Category Archives: Healing

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!

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!