Lung Season

As summer draws to a close we start to move away from the relaxed and carefree attitudes of the warmer and longer days, and move into more serious and introspective energies of autumn. This is the season of the Lung.

Create Space

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the season of the Lung is all about organisation, setting limits and protecting boundaries. It’s element is metal (air); clean, pure and purposeful. It is a great time to have a clear out, get organised and tidy up, creating space. It is important to be letting go of any strong attachments you have to people, objects and experiences: attachment can hinder opportunities to learn and for growth.

Breathe in, Breathe out

The Lung is all about breathing in the new, and letting go of the old or the waste. It is no surprise then to find that the Lung (yin) is paired with the Large Intestine (yang). Yin is fluid and yang is flow. We must have fluid in order to flow. If the fluid becomes depleted, or stagnated, or in excess, then this will consequently effect the flow. Traditional Chinese Medicine understands that life is all about balance: if the body and mind are out of balance then this is where dis-ease can occur.

Grief

The emotion of the Lung is sadness (grief). If we spend a lot of time re-living the past in our minds, or having strong attachments, this can deplete our Lung energy and create deficiency. Of course it is only natural and healthy to experience sadness and loss, but it must be resolved and not prolonged. It must be experienced and learned from, not perpetually endured. Grief cleanses us of what is not needed in our lives. Chronic deficiencies in Lung energy lead to depletion and consequently to depression and other issues.

Things we can do

The Lung is the only yin organ with direct contact to the exterior, and therefore we must take care of this delicate organ by protecting our wind gates and wrapping up warm with collars and scarves as the colder weather prevails.

The climate of Lung season is dryness. We can eat warm and foods that are cooked for longer; nourishing and moisturising, supporting the body and the immune system.

If we live in balance with nature, Autumn is about contracting and slowing down, looking inwards, getting ready to rest (for the winter).

Spend time deep breathing and visualising letting go of everything that no longer serves you.

These are just some simple things we can pay attention to during the season of the Lung. The element of metal gives us our sense of self worth, our own self-value. We must look inside ourselves for that.

Next up: winter – season of the Kidneys.

 

Jackie Marsden is a Reflexologist, Acupuncturist and Foot Reading Practitioner, based at Elder Cottage Clinic, Warton, Preston.

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Acupuncture for Infertility

Acupuncture is a tried and tested system of traditional medicine, which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote and maintain good health.

Research has found that acupuncture treatments can have a positive effect on those trying for a baby and can actually aid the conception process.

Fertility focused acupuncture treatments can help to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, balance hormonal levels, regulate the menstrual cycle and help improve the lining of the uterus and quality of eggs released. Additionally, conditions such as polycystic ovaries and endometriosis have also been shown to improve with acupuncture.

Benefits to male fertility have also been helped by acupuncture with positive effects on sperm count, sperm morphology and mobility.

Some of the positive effects of acupuncture in fertility treatments are thought to include:

  • regulates the menstrual cycle and promotes regular ovulation
  • regulates the hormones to produce larger numbers of follicles
  • improves the functions of ovaries to produce better quality eggs
  • enhances the vitality of sperm
  • relieves the side effects of drugs used in IVF
  • increases the thickness of the uterine lining so to encourage successful implantation
  • reduces the chance of miscarriage

It is known that stress has an adverse effect on the fertility hormones. Acupuncture can be used to support the process, thus enabling couples to cope with any stress and anxieties they may experience during this time. The acupuncture treatment can help promote a calm, positive and relaxed frame of mind which can bring a more successful outcome for conception.

Information for this blog has been taken from British Acupuncture Council

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and clinical acupuncturist, working from Elder Cottage Clinic, Warton, nr. Preston.

[Book Review #1] Everything You Need You Have

I recently discovered this little gem of a book while browsing the local library.

Gerad Kite’s Everything You Need You Have: How to be at home in your self is such an easy read, yet so powerful in places with little nuggets to take away and use on a daily basis. It’s simplicity is what makes it so special.

There is also an alignment with the Five Element Theory which also interested me after studying and qualifying in Clinical Acupuncture last year. The natural movements of life according to the tangible elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water (see summary below).

So, I invite you to join me “At Home” and you will be at home in your self. Because, what we’re looking for simply isn’t out there – it is within. We believe that we have to be busy, doing stuff, achieving things, in order to be successful. But really there is no such thing as success – these are just events playing out, finding their way, following natural law.

