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- Jean Donati Acupuncture604 E. Joppa RD
Towson, MD 21286410-984-3700
- • Seven Healthy Fall Habits •
- • 5 Ways to Stay Fit This Fall •
- • Improve Your Mental Health with Regular Meditation •
Spring is the season of growth, regeneration, increased activity, and new beginnings. The transition from winter to spring can allow us the ability to get more done and spend more time outside. Generally, spring is regarded as a happy season, especially for those living in places with colder, darker winters. Most of us look forward to the spring’s warmer weather and longer days. As everything around us blossoms in the sun, so too should we embrace this renewal.
As with any seasonal change, we must pay close attention to our body’s needs during this turbulent time of seasonal change. Moving from the indoor sleepy coldness of winter and into the warm, active spirit of spring can be tough on your system when not handled with care. For many, spring months also bring allergies, high blood pressure, headaches, sinus pain, congestion, anger, irritation, and tendon problems. Many of these problems can be attributed to increased wind in the environment. And while there is nothing that can be done about external weather factors, internal wind can be addressed and diminished using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the many modalities it incorporates.
Chinese Medicine places emphasis on living in tune with the seasons. TCM theory divides the year into five seasons! These five seasons each have associations and physical qualities that can be seen in both the external or “natural” world and also within our bodies. These elements interact daily, creating balance and harmony — or stirring up chaos within the body.
TCM associates spring with the liver and gallbladder. The gallbladder governs decision-making and controls the sinews of the body, while the liver is in charge of detoxification and keeping the energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) flowing smoothly. The liver tends to be a bit of a “bully” for many people, overwhelming bodily systems, so it’s important to keep it healthy. Often, winter months leave us with stagnant feelings in areas like relationships, work, and in our bodies. If we experience frustration, physical pain, or sadness, it may be a sign that energy is not flowing optimally. The liver and gallbladder are also related to the tendons, storing blood during periods of rest and releasing it to the tendons during times of activity. Because this pair of organs are responsible for the smooth flow of Qi and blood throughout the body, our daily activities should reflect this.
6 Ways to Rebalance Your Liver and Gallbladder
Stretch daily. Regular stretching is a great way to start and end the day. Adding yoga or tai chi to your daily routine can be very beneficial for the liver, tendons, and the body as a whole.
Get outside. Spending more time outside is another easy and powerful way to strengthen the liver and gallbladder energies in the spring. Moving around outside can get your heart rate up and keep you warm — if the temperature is still quite cold where you live, consider a warm-up exercise routine for inside before you brave the cold. Remember to dress in layers, wear boots instead of gym shoes, wear a warm hat, gloves, and socks, and, most importantly, protect your neck with a nice warm scarf.
For people with kids and families, getting outside is an excellent way to stay healthy and have fun together. Consider a walk with the dog, visiting a new park, playing basketball, soccer, rollerblading, biking, or even a good old game of frisbee with your family and kids. If you live in a wintery area, you might even seek out a local ice rink! In fact, at a moderate pace simply skating laps can burn up to 500 calories per hour while toning the muscles in your lower body and core that keep you mobile and limber. If ice skating sounds too cold for you, a bunded-up bike ride is another favorite spring activity. Because of its cardiovascular nature and use of the big quadriceps and gluteal muscles, biking will warm your body quickly.
Eat more greens. Eating fresh leafy greens is supportive of the liver’s detoxification function and can also help strengthen vision, thanks to the vitamins and nutrients in these veggies. And luckily, fresh greens are abundantly available in springtime!
Understand the elements. In TCM spring is associated with the element of wood. When a person is completely balanced, transitioning from one season to another doesn’t feel like a big deal. However, knowing what elemental type you are can be beneficial in determining how you will react to each passing season. For instance, a person who has a wood element constitution may experience anger during the spring. This is because the wood element is already closely associated with the emotion of anger and spring brings added stimuli that can trigger bits of rage.
Avoid overstimulation. It is also recommended to avoid excessive stimulants during the spring months. Things like coffee and caffeine supplements are considered expansive and energizing, which can be somewhat helpful during the cold winter months. However, during the spring, when life is abounding, excess energy can actually become harmful to the body. Symptoms can manifest themselves as headaches, insomnia, anger, and more.
