I’ve said it before but its worth repeating- Chinese Medicine is beautifully complicated. There is a reason it takes years of study to be licensed as an Acupuncturist and/or Herbalist. As we head into Fall, I wanted to speak a bit about how our Modern Day Family Fun/ Fall Activities are in line with Chinese Medicine’s ancient understanding of the Season.
The Fall Season is a time of transition and it is considered to be a “Yin” time of year. Yin is generally associated with cold, darkness and dryness. But it is ALSO about conservation, storage and sustainment. During the Fall, we prepare for the coldness and sparseness of the upcoming Winter. Our ancestors would be clearing the fields of the previous seasons harvest, replanting appropriate seasonal crops and curing foods to be stored for the winter. The Fall is when our ancestors would start to eat more substantial foods as to "thicken their blood" to bulk up for the long winter.
Since most of us are not harvesting our own crops, the Modern equivalent looks something like apple picking, pumpkin picking, canning veggies and and making (and freezing) soups. I can even make a case for Football and Netflix being in our genes as this time of year is also associated with curling up and resting. Yin energy prefers hot drinks (Hello, PSL and apple cider!)
So, when your Fall calendar starts to feel super busy and a tad indulgent on the “fun” just remember, your ancestors had their own equivalent and everything turned out just fine. Try to have fun and enjoy the beautiful days before the cold takes over.
Progress doesn’t look the same for everyone. For some of you, this may seem obvious but for others it isn’t. I often hear people say thing like: “My sister had acupuncture and she was cured after 1 visit.” Or “my friend said acupuncture didn’t do anything for her.” The truth is, both of those experience are outliers. Sometimes people DO get better after 1 visit. But, that is rare. And sometimes people feel no different after getting acupuncture. In these cases, it is likely that they have not received enough cumulative treatment in order to make a noticeable change.
The truth is, we are all individuals with unique characteristics, make up, symptoms, lifestyle habits and diets. Because of this, your healing process may look different than that of your friends and family. The important thing to keep in mind is that your treatments are personalized for YOU and all your unique characteristics.
Each week when you come in for treatment and we catch up, I am getting to know you better- what things help, which do not, which patterns in your life are helping to alleviate your symptoms and which may exacerbate them. We are a team- putting together a plan that will work best for you.
The healing curve goes up and down (like the above image). So, you may feel better, then worse, then plateau. Rest assured, if change is happening then we are on the right track. We will figure it out together.
** NOTE- I did not create the image posted above. I do not know who did. If it is yours, please reach out so I can give you credit.
While Acupuncture is the Primary Service Offered at Bella Acupuncture & Wellness, we offer many other things to foster WELLNESS in your everyday life. Lifestyle modifications are often needed to augment your treatments. Because, hey, if the way you were living was working already you probably wouldn’t need acupuncture.
Things we may suggests are: dietary changes, movement and exercise, meditation or mindfulness practices as well as referrals to other qualified providers. Because WELLNESS encompasses all aspects of your life- mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Acupuncture can accomplish a lot of heavy lifting but it cannot do the work on its own. You need to hydrate your tissue, rest and move appropriately, as well as feed your brain and body the right things in order to thrive.
If you don’t already follow our Instagram page, give it a follow. We do videos every week and we focus on Wellness topics. We regularly issue weekly or monthly challenges that you are free to follow along with.
I am my own guinea pig with these topics and often choose the challenge based on what I am experiencing at the time: spring allergies, winter fatigue and laziness, poor diet, being indoors too much, staying up to late, eating too fast, avoiding certain exercises, etc.
For the month of August, my personal wellness challenge is to incorporate at least 2 days of weight training into my exercise routine. If you would like to join me, please do. Committing to something like this as a group increases personal accountability and makes you feel less alone on your Wellness voyage. You are not alone, you have me! And all of my resources are at your disposal.
Is it me or did Summer come on fast?! With the Summer season comes heat- sometimes EXTREME heat, and while this is considered “normal” for this time of year, there are many Chinese Medicine tips that can help you enjoy the season.
