Awakening the Heart with Supreme Spring

Greetings Dear Readers,

heart in handHeart 1 Jiquan Supreme Spring builds energy in the Heart system allowing a person to feel less anxiety and sadness coming from  insufficient qi of the Heart.  By treating the Heart system, a person can feel greater stability and strength through connection with their authentic self and their spiritual source.

The Heart system is the centre of our being, the axis around which all of our functioning is orchestrated.  The Heart system in Five Element acupuncture aligns our thoughts and actions with our purest sense of self.  The Heart, as sovereign of all organ systems, governs through intuition, an inner knowing as though without effort.

As the beginning of the Heart channel, Heart 1 Jiquan Utmost Spring, is a source of Heart Heart 1 - JiquanYang (Yang means Fire or Heat).  When a person lacks warmth in their Heart system, this can make them feel hermit crabwithdrawn from 
others, pulled into themselves, lacking the Heart Fire with which to reach out and connect with others with warmth and love.  Such a person may also feel cut off from their spiritual connection or source causing life to feel like an endless list of dreary tasks to complete in effort to find control over the constant disorder.   This point fosters a better relationship between our own Heart system and the divine and helps us to connect with warmth and compassion from a spiritual source.  Without this Heart Yang, it can feel like an essential spark is missing from a person and this can be seen in the eyes that lack sparkle, joy and clarity.

The Heart system houses the mind, not the gross mind of the intellect but the subtle aspects of mind called the Shen.  The Shen gives rise to our sense of self.  Intuitively we feel this sense of our self in our Heart system since when we refer to our self, we often put our hand over our heart.

People with an imbalance in the Heart system often have trouble falling asleep at night.  Heart patterns causing insomnia are often either Heat in the Heart as seen from the red tip on a patient’s tongue, or a deficiency of Yin or Blood in the Heart system which makes it hard for a person to settle down and for their mind to become more quiet. As we lie in bed, the subtle energy of the mind which travels outwards towards the five senses during the wakefulness of day, then moves back inwards towards the heart as we fall asleep.  The blood in the Heart acts as an anchor for the mind, a physical basis for the ethereal mind to settle into.  When the Blood is deficient, the subtle mind cannot anchor into the Heart system and the person often feels like they are almost floating on the bed, ungrounded.

Insomnia and night sweats are often part of the picture when there is Heart Yin deficiency.  This can also be treated with Heart 1 which nourishes the Yin of the Heart and clears the Empty Heat which agitates the heart/mind and causes a restless anxious feeling at night.

Relationship stress can affect the Heart system.  The mind may be very conflicted about aheart people relationship and this inner turmoil can affect the energy in the Heart system showing up as symptoms of insomnia, palpitations, irregular pulse, panic and social anxiety.  Using Heart 1 in treatment, the Heart system gets strengthened, helping one foster emotional equilibrium, and a calm state of mind.

Yours in health,

Cynthia McGilvray, R.Ac.

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Great Esteem

Greetings Dear Readers,

The vision we carry in our hearts of who we are and why we came here and what we are sight but no visionto do in this life, the vision of all of this is the domain of the Wood element, and specifically, the Liver system.  Liver 1, Dadun, “Great Esteem” activates this potential within us to find the vision for our life, a guide post around which the decisions and actions of our life revolve.  Without a vision we will feel lost, either in the sense of continuously switching from one plan or activity to another without ever finishing anything, and so our plans don’t quite manifest or materialize, or we may get lost is by following someone else’s vision, what others want for us or need from us rather than following our own vision.

When our own vision is steve-jobs-visionlacking (isn’t it so much easier to follow along with someone else’s plan?  Ah yes!  But . . ) when we do this, at first our life may be simpler, then later on we may start to develop resentment towards whomever we feel is imposing their ways on us.  And we’re back at square one.  This resentment, which is a type of anger, (and all anger creates and manifests as imbalance in the Wood element), this anger can be resolved and transformed into growth through finding and connecting to our own inner vision of ourselves and feeling as though our daily actions are in congruence with our own plan.

