acupuncture

6 Ways to Activate The Wood Element Now

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I was recently asked over on my Facebook page, how we can bring more of the Wood Element into our lives? Well, ask and you shall receive! This time last year I wrote about Spring being the season of the Wood Element, in a post called Woody Springtime, but here is a short post on how we can activate the Wood Element, right now, at it’s most potent time… well, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere that is!

1. Activate the Wood Element Taste

Each of the Five Elements has a “taste” associated with it. Fire is bitter, Water is salty, Earth is sweet, Metal is pungent and Wood is sour. Drink warm lemon water, or apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning. It will go to the Wood Element’s organs of the Liver and Gall Bladder, helping to activate their function of detoxification and movement of the Qi.

2. Move the Qi Physically

Part of the Liver’s (Wood organ) function is to move the Qi (energy) in the body smoothly to all areas of the body. It is when this movement is impaired that we get stagnation and pain – including stress, irritable bowel syndrome, tight shoulders, painful necks, headaches, migraines and so on… To help the Wood Element out, we should MOVE our bodies regularly to help move the Qi, and keep the flow nice and smooth. This could include running and going to the gym, but it doesn’t have to be as energetic as that, walking, dancing to your favourite song, or doing something slower like pilates or yoga ALL move the Qi physically!

3. Put those Plans into Action

The Wood Element is all about organising, planning, making decisions and acting on those plans. You might find that until you start properly coming out of the hibernation and slowing down of Winter (the Water Element), and into the active season of Spring that you feel stuck, stagnant and a bit low or depressed. This might be MORE of the case this year as we have had a LONG and hard Winter this year, and only NOW are things starting to bloom and blossom and move FORWARD. If you have had something in mind, get that Wood energy flowing and actually START putting them into action! You and your Wood Element will feel MUCH better for it!

4. Move the Qi with Food Energetics

As we have seen above, moving the Qi physically is important in helping the Wood Element and Liver function correctly, but we can also do this with food and drink via Chinese Food Energetics. Green tea is a great Qi mover, which makes it a very good stress-busting drink, perfect to have in your desk at work! Choose this over coffee, which only serves to put additional strain on the Liver. Additionally, it is not surprising to find that many seasonal foods such as new carrots being pulled up at this time, also help to move the Qi – nature does tend to provide EXACTLY what is needed at the RIGHT time! Take a look at how to make my green tea & carrot cake, perfect for activating and supporting the Wood Element in it’s season of Spring.

5. Assert Your Boundaries Appropriately

Another great way to activate the Wood energy at any time of the year, and bring more of the Wood Element into our lives is to assert our boundaries. This can be a tricky one for some of us, and this is where the word “appropriately” comes in. If you think about the way a willow bends and sways in the wind, it is TOO flexible, and if we use that anaolgy with our boundaries, that is not helpful for us, nor those around us – if we take on too many projects, we don’t end up doing ANY of them very well. Conversely, an old oak might not bend in the wind at all, until an almighty gust cracks it in half because it is so rigid and brittle. If our boundaries are too rigid, we cannot grow upwards and outwards as a tree ought to, we cannot change and develop. Check in with how flexible or rigid you are with your rules and boundaries, could you bring more BALANCE to your Wood Element right now?

6. Have Acupuncture

We have a couple of ways in which we can help bring more of the Wood Element into a patient’s life during the Spring. We can use what we call the horary points (Wood acupuncture points on the Wood energy channels) during the season, to ACTIVATE all the virtues of the Wood element, and help a patient embrace the energy and move forward with all the planning, organising etc that they may need to do.

We can also needle the Wood points on the channels of the Element that the patient is… this might sound more complicated, but it isn’t. For me, being a Water CF, I tend to have more points needled on the Water channels (Kidney & Bladder channels because they are the Water organs)… so during the Spring, I wouldn’t necessarily have the Wood horary points, I might have the Wood points on my Water Channels done. This then activates the Wood energy within the context of my Water Element; for example, encouraging action on plans made, might help my Water to not have such a BIG fear of the future, because there is movement going forward, my Water is no longer “frozen”.

