Acupoints and exercise for Parkinsons

Acupoints and exercise for Parkinsons

April is Parkinsons Awareness Month so Im going to be sharing lots of information regarding Chinese Medicine and Living Well with Parkinsons, culminating in a free Qi Gong class at the end of the month, plus a whole month of Qi Gong, Acupressure and Food Medicine during the month of May.  Sign up for the free class at the end of this blog.

Apathy and fatigue can be the nemesis of people with Parkinson’s.

Regular physical activity can help your mood, your energy levels, your balance and your motivation, but you need to plan it. You need to make sure it works around your medication timings and be careful that it is not so intense or tiring that you get thrown off course.

Chi Flow with Jo is a gentle daily exercise class with a dedicated community full of support, when you feel like giving up.

My husband, Davy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago; as a Qi Gong teacher and Chinese Medicine Practitioner, he and I work together so that he sleeps well, maintains flexibility, balance and strength plus working on the emotional aspects that are not so visible. 

He practices Qi Gong every day in Chi Flow with Jo which helps him live with ease, confidence and flow, physically and emotionally.

But it’s not just about him, as his partner, I find strength and support practicing Qi Gong, which strengthens loving compassionate kindness, knowing my limits and how to stay healthy.

Click here to watch Joanne and Davy discuss what works for them and how they work together. 

“I use Chi Flow with Jo to relax the body and helps body move in a smooth way. Even when I’m out walking, I try to think about my Qigong moves so I walk in Qigong way, not a robotic way.”

Simple things like imagining he has little lemons under his armpits, gives Davy space so when he’s walking, his elbows don’t end up stuck to his waist, there’s more flow and less shuffle.

The Qigong practice that we do every morning helps to just bring centered ease to the body. 

Research shows that exercise and physical activity can not only maintain and improve mobility, flexibility and balance but also ease non-motor PD symptoms such as depression or constipation.

“People with PD who start exercising earlier in their disease course for a minimum of 2.5 hours per week experience a slowed decline in quality of life compared to those who start later. Establishing early exercise habits is essential to overall disease management.”

There’s a super easy exercise demonstrated in the free mini ebook called “The pendulum swing”

Begin by inhaling and bringing your arms up to shoulder height, then exhale, letting the weight of the arms swing down.  If you let them just swing effortlessly down and they naturally come back up.  Repeat for at least one minute to get the blood and the energy moving.

Do check out the free mini ebook for the full video demonstrating the simple, fun and effective Qi Gong move.

By learning to match your breathing with movement into your daily life can help to reduce stress levels, improve focus and concentration, and boost overall physical and mental health.

In my last blog I discussed food medicine for Parkinsons in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Primarily we focused on supporting the liver energy system and healthy blood flow to nourish the organs, ligaments and tendons for ease, reducing cramps and rigidity and increasing flexibility  throughout the body.

Following the 5 element system, the nourishment of blood by the liver relies on Kidney jing

When Kidney jing is weak, liver energy and the strength of the blood also becomes weak. 

Therefore is we strengthen Kidney energy through exercise, and acupressure we help vital blood to flow and nourish organs, ligaments, muscles and tendons, relieving spasms, cramps, twitching, improving sleep and ease of the body.

If you are a caregiver, you can do this for somebody and then swap, let your partner do it for you.  It calms anxious nerves and releases excess, stagnated or agitated energy. 

Simply stroke from the top of the head, down over the spine to the small of the back, following the bladder meridians in the image.  Repeat slowly and gently from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  Don’t worry about believing all the Chinese Medicine or knowing all the meridians simply try it and see.  

Either side of the spine is the bladder meridian which is the partnered to the kidney energy system. This simple exercise strengthens the kidney/bladder energy which governs and regulates the nervous system.

The Kidney energy system in Traditional Chinese Medicine would also govern the bones, the brain, the hormones, glands.  Studies have shown that using this complimentary therapy improves “Non-motor symptoms of PD include cognitive dysfunction, depression, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal, and bladder dysfunction, fatigue, sensory abnormalities, autonomic dysfunction, mentation, behavior, mood, and quality of life problems.”

☯️At the same time as stroking the bladder meridian either side of the spine try incorporating some acupressure points.

This is one you can do yourself of for someone else.

Begin by rubbing gently the occipital ridge, just where the back of the skull meets the neck.  This whole area is great for relieving neck and shoulder pain, increasing blood flow to reduce headaches and migraines caused by tightness, tension or stress.

Then find the hollow area at the base of your skull, slide up until your thumb finds the bony protrusion and you have landed on Governing Vessel 16: Wind Mansion.

This point

  • ☯️ Nourishes the “sea of marrow” and the brain.
  • ☯️ Eliminates wind (not flatulance but rather an internal chaotic energy that causes tremors, spasms and dyskinesia, see previous blog for details)
  • ☯️ Calms the spirit, relieving anxiety, worry, insomnia and mania.