Acupuncturist and scholar Lonny Jerrat defines self-esteem as “the ability to stand up for the vision that emerges from the depths of self” in his ground-breaking book, The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine. 1  This statement offers us a lot to ponder.  Most modern talk about self-esteem is about seeing value in ourself, but what is this valuing based on?  Are we seeing value in superficial elements or are we penetrating to the valuesdepths of self?  Is our self-esteem coming from the depths of our being or from anothers’ voice that we have internalized such as the voices of our parents or the media or society?  Are we valuable only if we perform to a certain standard imposed from someone or somewhere else?  If we measure our worth based on external markers of “success” then we will experience self-worth only when we have those markers and so our self-worth will be very precarious.  “From the depths of self” seems to speak to our spiritual values.  Have we organized our actions, our self, our worth around a vision of what we hold as most high and true?liver 1

Liver 1, Great Esteem is the beginning of the Liver channel and may also be the beginning of our journey of finding our own personal vision.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

 

References:

  1. Jerrat, Lonny. (2003).  The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine.

Untangling the Knots of Worry

Greetings Dear Readers,

Ever have one of those days of mental burn-out, a day when the mind feels sluggish, mental burnouttired from too many thoughts, worries, decisions, emails?  Or maybe you were up all night studying for an exam or preparing to give a speech and now it feels like your mind is saying “enough already!”.

overthinkingOr maybe we don’t even notice that our head or brain is all tied up in knots until we try to do something like meditate.  Then, we see that we aren’t in our hearts at all!  We’re up in our brain and it’s a mad jungle in there.  We look at our mind and see that many of the thoughts are repetitious, going around in circles and not leading to any productive outcome.

multitakingOr are you someone who habitually surfs the internet or watches TV while eating?  Are you taking in data from many sources at once like trying to read, text and listen to a podcast all at the same time.  Yup, I get it, done that too.  When we’re over-stimulated by so many sources of info all at once we can’t process it let alone remember what we took in.

Any of the above scenarios are all too common in modern life.  A great acupuncture point for this mental overload is Stomach 8 “Head Tied”.  This point works to unbind theST8 knots of worry, obsession, and over-analysis and release the energetic imbalance in our Earth element that causes us to keep mulling over the same thoughts without end.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, worry is said to “knot” the qi, meaning our energy system becomes blocked and stagnant from over-thinking and this can especially affect the digestive system.  As some patients have reported, the mind can feel like a bowl of spaghetti.

It’s time to unwind from all those mental knots and come back to centre.  Contact me for an acupuncture treatment and give yourself some space to relax and recharge.

Yours in health,

Cynthia McGilvray, R.Ac.

References:

  1. Jerrat, Lonny. (2003).  The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine.  Spirit Path Press.

Clearing Excess with Abundant Splendor

Greetings Dear Readers,

The body wants homeostasis, a relative balance in all areas of mind, body and spirit.   In stomach 40 picFive Element Acupuncture, the Earth element needs a balance between lack of nourishment and over-nutrition, a middle ground between Excess and Deficiency.  Acupuncture point Stomach 40 Fenglong “Abundant Splendor” supports the body in avoiding the extremes of excess Damp (which can show up as excess weight, sinus congestion, runny nose, sneezing, growths, tumors, cysts and cystic acne) and its’ opposite, a weakness or deficiency in the Stomach system whereby the Stomach official is not breaking down food and nutrients are poorly extracted leading to under-development of the muscles and flesh.

