Skip to content

859-913-5638

The acupuncture office of Deborah Hutchinson, PhD, LAc, DiplAc (NCCAOM)®. Located in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, offering acupuncture and moxibustion according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles

Liver

Using Acupuncture to Treat Liver & Kidney Health: Why it Works

Using Acupuncture to Treat Liver & Kidney Health: Why it Works

According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects more than 1 in 7 U.S. adults (an estimated 37 million). And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 4.5 million adults have been diagnosed with liver disease. Those are some sobering statistics, but did you know that acupuncture has a proven track record of effectively dealing with kidney and liver disease?  continue reading »

Spring is here!

Spring is the season of growth, regeneration, increased activity, and new beginnings. The transition from winter to spring can allow us the ability to get more done and spend more time outside. Generally, spring is regarded as a happy season, especially for those living in places with colder, darker winters. Most of us look forward to the spring’s warmer weather and longer days. As everything around us blossoms in the sun, so too should we embrace this renewal.

 

As with any seasonal change, we must pay close attention to our body’s needs during this turbulent time of seasonal change. Moving from the indoor sleepy coldness of winter and into the warm, active spirit of spring can be tough on your system when not handled with care. For many, spring months also bring allergies, high blood pressure, headaches, sinus pain, congestion, anger, irritation, and tendon problems. Many of these problems can be attributed to the frequent weather changes; in TCM terms we refer to it as increased wind in the environment. We say “the Wind brings 100 diseases” and can invade the acupuncture channels. And while there is nothing that can be done about external weather factors, internal wind can be addressed and diminished using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the many modalities it incorporates.

 

Chinese Medicine places emphasis on living in tune with the seasons. TCM theory divides the year into five seasons! These five seasons each have associations and physical qualities that can be seen in both the external or “natural” world and also within our bodies. These elements interact daily, creating balance and harmony — or stirring up chaos within the body.

 

TCM associates spring with the liver and gallbladder. The gallbladder governs decision-making and controls the sinews of the body, while the liver is in charge of detoxification and keeping the energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) flowing smoothly. The liver tends to be a bit of a “bully” for many people, overwhelming bodily systems, so it’s important to keep it healthy. Often, winter months leave us with stagnant feelings in areas like relationships, work, and in our bodies. If we experience frustration, physical pain, or sadness, it may be a sign that energy is not flowing optimally. The liver and gallbladder are also related to the tendons, storing blood during periods of rest and releasing it to the tendons during times of activity. Because this pair of organs are responsible for the smooth flow of Qi and blood throughout the body, our daily activities should reflect this.

 

6 Ways to Re-balance Your Liver and Gallbladder

 

Stretch daily.

Regular stretching is a great way to start and end the day. Adding yoga or tai chi to your daily routine can be very beneficial for the liver, tendons, and the body as a whole.

 

Get outside.

Spending more time outside is another easy and powerful way to strengthen the liver and gallbladder energies in the spring. Moving around outside can get your heart rate up and keep you warm — if the temperature is still quite cold where you live, consider a warm-up exercise routine for inside before you brave the cold. Remember to dress in layers, wear boots instead of gym shoes, wear a warm hat, gloves, and socks, and, most importantly, protect your neck with a nice warm scarf.

For people with kids and families, getting outside is an excellent way to stay healthy and have fun together. Consider a walk with the dog, visiting a new park, playing basketball, soccer, rollerblading, biking, or even a good old game of Frisbee with your family and kids. If you live in a wintery area, you might even seek out a local ice rink! In fact, at a moderate pace simply skating laps can burn up to 500 calories per hour while toning the muscles in your lower body and core that keep you mobile and limber. If ice skating sounds too cold for you, a bundled-up bike ride is another favorite spring activity. Because of its cardiovascular nature and use of the big quadriceps and gluteal muscles, biking will warm your body quickly.

 

Eat more greens.

Eating fresh leafy greens is supportive of the liver’s detoxification function and can also help strengthen vision, thanks to the vitamins and nutrients in these veggies. And luckily, fresh greens are abundantly available in springtime!

 

Understand the elements.

In TCM spring is associated with the element of wood. When a person is completely balanced, transitioning from one season to another doesn’t feel like a big deal. However, knowing what elemental type you are can be beneficial in determining how you will react to each passing season. For instance, a person who has a wood element constitution may experience anger during the spring. This is because the wood element is already closely associated with the emotion of anger and spring brings added stimuli that can trigger bits of rage.

 

Avoid over-stimulation.

It is also recommended to avoid excessive stimulants during the spring months. Things like coffee and caffeine supplements are considered expansive and energizing, which can be somewhat helpful during the cold winter months. However during the spring, when life is abounding, excess energy can actually become harmful to the body. Symptoms can manifest themselves as headaches, insomnia, anger, and more.

 

Get your seasonal tune-up.

