You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2007.

This recent New York Times blog post on The Migraine Diet has obviously hit a nerve. It’s the most emailed article, and there are hundreds of comments.

The blogger writes about her own experience of migraines and of trying out a plan to heal herself that includes 1) stopping medications, 2) identifying and eliminating triggers that can be addressed, like food, alcohol, smoking, and 3) daily preventative measures, which I guess would include things like exercise.

A few comments were about success with acupuncture.  From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the connection between diet and headaches has been understood.  It’s fairly easy to see the connection for people who tend to get headaches when they are constipated, or overdue for a regular bowel movement.

Among acupressure/acupuncture points, the Hoku point is the one most often suggested for dealing with such a headache. It is on the Large Intestine meridian, which suggests an energetic connection with the Large Intestine organ.  So, if you suffer from a headache or migraine, try pressing/rubbing the Hoku point, which is described here. Also, when you are constipated, try this.

For a strong headache, you may need to hold the point for a while.  Make sure you do not overdo it; that is, that your other hand does not get tired from holding the point.  You can hold the point on both hands.  Hold for one or two minutes, take a break, then hold again.  If you can get someone else to hold them for you, that can be helpful, too.  And try acupuncture if you can.  It can address a point more powerfully than acupressure.

There’s no guarantee that this will address your headache, especially if there is something else triggering it or it’s a migraine.  Of course, you should see a medical professional for a serious condition.

Please note, Hoku is not safe for women who are pregnant. An alternative, which anyone can try, is to squeeze and massage the toes, and the rest of the foot. But especially the toes.  In reflexology, your toes are associated with your head.

Advertisements

Earlier this week I wrote about Earth imbalance in my Cookie Monster post.

Lisa commented on that post about her own experience with Earth imbalance.  And she wrote up a longer even more delicious description of her cravings for all kinds of scrumptious delights on her blog, which you can read here!

I went to the doctor yesterday to get my ankle checked.  It turns out that I’ve been more gentle with my ankle than I need to be, since the bone will heal on its own.  Isn’t the human body wonderful?

This brought me to think about the Metal element in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and how ideas of structure and support are associated with it.  I have a lot of mental and structure now: aluminum crutches and an ankle walker brace.  But non-tangibles like ideas and attitudes can also provide structure and support.  For example, rules and laws often support a society and community; think about what would happen on the roads if people didn’t know and follow traffic rules.  Chaos!

But sometimes too much metal can be a problem, too.  So I thought about this in terms of my rigid ideas about my ankle.  Because I was so concerned about protected my poor ankle–which has suffered a lot of sprains and discomfort over the years–I was not moving it and using it in a healthy way.  It turns out that I can walk on the foot with the security and support of the ankle brace.  It supports me.

This is a good lesson for me, because I can get pretty rigid in my rules.  It makes me a law-abiding type, but sometimes uptight, too.

So, it’s a good idea to think about what’s enough support?  What’s enough structure?  And when does it impede growth and wellness?

I got through the weekend, and this afternoon’s comfort-cookie crisis with Trader Joe’s Druid oatmeal cookies. As I was savoring the lovely chewiness of my third lovely cookie with tea, I had an “aha!” moment about the sweet-tooth comfort-food connection.

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine system, sweetness is associated with the Earth element. So when Earth element (associated with the Stomach and Spleen meridians) is out of balance, sweet cravings often ensue.

When might Earth element be out of balance?

  • The Earth is associated with home, the place we feel “homey”, so a move to a new house, or traveling could cause a tip in balance.
  • Or maybe you have too many ideas flying around your head, and you don’t feel “grounded.” You might reach for a cookie or ice cream.
  • Think about a plant; only when it is strong and grounded in the earth can it grow up and out.
  • For women, the Earth element is also related to the menstrual cycle, which helps us understand PMS sweets-cravings.

In my case, since I broke my ankle last week, my connection to the Earth has diminished. I can’t put both feet on the ground. I’m hobbling around on my right foot and two crutches. And even though I’m mostly stuck at home, it’s difficulty to feel homey. My foot is up in the air. My energy is way above the floor; I think it’s in my shoulder area because my shoulders are tired from using the crutches. Oy!

