Oh What A Spring!

I just love spring time! And what an interesting spring 2020 is turning out to be.
.
I can’t help but mention COVID-19 and the impact it’s having on everyone. I feel it’s helpful to remind people, pandemics and plagues have been happening essentially since the beginning of time. I guess I never thought I’d get to experience one, but here we are. I pray you are able to find some peace in whatever situation you may be in. It’s encouraging to see how everyone is playing their part, however big or small, your actions make an impact…. what a great lesson for us all.
.
0075_ The Yellow Emperors
.
While there’s never an ideal time for pandemics, I feel it’s helpful it’s now officially SPRING!
.
According to the Yellow Emperor, “Spring is the beginning of things, when the energy should be kept open and fluid.” So much budding, new life represents all the new possibilities unfolding and the energy is magical. 
.
I grew up in Jester Park and the smell of fresh cut grass in the mornings while the birds sing their song of “spring’s here” is just the best way to start the day. The increased sunlight is definitely a positive as well. However, in Iowa it’s been quite rainy already.
.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, “the three months of the spring season bring about the revitalization of all things in nature. It is the time of birth. This is when heaven and earth are reborn. This is the season in which the universal energy begins anew.”
.
Recommendations to live with the season:
.
Retire early, arise early.
.
Go for walks to absorb the fresh energy. 
.
Be open and unsuppressed:
  • physically: exercise more frequently, increase stretching to loosen up tendons and muscles, wear loose- fitting clothing
  • emotionally: develop equanimity
    • Spring is the season of the liver, which also comes with anger, frustration, depression, and sadness. Any emotion in excess can injure the liver. So being aware of your emotions is very important:
      • notice your thoughts
      • think about why you may be feeling this way
      • realize if it’s settling anywhere physically in your body
      • accept it as it is
      • believe it will pass when it’s time
      • and take deep belly breaths.
.
While we are practicing social distancing, I think it’s more important than ever to follow the seasonal recommendations given to us from nature itself. This will only help our minds, bodies, and spirits in adjusting to and eventually thriving from this situation.
.
What are your favorite things about Spring!? What at home activities are you implementing into your daily life?
.
Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

How to Find a Licensed Acupuncturist

So you’ve heard about acupuncture and have an inkling to try it, but where do you start?
.
I want to stress the importance of receiving acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist. While other professionals may perform acupuncture, the theory and techniques we learn from our 3-4 year program, 700 hours plus in clinical experience, and studying and passing 3-4 national board exams, is quite amazing and has so much to offer in increasing your quality of life. 
.
0041_ Needle Application
.

While each state’s rules and regulations for practicing acupuncture vary, it’s important you check the acupuncturist’s credentials. Licensed acupuncturists in the state of Iowa must have completed 3 years of post secondary training at an accredited acupuncture college, be a current diplomate in the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), and must have completed a Clean Needle Technique (CNT) course approved by the NCCAOM. After those three steps are completed, they may apply to be licensed in the state of Iowa. Only then can they practice acupuncture as a licensed acupuncturist!

To find nationally certified licensed acupuncturists in your city or state, search the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) website. https://directory.nccaom.org/

Just like in any other profession, every acupuncturist is different. Don’t be afraid to seek out different acupuncturists to find the one that’s the perfect fit for you!

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

Keeping Your Child Healthy With Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine is so beneficial for adults, but it is just as beneficial for children! Children even respond more quickly to treatments than adults because of their young age and increased self-healing ability. If you’re wondering how Chinese medicine can help children, I want to recommend a book to read explaining it all!

Keeping your child healthy with chinese medicine

Keeping Your Child Healthy With Chinese Medicine: A Parent’s Guide to the Care and Prevention of Common Childhood Diseases is a fabulous book to read to learn about children and Chinese medicine. Bob Flaws does a thorough job of explaining how things work in the body of a child. He goes through some of the main causes of most children’s diseases. He also gives recommendations on how to help your child not get sick – hint, it begins with the diet. He also discuses other ways to prevent diseases and promote health from Traditional Chinese Medicine theory.

Just some of the topics he discusses include: neonatal jaundice, colic, vomiting of milk, diarrhea, constipation, diaper rash, cradle cap, teething, fever, ear infections, cough, pediatric pneumonia and asthma, strep throat, bed-wetting, allergies, hyperactivity, chickenpox, and traumatic injuries.

I highly recommend Keeping Your Child Healthy with Chinese Medicine, especially if you have any little ones running around, whether you are the parent, guardian, aunt, uncle, grandparent or babysitter.
“In TCM pediatrics, it is believed that children are not simply miniature adults. Rather, children are immature physically and functionally according to Chinese medicine, and most of the common pediatric complaints are due to this immaturity.”
Keeping Your Child Healthy with Chinese Medicine p.7
There’s always so much to learn and remember to be open to other paradigms. The best health plan incorporates Eastern and Western medicine!

Why do some people tend to get sick more than others?

You may wonder why some people get sick while others do not. Those that tend towards sickness most likely have some internal deficiencies or imbalances.

IMG_2325

The specifics are difficult to explain and one of the many reasons for all of my education and training! Basically, a certain substance in the body is either not able to fulfill all of its functions or the external pathogenic invader is really strong. If the EPI is strong, but the right qi of the body (part of the body’s defense) is also strong, the person tend to not get sick as often. If the EPI is strong but the right qi is deficient, the person tends to get sick.

