Autumn is more than just a season in Chinese Medicine. It is the time of year that resonates with the Metal Element. The Metal Element includes the Lung and Large Intestine. The Lung’s superpower is Inspiration - of physical breath and spiritual creativity. And the Large Intestine superpower is Letting Go. Autumn can be the ideal time to let go of not only physical clutter, but also mental/emotional clutter and situations in our life that are no longer serving us.
The Lung is also responsible for your immunity as the first place natural invasion takes place is through the breath. Now is a key time to focus on breathwork, meditation and immunity enhancing foods for the Metal Element, such as garlic, onions, foods that are fresh and white at their center - potatoes, cauliflower, almonds, radishes, parsnip, pear, apple, oats, rice and white peppercorn.
The Lung also manifests in the skin. So if you have any chronic skin conditions acupuncture treatment for strengthening the lung could hold the answer for you.
We can assist our skin to be as radiant as possible by looking after our internal organs which are the root cause of its health. Namely the Lung, and the Spleen. The Spleen plays a key role in digestion - the transforming and transporting of food as nourishment. The Spleen ascends moisture and pure qi upwards towards the lungs. Keeping the Spleen healthy will assist the Lungs indirectly through our diet and digestion. We can see through the quality of our skin also the state of the Spleen as if the skin is greasy and has many pimples it can show the spleen is weak in its function of controlling dampness. Healthy digestion will show on your face as a radiant complexion. Foods like asparagus, papaya, beans and turnips help to eliminate dampness, also avoid excessively cold foods like ice cream, dairy, iced drinks and raw food diets.
Yin nourishing foods in particular though will assist the lung in creating youthful radiant glow. Think of foods like goji berries, beans, dates and dandelions to name a few.
Using a jade roller on the face will boost circulation to the face and help with elimination of stagnation and toxins, making your skin brighter and more elastic. Use it from the centre of your face and roll outwards after your normal cleanse and moisturize routine.
Acupuncture facials are second to none for an immediate boost of collagen to the face, and a course of facial treatments can give phenomenal results. A facial acupuncture treatment will also be combined with body points according to your unique diagnosis to strengthen the internal organs and promote smooth flow of qi and an immense sense of wellbeing.
Acupuncture points you can self massage with acupressure are Heavenly Appearance, located behind the curve of the jaw, and LI4 located in between the thumb and first finger on the mound of muscle there.
These are some TCM recommendations and of course good hydration, exercise and sleep are imperative too.
For an easier transition into a brand-new season, give us a call, we can help.
A study, published by BioMed Central, examined the effects and benefits of acupuncture and/or homeopathy over a four year span. The patients who participated had long standing health issues, which were resistant to conventional treatments. The study worked with a health insurance company in Germany, to determine whether these treatments were actually beneficial to patients. Over 5000 patients took part in the acupuncture study; over 900 in the homeopathic study.
The objectives of this study were to measure effects, specifically:
● the quality of life before and after treatment as reported by patients,
● the change of the main symptoms as rated by doctors, and
● the number of work days lost, generated by data from the insurance company.
Doctors were asked to document the diagnosis, the application of treatment, and improvement or deterioration of the main symptom(s) every time they saw the patient. Patients were given questionnaires to fill out to establish a baseline prior to treatment, and to rate effectiveness, satisfaction, quality of life, side effects, etc, after treatment. The health insurance company provided data regarding work days lost, and days in the hospital.
The results show evidence of subjective benefits in all three outcome criteria. The doctors’ ratings of the change of complaints showed significant improvement of symptoms over the course of treatment for both acupuncture and homeopathy. This overall improvement was supported by quality-of-life data. Patients reported middle to large beneficial effects post-treatment compared to pre-treatment. The therapy seems to have resulted in a significant improvement in the perception of well-being, with patients being very satisfied with the treatment. And data from the insurance company showed the number of work days lost after treatment declined, with patients going back to their normal.
he study came to the conclusion that both acupuncture and homeopathy appear to be effective practices that satisfy and help the majority of patients. It also showed that the effects of the treatment were sizeable, clinically meaningful and stable over time.
