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Dampness Bogging You Down?

Figure Bogged Down by DampnessIn Traditional Chinese Medicine, certain diseases or adverse health conditions can result from an excess of dampness in the body. The buildup of dampness is generally influenced by three things: an individual’s constitution (hereditary factors), an individual’s lifestyle (activity level and exposure to actual dampness in the external environment), and an individual’s diet (consumption of foods which either fortify or weaken the digestive system). The presence of dampness indicates an imbalance of Yin and Yang and a weakness of the spleen; dampness may also indicate weakness in the kidneys or lungs. If dampness continues to accumulate, this imbalance will bog you down, blocking the flow of life force energy (your qi) and ultimately leading to stagnation within the body.

How Dampness Feels

When the humidity outside goes up in the summer months, most of us really feel it. Our physical surroundings—and even the air we breathe—can seem wet, heavy, and waterlogged. Dampness is essentially the equivalent of high humidity inside the body (a physical condition), and it can be experienced in a similar way. Your limbs may feel heavy and you might be slow to get moving. You may feel bloated, swollen, sluggish, and unmotivated. You may notice an increased level of mucus and fluid in the body, loose stools, and a tendency to gain weight. The effects of external dampness (if present in your immediate physical environment) may also cause joint pain, dizziness, and a heavy sensation within the chest. Dampness can occur as both damp-heat and damp-cold.

How Dampness Affects Your Health

In addition to the high-humidity effects felt above, the accumulation of dampness within the body can manifest in a number of other ways. Some of the most common signs of excess dampness include: allergies and sinus congestion, inflammation (arthritis), respiratory problems (asthma), skin conditions (cystic acne and eczema), urinary tract infections, yeast infections, digestive issues, headaches, and edema.

Treating and Preventing Internal Dampness

There is probably not much you can do about your inherited constitution and you may be limited in regard to changing your physical environment. You can, however, make significant changes to your diet with the aim of resolving (and preventing) the accumulation of dampness in the body. It’s imperative that you keep your digestive system running smoothly so that it can process nutrients, remove toxins, and help support the spleen and other organs. Be aware of what you eat and how it affects you (you might even want to keep a food journal). Avoid overeating, as well as excess coffee and alcohol. Limit processed foods, raw fruits and vegetables, refined starch, dairy products, sugar, and anything deep-fried.  Consume foods and beverages at room-temperature. Bump up your intake of lean proteins, broths and soups, bitter spices, whole grains, and legumes. Exercise and adequate rest will also keep your digestive system in tip-top shape.

If you find the concept of dampness inside the body somewhat confusing, consider making an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist. They can help shed light on how this imbalance may be affecting you and suggest both treatment options and dietary/lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.

Resources:

Learn More About TCM Dampness and Food Therapy

Antiviral Foods to the Rescue

Antiviral FoodsWe all know that a balanced diet, exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep are crucial for maintaining health. If you are looking for additional ways to boost your immunity, your kitchen cupboards and your pantry are a great place to start!

Most of us likely have access to a variety of antiviral foods that can easily be incorporated into everyday snacks and meals—some of them can even be brewed as a tea. These foods not only help fight off existing illness, they also support and protect healthy cells so that your body is better able to defend itself against infections from the get-go.

Let’s see what items you might already have on hand and how they can prepare your body to overpower a viral attack.

 

Coconut Oil (Extra-Virgin, unrefined)Contains medium-chain fatty acids with the ability to destroy microorganisms; helps dissolve the outer lipid (fatty) membranes of a virus
ElderberryStimulates the immune system; hinders ability of a virus to replicate and attack healthy host cells; helps reduce upper respiratory symptoms caused by viral infections
Garlic (raw)Contains powerful antiviral compounds (allicin, diallyl trisulfide, and ajoene) which can destroy microorganisms; stimulates the immune system; hinders growth of viruses such as influenza, herpes, and HIV
Ginger (fresh)Contains gingerols, shogaols, and zinerones, which can prevent viruses from attacking healthy host cells and hinder viral replication; strengthens cells in the respiratory tract and combats respiratory viruses
Green Tea (Matcha)Contains a variety of antioxidants (flavonoids, catechins, and polyphenols) which can help combat viruses such as influenza, herpes, and HIV; boosts the immunity of healthy cells
LemonHinders the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses by affecting their ability to replicate
Mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, reishi) Contains beta-glucans (sugar-like molecules) that strengthen the immune system and hinder ability of a virus to replicate and attack healthy host cells
Oregano (fresh or liquid oil) Contains the antiviral compounds carvacrol and thymol, which can slow down a virus and help eliminate it from the body
SpirulinaContains the protein cyanovirin-N, which hinders ability of a virus to replicate and attack healthy host cells
Turmeric Strengthens healthy cells; hinders ability of a virus to replicate and attack healthy host cells
Yogurt (with live cultures) Floods gut microbiome with “good” bacteria to help combat growth of viral infections; relieves influenza symptoms

