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Celiac Disease

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

What is it?:

Celiac disease is a condition where the lining of the small intestine is damaged due to a reaction to gluten which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue and gluten sensitivity.
Symptom categories:

The symptoms of celiac disease are individual and as such this makes early diagnosis tricky. The symptom categories are:

  • Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite (may also be increased or unchanged)
  • Diarrhea, either constant or off and on
  • Lactose intolerance (common when the person is diagnosed, usually goes away after treatment)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stools that float, are foul smelling, bloody, or “fatty”
  • Unexplained weight loss (although people can be overweight or of normal weight)

Because the intestines do not absorb many important vitamins, minerals, and other parts of food, the following symptoms may start over time:

  • Bruising easily
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Itchy skin
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Muscle cramps and joint pain
  • Nosebleeds
  • Seizures
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Unexplained short height

Children with celiac disease may have:

  • Defects in the tooth enamel and changes in tooth color
  • Delayed puberty
  • Diarrhea, constipation, fatty or foul-smelling stools, nausea, or vomiting
  • Irritable and fussy behavior
  • Poor weight gain
  • Slowed growth and shorter than normal height for their age

Predisposing factors:

  • Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Sjogren syndrome
  • Addison’s disease
  • Down syndrome
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Intestinal lymphoma
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Thyroid disease
  • Type 1 diabetes
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can work on many of these symptoms and there are specific formulas for addressing the various stool issues. The herbal component of TCM will play a significant role in treatment of this condition.
There are also some TCM practitioners (and chiropractors) who are trained in Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET) and have varying degrees of success in desensitizing a person to various stimuli including gluten. While this may be a route to explore it is my professional opinion that one should be skeptical of how long the effects of such a treatment will hold especially if one does not make other changes.
What can I do?
The most problematic issue, once a definitive diagnosis of Celiac disease has been established, is that the absorption of nutrients by the intestines is impaired. This makes getting an effect out of any nutrients or medications difficult.
  1. Become very educated about gluten and what it is contained in. Adjust your diet accordingly. See: http://www.americanceliacsociety.org/diet.html for more information.
  1. For infants with Celiac disease, breast feed.
  1. Make sure to be tested for lactose tolerance. You will likely have to give up milk, however it is possible that raw cow milk or goat milk will be tolerated/occasionally tolerated. While you are at it, support your local lobby groups petitioning for freedom from food restrictions.
  1. Buy a book on Indian or Asian cooking. Anywhere they eat more rice will be a good start.
  2. Look over some of the Weston A. Price literature. Some of it you will not be able to use but there are some gems for you in there.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
      1. A nutritionist with a deep and intimate understanding of gluten in the body.
      1. A good allergist. I recommend Dr. William Rea http://www.ehcd.com/center/professionalbios.html. Satisfactory treatment, education, and diagnosis of Celiac disease/gluten sensitivity is difficult to achieve and he has very rigorous standards for testing.
      2. Someone who can test to see if there is a mineral/vitamin deficiency. If this deficiency can be addressed the problem will often be mitigated. Furthermore you may be loosing nutrients because of the intestinal damage, as such it is wise to make sure when you adjust your diet that you take this nutrient deficiency into account.
Some Notes:
First and foremost please remember that, while I am a talented practitioner of TCM, I cannot make a Western medical diagnosis. Furthermore I would highly recommend that you see a nutritionist for dietary concerns. My role in treatment of this condition will be to help restore body homeostasis and treat ongoing symptoms. Allergy testing and dietary recommendations are going to be better preformed by others. I can treat for nausea and stool issues, along with other symptoms, but adjusting your diet and knowing what triggers your condition is your responsibility and ultimately those factors will be what determines your long term success against this condition.
Secondly, please note that some doctors believe this condition to have a genetic predisposition. Realize that a genetic predisposition means that, while it may be easier for you to develop this condition it will only occur if something triggers it. Beyond this if the trigger is removed the condition may be reversed or mitigated. When people talk about genetics they believe that it is the end all, it is not. Think of it like this, Native Americans are genetically predisposed to become alcoholics. If a Native American never touches alcohol they still have the predisposition, but they are not an alcoholic. If they did drink heavily for awhile and have now stopped and been sober ever since they have removed the mitigating factor and no longer have all the symptoms that an active alcoholic would have. Your genetics may give you certain traits or tendencies, but your choices are what determine who you are and play a larger role in your health than your genetics.
To make a further point, if you and your parents live in the same environment, eat the same foods, have the same activities, do the same job, and share the same genetics, well how many variables are there besides genetics?
References:
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised 2nd Edition: Murray, Michael N.D. and Pizzorno, Joseph ND
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral.
  • Erik Jackson, L.Ac

Ulcers

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

With World Wide Binge Day – I mean New Years Eve, fast approaching, there are some health concerns that one should take seriously when ringing in the New Year. This article will focus on ulcers.

What is it?:
Ulcers are linked to the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Ulcers are an erosion of the tissue of the stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine) and leave crater like lesions. Interestingly, gastric acid is generally not in over abundance in regards to ulcers. In fact, low gastric acid output and low antioxidant content in the gastrointestinal (GI) lining is a predisposing factor for an infection.
Symptom categories:
Periodic flares
abdominal tenderness
abdominal discomfort within 60 minutes of a meal or at night. Usually the pain is gnawing, burning, or aching.
Positive test for blood in stool
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) generally sees ulcers as a kind of stagnation issue, frequently linked to the liver, though there are other diagnosis. Herbal treatment will most likely be a stronger component than needling, however proper use of needles can help to reduce the severity and duration of flares. Lifestyle changes will be a large component of the treatment. The TCM practitioner may prescribe an herbal combination of Aloe Vera (Lu Hui) and Licorice (Gan Cao) to help with repairing damage to the GI lining. Rhubarb (Da Huang) may also be used.
As ulcers are often linked with smoking and alcoholic consumption a NAET acupuncturist may be able to desensitize a patient to the cravings. TCM can also treat for the effects of stress which the ulcers may be linked to. Please read:
for more information.
What can I do?
  1. Vitamins A, C, E, along with Zinc, Glutamine, and Flavonoids are all helpful in treating ulcers.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
      1. A nutritionist who will help you develop a healthy diet and look up proper vitamins for you.
      2. A psychologist, counselor, or hypnotherapist would be a step in the right direction for addressing any stress, or addiction issues that may be associated with this condition.
      3. Your MD. If you are on an NSAIDs (such as Aspirin) you will need to talk to them as these drugs do affect ulcers.
      4. A NAET practitioner. They may be an acupuncturist or a chiropractor. NAET is a specific system for neutralization and, while likely not necessary for the ulcer itself, it may be needed to address smoking or alcohol addictions.
Some Notes:
I am more than willing to work on GI issues and find them a fascinating topic. That said, as this is a more sporadic condition with ebbs and flows it may be a while before one notices results. How can you tell if something works if the condition goes away on its own at times? Furthermore, while I can help with getting the body harmonized it is up to you to make the decision and take action to make changes in your life that may need to be addressed for the sake of your health.
If you come in to see me because of an ulcer I will most likely give you some ideas for nutrition, vitamins, and herbal supplements. I highly recommend that you see a nutritionist or a counselor if there is a stronger dietary component beyond the scope of what I addressed here, or if there are stress or addiction issues.
References:
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised 2nd Edition
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral.
  • Erik Jackson, L. Ac

