(My own Journey into Traditional Chinese Medicine)
When I started my career, Traditional Chinese Medicine was about the last vocation I would have entertained. My first professional position was in engineering. After several years in manufacturing, I took a position in sales. Then a good friend experienced her first Acupuncture treatment, and insisted I try it. At the time I thought ‘there’s nothing wrong with me’, so I ignored her advice. I waited several months before scheduling a visit, more out of curiosity than need.
Words have power, yes, but to consider them ‘alive’ is quite fascinating.
Words are capable of growing, changing, spreading and influencing the world in many ways, directly and indirectly through others.
Consider the words of Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived more than 2,000 years ago. Hippocrates is credited with being the first person to believe that diseases were caused naturally, not because of superstition and gods. He is also known to have greatly advanced the systematic study of clinical medicine. Hippocrates created a pledge that reads:
Human life is sacred and that a doctor must administer aid when necessary to any person who falls ill or requires medical treatment to save their life, regardless of any underlying religious, political or even war-like status that may affect the patient at the time.
The premise of his complete statement is, essentially, one of the cornerstones of modern civilization that separates man from animal and enhances the human nature of compassion. To this day, the Hippocratic Oath has been adopted by doctors and medics on an almost global basis.
Doctors or practitioners must honor and understand the patient’s differing perspectives. This kind of therapeutic relationship emphasizes the person rather than the disease. It is patient-centered and directed toward self-healing.
It is accomplished through effective use of words.
Unfortunately, orthodox medicine rarely favors this approach, leaving patients frustrated with the outcome of their medical visit. It is a sad consequence of our current day medical and insurance system that inevitably complicates and restricts communication.
With acupuncture, and almost any complementary medicine, treatment seeks to restore individuals to their developmental potential through realigning and restoring imbalances, defects and destructive patterns. There is a particular importance to connecting effectively with people in order to promote health and well being. Words get us there.
Words have power.
Scientists uncover the power of words to effect behavioral change; well evident in the power of rhetoric of the recent election year. In other research, individuals who read words of ‘loving kindness’ showed increases in self-compassion, improved mood, and reduced anxiety.
Kindness is always an option.
At One Earth Acupuncture, listening seriously to your account of your illness, your suffering, its impact on your life and on those close to you is an important part of the therapeutic experience. It demonstrates my commitment to follow the Oath and Code of Ethics as a Licensed Acupuncturist.
The power to create change rests with each of us and with our ability to speak-up and communicate.
- I shall look upon those who are in grief, as if I myself have been struck and I shall sympathize with them deep in my heart.
- I will not give way to wishes and desires but develop first a marked attitude of compassion.
- I shall not ponder over my own fortune or misfortune and thus preserve life and have compassion for it.
- Whoever suffers from disease and illness will be looked upon with contempt by people. I shall maintain an attitude of compassion, of sympathy and of care. In no way shall arise an attitude of rejection.
- I shall treat all patients alike, whether powerful or humble, rich or poor, old or young, beautiful or ugly, resentful relatives or kind friend, foreigners, fools or wise men.
- I shall not emphasize my own reputation and belittle the rest of physicians while praising my own virtue.
- Neither dangerous mountain passes, nor time of day, neither weather conditions nor hunger, thirst nor fatigue shall keep me from helping wholeheartedly.
- Respect the rights, privacy and dignity of my patients and maintain confidentiality and professional boundaries at all times.
- Treat within my lawful scope of my practice and training and only if I am able to safely, competently and effectively do so.
- Allow my patients to fully participate in decisions related to their healthcare by documenting and keeping them informed of my treatments and outcomes.
- Accept and treat those seeking my services in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner. Render the highest quality of care and make timely referrals to other health care professionals as may be appropriate.
- Continue to advance my knowledge through education, training and collaboration with my colleagues to maintain excellence and high ethical standards in our profession.
- Support my medicine’s access to all people and its growth in the broad spectrum of U.S. health care.
- Assist in the professional development and advancement of my colleagues. Participate in activities that contribute to the betterment of my community.
As an acupuncturist, I have worked with hundreds of individuals who suffer from pain. I’ve learned that looks can be deceiving, and, until I examine and speak with patients individually I can’t really tell how much they are hurting.
Pain as a Communication Tool
We all experience physical pain and we all recover and heal from pain very differently.
Nobody likes pain, but I’ve also learned that pain is an important communication tool. Without it we lack the evidence necessary to heal very specific areas of our life.