Other foods known for their antiviral properties:

  • Basil
  • Black walnuts
  • Blueberries
  • Fennel
  • Olive leaf
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Star Anise

Salads and Smoothies and Stew—Oh my!

The prevalence of antiviral ingredients at home makes it easy to boost your immunity by making simple changes to your daily menu. Many antiviral foods can be used as sandwich or salad toppings, or they can be added to soups, stews, casseroles, and smoothies. If any of the foods listed above are not yet part of your regular cooking repertoire (or supplement regimen), you might enjoy experimenting with some new recipes or jazzing up some old favorites!

Resources:

More suggestions for adding antiviral and immune-boosting foods to your diet

Try this recipe for making your own elderberry syrup

Brew a cup of ginger tea

Love is in the Air Balloons

Heart-Qi: Love and Health are in the Air

Today is Valentine’s Day and love is in the air! Whether you plan to acknowledge someone special with a box of chocolates, a dozen roses, or a stuffed pink teddy bear, don’t forget to lavish a little extra attention on your Heart-Qi! It’s easy to get swept up in the range of emotions surrounding romantic love, but protecting our hearts involves more than just protecting our feelings. We also need to protect the connection between our emotional state and our Qi.

The Heart-Qi Connection

Healthy Heart-Qi: Love is in the Air Balloons

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long recognized that physical health and emotional well-being are closely connected. This connection is based on Qi, which can be defined as both “life force energy” and “air/breath”. The energy (Qi) of the emotions you experience fall into seven distinct categories and correspond with one or more major organs (heart, liver, lung, spleen, and kidney).

An emotional imbalance might express itself as a physical ailment, or a physical ailment (linked to a specific organ) might express itself as a heightened or intense emotion. Keep in mind that the heart oversees all of the emotions. Any Qi imbalance within the organs of the body will ultimately affect the heart.

The Key Emotions of TCM

  • Joy (a negative state of agitation) affects the heart and may cause palpitations, spontaneous sweating, mood swings, and insomnia.
  • Anger affects the liver and may cause dizziness, migraines, high blood pressure, and depression.
  • Grief (sadness) affects the lungs and may cause chest tightness, asthma, and allergies.
  • Pensiveness (worry) affects the spleen and may cause loss of appetite, fatigue, and bleeding disorders.
  • Fear affects the kidneys and may cause night sweats, incontinence, and infertility.
  • Shock and fright can affect both the heart and kidneys and may cause headaches, constipation, and shoulder pain.

Preventing Emotional Turbulence

Strengthening the Heart-Qi makes it easier to resolve other Qi deficiencies that may be present in the body. If you are dealing with chronic physical ailments or you feel mentally and emotionally out of sorts, practicing self-care is a great place to start. Be mindful of what you eat. Exercise regularly. Get a good night’s sleep. Visit with cherished friends and loved ones.

And remember to schedule an acupuncture treatment! Detoxifying with acupuncture and herbal supplements can help relieve the physical and/or mental disharmony you may be experiencing. We’ll help you come up with a flight plan to maintain and support a healthy Heart-Qi!

Resources:

http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/sevenemotions.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/emotions-in-traditional-chinese-medicine-88196

https://holosapiens.com/physiology/deficiency-of-heart-energy

https://www.sakara.com/blogs/mag/116573893-the-root-of-emotional-imbalance-according-to-your-organs

Read more

Acupuncture for heart health

 

February is American heart health month. Traditionally, the month for lovers and all things heart related. We are reminded to take care of our heart. Heart Disease is still the leading cause of death worldwide. There are many areas of concern for heart health. For example, high blood pressure, stress, healthy diet/weight, and insomnia. Combining acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help combat all of these!

