ETA

Spring. A Time For New Growth...

Yes, we may still have a few heavy snowstorms in our future, but we all know that spring is just around the corner. In Taoist theory (the foundation of Chinese medical theory), it is said that our internal rhythm reflects the ebb and flow of our external world. Just as we experience seasonal changes throughout the year, the body experiences corresponding seasonal adjustments. In traditional Five Element theory, Spring is governed by the Wood element. The "upward and outward" momentum of Wood provides the force necessary for the first sprig of grass to emerge from the frozen earth. The abundance of Wood's energy manifests in our need and desire to move "up and out" of our winter hibernation. Spring cleaning is a perfect example of Wood affecting our domestic lives. If the strength of Wood's influence is not regulated within, tempers may flare, blood pressure may rise, and headaches can become more pronounced; all examples of excessive upward movement. This spring, take the time to harness this momentum for a seamless transition into your next chapter. Practice daily stretching (like the branches of a tree reaching up to the sky) to ensure the smooth flow of Qi in the Liver/Wood meridian. Simply taking the time to appreciate and acknowledge the natural growth surrounding us will reconnect you with the natural rhythm within. Disease ensues when we lose this connection. 

It's Pumpkin Time!!!

That’s right. The nights are cooling down, the leaves are getting crisp and you can’t walk past any Starbucks without seeing the revered “PSL” back in action. It must be fall, and with fall comes pumpkin everything!

So let’s take a closer look at the pumpkin through the eyes of an acupuncturist:

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, food is seen as one of the strongest therapies available. From a western perspective, nutritional therapy often revolves around calories, fiber, fat and protein content. Chinese medicine looks at the energetic capacity of foods. Sometimes it is obvious- cold & damp ice cream and hot & pungent ginger. These two are easy to understand from an intuitive sense.  Sometimes it is not as easy, such as the cooling nature of spinach and the warming nature of mustard greens. Understanding the energetic properties of food can dramatically improve one’s health. Those with hot constitutions should incorporate more cooling foods, just as those with dry conditions should incorporate moistening foods.

So back to pumpkin! Can you guess the energetics of this fun fall fruit? It’s okay… this one is tricky. Pumpkin is cooling in nature and is know to relieve damp conditions. Examples of heat and dampness in the body may include edema, urinary dysfunction, gallbladder disease, cloudy thinking, hay-fever, eczema and some blood sugar imbalances. Pumpkin is also very effective in relieving upper respiratory tract infections, helping to expel stubborn phlegm that is difficult to expectorate. But don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds after carving your jack-o-lantern! Not only are they delicious to roast but they have been shown to eliminate intestinal worms.

So go ahead… get your fair share of pumpkin this fall. Your body will thank you for it! Just don’t expect any of the above results from a pumpkin spice latte!

 

Kate Kronisch is a board-certified acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. She owns and operates Eastern Traditions Acupuncture in the Golden Triangle neighborhood of Denver, CO

 

Take Your Bedding Outside!

Yes, you heard me right. Sheets, pillowcases, bedspreads… the whole downy set. Take them outside and let them bask in the sun.

I know this sounds bizarre, and it is. But the tradition of taking your bedroom linens outdoors dates back to an ancient Chinese tradition of ridding the bedroom of “pathogenic Qi”, or more commonly known as cold/flu bugs. The belief was that the vibrant YANG energy of the sun would dry up any stale, stagnant, damp and heavy energy trapped in the house, which is believed to cause illness. In fact, this tradition makes perfect sense when you think about the antiseptic qualities of Ultra Violet light, used to sterilize modern medical equipment. 

So drag those pillows onto the terrace, hang them proudly and let the healing power of the sun do its job. Be sure to stay outside and keep your linens company… Vitamin D deficiency is rampant in Colorado (yes, even though we get more than 300 days of sunshine per year, we are only able to absorb Vitamin D from the sun during the summer months).

If you are not in a position to bring your down comforter out to the front lawn, installing full-spectrum light bulbs in the house can be a helpful alternative. This make-shift YANG energy can really boost immunity and lift moods.  


Hawthorn = Happy Hearts!

