= Menu

Late Summer 2017

by Jennifer L Fockler

spleen and stomach season

Can you believe its September already? Summer has flown by and now kids are going back to school and you can start to feel Autumn on the horizon.

This time of year is known as late summer, its element is earth and its color is yellow. The major organs associated with this season are the spleen and stomach. That’s the all important digestive engine that is the first stop for so many metabolic functions, like making blood, energy levels, clarity of thought, phlegm, and obviously effecting things later down the line like your bowel movements.

Late summer is also the time of year associated with dampness, which is a kind of Chinese medical term that can get confusing. I always think of a moldy bathroom, especially because mold allergies kick up this time of year. The air gets thick and things feel heavy, it will also smell funky if there is mold and mildew. If you took a really hot shower, it will be considered damp heat. If you are in a cold and leaking basement, that’s cold-damp. So, if you can picture those two environments, then you can get a general idea of what this could do in the body.

Allergies have really been hitting our area hard lately, that’s damp stuck in the wrong place, like your sinuses or throat. A good way to treat some of these symptoms is by heating up your digestion with things like ginger and cinnamon, avoiding dairy and cold or raw foods. This will help your spleen not produce damp, which can turn into phlegm. It will also keep your energy levels higher and keep your thoughts clearer as well.

Fluids and staying hydrated are so important to moving the damp. Picture a swamp with standing water and soggy soil, this happens because nothing is moving. A lot of times if you increase your water intake, you create movement and can flush out the stagnant water. But sometimes the water can get stuck in a specific area of the body, like edema in the ankles or a bad phlegm cough. In these situations, herbs are a crucial part of treatment. They really help the body cycle through fluids and break up phlegm to pull it out and can get very precise with the area they are targeting.

I personally, have a hard time staying hydrated and find electrolyte drinks to be super helpful. I like coconut water or smart water and I even put a few drops of salt water in my filtered water if I'm feeling really off. Some people like sipping on hot water or herbal teas all day. You have to find what works for you. And yes, you will be peeing more, there’s no way around it.

The Spleen and stomach are also the first stop for blood production. We all know blood is pretty important. If you are low on blood and fluids, you can feel weak, dizzy when you stand up, have tight muscles and cramping in the calves, muscle spasms, twitching eyelids, headaches, cold hands and feet, fuzzy thinking, trouble falling asleep, plus more!

For women especially, blood is so important, because we lose blood every month and the nature of pregnancy takes a toll on our resources. The spleen in Chinese medicine makes blood, controls blood and is susceptible to damp, in addition, the spleen is one of the first organs to get taxed by our busy and stressful lifestyles. You can see how important the Earth system of the Spleen and Stomach are, and how a little nurturing can go a long way, especially at this time of year.

Some easy ways to help your Earth organs at home is to eat simple balanced meals, really going for that Goldilocks zone of not too much or too little, not too spicy or fatty, lots of veggies and grains, with small amounts of meat and spice.

If you are trying to build blood add goji berries to everything. Eat red and purple fruits and veggies like raspberries, blueberries, and eggplants.

If you have weak digestion like acid reflux, ulcers, or other sensitivities then stay away from your trigger foods (obviously) and add pumpkin and rice into your routine. This will even work on your pet dog and cats. I also like to add probiotics and enzymes, and if you are really having a hard time try an Aloe Vera drink.

Some of you may know that I have the start of an ulcer under my esophageal sphincter that can be super painful and refer into my left shoulder. It gave me a good scare enough times that I ended up in the ER and eventually got an endoscope. Long story short, I understand how crucial the Spleen and Stomach are to our well -being on a whole other level.

This is a huge area in Chinese medicine, in fact there is a whole school of thought that “goes through the Earth” with its own text called the Pi Wei Lun. I personally find the Chinese Medical approach to be much more nuanced and detailed, and definitely less invasive. It also alleviates symptoms with out sacrificing long term health and with little side effects, but it takes work. You have to be committed and make changes.

This time of year is the perfect time to nourish your spleen and stomach for so many reasons.  If you can relate to any of the things mentioned above, come in for a treatment. We can get you feeling better with acupuncture and herbs in no time and get your body prepped for the cold and flu season. Click here to make an appointment.

August Acutake Newsletter

by Jennifer L Fockler

August Acutake Newsletter, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

August 2017


Press This Point for Heat Stroke

Hot enough for you?! As we approach August, the summer heat may be starting to get to you. This acupressure point is a secret self-care weapon for when you can't get in to see your acupuncturist.

Pericardium 3 is the water point on the Pericardium channel, so as you might expect, it’s used to cool things off. Acupuncturists use this point to clear heat from the body—it’s indicated for fever, dry mouth, excess thirst, restlessness, and heat stroke.

