Activating Feminine Yin Energy


Greetings Dear Readers,

Finding balance between the masculine and feminine energies is something many people are wanting in their lives.  It seems many people find that in this modern age there is a lot of fast-paced, aggressive Yang energy.  This creates a craving for the slower paced, quieter Yin energy.  Some of the ways we add more Yin energy such as sugar, and recreational drugs are unhealthy in the long run.  Luckily, there are also many healthy ways to bring in more Yin energy such as working with the energy systems of the body.

Each acupuncture channel of the body has various properties and functions which are activated when the area is stimulated by acupuncture, massage or moxibustion.  The main channel that works with the feminine energy is the Conception Vessel (CV) channel.  The CV channel runs up the front of the body along the mid-line from the perineum to the chin.  It is balanced by the masculine energy of the Governing Vessel channel which runs along the back of the body near the spine, from the perineum up to the head and face.  The Conception Vessel channel, also called the “Sea of the Yin channels” is often used for the purpose of nourishing the Yin  or the feminine energy in the body.

 Yin and Yang energies need to stay in balance for health and harmony.  Sometimes people have too much Yang or heat/inflammation caused by a relative lack of Yin.  In these cases, activating this channel helps them overcome symptoms of Yin deficiency such as anxiety, dry mouth at night, insomnia, dizziness, tinnitus, sweating at night, hot flashes, menopausal symptoms or restless mind.

It’s also very interesting to me that acupoint Lung 7 is used to open the Conception Vessel because it affirms what we already know, that using our lungs to take deep breathes helps us to feel more calm and Yin.

The Conception Vessel belongs to a set of eight “extra-ordinary vessels” which contain some of the most powerful energy reserves in the body, which we can tap into for extra support.  These channels are also used when there are chronic conditions that are often complicated by issues in many organ systems.  If you are interested in exploring how to increase your Yin energy and find more balance in your body, acupuncture as well as non-needling technologies can be used to bring relief.

I look forward to hearing your comments and questions.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

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Ear Acupuncture for Yin Deficiency

Greetings Dear Readers,

Today I’d like to share with you some of the benefits of the 5-point ear acupuncture protocol called “NADA”.

NADA, which stands for National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, works by increasing the Yin energy of the body thus promoting an internal sense of peace which improves concentration and sleep, and reducing the need to find “peace” through external substances such as cigarettes, drugs, and other behaviours that may become addictive such as over-eating, gambling, etc.

The ears are associated with the Kidney/Water element in TCM which is Yin.  Similar to foot reflexology, the ear is a micro-system of the entire body so for every body part there is a corresponding ear point to stimulate it.  Below you will find a description of how each acupuncture point addresses Yin deficiency to calm the system physically, mentally and spiritually.   You will also find a recipe for Sleepmix tea, the herbal formula developed by Michael O. Smith to support this treatment.  Also, please note that acupuncture treatment can be used concurrently with prescription medications.

In modern times, our nervous system and mind tend to get too Yang due to our fast-paced living, busy schedules, mental distractions, lacking connection to Yin things such as the Earth, silence).  Too much Yang “burns up” the Yin and so Yin deficiencies are extremely common.   NADA is now being successfully used for various Yin-deficiency conditions such as insomnia, improving concentration for students and those suffering from ADD, stress reduction, night tremors, various behavioural disorders including suicidal ideation as well as recovery from traumatic events such as war and crises.

Sympathetic point:

Body – regulates the sympathetic nervous system, controls pain, relaxes tension in internal organs, dilates blood vessels.

Mind  – lowers epinephrine/norepinephrine causing relaxation

Spirit – quiets the spirit, promotes feelings of serenity

Shen Men:

Body  – pain relief, tension reduction, lowers hypertension

Mind –  quiets the mind and brings relief from anxiety, depression, restlessness, insomnia

Spirit – improves spiritual connection, opens the Heart to loving self and others

Kidney point:

Body – activates hormonal and physiological functions

Mind – promotes courage and will to overcome fear, improves mental state

Spirit – helps strengthen intentions, seeing the positive in situations

Liver Point:

Body – activates hormonal and physiological functions, reduces tension in muscles

Mind – improves mental clarity and decision making, helps to clear away anger, frustration, depression

Spirit  – helps one connect to one’s creativity, dreams, intuitions and life goals

Lung Point:

Body  – used for expelling toxins from the lungs, regulates defensive qi (immunity)

Mind – helps relieve sadness and grief, restores sense of integrity and self-esteem/ self-respect

Spirit – for Heavenly inspiration, stronger connection with one’s Higher power

Recipe for Sleepmix Tea

This tea is a Western herbal formula used to reduce insomnia, improve digestion, lower stress, aid in detoxification, and increase feelings of relaxation.

