Health WellNews

Season of the Lungs

The theories of Chinese medicine suggest that each season relates to a different organ system. The Fall is the season of the Lungs. It’s the time of year when people are easily affected by environmental influences. Great changes are taking place in the weather and plant life around us. Some people refer to it as the “flu season.”

The lungs are called the “delicate protective organ,” because they are the only organ that comes into direct contact with the external environment. This can make them vulnerable to the environmental influences which can lead to colds, the flu or allergies.
The lungs are also involved in the production of Wei Qi. Wei Qi is a similar concept to what Western medicine refers to as the immune system. Wei Qi provides the body with an “immune system-like” barrier that protects the body from harmful pathogenic factors that can enter into it, and which may eventually lead to illness and/or disease.

Healthy and strong lungs can enhance the proper functions of the entire body. Through an intricate process, the Lungs extract “pure essence” from the air we breathe and combine it with the food we ingest to produce the Wei Qi. This immunity-like system is then circulated throughout the entire body, providing it with a first line of defense.

When the lungs are functioning correctly, we remain healthy, and potentially free from illness, however, when our lungs become weakened or imbalanced, our body may not have the capacity to produce the correct amount of Wei Qi. When this occurs, the stage for “catching” a cold, the flu or allergies is set. Weak lungs and Wei Qi can also lead to asthma, eczema, dry skin and other problems.

The lungs are negatively affected by many factors: an improper diet, emotional stress, unexpressed or long-held grief or sadness, inherited constitution, smoking, bad air or pollution.

The ancient classic text, Zhen Jing, states, “If the lungs function well, it can activate the flow of Qi, and nourish the whole body with Wei Qi, as rain nourishes young crops.” Proper lung function is necessary to keep us healthy and to help ward off illness and disease.

Staying Healthy and Happy this Autumn

The cooler days and longer nights of autumn have transitioned from the bright, busy days of summer. The natural world is getting ready for the cold months ahead and our bodies are adapting to the changing seasons.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tells us that we are all part of the natural world and its rhythms. As the harvest season settles in, you may find yourself looking inward, reflecting on your life and preparing for the winter in your own way.

In TCM, each season corresponds to a specific Organ System. For example, during the autumn, the Lungs are at their most active point and are susceptible to both positive and negative influences. The Lungs, often referred to as “the delicate protective organ” because of their direct contact with the environment, perform the important function of extracting Qi (“vital energy”) from the air we breathe.

Another important function of the Lungs is to produce Wei Qi. Wei Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system and protects the body against harmful external factors.

When the Lungs are strong and balanced, we’re generally able to stay healthy and avoid illness. However, if the Lungs are out of balance, we become more likely to suffer from conditions such as colds, flu, asthma, allergies and other respiratory concerns.

SUPPORT YOUR LUNGS THIS SEASON WITH THESE SELF-CARE TIPS:

WARM UP:   Protect yourself against the wind and cold. Nourish your body by eating more warm, cooked foods.

COVER UP:  Weather can change quickly this time of year.  Layering clothing or having an extra sweater will help keep your body warm and at the right temperature in order to stay healthy. Have you ever noticed when you first start to catch a cold, you have a stiff neck followed by aches and pains and even fatigue? The back of your neck is vulnerable to Wind, and when your pores are open up,  Wind can get into your body where it doesn’t belong thus causing your body to be more vulnerable to colds! Wearing a scarf can help prevent colds and keep you snug in the winter months.

FOCUS ON EMOTIONS:   Try to let go of negative feelings such as grief and sadness. These can strongly affect your body’s overall balance in this season, and those to come.

BREATHE DEEP:   Try breathing exercises daily to keep the Lungs healthy. I can recommend and teach you specific exercises and self-care techniques in order to keep you functioning optimally.

SEEK PREVENTIVE CARE:   Schedule an appointment with me for a “seasonal tune-up” that is designed to strengthen your Wei Qi and help you maintain balance throughout the seasons to come.

Acupuncture and the Small Intestine

The small intestine is part of the gastrointestinal tract and up to 90 percent of the digestion and absorption of food occurs here. The small intestine’s main function is the absorption of minerals and nutrients from the food we ingest. It consists of three separate parts; the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. The small intestine measures upwards of six to seven meters long and it has a surface area of over 200 meters. In the Traditional Chinese Medicinal system, the small intestine is much more than just its physical traits.

acupuncture meridian small intestine

TCM pairs energetic meridians so that they form a complete circuit, to maintain a balance, there is always a yang and a yin meridian, which you may recognize as a black and white circular symbol. The small intestine meridian is paired with the heart meridian. Imbalances in the small intestine meridian can lead to problems such as abdominal pain, digestion issues, and also appetite problems like overeating or poor appetite. The small intestine meridian starts at the outer tip of the pinky finger and runs up the arm, over the scapula of the shoulder, continues up the neck, and ends in front of the ear. The meridian pathway allows for it to be useful in treating not just intestinal and abdominal issues, but also ailments like earaches, TMJ, shoulder, and neck pain.

The small intestine is the controller of the reception, transformation, and separation of solids and fluids. It receives food and fluids from the stomach and then transforms them by separating the pure from the impure. The pure essence is dispersed throughout the body and the impurities are flushed into the large intestine for eventual removal from the body.

The small intestine meridian is particularly sensitive to cold. Therefore eating lots of cold, raw foods can actually lead to problems in the small intestine. When excess cold invades the small intestine, there may be pain around the navel, watery diarrhea or loose stools, frequent clear urination, and loud gurgling sounds in the abdomen.

In TCM, the small intestine plays both a physical and a mental role. The mental role of the small intestine is to separate the clear thoughts from the turbid ones. This is another way the small intestine is connected to the heart in TCM. The heart houses the mind and is in charge of all of our mental health. Clear judgment depends on the ability of the small intestine to separate the pure from the impure. When there is dysfunction in the small intestine, then there may also be dysfunction in the mind.

While the small intestine may not seem as important as the heart or the kidneys, it is still an integral part of our body and as such, it should be taken care of equally as well. If you experience any abdominal or emotional issues, give us a call, and let’s schedule your first appointment! But most of all, take good care of your gastrointestinal health and your body will respond favorably.