In Chinese Medicine the seasons have specific rhythms and are interconnected with our body’s rhythms and cycles. Each season represent parts of the body, and is tied into Nature’s cycle, corresponding to one of Five Elements (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood).
There’s an extra season in Chinese Medicine known as Late Summer- beginning in the last few weeks of February and lasting four to 6 weeks. It correlates to the Earth element and is a time of harvest, a time of plenty, of reaping what we have worked for throughout the year. The plants and animals have grown and produced the fruit of their labour.
If our Earth is of good quality, like quality soil, we will have the ability to produce good food to nourish ourselves
Earth is a point of stillness in the cycle of seasons, with the lush tranquil energy of heat, ripening and full. This is a time of slowing down. Earth season acts as the transition from Yang to Yin energy, supporting the space between the cycle of Spring growth (Wood), active Summer abundance (Fire) and the inward, cooler emotions of Fall and Winter (Metal & Water). Earth element is associated with the stomach, spleen, pancreas, muscles, and is related to the mouth.
Element – Earth, Color – Yellow, Nature – Yin/Yang Balance Organs – Stomach, Spleen, Emotion – Worry/Pensive Taste – Sweet, Condition – Damp
Late Summer Earth is a time of transition and a good time to relax, eat fresh food, and enjoy family and friends. Earth is a short, languid and still season, and it rests at the centre of Natures cycles. You may struggle with bouts of fatigue as a response to this season, and this low energy and/or motivation is usually triggered by over-exertion, emotional stress, boredom, or lack of sleep from the activities of Summer Fire. Make sure you get proper rest, exercise, stress reduction and nutrition to boost your energy in this Earth time.
In Late Summer, the rising strength in Earth energy creates stability, settledness, and a sense of “home”. Earth corresponds with nurturing, the Mother, a sense of self-worth, bonding and formation of trust in relationships.
When Earth is happy and nurtured, the Spleen is healthy with good digestion and elimination. The mind is balanced and secure, with a sense of belonging, grounding and connection.
When Earth is imbalanced, we worry or have excessive mental agitation, lack of concentration or memory loss. We feel needy for food or attention, seeking sympathy or distraction. An imbalance in Earth can manifest in exhaustion, loss of appetite, poor digestion or loose stools and diarrhea, easy bruising, excess menstrual flow or other bleeding disorders.
Due to its associated organs being digestive ones it makes sense that eating well at this time assists with balancing the Earth energy.
Eating for Late Summer
Orange and Yellow are the colours associated with Late Summer along with the taste of Sweet, so including foods that have these colours and taste will in turn assist health at this time. Good options include sweet potato, pumpkin & carrots.
Please keep in mind that sweets and processed/refined foods can aggravates the pancreas and spleen, irritate the stomach, and create excessive acid and “dampness”. This results in feeling more anxious, tired and unwell. Resisting these types of sweets is advised.
Eat fresh, nourishing foods. Fresh, local foods and don’t combine too many ingredients Be moderate with sugar, fried foods, and dairy. In hot, humid weather, avoid overeating. Lightly cooked food on moderate temperature is easier on digestive system. Eat sour or pungent flavors to help disperse dampness and regulate digestion. Get exercise as dampness tends to settle in and make you feel lethargic.
Always remember balancing work, socializing and self- care is essential for a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Are you one of those people that breeze through life and a have a healthy work life balance or do you avoid taking time out until your body forces you to step back by falling in a heap?
Stress is a big co-factor to many health issues today and it is vital to make sure that you have tools that can assist you to manage your stress levels and how it plays out in your body.
A good place to start is being organised and sorting out your priorities. Each day give yourself your top tasks you need to achieve that day and set out a plan to do so, anything else you achieve that day is a personal bonus to you!
Also prioritizing your self/health is another important one, making sure that you firstly are at the top of that list. Always allow time for yourself, and try not to spread your self to thin trying to please the needs of everyone else. Learning to say no when required is of great benefit to you and your life; saying “no” to others is saying “yes” to yourself.
Meditation or very simply just stopping and connecting to your breath is one of the best tools for stress relief. You can take a class in meditation, try a guided CD or simply just sit and allow yourself to close your eyes and let your world go still for 5 minutes. Simply by stopping and taking 3 deep consious breathes can have a profound effect by bringing you back to your center, to the present moment. You can do this at your work desk, in the car at the lights, or even create a special place where you go each day to just Be. Be kind to yourself and take time out each day.
Finally, and where we can help you, regular acupuncture sessions can help you de-stress and cope with what life throws at you. Acupuncture allows your body to take back control. We are constantly under stress and pressure to perform, which can bring on disease and other serious health issues. Acupuncture is great for maintenance. It helps a long life become a better-quality life.
Acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones. People treated with acupuncture often see results after one session and the results improve with continued treatment. Acupuncture is particularly helpful for people who want to limit drug use because it regulates the body’s chemical balance naturally.
Give your self the permission to take time out and, if you need that extra helping hand, let us relax you with an acupuncture treatment today.
We all know the dangers of smoking but here is a quick look at the health benefits of giving up smoking within the first 48 hours.
At 20 minutes after quitting:
- Blood pressure decreases.
- Pulse rate drops
- Body temperature of hands and feet increases.
At 8 hours
- Carbon Monoxide level in the blood drops to normal.
- Oxygen level in blood increases to normal.
At 24 Hours
- Chance of a heart attack decreases.
At 48 Hours
- Nerve endings start to regrow.
- Ability to smell and taste improves.
The truth of the matter is…
Smokers like the feeling they get when the nicotine level in their bloodstream is replenished. From the time a cigarette is stubbed out or until the next one is lit, smokers are in a state of physical withdrawal from nicotine. The more time between cigarettes the more severe the withdrawal. Resulting in edginess, inability to concentrate and even feelings of depression. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.
And that is Addiction…Not smoking enjoyment.
Cigarette additives – what they are and what they do.
To date 7000 chemical compounds have been identified in cigarette smoke, including 250 poisonous and 70 carcinogenic chemicals. Carbon monoxide arsenic, hydrogen cyanide and benzene are all present in cigarette smoke along with a host of others. This list is readily available from the Cancer Research Centre’s in Australia and America.
In short a cigarette is basically a delivery system for toxic chemicals and carcinogens.
GOOD NEWS – If your ready and want to quit we offer the AMAZING STOP SMOKING ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT. This treatment has a high success rate with one treatment only. HOW EASY!!!!
So if you are thinking about quitting smoking please call us today to see how we can help you
We all make goals at the start of the New Year. Let us help you stick to your resolutions and achieve your goals this year!
Do any of these goals sound familiar?
- Weight loss
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing Stress
Over a 3 part series we will cover each of these topics and how acupuncture can assist you.
Part 1: Weight Loss
There are many reasons people become overweight. Hormone imbalances, slowed metabolism, overeating, poor nutrition, holding onto emotions and lack of exercise are some of the most common.
Using acupuncture and Chinese medicine to tackle weight loss is a tool of a multi-facet approach. This ancient form of healthcare works to restore the balance and flow of the body’s Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy. According to TCM, the reasons why people gain weight, or find it difficult to lose weight, are numerous. Your acupuncturist can perform diagnostic exams to uncover the root cause(s) or imbalances that have affected your weight.
Acupuncture is effective in making it easier to lose and maintain weight loss if the patient is also willing to change their lifestyle habits. The reason for using acupuncture as weight control is based on the premise that weight gain could be the result of disturbed energy flow to and from the hypothalamus, which is the regulating part of the brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for maintaining “homeostasis” or functional balance in the body. Here the body regulates hormones and helps to control body temperature, circadian rhythm, thirst and hunger.
Interestingly acupuncture has the ability to influence obesity hormones. Research measuring the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss found treatments increased ghrelin, a hormone that controls meal initiation and decreased leptin, the hormone that regulates fat storage and metabolism.
Acupuncture can power up any other weight control strategy by curbing appetite, quelling cravings, boosting metabolism, improving digestion, regulating obesity-related hormones and enhancing the way nutrients are used. It also strengthens the function of the liver, the organ that produces many chemicals critical for digestion, processing nutrients and breaking down of fats. Acupuncture may also increase tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach to help people know that they are full.
As was mentioned earlier, a good weight loss program includes many facets such as nutritional counselling and exercise as well as a commitment to make permanent lifestyle changes. An acupuncturist can help with nutritional advice and a diet regimen that the patient can live with and maintain for the long term. Otherwise working with a nutritionist can be most beneficial. We can also assist with de-stress techniques and provide a herbal supplement that works!
How many Treatments will I need?
In conjunction with our weight loss herbs, the number of acupuncture treatments necessary depends on your goals for losing weight, the speed at which you wish to lose, and the commitment to keeping the weight off.
If overeating is very severe, a treatment every day for the first five days is appropriate and can then taper off the second week to every other day and the third week to every three days. For the average patient who wants to lose between five to ten kilos, one treatment twice a week until you reach your goal is appropriate and then a booster treatment once every two weeks to a month is optimal.