Traditionally we use the thumb to massage the acupoint with deep and steady pressure.

HOW TO PRESS A POINT

Massage the point in a circular motion without removing the thumb from the skin. You can also hold and gently press, imaging energy travelling from the core of your body, out of your thumb and into the point you are connecting with.

Massage the point anywhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes until you feel a change in the energy. This might be an all over body sensation, not just in the point. Remember consistency is key so massage your favourite points daily

There are many points that benefit the body but even without knowing their location TOUCH is the most important thing.

TOUCH FOR HEALTH

Studies show touch can reduce chronic pain and it is recommended it as part of a daily routine

If you are living with Parkinson’s to get regular massage.  If you have a partner, give and receive  healing touch daily. 

All touch, done with loving intention, is healing touch.

Connect in with yourself and use touch, touch your own body, touch your own chest, your arms, your legs, your belly and touch each other.

FEEL WELL, LIVE WELL

Chi Flow with Jo uses natural and easy Qi Gong movements, self acupressure point massage, breathwork and food medicine every weekday morning to nourish the blood, clear the Liver, support the Kidney and calm your nervous system.

Plus daily Q&A helps you to return to deep acceptance and ease with a community full of support.

Doors open the last few days of the month so that we begin the new moves together at the beginning of the new month.

Enter your email to receive the FREE CLASS – where myself and Davy are live to ASK US ANYTHING

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HOW CAN QI GONG HELP REVITALISE YOUR LIFE?

If you’re eager to revitalise your daily routine and prioritise self-care for both your mind and body, consider exploring Qi Gong as a transformative practice.

Qi Gong is all about being well and loving yourself with gentle exercise, and the best part is that everyone can benefit from it.

Hope to see you in the Chi Flow.

Self-administered acupressure or Chinese Medicine is not a substitute for visits to qualified healthcare practitioners.

Knowing how to treat yourself and your loved ones with complimentary therapies like acupressure can be greatly beneficial and convenient. However, for serious and chronic conditions, you’ll want to visit an Shiatsu therapist / Acupuncturist or other qualified healthcare practitioner who can develop a treatment plan based on your unique medical history and combination of symptoms.  The information provided should not be considered medical advice.

 Joanne Faulkner is a Qi Gong teacher – Chi Flow with Jo – teaching live daily online Qi Gong classes to hundreds of people; a Shiatsu practitioner specializing in the energy of food in Traditional Chinese Medicine and a published Author. Her residential and day Wellness Retreats focus on Chi Gong, self-Shiatsu & Conscious Cooking Demonstrations, and are extremely popular.

Joanne is currently the Irish representative to the European Shiatsu Federation and until recently was the Chairperson of the Shiatsu Society Ireland.

 “Good Food: Better Sex” and “Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking” , both written and published by Joanne, are modern cookbooks full of delicious recipes, Traditional Chinese Medicine plus acupressure points for health and wellbeing.

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Food Medicine for Parkinsons

Food Medicine for Parkinsons

For the month of May, in Chi Flow with Jo we are going to be covering Qi Gong, Acupressure and Chinese Medicine that can help you manage Parkinson’s or caring for someone with Parkinson’s. At present there’s no known cure for Parkinson’s and there’s no pinpoint diagnosis that they can give as to why Parkinson’s occurs. 

What we’re going to do in Chi Flow with Jo is give you Qigong, acupressure and food medicine to help alleviate some of the symptoms and find ease in your body.  (find list of foods at the end of this blog and more in my five element cookbooks)  

Plus read to the end and receive the free mini ebook dedicated to living well with Parkinsons.

My husband, Davy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago; as a Qi Gong teacher and Chinese Medicine Practitioner, he and I work together so that he sleeps well, maintains flexibility, balance and strength plus working on the emotional aspects that are not so visible. 

He practices Qi Gong every day in Chi Flow with Jo which helps him live with ease, confidence and flow, physically and emotionally.

As his partner, I find strength and support in having my own practice, which strengthens loving compassionate kindness, knowing my limits and how to stay healthy.

Click here to watch Joanne and Davy discuss what works for them and how they work together. 

From a Chinese medicine point of view, Parkinson’s, stroke, and other neurological disorders such as dizziness, vertigo, bell’s palsy, and uncontrollable spasms would be a symptom of invading wind. 

Western medicine is not familiar with climates such as wind and dampness affecting the body but TCM is a holistic medicine. It considers the human body and how it interacts with its environment as a whole. Diseases are attributed to an imbalance between the five different elements found in nature and in the body. 

In Taoism and Chinese Medicine our life force energy is made manifest in this particular body for this particular lifetime. We are no different to a tree or a blade of grass.  Same life force energy, just different collection of cells and therefore manifestation.  To promote flow and even flow of energy we can use this life force energy when working with the body.