Many of you are familiar with the words Yin and Yang. But, you may not recognize their complexity or their role in pretty much everything around us. Yin is associate with darkness/evening and Yang is associated with light/day time. Because the days are longer in Summer, Summer is more Yang.
Having more heat in the environment can make you restless and agitated. To find balance, it is important to move your body and fuel it properly. If you are a lover of outdoor exercise and activity, the best time to do it is early in the morning or later in the day. Try to avoid mid-day exertion when the sun is at its peak.
Even though cookouts are the thing to do when the weather gets hot, reducing meat intake during the Summer is beneficial. Meat has a tendency to weight you down. The ideal time to make it a staple in your diet is during the Fall- when we are storing up for the Winter season; a time when access to fresh meat MAY become more scarce.
As I have mentioned before, we are designed to live in harmony with our environment. It is recommended to eat foods that are in-season and native to your area. Foods that grow in Summer are naturally designed to provide you with the nourishment and nutrients that you may lose during this time of year. Think COOLING and MOISTURE. Since we are generally exposed to higher temperatures and more sunlight in the Summer, we are more likely to sweat and dehydrate. So our foods should be cooling and hydrating. Some great examples are cucumbers, berries and watermelon.
All this is not to say that you can’t enjoy a nice Summertime BBQ. Moderation is key. If you have a piece of steak on a hot day, make sure you are also having some seasonal veggies and drinking enough water. And don’t forget to enjoy the long days while they are here.
The weather is heating up which means a few things…. Dads will emerge from their winter hibernation and take their proverbial places at the grill and on the links. (Okay, I know this isn’t true for all Dads but its definitely true for mine!) My Dad is a bonafide GRILL MASTER and his favorite pastime is golf. He belonged to THREE golf clubs when I was growing up. One for each of his daughters.
What does all this have to do with acupuncture? I’m glad you asked. Because acupuncture can help Dad (and anyone else) improve his golf game. Acupuncture can help increase flexibility as well as boost immunity. Meaning Dad will crush it on the course this year. It also treats all the ailments that you would attribute to a few hours on the course:
* Golfers elbow, check.
* Feet pain, check.
* Low back pain, check.
* Rotator cuff injury, check, check.
* Knee pain, check again.
* And even this surprising one: SUNBURN. That’s right, acupuncture can help a sunburn.
One thing that seems to be a common theme with parental figures is that they rarely take care of themselves at the onset of a symptom. Waiting until something is too difficult to ignore is a great way to cut your enjoyment in half. So, if you are looking for a gift that Dad can actually USE this year, consider acupuncture. Giving the gift of time and health is invaluable. And let’s be honest, does Dad really need another beer mug or tie?
With Mother’s Day fast approaching I thought it would be a good time to tell you a little about how Mothers play a role in acupuncture.
Mother-Child relationships are found nearly everywhere you look- humans, animals, plants (sorta) and Chinese Medical Acupuncture Theory!!
You may have heard of the term “Five Elements” or “Five Element Theory” but I’m sure most of you haven’t delved into the nitty gritty of those elements. The Five Elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water play a key role in a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis. This can get confusing so stay with me. Each element has a variety of associations to them- such as a taste, smell, sound, season, climate, direction.... and in TCM the most important: an organ system. The Wood element is associated with the Liver organ system. Fire is associated with the Heart organ system. Earth is associated with the Spleen organ system. Metal is associated with the Lung organ system. Water is associated with the Bladder organ system. Each element is like a person- that exhibits many qualities. And like people, the five elements actually have a particular order in which they exist: each element having both a Mother and a Child. This is called the GENERATING CYCLE.
Wood is the Mother of Fire. Therefore, Fire is the Child of Wood.
Fire is the Mother of Earth. Therefore, Earth is the Child of Fire.
Earth is the Mother of Metal. Therefore, Metal is the Child of Earth.
Metal is the Mother of Water. Therefore, Water is the Child of Metal.