Pain is an alert system letting us know that something is wrong. It warns us that we are near danger, approaching a personal weak point, or it signals that an organ is in trouble, pointing to some internal threat that requires attention.
There are as many causes for pain as there are ways to respond to it. Some individuals can tolerate substantial levels of pain and can push through it, while someone else is incapacitated by it.
Something very useful in getting help with your pain is to be able to tell the story of your pain.
Your descriptiveness, being able to use precise words or adjectives to describe your pain is incredibly important to any Practitioner or Physician. The more descriptive you are, the better and MORE EFFECTIVE you can be diagnosed and treated. A good Practitioner will spend time with you to listen, then ask the most appropriate, probing questions utilizing their expertise to define your condition and prescribe the best treatment plan for you.
Combining Conventional and Alternative Approaches
Conventional drugs and procedures when properly applied function as the border pieces of the pain management puzzle. Acupuncture completes the puzzle more fully because it is effective for a wide range of conditions and can help almost any problem to some degree without side effects. Acupuncture is particularly helpful for people with chronic pain or disease, or conditions that can be managed but not cured.
Neither conventional nor alternative medicine holds the single key to health. The best pain doctors apply both. Be an informed consumer when it comes to choosing the best therapy for yourself or your loved one. No matter how you integrate alternative and conventional treatment, it’s important to understand what each has to offer, the strength and weakness in both.
For example, the use of prescription opioids under a doctor’s supervision and monitoring can alleviate pain, but the CDC’s findings and recommendations suggest that there is much work to be done in ensuring proper administration and management of these drugs. Even with short-term use (30 days or less), these medications are highly addictive with many unpleasant side effects. Additionally, some patients report ‘runaway’ inflammation and pain (pain that is additional to the chief complaint) as a result of taking prescription medication.
Unfortunately, conventional medicine is often reductionist, meaning doctors often treat people as composites of physical units. They are trained that our bodies are machines, beautiful and intricate, but nevertheless machines. This in turn can have the physician working like a mechanic, fixing a single broken part. Although this approach may work well in acute crisis, it doesn’t work very well for chronic pain. This approach further excludes the mental and emotional aspect of pain that impacts our ability to live a full life.
More aggravating is that our society has changed to the mechanical, feeding into this reductionist approach; most people hold no patience and choose treatment that offers ‘a quick fix’ which often works against our best health.
The Role of Acupuncture
Our bodies need time to properly heal, especially the older we get. We know a lot at a deeper level, however most people turn away from this intuition. This is where Acupuncture is even more useful – during a session an individual has personal time to connect with his or her body at a very deep level.
Well researched and validated for many types of pain, acupuncture is increasingly becoming the pain treatment of choice because it works – it is comprehensive healing. Chinese medicine, contrary to Western/conventional medicine, does not treat symptoms, but rather seeks to find the origin of the imbalance that produced the symptoms in the first place.
Another Factor to Healing
When pain is unrelenting, it interferes with living life to its fullest. Physical pain can be the result of unresolved emotions. When you have an emotional or traumatic experience, those unresolved emotions can get trapped in your fascia, connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and organs. This is why some people cry ‘for no reason’ when they have acupuncture (this also happens with massage and yoga) because it’s a triggered response; moving qi or penetrating the fascia can release those stored emotions.
The principle of ‘Living in the Present Moment’ has purpose such that emotions and experience do not get trapped in the body (such as teachings by Eckhart Tolle).
Finally, managing the mental aspect of pain and its impact on your life and living to your fullest, is incredibly important. An example of suffering on top of pain comes from comparing your healing process to others’. Buddha teaches that while pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
Tony Robbins teaches that “while you’re in a struggling state you suffer” and you may “end suffering by learning to control your inner world – pain is felt in our bodies, while suffering is created by the mind.” “Changing situations and story-telling alters your life condition and things will improve.”
There is a preciousness of pain in the path of personal growth when you manage it properly.
In our previous post, we discussed how high levels of stress in our society create a tendency to breathe rapidly and shallowly by opening and closing the chest. Abdominal breathing for about 15 minutes each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep abdominal breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. You will feel more connected to your body and your awareness away from the worries in your head will quiet your mind.
Deep breathing requires practice. Following are some guidelines to improve your health through deep breathing.
First explore HOW you breathe, the quality and rate.