Contact us for an appointment today.
According to the Oxford dictionary, stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” At this point in our cultural (d)evolution, I think we can all agree that simply the requirements of survival, of ‘keeping up’ in our very complex world, constitute “very demanding circumstances”. The past 20 months of living through a pandemic certainly qualify humanity on a whole as worthy of some much-needed stress relief.
In Acupuncture terms, stress can be thought of as a traffic jam, a blockage in the free flow of energy. This can be caused by external or internal forces. The Liver is the main organ in charge of processing stress and maintaining the healthy circulation of qi and blood in the body. Other Organs are also involved in the stress response in part because they hold emotional energies. While the Liver is mostly associated with the feeling of anger and frustration, the Spleen holds worry, and the Kidneys fear. These emotions are all natural and expected in certain amounts, but if healthy expression is restricted by stagnation, it can stir up or exacerbate stress.
Acupuncture is a powerful tool that serves to redirect traffic. Point locations are chosen based on each person’s unique pattern in order to bring their individual system back into an open flowing state. From a Western medicine standpoint, Acupuncture can help us shift from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic state (from fight or flight to rest and digest). It has been shown to increase our natural painkillers and other happy hormones such as serotonin and dopamine while decreasing cortisol, our main stress hormone. It is also associated with enhanced reception of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that tells our mind and body to relax. The other major stress-relieving power of acupuncture is its ability to increase heart rate variability, which is basically our flexibility in responding to and recovering from stress.
What kind of stress-relief you can expect from acupuncture:
While it won’t necessarily solve the world’s problems (at least not immediately), it will:
● Decrease the severity of the stress response
● Shorten the recovery time from stress
● Provide an opportunity to rest, sleep or meditate comfortably, usually in a peaceful environment
● Occasionally stimulate the release of previously obstructed emotions which often results in a feeling of ‘lightening the load’
● Help to relieve physical pain that contributes to stress levels
● Generate a sense of well-being
It is very common to leave the acupuncture office feeling much more at ease and at peace than when you arrived.
In between acupuncture sessions, it is important to find ways to limit exposure to environmental toxins and external sources of stress while developing better coping skills through healthy communication and practices such as breathwork and meditation. Exercises like tai chi and qi gong can help to keep energy pathways open and flowing to reduce internal tendencies toward stagnation. A point commonly used to support the Liver function of maintaining a smooth flow of qi is known as Tai Chong (LV 3) which translates to ‘great surge’. You can find it on the top of the foot in the depression between the meeting place of the first 2 toe bones. When feeling stressed, try to remember to take a moment to breathe into the abdomen, and massage this point if accessible until you feel a sense of calm begin to replace the tension.
Your local acupuncture office can be an oasis of stress relief in a busy and challenging world.
While the stress of daily life can leave us feeling worn out, going for an acupuncture treatment is an act of self-care and thus an act of empowerment. Call us today and set up your next stress-relieving session!
The winter solstice this year falls on a Tuesday, 10:58 am Eastern time to be exact, on December 21st. This is a magical moment in terms of Chinese Medicine’s view of seasonal rhythms. It is the exact time when yin, the dark aspect of the yin-yang (tai ji) symbol, reaches its peak, and the spark of yang is born again. It’s a time when we honor the darkness while celebrating the coming of the light. The word solstice means ‘sun stand still’, marking the time when the sun reaches either its highest or lowest point in the sky (depending on the hemisphere) and, to ancient astronomers, appeared to stand still. To those of us in the Northern hemisphere, December 21st will be the shortest day of the year and the longest night.
Many cultures have historically celebrated this time. (The ancient pagan yule season was a solstice ritual that helped to inspire Christmas traditions.) In China, they have a festival dating back to 200 BC called Dongzhi ,meaning “winter’s extreme”. Families gather to enjoy nourishing foods that support and stimulate the yang energy in the body.
In Chinese Medicine, winter is the season of the kidneys. The kidneys are our source of ‘prenatal qi’ which we inherit from our parents. This prenatal qi corresponds with our genetics and is therefore a vital connection to our ancestors. An integral part of the Dong Zhi celebration is remembering and honoring our ancestors.
