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!

Treat Your Kids to Pediatric Acupuncture

People are very familiar with using acupuncture as adults, but many people don’t realize how beneficial acupuncture can be for their kids. Acupuncture can treat a multitude of conditions for children (more on conditions treated here), and kids can start getting treatment as young as a couple weeks old. Because children are considered to be very yang (active, dynamic, energetic), they respond very quickly to treatment methods, and often recover faster than adults.

Needles can be a part of the treatment….but they don’t have to be. Most often, kids enjoy the idea of using tiny needles to help heal their body. They get excited about learning how acupuncture works and how to take control of their own health. We also have many other tools we use in practice that effectively treat pediatric conditions. Acupressure is great for kids, and pressing on specific acupuncture points is a technique we often teach parents to use at home. Pediatric massage or qigong can be used as well, and helps treat children who are especially sensitive to stimulus and their environments. In some cases, we use a line of pediatric herbal formulas, and they add enormous benefit to the treatment plan.

No two treatments look the same when treating children. It is always about meeting the child where they’re at that day, and we all know that when it comes to kids, you don’t always know what you’re going to get.  We can treat kids on the treatment table, in a chair, on the floor, or in their parent’s lap. Books or toys provide great distractions, and we often make a game out how we are treating that day.

For children, just like adults, you can use acupuncture and Western medicine together, in fact they are very complimentary. We often use acupuncture in combination with other conventional treatments, each method reinforcing the other. For example, we will treat a child for an ear infection or upper respiratory tract infection in conjunction with the child taking antibiotics. Kids see faster healing times, and parents see happier children.

If you have questions about how acupuncture can help your kids, call us anytime. We understand how important health care is for your little ones!

Balance: Yin and Yang

We are always talking to our patients about balance. Balance within our work/home lives, balance in our diets, and balance with our health. It is key to living a happy and healthy life and is a belief that is deeply rooted in Chinese Medicine theory and the practice of acupuncture.

Everyone is familiar with the idea of yin and yang, but what does it really mean, and how does it apply to this idea of balance? It is a concept that began 8000 years ago, formulated by Fu Hsi, a legendary sage who lived along the Yellow River of China. He used two symbols, a broken line and an unbroken line to represent yin and yang. Since then, we have all become familiar with the Taoist symbol of the circle, one side black with a white dot in the center, the other white with a black dot in the center.

Yin and yang shows us that seemingly opposing forces are bound together and interdependent, interconnected and complementary. One gives rise to the other, and one can only exist with the other. When one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality. Beneath it all, yin and yang is the idea that the only constant in the universe is change. Nothing remains the same; no disease, no condition, no emotion, no treatment or diagnosis.

While yin would be dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting, and weak, yang would be bright, active, upward, hot, expanding, and strong. Yin represents that which endures, nourishes and supports growth, as well as the female. It refers to the calm rather than activity. Yang is considered to be creative and generating; developing and expanding, and represents the male.

Yin and yang exist in everything, in every object, concept or state of being. Yin and yang are not static concepts, but are constantly influencing each other. There is always some element of yin within yang and vice versa. You can see this in the picture, the dot of yin within yang and the dot of yang with yin.

In Chinese medicine, yin and yang refer to energies and functions of organs and body mechanisms. Your optimal health is created by the right balance of yin and yang. When one aspect of our health or our lives becomes lopsided, like when we work too many hours, we are too stressed out, or we eat too much of one thing, there is potential to develop symptoms of disease. Acupuncture works to restore this proper balance, thereby bringing you back to the healthy state your body strives for.


Fertility and Acupuncture

At Acupuncture Northwest we see a lot of fertility patients.  Is it because research shows that the use of acupuncture and herbal therapy is effective in treating fertility conditions? Is it because more people than ever before are having a hard time conceiving? Or because people are starting their families later in life? Whatever the reason, acupuncture is becoming a well known treatment  modality used for all types of conditions related to fertility.

Acupuncture is amazing. As you have heard us say so many times before, Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on a person’s unique constitutional pattern, and that specific pattern is what dictates treatment. It is no different for fertility patients. We figure out your individual diagnosis, then apply treatment to help return your body to a balanced state. Some of the most common diagnoses in Chinese medicine for infertiltiy include: Blood stagnation, Kidney deficiency, Blood deficiency, Yin deficiency, Spleen qi deficiency, and Liver overacting on Spleen.  In terms of western medical diagnoses, there are several that are common for fertility patients, including uterine fibroids, poor egg quality, ovarian cysts, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, tubal blockage, endometriosis, annovulation, thin uterine lining and unexplained fertility.

We have patients at many different points in the fertility process, whether it be just starting to try to conceive, to having tried multiple IUIs, or preparing for IVF. No matter where you are in your journey of starting a family, acupuncture can assist in the process. We love working with fertility patients. There is nothing more gratifying than helping someone conceive and make the family they have always wanted.