Fall and Metal Element

 
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In Chinese Medicine, the season of Fall corresponds to the Metal element. The energy shifts from yang to yin, from expansion to contraction, so it's helpful to have structure and organization at this time. This applies externally and also internally. As the leaves fall from the trees, we are reminded of how beautiful it can be to let things go. Your breath is a balance of inhale and exhale, the exhalation is a necessary release so you can be filled again. At this time it's important to clear out and let go of what is no longer needed.

One of my favorite quotes is by the martial artist Bruce Lee: "It's not the daily increase but daily decrease, hack away at the unessential. The closer to the source, the less wastage there is." I find that when there is stress, confusion, and overwhelm, it's often because there is excess that is cluttering the mind and daily life. The practice of decluttering and simplifying allows for fresh qi to flow, and brings more clarity for choices and decisions. When you are aligned with the essentials, you can connect with your purpose and experience greater ease.

The Lung and Large intestine meridians are prone to imbalances in the Fall. Common symptoms that I see clients coming in with are respiratory conditions, allergies, sinus congestion, sore throat, cough, chest tightness, cold/flu symptoms, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, sadness, grief, depression, stress, mental fog, confusion, feeling aimless, control issues, and difficulty letting go.

Here are ways to balance the Metal element during the Fall season:

  1. Declutter and simplify. Go through your home, especially the closets and storage areas. Notice what hasn't been used in over a year, what items are not needed anymore, and where the energy feels stagnant. Clean, clear away, discard, or donate what is excess.

  2. Get organized and establish a routine. Plan your time and calendar to accommodate for changes in work and family schedules. It may be helpful to have regular routines and preparation around meals, sleep, exercise, and self-care so that you feel fundamentally supported.

  3. Check your alignment. Re-assess what your priorities are, and whether your activities and resources are aligned with that. Reflect on who you are now, and see how you can better align with your true self and with your intentions for how you want to evolve.

  4. Let it go. Have discernment around what has value and what doesn't serve you anymore. Consider what you need to let go of from the past in order to move into the future. This could be releasing old thoughts and feelings, stories of guilt and shame, cultural conditioning of disempowerment, energetic ties to past relationships, and misguided habits.

  5. Allow yourself to feel grief and sadness. Be sure to process your emotions, don't brush over or bury your feelings. Give thanks for the lessons learned. Release judgements. Forgive yourself and others. Have the courage to be with the emptiness and space created.

I practice acupuncture in a traditional way that addresses the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of your health and wellbeing. Come in for a session if you’d like support with balance and alignment.

Late Summer and Earth Element

 
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These months of sunshine are extra special according to Chinese Medicine. We have the season of Summer, and also a fifth season known as Late Summer or Long Summer. According to Five Element theory, each season (Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter) is marked by changes in nature and has its own unique energetic dynamics. During the transitions between the seasons, traditional wisdom advises us to attune our body, mind, and spirit to be in harmony with nature. This keeps our health balanced and enables us to stay well throughout the year.

The short season of Late Summer spans about a month from around mid- or late-August to the Fall Equinox. During this time, there is a transition from yang to yin. The energy is shifting from warmth to coolness, from expansive growth to inward pull. This is the time when there are plenty of sweet fruits and vegetables in the garden that are ripe and ready to be harvested. 

Late Summer is associated with the Earth element, which corresponds to the Spleen and Stomach meridians. If you’re out of balance, you might have symptoms like nausea, gas, bloating, heartburn, digestive issues, loose stools, weight gain, allergies, yeast infections, chronic infections, muscle aches, heavy limbs, joint pain, lethargy, fatigue, worry, overthinking, poor concentration, loneliness, emptiness, being overprotective, or feeling stuck. It’s common to have physical symptoms along with emotional symptoms because in Chinese Medicine it’s all interconnected.

Here are ways to balance the Earth element during the season of Late Summer: 

  1. Eat warm and cooked foods. This helps to optimize digestion because cooked foods are easier to assimilate. Too many raw and cold foods weaken the digestive fire. So trade salads for sautéed veggies and warm meals. Adzuki beans, Chinese pearl barley, and lentils are delicious to make in soups and porridges.