We can see this Earth element imbalance physically in Type II diabetes where obesity, a form a Damp, is present in over 80% of patients.1  With Type II diabetes, TCM explains there is also typically Yin Deficiency with excess Heat in one of the three burners (Upper, Middle or Lower).  Heat in the Middle Burner (the jurisdiction of the Spleen and Stomach systems) shows up with the patient having an insatiable appetite.  In spite of eating more and more, there is no real contentment or satisfaction.  Such a person may eat too much without satiation.  Since they are often not receiving nourishment on the more subtle spirit level of the Stomach system either, the use of food to fill this void is to no avail.  Where there is harmony in the Stomach system, a person is better able to feel a sense of contentment with respect to food and nourishment.

binge eat

All acupuncture points work homeostatically, where the body reacts to the stimulation of the point by moving away from the extreme of conditions each point treats.  Stomach 40 brings us into balance between  the opposite poles of neediness, and ingratiation and the feeling of being burdened. 2  A person can be burdened by unprocessed or undigested thoughts, feelings, or trauma from the past.  By using Stomach 40 “Abundant Splendor” in treatment a person can start to gain a release of this emotional baggage and feel greater satisfaction from the food eaten and life in general.  It becomes possible to reap a harvest from within. They can feel a lifting of the burden of weight and the emotions that weigh down on them, transforming the physical and emotional expressions of the Damp into inner nourishment.  As a result, they can start to feel a lightness in their being and satiation or fullness on the emotional plane that resolves excess hunger and promotes the feeling of abundance.

decluttering-banner-1

Holding on to excess that we no longer need is a theme that comes up with weight loss and is mirrored by another Earth element theme: clutter.  Earth constitutional types are susceptible to these kinds of excesses.  Once we start to break down the energetic pattern in the body that is holding them in place we can start to see these patterns of excess weight in the body, as well as clutter in one’s house start to dissolve.  A good friend of mine is a de-clutter expert.   Working with people who struggle with over-accumulation of possessions, she explains that people hold on to things often due to emotional issues that have not yet been processed or “digested”.  She works compassionately to talk clients through the sensitive emotions that come up in the process of letting go.  As the emotions are processed and digested, people feel a sense of relief, a lightness in the mind as they become ready to let go.

As Lonny Jerrat, acupuncturist and acupuncture scholar explains in his ground-breaking book, The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine, “dampness represents the accumulation (abundance) of all unintegrated experiences.”  By stimulating Stomach 40 through acupuncture or moxabustion the body can start to process the mental and physical dampness and come into a sense of having enough.

Yours in health,

Cynthia McGilvray, R.Ac.

References:

1. Stephenson, Clare. (2017). The Acupuncturists Guide to Conventional Medicine.  Singing Dragon: London, UK.

2. Jerrat, Lonny. (2003). The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine.  Spirit Path Press: Stockbridge, MA.

3. Gumenick, Neil.  The Stomach Official.  Retrieved from: http://www.5elements.com/articles/stomachofficial.html

Immune-Boosting Tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine

Greetings Dear Readers,

Our immune system performs a complex range of tasks to overcome various types of foreign invaders and diseases.  Several organs and processes are involved such as bone lymph-systemmarrow, lymphocytes, the spleen, lymph nodes, and the thymus gland.  White blood cells such as neutrophils, macrophages and dendritic cells identify what is not our body and destroy those cells.  Eastern medicine focuses on building up the body’s internal defense system so that the microbe has no chance of getting a foothold.

Strengthening the immune response involves building the Defensive Qi, an energetic layer of Yang (warm, invigorating) energy that lives between the skin and the muscles.  Since Defensive energy depends on sufficient strength and warmth of the body, this explains why we need to keep our body warm in fall and winter and get enough rest to keep colds at bay.  When the Defensive energy is strong we either don’t catch the cold or flu going around, or if we do catch it, our body has the strength to fight it off quickly.  One recent study presented bysleep the Sleep Research Society concluded that those who sleep only 5-6 hours per night have a greater risk of catching a cold.

The lymph system acts as the body’s internal vacuum cleaner, cleaning up all the microbes and waste materials and flushing them out.  Since the lymph system does not have a pump, it requires exercise or therapy such as massage, cupping, or skin brushing to move the lymph to promote proper drainage.  For this reason, it is so important to get some type of regular exercise to avoid lymph stagnation which can weaken immunity.