3 parts chamomile

1 part peppermint

1 part yarrow

1 part hops

1 part skullcap

1 part catnip

Use 1 Tablespoon of herbs per cup of boiling water.  Let steep for 5 minutes.  Can be used long-term and won’t cause morning drowsiness.  It contains no caffeine.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

Tasty Asian Kelp Salad

Greetings Dear Readers,

If you’re anything like me you may find the taste of kelp a bit too much to bear.  Knowing the health benefits of kelp, I’ve tried to all kinds of ways to get it down, from kelp powder pills to kelp pieces in soup to raw kelp noodles.  None of these are very appetizing to me.  This recipe really does kelp some justice.  Here we have the tanginess of the rice vinegar that subdues the kelpy taste into palettable proportions, the  sesame seeds and sesame oil brings a rich nutty taste and a little Braggs or soy sauce enhances the flavour.

The trick I learned from a Chinese friend (whose parents insist she eats more seaweed), is to buy kelp that is very light and thin, almost brittle.  You may need to shop around and ask in Asian markets to find it.  The kelp I’ve seen in health food stores is quite thick.  After it’s soaked it’s rather chewy and rubbery and not so fun to eat.  So think thin and flakey when buying kelp pieces.

TCM Benefits of Asian Kelp Salad

This dish benefits the Kidneys and Liver systems.  In TCM the Kidneys are the “Mother” of the Liver so strong Kidneys suport a healthier Liver.  Kelp is known as the “vegetable of long life” and is very rich in minerals such as iodine and is indicated for hypothyroidism.  Like other seaweeds it removes Phlegm and Damp, softens hard masses such as cysts, tumours, and fibroids and is used in the healing and prevention of cancer.  Kelp is cooling and helps clear Heat toxins such as the effects of radiation therapy, promotes urination and strengthens the Yin (moisture) of the body.

Sesame strengthens the Liver and Kidney channels.  Sesame helps with Kidney deficiency issues such as weak legs, early greying of hair, cold feet, dry stools, infertility, poor memory, poor milk production in women, paralysis and dizziness caused by deficiency.

Vinegar enters the Liver and Stomach.  It breaks up stasis, speeds up blood flow, clears toxins, stops bleeding and kills worms.  The sour flavour in vinegar moves Liver Qi and is indicated for Liver Qi Stagnation issues such as frequent sighing, cold hands and feet, anger or irritability, and headaches and painful menstruation.

Asian Kelp Salad

1. Soak kelp pieces in water overnight.

2. Using 3 cups of soaked kelp, drain place in bowl with 1/4 cup of black sesame seeds.

3. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil and 2 Tbsp. vinegar.

4.  Add Braggs liquid aminos/tamari or soy sauce to taste.

5.  Mix all ingredients together and let stand for an hour or more before serving.

6. Enjoy!

Yours in Health,

Cynthia

Your Body Needs Darkness

Greetings Dear Readers,

Human beings spend the first nine months of their lives wrapped in the protective darkness of the womb; a soft, rich and magical place of transformation, preparing the being with a physical form to have this spiritual experience on Earth. In TCM the uterus, called by many names such as “bao zhong” or ‘palace of jing’ (jing=essence) or “Zi Gong” ‘a child’s palace’ is considered one of the extraordinary organs for it’s unique function as a dark palace encasing the magical mystery life.

With the invention of electricity and the light bulb, it seems we’ve become more civilized, moving out of the darkness and into the light. Now we carry on our days’ activities into all hours of the night, working, eating, pursuing hobbies, doing chores, or surfing the internet until the wee hours. We celebrate having more control over our day, more flexibility over our time, more freedom. But what are the health effects of altering the circadian rhythm our bodies have been programmed with since time immemorial?