After a few booster treatments, the patient and practitioner will mutually decide when to terminate frequent treatments, after which one can choose to come in for a maintenance treatment approximately four times a year at the change of seasons when energy levels are unstable and tonification and harmonizing of one’s system is appropriate.
Whether you want to lose a few kilo’s or a significant amount of weight, consider acupuncture as a natural and effective approach to weight loss. By working together with your practitioner, you can help your body regain its natural balance—and start taking steps toward true health and vitality.
Are your New Years Resolutions SMART goals?
Personal goal setting can mean the difference between achieving what you want in life rather than just dreaming about it. The right goals keep you focused on what matters most and avoids you spending years accomplishing what you could have done in a few months.
Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following the Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting you can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.
So, what will you decide to accomplish today?
- Set Goals that Motivate You
To make sure your goal is motivating, write down why it’s valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.
2. Set SMART Goals
You have probably heard of “SMART goals” already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:
- Time Bound.
Set Specific Goals
Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.
Set Measurable Goals
Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. If your goal is simply defined as “To reduce expenses” how will you know when you have been successful? In one month’s time if you have a 1 percent reduction or in two years’ time when you have a 10 percent reduction? Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved something.
Set Attainable Goals
Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence. However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. Accomplishing a goal that you didn’t have to work hard for can be anticlimactic at best, and can also make you fear setting future goals that carry a risk of non-achievement. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to “raise the bar” and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.
Set Relevant Goals
Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you’ll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. Set widely scattered and inconsistent goals, and you’ll fritter your time – and your life – away.
Set Time-Bound Goals
You goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.
3. Set Goals in Writing
Writing goals down makes them real and helps you stick to them.
4. Take Action
Don’t get so focused on the goal, you forget to take the steps to achieve them.
5. Stick With it!
Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.
When is the last time you took time out for yourself? Do you wait until you fall in a heap or have a cold and flu to take time out? Many of us, don’t give ourselves permission to take time out until we really fall in a heap.
From Western medicine’s standpoint, there isn’t a good way to define ideal health. It only defines the absence of disease. Wellness is the opposite of this. Wellness is the continual increase in energy and vitality that acts as a buffer against the onset of chronic pain and illness. Acupuncture helps deliver this.
Many people feel the idea of getting weekly preventive acupuncture, is not achievable with a busy life but this type of care can be easier than you think. Some people come for treatment when the seasons change, like in spring when trees start pollinating, or when the weather gets colder in autumn. Other patients will come in for a few weeks before they travel. Others who are trying to avoid pain flare-ups will come in once a month after their pain is under control.
Just as exercise, good sleeping patterns, and good diet can help you stay healthy, so too can regularly being in touch with your body and mind. Like servicing your car ensures its good running, acupuncture is an extremely valuable tool for our bodies and maintaining health. Is it time you booked in for a treatment?
The weather is warming, the birds are chirping and the sweet smell of blossoming flowers is in the air, yes Spring is here. Spring is a time of birth and new beginnings, the energy and movement is expansive, it’s a time when we wake up from the slumber of winter and everything comes back to life. In Chinese medicine the changing of seasons has a great effect on our bodies on all levels, physically, mentally and spiritually. There are certain things, which are relevant to the seasons, which we can do to help us with this transition to ensure good health and prevent pain and dis-ease.
One of the common methods revolves around something we do every day…eat! In Chinese medicine, what we put into our bodies greatly affects our health so in order to maintain good health we should be mindful of what we are feeding it. One of the basic principles is to eat according to the season. By consuming foods that are in season and that are similar in nature to the external environment our bodies are better equipped in adapting to the cyclic flow of the seasons thus maintaining health.
In Chinese medicine spring is associated with the wood element and the Liver and Gallbladder (please note this is not necessarily the Liver/Gallbladder from a western medical view but rather its energetic functioning). If we are unable to adapt to the change into spring common seasonal health problems can include colds/flus or a relapse of chronic disease. For those with an underlying Liver imbalance spring time can aggravate the Liver which can lead to headaches and stiff/wry neck, this can be particularly aggravated when it’s windy.
As your Liver and spring time are associated with the colour green it’s no wonder the recommendation is to eat Greens!! Fresh green, leafy vegetables and sprouts are fantastic options. Green tea is also great at this time of the year, as well as other herbal teas including chamomile, jasmine, peppermint, chrysanthemum and orange peel. To soothe and regulate Liver Qi pungent, sweet flavours are recommended. Some of the recommended foods include onions, leeks, spinach, Chinese yam, dates, along with most grains, legumes and seeds which are sweet in flavour. Herbs such as basil, garlic, cayenne, dill, cardamom and chive are useful as well.
