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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.

Start the new year with some Acupressure!

acupressure

Set the tone for a healthy new year with Acupressure

Acupressure is the application of gentle pressure to acupuncture points. It is a great way to give yourself an at home treatment that can be done simply and easily using just your fingers. In this blog, I’ll provide instructions for how to perform acupressure and share information on some points you can try at home. I’m including a variety of points that can help with issues like anxiety, congestion, constipation, cough, depression, grief, headaches, inflammation, insomnia, irritability, menopausal symptoms, menstrual pain, nausea, PMS, stress, and tension.

 

How to perform acupressure

  • Use your index and / or middle fingers to apply a downward pressure with small circular motions (about a quarter of an inch) to the acupuncture point.
  • Feel for painful areas or areas of tightness or emptiness.
  • Massage for at least ten seconds, and up to a few minutes.
  • Stimulate points at least two times per day, for example, once in the morning and once at night.

 

Try acupressure with these acupuncture points

 

Yintang

Yintang means “Hall of Impression”. It is located between the eyebrows and is in the area referred to as the “third eye” in many cultures. This is a wonderfully calming point.

  • Location: Place a finger at the glabella, which is the skin above the nose between the eyebrows.
  • Uses: nasal congestion, runny nose, headaches in the forehead region, anxiety, insomnia.

 

Lung 1

The Chinese name of this point is Zhongfu. It means “Middle Palace”. It is the first point on the Lung channel. People often find this point to be tender when they have grief that has not been released.

  • Location: Slide the finger below the clavicle from the sternum towards the shoulder, stopping at the shoulder .  Then move your finger down and slightly out about a finger width to find Lung 1.
  • Uses: cough, wheezing, asthma, shoulder/chest tension, grief.

 

Ren Mai 17

The Chinese name of his point is Shanzhong. It means “Chest Center”. This point is the 17th point on the Ren Mai channel. This channel runs up the front of the body and is also known as the Conception Vessel channel.

  • Location: Place the finger(s) on the center of the chest at the level of the fourth intercostal space which is located at the natural line of the nipples.
  • Uses: stress and anxiety in the chest region, relaxes the chest and releases the diaphragm.

 

Pericardium 6

The Chinese name of this point is Neiguan. It means “Inner Pass”. It is the 6th point on the Pericardium channel. Motion sickness bands target this point, and it can be great for relieving nausea. It is also a primary point for anxiety.

  • Location: On the inside of the wrist, place the finger two finger-breadths away from the wrist crease in between the two tendons (palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis).
  • Uses: anxiety, motion sickness, nausea, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

Large Intestine 4

The Chinese name of this point is Hegu. It means “Joining Valley”. Hegu is the fourth point on the Large Intestine channel. It is a principle point used with any issues of the head and face, including headaches.

DO NOT USE THIS POINT IF YOU ARE PREGNANT. This point has a strong downward action and is contra-indicated in pregnancy.

  • Location: Slide the finger from the joint of the index finger towards the wrist stopping in the depression where the thumb and index finger bones meet.
  • Uses: headaches in the front of the head, toothaches, pain, cold symptoms, constipation.

 

Liver 3

The Chinese name of this point is Taichong. It means “Great Rushing”. It is the third point on the Liver channel. This point, combined with Large Intestine 4, is referred to as part of the “four gates” which help circulate energy through the body.

  • Location: Place the finger on top the of the foot in the depression between the big toe and second toe and slide the finger toward the ankle into the most tender part of the depression between the two bones.
  • Uses: PMS, menstrual pain, anger, irritability, stress, headaches, anxiety.

 

Kidney 1

The Chinese name of this point is Yongquan. It is the first point on the Kidney channel. It means “Gushing Spring”. This is an excellent point for grounding energy.

  • Location: Place the finger on the bottom of the foot in the depression near the upper middle portion of the foot.
  • Uses: insomnia, palpitations, anxiety, anger, poor memory, hot flashes, night sweats.

 

Ear Shen Men

Ear Shen Men means Ear “Spirit Gate”. It is the most widely used point on the ear.

  • Location: At the apex of the triangular fossa in the upper third of the external ear. This is the triangular shaped depression at the top of the inside of the ear.
  • Uses:  Pain, stress, anxiety, depression, inflammation, addiction.

 

Questions?

If you have any questions or trouble locating any of the points, please reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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.

