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Orange tree. Inspired by Lillian Pearl Bridges The Chinese New Year is an opportunity to honor family and friends and enjoy some of China's traditions. Lucky colors for the year are brown, red, and purple, and lucky numbers are two and seven. Some foods are considered lucky because of the similarity of their names to other words in the language, such as the fact that the Chinese word for "orange", 橙 chéng, sounds like the world for gold, 金 jīn, or that the word for "tangerine", 柑橘 gānjú, sounds like the word for "luck", 运气 yùnqì. The bright orange color of the fruits also represents the metallic sheen of gold. Find out what other lucky foods to eat and display to ensure a prosperous and happy new year! Lychee fruit. Luck in money: bamboo shoots; clams; oranges, tangerines and pomelos (especially with the leaves attached); potstickers and egg rolls; whole fish. The head and tail of the fish also indicate a good beginning and end to the year. Prosperity: lotus root; dried lily buds; sea moss. Abundance: greens and rice. Happiness: dried bean curd. Reunions: meatballs. Bean curd. Good omens: daikon radish; sweets; lettuce. Relationships and marriage: chicken. Fertility: lotus seeds, and eggs for creativity as well. Family: lychees. Longevity: noodles and peanuts. Wishes: shiitake mushrooms.
Inspired by Lillian Pearl Bridges
The Chinese New Year is an opportunity to honor family and friends and enjoy some of China's traditions. Lucky colors for the year are brown, red, and purple, and lucky numbers are two and seven. Some foods are considered lucky because of the similarity of their names to other words in the language, such as the fact that the Chinese word for "orange", 橙 chéng, sounds like the world for gold, 金 jīn, or that the word for "tangerine", 柑橘 gānjú, sounds like the word for "luck", 运气 yùnqì. The bright orange color of the fruits also represents the metallic sheen of gold. Find out what other lucky foods to eat and display to ensure a prosperous and happy new year!
Luck in money: bamboo shoots; clams; oranges, tangerines and pomelos (especially with the leaves attached); potstickers and egg rolls; whole fish. The head and tail of the fish also indicate a good beginning and end to the year.
Prosperity: lotus root; dried lily buds; sea moss.
Abundance: greens and rice.
Happiness: dried bean curd.
Good omens: daikon radish; sweets; lettuce.
Relationships and marriage: chicken.
Fertility: lotus seeds, and eggs for creativity as well.
Longevity: noodles and peanuts.
Wishes: shiitake mushrooms.
The New Year is one of many powerful times to create fresh new energy in your home, to welcome positive energy and let go of the old. Space Clearing is the art of cleansing and consecrating spaces. It is a profound and effective technique for clearing and revitalizing the energy in buildings.
Amanda Collins is teaching a month-long online Gold-Level Feng Shui Master Certificate program starting February 15! See the Pacific Center for Lifelong Learning for more details.
Other potent times to clear your space:
Everything in the Universe is comprised of energy. The energy in the places you live, work, shop, and socialize can have far-reaching effects on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. If an argument, divorce, or robbery occurs in a home, and that energy does not get cleared, it can accumulate. The next inhabitants may experience this energy, begin to argue, and not know why. Negativity in the home or office can get trapped and you can see the results build. An accumulation of clutter, frequent arguments, or broken objects may signal its presence.
Clearing a house energetically can help you fall in love with it once again. It can help you get back on track emotionally and regain your interest in life and the future. It can help clear the way for prosperity and productivity in your business.
How to Space Clear
Pacific Center for Lifelong Learning is teaming up with the International Feng Shui School to offer a new online Feng Shui Master Certificate program!
Embark upon this rewarding new career under the guidance of renowned Feng Shui expert Amanda Collins.
This innovative online program is recognized as a Gold Level program by the International Feng Shui Guild.
Course content includes 15 hours of live webinars where you can interact with Amanda and ask questions!]]>
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine? What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a healing modality in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). A large component of TCM is the study of hundreds of points, known as acupoints, on the human body, each corresponding to a different organ system or channel of energy, known as ‘meridians’. In acupuncture treatments, each point is carefully chosen to correspond with the other points to treat the issue at hand. Acupuncture involves the application of fine needles to specific acupoints based on the patient’s diagnosis, to trigger the release of the body’s natural painkillers. Other alternative treatments in TCM include Chinese herbal medicines, dietary therapy, and tui na massage to balance the Five Elements and Six Exogenous Pathogenic Factors.
Can TCM Alleviate Seasonal Allergies?
