Acupuncture and your Small Intestine

How’s Your Digestion?

The small intestine is part of the gastrointestinal tract. Up to 90 percent of the digestion and absorption of food occurs in the small intestine and its main function is the absorption of minerals and nutrients from the food we ingest. It is comprised of three separate parts, the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. The small intestine measures upwards of six to seven meters long and it has a surface area of over 200 meters. But in the Traditional Chinese Medical system, the small intestine is much more than just its physical traits.

TCM pairs energetic meridians so that they form a complete circuit. There is always a yang meridian and a yin meridian. The small intestine meridian is paired with the heart meridian. Imbalances in the small intestine meridian can lead to problems such as abdominal pain, digestion issues and also appetite problems like overeating or poor appetite. The small intestine meridian starts at the outer tip of the pinky finger and runs up the arm, over the scapula of the shoulder, up the neck and ends in front of the ear. The meridian pathway allows for it to be useful in treating not just intestinal and abdominal issues, but also things like earaches, TMJ, shoulder pain and neck pain.

The small intestine is the controller of the reception, transformation and separation of solids and fluids. It receives food and fluids from the stomach and then transforms them by separating the pure from the impure. The pure essence is dispersed throughout the body and the impurities are flushed into the large intestine for eventual removal from the body.

Since the small intestine is paired with the heart, it should be noted both meridians belong to the movement of fire. The heart meridian expresses movement upwards, while the small intestine meridian expresses movement downwards. And when considering this pairing logically, it makes sense. When we are experiencing heartache or stress (associated with the heart meridian), most of us then have an upset gastrointestinal tract, pain in the abdomen, vomiting, nausea or even a lack of appetite.

The small intestine meridian is particularly sensitive to cold. Therefore eating lots of cold, raw foods can actually lead to problems in the small intestine. When excess cold invades the small intestine, there may be pain around the navel, watery diarrhea or loose stools, frequent clear urination and loud gurgling sounds in the abdomen.

In TCM, the small intestine plays both a physical and a mental role. The mental role of the small intestine is to separate the clear thoughts from the turbid ones. This is another way the small intestine is connected to the heart in TCM. The heart houses the mind and is in charge of all of our mental health. Clear judgement depends on the ability of the small intestine to separate the pure from the impure. When there is dysfunction in the small intestine, then there may also be dysfunction in the mind.

While the small intestine may not seem as important as the heart or the kidneys, it is still an integral part of our body and as such, it should be taken care of equally as well. If you experience any abdominal or emotional issues, turning to a licensed acupuncturist may be a good start. But most of all, take good care of your gastrointestinal health and your body will respond favorably.

Foods to Increase Intestinal Absorption

The intestines are an extremely important organ and they should never be overlooked. You should make sure to feed your intestines with food that will increase intestinal absorption, by doing so you will help out your whole body. Foods that increase intestinal absorption range from fermented foods to pre-biotic containing foods.

Let’s start with the fermented foods. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and pickles can work together to help keep that gut balanced. If you are in-taking foods such as these you are guaranteed to see an increase in intestinal absorption. The bacteria in fermented foods work together with your gut to help break down foods.

Pre-biotic foods are also important to the digestive tract. Keep your intestines happy by making sure to load up on pre-biotic foods such as seeds, flax, oats and potatoes. All of these foods encourage the growth of necessary and healthy microbes within your digestive tract.

How Acupuncture helps Dampness

Dampness is an insidious beast. It works its way in, silent and sneaky. Before you know it, you’re filled with it, and you can barely get out of your own way.
Damp is a term acupuncturists use when the fluids of the body aren’t being processed correctly, leading to a buildup that can settle in and make itself at home in almost any area of the body. This, in turn, can lead to a wide array of mental and physical issues.

If dampness invades the entire physical body, it can cause weight gain, sluggishness and a lack of motivation. Think of how you feel on a foggy, rainy day. Now imagine that fogginess and sogginess being inside of you. You would feel heavy, bloated and slow. You would be more comfortable just sitting around, rather than engaging in movement. Your thoughts might be a bit confused, rather than clear and concise. This is what happens when there is an infestation of dampness.

96c75769f904a69d7bc5821385f06c3a

If the dampness attacks specific areas, it leads to heaviness and dullness in whatever part of the body it festers in. If it settles into the head, it can cause a dull headache that feels as if a band is squeezing the head. This type of headache generally tends to either be stimulated or worsened by damp weather. Dampness in the head can also cause sinus pain or a stuffy nose. From an emotional standpoint, dampness can muddle the thinking, making it hard to think clearly. In the extreme, it can lead to mental impairment. If dampness attacks the digestive system, it can cause vomiting of fluids, diarrhea or abdominal pain. With internal issues, damp usually transforms into damp-heat. Damp-heat of the intestines causes bloody, painful diarrhea. Damp-heat in the lower burner of the body can bring on sores, painful and burning urination or a host of other issues. If it is hot and oozy, think damp-heat.

Pain caused by dampness is heavy, usually severe, and stays fixed in one place. Arthritis can fall into this category: the pain is concentrated in one place, the afflicted area is stiff and hard to move, and damp weather usually makes it feel worse.

The true evil of dampness is that it is a self-propelling cycle. It weighs you down and resists change. That person who feels sluggish and weighed down could dissipate some of their dampness by moving, but the sluggishness makes the person want to sit still. That lack of movement creates more dampness…and so it continues. Fortunately, acupuncture and herbs are wonderful options for getting rid of this dampness.

3 Points to Alleviate Dampness

Nobody wants to be damp. When dampness occurs it is imperative that you solve the issue, the body should never be overly damp. Dampness is heavy, stagnant and tends to solve things down throughout the body. In addition to changing your diet and the way you eat, there are specific acupressure points that work to alleviate dampness. Here are three great points to try.

