Love Your Liver

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season corresponds to an organ and emotion. To ensure the best organ function, start eating for the season 3-5 weeks before the seasons change.

It’s time to start preparing for spring which means it’s time to start loving your Liver!

liver-supportWhat do you think of when you think of spring? Green! Growth! New Life bursting from the earth! This is how Traditional Chinese Medicine views the Liver’s energy. It’s in charge of storing and circulating blood throughout the entire body and is responsible for the smooth circulation of qi throughout the body.  If your qi is not flowing smoothly, it stagnates which can cause us to become irritable or angry, feel pain, or experience cramping during menstrual cycles. From a Western perspective, the liver plays an important role in detoxifying, digesting, and processing proteins, fat, sugar, as well as toxins, heavy metals, drugs or alcohol. Love your liver with acupuncture, and a nutritional and emotional spring cleaning!

Signs and symptoms that your Liver function might be out of balance:

  • you are easily angered or irritable,
  • you have hypochondriac pain (wandering or localized),
  • you feel like you have a lump stuck in your throat,
  • you have dry eyes, blurred vision, brittle nails,
  • you wake between the hours of 1-3AM,
  • you experience IBS symptoms or constipation,
  • and ladies, you experience painful menstrual cycles (clotting, cramping, sore breasts).

Nutrition is the best way to help your Liver function at its optimum. TCM tells us to eat green for the spring. Add (preferably cooked or lightly steamed) green vegetables and sour foods to your diet. Acupuncture will work even more effectively if you have the basic nutritional building blocks in place.

Foods to start adding to your diet:

  • warm lemon water first thing in the morning or right before meals
  • mint tea and honey
  • beets, carrots, watercress, mustard greens, onions, seaweeds, radish, dandelions
  • green smoothies (with non dairy milk) or green juices

Get in touch with your anger and express yourself!
Believe it or not, not expressing your feelings can actually make you sick (even if you’re eating the right foods and exercising)!  Each organ has its own emotion. Anger is the emotion associated with the Liver. Being too angry can be just as detrimental to your health as swallowing your anger and pretending everything is fine. Set the intention this season: learn to compassionately speak your mind!  Your voice deserves to be heard. It’s okay to compassionately confront someone if you feel hurt or angry. Help your liver by expressing yourself!

Here’s the quick test. Do you need to cleanse?

On a regular basis do you:

  • feel tired?
  • feel dizzy, trouble concentrating or foggy thinking?
  • eat fast, fatty, fried, oily, processed foods?
  • use stimulants, coffee, cigarettes, sugar to boost yourself each day?
  • move your bowels less than twice a day?
  • have intestinal gas, bloating or constipation?
  • experience headaches?
  • eat fish more than twice a week?
  • have food allergies or skin problems?
  • have sinus problems or often have lower back pain or weakness?
  • feel sluggish or overweight?

If you answered yes to more than three of these questions, you might want to consider adjusting your diet and adding in some acupuncture to help your Liver Qi flow more smoothly!

The Magic of Mugwort

mugwort-artemisia-vulgaris-imgMugwort, Artemis vulgaris, is an herb that has been imbued with magic and charm for many cultures. Named for the ancient moon goddess, Artemis, goddess of the hunt, fertility, and the forests and hills. Roman soldiers were known to put mugwort in their sandals to keep their feet from getting tired. Native Americans equate mugwort with witchcraft. They believed that rubbing leaves on the body kept ghosts away. Others believed that mugwort held special dreaming powers. Stuffing a pillow with the herb encouraged lucid and prophetic dreaming. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses mugwort in a therapeutic warming treatment called: moxibustion.

What is moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy consisting of burning dried mugwort just above particular points on the body. The purpose of this therapy is to strengthen overall energy and immunity. This is done by burning the herb over an moxibustion_ezg_1acu-point and along meridians, or by placing the burning herb on top of an acupuncture needle inserted into the acu-point. The heat penetrates deeply, warming the body and causing capillaries to dilate, thus increasing the blood and lymph circulations in the entire body, and improving blood and lymph circulation. The deep warmth loosens cold trapped in the body, and relieves pains associated with stiff joints and muscles. Because mugwort is considered an emmenagogue, a substance that stimulates or increases menstrual blood flow, it makes a great natural therapy for cramps or irregular periods, or for warming and preparing a uterus for pregnancy.

