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Natural Cures for Perimenopause and Menopause Through Diet and Acupuncture

Perimenopause is the period in a woman’s life when her body is preparing for menopause. During a woman’s thirties, her hormone production begins to slow down and continues to diminish, as she grows older. For many women, this period of adjustment is fraught with many symptoms that can interfere with the harmony of her body.

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Chinese Medicine helps with Mental Health Issues

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has addressed the link between the body, spirit and mind for more than 2000 years. TCM does not view people as a collection of segmented parts to be treated independently.

Instead, our belief is that illness affects both the mind and body; there is no separation between the two.  Excessive and/or prolonged emotions contribute to the excess or deficiency of yin and yang that disrupts the flow of qi or energy through the body, thereby resulting in mental illness and accompanying symptoms.

Chinese Medicine does not recognize any mental disorder as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Organization (NAMI) , “mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.  Mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.”

About 6% or 1 in 17 Americans live with a serious mental illness.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health 1 in 4 adults, approximately 57.7 million Americans in a given year experience a mental health disorder.  In the United States and other developed countries, mental health disorders are four of the 10 leading causes of disability according to the World Health Organization.  Major depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children by 2020.  For United States, untreated mental illness accounts for more than 100 billion dollars each year.  Mental disorders can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income

The World Health Organization recognizes Oriental Medicine effective in treating the following associated with Mental Health:  Hysteria, Stress and Anxiety disorders, Schizophrenia, Mental Depression, Impotence (caused by mental illness or medications), Frigidity, Premature Ejaculation, Drug Addictions, Tobacco addiction. Acupuncture can also alleviate and treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Irritability and Moodiness.

How Acupuncture Works

Why acupuncture? Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has addressed the link between the body, spirit and mind for more than 2000 years. TCM does not view people as a collection of segmented parts to be treated independently. Instead, our belief is that illness affects both the mind and body; there is no separation between the two. Therefore, emotional disturbances have associated physical symptoms and, in reverse, physical disorders evoke emotional responses. Emotions do not cause disorders because it is normal to experience different emotions. But when emotions are excessive, prolonged or both, they can become problematic and contribute to physical symptoms. In Chinese medicine, different emotions are thought to affect different organs. When an individual experiences strong emotion, there are physical symptoms associated with it. For example, the emotion of sadness can produce a lump in the throat, “plum pit qi,” or difficulty taking deep breaths. The goal of TCM is to bring all the human systems into a healthy balance, insuring that both the mind and body feel well.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders with Chinese Medicine

Excessive and/or prolonged emotions contribute to the excess or deficiency of yin and yang that disrupts the flow of qi or energy through the body, thereby resulting in mental illness and accompanying symptoms.

Chinese Medicine does not recognize any mental disorder as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body.   For example, if 100 people were treated for anxiety with Chinese Medicine, each of the 100 people would receive a customized and unique treatment regarding their anxiety because there are different patterns of disharmony that cause anxiety in Chinese Medicine.

The Principle of the Five Elements 

The Principle of the Five Elements (known as the Wu Xing) describes the flow of qi and the balance of yin and yang. The Five Elements refer to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in Eastern philosophy. They are used to interpret the relationship between the physiology and pathology of the human body and the natural environment.

In Chinese medicine, each element is associated with certain mental/emotional states. For instance, our memory, thought processes, emotional well-being, and consciousness are also attributed to the heart and fire element. When the fire element is in balance, the heart is strong and healthy, the mind is calm and sleep is sound. When the fire element is imbalanced, we may either lack joy (depression) or have an excess of joy (mania). Indicators of an imbalance in the fire element include agitation, nervousness, heartburn, and insomnia.

The Five Elements and Emotions

Wood (Liver) – Anger, jealousy, frustration, resentment, bitterness and stress
Fire (Heart) – Mania and over-excitation
Earth (Spleen) – Anxiety, pensiveness and worry
Metal (Lung) – Grief and sadness
Water (Kidney) – Fear,Depression and lack of will

Study of Acupuncture for Depression

Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that treating mental health disorders with acupuncture has a positive and holistic effect on depressed patients, particularly when used in combination with psychotherapy and herbal treatments.

Psychologist John Allen, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and Acupuncturist Rosa Schnyer, conducted the very first pilot controlled study on treating depression symptoms with acupuncture in the Western scientific world. In a double blind randomized study, 34 depressed female patients who met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria were assigned to one of three treatment groups for eight weeks.

The first group received acupuncture treatment specifically tailored to their depression symptoms. The second group received a general acupuncture treatment not specific to depression, and the third group was placed on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment, but received no treatment. The study found that those in the tailored acupuncture treatment experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to those in the non-specific treatment. Moreover, over 50% of the participants no longer met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for depression after the study.

