Healthy Foods for Fall

Healthy Foods for Fall, The Center For Advanced Acupuncture in Elkton, MD

The season of fall brings cooler weather and shorter days. As with any season, the world adjusts accordingly. Plants begin to go dormant, animals begin scrounging for food to store to get them through the upcoming winter months and humans start winterizing everything.

As fall descends on the land, it reminds us we need to start cutting back on the numerous cooling foods that are consumed during the summer months. Things like raw foods, salads, juices and fruits should be decreased because they can create too much cold in the body, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

There are many facets to traditional Chinese medicine and nutrition is one of the most important. The ancient Chinese observed what took place in nature and followed those cues accordingly. So when the season changed to fall and the amount of daylight decreased and the temperatures cooled, the Chinese began to eat what was available. This is what it means to “eat for the season.” By eating according to the season, we can avoid many illnesses and diseases. If we continue to eat raw, cold foods during the cooler fall and winter months, then we set ourselves up for digestive problems, colds, sinus infections and even painful joints. When a person eats seasonally, they will inevitably notice that certain foods are no longer abundant or available. During fall, one should fill his or her cupboards with dried foods, heavy grains, seeds, roots and squashes. In TCM, these foods help move the body’s energy or qi (pronounced “chee”) inward.

Fall is also a time to slow down. This means that we should cook food for longer periods of time on lower heat. How we cook food will affect how the body tolerates it and how the energy is used. For fall, TCM suggests making soups and stews, using a crockpot or slow cooker, roasting and baking foods. These methods create a deeper warmth and supply greater energy from the food.

Foods that are nourishing to the lungs are very important during fall. Since many people get sick during these months, lung tonifying foods can be very beneficial. This includes foods like ginger, onion, garlic, pears, walnuts, miso, navy beans, almonds, asparagus, broccoli, apricots, bananas, apples, plums and grapes.

The drier weather can also cause chapped lips, a dry nose, an itchy throat, rough skin and even dry stools. To counter these issues, it is recommended to eat foods that promote the production of bodily fluids, such as nuts, seeds, pears, pumpkins, honey and a traditional Chinese porridge known as congee.

When we follow the cues given to us by nature, we can maintain a very healthy existence. Ask me to learn more about eating according to the seasons in TCM.

TCM and Cystic Fibrosis

TCM and Cystic Fibrosis, The Center For Advanced Acupuncture in Elkton, MD

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that disrupts normal function of the epithelial cells in the body.  Epithelial cells line the passageways of many of our vital organs, including the lungs, liver, kidneys, reproductive system and the skin. Those who have cystic fibrosis have a defective gene that impairs epithelial cell function. This can lead to a buildup of sticky mucus throughout the body that may eventually lead to lung damage and chronic coughing, affecting how patients with cystic fibrosis breathe and filter air, digest their food and absorb the nutrients from that food. In the United States alone, there are nearly 12 million people who suffer from this disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure and most of those affected with the disease only live into their 20s and 30s. Current modern medicine treatments focus on increasing the quality of life by managing symptoms.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, can help cystic fibrosis sufferers. This medical system uses multiple modalities to treat the symptoms of cystic fibrosis. Everything from acupuncture to cupping can be utilized to help the patient and decrease the buildup of mucus throughout the body.

From the 400-plus acupuncture points on the human body, many are especially helpful for expelling phlegm and mucus, decreasing pain and helping to calm the central nervous system, all of which are symptoms of cystic fibrosis. If a cystic fibrosis patient is suffering from chest pain due to excessive phlegm buildup in the lungs, then regular acupuncture treatments can help decrease that pain and make it easier for the person to breathe.

In traditional Chinese medical theory, people are born with a limited amount of Qi (pronounced “chee”) or vital energy, and over time it is depleted. However, Qi can be regenerated by incorporating healthy living choices, like regular exercise, proper sleep and a healthy, balanced diet. Those who suffer from cystic fibrosis begin life with a smaller supply of Qi and this means it is vital for them to save as much Qi as possible. Because cystic fibrosis attacks the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, these areas immediately become deficient and weak. Regular acupuncture treatments can help by stimulating the body’s own healing mechanisms to preserve Qi.

Another modality frequently used in TCM is cupping. To perform cupping, oxygen is sucked out of a vessel, often a glass cup, creating negative pressure and then that vessel is placed on the body. The negative pressure will act like a suction cup and it will draw oxygen-rich blood into the tissues, which facilitates healing. Cupping can also draw out toxins and create drainage, which can help break up any phlegm in the lungs, thus decreasing pain in the chest area.

For those suffering from cystic fibrosis, combining TCM with conventional medicine can be a huge blessing, improving patients’ overall quality of life.

Acupuncture and Autoimmune Diseases

Acupuncture and Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a collective group of disorders that plague nearly 50 million people in the United States today. When a person suffers from an autoimmune disease it means their own immune system is attacking the body and altering or destroying the tissues. Autoimmune diseases include things like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Conventional medicine can diagnose 100 different autoimmune conditions. Unfortunately, the treatments available to people with these disorders is not as plentiful through conventional medicine. It typically involves the use of pharmaceuticals that can have side effects that are as bad, if not worse, than the symptoms of the disease itself. And even worse, many people are told they have no options. This is where Traditional Chinese Medicine can be beneficial.

Acupuncture treatments are completely customizable. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners don’t treat based on the Western medical diagnosis. They attack the disease based on its diagnosis in Chinese medicine. This means that they not only want to treat the symptoms, but also get to the root of the problem. This is much different from Western medicine with its one-size-fits-all type of treatments. The ability to treat each person as an individual with their own unique diagnosis is why traditional Chinese medicine is so successful.

Many factors play into an autoimmune disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole, allowing the patient to get a more complete treatment, usually with better results. Since autoimmune diseases are thought to be a deficiency in people’s immune-system responses, TCM practitioners will work to restore and rejuvenate the factors that are vital for good immunity. These things include blood and the energetic life force known as qi (pronounced “chee”). There can also be underlying genetic factors involved in autoimmune diseases, so acupuncturists may also work on building up a patients essence or jing. Research has shown that acupuncture causes responses in nerve cells, as well as in parts of the brain. By utilizing acupuncture, those suffering from an autoimmune disease can, over time, reprogram their brains and cells to perform as intended.

The use of electroacupuncture may prove useful for people suffering from autoimmune diseases too. Electroacupuncture emits mild electrical stimulation to acupuncture needles. These light shocks trigger the body to produce hormones that suppress pain and inflammation. This helps raise endorphins circulating in the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.

Chinese herbal formulas can also be very effective in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Chinese herbs have specific qualities that can help boost blood, qi and jing. When acupuncture and Chinese herbs are combined, the effects can be quite favorable. The herbs will actually compliment the acupuncture treatments by extending the effects of the needles. Many times this will shorten the number of treatments required, as the patient will start to see results sooner.

Many people dealing with autoimmune diseases also experience high levels of stress because of their disorder. It can be very stressful trying to lead a “normal” life with severe pain and other symptoms. Studies show acupuncture is very relaxing, and it helps reduce excess cortisol levels in the brain that contribute to chronic stress.

As autoimmune sufferers start to see improvements with acupuncture treatments and herbs, they may also be able to do things they couldn’t before, like exercise. Exercising not only improves blood flow, but it also increases immunity. Exercise also increases the amount of endorphins in the body. So just by receiving regular acupuncture treatments and herbal supplements, those suffering from autoimmune diseases may be able to lead a much more normal life with a lot less pain and suffering.

If you are dealing with some type of autoimmune disease, consider giving Traditional Chinese Medicine a chance. The outcomes may be life changing.