time for long, sunny days, warm weather, and brightly-blooming gardens. But the season is also significant in another way. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body’s Organ systems are most accessible during specific times of year. During the late summer, the Spleen and Stomach are most active and most open to influence both positive and negative.
The Spleen and Stomach are associated with the Earth element, as well as certain colors, sounds, times of day, and other correspondences (see table). The Earth element is related to security, feeling grounded and the natural rhythms of life.
The Spleen performs many functions, including:
- Transforming food and fluids into energy
- Transporting energy to muscles, flesh and limbs
- Ensuring that blood circulates throughout the body
- Producing a “lifting” effect, keeping the internal organs in place
- Governing our capacity for thinking and concentration
The Stomach is paired with the Spleen, and helps to digest food and transform it into energy. When the Spleen and Stomach are in balance and Qi (“life energy”) is flowing freely through them, the body will have physical energy and vitality, good muscle tone, a healthy appetite and good digestion. The Spleen and Stomach can be affected by many factors, including poor diet and eating habits, lack of exercise, excessive concentration, worry and stress.
If your Spleen and Stomach are out of balance, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms (see table on front). Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, it’s an especially good time to receive preventive acupuncture care. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine provide a natural approach to restoring and maintaining balance. When we strive for optimal balance, we achieve good health throughout the year.
By allowing Qi to flow freely, acupuncture can help your body heal itself and help you make the most of all the energy and fun of summer!
Food for Body, Mind, Spirit
Acupuncture and the Heart
Research has shown that acupuncture can improve the health of patients who experience severe heart problems by dramatically reducing the activity in the sympathetic nervous system that regulates heartbeat and blood pressure.
The study conducted through the Los Angeles School of Medicine suggests that acupuncture can be used “successfully with long-range results in improving hypertension, and it may also be beneficial in lowering sympathetic nerve activity.”
Overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system is common with patients who suffer from heart problems. Over time, this may cause the heart to work harder, forcing blood to flow through blood vessels that are constricted due to heightened nerve activity.
The study showed that sympathetic nerve activation was significantly reduced in those individuals who received acupuncture care compared to those who only received a placebo. The lead physician in the study, Dr. Middlekauff, suggests, “that more study is needed before acupuncture can be recommended, but acupuncture has been used successfully and with long-range results in improving hypertension, and it may also be beneficial in lowering sympathetic nerve activity.”
Middlekauff HR. Acupuncture in the treatment of heart failure. Cardiol Rev. 2004 May-Jun;12(3):171-3.