We have ended up living almost exclusively “in the head”. Standing in the place of “I think” limits us in time and space and for many people great suffering and pain. We have forgotten how to retreat from our thinking minds and take pleasure in the bliss of simply being alive – to “be”; and to know that one’s existence is so much more than mere sequence of events that plays out before us, confirming that we’re “somebody” with a “life”. I find this so humbling and so profound, and also very useful.

It is useful because, when one gets caught up in life’s day to day stresses, or worries, or emotional burdens, it is liberating to retreat back to “Home” (although we never really left) and observe what we are thinking, feeling, experiencing. This is the true essence of life. It is the awareness that what we are going through is simply not real: it is transient and changeable. The quality of Home is peaceful and permanent.

As a reflexologist, offering clients the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the power of touch is where a lot of healing can take place. And surely this is offering or opening up a path towards “Home”? Switching off the mind and focusing on “the now”. For the past and the future are there by virtue of memory and fantasy – courtesy of the mind – and neither are real in “the now”.

Gerad gives the reader insights, exercises, tools of  how to re-discover Home within your self, and also examples of clients he has helped throughout his career.

Enlightenment is beyond mundane tasks, but it is found within them.

Short Summary of The Law of Five Elements

Gerad states “The unique balance of the five elements that create and maintain you are the gift of your life. This is the foundation and reality of who you are. You are  both a unique form and an integral part of Univeral intelligence, flow and evolution.”

Wood (Liver and Gall Bladder)

  • Get up and grow
  • Renewal
  • Timidity to belligerence
  • Perspective

Fire (Heart)

  • Joy of “Being”
  • Be open to things and experience them from Love
  • Joy emerges from the compassion of Home
  • Easy forgiveness
  • Healthy boundaries (and knowing these)

Earth (Spleen and Stomach)

  • Satisfaction
  • Natural motion “give and take”
  • Identify our needs
  • Integrity
  • Reciprocity, sharing and caring, giving and receiving

Metal (Lung and Large Intestine)

  • Gives the whole cycle of life its value
  • Importance of letting go of all attachments
  • Understand the impermanence of our outer life
  • Root in the quality of the present moment
  • Self value and worth

Water (Kidney and Bladder)

  • This is the base element: death, regeneration and survival
  • The closest we can get to Home
  • The origin of all life
  • Simplicity of Being
  • Stores our essential nature
  • Primitive and True
  • Who are you?

What can we do for Eczema?

Eczema is dry, itchy, flaky, red and inflamed skin (and sometimes worse). It is largely a chronic condition meaning that it is long-lasting and can be controlled but not cured.

Those suffering with eczema usually suffer also with other conditions such as asthma and hayfever. This is because they are all types of allergies; the body has an inapproprate allergic reaction to antigens that are usually harmless (e.g. animal hair, pollen, dust). When the body reacts in this way it releases huge amounts of histamine which then causes inflammation, itching, sneezing, wheezing etc. It is usually the immune response that causes the damage to the body, not the allergen itself. (1)

So what can we do for eczema, and why do people suffer with eczema? I believe it has a lot to do with the gut. If we don’t have good gut health then the toxic overload is too much for our bodies and the skin will try to help by excreting those toxins. Remember that the skin is an outlet as well as a protective barrier and receptor. So cleaning up diets, eliminating processed foods, sugar, caffeine etc. and increasing the intake of vegetables and water is going to have a profound effect in the long term. I think we all have room for improvement with our diets!

But in the shorter term something is needed to apply to the skin to reduce the symptoms and give relief. This is particularly true for children whom are a large group of atopic (hereditary) eczema suffers.  Any petroleum-based products are not going to do this. The skin might feel soft and moisturised initially but after continued use the product will block the skin’s pores, causing imbalances in the skin’s natural equilibrium and resulting in even more problems.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its replacement, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are both known irritants. Beware of products labelled “sensitive”. Many products on the market are full of chemicals that have no place on the skin. However, most people can tolerate them. For those who can’t, the manufacturer removes the problem chemicals, and replaces them with some that are actually worse, on the basis that the customer is unlikely to react to both. (2)

The following products are those which myself and colleagues have seen to be helpful with treating eczema:

NYRO baby balm. This balm protects and calms the skin with a combination of gentle, moisturising ingredients, including olive oil, coconut oil and shea nut butter. Apply as required to affected areas. One mother kindly shared these amazing photographs of her daughter’s eczema, before and after using the NYRO baby balm for 6 weeks.

eczema before

eczema after

For small patches of eczema or dermatitis, consider the NYRO Stellaria Cream  which is fabulous at reducing itching. Chickweed, a traditional herb renowned for cooling and soothing itching or red skin, is the active ingredient in this formula.

