Traditional Chinese medicine says aligning your diet with the seasons is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Mother Nature provides exactly what we need to be healthy. Paying attention to the fruits, vegetables and herbs that grow during different seasons in the region where you live is a great way to incorporate the philosophies of traditional Chinese medicine into your own life and access greater healing.
In the spring, TCM suggests eating cooling foods to balance out the effect of warmer temperatures outside.
TCM also suggests taking the time to be mindful about the environment and energy around you when you eat. If you are stressed out or rushing when you eat, that will affect how your body is able to process the nutrients you’re consuming. Breathe deeply, chew well and take the time to digest your food.
For more spring in your step, here are four specific foods that can support your health and wellbeing this spring.
Lemon: In traditional Chinese medicine, the organ associated with spring is the liver and the flavor associated with the liver is sour. Sour foods, like lemons, help flush toxins from the liver. Adding fresh lemon to a cup of warm water each morning is a great, simple, practice that will do wonders for your liver.
Greens: Fresh leafy greens are most plentiful during the spring, and eating them is associated with cleansing and building. The bright green color of leaves comes from chlorophyll, which is a wonderful healing agent. Any greens, but especially those darker in color, like spinach or wild greens such as dandelion greens, are very beneficial.
Asparagus: Asparagus is a finicky plant with a short growing season: spring. Make a point to catch this plant powerhouse. Asparagus is full of vitamins A, C and K as well as folate and fiber. According to TCM, asparagus builds the nourishing fluids in the body, meaning it soothes irritation and helps fertility. It also promotes healthy lungs, clearing congestion and conditions like bronchitis.
Fruits and vegetables: In general, spring is the time of year when more fruits and vegetables become available locally. Peruse your local farmer’s market or take note of any produce in the grocery store that’s labeled “local.” Incorporate these items into your diet in abundance!
Try incorporating these foods and cleansing principles with this delicious spring salad!
Asparagus, snap pea and quinoa salad
Getting enough truly restful sleep is one of the most biggest factors in staying healthy and balanced, mentally and physically. Actually sleeping enough is much easier said than done for a lot of people, though. Our busy lives can prevent us from placing a premium on sleep, and anxiety and a restless mind are commonly linked to poor sleep as well as sleep apnea.
These three suggestions for getting better sleep draw from yogic philosophy and the traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupressure. Each step is a way to calm the mind, slow down the thoughts and foster a more intentional transition to sleep at the end of each day.
1. Legs up the wall pose.
This is a very simple, restorative yoga pose that can be done anywhere you have a blank wall space. To get into the pose, sit down on the floor with one hip as close to the wall as possible. From there, lie down on your back and swing your legs above your hips, so they are supported vertically by the wall and your head is away from the wall, facing the center of the room.
Stay in this pose for as long as feels supportive, anywhere from one to 15 minutes. While you’re here, try to breathe deeply and relax into the posture. Laying with your feet above your head eases the effects of gravity on tired muscles and joints, can help lower blood pressure by increasing the flow of blood toward the heart, and signals to your body that it’s okay to fully relax. Your body also will digest all the food in your system in this position, which can also support you in getting more restful sleep.
2. Equal part breath
Equal part breath, also known as sama vritti pranayama, is a simple, calming breath practice that you will feel the effects of even if you do it for just two minutes before bed.
Sit in a comfortable position where your spine is straight above your hips. It can be helpful to prop your hips up on a blanket or pillow in this pose. You can rest your hands in your lap or anywhere that feels comfortable. Start to inhale for a count of four and then exhale for a count of four. Repeat this a few times, inhaling and exhaling for the same length of time. Then, increase the breath to a count of five. After a few rounds, you can increase to a count of six. Once you have reached a length that feels both deeper than how you normally breathe, but also sustainable, maintain that breath for as long as you want.
3. Spirit Gate acupressure point
This acupressure point is located on the inside of your wrist, in the crease directly below your pinky finger. This point is often used to alleviate stress, over-excitement, anxiety or cold-sweats, all of which can contribute to insomnia or sleep apnea.
