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How to stay healthy this spring

healthy this spring

Are you looking for ways to stay healthy this spring?

This is the time of year when many people start feeling a little off, whether they are experiencing allergy symptoms, headaches, irritability, or problems with muscles, tendons and ligaments. Women might have menstrual or fertility issues, and people may find it more difficult to make decisions. Are you sighing more than usual? This may be your body’s way of releasing stagnant liver qi. “Qi” is the Chinese word that means life force or energy.

 

My patients are usually amused to hear me say “It’s liver time!”. In Chinese medicine, the organs are associated with phases or elements, and the liver belongs to the wood element which is dominant in the spring. I share that the symptoms they are experiencing align with the energetic shift of the changing seasons.

 

Alignment with the seasons and phases

People are often fascinated to hear about how their organs are associated with the different seasons and how this relates to symptoms they experience in their bodies.

 

In Chinese Medicine, there are five phases of transformation: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. While in Traditional Chinese Medicine these are called elements, Classical Chinese Medicine refers to them as phases because they develop and change into one another. The five phases or elements correspond to the seasons spring, summer, fall, and winter. In Chinese medicine, summer is further divided into summer and late summer. Late summer refers to the transformation between the warmer summer weather and cool fall weather. The seasons and phases (or elements) are associated as follows:

 

  • Spring: Wood. This is when nature starts stirring from winter’s dormancy. Trees and plants blossom. New branches grow out of old wood, and new growth begins.

 

  • Summer: Fire. This is the time of warmth and activity. Nature is moving actively, and as a result is growing and flourishing.

 

  • Late summer: Earth. This is the time of harvest. It is also is the pause between the rising of the warming and active phases of wood and fire and the declining and cooler phases of fall and winter.

 

  • Fall: Metal. This is when nature lets go of what is not needed, as seen in the falling leaves from the trees. The soil is enriched with the compost from the dead leaves so it can prepare for the next cycle of growth in the spring.

 

  • Winter: Water. This is a time of rest. Animals hibernate, the days are shorter, and nature gets still and goes within to build up reserves.

 

How the liver and gallbladder are affected in the spring

As I shared earlier, the liver is the organ that is associated with the wood element and spring. In Chinese medicine, the gallbladder is paired with the liver, and it is also part of the wood phase or element. Like the new shoots of growth in plants, similarly, our energy rises up in the spring. When too much energy rises up too quickly, we can get headaches and feel irritable.

 

When this uprising energy gets stuck or is not balanced, we can experience issues with our muscles, tendons and ligaments. For example, this is often a time of year when people experience knee problems. When the liver energy is not flowing smoothly, it can also result in PMS symptoms or fertility issues.

 

The eyes are the sensory organ associated with the liver. This is a time of year where people frequently experience itchy, red, painful eyes or blurred vision.

 

Sometimes the energy of these organs can be deficient, and people may experience twitching in their muscles, or find that they have trouble making decisions or gathering the energy to move forward in life.

 

 

Supporting your liver and gallbladder so you can stay healthy this spring

Every individual is unique, and no two people will experience the same symptoms for exactly the same reason. When I see a new patient, I make the time to ask a lot of questions and review their health history. This allows me to determine what is going on with their energy. For example, it is important to determine whether their energy is rising up too quickly, getting stuck, or is deficient. I develop a customized treatment to address their specific needs and restore the balance of energy. This might involve acupuncture needles, ear seeds, qigong exercises, and diet and lifestyle advice.

 

Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you stay healthy this spring? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Learn the ancient Chinese art of yangsheng – nourishing life

yangsheng

Why yangsheng and the art of nourishing life is important

At the start of the Chinese New Year in February 2021, I listened to a webcast from one of my favorite teachers, Lillian Pearl Bridges. Lillian is an expert on Face Reading. She can tell what’s going on with a person’s health and wellness just by looking at their face. Lillian also has a broad knowledge of Chinese astrology and Feng Shui. I have taken a number of Lillian’s classes, and I look forward to the special Chinese New Year forecast that she presents to Chinese Medicine practitioners each year.

 

This year, when Lillian shared her thoughts about the year of the Ox, she stressed the importance of practicing yangsheng. The ox is a very respected animal, and it is valued for its ability to work hard and endure. This year will require patience and an emphasis on yangsheng. Simply put, yangsheng refers to the practice of nourishing life that has been in existence and documented for other two thousand years. “Yang” translates to nurture or nourish. “Sheng” translates to life or vitality. This is a practice of self-cultivation or self-care that is believed to be crucial to overall health and longevity.

