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  • Writer's pictureAcuBalance

The Tale of the Cattywompus Liver

In the last month I've seen more people coming in dealing with migraines, dizziness, and vertigo than I've seen all year. While it’s never fun seeing the world spin, it’s a great (though potent) reminder of just how much the seasons influence our bodies. More importantly, it's a great opportunity to utilize the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to mitigate these types of symptoms by harmonizing you (the microcosm) with the environment (the macrocosm).

A predominant component in TCM philosophy is the dynamic relationship between the macrocosm (the world) and the microcosm (the human). Just as time passes and seasons change on the planet, your internal climate goes through seasonal changes. At different times of year, different elements and their pertaining organs preside over the flow of Qi through your body; and just like any transition, the transition between seasons can cause a bit of a "disturbance in the force."

As we move into the thick of the fall season and finally start to feel the fall weather, our metal element (lung and large intestine) takes charge. The main "metal" imbalances we see this time of year are a surge of EENT syndromes like sinusitis, coughs, and the beginning of cold and flu season. However, there’s a secondary transitional imbalance that's to do with the wood element and the liver/gallbladder. The wood element takes control during Spring Time, but during the Fall (its seasonal opposite) it’s extremely susceptible to imbalance. The most common pattern we see is a stagnation of Liver Qi that often leads to a rebellious uprising Liver Yang (heat) and wind, which causes a myriad of symptoms like migraines, dizziness, vertigo, palsy, and inner ear disharmonies.

There are effective acupuncture treatments that Dr. Colby and I provide to help soothe, spread, and anchor that cattywompus Liver Qi and restore your centered balance again. We also have a vast range of high quality raw herbal medicinals that can be combined to give your body and your Qi exactly what it needs. Most often, we use a traditional formula called "Xiao Chai Hu Tang" to harmonize the Wood Element. This formula has the following ingredients: Chai Hu (Bupleurum), Huang Qin (Skullcap), Ban Xia (Pinellia), Sheng Jiang (Ginger), Ren Shen (Ginseng), Zhi Gan Cao (Honey Fried Licorice Root) , and Da Zao (Chinese Date). Oftentimes, we'll modify this formula and add in herbs like Bo He (Mint), Ju Hua (Chrysanthemum) to cool and anchor the liver - or herbs like Cang Er Zi (Cocklebur), Xin Yi Hua (Magnolia Bud), and Bai Zhi (White Angelica) to drain the sinuses and alleviate EENT syndromes.

Additionally, there are also some home techniques that can help bolster any treatments you receive at AcuBalance.

Epsom Salt Foot Baths: Remember in school when you learned about the laws of Thermodynamics? Well here is a real life example! Remember that heat likes to rise, but systems naturally like to be in thermal equilibrium. When your yang (heat) Qi runs amok in your head, it can get stagnate up there. To treat it, you need to anchor it back down. A great way to do this is to fill a large bowl or your tub with hot water and Epsom salts and soak those feet to draw the Yang Qi down so it can reach it's state of equilibrium. I also like to put in a few drops of peppermint oil because peppermint has a soothing effect on the liver. For a stronger effect, you can purchase some raw organic mint (Bo He) from us to put in your foot bath.

Green Leafy Broths: Green vegetables are great for the liver, especially kale, spinach, chard, and dandelion greens. Consider adding them to a soup or stew to warm your bellies and calm the liver. Adding blood nourishing foods will also nourish the liver, so consider stocking up on goji berries, beets, pistachios, and actual liver products.

Acupressure: Doing acupressure and massage down your liver meridian can be most helpful for anchoring the liver. Gentle pressure on acupuncture points Liver-2 and Liver-3, which are located in the fleshy space between your first 2 toes, also help to clear heat and spread liver Qi. This is also a great opportunity to use a little peppermint oil while you massage and apply pressure to these areas.

Abdominal Breathing: taking full and deep breathes into your abdomen will allow full oxygenation and can help dizziness attributable to poorly oxygenated blood.

That's all for today - but stay tuned for next week's blog about tips for keeping your immune system strong through the upcoming cold months!

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