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Summer Solstice

During the summer solstice your yang energy reaches its peak. It is important to harness the peak of this yang energy, because as summer shifts into fall yang energy will decline. This great abundance of yang energy will translate throughout your body because during this season you are active and growing.

According to five element theory, during the summer the organ that receives extra energy is the heart. When the seasons change so do the organs we should focus on in the body. You should focus on the heart during summer. Feed the heart heart-nourishing foods and make sure to remain active so the heart receives positive energy. continue reading »

Patterns of Discrimination for Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates 136,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer in 201
7 and nearly 50,000 of those will actually die from the disease. At least half of the people who develop colon cancer have some sort of existing risk factor. The other half may get colon cancer due to unfavorable diet, lifestyle or habits.


Regardless of the reason, Western medicine typically treats each case the same way. Surgery is the first line of defense, followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. All of these tactics can be quite risky and have a multitude of adverse side effects.


Traditional Chinese Medicine treats each person on an individual basis. This means despite the Western medical diagnosis, the patient will receive special individualized care. TCM also differentiates the various causes of colon cancer based on the underlying contributing factors that have created the disease.  There are at least four possible different patterns of discrimination for colon cancer in the Chinese medicine world. Each pattern is associated with a specific energetic meridian and organ system, as well as some sort of causative factor, such as damp heat.


The first possible pattern involves the large intestine pathway being invaded by damp heat. With this pattern, the patient may have diarrhea, mucus or blood in the stools; foul smelling stools, a burning anus, fever, sweating, heaviness of the limbs and thirst without a desire to drink. This can be caused by ingesting too many hot and greasy foods, accompanied by excessive worry and anxiety over a long period of time. The treatment would involve clearing the heat and draining the dampness. The patient would also need to make some lifestyle changes.


The next possible pattern involves the spleen energetic pathway. The spleen system does not like cold.  Thus, when the system is invaded by constant cooling, the yang or fire becomes depleted. The pattern is known as spleen yang deficiency. Symptoms of spleen yang deficiency include lack of appetite, abdominal distention after eating, fatigue, loose stools with undigested food, cold limbs, chilliness and edema. The treatment would involve warming and boosting the spleen yang.


The third possible pattern involves the kidney system. As with the spleen, when the kidney system is exposed to excessive cold conditions or the yin (water) is excessive, the yang of the kidney system can be depleted. The symptoms of kidney yang deficiency include chills, aversion to cold, cold limbs, apathy, lethargy, weak or cold knees and soreness in the lumbar region. The treatment would involve warming and boosting the kidney yang energy.


The last possible pattern also involves the kidney system, but this time it is the opposite of the aforementioned pattern. Kidney yin deficiency occurs when there is too much fire and not enough water, which creates excess heat. Symptoms of this pattern include hot palms, night sweats, constipation, thirst, sore knees and dark urine. The treatment would involve cooling and sedating the kidney yang, while boosting the kidney yin energy.
No matter what the pattern, acupuncture and TCM can help, provided the diagnosis takes place early. This is why acupuncture should be used in a preventive fashion.


Main Symptoms as They Relate to Colon Cancer Patterns

There are five different diagnostic patterns associated with colon cancer. Each separate diagnostic pattern has its own set of symptoms linked to it. Read below to figure out which main symptoms relate to certain colon cancer diagnostic patterns.


Large Intestine Damp Heat

Abdominal pain, diarrhea, mucus and blood in the stool and heavy sensation in the body and limbs are all signs of Large Intestine Damp Heat.


Spleen Yang Deficiency

Cold limbs, tiredness, pale complexion, weakness of the limbs and loss of appetite are all signs of Spleen Yang Deficiency.


Kidney Yang Deficiency

Spiritual fatigue, declining libido, difficulty in urination, enuresis and general edema are all signs of Kidney Yang Deficiency.


Kidney Yin Deficiency

Afternoon or evening sweats, dry mouth, achy lower back, tinnitus and aching bones are all signs of Kidney Yin Deficiency.


Liver Yin Deficiency

Blurred vision, numbness, brittle nails, vertigo and flank pain are all signs of Liver Yin Deficiency.

The Master Cleanse

Created by Stanley Burroughs, author of the book The Master Cleanser, the master cleanse is a great way to cleanse the body while giving the digestive system a much-needed rest. The master cleanse, usually used to achieve rapid weight loss, can also be used to heal and nourish the body.

The cleanse is a liquid diet, which some refer to as a juice fast. It effectively supplies all of the healthy and essential nutrients and calories the body needs to function. The beauty of the master cleanse is that in addition to being rewarding and beneficial for your body, it is also extremely easy to follow and inact.


There are three main parts of the master cleanse. You should utilize all three of these parts in order to extract all of the healing and fasting properties of the master cleanse. The three parts are the lemon drink, the salt drink and the herbal/laxative teas.


First, you need to make sure to six to 12 glasses of the lemon drink per day over the course of a 10-day period. The lemon drink consists of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, water and maple syrup. Balance out your intake of the lemon drink throughout the day with regular water if you still feel thirsty.


The salt drink part of the cleanse is a little bit different. The salt drink consists of just lukewarm water and natural sea salt. You should make sure to drink a quart every morning, all in one sitting.


The third and final part to the master cleanse is an herbal laxative or tea. Make sure to take a laxative or drink a laxative tea before bed each night in order to complete the steps of the master cleanse.


The master cleanse is an easy and extremely effective form of detox dieting, just follow the simple steps and figure out for yourself!

All About Moxibustion

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that incorporates numerous methods for treating disease and illness. One of the tools found in the toolbox of the TCM practitioner is known as moxibustion.


