Acupuncture needles on round lid

Turning the Tables

Hi friend!

A common question I received when I was going through acupuncture school was if I’ve had acupuncture before. While some people began acupuncture school prior to having their first treatment, I’ve had countless acupuncture treatments before school. While every treatment is a different experience, I want to share one that I’ve never forgotten. This treatment took place while I was in my second year at North Western Health Sciences University.

Acupuncture needles on round lid

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

 

I began having some eye issues. After a while, I went to the eye doctor to ensure everything physically was okay. I was told all was fine and that my issue may be a form of a migraine- since I was also experiencing headaches and nausea. Also, I have naturally larger pupils that my be contributing to the blurriness and halos at night. They gave me some drops to try to help and sent me on my way. Now, I completely own up to not using the eye drops regularly, but the eye issue continued.

I made an initial acupuncture appointment with one of my instructors at his acupuncture clinic. This treatment was unlike any other. To start, his initial intake was super quick. He was able to read so much from feeling my radial pulse and looking at my tongue. Granted, this was what we were going to school for, but to see it in practice and see just how much you can tell from the pulse and tongue, was so amazing!

He asked me a few questions and after just a couple minutes of talking, I hopped up on the table and tried to relax. You’d think I’d be super calm when getting an acupuncture treatment, especially when I was currently going to school for it!… But this was not the case. I usually would have sensations of a cold sweat and minor shakes… but I was able to relax once the needles were inserted. I felt de qi with each needle (de qi– is a dull ache sensation- which is a good thing- this means the qi has been activated:)). He then sat at the head of the table and got ready to do the acupuncture point Urinary Bladder 1 (UB1). This point is at the medial side of the inner canthus of the eye. If you rub your eye from the outside inward to your nose, where your finger lands is essentially UB1. So I held my eyes shut and tried not to think so much about needles being threaded so close to my eyes. (The saying, “stick a needle in your eye” never seemed so true!) I do want to be sure to say though, he did NOT stick the needle in my eye, this point is just quite close to the eye and super effective for a variety of issues.

He then made sure I was comfortable and let me rest. During the time resting it was relaxing and nice. For a while there I actually felt like the table was rocking back and forth in a figure eight pattern. I felt like I was on a boat. It wasn’t bad, it was just unlike any other treatment I’ve experienced.

During the second part of the treatment, he did cupping on my upper back. The suction of the cups were intense but relaxing. If you haven’t experienced cupping, I’d definitely recommend it (and you can read more about different acupuncture modalities in my post about Traditional Chinese Medicine Terms). It’s a wonderful way to relax your muscles and relieve pain, along with many other benefits.

We continued with bi- monthly treatments and herbs for a couple months and my eye issue decreased and I haven’t had it since!

Comparison of acupuncture needles to sewing needles

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

Every acupuncture treatment is different, from what the person is coming in for, to the practitioner, to what the patient experiences. Most times it’s nice and relaxing but other times it’s a little more intense. Now being out of school and practicing for five years, hearing what patients experience during the treatments is one of my favorite things! Sometimes people don’t notice much, sometimes they notice all sorts of things. 

Whatever the patient notices, I can say, it’s completely worth it!

If you’re interested in experiencing all the amazing benefits of acupuncture, feel free to contact Feel Good Clinics in West Des Moines, or check out my blog post, How to Find a Licensed Acupuncturist to search for a licensed acupuncturist near you!

With faith, hope, and love,

Emily Kappelman 

Lemon; Lemon Essential Oil

Recommendations for Spring Health

Hello Friend!

It’s mid may and it sure is looking and feeling like spring. The trees and flowers are budding (all on their own time), the weather goes from 40 degrees and rainy to 70 degrees and sunny (that’s a big change for our bodies to handle!), and we have more daylight hours! Such a wonderful transition from the winter. As mentioned in Oh What A Spring about living with the season of spring, while winter was a time of yin, spring begins the shift to yang.

The properties of the Yin Yang Theory are:

  • While they oppose each other, they also support one another.
  • Neither can exist without the other.
  • They are infinitely divisible in each other.
  • They are dynamic.

These principles are visible in our every day world: in nature, in our own bodies, and even in the emotions, feelings, and experiences of life. This is nicely explained in chapter four of Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold… (which I plan to blog about in the near future :)).

Between Heaven and Earth Book; Bird Image

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

Specific Examples of Yin & Yang: 

Yin: cold, dark, female, hard, heavy, hidden, midnight, moon, still, water (element), winter

Yang: hot, light, male, soft, light (mass), revealed, midday, sun, movement, fire (element), summer

With it being in full swing of spring, we need to ensure we are living with the season, and not in opposition to it. We are moving from yin within yin (winter) to yin within yang (spring).