 

How to practice yangsheng

Another favorite teacher of mine is Peter Deadman. He has written a number of books on Chinese Medicine and has delved deeply into yangsheng. He states that there are three main ways to practice yangsheng:

 

First, avoid behavior that causes harm. This includes consuming alcohol excessively, smoking, eating poor quality food, allowing emotions to damage our mental health, and not being physically active.

 

Second, engage in activities that promote health and well-being. This includes eating healthfully, exercising appropriately, fostering positive emotions and managing negative emotions, practicing good sleep hygiene, cultivating positive relationships, and spending time in nature. Follow this link to read my blog on how to improve your sleep. To help manage emotions, click this link to read a blog I wrote on how to manage stress and anxiety.

 

Third, practice exercises specifically designed to nourish life. This includes qigong, taiji (also known as tai chi), and yoga.  Other yangsheng-specific activities include meditation, mindful breathing, and practicing the relaxation response. Follow this link to read a blog I wrote on how you can practice the relaxation response.

 

 

Balance and moderation are key

In our American culture, we have a tendency to overdo things, and we can become unbalanced. To practice yangsheng we need to consider a balanced approach to life. For example, some of us may be great at exercising consistently but we don’t get enough sleep. Maybe we eat really well but we also worry constantly and experience stress and anxiety. In yangsheng, balancing exercise, diet, sleep, and mental health are essential. Everything in moderation. I deeply respect this approach. In fact, the name of the Chinese Medicine school I attended, Jung Tao, translates to “middle way”. Not too far one way or the other. The middle way is preferable.

 

Even though yangsheng concepts are quite simple, they can be very difficult to put into practice. Most people will want more of something that feels good to them. If a little is good, more must be better. This can give way to overeating, overexercising, even oversleeping.

 

Time can also be challenge with so many of us leading busy lives. It is often hard to find time to do all of the things we want to do. As I have been working on cultivating yangsheng for myself this year, I find that some weeks I am successful at including exercise, but I am not able to pay as much attention to healthy eating habits. Other weeks I eat really well and make time to meditate, but do not find time to exercise. Trying to squeeze everything in can create an imbalance of activity and can be counter to the principles of yangsheng.

 

Make time to rest

Balancing doing with non-doing, or rest, is key. Creating free spaces in your day are important to balance all of the activity. What I’ve discovered is most important for me is to be kind to myself and to be as present as I can with whatever activity I am engaged in. That in and of itself is a very important part of nourishing life.

 

Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine has moved! And other holiday news…

acupuncture

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine has moved!

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is now located at 1133 Military Cutoff Road in the Lifeline Chiropractic office suite #110. We’re right behind the Chicken Salad Chick restaurant in The Forum shopping center across from Mayfaire. Our phone number is still 910-622-6960.

 

Open during the holidays

Needing extra support this holiday season? We’re here for you! We have COVID-19 protocols in place to help you stay safe. Masks are required, screening questionnaires are performed, and temperatures are checked at every appointment. Appointments are spaced to allow the treatment room to be cleaned thoroughly between patients, with linens changed and surfaces cleaned with an EPA-approved botanical disinfectant. We have upgraded our air purifier to a new medical-grade filtration H13 true HEPA system that removes 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns. For reference, the average size of the SARS CoV-2 particle which causes COVID-19 is about 0.125 microns.

 

Gift certificates & stocking stuffers available

Looking for a unique gift? We can customize a gift certificate for you. We also have a variety of ear seed kits that start at $24.99. Kits in stock include: Acne, Allergies, Anxiety, Back pain & Sciatica, Depression, Fertility, Headaches & Migraines, Insomnia, Menopause, Motion Sickness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Stress, and Stop Smoking. You can read more about ear seeds in the blog entitled All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy. Another great stocking stuffer is our popular Chinese herbal lip gloss for $6.50.

 

Wishing you and your family all the best!

As this year comes to a close, we hope you are able to take some time for yourself to rest and relax. Sending you and your family best wishes for a safe, healthy, and fun-filled holiday season!

