Health WellNews

Does Your Liver Need a Spring Tune-Up?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is ruled by a particular organ system and spring is connected to the liver. What does this mean? Well, you probably notice changes in the way you feel, both physically and mentally, as the seasons change. I know I tend to feel a bit more contemplative and introspective during the winter months. Once spring hits, I’m ready to recharge and get things done. The liver energy is strong and assertive, the type of energy you need to create plans and then propel them into motion. However, if your liver is a little out of balance, you might notice you are more irritable or on edge than usual. Here are a few signs that your liver is in need of an acupuncture tune-up:

1) You’ve noticed an increase in headaches lately, and these headaches seem to feel worse when you aren’t active. Generally, these headaches tend to manifest at the vertex of your head.

2) You might begin to feel constipated or bloated. Your bowel movements might become irregular, alternating between constipation and loose stools. Hard, difficult stools that appear pebbly are also a sign of liver imbalance.

acupuncture spring liver tuneup

3) Your friends or coworkers are scared of you because you are cranky, cranky, cranky. When liver energy is out of balance, you might feel agitated, irritated and generally out of sorts. Sometimes the irritation can expand into outright anger more easily than it would if this energy was flowing smoothly.

4) Ladies, you may notice your PMS symptoms have been worse lately. Bloating, breast tenderness, sensitivity…you can blame all of the above on your liver. If your periods are more painful or clotted, this is also due to a stagnation of liver energy.

5) Your eyes are red, itchy or irritated.

6) Your shoulders, neck or jaw are uncomfortably tight. If the liver energy is out of balance, it can flow upward. This causes everything in your body to rise up: you might grind or clench your teeth, your shoulders will levitate up around your ears, and you might experience symptoms of TMJ.

7) Your allergies are in full force. Common symptoms among allergic rhinitis include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, swelling around the eyes, persistent cough, sinus headaches, earaches and more.

Acupuncture for Treating Depression

Depression has a tendency to rear its head when we feel overwhelmed or out of balance. Hopefully, we can pull ourselves out of the depressed state and continue on with everyday life. But, that is not always the case. Clinical depression affects upwards of 16 million adults in the United States. Typically, doctors prescribe antidepressants, but alternative methods, like acupuncture, work just as effectively as antidepressants without any negative side effects.

acupuncture for depression

Whereas antidepressants address the symptoms of depression and ignore the root causes, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help alleviate symptoms of depression while also attacking the root cause(s). In this way, TCM brings the body and mind back into balance. Rather than ignoring the connection between the body and mind, acupuncturists approach treatment from a holistic standpoint. When we experience emotional challenges and upset, our physical body may become affected as well. Then a vicious cycle begins, because the emotions are greatly impacted by what we can and cannot do physically.        

Long term imbalances in both our physical bodies and our minds can lead to a state of depression. This depression affects our qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy. Qi animates the body while guarding it from pain and illness. When Qi is blocked and unable to flow properly throughout the body and mind, stagnation is created which can lead to depression. Acupuncture helps to unblock these areas of stagnation, allowing qi to flow freely again. When the qi flows freely, physical pain and mental anguish will dissipate over time and the depression will lift.

For those who suffer with severe depression, acupuncture may not be enough. This is where other elements of TCM come into play. Things such as herbal formulas can be excellent additives for helping people cope with depression. There are several Chinese herbal formulas that work very well. One of the most commonly used formulas is Chai Hu Shu Gan San. This formula contains things like white peony root, tangerine peels and bitter orange that help boost or tonify the qi. Many times, natural remedies are a better choice for those suffering from depression, as there are far fewer side effects than found in prescription pharmaceuticals.

Techniques like tai chi or qi gong are other ways to help battle depression naturally. Tai chi and qi gong bring the body and mind back into balance by decreasing stress and allowing the person performing it to focus all of their intentions on the movements. This allows the mind to relax, which in turn relaxes the body. Tai chi and qi gong also increase oxygen flow into the muscles, allowing for increased mobility.

If you are somebody who suffers from depression and you are looking for natural, holistic solutions, TCM may be the right choice for you.

The Benefits of Moxibustion

Traditional Chinese medicine is a medical system that incorporates numerous methods for treating disease and illness. One of the tools found in the toolbox of the Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner is known as moxibustion.      

Moxibustion is a technique that involves the burning of mugwort, known as moxa, which is an herb that facilitates healing. The purpose of moxibustion is to stimulate the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), strengthen the blood and maintain general health. Qi is translated as life energy. There are two types of moxibustion, direct and indirect. Direct moxibustion uses moxa that is shaped into a small cone and is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion has two subcategories, scarring and non-scarring. Non-scarring moxa allows for the moxa to be placed upon the acupuncture point, lit and extinguished or removed before it burns the skin.  Non-scarring moxibustion creates a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deeply into the skin, but does not create a scar or any pain. Scarring moxa burns until it distinguishes on its own. This may lead to localized scarring and blisters. Indirect moxibustion is the more popular of the forms. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a stick of moxa and holds it close to the acupuncture point for several minutes until the area turns red.

Moxibustion can be used for many reasons because it provides many benefits. The first benefit of moxibustion is it is warming to the body. Many people who have autoimmune diseases, low immunity and blood conditions are frequently cold. The warming properties of moxa make it a great choice for these types of conditions.

Moxa is also a good choice for those suffering from aches and pains. The warming properties of moxa allow it to increase blood flow by warming the blood. Increased blood flow means increased oxygenation to the tissues, muscles and tendons that are sore.

Another benefit of utilizing moxibustion is increased immunity. Studies have shown moxibustion significantly increases the white blood cell count in the body, which is the major component of the immune system. Moxa strengthens the immune system and helps re-balance autoimmune diseases.

Despite the fact moxibustion involves the burning of mugwort, it has been shown to be very beneficial for cooling areas of inflammation. This again goes back to blood flow.  Moxa improves blood flow to areas of inflammation, while promoting the natural radiation function of the skin. This also works on chronic inflammation diseases like arthritis.

As moxibustion has many benefits and can be used to treat multiple diseases and ailments, it might be a good addition to a person’s health regimen. It is recommended that only properly trained and fully licensed practitioners be used and a quick internet search can easily provide the names of those located nearby. There’s never a better time than now to start incorporating healthy living habits.