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Diet

Food as Medicine

food as medicine

Mama Always Said: You Are What You Eat

Maybe mom really did know best when it came to nutrition. As research has shown, what we eat can actually impact our health profoundly. Over the years, we have learned that our dietary choices can influence our risk of disease. And some have made it a profitable business to teach us new ways to look at food (anti-inflammatory diet, Keto, heart healthy, etc.).  continue reading »

2023 Year of the Yin Water Rabbit


 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit

The Rabbit year is yin: meditative and internal.  The contemplative (Yin) year of the Rabbit follows active (Yang) year of the Tiger.  This is the time to create peace, calm and rest after the Yang Tiger year of 2022.  The rabbit ‘s personality traits are friendliness, diplomacy, sensitivity and adaptability.  The rabbit excels in the healing arts and is drawn to creativity.  The focus is on adaptability—creating health and maintaining balance.  This is the year to focus on your creativity and focus on transforming your health while offering assistance to others.  This year of the rabbit represents longevity, hope and prosperity.2023 is also a Water year. 

In Chinese Medicine, the Water Element corresponds to the Kidney and Bladder meridians or pathways of energy.  It is the Winter season.  The Winter season is cool and dark.  The Water element represents your deep reserves of energy.   Consider how you are using, building or preserving your energy for the upcoming seasons.   This is the time to see an acupuncturist about Water and Kidney balance. This is especially important if you have issues corresponding to the Water pathway such as urinary concerns, sleep issues, dreams or concerns with hearing, and back, neck or knee pain.

There is a connection between the Water element and the color black or blue in Five Element Acupuncture.  Foods associated with this Water season include black foods such as black beans, black rice, and mushrooms.  These are recommended to balance the Water element. The Rabbit and Water both symbolize prosperity.  So you can anticipate this year to bring financial prosperity and professional success.  It is a year to both work hard to peruse your desires as well as to learn to create health and relaxation.

Welcome Autumn

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!

Welcome Autumn

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

Autumn Recipe

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?

Welcome Autumn

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.

Digestive Disorders and Acupuncture

Qi Mail™
The Acupuncture Newsletter
September, 2022
Jean Donati Acupuncture, LLC
604 E. Joppa Rd
Towson, MD 21286
410-984-3700
/www.East2WestMedicine.com

Strengthen Your Digestive Health

More than 95 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. In fact, more than 35 million physician office visits a year are due to gastrointestinal complaints. Reports confirm that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can offer relief from even the most complex digestive problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Digestive Disorders

Evidence that Chinese medicine has been used for digestive disorders can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD, where specific acupuncture points and herbal formulas for borborygmus (rumbling or gurgling in the intestines), abdominal pain, and diarrhea with pain are discussed.

According to Chinese medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. The spleen plays a central part in the health and vitality of the body, taking a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and Qi (energy). Many schools of thought have been formed around this organ; the premise being that the proper functioning of the “middle” is the key to all aspects of vitality.

By taking into account a person’s constitution and varied symptoms, a treatment plan is designed specifically for the individual to bring their “middle” back into harmony and optimize the proper functioning of the digestive system. A variety of techniques can be used during treatment including acupuncture, lifestyle/dietary recommendations, and energetic exercises to restore digestive health.

Is your digestive system functioning as well as it could? Acupuncture is effective at treating a wide array of digestive disorders. Call today for more information or to schedule an appointment.

 

Ulcerative Colitis Relief

Ulcerative colitis is part of a category of diseases called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and it presents with inflammation in the lining of the large intestine, specifically the colon and sometimes the rectum. The lining becomes inflamed due to small wounds or ulcers, which then produce mucus and pus.

The condition occurs when the body mistakenly identifies food or other substances as foreign invaders. White blood cells are called up as part of an immune response, which proceeds to cause inflammation and damage in the large intestine. Flare-ups may be triggered by stress, infections, and certain anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. However, the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but medical researchers suspect a link between a person’s genetics, the general state of the immune system, and environmental factors.

