It’s October! Great For Beer Drinkers AND Your Pericardium


Nuno Gavina Couto

Behold your pericardium meridian! Looks good doesn’t it? October is the best month to focus on doing something nice for your pericardium. Just what and where is your pericardium? I’m glad you asked. The pericardium is a membrane that covers the heart. In Chinese medicine the heart is considered the emperor of the body and as such was not meant to be part of the minutiae of the everyday of the “empire” aka the body. There is so much that goes on daily in the body that the emperor could quickly become engulfed in tiny matters rather than taking in the big picture and ruling overall instead of micromanaging.

That’s where the pericardium comes in. It acts as the go-between between the emperor and the subjects. As the heart’s most trusted advisor (or think prime minister), it is the pericardium’s role to determine what the heart should see and what is not as crucial. It is a very powerful position. As far as the functions within the body, the pericardium works much like the heart. One of the reasons the pericardium points are chosen for treatment is that the pericardium influences a person’s relations with other people (just like a prime minister might act as a go-between). These points are sometimes used to treat emotional problems caused by challenges arising from relationship difficulties.

And who couldn’t use some help with that? A simple but helpful way of working on those relationship difficulties is to simply gently massage the pericardium line; it totally counts!

If you have trouble figuring out where the pericardium meridian is, leave a note in the comments section. Also, check out the other months’ organs here.

Have fun!

Your Liver Is Going Places!


Brad Worrell


Why a green car going somewhere quickly for this week’s entry picture? It’s the perfect metaphor for your liver and September is the  month for doing something good for your liver (spring is a super time too!).  You see in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), green is the color most closely associated with your liver and your liver is the happiest when the qi in your body is moving optimally. According to TCM, your liver is responsible for the free flow of energy throughout the body as well as acting as the body’s blood bank- it doesn’t do anything directly to help make the body’s blood but it’s there to pass the blood out to wherever it is needed. Your liver is responsible for good joint and connective tissue health. It is associated with good vision and if you have challenges with anger/frustration or depression, in TCM they are signs that your liver (as it is defined by Chinese medicine) is potentially out of balance.

A perfect analogy of a healthy liver versus an imbalanced liver would be a slight case of road rage. Many cars all driving on a highway going the speed they would like and driving where and when they would like is your qi moving around your body. But what happens when there is something that blocks the free flow of traffic? It’s an inverse relationship; the bigger the blockage the slower the traffic goes and the more frustrated the drivers (or your liver) get(s).

So moving, in every sense of the word, is one REALLY nice thing you can do for your liver. Move your body, move your mind move the horizons you are traveling towards, any or all of the above. Go for a walk, learn something new and/or set new goals.

It’ll keep you from some of the frustrations in life- so get moving!

Find the other months and their organs here

August Is Spleen…AKA Pancreas (Somewhat)…AKA Digestive Energy Month

2279397714_8c3897ce73ByBill Kennedy

I love this picture! I have no idea what the owners of the cafe were thinking when they chose this name but it makes COMPLETE sense when thinking in a Chinese medicine way.  Here’s the reason why: In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), your spleen is directly involved in digestion. (Digestion as in food, as in what you get at a cafe. Neat huh?) Digestion, you might ask, yes, let me explain.  In most cases, the Mandarin translation of an organ’s name corresponds to the English word and understanding, for example, lung translates as lung, heart as heart, gall bladder as gall bladder and so on. Where all this naming becomes interesting is when acupuncturists talk about your spleen. There is the organ we call the spleen (which you can read about here) and then there is part of your digestive energy that Chinese medicine calls your spleen. Your “Chinese spleen” corresponds mostly to your physical pancreas but also includes some of what western medicine says is the responsibility of your small intestine and your stomach. Translation: your “Chinese spleen” is an important  part of your digestive energy and August is the month you can do something terrific for this most interesting energetic system.

Together with your stomach, the spleen creates what is called the central balance of the body. Stomach qi goes down. Spleen qi ascends. When this reverses, a body can experience nausea, vomiting, hiccuping- when it’s a reversal of stomach qi and diarrhea, gas and undigested food in stools when it’s a reversal of spleen qi. The stomach likes a moist environment while the spleen likes a dry environment. Many of the common foods of a mainstream American diet create a damp environment for the spleen. Alcohol, fried foods, high glycemic foods, dairy and sugar all create damp so keeping these foods to a minimum, especially if your spleen is already weak, is one of the best things you can do for it. Also, not eating too many raw fruits and vegetables can be helpful. I already hear the gasps of horror over this comment. Although there are MANY wonderful things about raw fruits and veggies, the body has to expend alot of energy to warm up and digest these high-fiber foods and if your spleen is compromised in any way, you want to make digestion and absorption easier not more difficult. Does that mean that TCM wants you to cook your veggies until they are limp and gray? Of course not! Wok-ing is a great way to have flavorful veggies without losing nutritional value.

