Tune into Spring, the Wood Element, and Heal Anger

Tune into Spring, the Wood Element, and Heal Anger

Spring is the element of WOOD and the color GREEN.

The ancient Taoists (Prounounced “dao-ists”) looked to nature to understand the human body, mind and spirit. They were philosophers and we need to be clear, Taoism is not a religion.

Spring is the Wood Element in Chinese Medicine

Spring- Wood – Green, Liver,
Liver out of balance = Anger
Liver in balance = Flow

In Western North Carolina and Western Tennessee, Yang is Rising

Let’s look around, what do you see? Trees leafing out, flowers blooming, greens pushing up? This is YANG rising. This is the start of the great in-breath – the height of which is the heat and outward orientation of summer. Yang is rising, the rivers are flowing, the birds are chirping and making nests, we all come out of hibernation.

The LIVER is the organ associated with spring. If our liver is in balance we experience free flow of qi (energy, emotions). If our liver needs some support, we may be quick to anger, snap at loved ones, or experience a low slow simmer of anger. Also, referred to Liver Qi Stagnation. I suffered with this for years. It’s true. Part of this is constitutional, meaning I have a tendency towards this, my family has a tendency, essentially – lots of – um- venting. Living in the south has been a balm to my constitution. I deeply enjoy – and have learned from- the kindness and generosity of spirit I have met in this region.

One of the solutions to opening up the free flow of liver qi is to take an aimless walk. This is for real, and it works wonders at opening up the free flow of liver qi. There is also a wonderful herbal formula called, Free and Easy Wanderer. Also, very helpful. These work wonder in conjunction with acupuncture which will support your liver and it’s reflexes. Ask your acupuncturist more about these remedies.

Healing Foods

Foods to add in to your diet are – Greens, Greens, Greens. Greens impart, light, flexible energy to us. Bitter Greens and herbs, support the liver directly. Dandelion, Broccoli Rabe, and Nettles are especially helpful. Chickweed is growing abundantly, add this to your salads or smoothies. When working with the more bitter greens, please be sure to have them with plenty of healthy fat, it cuts the bitterness and adds a nutritional punch. Health fats would include  Avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, and for those who tolerate it- bacon fat. A wonderful tincture to support the liver is Milk Thistle.

But truly, any greens- the fresher the better. These new greens that sprout up are here to help us clear away stagnation. Here is a fantastic Nettles Pesto recipe I LOVE to make with Fresh Nettles every spring. I am currently a green juice cleanse and my spirit and my body feel lighter and more upbeat.

Helpful Stones

A wonderful stone for this time of year that would support the free flow of liver qi is Amazonite. Known by the ancients as “Heaven flowing into the river stone.” It is calm, tranquil and supports us.

Here are some other thoughts to help us tune into the beauty of Spring.

  • Young plants
  • Spring fever- is Yang Rising
  • Moved by nature – Emotions, awakening
  • Nature sings, puts on a show
  • Slough away the old, the dense
  • Joyousness and Cheer
  • Tending to the garden can bring joy and connection

As we align our hearts with Nature, we arrive more deeply into balance.

How Does Acupuncture Work? 

How Does Acupuncture Work? 

Throughout our lifetime the body repeatedly encounters different levels of emotional and physical stress.  All of these stressors add up and can create strain and stress on the tissues of the body. The body will show this in a variety of ways. It may be pain, numbness, or tingling. All of these symptoms indicate blockages in the body, and it’s systems. In Chinese medicine, these systems are called meridians or the channels and their associated organs.

How Does Acupuncture Work?We think of the meridians and channels as waterways which connect all parts of the body to one another. When there’s a blockage, like a beaver dam, there are symptoms that can give us clues. Pain, numbness, tingling, and headaches are some examples. These blockages could be caused by any trauma, stress,  improper diet, and so forth. When the systems are blocked a person experiences symptoms. We can detect this by palpating the body. The organs will have indicators on the abdomen, on the neck and back. The limbs of the body (arms and legs) show blockages as well which usually manifest as joint pain and muscle pain.

How do you develop a treatment plan?

