Bexley Acupuncture, LLC | 2700 E. Main St. Suite 110, Bexley, Ohio 43209 | Phone 614.558.2130

All posts in Chinese Medicine

Following Fall: Learning to Let Go

I have been reluctant to write about fall this year.

It felt like it was not going to arrive.

The wet and warm summer days lingered into the first weeks of this new season. Even though the days were getting shorter, the trees were hanging on to those green leaves and the temperatures were some days warmer than warm.

In some ways it felt good to have summer linger.

Even if innately it felt wrong and delayed.

Maybe we were all taking our time to transition this year?

Maybe nature was trying to tell us that  it was okay to start letting go a little later?


 

I still believe that nature has a way of teaching us everything we need to know. If we pause to watch, hear, and feel, we can learn so much from the rhythm of the days.

Now that fall has truly arrived with crispy air and fall foliage, shorter days and Halloween decorations, let’s tune in and learn from nature how to let go of what we don’t need anymore. By doing so, we will be better prepared for the darker and shorter days to come.

Like the leaves that are falling from the trees, and the days that are letting go of sunlight, we must let go of some things that are no longer serving our mind and body.

Here are 4 simple ways to let go of things so that you can improve your life.

The first two have to do with your food choices to best nourish your body.

1. Let go of foods that don’t serve our body.

You know what these foods are. They are foods that make you feel bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable. They are also foods that you can’t stop eating even if it does not make you feel good (candy? alcohol? chips?).

Your body knows best and will let you know what it wants to let go of. All you have to do is listen to it, and choose to nourish the body instead of satisfying your mind.

2. Let go of eating at night

Night time eating is largely emotional eating (boredom, fatigue, anxiety) or part of a habit (eating while watching TV or browsing the computer/phone).

Our digestion needs a break to digest, heal and rebalance. The best time to do that is between your last meal (dinner) to your first meal the next day (breakfast).

So, let go of night time eating to allow your body to rest and digest. Again, choose to nourish the body instead of satisfying your mind.


The second two are mind-related. Letting go of some unproductive thoughts or words will give you so much freedom.

3. Let go of negative stories 

What negative stories do you have running in your brain? Are they true or are they projections of your mind? Are they serving you in some positive ways or are they causing more anxiety and worry?

You have the power to change these stories. Let go of them if these stories aren’t giving you positive results.

4. Let go of the shoulds

How long is your to-do list? How many of the items are considered “should dos”?

Prioritize how you spend your time, and let go of the shoulds if they are just clogging up your to-dos.

Often, the shoulds create unnecessary stress (or guilt, shame, disappointment). If you can let them go, even if for the time being, you will be giving yourself a gift of time and mental space to prioritize things that you can actually implement and accomplish.

 

 

Acupuncture for Better Sleep

At the very foundation of a healthy life, we need good food, clean water, and quality sleep.

You may hear about the recommended (mandatory?) 8-hour sleep we should get — which is not false — but are you getting quality sleep for those 8 hours?

The question is: do you feel rested upon waking up?

Are you alert and productive during the day?

Quality sleep, even if it is less than 8 hours (because every body is unique and will require different amounts), will give you the rest that your body needs to function at its optimum.

Most people in the US are walking around without adequate sleep, either because they did not get the proper amount, or the proper quality. Over time, this state of sleep deprivation can effect your immune system which may lead to undesirable long term or serious health problems.

There are so many reasons why you may be not getting the sleep your body needs. An over-scheduled life, excessive stress, imbalanced hormones, poor diet, poor sleeping habits are just some of the common causes of insomnia.

So, how can you get proper quality sleep that you need?

The body needs deep rest when the nervous system can go into repair mode while we are sleeping. All day long, when we are awake and alert, we overload the nervous system with stimuli required for the fight-flight (survival) mechanism. When healthy and in balance, the well rested nervous system works in harmony and our mind and body function well. We are energized, alert and productive. We are able to enjoy and create the life we want.

If the body does not get the rest it requires, however, we are in constant survival mode that does not turn off for that needed rest and repair mode.  The parasympathetic nervous system – our rest and digest system – can’t function at its optimum. We only get by with what is crucial for survival and end up with a tired body, a fatigued mind, and a relatively negative experience in daily life.

Recent research has implicated that impaired parasympathetic nervous function is responsible for a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

How can we foster our parasympathetic nervous system while we sleep?

There are lots of ways, most of them require that we decrease stress stimuli during our daily lives.

How are YOU decreasing stress in your life?

Are you prioritizing your health by allowing your body and mind to rest?

Are you taking a break from electronics, choosing healthy foods, exercising our body?

Are you pausing during the day to allow space and peace in your day?

Are you getting the support you need in your life?