The term ‘climate’ in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), refers to internal and external agents that can cause disease.  Each of these climatic forces has a specific action on the body, depending upon their characteristics. Balance and harmony of these climates means good emotional and physical health. 

Wind affects the Liver often working with the other internal climates to invade the body, moving energy, pathogens and symptoms erratically causing tremors, spasms and twitching. 

Cold affects the Kidney creating contraction, obstructions and slow movement of Chi causing cramps and sharp pain. 

Heat affects the Heart causing erratic movement of Chi and often associated with inflammation, redness of skin, irritability and inability for the Shen/Spirit to settle. 

Dampness affects the Spleen causing heavy and foggy energy, generating sticky secretions and protracted, dense pain especially in the middle and lower burner, inability to transform and transport food into energy. 

Dryness affects the Lung causing dehydration and scant body fluids especially in the mucous membranes of the body including lungs, nasal cavities, digestive tract, skin, hair and nails.

Wind can bring great chaos to the body.  Symptoms come and go without warning.

If you have ever been out on a very windy day you will know it can be difficult to think straight.  Wind moves and shakes things that should be still. It produces change and acceleration in what otherwise should be steady and slow. 

With wind, things appear and disappear quickly. It causes tremors and spasms. You can’t control the muscles; the sinews contract leading to cramps and tightness and that can give you kind of vertigo. Any kind of dizziness and headaches and even a stiff neck are also included in the symptoms of wind. 

Wind is an exhilarating force.  It shows us how unpredictable and unstoppable nature can be.  You can’t trap wind in a box; it will have its flow and move where it wishes.  However, only when the Yin Yang balance is weak can this pernicious force enter and cause damage to the body.

Internal wind (not to be confused with flatulence) causes disruption to the flow of Qi and blood, weakening the body’s defences, allowing external wind to invade, doubling the damage.

Wind in nature is created by air put in motion by a change in atmospheric pressure.  Areas of low pressure have within them an area of emptiness, this vacuum initiates the movement of air.  High pressure is drawn towards low pressure. 

In terms of Chinese Medicine we can translate this as a yin deficiency/weakness causes a rise in excess yang.

Yang is hot and active whereas Yin is cool and calm.  This imbalance is a major factor in creating internal wind which causes symptoms of excess movement, epilepsy, tremors, spasm and Parkinsons.

So how can we calm this crazy demon wind?  Firstly by strengthening the YIN in the body.  Blood is a YIN FLUID nourishing, cooling and calming. 

In TCM we not only focus on the functions and cellular make up of blood but the very quality of blood itself which cool and nourishes all the organs.  

In Chinese Medicine the function of the Liver is to nourish, purify and stores the blood. It also enhances  Qi/chi(energy) which moves the blood smoothly around the body. 

THE LIVER

If the Liver is functioning properly, the blood will move around the body easily without obstruction, nourishing, cooling and calming.

However in our Western lifestyle it is very easy to overwork the Liver.

Too many saturated fats, chemical additives, alcohol, caffeine and stimulants make the Liver slow, leading to “stagnation” in the system and weakening of the blood causing symptoms of fatigue, headaches, problems concentrating, night terrors, spasms and tightness of the ligaments and tendons.

Here are some five element food medicine guides to follow and include in your diet.  Use the books to find recipes in which to use these ingredients on a daily basis:

LIVER BOOSTING FOODS

  • ☯️ Dark leafy greens including
  • ☯️ Nettles
  • ☯️ Spinach
  • ☯️ Kale
  • ☯️ Broccoli
  • ☯️ Sprouted seeds and legumes
  • ☯️ Good oils in seeds and nuts 
  • ☯️ Oily fish
  • ☯️ Aubergines
  • ☯️ Kimchi
  • ☯️ Fresh & raw food
  • ☯️ Lemon & limes
  • ☯️ Apple cider vinegar
  • ☯️ Plums & gooseberries
  • ☯️ Turmeric
  • ☯️ Avocado’s
  • ☯️ Seaweed
  • ☯️ Umeboshi plum

For recipes showing you how to use these foods and the five element system, sign up for the FREE mini ebook below or take a look at the cook books.

Every day in Chi Flow with Jo you receive a recording of the Qi Gong class if you can’t make the LIVE plus a 5 element food recipe, acupressure point of Traditional Chinese Medicine Tip to set you up for the day.

FOODS TO AVOID

  • ☯️ Ice cream
  • ☯️ Heavy cream
  • ☯️ Cheese
  • ☯️ Fried food
  • ☯️ Saturated fats
  • ☯️ Alcohol
  • ☯️ Processed meats
  • ☯️ Ready meals
  • ☯️ Refined Carbohydrates
  • ☯️ Refined Sugars

Following the 5 element system, the nourishment of blood by the liver relies on kidney jing to nourish it 

When kidney jing is weak liver energy and the strength of the blood becomes weak. 

