Monthly Archives: December 2015

3 Chinese Medicine Tips To Survive The Winter

Many of us are dreading the new season because: Cold. Dark. White Walkers . But personally I think winter can be a beautiful time of year that’s perfect for rejuvenating ourselves quietly while we prepare for the spring season. That being said, winter is a perfect time to get sick, mainly because most of us resist changing our routine to accommodate the season’s demands like slowing down and getting more rest.
As I type this I’m sniffling because I broke one of the rules of staying well during this time of year, I knew better but I couldn’t resist stepping outside without a coat during the randomly balmy 60 degree weather day in the middle of December. One of the first things we learned in acupuncture school was to follow the guidelines of nature, going against the flow will usually land you underneath a mountain of kleenex tissues. So here are some really simple common sense tips to keep you healthy this winter season.

Dress Sensibly, (Yeah I’m Talking To You!)

Seems like a given right? If it’s chilly outside common sense says that you’ll wear clothing to keep you warm, right? Surprisingly not everyone abides by this very simple rule. I can’t tell you how many people I pass on the street wearing t-shirts, shorts, skirts without leggings or tights, thin jackets, no jackets, no scarves or hats when the thermometer is well below 70 degrees. Understandably when the weather behaves unusually it’s easy to become confused about how to dress. General rule of thumb:Wear layers and if it becomes too warm you can simply remove them as needed. Why? From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective your body works best in relation to the natural world around it. Even though the weather may say “Spring” the season is still Autumn/Winter underneath. Dress for the season of the month rather than the temperature of the day.

Protect Ya Neck!
No seriously. As the temperature continues to fall and the winds pick up always keep your neck covered especially the back of your neck. The 6 External Evils love to slip into the body at a sensitive point on the back of the neck we call Dàzhuī or Great Vertebra (DU 14). You’ve probably experienced wind & cold slipping into this point before. It usually starts out when you’re exposed to cold air (yes, even air conditioning) and you get the initial chill down your spine. Within a few hours you start to feel alternating chills & fever across your entire body, maybe with some other symptoms like a low grade fever, headache or cough if it’s allowed to go deeper into the body. That’s a wind invasion. The alternating chills & fever you feel is your body attempting to push the wind & cold back out. Luckily there’s a really simple formula you can use to help it fight it off.
(Pro Tip: no matter the time of year, always carry a scarf with you to protect your neck.)

Know Your Healing Herbs
The beauty of herbal medicine is that a good portion of it is common foods we can find in our local marketplaces. Common things like garlic, scallions orange peels and cinnamon can produce powerful healing results if you know when and how to use them. In the case of heading off the common cold or flu, there’s a great herbal formula we use called Gui Zhi Tang.
Its ingredients: Cinnamon Twigs, Fresh Ginger, White Peony Root, Jujube Dates and Honey Fried Licorice Root
Chances are you may not have white peony root, dates or licorice lying around your kitchen, but I’ve found that the paired down version of this formula is just as effective in a pinch. If you have some fresh ginger root and a few cinnamon sticks in your cabinets throw them into a pot with 2 cups of water, bring it to a boil then let it simmer until the decoction reduces by half, it should be a nice dark brown color. Pour it into a mug, get under the covers and drink it while it’s still hot. You want to drink it until you start to sweat, once you start sweating stop drinking. The sweating shows that the muscle layer where the wind or cold slipped in has opened up to expel the pathogen and that’s all that’s needed to start feeling better. Relax, rest in bed and wake up feeling a lot better in the morning!

Need some extra TLC? Book an acupuncture appointment with me or your local acupuncturist & herbalist, we’re trained to get you back into balance!

I hope these tips prove helpful this winter season. What are your go to remedies for the season? Share them in the comment section!

New Moon In Sagittarius: Climbing Every Mountain

Such an inspired New Moon above us. When studying this chart I got the distinct vision of Maria from the Sound of Music up in the Austrian Alps singing. Weird, I know! However the song playing in my head was from Mother Superior’s Climb Every Mountain.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Sound of Music it’s a little bit of hero’s journey as most stories are. Maria, the main character doesn’t quite fit into her current environment, so she’s sent out to discover herself out in the world. When the reality of who she is and what she really wants becomes too real for Maria, she attempts to run back home to the safety of the abbey.

Owning the dream she used to sing about while getting lost in the alps was too real to handle. Dreams are often fine while they’re intangible, they fill us with a seductive longing when our current lives aren’t satisfying, though when faced with the possibility of dream life coming true we often run away.
Mother Superior recognized the jig Maria was playing and told her to go back out there and climb the mountain of her dream. She wouldn’t stand by and allow her to punk out at the last minute.

That’s where this New Moon in Sagittarius finds us, with the Sun – Moon conjunction in the first house of I AM, asking us to renew our sense of who we are with optimism and a greater faith.

