Tree of Health Integrative Medicine, PLLC


AUTUMN : A CHINESE MEDICAL PERSPECTIVE

By Kristen Mattisson, LAc, EAMP, LAc

Fall is upon us.  The long days of summer are behind us.  Autumn is a time of transition.  This is the time of year where change is very apparent all around us.  The bright leaves changing color remind us that it is time to start preparing for winter.  After presenting us with the beautiful warm colors of season, the leaves begin to fall and further prepare and conserve the energy for the tree for the upcoming months.

According to Chinese Medicine, Autumn/Fall is the season of the Metal Element, purging, setting boundaries and nurturing.   The climate factor associated with Autumn is dryness.  The Lung and Large Intestine are the yin/yang meridians associated with the Metal Element.  The lung is responsible for taking in the new. This manifests physically breathing in the crisp clean fall air and filling out lungs for oxygen.  The large intestine being a digestive organ is responsible for physically letting go of waste.

Grief and Sadness are the emotions that arise when there is dis-ease in these organs. When there is an imbalance or you experience an emotional grief you may have difficulty coping with the loss or change, may experience alienation and prolonged sadness.  With this weakness in the lung qi, you may experience a hard time “letting go of people, objects, and spend time in the past.  With prolonged and unresolved lung qi deficiency you may have weakened immune and experience frequent colds/illness.  The paired organ to the lung is the large intestine along with the grief one can experience constipation or dry stools (remember having a hard time of letting go).  On the contrary, when you are in a balanced state, the lungs are associated with clear thinking, communication, openness to new ideas and positive self-image.

In conclusion, just as nature is transitioning, it is a good time to tend to our internal environment; it is also a beneficial time to move through grief and let go of any resentment holding us back.  As we prepare for the slowness and stillness of the upcoming winter months, Fall is our time to nurture our internal health.

 

DIETARY and Lifestyle GUIDELINES FOR Fall

  • BREATHE DEEPLY
  • Take a walk in the cool crisp air.
  • Wear a scarf and protect your neck- in Chinese medicine- we call the neck the “wind gate” and as the weather cools, this area can be vulnerable to external wind invasion resulting in the common cold.
  • Avoid excessive raw foods and relish in the warming foods that are in season:  root vegetables, hearty stews, pears, apples.
  • Incorporate good Autumn foods:  Garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, squash, vinegar, pickles, pumpkin, asparagus, cinnamon, cardamom, pear, pumpkin, walnuts and almonds
  • Fall cleaning is a good time to organize and physically let go of things that we no longer need. De-clutter your home, car and mind. Let go of things that no longer serve you.
  • Let go of negative thoughts: again this is the season of letting go, move through grief rather than being stuck.
  • Daily Dry Brushing:  to help detox the body, remove dry skin, improve circulation and engage the lymphatic system. Using a firm natural bristle use short gentle strokes towards the heart along the entire body starting by the feet. The skin should be dry and will turn pink, this is ok.

Kristen Mattisson is an East Asian Practitioner and an Acupuncturist practicing at Tree of Health Integrative Medicine. To schedule an appointment with her, call (425) 408-0040

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Acupuncture: How It Works

By Dr. Eleonora Naydis

One of the most common questions I get from my patients when they come in for an acupuncture treatment is: “How does it work?”  Isn’t it amazing that the treatment that has been around for over 5,000 years still remains one of the most effective ways to address health problems?!

My fascination with acupuncture started when I was at Bastyr University, taking courses for my naturopathic medical degree.  I went in to receive acupuncture as a patient to address some back pain.  Not only it relieved my pain, but all the tension and stress melted away after the first treatment.   (Yes, medical students get these!  🙂 )

It so happens that acupuncture has a special effect on endorphin release.   Endorphins are substances made by our own bodies:  they produce feelings of pain relief and well-being.  If you have ever experienced “runner’s high” or just a feeling of complete relaxation after a meditation session, your body has been flooded by endorphins.  It has been found that by applying electric stimulation to the acupuncture points, one can even influence the types of endorphins released, providing a maximal therapeutic benefit. [i]

But all these are modern findings.  5,000 years ago no one has discussed endorphin release!  Traditional acupuncture practitioners were (and still are) using the concept of “Qi” (pronounced as “Chee”).  You have probably heard this term before.  Quantum physics have demonstrated that everything is made of and radiates energy.  That includes us!   Qi, or your vital energy, is known by many names among different cultures: think of prana, spirit, mana, or vital force.   “Qi is the root of a human being,” said Giovanni Maciocia, one of the world-renowned experts in Chinese medicine.

Here is the traditional explanation of how acupuncture works.  Qi flows through your body like river.  It runs through a system of “meridians.”  Meridians are pathways that connect to your body organs and glands; they are the rivers within us.  If the Qi flow, like a water flow, gets blocked, then the body will manifest different signs and symptoms of being unwell.  Acupuncture helps remove the blockages to flow.

Acupuncture points are carefully selected after the acupuncture practitioner speaks with the patients, reviewing the details of their case and conducting an examination of their body.  Traditional Chinese medicine exam involves pulse and tongue diagnosis, as well as palpation of acupuncture points and specific areas area of the body.  There are 26 different pulse quality variations!

Few more interesting facts:

  1. There are 361 traditional acupuncture points on 14 classical meridians.  There are actually hundreds more extra points located on ears, scalp, hands, and other areas of the body.
  2. Acupuncture points have higher electrical conductivity than the rest of the body.[ii]
  3. Earliest acupuncture needles were made of stone.  They were used to press on the points.
  4. Modern acupuncture needles are usually made of stainless steel. They are sterile and single use.  The diameter of usual acupuncture is needle around 0.18 mm, just a little wider than diameter of human hair.

World Health Organization and National Institute of Health state that acupuncture has been proven effective in many common problems, including pain, hormonal imbalances, headaches, digestive and respiratory diseases, anxiety, and addictions.  Acupuncture is effective in the supportive care of patients with cancer, having a positive effect on immune system and relaxation.[iii]

Pretty amazing for a system that was developed so many years ago, right?!


[i] Han Ji-Sheng.  Acupuncture and endorphins.  Neuroscience Letters 361 (2004) 258-261.

[ii] Shang, Charles.  Mechanism of acupuncture – beyond neurohumoral theory.  Medical Acupuncture, Fall 1999-Winter 2000,  Vol. 11(2)

[iii] Wang R.  Integration of Chinese medicine into supportive caner care: a modern role for an ancient tradition.  Cancer Treatment Review.  2001 Aug, 27 (4): 235-46.