Blue Christmas

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

What is it?:
With Christmas upon us, many are trying to recapture that feeling of peace and wonder that they felt as children. Time, however, has passed since then and we have become perhaps a bit more cynical with our lives.
Symptoms:
A dislike of going to holiday events (or at least certain holiday events)
A dislike of holiday movies (may be particular)
Imbibing a little more ‘holiday cheer’ than one should
Sour or muted disposition.
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
Traditional Chinese Medicine has, at some of its more ancient and philosophical roots, ways to move energy which may be stuck in the body. Certain Qigong Exercises, especially the liver exercises, are helpful for this.
What can I do?
  1. Avoid holiday movies you know you won’t like. Many of the new Hallmark movies are formulaic seasonal romances that have happy endings. If these are problematic for you, avoid them. There are plenty of good holiday movies that you can watch (Charlie Brown Christmas is a good start).
  2. Go to some events. Not all, nothing you would feel too uncomfortable with, but maybe ease a bit out of your comfort zone. Do the traditions that you enjoyed.
  3. Listen to good music. There are a lot of remake pieces out there, but we all have our favorite renditions and sometimes those just cannot be topped. Make a YouTube Play list or find a recording of the appropriate songs.
  4. Make a schedule and stick with it. Keeping busy, but not to frantic levels, will help.
  5. Befriend a dog. If you don’t have one consider working at a shelter for a bit. Dogs are noisy, messy, and can drive you nuts. And they LOVE you no matter what.
  6. If you like it, drink Egg Nog. Just Egg Nog, avoid the extra ‘holiday cheer’.
  7. Make up your own Christmas Story, or retell some from your past.
  8. If you are up for it, try a cathartic release. If you need a catalyst I recommend:
Be aware, catharsis may be more powerful than you need or want.
  1. Go for walks.
  2. Wake up and find the confidence to CONQUER the world.
  3. Get a SAD light and use as directed.
  4. Take St. John’s Wort.
  5. Make a list of the things you have accomplished or make you happy no matter how small.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
  1. If you are religious then perhaps a Stephen Minister or a pastor.
  2. A counselor, hypnotherapist, or psychologist may be in order if there is an underlying issue that is not readily apparent.
  3. A good friend.
  4. Children. They are very excited about Christmas.
Some notes:
Christmas is a time for peace and relaxation. Stop listening to all of the noise about holiday stress, it only takes away from the experience. Many people feel blue around Christmas and for some it is a very hard time due to personal loss or sense of lack of fulfillment. For them, Christmas is not really a welcome time, no matter how much they put on a brave face. Be honest with yourself, and be understanding. Life is not perfect, even at Christmas, so don’t expect that since it will only lead to more disappointment. Be brave and patient and look for the good that is out there. Christmas isn’t about perfection, it is about new beginnings. You have to clean up the mess before you can enjoy a nice house, and it will get dirty again as you make new memories both bad and good.
Merry Christmas.
  • Erik Jackson, L.Ac

Obesity

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

What is it?:

