Digestion: The Root of Childhood Illness

In Chinese medicine, it is believed that diet is one of the main causes of most children’s diseases. For children under the age of 5 or 6, the digestive system, specifically the spleen and stomach, is still weak and immature.

The spleen and stomach are responsible for the transportation and transformation of our food and drink into qi (our body’s energy). In an immature digestive system, these organs have a harder time doing their job efficiently, and this can lead to issues such as abdominal distention, stomachache, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. Basically, the system gets gummed up.

When the issue is longstanding, and the spleen and stomach are not working efficiently, it can lead to stagnation of food, inflammation, or the accumulation of phlegm or dampness in the body. These factors lead to a myriad of other symptoms and illnesses. Some of the most common pediatric diseases like colic, earache, cough, allergies, and pediatric asthma and eczema, can be attributed to weak digestion.

Although children have vulnerable digestive systems, they are also very quick to heal. It is important to understand that since digestion plays such a pivotal role in their health, their diet is very important in terms of treating and preventing illness. It is also important to address the digestive system as part of their treatment plan, regardless of what ails them. Acupuncture is very effective at treating the digestive system, and because kids are so resilient, they respond very quickly to treatment. Herbal formulas are also great at helping to strengthen and boost the spleen and stomach for children.

The Beauty of Stir Fry

Summer is the time of fresh produce, and we all love hitting up farmer’s markets and local stores for the freshest vegetables of the season. What’s one of our favorite things to make with all of these vegetables? Stir fry! Stir fry points of power:

1 – Simplicity –  Your grocery list, like the ingredients, is as raw and simple as it comes… just about any type of veggies, some lean meat (if you like), garlic, chicken/vegetable stock, oil and a good hot wok and you are set. The cooking is easy and the key is high heat, frequently tossing some garlic and a touch of oil in with each bunch of veggies and cooking the firmer veggies (e.g. cauliflower, carrots) a little longer. Popping the lid over the wok will cook and soften things a little quicker.

2 – Cleans you – If you are on cleanse, trying to eat healthier, carnivore to the end, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, anti-inflammatory, you name it…the basic stir fry can satisfy all the above diets. One of the cleanest and healthiest meals on the planet…go ahead and pick up an issue of your “Clean Eating” magazine or a copy of your cleanse diet and the stir fry is your go-to without sacrificing flavor or creativity.

3 – Cleans your fridge – Yes! The added bonus with cooking up a stir fry is it is the perfect way to clean out the fridge and use those aging  vegetables and that half-empty broth container. Basically empty the veggie drawer (with some minor prepping) into that stir fry. The stir fry is not picky about what you put in it, it welcomes all veggies with open handles.

 

How Stress Affects Your Liver

In Chinese medicine, each of our organs has a physical and energetic function that define their role in keeping the body in balance. They all work together in harmony, and when one organ becomes out of balance, each of the other organs have to work harder to compensate for that. If this imbalance continues for too long, chronic issues can develop.

The Liver organ is responsible for the smooth movement of qi in the body. Qi is defined as the “energy” or “life force” within us, and by nature, wants to flow unobstructed through meridians in the body. The Liver is also the organ that is first affected by stress in our lives. During high times of stress or overwork, our Liver qi becomes stagnant.

Signs of Liver qi stagnation include muscle tightness and tension, irritability, and PMS symptoms in women. It can also create excess heat in the body, which can manifest as high blood pressure, red face, and headaches.

How do we soothe our Livers and prevent qi stagnation? There are many things we can do. Acupuncture is a wonderful way to move Liver qi and address the root cause of the problem, stress. Exercise, deep breathing, getting adequate rest and sleep, and practicing meditation are all good techniques to help soothe the Liver. Letting go of mistakes made in the past, working through feelings of guilt and fear, and avoiding obsessing about events that might occur in the future are also ways to help keep the flow of qi moving and fluid, rather than stuck and stagnant.

Tip: Liver 3 is a great acupressure point to help move Liver qi. It is on the top of the foot, between the big toe and the second toe. Move about an inch up from the crease between these two toes, and feel for the most tender spot, using firm pressure to massage the point. Your Liver will thank you!