A Few TCM Ideas About Dreams

I know that a lot of people have been having bad dreams this year.  These are a few explanations from a TCM point of view.

In the book Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies by Dr. Leon Hammer, he addresses nightmares.  He writes that weak Shen of the Heart and poor Gall Bladder function causes them. The Gall Bladder has the role of decision-maker in TCM, and one could extrapolate that the loss of control in a nightmare is an extension of Gall Bladder illness.

Illness in the body can result in problems with sleep and generate specific dreams.  Heart Fire disturbing the Spirit causes insomnia.  Dream-disturbed sleep is due to Liver Blood deficiency or Kidney yin deficiency.  A corresponding problem in the body manifests in dreams.  It is the Spirit’s reaction to the problem.  In TCM, the mental and physical are linked.  There is a direct connection between dreams and physical state.

In Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, it says that people’s dreams can reflect the state of energy and also help a doctor to diagnose a person’s illness.  To assess one’s energy state, for example, a doctor can evaluate the Spleen Qi.  The Spleen Qi is in excess if one dreams of the construction of a wall.  The Spleen Qi is deficient if one dreams of starving.  As an example of diagnosis, Qi Bo says to Huang Di, “if one dreams of flying, there is an excess in the upper body, if one dreams of falling, there is an excess in the lower body” (p. 66).

So, dreams can provide valuable insight to ourselves and those who want to help heal us.

Post-COVID symptoms, Qi, Phlegm, and Tea

I have been thinking about post-COVID symptoms, and here are some of the possible reasons, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  And some things you can do to help yourself, if you are experiencing these post-illness.

Qi and yin can become deficient after any long and/or difficult illness.  And if the illness has phlegm production, it can follow along the path of Qi and accumulate somewhere else.  That is called sometimes called hidden phlegm.

If someone has a chronic cough, it may be due to Lung Qi deficiency if she sweats easily but also feels cold.  If she has a rush of heat or nighttime sweating with a dryer cough, it may be due to Lung yin deficiency.

The following symptoms may be due to Qi deficiency or hidden phlegm or a combination of both: leg swelling, severe fatigue, heart palpitations, muscle aches, joint pain, trouble breathing, headaches, brain fog, or sensation of something stuck in the throat.

Here’s a few dietary changes you can try.  Limit dairy, temporarily, especially milk and ice cream.  Eliminate sugar.  Stop drinking beer;  it has a dampness quality to it.  Heat your vegetables.  Raw food is more challenging when your Qi is deficient.

Dried orange peel tea is my favorite tea for phlegm.  Cinnamon is also a good, mildly warming tea for hidden phlegm and joint pain.  I wouldn’t recommend teas that are colder in nature, such as green tea or peppermint.  They can aggravate weak Qi and phlegm.  I also wouldn’t recommend going directly to strong tonics, such as ginseng, unless and until the phlegm is resolved.  Black Tea can even help resolve phlegm, but it has caffeine.

Be well.

The Spirit

The Spirit of a person lives in the Heart during the day.  The Heart is in charge of joy, so a healthy Spirit brings brightness to a person’s demeanor.  Liver is in charge of emotions, most specifically, anger.  The Spirit also lives in the Liver at night.  So, experiences perceived by the Liver are expressed as the Self in the Heart.  If the Liver is injured (emotionally), it can attack the Heart.  If attacked, the sense of Self can become damaged.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, sadness has the ability to heal the Liver.  Then, the Heart can feel joy again.  And the Spirit can rest.

Ideas That Have Emerged During the Pandemic

  1. Home is your shelter.
  2. Puzzles are essential.
  3. Preparation saves lives.
  4. You can be social, even if you’re distant.
  5. Challenges can be slow and persistent and so can your hair.
  6. Not all masks hide your true feelings.
  7. It’s always a good time for banana bread.
  8. Kindness is contagious.
  9. Music doesn’t wait, even if concerts do.
  10. Innovation is possible.

 

New normal?

I took this picture on April 14th.  In Minnesota, we’re used to April snow.  It’s normal.  Normal has changed every day since then.  And I think it will keep changing.  It will have a cascading effect over everything.  We’re choosing what is essential and losing track of time, like children.  With our children.  The silver lining of an April snow, aside from keeping the pollen count down for a few more days, is that you can manage.  You think you can’t stand one more day of winter but then find that you can.  You stay inside a little longer and leave the house only if it’s essential.  You have the strength to be normal, whatever that means.

