by Nicole Johnson, MFA, CHHC | Acupuncture, Adrenal Fatigue, Fatigue, Health and Wellness, Insomnia, Nutrition
The holiday season is upon us. With it comes shorter days, longer hours of dark and for some of us, a struggle to feel balanced. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) –produced by the reduced sunlight in the Northern hemisphere this time of year– does impact how we feel. The recent time change combined with the colder weather and gray skies might make us feel fatigued, lacking motivation, and an overall sense of feeling down. The Vitamin D produced in our bodies after exposure to sunlight, plays an important role in regulating our mood and well-being.
What can we do to improve our mood, energy, and happiness as the days get shorter and the night gets longer?
Here are 7 ways to shine your light in this season of Yin.
1. Nourish the YIN.
Be gentle with yourself this time of year. In Chinese medicine, the winter is a time to slow down, rest and sleep more. We are moving into the deeper YIN time of the year, where the element of Metal is present.
Fall: Metal, Lung, Grief
The color associated with Metal is white, the organ is the Lung, and the emotion is Grief. Regardless of how you feel overtly, there has been a tremendous amount of collective grief the past number of years. We have a lot to grieve. Honoring this, feeling this, validating this is important to our vitality. It’s OKAY and imperative to grieve and grieve well.
2. Emphasize hearty, warm and nourishing foods
This helps us stay in sync with the season, connected, and grounded. If you are sleeping more and eating a bit more, remember that this is a natural part of your body’s rhythm for this time of year.
As you may know (or suspect) Acupuncture helps regulate mood, balance hormones, and put the body into “rest and digest” mode, bringing a sense of balance & peaceful contentment. It reconnects the body, mind and spirit. Acupuncture sessions can support the lungs both physically and energetically and help you process grief.
Just as the sun breaks the horizon, go outside. Look around the sun – trace your eyes like a clock – this helps reset your circadian rhythm. Think of it as relighting your inner flame with the light of the sun. As the days get darker our light will shine brighter.
5. Try a sun lamp
They are most effective when set 20 inches from your face and used for 20-30 minutes in the morning. Sun Lamps mimic natural sunlight and give the body the impression of being out in the sun. This helps improve mood when used consistently.
6. Walk outside even when it’s cloudy
Getting outside to get some natural light even if it’s not bright and sunny in combination with exercise helps improve mood. An hour walk in the morning works wonders to elevate mood but even 10 minutes a day makes a difference.
7. Take some Vitamin D
You can test your vitamin D levels to see where you’re at. Supplement to ensure you’re getting enough. (Please check with your MD before starting any new supplements.)
In this season of Yin, shine your light.
by Nicole Johnson, MFA, CHHC | Adrenal Fatigue, Health and Wellness, Immune Health, Insomnia, Prevention
Sleep is one of the most important tools we have to support good health. And it’s free.
The bedroom is the place we go to recharge, unwind, and support deep rest.
The bedroom is a sacred space.
Look around with an unbiased eye and take note of what’s happening in your bedroom.
Is it cluttered? Are there pictures or knick-knacks that drain your energy?
Sleep is critical for our physical, mental and emotional health. It is our time to unplug, recharge, detox, and quite literally, rest. This supports a healthy immune system and a healthy nervous system.
Without quality sleep, we experience greater emotional stress, susceptibility to illness (lowered immune response), premature aging , and anxiety.
Here are 7 tips on enhancing your beauty and your health through sleep.
1. Remove the cell phone from your room. If you’re using it as an alarm clock, do yourself a favor and purchase a real one. Cell phones are always sending out and receiving a signal and this is highly disruptive to sleep.
2. Choose an alarm clock with red or orange light, not blue or green. Or go old school. The spectrum of red or orange light is much more soothing to our bodies. If you want to drop a few bucks on a super zen battery operated chime clock, check these out.
3. Sleep in the dark. Our bodies are programmed to sleep in the dark and wake with the light. Have you ever gone camping? Once the sun goes down, sleeping happens much sooner.
Buy black out curtains or simply hang extra fabric to seal out the light. Studies have shown that light while sleeping can affect hormones, mood, and ovulation in women.
4. Keep electronics away from your head. Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) disrupt our health and can trigger anxiety, restlessness, and prevent sound sleep. This includes alarm clocks (you can put this across the room or in the hallway), lamps, really anything plugged in to the wall. If you like to read at night, unplug the lamp before you settle to sleep. Some people even like to flip the circuit breaker.
5. Remove TVs, computers, stereos, and other unnecessary gadgetry from your bedroom. Studies have shown that once you turn off the TV it continues to radiate for 8 hrs. Not so good if you’re trying to rest and repair.