Read more in my next blog about how to use acupressure and Qi Gong to strengthen Kidney energy helping vital blood to flow and nourish organs, ligaments, muscles and tendons, relieving spasms, cramps, twitching, improving sleep and ease of the body.

I share an Acupressure point and a Qi Gong move to help you feel at ease in your body.  It’s important to not feel isolated and alone.  There are things you can do and a whole community in Chi Flow to support your Parkinsons journey.

Chi Flow with Jo uses natural and easy Qi Gong movements, acupoints and food medicine every weekday to nourish the blood, clear the liver and calm your nervous system.  Plus daily Q&A helps you to return to deep acceptance and ease with a community full of support.

Doors open the last few days of the month so that we begin the new moves together at the beginning of the new month.

WOULD YOU LIKE A FREE PARKINSON’S MINI EBOOK?

Enter your email to receive the FREE mini e-book with a recipe, an acupressure point and Qi Gong move and we will also send you the link for the FREE CLASS

 

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HOW CAN QI GONG HELP REVITALISE YOUR LIFE?

If you’re eager to revitalise your daily routine and prioritise self-care for both your mind and body, consider exploring Qi Gong as a transformative practice.

Qi Gong is all about being well and loving yourself with gentle exercise, and the best part is that everyone can benefit from it.

Hope to see you in the Chi Flow.

Self-administered acupressure or Chinese Medicine is not a substitute for visits to qualified healthcare practitioners.

Knowing how to treat yourself and your loved ones with complimentary therapies like acupressure can be greatly beneficial and convenient. However, for serious and chronic conditions, you’ll want to visit an Shiatsu therapist / Acupuncturist or other qualified healthcare practitioner who can develop a treatment plan based on your unique medical history and combination of symptoms.  The information provided should not be considered medical advice.

TIPS FOR HEALTHY SEA SWIMMING

TIPS FOR HEALTHY SEA SWIMMING

TIPS FOR HEALTHY SEA SWIMMING

There’s no doubt how popular Sea swimming, including the open water of lakes and rivers, has become.  A 2020 survey in Outdoor Swimmer magazine revealed

– 87% swimmers are aged over 40 and

– 65% of swimmers are women [1].

Why is this?

Gyms and swimming pools can be intimidating places for us peri, mid and post menopausal women. They’re often filled with much younger people, complicated equipment and lots of mirrors. But swimming outdoors brings us back to nature, with a gratitude for our bodies, and a camaraderie with other swimmers.

In the water, all bodies become equal

Here I will show you how can you optimise the health benefits of Outdoor swimming using:

  • – Food medicine
  • – Qi Gong breathing and exercise
  • – Acupressure point

We can all agree, because sea swimming is never recommended to do alone, that we benefit from the social aspect of sea swimming, but physically how is it good for you?

In many schools of thought in Chinese medicine, cold and the ‘blood stagnation’ that it can cause, can be considered a very detrimental factor in our health.

A simple way of understanding this is to compare the blood circulation of a newly born baby with that of a 90-year-old. It is very rare to see a bruise on a baby.  Even though they are always falling over and knocking themselves, their blood circulation is so good that they heal incredibly quickly.

But if you look at the hands and feet of a 90-year-old they can look blue and bruised, often due to poor circulation.

What happens as we age?

As we age the body can stiffen up, not only in the joints but also in the elasticity of your blood vessels.

Especially during peri, mid or post menopause, low estrogen levels can cause your heart and blood vessels to become stiffer and less elastic.

In response to the cold water your blood vessels constrict but instead of this having a detrimental effect this actually improves the oxygenation of the body, reducing pain and swelling plus improving lymphatic drainage.

In terms of Chinese Medicine this is a great example of the interconnectedness of Yin and Yang.

When something is extremely Yang it becomes Yin and vice versa.

For example, cold is Yin, but when our body experiences extreme cold it begins to shiver and our metabolic rate increases forcing the body to burn more calories and the blood to flow through arteries, keeping things warm. This is Yang.

When, either Yin or Yang, reaches its maximum strength, it transforms into the other.

An extreme example would be war which is Yang, active, noisy, hot, and full of movement, but at its extreme completion, you are left with death, silence and Yin.  The cycle of life will keep turning, Yin and Yang will keep intertwining, supporting and transforming into each other, it is the nature of the Dao.

So be aware of the changes in your body as you enter the water. There is a tipping point where coldness transforms to heat. Feel the exhilarating bounce back as the cold Yin water triggers the bodies Yang response and flushes warmth throughout the whole body.

But don’t get too cold.  Leave the water when you can still move your fingers and toes.  You want to come out of the water looking pink, with a healthy flushed glow of Yang not deathly white, waxy Yin.

From a Chinese Medicine standpoint, too much cold will lead to stagnation which can be the cause of many illnesses.   