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Acupuncture for migraines and headaches

acupuncture for migraines and headaches

Acupuncture for migraines and headaches

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be very effective in treating migraines and headaches. Western medicine conventionally treats headaches with pharmaceuticals and achieves varying results. Chinese medicine takes a different approach by identifying the root cause of the headache from an energetic perspective. Each person is unique, and two people can have the same kind of headache for very different reasons. So, rather than relying on headache medication, acupuncture and Chinese medicine prescribe a customized solution tailored to the individual needs of the patient.

 

Migraines and headaches can be debilitating, making even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming. They can range from a dull ache, a feeling of squeezing or pressure, to a stabbing pain. Headaches can also be so painful that the only option is to rest in a dark, quiet, cool room.  Migraines can be accompanied by visual disturbances, numbness in the body, and even nausea.

 

Underlying causes

During an acupuncture appointment, the practitioner will conduct a thorough intake and work on getting to the root cause of why the headache is occurring. I personally examine a variety of possible contributing factors. For example, these can include: allergies, anger, dehydration, diet, hormones, illness, injuries, jaw tension, posture, sleep issues, stress, weather, and other environmental triggers. It’s important to know how long the headache has been present, how often headaches occur, and how long they typically last. Other things to consider are what the pain feels like, what makes the headache feel worse, and what makes the headache feel better.

 

Location is important

It’s also important to know where on the head the headache is occurring. The main areas are:

  • Occipital and nape of the neck: At the back of the head where the head meets the neck
  • Frontal: On the front of the head, including the forehead, eyes, and cheeks
  • Temporal: At one or both temples and the sides of the head
  • Parietal or Vertex: On the top of the head

 

Chinese medicine diagnosis

Acupuncturists diagnose headaches from an energetic perspective. Headaches most often fall into one of three categories: an excess of energy, a deficiency of energy, or what is called an invasion of pathogenic wind into the body.

 

When the headache is caused by an excess of energy, this means that the energy from the body is rushing up to the head rather than circulating smoothly through the body. A person experiencing this kind of headache will feel irritable, have severe pain on one or both sides of the head, and may have eye pain or blurred vision.

 

A deficiency-type headache is one that can be lingering. This kind of headache usually feels better with warmth and worse with cold.

 

A headache caused by an invasion of pathogenic wind occurs after exposure to wind, usually on the back of the neck. It is typically first felt in the nape of the neck. This can later extend up the back of the head to the forehead. When this external pathogen enters the body, it obstructs the flow of energy in the body, causing pain. After the acupuncturist determines whether the headache is caused by excess, deficiency, or external pathogenic wind, they identify which acupuncture channels are affected based on the symptoms and location of the pain.

 

Treatment

Often a combination of methods will restore the balance of energy in the body and relieve a headache or migraine. Usually, the primary treatment is acupuncture. The acupuncturist inserts fine needles into to acupuncture points in the body to balance the energy based on the diagnosis.

 

I usually include ear seeds to support the treatment. Ear seeds can also serve as a standalone treatment for headaches. Click here to read my blog about ear seeds. When I am treating a patient who has a headache, I will often palpate the areas on the ear that correspond to frontal, temporal, occipital, and vertex headaches. I place ear seeds on any tender areas as well as areas that correspond to the location of the headache. It’s not unusual for parts of the ear to be red, reflecting the energetic congestion experienced in the body.

 

Depending on what was uncovered during the intake, I also counsel patients on nutrition and lifestyle if it appears that anything in those areas may be contributing to the headache. Frequently, increasing hydration, reducing stress, and avoiding certain types of foods can be helpful. I often recommend qigong exercises and guided visualizations to help prevent future headaches.

 

 

When to see a Doctor

It’s important to see a doctor if you are experiencing headaches consistently, if your headaches are increasing in frequency or severity, or if you are unable to perform your usual activities. Doctors will often prescribe acupuncture for migraines and headaches once they have ruled out any serious conditions.

 

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience the worst headache you’ve ever had, vomit uncontrollably, or lose vision or consciousness.

Click this link for advice from WebMD on how to decide when to seek medical attention for your headache.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Telehealth now available to patients in North Carolina

Telehealth in North Carolina

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is now offering Telehealth in North Carolina

People often ask me, “How can you practice acupuncture and Chinese medicine in North Carolina through Telehealth? What do you do when you can’t use needles?” People are surprised to learn that Chinese medicine covers much more than acupuncture. Telehealth is a great option for someone who is scared of needles or reluctant to try acupuncture. One of the techniques used during a Telehealth session is acupressure. Acupressure is the application of gentle pressure to acupressure points. Many people don’t know that acupressure can be just as effective as using needles on acupuncture points. It is easy to learn and do.

