Believe it or not, acupuncture is much more than just poking people with needles! Acupuncture is part of an ancient holistic medical system. Part of what I practice is traditional Chinese medicine or TCM. TCM views the human body as one connected system. There is no such thing as ‘idiopathic’ (coming from an unknown cause) in Chinese medicine. Your body is a machine: using, reusing, recycling and using again. In acupuncture, the goal is to simply keep this system in check. TCM, or traditional Chinese medicine, is the use of acupuncture along with Chinese herbal therapy, nutrition, lifestyle recommendations, plus exercise and emotional outlets. There are many ‘DIY’ therapies out there and TCM is a natural way to treat the body and mind, and it’s great because my job is to help people find the root cause of why they have imbalance and disease in the first place. Imagine you call your friend to help you fix the front tire of your bicycle and your friend’s solution is to take the working back tire and replace the front tire with it! Problem solved—you have a working front tire now. But wait, now you have no back tire. This is the perpetual cycle of ‘band-aid’ treatments that we have become accustomed to. I would like to give you some of your own DIY, at-home therapies that you might find quite useful. Acupuncture channels are like rivers that run all throughout our bodies, nourishing every corner, and the rivers are fed water from the lakes, which are our organs, the reservoirs that our energy comes from. In TCM, the water to fill the lakes and rivers comes from a few sources. The main substance is from ‘Qi’ (pronounced ch-ee), which is the energy, matter and life force behind everything, and Blood. But how do we get Blood and Qi?
My 5 sources of energy:
1) Essence - this is your constitution, your genes and DNA—basically ‘what your parents gave you.’ You are born with two ‘batteries,’ one from Mom and one from Dad. Once they run out, that’s it. This is the only non-renewable energy source. The healthier your parents were at your conception, the bigger batteries you’ve got. 2) Food - what we consume feeds us and plays a crucial role in the making of Qi and Blood. 3) Air - the air we breathe is essential to life. Without breathing we could not live. Air mixes together with the essentials from our food we eat to make ‘Gathering Qi.’ Eventually, the body makes this energy into blood. 4) Lifestyle - exercise, sleep patterns, smoking, stress levels and habits all contribute to our overall health and can increase or decrease the amount of Qi we have. 5) Emotions - emotional status is a huge factor to determine how Qi and blood move in our bodies. It has the ability to reshape and direct the rivers and lakes in our bodies, causing physical symptoms or vice-versa.
There are 12 main lakes or organs in our bodies; I will only touch on the five most important. Since each organ works together, sometimes it’s not one organ that’s not functioning—it’s many. This is simply a shortened guide of typical signs and symptoms and is not a diagnostic or cure for anything. It is always best to consult a professional if you have any health concerns. The body is a very, very complex system. The organs, or ‘lakes,’ are named and translated as our physical organs in our bodies, but do not always reflect that there is a physical problem with that organ. In fact, most times if you have signs of heart organ imbalances it really has nothing to do with your physical heart!
Liver Organ Imbalances: Anger/irritability, ligament/tendon issues, watery/dry eyes, anything green (facial complexion, stools, mucous), physical liver symptoms/diseases, tinnitus, excess sighing, abdominal distention, muscle aches, PMS/menstruation issues, genital problems, headaches, dizziness or waking up between 1 am and 3 am. Solutions: Eat anything green, your liver loves this! Decrease spicy food, increase exercise, omit alcohol, do relaxation techniques, eat more vinegar and decrease coffee and energy drinks.
Heart Organ Imbalances: Lack of joy or excessively joyful, trouble speaking or talking too much, blood/vessel issues, sweating, memory loss, circulation problems, physical heart disease, heart palpitations, menstruation issues, nightmares or insomnia. Solutions: Eat anything red—beets, cherries, essential oils—and use the emotional freedom technique, energy coaching and meditation. There was a study done that showed that people who regularly meditated actually had a thicker insular cortex (the part of your brain responsible for both emotions and pain response), which meant that they responded to pain and emotions better and had fewer diseases.
Spleen Organ Imbalances: Anxiety, overthinking, worrying, overworking, muscle issues, digestive issues (gas, pain, bloating, distention), menstruation issues,fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, memory problems or anything yellow (complexion, mucous, yellow eyes). Solution: Diet is number one with the spleen! It’s the first organ that helps create both Qi and Blood, so eating healthy is essential. Don’t eat too many raw foods, cooked and steamed veggies are awesome! Your spleen hates mucous, damp foods like dairy. Decrease sugar (when your spleen is deficient your crave sugar), frozen dinners and processed foods. Our spleens will ‘flare up’and cause sludge buildup in your lake with foods high in preservatives, unnatural additives, GMO's, MSG and other chemicals. Organic foods assimilate great with your spleen, especially if predigested (steamed or cooked) to help your spleen not use as much energy to break the food down. Cinnamon and ginger are also great.
Lung Organ Imbalances: Sorrow, grief, sadness, excess or lack of body hair, skin issues, nose problems, cough and voice problems, physical lung problems, fatigue, constipation, allergies or immune system problems. Solutions: Deep breathing! Your lungs love air and are the first organs to help make Qi and Blood with air. The ideal is 20 minutes of deep breathing per day, even while lying in bed before sleeping. Four to eight seconds in through the nose, four to eight seconds out through the mouth. Get outside, exercise more and be in nature. Some trees and plants give off a chemical called phytoncide, which has been shown, when inhaled, to reduces stress and anxiety, increase your pain threshold and improve the immune system. In TCM, the lungs play a huge role in the immune system,so eating lemons (which alkalize your body) and onions help increase your lung Qi. Also, eating pears, decreasing smoking, increasing water intake, using essential oil's and Qi Gong or Tai Chi exercises are also recommended.
Kidney Organ Imbalances: Fear, depression, lack of head hair, ear/hearing and bone/teeth problems, low back/knee pain, joint soreness, aging, sexual dysfunctions, physical kidneys, urination problems, fatigue and anything black or deep blue (black bags under eyes, dark skin discolorations). Solutions: Anything red in color to eat: kidney beans, cherries, dates. Hot pack on low back, meditation, light exercise, relaxation techniques. Kidneys are the last organ to receive water from the chain of rivers, which means it’s harder to treat. Any kidney imbalance is best treated with Chinese herbal therapy and acupuncture, since it is the product of deep imbalance. Overall, Chinese medicine and acupuncture are great ways to detect imbalances and disease early on, to treat symptoms and to eventually correct any imbalance that is occurring, causing disease. TCM has been effective for thousands of years, because it was modeled by nature: everything is connected, everything relies on something else and TCM recognizes that imbalance occurs usually over a period of time when improper measures are taken. If you haven’t tried TCM or acupuncture, I’d highly suggest it. You would be shocked by the difference it can make in your health and overall well-being. Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
Dr. Christina Fick DAOM