Many of the metabolic processes of the body such as digestion, immunity and reproduction are seen as coming from types of fire deep inside the body.

Make sure that you have the physical inner strength to activate the body’s internal fires.  If you are feeling physically weak or sick, you are more likely to shock the body, to get sick or, in the extreme, hypothermia.

Use the energy of food to work with your body and heat it from the inside out.

What to eat and what not to eat to keep warm

In Chinese Medicine food and drink have various thermal natures and dynamic actions on the body so making sure you have a warming, energizing drink when leaving the water to help stoke the internal fires.

Some helpful ingredients would be cinnamon, ginger, cacao and, of course, Chai with spices such as cardamon, clove, coriander and black pepper.

Things to avoid would be mint, cucumber, lettuce and sub tropical foods such as bananas.

 

FREE RECIPES FOR WARMING TEAS

Make these teas and bring them in a flask to drink after you have had your swim and after you have got dry and dressed.

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Make sure not to stand around shivering after leaving the water

The Qi Gong exercises and we will practice in November specifically strengthen body balance, which can be difficult if you are standing on one leg, on pebbly, uneven ground, shivering, and trying to get your clothes on.

The first thing to do is dry your feet and put warm socks and shoes and boots on.  Don’t wait until the rest of you is dry before thinking of your feet.

Your feet and ankles are the place to start because in Chinese Medicine there are some major points on the feet that influence the whole body energy, starting with Kidney 1 and Kidney 3.

The Kidney energetic system governs the core energy of the body – both Yin and Yang.  It governs our reproductive energy.  This energy isn’t just about making babies, it’s about regenerating our bodies at a cellular level; hair cells, skin cells, bone cells, blood cells.  in Western Medicine we could liken it to our DNA

Every part of our body is constantly regenerating, the rate at which it regenerates slows as we age so it is essential to conserve this Kidney energy.

The Kidney energy governs our skeleton, our hormones, our brain, our very bone marrow.

Kidney Yin is in charge of nurturing the functions of the body.  It is the rest and restore aspect of the nervous system, moisturizing and lubricating. 

When out of balance we can suffer:

  • – hormonal imbalance and extreme menopausal symptoms
  • – dizziness or vertigo.
  • – night sweats.
  • – thirst and dry mouth, especially at night.
  • – constipation.
  • – ringing in the ears/tinnitus.
  • – poor memory.
  • – hearing loss.
  • – sore back
  • – Internal dryness.

Kidney Yang lights the fires of the body, digestive, protective and reproductive.

Poor Kidney Yang means

  • – Chronic illness
  • – Premature ageing
  • – Impotence, low libido
  • – Cold lower back and limbs
  • – Excessive urination

Use the following points to improve both Kidney Yin and Yang

KIDNEY 1 – BUBBLING SPRING

Descends the Chi, brings the energy down.

Found on the sole of the foot between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones. Flex the toes upward and find the depression for the thumb to press.

The bubbling spring point is our grounding point.  We draw energy up from the earth through this point so if it becomes solid cold and blocked so too does our energy.  Kidney 1’s downward energy invites calm, grounded being which is what we need if we want to get the most from our outdoor swimming.

    KIDNEY 3 – GREAT RAVINE

    Invigorates Kidney Yin and Yang, regulating hormones, menstruation and mood swings. 

    Relieves fatigue.

    Find the point on the inside of the foot between the ankle bone and Achille’s Tendon.

    These points are so important that I would recommend wearing booties to swim in especially in the winter.

    Think of what happens to water when it gets too cold.  It becomes ice, which doesn’t flow and doesn’t move. It creaks and cracks.  This can happen to our energy.

    How we enter the cold water is essential 

    Just like the Wim Hoff method, Qi Gong uses breathing exercises, focus training and controlled easy movements to improve our range of movement plus management of pain and stress.  The release of endorphins during the breathing practice combined with the entry into the cold water can help with all manner of depression, anxiety and trauma.

    Another crucial benefit this activity offers is for our emotional and mental well being.

    Using Qi Gong breathing techniques, you can master breath control which can help you remain in the water for longer.  The controlled breathing can also be used to stoke the internal fires, keeping the core of the body warm and circulation flowing.

    The movement meditation of the Qi Gong practice will help you remain more focused in the water.  You can get in the “zone” mastering your mind and body so that the two become one and you return to your true nature and feel at one with the water, the air and the people around you.

    Use the Qi Gong Food Medicine and Acupressure to support your sea swimming, maintaining those feelings of post swim high right through the day and into the night.

    Remember Chi Flow with Jo is a great community filled with women just like you

    There’s discussion and camaraderie because we are live every morning, so just like a sea swim you can begin your day right, pointing your mind and body in the direction of health, wealth, community and happiness.