 

High blood pressure:

Acupuncture has proven to be highly beneficial in helping to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. High Blood Pressure forces our heart to work harder and demand more oxygen. Acupuncture is able to counter act the heart working so hard by placing needles on specific points. For example, on the wrist, inside the forearm, or leg. This will reduce the demand for oxygen.

 

Stress and anxiety:

Acupuncture has proven to help with heart health by reducing stress and anxiety. We all encounter stress in our daily lives.  For instance, we might start to eat unhealthy, experience heart palpitations, exercise less, and tend not to sleep as well. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used to help keep that stress at bay.

 

Insomnia:

Acupuncture can be used to treat insomnia, without the side effects of prescription medicines. There is evidence linking insomnia to hypertension and other cardiovascular events. Almost 75% of people who have heart failure report frequent insomnia. This one of the most common symptoms of heart failure. Acupuncture treats the entire body/mind and not just the symptoms. Your overall health will improve. In addiction to enjoying a restful nights sleep.

 

Above all, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critical to a healthy heart. Eating healthy and regular exercise are often difficult to maintain with the busy lives we lead. Incorporating regular acupuncture sessions can build on the heart healthy actions you are already taking. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help keep you and your heart healthy and strong, please don’t hesitate to call To The Point Acupuncture, LLC.

 

 

Nourishing your body in the winter-A Chinese element perspective

According to Chinese medicine, the organ system associated with the winter is [highlight] [/highlight] the kidneys. Winter represents the most Yin aspect-it is dark, cold and slow in energy (as opposed to Yang-which is represented by summer whose energy is light, warm and quick.) In the winter time-the days are shorter, it is colder outside and we aren’t as active. The kidney is the source of our most basic and fundamental energy (or Qi) in the body so it is essential to nourish it. Ever wonder why you might feel more tired or get sick more often in the winter? Your kidney Qi is depleted. Acupuncture is a great way to support your Qi.

Food as Medicine. In the wintertime-try and focus on warming and nourishing foods such as soups and stews.  Your kidneys are reliant on quality animal protein like unprocessed meats or eggs to build blood and circulate that blood throughout all your extremities which will in turn keep your entire body warmer. Your kidneys will also appreciate lightly incorporating minerals like sea salt (non-iodized) into your diet this time of year. Foods that are specifically nourishing to the kidneys are: black beans, bone broths, lamb, chicken, walnuts, chestnuts, black sesame seeds and dark leafy greens.

Sip some tea. If you’ve been outdoors for a period of time to build a snowman, wait for the bus, or shovel the driveway, drinking a mug of warming herbal tea once you’re back indoors is a great way to warm the kidneys. Cinnamon, ginger, and citrus are nice teas your kidneys will appreciate. Offering your kidneys, the little extra love and support they need this time of year isn’t too tricky. After all, ‘tis the season.

 

CINNAMON WALNUT FLAX MUFFINS:
Prep Time: 10 minutes                                                        Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes                                                        Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ground flax meal
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil or any oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sweetener (maple sugar erythritol, coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix ingredients together in a mixing bowl in the order they are listed. You can use an electric mixer if you’d like, but be sure to add in walnuts last, after using a mixer.
  3. Bake at 325°F for 18 to 22 minutes.

 

HOW TO MAKE BONE BROTH:

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds beef bones with marrow
  • 4 unpeeled carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, peel on, slices in half lengthwise and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5-6 sprigs parsley
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 18-20 cups cold water

Instructions   

  1. Place all ingredients in a 10 quart capacity crock-pot or large pan on the stove.
  2. Add in water.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce and simmer gently, skimming the fat that rises to the surface occasionally.
  4. Simmer for 24-48 hours.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill.
  7. Use within a week or freeze up to 3 months.

Bone broth has many health benefits. It is highly nutritious, protects the joints, help fight osteoarthritis, helps reduce inflammation and heal the gut, aid in sleep, and may support weight loss.