Due to nature of the season light and raw food is recommended, however where possible aim to limit overeating raw, uncooked, foods and avoid fried, and processed foods as these can harm the functioning of the Spleen and Stomach if consumed in excess. Aim to not eat late at night as it may affect sleeping.
Spring’s association with the Liver and Gallbladder can explain the emotional challenges that may be experienced or aggravated during this time. The emotional energy of the Liver/Gallbladder and therefore spring is anger and frustration. If Liver qi is not flowing smoothly and freely and becomes constrained these emotions can arise, and quite aggressively at times which I’m sure you’ve experienced yourself or have witnessed in another at times. To help with this get outside (experience the warm sun and the aliveness of nature around you) and move!! Hike, walk, play sports, try yoga Tai Chi or Qi Gong, whatever takes your fancy now’s the time to start moving. This will get the Liver Qi flowing and you feeling great.
Other recommendations for spring:
- Eat fresh local produce that’s in season
- Great time to start a food/herbal liver cleanse
- As the wood element relates to growth and is Yang in nature it’s a good time to start a new project.
- Get outside and do more outdoor activities
- As weather can change from quite cool to warm in the spring, make sure you dress accordingly with layers
- Come in for an acupuncture treatment or herbal prescription. Chinese medicine works to balance your body and mind and can help to improve overall health. Seasonal acupuncture can help to harmonize your body with the changing of the seasons along with treating any other issues you may be experiencing before they become more serious. In the way you take your car for a regular service you can take your body in to J
Contact myself or a Chinese medicine practitioner near you to see how acupuncture can help you this spring.
With the days growing shorter and the nights becoming cooler we can start to see and feel that Autumn has indeed arrived. This marks the beginning into the Yin phase of our season where the energy starts to slow down and we tend to find ourselves becoming more introspective and more reflective on our lives.
Have any of you been feeling pushed lately over the last couple of months. That your “stuff” keeps, coming up and getting brought to the surface or attention drawn to it? This may be in the form of old memories or patterns, different emotions and so on. To make sense of this, aside from the planetary alignments, full moons and new moons which yes absolutely have a profound effect on us, the season of Autumn is associated with the element Metal and the organs of the Lung and Large Intestine. Physically you can tend to see or experience a lot of coughs and respiratory conditions, dry skin, digestive complaints, constipation and so on. But emotionally our “stuff” tends to get brought up and gets more of a focus shone on it as Autumn is all about the emotion of grief and Letting Go. It’s the season where we become more reflective, what’s sitting there for us emotionally gets a spotlight so we can acknowledge it and let it go. Like the leaves that fall from the tree, we must take a cue from nature and drop our leaves, look what is not serving us anymore and let it go. Getting outside in nature and going for a walk can be a great place to start.
Below are some other good tips for maintaining emotional health and balance in Autumn:
- Take time out to be quiet. To sit still and breathe.
- Go within yourself and reflect what’s sitting there. This may be old memories, emotions, resentments and so forth. Attempt to resolve where possible and let them go. For issues you can’t resolve directly with others or for old issues within yourself, writing them all down on a piece of paper and burning it or throwing it away can be a great tool to release what’s no longer serving you.
- The element of Metal relates to organisation, order and stability. It can be a great time to go through your home or work space and clear out what’s of no use to you and re-organize.
- Try to manage your stress levels. Incorporate activities like mediation, yoga, gardening, exercise, and so forth that enable you to decrease or release your stress.
- Get more sleep. With the days becoming shorter and transitioning into the most Yin time of the year its natural for us to sleep more.
- If you are having trouble processing things talking to someone can always be helpful. Acupuncture can also assist during these times
In Chinese medicine the body and in turn our health is viewed as a whole. Your feelings, attitude and emotional being is equally as important to your health as the physical, and often affects us physically as well if left out of balance for to long. In other words, our emotional state has a direct response to our physical well-being.
Below are a few of my life lessons and personal tips for a happier, healthier life. Enjoy.
1. Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been and focus on what can be.
2. One of the simplest ways to stay happy is to let go of what makes you sad. Surrender it over. It no longer serves you. Now I’m not saying go ahead and quit your job (unless that is what feels right for you), but maybe surrender over all the anger, frustration and pain you are holding onto around that situation and try viewing it from a different perspective. Be grateful for what it does offer you (lifestyle, etc) and what you have learnt from it (which could be patience).
3. Always laugh when you can. It’s cheap medicine. Take time out to watch a funny movie, go to a comedy festival, catch up with friends/family that bring you joy, act like a kid, just have fun! It’s great for letting go of stress, great for your heart health (in Chinese medicine joy is related to your Heart), and in itself is healing.