Kidneys are also considered the source of all our energy, the storage for our essence, our constitutional strength. Careful conservation of this energy helps to ensure health and longevity. Getting adequate sleep is critical in this kidney essence conservation effort. While we sleep we give our bodies time to detox, repair and replenish. It is basically a time to recharge our batteries. And in order to prevent burnout, we must also adjust our sleep patterns to fit the season.
When we are in the season of extreme yin, exemplified by short days and long nights, nature is reminding us to follow suit with our daily sleeping and waking rhythms. Night time in winter is longer and when we align with the seasonal energy we naturally get to bed earlier and wake later and use that extra yin time for rest which is what winter is all about. Ironically, our current western traditions around the solstice have evolved to become a very hectic time so it’s important to check in with yourself, set boundaries and make sure to get the downtime that seasonal change is encouraging.
Dec 21st marks the beginning of winter and is the moment of extreme yin, but it also marks earth's movement towards increasing light. From this day forth there will be more daylight each day. The yang within yin is also the life under the frosted ground, the seeds that prepare themselves to burst forth in spring. Seeds represent the potential for manifestation, so this is also a time to look inward to find our potential, overcome fears and recognize the opportunity for hope and renewal. The ancient Taoists honored the mysterious blending of yin and yang at the exact moment of the solstice as a transitional moment of perfect harmony and reconciliation. They saw this as an opening, a chance for new ideas and creational energy, a time for conception.
While caught up in the rush of the holidays, take time to consider the shifting seasonal energies. Take inspiration from the Chinese Dongzhi festival and eat yang nourishing foods (soups and stews, bone broths, shrimp, walnuts, black beans and kidney beans, and warming spices like cinnamon and ginger), remember and pay homage to your ancestors, sleep like a bear, and create your own rituals to birth ideas. Remember your potential and generate hopeful visions for the future.
Schedule your next acupuncture session around the solstice to assist your own magical transition. Acupuncture can help fortify your kidneys, and support the seasonal surge of yin while you nurture your seeds of yang!
The gift that keeps on giving…is it diamonds? A Kodak camera? The Jelly of the month club?
No, it’s the gift of good health. Health is the gift that offers the recipient their best chance at enjoying life. Health confers energy, freedom, the ability to embrace the fullness of our existence and conquer challenges. Before reviewing some ways to obtain, maintain and of course give the gift of health, it is important to understand what exactly it is.
While Western Medicine mainly views health as the absence of disease, many of us have come to realize it is an interdependent state of balance. In simple Chinese Medical terms: Health is harmony with nature. Inherent in that philosophy is the understanding that we, as humans, are a part of nature. We belong to a dynamic web of life that invites us to re-connect and enjoy the benefits of homeostasis.
So here are 3 easy ways to give (and receive!) the gift that keeps on giving:
Hydrate: First thing in the morning, drink some warm water, and bring a glass to your loved one! The body goes through a detox process overnight and the water helps to flush out toxins. It also helps hydrate the digestive tract for the smooth intake of food throughout the day. Water also cushions your joints and tissues. Optimal water intake has been found to be around 2.5-3.5 liters per day. A good rule of thumb is to check your urine color, make sure it’s in that goldilocks zone: not too dark, not too light. It sometimes helps to remind ourselves that we are creatures of nature who require basic elements (like water!) for survival, elements we can forget when caught up in our technology-focused culture.
Eat Healthy: While the words “healthy diet” can stir up a lot of confusion when it comes to the latest trends in nutritional lifestyles: keto, paleo, vegan, carnivore, intermittent fasting etc., don’t feel overwhelmed. Remember sometimes the simplest adjustments can make the biggest difference. The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to eat healthier is to cut out artificial food. Recent studies confirm this common sense approach. Again, think of yourself as a creature of nature. Your body knows how to process food found in nature, not ones created in a lab. So read the ingredients and make sure you recognize them. Shop the perimeter at the grocery store and, as much as possible, try to avoid filling your cart with boxes, bags and jars from the middle aisles. When your fridge and cabinets are stocked with foods direct from the source (that source being, you guessed it, …nature), you will be more likely to cook something healthy and delicious for you and your loved ones!