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Don’t forget each of us has ALL of the Five Elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal & Water – within us, we just tend to have ONE of the Elements that we resonate most with, or is like our default setting… so although this post is PARTICULARLY relevant to those Wood CFs (constitutional factors or constitutional Elements) amongst us, during the Spring we can ALL benefit from activating and connecting in with the Wood Element.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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Announcing Awesome Aussies!

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I am SO excited to announce my new blog series called “Awesome Aussies”, chronicling the powerful health messages of all the beautiful creatures I met on my travels in Australia.

awesome aussies

Many of these women, that I met in real life for the first time in March, initially crossed my path in cyberspace during Connie Chapman’s 90 Day Transformation Project at the end of 2012. During our 3 months together, working on our fears and limiting beliefs, amplifying our dreams, ambitions and magic, we became incredibly close & it was a very natural extension of those friendships to meet up face-to-face on my trip. Many people asked if it was weird, or if I was apprehensive about it – my answer, a resounding no – it was just as though we had seen each other for a green smoothie, a veggie juice or a cup of tea last week! Every meeting was joyous, and each one brought something beautiful, unique and memorable to my travels.

awesome aussies pic

These women are so kindred to me, we are on the same wavelength, and are stepping along the same path… it is amazing to be talking to them all again on Skype! I’m keeping the Aussie magic alive, even though I am now back in the UK!

Here are some of the fabulous sparkling diamonds I will be chatting to:

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+ Connie Chapman – a Life of Perfect Days & conniechapman.com

+ Krys Hansen – Practise Wellness

+ Shakti Grace – The Holistic Chef Australia

+ Jia Ni Teo – Happy, Healthy, Abundant

+ Alison Morgan – Relauncher

+ Sammy Armstrong – Happy Family, Healthy Family

+ Fehreen Ali – Ayurvedic Teaologist at Tea Coup

+ Bridget Jane Thompson – New Leaf Nutrition

+ Kimberly Smith – Inspired to Sing & Dream, Delight, Inspire

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And a whole host of other gorgeous women that I sadly didn’t have a chance to catch up with in person due to clashes in diaries, work commitments, the fact I was only in Aus for a month, and so on…

First video coming THIS WEEK – check out my online spaces (via the links below) to make sure you don’t miss out on all the holistic health wisdom!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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Now on Instagram

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12 Days of Christmas – Fire & Water Balance

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So for the last three weeks my life has been in limbo whilst everything else (except treating in clinic of course) has been put on hold for me to revise for my paediatric acupuncture exams. Ideally, I had wanted to merge my 30th birthday celebrations in November, straight into Christmas loveliness, but sadly it was not to be. I have been absolutely itching for my Christmas season to get started, but have had to hit the books in every spare waking moment! But the exams were today (three of them, lasting the entire day!), and now my Christmas can officially begin! Yay!

To celebrate the fact I can now embrace Christmas in all its excess sparkliness and magic, I am partaking in “12 days of Christmas”, where I intend to do one thing each day that is inherently of festive spirit! And as it is me, there might be a couple of healthy holiday activities, a big dose of self-care, but it might be purely because it is good for the spirit, not hugely virtuous – even I like to indulge a little at this time of year! Why not join me and enjoy 12 days of Christmas joy?! Post photos of your Christmassy things each day over on my Facebook page – you’ll find all my photos there too!

