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Halloween: Honoring the Spirits

Thought to have originated around 4000 BC in the ancient Celtic world, Halloween is considered to be a time when the veil between worlds is thin. During this time,which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year, spirits were welcome and celebrated. However, some spirits were thought to be evil, and therefore unwelcome. Costumes were worn for protection to scare away the unwanted spirits. This practice led to the modern halloween customs we, in the West, are familiar with today.

Many countries have similar celebrations and festivities to honor the spirit world. China has a festival called Teng Chieh, the ‘ghost festival’, which began as a religious ritual nearly 2000 years ago. While it is currently celebrated in July and not October, it’s rooted in the same recognition of life beyond the physical. Lanterns and bonfires are lit to help guide spirits back to their earthly homes, and allow the living a chance to honor deceased loved ones. This is a time to leave food, water and gifts by portraits of family members who have passed.

The Fall, in Chinese Medicine belongs to the Metal element and the associated emotion is grief, which is held in the lungs. Grief is a part of life and something we must all deal with at some point. If the emotion of grief is suppressed and not processed properly it can lead to health issues, especially lung disease. Taking time to remember loved ones that have passed and allowing emotions to flow can be extremely important in long term disease prevention and health maintenance. The Fall is a great time to do this according to Chinese Medicine seasonal energies. Halloween, a chance to face the dark side of death with a certain amount of playful protection, can be a reminder to put aside the spooky fun for a moment and lovingly honor our deceased friends and relatives.

The Fall season is a perfect time to:

*Find a picture of a departed loved one, frame it, and display it in an area, with room for a candle and some memory-honoring items.
* You can include some items they owned or passed down.
*Make an ‘offering’ of their favorite things such as food, flowers, or even pictures of things they liked.
*Write a letter of things unsaid or things worthy of being repeated.
* Make a donation in their honor to a cause they valued.
*Acupressure point to tap into ancestral wisdom and connect with your lineage:
Location: On the posterior forearm, between the radius and ulna, approx 3 inches up from the wrist crease, and slightly closer to the pinky side.
On a spiritual level, this is a way to connect with your ancestors. Stimulating this point is like calling a clan meeting with generations passed, to gain their heavenly perspective and get their wise counsel.

Chinese Medicine is rooted in Taoist philosophy which views death as a natural part of life that we all must accept, and goes so far as to suggest that life is an illusion while death is an awakening. Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, it can be a healing practice to take time to remember people in our lives who have passed on to the great mystery.

Enjoy all the feels of the season, the changing smells, colors and of course the fun of the fall holidays. Don’t forget to make time for some Acupuncture to assist with the emotional energies that naturally arise during this time, which can include grief and sadness. Acupuncture can help open the pathways that allow these emotions to flow in a healthy, supported way. We’re here for you on 205 W. 2nd Street, Suite 502, in Duluth MN!

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Lessons from Geese

From a Speech By Angeles Arrien


With each flap of a wing, a goose creates an “uplift” for others to follow. When you see geese fly in a “V” formation it allows the geese to fly 71% further than if each bird flew alone.


People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier when they are working together.


One of the reasons geese honk is to encourage those in front to keep up speed.


We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. When we are working with others, encouragement is often helpful to get the job done smoothly and quickly.


If a goose happens to fall out of formation, it will suddenly feel the resistance and drag of flying alone and fall back into place.


If we are on a certain path, and we attempt to go at it alone without help or support, our efforts may be reduced. It is easier to accept the help of those who are going in the same direction, and give help to others along our route.


When the lead goose tires, it will fall out of formation and move to the back of the flock, allowing another to fly in the point position.


Everyone has different skills, resources, and unique gifts to offer. It is important to take turns and share the hard tasks.


When a goose is wounded, shot or sick, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it. They stay until it is able to regain strength enough to fly. Then they catch up with their flock or join another formation.


If we have enough sense as the geese do, we stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.
Transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network.

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Harvest to Hibernation: Preparing the Hearth

Fall is traditionally thought of as harvest time, a time for gathering nature’s bounty, and preparing it for storage. Food is preserved for hibernation season. While we, as humans, do not actually hibernate in winter, we resonate with the energy of the season. Many animals hibernate, plants die down while roots preserve energy for the spring. The sun is low in the sky, days are shorter, it is darker and colder and we are drawn home.

Home is where the heart is but it is also where the hearth is. Preparing the hearth means creating a warm, safe space. Fall is a time to make sure our homes are ready for the extreme yin season, while also preparing our bodies, minds and spirits. Surviving and thriving in winter relies on the ability to draw on the reserves of food, warmth, and energy that we have gathered and preserved in accordance with the seasons.

Here are some things to consider in Fall to better prepare for winter:

Nutritional transitions: In Chinese Medicine, Fall is lung season. Don’t miss this opportunity to nourish and moisten the lungs with foods like pears, apples, figs, cauliflower, and daikon radish. Keeping the lungs strong will build immunity for the sometimes harsh conditions we face in Winter. Plenty of fiber is also important to help clean out LI (the lung’s paired organ) and prevent digestive stagnation as everything slows down in Winter. Most food should be cooked to maintain the body’s digestive fire. Warming teas with cinnamon and ginger are delightfully seasonable as temperatures drop throughout fall and winter.