Obesity is the state in which the body is carrying more than 20% above normal weight or having a body fat percentage of greater than 30% for women and 25% for men.
One of the standards for determining obesity is the BMI or Body Mass Index.
English BMI Formula BMI = ( Weight in Pounds / ( Height in inches x Height in inches ) ) x 703
Metric BMI Formula BMI = ( Weight in Kilograms / ( Height in Meters x Height in Meters ) )
A BMI of 25 or greater is overweight or obese depending on how high this is. This calculation is somewhat skewed if taken by athletes or people who are in fact ‘big boned’, however, as early as 1998 one in three adults met the criteria for obesity in America and one in five children were overweight as well. This percentage has been increasing.
The causes for obesity include a variety of factors including:
Sedentary lifestyle
Excessive consumption of fats and sugars
Excess alcohol consumption
Poor sleep quality
Psycho emotional issues
What it is linked to:
Obesity can cause or increase the likely hood of
Joint pain (especially in the knees, every pound of weight equals four pounds of force on the knees)
Back pain
Osteoarthritis
Gout
Depression
Social stigmatization
Migraines
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Type II diabetes
Menstrual disorders
Infertility
Circulation and heart disorders
Others
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can work on many of these of these symptoms to address the over arching issue but specifics will have to be established on an individual basis. However TCM can:
Improve digestion and metabolism
Improve circulation
In my experience, weight loss is one of the conditions which, if you want results from TCM, you will need to come frequently and for a while.
What can I do?
  1. Find your reason for loosing weight. “Because my doctor says so” isn’t good enough. People are rarely motivated by that alone. However if the reason is ‘so I can do more fun things like dance without getting knee pain’ or ‘go rock climbing’ or ‘so I can play with my kids or grand kids’ or ‘so I can be at my child’s wedding and not be in a wheelchair while doing it’ or ‘so I can look good in the bed and last for hours’… you have a vested interest then in loosing weight. Find a POWERFUL motivation.
  2. Make time. When people are serious about something, they make time to accomplish it. If you are always ‘too busy’ you are going to ‘too busy’ yourself out of healthy relationships, fun activities, the lives of those you care about, and your health. Yes, exercise will take time away from other things, however if you do not do this it will cost you time and productivity down the road which may result in expensive medical bills, extended time away from work, less productivity at work, and less time with your family and friends.
  3. Accept that this will take time and effort on your part. There are no safe, reliable, and inexpensive treatments for rapid weight loss. If you have surgery you still have to keep the weight off and you haven’t developed the discipline to do so. If you lose about 1-5lbs per week that is safe and maintainable weight loss.
  4. Get 8 hours of sleep. Regular sleep from the hours of about 9PM-7AM (there is a bit of wiggle room) will help your body to deal with stress, and digest and process food in an optimum fashion.
  5. Stop eating after 7PM or two hours prior to sleep. Digestion can help you to stay awake and your metabolism will not be as efficient.
  6. If you are going to eat sugar do so at noon. This is the peak efficiency time for your digestion.
  7. Eat within an hour after exercise, your body’s metabolism will spike and process food more efficiently.
  8. Get a healthy living cookbook and start trying recipes. You will find something that you like.
  9. Find exercises you can do and enjoy. This is YOUR exercise program not someone else’s. I tend to see mild jogging as a base line but most people don’t like to jog. That is OK and I see how it can be boring, however, you need to start somewhere. If you don’t like to jog, go dancing (not too strenuous). For those of you out there who are single and want to loose weight, especially if you are interested in women, dancing can be a trying social experience. Get over it. If you can dance, AT ALL, even if it is poor, you will meet women, and they tend to be forgiving of a lack of dancing skills. Many of the women at these mixers don’t know how to dance that well either and those that do are usually happy to help you pick up the skills. If you play a lot of video games, you could get the Wii Fit and make a fitness program where after a certain time you work on it for a while. If you are into martial arts games there are instructors in martial arts, maybe even the style you are playing, that are close by, there are some martial arts systems that are fairly low impact like Aikido, Tai Chi, Systema, Judo, and others. Maybe normal workout programs are too boring for you, find something interesting. You could go swing a stick around like a sword for awhile and imagine you are slaying a dragon. Have an obstacle course where you have to catch the bad guy. There are fencing, European Medieval Combat (such as ARMA), SCA, Reenactment, and LARP groups that do some of that stuff all the time. Make your exercise fun, interesting, and, if possible, pertinent to your life. There are pools you can swim at, people who have dogs that need to be walked, find something that will work for you.
  10. Dynamic Tension is an exercise system were one tightens the muscles and moves slowly through the motions. This is done without weights and can be done while working on other things. This system and others are very low impact exercises and really only require you to do them.
  11. Do the liver and spleen breathing patterns I recommended in the Five Organ Qigong exercises. These two organs are the most connected to your digestion of the organs that I gave exercises for.
  12. If you eat certain comfort foods such as ice cream, chocolate, etc. start substituting other items like apples, grapes, chex mix, etc.
  13. Limit your exposures to chemicals and pollutants. The liver has to deal with all sorts of toxins such as alcohol, and it also processes the greasy, spicy foods. If the liver is clogged up because of too many toxins then anything you do for weight loss may well be temporary or of limited effect. Organic foods, less spicy and greasy stuff, less meat (you don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan), less alcohol, and less exposure, means fewer toxins and a more efficient liver. Toxins get stuck in the adipose or fat tissue of the body and if they are not released they can cause many complications as I have mentioned in my articles on pregnancy, stress, and fibromyalgia.
  14. Find someone else who is wanting to loose weight. Encourage and compete with each other. Get on the Virgin Health Miles Plan http://us.virginhealthmiles.com/Pages/Home.aspx
  15. If you try using mantras to help you focus on loosing weight remember to not use negatives. In other words, do not say ‘I won’t eat ice cream today’. The subconscious doesn’t hear negatives, what it hears is ‘I eat ice cream today’. In a lot of ways your subconscious is like a three year old child. So say instead something like ‘I will eat healthy food today’.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
      1. A psychologist, counselor, hypnotherapist, or life coach, would be a step in the right direction for addressing any behavioral aspects of this condition.
      1. A personal trainer of some kind. They can be a fitness expert, martial arts instructor, yoga instructor, etc.
      1. A nutritionist to help with getting on a healthy diet and for proper portion control. They will have knowledge of supplements which can help, and there are a number of supplements for weight loss out there.
Some Notes:
First and foremost please remember that, while I am a talented practitioner of TCM, I will refer you to a nutritionist and most likely some kind of counselor if you come to see me for weight loss. I can stimulate the metabolism and improve conditions which may be part of the overall pattern but I am not qualified to address the behavioral aspects of this condition and I do not have the detailed knowledge of nutrition that others have.
Secondly, please note that this condition will take a lot of time and effort on your part to achieve the goals you desire and may take several treatments.
References:
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Revised 2nd Edition.
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral.
  • Erik Jackson, L.Ac

Five Organ Qigong

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. one comments

Qigong Organ Regulation Exercises
As has been stated in many of my previous articles there are qigong exercises that can help with a number of conditions that one may face. The following are a basic set of exercises which target five specific organs in Qigong. You can do just a few, or all of the exercises, if you wish. The exercises come out of two different traditions of Qigong, so you will notice some differences between them. They are all very gentle on the body but can, and probably will, make you sweat a little. This is normal and is usually quite pleasant.
Lungs
The Lungs in TCM are the organs which first take in qi, or energy, from the environment. The lungs are also the first line of defense against pathogens in TCM, and therefore are the first organ, generally, to be affected by a disease. In Autumn, when the weather starts to shift into colder temperatures, the lungs become more susceptible to various conditions, so it would be a good time to do the following exercises then as well as when one is experiencing respiratory or sinus issues. If you wish to do all of the following exercises in this article as a set I advise starting with the lungs as Qigong is about breathing.
Exercise 1:
Sit with legs crossed, chin up, and spine arched backwards as your hands press the ground at your sides. Inhale and inflate your chest like a balloon until your lungs are full.
Pause for a moment.
Exhale and round your shoulders forward, drawing the chest in as you do so.
Repeat for 4-9 breaths.
Exercise 2:
Remain in the seated position described in the first exercise and place your hands on your knees.
Sit up straight and turn your head to one side, inhale.
Turn your head back to center and exhale, bend forward slightly.
Continue this process, making sure to turn your head to both sides. Do at least 8 inhalations on each side.
Exercise 3:
This exercise is a bit more energetic and comes from a different tradition from the prior two.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms at your sides.
Raise your hands up to level with your chest, palms down.
Inhale and open your arms to the sides.
Flip the palms, keeping your shoulders relaxed the whole time.
Exhale and bring the hands back to level with the chest, but now with palms up. Allow your shoulder blades to gently push your arms forward and hollow your chest as you exhale.
Do not let your hands touch during this exercise. 20 repetitions is ideal.
Kidneys
The Kidneys are the most important organ in TCM. Aside from the normal function of urination and waste disposal, the Kidneys also house one’s essence which is responsible for the aging process and making up one’s base qi or energy. If all else fails and you have no idea where to start, go with kidneys, they are the foundation to the house which is your body. In TCM when the kidneys are affected one can experience, cold hands and feet, poor urinary control, tinnitus, lower back pain, knee pain, premature aging, bone issues, fertility/impotence issues, and other symptoms. If you are only going to do one set of qigong exercises and don’t have a specific issue that is better addressed by another organ, go with the exercises in this set.
Exercise 1:
Stand in a normal posture and place both hands behind your back, palms out.
Make light fists and dig gently into the small of your back.
Turn from your waist in a clockwise direction for six rotations on the left, moving slowly.
Pause.
Repeat the rotation for six more times on the right.
Exercise 2:
Stand or sit and place your hands, palms in, against the small of your back along either side of your spine.
Focus your mind on the lower back.
Rub your hands up and down along your back. 36 repetitions is ideal.
Exercise 3:
From a standing position tuck your tailbone under you and place both palms on your groin, under your pelvic bone.
Men start with left hand over right, women right over left.
Gently pull up on the area. 81 times is ideal. Switch hand positions and repeat.
Exercise 4:
This exercise is more energetic than the previous three and comes from a different tradition.
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Hands on knees.
Float the hands up to shoulder height.
Inhale, drop your elbows and sink your shoulders, dropping your hands to slightly below your belly button.
Exhale and shift your weight to the left, wrapping your left hand palm down across your back. Turn from your hips and reach with your right hand out.
Inhale, turn back to center and place your right hand in front of your face, palm outward.
Exhale, circle your right palm down, as if holding a bowl of water, and bend forward shifting weight onto your right leg. Keep your eyes on your palm.
Continue your exhale while shifting weight between your knees, scooping with your right hand until you have turned your body back up and are facing your left. While scooping imagine that you are scooping up energy that drains into your body.
Inhale, and go through the scooping motion in reverse.
10 scooping motions is ideal. Once you have finished with your right hand switch sides and do 10 on the left.