Are you implementing tools that can help you further decrease stress?

 


 

Where does acupuncture come in?

Acupuncture, like other forms of natural medicine, works to help the body find its natural balance.

Research has proved that acupuncture helps reduce stress by stimulating the release of oxytocin, a hormone and signaling substance that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. It is a safe and effective tool that helps our body find its own equilibrium for that quality sleep we all need and deserve.

Because the body knows how to heal itself, a natural form of therapy like acupuncture can put your body back into balance. When rest and relaxation can be restored, better sleep quality can be achieved.

 

Want to give acupuncture a try?

 

Come to our Group Acupuncture Workshop on August 26 @ Bexley Yoga Studio. Registration is open, and space is limited. Sign up soon, right here.

 

Introduction to Tai Chi & Qi Gong

The human body was designed to move. 

In all traditional cultures and healing arts, some form of movement is incorporated as part of their healing strategy.

Moving the body creates flow, restores energy, strengthens and heals the body.

If we stop moving for too long, we will fall ill. Both our physical and mental health will be jeopardized.

In Traditional Chinese culture and medicine, two main healing movements exist : Qi Gong and Tai Chi.

But what is Qi (pronounced Chi)?

Qi is an encompassing term that describes the energy we require to be alive and vital. There are several forms of Qi (food Qi, source Qi, internal Qi, external Qi, etc), all of which are required for our health and wellbeing.

Because of its importance, we want to maximize Qi wherever we can.

In state of good health, Qi flows easily and smoothly in our body. When Qi is deficient, stagnant or in excess, we face illness, pain, or some kind of discomfort (physical and/or emotional).

As you can see, we want to keep the Qi moving, flowing and in balance for optimal health!

Besides eating proper foods, getting good sleep, and receiving therapies such as acupuncture, or herbal therapy, Chinese medicine prescribes movement exercises that work to cultivate the Qi, namely Qi Gong or Tai Chi. They are related practices, but different in forms and intentions.

Qi Gong focuses on cultivating, circulating and harmonizing Qi particularly for health benefits.

Tai Chi, although related, is fundamentally a form of martial art. Some forms of Qi Gong do promote physical characteristics useful for martial arts, but in comparison, Qi Gong does not include defense principles contained in the Tai Chi postures.

Most of Tai chi forms include soft, fluid movements that seem to blend into one another like a dance choreography. But there are several types and schools of Tai Chi, depending on their leading masters and teachers.

As for health benefits, studies show that Qi Gong and Tai Chi improve muscular strength, flexibility, fitness, and immunity. They can also help relieve pain which helps improve quality of life.

In addition, these movement therapies emphasize weight transference to improve balance and prevent falls. Just this quality and benefit alone should invite a lot of us (especially as we age and begin to naturally lose balance) to learn and practice Tai Chi or Qi Gong some of the time.

 

 

Please join me, Eglé Weiland and Rebecca Rapaport Ness at Bexley Yoga Studios on November 18 for a workshop that will introduce you to both Tai Chi and Qi Gong.

To cultivate even more qi, you will receive a gentle harmonizing acupuncture treatment at the end.

 

Register for the workshop through Bexley Yoga website here. 

Question From Patient: Will Acupuncture Work If I Don’t Believe In It?

In my 15 years of practice, I have answered many questions about acupuncture:

How does it work?

When should I come back?

Will it hurt?

 

 

These are common and valid questions, especially from people who had not experienced it before.

The question that I get sometimes that I actually love to answer is this:

“If I don’t believe in it, will it still work for me?”

My short answer is: Maybe?

Here’s the thing: acupuncture is not for everyone, just like how pharmaceuticals or physical therapy, or any other medical interventions are not for everyone. Sometimes you have to spend time and energy to figure out what works best for you.

Acupuncture is a wonderful tool and an effective modality, for those who respond well to it. 

But do you have to BELIEVE in it for it to work?

No.

I have had a fair share of new patients who walk in (usually reluctantly) with a skeptical mind about the new experience they were about to have. I have had people who explicitly tell me that they don’t think it will work, but their wives or husbands or mothers encouraged them to try.

 

 

Because acupuncture accesses your own healing potential, it all depends on your body’s receptivity to this particular modality. I have had skeptics walking in with excruciating pain who walk out with none (and at that point, they are no longer skeptics). I have also had believers who want to feel better so badly, but they feel no change after several treatments.

Bottom line is this: it really depends on your body, and whether or not it’s ready to receive the treatment. When it is, there is almost nothing that will stop it from succeeding (not even your mind!).

The best thing to do is to give it a try, and watch what happens.

Spring time Eating According to TCM: A Cleansing Soup Recipe

I wrote an article for Edible Columbus recently about how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views Spring time, and what foods we should consume to optimize our health according to the seasons.