Most people start showing symptoms in their 30s since the disease advances slowly over time, and men and women are equally as likely to be affected. Children are also at risk and, in general, the younger a child is the more likely the symptoms and complications will be severe. Growth and mental development may be a problem in this case.

The inflammation and ulceration associated with ulcerative colitis can cause pain and different problems, including frequent, watery diarrhea, persistent diarrhea with pain and bloody stool, urgent bowel movements, incomplete evacuation of the bowels despite a feeling of urgency, abdominal cramping, loss of appetite, weight loss, body fluid depletion, fatigue, fever or urgent diarrhea that wakes you up in the middle of the night.

The symptoms and how long they can occur vary widely for each patient. Many sufferers report only mild or moderate symptoms, while others experience life-threatening complications such as severe dehydration and major bleeding from the colon.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are equipped to handle the symptoms of ulcerative colitis as demonstrated by a meta-analysis of different scientific studies conducted since the 1990s. A team of researchers conducted a wide-scale analysis of 43 randomized, controlled trials investigating the efficacy of acupuncture and moxibustion for the treatment of irritable bowel disease. Of those 43 trials, 42 specifically analyzed and addressed ulcerative colitis.

Researchers then focused on 10 scientific studies that compared the use of acupuncture and moxibustion to the use of oral sulphasalazine for symptom relief. Sulphasalazine is a doctor-prescribed pharmaceutical drug that is commonly used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. After analyzing the studies, researchers concluded that “acupuncture and moxibustion demonstrated better overall efficacy than oral sulphasalazine in treating inflammatory bowel disease.” This meta-analysis was performed by a team at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Shanghai, China. The study was published in the 2013 issue of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal covering alternative medicine.

 

Acid Reflux? Try Acupuncture!

For some people, eating a heavy, spicy, or fatty meal can produce unmistakable signs of acid reflux. Symptoms can vary from burning pain in the chest to a sour taste in the mouth as stomach acid and/or regurgitated food flows upward through the esophagus into the oral cavity. Although some may refer to these symptoms collectively as heartburn, the process is the same no matter what it is called. Additionally, they may experience difficult or painful swallowing, sore throat, a dry, rough voice, or feeling of a lump in the throat that cannot be cleared away.

It is estimated that more than 20 percent of the general population is affected by acid reflux. While other groups are impacted, at least half of all asthmatic children experience symptoms, and pregnant women tend to suffer more than the average population, with half reporting severe symptoms during their second and third trimesters.

While it’s true for some people that symptoms can be mild or pass quickly, others go on to experience more severe ones. Sometimes symptoms of acid reflux can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. This includes severe chest pain and a crushing sensation in the chest. Also of concern is the presence of black, tarry stools or black material in vomit. These are signs of bleeding in the stomach, a serious medical concern.

Acupuncturists may recognize the symptoms of acid reflux as relating to the stomach organ. Two examples of diagnoses would be rebellious stomach Qi and food accumulation in the stomach. Qi is vital energy necessary for all life to exist. Both of these diagnoses call for an acupuncture treatment that will redirect energy downwards, as should naturally happen just after eating or drinking. Rebellious stomach Qi is a perfect description of some of the symptoms of acid reflux.

The stomach, according to the philosophy of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, is needed to ripen and rot food. After this process of fermentation occurs, only then may the nutrients be extracted during the next phase of digestion. Without strong stomach Qi, issues regarding malnutrition may arise. This is why acupuncture practitioners will need to evaluate patients with acid reflux and address any nutritional deficiencies that may be present. Diet is very important in helping to calm symptoms.

 

Crohn’s Disease Symptom Relief

Crohn’s disease is a medical condition that can cause chronic inflammation anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract. Often, but not always, the inflamed tissue is specifically found in the ileum (the end of the small intestine) and the beginning of the colon. Inflammation can spread into the deeper layers of the tract and frequently has what is known as a “cobblestone appearance.” This refers to the fact that some patches of diseased tissue are found next to patches of healthy tissue.