If you’re starting to feel less than your best, read my post about responding to cold and flu symptoms for more information on what is going on and what to do next.

Does Holiday Eating Affect Your Digestion? TCM Can Help!

522321_10151140025238314_2119448189_n

The holidays are officially here with Thanksgiving this Thursday! I just love the holidays – family time, giving thanks and all of the amazing food! But with all this glorious food, usually comes overeating and digestive upset.

Whether you are always hungry, never hungry, crave sweet, salty, spicy, or bitter food, or have stomach pain and distention, Traditional Chinese Medicine can help. Digestion is the center of your health and if it is not in tip top shape, you may have some symptoms. Stop in to your local acupuncturist to see how Chinese medicine can help you!

If you are one of the many people who tend to overeat, I recommend you to try to eat mindfully. This consists of really being present when you eat: smell the food, chew each mouthful fully, and remember to set your utensil down after each bite. I just read some more helpful tips on the Huffington Post.

I also know sometimes you overeat, especially during the holidays – and I don’t blame you! I’m right there with ya. If you find yourself uncomfortable after meals or snack times, be sure to have some ginger tea or peppermint tea on hand. When I find my digestion in need of some assistance, I love to brew some ginger or peppermint tea.

Ginger is warming and helps promote digestion and alleviates symptoms of nausea and indigestion including: gas, bloating, and stomach cramps. Ginger is good for you if you tend to be cooler in temperature.

Peppermint is cooling and also alleviates symptoms of nausea and indigestion including: gas, bloating, and stomach cramps. Peppermint is good if you tend to be warmer in temperature.

If your digestive system needs extra help to handle the holidays, come and see me! I will be in the clinic this Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Call the Acupuncture Wellness Center at (515) 556-3304 or visit our website to make an appointment today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Responding to Cold & Flu Symptoms

According to Chinese Medicine, when a person gets sick, we refer to this as having an external pathogenic invader (EPI). This means that it is an external condition and the goal is to expel the external pathogen first and then gently tonify the internal so one does not get sick again. When you feel like you are starting to get sick, the way you respond can determine if you will be under the weather for a few days or weeks.

It is important to take action quickly and appropriately at the first onset of symptoms. Generally, EPIs in America may be dealt with as follows:

Get plenty of rest. The importance of resting cannot be overstated. When you rest, your qi and blood is able to replenish itself to try to fight off the EPI. If you continue with your busy schedule and high demands, your qi and blood won’t be able to keep up with your schedule let alone fighting off the enemy!

Layer up! When a person dresses warmly the extra layer of clothing helps warm the body, which supports the yang qi. This allows the yang qi to focus on fighting the EPI and not work so hard to keep the body warm. With most EPI, the goal is to induce a mild sweat, so that the EPI may be expelled. It is difficult to induce a mild sweat if you are not properly covered.

Consume warm food and drinks. In modern America, it is not uncommon to constantly be ingesting cold foods and drinks. However, you may not know how harmful this can be to your body, especially when you are trying to fight off an illness of some sort. Just like it is important for the yang qi to keep you warm, it is also important that your food and drink helps contribute to this. Your spleen and stomach are in charge of digestion. These organs are like a melting pot; in order for the substance to be extracted from the food, it needs to be hot. Think of how much harder your spleen and stomach need to work if what you consume is cold! Cold foods can require your spleen and stomach to work harder, which in turn may cause them to be a little deficient at times. During times of sickness, you definitely don’t want your spleen to be deficient.

See your acupuncturist if you feel your body needs an extra boost to fight off the EPI and to determine other modalities that may be appropriate.

See your primary care physician if symptoms progress or worsen.

**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

Lifestyle Adjustments for the Changing Seasons

IMG_0294 copy

Have you noticed the shift in seasons has begun? Even though Iowa still has some warm days, there is definitely a chill in the air! It’s important to note when the seasons change, as it subtly suggests we should also change and incorporate some modifications into our daily life.

The season of autumn belongs to the Lung*. According to the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, by Maoshing Ni, this is when “all things in nature reach their full maturity, heavenly energy cools, wind begins to stir, it’s the pivoting point when the yang phase turns into the yin phase.”

Essentially, this means it’s time to change up the way you do things a bit. Here are some helpful tips from the Yellow Emperor to naturally change with the season:

  • Go to bed with the sunset, get up with the sunrise – In theory, this sounds great, but we all know this may not be possible. Either way, it’s helpful to try to get a little more sleep.
  • Eat warm, cooked foods.
  • Stay warm. It’s tempting to want to get the last wear out of your favorite summer sandals, but be sure to layer up with scarves and sweaters to keep your qi strong. Not sure what to wear? Check out my friend Carly’s post for how to stay warm and stylish!
  • Take time to gather one’s spirit and energy.
  • Remain calm and peaceful, and try to avoid feelings of depression or grief. Sadness also belongs to the Lung.
  • Stay focused.
  • Keep the Lung energy full, clean and quiet – Do so by practicing breathing exercises to enhance Lung qi.

While it may be difficult to follow all of them, focus on a few you think you can do and try to integrate the change of season into your everyday life.

Happy Autumn! 

*When practitioners of Chinese Medicine talk of organs, it does not necessarily mean the physical organ. Rather we are talking of the channel of the organ and the properties associated with the organ according to Chinese Medicine.