Liver
The liver is the second most important organ in TCM and perhaps the one with the most common diagnosis. The liver is the most strongly linked of the organs with emotions, particularly stress, depression, and anger. The liver often gets involved in patterns with other organs so many of the issues that the liver can bring up will also happen with other organs. These symptoms include depression, stress, insomnia, tinnitus, digestional issues (particularly related to spicy/greasy food, meat, and alcohol), circulatory issues (particularly hypertension), heartburn, headaches (especially migraines), menstrual issues, irrational anger, and others. Since this is the organ that is responsible for detoxification in the body having a strong and healthy liver is a vital component for a healthy body. If the liver is not functioning properly one may retain weight.
Exercise 1:
Stand in a relaxed position arms hanging naturally at your sides. Spread your fingers out.
Imagine there is a ball of energy in your palms. Press this ball down and imagine it goes to your hips, knees and then beyond your ankles. Inhale before each press and exhale while pressing.
Exercise 2:
Remain standing from exercise one but this time place your hands out in front of you.
Press and breath as in the first exercise, only this time you are pressing from the levels of your elbows, writs, and beyond the palms.
Exercise 3:
Exercise 3 is the same as exercise 2 except your hands are out to your sides.
Exercise 4:
In standing position, bring your palms up facing your chest, elbows down.
Flip the palms and push down, lowering your hands to your groin.
Flip your palms up and repeat 3 times. This will feel like you are washing your body.
Exercise 5:
This exercise is more energetic than the previous 4 and is from a different tradition.
Stand with a wide base, place your your hands on your hips.
Move your right hand off of your hip and float your left hand up to level with your chin. Keep your shoulders loose and relaxed.
Float the right arm, palm down level with your shoulder and out in front. Circle your left hand palm up to rest against your hip.
Bring hands in to the chest as if cradling a ball.
Circle your hands so that the left is now on top. Place the back of your left palm against your forehead and drop your right to rest palm up against your hip.
20 repetitions is ideal, inhale and exhale every third motion.
  • A note, all qigong exercises can release stored energy and emotions. This release can be unpleasant, but you are removing toxins from your body. Be particularly mindful of that with this pattern.*
Heart
The Heart is an important organ for circulation and, in TCM, is linked to sleep. Symptoms of a heart pattern in TCM include insomnia, palpitations, hypertension, and others.
Exercise 1:
From a standing or seated position, relax the body and breath normally. Place your palms loosely together just below your bellybutton. Touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
Concentrate on the area where your hands are and relax for several minutes. Hands are left over right for men and right over left for women.
Exercise 2:
Place your elbows against your waist, palms out. Hold this position for several minutes.
After awhile flip your hands to palms up position and move your hands up to shoulder height.
Flip the palms out and push outward, extending the arms. Stretch your fingers while doing so and focus your attention on the middle finger tip of each hand.
Continue from the previous position and make loose fists. Draw them into the body as if pulling and immense weight and turn them palm up when they come to rest at your waist. Repeat this motion 3 times.
Exercise 3:
Lay your arms flat against your body, palms out and touching your hips.
Make fists and curl your hands up to your armpits as if moving a heavy weight.
Turn your right hand to face outward and then push out, to your right with your palm.
Draw your hand back in, make a fist, and lower it to the original position.
Repeat this drawing in and pushing out with the left palm.
Repeat the whole process with both hands three times.
Exercise 4:
This exercise is more energetic than the previous three and comes out of a different tradition.
Stand with wide legs.
Inhale, imagine you are holding a ball, right hand on top, left underneath, shoulders and elbows loose.
Exhale and drop your right hand down to your waist, twist your hips to the left and push out with your right palm up, your left arm floating up, palm sideways.
Inhale, return to center and float your left hand down to hold the ball on the top and your right hand on the bottom.
Repeat the pushing motion previously stated with the new hand position.
10 repetitions on both sides is ideal.
Spleen
In TCM, the function of the Spleen is linked to the pancreas and as such this organ works on both circulation and digestion. As the spleen is linked to digestion, it is the second organ that takes in outside energy, after the lungs, so it can be affected by pathogens that may ride along on certain foods. Symptoms of a spleen pattern include circulation issues, fatigue, easily bruised, menstrual issues, poor digestional ability, excretory issues, and others. If you want a quick ‘pick me up’ this would be the set of exercises to look at first.
Exercise 1:
From a standing position, breath naturally and twist from your waist to the left, swinging your arms around as you do so. Turn your head to the right.
Alternate the twists until you feel that all tension has left your body. Keep your mind focused on your heels.
Exercise 2:
From a seated posture press your palms onto the chair or ground and meditate until you are relaxed.
Turn your head to the left and look out into the distance.
Come back to center and face forward.
Turn to the right and look to the distance.
Repeat 5 times on each side.
Exercise 3:
Place your hands, one on top of the other, over your lower abdomen below your bellybutton. Slowly circle them clockwise in for 36 rotations in a spiral that ends at your sternum.
Go back to your original position and repeat the exercise, counterclockwise.
Close with 18 breaths.
Exercise 4:
This exercise comes from a different tradition from the prior three and is more energetic.
Stand with legs wide and place your hands above your head, forming a triangle with your thumb and index fingers.
Inhale.
Look through the center of the triangle and turn from the waist to one side, keeping your hips stationary.
Exhale.
Turn back to center and repeat this process turning the other way.