  2. Limit the sweets and avoid foods that create dampness. That means a lot of the fun stuff like sugar, dairy, refined carbs, pastries, processed foods, and fried foods. Damp foods contribute to heaviness and phlegm in the body. Luckily, there are many naturally sweet foods that are beneficial to eat! Go to the farmer’s market and eat fresh seasonal produce, such as corn, squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, beets, parsnips, berries, apples, and figs.

  3. Be aware of your thought patterns and don’t worry. The Earth element is associated with intellect, but too much thinking can injure the Spleen meridian. This is a great time of year to start or recommit to your meditation practice to clear your mind. If you find yourself having obsessive and repetitive thoughts, try looking at things from a different perspective. Center yourself in the present moment. Trust in the process. Shift from scarcity thinking to abundance mindset.

  4. Nourish yourself with what you need to feel grounded, supported, and fulfilled. Make it a priority to care for yourself, so that you can then give to others from a resourced place. Also be open to receiving support. Enjoy being in good company, laugh with with friends and family, connect with your community. Practice boundaries and compassion to create stability and harmony with others.

As the seasons change, it’s an ideal time to get acupuncture treatment to balance the body, treat any symptoms, and strengthen your system for preventive health and wellness.

Cheers to Late Summer sweetness, nourishment, and abundance!

Yoni Steaming for Menstrual Health

 
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Vaginal steaming, commonly known as yoni steam, is a traditional healing practice that can be traced back to many cultures throughout the world. Steaming is a direct and gentle way to deliver herbal medicine to the reproductive area and heal the body.

Physically vaginal steaming helps to cleanse the uterine lining, nourish vaginal tissue, improve circulation, warm the uterus, and balance pH levels. It can address menstrual cycle irregularities, short or long cycles, scant or heavy bleeding, cramps, fertility, cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, yeast and bacteria infections, vaginal dryness, uterine prolapse, scars and tears, and tone the reproductive system after birth.

Energetically vaginal steaming helps to release stored emotions, clear imprints from past lovers, and heal trauma especially related to relationships, sex, power, and creativity. Steaming is a way to connect to the womb as a sacred center and channel the powerful energy of the feminine body.

Luminae Yoni Steam Herbs are handcrafted with all organic herbs to support a smooth menstrual cycle, reproductive health, womb wellness, and feminine empowerment. Blends feature herbs like mugwort, yarrow, motherwort, calendula, rosemary, lavender, white sage, and rose petals.

How to steam: Bring a pot of water to boil and add the herbs. Keep the lid on the pot and simmer the herbs for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and let the pot cool for 5 minutes. You can steam in several ways: 1) sitting on a yoni steam stool with the pot under the stool; 2) cushion the ground with towels, sit on your knees with your pelvis hovering over the pot and arms placed in front to stabilize your body; or 3) bring two chairs side by side, put the pot in between, sit over the pot. Drape a big sheet or towel around you to contain the heat. Steam is hot! Be careful to not burn yourself. Steam for 15-30 minutes. Contraindications to steaming include having an IUD, during full flow of menstrual bleeding, or after ovulation if you are trying to conceive.

If you are recently postpartum or have specific health concerns, custom herbal steam blends are beneficial. Make an appointment for an Acupuncture Wellness Session to get support for your menstrual cycle and reproductive health!

Natural Skincare

 
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Sharing some of my natural skincare secrets, because freckles are impossible to cover with make-up! But seriously, a lot of beauty products are loaded with parabens and chemical toxins that disrupt hormone levels and harm the reproductive system. Natural skincare is essential! Here are a few tips for naturally healthy glowing skin:

In Chinese Medicine, skin health is a reflection of the internal health of the body. Therefore when I treat skin issues, I address the skin externally and also treat the body internally to get to the root of the problem. Most skin problems are caused by imbalances with hormones, digestion, inflammation, and stress. Acupuncture and herbal medicine works to correct imbalances, reduce stress, support detoxification, increase circulation, and strengthen the body's organ systems. 