And speaking of Christmas spirit, it is THE part of the holidays that I adore the MOST – how it makes me FEEL. This year is a little different in the fact that I have had to “put a cork in it” for the last few weeks, and the bubbles, sparkles, excitement and magic have been building up and building up, so now it is all gushing out in a waterfall of child-like craziness! It is this pure JOY, merriment, warmth, and upward, outward energy that corresponds to the Fire Element. Fire is all about socialising, love, celebration, parties, connections to others and joy! And this is EXACTLY what Christmas is about! Everyone gathering around an open fire, exchanging presents and good wishes, drinking mulled wine, smiling, laughing, loving – that IS Fire. I love how literal Chinese Medicine is sometimes – or most of the time actually, a lot of the theory comes from observing nature around us.

open-fire-in-fireplace

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But for those of you who have read about Water on this blog before, you may be thinking “but Christmas is in Water Winter time, not Fire time” – yes, this is true, unless you are lucky enough to live in the Southern Hemisphere (Hello Aussies and Kiwis!), the Fire time of the year is the Summer, and it is the traditional time for warm, sociable Yang energy – think BBQs, garden parties, days at the beach with family and friends – we do more, socialize more, enjoy time together. Winter is a Water time of the year where we hibernate, stay indoors, do less, go to bed earlier, enjoy a more inward, still Yin energy.

Yin-Yang-Fire-Ice

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And yet our Christmas celebrations seem to be at odds with the seasonal energy at this time of year. But it is all about BALANCE – Fire and Water balance each other out. Without the Water to temper and dampen down the Fire, it can rage and burn out of control – this is like getting sunstroke from too much sun and not enough water to rehydrate you. There are many other conditions I treat in clinic that have an imbalance of Fire and Water at their root – menopausal hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia and heartbreak to name but a few.

Conversely, if we do not have enough warmth from Fire, the Water becomes frozen, the Fire is needed to warm the Water, to make it bubble, sparkle and move. And this is exactly what we get at Christmas – we need the joy, excitement, fun, love and light at the very darkest, coldest part of the year – it’s like the candles, the lights on the tree, tinsel and sequinned decorations that shine and reflect the light and warmth. Just seeing a tree decorated beautifully makes me smile and brings me happiness. Without this, the deepest depths of Watery Winter would be pretty tough to get through.

candles

And that is also what acupuncture is about – bringing balance; balance to the body, mind, spirit and emotions. If you think acupuncture could help you with your balance of Fire and Water, don’t hesitate to contact me! And don’t forget to share your 12 days of Christmas JOY with me on my Facebook page – for my first day, I bought myself some festive flowers, partly for the Christmassy spirit, but also to congratulate myself on getting through all my exams! Go have a look at the photo, they’re BEAUTIFUL! Off to bed now, see you tomorrow for day 2!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Got a Right Pain in the B***?! Get Acupuncture!

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What?! You thought I meant another area of your anatomy?! I’m talking about the BACK! This week is “Back Care Awareness Week”, 8th – 12th October 2012, and to mark the occasion The British Acupuncture Council commissioned a nation wide poll about back pain. The results contained some surprising stats, with the increase of back pain in the under 35s, and some putting their back pain down to having too much sex!! Very saucy, but actually more in line with Chinese Medicine theory than you might imagine!

In Chinese Medicine we view back pain as being caused either by a deficiency of energy (or Qi) in the body, which feels like a constant dull ache or as though the back is weak; alternatively, back pain can come from a blockage of energy, which is like a spasm or a strong stabbing pain, that comes on quickly.

We tend to expect back pain from wear and tear in older people, this is because our Qi / energy, and Jing – which is the constitutional essence we are born with – naturally declines with age. Think of Jing as our “juicy stuff” – we get drier and more wrinkly as we get older! This reflects our natural decline in energy, Jing & Yin over a lifetime. But surprisingly, the study revealed an increase of back pain in the under 35s, particularly those aged between 18 and 24 years old – 4% visited a GP about their problem and were turned away without treatment – so it seems as though there might be some modern reasons behind younger people suffering with what is normally considered an affliction of middle age.

Things that might contribute to the deficiency type of back ache would include, overwork or burning candle at both ends – partying hard, or consistently working late and then going out on the town, repeating night after night without proper rest. All of these things deplete Yin – rest is really important to keep this topped up! Take a look at “Yin O’Clock” for my tips for “active resting”. Bad posture and things like sitting incorrectly at computer work stations in the office can also weaken the back over time.