Cupping

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

At the request of one of my colleagues I have written the following article to explain cupping.

Cupping
What is it:
Cupping is an ancient form of pain management treatment that has been around for at least 1,700 years. It was first documented in Ge Hong’s book, A Handbook of Prescriptions.
Cupping is used to relieve pain and tension by promoting circulation in the area the cup is placed. The suction of the cup pulls on the skin and muscles and helps to relieve any micro stagnations in area due to congested blood flow. Cupping is also used to respiratory conditions, arthritis, and gastrointestinal disorders. This is because cupping opens up the pores of the skin and sucks out any toxins there may be, and its normal function of promoting circulation can be applied to chest congestion and gastrointestinal disharmonies as well.
How do you do it?:
Many Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use glass cups, though some will use bamboo, clay, iron, or plastic. The area is lubricated with a massage oil of some kind before the cup is applied. A cotton swab soaked in alcohol is lit and placed into the cup then quickly withdrawn and the cup is placed on the skin, sucking the skin into the cup. The cup is usually retained for no more than 10 minutes in a given area as it could cause the blood to pool if left too long. Sometimes a person who has been cupped will have ‘hickies’ on the area they were cupped for a few days. While it may look unpleasant, these marks do not hurt. These hickies occur because as skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand.
To limit VOCs, as well as fire hazards, I use plastic cups with a hand suction pump. This allows me greater control over the degree of suction I need and I don’t need to use fire.
Is cupping safe?:
While there are precautions about how long the cups should be left in an area and how to move them about the body, it is a safe and relaxing treatment. It is a wonderful alternative to acupuncture in certain cases, especially if the patient is wary of needles. If a patient came to me with severe tension over the entire back, I might use cupping in favor of acupuncture. I see no reason why anyone involved with bodywork healthcare shouldn’t know how to utilize this tool. This is a wonderful device that often gives immediate relief to pain and tension.
Cupping should not be used for:
  • inflamed skin
  • cases of high fever or convulsions
  • patients who bleed easily
  • Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back.
If one is moving the cups then do not go over boney areas such as the spine or the shoulder blades.
You can find a cupping set for home use at:
China markets are also a great place to find these sets.
References:
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral. I can also demonstrate how to use a cupping set if you are thinking of purchasing one for home use.
  • Erik Jackson, L.Ac
    When you are tired I will help you carry on.

Leftovers (and Weight Loss)

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. 2 comments

What is it?:
With Thanksgiving nearly upon us leftovers are a very common problem this time of year, and most everyone seems to suffer from this condition. Leftovers are caused when too much food is made and not enough people eat it.
Unfortunately the reverse of this condition, excessive weight gain, can be a result of too many good meals.
Symptom categories:
For leftovers:
Full refrigerator
Many meals of turkey for days afterward
Tired of the same food
For weight gain:
Food coma
Lack of motivation to clean dishes/kitchen.
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
The practitioners of TCM can help to treat either of these conditions by eliminating the excess food, or by boosting your metabolism to allow you to return swiftly to a normal weight.
What can I do?
    For Leftovers:
  1. Go out to eat instead of cooking. This does break tradition, but you will not have leftovers.
  2. Cook foods that have lots of alternative recipes. Turkey is fine on its own, but can you turn it into a chili? Or a pie?
  3. Contact college or graduate students you know. They will be happy for a meal.
  4. Dogs are wonderfully appreciative diners.
  5. Invite a lot of guests.
For weight loss:
        1. Only eat at one Thanksgiving celebration. Will it be the one at your house? Your neighbor’s? The in-laws? The church? Your stomach can only take so much.
        2. Exercise. Football and basketball seem to be popular at this time. Dancing with the cook(s) also shows appreciation and helps you burn calories.
        3. Do the dishes. It will help you burn calories and shows the cook appreciation. It is wise to hold off on napping until after any chores are done.
        4. Chase little children, who are dining with you, until they are worn out. Someone has to look over them and help them burn out their energy. You can also do this with dogs.
        5. Don’t eat poultry. There are typthophans (an amino acid) in the meat which induce the food coma and leave you tired.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
For Leftovers:
      1. The Boy Scouts of America would be happy to donate your food to any food banks or homeless shelters. Or they will eat it themselves. http://www.scouting.org/
      1. Churches, homeless shelters, and colleges are happy to accept donations.
      1. Animal shelters, wild animal sanctuaries, and other such places would love to take leftover food off your hands. Feel free to look at: http://www.bigcat.org/ and http://fullmoonfarm.org/cms/
      1. A nutritionist may be able to help you plan your meals so that there are no leftovers.
For Weight loss:
  1. Any athletic individual who is dining with you this holiday season.
  2. Qigong exercises that focus on the spleen and stomach will help to facilitate digestion and boost the metabolism. Contact me at invigorating.qi@gmail.com for specifics.
Some Notes:
This is intended to provide some humorous advice that some may benefit from this holiday season. I will eventually be covering weight loss in more serious and technical detail but for now, Happy Holidays and enjoy.
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral.
  • Erik Jackson, L.Ac

Muscle Cramps and Muscle Twitches

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. one comments

What is it?:
Muscle cramping is a generally benign condition where one experiences a sudden involuntary contraction of a muscle, or muscle group, which may temporarily paralyze a limb. One may experience sudden, sharp pain, often in the legs, or find a hard lump of muscle tissue that is visible beneath the skin.