Diet and nutrition is very important. In general, it's helpful to avoid foods that wreck your gut and cause inflammation in the body, like sugar, dairy, gluten, processed foods, coffee, alcohol. Eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies so you are getting a wide range of antioxidants to protect, repair, and nourish the skin. Add to your diet healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and seeds to restore moisture and elasticity to the skin. Also drink lots of water throughout the day to keep the skin hydrated.

As for topically, my skincare routine is simple and consists of a gentle cleanser, rosewater, and facial oil (I make my own blends of plant oils and essential oils). I love doing a daily facial gua sha massage to promote qi and blood circulation in the skin, decrease puffiness, contour the face, and boost skin radiance. I also do facial acupuncture to boost collagen, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, address trouble spots, and enhance skin tone.

Natural beauty is really inside out! 

Summer and Fire Element

 
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Summer is
 the most yang time of the year with more warmth, sunshine, and longer days. There is energy of expansion, movement, and activity. Harness the yang energy by engaging in more physical exercise and social activities. Wake earlier in the morning and enjoy being outdoors. Explore what piques your curiosity and do what brings you joy.

Summer corresponds to the Heart and Small Intestine meridians. Common symptoms and issues in summer that I see people coming in for acupuncture treatment include: pain flare ups, skin rashes, insomnia, restless sleep, palpitations, cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, hot flashes, indigestion, heartburn, mouth sores, anxiety, irritability, confusion, relationship issues, difficulty setting boundaries, feeling guarded in the heart, finding passion, and connecting to purpose.

In the summertime, the increased heat can be balanced by adjusting your diet and nutrition. Eat lighter meals. Avoid heavy greasy food and avoid spicy foods. Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables, and eat foods that are cooling in terms of energetic temperature. Examples of cooling foods are watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, lemon, spinach, lettuce, asparagus, watercress, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumber, bitter melon, mung beans, seaweed, mint, dill, cilantro. Also keep cool by drinking lots of water to stay hydrated!

When the seasons change, it's an optimal time to come in for a wellness tune-up! Balancing the body internally helps you to stay in harmony with the changes in the environment.

Acupuncture in Third Trimester and for Labor Induction

 
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Acupuncture for labor induction is a safe and natural treatment to prepare mama and baby for a smooth labor and delivery.

Sometimes pregnant mamas reach out to me in desperation at week 39 or later to induce labor. While acupuncture is effective at any time, it’s ideal for pregnant mamas is to come in for acupuncture at week 28 for the whole third trimester because it gives time to balance and strengthen the body in preparation labor. Plus acupuncture is so beneficial!

Acupuncture in the third trimester helps with low back pain, sciatica, pelvic pain, carpal tunnel pain, fatigue, swollen hands and feet, digestive issues, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, constipation, breech position, insomnia, anxiety, worry, overwhelm, and of course, labor preparation.

With regular acupuncture treatments, mama’s body is strong and balanced, and baby is getting good nourishment with blood flow to the uterus. Then labor happens at the right time, and there is an easeful delivery and quicker postpartum recovery!

Rosewater for Natural Beauty

 
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Rosewater, made from the roses in my garden!

Rose is treasured for its profound healing properties. Here are some ways to use rosewater: Spray on your face as a natural toner to calm, balance, and hydrate the skin. Spritz in your hair to promote hair growth, conditioning, and shine. Mist around your body or around a room to refresh, open the heart, and nourish the spirit.

Limited quantity available of this seasonal blessing, come by the Luminae space to pick up some rosewater!

Acupuncture for Pregnancy

 
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Acupuncture for Pregnancy :: As an acupuncturist and birthworker, I draw upon traditional practices from Chinese Medicine and knowledge from my family passed through generations to support clients with healthy pregnancy. Ancient wisdom for modern times! 

Physical symptoms during pregnancy that acupuncture can treat include preventing miscarriage, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, fatigue, insomnia, back pain, hip pain, pelvic pain, body swelling, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, breeched position, and labor induction.

Emotional symptoms during pregnancy that acupuncture can treat include stress, anxiety, depression, worry, fear, anger, sadness, and overwhelm.

Acupuncture is beneficial while trying to conceive and throughout the entire pregnancy. I especially encourage pregnant mamas to come in for acupuncture during the first trimester to establish a strong foundation for the pregnancy, and during the third trimester to prepare the body for labor and birth, and ensure a smooth postpartum recovery.