In it, I offered a Cleansing Spring Soup recipe that I will share with you here. I have made it a few times, and have enjoyed substituting a couple of regular potatoes with sweet potatoes. So I am giving you that recipe here.

 

 

 

CLEANSING SPRING SOUP

6 cups of water or vegetable/chicken broth

2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 cup leek, cleaned and chopped

1 cup celery, choppped

2-3 cups kale or other spring greens, chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Bring liquid to boil

Add potatoes, onion, celery and salt, cover.

Reduce heat, and simmer until tender

Add kale and garlic. Simmer until kale is tender and bright green.

Puree all ingredients together. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add olive oil before serving (optional).

 

Spring is a time of growth, rejuvenation and detoxification

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As temperature rises outside, birds are singing louder, buds are emerging from the ground, and tiny leaves pop and unfold from bare branches.  Life begins to appear around us again.

It’s my favorite time of the year!

Springtime in Chinese medicine represents growth, and rejuvenation.

It’s a time for new beginnings.

 

Five Elements in Chinese Medicine_ WOOD = SPRING

 

Five Element theory refers to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in Chinese Medicine paradigm. The Principle of the Five Elements describes the flow of Qi and the balance of yin and yang. Each element corresponds to internal organ systems with correlating colors, emotions, and other symbols.

Spring season corresponds to the Liver system and its paired organ, the Gallbladder.

Liver, in Chinese medicine, rules the flow of Qi or the energy within us. Liver can easily be suppressed and stagnant during stressful times which causes discomfort and malaise in our physical and emotional states.

Liver Qi normally flows downward when in balance, otherwise it may “rebel” upward and cause Liver Yang to rise. Symptoms of Liver Yang rising include irritability, headaches, and the propensity to lose one’s temper.

The Gallbladder assists the Liver, but on its own, it rules decision-making.

In the Spring, Liver and Gallbladder energetics are more surfaced and sensitive. Our energy is ready for renewal, and the Liver and Gallbladder are ready to maximize the flow of Qi, get unstuck, get decisive, and restore balance. 

So, Spring the ideal time to cleanse and detoxify our mind and body!

Bexley Acupuncture and Wellness-2

 

That’s why we will be starting a week of again Clean Eating Reset on the first day of Spring this year, March 20.

Join me and my community as we eat clean, restore energy and balance for one week in honor of the beginning of Spring!

 

 

3 Rules Acupuncturists Live by

 

 

I want to let you all in on acupuncturists’ secrets to staying healthy.

Mind you, we do get sick, of course. We are humans after all. But there are a few things we learned while becoming Chinese Medicine practitioners that do help keep us stronger during the cold-flu seasons.

These are nothing earth shattering. They are actually common sense rules that we sometimes forget.

1.We say no to ice.

Cold is a major invader to our immune system, especially our digestive system. Drinking iced beverages, especially on a cold day, is like being a bully to our stomach and intestines. It is best to drink warm liquids, and never put ice in anything.

As for injuries, ice works well in an acute situation, to stop the inflammation. After 24 hours or so of an injury, however, we say no to ice. It’s an ongoing debate with other healthcare providers, but when in doubt, acupuncturists prefer warmth, and heat for healing.

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2.We cover our necks. 

The neck is the gate for all external invasions to enter our body system. Exterior cold temperatures, or cold air can truly take our immunity down. Have you gotten sick after being too cold outdoors? It is wise to keep our neck covered when the temperatures fall, so we are less likely to be defeated buy the cold invasion.

Cold can also contract our muscles, causing stiff neck or shoulders if we are exposed to cold air while sleeping. Acupuncturists know this, and we never sleep near an open window, or a blowing fan.

 

 

  IMG_54563. We get adequate rest.

Evening time is yin time… Yin is the quiet, the solitude, the rest. Without yin, there is no yang… So without rest, there can be no activity (or not a very good one). If we want to be the best at what we do (help you all feel better), we must go inward and rest.

Try these not-so-secret rules we live by, and see if it helps you stay healthy this season!

In good health,

Kit

Chinese Medicine Demystified

 

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There is a wonderful series of posts about Chinese Medicine written by Chris Kresser, a sort of mentor of mine (although he does not know this yet!). Chris is also a licensed acupuncturist in California. But he’s way more than that. He’s a pretty well sought- after integrative practitioner of Functional Medicine, an a New York Times best selling author of the Paleo Cure.

I wonder if he’s actually even practicing acupuncture at all with everything else that he does. But I am grateful that he spent time writing this series of articles demystifying Chinese Medicine for people who would like to know more about this form of healing arts without reading a big thick text book, or finding several research papers.

