Take a look at this explanation of how the Liver channel relates to the spring season, good stuff. Also has some excellent greens recipes at the end.
In Traditional East Asian Medicine our bodies are a microcosm of the natural world. Each organ system is related to a season, an aspect of nature, a cognitive function, a body tissue, and an emotion. March marks the beginning of spring and the season of the Liver and Gallbladder in East Asian Medicine.
The Liver and Gallbladder in East Asian medicine represent a larger idea than the organs with those names. They represent a meridian, or a channel that traverses the outside of the body and goes internally to connect with different organs and body structures. For instance, the Liver meridian goes from the inside edge of your big toe, up your inner leg, onto your abdomen, and then shifts internally below your sixth rib. The internal channel curves around the stomach, travels through the liver, lung, throat, and ends at the very top of your head. Movement of energy…
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In my office I have a set of three posters that depict the acupuncture channels. They hang side by side and show all fourteen of the main acupuncture channels – as a set of thin black lines broken up by a series of dots (like this). This is nice for quick reference if I need to refresh my memory on the approximate location of an acupuncture point/acumoxa foramen (more on terminology in a later post), but it is an incredibly unrealistic depiction of authentic Chinese acupuncture and how acupuncturists view and understand the body. I can only imagine the questions an inquisitive mind might have after looking at these pictures – where are the muscles and tendons? How do bones and connective tissue play into it? If acupuncture can affect the whole body, why do these thin black lines only seem to run over the surface?
I recently had the good fortune to stumble across a set of high resolution images with very satisfactory illustrations of all fourteen main acupuncture channels. The human body is incredibly complex, and no one set of images can accurately convey everything that is happening in the body at any one time, but these charts are at the very least much closer to how acupuncturists understand and use the body.
I won’t try to teach a whole course in acupuncture via this blog, but I will be posting the images, one by one, with short explanations of what they mean. Keep in mind that everything shown on these charts is symmetrical.
For all the channels, there are different levels:
- The exterior pathway of the main channel is where all the acupuncture “points” (a better term is acumoxa foramen – again, more on that later) can be found. This is all that is depicted on most acupuncture charts, usually just to save space.
- The interior pathway of the main channel is exactly what it sounds like – the portion of the main channel that runs on the interior of the body and connects to various internal organs.
- The collateral channel connects with that channel’s yin-yang pair. In the case of the Lung channel, if you look near the wrist you can note where the collateral branches off to connect with the Large Intestine channel. The Lung and Large Intestine are a yin-yang pair.
- The divergent channel is a branch of the channel that goes elsewhere in the body, connecting the main organ and channel with various associated body systems.
- The tendinomuscular channel, seen in blue above, is at the level of the muscles and connective tissue, and covers a large area. We affect this level of the channel with needles but also with tui na massage, cupping, scraping, and more.
- The cutaneous region (or skin channel), seen in white above, travels along roughly the same path as the exterior pathway of the main channel, but spreads out wider to cover the skin. In some cases these correspond to the modern notion of dermatomes, but not always.
There’s much more to explain, but I’ll leave it there for now. I hope this helps you understand a little more how acupuncturists view the body and choose what regions or points to treat.
I’m used to hearing about incompetence and corruption in the federal government (aren’t we all?). So it takes a lot to raise my eyebrows. But reading this story, my eyebrows nearly went into orbit. Just read the first two paragraphs:
Reading the FDA’s inspection files feels almost like watching a highlights reel from a Scientists Gone Wild video. It’s a seemingly endless stream of lurid vignettes—each of which catches a medical researcher in an unguarded moment, succumbing to the temptation to do things he knows he really shouldn’t be doing. Faked X-ray reports. Forged retinal scans. Phony lab tests. Secretly amputated limbs. All done in the name of science when researchers thought that nobody was watching.
That misconduct happens isn’t shocking. What is: When the FDA finds scientific fraud or misconduct, the agency doesn’t notify the public, the medical establishment, or even the scientific community that the results of a medical experiment are not to be trusted. On the contrary. For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market.
This is a truly shocking story. The Food and Drug Administration is charged with protecting the public from unsafe drugs, not protecting drug companies from embarrassment. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.
Clinicians may offer acupuncture, or refer to a clinician who can offer acupuncture, for patients with AR who are interested in nonpharmacologic therapy.