The study findings suggest that using acupuncture alone could be as effective as other types of treatments for relieving depression symptoms typically used in Western medicine, such as psychotherapy and drugs.


Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are effective and safe tools to help smooth and balance what can be a challenging time of the year even under the best circumstances.

Each year, more and more people decide that complementary medicine provides treatments they desire, particularly acupuncture. Why? One study noted that individuals want to try available options and have a treatment with fewer adverse side effects. Patients also found alternative medicine to be less authoritarian and more empowering than conventional medicine.   People identify with complementary medicine’s holistic view of the individual and they want the ability to have some control over their health care. They yearn to be treated as individuals and appreciate the greater amount of time that practitioners spend with them. These are some of the motivations that explain the appeal and ever-increasing popularity of alternative treatments. Most importantly, acupuncture works!


Beneficial Healing Effects from Acts of Kindness

A few weeks ago, as Tina and I were sitting in my car about to leave work, a woman with a cast on her left arm came up to Tina’s window.  There was a man sitting in his truck a parking space away from us quickly turned his head as she approached us.  She asked if we could spare 4 dollars for a dress to purchase at CHKD next door so she could go to Church later that evening.  She stressed it was very important she be at Church that night.  She explained to us that she was  a victim of domestic violence and just gave birth a few months ago.  I said to her, “ok, go ahead and walk over to CHKD and we’ll follow you in our car and walk in to lend you four dollars for your dress.”  She agreed.

Inside me, I was wondering to myself, is she telling me the truth?  But, I thought to myself, why not? So, Tina and I scrounged up 3 dollars and 4 quarters between ourselves, which is what we had exactly! Funny, how that happens.   We walked into CHKD after her and gave the cashier the four dollars for the dress she was holding.  This woman began to cry and said “Praise Jesus, there is a Lord.”  She said to us that we were angels and that it was so important for her to go to Church that night.  She asked if she could give each of us a hug and so we each hugged her and left smiling.

Tina and I both talked about the event in the car and how great we felt long after the good deed and noted how long  the happy feeling resonated with us for a while.

Later that night I research a little bit about acts of kindness and the beneficial effects on health.  I found several scientifically proven studies.  Interesting to note, the giver, receiver and the observer all reap benefits from acts of kindness.

One of the most fascinating research findings to come out in recent years is that whenever a simple act of kindness is extended by a human being towards another, it results in a significant improvement in the functioning of the immune system and increased production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness as well as in the person extending the kindness.

What’s even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness also experience a similar strengthening of the immune system and increased production of serotonin! Kindness is a win-win-win scenario which produces beneficial effects in the giver, the recipient and the observer.

People naturally feel good when they give, help or serve others because they experience something called “helper’s high,” which authors Allan Luks and Peggy Payne (The Healing Power of Doing Good) describe as a feeling of exhilaration and burst of energy similar to the endorphin-based euphoria experienced after intense exercise … followed by a period of calmness and serenity.

The benefits of kindness are not limited to immune system strengthening and serotonin production. Research has shown that those who routinely engage in acts of kindness, such as volunteers, experience alleviation of stress, chronic pain, and even insomnia.

An article in Psychology Today titled “What We Get When We Give” (by Christine Carter, Ph.D., 2/18/10) states: “People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying — and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.”

A study conducted at Harvard University, called this phenomenon the “Mother Teresa Effect.” Researchers showed a film to 132 Harvard students about Mother Teresa’s work among the poor people of Calcutta. They then measured the level of Immunoglobin A present in their saliva. [Note: Immunoglobin A is an antibody that plays a critical role in immunity.]

The act of kindness  not only benefits the recipient , but produces the helper’s high that nourishes the mind, body and spirit of the giver.

We know negative emotions are bad for the body, so the opposite is true.  Stephen Post, Ph.D., a bioethics professor at the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland states, “This transformation of being and of doing seems to promote emotional and physical well-being and, odds are, will add years to your life,”

Put more simply, it’s good to do good.

For ideas on Acts of Kindness check out:

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation:

Helping Others Organization:

As an endnote: Thank you J.G. for your Acts of Kindness and continuing kindness in helping my Father while he is in the hospital!  Sending many blessings your way!

Acupuncture & Allergies

According to Chinese medical theory, the symptoms and signs that indicate a Western diagnosis of allergies relate to imbalances in the meridian and Organ systems of the body. These imbalances may stem from a variety of causes including stress, poor diet, consitutional weakness, pollutants and environmental toxins.

Over time, if imbalances remain within the body, they will affect the funciton of the Organ Systems. Some of these Organ Systems are involved in the production of Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). According to the theories of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it is important to have the correct quality and quantity of Wei Qi circulating around the body in order to stay health.

What is Wei Qi?