Water is the Mother of Wood. Therefore, Wood is the Child of Water.
And it goes around and around.
For the elements to be in balance, they have to essentially give and take in equal amounts. And like human relationships, there is a system of support that acts as a checks and balances. This is called the CONTROLLING CYCLE. For instance Wood “controls” Earth. And Earth “controls” water. Think of this as a grandparent forming a support relationship with their grandchild that is independent of the child’s parent. A little tag team. Mothers, you know what I’m talking about ;)
These relationships are more easily understood when looking at a diagram.
Keeping these relationships in mind is helpful when thinking about people AND your TCM diagnosis. There is a little bit of every element in every person. You are part your parents, grandparents, great- grandparents and so on just as you are part Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. When there is imbalance in the system, symptoms occur and your diagnosis is formed. So in TCM and in life, we can thank our Mothers for creating us and keeping us healthy! Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mother Figures reading this.
*(The naming of these cycles sound a bit harsh and don’t truly reflect what’s happening. I suspect this is due to a poor translation as the ancient theoretical texts were written in a variety of Chinese dialects and translated many times over before they were printed in English).
If you have been here for awhile you know I am a big fan of how smart the human body is. In its purest form, the body is highly adaptable. We are literally designed to live in our native environments with little help from outside factors. Our ancestors lived off the land, built shelter out of native materials and our bodies, in essence, do the same.
As the seasons transition and new plant growth begins to emerge, the native and seasonal foods begin to blossom. But for some, that growth can cause some systemic upheaval. It isn’t fully known why some people develop seasonal allergies or food sensitivities but it has been documented, at least anecdotally, that people who relocate far from their native lands, often have a hard time adapting to the new local diet and new local flora. And there does seem to be some genetic predisposition to allergies. Making you wonder if there is a link between where your ancestors are from and what your body is optimized to eat (and breathe). Of course there is a lot to consider here- from pesticides, to pollution, to major lifestyle shifts over the centuries. We are no longer living off the land. We are importing foods from different climates, or modifying crops to grow (what should be) seasonal foods, year round. We have indoor plumbing and heating systems so that we no longer have to adapt to the weather the way our ancestors did. In many ways that is seen as progress. But in other ways, it has introduced some new challenges to the adaptable human body.
Couple that with the time of year when one day its cold, and warm the next, it is only natural that the body isn’t quite sure what to do to keep you healthy. In the Spring and Fall when there are many common allergens afloat in the air, a body will begin to develop antibodies to help fight off the allergens. And in Winter when there is a flu virus circulating, your body will work to fight off that particular virus. But when the weather can’t seem to make up its mind, the body is left doing A LOT of work. If you think you are over-worked, you should check in with your immune system. That thing is on 24/7!
So how do we make this work in our favor? You guessed it self care. Keeping a regular sleep schedule as the seasons transition is vital to maintaining a healthy immune system. Drink plenty of water. Eat your seasonal fruits and vegetables. Move your body. And of course, get acupuncture!
I get this question all the time and I totally understand it. Most people come to acupuncture as a “last resort”. They have already exhausted other measures such as medications, injections, surgeries, PT, massage, chiropractic care and so on. Doctor after Doctor, appointment after appointment and they are tired. I understand. I’ve been there. That is how I found acupuncture, too.
But here is the thing: There is no magic bullet to true healing. Acupuncture is not a band-aid the way some “treatments” are. It seeks to address the cause of your symptoms and that, unfortunately, takes time. You would not expect to do ONE sit up and get a 6-pack would you? Or to take ONE blood pressure pill and never need another, would you? Change is possible, but it takes time and repetition. Your body has all the necessary ingredients to reverse most symptoms but it has to have the right circumstances to do so. And the primary circumstance is a commitment to repetition.
Will you need acupuncture forever? Not likely. Might you need it long term? Possibly. Are there any guarantees- NOPE. But don’t let that frighten you. Nearly everyone gets some kind of relief with the right time commitment. I have many patients that achieve a symptom- free state who choose to keep getting regular acupuncture because they like it. Or they are afraid to cut back because they do not want their symptoms to return.
