Spring is a time when the effects of seasonal changes are perhaps most obvious at the clinic. In Chinese medicine, the organ and meridian associated with spring is the liver. The ancient Chinese also associated the element wood and the color green with the liver. The element wood and the color green are clearly seen during spring, when the growth of trees, plants, and grass all return after the harsh cold of winter. Spring is a time of expansion and growth, of movement upward and outward.

We see spring’s signs of growth as early plants peek out of the soil and buds form on trees. But what happens when we have some early spring warmth to encourage such growth followed by another cold snap? This is so common here in southeast Wisconsin where spring comes in fits and starts. Injury can occur to the fragile green plants, stagnating their growth. A similar pattern can occur internally in our bodies with the liver (and an associated organ, the gallbladder). As liver energy starts to expand and grow, we become energized to make changes and motivated to clean out and start something new. Then the cold returns. Our liver energy gets stuck again — frozen and stagnated, just as we witness in the plants.

How does that manifest in our lives? Stuck liver energy can create frustration, anger, anxiety, and insomnia, particularly between the hours of 1-3am (the time of the liver according to Chinese medicine). We may experience more aches and pains as blood from the liver stops flowing to properly nourish our tendons, muscles and joints.

How can we overcome these springtime liver issues? The liver loves the essence of bitterness, which is plentiful in green leafy vegetables. (Green again!). Consume them in abundance. Avoid overly damp foods like dairy, fried foods and even too many grains. When the dampness gets cold internally, it freezes (think of ice) and doesn’t move. It stagnates, further aggravating the liver qi and promoting blood stagnation.

In fact, springtime is a perfect opportunity to do some cleansing. That can be anything from just cutting down on meats and grains for a period of time, to fasting for a day or two (drinking water or vegetable juices only). A popular cleanse during the spring is the Master Cleanse (also known as Star’s Lemonade). The cleanse includes the following

Master Cleanse

2Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
1-2 tbsp 100% maple syrup
1/10 tsp cayenne pepper
8 oz spring or filtered water.

Drink liberally (6-12 glasses/day) throughout the day or 1 warm glass in the morning upon rising.

Lemons are a great body cleanser, full of vitamin C, potassium, and other minerals. Lemons help loosen up and clear toxins from deep tissue matter and organs.

Cayenne pepper helps clear the blood and eliminates toxins and mucus as it warms the body. Maple syrup provides sweetness and energy.

Exercise is also important for moving the liver qi — and doesn’t have to be excessive. A nice walk with purpose and motivation will do. Jogging, running, swimming, and dancing are all good qi-moving exercises.

And of course, getting an acupuncture treatment during the spring/liver time can be very helpful. Acupuncture is all about movement — moving the qi and blood. Herbs and food are more about nourishing and supporting. That stuck energy from the cold, after a time of warmth and growth, can be unstuck by a few well placed acupuncture needles. Sometimes all we need is a little gentle nudge to get our mind and body back in balance.

We can’t control the weather. But we can control what we do and eat to help us cope with weather imbalances and other natural factors associated with seasonal changes.

I hope you’ll incorporate some of these ideas into your day as we anticipate the emerging spring and move closer to the warmth of summer. If you do, please let me know how they helped you feel more balanced and calm. Did you sleep better? Were you less irritable? If you did a fast, what was that like?

May your spring be full of energy, new beginnings, renewed growth, and, of course, green!

