Signs and symptoms of blood deficiency in Chinese Medicine can include fatigue, a pale complexion, poor memory, dizziness or vertigo, blurred vision, insomnia, tremors or numbness, and even hair loss and early graying of hair.
One sign that your acupuncturist will check when blood deficiency (the body is either not making enough, or losing too much) is indicated is the color or your tongue, which will be pale rather than pink or light red.
Nourishing blood deficiency can be integral to alleviating depression in many cases, as the heart and liver are nourished by the blood, two organ systems central in the smooth flow of emotional processing.
The blood, in Chinese Medicine, also houses the Shen, or spirit - an intangible and ineffable part of ourselves that makes us who we are. When there is not enough blood, that dryness doesn't only manifest physically, but also on emotional and spiritual levels, as indicated in the symptoms above.
Fortunately, there are many good foods you can include in your diet to help nourish blood, including:
Limited amounts of meat, eggs and liver, particularly bone broth soup also help to nourish blood when there is chronic or prolonged blood deficiency. See my recent post on heart health and meat consumption for information.
However, a diet rich in the above foods will go a long way towards better health and longevity!
I am always so grateful to work in a medicine that effects positive change in people's lives. Symptoms - physical signs of distress, often dissipate with treatment as underlying imbalances are addressed.
Working as an acupuncturist in Narberth, and on the Main Line of Philadelphia, I realize that this type of care is not the standard for most. The system of Chinese Medicine and a holistic approach is truly foreign to our culture and time, It certainly was to me when I first started receiving treatments while living in Oregon, and struggling with Lyme Disease, over 10 years ago!
There is a huge difference, however, in allopathic care and holistic care and their approaches.
Patients will often come in for treatments and stop when a pressing symptom is resolved. However, the goal of treatment isn't only to deal with the expression of an illness, but also to keep the body healthy and well and maintain that balance once its established. With any holistic approach, the goal is to allow the body to restore itself - and to maintain that ability.
It's important to realize that by the time a symptom is expressed, the imbalance or underlying cause is most likely a pattern in your life. For example, neck pain chronic stress, overwork and perhaps an inflammatory diet. Once the pain is gone, the body is no longer screaming out for attention, but that doesn't mean that attention and care is no longer needed.
Re-establishing balance can take several seasons of care, which doesn't mean intensive, weekly treatments, but perhaps every third week or monthly once balance is established. Self-care isn't only a luxury, it's a part of being present to your needs.
I know that when I go in for treatment, I'm always reminded in some way how to better care for myself. To sleep more, or earlier, to allow room for emotions to surface and be processed, to schedule time for creative work, the list goes on. We all need reminders throughout the day to stay present, conscious, and to kindly attend to ourselves. My relationship with my practitioner, whether it's acupuncture, massage therapy, cranio-sacral, or cupping therapy, is like a benevolent mirror.
I named my practice The Present Sage Acupuncture because my goal has always been to remind each person of their own inner wisdom, and to be present to their own healing capacities. Words can serve as reminders, and acupuncture points have the capacity to anchor and support healthy changes. To our shared presence and kindness towards our selves both in sickness and health!
Hello, dear reader! So sorry that it has been quite a while since my last post, and I have been busy with my Acupuncture practice, studying Chinese herbs, and moving into a new home in Philadelphia. I was encouraged to blog today by a client; she reminded me of the importance of sharing the positive benefits of Acupuncture, and so I'm relating two experiences from this week that reminded me why I love the healing practice of Acupuncture.
This first was a retired gentleman, suffering from depression and anxiety. After the very sad news of Robin William's passing this week he was determined to seek help. He sent me an email the day after his treatment saying that he had slept peacefully, and was feeling better. After just one treatment. I was heartened by his response and I think even he was a bit surprised, but Acupuncture can go a long way in helping those suffering from depression and anxiety.
The second new patient was a middle-aged woman who had been thinking of coming to see me for over a year, but had postponed her visit because of a less than positive experience with another Acupuncturist. Her main reason for coming in was "feeling off-balance" and "not like herself." She was experiencing high stress at work, and has been developing numerous food sensitivities and allergies in recent years.
After her treatment, she said she felt "lighter." She was more relaxed, and calm. I spoke to her on the phone this morning, and in her words "I feel like myself again."
If you feel like you haven't "felt like yourself" in a while, it is probably time to seek stillness, balance, and tap into the spark that makes you who you are. Acupuncture can help.
A Ryokan poem for Spring
The snow has stopped, the clouds have drifted away, and the weather is clear again.*
If your heart is pure, then all things in your world are pure.
Abandon this fleeting world, abandon yourself,
Then the moon and flowers will guide you along the Way.
*Ryokan I hope will forgive me, I replaced "rain" with "snow".
Spring relates to the Wood element in Chinese Medicine, meaning the energy of plant life and trees. Fresh, clear, and green. It corresponds to the Liver and the eyes.
