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Exploring the 24 Hour Qi Clock

Exploring the 24 Hour Qi Clock

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.

 

Five Ways to Alleviate Insomnia

Five Ways to Alleviate Insomnia

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.

3. Meditation

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.

5. Acupuncture

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!

Nutrition for Heart Health & Hypertension with East Asian Medicine

Nutrition for Heart Health & Hypertension with East Asian Medicine

Chinese Medicine nutritional theory combines ancient wisdom with modern science.

East Asian nutrition uses a holistic approach, which aims to balance all five flavors within most meals with one or two flavors being emphasized for therapeutic purposes. East Asian nutrition for hypertension emphasizes bitter flavors, sour flavors, and energetically-cooling foods.

Chinese Medicine theory states that bitter flavors in moderation benefit the heart — but an excess is harmful as it has a drying effect.

For example, coffee is bitter. In moderation, coffee acts as a vasodilator increasing circulation but in excess, it can raise blood pressure and has a diuretic effect. Modern scientific research has discovered while the human genome has 25 bitter taste receptors 12 of these are expressed in the human heart.

  • Examples of foods with bitter flavors include romaine lettuce, dandelion, arugula, and rye.
  • Examples of foods that combine bitter with pungency include citrus peel, radish, scallion, and white pepper.

The pungent flavor can help disperse phlegm or what we refer to as ‘dampness’ (e.g. plaque).

 

  • Foods that combine bitter with sweet include asparagus, celery, tomatoes, lettuce, quinoa, and papaya. Lemon rind is bitter and sour; vinegar is also bitter and sour.
  • Lemon rind is bitter and sour; vinegar is also bitter and sour.
Asheville Orthopedic Acupuncture Coffee

Bitter flavors have a yin, or cooling effect, clearing heat in the body while encouraging a descent of Qi, which aids in the draining of fluids.

For example, celery contains phytochemical phthalides which relaxes arterial wall tissues to increase blood flow and thereby reduce blood pressure. The fiber, magnesium, and potassium in celery also help lower blood pressure and regulate fluid balance. Caution: according to East Asian nutritional theory, those with a lot of dryness and/or bone disease should moderate their intake of bitter flavors.

A tomato a day keeps the doctor away?

The combination of lycopene, vitamins C and E, potassium, and folic acid in tomatoes makes it a powerful food for heart health. The bitter flavor of tomatoes comes from the seeds; to reap the full benefit of tomatoes eat the seeds too. Heirloom tomatoes in season have the most flavor, find the tastiest tomatoes at your farmer’s market or try growing your own. Who doesn’t love homegrown tomatoes?

 

Summer is the season of the heart according to East Asian Medicine, meaning it is the season most likely to bring our hearts out of balance if we are exposed to excess heat, which can then create and/or exacerbate internal heat.

 

During the summer East Asian Nutritional Theory recommends drinking and eating foods that cool the body and heart such as green tea, cucumbers, watermelon, and lemon.

Chrysanthemum tea is a very popular summertime tea in Asia because it is so well known for its cooling properties; it is helpful for headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, chest pain, and also fevers. You can add chrysanthemum flowers to your morning green tea and in the evening combine it with chamomile tea for extra cooling benefits!

East Asian nutrition cautions against overdoing cold foods and drinks.

Too much cold inhibits the digestive process. Drinking warm beverages and soups, as well as eating foods with a little pungency (chili pepper, garlic, ginger) causes the body to perspire slightly which naturally cools the body.

 

Those who have hypertension plus a lot of dryness: dry skin, dry eyes, dry mouth and thirst, constipation, and even hormonal deficiencies can benefit from increasing their healthy fat intake.

 

Many nutrients are fat soluble, the body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile, and vitamin D. Healthy fats nourish yin in East Asian nutritional theory. Some Americans who suffer from hypertension are also thin with an underlying yin deficiency, such as those with the onset of hypertension that coincides with menopausal symptoms. Sources of healthy fats include the following: nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, flaxseed oil, and quality fish.

Eating beans, peas, and grains are high in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and are high in choline which is vital in lowering hypertension and boosting fat metabolism. Whole grains are also a good source of niacin and vitamin E and are recommended for healthy arteries, especially those that are slightly bitter such as rye, quinoa, amaranth, and oats.

Try this Easy East Asian Nutrition Recipe for Heart Health:

5 Flavors Chickpea Salad for Healthy & Happy Heart

15 oz cooked organic chickpeas (1 can)
1/2 c cup cooked quinoa or 1 cup brown rice (warm)
4 stalks celery, minced
6-12 cherry tomatoes chopped in 1/2 or 1/4
8-12 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
2 TBSP red onion, minced

Toss with dressing made with:
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice + a little lemon zest (organic is best)
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp raw honey
1-2 garlic cloves (minced or pressed)
1/8 tsp Himalayan or Sea salt (or to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

Resources
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/04/celery-may-help-bring-your-high-blood-pressure-down/

Foster, S. R., Blank, K., Hoe, L. E. S., Behrens, M., Meyerhof, W., Peart, J. N., & Thomas, W. G. (2014). Bitter taste receptor agonists elicit G-protein-dependent negative inotropy in the murine heart. The FASEB Journal, 28(10), 4497-4508.

