The frost has arrived as winter descends upon us once again. Cold winds blow over the ocean, rain is plentiful, and firewood is stacked high. In Chinese medicine we know living in harmony with the seasons is paramount for a balanced and healthy life. So, what does this season call for? Winters climate urges us to stay indoors, keep warm and above all else, and sometimes with great difficulty, to give ourselves permission to rest.
Winter is associated with the element of water and the kidney and bladder organs. In Traditional Chinese medicine these organs play a big role in reproduction, birth and development. The spirit of these organs is translated as willpower, ambition, drive or motivation. It gives the ability to stand firm and not be defected from one’s goals. An imbalance in this system can lead to over exertion, straining to meet the demands of the time and not allowing ones-self time for recuperation. Over time this drive to succeed leads to exhaustion, burnout and in severe cases, depression.
This time of year allows us to rejuvenate our stores, so that we can keep forging ahead and fulfilling our dreams with plenty of energy and vitality. We are reminded that there must be balance between work and rest for us to continue to be inspired on our path. To consider that we cannot give from an empty cup and must first nourish ourselves before we have enough for everyone else. In winter we focus on warming the body and revitalizing its systems, so we have plenty of energy for the times ahead.
Diet is one way you can help your body along this season, eating foods of warming nature like ginger, garlic and cinnamon, also hot bone broths are especially beneficial and nourishing for the body.
Chinese medicine techniques help sustain the body, boost immunity, decrease stress and enhance energy and vitality.
At Safflower we are driven to see our patients achieve their goals and realize their dreams. Call us today on 5956 7011 or go online www.safflowerclinic.com.au and book your appointment today!
The Wood element is prone to either weakness or stagnation in the Liver/Gallbladder meridians. The corresponding personality of a Wood type resonates with that of a tree growing in spring. Growth, and achievement are very important for the Wood element person. The general of the body’s army, Wood people have vision, and like to achieve the goals they set for themselves.
A Wood type in balance has energy and vigour. They are eternal optimists, believing the best in themselves and others. Their energy grows with accomplishment and ticking off the to-do list.
Conversely, an out-of-balance Wood type is prone to imbalance caused by lack of direction; or lack of movement. Frustration, impatience and anger are hallmarks of a Wood type under stress. If forward movement is blocked, or forward vision obstructed for a long amount of time, the Wood person can eventually become depressed, feel helpless, and be prone to apathy – unable to see a way out of the stagnancy they find themselves in.
A good step out of the black hole for Wood types is to write short, achievable lists of things they want to do, and make sure they achieve them. If writing a list is hard, sometimes looking to the horizon and taking in the view can help create perspective, encourage forward vision, and create space for inspiration again.
The Fire element corresponds to a person who is constitutionally weak/stagnant in the Heart/Small Intestine/Pericardium/Triple
Burner meridians. The personality of a Fire person is like that of summer – warm, active, joyous, connected. The Fire person is recharged by the sun, or by the spark of connection between people in a social environment. The Fire element is King/Queen (or, conversely the Court Jester) – there to provide the warmth and love to the meridians, spreading joy throughout the body and to other people.
The Fire person will make you feel as though you matter. They search for the joy in things. Forever striving for the perfect human connection, they work hard at making sure you feel as important to them as anyone else. In balance, they are the light in the world – entertaining us and making us feel good about ourselves.
A Fire person out of balance; like a fire doused in accelerant, can be all or nothing, most often succumbing to the ups and downs more severely than other elements. The energy it takes to entertain others can burn the Fire type out, and they need to retreat to recharge. Often, they are affected by anxiety – the pressure to please can become too much. The shadow emotion of the Fire type is sadness, and when the Fire is severely low, sadness can prevail over their entire being. Prone to depression, isolation, and hopelessness, a deficient fire type needs lots of love.
To help a Fire person, they need to know that their social environment is safe and secure. Consistent love and acceptance is key, encouraging the spark of human connection with help re-ignite the fire, and bring joy to them once again.
The Earth element corresponds to late summer/harvest time. The digestive organs of the Spleen and Stomach govern the body, these meridians nourish the body with adequate nutrients, and help to build a strong constitution. The Earth person is concerned with nourishing themselves and others, creating safe, caring spaces for those in their lives. Often compared to the mother-hen, the Earth element is all about gathering the grains and fruits for storage and to feed those through the cold winter months.
An in-balance Earth person will always make you feel at home instantly with them. They dutifully, and selflessly lend an ear to your biggest woes; and know instinctively when needs to be said at the right time.
Out of balance, and Earth person lacks the ability to give themselves boundaries; and will give more than they can spare. If a healthy Earth element gives from a full larder, an empty Earth will try to give – even if their larder is empty. This creates anxiety, which the Earth person is prone to suffering. The dis-ability to digest information can lead to rumination and circular thinking, obsession and feeling ungrounded, as a healthy Earth element secures us firmly to the soil. The out-of-balance Earth can be prone to passive-aggressiveness and guilt-shaming. They end up expecting what they give to others to come back to them.