Align yourself more fully with your purpose. New Moons represent an alignment of Yin (Moon) and Yang (Sun) energy. There’s a sense of focus, single mindedness and direction moving you forward. New Moons present opportunities to not only start fresh, but to take control of your fate. This is why we set intentions under the New Moon, we shift from talking about this vision to actually showing up with intention to fulfill it.

Events may start coming down hard and fast with the chart ruler Mars in Libra being in direct opposition to Uranus in Aries. Things can happen very quickly when the energy is ripe for it. This the exciting or terrifying elements of Fate, but with the Sun & Moon in Sagittarius go for the excitement. Sagittarius is known for its sense of humor. If things get too hectic, take a break and laugh at all the synchronicity, you did ask for this might as well go along for the ride!

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky” – Buddha 

Mercury has finished up his time in Sagittarius to enter the empire building sign of Capricorn until February. (Mercury will retrograde at the beginning of January 2016) Our minds are starting to put definite lines and strategies together concerning our dream. From the top of the mountain our minds can see the steps needed to reach the next peak.
Jupiter the ruler of Sagittarius is in Virgo until next summer, Sagittarius’ energy is more focused and quiet in its pursuit of its destiny. We’re being taught how to keep faith while we also deal with the multitude of everyday details. Have faith that even without knowing how every detail will work out, everything is fitting into the larger picture.
Not knowing how the details would work out was what pushed Maria to run away to begin with.

She was a nun
He was a widower
She was about to take her vows and commit herself to Christ
He was engaged to be married to someone else
She was only supposed to be the family governess.
He his children were falling in love with her

Often the details are messy, but its courage and faith that keeps us steady enough to follow through. So this New Moon commit to you. The you you were always dreaming of being. Allow the details to work themselves out as you plan to go for the dream.

Spoiler alert: Ultimately Maria realizes the truth about herself. She’s not meant to be locked away in the abbey, her soul was crying out for a different experience, when she followed through she was rewarded with a sense of fulfilled purpose.

On this journey called life, there is no “making it” there’s never a point of completion. When one peak is reached, another appears in its place. You are unfolding always. Go forth and climb your mountain.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

What mountain are you daring to climb with this New Moon energy? Leave a comment below! 

On Death & Love with Venus & Scorpio

Venus in Scorpio

December 4th – December 30th

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
― Mark Twain

Picture this, you’re about to be reunited with a long lost love after a lengthy period of being apart. Over the years you’ve gone over all the things you never had the courage to say, and still find yourself struggling to say now. The fear of your deeper feelings not being returned kept you in silence. 

 

You’re about to cross the street now, you can see your love sitting down waiting for you to arrive, you step out into the street in a daze and your whole life flashes before your eyes as a car screeches and swerves around you. Death is extending out his hand out to greet you and for those few seconds the intense image of all that you’ve ever wanted for yourself in this lifetime becomes abundantly clear. Time stops, Death hurtling towards you seems to strip away all the reasoning, the logic, and the whys that say you cannot be true to your desires. Death makes everything so uncomplicated.

 

You blink and somehow Death rides away in the car waving “goodbye for now” choosing to give you another day on this green earth. However a part of you has left in that car, you watch as it rides away leaving behind someone more committed to living each moment as if it’s their last. You walk across to meet this person you love, ready to bare your soul for better or for worst. There is nothing to lose but fear.

 

Welcome to the world of Venus in Scorpio.

 

Your tasks while Venus is in Scorpio is live and love as if you’re going to die, because you are.

Venus in astrology represents what we desire, who we desire to be and how we want to express love.

The end game for Venus in Scorpio is to live with the kind of intensity that leaves nothing to chance behind walls of fear. Venus in this sign wants to live every moment as if it’s her very last.

Here, Venus operates from a place of feeling rather than reason.

What do you really feel? If you knew without a doubt that tomorrow would be your last day, what would you do? While Venus runs through this sign, find the middle ground between feelings and action, allow the intensity of your feelings to push you to act.

 

Why So Intense?

When living from a place of raw emotional clarity, life takes on a level of intensity most people may not understand. Time is limited, Death and danger is always waiting around the next corner, not as a harbingers of doom, but of urgency. If you’re going to live, love, lust and die, do it well. Don’t dilly dally. Commit to an action and follow through with passion. Everything else is insignificant. With every experience more awareness arrives to fine tune the desire Venus is seeking. With every fear & challenge that’s overcome Venus feels freer in her ability to love.

She isn’t here to be superficial or particularly light hearted. The truth is when Venus in Scorpio learns to let down the walls of mystery she’s put up out of fear of rejection, she wins.

Venus in Scorpio wants to know that she will loved and accepted for all that she is, even in her darkest moments.

 

How to handle betrayal?

One thing Venus in Scorpio must understand is that she cannot control anyone else but herself. No amount of pressure, manipulation or seduction can bend anyone to her will and even if they do bend, it doesn’t guarantee their love & devotion to her. Such behavior from her will likely push them farther away.