Chances are, you have heard of the magical herb. It is a familiar plant, especially to those in Colorado. (In fact I grew up just off of Hawthorn Avenue in Boulder.) Teas, tinctures, syrups, candies and capsules are appearing on the shelves of major health food stores across the nation. So let’s take a peak into the incredible powers of this pretty little berry:

Hawthorn, also know as crataegus oxycantha is native to Europe, but a few wild species can be found around the United States. The plant (more like a small tree) has very sharp thorns and fragrant flowers (commonly known as “Mayflowers”).

Both European and Oriental herbalism recognizes the strong influence hawthorn has on the cardiac system, namely the heart itself. It has been effectively used to treat congestive heart failure, angina, arrhythmia, enlarged heart, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and arterial sclerosis for centuries. Hawthorn has also been found effective in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, nephritis, and bacterial enteritis.

One of the active compounds found in hawthorn berries is proanthocyanidins, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the arterial wall, acting as a vasodilator to increase blood flow. Flavonoids are also found in hawthorn berries, which have been shown to strengthen the blood vessels themselves, warding off plaque accumulation.

From a Chinese medical perspective, hawthorn (known as Shan Zha) activates blood circulation, disperses blood stagnation and promotes digestion. One clinical trial used Shan Zha to treat patients with angina related to coronary artery disease three times per days for four weeks. Out of the 219 participants, an overall effective rate of 92.2% was found based on ECG screenings. (Chen & Chen). Another trial revealed that out of 127 patients, 92% experienced a reduction in blood cholesterol levels after taking a powdered extract of hawthorn berry and barley sprouts twice daily for two weeks. (Chen & Chen)

Although this herb is widely available over the counter, it is important to work with your primary physician as well as a board-certified herbalist to ensure the safety and efficacy of a hawthorn regime.

 

Wait, Where Is My Thymus?

Think back to middle school biology. Remember learning about the anatomy of the body? The cardiovascular system? The pH of your stomach acid? The larynx versus the pharynx? It's okay, it's fuzzy for me too. Perhaps you remember learning about the thymus. That's in the brain, right? Nope. Try again. It's actually behind your sternum (breast bone). This baseball-sized gland plays a huge role in our immune system, yet nobody ever talks about it! By the time you are in your 30's, this gland is operating at full throttle, gradually declining in function as we age. By the time we are in our 70's, it has shrunken to the size of an almond! The thymus keeps our bodies strong and our immune system stronger. Use it or lose it certainly reigns true with this squishy, mysterious gland. A little at-home Chinese medicine can help! 

Both Eastern and European herbalists can tell you about a category of herbs called adaptogens that help to promote vitality and balance amongst all functional systems. They literally help you adapt to stressful stimuli. Adapotogens, such as Huang Qi (astragalus) are especially beneficial for thymus function. 

Acupressure can also be effective in tapping into the benefits of this gland (pun indented!): gently tap on the acupuncture point "CV 17", which is located on the midline of the sternum, at the level of the 4th rib (or between the two nipples, if that's easier!) Activate this point first thing in the morning, mid-day and before bed to stimulate the healing and protective properties of the thymus. Keep this little bad boy strong and you'll thank yourself later. 

Kate Kronisch, L.Ac., MSOM is a licensed acupuncturist and clinical herbalist in Denver, CO. She specializes in the treatment of internal health concerns. Check out the FREE "Secrets of Acupressure" workshop on Sunday, Feb. 28th to learn more!

Acupuncture for Weight Loss... Really?

Sure, you’ve heard of acupuncture for pain, insomnia and hot flashes, but can this ancient medicine really help you lose weight?

Before answering this question, let’s take a look at how Chinese Medicine views weight loss…

Excessive weight may be due to several factors:

1.     The “Spleen” energetic system is in charge of transforming our food into usable energy. Various factors may cause the Spleen to become overworked or depleted, slowing down digestive processes. In Western terms, this closely parallels the concept of “metabolism.”

2.     Strong emotional or stressful stimuli can “stagnate” our digestive processes, known as “Liver Qi Stagnation” in Chinese Medicine. This phenomena is strongly linked to the “fight or flight” mechanism, a state in which our survival instincts are on overdrive leaving other bodily processes neglected.

