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Archive for the ‘– Metal Element’ Category

In my post Acupuncture – Commonly Asked Questions, I attempted to demystify the most popular pillar of Chinese Medicine.  Here, I’m focusing the microscope further to start looking at specific acupuncture points, and how to integrate them into your self-health care.

Acupuncture points lie on lines of energy, called meridians, that run bilaterally throughout the body.  There are twelve meridians, each one corresponding to a different organ.  The post The Chinese Clock – How Your Organs Keep Time, explains how your energy, or chi, moves throughout these meridians over the course of a day.

Large Intestine 4

Pressing on Large Intestine 4

The high time for the Large Intestine (LI) is between 5 am – 7 am.  Physically, this meridian begins at LI.1, located at the base of the nail on the inside of the index finger, travels up the arm and neck, then ends with LI.20 on the opposite side of the nose, at the nostril.

LI.4  is the fourth point on the meridian, in the web between the thumb and hand.  Because the meridian travels up to the head and nose, this point is good for headaches, especially those related to sinus issues.

It also helps with nasal symptoms due to colds and hay fever.  Large Intestine related issues such as diarrhea, constipation, and dysentery are treated by using LI.4.

This is one of the best points for moving energy.  If you are in pain due to stagnation (pain better with movement), LI.4 can help.  It alleviates pain in the neck, face and even teeth.  It is famous for helping with general pain throughout the body, especially when coupled with Liver 3 (see future post).

If you are feeling stuck mentally, or emotionally, LI.4 is your friend.  Remember in the Staying Healthy with the Seasons – Autumn Emotions, the Large Intestine has to do with releasing that which is no longer useful in your life.  If you are still holding on tightly, LI.4 can help you let go.

Using your thumb and index finger of the opposite hand, squeeze and rub the area as shown in the picture.

It is probably tender!  Only use the amount of pressure you can tolerate without gritting your teeth, or tensing other parts of your body.  Continue a few minutes, until symptoms subside.  Repeat several times throughout the day.

****Because of its strong tendency to move chi, it is forbidden to massage or needle this point during pregnancy.****

Watch future blogs for more acu-points for self health-care.

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The emotions of autumn

Parque Natural de las Hoces del Río Riaza, Spain

In the last two posts, I spoke about keeping body and mind healthy during autumn.  Since our emotions can affect us as much as diet and mental stress can, let’s take a look at them.

Each season is coupled with an emotion, and we only need to observe nature to help us understand.  For example, after leaves give us a spectacular show, they let go!  They don’t cling on hoping winter won’t really come, they release, fall to earth and become fertilizer for the tree’s roots.

How cool is that?  A tree nurtures itself, can we mimic it?  Nature is supporting us to let go.  Let go of whatever isn’t serving our life right now.  Beliefs, relationships, grudges, habits, clutter; what are you tired of clutching so tightly?

Detaching isn’t always easy, and you may feel the emotion of grief  (if it gets too intense, find a good friend or therapist to help you through).  What often happens after a good weep?  You feel cleansed, you take a deep breath, you’re on the flip side of grief, inspiration.

Releasing the old makes room for the new, the essential.  Let’s look towards the body, the organs related to the Metal element, and autumn, are the Large Intestine and the Lungs.

If you are constipated, or full of poo, there is little room or desire to take anything else in, right?  When you release what you are holding on to so tightly, it creates a sense of space and freedom which helps you say Yes! to life.

The Lungs allow you to breathe in newness, to refill with what enlivens you.  If you have forgotten what inspires you, think back to what used to.  Try integrating that back into your life.  Take classes, change your routine, clean out clutter in your closets, and don’t forget to take slow deep breaths of that crisp, dry autumn air!

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There is a reason ice cream stores don’t have lines in winter!  Each season comes has dietary recommendations, and some attention paid to these can help keep you healthy and strong through winter.

Autumn FoodsThe easiest way to know if you are eating seasonal foods is to ask, “Does this grow here at this time of year?” Or, “If I was a caveman/woman what would be available to eat right now?”

Look around, what grows in fall?  Here in the northeast, farmer’s markets are abundant; apples, pears, and grapes are everywhere!  There are still peppers and tomatoes, but lighter, more juicy fruits and vegetables will quickly fade away; while squashes, pumpkins, yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots can be kept for several months with proper storage.

As autumn progresses, cooler, uncooked foods of summer should appear minimally in your diet.  If you feel you must have a salad every day for lunch, try having a smaller salad and adding a warm dish.

It’s time to put iced coffees, smoothies, and ice cream aside, enjoying them only occasionally until the weather gets warm again.  This spares wasting precious energy needed to convert cold foods.  It preserves the umph! that your immune system needs to ward off the ‘nasties’ that go around offices and schools.

Hot foods, such as soups and stews should move into the foreground – especially those containing the above mentioned ingredients, and any root vegetables such as burdock (great for the skin-the bodies ‘second lung’), turnips, beets, and pungent root spices such as horseradish and ginger.

If you are a meat eater, fall and winter are appropriate times to have meat in your diet.  For those staying away from meat for health or spiritual reasons, consider cooking bone broth.  Bones cooked for hours release important minerals (part of the Metal Element) and add hardiness to your diet (see broth).  Think of the cure-all: Mom’s chicken soup .

If you’re saying, “There is no way I have time to make soups and stews,” I would like to introduce you to the crock pot (prices start as low as $11).  In the morning, toss everything in, turn it on low, return home to the soothing smell of a freshly cooked meal – ready and waiting to be eaten! (See future blogs about crock-pot cooking.)

Let’s not forget about mental food; try turning off your TV or computer 30 minutes-1 hour earlier and notice if you are ready for bed sooner.  Crawl under the covers and read something inspirational.  Follow your body’s cues – if you are tired, rest.  Think of it as putting energy into your body’s bank account for your spry future!

Part III will look more in-depth at what Chinese Medicine says about Autumn.

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If you are like me, you are feeling the affects of the shorter days and cooler temperatures as we transition from summer into fall.  As humans, we are microcosms of the greater natural world around us, so what is happening in nature is occurring within us.  We can look towards the seasons for hints on how to live more harmoniously throughout the year to foster better health and well-being.

Staying Healthy in Autumn

Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Chinese Medicine has been in the know about this for a very long time! It ‘assigns’ different emotions, colors, sounds, elements, and internal organs for each of the seasons.  Autumn is ruled by the Metal element.  The related organs are the Lungs and the Large intestine, the emotions are grief/inspiration, the color is white, and the sound is weep – more on this in Part III.

Since turning towards nature helps us understand what is happening inside, let’s look at the trees; right now the energy in the leaves (chlorophyl) is decreasing and the sap in the branches and trunk is traveling down into its roots – the tree is starting to preserve itself for the winter months ahead.  This is our cue:  All the outward activity of summer should begin to lessen, so we too safeguard our reserves.

If you pause long enough and pay attention to how you are feeling, I bet you will notice your energy dropping inward.  You may experience this as tiredness, or not as motivated to run out and party after work, maybe even wanting more quiet time for journaling or reflection.  Congratulations!  You are feeling the energy of Autumn and if you can go with it, rather than resist it, you will feel much better in the long run.

Parts II and III will continue to explore autumn, and ways to live more harmoniously with this enchanting season.

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