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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 •
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 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- RECEIVE…Consciously accept the thank you, gifts, and offerings of others; Be aware of the processes of taking in food, chewing and digesting.
- 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 and Acute Stress…Adrenalin and Acupuncture.
Did you ever have one of those days….You are sleeping soundly then all of the sudden you are awake. You look at the clock, and…Oh NOOOooo…What happened to the alarm? You wake up 15 minutes before you have to leave for work. It is a pretty upsetting feeling. You feel rushed and anxious. Am I going to get to work on time? Your blood pressure is elevated, and you are aggrevated. You yell at the traffic for being slow. It upsets your body and your your energy for the entire day.
This happened to me this morning, so I would like to let you know you what is happening in your body, and what you can do to alleviate those rushed, anxious, and upsetting feelings. First take a deep breath. What you are experiencing is normal. You woke up late and perhaps were startled. Your nervous system has kicked in with adrenalin.
Adrenaline, also called epinephrine, is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands. Adrenaline is known as the “fight or flight” hormone and is released in response to a stressful, exciting, or threatening situation. Adrenaline enables your body to respond quickly to these situations by enabling the heart to beat faster, the blood-flow to increase to the brain and muscles and stimulates the body to make sugar to use as fuel.
When you experience an “adrenaline rush” there is a perception of a threat that sent to the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotional processing. This signal communicates to the rest of the body through the nervous system. Symptoms include a boost of energy, rapid breathing, increased heartbeat, and perspiration. This rapid process allows you to dodge out of harms way quickly and return to safety. To assist with returning to equilibrium, it is important to allow the body to rest and repair itself.
Acupuncture along with deep breathing and meditation clearly benefits every aspect of the body and can return it to its normally calm state. There are some acupuncture points to help you with an acute stress reaction or panic attack. Gently massaging these points can help get you back on track and ease your symptoms and energy.
Shenmen (HT7), also called Spirit Gate, is one of the major points on the heart meridian or energy pathway. Because it can nourish the blood, calm and cool down internal fire, it is a good point to calm the mind, clear the emotions and help with anxiety, stress, insomnia, agitation, and palpitations. Shenmen, is located at the wrist crease on the radial side of the arm, where your pinky finger is.
Neiguan (PC 6), also called Inner Frontier Gate, goes to the chest and opens it up. It allows you to breathe easier, stops racing of the heart and palpitations. It calms your spirit or “shen” and mind, so it is helpful for racing and fragmented thoughts. It is also a great point to open the chest and the heart, counteracting the contracting energy of anxiety. This point is also located on the inside of the forearm, about two inches down from the wrist crease, in the middle of the forearm between the two tendons. This point is also good for nausea which can accompany anxiety.
Tanzhong, (CV 17), also called Middle of Chest is a very calming point for the mind and heart. It is helpful to calm the palpitations that come with anxiety. It opens the chest and relaxes the diaphragm. It is located in the center of the chest, on the median line just between the nipples at the 4th intercostal space.
Yongquan, (KD 1), also called Bubbling Spring, calms the mind and clears the brain. It is a very grounding point for the body, mind and spirit. Kidney 1 has a strong downward moving energy that helps settle the mind when someone is stuck in their head. It connects us to the earth and gives us back out footing. It is located on the sole of the foot approximately 1/3rd the way from toes in the depression when to toes are pointed.
So next time you are feeling stressed from whatever reason, remember these calming acupuncture points. Massaging this points with mild pressure for 15-30 seconds (up to 3-5 minutes) can help reduce anxiety stress and panic and put you back into control. Take the time to take care of your body mind and spirit. Jean Donati Acupuncture is here to help ease your nervous system back into calm. Give us a call 410-984-3700.
PTSD and Acupuncture
Those who have experienced trauma including, physical, emotional and sexual trauma can experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for months to years after the initial event. Traumatic events can include physical events such as experiencing or witnessing a car accident or near-death experience, physical combat such as faced by veterans in war, and sexual trauma in the form of incest, rape or unwanted sexual encounters. Individuals can carry the remnants of those events with them for a long time. These remnants often continue to affect them in profound ways, disrupting their relationships, their overall mental health, and their daily lives. Acupuncture is one of the modalities which can address the physical and emotional aftermath of traumatic events and assist on the path of healing.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a physiological disorder that can result from being exposed to any traumatic event. The disorder results in symptoms that can be different for each individual.
Possible symptoms include:
- Some PTSD sufferers relive the traumatic event over and over. Flashbacks, memories, and nightmares are common. Often, sounds, smells, and sights can trigger a flashback.
- Avoidance is also common. Individuals with PTSD avoid people, places and events that remind them of the event.
- Numbing is another self-preservation mechanism. Numbing can include difficulty expressing emotions, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, and the loss of memory of parts of the traumatic event. Certain memories may resurface yeas after the event took place. This is a common occurrence.
- Arousal can be exhibited by anger, irritability, trouble concentrating or sleeping, feeling on guard and being easily startled or surprised.
The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in someone’s life can be wide ranging. An individual with PTSD may have feelings of hopelessness, shame and despair. There may be problems at work. Relationships may be strained. Serious health conditions such as depression, anxiety and drug or alcohol abuse are not uncommon. Other health issues include insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, digestive disorders, anorexia, bulimia, difficulty with concentration and focus, and headaches.
How Can I Help my Friend or Relative with PTSD?
There are many ways you can help your friend or relative with PTSD.
- Learn everything you can about PTSD. Knowledge is power. The more you know about the disorder, the better you can understand what your friend is going through and why they are responding the way they are to specific triggers.
- Offer your assistance. This may be going to physician visits with them, keeping track of medications, or going with them to therapy. If your friend is learning new techniques to cope with stress try learn the new techniques with them. Be supportive as possible.
- Be available and fully present to listen. Listen with a compassionate open heart. Don’t judge, argue, or problem-solve. Your friend my not be willing or able to talk. That is ok, just sitting with someone in silence may be what they need.
- Plan fun activities to get them out and about. Be aware of events or environments that are difficult and plan events to be as stress-free as possible.
- Pay attention to any comments about hurting themselves and report them to the therapist or doctor. If necessary, call 911.
- Sometimes supporting someone with PTSD is challenging. Get support for yourself so you are able to help your friend or loved one. Seek safety and help immediately if your friend or relative becomes violent or threatening.
PTSD Crisis Resources
If you or your loved one is in crisis:
- Call 911.
- Go to your nearest Emergency Room.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in Spanish/Español 1-888-628-9454.
- Go to the veterans crisis website at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ to chat live with a crisis counselor at any time of day or night.
- Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or chat online 24/7 at https://www.rainn.org/resources
There are many new treatments available for people who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse, assault, and trauma. Acupuncture can foster a safe environment for healing and growth. Jean Donati Acupuncture has experience in treating patients with PTSD. For more information, please call 410-984-3700 for a confidential discussion.