Apply mild pressure to the point on your right wrist for one minute and then switch to the left. You can do this before bed, lying in bed before you fall asleep or in the middle of the night to support yourself in falling back to sleep
Aches, pains, fatigue, constipation, skin tags, stress, anxiety, colds, bad breath, sleep apnea, muscle soreness, etc. The list of the everyday ailments many people face is endless. And the medical profession is cashing in on all of it. Why? Because we’re programmed to believe our family doctor has a pill or procedure for everything. But that’s just not true and more importantly, how many pills are you willing to take every single day? Or how many procedures are you willing to undergo? Pills and procedures have side effects, and some can be quite harmful.
Many of the pharmaceuticals we’re now familiar with are derived from naturally-occurring substances. For instance, aspirin was originally derived from the bark of the willow tree and written about by ancient Egyptians. Now, most of the “cures” we use daily are man made in a factory somewhere, using chemicals that tend to be toxic to our bodies when used long term. But there are always alternatives.
Here are some everyday ailments and the alternative/uncommon cures that have been documented over the past few decades.
1. Muscle pain and soreness – This common affliction can be treated using cherries or cherry juice. A recent study at the University of Vermont showed drinking 12 ounces of cherry juice twice daily led to faster muscle pain relief. This is because cherries contain inflammation-fighting antioxidants that help ease muscle achiness. The juice also has a positive side effect of helping insomnia sufferers fall asleep more quickly.
2. Sleep apnea – According to the National Sleep Foundation, this ailment affects more than 18 million American adults. Sleep apnea is a disorder caused by flabby throat muscles and tends to be exacerbated by those carrying extra weight. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal listed a surprising way to decrease sleep apnea….blowing on a didgeridoo. Yup. Those long wooden trumpets used by the aborigines of Australia can actually help ward off sleep apnea by strengthening the muscles and tissues in the throat and mouth. When these muscles are strengthened, there is less chance of the tongue obstructing the airway. Obviously, this one takes some time to see results, as the muscles and tissues have to build up over several months.
3. Skin tags – These common skin growths that stick out from the surface of the skin can be large or small, flat or rounded and affect nearly three million United States citizens each year. While these little annoyances can be removed by a doctor, there is no need. Apple cider vinegar works well at removing these unsightly blemishes. By simply soaking a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and then covering the skin tag with the cotton ball and a bandage a couple of times per day, the tag will eventually dry up and fall off.
There are many different approaches to treating everyday problems and afflictions, there are even books written about the subject. While many of these “home remedies” are available for anybody to try, it is recommended to do research before taking the leap. You might be surprised how easy it is to “cure” yourself using uncommon and unconventional methods.
In 2015, the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy published research that found acupuncture is effective for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is also known as hay fever. The researchers compiled the results from 13 quality studies, which followed 2,365 participants. The various studies confirmed that acupuncture significantly lowers the antibody known as immunoglobulin E or IgE. IgE is the antibody associated with allergies and hypersensitivities. The researchers found not only was the IgE antibody lowered, but so too were the symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis. Additionally, the participants reported better quality of life.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can offer a solution to seasonal allergies that is all natural and will save you money. TCM uses an elemental system to determine where there are excesses and deficiencies in each person, allowing the treatments to be completely customized to each patient. The unique treatment plans not only make them more effective than one-size-fits-all, over-the-counter medications, they also address imbalances in each person that would not necessarily be connected to an aggravation of allergies in Western medical thought.
When using TCM to treat allergies, practitioners focus heavily on something called Wei Qi. Wei Qi is similar to the immune system in Western medicine. Wei Qi protects the body against foreign materials that can lead to inflammation and eventually allergies. People with lower immunity or Wei Qi are more susceptible to allergies and frequent colds. Acupuncture helps to boost the Wei Qi making it more difficult for allergens to attack the body.