We can detect blockages using palpation of the body, listening to the patient, and discovering the primary symptom and response pattern. For example, if we are treating the shoulder, we palpate both the shoulder and the neck, which enervates the shoulder. We find tender spots around the problem area and then employ multiple methods to clear blockages. These range from massage to acupuncture, cold laser, moxibustion, cupping, and Gua sha. There are many different tools available within the scope of Chinese Medicine and Japanese acupuncture. In addition to these, in we practice martial arts trauma recovery techniques (Zheng Gu Tui na) as well as western massage therapy techniques.

What Happens During an Acupuncture Treatment?

During the initial treatment we have an in-depth interview, develop a treatment plan, and provide a first treatment. We spend twenty minutes discussing your chief complaint, as well as, any auxiliary issues, health history, relationships, etc. From there, we gather enough information to begin looking for the root of the problem.

What Happens During an Acupuncture Treatment?Let’s use the example of shoulder pain. We might start with the shoulder and work our way towards the neck. Usually, the neck and shoulder have a lot in common. We use palpation to find tender spots and then we’ll use distal points (points furthest away from the area of most pain) —maybe on the opposite arm or legs. This is to soften and relax the tender spots on the main area.

After that, we palpate the shoulder again and perhaps there is forty percent relief in the most tender spots. Once they soften little bit, we are able to find the deeper cause of pain and discomfort in there. So, we begin again, to find the deeper layers. Then, we treat adjacent points, which, are closer than the distal points. They may be on the same arm but in the elbow region. Once we treat those points, we test the shoulder again. It may now be an additional thirty percent softer, and we’ve achieved seventy percent relief using these methods.  Once we’ve gotten that far, we can go in locally and add cupping, moxa, and massage. Now you feel more space, there’s more freedom in the shoulder and we can really get at the origin of what’s going on (root cause).  Is it actually a muscle? Or is it adhesive capsulitis in the joint? We can now explore and find out.

How many treatments will I need?

How many treatments will I need?Sometimes it can be easy and take one to three treatments, and sometimes it can be more difficult. It may take five, ten, or fifteen treatments. The questions we ask here are; how long have you had the injury? Have you applied a lot ice to it?  What is your healing capacity? Are the bowel movements regular? Any problems with reflux? Issues like these can block healing. The organs can also maintain blockages to healing.  We can palpate the abdomen to find out about organ functions, listen to the pulse, and correct those. It should be noted that we work on the underlying blockages first, in order to get to the main complaint or symptomatic issue. We look at this through the lens of roots and branches. The branches are the symptoms, and we can work at the root level to treat the symptoms.

How do I choose the right acupuncturist?

Research and find three acupuncturists in your area. Give them a call and ask them three to five questions about your issue and listen to how they answer. If you like what they say, look at their website, read their bio, read their reviews and make sure they’re licensed. Licensed Acupuncturists go through rigorous education, clinic training, internships, externships, national board certification, continuing education, and state licensure. Once you’ve gathered this information, it comes down to who you’d like to work with.

We are available to speak with you over the phone to answer any questions or concerns you may have. We offer a free in-person consultation, if that is what you need. Additionally, we provide referrals to other qualified and reputable acupuncturists, holistic, and allopathic practitioners in our area. This is at the core of our patient-centered approach, we want you to find the right person to help you achieve your health goals.

How Acupuncture Helps Speed Recovery Times

How Acupuncture Helps Speed Recovery Times

How Acupuncture Helps Speed Recovery Times

Recovery is the process we go through in order to return to a healthy state. What is health? Everyone has a unique answer to this question whether you are recovering from an acute injury, a surgical procedure, or addiction and a simple answer may be the absence of a disease state. In Classical Chinese Medicine texts, the primary focus for healthy function of organs is most used and the optimal state of health is the starting point for treatment. If an organ is healthy, then these are the functions is how this concept of health is transmitted. This perception allows a more holistic understanding of a healthy, optimal function than the R.I.C.E. method of treating an ankle sprain or to take a set of pills for each symptom.