Get out in Nature: What better way to get back into harmony with nature than to actually BE in nature?! This is also a (clever) way to cover a few more health-boosting tips in one. Just taking a walk in nature counts as exercise. It also usually stimulates deeper breathing (picture yourself in a natural setting with beautiful scenery, what’s the first thing that you do? Take in the view with a deep breath? Me too). The quiet moments often afforded by time in nature are an important step towards meditation, which, in itself, is one of the best things we can do for our health, the benefits of which would take up much more than this article can cover. So, for the sake of brevity, let’s get back to nature. A 2020 study based on 20,000 participants shows significant health benefits with a threshold of at least 2 hours per week in nature. Can’t get out in nature? Then bring some to you! Simply having a plant in your room has been shown to lower stress, and boost recovery from illness in hospital rooms. So invite a friend for a hike, or put a pretty bow on a lovely house plant for someone you know who could use it!
Bonus Tip: Get Acupuncture! Acupuncture is one of the best tools for re-balancing our energy and harmonizing with the rhythms of nature. It is useful for the prevention and treatment of disease as well as the maintenance of good health. Schedule your appointment today and remember acupuncture gift certificates are another great way to give the gift that keeps on giving!
According to Eastern Medicine thought, there are many paths up a mountain. In this article we will be discussing headaches and how both Eastern and Westerin medicine view headaches. The Western (aka Biomedical) approach is reductionist and relies on empirical observation and symptom differential. The Eastern approach is dynamic, holistic, personalized and also relies on a symptom differential. However, that process looks quite different from the conventional approach. Here we discuss both approaches and how they differ.
How does a Western Medicine Clinician View, Evaluate and Treat Headaches?
According to conventional western medicine, a headache is quite simply defined as the experience of pain in the upper neck, head or face. According to Western Medicine, the most common types of headaches are vascular (think migraines), or involve muscle tension and stress.
Primary and Secondary Type Headaches
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two classifications of headaches, primary and secondary. In primary headaches, there is no identifiable underlying disease process that is the cause. Primary headaches are most common and are categorized as migraines, migraines with aura, tension and cluster headaches. Here we will briefly discuss the two most common primary headaches, tension and migraine.
Primary headaches are mainly due to lifestyle factors that trigger the headache. Examples include stressful events, poor sleep, poor posture, specific foods, skipping meals, alcohol, hormonal fluctuations, certain smells or bright lights.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. These account for 90% of all headaches and are usually felt on both sides of the head and can affect the eyes, scalp, neck as well as the head. Tension headaches are most commonly caused by chronic stress or a stressful event.
Secondary headaches are caused by an underlying disease process or illness. The list of causes is extensive but includes such things as sinus infections, influenza, infections, dental problems, glaucoma, hangovers, etc....
A Western doctor will classify your headache as primary or secondary by assessing your symptoms and by doing a medical exam. If necessary, you may need blood tests or an image of the head or neck. However, primary-type headaches are most common and usually do not require more than an in-office exam.
Western Treatment of Headaches
Treatment is determined based on your diagnosis. However, most people with primary headaches will be given over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or NSAIDs like Ibuprofen.
If the headache is a migraine, treatment may include a prescription medication used specifically for migraines. The most likely scenario is that you will leave your clinician’s office with some advice to rest and a prescription of some kind.
How does an Eastern Medicine Doctor View, Evaluate and Treat Headaches?
According to Eastern Medicine Clinicians, a headache is a manifestation of a symptom, in this case pain, caused by an internal imbalance, known as the root cause. Just like in Western medicine where headaches are categorized as primary or secondary, in Eastern thought, the cause is also categorized but in a very different way. The clinician will assess whether the pain is due to an internal imbalance or due to an external influence like an infection.
