A New Organ Discovered? Is it REALLY New?

You may have heard in the news recently that Western Medicine has “discovered the largest organ in the body” that was previously unknown. It’s called the Interstitium and actually has been known for thousands of years as the San Jiao in Chinese Medicine. While Western medicine is just now coming to understand this “new organ”, it has long played a key role in Chinese Medicine. The San Jiao or Triple Burner as it’s sometimes called, it is said to “be everywhere”, and corresponds to the various metabolic processes of the body and the distribution of the nutrients that result from these processes.  Western medicine describes it as being like an “open, fluid-filled highway.”

The Three Burners

The term San Jiao is many times translated as Triple Burner because it is related to three metabolic processes:

  • The Upper Burner includes the Heart and Lung systems and metabolizes the air we breathe so that it can be absorbed directly into the blood.
  • The Middle Burner is commonly what we refer to as our digestive process. The stomach breaks down the food we eat, and begins separating the “pure” from the “impure”, meaning the stuff our body needs is separated from the stuff we don’t need. The first separation of pure nutrients creates the interstitial fluids like saliva, sweat, tears, synovial fluids and mucous that go to our muscles, skin, bones and blood. The impure goes on down to the lower burner for further processing.
  • The Lower Burner is where our body does a further separation of the pure and impure. The pure is absorbed via the small intestines and also goes to the gallbladder to create bile to moisten the intestines, and the impure is eliminated as waste via urine and feces. It’s this final separation of pure nutrients that is sent out to our organs and every cell in our body.

Even without an in-depth understanding of how our bodies work, you can probably see how a breakdown in any of these distribution processes can cause health issues.

A breakdown in the upper metabolic processing can impact the oxygen levels in our blood. We need oxygen in our blood where it can be delivered to our cells to create energy. If we don’t get enough oxygen, cells die. We simply won’t have the fuel for our body to function. Fatigue and muscle weakness is often related to low oxygen levels.

A breakdown in the middle metabolic processing has huge impacts. If the stomach, spleen and pancreas aren’t functioning properly, we simply aren’t able to separate the pure from the impure and aren’t getting the nutrients our cells need. This can lead to an impaired immune system because our lymph doesn’t contain enough immune fighting capability. Or we aren’t able to metabolize fluids properly leading to edema, water weight gain, fluid around the heart, excessive sweating or lack of sweating and diarrhea. This can even affect our mental capabilities leading to dementia, forgetfulness or feeling foggy headed.

A breakdown in the lower burner can lead to constipation and urinary issues, and if we aren’t able to absorb the nutrients via our intestines, our organs become unhealthy and weak. Or worse, if our separation of pure from impure is impaired, our organs can become poisoned.

To say that the San Jiao or this “newly discovered organ” is critical to our bodies is an understatement! I am always amazed at how the Chinese Medicine practitioners figured this stuff out thousands of years ago.

How Does This Apply to Acupuncture?

So you may be wondering how we affect all of this with acupuncture. The interstitial fluids also conduct electrical current and it is this electrical current that acupuncture taps into. We can direct our treatment to increasing the body’s ability to digest and absorb the food we ingest. We can increase the production and reserves of energy that our body needs and we can affect the metabolism of the body.

Who knew? It’s wonderful that Western Medicine is finally discovering this and will only help to improve our understanding of how the human body works and improve our health.

How to make Fresh Ginger Tea

Last month I talked about how to align your diet with spring by increasing sweet and pungent flavors because this facilitates the liver to regulate the energy throughout the body. Pungents also enhance digestion, disperse mucus, stimulate the Lungs, Blood and Heart, guard against mucus forming conditions such as common cold, remove obstructions and improve sluggish Liver function.

One of my favorite ways to use pungents is with fresh ginger in recipes.  I love ginger tea and drink it frequently.  It’s really easy to make and is one of my go-to remedies to help get over the effects that spring time allergies has on our sinuses – excess mucus!  The pollen has been really high the last few days and has hit me hard.  I’m drinking some of this tea as I write this!

