Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Dietary Therapy’

Top 10 Ways Acupuncture Helps Stress

By Rhiannon Griffiths

Lots of people know acupuncture is good for bad backs, migraines, fertility and frozen shoulders, but did you know acupuncture helps stress? Read on for the top ten ways acupuncture helps with stress:

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1. Stagnation of Qi

In Chinese Medicine we view stress as energy (or what we call Qi) that has got stuck or become stagnant in the body. This can cause emotional or physical stress, such as mood swings, irritability or tight neck and shoulders. For optimum health on all levels, the movement of Qi energy in the body, should be naturally free flowing throughout all the meridian channels or energy pathways from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. Acupuncture uses ultra fine needles, the thickness of a human hair, to actively move Qi in the channels, thereby tackling what we view as a root cause of stress.

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2. Happy Hormones

In scientific terms, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins are the happy hormones that get released with exercise, and oxytocin is the calm and contented hormone, that is often associated with breastfeeding mothers. This leads to a biochemical reduction in stress levels, and is why acupuncture is so relaxing and makes patients feel so good!

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3. Talk It Out

In my treatment room, a large part of the session is spent talking to my patient, before I even think about picking up any needles. Discussing what has been going on for them emotionally, physically, at home, and at work. Not only does it help inform my choice of exactly which acupuncture points are needed for that session, but it also helps lower their stress levels with the old adage of “a problem shared is a problem halved”.

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4. Chinese Food Energetics

During an acupuncture session, your acupuncturist is likely to offer various lifestyle and dietary changes that complement your treatment. The way we view food is via the impact it has on the internal energy of the body, what properties the food has, and what it does. According to Chinese Food Energetics, or Chinese Dietary Therapy, green tea helps to move Qi in the body, making it the perfect drink to reach for when you feel your stress levels start to rise.

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5. Emotions

In Chinese Medicine, we believe our emotions can be a huge cause of illness or imbalance in our bodies – anxiety, fear, worry, frustration or anger can prevent the smooth flow of Qi energy in the body. This creates stagnation in the channels, or depletion of the body’s overall energy, ultimately causing stress levels to skyrocket. Needling different acupuncture points helps to stabilise and regulate different emotions, restoring flow, and giving emotional support to reduce stress.

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Rhiannon Griffiths Acupuncture Thame

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6. Relaxing & Rebalancing

Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture is not scary and painful, it is actually an incredibly relaxing experience, during which many patients actually fall asleep on the treatment couch whilst the needles are in! This makes the acupuncture session itself de-stressing, but by rebalancing the system on a deeper level, this relaxation from the clinic continues at home. In Chinese Medicine we view acupuncture as harmonising Qi within the energy pathways of the body, restoring balance, health and wellbeing.

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7. The Four Gates

The number one de-stressing point combination in acupuncture is called the “Four Gates”. It combines LI 4, found in the fleshy webbing between the thumb and forefinger, with Liv 3 on the foot, over the “knuckle” between the big toe and the second toe. This combination strongly moves the Qi in the body, calming the system physically and mentally. These can also be massaged at home as a form of acupressure to de-stress, but should be avoided during pregnancy.

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8. Energy Boost

Sometimes we can feel stressed out when we are exhausted and overwhelmed. This feels very different to the frustrated or snappy energy that we often think of with the word stress. Acupuncture can help support and nourish the body, by using points that boost up energy levels, such as St 36 just below the outer side of the knee, thereby reducing this type of stress. Eating blood-nourishing foods, as according to Chinese Food Energetics, will also help here – add beetroot, beef, spinach, eggs, apricots, figs and kale for an extra boost.

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9. Bespoke Treatment

Traditional acupuncture is a holistic practice that treats YOU as you, as an individual, as a whole person. You may have a group of people all claiming to be “stressed out”, but the acupuncture points chosen for each person might be completely different, depending on what is going on in their lives, what symptoms are present, or which of the Chinese Five Elements they are. This bespoke de-stressing is one of the key reasons acupuncture is so effective at combating stress, it’s not a one-size fits all approach.

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10. Me Time

An average acupuncture session runs between 45 minutes and 1 hour. It is your time to stop, relax, and focus purely on yourself – how often do we get that in our daily routines? Patients often say that just knowing they have acupuncture booked into their diaries is enough to help their stress levels – knowing they have a support system in place, that will help them physically and emotionally, is de-stressing in itself.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2015

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5 Ways to Connect with the Water Element for Winter

By Rhiannon Griffiths

This post was first published as a guest post on Aussie health blog This Is Lifeblood – it is most definitely Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, that cold, still, watery, dark Yin time. I often write about the Water Element, as Water is my constitutional element (or CF), but Winter is the season of the Water Element, and it is important to connect in with this energy now, at its most potent, whatever your own Element is.