Most patients who have headaches due to an internal balance will be assessed for the type of imbalance by checking the patient’s pulse, respiratory rate, color and quality of their complexion, their tongue color and coat. The patient will also be asked about the onset, time, location and character of the pain.
Through this lens, the clinician looks for a pattern unique to the individual to assess what type of imbalance is causing the headache. This differentiation establishes whether the person has imbalance from a state of excess or a state of deficiency somewhere in the body. This means the patient may have an accumulation of too much energy stuck in their body or it could mean they are low in energy and need some kind of tonifying treatment to relieve their headache.
Excess headaches include symptoms like sharp or throbbing pain in the temples or behind the eyes, a feeling of cotton or wool inside the head, sharp pain or feeling of heat in the head or face, feelings of nausea or chest oppression. Deficiency headaches are usually dull rather than sharp, involve the whole head, and are relieved by rest or eating.
In a nutshell, the Eastern clinician is looking for patterns unique to the individual. After a pattern has been established, a diagnosis can be made and that is how treatment is decided.
What are your treatment options in Eastern Medicine?
There are several options for treatment in the Eastern Medicine clinician’s toolbox. This may range from nutrition advice, Qi Gong, stretching, stress-reducing techniques, meditation or simple exercises.
The patient’s stress levels and environment will be assessed along with treatment of the underlying internal imbalance. The patient will have their history and current lifestyle considered in context with their symptoms.
The primary tools used inside the Eastern clinician’s office are high-quality traditional botanical medicines, acupuncture or acupressure. In many instances, a simple trip for an acupuncture treatment can eliminate a tension headache or migraine in one session. Other times, it takes a few treatments as the underlying pattern is addressed. Patients will often come in for preventative treatment so that they can remain headache-free.
For people with psoriasis, suffering from painful symptoms like inflamed, flaking and red skin is not pleasant. The chronic skin condition is due to an overactive immune system that can be triggered by a number of internal and external factors. Many Western treatments include steroid creams and oral medications that come with a slew of unwanted side effects.
Below are alternative treatments that are safe and natural and can help reduce symptoms of psoriasis, leading you back to better health.
1. Herbal Remedies
● Aloe Vera: The gel from this cactus plant can be used generously on your skin to reduce redness and scaling caused by psoriasis. Aloe vera can be found in almost any grocery or health store.
● Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is thought to have antiseptic properties. It can sooth irritated skin or scalp and can be applied daily.
● Turmeric: Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Because of this, turmeric has been found to reduce psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis flares. Turmeric can be found in pill form as well as powder form to be added to food.
● Dead Sea Salts: Soaking in a bath with Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts can remove scaly skin and reduce itching. It is recommended that you use warm water and stay in the tub for 15 minutes.
Mindfulness and meditation practices have been found to be effective in people suffering with chronic pain like psoriasis.
Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention on the moment and ridding yourself of all external thoughts you may be having. This can lead to a state of relaxation and calmness, bringing balance to your body and mind.
Mindfulness, which is practiced in meditation, includes becoming completely aware of your body, externally and internally. This can be a seated meditation that is focused on awareness of mind, body and senses.
Not only is exercise important to maintain overall health and wellness, it is especially beneficial for people with psoriasis.
Because people with psoriasis have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, regular exercise can prove very helpful.
Many find it hard to exercise because of the chronic pain associated with psoriasis. Exercise programs in the water prove to be an effective alternative that is easier on the body and still allows you to build endurance and strength.
Other simple ways to fit more exercise into your day include short walks, taking the stairs and stretching.
Seeing a licensed massage therapist can help reduce symptoms and pain. Massage promotes the function of muscle and connective tissue and can increase relaxation and circulation in the body.
Acupuncture has been proven to be effective in minimizing chronic pain in patients. Acupuncture takes a holistic approach with the body and symptoms you may be experiencing. By returning the body to its natural flow, acupuncture can help reduce the intensity of symptoms of psoriasis.
● Soak a towel in cold milk and apply to affected area to relieve itching.
● Add ½ cup ground oatmeal into a warm bath.
● Rub the affected area with the inner side of a banana peel.