You’ll need some fresh ginger root that you can find at most grocery stores and some filtered water. Honey or maple syrup can be added for a little sweetness.

Fresh Ginger Tea

Serves: 1-2

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey or pure maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Peel the ginger root with a peeler or with the back of a spoon.
  2. Grate the ginger with a grater/zester.   If you slice it, slice it thin and use more.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add ginger and turn off heat. Put the lid on it and let it steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain the water to remove the ginger.
  5. Add a little natural sweetener, stir and enjoy.

Clinic Announcements

Many thanks to those of you who donated purses to the Pack a Purse for Promise Place Purse Drive.  We donated 15 purses packed with toiletries and essentials for the women of Promise Place.  Well done!

The clinic will be closed on Friday, April 27 and will be open on Thursday, April 26 instead so that I can attend an important planning meeting.   Regular office hours are:

Monday        9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday      10:30 am – 7:00 pm
Wednesday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Friday           8:30 am – 2:00 pm

Pack a Purse for Promise Place

This year I am participating in an event to help women who are served through Promise Place.  I need your assistance.

Please donate a new or gently used purse full of toiletries and feminine products, and drop it by the clinic anytime before March 28. These purses will be donated to the women of Promise Place.  Many of the women served through Promise Place have escaped domestic violence, leaving with nothing from their homes. Providing these purses will give them the basic necessities they need as they transition to a new life. Your donation will be very much appreciated. Thank you!

Promise Place is located in Fayette County and exists to help prevent domestic violence through awareness programs, educational training, and providing safe environments for the victims and their families, utilizing legal advocacy and emergency shelters.

Pan Crisped Greens with Eggs and Sweet Potatoes

Incorporate fresh greens from your yard (dandelion greens) or from the farmers market along with local eggs and sweet potato and this is a healthy spring time meal.

From Healthy Green Kitchen 

serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon organic, extra virgin coconut oil (or use olive oil)
  • 2 handfuls of chopped organic greens (dandelion greens, spinach, kale and/or chard)
  • 2 eggs, preferably organic and free range
  • 1 small or 1/2 large organic sweet potato, baked or steamed and then sliced and drizzled with a little coconut oil, if desired
  • coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper- to taste
  • any other seasonings you like – optional

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet. When the pan is very hot, add the greens. Cook for several minutes, stirring sporadically, allowing them to crisp in the hot pan.

2. Break the eggs into the pan over the greens and turn the heat to very low. Cover the pan and allow the eggs to cook for 3-5 minutes, until done to your liking.

3. Using a large spatula, transfer the greens with the cooked eggs on top to your plate. Season to taste with salt, pepper, etc., and serve with sliced sweet potato.

Align Your Diet with Spring

We are what we eat, and most Chinese dietary guidelines follow on from nature.  According to Chinese Medicine philosophies, if we eat seasonal foods that are similar in nature to the external environment, we remain in harmony with the environment, adapt better to changes in season and stay healthy.

During Spring, we want to reduce the intake of sour flavors and increase sweet and pungent flavors because this facilitates the liver to regulate the energy throughout the body.  Think Spring green.   Examples of recommended foods for the spring include onions, leeks, mustard greens, Chinese yam, wheat, dates, cilantro, mushrooms, spinach and bamboo shoots. Fresh spring greens and leafy vegetables should also be included in meals and sprouts from seeds are also a great addition.  Raw, frozen and fried foods should only be taken in moderation since these are harmful to the spleen and stomach if consumed in large amounts.  If you’ve overeaten during the cold winter months you may develop a heat imbalance in the spring, which leads to dry throats, bad breath, constipation, thick tongue coating and yellowish urine.  Foods like bananas, pears, water chestnuts, sugar cane, celery and cucumber help to clear the excessive heat.