Stomach 36 – Also known as Zusanli, ST 36 is a great point to use when dampness occurs due to the weather. If damp weather is causing your body to shut down or become more tired you should utilize ST 36 to cure this problem. This point is located between the lower border of the knee and outer border of the large bone located below the knee.

meridianpoint-st36

Gall Bladder 14 – With dampness can come sinus pressure. And GB 14, is a go-to point to relieve sinus pressure and headaches. This point is one of the best in your arsenal you can have to protect against sinus pressure. GB 14, or Yangbai is located above the eyebrow.

meridianpoint-gb14

Stomach 8 – ST 8, is another fantastic point that should be used when trying to alleviate headache pain caused by dampness. By using this point you will be back on your feet again and will find the sensation of your headaches has dissipated. To find this point follow the line your jawbone creates to the top of your head, once you are about five finger’ widths above your eyebrow you will have located the point.

meridianpoint-st8

Until next time, pick your foods wisely and stay warm and dry.

steve-sig

5 Ways to Eat Without Overeating this Holiday Season

Blog-img 5 Ways to Eat Without Overeating this Holiday Season_640Moderation
We’ve always the heard the saying to enjoy everything in moderation, and that is definitely true when it comes to holiday foods. Don’t try to deprive yourself during the holidays, it most likely won’t go over well. Having an extra holiday treat here and there won’t kill you. You’re allowed to indulge a bit, just keep portions small when it comes to holiday desserts and make sure you limit how often you eat them. Going the whole season without any treats is cruel and will most likely end in binging later, so have your guilty pleasures, just keep them in moderation.

Watch the alcohol
The holidays are a time for celebration, which most likely means more alcohol. Not only does alcohol add on empty calories, but can also lead you to eating more while drinking. If you are at a gathering, limit yourself to one or two drinks to cut down on the unhealthy cravings you might be feeling afterward.

Focus on the protein
Protein-packed foods are a great way to fill up without adding a lot of sugar and empty carbohydrates. Pack your plate with low-fat meats like turkey and chicken. If you’re vegetarian, eat more of the tofu than the side dishes that are most likely to be sugar and carbohydrate heavy.

Fill up on the water
Don’t forget about water! The holidays are an easy time to drink more sugary beverages than normal. Substitute drinks for water, and drink a lot of it. Not only is water essential for your health, but drinking a glass before a meal can fill you up more as well, preventing you from overeating.

Take your time
Eating too fast is one of the easiest ways to overeat. When you don’t give your body the chance to digest food and feel full before you stop eating, chances are you’re going to end up eating more than you want. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite to give your body a chance to catch up. This way, you’ll end up getting full faster and eat less.

Most of all don’t forget to enjoy the holidays and the delicious food that comes with it, don’t be afraid to indulge a little!

Recipe for Autumn Balance

autumnRecipe for Autumn Balance

Below is a recipe to bring your body to balance in autumn. These foods will strengthen your immune system as your body becomes more susceptible to illness with the changing weather.

 

 

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
boiled chicken meat
salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg

If you have a blender, blend the squash until smooth for a puree-style soup. If not, you can chop up the squash instead.

Begin by chopping up all ingredients and boiling the squash in a large pot. After the squash is mostly cooked, add the vegetables and chicken to the pot. Simmer the soup for a few minutes. When the soup is done, add spices as desired.

Butternut squash soup is not too difficult to make and contains nutrients like vitamin A to help protect your body from the upcoming flu and cold season.

Sources:
http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/medicinal-cuisine.htm

Women’s Health Issues

Here is a good summary of women’s health issues that was compiled by acufinder.com.

Everyone wants to be healthy in order to enjoy a sense of well-being and have the best quality of life possible. Oriental medicine has always addressed the special needs of women throughout their lives. Women are more susceptible than men to certain health conditions, which can make it more challenging to achieve optimal health. Fortunately, many health issues women face respond extremely well to acupuncture treatments.

Several conditions that impact women more frequently than men include:

Depression:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that women are twice as likely to experience depression as men and one in eight will contend with major depression during their lifetime. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the most commonly reported mental health problem among women.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS):
Four times as many women as men develop chronic fatigue syndrome. CFS sufferers may feel tired for more than six months, experience reduced memory, insomnia or a wide range of other symptoms, including but not limited to, headaches, flu-like symptoms and chronic pain. Oriental medicine can help relieve many of your symptoms because it is exceptional for relieving aches and pains, helping to avoid getting sick as often, recovering more quickly, and improving vitality and stamina.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):
Women are 2-6 times more likely to develop IBS. Acupuncture points can help relieve IBS symptoms, according to researchers from the University of York in the U.K., who found that integrating acupuncture into a treatment plan led to less severe symptoms.

Autoimmune Diseases:
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), about 75 percent of autoimmune diseases occur in women. As a group, these diseases make up the fourth-largest cause of health related disability among American women.

Some specific autoimmune diseases that affect women disproportionately more than men include:

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Nearly half a million Americans have multiple sclerosis, and of that group two-thirds are women. According to the American Academy of Neurology, women with MS are nearly 1.5 times more likely to carry the gene associated with the disease, and are more likely to transfer the gene to female offspring.
  • Lupus: Ninety percent of all lupus patients are female. Lupus has no known cause, though it is believed it may be hereditary, and may also be triggered by stress, environmental toxins, sunlight, exposure to fluorescent light, and some medications.
  • Celiac Disease: An autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system due to an adverse reaction to gluten, 60 to 70 percent of celiac disease patients are women.

Read More about acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for women’s health!