Before you try to practice deep breathing, find out how you normally breath when you are relaxed and not involved in any activity. Your normal breathing may not be the healthiest way of breathing, we all have room for improvement.
Do you breath with only your nose? Mouth?
What part of your body moves with each breath?
Do your ribs move to front, back? Does your breast bone move?
Discover what is your natural breathe without thinking and interfering.
Is your breath long, short, deep or shallow?
Quiet or make a sound?
Is your breathe comfortable or not?
What is your respiratory rate? How many breathes per minute?
Simply look at a clock or set a timer for 1 minute and count your number of breathes.
The average number of breathes for a healthy adult is 15-17 breathes per minute.
When anxious this can be up to 20 per minute.
With practice, your normal healthy breathing can slow to about 5 breathes per minute.
Your body can learn to slow down and waist less energy, and absorb oxygen more efficiently.
Start each session/practice with this basic self-awareness – don’t interfere with breath (the idea is unobstructed flow of breath creates unobstructed flow of qi). Straining to get a deep abdominal breath is counter- productive.
Sit in a chair, like a kitchen chair that is not too soft; sit erect, with legs uncrossed, back straight but not stiff and feet on the ground. Wear comfortable clothes with a loose belt, creating space and freedom in the body so breathe can flow without effort or strain. The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused. *Do not use your breathing practice as a substitute for any medical treatment or psychotherapy.
Close your eyes and relax your whole body. Hold one hand over your chest above your breast, and the other hand over your belly button. Breath in slowly through your nose. Your hand on your belly button should slowly rise, but your chest should not. When you have taken a full deep breath, hold it, count to two then slowly breathe out. Repeat a once or twice, then relax your arms, place your hands on your lap. Now you should have the feel a deep abdominal breath. Repeat the deep breathe a few times. Your mind will become more peaceful and in greater harmony with nature as you practice and become more relaxed.
Once the body experiences the pleasure of healthy, relaxed breathing, it becomes natural and habitual.
All healing traditions believe breath is life. In Chinese Medicine, developing the healing power of the breath is not a heavenly endowment, nor a matter of intuition or ritual, rather proper deep breathing can increase our supply of qi (pronounced ‘chee’). Deep breathing techniques teach us to breath in a healthier and easier fashion in order to fill our body’s vital reservoirs, even if they’ve been depleted by disease or stress. Focused breathing improves health, vitality and self-awareness by circulating qi to every internal organ. Maximizing your lung energy by focusing on deep breathing will enhance your life!
The lung is the main pump behind the action of inhalation and exhalation. Maximizing the use of this organ will assist your personal development and enhance life because the lungs ensure proper functioning of all the body’s physiological processes while also assisting the heart in blood circulation.
In Chinese Medical terms, the lung has an innate aversion to cold, to heat, to dryness, to dampness, and most of all, to fire and wind. In the presence of these kinds of ‘pernicious’ influences the lung easily loses its equilibrium. It will be inhibited in its function to circulate qi and as a result of this, normally free flowing qi will become obstructed and stagnate. Lung qi deficiency usually manifests in a proneness to colds and flu or a general sense of “being invaded” or overwhelmed by people or events. Secondary symptoms may be fatigue, disinclination to talk, or chronic presence of clear and watery phlegm.
Strong Lung qi creates a protective shield against external pathogens such as wind or cold as well as, in modern terms, viruses and bacteria.
Grief, sadness, and melancholy are associated with the lung. If one indulges in these emotional states, harm to the lung network will result and symptoms of emaciation, lack of energy, or dry skin may occur. The other way around, a low supply of lung qi can cause a gloomy state of mind. A particularly sad experience, for example, may cause a person to adopt a pessimistic attitude toward life (which is really a state of dampened qi).
High levels of stress in our society create a tendency to breathe rapidly and shallowly by opening and closing the chest. Abdominal breathing for about 15 minutes each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep abdominal breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. You will feel more connected to your body and your awareness away from the worries in your head will quiet your mind.
(End of Part 1. Part 2 will suggest breathing exercises to enhance your qi)
The Local Power Company offers ‘Worry Free’ Service on home appliances with an advertisement that reads: ‘Enjoy Life with our Protection Plan’. I like to think that acupuncture represents an analogous protection plan for worry-free health!
Stress is one of today’s biggest health problems because stress is chronic and the body’s stress response was not intended to be continuously engaged. When someone is under chronic stress, it begins to negatively affect physical and mental health. And with so many sources of stress, it is difficult to find time to relax and disengage. Everyone has stress in one form or another: work, money, health, relationship worries, and media overload.