Moxibustion is a technique that involves the burning of mugwort, known as moxa, which is an herb that facilitates healing. The purpose of moxibustion is to stimulate the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), strengthen the blood and maintain general health. Qi is translated as life energy. There are two types of moxibustion, direct and indirect. Direct moxibustion uses moxa shaped into a small cone and is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion has two subcategories, scarring and non-scarring. Scarring moxa burns until it distinguishes on its own. This may lead to localized scarring and blisters. Non-scarring moxa allows for the moxa to be placed on the acupuncture point, lit, extinguished and removed before it burns the skin.


Non-scarring moxibustion creates a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deeply into the skin, but does not create a scar or any pain. Indirect moxibustion is the more popular of the forms. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a stick of moxa and holds it close to the acupuncture point for several minutes until the area turns red.


Moxibustion is used to help people with cold or stagnant conditions. Burning moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the energetic meridians, which creates the smooth flow of Qi and blood. Moxibustion also supports the yang energy, which strengthens and increases the original Qi. Moxibustion can be used to treat many conditions including back pain, muscle stiffness, headaches, tendonitis, arthritis, digestive disorders, anxiety, menstrual cramps, irregular periods and infertility. Moxibustion is not recommended for diabetic patients, since they have decreased sensitivity to pain and compromised circulation.


Moxibustion is very effectively used in patients that have a cold constitution.  Many chronic conditions, even the ones that manifest as heat conditions, can have chronic cold as the underlying situation. A cold constitution is triggered or aggravated by over cooling the body systems. Because of technological advances, our bodies are exposed to cold at a much higher rate than in the past. Things like refrigeration, air-conditioning, iced beverages and even ice cream have created a society of people with cold constitutions. Also many pharmaceutical drugs including over-the-counter pain medications are known to decrease body temperature. Large consumption of fruits and raw vegetables and ongoing mental and emotional stress can also create cold constitutions. Therefore using moxibustion is frequently warranted in the treatment of many illnesses and diseases.


Moxibustion on the acupuncture point Stomach 36 also has the function of preventing diseases and maintaining health. In ancient China, this technique was known as reverse moxibustion. Even if a person is quite healthy, regular moxibustion on this point can invigorate healthy Qi and strengthen the immune system, thus increasing longevity.  Perhaps this is why the point has been nicknamed the “longevity point”.


As with acupuncture, only a licensed practitioner should be called upon for treatments such as moxibustion. If you believe that moxibustion may be helpful with your medical conditions, be sure to discuss it with your acupuncturist.

The Many Dimensions of the Kidney


Acupuncturists understand the body as a complex system of energy systems, meridians and organs. However, when an acupuncturist talks about an organ, like the spleen, heart or kidneys, they are not referring to the physical organ that sits inside your body, but rather the energetic side of these organs. The energetic system is much bigger than just the physical organ, and governs certain functions in the body on many levels.

The kidney system is one of the most important of these energetic organ systems.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys represent the deepest, most fundamental levels of energy in the human body. They are said to be the root of yin and yang in the body – two fundamental forces at play in our physiology. The kidneys also store a substance called “essence” that is our genetic code, our life force and our reproductive ability.


The kidneys in Chinese Medicine are related to the water element, which is the elemental energy of winter. Whereas many energy systems are all about movement, the kidneys are about rest, relaxation, rejuvenation – they are the energy of holding, of turning inward, of protecting that which is most important. Think of still reflecting pools, or a quiet winter night. These are kidney energy. The kidneys are often referred to in Chinese Medicine as our “root” – they are tasked with caring for the most precious parts of us that make us who we are.


On a physical level, the kidneys govern the water passageways within the body (appropriate being the water element!) as well as controlling growth and reproduction. In a five element understanding of Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are at the end of the life cycle, before rebirth occurs again (such as winter making way for spring.) This means the kidneys in particular have a vital role to play in end of life transitions.


The spirit aspect of the kidneys is called Zhi, or willpower. Again, the kidneys are our root, our fundamental and core energy. When that system is weakened, a person may not feel drive, motivation or have the ability to push themselves. Their understanding of who they are and what they can do has been diminished.


The emotion associated with the kidneys is fear. When the kidneys are weak, a person may be startled or frightened easily, or may experience fear in disproportionate ways. Likewise, shock, trauma and fearful situations weaken the kidney energy, which is why many of the common symptoms of PTSD have a kidney imbalance at their root. The person’s core has been shaken.


The kidney energy, being the deepest level of energy in the body, takes time to replenish and strengthen, which means patience is key. Also, the kidney energy naturally declines over the life cycle, which is the normal aging process. So as we age, protecting the kidneys becomes all the more important!


Nourish the Kidneys through Food


Being associated with the water element, the kidneys are nourished by foods that come from the water – fish, seaweeds and shellfish are nourishing to this system. The kidneys are associated with the salty taste, so naturally salty foods such as miso or millet also are good choices. Avoid foods that are damaging to your root energy, such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, greasy foods and highly-processed foods.


Nourish the Kidneys through your habits


The kidneys are damaged by overwork, too much responsibility, lack of sleep and a frenetic schedule. In other words, most of us living in modern society are taxing our kidneys! This means it is all the more important to carve out time and space to take part in kidney-nourishing habits.


As we mentioned, the kidneys are nourished through rest and rejuvenation. Pay attention to your sleep, and be sure you are getting the hours that you need! Take a nap in the day if you need it. Engage in gentle, relaxing forms of exercise, like yoga or tai chi. Try meditation or guided visualizations to calm and center yourself. Find a schedule that works – one that really works – for you.


Bring the water element into your life and your home by getting a small decorative fountain, using essential oils, taking baths or spending time near rivers or oceans or other bodies of water.


The kidneys, being the source of our reproductive strength, are also weakened by excessive sexual activity. So go for quality over quantity.


The kidneys represent what makes you, you. So take the time to give them the support they need!



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