Jan 102015

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is one of the most common endocrine disorders affecting as many as 10% of women of childbearing age. Every month, the ovaries produce a large number of follicles. With PCOS, however, no egg is produced, and cysts form when the follicles stop growing. These cysts resemble a string of pearls on the ovaries when viewed on ultrasound.
PCOS symptoms vary from mild to severe. Many women will have long or irregular menstrual cycles, or the period may be absent altogether. The cysts and surrounding tissues produce elevated androgen hormones, which may result in acne and excess facial and body hair. Weight gain can be common as insulin resistance occurs. The amount of estrogen circulating in the bloodstream increases relative to other hormones such as progesterone, causing increased production of LH (lutenizing hormone) and testosterone. This hormonal shift prevents ovulation.
PCOS may result in an increase of high muscle sympathetic nerve activity that constricts blood vessels and can increases a woman’s risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, which, in turn , can be risk factors for heart attack or stroke.
For young women, the primary Western medicine approach employs birth- controlling hormones in an effort to regulate the menstrual cycle. This usually will regulate the cycle, but once the woman decides to conceive and stops birth control, the original problem remains and must be addressed for conception to occur.
For women trying to conceive, Western medicine will often prescribe ovulation drugs like Clomid. If there is no response, hCG may be added to the treatment regimen. If there is still no response, invitro fertilization (IVF) is usually the next recommendation.
How Chinese Medicine Can Help
As with any health issue, in Chinese Medicine, and at Integrative Health Services, we look at the whole body. Treatments are aimed at balancing hormones using diet, acupuncture, and herbs. At Integrative Health Services, we may also incorporate dietary supplements into the treatment. While women vary in the severity of the syndrome and response to treatments, a typical response is to notice signs of ovulation like increased fertile vaginal discharge, followed by an increase in basal body temperature. Progressively, ovulation should move closer to cycle day 14.
Acupuncture works to restore the entire sympathetic nervous system to balance. Greater blood flow to the ovaries and the uterus improves ovulation and enhances implantation. As hormones balance, follicles mature and release a healthy egg, ready to combine with a healthy sperm and create life.
Herbal therapy works in a similar way. Like food, herbs are used to resolve the underlying issues associated with PCOS and provide ongoing treatment between acupuncture sessions. Herbs can increase blood flow and help dissolve any existing ovarian cyst.
Dietary guidelines include eliminating sugars and refined carbohydrates. Avoiding soda and fruit juice is important because they can quickly raise blood sugar. Lean meats that have not been hormonally treated are recommended along with a variety of fresh vegetables. Dairy products can produce what Chinese Medicine calls dampness in the body, a condition that can aggravate tendencies toward PCOS and should be minimized or eliminated. Caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided.
At Integrative Health Services, we are dedicated to helping you achieve your dream of becoming a parent. If you know or suspect you have PCOS, we are ready to help you. We offer a free 15-minute consultation to help you determine our approach is a good fit for you. We are conveniently located in Shorewood, near Milwaukee, WI.

Dec 312011

It’s easy! And you can do it anywhere at anytime. With our new online scheduling program, you can now schedule from the website or on Facebook. Look for the Schedule Now button and click. That will open up the page to all the choices you have from Integrative Health Services! Explore the possibilities or schedule your “regular” service from us. Select the service desired, then, if needed, select the practitioner desired. Pick your date and time and you are all set. The program will send you a confirmation email that you have scheduled your appointment as well as sending you an email the day before the appointment.

If you need to cancel an appointment, that’s easy too. We just ask that you give us 24 hours notice so that we may offer that time slot to another patient.

One of the most common questions about acupuncture is: does it hurt? The answer in most cases is no! Usually not at all!!

Why? Because acupuncture needles are 25-50 times thinner than a hypodermic needle. They’re actually so thin that several acupuncture needles could fit inside a typical hypodermic needle. A typical acupuncture needle is so fine that most people feel nothing at all when a practitioner inserts one into the skin. When sensations do occur, they range from a mere tingle to a slight pinch, to mild heat, numbness, or traveling warmth.

Needles usually remain inserted for 20 to 40 minutes. Most people find the experience extremely relaxing and uplifting. Patients often fall asleep during the treatment session.

When treatment requires thicker gauge needles, a mild reaction of some kind is more likely to occur, such as a slight possibility of some soreness during or after a treatment. Let your acupuncturist know immediately whenever any discomfort occurs so he or she can take appropriate action.

If you’re especially sensitive to acupuncture or ‘needle-phobic’ your acupuncturist can use thinner needles and alternative techniques to minimize your concerns and reactions. Be sure to speak up and let your practitioner know how you’re feeling!

As with any patient-practitioner relationship, communication is an important part of the process.

4465 N. Oakland Ave, Suite 200 S    |    Milwaukee    |    414-906-0285    |

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