Here’s a great formula for keeping your cooked food nutrient rich and also easier to digest:

Time x Temperature x Water= Decreased nutrition

It’s an inverse relationship. The longer the time, the higher the temperature, the greater the amount of water- any or all of these will lead to decreased nutrition. Wok-ing food means little time. It means slightly high temperature but with little to no water. Your veggies retain a slight crunch and their vibrant colors. Check out this cooking method to do something kind for your spleen.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce or otherwise). Call the office if you are looking for more spleen tips!

Check out the other months and their organs here.

Think About Your Kidneys In July

kidneyI’d have to say I’m a big fan of  the human kidney, both the organ and it’s energetic concept as traditional Chinese medicine sees it. If you haven’t run into this concept before of the “real” vs. the “energetic” kidney (or the other organs) let’s take a moment to explain. Western medicine makes its focus the physical reality of any organ. The kidney as it is seen, palpated and measured. Take a moment to read about your fabulous kidney organ here. Traditional Chinese medicine also says the same of the organ but doesn’t stop there. For any of the organs there is also a color, sound, odor, emotion, climatic condition, season, a sense, an instinct,  a motion, a compass direction, a flavor, a sound emitted in sickness and many other associations related to your kidneys. Were these associations just randomly assigned? Of course not.  Based upon empirical observations over several thousands of years, the Chinese realized that your kidneys had connections to other things within the body as well as to things outside of the body. Your acupuncturist uses these associations (of all the organs) to knit together a constitutional picture of you as well as to check on the health of the individual organs among other things.

Is it really that you have two kinds of kidneys? No, but it’s a convenient way to think about it and explain it to patients when it’s a new concept. The nice thing about it though, what great thing you are doing for the one is a great thing that you are doing for the other!

July is kidney month. Each of the most important organs in traditional Chinese medicine has a time in the year that happens to correspond with a month of the year. You can check out other months and their organs here. There are many ways to be nice to your kidneys. Sometimes you can help your kidneys by doing something for them but your kidneys can really gain balance and health when you are not doing something. That is, your kidneys do best when you’re not “burning the candle at both ends” as the saying goes. Especially in this day and age when we are all running around full tilt with little to no unscheduled, unstructured rest and putter time, one of the best (not easiest) is to just get more rest during each day. Also, standing too long can put a strain on your kidneys, so sit occasionally if you do a lot of standing.  And just because it tastes so good… watermelon is a great fruit to think about eating (unless you have reasons you shouldn’t) to help build kidney health.

Call the office if you want more ideas!

June Is San Jiao Month


Photo by Lymplex



Every month in the year has a special relationship with a particular organ system in the body according to traditional Chinese medicine. Think of it as the spotlight time for that part of the body and the chance to do something good for that part. The time of year we call June is the time of the san jiao. In most cases the energetic organs to which Chinese medicine refers also includes the physical organ. For example, there are the organs we call the lungs that correspond to the energetic concept we call the lungs in TCM. In the case of the san jiao, the energetic/physical concept is less clear. Even so, it is easy to consider that the san jiao most closely resembles the lymphatic system.

If you know nothing about your lymphatic system take a moment to read about it here. It is a fascinating part of your body!

A very nice thing to do for your lymphatic system is something called dry bristle brushing. It works by assisting the flow of surface lymph back towards the heart increasing lymphatic return by up to 10% or more.

Choose a natural-bristled brush. The best time to brush is right before you get in the shower while still dry. The brush strokes on your limbs should always move towards your heart but start at your armpits or groin and move outwards. Remember that your brush strokes are always toward your heart! When brushing your abdomen,  the upward brush strokes can also be accompanied by circular strokes. When brushing your chest make circles around breast or pectoral tissue working towards your armpits. When brushing your hips and bum circular motions are great. A light to medium pressure works best.

And there you have it- a brush a day keeps the acupuncturist away and your san jiao very happy!

Interested in ideas for the other months and their organs? Check them out here.

May Is Small Intestine Month

small intestineDuring the month of May you have the chance to do something fabulous for the health of your small intestine. Do you know how fascinating your 20 foot small intestine is? Everybody could use interesting small intestine facts so check some out here.

