Are you wondering if it’s time to make an acupuncture appointment? Check out the article below for some hints your body may be giving you.
7 Signs That You Need Acupuncture This Spring
Last week was the first day of spring. Yahoo! Except for that fact that many people don’t feel so hot this time of year.
The flu is — knock on wood — mostly behind us. Allergies have not quite exploded yet. So, why do so many of us feel off in the early days of spring?
You can kindly thank your liver!
In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Seasons — particularly the transitional periods, when we move from one season to the next — factor significantly into how we feel.
Each season is linked with an organ system in the body, and spring’s system is liver. This means that the liver, as it adjusts to taking over the seasonal reigns, is especially vulnerable.
When the liver is vulnerable, the functions throughout the body for which the liver is responsible have a tendency to get out of whack.
Eventually, spring can become a time when the liver and its associated functions thrive. However, during this transitional period, when the liver is still finding its footing, certain symptoms commonly show up. Acupuncture improves these symptoms by restoring balance to the liver system.
Here are seven signs that your liver may need some acupuncture love:
You Feel Extra Tense
In acupuncture, liver is the system that’s responsible for smooth flow throughout the body. When the liver is not functioning optimally, things like emotional stress, rigid posture, shallow breathing, and jaw clenching may become exacerbated.
You Have Headaches and Other Aches and Pains
When things aren’t flowing smoothly, we start to experience what acupuncturists think of as stagnation-type symptoms. These include pain, and specifically pain that feels like pressure, tightness or restriction. Tension headaches and menstrual cramps are commonly worse this time of year.
Your Muscles are Really Stiff
The liver and its associated system, gallbladder, nourish the body’s connective tissue, tendons and ligaments. You may notice increased stiffness, tension or tightness in your muscles and joints in the coming weeks.
You Feel Irritable and Frustrated
Are you feeling more annoyed than charmed by the springtime sound of chirping birds? The emotional symptoms associated with Liver imbalances mimic the physical stagnation that happens. You may notice yourself feeling extra irritable or frustrated, perhaps more easily annoyed. There’s an emotional “stuckness” that can take hold in spring.
Your Fuse Is Shorter Than Usual
All organ systems in acupuncture have an associated emotion. Liver’s emotion is anger. A healthy dose of anger helps complete a balanced emotional profile. However, when the liver isn’t appropriately keeping things in check, there is a tendency for anger to rise up. Along with feeling irritable, you may have a harder time than usual controlling your anger.
Your Digestion Is Messed Up
Healthy digestion is heavily dependent on consistent and smooth movement throughout the whole body. When the liver fails to maintain flow, digestive disturbances can easily occur. There’s also the whole brain-gut connection. When emotional stress is higher than usual, digestive function naturally declines.
Your Eyes Are Bothering You
Just as all organ systems have an associated emotion, they also have an associated sense. Sight goes with the liver system, so any issues related to eye health are usually attributed, at least in part, to a liver imbalance. This can include poor vision as well as eye pain and fatigue, and dry eyes.
The Springtime Acupressure Point
If you only remember one acupuncture point all spring, it should be Liver 3.
Located on the foot, between the first and second toes (click here to see exact location), Liver 3 is the source point on the liver channel.
Source points behave sort of like central stations on subway lines. They are hubs where internal and external energies gather and transform. They are single, high-concentration points that grant access to the larger system.
Any time of year, Liver 3 is a go-to point for stagnation throughout the body. Because of the spring-liver connection, the point is doubly useful for addressing springtime stagnation-type symptoms.
Applying acupressure to Liver 3 will help get things moving like no other point. Poke around the point area until you discover a tender spot. Liver 3, if pressed firmly enough, is sensitive on most people.
Once you have the point, apply firm pressure. This should feel a little achy. The more the better on this point, so feel free to do this acupressure exercise anytime your bare feet are available. Liver 3 can be pressed on one or both sides.
If in the coming weeks you experience some telltale signs of a liver imbalance don’t get down on yourself — they’re completely normal during the seasonal transition. A little acupuncture will help realign your system so that you can enjoy the wonders of spring.
By: Sara Calabro
Valentine’s Day in China
Chinese Valentine’s Day occurs on the seventh day of the seventh month on the Chinese Lunar calendar. There are two legends surrounding the origins of Chinese Valentine’s Day. Both involve the position of the stars on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar (August 2nd in 2014).