Acupuncture by itself will make a difference in fighting allergies, but adding herbs and herbal formulas will provide the final punch to help eliminate allergies for good. Because each patient has different causes for their allergies, adding herbal formulas can greatly increase the efficacy of the acupuncture treatments by extending the effect of the needles. For example, if a patient specifically gets itchy, watery eyes when their allergies flare up, then the practitioner would likely want to draw the excess energy down. In this particular case, the patient would have an excess of fire-creating wind. The practitioner would use acupuncture points known to decrease fire and wind in the body. Then, adding herbs that do the same thing would create a one-two punch type of treatment that has longer lasting, more permanent effects.
Ultimately, acupuncture boosts the Wei Qi while decreasing the inflammatory response in your body that occurs when an allergen is encountered. The other aspect of treatment, as stated earlier, is to look at the patient as a whole versus just the symptoms, perhaps bringing other elements into balance that you might not think would have an effect on allergies. A good acupuncturist will focus on dietary habits that may be contributing. Many times a person’s Wei Qi is depleted from within due to the foods they are eating. Foods like sugar and dairy are often associated with a lower immune system. Eliminating or drastically reducing these items will allow the body to recover more quickly, making allergy attacks easier to resolve.
A comprehensive plan that includes acupuncture treatments, herbs and dietary changes will yield the best results when it comes to fighting allergies. Be sure to seek out a professional, fully trained and properly licensed acupuncturist and you will be grateful year after year for the relief they provide when it comes to treating allergies.
Migraine headaches are a bit of mystery to the medical world. This ailment tends to be poorly understood and frequently undiagnosed and undertreated. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, this neurological disease affects nearly 39 million Americans. Migraines are characterized by severe, throbbing pain usually found on only one side of the head. Migraine headaches can also be accompanied by visual disturbances, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. These types of headaches can last from four hours to several days. Because modern medicine doesn’t completely understand this neurological phenomenon, the typical treatment is somewhat hit or miss.
There is an alternative though and this alternative is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which may include acupuncture, herbal formulas, tuina massage and cupping. Because TCM is customizable to the individual, it can do much more than just relieve pain. Here are five reasons why migraine sufferers should consider getting acupuncture:
1. Acupuncture has been proven to relieve migraine pain. This is the number one reason TCM practitioners have people walk through their office doors. Pain, whether associated with migraines or not, is epidemic in the United States. Literally thousands of studies have shown acupuncture treatments can effectively relieve and reduce pain. This can be done both for acute and chronic pain. When acupuncture is coupled with tuina massage or cupping, the results can be even longer lasting.
2. Acupuncture reduces inflammation. While migraines are not completely understood, it is agreed upon by most professionals any headache involves some sort of inflammatory response by the body. Acupuncture promotes the release of vascular and immune-mediating factors that actually decrease inflammation.
3. Acupuncture can reduce serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone the body creates and many researchers, scientists and neurologists believe serotonin may be linked to the initiation of migraines. Since acupuncture can be used as preventive medicine, it can also help to balance serotonin levels on a long term basis, thus making migraines less likely to develop.
4. Acupuncture can help with the symptoms of migraines. Acupuncture and herbal formulas can treat much more than just pain, including the symptoms of migraines. Studies have shown things like nausea, dizziness and vomiting can all be reduced through the use of regular treatments. Herbal formulas can be used in between acupuncture treatments to keep the symptoms under control.
5. Acupuncture improves blood circulation. Many times, when a person experiences pain, it is because of a lack of proper blood flow and decreased oxygen. This is as true for migraines as any other type of pain. Acupuncture can improve blood circulation, which also increases the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues. Cupping on the muscles surrounding the head, neck and shoulders is another modality that can assist with this as well.
Ginseng is said to resemble a human body in shape, and it has been used for years in Asia. Recently, it has become a popular item in Western culture. Many claims about this root have been advertised, such as its reputation for extending longevity and its use for stamina and endurance. Let’s look at the types of ginseng and the differences.
There are three main types of ginseng used:
Panax Oriental Ginseng:
This ginseng is stronger than American ginseng. It is used as a general tonic, immune booster, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer herb and to calm the mind. The taste, which in Chinese medicine indicates the organ it benefits, is sweet, slightly bitter and warm. This benefits the heart, spleen and lungs. As it is calming, it also helps relieve heart palpitations and insomnia. A main function in Chinese medicine is that this root generates fluids and quenches thirst in heat conditions. Ren shen benefits the “Original Qi,” hereditary energy we are born with and can help rid exhaustion.
