5 Acupoints to Help You Navigate Your Stress This Winter

There are several acupressure points that are known to treat stress and stress related symptoms. It’s important to understand that acupressure is not the only form of treatment and having a balanced diet, exercise regime and lifestyle will also decrease the chances of stress being a factor in your life.

The following five acupoints are known to help alleviate stress and other related symptoms.
LU 1—Zhong Fu
GV 24.5—Yin Tang
KI 1—Yong Quan
LI 4—He Gu
S 36- Zu San Li

Lu 1, Zhong Fu– This point is often used to treat vomiting, stops coughing, disperses fullness in the chest, stops pain and regulates Lung Qi. It’s located in the upper chest in the space below the first rib, six cun from the midline. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Lu 1 regulates Lung Qi and stimulates the Lung Qi to descend. It also disperses fullness in the chest and stops coughing.

KI 1, Yongquan, Bubbling Spring– This acupoint is located on the sole of the foot approximately at the junction of the second and third toes. Indications that this acupoint will aid you are if you’re experiencing headaches, dizziness, loss of voice, blurring of vision and so on. In TCM, this acupoint is known to subdue wind and empty-heat, clear up the brain, and tonifies yin.

LI 4, Hegu, Joining (Union) Valley– The LI 4 is known to treat swelling and pain of the eye, nasal obstruction, toothache, facial swelling, deafness, sore throat and much more. In TCM, it’s said to dispel exterior wind, stimulate the dispersing function of the lungs, removes pain, and harmonizing descending and ascending functions. This point is located on the back of the hand at the apex of the webbed triangle between the thumb and the index finger.

ST 36, Zu San Li– This acupoint is often used to treat vomiting, stress and fatigue and gastrointestinal discomfort. This point is located along the outside of your shin bone about 4 finger lengths from the knee cap. You will know you’re in the right location because a muscle will mom out as you move your foot up and down. In TCM, this point is stimulated frequently to promote health and longevity.

GV 24.5, Yin Tang, Third Eye– This point is located about one finger above the point between the eyebrows and will be almost directly in the middle of the forehead. Working this point is said to calm the mind, clarify ideas and intuition as well as strengthen mental projection. It can be used to alleviate dizziness, stress, vertigo, sinusitis and headaches.

Each of the above points can be used to aid in relieving stress and/or other symptoms that can cause stress. It’s helpful to bring a list to your Acupuncturist of any symptoms you may have or are looking to treat, any information will be helpful in curating your individualized treatment plan. Please communicate with your Acupuncturist if you are pregnant or looking to become pregnant as some pressure points may affect you.


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Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common types of reported headaches that usually consist of a dull ache in the head coupled with tenderness in ones scalp, neck and shoulder muscles. It’s often also described as having a sensation of pressure or tightness reaching the sides and the back of the head as well as the forehead.

Types of Headaches
Although the root cause isn’t yet fully understood, doctors have placed tension headaches into two separate categories. The first being Episodic Tension Headache which can last between 30 minutes and one week. This type of tension headache often occurs less than 15 days in a given month during a 3-month span but these types of headaches can become chronic. The second categorized headache is a Chronic Tension Headache; this type lasts hours and may continue into several days. Victims of chronic tension headaches occur for more than 15 days in a given month and may last up to 3 months at any given time.

It’s important to note that Tension headaches differ from migraines but can often be difficult to differentiate between the two. Migraines are known to disturb vision, can include nausea and vomiting and are usually made worse with physical activity.

These headaches can be caused by a number of items including stress, food, head injuries and so on.

Acupuncture and Tension Headaches
Acupuncture is used to treat headaches through the act of needle stimulation. As the needle stimulates the nerve, hormones such as endorphins are released from your brain throughout your body which then stimulates your immune and circulatory system. Studies claim that this is what relieves migraines and tension headaches.

Acupoints for Headaches
LI-4 – also known as “Union Valley” or He Gu, is the acupuncture point in the “fleshy” area between your index finger and thumb. It can be used to address many conditions, including stress, neck pain, headaches, allergies, stuffy nose, eye problems, toothaches and it can even improve your immunity. This point is also used to promote labor, so it should not be used when pregnant.

Drilling Bamboo- Located in the indentations on either side of the spot near the bridge of the nose where it meets the eye brows. Apply pressure to both points in this area with your index fingers for 10 seconds at a time.

Gates of Consciousness- Place your index fingers at the base of the skull in the parallel hollow areas between the neck muscles that run vertically. Press firmly upwards on both sides of the neck for 10 seconds at a time to relieve headache pain.