Acupuncture can’t eliminate stress, but it can improve your body’s response to it.
New research of the human brain is providing important insight into why chronic stress affects the brain and mental health, and how early intervention can help prevent the development of certain mental health problems. This important connection has been realized for hundreds of years through Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM terms, it is the Spleen Qi that largely manages ‘worry’ in our lives. The TCM Spleen is also responsible for providing warmth and vitality to the body energy for the immune function, and mental energy that enables vigor and creativity.. The Spleen belongs to the Earth Element and its main season is late Summer and early Fall, though every seasonal transition can be considered Spleen time.
More predominantly it is the summer to fall transition when many people wonder ‘why do I feel so tired?’. Alas, their Spleen Qi may need balancing!
Periods of prolonged stress, unhealthy or irregular eating habits, cold weather, cold food, mental worry and mental over-work (such as studying for exams or spending long hours in class) can tax and damage the Spleen, causing a condition called Spleen Qi Deficiency. This condition may be further characterized by loose stools, fatigue, decreased immunity and weakened digestion, such as bloating and gas.
In order to protect the Spleen, prevent Spleen Qi Deficiency and optimize digestion, schedule regular acupuncture sessions and use the following guidelines*:
- Stimulate the Spleen: The TCM Spleen is stimulated by sweet taste, as is the pancreas, which is stimulated to release insulin by rising blood glucose levels. However, too much sweet taste will damage the Spleen over time (consider how elevated blood sugar can cause insulin resistance). Small amounts of sweeteners and cooked fruits can provide a little bit of stimulation and energy to the Spleen, aiding in digestion and mental power.
- Eat slowly and mindfully: Taking the time to properly chew food reduces the amount of work that the digestion organs must do in order to break down food. Relaxing the mind and body during meal times activates the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system, which optimizes the body’s ability to properly digest food.
- Eat frequent meals: Small, frequent meals are more easily digested than large, heavy ones. Proving the body with energy in the form of food every few hours or so prevents blood sugar crashes and weakness.
- Eat warm, cooked meals: Food that is warm and cooked decreases the work of the digestion system, which must warm up food to break it down. Precooked and warmed foods, such as soups, and stews, are more easily absorbed and create less work for the Spleen. Avoid raw, cold foods, which are more difficult to digest.
- Promote digestive fire: Having some raw ginger before or during meals or adding warming spices such as black pepper, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon to food helps increase the Spleen’s ability to digest food properly. Eating pungent foods such as onions, leeks, fennel and garlic also help increase the body’s digestive fire. Seasonal, well-cooked root vegetables such as winter squash, carrot, rutabaga, parsnip, turnip, sweet potato, yam, pumpkin, and legumes such as garbanzo beans, black beans and peas are easily digested and nurturing to the digestive system.
We all have the ability to change our relationship to stress with discipline – in both thought and physical action. Acknowledge your stress, detach from the consequences (to avoid what psychologists refer to as “catastrophic thinking”), and shift your fundamental belief by emphasizing the meaning of a life situation to give meaning to stress (instead of highlighting stress as damaging to your health). Practice mindfulness and other centering exercises: the Earth time of year is a time of centering, unity and harmony.
Feel how to disengage from your stress by balancing your body and mind using acupuncture.
*Always consult with your Acupuncturist to understand which guidelines work best for you.
Conventional western medicine usually focuses on treating problems. In Chinese Medicine, we focus on restoring balance, often by reinforcing what our body is already doing well: pouring energy into what is right with you can help you achieve new levels of wellness.
We all yearn for a moment of peace and well-being that is outside of time. This is achievable but takes practice and concentration. The quiet moments spent needled in a Community Acupuncture room can help you achieve healthy balance in body and mind because it works with your own essence, “energy wealth” and resources. In Chinese Medicine the wealth of energy that provides this source is the Kidney. In the next series of Newsletters, we will explore the Five-Organ energies and their significance to your fitness and vigor.Western physiology and anatomy limits its description of the kidney to the actual organ itself, while Chinese Medicine (CM) assigns a more profound significance. In CM, balance is expressed in broad expressions of hot-cold, dry-wet, strong-weak, excess-deficient, chronic-acute, etc., these concepts are applied both to the method of diagnosis as well as to the classification of food, medicine and treatment. These concepts are all encompassed in the concept of yin and yang (a focal point for CM) and physiologically controlled by the Kidneys.
