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Fatigue

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.

Happy Winter Solstice–Water Element

Cabin in the woods

We are now in the midst of Winter.  The season is cold, dark, and quiet.  Winter is for us, as for all of nature, a time on internal work: meditation, containment, concentration, and storing our energy.  We use this season for rest, and for the replenishing of our reserves, gathering strength for the year ahead.  Like the seed that cannot sprout until it has gathered sufficient strength, our ideas and plans cannot manifest if our energy is dispersed or drained.

In Chinese medicine, the element associated with Winter is Water.  Let us talk a little about water and its associations.  Water can take on many different qualities in nature.  It can take the form of a stagnant pond, or powerful rapids.  It can be a smooth flowing stream, or water raging out of control.  The water element can show up like this in all of us.  When our water energy is balanced, we are a calm lake or stream.  Our energy is moving, neither stagnant or overflowing.  When we are out of balance, we may become a flooding river, or when immobilized with fear, a frozen creek.

The organs associated with winter are the kidney and bladder.  In Chinese medicine, when we talk about organs, we are talking about the energetic aspects of the organ in an individual, not about Western anatomy and physiology.  The kidney, in Chinese medicine, are the root of the life force energy or Qi.  The kidneys create the fire and warmth to sustain bodily functions and to provide energy to the other organs.  The bladder controls the expenditure of energy.  You can look at the kidney as being the the bank account, and the bladder as the ATM machine.  The acupuncture points along these pathways of energy can be used to fill the reserves and awaken that place within us where our real strength, courage and wisdom lie.

Abundant reserves within us give us the courage and strength of will.  When we lack these reserves, we may feel fearful.  In Chinese medicine, the emotion of fear is associated with the element of water and the season of winter.  The emotion of a distressed water element is fear of not having enough of what it takes to meet the challenges that lie ahead, fear of being unable to complete what we have envisioned, or fear of not being prepared for what we might have to face.  It is as if we do not have enough stored away to survive the winter.

How does an imbalanced water element show up in an individual?  In Chinese medicine, the individual is viewed on levels of the body, mind, and spirit.  Dis-ease often manifests on more than one level.  On a physical level, one may feel fatigued, lacking energy (the energetic bank account or ATM depleted).  Water also lubricates the body.  We are, after all, 85% water!  With lack of lubrication comes stiffness.  Do your bones or joints hurt more in winter?  Are you more anxious?  Thoughts, ideas, muscles and joints move easier when they are lubricated.

In terms of the mind and spirit, do you feel like you want to do things but you simply cannot?  That you seem to be stuck on the sofa with your mind saying “I should do this, or I should do that”, but you simply cannot get up enough energy to get it going?  Or maybe you seem to be going all the time—frantically moving from one thing to another –always running about but never truly getting much accomplished.

Within the energy of water lies our will, our ability to keep on keeping on.  So what can you do?  My number one advice is to remember to take time to relax completely for at least 30 minutes during the day.  This means to kick back, listen to music perhaps, but definitely relax your body and mind.

Acupuncture is not just for pain.  It addresses the underlying condition and is used to balance the whole person.  You cannot separate the body and the mind—balance one and you balance the other.  Emotional blocks can be moved and physical symptoms can be cleared as a person is brought back into healthy balance.  Just some of the areas that acupuncture addresses; the digestive, reproductive, immune and respiratory symptoms, anxiety, depression, that annoying “stuck” feeling and, of course, physical discomfort.

To maintain the fire of the kidney, a winter diet ideally would be warming and substantial with more whole grains, less fruit, and lots of steamed or baked vegetables, especially root vegetables.  Soup is a great addition to the diet during winter as it is easy on the digestive system and keeps our inner fire warm.  Warming herbs and spices like ginger, chili peppers and cinnamon are wonderful additions to your diet this time of year.

Exercise such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong are very good for inner balance, as they build strength, improve immune function and cultivate Qi (energy) through breathing, meditation and slow movements.  If you have lower back pain, you may find that rest, warm foods, and activities that support that support your inner balance may supplement your water energy and diminish your symptoms.  Remember, the kidneys and bladder are governed by water.  Give them all the help you can by drinking more water.

Finally, if you receive acupuncture, winter is a great time for a tune up.  If you do not receive acupuncture, winter is a great time to start building your reserves.

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.

Welcome to Earth Element in 5 Element Acupuncture.

There are 5 elements or Seasons of energy in Acupuncture.  Each is associated with time, color, sound, odor, foods and other associations.  These 5 Elements are s follows.

Earth (Late Summer) Holding energy, nourishing, supporting

Metal (Autumn) Descending movement, letting go, loss

Water (Winter) Stillness, persistence movement, power, regenerating

Wood (Spring) Uprising movement, birth, growth

Summer (Fire) Dancing energy, playfulness, blossoming

 

Late Summer & The Earth Element

Late Summer is a nurturing time of the year. We have a surplus of fruits and vegetables, gifts from the growth and busyness of the Spring and Summer seasons.