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, around 26 million people suffer from seasonal allergies that often become chronic. Nearly 40 million people suffer from non-chronic allergies. Traditional Chinese Medicine can successfully alleviate many of the symptoms associated with allergies.
Dr. Patrick LaRiccia, board member of the Medical Acupuncture Research Foundation, states “There is often a quick response to acupuncture treatment. Many patients who failed medication and allergy shots respond to acupuncture. Acupuncture can be used to treat seasonal allergies alongside western treatment and often decreases the dependence on other allergy medications.”
Can TCM Alleviate Sinus Problems?
Many individuals suffering from sinus problems are unaware of the cause of this ailment. Congestion, itchy throat, and a stuffy or runny nose, and sinus migraines can be brought on by a simple seasonal allergy, cold winter snap, or excess dairy intake. Victims suffer from stiff neck and shoulders, inflamed nasal passages, and fatigue.
Acupuncture is effective for opening up nasal passages and relieving congestion and Chinese herbal medicine, like Angelica root, field mint, and Xanthium Powder can also help. Whether used alone or in conjunction with western medicine, TCM can provide fast and effective relief for seasonal or chronic allergies, enabling you to enjoy the seasons.]]>
Pediatrics as a specialty is one of the oldest topics discovered in the Chinese medical literature. Sabine Wilms discusses that as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), there is mention of pediatric treatments in at least 19 volumes within the Imperial Library, (Venerating the Root, Part 1, 2013). Sun Simiao was a notable author in the early Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) who emphasized the treatment of children and women above any other medical issue. Qian Yi (1032-1113, Song Dyn.), who is credited as the “Sage of Pediatrics,” recognized that there are unique characteristics of children that distinguish them not as small adults, but as having distinct physiology and pathophysiology that require modified treatments. The earliest documentation of using acumoxa therapy on children was described by Dr. Wan Quan (1495-1585) in the Ming dynasty. He discussed the reality that children can be difficult to needle, making pediatric massage more sufficient to rectify their diseases.
From these early moments in history forward, the movement towards non-needling children was recognized as beneficial, resulting in the creation of new techniques.. The method of shonishin (sho=little, ni=children, shin=needle) started in Japan in the 1700s, and has been popularized by Western practitioners. Shonishin involves gentle scraping and tapping with small copper, brass or stainless steel instruments along the acupuncture channels of the limbs, abdomen, and back of young patients. The act of tapping and sraping ensures a healthy directional flow of qi in a child. Since their body systems are immature, and they are in the most yang phase of life, a rapidly moving, superficial technique is extremely useful. In modern Japan, it is common for TCM hospitals to raise brightly colored flags with animals on them during each month on the emergence of the full moon. The flag raising signals to local parents that it is time to bring their children in for shonishin treatments. This practice acclimates children to treatment when they are healthy, so that when they do fall ill, they are already familiar with the protocol, and are comfortable with the procedure.
The actual practice of treating children in a pediatric clinic is rewarding yet challenging,. The job requires the herculean ability of juggling parental input and opinion, apprehension about their child’s illness, the child’s initial fear, distrust, and curiosity about the novel methods of treatment, and of course, accurate diagnosis. Don’t forget somehow managing to successfully treat a wiggling, small person. Choosing the necessary instruments for treatment is unique to each situation. In my clinic, various techniques are used for treatment in addition to or in lieu of needling, including tui na massage, tuning forks, Manaka hammers, magnets, and shonishin. Most kids are delighted by the variety of tools, and have a great time exploring them while trying to treat their parents during their treatments. However, it’s been recognized that children with the condition of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, also called Sensory Integration Disorder-SID), do not always respond favorably to the shonishin specifically, which can be a useful tool for helping determine both the TCM pattern, and also the type of SPD.
SPD/SID is a comorbid condition that may present with any of the autism spectrum disorders. In 2009, a study by Ben-Hasson, Carter, & Briggs-Gowan suggested that possible risk factors for developing SPD were premature gestational age (less than 36 weeks), low birth weight, maternal stress, illness or medication use during pregnancy, lower socioeconomic status, and living with a single parent. The general presentation of SPD deals with external sensory input. The input is overwhelming and disorganized to the child, who is unable to clarify what information is essential for their attention and response, and what is irrelevant background information or noise. For example, when you are listening to a teacher lecture, the normal response is to ignore the sound from the air vents above and listen to her voice. A child with SPD cannot isolate the imperative input; the result of this internal chaos can manifest as adversity to touch, sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and vigilance to maintaining an orderly space around her/himself, all of which are reflective of hyperactive response. The opposite, or hypoactive response presents with craving strong, stimulatory sensations, textures, and movement. Additionally, it has been found that children with SPD have a range of mental-emotional concerns, from anxiety (hyperactive, or hyper-sensitive to everything) to aggression (hypoactive, because they are trying to elicit strong reactions from those around them).