“Regular” treatment or maintenance means different things for different people. Some people have symptoms that arise from a lifestyle issue. For example- if you have a job that requires you to stand all day but standing for too long hurts your back. If you are not close to retirement and are facing many more years on your feet, it is vital to find a balance that both reduces pain but also keeps you healthy enough to continue working. As you become symptom free, that is when we play around with what treatment frequency will work to keep you in optimal health. Some people come every other week, some come once a month, some come 4 times a year. Some disappear entirely until a symptom acts up again. It all depends on your particular circumstances. But we will work as a team to find out what works for you.
A little Background:
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the fundamental theories guiding acupuncture practice. There are parallels between Western and Eastern Medicine but the philosophies are not the same. It is important to note that TCM pre-dates our Western understanding and labeling of Anatomy and Physiology. Therefore there are not direct correlations between Western and Eastern terms. These are not simply translations as the TCM existed first.
Now let’s talk about The Heart:
In TCM there are yin organs and yang organs that play a role in the development and function of the human body. The Heart is one of those organs, in fact, like with Western Medicine, it is considered by many to be the MOST important one.
In TCM, the Heart, is a yin organ. Yin organs have colors, smells, tastes, climates, and sounds associated with them. The Hearts color is red- no surprise there as the Heart is responsible for circulating the blood and controlling the blood vessels- just like in Western Medicine. But, it does so much more than that. Because TCM is a holistic practice, we must think outside the chest to really appreciate all the the Heart has to offer.
The Heart controls sweat, opens to the tongue, houses the Mind, manifests in the complexion and is related to joy.
Now some of these make rational sense- like the complexion. If you have high blood pressure, you may have a red-rosy face and low blood pressure may make you look drawn out.
But, I bet you are wondering how your Mind could be in your Heart. The TCM Mind, also called Shen, has at least two different meanings. The first is in relation to complex mental faculties and the other is related to spiritual aspects. This basically means that the state of the Heart will influence your emotional state. Now THAT makes sense. When you feel joy, you are happy. When you feel sad, you are unhappy. And someone who may experience too much joy, or mania, is likely to have some mental-emotional struggles that can be due to the overstimulation of the Mind. Or if you have a “Broken Heart”, you experience a lack of joy and may even have discomfort in your chest.
Seeing some of the parallels between TCM and Western Medicine is really neat. While many aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine can be very complicated it is also very beautiful in its simplicity. We are always trying to find a balance in your body. The Heart is just one small, but vital, piece of the balancing act.
With January comes Resolutions. And for many, that means resolving to commit to better health. Maybe you want to drink more water, eat healthier, go to the gym more regularly, get 8 hours of sleep or FINALLY commit to regular self- care. My personal opinion is... Resolution or no Resolution, it is ALWAYS a good time to reset. It doesn’t have to be January 1st for you to decide to make a change for the better.
If you follow my Instagram Page then you probably know that I host Wellness Wednesdays and I give a weekly challenge to my followers. I love that challenge to be mid-week because it allows for a mid-week reset and refocus. No need to wait for Sunday or Monday, you can do it any day, any time.
If your goal is to get more acupuncture, then I recommend trying to book your desired days/times a few weeks in advance. January resolutions ALWAYS bring an influx of patients to acupuncture. Which means, you may have to wait longer for your desired appointment times. If I notice this is becoming a problem, I may (slightly) adjust the clinic hours to accommodate.
With that being said, please try to only commit to appointments you are sure you can make. Emergencies happen- getting stuck at work, children getting sick, bad weather, car trouble.... You will NEVER be penalized for actual emergencies. But evening appointments will be in high demand this winter and a "no-show" may result in a missed appointment fee. The beauty of the clinic is that it allows for MANY appointment options. If you foresee a problem with your upcoming schedule, please reach out as soon as possible and I will do what I can to accommodate your needs.