation.

Acupressure and acupuncture balance the physical, mental, and emotional bodies, allowing the body to return to homeostasis so it can heal itself. People with more severe imbalance would do well to seek out acupuncture since the acupuncturist can also prescribe healing herbs.

Summer and the Fire Element

fireworks in citySummer is a time of abundant energy and heat in nature. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is associated with the fire element, the color red, the emotion of joy and the heart, small intestine, triple warmer, and pericardium meridians. It is a time to exercise outdoors and enjoy the weather with friends and family.

To maintain optimum health, we need to adapt to the conditions of each season. In summer, stay cool and hydrated; drink plenty of water and fluids. Eat lighter and cooling foods such as salads and fruits and rest the hottest part of the day.

Growth, joy and spiritual awareness between the heart and mind are the focus of this season, but when our energies are out of balance, or we have trapped internal heat, it can be a very uncomfortable time of year.

In TCM, fire is known to have an ascending property and will affect the upper body with symptoms such as: throat infections, mouth sores, red eyes, etc. It can also create dry mouth, constipation, headaches, thirst, and insomnia. “Extreme emotions such as euphoria, sadness, worry, fear, and anger may also produce fire.” Each of these emotions is associated with an organ and the imbalance will affect the energy flow or organ meridian.

The organ associations are:

  • Sadness with Lung Meridian
  • Happiness with Heart Meridian
  • Worry with Spleen/ Stomach Meridian
  • Anger with Liver Meridian
  • Fear with Kidney Meridian

Acupressure can help balance the body’s energy, but anyone with a long-standing internal heat or damp issue would be better served by acupuncture. Acupuncturists can also prescribe Chinese herbs which are extremely helpful with these conditions.

The Pericardium Meridian- Summer Energy

We’ve talked about three of the energy pathways most active in summer, the fire element. The fourth pathway or organ meridian is Pericardium. Though the pericardium (the sack around the heart) is not considered an organ in western medicine, it has an important role in Chinese Medicine. The Pericardium Meridian protects the heart both physically and energetically “from damage and disruption by excessive emotions from other organs and external sources. In the Chinese system of health, extreme emotional outbursts are seen as powerful disruptors of balance and a major cause of disease.”

The Pericardium protects the heart from the emotions of anger

…from the liver, grief from the lungs and fear from the kidneys. Without the Pericardium, the heart could be damaged from strong emotional fluctuations throughout the day.

The Pericardium is paired with the Triple Warmer Meridian. It’s peak hours of activity are 7-9pm and it helps regulate the flow of blood in the major blood vessels around the heart.

The function of the Pericardium is also psychological, it rules our relationships and the emotional issues surrounding them. Pericardium energy is associated with the loving feelings related to sex. It connects the sexual energy of the kidneys with the loving feelings generated by the heart.

Some signs of Pericardium imbalance are chronic damaging relationship patterns, guarded behavior, relationship fears and inappropriate intimacy or fear of intimacy.

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 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.

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