When there is abundant Kidney Qi (pronounced chee) or essence, there will be a strong physical constitution as well as a strong innate sense of purpose and will. Such strength of will is often associated with the necessary self discipline to be able to succeed in any endeavor.
Fear, paranoia and insecurity are the negative emotions of the Kidneys. One who inappropriately exhibits these tendencies is considered to have deficient Kidney Qi. Other physical signs of decreased Kidney Qi include: low back pain, knee weakness, hearing issues, decreased libido, hair loss/premature gray, bone disorders, or maturation issues.
The fundamental principle of health and healing in CM is the concept of balance within all organ energies. In basic balance (like homeostasis) we intake energy (breath, water, food) and expend energy (activity/movement, engaging others physically and emotionally). We are OUT-of-balance when taking-in too much, not enough, or spending too much energy (as with adrenal fatigue). Furthermore, toxic and obsessive thought patterns when not properly addressed deplete our precious ‘savings account’ of Kidney Qi with unrelieved stress, improper sleep and poor nutrition. Ultimately life span is shortened when Kidney Qi is not properly balanced and cultivated.
Unhealthy habits develop in life from attempts to escape an emotion or feeling that we are unable to confront directly. Hyper-arousal is common today in many forms, most notable with social media accessible 24 hours a day. Some who appear healthy may have Kidney depletion due to excessive exercise. The phenomena of expending energy in heavy exercise, known as ‘runner’s high’ corresponds to increased production of endorphins or natural opiates that dull our ability to feel pain which compromises one’s ability to monitor full-body balance.
Moderation and the application of wise personal limits offer better balance.
So does the practice of mindfulness.
When applied to pain-relief, mindfulness is the presence to investigate where you are stuck.
Pain has a story and emotion in which many people get stuck. CM works to disinhibit Qi (to unblock and allow free-flow) thus providing pain relief. In the experience of pain, you can completely describe your story, hurt, patterns and pain quality. This experience can be intense but ultimately you are clearing blockages and balancing your source. Stable Kidney Qi allows you to live with pain like no doctor could ever tell you how to do. What you can do for yourself is POWERFUL!
You can become pain-free or in the case of chronic disease, live more comfortably.
Learn to cultivate what is good in your body and life through the experience of acupuncture.
For much more information on Kidney Qi and balance, visit One Earth Acupuncture.
The year-end holidays are supposed to provide a feeling of peace, celebration and rest. But for many people, this time of year brings much more pressure and anxiety due to financial responsibility, year-end goals, and family obligation, ritual and gift-giving
Logic tells us that we can control our anxiety by learning to be calm. Quiet contemplation and meditation are indeed useful tools, however ‘mind traps’ during times of reflection can cause some folks even MORE anxiety. Renowned author Anne Lamott says “my mind is like a bad neighborhood, I try not to go there alone.” For many, partnering with a professional in talk therapy is an effective treatment to combat anxiety, but in all cases, acupuncture adds a component that physically and psychologically strengthens the way your body works.
At a poignant time in my life someone gave me a card that read ‘Life is a Journey not a Destination’. The message remains significant not only to me, but for many who see it displayed in my office. It has been 5 years since One Earth Acupuncture LLC was established, and alas, much can be said about the journey, 250 thousand needles and 700 souls later!
The building of One Earth Acupuncture started with a peaceful, feng shui environment for people to become familiar and make use of Chinese Medicine. What it has become is a community of individuals that gather as a group to rest, balance, and heal with the use of tiny stainless steel needles.
I consider One Earth a sacred and safe space; a place to release physical and emotional pain while activating the body’s natural healing ability.
The part I play is not only applying the ancient wisdom of Chinese Medicine through Acupuncture…but I listen. Medically, it’s necessary to listen in order to properly understand one’s Chief Complaint, but what is more, listening is healing.
Every person has a story to tell.
And in this sacred/safe space, people disclose private grief and ache, that remains secret, but once spoken no longer hurts as much. It is laying down a burden.
When stress and pain remain unreleased, it stagnates and causes more pain or illness…it can be crushing and contagious. But when shared, it is reduced to a bearable load. That is why listening is healing because we are sharing the burden of stress and dispersing its stagnating affect.