When faced with betrayal, Venus in Scorpio must tap into what she feels as opposed to trying to figure out how the other person will act in response to her.

There’s a part of her that falsely believes that she’s too much, too intense, unlovable, unwanted and undesired. If she remains unconscious of these underlying beliefs she’ll go about creating self fulfilling prophecies that confirm her fears & keeps her away from what it is that she really truly wants; love, trust and deep soul connections with others.

 

Magic in the Meltdown

Venus in Scorpio must embrace the need to meltdown as a way of regenerating. Like the phoenix that bursts into flames only to be reborn anew, emotional meltdowns open up opportunities for her to purge dead energy that no longer her serves her. Scorpio is belongs to the water element, an element that tends to absorb external energy easily. Scorpio also a fixed sign that doesn’t move or flow but instead runs deep. Purging out skeletons from the deep only makes for a lighter journey. While Venus is in this Mars ruled sign she’s better served by getting physical. This may be through rigorous exercise like dance, martial arts or good old fashioned sex. Where there is blood, sweat and tears, there is release & healing.
Do you or someone you know have Venus in Scorpio in their chart? Dive into the comment section to talk about your experience of her!

3 Questions I Get The Most As An Acupuncturist

When I’m not talking, tweeting or reading about astrology I spend my days sticking needles into people for a living.

Did I scare you?

It’s okay if I did. The responses I get from people when I tell them I’m an acupuncturist range anywhere from “I’d never do that, I hate needles!!” to “Oooh, what made you get into acupuncture? my (family member, friend, co-worker) swears by it.”

You can read about my acupuncture story here on my website, but for this blog post I want answer the top 3 questions I get about acupuncture & Chinese medicine

Do The Needles Hurt?

Yes, they’re absolutely excruciating! Just kidding! Generally speaking receiving acupuncture needles is a painless experience.

Yes, there are the rare occasions that a needle does feel uncomfortable but normally that’s because the needle hasn’t passed through the superficial layers of the skin where pain is mostly felt. The rarer occasion is when a needle is accidently inserted into a hair follicle. (ouch!)
But aside from that once you get past the skin, sensation is low.
People look surprised when I tell them that the needle has been inserted, they don’t even feel it going in.acupunctureneedle

Sometimes Qi being strongly moved can be mistakened for pain only because it’s an unfamiliar sensation. When we grasp Qi otherwise known as De Qi it can feel dull achey, slightly tingly, or like heavy pressure deep within the body at the site of the needle or at other locations.
One thing I always tell my patients is that needle sensation should never feel sharp or stabbing. A pinch or prick that fades away within a few minutes is fine, but if the feeling is unbearable just tell your acupuncturist to remove the needle.
Acupuncture needles are nothing like needles used in western medicine, they’re nowhere near as thick and they’re not hollow. This image from my alma mater gives you an idea of how acupuncture needles compare to other commonly used needles.

Acupuncture Is Good For Pain, Right?

Yes, acupuncture is great for pain, especially when we know what’s creating the pain in the body. However pain is not the only thing acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treats, not by a long shot. Remember that this is a comprehensive medicine that pre-dates Western Medicine by a good 2,000 years.
Just about anything that you would see your primary care physician for you can treat with Chinese Medicine.
Headaches, skin conditions, sleep disorders like insomnia, mental disorders, depression, fatigue, menstrual issues (including PMS, irregular cycles, fibroids & infertility), gastrointestinal disorders, bowel disorders, musculo-skeletal pain, sensory issues, vertigo and much more. Not to mention we have an entire materia medica for herbal formulas to work in conjunction with acupuncture treatments to support the healing process. Acupuncture is pretty dope. Trust.

How Acupuncture Does It Work? What Do The needles Do Exactly?
Explaining how acupuncture works is complex and yet simple at the same time. Without going into all the vocabulary let’s just say that your body is a unique ecosystem just like nature herself. The entire body works as a whole to maintain harmonic balance or good health.

The body is crisscrossed by system of energetic highways we call meridians. On these meridians are acupuncture points, you can think of them of energy pools that all have different functions. When we insert needles into these points, we direct the body’s energy or Qi to do whatever is needed to heal through creating balance. So if the body is too hot from fever we hit points to reduce the heat. If there’s chronic fatigue we needle points to increase energy while supporting organs that may need assistance. If there’s pain we find out what the source is and create a point plan to lessen or eliminate the pain.

Think of the needles as direct Qi conduits, they go directly to the energy to move it around. You can achieve the same effect with pressure also known as acupressure, but it would take much longer to achieve the same results a needle insertion.

Here’s one of my favorite videos that explains how acupuncture works. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Have you had acupuncture before? How did you like it? Leave a comment so we can discuss!

 

If you’re in the New York City Area you can catch me for an acupuncture session over at Olo Acupuncture in Manhattan!