Posts Tagged ‘Diet’

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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Free Five Element Ebook CF




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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Err, What’s Up Doc?!

By Rhiannon Griffiths

For those staunch followers of the blog, you may remember last Autumn when I did some baking with seasonal produce, making a breakfast loaf that had all the right energetics for nourishing the digestive system, the Lungs, and resolving phlegm – all things that are needed to maintain health during the Autumn and into Winter.

Back in April, I did another short film about Spring and food, but with one thing and another it has taken me some time to edit it and get it online. In it, I have once again taken the principles of Chinese Food Energetics (see previous post if you don’t know what I mean by this), and come up with a recipe with spring carrots (that’s where the Bugs Bunny title catchphrase comes in – sorry, I couldn’t resist it!) and green tea, that is just perfect for the season, the season’s organs, and essentially moving that Qi! And, don’t forget, I wrote about this season a while back, in the Woody Springtime blog post, so get the lowdown about what Spring means in Chinese medicine, right there…

As for here, I am going to keep the writing brief, as the explanations are in the video below, but I thought I would share the energetics of the ingredients, so you can keep track with my rambling! But ensuring the smooth flow of Qi in the body can help with stress, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (also listen to my recent interview on BBC Radio Oxford about how acupuncture can help IBS), period pain and bloating.

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aIbFJ5kSiA%5D

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Carrots = neutral in temperature, sweet in flavour, route into the body via Stomach, Lungs & Liver, tonifying & circulating Qi in the body.

Green Tea = cool in temperature, bitter & sweet in flavour, affects the Liver, helping smooth the circulation of Qi.

Raisins = boost Qi, has the Liver as one of its energetic organ routes into the body.

Almonds = help circulation of Qi, boost levels of Qi, resolve Phlegm.

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Breakfast = energy packed, ground almonds add protein, builds Qi for your day.

Elevenses = mid-morning snack, moving & smoothing Qi, reducing stress levels.

Afternoon Tea = picks you up during the 4pm energy lull, boosting Qi & getting Qi moving.

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If you would like to make the recipe, visit the downloads page of the website and click the thumbnail! Acupuncture works on the principles of Chinese Medicine, and as acupuncturists we can use this theory to guide our lifestyle and dietary choices. In short, we can complement our treatments with recipes and foods that will further enhance what we wish to do with the Qi (or energy) in our bodies – move it, boost it, nourish it, and so on. The good news is, that YOU can do that too, in your own home! To discuss more about how Chinese Food Energetics could help you towards better health, contact me, or leave a comment below! Happy Spring Baking!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome on BBC Radio Oxford

By Rhiannon Griffiths

At the beginning of the week I was asked to go on BBC Radio Oxford’s afternoon show to talk about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and how acupuncture can help sufferers with their symptoms. ITV’s Dr Hilary Jones was also on the show to give the conventional medicine view, and to highlight a new study into the illness that suggests 45% of Britons suffer some form of digestive problem.

IBS is an umbrella term for many digestive issues such as pain or discomfort in the abdomen – anywhere between the chest and the hips – and also includes changes in frequency or consistency of stools.

Jo Thoenes (of “Jo in the Afternoon” fame) spoke to a lovely patient of mine, and fellow alternative therapist, Anna Shaw, about how treatment with me helped her with bloating and pain, that was affected by stress and her menstrual cycle. And I explained how we view IBS in Chinese Medicine – all to do with the smooth flow of Qi or energy within the body. Take a listen to what she, and I, said below:

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfYRa3FgZ4Y%5D

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Emotions can also disrupt the smooth flow of Qi. Stress, frustration or anger can cause energy to move upwards, interrupting the digestive energy’s normal flow. Worry can knot the Qi, causing stagnation, that creates pain and bloating.

We can also offer advice underpinned by Chinese Food Energetics, identifying possible food intolerances, like wheat or dairy, guiding patients toward better food choices. Additionally with IBS, adding in foods that help promote the smooth flow of energy in the body can be beneficial – these foods include green tea, lemon, carrots and almonds – stick around for a recipe and Spring baking film coming your way next week with these very ingredients! As Spring is the season when energy is all about flow and movement and growth, its particularly important to ensure the smooth and correct flow of Qi at this time!

If you recognise some of the symptoms discussed during the show, contact me to discuss how acupuncture could help you have a better quality of life – stop thinking about the potential of needing to go to the toilet wherever you are, stop thinking about whether you can wear your favourite slinky outfit or whether your tummy is too bloated, stop thinking about if you can eat out at a fabulous restaurant without getting pain… start living and feel better! If you’re weary of needles, talk to me about how Chinese Food Energetics could make a difference to your diet.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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