Archive for tag: symptoms

Somebody Water that Fire

Water and fire must be balanced. Their corresponding organ systems in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) must be balanced, too. What happens if Heart and Kidney are not properly harmonized? You don't even want to know. Well, if you do, then read on.

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Here are some common Fire-Water imbalances, how they manifest, and how we harmonize them:

1.  Yin Deficiency with Empty Heat

What is it?
When Water is low, due to anything from congenital deficiency, long-term illnesses, overwork, etc., it cannot nourish the organ systems of the body. Because the Kidney controls water metabolism for the body, if it runs dry, then the rest of the body starts shriveling up. The Heart, symbolizing the Fire element, appears abundant by comparison, as heat signs appear in the body.

Signs/Symptoms:
dry mouth, red cheekbones, heat sensation in chest, palms, and soles, dry stool, scanty darker urine, rapid pulse, red tongue with no coat.

How to Harmonize:
Nourish yin, clear empty heat. Points may include KD3, KD6, LU9, LV3, SP3, SP6, PC7, HRT8.

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2.  Heart Fire Blazing

What is it?
When the watery, cold, refreshing part of the Water element (Kidney) runs dry, things start heating up - in a bad way. Heart Fire gets the word that it has free reign on the body, and before long it goes crazy. Raging crazy.

Signs/Symptoms:
Think "everything from pattern #1, plus" insomnia, heart palpitations, dizziness, and tinnitus. Maybe you'll have crazy vivid dreams, too, which can range from fun to terrifying. Your tongue is likely quite red with a yellow coat, with red prickles or a red tip. Your pulse is probably full and rapid.

How to Harmonize:
Nourish yin, sedate Heart fire, calm the Shen (spirit). Points may include: "everything from pattern #1, plus" HRT9, PC8, PC6.

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3.  Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water Overflowing

What is it?
While patterns #1 and #2 were conditions of too much Fire element and not enough Water, pattern #3 is exactly the opposite. Too much Water. You're flooding inside your own body. When there's not enough Fire to warm the body and burn off excess Water, then you just start packing on the water, particularly below the waist. Things are not warming and moving around the body. Circulation of fluids has been impaired.

Signs/Symptoms:
Edema, scanty urine, low back pain, cold limbs, excessive white vaginal discharge, infertility. Swelling, even pitting edema, could be found in the legs. Your pulse is likely deep, weak, and slow. Your tongue is pale and swollen, moist with a white coat.

How to Harmonize:
Tonify Kidney Yang, Warm Ming Men, drain dampness. Points may include: KD3, KD7, SP9, SP6, UB10, DU4, UB23, SJ5, CV9, LU7.

Do these sound serious? They can be. The good news is that acupuncture, along with the other branches and modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine (herbs, dietary therapy, tui na, qi gong, moxa) can be very effective for rebalancing and harmonizing Water and Fire. You don't want to be too cold, but you don't want to be too hot, either. You want to be juuuust right.

Damp-Heat in the Gall Bladder and Liver Blood Stasis

Of course this just happened. It's springtime. Spring correlates with the Liver and its interior-exterior partner in crime -- the Gall Bladder. I'm unfortunately already prone to the ridiculously difficult to eradicate pathogen known in TCM as "Damp-Heat." My protective wei qi was still struggling to recover from the exotic array of assailants it managed to fend off in Central America last month. "Oh, Juli, did you get Dengue Fever again this year?" "Well, not that I know of..."

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The pathogenic stars had aligned. The signs and symptoms appeared over the course of 2-3 days. First, it was just a seemingly innocent wiry Liver pulse. OK, OK, it's springtime; I'm irritable and I know it. No big deal. A quick tongue check in the mirror confirmed that yes, of course, I'm teeming with damp heat in the lower jiao. What would I be without my characteristic tongue coat? (A healthier person, for one!)

I go about my day only to realize that by afternoon I'm starting to feel weird. Really weird. There's no valid excuse for the sudden and growing nausea, accompanied by an intermittent, unilateral shooting headache that jumped around as if someone was sprinkling headache pop rocks all over my temples, vertex, forehead, OWW! I usually don't get headaches, and I'm not usually nauseous. I wanted to vomit and get further down the road towards recovery. Then the blurry vision started in, and I noticed I'd been ignoring a hypochondrial pain all day. And, oh MAN, what is that strong bitter taste in the back of my mouth? Did I just crack a filling and let the poison ooze out? Gross. I'm getting dizzy and don't feel like lifting the phone to call the dentist.

2014-05-30_tongueAaaaaand it finally dawns on me. It's all over me, from head to toe. I have Damp-Heat in the Gall Bladder. As I run to the mirror for a tongue progress report, I get all the confirmation I could ever dream of. There's the Damp-Heat coating, yep, and now it's grown in size and had two long greasy arms on display down the sides of my tongue. But, oh no, what…?! You have to be kidding me. Are thosepurple spotsall over the sides of my tongue, too? I mentally scanned the other symptoms I'd noticed over the week, and realized it was true. I also had Liver Blood Stasis. Great. Hey, it's not like I had anything else planned for the next few days.

Why do I always get the stubborn pathogenic scenarios? At my first visit with a doctor of oriental medicine, she struggled a bit with my diagnosis. Was it yang deficiency? Or, was it yin deficiency? Maybe it's both. She said I had Spleen deficiency and Kidney deficiency. Don't forget the Liver Qi Stagnation! Seriously? I know this is a first-time appointment, but isn't that almost too thorough?

So, here's when TCM swoops in and saves my holiday weekend. After doing the dangerous deed of self-diagnosing (never recommended) on Thursday afternoon, I started in on an individualized acupuncture treatment plan. Then I repeated it the next day, too. What points did I use? Don't try this at home, but I did: LV3, GB43, GB41, GB40, GB34, SP9, LI4, and LI11. Is that right? Sure, in my limited opinion. Of course, there were more difficult-to-reach points that I should have added in, but hey, I'm needling myself here! And judging by the fact that I felt almost normal again by Friday afternoon, I'm calling it awesome. Sure, I also made some dietary changes to balance the Damp Heat and give my overloaded Liver and Gall Bladder a rest from the constant inundation of delicious fatty foods.

Yes, whole-fat dairy and meat is good for me, generally speaking, but when my Liver boss and Gall Bladder assistant are under siege, I have to abstain from the delights of my life. That's right -- no buttery popcorn this week. Instead, I emphasized the cooling foods like celery and watermelon, some beverages like green tea, and I focused on eating really light for a couple of days. That went surprisingly well, considering I had completely lost my appetite from the Damp-Heat in the Gall Bladder thing. Western natural medicine has noticeably compatible suggestions for altering your diet during the spring to help cleanse and support the Liver and Gall Bladder. They emphasize a diet of light, sprouty and shooty foods; must avoid those heavy, greasy foods for a while!

Gall Bladder Springtime Renewal

 

   

EAT
Pears
Parsnips
Seaweeds
Lemons
Limes

 

 

AVOID
Heavy Meats
Dairy
Eggs
Nuts
Seeds

 

   

By Saturday, the greasy coated arms of the Damp-Heat beast that lives on the back of my tongue had receded, as did almost all other symptoms. I beat you, Springtime. You got me good -- but this time I was prepared to fight back. Sorry, Spring -- maybe next year!