Foods to Avoid
If tension headaches are a factor in your life, a list of foods to avoid are as follows:
Dairy products
Peanut butter
Fermented and/or pickled foods
Meats such as bacon, hotdogs, salami and cured meats
Foods and drinks that may contain caffeine

If you notice any of these foods aggravating your condition, you may way to remove the above foods from your diet and slowly work them back into your diet, if any of them start causing you headaches, it’s recommended to no longer eat that food.


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Stay Healthy This Winter with a Balanced Qi

Winter’s element is water and is associated with the kidneys, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is considered the source of all qi and energy within the body. Winter is also associated with the bladder and adrenal glands.

Focusing on inner reflection, rest, energy conservation and storage during the winter months is when it’s most important as it helps us to properly nourish our Kidney Qi.

Below are a few methods you can learn about and apply during this season in order to maintain a balanced qi.

Balancing your lifestyle
For most people, a reduction in activity is common during the winter months whether it’s due to the frigid temperatures, damp weather, or lack of activities available in the area where you reside.

Given that reduced activity is likely a factor for many, it’s important to also consume less food this time of year to avoid unnecessary weight gain. Food that should be gravitated towards would be warmer foods such as beans, ginger or garlic, and even soups and stews.

Rest & Relaxation
Although the days are shorter during the winter, it’s important to stay in line with our circadian rhythm. This can be done by having an earlier bedtime and waking up after the sun has had time to warm the earth in the morning. Not only does getting more sleep helps with balancing our Yang Qi, it helps give our body the necessary rest we need in order to prevent common winter illnesses such as the flu, colds, and general aches and pains. Not only that, but according to TCM, unresolved anger, stress and frustration can throw your immune system thus off allowing pathogens to affect the body.

Relaxation is also a way to stay balanced during this time of year.

Drink Plenty of Water
We’re all aware that drinking water is extremely important to our survival, but it does more than simply keeping us alive.

Drinking water has many benefits including the fact that it’s essential for proper kidney function and can even prevent kidney stones. It’s also known for lubricating the joints, delivers oxygen through the body, regulates body temperature, and maintaining blood pressure.

If you have a hard time drinking water, try adding lemon to it to amplify the taste, drinking tea, or adding a vitamin flavor enhancer.

Wash your hands
Winter time is the time of year where we are in close proximity with others because we tend to stay indoors more. That being said, we are more likely to spread our germs to others and vice versa.

Washing your hands often can help prevent the spread of germs and keep you healthy. Other ways to avoid coming in contact with germs is to keep a container of sanitizing cloths with you so you can wipe down door knobs, grocery cart handles, and even condiment containers at restaurants before handling them.

Acupuncture Points
The acupuncture point that we suggest catering to is Du 14. It helps regulate blood circulation and can also strengthen the outer defense layers of the skin and muscle to prevent the intrusion and duration of germs and viruses.

Du 14 is a crucial point that is used to release the Exterior and treat Wind-Heat.

Applying Traditional Chinese Medicine to your active lifestyle is beneficial for your health and should be made a priority.


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Food Temperature: Why “Healthy” Foods Might Not be Helping You

Do you ever wonder why the supposedly healthy and widely recommended food you’ve been eating is not helping you feel your best? The key could involve what Chinese medicine refers to as the energetic quality of a particular food. In TCM, those qualities are based on different properties of the food, including color, taste and preparation.

During winter, it’s important to be aware of these different energetic qualities to help yourself stay healthy and in balance with the natural world. These tips can apply to any season, but since so many of us tend to get sick in wintertime, it’s especially important this time of year.

According to Chinese medicine, the body has two components: yin and yang, which are like water and fire. These two elements are constantly trying to achieve balance so you can feel your best, and while most of us are a mixture of the two, at times one quality can dominate. Yin refers to a colder nature: more pale, feeling cold, having lower energy, loose stools, feeling more introverted and having clear and white fluids. Yang, on the other hand, is hotter in nature and includes a more outgoing personality, dry mouth, thirst, craving cold drinks, perhaps being prone to constipation, producing darker urine, having yellow sputum and feeling easily angered. Many people are a mixture of the two, so a proper diagnosis from a licensed acupuncturist is a first step toward a proper diet fit for your constitution.

The organs of the body are also considered yin or yang. The heart, spleen, lungs, liver and kidneys are yin, solid, with substance, while the small intestines, gall bladder, stomach and urinary bladder are yang and involved with movement and transport. Eating the wrong foods for your particular nature might interfere with the body’s balance and exacerbate problems even if the food is nutritious biochemically. Just as some foods might disrupt you internally, each of these properties is also connected to the external, natural world, and balancing that out with each season is an important part of healthy eating in TCM. Here are three examples of food qualities.