This disorder also falls under the categorization of ADD/ADHD, although this is a slight misrepresentation according to Carol Kranowitz, in her seminal book, “The Out of Sync Child,” (2006). There are overlapping elements of the two conditions that are suggestive of either SPD/SID or ADD/ADHD, but there is too much reductionist interpretation of these coinciding signs and symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis. This lack of accuracy results in medicating the child for ADD/ADHD, perhaps in lieu of receiving appropriate therapy for SPD.
Dr. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist, first discussed SPD about 40 years ago. Within the treatment paradigm of OT, the strategy is to always offer sensory information that is steady, consistent, and firm, depending on whether the child’s tendencies are hyperactive or hypoactive. In the hyperactive case, the child is overwhelmed with sensory information, indicating that treatment needs to be done with firm pressure, in a darker room, and small space. These conditions reduce the amount of concurrent sensory distraction, allowing the neurological system an opportunity to quiet and calm down. The specific types of treatment in the TCM clinic would include firm tui na techniques, Manaka hammer on specific acupoints that correspond to diagnosis (as long as the sound is not distressing), and use of tuning forks on acupoints. In contrast, the hyporesponsive child needs much more sensory input, so quick, rapid and lighter techniques would be appropriate, along with movement of both patient and practitioner around the treatment room (i.e. sitting on the floor during treatment). In the hypoactive case, shonishin would be a well tolerated technique to add, but since it is performed with gentle, surface techniques on the skin, it is tremendously uncomfortable for the hyperactive presentation, as these children are almost uniformly averse to light pressure and touch.
In most cases, the family is not aware of which type of SPD their child has, but the practitioner will discern fairly quickly what is distressing, and ideally will stop that activity during the treatment. You can use this shonishin information to your benefit when trying to identify the TCM pattern.
While the action of treating children is fairly easy, determining the pattern is often elusive. Solely focusing on the sense organ most affected, the pattern of element out of harmony or organ system imbalance will be nearly impossible to distinguish. The types of sensitivities are as varied as the senses: visual, auditory, taste, texture, proprioceptive, and olfactory. Children exhibit varying degrees of sensitivity to one or all of these sensory cues. Additionally, there may be inconsistency in their sensitivity, for instance, a child with proprioceptive imbalance who always bumps or trips over objects may be quite adept and coordinated when engaging in focused sporting activities. Closely observe the reaction to shonishin, since this a clear objective collection of data, and this information will yield a better clinical perspective.
In this author’s experience, there are a few standard recognizable patterns of symptoms, when identified can indicate the most appropriate and comfortable treatment options.
Hypersensitivity to Touch – Tactile Defensiveness
If Qi & Blood are circulating poorly, then the surface of the body is more open and exposed, which can not only permit the Six Excesses to enter, but also allows external stimuli to discomfort to the child.
Hyposensitivity to Touch – Under-responsive
TCM Pattern(s): Heart & Liver Fire, Phlegm-fire harassing the Shen
The internal heat in these children is evident in their outward behavior, but usually will also present with long, red, pointy tongues, with or without thick coat.
Poor Tactile Perception & Discrimination
TCM Pattern(s): Lung vacuity, Kidney vacuity
There can be more fear-based living in these children, which clearly points to Kidney/Heart vacuity, but the lack of coordination and “bodily structure” suggests that the Metal element can be weak.
Melanie Katin, MSTOM, LAc has been on the faculty of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) NY since 2006, and has a private practice in NYC, where she focuses on pediatrics and auto-immune cases. She can be reached via her website at: www.melaniekatin.com]]>
By Jill Blakeway, MSc, LAc
Katy visited our center with a seemingly disparate collection of symptoms that were causing her distress. She described a pattern that was episodic in nature and involved abdominal bloating, belching, acid reflux, loose stools, shallow breathing, and palpitations. A cardiologist had ruled out serious heart disease and she’d been offered beta-blockers for what had been diagnosed as pre-ventricular contractions (PVCs) and occasional tachycardia. A gastroenterologist had found nothing remarkable on endoscopy, apart from a small hiatal hernia, and Katy had been given a prescription for antacids for the acid reflux. Her internist had diagnosed her with panic attacks and suggested a combination of talk therapy and medication. Katy was grateful for each intervention, but remained convinced that all her symptoms had one root and so, looking for a deeper solution, she decided to try Chinese medicine.