AR is short for allergic rhinitis.
While acupuncture is certainly effective at lessening symptoms of an active allergy attack, it’s even better at preventing them in the first place. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, NOW IS THE TIME to prepare. Boost your immune system with acupuncture and herbs so that you can reduce and even eliminate allergies.
Up your intake of cooked green vegetables, reduce sugar and alcohol, and get plenty of sleep – these are all well known (and cheap or free!) ways to boost your immune system. Also, give your living space a thorough cleaning.
I love this tweet from my colleague Dr. Kristie Jones. Have patience with yourself and remember that health is a habit, not a one time event.
I’ve heard people compare their bodies to cars, which reflects the mechanistic thinking of industrial medicine. It leads to the mindset of “well if my hip stops working, I’ll just get a new one,” much like your car might need a new water pump at 150,000 miles. Hip replacements have restored mobility to many people, and if you need a hip replacement, you should get one. But wouldn’t it be better to not need a hip replacement in the first place?
Try thinking of your body as a garden. The wonderful thing about a garden is that it mostly takes care of itself – all it needs is sunlight and water. But it does take frequent small adjustments and caretaking. If you try to do all your gardening once a year, it will be a terrible, onerous task that takes several days. And towards the end of the year, your garden will be in terrible shape. But if you spend just a few minutes in the garden each day, weeding, watering, occasionally spreading mulch and turning the soil, it’ll always look nice and be healthy.
Your body is the same way. Build healthy habits into your life and you’ll feel good and be healthy year round.
Vitor Belfort, a well known mixed martial arts fighter, recently posted this photo to his facebook page. I had no idea! As a fan of MMA, it’s very cool to see acupuncture being used by someone I’ve been following for years.
Because of undetected toxicity problems, about a third of prescription drugs approved in the U.S. are withdrawn from the market or require added warning labels limiting their use. An exceptionally sensitive toxicity test invented at the University of Utah could make it possible to uncover more of these dangerous side effects early in pharmaceutical development so that fewer patients are given unsafe drugs. (Science Daily)
The link between antidepressants and birth defects has been known for a few years now. The real story here is the methodology of the test, which more effectively simulates a real-world environment for the mice and used doses of Paxil very close to what humans might take.
Hopefully this test will be used widely from now on. I would greatly appreciate seeing this test applied to a number of controversial items: GMO food, industrial weed-killers and pesticides such as Roundup and atrazine, and more.
As study author Wayne Potts says:
“We don’t really have a sensitive, broad toxicity assessment system,” Potts says. “That’s why these things slip through the cracks and we often don’t discover harmful effects until after 10 or 20 years of epidemiology studies using the public as the experimental guinea pigs.”
“A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition – it’s a health risk to your body and mind.”
A good definition of play is an activity that A) brings you joy and B) is more important than the result. If you’re going to the gym and running on a treadmill and hating every minute of it, but enduring it because you have a specific goal in mind such as weight loss or a stronger heart and lungs, that’s not play. It’s a valuable activity for sure, and I encourage everyone to set fitness goals, but it’s not playful.
Why is playfulness so important? Watch the TED talk linked above by Dr. Stuart Brown. The quick summary: it’s essential for survival.
From a health perspective, Chinese medicine teaches us that tension is caused by a lack of free flow, particularly in the Liver and Gallbladder channels. When there is long term stagnation over a period of months and years, this stagnation can create heat and Blood Stasis, and even form physical lumps and nodules. If you find yourself chronically irritable and uncoordinated, you may have Liver Qi Stagnation. Some other signs of Liver Qi Stagnation might include cold or numb hands and feet, belching, bloating and distension, headaches, tight neck and shoulder, painful menstruation, and more.
In this case, the old saying “laughter is the best medicine” is very true. Genuine, powerful laughter can instantly dissolve Liver Qi Stagnation. So try a comedy show first. If that doesn’t work, come get acupuncture. Acupuncture can similarly loosen the tight band of physical and emotional tension.
I’ve seen it many times: the person who comes in complaining of all the typical Liver Qi Stagnation symptoms will find themselves nearly instantly relaxed after a few needles. They relax so completely they fall asleep and are surprised when I wake them up at the end of the treatment. “Did I fall asleep? Oh wow…” People who don’t have severe Liver Qi Stagnation won’t have the same reaction.