The Chinese concept of Wei Qi is simlar to the Western concept of the immune system. Wei Qi functions to protect and defend the body against foreign substances, that if not caught can lead to allergies. When Wei Qi is strong and abundant, we remain healthy. When the supply of Wei Qi becomes deficient, health is compromised and we become vulnerable to foreign invaders such as dust, mold, animal dander, bacteria, viruses and pollen. People who have a Wei Qi deficiency are prone to allergies and frequent colds.

Acupunture and Chinese medicine support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in the production of Wei Qi. By building up the supply of Wei Qi, and facilitating the smooth and free flow of it through the body, symptoms and signs related to allergies could be greatly reduced or eliminated.

What will an acupuncturist do?

An acupuncturist will conduct a thorough exam, taking a complete health history. They will then develop a unique treatment plan that will address your specific concerns. The goals of the treatment plan will be to eliminate visible symptoms and signs, while address the root causes and underlying imbalances affecting the quality and quantity of Wei Qi.

Acupuncture treatments may be combined with herbs, dietary changes, Nutritional Response Testing, massage (Tui Na), or exercise. These therapies accelerate the healing process inorder to balance, build, and support the body’s Wei Qi.

Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that I may discover and treat for when it comes to allergies:

  • Wei Qi Deficiency
  • Spleen weakness
  • Kidney deficiency
  • Lung deficiency.

Herbal formulas and Nutritonal supplements may depend upon your diagnosis making it a tailored program to fit your health needs.

All about the Heart: Tips to keep the Heart Healthy!

The Heart is an amazing organ.  In Chinese Medicine, it is considered to be the most important of all the internal organs, sometimes described as the “ruler” or “monarch” of the internal organs.  The “Simple Questions” in chapter 8 says: “The Heart is like the Monarch and it governs the Mind…”  The Heart rules all the organs and is the residence of the mind.

The Heart’s main functions are to govern Blood and blood vessels and to house the Mind.

The functions of the Heart are:

  • To govern the blood
  • Control the blood vessels
  • Manifests itself in the complexion
  • Houses the Mind
  • Opens into the tongue
  • Controls the sweat


In Chinese Medicine, Qi is the vital life force energy.  In Western terms, you could liken Qi to the metabolism of the body or even ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate molecule) which is located in the mitochondria on the cellular level.   According to Ancient Chinese, the transformation of Food-Qi  (Qi derived from food) takes place in the Heart.  They also believed the Heart is responsible for the circulation of Blood, just the same as in Western Medicine (although, in Chinese Medicine, other organs, notably the Lungs, Spleen and Liver, also play a role in the circulation of Blood).


A healthy Heart is essential for the proper supply of blood to all body tissues.  When the Heart function is impaired, such as the Heart Blood is deficient, the circulation of Blood is slack and the hands may be cold.


The relation between Heart and Blood is important in another way because it determines the strength of an individual’s constitution.  Although our constitution is primarily related to the Essence and the Kidney (Year of the Dragon and Health Related Issues), it is also partly determined by the relative constitutional strength of the Heart and Blood.


Therefore, if the Heart is strong and Blood is in ample supply and circulation is good, a person will be full of vigor and have a good constitution.  Conversely, if the Heart is constitutionally weak and Blood deficient, a person will have a poor constitution and lack strength.  In Chinese medicine, when I am feeling the pulses, I feel how strong the Heart is as well as the Blood supply in a patient.  When looking at the tongue when diagnosing, I can see the constitutional weakness of the Heart.  When I look at the ear, I can also tell how weak the Heart is in a patient.


In Chinese Medicine, the Heart is the residence of the Mind (Shen).  Shen has many different meanings in Chinese Medicine.  First, Shen indicates the complex of mental faculties, which are said to “reside” in the Heart.  In this sense, the Shen corresponds to the Mind and is specifically related to the Heart.  Secondly, Shen is used to indicate the whole sphere of emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of a human being.  In this sense, it is related not only to the Heart, but it encompasses the emotional, mental and spiritual phenomena of all the other organs.


With this mental activity and consciousness “residing” in the Heart.  This affects the mental activities including the emotional state.  In particular, five functions are affected by the state of the Heart:

  • Mental activity (including emotions)
  • Consciousness
  • Memory
  • Thinking
  • Sleep


Therefore, if the Heart is strong and Blood abundant, there will be a normal mental activity, a balanced emotional life, a clear consciousness, a good memory, keen thinking and good sleep.  If the Heart is weak and Blood deficient there may be mental problems (such as depression), poor memory, dull thinking, insomnia or somnolence and in extreme cases, unconsciousness.


Thus, some of the Heart functions in relation to the mind (such as memory and intelligence) correspond to the brain’s mental activities from a modern medical viewpoint.  For example, the intellectual power of slow-to-learn children can, to a certain extent, be stimulated by tonifying the Heart through acupuncture and herbal therapy.


