Health Well News

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Spring

Spring is generally regarded as a happy season, especially for those that live in areas where winter is cold and dark. Spring brings with it longer days, more sunshine, the rebirth of plants and more activity. But for many, the months of spring can also bring irritability, anxiety, sinus issues, allergy flare-ups and even colds.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been around for nearly 3,000 years, which gives the medical system, as a whole, a lot of credibility. TCM classifies things in many different ways. There are five seasonal associations in TCM – winter, spring, summer, late summer and fall. Each season has its own unique set of properties and associations. Spring is associated with the wood element. The wood element governs the liver and the gallbladder and their energetic pathways in TCM. The five seasons and their corresponding elements interact with one another daily, creating balance and harmony or complete chaos within the body.

The season of spring is a time of expansive movement and growth. Spring is a time of creativity and planning. Since the liver and gallbladder are associated with the tendons and are responsible for the smooth flow of energy and blood throughout the body, our daily activities should reflect this. Being more active and spending more time outside can be great ways to strengthen the liver and gallbladder energies during the months of spring. We should imitate the budding trees and flowers and allow ourselves to grow and reach for bigger and better goals during the spring.

The color green is the color of spring in TCM. During these months, fresh greens are abundant. It is highly recommended that we incorporate more fresh greens into our daily diets. Greens have been shown to be very beneficial for helping the liver do its job, detoxifying the blood. Dandelion greens, in particular, are a good source for detoxification, which ultimately strengthens the liver and gallbladder meridians.
It is also recommended to avoid excessive stimulants during the spring months. Things like coffee are considered expansive and energizing, which can be somewhat helpful during the cold winter months. But during the spring, when life is abounding, excess energy can actually be harmful to the body. It can create headaches, insomnia, anger and more.

When a person is completely balanced, transitioning from one season to another is not such a big deal. However, knowing what elemental type you are can also be very beneficial in determining how you will react to each passing season. For instance, a person who has a wood element constitution, may experience anger during the spring. This is because the wood element is already closely associated with the emotion of anger and spring brings added stimuli that can trigger fits of rage.

One way to keep the body balanced is through acupuncture and TCM. The body is designed to maintain proper balance, but we tend to not pay attention to the warning signs until we experience pain or illness. Getting regular acupuncture treatments can work as preventive medicine, providing harmony throughout every season of the year.

If you experience feelings of anxiety, anger or even self-loathing, acupuncture can help. It can also help with those seasonal allergies that might flare up. Acupuncture is a wonderful way to maintain health and balance all year long. Be sure to find a fully licensed acupuncturist in your area, so you can enjoy spring without any emotional or physical impairments.

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Ways for a Healthy Brain

The second week of March is Brain Awareness Week. This is a perfect time to explore ways to keep your noggin working and healthy. Below are easy, simple ways to keep your brain in good shape.

A healthy diet is a healthy mind

There are many reasons to keep a healthy lifestyle and feed your body with foods that make you feel and perform your best. Diets that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol and higher in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to promote brain health and protect brain cells. Taking a fish oil supplement with DHA or eating fish such as salmon can help improve brain development at any age. DHA, a type of omega-3, may also help prevent certain neurological disorders. Vitamin E and lutein can also help brain health. Incorporate leafy greens such as spinach and kale into your lunch or dinners.

Keep your brain stimulated

At any age, brain exercises are a great thing to get into the habit of. Keeping your brain stimulated can help retain your memory as you get older as well as your capability to learn new skills. The brain is never done learning. Exercises like reading, crosswords, number problems and games like sudoku can help keep your brain stay active and working. If you find yourself experiencing chronic stress, practice daily meditation for as little as five minutes a day to help reduce inflammation and support immune health, which are both controlled by the same area of the brain.

Socialize

Keeping in touch with friends and family and continuously working on building relationships helps your emotional state as well as your physical health. Surround yourself with people who challenge you, understand you and keep a positive tone. Join organizations or clubs you are interested in and make new connections. Feeling connected to others is always important for your mental wellbeing.

Quit the bad habits

If you smoke, now is never a better time to quit. Consuming an excess in substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs can lower cognitive processes and decrease overall functioning and health.

Acupuncture

In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that the spleen, kidney and heart organs all impact mental capacity and brain activity. These organs influence memory, concentration and recall. When one of these organs is experiencing deficiency or an imbalance, our brain can not function to its fullest. Acupuncture addresses the organs with specific points on the body to return the body back to balance and health.

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Spring Acupuncture Tips to Keep You Healthy, Happy and Flexible

Spring is a happy time.  Bunnies hop about.  Flowers emerge in long forgotten corners of your garden.  The birds return and sing so loudly they wake you in the morning.

This is not a time to be angry.

But according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, being angry is exactly what you can expect if you don’t balance your wood element.

In TCM, spring is represented by the element wood.  Wood represents birth and newness, the time for fresh ideas and new starts.  Unsurprisingly, its color is green like the fresh growth of spring.

Wood governs your spine, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.  A wood imbalance can lead to spinal problems, poor flexibility or arthritis.  Wood also governs your eyes.

But most important for your mood, wood governs your liver.  Your liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) and smooth flowing Qi means health and vitality.  The emotion associated with your liver is anger.  If your liver is imbalanced your Qi will be disrupted and you’ll be angry.

Healthy (and happy) spring acupuncture practices mean balancing your wood element and caring for your liver.

Healthy Spring Acupuncture Practices

Try these spring acupuncture recommendations, to keep your wood balanced and your liver healthy.

Cleanse. Cleaning your colon releases accumulated toxins, undigested food, parasites and fungi.  With a clean colon your digestion is more efficient and your body is healthier.

Detox your liver.  Reduce or eliminate alcohol or drugs that are toxic to your liver.  Consider a detox that specifically targets your liver.  Call me if you need suggestions.

Stretch. Start or recommit to a healthy stretching routine.  Try yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or other exercises that move, loosen and flex your joints.

Exercise your eyes.  Massage your face, especially around your eyes.  Roll your eyes and move them in figure 8s.  Practice focusing on distant objects and then focusing on close objects in quick succession.  Put time limits on your computer sessions.  These exercises strengthen your eyes and can improve your eyesight.

Control your anger.  Create a healthy anger management plan.  Journal, meditate or get counseling.  Put limits on stressful situations.  Find activities that refocus your anger in healthy ways.

Healthy Spring Acupuncture Diet

Follow these tips for a healthy spring diet that supports your liver.

Eat light.  Overeating taxes your liver.

Eat greens. Sprouts, wheatgrass, spinach, kale and dandelions are particularly good foods in the spring.

Eat sour? Sour is the flavor associated with spring, however sour flavors are only recommended for certain constitutions.  Instead of dousing your greens with vinegar or lemon juice dressings, consult with me to find out what flavors are best for you.

Drink milk thistle tea. Milk thistle detoxes your liver.

Season your food.  Pungent spices like basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill and bay leaf are excellent for spring cooking—and they taste good.

By keeping your wood balanced and your liver healthy you will be happy.  You’ll feel vital, flexible and clear.  If you have questions about healthy spring acupuncture practices feel free to call me for recommendations.

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