Get your seasonal tune-up. To keep the liver and gallbladder working smoothly, things like acupuncture, herbal formulas, nutritional counseling can make a world of difference. Acupuncture can balance the body as it reacts to the changes in the weather and activity levels. Regular acupuncture treatments have also been shown to boost immunity. Spring can also cause flare-ups associated with seasonal allergies and acupuncture treatments can help with the inflammation, sneezing, runny nose, chest congestion, and watery eyes that accompany the allergic reactions. But most of all, acupuncture can help regulate those emotional imbalances that are often common during this transitional period.
As with any health care regiment, always be sure to seek out a fully licensed and properly trained professional, such as myself and my colleagues. By incorporating some simple practices into your life, you may just have a more enjoyable metamorphosis from winter into spring. If you need a little motivation to ease the transition, don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule your next appointment. 410-984-3700. https://East2WestMedicine.com
Welcome to the Jean Donati Acupuncture Autumn newsletter.
Inside you will find interesting information about the season of autumn, the element of metal, the lung and large intestine (the organs associated with metal), how metal shows up in all of us, and ways to strengthen your body, mind, and spirit in this season. Enjoy!
We are now truly into the autumn season. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and daylight is decreasing. In Chinese medicine, the autumn is the season of the metal element. It is a time of winding down, clearing out, and of gathering reserves for winter. The movement of autumn is inward and downward, taking us from the buzzing fullness of late summer into the deep stillness of winter. The energy of autumn, the metal element, moves us to eliminate what we no longer need, and reveals to us again, what is most precious in our lives.
The organs associated with the metal element are the lung and large intestine. The function of the lung in Chinese medicine is to receive inspiration. The lung takes in the pure and lets go of what is no longer needed. If the lung is not functioning well, waste builds up and we are unable to take in what is pure. Instead of tranquility, inspiration and freshness, we have symptoms such as bronchitis, shortness of breath, cough, allergy, asthma, congestion, colds and flu, constipation, spastic colon, and diarrhea. In terms of the mind and spirit, depression and stubbornness or an inability to let go may occur if the lung is not functioning well.
The function of the large intestine is to let go of what is toxic from the body, but not just on the physical level. Think of how much rubbish is sent our way every day, which affects our mind and spirit as well. We need to be able to eliminate the mental and spiritual rubbish or our minds become toxic and constipated, unable to experience or take in the beauty around us. A well functioning colon allows us to do this effectively.
In an individual, the metal element represents internal resolve and strength, self worth, self-esteem, vitality, and endurance as well as the ability to let go of emotional upsets and grudges. A person with well-balanced metal is organized, self disciplined, conscientious, precise, meticulous, and logical. They are straightforward. Metal qi bestows a deep inner strength. A person with unbalanced metal is disorganized, overly critical, unable to sense their value, and often lacks inspiration. They may seek respect and recognition from the outside because they feel a lack of worth on the inside. They have difficulty letting go of things because they identify their worth with those things.
As we move into the cold damp and windy weather of autumn, we need to nourish our yang energy. One way to do this is by eating foods prepared by long, slow baking, roasting, or stewing. Use warming herbs and spices such as ginger, garlic, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper. Foods prepared in this way warm the body.
Foods that reflect the quality of autumn are heartier in flavor and more astringent. Foods like turnips, ginger, garlic, and horseradish are thought to assist in cleansing grief (the emotion associated with the metal element). Roots like carrots and turnips and winter squash help ground us and increase our ability to focus.
Foods to incorporate
To Clear Phlegm: Almonds, baked pear, garlic, onion, black tea, peppermint, thyme, and mustard
To moisten dryness: Baked peaches, apples, pears, tofu, butter, and eggs
To generally strengthen the lungs: Lung chi enhancing foods include pungent spices, ginger, garlic, rice, oats, carrots, mustard greens, sweet potato, yam, molasses, and almonds.