Kastner, Joseph, MD, L.Ac, (2009) Chinese Nutrition Therapy, Thieme, Stuttgart and New York

Pitchford, Paul (2002), Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California

Ried, K., Frank, O. R., Stocks, N. P., Fakler, P., & Sullivan, T. (2008). Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC cardiovascular disorders, 8(1), 1.

Willcox, J. K., Catignani, G. L., & Lazarus, S. (2003). Tomatoes and Cardiovascular Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 43(1), 1-18.

6 Truths About the Not-so-sweet Side of Sugar

6 Truths About the Not-so-sweet Side of Sugar

A study published by the JAMA Internal Medicine found that more than 70 percent of Americans consume more than the recommended daily amount of sugar. Sadly, most of us are addicted to sugar, which happens to be hidden in most of the foods and drinks we consume. Added sugar can cause a whole array of problems that can be short term as well as long term. If you are experiencing health problems, lowering your sugar intake may be one of your best options. Below are 6 truths about the ugly side of sweets.

 

Sugar

No nutrients

Refined sugar has no nutritional value and it is recommended to consume as little as possible. The first step in eliminating sugar is from drinks such as soda, juice and mixed alcoholic drinks. Because of the large amounts of sweetener in these drinks, it can make them very addictive and hard to quit drinking.

 

Harms your liver

Sugar can be just as damaging on your liver as alcohol and lead to fatty liver disease. When you consume too much fructose, your body becomes insulin resistant resulting in various problems that can cause disease.

 

Raises cholesterol

One study done in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that participants who ate the highest levels of added sugars showed the biggest increase in bad cholesterol levels and triglyceride blood fats and the lowest levels in the good cholesterol levels.

 

Leading cause of obesity

In America, sugar is one of the leading culprits of obesity. It is estimated that 80 percent of food products in the U.S. contain added sugar. The best way to lose weight and lower your risk of obesity is to eliminate all processed foods and drinks.

 

Bad for your teeth

It should be a no-brainer that sugar is bad for your teeth. You may remember growing up having the dentist tell you as a kid to eat less candy to prevent cavities. As an adult, we know it’s not only candy that will cause cavities, but sugar that is found in your favorite drinks and everyday foods as well. Best way to sustain healthy teeth and gums? Cut the processed and refined sugar.

 

Can lead to type 2 diabetes

When your body is consuming too much sugar, your glucose levels become too high, which can be toxic to the body. When this happens, your body has a harder time producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal. This can then lead to type 2 diabetes.

 

Sources:
http://bit.ly/1VXrUuT

http://bit.ly/1U6W5uR

http://bit.ly/1Onu7xU

Alternative Therapies for Seniors

Alternative Therapies for Seniors

May is known as Senior Citizens Month, a great time to reach out to your loved ones and check in on their health. As we age, our health needs change. It is especially important for seniors to take care of their health and do so in a way that is as natural as possible and does not require potentially harmful prescription drugs.  Traditional Chinese Medicine and other alternative practices have been proven to help aid the aging process and chronic conditions that may come with it.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a common treatment for chronic pain, which can be very beneficial for seniors. This centuries-old practice addresses the body as a whole by using specific acupuncture points to return the body back to its natural balance and relieve pain as well as other symptoms. Acupuncture treatment is non-invasive and is a great natural alternative to prescription medication.

Yoga
It can get harder to stay active as we age. We may find that our bodies just don’t move like they used to. Yoga has many health benefits and can be incorporated into your daily routine. Yoga has been proven to help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. This practice can also help keep your joints healthy and reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis.

Massage therapy
Massage therapy not only has physical health benefits but mental as well. This therapy can work to relieve pain, improve circulation and release tension. Massage is also an excellent stress reliever and can leave you feeling more relaxed and at ease.

Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a natural remedy that has been used for thousands of years. Aromatherapy involves breathing or applying essential oils to the body to help improve health. Different essential oils can have a large range of benefits. This therapy can help lower pain, increase a sense of well being and help improve sleep for patients with dementia.

Animal-assisted therapy
As we age, we sometimes need different kinds of support and companionship. Animals have been proven to help adults with dementia and decrease a sense of loneliness. Animals can also help promote physical activity, which can increase mood and overall health.

Music therapy
Music therapy has been proven to be beneficial for seniors. This non-invasive therapy can help reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis and other chronic conditions. Calming music can also be helpful for adults with dementia and reduce behavioral symptoms.