Successful Herbs to Move Liver Qi

 

We often say in Traditional Chinese Medicine that the liver is the system most easily susceptible to stress. Stress knots the Qi (energy) and makes its flow stagnate – this happens most quickly in the liver energy system. The liver, in TCM, is in charge of the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body. This means that if Qi flow is impaired (ie, by stress), the liver system will suffer. Likewise, if the liver energy system is weak or stagnant (from lifestyle choices, diet, trauma, emotional stress, illness or genetic factors), Qi flow throughout the body may be impaired.

Common symptoms of liver Qi stagnation include irritability, anger, tension headaches, migraines, trouble sleeping, PMS, irregular menstrual cycles and just a general stagnation of feeling stuck or blocked.

Chinese herbs can be a very useful treatment for moving stuck liver Qi and helping it to flow smoothly, to reduce these sorts of symptoms. Chinese herbs are safe and effective when prescribed by a licensed practitioner. To effectively treat liver Qi stagnation, other supportive energy systems must also be moved or nourished, depending on the person. For this reason, these herbs are almost never taken alone, but rather as part of a formula targeting liver Qi stagnation as well as the backdrop on which is occurs.


Chai Hu (Bupleurum): Chai Hu is one of the most commonly used herbs to regulate the liver Qi and treat Qi stagnation, so it can be used in formulas targeting depression, stress, tension headaches and menstrual pain. It also has a function of harmonizing the liver and the spleen energy systems, for treating indigestion, bloating and flank pain. It has a rising action, so needs to be used cautiously in patients with high blood pressure, but making it ideal for patients with sinking energy causing issues such as prolapse or hemorrhoids.

Xiang Fu (Cyperus Rhizome): Xiang Fu directly spreads and regulates liver Qi, for treating symptoms such as hypochondriac pain, menstrual pain, irregular periods, epigastric pain and stress. Xiang Fu moves the Qi but is said to “move the blood within the Qi,” meaning it can move stuck blood by moving the Qi, and that it is a powerful Qi mover. It is an excellent herb for gynecological issues stemming from liver Qi stagnation.

Bo He (Field Mint): Bo He is an herb for “releasing exterior heat,” which means fighting off acute infection with symptoms such as sore throat, fever, cough and headache. However, it has a secondary function of mildly soothing the liver Qi. As such, it can be a great supportive herb for liver Qi stagnation. It can therefore be used to treat menstrual issues, emotional issues, PMS, temporal headaches or pain along the sides of the body.

Yu Jin (Turmeric Tuber): Yu Jin is an herb used to move stuck blood. It is therefore frequently used in formulas to treat pain following traumatic injury to an area. However, it also has the function of moving liver Qi, so it can be added to formulas for symptoms such as chest and flank pain, muscle pain or menstrual pain.

Fo Shou (Finger Citron Fruit, “Buddha’s Hand”): Fo Shou is another herb that directly regulates the liver Qi, specifically for symptoms such as rib pain or belching. It also strengthens the digestive system through tonifying the spleen and stomach, as well as drying dampness and transforming phlegm to treat chronic wet coughs.


For the most effective and safe treatment, consult a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.Safe home treatments for liver Qi stagnation include mint tea, turmeric tea and exercise.

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Seaweed: the next superfood

Seaweed has been consumed as a health aid and food enhancer for years in Asia, but recently there has been a growing interest in seaweed as a health superfood and for sustainable farming.

Seaweed, otherwise known as Hai Zao in Chinese medicine, is known as a marine algae, or sea vegetable that grows primarily in salty waters. Three main classifications of seaweed are brown, red and green. Brown seaweed includes kombu, which is eaten widely in Japan, the red variety includes nori (which is seen in sushi wraps) and dulse. Green is the most common, and is known as wakame.

In Chinese medicine, seaweed is used to balance the yin and yang of the body. Your yin encourages fluid, lubrication, moistening, cooling and stillness. Yang is associated with more heat, dryness, warming and movement. As one gets older, it is common to get yin deficiency. When you have yin deficiency, heat rises due to yin depletion not balancing the yang energy. Many menopausal women experience this yin deficiency in the form of hot flashes, low back pain, night sweats, poor memory, fatigue, ear ringing, dry skin and loss of vaginal lubrication. One food that has been shown to help is seaweed. Seaweed is in the category of “cold and salty” of food quality and temperature in Chinese medicine. It is said to nourish the yin and is eaten along with other foods like yams and black sesame seeds that help balance yin and yang.

In addition to helping yin deficiency, seaweed “softens hardness” and loosens phlegm. What this means is seaweed helps dissipate nodules and soft swellings, as in lipomas, cysts, lumps and fat accumulation. Clinically, seaweed is used for swelling of the thyroid gland seen in goiter. See your acupuncture provider to get a diagnosis, formula and diet specific to your body’s needs.

Seaweed has been shown to have loads of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron, B vitamins, potassium and folic acid. Most importantly, seaweed has a lot of iodine. Iodine helps the thyroid for growth, metabolism and the immune function. When your thyroid is functioning at a low level, you may experience fatigue, muscle weakness, palpitations, sensitivity to sun, weight gain and goiter. Iodine used to be abundant in rich soil but has been depleted nowadays.

Promising research indicates seaweed helping edema, fibroid tumors, limiting cancer growth due to phytochemicals called lignans and boosting immunity. In addition, it has been used as an anti-inflammatory aid for arthritis, to lower blood pressure and high cholesterol and to aid the respiratory system. Seaweed in Asia has been traditionally used for menopausal signs and symptoms, to reduce swollen lymph glands and to boost libido. But in general it is great for the skin, hair, teeth and bones. Seaweed is very alkaline and helps the pH balance of the body.