Although all age groups are equally at risk, people 15-35 years old are most commonly affected. Crohn’s is a difficult condition to cure, so the main focus of treatment is to help manage symptoms with medication and dietary changes and, in some cases, surgery to repair or remove affected areas of the gastrointestinal tract. Because the disease is chronic, the individual may experience periods of flare-ups and aggravating symptoms, while at other times the person will have periods with no apparent symptoms at all.

Symptoms vary from patient to patient, and may include persistent, recurrent diarrhea, bleeding, urgent need to evacuate the bowels, constipation or feeling of incomplete evacuation, abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, mental and physical developmental delays (in certain cases occurring among children), fever, night sweats, or irregular menstrual cycles.

It is important to receive an early diagnosis as untreated Crohn’s disease can eventually cause life-threatening symptoms such as fissures and fistulas. Fissures can cause excessive bleeding and pain. Fistulas happen when inflammation erodes tissue, causing the formation of a tunnel starting from the intestines, going to the urinary bladder, vagina, or even the skin.

A study called “Acupuncture Helps Crohn’s Disease Patients” was published in the journal World of Gastroenterology, and it had some very promising results. It concluded that “acupuncture provided significant therapeutic benefits in patients with active Crohn’s disease, beyond the placebo effect, and is, therefore, an effective and safe treatment.” Even more encouraging, researchers also discovered that both lab scores and quality of life scores improved. This means that acupuncture and Chinese medicine are adept at handling the physical and emotional symptoms that often accompany the disease.

For the study, the acupuncture points selected for treatment focused on reducing inflammation in the intestinal tract. Each participant received three treatments per week for a total of 12 weeks. Additionally, moxibustion (moxa) was also used on four acupuncture points on the stomach. Moxa is a traditional technique that uses the smoke from the herb mugwort to penetrate the skin. In this way, it stimulates the body’s immune system. Often, the warm smoke provides a pleasant, comforting experience for the patient.

Diet is very important and the right choices can help reduce some symptoms. In general, acupuncture and Chinese medicine suggest refraining from eating raw and cold foods.

Lets get to the root of your digestive issues.  Call to schedule an indivualized appointment today!  410-984-3700

In This Issue

  • Strengthen Your Digestive Health
  • Ulcerative Colitis Relief
  • Acid Reflux? Try Acupuncture!
  • Crohn’s Disease Symptom Relief
  • Ginger for Intestinal Upset
  • Acupressure for Nausea

Ginger for Intestinal Upset

Ginger has been found to increase the secretion of gastric juice. In fact, ginger can be used for most digestive upsets that involve nausea, vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain, indigestion or diarrhea. This means that food is digested more quickly, creating an unfriendly environment for bacteria that could wreak havoc with your stomach and intestines.

In a study published in the October 2007 issue of the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers in Taiwan looked at the role of ginger extract in blocking the toxin that causes 210 million cases of diarrhea worldwide. The toxin is produced by enterotoxigenic E. coli, which accounts for 380,000 worldwide deaths annually. The study found that zingerone, a compound in ginger, was the likely compound responsible for blocking the toxin.

Whether your digestive problem is due to eating contaminated food, stomach flu, pregnancy, or motion sickness, ginger is one of the most effective agents around!

Acupressure for Nausea

Nausea can range from mild queasiness to serious distress. It is an indicator that something else is wrong.

Depending on the severity and duration of vomiting, some level of dehydration may occur. In severe cases, this may become a medical emergency. Small sips of warm water may help the patient stay hydrated or, if this is not tolerable, sucking on ice chips may help.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer some simple acupressure techniques you can perform at home to help alleviate nausea.

The first exercise involves the acupuncture point called Pericardium 6 (P6), or Inner Gate. To locate this point, place your hand with the palm facing up. Starting from the middle of the wrist crease, place three fingers down below your wrist. Your index finger should be in the middle of two tendons.