● Apply aloe vera gel to affected area.
● Cut several fresh willow branches into 3-inch stems and place in a pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until water becomes black. Wash affected areas with the water three times daily.
● Slice 15 water chestnuts and soak in 3 oz. of rice vinegar crush and store in a sealed jar. Apply the paste to affected area and cover with gauze. Change daily.
With autumn approaching and the beginning of the yin cycle, the energy of plants is moving down into their roots, helping the body become aware of the energy of the season. This season is a time for the body to begin gathering energy for the colder months to come.
The lungs and large intestine are the organs associated with fall. The lungs are responsible for the circulation of Qi (the body’s natural flow and circulation), and are also very susceptible to cold and illness. For this reason, it is important to stay healthy and warm during the season. If the Qi circulation is weakened, muscles will not be able to warm the body properly.
Vegetables of autumn like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale can help purify and protect your body against free radicals. These color-rich vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, which then turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for our immune system, especially as the cold and flu season rolls in. These vegetables can also strengthen your lungs and large intestine to fight illness.
Vegetables to cook with:
● winter squash
● turnip greens
Autumn weather becomes more yin, calling for warming dishes. Foods to cook that are in harmony with the season include more sour foods, as well as foods rich in protein and fats.
Sour/pungent foods to cook with:
● sourdough bread
● adzuki beans
● rosehip tea
● horseradishSome find it hard to let go of summer, with the longer days and warm air transitioning into the crisp and shorter days of fall. Acupuncture not only helps the body physically, but mentally as well. Fall is a great time to see an acupuncturist as your body and mind adapt to the changing of the season.
Give your acupuncturist a visit to prepare for the new season ahead and to stay in good health!
“Practical Chinese Medicine” Penelope Ody
A Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) doctor and a western medical doctor perceive the body somewhat differently. Each organ according to TCM has its own set of functions. Some overlap with the western functions, and some are entirely different.
One thing that is important to think about, is that when an acupuncturist talks about your organs, they are talking about them in terms of the way they were trained to make a diagnosis. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something biologically wrong. It means that according to the ways an acupuncturist was trained, that particular organ could be part of the overall pattern that is leading to specific symptoms and signs.
According to TCM, one of the main functions of the spleen is to transform and transport energy and fluids from food. When your spleen is healthy it sends excess fluid up to the lungs, where it will be vaporized and expelled.
The energy of the stomach is descending in nature so excess fluid and food waste will be sent downwards to the excretion organs. If stomach energies rebel, the energy moves upwards instead of downwards, causing nausea, vomiting and excess gas.
When the energy of the spleen is weak instead of ascending the Qi (or vital life source according to TCM) sinks downwards resulting in lethargy, excess dampness and phlegm - and in extreme cases, prolapse of organs.
Stress, overactive liver, illness and pregnancy are all potential causes for stomach Qi ascending.
Things like overthinking, excessive work habits, and even eating while working, are potential causes of spleen Qi sinking.
Stomach 36 - Zusanli
The stomach and spleen are also responsible for powering the muscles. So, to maintain physical strength, I will often use acupuncture point Stomach 36 in the treatment room!
It’s just below your knee. It’s known to treat digestive issues, it can support your immune health and even expel “pathogens” from the body. I had a teacher in acupuncture school who used to burn stomach 36, he would take moxa herb and actually burn and scar the acupuncture point Stomach 36 (ST-36) every winter so that the point is continuously activated, fighting off pathogens all through the cold and flu season. ST-36 is also great for fatigue.
Zusanli is the chinese name for this point, the translation means ‘leg three miles’. If you're running and you've run out of muscle power you can massage point ST-36 and get another three miles. This point is all around an amazing point for overall well being.
When you’re feeling tired and fatigued - even if you have brain fog, another acupuncture point Spleen 3 (SP-3). This point can be used in conjunction with ST-36.
An acupuncturists super-simple guide to keep your spleen strong
Avoid damp, sugary, greasy, cold foods. Eat warm, dry foods, herbs, warm drinks. You do not need to worry about this too much in the summertime, but always be mindful about warming the digestion and stoking the digestive fire. You don't want to dilute the digestive fire by adding too much yin, water, and too much dampness. Your digestion is the first point of generation of your physical chi, for your body, for your mind, for your life and for your dreams.