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    Cold water swimming does not suit everybody. If someone has been diagnosed with arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases, it will not be suitable for him or her to start cold water swimming. This is because sudden cold stimulation will raise blood pressure, and can increase the chance of heart attack and brain stroke. Sometimes it can even cause sudden death. For patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain might get worse after cold water stimulation. For ladies who have period pain, winter swimming is also not advisable. For epilepsy patients, any kind of swimming is contraindicated.

     

    Feeling creaky?  Get your blood and chi flowing for mobility and flexibility

    Feeling creaky? Get your blood and chi flowing for mobility and flexibility

    Are you stiff in the morning? Do your knees hurt when you stand up? Or are you finding it difficult to pick up or hold things like a coffee cup?

    It could be that you are suffering Arthritis. This is a general term can refer to a wide variety of conditions such as Osteoarthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Gout, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Fibromyalgia all of which cause pain in the joints.

    In Chinese medicine, each client is different and viewed as a whole (holistically) including diet, lifestyle choices and genetics.

    This means the same disease is treated differently depending on the person presenting.

    However we can treat different diseases with the same protocol. In general painful, swollen joints would be treated by addressing the Liver.

    Each of organs in Chinese Medicine is related to a season, flavour, time of day, a body part, an emotion and even a symbolic animal.

    The liver (yin) with it’s partner the gallbladder (yang) is connected to the tiger. It is related to the spring and governs the tendons and ligaments, which give the body the ability to be flexible and agile.

    TCM says that strength comes from the tendons, not muscles.
    If you think of a big cat, it is strong, agile, and flexible.  Compare this to a cow, which has huge muscles but little real strength.
    The liver, governing the sinews and tendons, has the ability to release strength and power.

    Part of its function in western medicine is the regulation of metabolism and the release of energy stored in the body.

    Ensuring the health of this organ will mean good blood flow to all the ligaments and tendons surrounding the joints plus an increase in energy levels which can be affected by arthritic conditions.

    Joint pain which can happen as we age, especially following  menopause but all conditions of stiffness and pain can be reduced by treating the liver with food, acupressure and Qi Gong exercise to reduce the painful swelling symptoms.  For food and acupressure solutions see my next blog – Ouch, Gout !

     It is true that whilst you are in the middle of a flare and your joints are red and inflamed, exercise is difficult. Pain decreases your activity level, and when the body is not moving much, your joints can stiffen and become less flexible. But a recent clinical review showed exercise modalities such as Qi Gong can be beneficial for restoring your flexibility after the immobility of a gout flare up.

    Try this Tiger Move from the 5 Animals practice. For the month of June we will be using acupressure, diet and Qi Gong to improve all aspects of flexibility and mobility – they will cover a range of ability including some seated movements so that everyone can get mobile.

    If you would like to try gentle, effective movement in your own home but as part of an line group that meets every weekday morning, join us for a free class:

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    Clear Damp Cold Fat with Drying Warming Adzuki Tea

    Clear Damp Cold Fat with Drying Warming Adzuki Tea

    In my clinic, when I see a bulge at the top of the spine, I usually find a client who is exhausted. Perhaps they have suffered a shock through grief or are experiencing a chronic condition which feels like it is draining their very life force.

    Sometimes this condition is called a widow’s or dowagers hump, which gives you an idea of an old woman who has been bent by the burdens of the world, weighed down with grief, loss and disconnection.  However this condition is becoming more common for a younger generation that leads a sedentary life, working sitting at computers most of the day.

    Whatever the physical or emotional cause the result is a mound of fat accumulation at the top of the spine, which in terms of Chinese medicine is a failure of kidney yang to warm, regulate and move water around the body, building up as cold, damp fat.

    In Chinese Medicine, if left untreated, can cause neck and shoulder pain plus it can prevent energy travelling up and down the spine creating headaches, back-pain, spinal degeneration and even compromising the immune system.

     

    The path for flowing energy through the spine is the Governing Vessel. It starts between the kidneys, flows down inside the body to the perineum and then runs up the length of the spine, through the brain, over the top of the head and down the midline of the face.

    Governing Vessel 14 (abbreviated GV-14) is the point at which the fat pad can accumulate. It is the intersecting point for all of the Yang meridians on the back of the body. When it is unobstructed and flowing well, it opens the yang, clears the brain, and calms the spirit. It can also dramatically increase white blood cell production and improve the immune system.

    In Chi Flow with Jo we focus specific energy exercises to warm and move the energy in this location and you can sign up for a free class. But here I share a fantastic recipe, Adzuki Bean Tea, which in terms of the food energetics of Traditional Chinese Medicine drains dampness, increases water metabolism, improves digestion and reduces water retention

     

    Adzuki beans are related to the Kidney system and so are especially good for increasing flow around the spine, ankles, knees and kidneys. As they reduce oedema so you will find that they will also reduce joint pain, bloating, whilst increasing energy and promoting better urination.