Improve your sleep with acupuncture

acupuncture sleep

Acupuncture research on sleep disturbances

An article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine titled Acupuncture for Treatment of Insomnia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials discussed the prevalence of sleep issues and insomnia in adults. Estimates show that 40% of adults experience insomnia. Of this total percentage, 10-15% is identified as chronic, and 25 – 35% occurs on an occasional basis. Sleep disturbances generally involve difficulty falling asleep, and / or difficulty staying asleep. In Chinese medicine, we also consider excessive dreaming and the types of dreams that occur. Sleep deprivation can be very detrimental, with consequences ranging from delayed reactions and cognitive responses, distractedness, and headaches, to the development of mental illness.

 

Importance of sleep

An article from Harvard Medical School called In Search of Sleep shares that high-quality sleep is vital to good health. A lack of sufficient sleep has been linked to weight gain, cognitive decline, and an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

 

We do some of our best healing while we sleep. In fact, the Harvard Medical School article shared a scientific discovery of an important brain cleaning function that occurs during sleep. Scientists discovered a waste clearance system called the glymphatic system. The cerebrospinal fluid in the glymphatic system washes away harmful proteins that can build up without proper rest.

 

In Chinese medicine, the optimal time to sleep is from 10pm to 6am. This allows enough time for a person to enter a deep sleep by 11pm when the Gall Bladder is at its peak functioning time from 11pm to 1am collecting and processing bile which helps with digestion and breaks down fats. Then, the Liver reaches its peak between 1am and 3am. This is when the Liver processes and detoxifies the blood. The other two organs that reach their peak on the Chinese organ clock during optimal sleep hours are the Lungs and Large Intestine.

 

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a term used to refer to sleep habits. “Good sleep hygiene” means that there are good habits around sleep. “Poor sleep hygiene” means that the habits are not conducive to sleep. Developing a set of good habits is key to promoting healthful sleep. Here is a list of positive habits to consider:

 

  • Establish consistent sleep and wake times.

    Go to bed at the same time every night. Wake up at the same time every morning. Try to stick with this schedule even on the weekends. The body craves consistency and a predictable sleep schedule. Most people need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

 

  • Create a quiet and dark environment.

    Close the shades and turn off all lights. This includes any blue light from electronics, including the TV, tablets, and smart phones. The bedroom should be as dark as possible. From an acupuncture perspective, the first point on the Bladder acupuncture channel is called “Bright eyes”, and it is located in the inner corner of the eyes. When the “Bright eyes” point and the eyes experience light, they send a signal to the body to wake up. This is why a dark room is so important to achieve restful sleep. The room should also be quiet, unless soft music or a sleep guided visualization is being played. The temperature should be comfortable and cool.

 

  • Do not eat before bed.

    Large meals should be avoided before bed. The stomach needs time to digest food after a meal. Ideally, food should not be consumed after 7pm. In Chinese medicine, the peak time of the stomach’s ability to function is between 7am – 9am. Conversely, the low point of the stomach’s energy occurs between 7pm – 9pm. This is the time that the stomach is slowing down and is least able to digest food effectively.

 

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.

    Most people would agree that caffeine should be discontinued several hours before bed. While it may seem like alcohol can help people fall asleep more quickly, it actually results in poorer sleep. When alcohol is consumed before bed, the liver has to deal with processing the alcohol instead of restoring and regenerating itself. This derails the healing that would normally occur during sleep.

 

  • Exercise, though not right before bed. 

    Exercise has many benefits, including improving sleep. An article from Johns Hopkins Medicine called Exercising for Better Sleep details why it may be better to complete exercise several hours before bed. Essentially, exercise causes the body to release endorphins that can increase brain activity and make it hard to fall asleep. Exercise also increases core body temperature which gives the body the message that it is time to be awake.

 

Acupuncture for healthful sleep

There is no one-size fits all acupuncture treatment for sleep.  This is because there are many potential reasons why a person may have trouble sleeping.  Some of these possibilities include excessive thinking or worry, poor digestion, hormone imbalance, hot flashes, and pain. A Chinese medicine diagnosis and treatment is tailored to the individual, and a variety of questions are covered to identify what is going on from a Chinese medicine perspective. For example, if a person wakes up frequently during the night, knowing what time this occurs is extremely helpful to correlate this to the time on the Chinese organ clock.   The Chinese medicine diagnosis and acupuncture treatment focus on the energetic imbalance that the practitioner identifies in the patient. The overall goal is to balance the patient’s energy, which allows the body to heal itself.

 

Ear seeds

Ear seeds are a great option to include with an acupuncture treatment. They can also be used as a standalone treatment for people who are afraid of needles or are not able to see an acupuncturist. The points chosen on the ear depend on the Chinese medicine diagnosis. The practitioner selects the points that most effectively promote healthful sleep for the patient and their specific needs. Read more about ear seeds in the blog entitled All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy.

