Health WellNews

In Summer, Nourish Your Heart

Summer is a time of abundant energy, long sunshine-filled days, and warmth. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer has many different associations that help define it and therefore help us understand how to stay in balance with the season. To shed some light on the context of summer, its element is fire, the color is red, its emotion is joy and the governing organs are the heart and the small intestine. One way you can stay healthy this Summer is to adjust your habits in order to support your heart.

acupuncture in summer heart

The heart is the main organ associated with the season of summer, and as such, it should be paid close attention to and nourished to remain healthy. The heart’s main function is to circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. In TCM, mental activity is also associated with the heart. This mental activity is known as Shen in Chinese medicine. Often compared to our mind, the Shen goes deeper to include our thought processes, memory, consciousness, and emotional well-being.

Summer is the most appropriate time to calm the Shen and provide
it with enrichment that will last throughout the whole year.

When the fire element is balanced, the mind is calm, sleep is sound and the heart organ is strong and healthy. If the fire element is not balanced, there may be depression or an excess of joy which manifests as mania. Symptoms of an unbalanced fire element include heartburn, insomnia, agitation, nervousness, digestive upset, rashes, palpitations, and excessive perspiration.

The small intestine, the second organ associated with summer in TCM, is responsible for separating the pure from the impure, allowing the body to use the pure and dispose of the impure. When the heart is not balanced, the small intestine, the brother to the heart, will not function properly either. For many people, this manifests as digestive upset of some sort: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, etc.

Going outside and engaging all of your senses is an easy way to nourish the heart. A technique known as “grounding” has been gaining popularity over the past decade, and science is showing that it can be very beneficial. All one has to do is walk or stand in the grass while barefoot. The energy from the earth is incredible, and it can be very healing. While you’re there, take time to listen to the sounds of nature that surround you and enjoy the fragrances of the flowers. Taking in the experience with all your senses can be very grounding and have a calming effect on the mind and body.

Probably the two most important things you can do for heart health during the summer months is drink plenty of fresh water and eat cooling foods. No matter what season of the year, water is vital. It is recommended we drink at least 64 ounces per day. Cooling foods like fruits are good at keeping fire under control, which is healthy for the whole body. Other foods that are beneficial for the summer months include peppers, eggplant, cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach, melons of all kinds, beets, radishes, jicama, carrots, berries, pineapple, cucumbers, peaches, peppermint, grapefruit, and mushrooms.

Healthy Eating for Spring

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, spring is the season of the liver and the gallbladder. These organs regulate a smooth flow of energy throughout the whole body. However, they are prone to stagnation if we do not take proper care of ourselves. This can manifest as anger, irritability, depression, insomnia and even pain. Stagnation can occur when people live an unhealthy lifestyle and make poor dietary decisions.

Spring is a time of renewal, regeneration, growth and energy. Plants and animals awaken from their slumber, and vital nutrients stored in the roots of plants during the cold winter months come to the surface as life becomes more vibrant and fluid.

Human beings are no different. Humans stay indoors more during the winter months, and tend to pack on a little extra weight in the process. As the weather warms, humans become more gregarious and spend more time outside enjoying nature. This is just a natural process.

Therefore, it makes sense that what was observed by the ancient Chinese should still hold true today. Humans are supposed to take their cues from nature. As a species, humans should be more active during the warmer spring months. And to do this, we need proper nourishment. Qi (pronounced “chee”) can be interpreted as the “life energy” or “life force,” that flows within us. This Qi is the vital substance that keeps our bodies functioning until the day we die. To keep the Qi plentiful, we need to eat the proper foods at the proper times.

During the spring, we should be eating foods that have upward moving energies, such as green, sprouting vegetables. But we also need food that will provide the extra nourishment for the increased amount of activity that accompany the season of spring. This is where bitter foods play a vital role. Bitter foods are known to clear heat, dry dampness and stimulate appetite. Consider adding foods such as kale, collards, celery or arugula to provide yourself some much needed springtime energy.

Foods that have a slightly bitter taste, such as asparagus, quinoa, romaine lettuce and dandelion tea, are also known to effectively ward off heat in the liver. Food rich in chlorophyll help ward off stagnation and enhance the free flow of Qi, these include wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella, parsley, kale, Swiss chard and collard greens. Notice, all of these are abundant during the months of spring. Finally we suggest adding a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon first thing in the morning. This routine will help detoxify the liver and gallbladder to start the day off fresh.

Six Reasons to Try Acupuncture this Year

Do you ever feel that you’re on a roller coaster ride that never ends? Do you have aches and pains almost daily? How many nights a week do you stare at the clock waiting for sleep to arrive? Are medications ruling your life? When was the last time you actually felt at peace? If any of these questions resonate with you, it might be time to look to Traditional Chinese Medicine for answers. Acupuncture is one modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and people throughout Asia have known the magnificence of acupuncture for thousands of years. Over the last several years, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been growing in popularity worldwide.

Here are six reasons why you might want to consider using it too.

MANAGE YOUR PAIN

Pain is the number one reason why people turn to acupuncture, and for good reason. If you’ve tried everything else and have found little to no relief, acupuncture may be right for you. But remember, chronic pain took time to develop and it will also take time for acupuncture treatments to work. Many people get some relief immediately, but acupuncture works on a cumulative basis, so commitment to the process and adhering to your suggested treatment regime, is a must.

acupuncture pain spring stress

GET SOME REST

Acupuncture can address imbalances in your body that may contribute to your inability to get a good night’s sleep. It’s been shown that acupuncture can actually encourage the brain to produce the chemicals that help you relax and sleep better. If you have difficulty falling asleep, wake up frequently or you toss and turn a lot, acupuncture might just be the missing link. In fact, many people report falling asleep while receiving acupuncture treatments and say they sleep like babies after their treatments.

ALLEVIATE YOUR ALLERGIES

Seasonal or otherwise, allergies can be debilitating. Multiple studies have shown allergy symptoms can be decreased and sometimes even eliminated with the use of regular acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture can dramatically lessen allergic reactions, and in some cases help overcome what caused the symptoms in the first place. This safe and effective medicine can help most people reduce or eliminate dependence on allergy medication.

MANAGE YOUR MENSTRUATION

Many women suffer monthly from menstruation problems. It can be that her period is irregular, painful or so heavy that it leads to anemia and fatigue. There can also be mental health issues associated with periods, such as depression, anger and irritability. Most over-the-counter medications simply mask symptoms. But to treat the root of the problem, give acupuncture a try. Acupuncture works to balance your body’s systems to regulate menstrual problems and alleviate nagging symptoms that plague women monthly.

ADDRESS YOUR ANXIETY, STRESS, OR DEPRESSION

Thousands of people in the U.S. suffer from stress, depression and anxiety. While there are many amazing therapists available to talk to, talk therapy may not be enough. Another common route is the use of prescription medications. But those are accompanied with unwanted side effects. This is where acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas can help. Acupuncture can actually start to relieve symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety in a few treatments without harsh side effects, and is drug-free and safe. With mental health issues looming as a larger problem, it makes sense to try a natural alternative first.

TRY PREVENTIVE MEDICINE

Did you know that acupuncture’s main function is to help keep you healthy? Acupuncture is not always known as a method of preventive care, but it should be.
Waiting until there is an injury or illness will only cause the treatments to take longer to be effective. Using acupuncture preemptively will help you fight off illness and let you recover more quickly.

These 6 reasons are enough to give acupuncture a try. It is 100% safe, natural, drug-free and effective.

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