Spring is the time of year for new growth and beginnings. In Chinese medicine each season relates to a specific organ within the body. Spring is connected with the liver and gallbladder. It is represented by the color green and is called the wood element. We can see how this makes sense with all the new growth that takes place in springtime. This is also the time of year when we start cleaning out our closets and start moving towards all those goals that we set in the winter month.
In Chinese medicine the livers function is to promote a smooth flow of energy or Qi throughout the body. So this season is really about movement and activity. So how do you know if you need a “spring tune up” or you have a liver imbalance?
1. Pain: you are experiencing daily pain, especially if the pain is felt in your neck and shoulders. This area is related to the gallbladder channel. When we have pain in our shoulders or neck it is seen as a stagnation of blood or energy in that channel. You may also get tension headaches or migraines.
2. Depression, anxiety, irritability and easily stressed or angered. The emotion of the liver is anger but can also be seen as anxiety or depression if repressed.
3. Digestive issues: bloating, sensitivities to certain foods can all be related to a liver imbalance. This is especially true if you noticed your digestive issues are worse with stress or related to stress.
4. PMS or menstrual irregularities.
5. Insomnia or trouble staying asleep. If you’re waking up at 3:00 am every morning this is a very clear sign of a liver imbalance in Chinese medicine.
6. Allergies/ chronic sinusitis. The best way to treat allergies is before they even occur.
If you answered yes to any of the above signs and symptoms, then it may be time to come into the office and have some acupuncture. Along with acupuncture there may be Chinese herbal formulas and other dietary recommendations that can help decrease your symptoms. Spring is the perfect time to get back to good health.
Over the past 10 years I have seen hundreds of patients with frequent migraines or headaches. Some are caused by hormonal shifts, or changes in barometric pressure. Others are caused by food triggers like chocolate and red wine. But most everyone can agree that stress and tension are the major contributors to the frequency of their migraines and/or headaches. Over and over again I have seen the same pattern of women and men holding tension in their neck and shoulders with the chief complaint being chronic headaches. In Chinese medicine everyone is looked at as an individual and treated as such. That means no two treatments are exactly the same. Every person that comes into our office gets a consult and an individualized treatment plan and diagnosis based on their symptoms. With that being said a majority of people see an increase in headaches with stress, tension in their neck and shoulder and being physically worn down by lack of sleep or overexertion. This is why acupuncture is so effective at treating headaches, it can address almost all of these factors. Acupuncture has been proven by research to decrease muscle tension and pain, regulate hormone levels and even effect neural activity in the brain to prevent the onset of future migraines. Recently a study was published finding that acupuncture was more effective at treating migraines than “conventional drug therapy”. Acupuncture can be used alone or as an adjunctive therapy with medication. The best part about acupuncture is there are no side effects. Acupuncture is a safe and natural way to get long lasting results for pain relief and prevention of migraines. Most people find acupuncture to be painless and very relaxing. Some even can take a quick power nap during the treatment. A treatment lasts about 60 minutes in length and may or may not include other modalities such as Chinese herbs, massage or cupping. Like many other therapies acupuncture requires a course of treatments often ranging from 6-8 visits over a months’ time. Once the migraines start to decrease in frequency and intensity we can start to taper the treatments to once a month or as needed. Lifestyle changes may need to be made such as change in diet or exercise to support your health. A couple things to remember is the longer you have been dealing with migraines (or any pain), the longer it may take for acupuncture to correct the imbalance. This does not mean that you won’t see relief right away, it just means to maintain long lasting results you will need to come in for tune ups even if you are pain free.
To health, healing and happiness!
February 19, 2015 is the first day of the Chinese new year. In China this is a 15 day celebration. Families typically take time off to spend it together and to give thanks to their ancestors. Each year is represented by 1 of 12 animals. This year is the year of the sheep (it can also be called the year of the ram or goat as they all have the same Chinese character.).
You are a sheep if you were born in the years 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, or 2015.
People born in the year of the sheep are very serene and calm. Therefore they tend to have fewer health problems. They are passive and harmonious but can get discouraged easily.
This year is predicted to be a calm year where we need to pull together and work together. The year of the sheep is a "yin" year which means its more feminine in nature. More peace, less war, more talking things out than acting in rage, working together for the greater good.
Happy New Year Friends!
