Fascinating! These ancient remedies are good stuff. The ancient Chinese herbal remedy for alternating fever and chills, among other things, is now the herb being developed by pharmaceutical companies as the #1 treatment for malaria. Ancient wisdom. I love it.
This year I started feeling sick. I am extremely grateful that it is nothing serious. I know how precious that is. I also know that I am so grateful that I got sick. Grateful that my back started aching and I felt nauseous for weeks on end. Normally I feel good. Tired, with a business, home, marriage and 2 little boys, but physically I usually feel good. I treat people in my acupuncture practice all week long who come in with various ailments, people trying to get away from discomfort, just as I was. When one day I found myself taking an antacid and an ibuprofin in one day I thought – STOP! I wondered how I had gotten to pill popping without taking the time to sit in my body and actually figure out what was wrong. My point is this: our aches and pains can be gifts. Thank them. They are telling us when we have veered off our true paths. This isn’t in any way to minimize serious or life threatening illnesses, which some of my clients are struggling with. But for the back pain, the headache, the fibromyalgia, the heartburn, for these daily troubles there is a wealth of information in those discomforts. Our bodies are trying to tell us things that we have not been hearing. Our bodies, lives, souls may have been trying to steer us in a certain direction subtly at first, then less subtly, then through a slight headache, and finally by pain or illness that actually gets in the way of our lives. That is the point. Our higher selves are getting in the way. To make us stop. And sit and listen. Not every ailment will magically disappear just by doing this, but it is amazing how many problems will lessen, ease, release. One example I’ve seen over and over is people with hands who hurt, young people with no arthritis have come to me several times over the years with hands that ache and hurt all the time. I have often found that these people are doing too much. They often aren’t good at asking for help (something I relate to!) and they have taken too much on. In addition to treating them with acupuncture I have suggested seeing if there are things they could offload, or get help with. It seems that this second thing is really what helps the hand pain dissipate. Strange but true. For me I realized I had stopped taking care of myself. I had spent a bitter cold, snowy winter indoors, cooking and eating and taking care of my family, but I had lost connections so important to myself – to nature, to creativity, to exercise,
to spirituality, to fun. When I sat with the physical problems that had been bothering me I had an Oprah AHA moment. I realized I needed to make changes, some very small, some very big. I have started with the small ones, including removing chocolate and wine from their position at the base of my food pyramid, planning my summer garden, and dusting off my meditation table. It doesn’t matter what the changes are: realizing you’re angry with someone, you need to change a relationship, train your dog not to chew up all your new shoes, work a few less hours a week, spend more time at the mall, whatever it is that you need but aren’t getting. It’s different for every person, and it changes constantly. Which is a pain in the butt. Sometimes literally. But when your body starts feeling bad, remember it might be good. Thank it. Thank the hemorrhoids, depression, eye infection, aching joints or gas. Those lovely symptoms are gifts delivering a message to you. Make sure you take time, sit, breathe and listen to the message. Sometimes the cure comes right from within you, making the changes your life and spirit need to thrive.
The Year of the Snake is ending. Soon we will enter the exciting year of the Yang/Wood Horse which I will write about at Chinese New Year at the end of the month. Was your year of the snake a complicated one? Snake years are an interesting combination of things. Snakes are seen as symbols of wealth in China as snakes seem always able to find a meal. Images of snakes wrapped around a rabbit are often hung on doors and windows during spring festival to indicate prosperity. But the snake is also considered jealous and suspicious, even malevolent. So if you have had a year that was confusing or particularly full of ups and downs, you may be glad to see the snake slither away at the end of the month.
But as with all years, we have gathered information and experiences, good and bad, that help us grow. And as we grow it’s important to shed our old skins. Let go of things that held you back, inhibited your growth or got in your way. The things you no longer need will only weigh you down as we gallop into the year of the horse so take a moment to let those things fall off you like the snake does and be ready to begin a new year newly emerged, fresh and just a little bit older and wiser.
More on the year of the horse coming soon…!
Getting a diagnosis of cancer can be a very scary time. I have had people tell me they feel powerless and out of control as masses of tests are performed and then treatments undergone. While it’s wonderful to have so many advances in medicine that make more and more cancer survivors able to beat the disease and lead full healthy lives, it can be an overwhelming and painful time. Because of this, it is a wonderful time to introduce acupuncture and herbal medicine into one’s life. Acupuncture has been proven to help alleviate many symptoms of chemotherapy and radiation, including nausea and pain. The National Institute of Health has officially endorsed it for treatment of symptoms relating to cancer and cancer treatment and many insurance companies now cover acupuncture for treatment of those problems. Acupuncture has also been shown to increase white blood cell production in a healthy way so that while a person is undergoing treatments that often devastate the immune system, acupuncture can be helping to support that system, to keep the body in balance and to offer much needed deep relaxation. For thousands of years acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been used to help keep people’s bodies in balance and working at their best – from digestion to immunity, sleep to pain relief.