4. Take time to enjoy the simple things. Stop and smell the roses so to speak. Enjoy moments with your kids, laughing with friends and family, read a good book, go for a walk outside and smell the air, enjoy your favorite meal, explore where you live, and well you get the point. There is so much to be grateful for in the “little” things in life.
5. Take time out to sit and be still. In our day we go a thousand miles an hour, always on the go. If you did this to your car, it would eventually let go and fall apart. You do not want this for yourself! Each day stop take a few breathes and just let your world go quiet. Your breathe brings you back to centre, to the present moment. Stop and take 3 deep conscious breathes and see how you feel. You can do this at your work desk, in the car at the lights, or even create a special place where you go each day to just Be. Be kind to yourself and take time out each day.
6. Be grateful and forgive! Gratitude and forgiveness are amazing as in the process it sets you free and invites more good in. To forgive may be a tricky one in some cases, especially when you feel hurt, or used. But to forgive does not mean saying that another person’s actions or the situation was right or even ok, what it means is that you forgive that person/situation for not being what you wanted or expected to be and you set them free. In the process you free yourself, you are no longer attached to the problem or the pain and you can start to feel good again. Remember it’s also important to forgive ourselves, to long we beat ourselves up, forgive and set yourself free
To practice gratitude daily is a brilliant practice. It reminds us of all we have to be grateful for in our life, and in the process of sending beautiful vibes out to the universe it invites more in. This may sound far-fetched, but I’m a big believer in what you put out there you get back. By holding love and gratitude daily for all you are blessed with you start to focus on the good in your life, your energy and perception of the world, even for a moment shifts. Instead of focusing on all the don’t wants and don’t haves, you allow your being to take in all that you do receive daily and invite more of that in.
7. One of the greatest discoveries in one’s life is to realize that a person can change their future by changing their Mind and attitude. Start to see your world how you want it to be, focus on that. By combining this exercise with daily gratitude you will start to see things in your world shift. Don’t forget to act on it to. You can visualize as much as you like but you must also put action in to get a result.
As you may be feeling it’s starting to cool off outside, we are now reaching for that extra layer and wanting to keep warm. Yes we are now in the season of winter, the most Yin time of our year. A time where the energy turns inward and we start to turn to more introspective activites like reading, watching movies, cuddling up in bed and so on. This is a very natural process, if you look at nature what do the animals do…they hibernate….they physically eat, stay warm and go to sleep. In reality this is what we should also follow, it’s a time for us to rest and rejuvenate before the fresh new burst of energy and life that comes with Spring. The ancient sages understood and knew of the importance of living in harmony with the seasons. They believed that for the cultivation of health or life one had to abide by this principle.
The Kidney and Bladder are the organs associated with the season of winter and emotionally it relates to the emotion of fear. Fear is a natural and necessary emotion for us when it arises appropriately. The issue arises however when we start existing and living our days in a state of fight or flight and our lives run by fear. As the Kidneys are associated with the emotion of fear this depletes their energy or Qi which in turn feeds this cycle generating more feelings of fear, panic and insecurity. The key to breaking this cycle and assisting yourself during these times is to de-stress. Stop, take a breath, slow down even just for a moment. Meditation is a perfect exercise.
Our diet, what we feed ourselves also has a vital role in our health. Eating foods that are local and in season are a great start. There’s no coincidence that foods that are naturally available during winter are beneficial to our body and in the winter particularly for our Kidneys. Eating warm hearty soups and stews, whole grains, root vegetables, roasted nuts, beans and legumes (such as adzuki and kidney beans and chickpeas), and warming herbs such as ginger and garlic are all beneficial. For the non-vegetarians it’s also the perfect time to include meat, in particular red-meat, as it’s very Yang in nature.
Another important tonifying food in the winter is salt. It is the flavour associated with the Kidneys and therefore in small amounts will help to tonify the Kidneys. Please take note on the source and quality of your salt however, the best being unrefined sea salt or Himalayan sea salt as they contain all the minerals in the same ratio as the minerals that make up our blood!
Other tips for winter include:
- Keeping warm, especially your neck, feet and low back
- Try not to sleep with window open as a draught while you sleep can lead to waking with a stiff neck or cold
- Get enough rest and down time
- Meditate, try yoga, Qi Gong or Tai Chi
- Avoid eating cold, raw food and eat more warm nourishing foods like soups and stews
- Try to avoid stress and overworking self….listen to thy body
- Have an Epsom salt bath
- Limit the peppermint and green tea and try chai or ginger tea