The first legend is a romantic fable about two lovers: the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven and a simple cowherd. It was taboo for them to marry, but they did anyway and after a few years of marriage the mother goddess ordered her daughter back to heaven, but out of love she allowed the couple to meet up once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month.
In the second story, Niu Lang and Zhi Nu were fairies living on opposite sides of the Milky Way. Feeling sorry for the two lonely sprites, the Jade Emperor of Heaven actively tried to bring them together. Unfortunately, he succeeded too well – Niu Lang and Zhi Nu became so enraptured with each other that they neglected their work. Annoyed, the Jade Emperor decreed that from that point on, the couple could only meet once a year – on the seventh night of the seventh moon.
In modern times, people in China celebrate Valentine’s Day by releasing hung ming lanterns like in the picture below, and make good wishes of faithful love between them.
Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of the Horse
The Chinese New Year is a 15-day event that starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. The celebration includes dedicating each year to a specific animal. The Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Rat, Boar, Rabbit, Dog, Rooster, Ox, Tiger, Snake, and Ram are the twelve animals that are part of this tradition.
In 2014, on the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on January 31st and is The Year of the Horse. During this important celebration in the Asian culture, it is traditional to wear red, meant to ward off evil spirits.
The following is a guide, compliments of about.com, to the 2014 Chinese New Year events in Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.
- Gaithersburg Chinese New Year Events
January 27-February 9, 2014. Lakeforest Mall, 701 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland. View beautiful Chinese New Year decorations and exhibits throughout the mall. Live entertainment (weekends, noon-5:00 p.m.) includes traditional lion and dragon dances, folk dances and martial arts demonstrations. Demonstrations and workshops include flower/bonsai arrangement, arts and crafts, painting and games.
- Chinese New Year at Montgomery County Public Libraries
Thirteen branches of the public libraries welcome the new year with a variety of programs. Music, dance and special performances feature the sights, sounds and cultures of China, Korea and Vietnam. Programs include introduction to customs behind the Lunar New Year, traditional dances, hands-on art activities, puppet shows, healing and martial arts demonstrations including tai-chi and kung fu, calligraphy, crafts, customs, Chinese yo-yo, workshops and children’s activities, and the traditional Chinese lion dance. For specific schedules, visit the Montgomery County Public Libraries website
In Washington, DC
- Chinese New Year Parade and Festival in Washington, DC
February 2, 2014, 2-4:30 p.m. Chinatown – on H Street, NW, between 6th and 8th Streets. Each year a parade is held in Chinatown to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The event features the traditional Chinese Dragon Dance, Kung Fu demonstrations and live musical entertainment.
Celebrate from 12-5 p.m. at the Chinatown Lunar New Year Festival, Chinatown Community Cultural Center, 616 H Street, NW Washington, DC. Programs and activities will include: live music and dance performances, traditional Chinese calligraphy, children’s crafts, face painting, tai chi and kung fu demonstrations, lion dancing, poetry readings, film screenings, art and photo exhibits, raffle prizes, New Year souvenirs, free giveaways, and much more. Special guest performances by: Wong People and students of Yu Ying Public Charter School.
- Chinese New Year Dining Specials in Washington DC
Throughout the month of February, many restaurants in the Washington DC area offer specials in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Celebrate the “Year of the Horse” with special tasting menus.
In Northern Virginia
- Chinese New Year Festival – Falls Church
February 1, 2014, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church, VA. The event, hosted by the Asian Community Service Center, offers performances from China, Korea, India, Thailand, Vietnam, among others including the beautiful Chinese sword dance; Dragon Parade, fashion show, Asian plant art, Asian foods, Chinese cooking demo, teaching of Chinese characters, crafts, kids activities and more. FREE Admission.
- Fair Oaks Mall Lunar New Year Celebration
February 1-2, 2014, 1-6 p.m. Fair Oaks Mall, 11750 Fair Oaks, Fairfax, VA. Ceremonies, performances and exhibitions will be presented from each day, with most of the events centered in the Fair Oaks Mall Grand Court. Presented by the Washington Hai Hua Community Center, the event will feature traditional Chinese dragon dances; music and dance performances; martial arts demonstrations; children’s crafts; and a special lantern festival. More than 200 performers will participate in this year’s Lunar New Year festival, representing such countries and regions as China, Korea, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Polynesia and the 50th state of Hawaii.
