Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Qi Gong for Anxiety

Anxiety and its component symptoms, heart palpitations, sweating, restlessness, muscle tightness and pain can be troublesome for many.  Anxiety can range from a chronic low levels to paralyzing attacks which can interfere with many areas of a person's life.  From the perspective of Chinese Medicine anxiety often stems from an imbalance in heart qi or a disharmony in the heart, pericardium, or kidney meridians.  In my clinic I treat this with acupuncture, herbal medicine and teaching simple Qigong exercises to my patients.  By regulating these meridians and stimulating free flow of blood and qi in these ways, anxiety is relieved.  

From a mindfulness perspective, anxiety is caused by your thoughts.  Slow your mind and be present in the moment and you will see there is no anxiety in this moment.  Only peace.  It's like the well-worn phrase "There are no stressful situations.  Only stressful thoughts."  From the Western medical model anxiety is a chronic over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.

Interestingly, Qigong calms anxiety very quickly and can be explained to be effective from each of these three perspectives.  Qigong, a close relative of Tai Chi, is an of a set of slow, intentional movements combining breath, intention, postures to engender a complete awareness and presence in the body in the moment.  In this sense it is referred to as an internal martial art.  From the Chinese Medicine perspective it moves the blood and cultivates the qi in the heart, pericardium, and kidney channels and this balance results in relaxation.  Which leads us to the mindfulness and Western medical perspectives.  Qigong is moving meditation which pulls the mind to this moment.  By training the mind repeatedly to focus on this moment and relax into this moment with qi gong your body "learns" to unravel the over-stimulated nervous system and maintain equilibrium.

Other ways Qigong can help reduce anxiety and induce calm:

It has been proven that Qigong practice brings about:

  • Reduced pain
  • Lowered heart-rate 
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved sleep
  • Deep relaxation
  • Improved balance and strength

Want to learn?  Come to my weekly Qigong class at the Om Sanctuary each 

Wednesday 9:30-10:30 a.m.

87 Richmond Hill Dr.  Asheville, NC 28806

Thursday, October 9, 2014

S.A.V.E.D.: 5 Steps to Knock Out a Virus Before It Starts

In Chinese Medicine it is said that equanimity of mind is the path to health.  For me that always brings to mind images of placid farmers living according to the seasons, working in their rice fields, blissfully free of alarm clocks, cell phones, and deadlines.  Though equanimity of mind is not impossible today.  It just takes some mindfulness.  And even as the chaos of modern living can sometime take us out of calm presence, there are a few tried and true ways back to health.  Some of these are traditional Chinese Medicine, some are tips I've picked up in my practice, and some are clearly Western.  They are the steps that work!

This is my handy 5-pronged approach I share with my patients after an acupuncture treatment, which is excellent for staying healthy when illness looks imminent.  Remember my acronym S.A.V.E.D.  Sweat, Awareness, Vitamins & Herbs, Ears, and Diet

1. Sweat.  As soon as you feel the tell tale signs, sweat.  Climb in a hot tub with 2 cups of epsom salts, a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and a cup of hot yarrow, peppermint or other diaphoretic tea to drink.  The best Chinese herbal formula for this early stage is Gui Zhi Tang, which is easily available from your acupuncturist.  At Lutea, we have an exceptional formula.  Stay in, drinking your tea until you are sweating then climb out and wrap up in blankets and go to bed, careful to stay warm. And get some sleep.

2. Awareness of your body is key.  If you don't already know your body's signs of impending illness, pay attention.  It's when you first start to feel the scratchy throat, the chills, that is the time to take action.  The faster this happens, the better off you are.  Pushing through is no nobler in the long run, especially when you find yourself miserable for weeks.  It's much harder to knock out a cold or flu that is firmly entrenched.

3.  Vitamins & Herbs.  Vitamins D, C, and zinc can help boost the immune system and keep you healthy.  If you feel the first signs of a cold you can raise your Vitamin D3 level to up to 10,000 IUs a day for an immune pump, especially as we aren't getting as much sunlight as the days shorten.  Vitamin C 1000 mg, and zinc 8mg per day.  I already mentioned Gui Zhi Tang, and there are also formulas more suited for the feverish, sore throat stage like Yin Qiao Tang.  There are a few western herbs that can be helpful too.  Olive Leaf, Colloidal Silver, and Oregano oil are all good anti-virals to stock for the winter season. 

4. Ears.  Often the ears are the first place a virus begins.  So mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 1 part rubbing alcohol in a dropper bottle and drop 3 drops in each ear until you hear it bubbling down the canal.  Then quickly turn the head and dry the ear.  Do this on each side at the first sign of illness. This can double as a way to remove water from the ears after swimming or bathing.

5. Diet.  Eat healthy whole foods. Avoid processed food.  Also avoid refined sugar and alcohol which weaken the immune system dramatically and dairy which increases phlegm in the body.  So avoid these as much as possible.  This is an easy one to try out.  Foods that are healing to the body are steamed or sauteed vegetables, and even better are soups and stews.  Especially including slightly spicy flavored vegetables which stimulate the lungs like ginger, garlic,  onions, and radishes.  Lemon and honey in hot tea can also be soothing.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Feel Your Qi

As my acupuncture practice grows and evolves over the years I am learning in deeper ways that Qi, the vital life force energy with which I am always working, is what runs the show.  I remain present and focused. I feel it, surrender to it and work with it.  To put it simply, when qi and blood are flowing smoothly, you are in health.  When there is stagnation or obstruction or chaotic movement of qi you are in pain or disease.
Acupuncture needles are only one of the tools in my toolbox.  I also employ moxa (heat therapy), dietary therapy, herbal medicine, tui na.  But all of the above are driven by my most powerful tool for healing myself and others: Qi Gong.  Qi Gong, similar to Tai Qi is an internal martial art, a series of slow movements focusing intention, mindful breath, and posture to cultivate, nourish and direct the qi throughout the body.
I've been practicing Qi Gong for nine years now and it has changed my life.  I have studied with revered masters from China and learned the finer points of cultivating qi.  And as my Qi Gong practice deepens, my results improve.  The healing results I get by working with a patient and teaching my patients specific Qi Gong exercises designed for them speeds the healing dramatically.

Daily practice of Qi Gong shifts your repetitive thought patterns, your blocks, all the defenses standing in the way of your healing.  Curious how it can help you?  Come visit a Qi Gong class any Wednesday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at Om Sanctuary off Riverside Dr. in Asheville, North Carolina. It is a drop-in class, donations accepted.  All ages and all levels of ability welcome.  

Are you ready to improve your health?  Come join us Wednesdays!  Visit for more information.