There are also foods and herbs that can support the strengthening of the Yang/Defensive energy as well as improve blood circulation to support lymph drainage.

Foods that Strengthen Immunity:

Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, cabbage, parsley), mushrooms (shitake, reishi, chaga, oyster, etc.), raw honey, goji berries, fermented foods (such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, pickles, yogurt without sugar), coconuts and coconut oil, berries, chlorella, garlic, ginger, green tea.miso-soup

Herbs that Strengthen Immunity

Licorice (avoid if blood pressure is high), tusli,  honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, elderberry, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, yarrow, tumeric, echinacea.

Foods that Weaken Immunity

Sugar, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, processed fats such as margarine, trans-fats, fried foods, rancid oils, preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings, rancid oils, red meat, alcohol, drugs, processed foods, and foods that are not fresh.

Two Great Acupressure Points to Stimulate Your Immune System

Stomach 36 (Zu San Li). This is one of the most important points of the whole body because it strengthens the body in a multitude of ways, strengthening energy, blood, Yin and Yang.  You just can’t go wrong

st36

Here is ST 36

using this point:)  You can find it by placing your hand under your knee cap, then directly under your hand at about one thumb’s distance lateral to the tibia (that big bone at the front of your leg) you will find a depression, or little dip along the skin and this depressed area is ST 36.  Give this point some good pressure for several minutes, then do the other side.

Another great point is point is Large Intestine 11. You can find this point by bending your arm so that you see the elbow crease on the li11skin at the lateral side of the elbow joint.  The end of the elbow crease marks Large Intestine 11.  Pressing around this area may reveal some tenderness.  Give this area some good pressure regularly.  It is a homeostatic point that regulates both an under-active immune system (frequents colds, flus, cancer) as well as an overactive immune system (allergies, auto-immune disorders).

Regular acupuncture treatments can also build up immunity using point combinations to strengthen your Defensive energy, your warming invigorating Yang energy, as well improving circulation of blood and lymph depending on what each individual requires.  Each acupuncture treatment builds upon each other and for this reason I recommend a relaxing-acupunctureseries of 5 treatments. This is why I have put together this Immune-Boosting Package of 5 treatments at a discount price for the fall and winter season, to encourage you to see for yourself the immune supporting benefits acupuncture can provide.

Wishing you health and happiness!

Cynthia

References:

  1. Aric A. Prather, PhD1; Denise Janicki-Deverts, PhD2; Martica H. Hall, PhD3; Sheldon Cohen, PhD2 Prather AA, Janicki-Deverts D, Hall MH, Cohen S. (November 2016).  Behaviorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. VOLUME 38, ISSUE 09.SLEEP

Treatment of Type II Diabetes with Acupuncture

Greetings Dear Readers,

We all know people in our family or circle of friends who suffer from Type II diabetes.  It is one of the most common diseases of the modern world and yet in North America, few know about the healing benefits that acupuncture and Oriental medicine has been providing for sufferers in Asian countries for centuries.  Acupuncturists have identified roughly 20 acupuncture points on the body that appear to assist with lowering blood sugar, as well as protocols

images

for dealing with diabetic neuropathy.   One very commonly used point, ST 36 (find this point by finding a slight depression in the skin at 4 fingers below the knee can and one thumb lateral to the tibia bone).  Yes, try some acupressure here!.  It is considered to be the most important point on the body for its wide range of uses such as strengthening Yin which is considered the root of this disorder, as well as strengthening Qi (vital energy) and Yang, which assists with the complications of Type II diabetes.  It is also interesting that some of these points have shown to have the side-benefit of lowering blood cholesterol which is also a important for reducing neuropathies.

Type II Diabetes is a metabolic disorder involving resistance to insulin, lack of insulin and high blood sugar.  Left unchecked, Type II diabetes can lead to a number of secondary conditions such as degenerative eye disorderscirculation, cardiovascular disease, limb pain and numbness, skin ulceration and kidney failure.  Maintaining a healthy diet, exercise and medication or herbs to control blood sugar are very important and acupuncture is not a substitute for these.  Regular check-ups with your doctor are also important.