Chinese medicine looks at the body as a whole. You can’t separate neck tension from back or even knee pain as everything is connected. We look at pain as an imbalance or stagnation within the body. A stagnation is simply put, a lack of movement in blood and or qi (energy) in the body. Acupuncture needles when used at specific points unlock the stagnation and increase blood and Qi flow. Correcting the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms of neck pain, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging your body to heal itself. I often hear from patients how not only did their neck pain decrease but how their digestion or sleep got better also. Neck pain is often diagnosed in Chinese medicine as an imbalance or stagnation in the GB channel. The Gallbladder channel starts at the outer part of the eye and wraps around the head, into the neck and shoulders and runs along the side of the body, ending at the little toe. This is why we may needle a point on your ankle to treat your neck pain.
TCM believes that these imbalances or stagnation can come from many different causes, such as trauma like an accident, emotions like anger, frustration or high stress, even external environmental factors like barometric pressure changes or cold damp weather. A good practitioner will determine the underlying cause of your pain and treat both the symptoms and the root cause. By treating the root cause you not only treat the neck pain but prevent it from reoccurring.
Treatment techniques include acupuncture, massage, cupping and Chinese herbal medicine. Overall, the treatment should relax and stretch the muscles, tendons and fascia. This will help release the spastic muscles, allowing the neck to naturally heal. It can even encourage an out of place disc to go back into place, depending on severity. .
It often takes a course of treatments for you to feel a lasting effect but each session will build on the next. Most people find the treatments relaxing and may even fall asleep. TCM works for acute injuries as well as chronic longstanding pain.
If you have been suffering from neck pain, give TCM a try! Traditional Chinese medicine is safe, effective and treats not just the pain but the whole body.
I'm sure everyone hates to see their child sick. For me, I immediately go into super mom mode and do everything possible to make my daughter feel well. So I thought I would share some simple basic tips I use when my daughter is not feeling well.
*As always if you child's symptoms are severe or do not improve after a couple of days, call their physician.
This being the week before Thanksgiving, I wanted to spend a moment to just talk about gratitude and being thankful for what we have in our lives. I love this quote:
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."— Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
If you haven't read either of Eckhart Tolle's books, I strongly recommend them. For me they were life changing and yet strengthening to what I had already knew within.
Here are my favorite 3 techniques to practice gratitude.
1. Every morning wake up and list 5 things you are grateful for in your life. They can be small and simple things. This way you start everyday feeling lucky! You can go a step further and before you fall asleep at night list 5 things you are grateful for. Again they can be small like "I get to sleep in my comfy bed tonight."
2. Be aware of your negative thoughts. Try putting a positive spin on them. One thing I have used is for every negative thing I say, I have to think of 3 positives. If you can see the positive in everything than you will no longer have any "bad" things in your life. This takes practice but be patient with yourself. Negative self talk is often the most hurtful. Negativity can also be contagious so surround yourself with happy people who don't bring you down.
3. Give to others. Most people enjoy making other people happy. It goes with the pay it forward idea of thinking. If you give to others, others are more likely to give back. This might not sound like a way to practice being grateful but sometimes we have to give in order to receive. You can call it karma but good things happen to people who do good things for others. I often feel good after leaving work because I know I just helped someone. This makes me grateful for my work and the life I live.
Every fall and winter I load up on soups. They are easy to make, affordable and I usually can make enough to share or store for later. Soups make great lunches in the colder months but also can be the main dish. Most recently I have become obsessed with making my own bone broths and creating ultra healthy and tasty soups. If you haven't made your own chicken stock you don't know what your missing. A bone broth is similar to making your own stock you just cook it for much longer. On average I cook chicken bones for about 24-32 hours. Beef bones I cook for even longer. Why do I cook them so long? To get all the nutrients out of the bones themselves. I recently made a beef bone broth and cooked it for almost 48 hours. I then used that broth to make a spicy kale, mushroom, sausage and potato soup. It had so much flavor and was a hit all around in my household. I like things to be nutritious but also tasty. Why are bone broths so good for you?
Bone broths are nothing new especially in the Chinese medicine community. Bone broths are used to tonify our bodies energy. When we are sick or weak, bone broth is often prescribed, but why?
Bone broths are full of minerals and nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It also contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine. All of which are good for treating arthritis, decreasing inflammation and building or supporting healthy bones and joints. When you cook the animal bones down, collagen is released from the bone marrow, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. You are getting all those healthy minerals and proteins in an easily absorbable form.
Benefits of Bone Broth
So save your chicken bones (organic free range) or beef bones and make some broth!
(Bone broth recipes will be posted soon!)
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. (413)345-0800