Foods to Avoid: Dairy products (introduce phlegm and create mucus), orange and tomato juice, beer, wheat flour pork and rich meats, peanuts, sugar, bananas
Oven Roasted Vegetables (Recipes for Self Healing, Meridian Press)
Choose 4-5 root vegetables (carrots, turnips, winter squash, pumpkin)
Chop into bite sized pieces and place in oven safe dish
Mix toasted sesame oil with sea salt and black pepper and pour over vegetables
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, rosemary and thyme
Bake at 400 for 1 hour
The Cold/Flu/Virus Season is upon Us
Autumn is the best season of the year to pay attention to the health of our lungs.
Some suggestions on how to strengthen our lungs are as follows:
*Keep your immune system up, and cover your neck whenever outside.
*Stay out of drafts, and avoid air-conditioning. Dress appropriately.
*Increase rest and go to bed earlier.
*Avoid smoke and environmental toxins. If you smoke, autumn is a wonderful time to Quit!
*Do deep abdominal breathing exercises. Yoga or Tai Chi
*Have a cup of ginger tea -it is pungent and tonifies (strengthens) the lungs.
*Have a good cry. Holding grief in, or refusing to recognize it, is very damaging to the metal element.
*Brush the skin and hair (The Skin is the associated organ of the Lungs) To help strengthen the Immune System, use a loofa to slough off old cells and invigorate the akin.
*Acupuncture treatment can strengthen lung energy to ward off colds, and flu illnesses.
Consider what you need to do to make ready for the letting go of autumn.
Holding your harvest in mind, ask what is overgrown or unneeded. What distracts you from your dearest concerns? What might you wish to simplify in yourself or in your life?
Suggestions for living in harmony with the autumn season:
*Go through your closet, desk, garage, medicine cabinet – any cluttered storage area- and discard what you no longer need. Then donate, sell, or otherwise circulate what might be of value to others.
*Do a mental inventory: Examine attitudes (prejudices, envies, hatreds, jealousies, resentments) stored within your psyche. When possible, contact those with whom you harbor old “stuff.” Attempt to resolve the hurtful old issues, and then let them go.
*For issues you cannot resolve directly with others, or for old issues with yourself, write them on paper, being as specific as possible. Then burn the paper, symbolically…releasing the content.
Take time each day to breathe slowly and deeply. As you inhale the clean autumn air, feel yourself energized and purified. Feel the old negativity, impurity, and pain leave your body and psyche. Then contemplate briefly who you are without these qualities.
For more information about Chinese Medicine, and Acupuncture, please visit my web site www.East2WestMedicine.com or call Jean at 410-984-3700.
Cupping is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapy that dates back to ancient Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Chinese cultures as far back as 300A.D. TCM philosophy believes that pain results from the blockage of Qi, blood, or energy. You have all heard me say in relationship to acupuncture: “Where there’s stagnation, there is pain. Where there is free flow there is no pain.”
Cupping, like acupuncture is a method of clearing this blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy. This is beneficial for health promotion, prophylaxis, and treatment of disorders such as back pain, knee pain, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, as well as high blood pressure.
Recent researches show that cupping therapy helps to:
- Reduce muscle pain
- Improve blood circulation, promote cell repair and increase muscle relaxation
- Assist the lymphatic system to drain excess fluids and toxins
Cupping has many musculoskeletal benefits. It is helpful for chronic lower back pain, neck pain and fibromyalgia. In addition, digestive symptoms such as bloating, gastric reflux and constipation conditions can be eased with cupping. Overall recovery from cough, asthma and the common cold can be improved with cupping as well as acupuncture.
In a cupping session, inverted cups made of bamboo, glass, silicone or plastic are applied to the acupuncture points on the body to create suction. The suction of the cups pulls the skin upward as the suction increases. The suction opens up energy pathways in a similar way to acupuncture and is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to clear the energy channels and remove toxins from the body that are responsible for pain and disease. It has been used effectively for pain relief, increasing blood flow, chronic inflammation, enhanced relaxation, and improved quality of life.
Cupping draws fluid into the area being worked on by the suction it creates. This causes improved circulation and release of toxins. The discoloration that occurs after cupping is due to broken blood vessels just beneath the skin, much like a bruise. These marks and their color, are diagnostic of toxins being released to the upper skin layer for the body to disperse. The marks tend to fade within days to a week.