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Water CF Element Five Elements Chinese Medicine

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1. Slow Down & Think Hibernation

The quickest way to connect with the Water Element at any time of the year, but particularly as we move into Water’s season of Winter, is to slow down! Many of us will have been super busy and outwardly sociable during the Summer, with lots of outdoor gatherings with family and friends. Winter is about stillness, coolness, darkness, hibernation – think about what nature is doing at the moment, everything is retracting inwards, seeds of potential are underneath the ground, barely a bud or leaf above soil, and animals are retreating to warm safe spaces. The Water Element will respond beautifully to increased rest in warm safe spaces! Up your commitment to quiet self-care, scale back your social commitments, and keep the Kidneys warm – no crop tops or showing your midriff! Just remember, the energy you conserve during the Winter, becomes the pot of Qi you have for the following Summer – it’s well worth topping yourself up now!

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2. Activate the Water Element Taste

Each of the Five Elements has a “taste” associated with it. Fire is bitter, Earth is sweet, Metal is pungent, Wood is sour, and Water is salty. Salt is a hot topic in health circles, and many people avoid salt at all costs. Processed table salt is not advisable, especially if you have high blood pressure, but in Chinese Medicine, we know that the Water Element and its associated organ, the Kidneys, actually NEED some salt to be supported and function correctly. Add a touch more sea salt or pink himalayan salt to your Winter cooking, or opt for something naturally salty like miso – it is warm, sweet and salty in terms of Chinese Food Energetics. It goes straight to the Water Element organ of the Kidneys, helping to activate their function of fluid control within the body.

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3. Warm the Qi with Food Energetics

As seen above, we can affect the balance in our bodies with that we eat. During Winter we need to reduce raw and cold food intake, cutting down on salads and turning to physically warm dishes like soups, stews and risottos. Apart from being warming, they also have a very “watery” aspect to them, which automatically connects in to the Water Element. Adding energetically hot spices like garlic, cayenne, chilli, ginger, or cinnamon is important in Winter as the temperatures drop down. But note, if you have a tendency to run towards being a hot person, go easy with those very heating spices, even in Winter – nourishing your Yin with rest, and gently warming with thyme, sage or rosemary should be a good balance for you.

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4. Reign in the Fear & Ramp up the Reassurance

The emotion associated with the Water Element is Fear (or conversely, complete lack of it!). This element is all about risk assessing and then reassuring. In Winter, my fear tends to crank up a few notches, as the weather gets worse with snow and ice in the UK – it is riskier to travel, there is more disruption, more uncertainty, and my Water Element has a bit of a wobble! It might not be about the weather, but notice if fear is creeping in and holding you back, this exercise may help you reign in the fear. Write down the issue you are fearful about. Then divide the page in two, with a line down the centre. On the left, write down everything you can think of that is the “worst case scenario”, what you are afraid will happen, what could go wrong, what is stopping you. Once you have really connected into the fear of that column, and exhausted all the potential options (remember, the Water Element WILL find ALL the possible risks, so to harness the positive side of this power, you need to do the same!), turn to the right hand column. You may find it helpful to switch seats or go into a different room for the right hand column – be in a different energetic space!

For each of the risks or fears you wrote down on the left, write down ONE thing that you COULD do, if indeed the worst thing were to happen. For example, it could be the idea of moving to another city is too scary for you, despite your heart knowing it is what you want to do. So in the left column you might write, “I could move away and then not have enough money to support myself”; then in the right column, one thing you COULD do if that were to happen would be “I could find a flatmate”, or “I could move back home with my folks”, or “I could be creative with coming up with new revenue streams”… whatever feels congruent and true to you – this is not a BS exercise, else your Water Element will not feel reassured enough. It must feel as true as possible.

You should find that by connecting to the Water Elements resourcefulness in coming up with contingency plans, you can prove to yourself (and your Water) that even if the worst thing happened, you WILL be ok. Give it a try, it can be really liberating to write it all down and visually see if the bad thing happened, it really wouldn’t be such a big deal – and this is coming from a Water CF girl, who does the risk assessing thing constantly!!

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5. Have Acupuncture!