The picture above illustrates the energetic meridian of the small intestine.  To find out the exact locations of the small intestine acupuncture points please go here.

Check out other months’ organs and the suggestions for balancing their health here.

Of course one of the nicest things you can do for your small intestine would be to get some acupuncture for it but that’s not the only thing you could do. Consider using the edge of a spoon (nothing sharp!) and gently scraping from SI1 up the meridian towards SI19 until the meridian line/area becomes a light pink. The posterior shoulder area could be challenging but give it a try! In Chinese medicine we call this gua sha. Make sure to to include both your left and right arms.

Foods that are good for your small intestine include: persimmons, winter melon, spinach and adzuki beans.

Self massage is also a good idea in many cases. Imagine your abdomen is a clock. 12 o’clock is closest to your ribs. 6 o’clock is closest to your pubic bone. 3 o’clock is the left side of your abdomen and that leaves 9 o’clock at the right side. Start at the edge of your belly button and with consistent, firm but gentle pressure, massage in an ever-widening, clock-wise moving circle outward toward the edges of your abdomen. It should be a pleasant sensation. If anything hurts stop. Also, as always, please feel free to call the office if you have any questions or concerns.

Your small intestine says, Thanks!




April Is Large Intestine Month

yoga twist



Did you know that April is the large intestine month?  It is! (Check out the other organs and their months here).

Did you know that as fascinating as the 5 to 8 feet long large intestine is (read about the organ here), you can live without it if necessary? You can!

Do you know that there are many good things you can do for your large intestine? There are!

Check out some great large intestine yoga

Follow up with large intestine qi gong

Only try these exercises if they are within your current abilities and if you aren’t sure- call the office.


Have fun!



March Is Stomach Month

This week let’s continue with the year-long series of: The Organ of the Month. March is the month when you can do something spectacular for your stomach.

Here are some factoids about wonderful stomachs- Did you know that your stomach produces a new layer of mucus every two weeks so that it doesn’t digest itself? Other creatures’ stomachs are equally interesting. For example, did you know that ants have two stomachs? One stomach keeps food for the ant while the second stomach holds food to be shared with other ants. Lastly, did you know that when you blush, the lining of your stomach also turns red?

So, with such an interesting organ in your body you might ask, “What can I do that is nice for my stomach?”

Ginger tea made from the fresh root is very good for your stomach in most instances. Find the fresh roots at your local supermarket, cut out two medium-sized pieces and put them into boiling water for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, throw away the two used pieces of ginger. What’s left is the ginger water (tea) and you can drink it hot or cold- whatever your preference.

A second good thing for your stomach is the third exercise in this video. Check it out

Doing Something Good For Your Urinary Bladder

Sphinx by tarnalberry
Sphinx, a photo by tarnalberry on Flickr.

Remember the blog entry back in November (find it here) that talked about how each month had a special connection to a particular organ in the body? Well, February is the month most closely connected to the urinary bladder. Here’s a little factoid about your urinary bladder- did you know that on average the human urinary bladder can hold 2 cups of fluid when full but the urge to urinate starts when the bladder is about a cup full?

There are many things you can do on a regular basis to help maintain good urinary bladder health. In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) we always consider using acupuncture, herbs, supplements, food and exercise as the ways to positively change health. The sphinx pose in yoga is a wonderful, gentle way to do something good for your urinary bladder this February.

Check out the link below to Yoga Journal’s step by step directions for this pose. And remember, consider your yoga level and overall health condition before attempting the pose. If you have any questions, call the office. No pain necessary to benefit!

The sphinx pose by Yoga Journal

Guess What Month November Is?

Pears by Marshed
Pears, a photo by Marshed on Flickr.

Each month of the year has a connection to a particular organ of the body according to traditional Chinese medicine. Simply speaking, each month provides a chance for you to do something nice for that organ. November is lung month and as you might have guessed from this entry’s picture, pears are a nice thing to do for your lungs.

Take your favorite type of pear and core it. Fill the center with honey and steam until soft. The next step: enjoy!

This recipe is particularly good for lungs that feel dry, if you have a dry cough, if you live in a dry climate that dehydrates you easily. (Get the idea that pears hydrate?) They are also good anytime after a cold or if you just have a persistent cough.

Here are the other months of the year and their organs:

February-urinary bladder
April-large intestine
May-small intestine
June-san jiao (I know- what the heck is a san jiao? Use this month to do something great for your lymph system)
July- kidney
October-pericardium (considered a separate organ in TCM)
November- lung