To Ice or Not to Ice

How Acupuncture Helps Speed Recovery TimesIn Chinese Medicine, there are several techniques to reduce swelling and relieve inflammation without using ice such as; emergency acupoints to move energy, kill pain, and stimulate circulation, cupping to disperse coagulating blood and fluid, and cooling herbal poultices and plasters that reduce inflammation. The truth is that while ice does contract the blood vessels in the local area to reduce swelling and cool the heat of inflammation, ice also can congeal the fluids that cause swelling. This inhibits reabsorption and delays the healing process. Why do some sprains heal quickly while others do not?  This is the question to ask when considering icing an injury. Note: If necessary, ice should be applied sparingly, less than 10 minutes per hour and only when red, hot, and swollen in the moments following the injury.   

Increase the flow

When acupuncture needles are placed in the body, a local healing response is initiated. This includes red blood cells and critical nutrients to repair the micro-trauma of the insertion. The result is natural healing mechanisms of the body are directed to cleanse and renew injured tissue.

How Acupncture Helps you Find Balance

As your body heals from any type of trauma, the return to a balanced state is the goal.  In the initial acupuncture treatment, a detailed diagnosis of the major organ systems and the human energy system is examined in order to facilitate the appropriate treatment plan. The Heart, Spleen, Lungs, Kidneys, and Liver should be assessed to ensure proper function and cooperation in order for lasting effect of treatment. This is called “ben” or root treatment and partly explains how acupuncture needles in your leg can help your neck.

Once you’ve experienced the blissful moments on the table, you can easily sense the additional stress reduction and deep relaxation that accompanies an acupuncture treatment. This effect is also a big part of the healing process which creates access to your innate healing potential, that strong emotions like worry, fear, and anxiety can block. Once acupuncture restores your body’s healing mechanism, you are able to repair the initial complaint, and also address other problems that interfere with optimum health. For these reasons, acupuncture can help speed recovery from acute trauma to major surgery and reduce the need for painkillers and unnecessary suffering.  

The Many Dimensions of the Kidney

The Many Dimensions of the Kidney

Acupuncturists understand the body as a complex system of energy systems, meridians and organs. However, when an acupuncturist talks about an organ, like the spleen, heart or kidneys, they are not referring to the physical organ that sits inside your body, but rather the energetic side of these organs. The energetic system is much bigger than just the physical organ, and governs certain functions in the body on many levels. (more…)

Going Deeper: The Kidneys

Going Deeper: The Kidneys

The kidney element in Chinese medicine governs water and is associated with the season of winter, where the energies are turning from the hotter yang months to the more yin of winter. Each organ has an element associated with it: liver and wood, stomach and earth, kidney and water, for example. There is also an emotion, a color and flavor associated with the organ system. For the kidneys, the emotion is fear, the color is dark or black and the flavor is salty. It also opens to the ear, has the direction of north and is paired with the bladder. The kidney element houses willpower and manifests in the teeth and luster of the hair.

The organs in Chinese medicine are more than just a physical representation. The organs include not only their physiological function, but also mental, emotional, spiritual and elemental qualities that align with nature and the seasons. Let’s explore the kidneys.

The kidneys are the body’s root and contain both yin and yang energies. Yin is associated with what is dark, still, cold, feminine and is inward. Yang is more outward, hot, bright, moving and masculine. The kidneys control reproduction, growth and development and are associated with bones and marrow. The kidneys are said to store jing, which is likened to essence, what you’re born with and what’s inherited from your parents.

 

There are two types of Essence:  

 

  1. Pre-natal is from your parents and can be likened to one’s basic constitution and DNA.

 

  1. Post-natal is what is transformed from the food you eat and lifestyle.

 

The second you have more control over health-wise. Ideally, there is a nice balance of kidney yin and yang energies, but if there is yin deficiency, there will be symptoms such as heat, sweating, dryness, irritability, insomnia and low back pain. If there is yang deficiency there are more cold signs such as cold extremities, cold and painful lower back, increased urinary frequency, fatigue, premature graying, water retention and low libido. There can also be an emotional component manifesting as increased phobias and anxieties. Many of the above-mentioned symptoms can be tied to the thyroid and adrenal fatigue in Western medicine.