In the next article I will discuss the different types of cupping, coloration of cupping marks and their meanings. Stay Tuned!
Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping
Harvard Health Letter https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-exactly-is-cupping-2016093010402)
WebMD “Cupping” https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/cupping-therapy
Allergic Rhinitis? Try Acupuncture for Relief!
For many sufferers of allergic rhinitis, there’s no need to hear a news report detailing the pollen count outside, as their runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes will let them know. Often these symptoms strike in the summer and spring, but some patients also have symptoms due to an allergy to dust, mites or dander, to name a few. This condition is more commonly referred to as hay fever, seasonal allergies, or just plain allergies.
Symptoms typically include sneezing, runny nose, postnasal drip, and irritated eyes, ears, nose and throat. Normally, when a healthy body comes into contact with foreign particles in the air (allergens), the immune system initiates a response to neatly and harmlessly dispose of the allergens—not so for sufferers of hay fever. In their case, the immune system becomes hyperactive and destructive to the body, causing the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine recognize allergic rhinitis as a condition that is provoked by external factors, although it generally occurs because the body already has a pre-existing deficiency. For example, some patients with a long-standing lung Qi deficiency are more susceptible to dust, dander, pollen, etc. in the air.
The Qi circulating in the lungs and its corresponding meridians is called lung Qi. When lung Qi is not strong, problems with breathing, coughing and general immunity may arise because the lungs are related to defensive Qi. As the name implies, this Qi functions in the same capacity as the immune system.
The nose is the sense organ corresponding to the lungs, so when there are blockages in the lung meridian, the nose also may be obstructed. Emotions associated with the lungs are grief and sadness. Sometimes after crying or an attack of allergic rhinitis, one may experience a stuffy nose, red eyes and irregular breathing, which reflects the strain on the lungs. A good way to counter these symptoms is to concentrate on deep, regular breaths which can help stabilize the emotions as well. In general, aerobic exercise is an excellent way to strengthen lung Qi, which in turn helps strengthen general immunity.
Acupuncture treatments may be used year-round, even if your allergies only occur in certain seasons or in the presence of certain allergens. When your allergy symptoms are not active any underlying deficiency you may have can be addressed.
If you have allergies, call 410-984-3700 today to see what acupuncture and Chinese medicine can do for you!
Chinese Medicine for Asthma Relief
Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the lungs and, consequently, a narrowing of the bronchial tubes–also known as the air passages. This makes breathing difficult as airflow is restricted. Tell-tale signs of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and a feeling of tightness in the chest. Some substances and conditions may cause or worsen the symptoms of asthma including physical activity, cold air, smoke, emotional distress or airborne allergens.
Conventional medical treatment offers a variety of pharmaceutical drugs, which are specific to the patient’s triggers and symptoms of asthma. If you suffer from asthma, additional treatment from your acupuncture and Chinese medicine practitioner in addition to conventional medical treatment may prove to be a winning combination.
A study called “Immunomodulatory Effects of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Allergic Asthma: A Randomized Controlled Study”, published in 2007 in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, demonstrates the role acupuncture and Chinese medicine can have in the treatment of asthma symptoms. At the end of the study, it was shown that 79 percent of the study group felt an improvement in their general well-being. Significant improvements in the immune system were detected from the blood samples collected by the study group as well. The authors of the study were able to conclude that acupuncture, in conjunction with standard treatment, provides outstanding improvements to the immune system.
There are a few things one can do at home to help lessen the severity of asthma symptoms. According to acupuncture and Chinese medicine, the environment plays an important role in the health of an individual. For example, if one lives in a cold, damp environment, it may prove to be problematic. Not only may the cold contribute to constriction of the bronchial tubes, but the damp air may foster mold or other airborne pollutants that can irritate the air passages as well.
While it may not be possible to move to another climate, it is possible to focus on removing dust, animal dander, and other pollutants from your home. If your home is damp, consider using a dehumidifier, as this will help in eliminating mold. Sometimes breathing in cold air can cause wheezing and trouble breathing, so covering your mouth and nose in an effort to warm your breath may be helpful.