So, a few thoughts on balancing Earth energy:

  • First of all, it’s OK, I say, to eat my cookies! As long as I’m enjoying them, and in moderation. (I’ll run out at any rate, and can’t exactly run down to the store to get some more. That’s the silver lining.)
  • Now that I’ve identified this Earth-imbalance, I can be mindful about other ways to address it:
    • Enjoy healthier sweetness. Fruit. Dried dates. I’ve been eating fruit puree (frozen mangoes and blueberries) with yogurt.
    • Squeeze my muscles; the Earth element loves this. My right leg is working really hard, as are my arms, so I’ll give myself a little massage later.
    • Create routine, especially since I’ve had to adjust and adapt so much of the way I normally do things. I wrote about this, plus other tips in a post related to the Earth element.
    • Energize the Three Mile Point (Stomach 36). Sit down with feet flat on the floor. Make a light fist and rub vigorously along the outside of your shins, a couple of inches below your knee.

OK. So I now have a plan to help address my un-earthiness, and tame my cookie monster!

I decided to take an over-the-counter pain reliever last night, because of my sprained ankle and wasn’t sure if pain when I lay down would keep me awake. 

But since I rarely take any drugs, I had to scrounge around to see what we had.  One bottle had a 2009 expiration date; the other two expired in 2002.  I hate wasting anything that’s still useful, but I wondered if it would be harmful, and not just a lowered effectiveness.

According to this article on Harvard’s Family Health Guide, a study for the military found that most drugs are effective even 15 years after expiration date.  But of course, you should check with pharmacy if you have any questions; the article mentions some specific exceptions to the case, like insulin. 

Anyway, I’ll be keeping those old bottles of ibuprofen and aspirin around just in case.   And fortunately I’m not in much pain, so think won’t need the non-expired acetomenophin tonight.  Hooray!

How embarrassing. I broke a bone today, crossing the street.

I was wearing my backpack heavy with my laptop and power cord and mouse and a couple of books and all that other stuff I need, and was looking at the bus stop sign as I crossed the street. Then I felt a snap as my left ankle twisted.

Uh-oh! It was REALLY painful, my breath stopped, and I felt slightly nauseous. I hobbled to the other side of the street and sat on the curb; my ankle swelled up in about two minutes.

In order to deal with the pain, I took deep breaths, and tried to regulate my breathing. I also squeezed the Hoku acu-point on my left hand. Those first 5 minutes were a big blur; I can’t say for certain that squeezing Hoku helped with the pain, but it was part of my coping toolkit.   And I bet I’ll be relying on those again before I’m walking normally again.

Fortunately, through the kindness of a stranger and friends, I got home. The x-ray shows a tiny bit of bone broken off at the bottom of the fibula. I’ll be focusing on acupressure to help with this healing in the next few weeks.

The news of the recent loss of a colleague’s Father reminds me that in Chinese Medicine, the emotion of grief is associated with the lung meridian.

So, while only time can heal the pain of loss, filling your lungs deeply with the gift of breath can help during such a difficult time. 

Breathe in.  Breathe out. 
Breathe in.  Breathe out.
Breathe in.  Breathe out.

And celebrate your Mom or Dad.

Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize!!!!

I’ve seen signs for flu shots already. It’s that time of year again.

And according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Autumn is the time of the runny nose, since the Nose and Mucous are associated with the season.

So, a couple of common sense ideas to stave off getting a runny nose (and catching cold):

  • Wash your hands: before you eat; after you get back from work or school; after you get off the bus or train (read this post)
  • Make sure you are hydrated. Especially in areas of the country where the heating is already drying out the air. Drink regular water. (read this post)

Your breath is your friend.

In Chinese Medicine, the lungs are associated with Autumn, so this is a great time to focus on breathing.

Acu Point: Letting Go

Is your breath shallow? Are you holding your breath? Discomfort in your upper chest? Hold this point on the lung meridian–it’s a few fingers under your collarbone near the top of your upper arm bone–and Let Go. Take long deep and slow breaths. Learn more about this.

Meditation

Meditation can be a powerful source of health and wellness, for both body and spirit. Even when we don’t have the time or inclination for a full meditation “practice,” a few moments of deep breath and holding acupressure points can be calming and relaxing. Try this mini-meditation.