The Earth element becomes strong again when they can learn to give themselves the same amount of energy they give everyone else. The Earth is happiest when they can nourish themselves and others selflessly. It is sometimes the hardest, but most valuable lesson any element can learn, that one can only expect from themselves.
Metal corresponds to the season of Autumn, when the air temperature drops, and the environment becomes still. Arguably the most beautiful time of year, the corresponding organs are the Lungs/Large Intestine. These organs are interested in breathing in the clean, fresh air – replete with the crispness of fresh new ideas and inspiration. The Large Intestine lets the waste matter go. Depth, and meaning are what the metal person is after. Metal is the body’s reverence. The spiritual master, the academic, the thinker-in-residence of the body. The Lungs breathe in the new information and the Large Intestine gets rid of the old.
This strong waste disposal mechanism (letting go of what doesn’t matter) allows the Metal to prioritise the search for the true meaning of life. Most content in times of grief, and the deep reverence it enables, the Metal person in-balance will inspire those around them with their incredible ability to find the diamonds in the rough of everyday life.
Out-of-balance, the Metal person can become obsessed, and single focused. They can too easily cut themselves off from others, and their never-ending search for life’s meaning may render them isolated to the point of anti-social. Metal, and its connection to precious stones and minerals can lead a person into an over-reliance upon the physical riches of life, replacing their spiritual search with material things. The lack of spirit in a Metal person is a deep problem. If anyone needs to have a deeper, lifelong purpose, it’s the Metal type, and without it they can lash out, cut themselves off, and hide away from society.
The Metal element regains strength by connecting to the non-material sublime – walking in nature, breathing in fresh air, looking at the sky. Accepting imperfection is also very important, especially in themselves; softening the edges, and asking others for support and companionship will firmly ground the Metal person into the present. This gives the Metal a chance to enrich the lives of those around them with their depth, knowledge, and brilliance.
The Water element corresponds to winter – the Kidneys and Bladder. Water is the foundation of life in humans, and as such, the Water element runs deep within us. Like the stillness of winter, or the turbulence of a rainstorm, Water is ever changing and adapting. This is the Water person; endlessly adaptable and capable, this element embodies the human will. The Water person is always on the go, often creative or imaginative; Water fears being still, as like a pond, they fear a lack of vitality and stagnation. Just as water replenishes and revitalises the body, Water energy revitalizes the mind, and maintaining strength in the Water element is important to maintain the adaptability of the body.
Fear is the shadow emotion for a Water type. They are prone to running on adrenaline, can risk burning out easily. Mistrust and paranoia, overt fear, or deep depression and darkness are all signs of an out-of-balance Water type. As water can run dark and deep, it is necessary for the Water to be warmed by the sun and experience light too.
Stillness, though often feared, is good for the Water type. Stillness (Yin) balances the constant movement and activity (Yang); and helps the adrenal glands to rest and recover. Adrenaline should be for spurts of energy – not running everyday life! Meditation, Qi Gong, relaxation techniques are extremely beneficial for Water people. Associating with others, especially Fire types can also be good for an out of balance Water – the heart and kidneys have a special relationship in which the water calms the heart fire and the heart fire warms the kidney water. Engaging the Heart, can provide reassurance, and can often help the water person out of a dark, fearful state.
Continued learning and education is important for the Water type also. Revitalising the brain (also an extension of Water, as Kidneys and Bladder control the nervous system) provides the resources to keep going, feeds the will and helps prevent burn out.
We each have components of all 5 elements in us, and to live in harmony, we should aim to keep all 5 elements in balance. However, there is only 1 element that on a deep level drives us to be who we are, and caring for this set of organs, these meridians, this part of us will have a profound effect on our sense of self, our spirit, and our health. Acupuncture and moxibustion treatment on the channels of your element helps to restore balance and vitality to your inner spirit, helping you become the best version of yourself.
Mental Health is as important as your Physical Health.
This month at Safflower we are talking about mental health. We are taking the time to look after our own, check in with our patients about theirs, and reach out to everybody in the community about what it takes to be “mentally healthy”.
The World Health Organisation states: “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.”
Is this not simply a statement of health? In Chinese medicine, the mind and the body are one and the same. The body must create a safe comfortable place for the mind to rest and relax; and in return, the mind cares for the body through good conscious and unconscious choices, and the positive emotional states – peace, joy and power. When we can just ‘be’, there is no fear of the future, and we can let go of the past. The body is happy and relaxed, whilst the mind is free to explore, dream, and create positive vision for the future.
In Chinese Medicine, we use the body to help the mind. Functional MRI studies have shown that acupuncture can regulate the limbic system and reduce the impact of the stress areas of the brain. Acupuncture also helps you release endorphins to make you feel relaxed and happier. Our herbal medicine formulas target different areas of body and mind to both harmonise, clear and relax.
Please come to our free Mental Health talk on Thursday May 3rd. The Safflower team will be exploring mental health through the eyes of Chinese Medicine, and Alicia Moltzen of Mind Your Health Hypnotherapy, will introduce you to the benefits of hypnotherapy to maintain optimum mental health.
