Diabetes and Weight Loss in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, Diabetes is called Xiao Ke, or “thirsting and wasting” disorder.  If you or a loved one has diabetes, you’ll recognize the excessive thirst and weight loss that may accompany the onset.  Diabetes describes both a functional and a structural disorder, from a Chinese Medical perspective.  In type I (auto-immune) diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the pancreatic Beta cells that make insulin.  In type II, the body doesn’t know how to effectively utilize the insulin it does make.

Insulin is a hormone that mobilizes fat and, allows the sugars (carbs) we eat to bind to spots on the muscle cell walls that provide energy (fuel).  Acupuncture is functional medicine.  If we drive up function to the Spleen (which includes pancreatic function), we can help your body work more effectively.  This is key for both types of diabetes.  Further, since insulin causes inflammation in the body (tied with most of the long term effects of the disease), Acupuncture can help the body manage this process.

Do you have a new goal for a new YOU in the new year?  Acupuncture can work with you to help your body take full advantage of your changes, efforts and exercise.  Call one of the trained and Licensed Acupuncturists at Best Acupuncture to find out how we can help.

The Connection Between Digestion and Emotions

You may have heard the expression “your gut is your 2nd brain.” This definitely applies in Chinese Medicine as Spleen and Stomach are not only the primary organs of digestion, but are also closely related to the emotions — worry, anxiety and over-thinking are especially connected to Spleen.

And so it follows that if you are experiencing any of these or other emotional upsets, you probably will also present with an upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation, or gas or bloating. Think of the Stomach as being responsible not only for digesting food and beverages, but also for digesting your emotions and thoughts.  It will keep what feeds your soul/spirit and let go of what does not.

When you have experienced any major, life-changing event, such as the loss of a loved one or animal companion or the break-up of a long-term relationship or marriage, grief naturally ensues. And we’ve all experienced this on some level, but what also tends to happen?  Our appetite will most likely decrease or increase significantly, resulting in weight loss or weight gain. If we feel afraid or stuck and unable to move forward — or if we feel alone and unsupported, this can also manifest in the digestive system.

Stuck/unable to let go = constipation, gas or bloating

Fear = craving salty foods

Anger = alternating diarrhea/constipation/IBS

Grief = lack of appetite/no hunger; lack of taste

Worry/Over-thinking = indigestion; gas and bloating; craving sweets

Besides it’s connection to digestion, the Spleen is in charge of the movement of blood in the vessels and it rules the muscles by transporting blood and qi to the tissues and limbs.

With a Spleen imbalance, the mind can become unable to focus, concentrate, remember, or study, as thoughts cannot be held in their proper place. The mind may simply race uncontrollable from one thought to another. Contrarily, it can become stuck and immobile, rigid and stubborn. Obsessive thinking, incessant worry, frustration, anxiety and depression are expressions of stagnancy in the physical body.  The expression “venting the spleen” means giving expression (movement) to pent up anger. There are few causes of anxiety and frustration greater than being unable to remember, feeling lost and confused. It is as if the storehouse of memory is unavailable.  Like the food and drink we consume, experience is virtually useless if we cannot digest it, glean its wisdom and put it to use.[1]

There have been a number of excellent books written in the Western world about the connection between the foods we eat and choose to eat, based on our emotions. But how amazing it is to have a system of medicine that formally connects and addresses our head brain and thoughts with our gut brain and digestion.

Chinese Medicine can help us to be more aware of what we’re choosing to eat and why we’re eating it — and to also notice how our emotions and food choices impact our processing and absorption of nutrients.  And how we also need to “process” and digest our emotions — and that may be a huge part of our healing.

There are specific acupuncture points that can be used along the Spleen, Stomach, Liver and Heart meridians to treat mental/emotional conditions and digestive conditions simultaneously.  Likewise, a Chinese nutrition consult can help you identify the foods that will help to heal your emotions via your digestion. To learn more about these foods and acupuncture points and how they can help you, please contact us to schedule a 45-minute evaluation.

[1] https://www.acupuncturepathways.com/news/2017/7/27/the-earth-element-spleen-and-stomach

Digestion as Viewed from a Chinese Medicine Perspective

The spleen and the stomach are the primary organs of digestion in Chinese Medicine. The Spleen is responsible for taking in the food, breaking it down and processing it, as well as distributing the nutrients. The Stomach is considered the “Sea of Grain and Water” and it is responsible for turning digested food into nutrients and absorbing them.

When digestion is working properly, the Spleen Qi (energy or life force) is flowing freely.  It facilitates the overall digestive process. Spleen function is ascending in nature — the pushing action of the Spleen Qi is necessary to move the nutrients up into heart and lungs and is also responsible for holding all organs in place, while the descending action of the Stomach Qi serves to absorb nutrients and move the leftover waste down to the intestines where it is separated out and further absorbed or excreted from the body as liquid or solid waste.  Stomach Qi can be thought of as “feeding” the other organs the nutrients they need to perform their special tasks.

When the Spleen Qi in your body is deficient, your digestion will most likely be sluggish with incomplete bowel movements, gas, bloating, and possible secondary symptoms of fatigue, foggy brain, heaviness in the limbs, and worry and over-thinking. If the Spleen Qi is not strong enough to push things forward, accumulation and stagnation will result in the Stomach, and also possibly in the Liver.

When  your Stomach Qi is “rebelling”, the energy is moving up when it should be going down and through your digestive system.  It is considered an excess condition and associated with fire, hence the burning sensation which comes with acid reflux, or the total upheaval of your system, i.e., vomiting.

Professor J.R. Worsley described the Stomach organ as being similar to a bakery. It receives all of the various ingredients and, if mixed and baked properly, will create a delicious cake. The Spleen on the other hand is like a fleet of trucks/drivers, working 24/7, that transport the cakes to the buyers/stores. Within our body, the Spleen organ transports and distributes the proper amount of nourishment to every cell and every level — physical and non-physical. We can easily imagine what would happen if the truck driver failed to show up for work or got lost making deliveries. Regardless of the quality and quantity of the food itself, if the transporter failed to deliver, some people would still starve while others might feel stuffed with far more than they need. [1]

So, if you have any issues with digestion, then it is most likely an issue with the function of the spleen and/or stomach.

[1] https://www.acupuncturepathways.com/news/2017/7/27/the-earth-element-spleen-and-stomach