Chris talks about the origins of myths related to Qi, energy, and meridians. He also goes into depth about how acupuncture works from a Western point of view (i.e.how acupuncture helps stimulate the nervous system to release endorphins, norepinephrine and enkephalin). He talks about the physiology of pain and how acupuncture can help pain.

The last article of the series goes into why he thinks that acupuncture is an effective method of healthcare and how you can incorporate it into your lifeIMG_3797.

In short, he did such a good job that there is no reason for me to try to repeat what he said. So I hope that you will hop over to Chris’ site and read the articles for yourself and enjoy!

Have a wonderful week! Stay warm!

Kit

 

 

Yin Yang: the foundation of life

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Dawn – Yang within Yin

The first lesson I learned in Acupuncture school was that of Yin-Yang (pronounced Yaang, similar to song).

It is, arguably, the most important concept in Chinese Medicine: all the theories, pathology, physiology and treatment plans can be explained according to the Yin-Yang theory. It is a very simple concept, and yet the most profound philosophy in existence. I thought it would be fun to introduce this concept to you, to help you understand a little bit of the Chinese Medicine theory, and the ubiquitous symbol we find anywhere and everywhere it seems.

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Noon – Yang within Yang

 

Simply put, Yin-Yang symbolizes the cyclical pattern of nature, and hence of life: one depends on the other, neither can exist without one another, one transforms into another, and the pattern continues.

Every phenomenon in the universe alternates through a cyclical movement of peaks and bases. The alternation of Yin and Yang is the motive force of its change and development. Day changes into night, summer into winter, growth into decay, and vice versa.

Here are some examples of Yin qualities: Darkness, Shade, Rest, Earth, Quiet, Moon, Water, Contraction, Blood, Interior, Cold, Wet, Slowness, Chronic conditions

Here are some examples of Yang qualities: Brightness, Sun, Activity, Energy, Rising, Fire, Qi, Hot, Dry, Rapidity, Acute conditions

But all the qualities are in relative terms. Nothing is totally Yang, or totally Yin, they can’t exist in isolation. Everything is interdependent, and can transform into each other. Since we are in the middle of a change of season, from summer to fall, I will use the seasons to illustrate the transformative nature of Yin-Yang:

Summer = Maximum Yang (Yang within Yang)

Autumn = Yin within Yang (Growth of Yin)

Winter = Yin within Yin (Maximum Yin)

Spring = Yang within Yin (Growth of Yang)

Clinically, Chinese Medicine diagnoses are based on the Yin-Yang theory. For example, an overly stressed individual (Excess Yang) can easily experience insomnia (damaged Yin).  In this case, one must decrease the Yang energy by nourishing the Yin. Lifestyle changes, and proper nutrition can help reverse the condition as well as Chinese medical modalities to help assuage the excess Yang while increasing the nourishing Yin.

The main goal of Chinese Medicine is to acknowledge the transformative nature of Yin and Yang and to implement the best treatments to achieve a balance between the two.

Top Ten surprises acupuncture could help you

As promised, here is the top ten list of (lesser known) health conditions that acupuncture could benefit you, drug – free.

I have treated all of these conditions, and have seen that acupuncture therapy improves significantly, or completely eliminates the problems.

  1. Temporal Mandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
  2. Tinnitus
  3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  4. Vertigo
  5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  6. Sore Throat
  7. Common Cold
  8. Hives
  9. Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  10. Tailbone pain

Everyone responds differently to acupuncture therapy (similar to how we all respond differently to other medical treatments). For some, just a few treatments are needed to ‘fix’ the problems. For others, a series of treatments yield better outcome.

I remember in acupuncture school, we would get so excited about having a sore throat (I know – weird) so that we could test our new knowledge on each other. The treatment felt almost magical because if you do it correctly (and catch it early), the sore throat would disappear immediately. We were totally geeked out by it!

For more chronic conditions like tinnitus, it is essential to treat the root cause which usually has to do with a deficiency of Kidney Qi. Acupuncture helps restore the Qi and regain the free flow of Qi. Again, more chronic conditions tend to require a series of treatments, and sometimes lifestyle changes can speed up the progress significantly as well.

Acupuncture can be incredibly helpful for digestive issues. That was my introduction to this medicine, actually. I was dealing with GERD while under a lot of stress, and it was so uncomfortable. The acupuncturist I saw was confident that she could help me. And after a few treatments, and a few changes in my diet, my symptoms resolved.

Because acupuncture seems to have positive effects on the brain chemistry, conditions that manifest during stress/ anxiety respond well to treatments (IBS, GERD, hives, OCD, etc). It also does not hurt to take (at least) an hour out of your day, to relax, and restore. You will be amazed at what the respite (plus a few pins) can do for your health and well being, physically, and mentally.

All my best,

Kit