Bo He aka Field Mint
Pharmaceutical: Herba Menthae Haplocalycis
Botanical: Mentha Haplocalyx Briq.
Common: Field mint, menthe
Also known as mentha, mint is considered to be acrid, cool, and aromatic in nature and greatly affects the lung and liver meridians. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver meridian filters all of the emotions and specifically deals with anger, frustration and stress. When we experience more stress than our liver meridian can process our qi becomes stagnant and, in the Liver meridian, this can lead to depression. Mint enters the Liver meridian and helps to get the qi moving again in a healthy way, helping to alleviate depression.
Continue reading below to learn what Acupuncture Today says about mint:
Mint is an herb belonging to the labiatae family, specifically mentha haplocalyx Briq. It consists of a squarish stem and elliptical, scaled leaves. Both the leaves and stem are covered with tiny white hairs. The plant has an aromatic odor and an acrid taste. Both the leaves and stem are used in herbal preparations, as is mint oil.
Mint oil contains dozens of chemicals, acids and compounds, including leucine, menthol and aspartic acid. Together, these substances are responsible for many of mint’s healing properties. Studies have shown that mint can inhibit bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus, staphylococcus albus and streptococcus, and viruses such as herpes simplex and vaccinia. Other research shows that it facilitates the flow of mucus in the trachea, and can improve the absorption rates of salicylic acid (the main ingredient in aspirin).
In traditional Chinese medicine, mint is considered to have pungent, aromatic and cool properties. It is associated with the Lung and Liver meridians, and is used to expel wind heat, clear the head and eyes, clear up rashes, and remove liver qi stagnation. Taken orally, mint is used to treat diarrhea and painful menstruation, promote perspiration and dissipate body heat. It is also taken as a means of stimulating the nervous system. In addition, the German Commission E has approved the internal use of mint oil for a variety of conditions, including flatulence, gastrointestinal and gallbladder disorders, and catarrhs of the upper respiratory tract, and external use for myalgia and neuralgia.
To everything, there is a season. Our physical and emotional health is no exception. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is nationally recognized during the month of December and throughout winter, is an example of how a change in seasons can affect our wellbeing.
Between 4 and 6 percent of the U.S. population suffer from SAD. It is more commonly observed in those who live at high latitudes (areas farther away from the equator to the north and south). Seasonal changes are generally more extreme in these regions, supporting the idea that SAD is caused by changes in sunlight availability.
Seasonal Affective Disorder can occur during summer with limited symptoms such as weight loss, trouble sleeping, and decreased appetite. Winter symptoms tend to be more severe. They include fatigue, increased need for sleep, decreased energy levels, weight gain, increase in appetite, difficulty concentrating, and increased desire to be alone.
The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine states that, “People and nature are inseparable.” The TCM yin and yang forces of the seasons coincide with those of the body. While yang’s warmth, activity, and brightness work throughout the spring and summer months, yin’s passivity, coldness, and darkness begin in autumn and continue until spring equinox. Therefore, the winter months, which represent the height of the yin cycle and the water element, can cause those whose constitution tends toward yin to feel the effects of this season more acutely.
Energetic imbalances, which are associated with emotional and physical disturbances in the body, can become more pronounced after a change in weather and sunlight. Western medicine currently treats seasonal affective disorder with light therapy and sometimes with antidepressants. The downside to these therapies is that they carry side effects such as eyestrain, headache, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, palpitations, high blood pressure, and reduced libido. Also, these therapies do not address the underlying problems, but merely offer symptom relief.
Acupuncture, which has shown promising results treating depression by releasing serotonin and noradrenaline-norepinephrine, has no side effects. Together with a treatment plan created by a licensed acupuncturist, acupuncture can improve balance of mood and energy, relieving the patient from the burdens of a depressed, unbalanced system.
The winter months are associated with the Kidney system, which is the base of qi, our vital energy. The Kidney creates fire and warmth and provides energy to other organs. As our bodies use up energy keeping warm, they begin to crave quick sources of new energy in high calorie foods, which are stored as fat to keep the body warm. These foods do not sustain energy levels in the body, nor do they properly nourish the Kidney, and with this energy depletion we tend to feel more lethargic and sensitive to our surroundings. This is why winter is a time to seek replenishment of body, mind and spirit.