In addition to my 4 years formal training in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the internship I completed at at a top hospital in Beijing, China in 2000, I have been in practice for 13 years and have completed many courses specifically on cancer care and Chinese medicine. I also worked extensively with cancer survivors at York Hospital in Maine where I started the acupuncture program in 2001. I worked with clients from those just diagnosed, to survivors healthy and many years post treatment, and also to those having palliative care in the final stages of life. I have continued to work with those dealing with cancer throughout my years in practice and now, in addition to work in fertility, am focusing specifically on this offering – acupuncture and diet and lifestyle for cancer patients and survivors. I offer professional, deeply relaxing and rejuvenating treatments offered gently and with compassion. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer, or is a survivor looking to stay strong, please feel free to email or call me with any questions or to make an appointment.
Short post as my 2 toddlers are finally asleep and I am soon to follow. But I had a client yesterday who has a common issue – cold all the time, even in mid summer, likes the heat up to 85 in winter. Cold hands and feet. Just an all around icicle. So there are some foods that can help with this. Some you’ve heard of, others are general diet ideas. Here they are:
Ginger – a great Chinese ingredient that warms the digestion and is proven to aid digestion. You can use it as a tea (buy fresh ginger root, cut a few thin slices and steep it in boiling water for a few minutes. Add honey if you need to), or grate some over whatever you’re cooking. Great for warming the Yang, your internal fire.
Any hot spice – red or black pepper, cayenne, chili, curry, cinnamon, nutmeg. Any warming spice or herb will actually warm your digestion and help to warm the body.
Avoid salads – Yes folks the Chinese have a different take on salads. Raw food is very hard on digestion and raw salads are very “cold”, especially with things like tofu, raw broccoli, etc. Poor digestion! At least steam all your food for a few minutes before eating. It breaks down the food to aid digestion, and will help to warm your yang.
Avoid icy drinks, especially in winter. Ice in a soda in January. That’s just asking for trouble. Room temperature is best, or warm tea.
Red meat is warming, very yang. In moderation of course. Lamb is considered the warmest meat. Good for building your blood too. Lamb curry – double the heat!
There it is. A few quick tips for warming those of you who remain cold on these gorgeous hot June days. My sister is one of them, layered up year round! Hopefully you’ll find some helpful tips to melt the chill and feel your inner fire rekindled. Good night!
Here’s a great way to help take care of your body naturally – acupuncture has been around for over 2,000 years, possibly as long as 5,000 years. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on the idea that the body is full of energy, or Qi (chee). When the Qi is in balance, there is health. When the Qi is out of balance, there is illness. Qi is made up of Yang Qi – the warm, bright, active energy, and Yin Qi – the cool, dark, still energy. Keeping these energies in balance is what keeps the body in health. Qi is kept strong and vibbrant through eating regular, healthy meals, breathing healthy air, getting moderate (though not super hard American style) exercise, and not living with too much stress and overwork. Not easy in our modern American life. But when our bodies do get out of balance, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help restore it by shifting the energies, strengthening some parts of the Qi, and taking away excess from others. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs restore the body to balance so that it can heal itself.
Here are 5 important acupuncture points you can use to treat yourself at home.
Stomach 36 – located below the knee, about 3 inches below the little depression in the outer side of the knee. About1 inch to the side of the shin bone.
This is one of the most important points on the body. It is very important for overall health and it is believed in China that every person over 50 should press this point every day. It has been shown to lower blood pressure. It has also been proven to boost immunity by actually boosting the white blood cell count in the body. It helps treat digestive problems including constipation, gas, gurgling stomach. And is good for raising your energy level. Overall it would be beneficial to everyone to press on this point every day.
LI4 – located on the hand in the center of the web between the pointer finger and the thumb. It will feel tender when you press on it.
LI4 is excellent for pain anywhere in the body. It is even used in China during surgical procedures to lessen the amount of anesthesia needed! It is good for treating arthritis pain, toothaches, headaches, and stress.
Liver3 – located on the foot at the tender spot just below the web of the big toe and the toe next to it.
When pressed together with LI4 this combo is called the 4 Gates. It is believed to open the gates of all the body’s energy so it can flow freely and restore balance. It is good for treating migraines, stress, acid reflux and digestive problems caused by stress.
Spleen 6 – located on the inner side of the lower leg. About 3 inches above the inner ankle bone, just at the lower edge of the shin bone.
An extremely important point for digestion, boosting energy, nourishing the blood, and overall health. Helps heal fatigue, gas, IBS. Also helps stop a mind that is always worrying and helps allow deeper more restful sleep.
Yintang – located between the eyes, in the center of the space between the eyebrows.
All about relaxation. A very powerful point. Press this point, take a deep breath and relax!
There are over 500 acupuncture points on the body. While it’s not the same as a professional acupuncture treatment, you can help your body in many ways by practicing acupressure on yourself. Look up a book on TCM and start to explore the many possibilities of healing yourself naturally!