Who should consider moxibustion therapy?

Warming the meridians of the body increases a smooth flow of qi and blood. Therefore, those who need to expel cold stagnation and tonify their energy are well treated by moxibustion.

In Western terms, moxibustion is a good therapy for those who have:

    • oversensitivity to cold or poor circulation
    • hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s
    • diarrhea or sluggish digestion and wish to strengthen digestion
    • low immunity or wish to strengthen their immunity
    • cold and  flu
    • muscle or joint pain (arthritis)*
    • back pain
    • low energy or depression
    • infertility or IVF preparation
    • dysmenorrhea (painful periods) or amenorrhea (absence of regular periods)
    • breeched baby position**

Who should avoid moxibustion therapy?

Moxibustion is not for everyone. It is meant for patients who have cold symptoms and should, therefore, not be used on those who have heat conditions (such as those who generally tend to run warm) or those who have asthma or sensitivity to smoke.

What to expect during Moxibustion therapy?

Moxibustion can be added to an acupuncture treatment or done on its own.The patient will be positioned on the acupuncture table so that the practitioner can access the correct acu-points. (Common points are below your knees, your belly button, and local areas of muscle or joint pain. There are more specialized uses of moxibustion as well; for example it is done over the little toe to reposition a breeched baby.) Next, the moxa will be lit and held over the points until you feel a deeply warming and relaxing sensation. Symptoms should begin to immediately decrease and, with time, dissipate altogether.


*Recent studies have shown that the method of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) actually delays healing of injured areas. Healing occurs when fresh blood and nutrients are brought to the injured area. Heat increases this blood flow and so moxa is a great therapy for muscle and arthritic aches.

**A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that up to 75% of women suffering from breech presentations before childbirth had fetuses that rotated to the normal position after receiving moxibustion at an acupuncture point on the Bladder meridian. Other studies have shown that moxibustion increases the movement of the fetus in pregnant women, and may reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramps when used in conjunction with traditional acupuncture.

Hongyong Deng and Xueyong Shen, “The Mechanism of Moxibustion: Ancient Theory and Modern Research”

Andrew’s Five Tips for Remembering Dreams

I spend a lot of time thinking about and working with dreams. When people learn this about me, one of the questions they frequently ask is, “How can I remember my dreams?” If you share that question, then read on! I’ll give five pointers for how to increase your capacity for dream recall.dreamcatcher

Continue reading Andrew’s Five Tips for Remembering Dreams

What your dreams and sleeping patterns are saying about your health

static1-squarespaceA single poor night of sleep can derail an entire day or even week. Imagine what chronic poor sleep can do to the mind and body! Western medicine includes some potentially valuable sleep treatments, but they also have considerable drawbacks. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is less well known as a sleep health treatment, but is similarly powerful. Let’s take a look at both approaches:

Continue reading What your dreams and sleeping patterns are saying about your health

Support through the Fall to prepare for the Winter.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a two thousand year old medicine that looks to nature as its teacher. In the Fall, imagine the leaves changing colors, falling from trees, and eventually drying. Like fragile leaves, our Lungs are most susceptible to the wind and dryness in the Fall. Acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities help prepare Lungs for the cold winter months ahead. Fall is also the time to harvest, a time when nature transforms and transitions towards an ending. In Fall, nature shifts from activity to rest, letting the the earth lie fallow through the winter.

Just as the seasons cycle, so do our energies, emotions and bodies. Fall and the Lungs are also associated with grief and with letting go. It’s not unusual to feel these shifts emotionally or physically. Old pains (physical or emotional) might reemerge and ache with the appearance of gusting cold winds rustling them from their trees.



Ancient wisdom teaches us not to avoid, but to lean in and listen to what the season is teaching us. This season ask yourself:

  • Is it time to slow down & reap my harvest?
  • Do I really want to resort to allergy meds that make me drowsy or should I try a natural alternative?
  • Are old injuries reappearing and aching suddenly?
  • Do I have something that I need to let go?
  • Am I grieving and need support along the way?
  • Am I prepared to slow down and turn inward?