Yesterday’s deep dive into kidney disorders focused on kidney yin disorders. Kidney yin disorders have a lot of hot signs – hot flashes, night sweats, dry throat, etc – because the kidney yin can’t cool the body. It’s a lot like not having enough coolant in your car’s engine. Kidney yang disorders are cold in comparison. Lacking kidney yang means the starter isn’t working. And that’s what we’re going to cover today.
Kidney disharmonies and imbalances are the heart of many people’s fertility struggles. The kidneys, when combined with the liver, form the root of how hormones are developed and move throughout the body. The kidneys themselves govern our growth and development as well as our reproductive potential. And the kidneys are also one of the only systems that have a predictable pattern of change throughout our lifetimes.
Happy Almost Winter, Minnesnowta!
Any other season of the year and people give me the side-eye for an “early” season greeting. But in winter? Snow can fly as early as September! In fact, wasn’t it just last week we got our first flakes?
And even if the snowflakes weren’t falling yet, the world around us is settling into a winter rhythm. Everything becomes quiet and still. The leaves have fallen, the grass is hibernating, jars of pickled herring pop up in pantries across the state.
This spring, I broke the element of wood down in two blog posts – one about how things can be categorized as wood from a health perspective and another about how Chinese medicine looks at imbalances in the wood element. I did the same earlier this month for metal and metal disharmonies.
This blog post will be doing the same for this season’s element, the element of Water.
We’re coming up on the halfway point of liver season and I promise I’ll start talking about something else with the next blog post. But understanding the elements of Classical Chinese medicine is crucial to recognizing patterns of imbalance in yourself.
That’s why this year my focus is on teaching you the foundations, so that you can bring seasonal living together with learning what your body needs, and what season your body is in. Because while we are part of the world, we are not always in synch with it.
This blog post is about imbalances in the liver system and what it looks like when our qi isn’t flowing optimally.(more…)
Spring seems like it’s a long way off in Minnesota. Just last month we hit a record for snow fall in February. But cold and snow notwithstanding, the wood energy of spring is still flowing.
Now that I’ve covered how to live in accordance to each season, I thought it would be a good time to move to talking about the elements in Chinese medicine.
Just like the elements of the periodic table, the elements of Chinese medicine represent the basic components. You’ll recognize a lot of the movement and terminology in this post from the spring living blog, but this one will take it to another level.(more…)
Tomorrow is the Chinese new year, and we’re ringing in the year of the Earth Pig!
Think this will be a lucky year for you?
Those of you who have been hanging around for a while, you’ve heard the spiel about the seasons. If you want to skip the details, feel free to scroll down to the bottom.
But for the rest of you, read on.(more…)
Last week I introduced the concept of death cycles on the Instagram feed. In a nutshell, a life cycle is a cycle an organism follows from birth to the point they reproduce and their offspring begin their own life cycle. A death cycle follows an organism through all the processes of birth, life, death and potential rebirth.
The handy thing about death cycles is that since the year is its own death cycle we can use it as a guide. Spring is birth, summer is growth, fall is decline and winter is death. The unique thing about winter is that it’s the season that contains all the things we, as a society, fear, are ashamed of, or hate.
Cold, darkness, old age, labor, and menstruation.
When you work with the seasons and death cycles, you learn that decline is a part of life and it’s usually a healthy part of the process. Trees wouldn’t flourish in the summer if they didn’t rest in the winter, the day doesn’t happen without the night and we wouldn’t continue our reproductive cycle without healthy menstruation.
Have you been told your entire life that your period is gross, something you shouldn’t talk about, something shameful or even, sinful?
What would happen if you saw it has a healthy sign of ovulation and embraced it as a time of rest? My bet is that it would be life changing and if you’re interested you should definitely read on.
One of the most common questions I get from new patients is “How does acupuncture work?”
It’s a simple question, but simple isn’t always easy. Acupuncture is a complicated medicine, with layers of historical and poetic metaphor to explain complex physiological responses. For so small of a question, the answer is huge.
But I live for questions like this. I used to be a linguistics major and linguistics isn’t the study of a wide variety of languages, it’s the study of how languages work. Linguists study how this group of words or vocabulary evolved differently than this group, even though they are talking about the same thing. I may not be a linguistics major anymore, but this philosophy has carried itself forward into my practice.
My hope for this blog post is to give you an understanding of this big idea – how acupuncture works – in the vocabulary you use every day. While I may have been trained to think in terms of qi, blood, yin and yang, acupuncture works through blood flow, hormone cascades, muscle release and more.
So, if you’re ready, let’s dive in.
“I have a question for you. Do you sanitize your needles?”
Of the questions I get about acupuncture, this is not one of the most common.
“No, the process of repeatedly sterilizing needles is really expensive and makes needles more prone to breaking. Reusing needles is dangerous anyway. I use single-use, disposable needles in sterile blister packs because I follow Clean Needle Technique.”
This continued into a lively discussion about CDC recommendations, licensing regulations and all sorts of other safety bits about acupuncture that made me think I should write up a blog post.
The fact is that his question was a very important question that triggers other questions:
- What is Clean Needle Technique (CNT)?
- What is the difference between dry needling and acupuncture?
- Who is allowed to do acupuncture?
- What kind of training do people get before they are allowed to needle?
- What are some signs that your practitioner may be unsafe?
These are all very important questions that should be answered for every patient who wants to be in the know.
“What’s wrong with my liver?
My patient was confused and a little concerned.
“You have liver qi stagnation.” I said, “But don’t worry, there’s nothing physically wrong with your liver…” I went on to explain that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, the liver governs a category of symptoms that relates to emotional regulation and flow. I was describing a constricted emotional flow, what we commonly refer to in the West as “stress”.
Acupuncturists and other East Asian practitioners can often sound like they are speaking another language, because in a way they are. I started college as a linguist and I have maintained that interest to this day, so I think of a lot of things in terms of “language”.
As Americans, we speak the “language” of Western medicine. During my internships at Regions hospital, Masonic Children’s Hospital and the University of Minnesota Medical Center I had to learn how to “translate” what I was saying because when I speak to my patients I often speak to them from the metaphor of Chinese medicine.
I’ve realized over time that it would be incredibly helpful to have a glossary for my patients to read, something I could reference over and over in future blog posts and newsletters.
So here it is: Acupuncture 101. I will cover some basic concepts (and misconceptions!) of commonly used words and phrases so that at your next appointment you can be prepared to talk to your acupuncturist.