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. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine Terms

Acupuncture needles in gua sha spoon

Photo Credit: Amanda Sengbusch

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encompasses a variety of modalities including acupuncture, cupping, tui na, gua sha, moxa, herbal therapy, and food therapy.

Acupuncture has been practiced for 3000-5000 years. It is defined as the insertion of sterile, disposable, single-use needles into acupuncture points throughout the entire body. The points are located on meridians that course throughout the body. Through the use of acupuncture points, a particular effect may be obtained because each point has specific functions. There are as many as 2,000 points.

Cupping is the use of glass cups to create a suction of the skin. The most common place to cup is the back, legs, hips and shoulders. Cupping is the therapeutic use of suction to increase blood and oxygen flow to the area. This helps relax the muscles, stimulate acupuncture points and decrease pain. Cupping helps with conditions of coughing, pain, poor sleep and more. Bruises are a common side effect of cupping, depending on the patient’s condition and constitution; the bruises should only last 3-7 days.

Electrical Stimulation Acupuncture (E-Stim) is the use of a tens unit along with the acupuncture points to provide constant and measurable stimulation to the desired points. E-stim is effective with increasing the results of post-stroke symptoms and reducing pain.

Gua sha, meaning “scraping sha – bruising” is the use of a spoon, jade or other utensil that scrapes the skin to produce light bruising. This releases unhealthy elements and increases blood flow and healing.

Herbal therapy has been around for thousands of years. It is a useful complement to acupuncture treatments because while a person may only get acupuncture treatments weekly, monthly or as needed, a person may take herbs daily to address certain symptoms and support their constitution. Herbs are great for balancing the body and for addressing: digestion, emotions, sleep, women’s issues, common colds and flu.

Moxibustion (moxa) is the use of the herb, mugwort, topically to increase energy, reduce pain and benefit the overall constitution.

Tui na “twee- nah” is a combination of massage and acupressure that uses the meridians and acupuncture points to increase the movement of qi and reduce pain.

My Journey to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Ever since I was a young child I have always been interested in medicine, health and the human body.  How the body works is so fascinating! When I was in high school I had set my sights on becoming a doctor, specifically a pediatrician. I had, and still have, a special interest in helping children become healthier to help prevent illnesses and diseases. Then some of my family members started going to see an acupuncturist at the Iowa Acupuncture Clinic for various ailments. Like most people, I had no idea what acupuncture was or what it could do, but when my family members saw improvements it piqued my interest.
 
As I was talking to my mom about wanting to be a doctor, she said she could see me being an acupuncturist. The thought intrigued me, so I decided to get my first acupuncture treatment. My main goal was to get a better understanding of acupuncture, and my initial experience was relaxing and enjoyable. I was very curious because the acupuncturist asked me questions based on what she observed by looking at my tongue and feeling my pulse. It was extremely interesting to learn that our bodies tell us things every day; we just need to be aware of it and listen.
 
After that, I began working at the Iowa Acupuncture Clinic and the medicine continued to amaze me. I really enjoyed being a part of the clinic and observing patient interactions. I saw improvements in my health in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible from tiny needles being strategically placed all over my body. At the time I truly did not understand how much theory went into a treatment.
 
I graduated from Johnston High School in 2007 and started my undergraduate experience at Grand View University in the fall of 2007. Throughout my time at Grand View, I continued to work part-time at the clinic and it only confirmed my passion for Chinese Medicine. I earned my Bachelors Degree in Health Promotion: Wellness and Fitness and went on to pursue my Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from Northwestern Health Sciences University. After my education in health and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I’m even mIMG_9394ore amazed with the body and all of the miracles that happen every second.

I now work for Acupuncture Wellness Center & Allergy Clinic of Iowa, and every day I’m thankful for all of the steps that lead me down this path towards my calling of being an acupuncturist. I have dedicated myself to helping people feel their best.  After all, we only have one body for this one amazing life; we better take the best care of it we can.