Her symptoms could be the result of any number of patterns in Chinese medicine, ranging from the Five Element diagnosis of Wood invading the Earth and not generating Fire, to the zang fu pattern of spleen qi deficiency with liver qi stagnation leading to heat in the upper jiao harassing the heart. Counter-flow in the chong meridian was also a possibility. Like Katy, I was keen to get to the root of her problem rather than simply treat her symptoms.
Bio-medically, I felt as if her pattern could be explained by looking closely at the vagus nerve. One of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves, the vagus nerve is also called the wandering nerve because it meanders in a zigzag pattern from the brain and its fibers spread to the tongue, pharynx, vocal chords, lungs, heart, stomach, and intestines. As a major nerve of the parasympathetic system, it slows the heart rate and stimulates bowel activity.
It plays a key role in the mind-body connection and, in particular, the way that the heart responds to emotions. It is also one of the mechanisms by which the stomach and intestines are affected by stress. Many of the patients I treat for IB who have the classic symptoms of Wood invading Earth have a vagus nerve that is either under or over performing. Likewise, the Five Element pattern of Wood not generating Fire correlates to the way the vagus nerve links the heart and gallbladder anatomically. The chong meridian links the heart and stomach in a way that is also similar to the path of the vagus nerve.
Because the vagus nerve supplies motor parasympathetic fibers to every organ from the neck down to the second segment of the transverse colon (except the adrenal glands), its effect can be far reaching. Stress can raise the body's level of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to over-ride the parasympathetic nervous system, of which the vagus nerve is the main component. When the vagus nerve is affected in this way, people can experience palpitations, tachycardia, or premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). These are extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of the heart's two ventricles. Patients describe vagus nerve induced palpitations as a thud, a fluttery sensation, or a skipped beat. The sensation varies depending on the point during the heart's normal rhythm that the vagus nerve fires. In many cases, this becomes a vicious cycle where the anxiety caused by the missed heartbeat further exacerbates the fight between the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to more palpitations.
Gastrointestinal bloating, indigestion, loose stools, shortness of breath, and hiccups can also be caused by an overstimulation of the vagus nerve, because branches of the nerve innervate the GI tract, diaphragm, and lungs.
So how does the vagus nerve get irritated in the first place? Any kind of GI distress can put pressure on the nerve and irritate it, with a hiatal hernia being a frequent culprit. Poor posture along with muscular imbalances can also cause the vagus nerve to misfire, as can excess alcohol or spicy foods. Stress can inflame the nerve, along with fatigue and anxiety.
So what is the best way to get the nerve to calm down? In my practice, one of the best solutions I’ve found for patients suffering this combination of gastrointestinal distress and heart palpitations is the Gallbladder Divergent Channel. It separates from the regular Gall Bladder Channel at the greater trochanter, then curves around the hip joint, then goes to the external genitalia, where it joins the Liver Divergent Channel. It then travels up the flank to enter deeper into the body at just below the ribs where it connects the Gall Bladder to the Liver and then travels up to connect with the Heart. It then flows from the esophagus to the mandible, near the mouth. From here it disperses over the face, connecting to the eyes before joining the regular channel again at the outer canthus.
In this way, the Gall Bladder Divergent Channel further cements the Gall Bladder’s relationship with both the Heart and the Liver. Many of the patients who present with symptoms of an irritated vagus nerve have what could be described as a Gall Bladder and Heart Complex in Chinese medicine. This traditionally has been a diagnosis used to describe a collection of symptoms such as esophagitis, hiatal hernia, gastritis, insomnia, palpitations, fearfulness, being easily startled, chest fullness, and a bitter taste in the mouth. In these patients I’ve found that accessing the Gall Bladder Divergent Channel can bring almost immediate relief. I usually use the separating and convergent points of the channel GB 30 and GB 1, along with GB 34, LIV 3, PC6, SP 4, LIV 14, and UB 19.
How can patients suffering from an irritated vagus nerve help themselves? Here’s the advice I give my patients, with one caveat: Because these symptoms can be caused by so many disorders, I always refer my patients to their MD to rule out more serious pathologies before giving self-help suggestions.
As for Katy? She felt better after her first two treatments. With some lifestyle adjustments, she was able to maintain her good health, having finally found an explanation in both Eastern and Western medicine for what had been a confusing symptom pattern.
Jill Blakeway, MSc, LAc is the Clinic Director of the YinOva Center in New York City. She makes frequent appearances on national television and in the print media and is the author of two books on women’s health.]]>