In wintertime we tend to bake our food to more deeply warm our bodies,  however in the Spring steaming and stir-frying is more appropriate.  As always, I recommend to eat what is locally grown and in season, as much as possible.  Visit the local farmers market to get the freshest seasonal items.   I was just at the Peachtree City Farmers Market over the weekend and got fresh onions, greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, sprouts and carrots.    See what you can find this Spring.    Be sure to try the Pan Crisped Greens with Eggs and Sweet Potato recipe for an easy healthy way to include these suggestions into your diet.

Spring Cleaning for Your Body and Mind

Our goal in Spring, as with other seasons, is to align ourselves with the movement of the prevailing season. Spring is a time of upward, expansive movement, and a time of creativity and new beginnings. According to Chinese Medicine, Spring is aligned with the Liver and Gallbladder which are responsible for the smooth flow of energy throughout the body and the storage and detoxifying of the blood. In the same way that many of us engage in spring cleaning during this time of the year, our bodies do the same thing physically and emotionally. Now is the time we see the buds on plants and trees begin to swell, ready to burst forth with strong determination of new growth and beauty. Our activities should also focus on moving forward with strong determination and creativity. If you skipped the January New Year’s resolutions, now is a great time to take those steps toward making this the best year ever.  Spring is the perfect time to stop procrastinating and face the challenges that can impede our forward movement and creative nature.

Now is a good time to let go of stimulants like coffee and alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs. The movement of Spring gives us that boost naturally. Take advantage of this natural boost of energy to begin or renew your exercise program, to shake off the cobwebs and feel alive and refreshed. Movement helps to get the blood and lymph flowing and allows us to sweat out toxins that have accumulated during the dormant winter. This is spring cleaning for our body.

How do you know if you need acupuncture at this time of year? Continue reading

Open House This Friday 12:00 – 6:00

Join me to celebrate the opening of Balanced Energy Wellness, and Chinese New Year.   I’ll be hosting short talks about How Acupuncture Works during the day.

  • Pain Management at 1:00,
  • Digestive Issues at 2:30,
  • Women’s Health at 4:00

Invite your family and friends, and bring your questions.  I’ll have refreshments, special offers and a free gift for those attending.  Drop by anytime between 12 and 6.

See you there!

 

Happy Chinese New Year!

Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year falls on February 16th this year. This is the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. The year 2018 is represented by the Yang Yellow Earth Dog. Sounds like a playful golden retriever to me.

Spring Festival originated during the Shang Dynasty (about 17th – 11th century BC) and celebrates family reunion and the hopes for a rich spring. Spring Festival is probably the most important traditional festival and celebration for families in China. In fact, it is even a public holiday and many people have the week off from work. Families join together from near and far.

Spring Festival Traditions

To prepare for the holiday, homes are thoroughly cleaned to rid them of bad luck, which might have collected during the old year. Scrolls printed with lucky messages are posted on gates to ones home and firecrackers are set off to frighten evil spirits away. These traditions are meant to bring good luck and long life to the family.

It is a Spring festival tradition to include the exchange of gifts and the famous dragon dances. Red, which is considered an auspicious color is the main color of the festival and there are red lanterns decorating the streets everywhere. Businesses combine red with images of prosperity to show their hope for the new year. And because 2018 is the year of dog, red decorations will be joined by dog images and statues.

According to Lillian Bridges who is a noted Feng Shui expert and forecaster, “this will be a much calmer year and may sometimes even seem boring.  But there is a Chinese saying that “Boredom is good luck, because you have choices! There will be a palpable feeling of relief from the tensions of the previous years, especially as we get deeper into the year. Life should get easier and more relaxed.”  Thank goodness!

She goes on to say “The Dog is considered a lucky animal to the Chinese and when one comes to your house, it brings good luck to the occupants. Therefore, anyone who loves and cares for dogs this year will get a little extra luck for honoring them.”  So love on your dog and your neighbors dog.

If you want to read more about Lillian’s predictions for this year, you can read the full forecast here.   I always think they are fun to read and then re-read the next year to see what came true.

Friendships and community are also very important in the Dog Year. People will be drawn to gatherings and reunions of old friends with a shared past and with newly discovered, like-minded others. With that in mind, I am hosting an Open House at my new clinic to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Happy New Year!