TCM and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Seasonal Affective Disorderby Toni Twitty, M.Ac., Ph.D.c 

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture OKC Expert

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a form of depression that affects people all throughout the world. Most commonly experienced during fall and winter months, the symptoms of SAD include depression, hypersomnia, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, negative thoughts and decreased social interaction. Higher levels of anxiety are experienced at the end of the summer season as those who suffer from this ailment start to anticipate the coming months of less sunshine and increased symptomatology.  continue reading »

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Walnuts and Your Brain

by Toni Twitty, M.Ac., Ph.D.c 

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture OKC Expert

 

Many people like to add walnuts to food to add some zest and a little crunchy kick, but walnuts are much more than a flavor additive, as they are chock full of healthy properties and have been used in Asia as an overall health tonic and brain booster for years. Let’s take a nutty look at walnuts.    

Walnuts, otherwise known as Hu Tao Ren in Chinese medicine, are used as a kind of herbal remedy. In Chinese medicine, they look at the quality, temperature, flavor and color of a food to uncover certain elements that are beneficial to those who need to balance those qualities in their body. For example, the walnut is classified as “warming”. Warming foods tend to improve circulation and raise what is known as the yang qi. The yang is what is energetic, bright, outward, hot and moving (as opposed to yin, which is more inward, dark, still, cool and moist). Warming food is used in cold conditions; for example, if your stomach is cold from an overabundance of cool foods, you may have some digestive issues like gas and bloating due to slower digestion. In addition, the walnut is lubricating, moist and a bit greasy. This quality is helpful for lubricating the intestines and helping digestion and constipation.

In Chinese medicine, the element of the food goes to certain organs and is beneficial for them; walnuts are said to benefit the lungs, large intestine and the kidneys specifically. Walnuts strengthen the lungs to help chronic cough, asthma and skin conditions (which are connected to the lung, according the Chinese medical principles). Walnuts also are a kidney tonic and help urination; in addition, kidneys are said to influence libido, fertility, the back and knees and the aging process. Walnuts have been used to help libido and fertility, a 2012 study in Asia showed males who consumed walnuts had improved sperm quality. In addition, walnuts are used for insomnia. They help raise serotonin levels, which promote feelings of well being and help people sleep better. Finally, in looking at food as medicine, foods that resemble a body part often treat that organ. What does the walnut resemble? Two lobes of the brain, the left and right hemisphere. It is commonly known that walnuts are an excellent brain food.    

Walnuts have been shown to have high levels of Omega-3, which is an essential fatty acid that helps brain and heart function. Walnuts are anti-inflammatory, have antioxidants and recent research has shown they may have anti-cancer properties and help diabetes due to beneficial fats. In addition, they have vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, minerals and B vitamins. Walnuts help digestion and give a feeling of being full, so they aid in weight loss.   

It should be noted that in Chinese medicine, most food recommended for health is used in a formula that is unique for you and an overall treatment plan is created. Walnuts are not a panacea for health care, and it’s best not to self-diagnose; instead, visit an acupuncture provider to get a thorough diagnosis and a balanced formula right for you.

Walnuts are not recommended in cases of fever, diarrhea or allergic reaction to nuts. If you are generally healthy and want a nice tonic, add a nice handful of nuts to not only perk up your food but also your body.

 

acupuncture okcDr. Toni Twitty, owner of Be Well Acupuncture OKC in Oklahoma City, OK is an expert Acupuncturist. She specializes in resolving pain, treating chronic conditions, general wellness, and fertility. Learn more about Toni and get started on your road to better health at: www.bewellokc.com

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The Shen Mind Connection

by Toni Twitty, M.Ac., Ph.D.c 

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture OKC Expert

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at things differently and while it may be a little confusing, there is usually some common ground that can be found upon examination and explanation. One such area is the idea of the mind. The mind in Traditional Chinese Medicine is commonly referred to as the shen.

In Chinese medicine, the shen is interpreted as the spirit or consciousness. The shen lives in the heart organ system and it is considered to be one of the vital substances of the body. The shen is said to preside over the activities that take place in the spiritual and mental planes. So, for many TCM practitioners, shen is actually referring to the mind. And if we look at serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, the shen or mind is where the dysfunction actually appears. Chinese medicine refers to this as being “misted” or “clouded”. However, it should be noted not all practitioners agree the mind and the consciousness are the same thing.  This is because many of our mental processes are considered subconscious.

As stated, the theory is that the shen lives in the heart. So if a person has a disturbed shen, there may be anxiety, stress, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations and more.  Many people with a disturbed shen experience insomnia. Chronic insomnia can then lead to actual mental illness. If we follow this logic, we can see how the shen (in Chinese medicine) and the mind (in Western psychology) are related and somewhat interchangeable.