A number of studies on acupuncture treatment for Type II diabetes have shown significant benefit over the control group. Acupuncture can lower blood sugar during the treatment session, reduce stress (elevated stress is known to raise cortisol levels which leads to weight gain around the 3-jiaosabdomen).  When there is excess insulin in the blood, the insulin creates inflammation in the body, otherwise known as Heat in TCM, affecting either the Upper Burner (Jiao) causing excessive thirst (polydipsea), the Middle Burner causing the urge to eat too much (polyphagia) or the Lower Burner causing too much urination (polyuria). This Heat clearing ability of acupuncture has been demonstrated scientifically in the before and after

diabetic-before-acu

Infared before acupuncture

diabetic-after-acu

Infared after acupuncture

photos shown here.

Acupuncture has been recommended by the Mayo Clinic as a good alternative treatment for diabetic neuralgia (numbness, tingling and pain in limbs, poor balance, etc.).  Pain conditions are something I treat daily in my clinic and one of the main reasons why acupuncture works so well for pain is because it increases the flow of energy and blood in the body .  This relates to an ancient axiom in Chinese Medicine: “Where there is pain, there is blockage of Qi (energy); Where there is no pain, there is no Qi blockage”.

Although some doctors have advised diabetic patients to avoid acupuncture because of risk of infection, in fact the standards of acupuncture practice idownloadn North America are  very high and requires practitioners to only used pre-packaged, sterile, single-use disposable

needles.  The acupuncturist is required to follow Clean Needle Technique which, among many things, involves cleaning the area of skin to be needle with rubbing alcohol thus making the risk of infection very low.

There is an abundance of research studies showing many of the positive effects of acupuncture for Type II Diabetes, more than what I have room to talk about here so I believe it is well worth looking into as a natural way to support the body.

A few other helpful things to consider for Type II Diabetes self-care are:images-2

  1. Getting enough sleep.  A Japanese study showed sleep-deprivation was connected to high blood sugar.
  2. Bitter Melon tea.images-1

 

3. Cinnamon also regulates blood glucose.     Caution if you have night sweats or a feeling of heat at night, please don’t take cinnamon, it’s too heating in this case.

 

Yours in health,

Cynthia

References:

  1. Subhuti, Dharmananda, Ph.D. Treatment of Diabetes with Acupuncture and Chinese herbs (2003). Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon Retrieved from: http://www.itmonline.org/arts/diabacu.htm.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Clinic – Diabetic Neuropathy. (February  2015).  Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-neuropathy/basics/alternative-medicine/con-20033336
  3. Lo, Yin. Ph.D.  Diabetes and acupuncture. (November 2003). Acupuncture Today. Retrieved from: http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2003/nov/11lo.html
  4. Authors at Healthcare Medical Institute. Acupuncture Regulates Insulin and Blood Glucose in Diabetics. (June 2015). http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1485-acupuncture-regulates-insulin-and-glucose-in-diabetics

Treating Lupus with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Greetings Dear Readers,

If you or someone you know is living with Lupus there is hope.  Oriental medicine has had a lot of success with many types of auto-immune diseases such as Lupus.

oriental medicineSystemic Lupus Erythmatosus (SLE) is an auto-immune disorder  in which the immune system attacks its’ own tissues leading to chronic inflammation. Several orlupus-symptomsgan systems may be affected such as kidneys, heart, skin, blood cells, joints, brain and skin.  Western medicine explains the cause of lupus as essentially unknown but beyond that is believed to be a combination of genetics and environment where some people have a genetic predisposition to developing lupus and then various environmental factors such as sunlight, medications (anti-biotics, anti-seizure meds, blood pressure medications) can be the triggers that set off the lupus symptoms. Commonly used Western drugs such as  NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), corticosteroids, anti-malarial drugs and immuno-suppressants are used to manage symptoms.  Although these drugs may be able to control flare-ups to some extent, there are often side-effects with long-term use.
Natural therapies such as acupuncture that can achieve suppression of flare-ups as well as get to the root of the disease itself.

