TCM and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a form of depression that affects people all throughout the world. Most commonly experienced during fall and winter months, the symptoms of SAD include depression, hypersomnia, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, negative thoughts and decreased social interaction. Higher levels of anxiety are experienced at the end of the summer season as those who suffer from this ailment start to anticipate the coming months of less sunshine and increased symptomatology.  continue reading »

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Walnuts and Your Brain

Many people like to add walnuts to food to add some zest and a little crunchy kick, but walnuts are much more than a flavor additive, as they are chock full of healthy properties and have been used in Asia as an overall health tonic and brain booster for years. Let’s take a nutty look at walnuts.     continue reading »

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The Shen Mind Connection

Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at things differently and while it may be a little confusing, there is usually some common ground that can be found upon examination and explanation. One such area is the idea of the mind. The mind in Traditional Chinese Medicine is commonly referred to as the shen. continue reading »

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 Welcome Into Second Spring

By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.


Mixed Feelings about Menopause?

When it comes to menopause, how is a woman supposed to feel?

Relieved? Finally! We no longer have to deal with periods, no more worrying about the possibility of pregnancy and the many complications of childbearing. But, there is also fear of the unknown. The ovaries are shutting down, our hormone levels are decreasing, which means everything feels different. And for some, there are unpleasant sensations–hot flashes and body aches–and uncomfortable changes–like looser skin and lower metabolism. But, there is hope in every new phase! We can choose to welcome menopause as the “Second Spring” of our lives. If we make positive choices to take care of our health, we can feel more vibrant, and wiser, than ever.

The Ages of Woman

Menopause is a transitional time, similar to adolescence. If we look back to those years when we first got our periods, we can see the roots of our womanhood. Our youth is when we are “in bloom.” Then, during our childbearing years, our bodies are in a constant state of readiness to bear “fruit,” and to feed others. We grow up, then we spend many years focusing our energies outward–helping others grow, too: our partners, our children, our careers. Now, in the Second Spring of life, we get to turn our attention back inward, to choose our own projects and to reserve our energy for those things we want to nurture.

Early in life, girls and women may often feel limited from all sorts of pursuits — physically, athletically, in education and career goals — because of our periods, our hormone shifts, and our ability to get pregnant. We face issues, because of the way our bodies work, that men never have to face. And, in most cultures, still, it is the woman who bears the primary responsibility for taking care of the family. The Second Spring offers an opportunity to make up for some of those times we felt held back, to live for ourselves without feeling so obligated to others. We have a chance to “rebloom,” to enjoy new freedoms and follow our dearly held dreams to fruition.

Go Back to the Root

Physically, a woman goes through many significant changes over the years, and different factors come into play. If a woman’s body is out of balance — due to trauma, stress, illness, injury, diet, environment, etc.–she may experience difficulties with her female organ function. Painful periods, irregular periods, cysts, fibroids and endometriosis are all common conditions — but they do not happen without some imbalances causing them. A lifetime of choices, experiences, pains and pleasures add up to create the health status we live with now, in this moment.

Women’s health issues can be treated, at any stage of life, with acupuncture and herbs, as well as the right kind of food and lifestyle choices. If a woman finds and partners with a good healthcare practitioner, and practices a lifestyle that helps her achieve optimal health, she does not have to suffer through years of PMS, nor through years of menopausal difficulties, either. Unfortunately, many women do not know there is an alternative to using pain relief medicines, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement to manage symptoms. These drugs do not offer a real solution to the problems; they mask them. As women, we are often expected to simply accept these problems and learn to “cope.” But why settle for that, when we have the means to correct them?

TCM Offers Comprehensive Womens’ Health Care

TCM looks at female care as “ovarian care.” Beside paying attention to our liver, heart, lungs, and kidneys, we also focus on menstrual and premenstrual care, pregnancy and postpartum care, and menopause care. These are unique to women. The ovaries are the major players when it comes to female hormones, cycles, and reproductive health. Girls, young women and older women can all benefit from regular treatment, herbal supplementation, and lifestyle improvements to encourage healthy and smooth functioning of these processes. If, as a younger woman, you are able to manage your hormones, then, when menopause comes, it hopefully will not be too much of a problem. If you are already experiencing menopause symptoms, it is not too late to get yin and yang balance restored, so that you can enjoy this phase of life and many healthy years to come!