When we approach the shen from the standpoint of Western psychology, it is hard to deny there is a lot of shen disturbance in the modern world. This can be anything from anxiety, depression and addiction to the aforementioned serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia. A person with balanced shen will present as healthy, harmonious and level-headed. A person with disturbed shen will present with a lack of spirit or emotion, illogical reasoning and symptoms of mental illness.

Ultimately, we want to have a balanced shen. This means we may have emotional responses to external stimuli or internally generated thoughts or feelings and we are capable of controlling and recovering from these situations without much incident.  Somebody who has a disturbed shen, would not know how or be able to deal with a similar situation and may act out irrationally while drawing attention to themselves. An example would be when a person with a balanced shen becomes angry or cries for some reason. They tend to feel relief after the emotion has passed. While somebody with a disturbed shen may continue the irrational behavior for quite some time without ever feeling that relief and they might need intervention to return to a somewhat balanced state.

Maintaining a healthy shen also means that we maintain a healthy body.  A strong shen is fundamental to good health.  When the shen is weak, the body will eventually fail.  To keep the shen healthy we should focus on maintaining a positive mindset, getting enough rest, seeking peace, connecting with nature, meditating and showing compassion. This means we ultimately need to avoid overwork, chronic stress, an erratic daily schedule, lack of sleep and volatile emotions such as anger, hatred and resentment. This may seem pretty logical, but based on the amount of shen disturbance/mental illness in the world, it is clear we have lost our way to some degree.

The good news is the cumulative shen of the planet can be changed over time and we can all have a hand in making that change.

 

acupuncture okcDr. Toni Twitty, owner of Be Well Acupuncture OKC in Oklahoma City, OK is an expert Acupuncturist. She specializes in resolving pain, treating chronic conditions, general wellness, and fertility. Learn more about Toni and get started on your road to better health at: www.bewellokc.com

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Physical Aspects Related to The Lungs

by Toni Twitty, M.Ac., Ph.D.c 

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture OKC Expert

 

In the world of Traditional Chinese medicine, the lung is probably the organ whose TCM functions overlap the most with its Western functions. Respiration, the immune system and the skin are all systems heavily influenced by the lung, both in acupuncture and in Western medicine. continue reading »

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Mental and Emotional Aspects of the Lungs

mental aspects of lungs - chinese medicine acupuncture

by Toni Twitty, M.Ac., Ph.D.c 

Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture OKC Expert

 

As an acupuncturist, I am constantly assessing. Before my patients answer a single question, I am taking in cues as to what types of imbalances might be going on. In five-element acupuncture, the five major organ systems are the kidney, liver, lung, heart and spleen. When any of these systems are out of balance, certain physical, mental and emotional issues can manifest. Even if you aren’t experiencing a specific health issue, however, you will likely display particular personality traits that fall within these five organ systems. In the five-element world, the lungs are connected to the element of metal.

So what does this mean? Metal is rigid, unbending, set in its structure. Someone who is a lung-type would take comfort in rules, reason and rationality. This person is someone who likes to maintain a sense of control over himself and his environment. To a lung personality, it is important that their world is in order, and that it makes sense. The lung also controls the emotion of grief, and the idea of letting go. Someone with a lung imbalance might have an aura of sadness or loss, or have difficulty letting go of past suffering.

So, as a practitioner, what might I see that would demonstrate a lung personality in a prospective patient? These types of patients might not be overly warm and fuzzy, but they would display good manners and a respectful air. They would likely be right on time for their session, paperwork filled out completely and perhaps have a number of questions regarding exactly what they should expect following their session. In any of the organ systems, an imbalance would cause these personality traits to become more pronounced. In the case of lung energetics, a polite manner might come across as aloof; an orderly nature might transform into the desire to control the people around you; perfectionism can result in frustration with both self and others.

Remember what I said about letting go? From a physical standpoint, the lungs have a connection to constipation. If the body can’t let go, this is the result. If the mind can’t let go, you might feel stuck, and unwilling to change. Or, you may simmer over past grievances, unable to move on. You might also become frozen by your desire for perfection. Since the lung is all about correct, fair behavior, it may be hard for a lung type to think outside the box, or to come up with creative solutions.

If you fall into this category, acupuncture can work wonders on helping you to relax, soften and release old, negative patterns that have become stuck within.

 

acupuncture okcDr. Toni Twitty, owner of Be Well Acupuncture OKC in Oklahoma City, OK is an expert Acupuncturist. She specializes in resolving pain, treating chronic conditions, general wellness, and fertility. Learn more about Toni and get started on your road to better health at: www.bewellokc.com

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