Free Press Article – Friday, September 7, 2012

April L. Schulte-Barclay

Lately, many of my clients have mentioned feeling unmotivated, sad and fatigued, in addition to experiencing increased pain. In fact, two weeks ago these complaints of general malaise were at their peak. The only explanation I could find for why so many of us are feeling like we are trudging through mud is that we are all experiencing the same thing… a change in season.

Because we are entwined with our environment, the seasons and climate lend clues to the diagnostic and treatment approach used in Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine considers late summer as a fifth season. Late summer begins about the middle of August and goes until the fall equinox. During late summer, our systems are more at risk from a pathological factor referred to as “dampness.”

Dampness is recognized by Chinese medicine to clog up the meridians of the body, leading to stagnant energy (or qi). Dampness feels as the name implies. It makes us feel lethargic, stuck and clogged up. This stagnant energy may occur in one or multiple organ systems leading to varying symptoms.

These symptoms often present in the physical and mental/emotional realms. Therefore a person with overwhelming dampness in their system may experience depression and irritability, foggy thinking, digestive disturbances, arthritis and fibromyalgia (just to name a few).

Fortunately, there are some simple things to do to prevent dampness and stagnant qi from accumulating in the system.

  • Stay active and move your qi naturally with exercise. While exercise is well known for improving strength and flexibility, it also decreases stress hormones and keeps our qi moving, thereby inherently making us feel better.
  • Avoid damp foods which tend to be greasy and sugary in nature. This is the time of year for eating on the lighter side, so foods like peaches, berries, squash, and tomatoes are quite appropriate. However, for folks with compromised digestive systems (a big clue here is excess gas or bloating after eating), eating raw fruits and veggies will contribute to a damp condition as well. The key here is to avoid eating rich and heavy foods and to steam veggies as opposed to eating them raw.
  • Regulate

    your emotions. Worrying and over-thinking weakens the digestion while anger causes our body’s qi to become stuck, which leads to multiple physical ailments like irritability and pain. Seeking the advice of a good friend, partaking in meditation, exercising, or visiting a psychologist are just a few ideas to help us balance our emotions.

  • Schedule an acupuncture treatment and use Chinese herbs as prescribed. These are well-structured tools that move the qi appropriate for the exact location of blockage in the body, strengthen organ systems, and eliminate pathological factors like dampness.
  • Receive massage to help remove the body’s toxins through the lymph system.

While we know our own bodies better than any practitioner ever will, sometimes it is hard when we aren’t feeling well to stay objective about how to best take care of ourselves. We may be so engrossed in how we are feeling that we feel confused on how to proceed with regaining our health. That is when it helps to have a knowledgeable and objective health care provider glance at our symptom picture.

If this is you, feel free to give us a call and one of

our skilled and experienced health care providers will be happy to answer your questions and direct you toward an invigorating start to helping you to reach your optimal health potential.

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April L. Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine and is a licensed acupuncturist. She is licensed by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners and is certified by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is founder and clinic director of Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, located at 2139 N. 12th St. #7. For more information, call 970-256-8449.

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