 

Telehealth is a great option for people who cannot or do not want to leave their home. This is beneficial to parents when childcare is not available, and they don’t have an option to leave the house. Sometimes personal protective equipment is not available, and people don’t feel safe leaving their homes. With Telehealth, you do not need to go into an office. Instead, you relax comfortably in your own home during a session. Another benefit of Telehealth is that patients can be located anywhere in North Carolina. You don’t have to travel to Wilmington. You can still get a customized treatment without leaving your home.

 

How it works

All you need is a computer, tablet or phone, and an internet connection. Just like in an office session, we’ll go through a comprehensive health history. This includes the medications and supplements you are taking, and previous and current conditions. We’ll discuss your primary concerns and goals.

 

Patients send me a picture of their tongue and ears before their appointment. This sounds weird, and it is! It’s also really easy to do. The pictures give me a lot of information about what is going on in the body.

 

When I review tongue pictures, I look at the size, shape, color, and qualities of the tongue. The tongue shows the status of  the major organs in the body. Looking at the tongue gives insight into how the organs are processing energy.

 

The ear is a microcosm of the body. This means that the different areas of the ear represent all of the parts of the body. For example, issues with the head can be seen on the earlobe. When I review ear pictures, I look for areas of redness, swelling, and dark or white patches. Recently, when reviewing ear pictures, I noticed markings on a patient’s ear that coincide with lower back pain. The patient had not mentioned lower back pain. During our appointment, I asked them if they had any trouble with their lower back. The answer was a surprised “Yes!” Patients are often amazed at what I am able to see just by looking at the ears.

 

Finally, I can also see what’s going on in your body by examining your face over the camera during a Telehealth session. Chinese face reading and facial diagnosis can be a very powerful tool. Various colorings, markings, and lines can give clues about overall health and what’s going on in the body.

 

Telehealth can help with many health concerns

The Telehealth sessions I offer can address many of the conditions commonly treated with acupuncture. This includes pain, headaches, digestive, respiratory, dermatological, neurological, reproductive and sleep issues. Sessions are also very effective in supporting emotional well-being, including stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. Sessions can also focus on boosting immunity.

 

A customized treatment plan is developed during a Telehealth session. This may include acupressure, ear seeds, gua sha, moxa, qigong, as well as nutrition and lifestyle advice. Any tools needed are delivered or sent to the patient for home use. Detailed instructions are provided.

 

Available treatment modalities

Here’s a quick overview of the different modalities that are available:

  • Acupressure is the application of pressure to acupuncture points. This is done through gentle massage or tapping on acupuncture points.
  • Ear seeds are small seeds that are held to acupuncture points on the ear with adhesive tape. They can treat conditions throughout the entire body and often have a very calming and relaxing effect.
  • Gua sha is a gentle massage technique that incorporates a smooth-edged tool that stimulates blood flow, removes stagnation, improves circulation, produces an anti-inflammatory effect, and increases immunity to promote healing.
  • Moxa is a Chinese herb that is lit like incense. Moxa burns close to the surface of the skin and stimulates acupuncture points. It is a great tool for building immunity. It helps relieve pain, and also warms and encourages the flow of blood and “qi” (energy) in the body.
  • Qigong refers to gentle exercises that help smooth and strengthen the body’s energy.
    “Qi” means energy and “gong” means work. Qigong is a practice of working with the body’s energy.
  • Nutrition and lifestyle: We’ll discuss your current diet, exercise, stress-reduction and sleep habits. I’ll share advice on what foods may help balance your energy from a Chinese medicine perspective. I’ll give lifestyle recommendations to support you and your goals.

 

Telehealth for facial health and beauty

With so many offices and salons closed, people are excited to learn that facial procedures can easily be practiced at home. This includes lifting, toning and brightening the skin and minimizing wrinkles. I offer a facial gua sha protocol that I teach you during a Facial Gua Sha Telehealth session. I’ll give you instructions and the tools you need to practice at home. Read more about facial gua sha by clicking this link.

 

Are you located in North Carolina and interested in Telehealth? Call 910-622-6960 to learn more.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. HAVEN now offers Telehealth in North Carolina. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.