Women's Reproductive Health

 
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Women’s Reproductive Health :: I see a lot of clients come in because they are seeking alternative treatment options for women’s health and reproductive health concerns. These issues include menstrual cramps, irregular bleeding, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, hormone imbalances, and infertility.

In Western Medicine, the options are often limited to pain killers, hormonal birth control, synthetic hormones, and surgery. However in Chinese Medicine, there is extensive knowledge and many ways to use acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet and nutrition, and lifestyle guidance to naturally treat the root cause and resolve symptoms.

Along with addressing reproductive health from a physical perspective, I believe it is important to uncover the underlying emotions. The reproductive system corresponds to the sacral chakra, the energy center in the body located below the navel. One way to facilitate healing of the sacral chakra is to address and release stuck emotions around relationships, power dynamics, and being able to create.

If you’re looking for holistic treatment for reproductive health, come in for an Acupuncture Wellness Session!

Pain Relief and Athletes

 
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Pain Relief and Athletic Performance :: As the weather warms up, people are getting outside and moving their bodies more. I love helping clients to enjoy full mobility, feel easeful in the joints and muscles, and stay active.

Acupuncture helps relieve pain, decrease muscle tightness, increase range of motion, improve recovery time, heal injuries, prevent reinjury, strengthen the body, increase energy, and optimize overall health. 

Yet Chinese Medicine is more than just acupuncture! Some of the other traditional Chinese Medicine modalities that I use in addition to acupuncture include dietary therapy, herbal medicine, cupping, gua sha, moxa, herbal patches, salves, and liniments.

Cleansing and Detoxification

 
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Detox :: Spring is the ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenation. Here are ways to promote detoxification and holistic health.

1. Eat more foods that support liver functioning. Lots of greens! Vegetables that are bitter are especially helpful, such as arugula, dandelion, milk thistle, burdock, asparagus, artichoke, parsley. If you're feeling sluggish, eat foods that taste pungent to decrease qi stagnation, such as watercress, chives, scallions, mustard greens, turmeric, basil, and mint. To support digestion, mix 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon in a cup of warm water, this will help flush toxins and stimulate bowel movements. 

2. Cleanse your diet by eliminating inflammatory foods like alcohol, coffee, sugar, processed foods, and heavy foods. Eat organic foods when you can, particularly the fruits and vegetables on the dirty dozen list. Reduce harmful environmental toxins that you are breathing and absorbing into your body. Chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, BPA, and other toxins that are found in household cleaning supplies, personal care products, cosmetics, and plastics can disrupt the endocrine system and interfere with metabolism. Look for products that are nontoxic and fragrance-free. 

3. Sweat it out by detoxing through perspiration. Enjoy a sauna, steam room, hot bath, or sweaty workout.

4. Be mindful of the messages you are taking in. Pay attention to what you watch, read, and listen to. Consider if what you are consuming through media, news, and entertainment is wholesome and conducive to your wellbeing. Filter the messages you are putting out. Refrain from complaining, gossip, and negative self-talk.

5. Limit time around people and places that are toxic. Assess your connections, interactions, and the places you frequent. Notice what is stressful, filled with drama, drains your energy, or brings you down. Choose to be around what is healthy, positive, rejuvenating, and vibrant. 

The Liver and Gallbladder meridians are more prone to imbalances during the spring season. Coming in for acupuncture treatment can help optimize the functioning of your organ systems!

Spring and Wood Element

 
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In Chinese Medicine, the season of spring corresponds to the Wood element and there is energy of new growth, creativity, visioning, and planning.

Spring is related to the Liver and Gallbladder meridians, and these organ systems are more prone to imbalances. Around this time of year, I often see clients coming in with symptoms of allergies, colds, sinus congestion, irritability, anger, frustration, indecision, waking up around 1-3am, constipation, headache, menstrual irregularities, eye issues, muscle spasms, and muscle tension. The Liver is prone to qi stagnation, so be sure to stretch and exercise for a smooth flow of energy and creative expression.