Cold: Cold foods would include fruits and vegetables that grow in the summertime. It also would include cold foods that are refrigerated, iced or frozen. If you want to include more fruits and vegetables, it is advisable to eat them at room temperature or cook vegetables lightly to make them easier to digest. Examples of cold foods are watermelon, apples, bananas, fruit juices, kelp, cabbage, tofu, eggs, yogurt and cucumber. Eating these foods will reduce heat signs in those with excess yang energy. If you are already cold, or it is wintertime, these foods might interfere with the digestive fire of the stomach, and you would not absorb the nutrients well. In addition, if you have a cold condition, such as chronic arthritis of a cold nature, or premenstrual cramping due to cold, it might make you feel worse and more achy.

Warm: Foods that are considered warming speed up the metabolism and include ginger, cinnamon, cherries, garlic, onion, lamb, chicken, hot peppers, and quinoa. If you’re running hot, you might want to eat these sparingly and include cooler foods. For example, if you have a hot condition and are in pain due to inflammation, you would not want to eat hot and spicy foods. On the other hand, if you’re not already inflamed, these are great foods to reach for during the colder winter months.

Damp: When the digestive system is not transforming and transporting food and fluids well, you get what is termed in Chinese medicine as “dampness” or phlegm build up, which is an increase of mucus. This can leave you feeling sluggish, foggy, congested, bloated and heavy. In such a case, a combination such as a banana and yogurt, which is highly nutritious, might not be right for you, as those foods promote dampness. Foods that increase dampness include dairy, greasy, fatty, fried foods, some antibiotics and alcohol. Examples of foods that help this condition are barley, basmati rice, alfalfa sprouts, lemons, green tea, walnuts, and mushrooms.

In addition to those mentioned above, there are food tastes such as sour, sweet, pungent, salty and bland, which affect different organs of the body as well as the absorption and distribution of food. Food is medicine. Ask me today if you want to know more about your own personal constitution.

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Research Update: Acupuncture and Depression

A study published by BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of depression. For the study, rats were exposed to three weeks of chronic unpredictable mild stress, which put them into a state of depression. Once depression had set in, the rats were then treated using two acupuncture points for 10-minute sessions. What was discovered was that depression-like behaviors were decreased using this treatment method. Therefore, it was determined by this particular study, that acupuncture indeed has positive effects on the symptoms of depression and can be used as a means to treat the disease.

Depression is defined as a mental disorder characterized by feelings of dejection and severe despondency. Worldwide, nearly 350 million people suffer from depression and nearly 16 million of those are in the United States alone. Statistics show women tend to be more likely to experience depression and young adults between the ages of 18 to 22 are also at higher risk. Symptoms of depression include extreme irritability over minor issues, anxiety, restlessness, irrational anger, lack of interest in everyday activities, thoughts of death, insomnia, severe fatigue, weight gain/loss, difficulty concentrating and unexplained aches and pains. When these symptoms occur for more than a few weeks, depression may be the reason behind them.

As shown in the aforementioned study, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is very effective in treating depression, not only short-term, but also long-term. Modern medicine usually treats depression with antidepressants and psychotherapy regardless of the presenting symptoms. In contrast, TCM diagnoses each patient on an individual basis and treats the specific symptoms, while also addressing the root of the illness.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help alleviate symptoms of depression while also attacking the root cause(s), thus bringing the body and mind back into balance. The body and mind are inseparable and should be treated as a whole, which is the approach used by acupuncturists. When we experience emotional challenges and become upset, our physical body may become affected as well. Then a vicious cycle begins because the emotions are greatly impacted by what we can and cannot do physically.

The theory behind treating depression using TCM, all revolves around the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is considered the vital energy that flows through the body and animates everything. When Qi is blocked or stagnant, illness can take root, either physically or mentally. Qi flows throughout the body on energetic pathways or meridians. Each energetic meridian is associated with an organ and each organ has its own emotion. For example, the emotion of the liver meridian is anger. When Qi is blocked and liver Qi stagnation occurs, anger can then manifest. From the same standpoint, if a person is excessively angry, the flow of Qi can be blocked creating stagnation.

Acupuncture releases endorphins and activates natural pain killers. By doing so, it improves the flow of Qi throughout the body while eliminating blockages and bringing balance to the mind and body. Endorphins counter the symptoms of depression and allow the person to resume a normal life.

If you are suffering from depression and are looking for a natural way of dealing with it, contact us. We can help you navigate the waters of depression without the harmful side-effects of pharmaceuticals, while helping you get back to a happier life.

SOURCE: https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-016-1356-x

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