Lifestyle transitioning: Winter is the peak of yin time. Yin time is about going inward into stillness. Fall is the beginning of the yin season and when we should begin that inner journey. The excitement of summer quiets down and we begin to require more sleep and rest in general. We simply need to slow down as we don’t want to expend the energy reserves that are needed to keep us warm and healthy throughout the frost. This is also a time to layer our clothing as the temperatures drop. Chinese medicine practitioners will always remind you to make sure you have a favorite scarf in the Fall to cover the nape of your neck. This area of the body is especially vulnerable to chilly winds that can penetrate and disturb our homeostasis.

Emotional transitions: In preparation for the reflective yin time ahead, we are compelled to feel some grief as we say goodbye to summer and observe the natural cycle of death happening around us as the earth progresses towards winter. If we have created space and time to feel the natural sadness of letting go in the fall, and release those energies appropriately, it will be that much easier to face the emotional energies of winter, the darkest season. Winter is associated with the emotion of fear and facing our fears helps us tap into our strength, our courage and our willpower.

Fall is a time for practical considerations when it comes to winterizing our homes, cars, and land. Depending on where/how we live, we may find our to-do lists filled with things like cleaning out the gutters, inspecting the chimney, checking antifreeze levels, and spreading mulch in the garden. Regardless of how we prepare externally, it is just as important to prepare internally for the change of season.

Want some assistance with these internal preparations? Call us at (218) 724-3400 and schedule some fall acupuncture to ‘prepare the hearth’ and set yourself up for a smooth transition into winter!

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Acupuncture for PTSD Symptoms After Natural Disasters

In April 2019, a team of Italian researchers published a study in Medical Acupuncture that suggests acupuncture may be effective for reducing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a natural disaster. The research team looked at residents of Amatrice, Italy, where a 6.0-magnitude earthquake in 2016 left nearly 300 people dead and almost 30,000 homeless. Natural hazards, like earthquakes, that are unpredictable and wreak widespread havoc on communities, have been shown to cause psychiatric disorders in survivors, including PTSD.

The participants in this study received five weeks of acupuncture treatments starting about a month after the earthquake. Researchers used patient-reported numbers on a pain scale to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatments. Before the treatments, 68 percent of the patients reported having psychological and pain symptoms associated with PTSD. Already after the third treatment, 54 percent of patients reported improvements in their psychological symptoms and 60 percent reported improvements in their pain symptoms. Using a statistical analysis, researchers measured a significant reduction between the initial reported psychological and pain scores and the scores after the third treatment. The researchers did not report any adverse side effects or events.

In the aftermath of natural disasters, communities are thrown into stress-provoking situations for myriad reasons, including loss of life, loss of property, loss of job, other economic losses, loss of community in the case some members move away and loss of infrastructure like schools or restaurants, among other things. Studies show individual mental health plays an important role in the success of communities rebuilding efforts after a natural disaster.

Although more research is needed to bolster the findings of this study, it suggests acupuncture can be an effective therapy for communities in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Studies show acupuncture is effective at balancing hormone levels that contribute to moderating stress levels in the body. The most significant body of research on acupuncture is in the field of acupuncture’s ability to reduce physical pain. This study suggests the effects of acupuncture extend to stress and pain brought on by a natural disaster.

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The Immune System in Traditional Chinese Medicine

A study published by the National Institutes of Health evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture for stimulating or regulating the immune system by comparing the results from several studies that each used different methods of acupuncture. Through the use of electroacupuncture, moxibustion, herbs and acupuncture, the studies concluded Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be helpful for the immune system. The combined studies demonstrated that moxibustion helped repair the gut mucosa of rats suffering from ulcerative colitis, electroacupuncture can increase the number of T cells in the body and that general acupuncture can decrease inflammation, which plays a vital role in the immune system.

Your immune system is what keeps you healthy and helps you ward off pathogens like the flu or a cold. Most of us don’t spend a lot of time worrying about our immune system until we’re sick. Then we reach for the over-the-counter medications to help relieve our symptoms. By looking to TCM instead, we can be proactive about supporting our immune systems in a safe and natural way.

According to TCM, the body is protected by something known as the Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). The Wei Qi, or defensive Qi, is comparable to the immune system in conventional medicine. It acts as the first line of defense when the body is under attack from external pathogens. If the Wei Qi is strong, then the body is capable of fighting off bacteria and viruses. Extreme stress, lack of sleep and a poor diet can all play into how strong the body’s Wei Qi is and how well it performs.

There are multiple tools in the TCM practitioner’s tool box that can assist in keeping the immune system strong and healthy, including acupuncture, moxibustion, electroacupuncture, herbs, cupping and nutrition.

Each of these tools has a similar effect on the body. TCM can regulate immune function, while also treating the underlying causes of the disease. This is done by reducing the symptoms, speeding up the healing, decreasing excess phlegm, decreasing inflammation and boosting the immune-mediated cells in the body that help ward off invasions.

Studies show regular acupuncture treatments can actually increase the number of T cells the body produces. T cells destroy harmful bacteria and viruses in the body. Acupuncture needles stimulate the brain into thinking an invader (virus or bacteria) has entered the body. The brain signals the increased release of T cells and white blood cells to fight off the intruder. The amazing part is the increased cellular response lasts for several days after the acupuncture treatment.


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