Here are ways to renew and freshen up your life this Spring season:

1. Clean up your diet. Eliminate processed junk, artificial additives, alcohol, sugar, and inflammatory foods. Begin to lighten up your diet to shed the excess heaviness and dampness from the winter. 
2. Tidy up your home. Sweep, mop, vacuum, scrub, dust! Make sure that everything is clean and there's no accumulation from the year past. De-clutter and organize storage spaces. Give away, donate, and get rid of what you no longer use or need. Create space for fresh energy to flow. 
3. Let go of old patterns and habits. Disengage from negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, and habitual behaviors that are blocking you from where you want to be. Bring mindfulness to positive thoughts, new storylines, and better habits that support the changes you want in your life.
4. Freshen up your surroundings. Notice the people and places that drain your energy. Shift towards being around what gives you the feeling of being nourished and rejuvenated.  
5. Renew your intentions. Set aside time to get clarity on actions going forward and plant seeds of intentions, visioning what you want to grow and blossom. The increase of yang in the coming spring will provide a catalyst for your intentions and projects to grow.

When there are changes in the seasons or changes in your life, it's a good time to make an appointment for a wellness tune-up. Acupuncture helps keep your body and mind in balance so that you can adapt to changes well and maintain optimal health!

Getting Restful Sleep

 
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Sleep :: Winter is the most yin season. Yin has a cold, slow, dark, soft, and introspective quality. This time of year, it's beneficial to slow down, reflect, take naps, and rest more to be in harmony with nature. Here are some tips for more restful sleep:

1. Eat dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime. The body needs a few hours to digest a large meal. Eating earlier can help make sure the body is not busy digesting and can focus on rejuvenating organs during sleep. 
2. Minimize screen time 2-3 hours before bedtime. Electronic screens emit artificial blue light that can interfere with circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin. Staying away from your phone, computer, and television can be helpful.
3. Sleep routine to wind down. Establishing a routine entrains your body to relax and prepare for sleep. This could be making a cup of tea, doing gentle stretching, taking a bath, reading a book, or meditating.
4. Write down your thoughts. For overthinking and anxiety, writing what's on your mind down on paper before bedtime can be helpful in shifting repetitive thoughts so that you fall asleep with a clear mind. 
5. Use essential oils. Putting essential oils like lavender or ylang ylang in a diffuser creates a relaxing aroma in your bedroom. You can also use essential oils topically or in a bath. The Luminae Wellness Oil blend Dream is perfect to support you in dream state.
6. Deep breathing. Taking deep inhales and deep exhales puts the nervous system into the parasympathetic state so you feel more relaxed and have an easier time falling asleep.

In Chinese Medicine, insomnia is a symptom with various possible root causes, so the treatment varies depending on the individual. Insomnia could be experienced as difficulty falling asleep, waking through the night, waking at a specific time during the night, not having deep sleep, or waking up too early in the morning. If you are having trouble getting a restful night sleep, come in for acupuncture treatment to help balance your body.

Preventing Cold and Flu

 
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Cold and Flu :: As the seasons change, here are tips to keep your immune system strong.

1. Keep your neck covered. The neck is known as a "wind gate" in Chinese medicine, a vulnerable spot where "wind" can get into if the body's defenses are low and lead to "wind cold" symptoms (what we know as cold and flu!). Wearing a scarf or turtleneck sweater to cover the neck keeps the body protected.
2. Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables such as persimmons, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. These orange foods are full of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A and that helps to fight infection.
3. Cook with ginger, garlic, scallions, and mushrooms (especially shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, lion's mane, and oyster mushrooms). These powerhouse foods have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. 
4. Take elderberry syrup for a boost to the immune system. This fruit is rich in vitamin C and has traditionally been used to prevent and remedy cold and flu symptoms.
5. Get more sleep and slow down. As we transition from the yang of summer to the yin of winter, we can change our lifestyle to stay in harmony with the changes in nature. It's important to get enough rest, because not resting enough makes our qi weak, and we need our wei qi (defensive qi) strong to fight off infections.

Coming in for acupuncture treatment can help keep you healthy, ward off a cold and flu at the onset, or shorten the duration of symptoms. Make your appointment for a seasonal tune-up to keep your immune system strong!