Something I truly appreciate about Traditional Chinese Medicine is the theory… behind everything. Really, you look outside, and there are the elements and principles which one may find the patterns of your own health and wellbeing. While it takes years of studying to master, the medicine itself is intuitive once you know it.

Spring= Wood= Wind=Liver/ Gallbladder= Green= Anger= Eyes= Tendons

So, friend, spring is the perfect time to help support your Liver health.

The Liver is in charge of free flow of Qi (chee) throughout your body. As explained in Between Heaven and Earth, “The Liver Network is to monitor flow, maintaining evenness of emotions and clarity of judgment, giving grace and flexibility to the physical and mental body.” As you could imagine, if your Liver Qi is imbalanced, all sorts of issues may occur. That being said, living in modern America, it’s very common to have an imbalance of Liver Qi due to our busy, hectic, constantly moving lifestyles.

Some ways to help smooth your Liver Qi:

  •  Breath
    • Honestly, everything could be improved upon with breathing!
    • When you do slow, deep, belly out, inhalations you are allowing your lungs to expand fully since you’re helping your diaphragm move the way it’s intended.
    • The Liver can easily get tight and tense. And the Liver Qi, as is all Qi in the body, is impacted by the breath. The breath fuels our lungs with the oxygen it needs to keep us alive. When our body has the oxygen it needs, it will be less tense and more relaxed.
  • Drink your water!
    • Oh water. Something that is so healing and nourishing, yet so many people seem to forget all the amazing benefits of simply drinking water.
    • Basically we’re about 70% water, so we need water to survive and thrive.
    • The Liver will benefit from ample water intake due to having enough hydration in the body to ensure proper flow of fluids, lubrication of joints, flushing of the system, and plump organs.
  • Dry Skin Brushing
    • This is a wonderful method to help the lymphatic system of the body.* When you help the lymphatic system, you also assist the Qi in moving more smoothly throughout the body. When you help the overall Qi of the body move smoothly, you help the Liver.
    • You can purchase a Dry Skin Brush at most local health stores or online for $10-20.
    • You want to dry skin brush only on completely dry, closed skin.* Before you bathe is usually most ideal. It’s also recommended to dry skin brush in the tub, to catch any dead skin that may flake off.. I know I know… sounds lovely, but it feels wonderful!
      • Be sure to start at the hands and feet and work towards the heart.
      • For your stomach, back, and armpits brush in a circular clockwise motion.
      • You can do anywhere from 5-15 passes on each section.
      • Use enough pressure to feel it, but don’t rub your skin raw… that’s NOT the goal. It should feel almost like a good itch. Be sure to go gentler on more sensitive areas.
      • Continue with your shower and moisturize appropriately.
      • Repeat every few days to every day, depending on your need.
      • Even if you only remember once a week… do it! Once a week is better than not doing it at all.
    • *People with open or inflamed should avoid dry skin brushing. Never dry skin brush over burns, rashes, infections, open wounds, etc. Always consult with your health care practitioner before adding this into your routine.
  • Lemons
    • Lemons have amazing benefits for overall health and wellbeing.
    • Lemons can help your body with it’s natural detoxing abilities. And when you think of detoxing, you think of the function of the liver.
    • You can use the food (a slice), the juice (~1tsp), or the essential oil (1 drop)* per glass of room temperature water.
  • Massage
    • When you move your body, you help the Qi move.
    • Passive movements of your body (as in when someone else is doing the moving for your body) provide wonderful benefits to unblocking stagnation within the body and helping to open up the channels.
    • Plus it feels amazing!
  • Mindset/ Prayers/ Reflection/ Appreciation
    • Yes, mindset/ prayers/ reflections/ having appreciation can help your Liver Qi!
    • The thoughts you think create your feelings and emotions.
    • When the Liver is imbalanced, the emotion you may be feeling more of is anger, irritability, rage, and/ or depression.
    • When you can take stock of your thoughts, you can observe what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. From there you can shift your thought to more accurate thinking or more positive thinking- whichever is better suited for you.
    • Traditional Chinese Medicine realizes that emotional issues can cause physical issues and physical issues can cause emotional issues.
    • So when you take your thoughts and emotions into account, you can change your physical health, and improve your Liver Qi.
  •  Move & Stretch
    • The Liver governs the tendons, so the health of your tendons are a reflection of your Liver Qi.
    • When you move and stretch, you strengthen, lengthen, and nourish the tendons. This will help balance the Liver Qi.
    • Moving/ exercising/ having an active lifestyle will help ensure your Liver Qi is flowing smoothly.
    • When you are stationary, your Liver Qi can easily get stagnant.
    • Human beings were made to move.
    • Move your body = move your Liver Qi!
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
    • Acupuncture
      • When you insert needles into the body, it creates a micro-trauma. This micro-trauma signals to the brain to increase it’s healing mechanisms.
      • Acupuncture helps the body heal itself.
      • When utilizing needles/ laser/ pressure, a licensed acupuncturist can help direct the flow of Qi in the body.
      • If your Liver Qi is imbalanced, your practitioner can help detect this and perform the proper treatment.
    • Herbs
      • Taking herbs is like having a daily treatment specifically to your needs and patterns.
      • Herbal formulas are wonderfully balanced in their ability to help regulate the energy of the body and bring the body back to homeostasis.
      • Herbal formulas should only be prescribed by a qualified herbalist.
    • Check out FeelGoodClinics.com to schedule.
    • Check out my blog post to find a licensed acupuncturist near you!
Needles on Wood