    Adzuki tea is yang and warming, and is the kind of healing tea you want to sip on cold autumn/spring days or in or freezing winter, especially when you feel cold, weak, and exhausted.  Although the tea tastes mild, is quite potent. I would advise diluting it with hot water to begin with.

    Adzuki Bean Tea

    • 100g of dried adzuki beans
    • 
1 litre of water
    • 2 inches of dillisk or wakame seaweed

    Method
    1. Soak the adzuki bean in water for between 4-8 hours.  Wash and drain.
    2. Place the washed beans in a pot with the seaweed and the water.
    3. Bring the ingredients to a boil on high flame. Do not add salt.
    4. When boiling, lower the flame to medium.
    5. Let the beans simmer for about 30 minutes with the pot lid on .
    6. Do not stir the beans.
    7. Then strain the beans out and drink a small cup of the tea, either hot or at room temperature.
    8. The colour of the liquid should be brown.
    9. You can eat the same beans. Just add more water if needed, bring to a boil, and let simmer until soft.
    10. You can store excess tea in a glass jar.
    11. Keep any stored tea in the refrigerator.

    Do not drink chilled adzuki bean tea and do not microwave the tea. You can drink the tea at room temperature or warm it up on the stove or what I find easiest is to add water from a recently boiled kettle and dilute it.

    There is no specific time of the day to drink the adzuki bean tea; however,  the afternoon between 3 and 7, when the bladder and the kidney meridians are the most active is a prime time.
    Use the cooked beans in wraps, stews and even mashed up and made into veggie burgers.  There’s a great Aduki & Cashew nut pate recipe in the Good Food Cookbook (page 82) and you can find more recipes for other Kidney Yang foods such as Chestnuts, Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Lamb and Sage.

    Weakness in the kidney energy system often manifests as fear and insecurity.  But a person with balanced kidney energy is able to let go of the past, live in the present, and be undaunted by the future.

    Sip this tea and say this affirmation “where I am is where I am meant to be, when I relax, everything I need comes to me”

    Sign up for Free Class at the end of the month

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    *1study: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.746021/full

    The information in my blogs are complimentary therapy and are not intended to replace conventional medicine. If you are having distressing symptoms please visit your healthcare practitioner.

    Virus – get out!

    Virus – get out!

    Did you know that Covid and other such virus’s can remain in the body causing inflammation, lethargy, joint and muscle pain and other symptoms common in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue such as anxiety and depression.*1

    Non classical monocytes patrol the endothelium and create an inflammation in response to an infection.
    If viral remnants become lodged in the fascia the monocytes will keep creating inflammation in order to rid the virus from your body.

    Studies show that for some people, long after a person is infectious, the immune response persists as the markers of non classical monocytes remain elevated.

    So how to push the virus out of the fascia tissues of the body so that the inflammation response stop?

    Qi Gong practiced in Chi Flow with Jo gently opens and releases the fascia. Fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place.
    Different to yoga, which tends to release and stretch tight muscles, Qi gong opens hydrates and lubricate the joints, ligaments, and fascia.
    Qi Gong has worked with the fascia as a source of wellness way for hundreds of years.

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    By gently stretching and making more elastic, the veins, arteries, nerve tissues, and other connective tissues, viral remnants are released from the body and inflammation, pain and stiffness is reduced.

    In Chi Flow with Jo we combine Qi Gong exercises, acupressure and 5 element food medicine. Here is a fantastic point for releasing stiffness, pain and pathogens from the body. The triple heater also regulates the temperature of the body so if you find yourself having hot flashes or re-occuring fevers, try this point.

    Triple Heater 5 (outer gate)
    Find it by measuring 3 fingers up from the crease of the wrist on both arms, and press gently but firmly for approximately 30 seconds. Do this consistently during the day and every day.

    However this point is generally not used alone.

    Sweet, pungent foods are used in Chinese Medicine to expel anything trapped in the interior of the body to the exterior. Have a look at the delicious Pear, Cinnamon and red date tea.

    If the body is weak, the Yin energy needs to be nourished so that there is enough Yang energy to expel viral remnants. As I discussed in my last blog the Kidney energy in the body can sometimes be too weak to push the virus out from the body. Bone broth and the other Salty flavoured foods build Kidney energy. This organ system is seen as the roots of the body, so build it from the inside.

    Qi Gong, practiced in Chi Flow with Jo, together with the acupressure points, builds the Yin energy of the body so that there is sufficient Yang energy to move the blockages from the channels.

    If you experience post viral or menopause symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety, sore joints, painful muscles and hot flashes, come practice with us. No special equipment, clothing or previous experience necessary.

    It’s easy, fun and effective – with almost 300 of us on line every morning – you don’t have to suffer alone.