Despite the benefits, there is a strong contraindication if you are hyperthyroid. In addition, moderation is key in all aspects. Too much iodine can raise the thyroid-stimulating hormones, and individuals who are sensitive can get heart palpitations, nervousness, irritability and sweating. Check with your doctor to be sure an increase in iodine is right for you. Eat small portions about once a week.

You can buy seaweed dry, powdered or in supplements. Be mindful where it comes from and buy organic to reduce metals, arsenic and toxicity found in waters around the world.

An added benefit for seaweed is sustainability. Kelp is considered the perfect crop, as it requires little care and feeding to grow abundantly. With all the health benefits and easy farming, it just might be the superfood of the future.

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COVID-19: Immunity and Our Community

Dear patients and our community,

As you already know, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is very real and it is everyone’s responsibility to help keep our community safe from the rapid spread of Coronavirus.  To help slow the spread of this virus, it is now more important than ever to take an abundance of caution to help protect you, your family, our community and our healthcare system. 

Because there are many unknowns about Coronavirus and things can change rapidly, we believe using common sense is the best measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. continue reading »

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How to Stay Healthy As Winter Changes to Spring

For most people, the change of seasons from winter to spring is something to look forward to. But it also means a time when people tend to get sick or seasonal allergies start to flare up. This can make things miserable for a lot of people. As the weather fluctuates between freezing cold and warmer, sunnier days, it also wreaks havoc on our immune system and our sleep. Frequently, our bodies can’t keep up with the constant changes and we get physically run down. But there are some things everybody can do to help during the time of transition from one season to the next.

One of the most common things we hear during this transition time is to stay warm. This may seem like common sense, but so many people who are sun worshippers just waiting for the warmer days to return, forget this bit of advice as soon as the days start to warm a little. By wearing less clothing or clothing that is not as heavy and warm, we make ourselves susceptible to illness. Even if it’s warm out, you still need to dress appropriately. Save the shorts for a little later in the season.
Another way to stay healthy during the changing seasons is to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. This is another common sense statement, but with longer hours of daylight, many people’s sleep cycles become disrupted. This can cause the immune system to become compromised, making it easier to get sick or for seasonal allergies to flare up.

A study from the National Institute of Health showed that dry winter air allows cold and flu viruses to survive longer and transmit more easily once everything starts to warm up. With this being said, hydration is important. If dry air makes it more convenient for germs to remain dormant, then flushing them out by keeping your body hydrated is a great way to avoid an infection.
Eating according to the seasons is very important too. As the weather gets warmer, most people gravitate towards healthier food options in an effort to lose some of the winter weight. For spring, eating lighter, more natural foods will actually give the liver a chance to repair itself and that alone can help us feel more energetic and improve our clarity of thought. The immune system also functions better when excess sugar and dairy are removed.

Acupuncture is another great tool that can help make the transition from winter to spring easier. Acupuncture can balance the body as it reacts to the changes in the weather and activity levels. Regular acupuncture treatments have also been shown to boost immunity. Spring can also cause flare ups associated with seasonal allergies and acupuncture treatments can help with the inflammation, sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes that accompany the allergic reactions.

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5 Ways Getting a Massage Can Help With Allergies

Allergies affect millions of people all over the world and for most, the spring and fall seasons tend to be when allergies flare up the most which can be a miserable experience. The term allergy is used to describe a reaction produced by the body when it encounters something foreign. The body may respond to these foreign entities by producing antibodies or releasing specific chemicals known as histamines. The histamines trigger an allergic reaction or inflammatory response.

When allergies occur, many people reach for over-the-counter remedies. And while they can be beneficial, they are not meant to be taken long term and over time, they can have some adverse effects. But there is something that can be done that most people don’t consider when it comes to allergies…massage therapy.

Massage therapy has a lot of benefits. And here are five ways that massage therapy can help you deal with your allergies.

  1. Massage can reduce stress – In today’s society and high paced world, there is more stress and anxiety than ever before. In fact, almost 40 million Americans suffer from some form of anxiety. And many studies show that increased stress levels can be linked to higher levels of histamines in the body. Regular massages can decrease stress hormones like cortisol and histamines, while significantly reducing the anxiety that we feel daily.
  2. Massage relieves muscle tension – The most common reason that people seek out a massage therapist is because of muscle aches and pains. And during allergy season it can be even worse because every cough or sneeze puts added tension on the muscles, leading to more achiness. When the massage therapist starts alleviating the muscle tension, the sinuses will open up and drain, helping to alleviate allergy symptoms.
  3. Massage improves circulation – Massage can increase circulation for many hours and even days after receiving the treatment. Massage facilitates circulation because the pressure created actually moves blood through congested areas. The release of the pressure also causes freshly oxygenated blood to rush into the area being treated. The squeezing and pulling actions also flush lactic acid out of the tissues, thus improving the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid.
  4. Massage improves your immune system – Studies show that people who receive regular massage also have increased numbers of lymphocytes in their bodies. Lymphocytes are white blood cells and they are major players in the body’s defense system. With increased lymphocytes, there is less chance that your body will be unable to handle an allergic attack.
  5. Massage can combat insomnia and improve sleep – Sleep studies have shown a strong correlation between weekly massage and fewer bouts of insomnia. This is because massage relaxes the body and decreases stress, which leads to improved sleep. When allergies are in high gear, sleep is vital for the body to heal itself. Massage can help with that.

This is a short list of how massage can help you fight your allergies. So find a licensed massage therapist and ask them if they can help. It might lead to the easiest allergy season you’ve ever experienced.

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