6. If you suffer from insomnia, try eliminating caffeine. Even a small cup of coffee at 8am could affect someone who is extra sensitive and prone to insomnia.
7. Create a nighttime ritual – 5- 30 minutes should do the trick. Here are some ideas to explore:A hot salt bath (or if your feet are hot, a cool foot bath with peppermint soap), slow yoga to meditative music, 10 deep belly breathes, or a foot rub. All of these bring your energy inward, calm the nervous system and prepare the body for sleep.
by Nicole Johnson, MFA, CHHC | Education, Fatigue, Illness, Immune Health, Insomnia, Prevention
Most people are familiar with the terms diurnal and nocturnal. Diurnal means active during the daytime, while nocturnal means active during the nighttime. Together the two make up a 24-hour cycle known as a day. But, in traditional Chinese medicine, this 24-hour cycle is viewed as much more than just a day in the life. The 24 hours of the day are viewed as increments of time and every two-hour section is associated with a specific energetic meridian that runs through the body. This is known as the Qi clock.
Do you wake up every night or every morning about the same time? Have you ever wondered why? Some people call that an internal clock. In Chinese medicine, this gives a much deeper look into how the body functions though. Chinese medical theory divides the body based upon the 12 energetic meridians. Each of the meridians is assigned a two-hour time slot. For example, the liver meridian is associated with the hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. If you wake up during this time frame, then there is an issue with your liver meridian. So knowing this information can be very important to an acupuncturist/Chinese medicine practitioner.
During a 24-hour period, your energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) moves through the organ systems in two-hour intervals. Qi draws inward to help restore the body between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. The liver cleanses the blood and performs other functions, such as getting the blood ready to travel outward into the rest of the body. Over the next 12 hours, Qi cycles through the organs that assimilate, digest and eliminate food through the body or our diurnal organs. By mid-afternoon, the body begins to slow down again in preparation for the nocturnal phase. The nocturnal phase is all about restoring and maintaining. So when one organ system is at its peak, its counterpart, on the opposite side of the clock is at its lowest point. An example is 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., which are the hours of the stomach. This is when the stomach is at its peak and also why it is recommended to eat a big breakfast. On the opposite side of the clock lies the pericardium, which is associated with the pituitary, hypothalamus and reproductive organs. The pericardium is at its weakest point between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Here’s a brief summary of the 24-hour qi cycle:
3 a.m. to 5 a.m. is lung time
5 a.m. to 7 a.m. is large intestine time
7 a.m. to 9 a.m. is stomach time
9 a.m. to 11 a.m. is spleen time
11 a.m. to 1 a.m. is heart time
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. is small intestine time
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. is urinary bladder time
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. is kidney time
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. is pericardium time
9 p.m. to 11 p.m. is triple burner time (associated with the thyroid and adrenals)
11 p.m. to 1 a.m. is gall bladder time
1 a.m. to 3 a.m. is liver time
So if you have recurring problems at the same time every day, then there is a good chance that the organ/meridian associated with that time is in distress. This is why traditional Chinese medicine practitioners ask so many questions and also why they look at the body as a whole instead of just one particular organ. By understanding that every organ/energetic meridian has a maintenance schedule to keep daily, you can then treat your body properly so you achieve the ultimate health and well-being and acupuncture can help you achieve that goal. Acupuncturists treat the body based on things like your symptomology, your pulses, your tongue and the 24-hour Qi clock indications you exhibit. The goal is to bring the body back into balance and knowing when the meridians are at their peaks and valleys is a great place to begin.
by Nicole Johnson, MFA, CHHC | Insomnia, Research
According to a study published in The International Journal of Clinical Practice there is evidence which explains a possible connection between auricular acupuncture and insomnia. The study went on to delve into the possible benefits auricular acupuncture can have on insomnia.
As it is known, acupuncture can be an extremely helpful form of treatment in regulating your sleep cycle. It can help you start sleeping peacefully again without the aid of over-the-counter sleep medications.
But, just how well does acupuncture cure major loss of sleep, such as insomnia. Clinical studies, such as this study published by the IJCP, are a way of seeing how the scientific world and the acupuncture world agree or disagree. With not much existing evidence or data on the topic of auricular acupuncture and insomnia, the researchers had to cast a wide net in order to come up with relevant information and statistics. They found mixed results. It was determined that out of the 433 relevant clinical trials studied that auricular acupuncture boasted both favorable and unfavorable results for the treatment of insomnia. Both the evidence of the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of auricular acupuncture are limited. The researchers did not deny the potential effectiveness of the treatment, but stated there should be more research done on the topic.