As I can

I hear thunder outside.  It’s March.  Strange times.  As a Minnesotan, I’m great at social distancing.  It’s easy for me to stay in my house during a March thunderstorm.  But I’ve been trying to figure out ways to give health advice.  I know people are washing their hands.  I see people walking outside when the sun is out.  I know kind people are helping each other.  I’ve been trying to be as Zen as I can manage, but I have family and friends, too.  I’m worried about them.  But I can hear the birds chirping in my yard every morning.  I can feel grateful for the people working to protect me and the people I love.  And I can have sympathy for my dog, who is hiding in the basement.  That’s as healthy as I can be today.

TCM ideas for hyperlipidemia

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), having low-density lipoprotein in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease.  That “bad” cholesterol is part of the plaques that can build up in the blood vessels.  If the plaques are unstable and burst, it may lead to a heart attack.  Cholesterol is produced in the body and is also necessary in the body.  Its functions include supporting digestion, producing hormones, and supporting the structure and function of cells.  Too much cholesterol (LDL) can occur if a person has an improper diet, essentially, too much greasy food.  The high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is also a factor.  HDL is known as good cholesterol because it actually removes cholesterol from the artery walls to carry to the liver.  So, low HDL is considered to be a risk factor.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), hyperlipidemia is related to phlegm-dampness, phlegm blockage, and blood stasis.  It is related to Spleen, Liver, and Kidney.  If the patient eats too much spicy and greasy food, it can lead to a Spleen/Stomach disorder.  That can lead to phlegm accumulation.  If the patient doesn’t exercise, he may have Liver and Kidney yin deficiency.  The patient could have an existing disease, such as masses due to Liver Qi stagnation.  Or the patient may have a weak constitution and, so, easily accumulate phlegm-dampness.

So here are some TCM ideas for support:

1. Oolong Tea is good for after a meal.  It assists the digestion.  Ginger and Orange Peel Tisane are ways to gently clear out dampness.  You can drink Dandelion for your liver, but a small amount, because it can be very draining.

2. Qi Gong and T’ai Ji are great traditional exercises.  A lot of community centers have classes for beginners.  Or ask your local acupuncturist who she recommends.  Any amount of exercise can move your Liver Qi, and these are gentle enough that they won’t aggravate your constitution.

3. Cook more, make it hobby.  Find some recipes and use them.  Seaweed soup is great for your new diet.  Add in these spices and foods, too: cinnamon, garlic, corn (yes, corn), celery, green onion, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, peaches, and fresh-water fish.  Also, try some tofu.  It’s great in a stir-fry with green onion, garlic, and sesame seeds.

4. I know you know this one, but quit smoking.  One irony is that anxiety can be a symptom of phlegm.  You’ve got yourself in a vicious circle.  There is an excellent ear acupuncture protocol for quitting smoking.

Good luck and be well.

Tips for practitioners (some things I’ve learned, so far)

1.  Sometimes herbs make a person drowsy, even if the herbs are not prescribed for sleep.  Most people lack enough sleep.  I think, in many cases, they can finally relax after taking their herbs.

2.  Ask about a woman’s gall bladder after she has a baby.  Sometimes a woman has to have her gall bladder removed after one of her pregnancies.

3.  While asking about what a client is eating, ask her if she is remembering to eat.  A lot of busy adults skip meals.

4.  Pay attention to the pancreas.  It is common for someone to have borderline blood sugar issues.

5.  There is a dampness component to modern infertility.  And I’ve only seen yang deficiency in people during or after cancer treatment.  The infertile men I’ve treated more often had yin or Qi deficiency.

First appointment

I ask everyone to bring or wear a t-shirt and shorts or yoga pants for comfort.

First, you need to fill out paperwork, a short intake and Consent to Treatment form.

You tell me all of your physical issues, even the ones you don’t think are related to your main complaint.  You may also include your mental and emotional issues, since those are intertwined with the physical in Chinese Medicine philosophy.

I will check your tongue and pulses (both sides) to help me figure your unique diagnosis and help me choose your supporting points.

Needling is next.  I will insert about 20 needles.  You will rest on the table for 20 to 30 minutes.  If I include cupping, that will be first with a shorter acupuncture session to follow.  If I include CranioSacral Therapy, I will insert a few needles into your lower limbs, work a little on your back and head, then insert some needles in the upper part of your body.  Regardless, each session lasts 60 minutes.

Everyone has a cup of tea after the session.  It’s a good restorative.

I will also prescribe a bag of tea for you, one of my custom blends.

Then, you can make another appointment, if you like.  Or you can wait to see how you feel the next day.