You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘traditional chinese medicine’ category.

Last night, I just had to have a scone.  Just HAD to.  I found this post with recipe online, halved it, used regular milk instead of cream, and raisins instead of currants.  Wow!  Sooner than I would have imagined, I had amazingly fluffy scones. YUM!

This morning, in a fit of contemplation, I thought to myself, “What is this pastry–sweet and fatty–craving?”

AHA!  It’s about that time when I get my PMS symptoms.  Either I’m really tired or feel like I’m going to catch a cold, or want to eat lots and lots of butter.  I happened to be sitting cross-legged on the floor, so I put my index finger on the Three Yin Intersection acu-point, on my lower leg.  And immediately, I took a nice deep long breath.  Like a sigh of relief.  Ahhhhhh.

It’s so easy to forget.  I do all the time.  And if I took a moment to reflect and test out some acu-points, before reaching for the scone (or croissant or cookie), I might get some longer-lasting relief.

Anyway, wanted to share that with you.  But since I like to look for a silver lining in each cloud, I am thrilled that I’ve come across such an easy and yummy scone recipe!

 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Springtime is associated with the Wood element and the gall bladder and liver meridians.  It’s a season of cleansing and renewal, as new movement and growth start.
 
I think of “cleansing” my body by making an effort to cut back on sweet and heavier comfort foods, like my beloved almond croissants, and increase greens and fruits.  Check out Staying Healthy with the Seasons, a book I’ve written about before, for more information on cleansing.
 
Also, cleansing my physical space with a de-cluttering, is a part of spring cleaning
 
As you move into this new season, consider these questions:

  • What new movement do I want to create in my life? 
  • What energizes me?
  • How can I clear out the blocks to growth?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the concept of Yin/Yang helps us remember to think about the complementary sides of our bodies. I talked about the front/back connection in this post.

Today, I want to talk about left/right.

(That’s the right and left of your body, not the political spectrum. But the idea I want to talk about is not far off; without good communication and integration between the two, the whole doesn’t work as well. 😉 )

So, back to the body. Often, we’ll get some kind of ache or pain on one side of the body, and our attention goes to that side. In order to address that ache or pain, it is often helpful to give some attention to the other side.

For example, I broke my left ankle a few months ago, so naturally, my attention was focused on that left ankle. It’s the one that hurt and that I had to take care of and rehabilitate. But it turns out that my right ankle and leg had to work extra hard while my left ankle healed. And, I learned through my physical therapy that my right ankle is weak, too. So, as part of the rehabilitation of my left ankle, I’ve made sure to do the exercises on my right ankle as well.

Therefore, when you use acupressure points that you may learn on this blog, use them on both sides of your body. When you work on the tightness in our right shoulder, also work on your left shoulder. Sometimes you don’t feel the tightness in the left shoulder because the right is much more tight, and it’s hogging all your attention. But you may find that when your right shoulder gets some relief, the left one starts to bother you. It was tight all along; it was just being shy and quiet and waiting to speak up for some attention.

So remember, as with yin and yang, address the left and right, for a holistic approach to healing and wellness.

Today (February 7, 2008) is the first day of the Chinese Year of the Rat.

There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and the Rat won a race to become the first in the line. chinese zodiac 

So, not only are we starting a new year, but it’s the beginning of the cycle.  So the beginning of the beginning.A great time to begin anew.  (Again, if you want to hit “restart” after Jan 1.)

Also, why a brown rat?  Brown because this particular Rat Year is associated with the Earth Element.  And by the way, the Rat him/herself is associated with the Water Element.  So we’ll have an extra reason to examine these Elements throughout the year. 

(image from http://www.chineseastrologyonline.com/2008.htm)

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.

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!

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.

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)