Today, December 21st, is the Winter Solstice. The Chinese term for Winter Solstice literally means the “extreme of yin” since Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. Symbolically this node is represented by Hexagram 24, which is comprised of one Yang line at the bottom of 5 Yin lines. Hexagram 24’s name is Return – Fu (復). What is returning? The Yang and the light are returning. One of the basic laws of Yin-Yang theory is that of mutual transformation. When something reaches an extreme, then it naturally reverts to the opposite. Now is when Yin has reached its extreme thereby giving birth to Yang. This is why Winter Solstice is the time of many important holidays about lights, about birth and about renewal.
The turning points of Yin and Yang during the year (the Winter and Summer solstices) are important times for protecting our health and wellbeing. What can we do then to stay healthy during this time period? One basic recommendation is go to bed early and sleep a little longer. Winter, and particularly the Solstice, is the time of year that is most yin, a time when we should be getting more rest and experiencing more periods of silence, both physically and mentally. Finding more time for rest and reflection puts us into harmony with the Yin of Winter. That being said, too much sleep is also not great. Sleep (which is Yin) when excessive damages the Yang, which is why some of the early teachings says excessive sleep injures the Qi. The typical recommendation is that 8-9 hours of sleep is plenty for the average healthy person.
Even though Winter is the time of Yin stillness, as mentioned above the Winter Solstice marks the birth of Yang. Because movement is Yang it is important for us to “persist in moving” during this time of year. Appropriate exercises include gentle movement such as Tai Chi, Qigong or Yoga. “Yoga for Health” located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons offers a wonderful variety of all of these!
Gratitude is the perfect remedy to uplift your spirit this holiday season.
I have not been sick in more than nine years. My body told me to stay in bed. I was so surprised at how agreeable I was to this suggestion. I slept more than not for a day or two. I had little energy to read or engage in much moving about. Every part of my body wanted rest. Even eating was fatiguing. Just a small amount of soup and I was ready to go back to bed. WOW! This is a clear example of how much energy is required for digestion. That in itself is what inspired me to write this in hopes of instilling the importance of the strength and integrity of our digestive system as it relates to our whole being.
I’m sure many of you already know about the importance of eating “clean and healthy foods” for Heart health, minimizing sugar and carbohydrates in monitoring blood sugar etc. But did you know that anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia (to name a few) can also be related to digestion? Not to mention chronic pain, inflammation, immune deficiencies and premature aging.
Digestion is a corner stone of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In fact, in ancient China treatment began with dietary therapy because food was not viewed differently than medicine. Whole schools of thought were developed in the 12th century stressing “the importance of Preserving Stomach-Qi” as the most important treatment method. Zhang Jie Bin, one of the most important doctors in the history of TCM wrote, “The doctor who wants to nourish life has to tonify stomach and spleen.”
Current research has now begun to validated this ancient knowledge, verifying that diet does play a major role in our health. We now hear more often from many nutritionists and doctors that eating whole, organic, unprocessed food is the single most important thing we can do to improve our overall health. I will not dispute this. However, this is only half of the equation, digestion is the other less focused on issue.
Western science is “discovering,” what we have known for thousands of years and this science is giving us tools in the form of information to educate our patients of the critical importance of digestive health.
The condition and strength of our digestive system dictates the absorbability of nutrients from the food we eat. The source of indigestion lies in the disruption of our digestive network system. This network system is responsible for processing the food and nutrients that form the basis of the body’s constituents and is also responsible for distributing these constituents. When this basic and essential activity is impeded or weakened by over-consumption of food, eating irregularly, eating poor quality de-natured foods, eating under stress, over use of antibiotics etc., we are left with an inefficient transformation mechanism, diminished absorption, the formation of gas, and the retention of undigested material. Without a healthy, well-functioning digestive tract, even eating the best foods and taking the best supplements will do you little good because your body, in this weakened state, struggles to process the vital nutrients locked away in your food. The fact is, that you cannot fully assimilate what you eat.
Thankfully within the body of Traditional Chinese Medicine there are very clear understandings of various digestive imbalances and health issue as well as a full range of treatment modalities including: healing cuisine, herbs, acupuncture to name a few.
There is so much more to say on this subject so I will leave it at this, and give you time to “Digest.”
Until it’s time for another course, please feel free to write or call with any questions.
“There are many misconceptions and ideas about Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM.) From the type of needles to the methods used for treatments known as modalities. Acupuncture Fun Facts addresses just a few of these misconceptions and presents some other interesting but little know facts that attempt to show the validity and goodness inherent in the practice of acupuncture today.” ~Acupunture Fun Facts from Infographics Archives
• The United States FDA classified acupuncture needles as medical instruments and assured their safety and effectiveness.
• Acupuncture needles are single-use. sterilized and pre-packaged.
• Even though a needle is inserted into the skin, acupuncture is virtually painless.
• Acupuncture is highly individualized. For example, if 50 people with common colds all got acupuncture, all 50 people may have different acupuncture points and herbs in their treatment.
• In American hospital systems, the use of acupuncture ranks number 1 among all complementary and alternative medicines for which a license is required.
• Many medical doctors today are referring their clients with chronic pain or other difficult diseases to acupuncturists.
• Acupuncture is over 5,000 years old and is one of the oldest practicing forms of medicine known to date.
• When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe, effective, and free from negative side effects.
Info via goldentouchacupuncture.org / Feb, 5th, 2017
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