Please visit the Event page here, call 03 5956 7011 or email us at email@example.com to book your place. It’s free!
Damp is such a descriptive word. What do you think of? Wet? Cold or Heat? Sticky? Heavy? These are all excellent words to describe the nature of how the pathogen Damp, is viewed in Chinese Medicine (a pathogen is a biological agent that causes disease or illness). Chinese Medicine also considers Cold, Heat, Wind and Dryness, or a combination of these, as pathological factors that cause dysfunction in the human system. Meaning that turbulent or fierce elements outside the body can also cause havoc inside the body. This makes sense in a philosophy that sees ourselves as fundamentally connected to our environment.
In the body, Damp is one of the most problematic pathogens. Usually it is a result of the digestive organs (the Spleen & Stomach in TCM) functioning clumsily and fluids, instead of hydrating the body or being excreted as waste, start to accumulate in various weakened or sensitive areas. For some people its the lungs and sinus, leading to constant phlegm, coughs or clogged sinuses. For others its in the digestion as bloating, gas or diarrhoea. Sometimes it manifests in the head as foggy thinking or inability to concentrate. Other times it’s a heavy throbbing headache. There are so many ways that Damp can accumulate and cause problems, but there are things that you can do!
Your digestion needs balance and warmth to function properly, just like the rest of you, so here are some things to avoid. Stay away from icy drinks or too many salads. Try to avoid late night or irregular eating, overeating, processed or pesticide laden foods and particularly dairy and too much sweet, stodgy or rich food.
Do more exercise. Movement increases blood flow, oxygenates the tissue, and removes toxin build up throughout the body. Eat good quality fresh wholefoods, organic if you can. Drink plenty of water. Balance and simplify your life as much as you can and get some treatments to support you!
Call Safflower Chinese Medicine on 59567011, or book online at www.safflowerclinic.com.au.
Amongst the most common type of injuries to the body are sinew traumas such as sprains, strains and tears to musculature and surrounding tissues. This may be due to sports injuries but also repetitive tasks such as typing or gardening. A strain or sprain of a ligament or muscle can vary from minor, involving microscopic tears and inflammation, to severe, involving complete tears which can create major instability and pain in the offending area.
Chinese Medicine recognises three distinct stages to a sinew injury: acute, sub-acute and chronic. The acute stage generally lasts from one to seven days and usually involves pain, swelling, redness and inflammation. At this point treatment is about restoring normal circulation of blood, qi (energy flow) and fluids while reducing inflammation, pain and increasing mobility. Non-local acupuncture is very good as it doesn’t directly enter the injury site but can help reduce pain and promote healing. Avoid heat application at this stage.
* A word about using ice on injuries. Chinese Medicine does not usually recommended ice as it may initially reduce pain and inflammation but at a cost. It contracts local blood vessels and tissues by freezing and hardening them, preventing normal circulation and healing. The cold can then settle deeply into the joint creating further stiffness and contraction long term.
Stage 2 usually starts within the first week of an injury and lasts up to three weeks. Most of the inflammation and pain should be gone and stiffness may be present. Applying heat packs, hot compresses or herbal soaks can be very helpful. Massage, acupressure, liniment and more direct acupuncture are good, as are exercises and movement to prevent further stiffening or scar tissue.
Stage 3 or chronic stage is all about continuing to reduce stiffness and promote strength and stability. Warming liniments, heat packs, acupuncture and increasing exercise and stretching are important while being aware of not over-using the area before it’s ready, to prevent reinjury.
Gets some assistance for that pesky injury! Call us on 5956 7011, or book your appointment online today!
Children’s physiology is very different to adults because they are still growing and developing. In Chinese medicine, we consider the digestive system of a child as a very important part for overall wellbeing. Why is that so? Because the post-natal qi (energy force) is formed from air, food and water.
Lets look at allergies first: According to Chinese medicine, we can consider allergies being caused through a deficiency of the defensive energy, a thin layer that surrounds the body and protects it. Through the failing of the protective energy, foreign particles upset the system and develop various symptoms. In Western terms, it’s called immunity. Interestingly the spleen organ is part of the immune system in the western medical context as well.
In Chinese medicine, the spleen is the principal organ system of digestion. In this role it assists the body in energy production by transforming food and water. With the help of air (oxygen) that is inhaled by the lungs, it refines the energy into a yin energy (blood) and a yang energy that has a gaseous structure. This way, the body receives protection power from those two forms of energy.
These explanations are not always easy to comprehend. But by looking on how allergies arise, it makes a lot of sense because by treating the spleen, particularly in children, we can address the allergies, the digestion and the state of energy as well.
Treating the spleen is achieved through assessing the diet, working with the spleen meridian and also involving it’s partner organ, the stomach. With herbal formulas in liquid extract form, particularly popular with children, we correct deficiencies and improve the defensive force.
Because children are mostly unburdened by concepts of life and expectations of society and because their energy system is uncontaminated by toxins such as alcohol and drugs, they respond tremendously well to treatment.
If you feel that your child is not thriving, please contact Safflower Chinese Medicine clinic for an assessment