American ginseng nourishes the yin of the body, especially in cases of the deficiency of yin. When one is deficient in yin, there are signs of heat in the yang that has become more exuberant. This ginseng root also helps fire excess, or exuberance of yang, because it generates fluids and helps dryness, heat, thirst and fever. Its taste properties are bitter and slightly cold.
Siberian ginseng is not in the same category as the previous types mentioned. It is a weed, cheaper, and is used in Chinese medicine to help arthritis due to its benefit of dispelling cold and damp from the body, otherwise known as cold bi syndrome.
It is best to see a Chinese medical specialist or another qualified health care practitioner to get ginseng in a formula appropriate for your particular constitution, as ginseng can have serious side effects such as heart palpitations, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, high blood pressure and anxiety. Those with excess yang energy should not take ginseng. There are also possible drug interactions with ACE inhibitors, blood pressure medications, blood thinners, diabetes medications, stimulants and antidepressants. Ginseng is best used as a preventative tonic rather than a medicine, as it can prevent a pathogen from leaving the body’s “comfortable house”. Your Chinese medical specialist can assess which herb is right for you and how to include it in a formula. It is not advisable to self-diagnose and take new herbs that may harm your health.
Next time you’re in a wide open field, pasture or meadow dotted with beautiful yellow dandelions, know that these prolific little delights are not only beautiful, but packed with nutrition and offer a host of healthy benefits. Let’s explore this amazing flower.
Dandelions are known as Pu Gong Ying in pinyin and are used frequently in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The name comes from the French “dent-de-lioun,” which translates into “tooth of the lion” due to its sharp leaves. They are known to aid the liver, kidneys and gallbladder in particular. In Chinese medicine herbs are used to heal, this includes flowers, bark, roots and seeds. For example, if an herb is considered “warming,” it is given for cold conditions. An herb that is bitter would clear heat and detoxify. If an herb is sour it benefits the liver. If an herb is red it benefits the heart and blood. TCM creates herbal formulas that use a combination of different herbs to balance the formula and keep it safe.
Dandelion is considered a cold, bitter and slightly sweet herb. Its milky juice clears heat, detoxifies blood, reduces swelling and helps the early stages of a cold. Dandelion helps the liver and gallbladder by increasing bile production, and helping in cases of jaundice. Often dandelion is combined with licorice, milk thistle and fennel.
Here are some other key benefits of this flower:
It is ALSO in my favorite Coffee Alternative called Rasa which I kind of drink every day now. Full of adaptogenic herbs, that it TCM are usually longevity herbs or light tonics, it can improve energy while also strengthening your adrenals and improving your stress response. Basically - it's awesome. You can learn more by clicking HERE or you can check it out in my Portland office!
In a 2014 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of six randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trials and found acupuncture had a statistically significant, positive effect on IBS symptoms. The study found acupuncture was helpful in alleviating a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, stool state, and abdominal distention, among others.
Between 25 and 45 million people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, in the United States. Symptoms of IBS vary from person to person, but IBS is commonly characterized by intestinal pain and either diarrhea or constipation. Symptoms also vary from moderate to severe, but either way, the discomfort needs to be managed long term.
The cause of IBS is not completely known, but one hypothesis suggests it has to do with a disruption of neurotransmission between the intestines and the central nervous system.
Along with diet and lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms, some people turn to medication for support. Systematic reviews of IBS medication have shown inconsistent success, and no one drug has been found to treat all the symptoms of IBS. In light of ineffective and expensive medications, many people have started turning to acupuncture in order to address the symptoms of IBS.
Digestive disturbances are often related to inflammation of some kind, which is one of the conditions acupuncture has been proven to address very well. There are also acupuncture points specifically related to metabolism, increasing gastrointestinal muscle contraction and relaxation, reducing gastric acid secretion, regulating large intestine function and balancing stomach acidity, all of which can support balanced digestive function and support patients with IBS.