Another fantastic product to try is the anti-inflammatory and deeply soothing Calendula and Oat Lotion, which is suitable for extreme dryness and sensitive skin.

calendula_oatOne particular customer has experienced great success with seemingly uncontrollable eczema by the daily application of organic virgin coconut oil. The Neal’s Yard Remedies coconut oil is raw, unrefined, unbleached, and processed without heat to retain its unique balance of nutrients. Applied directly to the skin, coconut oil makes an extremely effective conditioning treatment, gently soothing dry, sensitive skin or scalps.

As a reflexologist, I am very much aware of the power of stress and what it can do to the body. If you are suffering with eczema it could be exacerbated by stress, or vica versa. A course of reflexology might help the situation, calming the sympathetic nervous system and in turn stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and allowing the body to regain a state of relaxation and homeostasis. During the reflexology sessions particular emphasis would be paid to specific reflex points, particularly those of the digestive system, endocrine system, lymphatics and immune systems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the lungs are linked to the colon; they share the same meridian. This ties in with the commonalities between eczema, asthma and hayfever, and highlights another reason to look to improve digestive health. They are both organs of elimination.

Along with a cleaned-up diet, a cleansing and healing supplement such as aloe vera juice and/or beauty oil might also be used to help with the healing and replenishing process.  Aloe vera juice is an excellent digestive tonic. Beauty oil is a blend of avocado, hemp, flax and evening primrose oils.

(1) Ross & Wilson Anatomy & Physiology  in Health and Illness. p371

(2) Closed discussion thread

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome can occur when the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. This can leave incredibly dry eyes, or the other extreme, the eyes can water continually to try and remedy the imbalance.  This condition can affect up to 60% of menopausal/perimenopausal women. There is some evidence that shows imbalances in progesterone, testosterone and oestrogen can affect the eye. There are progesterone, testosterone and oestrogen receptors on the cornea and the meibomion glands (sebaceous glands located on the rim of the eyelid).[1] This means that there is a connection between tears and the sex hormones. There is an understanding that dry eyes can result from a deficiency in any one of the sex hormones.

ID-100202869In treating a client with dry eye syndrome, I developed a treatment plan focusing on re-balance and detoxification. Attention to the endocrine system is key, along with the liver, gallbladder, and also the urinary system, particularly the kidney.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the organ of the liver rules the eye; the eye it its outlet. So dry eyes might be an indicator that the body is not efficient in detoxifying or there might be an imbalance which is preventing this from happening optimally.

The  eye and the kidney, in reflexology terms, are within the same zone, zone 2. In addition, thinking about meridians (the TCM energy channels) the kidney’s paired meridian is the bladder, and this starts in the medial aspect of the eye. For this reason I decided to pay attention to the urinary system during the treatments.

Sure enough, some nodules presented around the bladder and ureter on the left foot. The following day my client contacted me to tell me that she discovered she was suffering with cystitis. It was fascinating to to find symptoms of an imbalance presenting in the feet before it had presented itself to the person. My client self-treated the cystitis with an over-the-counter remedy which cleared it up in two days. But one could argue, without the reflexology treatment, the bout might have lasted longer, or been more severe.

Another interesting consequence of the treatment was that the client’s eyes stopped watering during the treatment. An instant effect like this I find truly remarkable, even though they continued to water after the treatment.

Let’s return to the liver: TCM would suggest that the liver be worked as the eye is the outlet for this organ, but also it’s pairing: the gall bladder. Emotionally the liver is associated with anger, so as a therapist it is beneficial to remain open minded about what is going on “inside” your client, mentally and emotionally, and not just recently, but long-standing emotions that can manifest in different ways. Similarly, the kidney is associated with the emotion of fear, and this conjures up images of water (crying, tears, weeping, bed-wetting, urinating).

Similarly to my advice given for perimenopause, eating a balanced diet of whole foods, whole grains, organic vegetables and fruit, reduced sugar and processed foods, and a reduction in the use of stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, can help in re-balancing. In addition, an uptake in omega-3 can also help reduce inflammation caused by dry eye syndrome, as well as balance tear stimulation and the secretion of sebum which assists eye lubrication.

[1] http://www.womentowomen.com

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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