 

How to care for your kidney this winter:

 

Keep warm: The kidneys are affected by exposure to cold. Try a nice scarf to protect your neck from the elements, and keep your feet and low back warm in those frosty winter months. Moxibustion, which is heated mugwort, is a wonderful supplement to acupuncture that warms particular acupuncture points on the body.

 

Eat warm: Foods that are beneficial to the kidneys (in moderation) tend to be dark in color such as black beans, sesame seeds, seaweed, kelp, lamb and beef. Other beneficial warming foods include ginger, cinnamon, miso soup, soybeans, walnuts, chives and Goji berries. It’s best to see your acupuncturist or other health care professional to get an idea of foods that are good for your particular constitution, as some of these foods can be harmful if taken in large amounts (kelp and seaweed, in particular). It’s also best to not eat too many cold, raw vegetables or cold smoothies. Also try to ingest food and drink at room temperature. There are wonderful herbal formulas to assist the kidneys that your acupuncturist can include in your treatment plan.

 

Light exercise: Light exercise such as tai qi, qi gong or walking has wonderful health and anti-aging benefits and won’t cause exhaustion.

 

Avoid overwork, overexertion, high stress: Overdoing it depletes your kidney energy, and you might experience ill effects of burnout that are usually associated with adrenal fatigue. Ancient Chinese medical texts also recommend curbing excessive sexual activity to keep kidney energy strong and vibrant and to increase longevity.

 

 

Meridian Point for Winter: Large Intestine 4

Meridian Point for Winter: Large Intestine 4

Large Intestine 4 is one of the most important and influential points in the entire body.

The Chinese name for Large Intestine 4 is “He Gu” meaning union valley or converging valley. The point is located on the hand in the web between the thumb and index finger, also described as the depression where the index finger and thumb bones part. This area of the hand is often described as “valley like” hence the name converging valley.

The large intestine has many important functions in the body. Connected to the Western medicine function of the large Intestine, it is vital in digestion and bowel regulation, but it also has many functions above and beyond that in Chinese medicine. The large intestine is associated with the emotions of sadness and grief, it can help build immunity as it works as a paired channel to the lung meridian and has a big effect of the flow of Qi and blood in the body.

Large Intestine 4 is a strong point for building the immune system and can be used for when someone has a cold or the flu. It can be used to treat febrile illnesses, rashes from wind or heat, allergic reactions causing rhinitis, as well as sore throat and difficulty swallowing. It is the command point of the face, nose, jaw and mouth and can be used to treat many problems associated with those. Toothaches and TMJ can be painful, but Large Intestine 4 can reduce the pain without even going near the affected areas. It is one of the main points for headaches and many people instinctively press it on their hand when they have a headache, without even realizing it is an acupuncture point. If someone has suffered a stroke, this point can help with paralysis and aid in recovery.

The large Intestine has a great effect on the flow of qi and blood in the body and Large Intestine 4 is a very strong point to get everything moving. Pain, in Chinese medicine, is often when the Qi and blood are stuck and Large Intestine 4 is critical to move this stagnation, especially when coupled with another point called Liver 3.

Coupled with Liver 3, this pair of points is called The Four Gates and together they are a powerhouse in getting the Qi and blood circulated.

They can effectively treat pain, depression, constipation, promote labor, expel retained placenta and help alleviate menstrual disorders caused by stagnation such as endometriosis.

Large Intestine 4 is contraindicated in pregnancy because it is so powerful and moving, but it can be effectively used to induce labor. Used in conjunction with another powerhouse acupuncture point Spleen 6, these two points are commonly used together to start labor, often with electroacupuncture to stimulate the points even more than needles alone.

Once labor has started, Large Intestine 4 can be used if labor is stalled or prolonged as well as used after childbirth to expel the placenta, decrease postpartum bleeding and decrease the time between childbirth and the discharge of the placenta.

Large Intestine 4 is an exceedingly influential point and one of the most commonly used points in acupuncture treatments.

It can also be effective in treating a range of emotional issues such as depression, insomnia, stress, irritability and severe PMS. This point should not be underestimated and its alternative name of Tiger’s Mouth is barely descriptive of its strength in acupuncture treatments.