3.     There may be an endocrine component involved (i.e. hypothyroidism, PCOS, Cushing’s Syndrome, etc.) that can lead to excess weight. In Chinese Medicine, these are often considered a part of the “Kidney” energetic system, which regulates hormonal fluctuations.

Weight loss has become an obsession in our world, thanks largely to the media's perspective of beauty and health. Regardless of one’s shape or size, it seems as though just about everyone wishes they could “lose some inches here” or “shed some pounds there”. The fact of the matter is that acupuncture can not make you lose weight. Rather, acupuncture treats the whole person, a catalyst allowing for your own functional processes to realign. When the body is balanced, there is no surplus or deficiency of anything that the body does not need (i.e. stress, fat, illness, etc.). Balance the body and the extra pounds will fall off. If you are underweight yet desire to lose more, acupuncture may in-fact cause you to gain weight because of the restorative nature of this medicine. Acupuncture promotes health, not vanity, and does not follow the trends of our media-driven perspective of “a perfect body”.   

So as you can see, weight loss is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach in Chinese Medicine. It is the job of a trained acupuncturist to identify which energy pathways are out of balance and what needs to be done to restore this balance. Once these systems have been regulated, the body can then work within its own ability to eliminate excessive weight.  Side effects that have been reported with “weight-loss acupuncture” include improved sleep, decreased stress, balanced emotions and an overall state of wellness.

It is important to understand that this system of medicine is not a quick-fix. Coupling acupuncture with other healthy weight management strategies such as nourishing food choices and regular exercise will certainly expedite the process. With regards to our health and wellness, slow and steady always wins the race. 

For more information about how acupuncture can help you find balance and feel your best, please contact Kate Kronisch, Licensed Acupuncturist and Clinical Herbalist of

Eastern Traditions Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine

1740 Marion Street, Denver, CO 80218

(303) 949-4557

EasternTraditionsAcupuncture@gmail.com

Which Water Filtration System To Choose?

Although the quality of our tap water may meet legal requirements for safety standards, it is a good idea to protect yourself and your family by installing water filtration & purification methods at home. Contaminants, residues and heavy metals may still be present in our drinking water, regardless of whether you live in an industrial or rural area. When consumed, these toxins can wreak havoc on our bodies, negatively affecting our liver, brain, kidneys and lymph systems to name a few. These toxic substances are stored in our fat cells, accumulating volume that can create a toxic load for the body. But we need to drink water- and lots of it- to stay healthy and hydrated, so finding a filtration system that works for you is important.

Let’s look at some of the top water purification systems on the market today:

Three-Filter Water Purification Systems: These are common in water filtration pitchers. This system includes a “Sediment” filter to remove larger particles, a “Kinetic Degradation Fluxion” filter to convert the chlorine into chloride (removing that distinct chemical taste), and an “Activated Charcoal or Carbon” filter to pull positively-charged toxic substances from the water.

Reverse-Osmosis Purifiers: A high-pressure system is used to draw water through a very fine membrane, removing gasses and toxins. Even radioactive particles are left behind yielding virtually 100% purified water. The downside to this type of system is that several gallons of impure water are discarded for every one gallon of purified water.  

Distillers: This method uses heat to evaporate water, allowing the vapor droplets to collect in a different part of the filter, leaving behind harmful contaminants. The vapor is then condensed into purified water. Some scientists believe that this is such a refined source of water that some of the essential minerals found in clean drinking water are left behind.

Ultra-Violet Purification Systems: This is often used in developing countries where micro-organisms and parasites are commonly found in drinking water. The UV light passes through the water killing anything harmful. This is not necessary to use for tap water in more developed countries where federal regulations and standards are in place.

Catalytic Conversion Filters: These are often used in areas where the drinking water suddenly becomes contaminated, such as after a natural disaster. Rather than removing harmful substances, this system converts them into harmless substances that can be safely absorbed by the body. 

At-home water filtration practices don’t need to be expensive or time consuming. There are many options to choose from, so it is important to evaluate the needs of yourself and your family when considering an at-home water purification system. Always store you filtered water in BPA-free containers, the best being glass jars that don’t leach chemicals into the water like most plastics. Whether you choose to filter all water sources (showers, sinks, laundry, etc.) or simply buy a table-top purification pitcher, the results of drinking cleaner, clearer, and safer water will have a positive trickle-down effect on our health and environment for years to come. 

