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- Jean Donati Acupuncture604 E. Joppa RD
Towson, MD 21286410-984-3700
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- • Three Steps to Keep Winter Allergies at Bay •
- • Healthy and Hearty Winter Recipes •
- • Three Tips for Maintaining Your Mental Health in Winter •
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.
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.
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