Why is my chronic illness and pain worse this time of year?

Why is my chronic illness and pain worse this time of year?

As we move into autumn, the temperature drops, there is less daylight and our vital energy gets zapped. For many, this can exacerbate symptoms of chronic illness and/or pain. But why? Less Daylight means Less Vitamin D As days grow shorter and nights grow longer, we receive less vitamin D from the sun’s warm rays. People afflicted with chronic illness often need to supplement that missing Vitamin D. When buying supplements, pay attention to the type of Vitamin D you choose. Compared to Vitamin D2, Vitamin D3 is more easily absorbed by the body. For my patients in need of Vitamin D supplements, I usually recommend a combination of Fish Oils and Vitamin D3. Hot vs Cold Foods From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the same mechanism that keeps us warm also creates digestive fire. Eating cold or raw foods creates an additional burden on this system and depletes a lot of energy in the body. People living in cold climates should opt for soup over salad in colder months. Seasonal Sleep Have you ever noticed how pets sleep more in the winter compared to the summer? Like our pets, our bodies are wired this way. We are not separate from the world around us and experience the natural cycles of the seasons along with Mother Nature. As daylight decreases, our bodies naturally crave slightly more sleep. As the holidays and New Year approaches, many of us face increasing work, family and social commitments. These additional demands cause many of us to get less sleep the very time of year when we actually require more. Dress for the Weather As...
5 Lifestyle Choices to Heal Low Energy

5 Lifestyle Choices to Heal Low Energy

As a follow-up to my last blog post on tips to increase energy, I thought I would add some lifestyle choices that we can help to heal low energy. 1. De-Stress I could write a whole article about stress management and its effect on energy. When our stress level is continuously heightened, our nervous system remains in ‘fight or flight mode,’ meaning the rest and repair our body needs doesn’t happen. It is as if we kept driving a car and never put gas in the tank… sooner or later, it will break down. There are a number of techniques I frequently recommend to help patients manage stress and engage the parasympathetic nervous system, the part responsible for rest and repair. Some of these techniques include taking long, deep breaths, timeouts, taking a walk, and activities that help us slow down for a few minutes. In addition to these more immediate stress management tools, I also encourage people to find some downtime, whether that means taking a vacation or simply taking a break from electronics. 2. Spend time outside We’ve always heard the positive health benefits received from spending time in the great outdoors, and now they are starting to be understood. When we are outside, we are exposing ourselves to quality air, sunlight, and negative ions. Alone, each one of these help to improve our mood, lift energy levels, and overall have a biological benefit for the body. When we experience these elements in unison, the effect is compounded even further. 3. Spend time with loved ones If you have any question about this one, ask a grandparent...
Nourish yourself to improved health

Nourish yourself to improved health

I am incredibly passionate about nutrition and believe it should be the bedrock of any wellness program.  The Chinese Medicine approach to nutrition is part of what attracted me to study Acupuncture.  The model views the body much more like a garden versus a machine and sees the digestive process as much more than a thermodynamic equation, allowing for the ebb and flow within the sphere of health. Nutrition and healthy digestion go hand-in-hand and support each other.  It is difficult to get all the benefits of healthy eating if the digestive system is not functioning well.  Likewise, if we are primarily eating foods that don’t nourish, we will not have a well-functioning digestive system. As an Acupuncturist, I work with Qi, the vital life force. According to Chinese Medicine theory, Qi is the basis for critical body functions such as movement, metabolism, warmth, healing, as well as many physiological processes.  We make Qi from the oxygen we breathe and the food we take in.  Without good healthy Qi, it is difficult for the body to heal itself. In my Acupuncture practice, I’ve observed that without foods that nourish and a well-functioning digestive system, people take longer to heal. For this reason, early on in our relationship patients and I discuss diet, water intake, digestion, bowel movements, and urine output.  Ideally, we should be drinking half our body weight in ounces, eating 4-5 times a day and experiencing digestion without gas or bloating.  We should have at least one bowel movement each morning and our urine output, other than first thing in the morning, should be light in color....
Steps to Healing: Part 3

Steps to Healing: Part 3

Today’s post, the final of 3 posts about steps in the healing process, will discuss the importance of Maintenance or Wellness Care. Over the last few weeks we discussed the first two phases of healing; Relief Care and Treating the Root Cause. We used an automobile analogy: Relief care is the equivalent of turning off the dashboard indicator light while treating the root cause would be adding more oil to make the dashboard light turn off on its own. Following through with this analogy, Maintenance or Wellness Care is about regularly checking the oil levels, inspecting the gaskets and making sure everything is in working order. In this way, we prevent oil loss before it happens. So how do we use Acupuncture to keep you strong and healthy you ask?  Diagnostics such as pulse diagnosis help us identify imbalances in Qi, vital life force. In many cases, the imbalances are the predecessors to illness and symptoms. Acupuncture treatments balance excess and deficiencies. This coupled with lifestyle changes can create a solid program to promote long-term health and wellness. Many people are fantastic about maintaining their homes, their cars and their electronics. If I were to ask you how much battery is left on your mobile phone, you would probably know the answer. That said, many of us miss the indicators are body provides us; letting us know when we need a break, more sleep, better nutrients, adequate water and sufficient movement. Maintenance care is not only about working with a healthcare expert to monitor and review these signs but also creating a plan to keep the body strong for...
Steps to Healing: Part 2

Steps to Healing: Part 2

As a follow-up to last post on relieving symptoms, this week we will speak a little bit about treating the root cause or the imbalance that is impacting your health. Last week we discussed that treating symptoms was equivalent to cutting the wire or turning off your car’s dashboard warning lights such as the low oil indicator. Treating the imbalance would be adding more oil so the light turns off on its own. From a Chinese Medicine point of view pain, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, poor digestion and insomnia are all caused by an imbalance. In the case of the above car scenario, the imbalance is a lack of oil. In Five Element Acupuncture, our task is to determine the imbalance and use Acupuncture to restore harmony in the system. To explain what I mean by disharmony, we will need to speak a little bit about Chinese Medicine. In Chinese Medicine we consider the body to have 12 Officials, each associated with a primary meridian. Each Official is responsible for specific tasks that impact us on the level of body-mind-emotions. Though each official is named for the organ it passes through, its functions are so much greater than that of the organ alone. Imbalances occur when an Official is operating in excess or deficiency; often the result of some type of trauma – physical, mental or emotional. We often go along for a good many years without even noticing the effects of the disharmony because the rest of the systems compensate. Additional strains create further imbalances and we start to experience symptoms such as pain, exhaustion or anxiety. As a...