Ahh, summer... time for long, sunny days, warm weather, and brightly-blooming gardens. But the season is also significant in another way. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body’s Organ systems are most accessible during specific times of year. During the late summer, the Spleen and Stomach are most active and most open to influence both positive and negative.
The Spleen and Stomach are associated with the Earth element, as well as certain colors, sounds, times of day, and other correspondences (see table). The Earth element is related to security, feeling grounded and the natural rhythms of life.
The Spleen performs many functions, including:
•Transforming food and fluids into energy
•Transporting energy to muscles, flesh and limbs
•Ensuring that blood circulates throughout the body
•Producing a “lifting” effect, keeping the internal organs in place
•Governing our capacity for thinking and concentration
The Stomach is paired with the Spleen, and helps to digest food and transform it into energy. When the Spleen and Stomach are in balance and Qi (“life energy”) is flowing freely through them, the body will have physical energy and vitality, good muscle tone, a healthy appetite and good digestion. The Spleen and Stomach can be affected by many factors, including poor diet and eating habits, lack of exercise, excessive concentration, worry and stress.
If your Spleen and Stomach are out of balance, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms (see table on front). Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, it’s an especially good time to receive preventive acupuncture care. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine provide a natural approach to restoring and maintaining balance. When we strive for optimal balance, we achieve good health throughout the year.
By allowing Qi to flow freely, acupuncture can help your body heal itself and help you make the most of all the energy and fun of summer!
Foods for a Healthy
Think about your favorite scent for a moment. How does it make you feel? Happy? Relaxed? You probably already know that aromas can have a major impact on your mood. Aromatherapy takes this a step further and uses scents to affect a person’s physical and mental health and well-being.
Aromatherapy is a natural treatment system based on the use of aromatic essential oils. Essential oils are extracted from flowers, fruits, leaves, bark, and roots by methods such as steam distillation. Specific oils are used based on each individual’s needs. He or she may dilute these essential oils and massage them into the skin, put them in diffusers so that the vapors can be inhaled, or prepare them in a solution designed for ingestion.
Essential oils that support the Spleen and Stomach include:
Coriander: Helps circulate energy in the stomach; good for exhaustion and nervous depression.
Fennel: Regulates appetite and relieves indigestion.
Lemon: Helps control weight, supports the immune system, and strengthens mental faculties.
Ginger: Helps relieve nausea and painful digestion.
Bitter Orange: Regulates Qi in the Spleen and Stomach.
Black Pepper: Increases red blood cell production.
Caraway: Relieves bloating.
Symptoms of imbalance in the Spleen/Stomach organs. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may want to consider setting up an appointment.
•Fatigue or lethargy
•Nausea or vomiting
•Hiccups or belching
•Change in appetite
•Bloating and water retention
•Weakness in the arms, legs or muscles
•Dry, pale lips
•Worry and negative thoughts
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starting a diet, cleanse or exercise routine.
Chronic neck pain is one of the most common pain issues faced by students and office workers. Oftentimes, spending hours at a desk each day, combined with poor postural habits, is the root cause of the pain. However, for some, sports injuries, whiplash, and the wrong bed mattress or pillow can set off the pain. Regardless of what caused the neck pain to begin, many people find relief with acupuncture when seemingly nothing else helped. Scientific researchers and clinicians have been conducting clinical trials on the use of acupuncture for neck pain since the 1980's, and most of these studies have confirmed that acupuncture is safe and effective.
One recent pilot study (published October 30, 2013 in the British Medical Journal) conducted at the Kyunghee University Medical Center in Seoul, Korea found that acupuncture three times per week was as effective as 80 mg of NSAIDs taken daily for chronic neck pain.
A meta-analysis of studies including 17,922 patients, published in Complementary & Alternative Medicine, found acupuncture to be effective for the treatment of back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headaches. Patients receiving acupuncture had remarkably better results than patients receiving “sham” acupuncture. Those patients who had the worst baseline mental status and worst baseline pain scores also experienced the most benefit from acupuncture.
A rather intriguing study published in the Australian Journal of Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine tested the effectiveness of acupressure on distal acupoints on the hands for the treatment of chronic neck pain in the gallbladder and bladder meridians. There were a total of 60 patients in the study (30 in the treatment group and 30 controls who received acupressure on sham points), and those in the treatment group experienced dramatic pain relief over the 3-week treatment period. The control group did not report significant improvement.
One large study conducted in Germany and published in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain found that patients with chronic neck pain lasting more than six months experienced considerable long-term relief with acupuncture, in comparison to a control group receiving conventional medical care and no acupuncture. A total of 14, 161 patients participated in the study, and there were 10, 395 patients who chose to receive acupuncture treatment (non-randomized). In addition, 1880 patients were randomized to receive acupuncture, and 1886 were randomized to the control group. The acupuncture groups were treated up to fifteen times in three months with acupuncture; the control group received conventional medical care. The non-randomized acupuncture group experienced more severe pain at the beginning of the study. Both acupuncture groups reported greater pain relief than the control group six months after the initiation of the study.
While the numerous scientific studies on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture have varied in methodology and number of patients recruited – and none of the studies have been flawless in design – the findings consistently support the use of acupuncture for longterm relief from chronic neck pain. Since acupuncture is a cost-effective treatment modality that is relatively free of side effects, it would be prudent for medical professionals to recommend acupuncture to patients with neck pain before prescribing potentially addictive pharmaceutical drugs and risky surgical procedures.
Acupuncture Alexandria LLC