According to TCM, most menopausal disorders fall under kidney and/or liver Yin deficiency. This manifests in hot flashes, waking often at night around 3:00-4:00 a.m., dreamy light sleep, irritability, memory loss, dry eyes, mood swings, and irregular periods. A smaller percentage of symptoms fall under kidney Yang deficiency; low back soreness, incontinence, water retention, fatigue, indigestion, and weight gain. We use very specific acupuncture points to help with each of these different problems, and are able to treat each woman’s unique combination of issues. We also have our unique techniques (needling and massage) and herbal products to help skin stay firm and smooth.


Self-Care for Menopause

Acupuncture and herbal modality have been taking care of these women’s health issues for thousands of years.  Besides seeking these professional services, there are many things you can do at home to facilitate a smooth transition:

  • For Yin deficiency, stick with cooling and juicy foods like fresh veggies, fruit, yams, sweet rice, mung beans, lotus roots or seeds. Stay away from alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods which increase internal fire or heat. Snacking on Goji berries is recommended, drinking chrysanthemum tea, chamomile tea or Art of Wellness’s own Night Tea can help you rest and sleep better.
  • For Yang deficiency, drink warm lemon water upon rising, eat more cooked and warm food, nuts, especially walnuts and pecans, stay away from dairy, icy foods and drinks and greasy, heavy meals. 20-30 minute hot foot spa before bedtime is recommended. Rub the low back along the midline of the spine and on both sides until very warm.
  • For saggy or loose skin, facial rejuvenation acupuncture needling will help stimulate collagen production and improve facial circulation.
  • Speed-walk 30-45 minutes per day.
  • Rub hands to warm them, then rub the soles of each foot 100 times. Practice daily.
  • Meditate 20 minutes daily, in the morning or ideally, at bedtime.
  • Suggested Menopause Meditation: focus on the lower abdominal area (Dan Tan), until it feels warm. Then, move the warm sensation into your kidney area.
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“Dr. Tan immediately forms a partnership with his patients and makes you understand your role in your own healing.” D.J. Givens

“Dr. Tan, with his expertise, can tell more about my x-rays than any of the orthopedic specialists I’ve ever been to.”  E.P.

“Over the past ten years, Dr. Tan has shown me more than just his practice of medicine – he has also shown me a simple way of life, a new approach to my health” L. Hunt

“What I noticed immediately is Dr. Cai’s capacity to listen–I mean really listen–to her patients.” B.G.

“Dr. Cai treats you as a whole person, and her calmness, kindness, and knowledge are limitless.” B.G

“Art of Wellness is a very special place – explicitly imbued with healing intent and promoting absolute wellness.” A. Balentine

“Dr. Cai is wonderful in helping reassign my goals, re-center my thoughts, and keeping me focused.” BK

“Dr. Cai is gentle, caring and so intuitive. Her knowledge and experience astounds me – it is expansive, diverse, and consistent.” BK

“Dr. Tan matches the highest level of personal care for his patients with the highest level of intellectual and technical knowledge.” M. Matz

“Seldom do you meet a practitioner in this busy, fast-paced life who slows down time. Dr. Tan offers all the time you need.” MG

“Dr. Tan listens deeply, kindly, and with care, and treats with consciousness, thoroughness, and consistency.” M.G.

“This is my first experience with acupuncture, and it is a soothing, wonderful experience.” Rami Ben-Shoshan

“Dr. Cai treats you as a whole person, and her calmness, kindness, and knowledge are limitless.” B.G

“Dr. Tan has made a major difference in my life, as well as in the amount of enjoyment that I realize from my good health.” R. Leavitt

“It has been such a blessing to have the opportunity to experience “real” healing through all the treatments, herbs and affectionate care given to us by Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai. “The Anderson Family

“Western medicine and Eastern medicine in harmony together.”  Peter

“Dr. Cai is gentle, caring and so intuitive. Her knowledge and experience astounds me – it is expansive, diverse, and consistent.” BK

“The Chinese have been doing this practice for thousands of years. For me, it is about preventive maintenance, and that is what Dr. Tan and Dr.Cai provide.” J.A.

“I have undergone a great physical and emotional transformation. I cannot believe how vastly different I feel now compared to how I felt before I started coming to Dr. Tan.” T.K

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