In Late Summer, the activities of Summer start to slow down while harvest time kicks into gear. The plants and trees offer their bounty of fruit and vegetables. Food is available for all animals before fall approaches and preparation for winter begins. Late summer reminds us that Mother Earth gives us all that we need without asking anything in return.

So how does this the energetic movement of Earth and Late Summer show up in us? 

Emotionally, the Earth Element shows up as the emotions of sympathy, empathy, and compassion. Our ability to give and receive caring feelings and mothering energy.

Physically, the Earth Element shows up as our Digestive System.  The Stomach, Spleen, and Pancreas are the organs that break down, digest, and helps to transport nourishment to the body.

Spiritually, the Earth Element gives us the ability to feel an inner nourishment through stability, security, and abundance. When we overflow with this energy, we are able to share our bounty with others.

When the Earth Element is in balance we have the gifts of nurturing, thoughtfulness, nourishment, taste, sympathy, and stability to give to others.

When the Earth Element is out of balance, we may feel obsessive worry or sympathy, self-centered or insecure, not be able to give or receive help or care from others. We can feel a lack of abundance, what we have is not enough. Physically, muscle pain, digestive problems, ulcers, or headaches can occur. Issues with the relationship with food and body image can arise as well.

If your Earth Element Qi is feeling stuck here are 4 practices that can help:

  1. GIVE…Lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need; give a random gift to someone in your life; volunteer your time at a homeless shelter or food kitchen; Give out hugs; Literally, feed your partner or friend.
  2. GRATITUDE…Keep a daily gratitude journal; Give thanks to the Earth and her creatures for providing nourishment; When you say “Thank You” look the person in the eye and mean it from your heart.
  3. RECEIVE…Consciously accept the thank you, gifts, and offerings of others; Be aware of the processes of taking in food, chewing and digesting.
  4. ACUPUNCTURE… If you have been receiving seasonal acupuncture treatments, between now and October is the perfect time to come in for your Late Summer session. It can help bring Nourishment to your body, mind, and soul! If you are new to acupuncture, massage, nutrition, or energy medicine, now is the perfect time to start acupuncture treatments! Give Jean Donati Acupuncture a Call at 410-984-3700.

Acupuncture Treatment of Pain

When Are you going to treat my pain???

Over the past few days, I have had several patients ask me …”I am coming in for neck pain or back pain or shoulder pain…where are you going to put the needles”?  Or if I have been seeing the patient I am asked “when are you going to treat my pain… why don’t you just put the needles where my pain is?”

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the flow of energy or Qi, moves in specific pathways called meridians.  There are 14 major pathways, and these pathways interact with each other.  Initially, when I first see a patient, I like to make sure that the overall energy is clear, so I do a few “clearing treatments” before I focus on shifting any energy in a specific pathway.

Your energy is like a garden.   I want flowers or crops to grow, so I need to make sure the ground is ready for planting.  This means removing any unnecessary weeds, or rocks or debris.  This is what the clearing treatments do.  They make the energy channels clear and ready for shifts in energy.  The clearing treatments are generally on the front, or back of the body and can consist of 2-4 treatments if necessary.  This is to ensure that the energy is moving in the proper direction, not being contaminated.  It is like removing a kink form a hose so you can let the water flow.

There is another important thing to note.  Say you come in for wrist pain, there are 6 pathways that encompass the wrist area.  These include the heart, small intestine, triple heater, pericardium, lung and large intestine pathways of energy.  They all start at the fingertips and go up the wrist, to the forearm.  Some of these pathways diverge to the chest, face and back.  So, needles may not be placed in the wrist for wrist pain if there is a blockage of energy along a pathway is say the small intestine at the level of the scapula or shoulder blade.

Traditional Chinese medicine takes all of this into account.  So, when I am asked “When are you going to treat my pain?”  My answer is… I already am…I started with the first session.   Sometimes clearing the general energy blocks (which can include internal and external factors such as emotions, heat, cold, wind, damp, excess or deficiency, side to side energy pathway balance) can make a profound change in the symptoms you came in with and others you were not aware of such as sleep, mood, digestion and concentration.

 

My treatment protocol consists of the following…

Clear general energy blocks -Internal Dragons, External Dragons, Aggressive Energy, Alkabane (side to side balance).  1-4 treatments if needed.

Clear local pathway energy blocks form one pathway to another (Entry/exit blocks) if needed

Treat meridian root cause with local and distal points at each treatment after the clearing treatments

Ashi points or painful points not specifically on an energy pathway.

Treat Constitutionally.

As a team, we are teaching your energy how to stay open and clear, but sometimes life gets in the way, and blockages can reoccur.  Each part of this protocol may need to be done, or just one part, or perhaps several at the same time to shift the energy when it needs to shift.  Each treatment builds on the one before, so it is important to have regular and frequent treatments early in your treatment course.  As your symptom resolves, the length of time between treatments can be increased as long as you remain symptom free.  Once we get to this point, I generally like to have my patients come back monthly for a tune up so that we can continue to keep their energy clear and keep them symptom free.

 

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