Learn more and find Pericardium 3

July Acutake Newsletter

July Acutake Newsletter, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

12 Summer Self-Care Tips from Acupuncturists

Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. offers Acupuncture in Chicago, IL

Summer is here!

From an acupuncture perspective, seasons are a big deal, since humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Weather and time of year can factor significantly into how we feel, both physically and emotionally.

Summer may be carefree, but that shouldn't mean letting go of your self-care practices. Here are some tips from acupuncturists for staying happy and healthy all summer long.

Get the summer self-care tips

June Acutake Newsletter

June Acutake Newsletter, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

June 2017

Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. offers Acupuncture in Chicago, IL

7 Ways to Kick It Acupuncture-Style This Summer
Summer is fast approaching. You may be noticing yourself having more energy, feeling more social, or experiencing all-around better moods. This is normal for this time of year, when, from an acupuncture perspective, the Yang—extroverted, lively, enthusiastic, active—aspects of a person are at their peak.

In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Each season is linked with a natural element, organ and emotion. The element, organ and emotion of summer are, respectively, Fire, Heart and joy.

How we feel during summer is largely determined by our constitutional expression of the Fire element. Here are some acupuncture-inspired pointers for maintaining a balanced Fire element, and staying happy and healthy, all summer long.

Get 7 tips for staying healthy this summer

May Acutake Newlsetter

May Acutake Newlsetter, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

8 Self-Care Tips for Late-Spring Allergies

Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. offers Acupuncture in Chicago, IL
The worst of the spring allergy season is behind us. However, many people are still suffering.

Especially in regions with significant temperature and precipitation fluctuation, allergies can flare up just when you think you’re out of the woods. Even into the early days of summer, acupuncturists remain busy with treating sniffling, sneezing, itchy eyes, and sinus headaches.

Since seasonal allergies tend to ebb and flow, it’s helpful to know some self-care techniques for when your symptoms act up. Here are eight tips that acupuncturists recommend to their allergy-laden patients.

                                            Get the 8 self-care tips

Falling Off The Wagon - Spring 2017

by Jennifer L Fockler

Falling Off The Wagon - Spring 2017, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

Spring is in the air and everybody and everything seems to have a bit more pep in their step. Even my cat has spring fever and is demanding (very loudly) to be let outside first thing in the morning.

But me? I'm not feeling it at all. In fact, I have totally fallen off of my self care wagon. I'm not sleeping very well, drinking a ton of coffee, have some low back and neck pain, feeling cold, quick to snap at people, craving junk food, and eating late at night. I'm also craving alcohol, not exercising, and not journaling or meditating.

What is going on here? And what steps can I take to correct the situation, so that I make better choices and feel better both physically and emotionally?

First and foremost, I give myself permission to be human. No one is perfect and no one sticks to their routine 100% of the time. Getting down on yourself can lead to a hamster wheel of negative self talk. This kind of thinking gets out of hand really fast for me, and was in fact, one of my first clues that something is really off right now.

Normally, I tend to listen to my body and let it self correct frequently. I feel like I've got a good handle on things most of the time and recognize that I am always going through cycles. This comes directly from Chinese Medical theory. Nothing is static and the only constant in life is constant change. So, when I started having some real trouble regulating my thoughts and emotions, this is a huge red flag for me. There is no separation between the mind and the body, it's more like a see-saw. When one end goes up, the other must come down. That tells me that the physical end of my see-saw is too high right now and it's pushing my emotional end down to the ground. This situation can keep going for a while before you cognitively recognize what's happening. For me it's been several weeks with symptoms slowly getting more and more intense.

Now that I've identified the problem, let's put my detective skills in motion. It's spring, helllooo!? Well, duh! It's Liver and Gall Bladder season. The liver is in charge of the free flow of qi in the body, regulating it smoothly. So things that are uneven usually signal a liver issue, like sleeping patterns getting off cycle, or bathroom habits changing from one day to the next. A common symptom is alternating diarrhea and constipation that seems to happen no matter what you eat.

The liver has a nickname in Chinese Medicine, it's called the General. Imagine a General marshaling his troops and giving orders to everybody else. I see a crabby and short fused man who is obsessed with order, probably OCD, barking commands  very loudly to anybody within earshot, and heaven forbid you ignore one of his orders because there will be hell to pay. In fact, TCM diagnoses include language of the liver invading other organs.

The liver invading the spleen is a very common pattern that we see in modern society. The spleen is responsible for a lot of functions in the body and gets taxed by overwork, stress, worry, studying too much, not sleeping enough, irregular eating plus many other things. So there is this idea that the liver is a bully and invading the spleen through sheer force, or that the spleen has a weak spot and is worn out which allows the liver to have easy access. This is like everybody, seriously, it just depends on degrees and what your other physical and emotional resources are to mediate the liver. The symptoms of this pattern are irritability, abdominal distention and pain, alternating constipation and diarrhea, gas, and tiredness.