Muscle twitches, or fasciculations, are similar to muscle cramps but cause subcutaneous movement in the muscle rather than paralyzing it.
Neither of these issues are usually serious but they can be painful and there are some conditions that they are symptoms for.
If there is
    • severe discomfort
    • frequent contractions
    • lack of improvement with self care
    • no obvious cause
then consulting with your health care provider is advised.
Causes:
As these contractions are generally stand alone symptoms as opposed to a disease, there are certain conditions that they can be linked to.
    • Dehydration
    • Lack of certain vitamins and minerals, often a Magnesium deficiency, possibly Potassium, or Calcium as well
    • Excessive caffeine
    • Lack of sleep and fatigue
    • Stress or anxiety
    • Bug Bites or stings
    • Side-effects of certain drugs or medication (such as diuretics, corticosteroids, or estrogens)
    • Pregnancy
    • Hypothyroidism or localized narrowing of the blood vessels
    • Mono
    • Withdrawals from certain medications (particularly benzodiazepines)
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
    • Damage to the nerve that leads to a muscle
    • Muscular dystrophy
    • Spinal muscular atrophy
    • Weak muscles (myopathy)
    • Nerve compression
    • Nerve, kidney, thyroid or hormone disorders
    • Diabetes
    • Hypoglycemia
    • Anemia
    • Genetics
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
While the exact presentation will have to be determined to establish the correct diagnosis, TCM can treat this as either a stand alone issue, or as a symptom of a larger pattern.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can:
  • Treat with electrical stimulation to mitigate the effects of the contractions
  • Give herbal formulas to help with any underlying conditions that may be present
  • Prescribe qigong and mild body work exercises to help with circulation, stress issues, and give one greater control over the contractions
  • In the case of a known cause TCM can treat the underlying condition.
What can I do?
This is, in general, a condition where self care is most likely going to mitigate the issue. As such these are some suggestions to achieve the results you desire.
  1. Take Magnesium supplements. This is apart from any you may be getting in a multivitamin. There are a variety of Magnesium supplements and some types may work better than others for a particular individual, though Magnesium Citrate works for most. As long as you are not having loose stools you can continue to increase the dosage of Magnesium. This will help with energy levels and pain management. It also works on people who are constipated. Do be warned that since it lowers blood pressure this could have adverse effects if you have low blood pressure or anemia as these conditions may be the cause of your cramps or twitches.
  2. Take Potassium and Calcium supplements or add foods that contain these elements into your diet. Potassium can be found in bananas and certain leafy vegetables have both Potassium and Calcium.
  3. Stretch before working out, especially calf stretches. Also don’t overtax yourself, know when to rest and have at least one ‘off day’ per week to let your body recuperate.
  4. An average adult needs about three quarts of water per day, and more if they exercise. Getting fluid, without sugar or caffeine in it (Gator-aid doesn’t count) will help with this issue and keep you hydrated.
  5. Self massage.
  6. Small circle of Heaven Qigong (10 minutes, 2x per day) will help your stress levels and may mitigate the contractions. E-mail me at: invigorating.qi@gmail.com with the title heading “Small Circle” and I will be happy to spell out the exercise for you and direct you to qigong books which may be useful. There are other breathing exercises that may target your issues more specifically, which I can tell you about once I do a consultation.
  7. Omega 3 fish oil can help calm the nervous system.
  8. Buy a TENS unit and learn how to use it.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
  1. A chiropractor, particularly one who works with spinal decompression.
  2. A good nutritionist will make sure you are getting enough of the right vitamins and supplements in your diet. 
     
Some notes:
While there are other recommendations or referrals I could make, in general the information presented will cover most cramps and twitches. If you come to me for treatment of this condition, I am likely going to ask if you have been doing the first four recommendations, getting enough sleep, and keeping your stress levels down. If the recommendations above do not adequately address the problem then I recommend that you come in to see me, or another health care provider. After a proper diagnosis has been established, we can proceed.
References:
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral.
                                     – Erik O. Jackson L.Ac.
                                     When you are tired I will help you carry on.

TCM Pregnancy, short

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

Your Pregnancy With Traditional Chinese Medicine
Having a baby is a wonderful experience! You can feel this new life growing inside of you, connecting with you in a way nothing else ever could. Having a baby is also a turbulent time! You worry about how the child will turn out, if you are doing everything right, and you have all of those visits to the gynecologist along with still having to maintain your everyday life!
The information presented here, will give you some insight on what is happening to you and your baby on an energetic level, as well as give you some tools to allow you to help this development occur in a healthy way.
If you follow these steps you stand a better chance of reducing the effects of:
  • Morning sickness
  • Insomnia
  • Psychological stress
  • Unregulated hormones
  • Miscarriage

Conception
If you are planning on having a baby, at the time of conception you should consider:
  • Making sure you and your partner are eating and sleeping properly.
  • Talking to a nutritionist.
  • Limiting exposures to various chemicals including pesticides, bleach, hair coloring, makeup, natural gas, etc.
  • Checking out http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ for healthier alternatives to your current cosmetics.
  • Checking with a TCM provider about appropriate herbal treatments.
  • These suggestions will apply to every step of the pregnancy and are what I would tell anyone for any condition.

Month 1
In the first month of pregnancy, you should consider:
    • Developing your body awareness to help guide you on proper nutrition. For example, ask yourself does your body want Calcium or does it want ice cream? A good nutritionist or a hypnotherapist can help you develop this skill.
    • Avoiding greasy and spicy foods.
    • Paying attention to your emotions and doing your best to remain tranquil.
    • Paying attention to your circulation and blood pressure by being aware of any swelling of the limbs, change in skin color or texture, or bruising.
    • Talking to a TCM provider about appropriate tonics for blood, energy levels, and other issues you may encounter.


Month 2
In the second month of pregnancy you should be aware that:
You will start to gradually gain weight. It is normal to gain about 30lbs over the course of your pregnancy. You will lose 1/3rd of this upon delivery and breastfeeding will help the rest to come off.

Month 3
In the third month of pregnancy, TCM notes that:
You should pay attention to the quality of your sleep, especially if you start to have vivid dreams. A TCM practitioner can help to address any issues that may arise.

Month 4
In the fourth month of pregnancy you may wish to:
    • Consult with a TCM practitioner about kidney tonifying herbs and foods for your baby.
    • Be aware if your perception of warm and or cold starts to change.
    • Be aware if you start to retain water.

Month 5
In the fifth month you may consider:
    • Checking your blood pressure and circulation again.
    • Being aware of your energy levels and taking appropriate steps to keep it up.
    • Make sure you get plenty of sleep.
    • Being very aware of your nutritional intake.
    • Making sure you environment is as calm as possible.
    • Start reading, singing, or playing music for your baby.

Month 6
In the sixth month, according to TCM, you may:
    • Experience more gastrointestinal issues.
    • Avoid respiratory infections.
    • Consult with a TCM provider to see about the six tones to help your baby develop.
    • Start visiting people who will be important to the new baby.
Month 7
In this month it would be a good idea for you to:
    • Start qi gong breathing exercises.
    • Avoid getting respiratory infections and pay attention to any mold or pollen allergies you may have.
    • Take some extra tonics to work on blood circulation for you and the baby.
    • Pay attention to any rashes you may get at this time.
    • You may notice alternations in your sense of smell

Month 8
In the eighth month you may want to pay attention to:
    • Excretory issues as well as gastrointestinal.
    • Avoid onions which can change the normal flora of your gut.
    • Take some extra protein in your diet or consult with a nutritionist for a good supplement.