    • 8.20 meditation
    • 8.30-9.00 Live Qi Gong
    • 9.00 Q&A Live with me and the group

    Daily Live sessions recorded and emailed directly to you with Acupressure points and 5 element food guidance, so you can practice whenever and where ever suits you.      Also includes:

    • Mid-Monthly Health Talk
    • Guided Monthly Meditations
    • Access to extensive Library with Qi Gong/Acupressure and Food Medicine instruction videos

    Doors are open NOW and will close 1st April

    to begin the moves, live, online, together.
    Only €2 per class

    CLICK HERE TO JOIN TODAY

    or Sign up for Free Class at the end of the month

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    *1study: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.746021/full

    The information in my blogs are complimentary therapy and are not intended to replace conventional medicine. If you are having distressing symptoms please visit your healthcare practitioner.

    Shout to let it all out

    Shout to let it all out

    This month in Ireland, a young teacher, Aishling Murphy was murdered as she took an afternoon run along the canal. There was an outpouring of grief and anger as people found their voice to express their feelings of fury, outrage and sadness. Raising the awareness and calling for a stop to violent crime against women.

    As I am parenting 3 young men, 19, 19 and 16 I thought it would be a good idea to have a conversation about being aware of violent crime against women by men. They became very angry, understanding my discussion as a personal attack towards them, as men.

     

    What do we do with all this anger? It’s scary stuff. Bourne from fear, anger is a powerful response used to protect ourselves. We can use it to make others wrong, whilst we are right. But dividing and separating, making one gender/food/action/religion right and another wrong, leads to hatred and more fear. As the Buddha wisely said “in this world, hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate.”

    It can be hard to love when we feel fear, scared that we, like Aishling, might be randomly attacked.
    But questioning fears and judgements with “What is causing my fear? Is it real or imagined? means more likely that we live in love and act from compassion.
    This doesn’t mean letting people walk all over you or allowing atrocities or violent crime, but it means your actions are from love not from fear, and that always has a different outcome.

    In theory that sounds great, but how do we do this in practice?…… By working with the Liver. In Chinese Medicine this organ is associated with anger. It’s powerful; the only organ in the body that can regrow.

    By understanding the Liver using the 5 elements of Chinese medicine, we can work with the powerful strength of this energy. When the fear wound is triggered, anger rushes to protect. But if our Liver energy is balanced, we can retain perspective and vision in the fear, so hope and positive action can come, from where the hurt lies.

    The Liver governs the sinews and tendons, managing flexibility and flow. It is essential that the liver energy can express itself either by drawing, painting, dancing, choosing what to wear, what to eat or how to style your hair. The energy of life wants to express itself with your unique voice. If self expression is curtailed the energy can turn inward and lead to depression or bubble under the surface, only to explode like a volcano.

    So use your voice, shake your body and shout out loud. If you feel like you want to scream and shout – do it !! not at someone but get a pillow and punch it.

    Bang your fists on the bed, get it out, let it out.  Use your voice, cry, laugh, shout, sing let it all out, get it all out, because “the part of you that is suffering, is the part that calls in change and you don’t have to feel ashamed, there is nothing to forgive. The part of you that is crying out is the part that wants to live”  *Hope comes – The Bensons

    Accessing and expressing your rage is an opportunity for hope and action that can change the world. By accessing the emotion we are more likely to transform it to love and compassionate action rather than transfer it through fear and blame.

    Working with this organ and meridian system with acupressure, food and mindfulness we can prevent the hot headed rage that clouds our vision and impairs our heart.

     

    The Liver loves sour foods to clear the organ especially Umeboshi plum.  Legend has it that the Samurai warrior carried this amazing ingredient in a pouch as a field ration, and after battle they would take a taste to “take the war out of the man” and harmonise the system.

    The simplest way is to take this amazing ingredient is 1/2 tsp of the umeboshi plum paste added to a mug of hot water. Dissolve and drink down.
    Find plenty of recipes using this fantastic ingredient in my books
    On the flip side avoid fatty, rich foods such as ice-cream, red meat, sugary drinks, cheese and alcohol as these congest the liver. You may find you are quick to hot headed, uncontrolled outbursts if your diet is full of these foods.

    The Liver’s sensory organ is the eye so be aware of what you are focusing on. Let your focus linger on things that make you feel good.
    If you are overthinking a problem, take a break, shift your focus for a minute or two, look at something that gives you pleasure – the clouds, flowers, photo’s of amazing people or places. Put a song on that makes you happy.
    This isn’t the same as putting your head in the sand and ignoring a problem but it’s giving perspective and a wider view – this will help the body loosen and the energy flow.
    Take your perspective wide, become aware of the miracle that you are, stuck by gravity, to a planet spinning at 1000miles per hour in one of two trillion galaxies as part of an ever expanding universe.

    Why not sign up for a FREE Qi Gong session on the last weekday of each month covering energy exercises, acupressure points and 5 element food tips to shift your energy and feel balanced

    Free Class Sign Up

     

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