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

Those are my top suggestions to help balance your Liver Qi. I suggest adding one thing at a time to see how it works for you and to establish more of a routine, but feel free to do what you need.

I hope this offers some support to your health during the season of spring!

With faith, hope, and love,

Emily Kappelman 

*The suggested uses in the above post apply only to the use of therapeutic grade, Young Living Essential Oils. Not all essential oils are the same! Be sure to consult with the product label or healthcare practitioner for correct usage of essential oils. 

Oh What A Spring!

I just love spring time! And what an interesting spring 2020 is turning out to be.
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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.
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0075_ The Yellow Emperors
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While there’s never an ideal time for pandemics, I feel it’s helpful it’s now officially SPRING!
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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. 
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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.
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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.”
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Recommendations to live with the season:
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Retire early, arise early.
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Go for walks to absorb the fresh energy. 
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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.
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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.
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What are your favorite things about Spring!? What at home activities are you implementing into your daily life?
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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?
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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. 
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0041_ Needle Application
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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.

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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!

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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.

Acupuncture Ally: Lemon & Honey in Warm Water

We all know it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, I mean, roughly 50-75% of our bodies are made of water! But a common complaint I hear is that water is boring or people just don’t like it.

IMG_2115A fabulous way to make water a little more flavorful is to add lemon and honey. When I make this I use about a teaspoon of local honey (I love supporting local bee keepers!) and a couple drops of Young Living Lemon Essential Oil, which is a high quality therapeutic grade oil brand that is safe for ingestion.* Another option to incorporate lemon is to add a fresh slice right to warm or hot water.

Lemon: the temperature is cold; the taste is sour; the channels of the body it affects are the gallbladder, liver, kidney, lung and spleen. This promotes Qi and blood circulation, clears heat, removes toxins and transforms phlegm.

Honey: the temperature is neutral; the taste is sweet; the channels it affects are the spleen, stomach, large intestine and lung; the effects are: nourishes Yin, tonifies Qi, supplements Qi and blood, promotes blood circulation and removes toxins.

Lemon and honey are great additions to your daily habits year round, but especially in the autumn and winter since these seasons are Yin in nature, as opposed to Yang. Yin has to do with thicker, denser, more liquid substances throughout the body. According to Chinese medicine, when you combine foods of sweet and sour properties you have a wonderful mixture to tonify the Yin of the body. With the season of autumn being dry in nature, it is so important to be sure you’re nourishing and hydrating yourself.


Temperature: It’s also important to drink room temperature or warm water. This is one of the biggest differences between western and eastern theories. While western theories may say ice cold water boosts your metabolism to burn calories, according to eastern medicine, the cold may be hard on your digestive system.

Think of the spleen and stomach as a melting pot; food and liquid needs to be warmed and mixed in order to be digested. When you eat or drink warmer temperature items, you are helping the work of the spleen and stomach. When you eat or drink cooler temperature items you are making the spleen and stomach work harder. In today’s age with diet and lifestyle, many peoples’ spleens are already a little weak, so the ice and cold temperatures add to the problem. You may be experiencing bloating, gas, or loose stools if your spleen is deficient or weak.

This is one simple change you may add into your daily life. I will say it is a tough transition, and there will be foods and drinks you always want to be cold, but if you could incorporate more room temperature to warm things in your life your spleen with thank you for it! I promise you eventually get used to it! Just remember, small steps. Change takes time, but it’s worth it to feel more well and balanced.

*The suggested uses in the above post apply only to the use of therapeutic grade, Young Living Essential Oils. Not all essential oils are the same! Be sure to consult with the product label or healthcare professional for correct usage of other.

Lifestyle Adjustments for the Changing Seasons

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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.