Digestive disturbances are also often related to chronic stress in a person’s life. Many acupuncture points are related to reducing stress in the body.
Lastly, digestive disturbance is also linked to people’s diet and nutrient deficiencies in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is the medical umbrella under which acupuncture falls. TCM treatments are often a combination of acupuncture, herbal tonics and exercise or movement. Chinese herbs can balance out many nutrient-deficiencies a person might be experiencing that can exacerbate IBS. TCM is a holistic philosophy that incorporates symptom relief as well as lifestyle and diet considerations to develop a well-rounded, personalized treatment plan.
IBS can be a debilitating condition, but it doesn’t have to be. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be a great alternative for managing the symptoms. If you or a loved one struggles with IBS, contact a licenced acupuncturist in your area to learn how they may be able to help you find relief.
Digestive disorders can be simple like flatulence or gas, or they can be much more serious, such as Crohn’s disease. But regardless of the severity of the disease, there is no doubt digestive disorders affect far more people than they should, especially in the United States. A recent survey reports nearly 74 percent of all Americans are living with digestive issues. Most people don’t report it to their doctors either, because they assume it is normal to have gas, bloating or abdominal pain. But these symptoms can be indicators of much more serious underlying problems.
The gut is also the “second brain” of the body. When there are problems in the gastrointestinal tract, it can manifest mentally as well as physically. The enteric nervous system, our gut/second brain, is composed of more than 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the rectum. The ENS can trigger emotional shifts experienced by those suffering from gastrointestinal issues. But what science is also discovering is that emotional problems can also trigger issues in the ENS. It’s a two-way street and if one is out of whack, then the other may be also.
There are ways we can help our gastrointestinal tract and digestion, though. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that has been around for thousands of years, and it focuses on treating the person holistically, meaning every part is addressed at once instead of individually. TCM uses modalities like acupuncture, acupressure, herbs, formulas and nutrition to treat each patient. Here are some herbs used frequently in TCM to help with digestion and gastrointestinal issues.
1. Dandelion or Pu Gong Ying: This herb has been used for millennia for liver and digestive problems. It is used specifically for its diuretic properties. Pu Gong Ying promotes healthy digestive functioning and unlike pharmaceuticals used as diuretics, this herb actually restores potassium rather than depleting it.
2. Hawthorn Berry or Shan Zha: Shan Zha is a great herb to have on hand after those big family dinners, like Thanksgiving. This herb works to remove food stagnation in the digestive tract, and it works especially well on meats and fats that are harder to digest.
3. Orange Peel or Chen Pi: One of the best herbs around for regulating the whole digestive system. It is used for spleen and stomach issues in TCM, including nausea, belching, vomiting, abdominal distention and pain. Due to its bitter flavor, it can also drain dampness that may cause loose stools.
4. Ginger or Sheng Jiang: Ginger is a great digestive herb, as well as a warming spice that helps the circulatory system. It is a natural remedy for heartburn and nausea. It also helps expel gasses from the gastrointestinal tract.
5. Peppermint: While not formerly used in TCM, it is still one of the best digestive herbs available. Peppermint can be used to relieve indigestion, soothe stomach aches and relieve diarrhea caused by colic. It is also a good addition to help treat irritable bowel syndrome.
Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from digestive issues. Ask us to find out more about these herbs. We can help you navigate the world of medicinal herbs and find the exact combination right for you.
All Acupuncture Affordable Care Act/Obamacare All Ways Wellness All Ways Wellness All Ways Well News And Updates Anti Aging Anti-Aging Archive Arthritis Car Accident Chinese Herbs Diet And Nutrition Diet And Nutrition Digestive Electro Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation Fertility Find Your Well Find Your Well Foot Reflexology Goodell Pt Healthcare Healthy Living Healthy Living Heart Health Herbs Infertility Intermittent Fasting Japanese Acupuncture Menstrual Irregularity Motor Vehicle Accident Treatment Mthfr Mva News/Updates Pain Physical Therapy Postpartum Recovery Preventative Medicine Preventative Medicine Psoriasis Psoriatic Arthritis Seasonal Stress Wellness