Month 9
In this month you may want to consider:
    • Seeing a TCM provider about kidney tonics for urinary issues, as well as back and knee pain
    • Making one last push to get as much good nutrition to yourself and your baby.
    • Greet your baby.

TCM Pregnancy

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. one comments

Your Traditional Chinese Medicine Pregnancy
Having a baby is a wonderful experience! You can feel this new life growing inside of you, connecting with you in a way nothing else ever could. Having a baby is also a turbulent time! You worry about how the child will turn out, if you are doing everything right, and you have all of those visits to the gynecologist and still have to maintain your everyday life!
The information that follows is here to give you some insight into what is happening to you and your baby on an energetic level as well as give you some tools to help this development along in a healthy way.
Conception:
Once the sperm fertilizes the egg, the baby begins to form and within the first five days after conception, all of the meridians have started to form and the baby begins to grow. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this is when the various energies of both the mother and father combine to form the new baby. The most important of these energies is the parents’ Jing or essence. Essence comes in two forms, prenatal and postnatal. Prenatal essence, for lack of a better term, is a person’s genes. It is what it is and it is not changing. The amount of prenatal essence a person has is determined by how much their parents had at the time of conception. Once a person runs out of this essence they die. Certain habits speed up or slow down how quickly one uses up their essence.
To ensure your baby has a lot of essence it is imperative that you keep to a healthy diet. If you are planning on having a baby, it is best if you start eating correctly as soon as possible. In Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Weston A. Price discusses the results of his 1930s studies comparing diets in modernized and primitive cultures. He found that primitive people across the world, had almost no tooth decay and were vibrant, healthy, individuals, provided they did not adopt a modern diet. Avoiding refined sugar and white flour, while eating organic grains, vegetables, and the meat of animal organs instead of the meat of animal muscles, produced very strong and healthy individuals. However, if the primitive people started to eat refined foods, they quickly developed cavities, fatigue, and other diseases. Dr. Price believed that it was crucial that children receive this type of nutrition as soon as they are weaned to give them the the healthiest start in life. Speaking to a nutritionist is one way to safeguard both the mother and baby’s future health.
Another factor that can affect the quality of one’s essence is the level of chemical exposure that one comes in contact with. Pesticides, bleaches, dyes, and other chemicals can lodge in the body’s tissues affecting your health and the health of your baby. When you are pregnant, storing or processing these toxins could upset the development of your child. If your body stores the toxins, it will eventually weaken your immune system and could expose your baby to the toxins. It is best if you can avoid toxins as much as possible while trying to conceive and while gestating. In the same way you want to avoid inhaling smoke or drinking alcohol, you want to avoid these chemicals. The more one is able to avoid the pollutants the better their essence will be so it is important if you are planning on having a baby that the essence of both parents be very strong. The stronger the essence and the immune function of both parents at conception and throughout the pregnancy, the better chances of having a healthy baby. Strong immune function in both parents will keep away any pathogens that may make the mother or the child sick.
The second kind of essence, postnatal, is influenced by an individual’s choices. Even if a person is born with poor prenatal qi, by regulating their diet, doing qigong, and being aware of their health, they can overcome this deficit and still have a long and healthy life. Certain lifestyle choices can trigger certain genetic traits, but if these triggers are identified, then the trait can be mitigated or reversed. Think of it like this: prenatal essence is your genetics and postnatal essence is your epigenetics. The predispositions that you will receive from your genetics will only trigger certain conditions if they are allowed to by the epigenetics. An example of this would be how many Native Americans have a genetic predisposition towards alcoholism. If they never touch the bottle they will not be an alcoholic. On the other hand, if they do drink heavily and then go sober, the triggering agent is removed and they effectively cease to be an alcoholic.
Month One:
It is important to note that in TCM pregnancy runs for ten lunar months or 40 weeks. The uterus is connected to a number of different meridians which will play different roles as the pregnancy goes on. It is important that these meridians are carefully regulated to ensure a peaceful pregnancy. In the first month, the liver meridian is the most important.
In TCM, the liver is the storehouse for the blood. When a woman becomes pregnant the liver redirects the flow of blood to stop menses and start the process of helping the baby develop. The blood is directed by the qi and qi is held in place by blood. Qi is energy, heat, and life force. To produce enough qi to allow the pregnancy to go smoothly and to keep yourself healthy, a good diet with the proper quality and quantity of food is essential. Fore example, you may have food cravings, which most likely is your body crying for specific nutrients and not necessarily the food itself. You may need the calcium that you can get from ice cream, and may satisfy the nutrient requirement of your body, but you will also tax your digestive system by making it process the refined sugar that comes with the ice cream. If you can tune in to what you body needs you will have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby. Talk with a nutritionist for more specifics about the type of food and the caloric intake you should receive as your pregnancy progresses.
Going back to the liver, all of the organs have their own way of letting the body know when something is upsetting them. The liver does this by beating up other organs. To keep the liver happy you can do some breathing exercises and should avoid alcohol and greasy or spicy foods. The enzymes the body uses to process and break down these substances are tied to the liver. If the liver is overtaxed by digesting these substances, it will end up exacting its price on other areas of the body.
In Western Medicine it is known that the liver stores adipose, or fatty, tissue which stores nutrients. Please note that it is expected that you will gain about thirty pounds, gradually, during the course of your pregnancy. About a third of this will come off upon delivery. Breastfeeding will help with the rest. As the baby grows and your body adapts to this change, the quality of your tissue needs to be at a high level. Going back to what was said earlier about chemical pollutants; one should note that adipose tissue is also the body’s natural storehouse for toxins. If you experience chemical exposures, which can come from from a variety of sources, your body will store the toxin if it cannot process it. Again it is crucial that you avoid toxins as much as possible while trying to conceive and while gestating.
The liver is the organ most linked to emotions in TCM. If you can keep the liver happy by allowing it to focus on the task of sending the proper nutrients to your baby, avoiding exposure to pollutants, and doing your best to remain calm, you will have a stronger immune system for the duration of your pregnancy, a better chance at having a strong and healthy baby, and a easier time going through all the transitions that you will be making. In TCM, the mother’s state of mind is very influential on the health and development of the baby so, having a calm environment where you can relax is very important.
If you are able to maintain a healthy diet, a calm environment, a low level of pollutant exposure, are willing to do some exercises and take other precautions, you will significantly reduce the effects and odds of having morning sickness, insomnia, worry, stress, unregulated hormones, and miscarriage.