Kate Kronisch is a licensed acupuncturist and clinical herbalist. She specializes in the treatment of internal health concerns, with specific focus on digestive wellness, anxiety & stress, women’s health and pediatrics. 

Sluggish digestion? Sleepy after meals? Changing this one unsuspecting habit may make all the difference…

What do ice water, salads and antibiotics all have in common? They are all COLD and can wreak havoc on your digestive system.  “Cold? What do you mean Cold?”

Let me back up. 

I want you to think about a fondue pot for a minute. Raw meats and vegetables go in, mix with some liquid over high heat for awhile, and eventually become a thoroughly cooked and edible meal. Our stomachs are no different. We ingest food, which mixes with digestive juices until a satisfactory product is sent to the small intestines for nutrient absorption. But what happens if your fondue pot isn’t hot enough? The meats and veggies don’t cook and you end up with a soggy, oily mess that can make you sick if you eat it.  The same is true for our gut. 

A cascade of metabolic processes create an ideal environment in which the nutritional breakdown-process can function at full throttle. Drinking ice water or eating raw vegetables can interfere with this regulatory thermostat, requiring additional energy from the rest of your body just to warm up the pot again. If you become sleepy after each meal, chances are it is because your body is stealing your energy to focus on the task at hand: warming the pot to digest your food.

From a Chinese medical perspective, all foods (as well as herbs and medications) have either a hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold energetic property. This may be obvious, such as COLD ice water or HOT cinnamon, but it may not be so obvious for other foods, such as WARM mustard greens and COOL Swiss chard. While it is not realistic to know every temperature of every food, it is favorable to eliminate excessively cold food and drink to ensure proper digestion and assimilation can take place. 

It is best to avoid liquids altogether while you are eating, as this can dilute digestive juices and interfere with the energetic temperature of your gut. Room temperature water and salads are an improvement, but the best approach is to drink warm water or tea 20 minutes before or after a meal and lightly stir-fry or steam your vegetables. I know, you may be asking “But don’t you lose all the healthy vitamins and enzymes when you cook vegetables?” This is true if you cook your veggies down to a mushy, soggy heap. This is not true if you flash-steam or sauté for a few minutes. If your broccoli is warm but still has a slight crunch, you’re in good shape.

 

It is important not only to focus on the quality foods we put in our body, but also the quality of the body that accepts these foods. 

 

Kate Kronisch is a licensed acupuncturist and clinical herbalist. She specializes in the treatment of internal health concerns, with specific focus on digestive wellness, anxiety & stress, women’s health and pediatrics. 

So What Exactly Is "Cupping" ?

In 2004, Gwyneth Paltrow attended a New York film premier with purple, circular marks on her back. It didn't take long before stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga, David Arquette and Jessica Simpson started to appear with the same markings.

These celebrities are fans of the ancient Chinese medical treatment of "Cupping", in which a warm glass jar is placed over the skin, creating a suction-effect. The muscle fibers and fascia are pulled up into the jar and either left in place or used with oil to slide over the skin. Some consider this to be a "reverse massage" and can be great for tired, sore or tight muscles. Cupping is highly effective in promoting blood circulation which enhances the detoxification processes of the body.

The color of the marking can be diagnostic, as dark red or purple spots indicate more toxins and stagnation in the body. Cupping can be used for respiratory and digestive conditions, detoxification, stress management, pain, muscle tension, and much more. It is often used in conjunction with acupuncture, either before or after placement of the needles.

The procedure itself is comfortable and revitalizing, although may have some moments of "hurt-so-good" sensations, similar to a massage. Although unsightly, the markings left behind are not painful or dangerous and will fade away in a few days. Or, if you are like one of our many celebrity patients, it can be fun to show them off!

So what are you waiting for? Try cupping for yourself to feel  the benefits it has to offer!

Call to schedule your appointment today at (303) 949-4557 or email info@EasternTraditionsAcupuncture.com

Kate Kronisch is a licensed acupuncturist and clinical herbalist

Eastern Traditions Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine 1643 Boulder Street, Suite 104. Denver, CO 80211. (720) 551-8408