Tag Archives: sleep

Evil Qi (and other unwanted guests during the holiday season)

14 Nov

As I went through school, I learned quickly how to kick getting sick before it snuck up on me. Chinese medicine refers to external pathogens as “evil qi.” The name is quite humorous and you’ll never forget it! Evil qi invasion presents with alternating fever and chills, stiff muscles, sinus congestion, runny nose, tickling throat and other annoyances.  It’s seems like a masked ninja creeping up behind you and BAM!

You’re sick.

There are elemental factors that play a role in this. The weather is cold outside and it’s windy. So keeping your wei qi strong is very important. I might get yelled at for saying this, but I liken the wei qi to the immune system. It’s the body’s outer defense and regulatory system to keep illness away. The lungs, which are the most superficial internal organ, comes in contact with environmental factors (air we breath).  They help regulate the wei qi through the body. When there is a disruption, your pores aren’t regulated as freely you become exposed, so covering up and keeping warm helps.  Your nose and your throat are easily exposed to cold wind, causing dryness and a sore throat, swollen glands, etc.  And these colds can present with hot or cold symptoms.

The truth is there are some precautionary things you can do to avoid this.

1. Keep allergy exposure at a low. I couldn’t tell you how many times people have told me that they have allergies and then it actually turns into a cold. Maybe it’s their way of not frightening everyone around them into  a 10 foot germ radius. The immune system is working hard to ward off germs and allergy triggers can help expose you to more. I know, sometimes it’s uncontrollable, but avoid those triggers. Wash your hands and cover your mouth when you sneeze.

2. Rest and digest! Sleeping well throughout the night will keep your energy up and your body from overdrive mode. Things to consider for your sleeping habits: Do you fall asleep easily? Do you wake during the night? If so, how many times? What time of the night? Are you waking to urinate? Do you feel rested when you wake up? Do you have dream disturbed sleep?  Answers to these questions can point to any disharmonies and imbalances that you may have. See a TCM practitioner/LAc and they can help you with this.

3. Sugar can kick your butt by making you susceptible to illness because it suppresses your immune system.  Tis’ the season to enjoy your sweets, just do so in moderation or balance it with plenty of greens and produce packed with nutrients and vitamins. See number 7 below for foods to eat.

4. Stay away from wind (artificial and natural). Try to keep from using your bedroom fan when you’re sleeping. It can dry out your sinuses and expose you to getting sick. In TCM terms, it affects our lungs, which help regulate our pores. Translation: You’re leaving yourself wide open for pathogens.  Wind enters through your nose, skin and impairs your immune function. If you must have the fan on, please keep it off of you and cover up!

5. Wear a scarf. I love scarves for the season and it’s become a staple in my wardrobe. My friends and family probably think I do it to accessorize, but it’s to save my neck!  Covering the nape of your neck helps.  There is an acupuncture point called Feng Men, which means Wind Gate. It’s located roughly 1.5 inches bilaterally on each side of the spinous process of T2 (see picture below). This point is used to expel any external pathogens by wind and is a very important point in helping turn around a cold fast.  Staying covered and wearing appropriate seasonal clothing helps you.

6. Sweat it Out: If you have chills and fever and are NOT sweating – I love to take a hot bath for 10 to 15 minutes and then cover up in sweatsuit to sweat out the pathogen. This only works if you haven’t started sweating.  If you have, and you do this, you’ll make it worse!

7. Garlic & Radishes: My lovely sister had the worse sinus congestion and pressure. The drainage was clear to none – so no heat signs present (fever, red eyes, hot sensation,  dry mouth, night sweats, drinking cold fluids). She asked me what dietary changes she could implement to help clear the pressure. Over the counter medicine and sinus sprays were not working.  Garlic and Radishes.  Not together, unless you want dragon breath.

Garlic’s warming effect can clear your sinuses. The way to do this: take 1 peeled galic clove and hold it in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Chew and then swallow. 2-3 times a day until it’s gone. This is not for the faint of heart. And you have to love garlic! Incorporate this in your cooking and you’ll ward off illness easily. This is also great for sore throats.

Radishes are a bit easier to eat and they cut mucus, moistens the lungs,  moves food stagnation, detoxifies, stops occipital headaches AND prevents viral infections. Wham-O! You’re golden with these guys. The mucus can be cold (clear) or hot (yellow/green) in presentation for these to work. You can eat 2-3 radishes, 2-3 times per day.

***These dietary gems are from Paul Pitchford’s book, “Healing with Whole Foods” 3rd edition. Highly recommended if you are interested in the healing properties of food!

7.  Stress. It sucks everything out of you. So make sure you find a way to decompress either through exercise, prayer, journaling, meditation – whatever your preference. Just make time to do it for yourself.

8. See your acupuncturist! When you start feeling sick – go see an acupuncturist! We have so many modalities to help kick the bug, that you’ll feel better in no time! It breaks my heart when people miss an appointment because they’re sick. Coming in is what you should do!  Herbs, cupping, acupuncture and gua sha are all wonderful to clear a cold.  I’ll talk about those tools of the trade later. They’re WONDERFUL.

You can find an acupuncturist through the following site: www.acufinder.com

When you’re feeling a bit off, you can always come in to give your wei qi a boost and kick the evil qi to the curb!

Take Care!


Seasons Change: Should You, Too?

24 Oct

Remembering Fall by Indy Kethdy

Living in sunny Arizona poses some wonderful challenges in terms of weather. There are four months of heat, haboobs and monsoons and the rest of the year gloriously redeems the hell-on-earth qualities by giving us refreshing, crisp air and sunny skies.  Truthfully, we only have two seasons: Hot and Enjoyable.  We’ve paid our dues, and the weather (and people) are of the brighter sort.  Fall officially started on September 22nd and although its just starting to cool down, the days are getting shorter, mornings are brisk,  and life remains spinning at a dizzying rate towards 2013.

So how do we keep healthy pace with the changing seasons?

I browsed through the Neijing Suwen The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine for basic insight to wellness and lifestyle changes through the seasons.  Self-preservation and prevention in health are staples in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Educating others on creating beneficial lifestyle habits and implementing them can keep you feeling strong and energetic through the transitions of the seasons.   I love this book because its holistic approach to lifestyle reveals our actions presently perpetuate our health for the following season.

Incorporate the following for Fall:

1. Sleep – The Neijing requires that one should retire when the sun sets and rise with the break of dawn.  Although this  might not be realistic, getting the recommended amount of sleep will keep your immune system strong and keep you rejuvenated. This time of year is about conservation, so store and reserve your energy!

2. Stress Management – With the holidays at our heels, it’s important to find ways to decompress. Prayer, meditation, yoga, camaraderie, exercise, writing, acupuncture – any outlet really, can help you deal with any harsh emotions and keep you peaceful to really enjoy the beauty of the year.

3. Exercise – Strengthening your respiratory function (Lung qi is what we call it in TCM terms) will help you with several factors: stress management, immune function, circulation.  Qi Gong, Tai Chi, walking, yoga and breathing exercises are all gentler options.  In reference to prepping for winter, it will also help with your digestive function.

4. Eat with the season – Staying within the realm of what mother nature provides seems simple enough.  Today it’s easy to be confused about what’s in season because produce is readily available regardless of its natural harvest time! Local farmers markets and checking with the Farmer’s Almanac are two great resources to see what’s in season. I’ll have an additional post about what foods are right for the fall.

5. Say “No” to cold drinks – Say no to icy, cold drinks. It’s hard on your digestion. Room temperature or warm drinks are preferable.

I would love to hear your thoughts and what lifestyle changes, if any you incorporate with the change of seasons?

Take Care!