The liver also likes to invade the stomach. Now, the spleen and stomach are like brother and sister, so a lot of the symptoms  will be similar and a lot of the causes can be similar. The difference is a feeling of belching, nausea, sour regurgitation, actual vomiting, sighing, weak limbs and a feeling of oppression in the epigastric region. This is super common as well, in fact acid suppressors are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America. In addition, you can experience these things at the same time! Anybody who has ever had heartburn can tell you that it can make you poop funny.

By now, we are seeing that the Liver has complex relationships with other organs and channels and this is just the very teeny tiny tip of the iceberg. To keep it simple, I want to explain the most common etiology that creates a bossy Liver. And again, this is like everybody in modern America. It's called liver qi stagnation. One of the main culprits is stress which disrupts the smooth flow and regular rhythm that the liver likes and is in charge of maintaining in the body. Symptoms can include irritability, sighing, mental depression, a lump in the throat, irregular menstrual cycle, PMS, and a stiff neck.

For some folks, if the liver gets stuck it will look to the spleen or the stomach, but for others it will go to the head. This is known as liver yang rising and has a constellation of symptoms that is also very, very common in modern cultures. Liver yang rising means headaches at the temples, eyes or lateral side of the head, dizziness, blurry vision, dry mouth and throat, insomnia, irritability, and a tendency to have outbursts of anger. I think of a mild case of road rage, where a small trigger will set a person off, they get it out of their system, and then it’s gone. But they act like nothing happened. I think we all know someone like this or we have been this person ourselves for a time or two. An important part of this pattern is a yin deficiency component, in which there is not enough heavy substance to anchor the yang and hold it down. It can get academic and is too big of a topic here, but if you’re curious about yin yang theory, check out http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/whatyinyang.html

How do these things connect to my bad habits of late? Alcohol goes straight to the liver and can be used as a guide for other herbs and medicines to reach the liver organ and channel. Alcohol also vigorously moves the liver qi temporarily, but then ends up depleting the body more afterwards. So it feels really good for a short time and can be considered a message that you need to course your qi. But, alcohol can get stuck on a confusing feedback loop, in which you’re short on fluids and yin, and then you have a harder time of naturally moving your qi because there's less substance. Now that the liver qi is off course, everything else gets wacky, as we have talked about above in the previous patterns.

What’s the quickest way to intervene in this vicious cycle? I needle myself, change my herbs or go see my acupuncturist, sometimes it's all of the above. But most people don’t have these tricks up their sleeve, so if you can’t see your acupuncturist, or you want to do things at home to keep the good work going I can give you a few pointers.

My first step is to cut the caffeine. I say this all the time, mostly because it’s something I really struggle with ( I’m a Starbucks junkie). This will help sleep and anxiety and hydration. Next, I turn off the television and read a book or magazine. This has a centering effect on me and helps everything come down a notch. Lastly, go for a walk and do some stretching. I also like to listen to binaural beats and/or write affirmations while doing any of the above, which is a nice layered approach and can be very effective. In addition, I will also load up on the vitamins and minerals for a couple days straight, which clears my mind, helps with stress, and can really help eliminate food cravings.

The moral of the story is that transitions can be hard, whether it's personal, seasonal, or a combination of both. But your body is talking to you all of the time, communicating it’s needs, if you can understand the language, you can do something about it.

If you are experiencing some of these things too, schedule an appointment or give me a call and let's talk about how Chinese Medicine can help you.

Here’s to your smooth start to spring and sending hugs to your liver!

Jennifer L Fockler, L.Ac.


April Acutake Newsletter

April Acutake Newsletter, Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. in Chicago, IL

April 2017

Jennifer L. Fockler, L.Ac. offers Acupuncture in Chicago, IL

Spring is here! Yes! Except for the fact that you may not be feeling so great.

If you, like many people, have been feeling off in these early days of spring, you can kindly thank your Liver.

In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them. Seasons—particularly the transitional periods, when we move from one season to the next—factor significantly into how we feel. Each season is linked with an organ system in the body, and spring’s system is Liver.

This means that the Liver, as it adjusts to taking over the seasonal reigns, is especially vulnerable. When the Liver is vulnerable, the functions throughout the body for which the Liver is responsible have a tendency to get out of whack. Acupuncture improves these symptoms by restoring balance to the Liver system.

Here are seven signs that it may be time to give your Liver some acupuncture love.

7 signs that you need acupuncture