For soothing relief on a cold day, try a nourishing, warm soup. Keep the ingredients simple, the less processed and refined your food is, the easier it is on your digestive system. According to acupuncture and Chinese medicine, phlegm is produced in the stomach, but stored in the lungs. This is a direct reference to the importance of eating well and avoiding phlegm-producing foods.
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising every day will help strengthen your immune system as well. If you are finding it difficult to lose weight and lack motivation to exercise, this is something your practitioner of acupuncture and Chinese medicine can assist you with. If an addiction to smoking is contributing to your symptoms of asthma, there are treatment protocols to help reduce cravings for nicotine and other substances.
Acupuncture Provides Allergic Rhinitis Relief
The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that showed that acupuncture can significantly relieve allergic rhinitis symptoms.
In this German study, 5,237 men and women were analyzed to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture in addition to routine care in patients with allergic rhinitis, compared to treatment with routine care alone.
In this trial, patients with allergic rhinitis were randomly allocated to receive acupuncture for a three month period or to a control group that received no acupuncture. All patients were allowed to receive routine medical care. The Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (RQLQ) and general health-related quality of life (36-Item Short-Form Health Survey) were evaluated at baseline and after three and six months.
Improvements were noted at the three- and six-month evaluations for the patients receiving acupuncture. The authors of this trial concluded that treating patients with allergic rhinitis in routine care with additional acupuncture leads to clinically relevant and persistent benefits.
Source: European Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2008 Nov;101(5):535-43.
Study Shows Reduced Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
A study “The Effects of Acupuncture on Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in February of 2013, brings encouraging news for sufferers of seasonal allergies.
Researchers set out to determine if acupuncture treatments plus the use of antihistamine drugs could significantly reduce symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis. 46 physicians from 6 hospitals and 32 outpatient medical clinics contributed to the large-scale trial.
All of the study participants tested positive for allergies to birch and grass pollen. Their symptoms included nasal blockages and runny noses. An evaluation occurred at 8 weeks, after the patients underwent 12 sessions of treatment each.
Patients who received real acupuncture treatments experienced a statistically important reduction in their symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis when compared to the sham acupuncture and histamine-only groups. Additionally, the real acupuncture group also witnessed a reduction in the need for antihistamines to manage their symptoms.
Source: M. Ortiz, C.M. Witt, S. Roll, K. Linde, F. Pfab, B. Niggemann, J. Hummelsberger, A. Treszl, J. Ring, T. Zuberbier, K. Wegscheider, and S.N. Willich. The Effects of Acupuncture on Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis. (2013). Annals of Internal Medicine, 158(4), I. https://doi.org/10.73260003-4819-158-4-201302190-00001
Small Study Finds Reduction in Adult Bronchial Asthma Symptoms
To study the effects of acupuncture for the treatment of adult bronchial asthma, researchers conducted a clinical trial in 2009 called “Effects of Acupuncture Treatment in Patients with Bronchial Asthma.”
The results appeared in the journal Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. The trial demonstrated that acupuncture is an effective and safe therapy to help reduce the symptoms of adult bronchial asthma, which causes inflammation of the airways, wheezing and dyspnea (labored breathing).
During the study, participants with mild to severe bronchial asthma received one acupuncture treatment per week for a total of 10 weeks. The number of asthma attacks and the unpleasant sensations of dyspnea, were recorded before and after treatments. Each patient’s level of difficulty breathing, whether on the inhalation or exhalation, was reported subjectively.
Researchers reported that acupuncture treatments significantly alleviated the patients’ dyspnea, and there was a major decline in their number of asthma attacks. There were no negative side effects resulting from treatment.
Source: Suzuki, M., Namura, K., Egawa, M., & Yano, T. (2006). Effect of Acupuncture Treatment in Patients with Bronchial Asthma. Zen Nihon Shinkyu Gakkai Zasshi (Journal of the Japan Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), 56(4), 616–627. https://doi.org/10.3777/jjsam.56.616 https://ssl.jsam.jp/onlineJournal/pdf2/39.pdf
|Jean Donati Acupuncture, LLC
604 E. Joppa Rd
Towson, MD 21286