The condition of the Heart also affects speech and abnormalities which may cause stuttering or aphasia.  It also influences talking and laughing.  The Heart is closely related to sleep.  A disturbance with the Heart may cause inability to fall asleep, disturbed sleep and excessive dreaming.


Heart disease, simply on the physical level, is the largest health problem in the United States.  If we include failings of the heart’s mental aspect, these statistics are tremendously increased.  Furthermore, chronic degenerative conditions such as cancer, arthritis, and insanity, which often arise from a lack of mental clarity, make strengthening the heart-mind system a treatment priority in East Asian medicine for these and other degenerative conditions.


Numerous nutritional studies indicate the heart and nervous system problems are related to calcium metabolism.  Coffee, alcohol, tobacco, refined salt, sugar, refined flour, aluminum, pesticides, marijuana, and other intoxicants all interfere with calcium absorption.  Equally damaging is excess protein in the diet.  Cultures with high-protein diets have elevated levels of heart disease and osteoporosis.


So how can we keep a Healthy Heart when it comes to Chinese Food Therapy?

Fresh wheat germ, wheat berries (in food or as wheat-berry tea) and mung beans help to nourish.  Oyster shell can be eaten in the form of “oyster-shell calcium” which is available in stores that sell nutritional supplements.  Grain: whole wheat (if not allergic or sensitive to this), brown rice, and oats, mushroom and nearly every form of these fungi have cerebral effects.  Ling zhi (in Chinese) or Reishi (in Japanese) is an immune tonic and directly nurtures the heart, soothes the spirit and calms the mind.


Silicon foods: oatstraw tea, barley gruel, oat groat tea, cucumber, celery, lettuce and celery/lettuce juice help to improve calcium metabolism and strengthen nerve and heart tissue.


Fruits like mulberries and lemons calm the mind.  Jujube seeds and Chia seeds also help to calm the spirit and are thought to directly nourish the heart.


Spices like dill and basil can be used in both food and teas for their calming effects.  Regular use of chamomile, catnip, skullcap or valerian is helpful.  Rose hips with these herbs supplies the vitamin C for soothing the nerves.


Animal products such as quality cow and goat milk and clarified butter (ghee) nourishes the spirit of the heart in those who can tolerate these foods.


Magnesium in foods is healing to the heart but is virtually lost in the milling of grains and refining of most other foods.  Magnesium allows calcium to function properly in the tissues of the heart and nerves; it restrains the “anxiety peptide”.  Green foods are rich in magnesium because this mineral is positioned at the center of every chlorophyll molecule; interestingly the green in color healing is said to bring peace and harmony.


Vegetables that help to regulate the heart: alfalfa sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, aubergine, bamboo shoots, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, dandelion leaf, endive, lettuce, mungbean sprout, mushroom buttons, olives, plantains, potato, seaweed, spinach, squash, tomato, water chestnut, tomatoes.


Fruits that help regulate the heart: apple, bananas, blue/bilberry, cranberry, figs, grapefruit, kiwi, loquat, mango, melon, pear, persimmon, pineapples, plums, pomegranate, rhubarb, tamarind, tangerine, watermelon.


Beans that help regulate the heart: aduki, kidney, soybean (yellow), tofu.


Fish that helps regulate the heart: abalone, clams (fresh and saltwater), crab, octopus and frog (not a fish, but didn’t know where to put this!)


Meats that help to regulate the heart: quail.


Some patients ask me about essential oils and the following help to regulate the heart: chamomile, clary sage, jasmine, lavender, rose and thyme.


Again, Qi Gong and Tai Ji also are wonderful for strengthening the Heart energies.


Here is a Qi Gong Heart Visualization and Breathwork I found:


  • Take a moment to sit quietly off the edge of your chair.
  • Allow your spine to relax and slump slightly.
  • Tilt your pelvis slightly up and back to facilitate further slumping of your spine.
  • Exhale for a long, slow count of five.
  • As you exhale, visualize realizing gray energy from the center of your chest.
  • Inhale for a long slow count of nine. Visualize breathing in deep red and bright red colors into the heart center.
  • Continue this pattern of exhaling and inhaling with visualization for two more cycles.
  • Place your hands palm over palm over the heart center.
  • Feel the warmth of your hands permeate the heart center. Imagine the heart center glowing red and vibrant.
  • Place your hands, palm over palm, facing inward on the lower abdomen below the belly button.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly as you feel the warmth of your hands, vital energy flooding the lower abdomen and flowing into the left and right kidney.
  • Relax and feel prepared for whatever lies ahead, knowing that your heart is open and vibrant.

Happy Valentines Day! Happy February! And Happy Heart Month!  Here’s to your Heart.  I hope that all these recommendations and suggestions will help you to lead a happier, healthier life!  Feel free to share this information with someone you care about!


Jayne Dabu, L.Ac., M.S.A.O.M., Dipl.Ac.


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