Oriental medicine describes Lupus as a situation of too much Yang (heat)  and not enough Yin (yin=coolness, moisture) which also creates “Empty Heat” or Heat resulting from Deficient Yin.   I will publish a post about Yin Deficiency soon.

With Excess Heat, often the person has Heat signs such as the red butterfly rash on their face (red=heat)butterfly rash, constipation, excess thirst, a feeling of heat in the body or fever, and dark-coloured urine that may be scanty.  The tongue is often red with a yellow coat, and the pulse is often rapid, and full.  Heat symptoms tend to show up in the upper part of the body such as the face because heat rises.  Lupus also shows up more often in younger people between the ages of 15 – 40 because young people are relatively more Yang than older people.

When the Heat is intense it becomes Fire.  Fire rises upwards towards the heart and brain which can result in mental-emotional symptoms such as irritability or anxiety.  Fire also dries up the body fluids which is why there can be constipation and scanty urine.

With Yin Deficiency, there is a lack of the moistening, cooling body fluids in the body which result in dryness as well as Blood Deficiency symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia and hair loss..  With prolonged Yin Deficiency there can be “Empty Heat” which means a relatred cracked tongueive increase in Heat caused by a lack of Yin which shows up as low-grade fever and night sweats.  Yin involves all the body fluids including blood and sinovial fluids.  A Yin deficient tongue may be peeled (geographic, or cracked) and the pulse may be superficial, thin and fast.  Since women are considered more Yin, and require a greater amount of blood and body fluids for healthy body functions (think of how women’s bodies must replace menstrual blood lost each month) , this helps explain why SLE tends to affect women more than men.

Photophobia often stems from Yin deficiency of the Liver system (the Liver liver blood def.“opens” to the eyes) causing a lack of moistening fluids (Liver Blood) to the eyes resulting in light sensitivity  and dry eyes.  Hair loss is also indicated because in TCM hair is considered a surplus of Liver Blood.  Discoid (small round) rashes are another symptom of Blood Deficiency as it is the function of Blood to moisten the skin so the lack of Blood causes red flaky rashes.

The joint pain in lupus may be the result of the lack of body fluids (Yin) resulting in less sinovial fluids in the joints.  It can also be from Liver Blood Deficiency as the Liver Blood’s role is to moisten the tendons and resulting in arthritic pain.

Without treatment  Lupus can progress into kidney damage and failure.  This can be a life-threatening illness so it’s important to chose your treatment strategy wisely.  Where there are more severe and acute symptoms such as breathing difficulty and acute kidney issues it’s important to see a Western doctor quickly to prevent serious complications.  Once things have stabilized, TCM acupuncture can focus on the other symptoms as well as addressing the root of the disorder.

treatmentThe goals of acupuncture treatment with Lupus will depend on how the individual presents.  In general, points will be used to clear the Heat/Fire and strengthen Yin and Blood of the affected channels and organ systems.  This is achieved by selecting the correct acupuncture points that will do those jobs.  Each acupuncture point has its own functions and indications so the treatment will be tailored to the patient’s unique presentation. The treatment for Lupus tends to be longer than other conditions because Yin Deficiency takes a long time to develop and so a longer time to remove.  With persistent treatment as well as the guidance I offer in self-care including diet there should be a lessening of flare-ups as well as better energy and quality of life.

Yours in health,

Cynthia McGilvray, R.Ac.

References:

1.Weil, Andrew, M.D., (August 2016). Lupus. Retrieved from: http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/autoimmune-disorders/lupus/

2. Mayo Clinic Staff, (November 2014). Lupus. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/basics/definition/con-20019676

3. Maciocia, Giovanni. ( 2005). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. 2nd Ed. Churchill & Livingstone.