If you would like to learn more, please contact Jill Doan, Licensed Acupuncturist at To The Point Acupuncture, LLC. http://www.ttpacupuncture.com

6 Illnesses That Can Be Treated with Acupuncture

Woman undergoing acupuncture treatment with a line of fine needles inserted into the skin of her foreheadMany illnesses are so overwhelming that life seems unbearable with them. As the owner of To The Point Acupuncture in Raleigh, NC, I help my patients overcome a variety of illness with acupuncture.  Acupuncture is a great medicinal tool, but many people are too afraid to give it a try or are unaware of how many different medical conditions acupuncture can help. However, these individuals miss out on the positive impact acupuncture has to improve their lifestyle and well-being.

Commonly, people I meet believe that acupuncture can only treat pain related conditions such as arthritis or sciatica. This is a big misconception. Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes acupuncture, is a complete medical system that can treat a variety of conditions.

A few common illnesses that I have treated with acupuncture include:

  • Sinus issues. A few of the sinus issues that acupuncture is known to improve include: sinusitis, dizziness, earaches, hay fever, allergies and more.

  • Circulatory Disorders. High blood pressure is a very common problem in many of the Raleigh business professionals I see. High blood pressure has been shown to improve with acupuncture.

  • Gastrointestinal Problems. Due to the unknown status of the food we all consume, many individuals suffer with diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and constipation. Some individuals suffer with more regular stomach issues that are treatable with acupuncture, such as: irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, colitis, and food allergies.

  • Gynecological Issues. 10.9% of all women in the United States are infertile. Acupuncture can help improve infertility issues as well as treat endometriosis and the related side effects, fibroids, premenstrual syndrome, and ovarian cysts.

  • Addictions. Regular visits to an acupuncturist can help individuals move past an addiction problem and help ease withdrawl symptoms. I have seen this first hand working in both detox clinics and in my own Raleigh office.

  • Emotional Disorders. Emotional disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, and depression can be debilitating in life, but acupuncture can improve these conditions.

Having been a Triangle acupuncturist for almost 10 years, I have seen how acupuncture can treat so many illnesses as well as improve individuals lives. There is no reason to let common ailments make life difficult or reduce one’s quality of life.

Many people have heard about acupuncture, but still don’t believe it can help them, and sometimes the fear of needles keeps them from giving it a try. If you have any reservations, please call me, Jill Doan, Licensed Acupuncturist, at To The Point Acupuncture to learn more about Chinese medicine and acupuncture and how it may be able to benefit you.

Autumn Leaves

The Key to your Wei-Qi

The change of seasons, especially late summer into fall, can also mean the start of cold season. In Chinese medicine, there are 5 Elements. Each are related to a particular season: winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall. The element associated with the fall is Metal. The two organs associated with this element are the large intestine and the lungs. The lungs help circulate the wei-qi, or defensive qi in our bodies. If the wei-qi is weak, the body’s defense system is down and you are more susceptible to colds and flu. Although we can control much of our everyday life, one thing we cannot control is the constant exposure to germs, bacteria and viruses. Our best defense is to keep our immune system strong enough so that when we encounter these germs we don’t get sick. Acupuncture is very effective at strengthening the body’s immune system. If our lung qi is weak, then our wei-qi is also weak and it can’t circulate properly. By strengthening our lung qi and keeping our energy balanced, we can strengthen our body’s natural resistance to disease.

Herbs can also be very effective in prevention or decreasing the duration of an illness. A common Chinese formula used to build up the body’s natural defenses is called Jade Windscreen, or Yu Ping Feng San. It is a classic formula that dates back over 800 years and it most widely known to treat for the prevention of colds and allergies. It is safe for both adults and children. If a cold or flu is already present in the body, other herbal formulas would be prescribed.

 

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Get an adequate amount of sleep (7-8 hours a night is sufficient)
  3. Exercise regularly (aerobic activity a few times a week and muscle strengthening at least twice a week is recommended)
  4. Avoid refined sugars (it taxes and weakens the body’s immune system)
  5. Foods: sweet potatoes, pears, and nuts are foods that strengthen and tonify lung energy. The flavor associated with the fall is pungent. Examples of some pungent foods are: peppers, chilies, onions, mustard, ginger, and garlic.