Nourishment in all areas of life is especially important during the winter months when SAD is most common. Although many people head indoors during winter, it is important to continue outdoor activities to expose yourself to daylight, and to take part in activities that support inner balance. Physical and mental stress, as well as poor sleep and nutrition, further deplete the body’s energy and leave you susceptible to illness. You should rest and conserve energy, but also spend time with friends and loved ones, cultivate your inner dialogue and eat a well balanced diet. Eating less fruits, increasing whole grain intake and plenty of warming foods such as soup, is a great way to nourish the Kidney system.
Oriental medicine can restore the balance our bodies seek during seasonal transitions. While the tendency is to look inward or become preoccupied with one area of our health, such as maintaining energy and keeping warm, it is important to remember that balance in everything from your diet to your living environment is essential in sustaining a positive outlook and a healthy mood.
– See more at: http://www.pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/439-seasonal-affective-disorder.html#sthash.DgARbWgL.dpuf
Pharmaceutical: Rhizoma Zingiberis Officinalis Recens
Botanical: Zingibar Officinale Rosc.
Common: fresh ginger rhizome
You may have heard that ginger is great for digestion but do you know that recent studies have shown that it may also reduce inflammation in the body? Ginger has been shown to have similar effects as COX-2 inhibitor medications used to treat arthritis. Also, research at Johns Hopkins has shown that ginger has the potential to slow the progression of brain cell loss in Alzheimer’s disease or any dementia.
Continue reading below to learn what Robert Pendergrast, MD has to say about this amazing herb. The following is an excerpt from his article, Health Benefits of Ginger:
Powerful Ally Against Inflammation.
“As an anti-inflammatory, the benefits of ginger are unquestioned. In history, the traditional medicines of both India and China have valued ginger against arthritis and rheumatic complaints. From modern medical research, we know that laboratory studies show that ginger blocks the formation of inflammatory compounds such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins (very much like the COX-2 inhibitors which are conventional arthritis medications ). And as you might expect from this, there are some case reports in human medical literature of reduced pain and swelling in arthritis (both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis).
That anti-inflammatory property of ginger is significant from the standpoint of preventing brain disease. Here’s why. We know that Alzheimer’s dementia is associated with increased inflammatory markers in the brain, and that specifically a compound called TNF-alpha increases its activity in the brain in Alzheimer’s. A 2004 article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (authored by some researchers from my alma mater, Johns Hopkins) showed that a ginger extract has the potential to slow the progression of brain cell loss in Alzheimer’s disease. So while we have no clinical studies in humans showing that ginger can impact Alzheimer’s or any dementia, the data suggest that a ginger extract could prevent some of the damage to brain cells that marks the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Looking for a way to add some ginger to your upcoming Thanksgiving meal? See my facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=233079840190930&set=a.224758504356397.1073741829.222805194551728&type=1&theater
Pharmaceutical: Ramulus Cinnamomi Cassiae
Botanical: Cinnamomum Cassia
Common: cinnamon twig
The practice of Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the use of many herbs and plants. Gui Zhi, also known as cinnamon, is used frequently in Chinese herbal medicine. It is pungent and sweet in flavor and warm in nature. It may be used for some types of cold or flu, arthritis, and digestive issues. Also, it is often used for menstrual irregularities and cramps, water retention and poor circulation. Read more in an article from Acupuncture Today.
By Andrew M. Seaman
NEW YORK | Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:02pm EDT
People with depression may benefit as much from acupuncture as they do from counseling, suggests a new study.
Researchers found one in three patients was no longer depressed after three months of acupuncture or counseling, compared to one in five who received neither treatment.
“For people who have depression, who have tried various medical options, who are still not getting the benefit they want, they should try acupuncture or counseling as options that are now known to be clinically effective,” said Hugh MacPherson, the study’s lead author from the University of York in the UK. (more…)
Acupuncture ‘boosts IVF success’
Women undergoing fertility treatment could have their chances of success boosted by acupuncture.
German researchers said they have increased success rates by almost 50% in women having in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
The theory is that acupuncture can affect the autonomic nervous system, which is involved in the control of muscles and glands, and could therefore make the lining of the uterus more receptive to receiving an embryo. (more…)