The spasm type is usually more temporary and as it is caused by a blockage of Qi, it is often helped by movement – so this may be on the increase in younger people because they might not be getting enough exercise. Though this type can get worse after exposure to cold or damp weather – in the older age group, this tends to come from gardening or something similar, in the younger demographic, it might be down to things like sitting / sleeping on damp ground at festivals, or fashion trends like crop tops, exposing the midriff and lower back to the elements – sometimes high fashion just doesn’t go with the damp chilly British weather! Keep your Kidneys COVERED, they are the powerhouse for the warmth in your body! (See this TOP TIP for helping back pain in this week’s OK Magazine!)

Another big fashion trend may also be a culprit – the latest heavy or large “it” bag draped over one arm or shoulder puts uneven pressure on the spine, either straining it (so ladies get a spasm type pain in their backs), or weakening the strength in the back over time, creating the deficient dull ache.

And this is the bit you have been waiting for, right?! The sexy bit!! Incredibly, 2% of the entire group polled claimed their back pain was from having lots of sex, which is not such a strange concept in Chinese medicine and certainly applies to the younger age group! Even the ancient Chinese texts state that too much sex depletes the Jing, that core energy of the body – this core energy is important in nourishing and supporting the spine – so its not just acrobatics in the bedroom that could cause back pain, it could be the amount you’re getting! Tee hee!!

Sadly, nearly half of those polled (48%) rely on painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with their back pain, but only 12% tend to choose acupuncture or other natural remedies, like massage. What a shame! With the latest research on painkillers actually creating more negative side-effects if they are taken daily or on a regular basis, it makes seeking a healthier alternative even more important.

Acupuncture is a great alternative to painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory drugs, as it seeks to address the root cause of the back pain, and relieve it by boosting the energy that is lacking, or moving the stuck energy that is causing the pain. This differentiation of identifying EXACTLY what is going on in a patient’s body is the benefit of using acupuncture to treat back pain, and means the results are often better in the long term.

If you think acupuncture could help you with your back issues, please do get in touch – choose to NOURISH your body from the inside out, STRENGTHEN any deficiencies, and get HEALTHIER, as well as reducing pain!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Yin and Yang 101

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In clinic I talk about Yin and Yang a LOT. Whether it be because I am talking to a menopausal woman about needing to replenish all the cooling, moisturising, nourishing Yin energy in her body to help hot flushes, or whether I am explaining how we see migraines occurring when the hot, loud, strong Yang energy rushes up to the head, Yin and Yang are key. They are the basis of diagnosis and treatment in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) form of acupuncture, as opposed to the Five Element side of things, which is, unsurprisingly, the remit of the Five Element style of acupuncture – I am lucky as an integrated practitioner, I truly get the best of both worlds!

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So, as I like to try and at least pretend I am not some old hippy sprouting out groovy, psychedelic mantras about yin and yang, I thought I would share the basic differences between the two types of energy, so you can get a feel of where we acupuncturists come from when we see this energy manifesting in the bodies of our patients, but also in the outside world.

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YIN

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YANG

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We each have our own balances of Yin and Yang in the body, and this will change according to the time of day, the season, our emotional state, or any illness we are suffering… the key is to ensure that despite the fluctuations in Yin and Yang at different times, we maintain some balance that bares resemblance to Yin and Yang in nature and the universe around us. This is what maintains health.

For example, at night time Yang should be receding and the Yin energy coming to the fore, as night time is Yin time; symptoms like hot flushes at night or insomnia where you cannot fall asleep, or you keep waking throughout the night, suggest that there is a lack of the Yin energy during a time where it should be abundant. And vice versa, during the day we should be alive, energised, happy and moving – if we feel tired, as though our limbs are heavy, everything is an effort and we need to sleep during Yang time, it indicates we are deficient in Yang energy to get us going. Acupuncture can help restore this balance, and help symptoms, by working with the levels and relationship of Yin and Yang in the body.

If you want to know more about Yin and Yang, or feel that they may be out of balance in your body (and / or emotions), contact me today, or leave a comment below – Yin and Yang, it’s not just for old hippies!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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