You may also have an imbalance of these acupuncture organ systems if you answer yest to any of hte questions below:
● Do you get sweet cravings?
● Have you got any food insensitivities?
● Do you get bloated after meals?
● Do you find it difficult to get up in the morning?
● Do you have physical or mental fatigue?
● Do you get loose stools?
If you have at least two or three of the above I would highly recommend the suggestions above - and a visit to your acupuncturist. Give us a call and we’ll see if we can strengthen that spleen of yours.
● Rots and ripens food
● Origin of fluids
● Produce blood from the energy of your food - lack of energy can be a sign that your spleen is out of balance.
● Controls the blood vessels, and it’s been thought to prevent hemorrhage and bruising - If you bruise easily it's a sign that your spleen is a little bit weak.
● Helps prevent your organs “upright”, and from prolapsing - prolase according to TCM is thought to stem from a spleen disturbance.
● Houses clear thinking - so if your spleen is out of balance, your thoughts may not be as clear and your thinking muddled.
● control of muscles - weak muscles and atrophy can be a reflection of an imbalance.
When you get a headache what does it feel like? Is it dull, nagging, aching and lasts all day? Is it sharp, stabbing, throbbing and short-lived?
Where is your pain located? Does it feel like a tight headband going from your forehead to the back of your head? Maybe into your neck? Is it on one side? Behind your eyes? Do you feel it at your temples or near your jawline?
Do you feel better when you lie down in a dark room and recuperate? Does eating a snack or a meal help? Conversely, do you feel better when you get out and take a walk or does eating a greasy meal make your headache worse or even bring it on?
In Eastern Medicine, the answers to these questions help to define and diagnose the type of headache you experience based on pain, location and whether your headache is a manifestation of a deficient or excess state.
Excess vs Deficiency
Excess conditions tend to be more intense and acute while deficient conditions tend to be more dull, nagging and chronic. If your symptoms are better with rest, your headache is likely due to deficiency because you are easily depleted. If your symptoms are better with exercise or movement, your headaches are likely due to an excess state and you need to burn off energy.
In Eastern Medicine, when we diagnose a deficient state we tonify or nourish the imbalance, in an excess state we quell or calm the overactivity. We have several tools we use to bring the body back to balance. The main tools are acupuncture, nutrition and botanicals.
One of the best ways to get immediate relief from a headache is to find a qualified, licensed acupuncturist in your area and get acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is when tiny needles are inserted at specific locations that correspond to your pain. Many acupuncturists specialize in headaches and love treating them because acupuncture often provides on-the-spot relief and people leave the acupuncturist’s office headache-free. Regular acupuncture can also prevent headaches from occurring in the first place and many people end up getting regular treatments once or twice a month to keep their headaches completely away.
Eastern medicine has been treating headaches with nutritional recommendations for thousands of years. First, it is good to identify if you are more prone to a stress or tension headache if you have missed meals or are feeling hungry. This type of headache means there is a deficiency occurring and the body needs energy in order to nourish itself and prevent a headache.
Many people are busy at work or on their computer focusing for hours and they are not paying attention to their hunger. This is a sign of a deficient-type headache.
It is also possible to experience a headache after eating foods that do not agree with your constitution. For example, if your headache pain comes with brain fog or muzzy feeling in the head, it is best to avoid sugary or fried foods and aim for healthy options.
Acupuncturists are also trained in what foods are best for what type of headache you are experiencing and can counsel you on how to change your meals to prevent headaches.
Chinese Medicinals (Botanicals)
There are many formulas in the vast Chinese Medicinal Pharmacy that are used for headaches. A licensed acupuncturist has undergone many years of training in this pharmacopoeia and can prescribe a formula that will bring homeostasis to an excess or deficient constitution. These formulas are often individualized to each person’s constitution with great precision or there are common formulas used that are also very effective.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.