Press Inner Gate lightly with the pad of your thumb. You can slowly increase pressure and go deeper into the point. Continue this exercise for up to five minutes if you are using heavy pressure.

Some people experience more relief from nausea when they continuously press with gentle to moderate pressure. If this is the case for you, it is safe to apply acupressure for longer periods of time.

If nausea still persists after applying acupressure at Inner Gate, you can activate its partner point, called Outer Gate or San Jiao 5 (SJ5). It is found on the opposite side of the forearm from Inner Gate.

With your thumb on Inner Gate and your middle finger on Outer Gate, complete the circuit by squeezing the points together using moderate pressure. Hold for a few seconds and then release. This can be done for up to five minutes.

The next acupressure exercise covers a larger area. To find it, first put your hands on your hips at the level of your waistline. Next, adjust your fingers so they are all below your ribs, with your pinky resting around the level of your belly button. Your fingers should be lined up with the nipples.

Press into the abdomen using circular motions. This technique can be quite soothing and is best when performed sitting down, for two to three minutes.

Easing Transitions with the Earth Element

Easing Transitions with the Earth Element

We all are very familiar with Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter but why does Chinese Medicine include a fifth season and where does it fit on the calendar?

According to TCM theory, the fifth season is actually that important time between the seasons, where we ‘return to center’ so we can ‘pivot’.  About 2-3 weeks before the beginning of each season is a time of transition.

Each season correlates with an elemental energy. Spring belongs to the wood element, Summer to fire, Fall to metal and Winter to water. The transitional time between the seasons rightfully belongs to the earth element as this is the time when the seasonally dominant energy returns to the earth to be transformed into the next seasonal energy.

The Earth Element is generated and managed in the body by the spleen and stomach. These organs are in the business of metamorphosis. As digestive organs (according to TCM), they transport and transform the food we eat into nutrition to build our blood and nourish our cells. The spleen governs the muscles, and is important in the free movement of the body. The associated orifice is the mouth and spleen Qi manifests in the lips. The Spleen is also known for housing the intellect (yi) and is involved with the thinking aspect of spirit. The color of the earth element is yellow, and the taste is sweet.

The Chinese Lunar Calendar sets the start of the seasons earlier than our Gregorian calendar, so if we are following the seasons according to Chinese Medicine We are currently in Late Summer, and this is the time to pay special attention to the energy of transition.

The benefit of nourishing our earth element during this time is to gain balance and stability for periods of change. The earth element represents our wide center stance from which we can safely assess the next move (picture the slow smooth movements of tai chi). The importance of core stability rings true whether we are talking about physical activity or more subtle energy dynamics.

1) Diet:

Avoid damp cold food such as ice cream as it can put a burden on the spleen that prefers warm, dry conditions. Eat breakfast between 7-9am which is stomach time according to the Qi clock. From 9-11am is spleen time. Some gentle activity is ok but as the spleen converts food to Qi, try to take it easy so you do not disrupt digestion. Avoid processed sugar while enjoying the natural balance of sweetness from the earth with foods like apples, carrots, dates, and sweet potatoes.

2) Release Worry-Patterns:

The spleen houses the intellect and is responsible for thought but can be weighed down by overthinking. This will slow its ability to transform our food. We can all think of times when worry led to unpleasant digestive experiences.
So, find ways to shift patterns of over-thinking and worry.
(Cue the serenity prayer…)

3) Yellow: 

Stimulate earth energy with its color and brighten up someone’s day by wearing more yellow. Notice the yellow colors in nature, stop and absorb their frequency. And eat yellow foods: bananas, yellow peppers, lemons etc.

4) Earthing: 

You know what to do. Connect direct! Get those bare feet on the ground (pesticide-free please).

Now get some Vitamin-E on those earthy lips and pucker up: you’ll be ready to give Fall a sweet kiss hello.

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