It is astonishing to hear the universe respond to our needs; it plays out regularly in the Community Treatment room when there are three seniors struggling with mortality; three Dad’s managing back pain; veterans quietly managing trauma; two young mothers grieving the loss of a child…somehow people with the same burden share one room at the same moment in time, breathing, resting, healing in one space.
Have you ever pondered the healing power of the human body?
I consider wound healing miraculous. Our bodies have the incredible capacity to heal whether from a superficial cut or a great trauma. And every person has a deep intelligence and intuitive part that can always provide subtle guidance and comfort.
Be conscious about the useless chatter of today’s technologically-burdened over-connected world that distracts you from the present moment, from sleep, from dreams, from healing.
Next time you meet a friend or speak on the phone with a family member. Just listen.
And consider the hidden truth and deep intelligence of life, of the universe, of each person you meet.
Try it in nature too. It can be challenging to get to that intuitive part, but out of that deeper level you may find… who am I and what should I be.
Be vulnerable, be open, be human. Then from that deeper sense of self, an internal power brings you balance, satisfaction, and profound relief.
Find your path. Find your potential and live it. Enjoy the journey!
And don’t forget to listen.
What does it mean to live at full capacity? If you are not rising out of bed in the morning with energy, if you’re feeling tired during the day, you’re aches and pains are worsening, you’re putting on weight, or you feel like you’re aging too quickly ─ these are all signs you’re not functioning at 100 percent. Proper nutrition and balanced eating provide important strength to our whole body, like gasoline for your car; food is fuel for our body. And when we make consistently poor choices in food and eating habits, our digestive system gets blocked or clogged. In conjunction with good lifestyle choices, Acupuncture assists in getting you to feel and function at full capacity. When your body’s natural detox system becomes overloaded with stress or improper nutrition, then immune and body function decreases, presenting as fatigue, weight gain or aches and pains. The heart of preventative medicine lies in diet and nutritional therapy; eat well, exercise and reduce your stress… otherwise your immune system is impaired, leaving your body more vulnerable to germs like the flu. Because nutrition is an incredibly large topic, one should incorporate professional advice to find instruction tailored to your personal habits and patterns. Unfortunately most traditional doctors aren’t trained in diet, supplements, exercise, meditation and other therapies. So when you look for advice or information, make sure you obtain information specific to YOU. Qualified physicians and practitioners (like a Nutritionist and Acupuncturist) will take the time to hear your health goals and concerns, and use their experience and education to offer expert instruction and advice. Reading magazines, newspapers or the internet can be helpful but may ultimately misinform when it comes to your personal body type. Following are some essentials to consider for vitality:
- Healthy eating is not only about quality food, but proper eating habits. For example breakfast can be considered the most important meal because it sets your glycemic index (blood sugar) for the day. Many people eat in a hurry or choose quick and unhealthy foods, or worse, replace a meal with a liquid “shake”; this compromises your Spleen energy causing body-sluggishness, fatigue, digestive upset like gas or flatulence, and the propensity to crave sweets later in the day. Additionally, some folks choose to exercise without having properly nourished their body; the prime example is to eat breakfast AFTER their work-out – this depletes the Spleen energy, stresses tendons and ligaments leading to muscle tension and injury, diminishes blood control causing easy-bruising, and worse depletes your immune system (for which strong Spleen energy is key). Just like your automobile requires gasoline, your body needs energy from food – when the tank gets low and you run on fumes too often, you stress your whole body system causing it to break down more easily because ‘running on empty’ is not optimal function.
- When choosing dietary therapy, people with chronic sinusitis, general fatigue or digestive problems should consider immediate changes in their diet. For others, the transition should be more gradual in order to ease into a new nutrient system; sudden changes can shock or stress the body.
- In general it’s best not to eat heavy foods during an illness and when you’re in the phlegm stage (like chronic sinus congestion) it’s also good to avoid dairy and raw cold foods.
- One of the reasons the flu strikes hardest in winter is because the body naturally excretes waste more slowly this time of year, owing to extreme toxemia of your system if you are eating more junk/processed foods, exercising less (or not at all) and not managing your stress. [For those who juice: An effective flu therapy is a SHORT therapeutic fast and supplement with a potassium-rich blend of juices: carrot, celery, parsley and spinach.]
- When you’re living with depression, it’s important to know that there’s also a physiological influence to the food you consume. The chemical structure of what you eat communicates with your body, which can affect cognition, influence mood and physical body states. Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, professor of neuropsychology at the University of Southern California, says, “Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain. The more balanced you make your meals, the more balanced will be your brain functioning.”