When the sun goes down, the pineal gland in the brain starts to produce melatonin in response to darkness. Melatonin production peaks in the body peaks at 10pm and drops off when the sun rises. Melatonin plays important roles in regulating hormone production, neurotransmitter production, reproductive cycles and circadian rhythm. Researchers at The University of Selville School of Medicine, Spain, found that melatonin has a significant relationship with the body’s immune system: more melatonin = higher immunity.1

Darkness is your friend. Melatonin actually stops hormone-related cancer cells from growing by changing the cell’s use of fatty acids and the cells’ sensitivity to estrogen. There are many other benefits of melatonin. In one study, animals given melatonin supplements became healthier, had higher activity levels, improved posture, more lustrous fur, and a 20% longer lifespan than the control animals. Melatonin has also been shown to help with depression, Seasonal Affective Disoder (S.A.D.), migraine headaches, Alzheimer’s disease, gastric ulcers, hot flashes in menopausal women (melatonin suppresses luteinizing hormone (LH) in postmenopausal women),
cardiovascular disease (melatonin helps control nitric oxide production, which plays an important role in ensuring proper cardiovascular function), ADD and insomnia in children.2

We need to have all the lights out for this to actually happen. Aaron Blair, the scientist emeritus for the U.S. National Cancer Institute and chairman of the IARC explains that, “melatonin gets made during the dark period . . .if you get light exposure during the normal dark period, it severely reduces the amount of melatonin that is made.” 3 Studies have shown that it only takes a small amount of light such the bedroom door cracked open to a lighted hallway is enough to suppress melatonin production by 87% in rats. Another study showed a significantly lower rate of hormone-related cancers in blind men and women.4

What does Traditional Chinese Medicine have to say? All things in the universe are Yin and Yang in a relative sense. It’s not that light is bad, it’s that darkness is also needed, we need a balance of both for health. What so often seen in our modern age is a deficiency of Yin. Yin encompasses many things such as the darkness, the feminine, quietness, coolness, that which is internal, rest, slowness, depth, creativity, mystery and fluidity (I will write more on these aspects of Yin in up-coming posts). There has been an emphasis in modern culture on all things Yang such as light, speed, sound, heat, external developments, activity, the superficial, the linear, the logical and the known world. This favouring of the Yang side of our natures creates physical and mental imbalances such as inflammatory conditions, racing thoughts, night sweating, insomnia, sensory overload, restlessness, anxiety, destabilization of the emotions, lack of faith, fear and loss of the internal core sense of self.

For centuries there have been people who do long meditation retreats in dark caves in the Himalayas and others such as Jasmuheen who have organized and engaged in special “dark room retreats”. What’s interesting to notice about listening to people who’ve gone through this process is they all have some experience of increased spiritual light. When the physical light is reduced people seem to get a powerful experience of their inner spiritual light, an interesting paradox to consider.

Practical tips to benefit from more darkness:
1. use an eye mask at night (available in travel shops for about $6)
2. expose yourself to bright natural light during the day because the contrast of light exposure inthe day followed by darkness at night helps signal the body to make melatonin. If you spend a lot of time inside or live in a rainy place, using a full-spectrum light bulb at your desk or overhead works wonders, even said to improve mood.
3. Use back-out blinds to cover windows that let in city lights.
4. Install dimmer switches and turn the indoor lighting down at dusk.
5. Practice waking up with the sun and going to bed earlier.
6. Remove gadgets with electronic lights from the bedroom or use only gadgets with red lights (red lights are of a different spectrum and don’t suppress melatonin production).

1. Guerrero JM, Reiter RJ. Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Seville School of Medicine and Virgen Macarena Hospital, Spain.guerrero@cica.es

2. http://www.smart-publications.com/articles/the-health-benefits-of-melatonin-are-more-than-just-a-good-nights-slee/page-2

3. Aaron Blair, Ph.D., Scientist Emeritus, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md., and chair, working group, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans; Nov. 29, 2007, statement, Elizabeth Ward, director, surveillance research, American Cancer Society; Associated Press

4.Epidemiology. 1998 Sep;9(5):490-4.Reduced cancer incidence among the blind.Feychting M, Osterlund B, Ahlbom A.
Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.