 

When to see a doctor

It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you are regularly tired upon waking and have trouble staying awake during the day. Additionally, if you have been told that you snore loudly or it sounds like your breathing stops at times, it is recommended to seek medical attention to rule out conditions like sleep apnea.

 

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.

All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy

ear seeds

What are ear seeds?

Usually when I mention ear seeds to my patients for the first time, I get a surprised, “What did you say?” type of response. They’re not sure if they heard me correctly. Did I really just suggest putting a seed in their ear? I explain that what I am referring to is a small sphere placed on an acupuncture point on the surface of the ear that is held in place with adhesive tape. It works by exerting a gentle pressure on an acupuncture point. Ear seeds come in a variety of styles that I’ll cover a bit later in this blog.

 

Auriculotherapy and the anatomy of the human ear

Auriculotherapy is the process of stimulating acupuncture points on the ear. This involves acupuncture needles, electrical stimulation, or acupressure from the fingers or ear seeds.

 

A French Doctor named Paul Nogier popularized auriculotherapy in the 1950’s. Dr. Nogier was able to show how the external ear contains a microsystem of the human body by mapping the anatomy of an inverted fetus to the ear. Acupuncture points on the ear can actually treat different parts of the body. For example, the baby’s head corresponds to the ear lobe, the baby’s back goes up the outside of the ear, and the baby’s feet are mapped to the top of the ear. There are hundreds of points on the ear that correspond to different points on the body. These points connect to nerve endings in the ear that send a signal to the brain. The brain sends a message to the area of the body in need of  treatment.

 

What do ear seeds treat?

Because the ear contains a microcosm of the body, virtually any issue someone is facing can be supported with ear seeds. This includes conditions like pain, stress, trauma, addiction, and emotional issues. They are safe for anyone over the age of three. I frequently use ear seeds to support acupuncture treatments in my office. For example, if a patient is experiencing back pain or sciatica, I will apply ear seeds that correspond to the lower back and the sciatic nerve. If the patient has a headache, I will apply them to the part of the ear that corresponds to the location of their headache.

 

Kits and styles

Most ear seeds use a vaccaria seed as the “seed”. This is how ear seeds got their name – an actual seed is applied to the ear.  The vaccaria seed is a small black seed from the vaccaria plant. According to Chinese medicine, this plant has healing properties. The vaccaria seed is the perfect size, shape, and texture to stimulate an acupuncture point on the ear. Adhesive tape holds the seed to an acupuncture point on the ear. The adhesive tape that looks like a small square band-aid. This type of ear seed is shown in the picture at the top of this blog.

 

If people are allergic to latex or prefer a different look, stainless steel balls on clear adhesive tape can be used as well as gold-plated balls on clear adhesive tape. The gold-plated balls are also available with different embellishments on the adhesive, like Swarovski crystals. They are a fun option for someone who likes some sparkle in their ear.

 

Ear seeds also come in condition-specific kits. Often, I have patients who want to continue treatment while traveling and they love having everything they need in a simple kit. The kit contains the ear seeds, pictures that show exactly where to place the seeds, instructions, and tweezers for precise placement.

 

The kits that are the most popular with my patients include: Acne, Back Pain / Sciatica, Depression, Focus and Memory, Headaches and Migraines, Insomnia, Menopause, Post-Trauma (PTSD), Stop Smoking, Stress and Anxiety, and Weight Loss.

 

Why I love auriculotherapy and ear seeds

I love ear seeds so much that I decided to become a certified ear seeds practitioner. What’s fascinating to me is that I can often tell what is going on with a person just by looking at their ears. Red marks or veins signify acute conditions or inflammation, and white bumps typically reveal more chronic conditions. Recently during a treatment, I noticed that a patient’s ear was quite red near the insomnia point. When I asked about sleep, the patient was very surprised and shared they had forgotten to mention that they were experiencing insomnia. The ear can even show what stage of the menstrual cycle a woman is experiencing.

 

Ear seeds can really enhance an in-office acupuncture treatment. The patient leaves the office with ear seeds in their ears, and this supplements the therapy in between office treatments. Patients can choose to leave the ear seeds alone or give them a gentle squeeze whenever needed to further activate the point. Ear seeds give patients something to do, especially when they are applied to help with stress and anxiety. Patients wear them for up to 5 days to continue the benefits of the treatment.

 

Ear seeds can also be applied by patients at home, and they are perfect for Telemedicine patients. Entire treatments can be accomplished through ear seeds alone. They are a great option for people who are afraid of needles. They are affordable, very easy to use, and extremely effective.

 

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.