Some questions to harmonize with this seasonal time:
What is my vision (goals, plans) for the coming month and year? What steps am I taking to fulfill them?
Am I flexible enough to continue towards my goal in the face of obstacles?
Springtime energy has the ability to be fully present and rooted while reaching for the future.
The energy of the Wood element (Spring) is well expressed in an earlier post in my blog: Lessons from a Tree.
Wishing you deep peace in your heart, happiness and fulfillment on this new Spring day!
It seems that each week I understand healing from a different perspective or angle because of the work that I'm so fortunate to be able to do with each of you. Lately the power of these tools, which are simple practices with profound implications, has been quite astonishing. Here are some reminders that I've found to be very effective both in healing and in living in balance. You probably are already aware of some of these tools, but I know I always appreciate a good reminder!
• Deep breathing, to remind us to be here in the moment. It can be helpful to visualize light filling your body as you breath into your belly, representing warmth and joy, and as you exhale, feeling tension release, visualizing any cloudiness or darkness leaving.
• Focus on nutritious foods, and the incredible ability they have to heal. When you create a meal, aim to have a vegetable or legume of every color included.
• Plenty of water, throughout the week and particularly after Acupuncture
• Good rest. Getting to bed before 11 PM will make a large difference in your body's ability to repair and make you sharper for the next day. According to the Chinese clock this is the time for Liver and Gallbladder to nourish the blood and repair the body. Here's an explanation of the meridian cycles for each 24 hour cycle: http://wellness.mcuniverse.com/2011/the-chinese-body-clock-why-do-i-feel-differently-at-different-hours-of-the-day/
• Play. Don't underestimate the importance of play in healing and in life in general! Scheduling time for joy and play is so important even if it sounds a bit counterintuitive. This could be some much deserved time for yourself - going to a park and taking in the surrounding nature (now that the sun is coming out,) being creative, being active, or spending time with friends. Whatever brings you joy, and takes you out of a state of effort. New research shows that this sort of creative activity puts your body into a "flow state", re-setting the nervous system and allowing the body to self-repair. This is very similar to the effects of an acupuncture treatment!
• Upon waking, immediately focus on what you are grateful for at least three minutes. See how this attitude shifts your day.
• Take time every few hours to move, and incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity into your day. Sitting for too long or lack of movement can stagnate your energy, even if it feels OK in the moment, the effects on your body are cumulative in months and years.
• When you are in pain, breath into the area that is calling out for attention. Send it loving attention and understand it as a temporary sensation as you move back towards health. Symptoms are not problems, but rather your body's wisdom, asking you to pay attention and re-balance. Your loving presence and attention is the most powerful medicine of all. Even when you may not feel it, you are always complete, whole, and perfect exactly as you are.
I hope these reminders help you to live each day to the fullest, and create new possibility in your life today and each day.
I am on a bit of a Lewis Howes kick right now, but this latest podcast is too good not to share. Although these podcasts are framed from the perspective of creating a successful business, they are really not about business at all. They are about your inner mindset, and about accomplishing living and creating from a place of possibility. This kind of authenticity never fails to inspire me.
What I love about this episode is the definition of abundance as a state of mind, rather than a station at which one arrives. The power of gratitude grows the more your practice it. If you're looking to be inspired, or just to get a new perspective that will allow you to feel more gratitude, take a listen. Enjoy!
Why practice Qi Gong? For one thing, it's an alternative to the gym, and it's effects are similar to an acupuncture treatment.
Qi gong is a low impact but powerful exercise that nourishes from within. It helps promote the free flow of qi, alleviating physical symptoms and emotional imbalances. It also helps maintain good health.
In Chinese Medicine there is a saying: "Qi is the commander of Blood, Where Qi goes the Blood must follow. Blood is the mother of Qi." Qi is like a current in a river; it carries everything in it's flow.
Simply, a healthy qi flow equals complete circulation of blood throughout the body, delivering nutrients and oxygen, stabilizing hormones, and removing metabolic waste.
Master Li's qi gong practices are my favorite. Fun fact: Master Li starred and choreographed martial arts films in China before devoting himself to the more peaceful practice of Qi Gong. Try practicing it below and see how you feel. You can order his DVDs from the Shen Zhen Society website: http://www.shengzhen.org/
Moving to New York has its challenges. Amongst them is a the scarcity of time that seems to be an inevitable characteristic in the lives of all New Yorkers. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did! I know I've stayed away from my blog for too long, but I have been working on an article in the meantime: Investing in Your Wellbeing with Acupuncture: A Primer of Treatment.
For those of you who've never experience Acupuncture, or have a friend or family member you've been encouraging to seek treatment, this article is a great introduction. I hope that you will share it! You can find it under "Articles" here on this site.
I want to wish everyone a prosperous, healthy, and joyous 2012!