Winter is a time to cozy up, stay warm and indulge in the stillness of quieter nights. Days are shorter and nature follows this rhythmic cycle by storing energy and slowing down. Winter can be a time of reflection and much needed rest after the abundance of summer in order to prepare for the growth of spring. Winter is also an opportunity for us to take care of our kidneys, the organ system which closely relates to our reproductive organs and the aging process. When we pay attention and nurture our kidney function, there is greater potential that come springtime, new life can grow.
It’s here, the time of year when kids run home from school sniffling and everyone in your office is reaching for the tissue box. In eastern medicine we believe that catching a cold is a sign that your body’s qi is weakened. If steps are taken to keep your qi vital, you will not get sick even if you are exposed to bacteria and viruses. Below are 5 practical ways to protect yourself and your family from many of the pathogens in the environment.
Today inflammation has become a buzz word in our sedentary, stressed out lives thanks to its relationship to heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and autoimmune conditions. However, there is another, lesser-known process called methylation that is linked to the body’s ability to deal with inflammation. Problems with methylation, either over or under, are implicated in various kinds of illnesses. Without getting too technical, methylation is a complex biochemical process that involves many of our body’s functions including: detoxification, antioxidant recycling, immune regulation, and our stress response.
Throughout human history, gemstones have served as symbols of health, wealth, and the sacred. In the ancient world the 12 tribes of Israel were represented by 12 corresponding precious stones placed in the breast plate of the corresponding tribal high priests. In Revelations, John’s visions of the 12 foundations of a New Jerusalem – or sacred city – rest on layers of jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, and amethyst; and the power of stones were attributed to the power of God. The Romans carried cut stones to ward off sickness and bad luck. The Egyptians polished and hammered stones into scarabs, symbols of creation and wore amulets made of amethyst, hematite, jasper, carnelian, and lapis lazuli.
My father is Italian, born and raised on a beautiful farm in the south of Italy. As a child we would travel there annually to visit with my extended family. As an American girl I was uncomfortable with the lifestyle in Italy and can recall it feeling dirty. I was especially afraid to eat some of the food. It was so different than what we ate in America. Our food looked perfect and came in sterile packages. In Italy it had bug bites and all parts of the animals were served as food or utilized in some aspect of life such as the fat of pigs being used as soap. As I grew older, I realized that it was the American lifestyle as I knew it that was dirty and the Italian agricultural lifestyle was pure. Eastern medicine shares many of the values that my Italian family practiced. Unfortunately, many of those values are being lost globally today and humanity is experiencing the affects. Below I have outlined some reasonable measures we can take to integrate practices and values that promote community, health, spirituality, a sense of peace, and, above all love.
My story is not unique. Divorced parents, some depression, acting out and abusing my body with unhealthy habits. Mindless adolescent behaviors led to an absence of monthly periods that lasted from teenage years well into my 30’s. Possibly I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), possibly I have hypothalamic amenorrhea (a term used when the pituitary shuts down and stops producing key hormones), or possibly I have a hybrid of both. Regardless of the official diagnosis, I was told I could not have a baby without drugs or help from the western medical system. So I gave up on the idea of wanting a child because I was stubborn and wanted to do it my way, without any outside assistance – medications, technology, etc. And I didn’t want to deal with the reality that things may not go according to MY plan.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Clarita Tano Zinatbakhsh grew up in the country, living on farms and eating food from the earth. She learned early on the importance of what goes inside your body and where it comes from. This sentiment has traveled with her throughout her life. Today, she lives in Los Angeles, California and works at a local farmers market, selling locally grown products that use no pesticides or chemicals.
Experience has taught Clarita the connection between eating healthy and the benefits of seeking relief of illnesses through eastern medicine. Prior to discovering acupuncture, Clarita was one of many people who sought out western remedies for illnesses and ailments. Working at a beauty shop in Bagiou City when she was young, Clarita found her immune system compromised from exposure to chemicals used in the shop. She suffered from chronic coughs and colds, which were treated with antibiotics following an impersonal visit with the doctor. As her conditions continued to worsen, so did the prescribing of antibiotics, only at higher doses. This vicious and expensive cycle continued leading to her feeling even worse with new symptoms, which included stomach pains similar to symptoms of an ulcer.
Los Angeles is a pressure cooker. Each and every day we navigate professional and personal relationships, social, cultural, and financial pressures, time constraints, unhealthy boundaries (often in cars) and less than ideal environmental conditions. Internally, stressful environments become overwhelming as low grade everyday stresses build up and tax our body’s ability to respond to these pressures in a calm, ideal way.
Dr. Joseph Clarke discusses how our urban environment can greatly affect the way the body functions and therefore, acupuncture among other life care is essential to maintain balance.