Photo Credits: ©iStock.com/kirin_photo, ©iStock.com/Naddiya,
by Nicole Johnson, MFA, CHHC | Insomnia, Prevention
Insomnia is a phenomenon almost everybody experiences at some point in their life. And most of us don’t know how or why it happens. Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, despite being tired. Combating insomnia may be easier than you think. Here are five simple ways to fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night.
1. Turn off your phone
In today’s society, we are almost surgically attached to our phones, iPads, laptops, etc. And while the devices keep us informed and connected, they are also harm us when it comes to our sleep. Smartphones and other gadgets emit blue wavelengths. These wavelengths suppress the production of melatonin in our bodies. Melatonin is a natural hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Also, the light given off by your devices can actually stimulate the mind, thus causing poor sleep. So as hard as it may be, buy a regular alarm clock and turn off the phone.
2. Keep a sleep schedule
Sleep is just as important to proper health as eating healthy-wholesome foods. In other words, make sleep a priority. You don’t have to give up dinner with friends or that periodic concert, but staying out late every single night will eventually take its toll. Make a sleep schedule and do your best to stick to it. Lack of sleep has been proven to increase blood pressure, depression, weight gain and stress. Why do this to yourself when you don’t have to? Once you set your sleep schedule, your body will react favorably.
How many of us groan when we hear the word “meditation”? Meditation really isn’t difficult but people constantly tell themselves it can’t be done because they can’t shut off their minds. But what most people don’t realize is the goal of meditation is not turning off your mind or your thoughts. Meditation helps you cope better while telling your sympathetic nervous system to relax. When the thoughts come in, you should acknowledge them but do not dwell on them. That’s what meditation helps you do. And there are many different types of meditation. For beginners, guided meditation tends to work best because you are listening to somebody guide you through the journey. Why not give it a try?
4. Bedtime Yoga
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that combines physical exercise, mental clarity and spiritual beliefs all rolled into one discipline. Bedtime yoga poses are very low-key and quite simple. Utilizing yoga just before going to bed can signal to your brain that slumber time is approaching. Poses such as forward bends, happy baby pose, cross-legged bends and corpse pose all have been shown to help the body prepare for restful sleep. Also for those who are a little more skilled, inversion poses like shoulder stands can help alleviate stress and calm the mind.
Really? Getting poked with needles will help me sleep better? The simple answer is YES! Acupuncture works with your own body to help bring it back into balance. If you have stress, you have an imbalance. Acupuncture needles are strategically placed on points that will calm the mind, balance hormones and settle the nervous system. Most people will notice some change after just one treatment, but to get the full effect and truly eliminate insomnia, you should commit to several treatments. And always seek out a properly trained and fully licensed acupuncturist to get the best results.
There are many other ways to fight insomnia too, but these are some of the best. Give these five methods a try and then focus on the ones that resonate with you. Over time, your body and mind will thank you and there won’t be any harsh side effects…just good sound sleep. Sweet dreams!
by Chad Johnson, MS, L.Ac | Acupuncture, Anti-Inflammatory, Digestion, Fatigue, Insomnia, Often Misdiagnosed, Pain, Pain Management
Have you been suffering with little relief?
It could be due to a tailbone injury (coccydynia). Often, these injuries are old sometimes stemming from childhood – we have forgotten about them– and they could be the literal root cause of your painful symptoms.
Back Pain and/or Spasms
When the connective tissue surrounding the tailbone is traumatized, the filum terminale may be pulled. This strand of connective tissue is connected to the dura mater which surrounds and protects the spinal cord and brain. When this is pulled, a plethora of head, neck and back pain can result. The reproductive and elimination systems can also be affected profoundly. According to Ayurvedic Medicine, the tailbone area is the center of emotional energy which in this case can also translate to psychological problems that are resistant to other treatments, including depression, obsession, and restlessness.
We use an elegant Japanese treatment protocol that produces big results. It includes gentle, painless acupuncture and moxibustion that relieves tight, tender spots, alleviates symptoms and treats at the root cause. This is often a profound healing experience.
My own experience resulted in chronic low back pain which plagued me for over a decade until I discovered this treatment. I mistakenly attributed this pain to other more recent events even though the skiing accident I had in my youth was so traumatic that I couldn’t walk normally for a full month. This painful, traumatic event’s prognosis varies depending on the patient, but can certainly be treated with success using a unique combination of KMS, APM, and Moxibustion. Call us – we can help.