Month Two:
In the second month, the gallbladder channel takes center stage. As this is the paired meridian with the liver, most of what happens is an extension on the first month but diet becomes more important, whereas last month the emotions would have taken more precedence. If you have had your gallbladder removed it does not mean that you do not have a gallbladder meridian. The energy pattern may have changed with how your personal energy flow works but you still have the meridian.
The baby is now beginning to develop into a recognizable human being as all of the energies are starting to condense and create the basic elements of your baby. This only further emphasizes the importance of the above recommendations on diet, limiting exposures, and keeping mentally and emotionally healthy.
Please note the suggestions from the sections on conception and month one are still applicable here even if you did not find out you were pregnant till now. You can easily still have a healthy pregnancy while following the suggestions of regulating your diet, stress levels, and pollutant exposure.
At this time you may want to ask a TCM provider if there are any good tonics you can take to assist you and your baby.
Month Three:
In the third month the baby now has a heartbeat and its own micro movement. In this month the pericardium meridian is now in the spotlight. The pericardium organ is the outer tissue layer of the heart and as such you should be certain that the quality and quantity of your sleep is good since both of these organs in TCM are linked to sleep. You may start to have vivid dreams at this time and this is disturbing, a TCM practitioner can address that issue as can a counselor, hypnotherapist, or other health care worker. As an interesting note, some of the more philosophical sources in TCM believe that it is in this month when the energy of the soul starts to develop in the baby.
Month Four:
In the fourth month the San jiao meridian is now playing the lead. The San jiao, also called Triple burner/warmer/heater/or energizer, is the only meridian of the twelve major meridians that does not have its own correlating organ. It is a meridian that links the upper, middle, and lower parts of the body together so in a sense it behaves somewhat like the body’s nervous system. It is directly paired with the pericardium meridian. This is the month were the baby’s fascia, or muscle tissue, start to develop.
Some Chinese texts divide the essence we spoke about earlier down into elemental natures as per five element theory (fire, earth, metal, water, wood). These elements can influence certain aspects of a person’s body shape, personality, and physical constitution. During this month the element of water is forming in the baby’s essence. Water essence was thought by the ancient Chinese to influence nerve development. To help ensure healthy nerve formation you may want to consult with a TCM practitioner about tonics for the nerves. The kidneys, which are linked to the water element and therefore the nerves, are thought, in TCM, to hold the basic prenatal essence of a person. As such this is a particularly important time to keep yourself healthy so that your baby gets a lot of good essence. This will also help in development of your baby’s bones.
Month Five:
In this month the Spleen channel comes to the foreground. The spleen is linked to a person’s digestion, circulation, and energy levels. You may find yourself particularly susceptible to fatigue, and poor circulation so you may want to visit a TCM provider early in this month to give you a boost. You may also notice more food cravings here.
Going back to the types of elemental essences mentioned in month four, this is the time when the Fire Essence forms. This essence is important for the emotional and spiritual development of the baby, according to certain texts. If you haven’t already, this would be a good time to start reading to your baby, or singing, or playing music. This is also a good time to check in and make sure you have a calm environment and that you can quickly deal with anything that may come up and disturb you.
Month Six:
In month six the Stomach channel, which is paired with the spleen, is running the show. This means that gastrointestinal issues and food cravings may be more likely at this time. This is the time when the Metal Essence is starting to form. Metal Essence is about emotional connections so now may be a good time to visit with others and allow your baby to start making connections with them.
If you are playing music for you baby you may be interested to know that the ancient Chinese believed there were six different pitches, or tones, of sound that different organs in the body would respond to. You may want to consider asking your TCM provider for a recommendation of a good CD that has these tones, which you can play for your baby. As these tones affect different organs, a CD which plays these tones may be useful to you as well.
Month Seven:
In the seventh lunar month the lungs are in charge of things. Now is a good time to really work on qigong breathing so that the quality of the air that you are taking in will help out you and your baby. Furthermore you should pay particular attention to any allergies you may have to pollens and molds as these could cause issues and weaken your immune system. The lungs in TCM are the first organ that gets hit from external pathogens, so be very mindful of that. The lungs are also linked with the skin so you may be more susceptible to rashes. The connection with the nose is also obvious so you may react differently to various smells.
This is when the baby’s Wood Essence starts to condense. Wood is the element linked with the liver so it is particularly important that you be mindful of your circulation and emotions at this time so that your child has the best development possible. You may want to take some extra tonics or treatments to boost your immune system for your lung function and possibly some mild tonics for circulation to help your baby.
If the child is born now, between 27 and 28 weeks, it can survive but there are inadequacies in its ability to regulate its temperature and perform other biological functions.
Month Eight:
In the eighth month of your TCM pregnancy the Large Intestine channel is playing its part. The large intestine is a very important part of the digestive process in Western Medicine and is heavily linked to the immune system as well. Some extra care on keeping yourself healthy and eating well is probably a good idea. Onions, which can change the entire normal flora of the gut, should be avoided at this time.
This is also the month when the Earth Essence of the baby condenses, which means that the baby’s personal energy and digestive system are coming into their own. The Earth Essence is also linked with muscular development so some extra protein may be a good idea. It is at this time when the baby will move itself to a head down position.
Month Nine:
The ninth month is when your Kidney channel takes the lead. All of the elemental essence processes have finished but since the Kidney channel is the one that is most links to Essence this is a good time for a last push on the nutrition to help your baby’s prenatal essence high, and to replenish your own postnatal essence. You may notice more frequent urination, back pain, and knee pain at this time. These can be treated and mitigated but they should resolve after delivery.
This is the beginning of the end of your pregnancy so be sure that everything is organized in your life to the best of your ability. However, one must remember that the babies often makes their own schedule.
Month Ten:
The bladder meridian comes into play during this month. It is likely that you will feel some back pain and urinary frequency at this time as the bladder and the kidneys are paired in TCM.
Your baby’s energy is now fully established and they are ready to come out.
Please note the suggestions in this document are based on the works of TCM. It is highly recommended that you seek the opinion of a MD or Nutritionist along with talking to your TCM practitioner.
Your child is waiting for you.

References:
Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy, Volume I, by Jerry Alan Johnson PH.D, D.T.C.M., D.M.Q (China)

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Weston A. Price
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral.
Erik Jackson, L.Ac

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