To keep the liver and gallbladder working smoothly, things like acupuncture, herbal formulas, nutritional counseling can make a world of difference. Acupuncture can balance the body as it reacts to the changes in the weather and activity levels. Regular acupuncture treatments have also been shown to boost immunity. Spring can also cause flare-ups associated with seasonal allergies and acupuncture treatments can help with the inflammation, sneezing, runny nose, chest congestion, and watery eyes that accompany the allergic reactions. But most of all, acupuncture can help regulate those emotional imbalances that are often common during this transitional period.

As with any health care regiment, always be sure to seek out a fully licensed and properly trained professional, such as myself and my colleagues. By incorporating some simple practices into your life, you may just have a more enjoyable metamorphosis from winter into spring. If you need a little motivation to ease the transition, don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule your next appointment.

 

If you would like a PDF copy of this post, click here.

 

Liver Tune-up Time!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is ruled by a particular organ system and spring is connected to the liver. What does this mean? You probably notice changes in the way you feel, both physically and mentally, as the seasons change. Many of us feel more contemplative and introspective during the winter months. Once spring hits, we may feel ready to recharge and get things done.

Liver energy is strong and assertive, the type of energy you need to create plans and propel them into motion. However, if your liver is out of balance, you might notice that you’re more irritable or on edge than usual.

 

Here are a few signs that your liver is in need of an acupuncture tune-up:

1. You’ve noticed an increase in headaches, and these headaches seem to feel worse when you aren’t active. Generally, headaches tend to manifest at the vertex of your head.

2. You feel constipated or bloated. Your bowel movements have become irregular, alternating between constipation and loose stools. Hard, difficult stools that appear pebbly are also a sign of liver imbalance.

3. Friends and coworkers are scared of you because you are cranky, cranky, cranky! When liver energy is out of balance, you can feel agitated, irritated, and generally out of sorts. Sometimes irritation flares into outright anger more easily than it would if this energy was flowing smoothly.

4. You may notice PMS symptoms have been worsening. Bloating, breast tenderness, sensitivity can all be exacerbated by liver imbalance. If your periods are more painful or clotted, this can also be due to a stagnation of liver energy.

5. Your eyes are red, itchy, or irritated.

6. Shoulders, neck, or jaw are uncomfortably tight. If the liver energy is out of balance, it can flow upward. This causes inflexibility, and everything in your body to “rise up”: you might grind or clench your teeth, hold your shoulders up, experience symptoms of TMJ, or have headaches at the top of your head

7. Maybe you’ve noticed that your allergies are in full force, complete with itchy, red, watery eyes.

If you are suffering from any of these issues, your body is crying out for a visit. Please, come and talk to me! Let’s get you a Spring tune-up with tried and trued TCM solutions that can help.

Acupuncture for Liver Detox

When people consider starting a cleanse or detoxification program, their minds often turn to  boxed or bottled juices and pre-packaged kits. While acupuncture is not typically associated with detoxification, it’s proven to be not only an efficient detoxification technique on its own, but can also help decrease the unpleasant side effects of clearing toxins from the blood.

The College of Oriental Medicine at Daejeon University conducted and published a study showing that acupuncture can reduce liver toxicity while protecting the liver and its functions. While this study was conducted on laboratory rats, the information collected shows great promise as to how it can be used in humans. The rats were injected with an olive oil solution into the abdomen to create an injury to the liver. They were then treated using a specific acupuncture point (Gallbladder 34). The gallbladder and liver meridians are linked through an interior-exterior relationship. Blood work was monitored throughout the study and specific liver values were shown to improve as the acupuncture treatments continued, thus helping to balance the liver and keep it functioning properly.

Here’s a link to the research article.

In TCM, the liver is considered to be an organ that is easily affected by excess stress and uncontrolled emotions. The liver is paired with the gallbladder and the two work very closely as a unit. When one is imbalanced, the other may display symptoms. For instance, if a person is constantly stressed, their liver energies may become blocked — and the gallbladder can become affected. It’s not uncommon for people in high-stress jobs to end up with gallstones. This can happen when the liver becomes imbalanced and emotions bottle up, manifesting in pain and potentially stones.

Anger is the emotion commonly associated with the liver and gallbladder. If a person is frequently irritable, gets angered easily, and has difficulty relaxing or navigating conflict, it’s safe to guess that the liver Qi isn’t functioning properly. There are many methods of balancing the liver and returning proper energy flow throughout the body. Learning to stay calm and channel one’s anger appropriately is a good place to start. Practice some deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or simply take a walk. All of these things are great for balancing stagnant liver Qi.

Acupuncture is another great way to balance liver energies. Regular acupuncture treatments help balance the body holistically and without any major detrimental side effects. During the spring, the liver is especially taxed due to the intense new energies that occur. This makes springtime a wonderful time to begin acupuncture treatments.

Don’t wait for your system to send you a Springtime alarm! Give us a call to schedule your acupuncture tune-up today, and let’s see what we can do to get your liver happy again!

Here is a pdf of this blog post.

859-913-5638 Directions Contact/Schedule