- CLEANSES or fasting: traditionally this method was used to purify the body and clarify the mind, an honorable technique in self-purification, to rejuvenate every organ, gland, tissue and cell in your body. It has also been used to strike out toxemia, serious ailments and as preventive regimen. TODAY cleansing has been popularized with a blind belief that it always improves health or increases weight loss. The caution is that careless or uninformed cleansing can exhaust or shock an already weakened system; cleansing when you are in a healing/recovery phase (physically or emotionally) may further weaken your immune and digestive system. With cleanses one must remain properly hydrated as well as moving bowels daily to prevent toxic build-up. It is always best to have professional advice to avoid damage by prolonged cleansing or lack of body balance when normalized eating returns.
- Mother Nature offers a wonderful menu, but understand for individual dietary guidelines every person has a different metabolic type. In addition, metabolism further changes with the aging process. Most people have a balanced metabolism, but others can be either vegetarian or carnivorous. Understanding which foods help you feel best can be a matter of trial and error. If large quantities of animal protein don’t leave you feeling depleted, and if large doses of sugar and starch don’t make you nervous, then you are probably a balanced metabolizer. Remember the goal of eating is to NOURISH our body and energy system. There are countless ‘diets’ out there designed to lose weight in a short time period; but choose wisely, not all diets teach eating habits that support LONG-TERM weight management and wellness.
- Fresh and personally prepared is best! It takes careful planning to shop and prepare for ourselves and family. There are plenty of healthy-quick-preparation meals to put-together in lieu of fast-food, you just need to PLAN ahead. Any person that has dieted and lost weight and MAINTAINED the loss will tell you it takes constant attention and PLANNING. Always strive for fresh – consider this: lettuce and greens significantly lose precious nutrients and enzymes when they are cut hours in advance of eating (beware of those bagged salad mixes).
- Vitamins/Supplements – the majority of us are deficient in two ‘vitamins’: Vitamin D and Omega-3s (and potentially a third: probiotic). But buyer beware, most of the so-called ‘natural’ vitamins on sale today are in fact synthetic products or else crystallized extracts of natural products such as bran, liver, butter and citrus fruits. The extraction process requires the use of powerful chemical solvents such as ether, benzine and methyl alcohol, lead and aluminum salts and distillation at high temperatures. These processes denature the vitamin and destroy their related enzymes. Ultimately, try to rely on food as a natural source and not a pill which may be of poor quality.
“There are four basic foundations of achieving and maintaining good health,” said Bob Flaws, popular author and translator of Chinese medical texts, “These are: diet, exercise, adequate rest and relaxation, and a good mental attitude.”
A private survey brought me responses that are not surprising: family, God/religion, relationships, time, money, good health, truth, power/influence, justice, real love.
No doubt illness would have a negative influence on any person’s precious life and dreams, so I will jump to the conclusion that good health can float to the top of most people’s list.
In fact, most people ASSUME good health without taking purposeful steps to achieve it.
Choosing Chinese Medicine (CM) which includes Acupuncture is like using a power tool for human wellness. For those with chronic illness, CM brings relief and hope. For those in relatively ‘good health’, CM further keeps the immune system strong while shielding the body from detrimental effects of stress.
In an acupuncture session, the acupuncture points provide gateways to influence, redirect, increase, or decrease body’s vital substances, qi (energy) and blood, thus correcting many of the body’s imbalances, relieving or reducing most aches and pain.
When we mismanage our health, we lose power to sufficiently keep our body functioning. Little things like irregular digestion and tension in muscles can turn into more critical and more painful issues.
When we get overwhelmed with life stress, we tend to let go of things that importantly ‘feed’ our energy like creativity and socializing; things like listening to music, going to the theatre or seeing a big screen film. Note: there is a paradigm here that taxation fatigue can occur with people who have TOO much of a social life.
With advanced disregard to the body’s complete needs, one will ultimately lose power on a cellular level, inviting more permanent illness and injury.
Important questions to ask:
- How am I nurturing my body? My energy? My spirit?
- Am I making energetic investments that lack wisdom in my personal health?
- What can I do to BEST support my continued good health?
Acupuncture can help you to achieve what is IMPORTANT in life.
Other power tools for healthy living include balanced eating and movement/exercise. More on these topics to come in a later edition.