And of course, having acupuncture will immediately connect us into the Water Element ready for Winter! There are specific points we call “horary points”, which have particular potency during their specific season. 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… (read more in my FREE ebook to see what Element you might be!)… So although this post is particularly relevant to those Water CFs (constitutional factors or constitutional Elements) amongst us, we can ALL benefit from connecting in with the Water Element in Winter.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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What Does Going Off Coffee Have to Do With the Heart?

By Rhiannon Griffiths

A patient recently emailed me, surprised that she had gone off her beloved coffee. Having previously drunk a lot of the black stuff on a regular basis, she found she just didn’t feel like she wanted it any more. She was intrigued and wanted answers.

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From my integrated Five Element Acupuncturist perspective, it wasn’t a surprise. Each of the Five Elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood – have an associated taste, as well as many other resonances, read more in my new ebook. Coffee is bitter, and bitter is linked to the Fire Element. The main Fire organ is the Heart, and in Chinese Medicine and Chinese Food Energetics, the bitter taste is said to go straight to the Heart and affect the energetics, feelings and functionings of the organ.

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Coffee Heart Five Elements Chinese Medicine

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This is why I avoid coffee, I LOVE the smell, but its affects on me and my heart are super strong. I get shaky, light headed and feel sick, like my blood pressure has dropped. I feel my heart beating like mad, skipping around with palpitations.

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For others, and maybe for you, it is different and the Heart is given some support from coffee – some boosting, a little kick in the morning of familiar warmth, of feel-good happy contented energy. But for some, a craving or too much dependence on coffee can indicate (or even create in the long term!) an imbalance in the Fire Element and it’s energy.

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The more we return to balance in the Fire Element and the heart, the less we NEED coffee. And this is what had happened to my gorgeous patient. Through work on herself, with the support of coaching and acupuncture, she had become more in touch with her Heart. She connected with her Heart, acknowledged it and really FELT into it. She was fully enjoying this Heart space she hadn’t realised she had been missing.

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So what does that have to do with coffee? The support from acupuncture and coaching had created a mindful, ACTIVE connection to the Heart space. This connected to the energy of the Heart, the nurture of the Qi (or life force) there, focusing attention there, shifting the energy there, creating a boost, a stimulation, a kick start of the Heart and the Fire Element. It therefore no longer needs to rely on the coffee and it’s bitter taste for that Heart boost or stimulation. As a result, the craving goes down, the body, mind and spirit no longer require it; it’s a sign that something internally has changed.

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Have you noticed something has changed for you recently? Have you gone off a certain food, or found yourself suddenly reaching for something that isn’t normally on your menu? It could be an indication of an internal shift, one of your Five Elements is in a changing state of balance – towards imbalance, or toward a better state of balance. Share your thoughts in the comments below and my acupuncturists brain may be able to shed some light on it for you!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2014

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Note: original coffee cup photo from Tumblr

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Awesome Aussies – Shakti Grace

By Rhiannon Griffiths

Welcome to yet another fabulously magical interview with a wonderful health-focused woman I met on my travels to Australia. The third vlog in my “Awesome Aussies” blog series is Shakti Grace, the Holistic Chef Australia, and I adored chatting to this chick – we could have chatted all night (Aussie time of course!)

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awesome aussies

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Who is Shakti? She is a holistic chef and creator of “Shakti’s Superfood Blend”… having been a private professional chef for people and musicians all over the world, her focus is now on getting the healthy and holistic message out to the general public through her series of superfood workshops. Her latest lot have just gone tri-state, so book your place now! She is also on the highly esteemed cooking stage at this weekend’s Mind Body Soul exhibition in Sydney!

In Australia we met up: in Sydney – Shakti very kindly collected me from the airport, and we went straight to the quirky vintage “Nourishing Quarter” in Surrey Hills to share some amazing, healthy, clean food (including a delicious raw mango cheesecake!)… a perfect, beautiful, kindred evening in a brand new city!

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shakti & me

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We met online via (my new obsession) Instagram (I am @rg_acupuncture & Shakti is @theholisticchef), and instantly hit it off, through a love of healthy food that nourishes on all levels – physical, emotional and spiritual. Hear in this video below about what makes her Superblend so special (clue: high vibrations, & cracked cell walls!), and how we are both big fans of Chinese Food Energetics, acupuncture and Eastern philosophy!

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA5IUAaA0xI%5D

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Don’t forget to visit Shakti’s website for more information about her Superfood Blend and how you can purchase it online in Australia – I know there’s a BIG new batch just arrived with her, so it couldn’t be a better time to give your body a boost!

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The Holistic Chef Shakti Grace

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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6 Ways to Activate The Wood Element Now

By Rhiannon Griffiths

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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