by marikare | Oct 19, 2021 | Acupuncture, body wisdom, chinese medicine, Five elements, research |
” The best and Most efficient pharmacy is in your own system.”
– Dr Robert C Peale
How the Immune System works
The immune system is a truly amazing system within the body, an orchestrated dance of players that continually explore, survey and identify what is us and what is not us and help to keep the sacred vessel of our body free of disease. In this article, I will be offering you a Chinese Medicine perspective on how the immune system works, why we get sick and how we can prevent this and support our immune systems if we do. To achieve this I will be pulling from Chinese Medicine with dapples of Western thought to keep it in line with what most of our Western trained minds can understand. If you need a refresher on the basic understanding of the immune system from a Western Persepctive I highly suggest checking out one or all of these links; Cartoon, podcast, written.
Wei Qi aka your immune system
In Chinese Medicine, your immune system is called Wei Qi and is governed by the lungs. It circulates in a special layer between your skin and muscle called the Cou Li and is always on alert for what is beneficial to you and what is not. Wei Qi is created in the body from the processing of air, water and food and mixed with our Jing Qi (Ancestral or pre-natal Qi, what you get from your parents). In order to make the strongest Wei Qi it is most important to consume clean air and water and nutrient dense foods, along with hopefully having inherited good jing qi from your parents. Wei Qi is a yang qi, which means it circulates strongest during the day and weaker at night, this is why when we are sick we often feel our best mid day but as evening comes or when we awake in the morning we feel more unwell. Yang qi is hot, fast, and vigorous hence the heat, swelling and pain associated with an infection. The stronger your wei qi is the higher your fever will be and the more intense the aches and pains in your body will be. You will also clear the infection faster so long as the infection is not stronger than your wei qi.
Autumn is the season of the lungs which govern and regulate our wei qi. It is at this time why it is so fundamental to support your immune system through strengthening your lungs and their ability to circulate your wei qi through opening and closing the pores, sweating and breathing. The lungs are known as a delicate organ and like the canopy of trees, their inhale and exhale orchestrates the rhythms of our bodies and the circulation of our wei qi, which acts as not only a physical boundary to foreign objects but also an interface between us and the world.
Why we get sick
In Chinese Medicine there are several reasons why we get sick, some come from the outside, some inside and some are neither internal or external. Ultimately each of these factors can either bring “disease” into our bodies or can cause damage to our internal systems that allows for already present issues in our body to become illness inducing.
External factors come from the six external pathogens: wind, heat, cold, camp, dry, fire, damp. These factors can come from our environment such as seasonal weather changes, the conditions in our home and work space and from the food, drink and other things we consume that may contain harmful viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc.
The internal factors causing us to become sick are the emotions; joy, fear, grief, anger, and worry. Each of these is connected to an organ and when they are out of balance they cause our qi to move in the wrong way. This creates an imbalance in the system and leads to disease states.
The factors that are neither internal or external are mostly life style factors that again cause an imbalance to our qi, yin and yang and create disharmony in our systems. They are
- irregular diet (eating too little or too much, at the wrong time or when stressed, eating the wrong foods),
- overwork and overstrain; one of the most dire situations in our culture and one of the big lessons asociated with covid
- sitting or standing for too long; “Extended lying down damages the qi, extended sitting damages the flesh, extended standing damages the bones” – Sun Simiao 7th century
- insufficient rest; we have a tendency to not take the proper time to rest and heal ourselves, leading to secondary infections and lingerig pathogenic factors.
- night work
- Lack of exercise; though too much exercise can damage the body, not moving the body can damage the qi
- Traumatic injury
- excessive sex
- parasites and poisons
- wrong medical treatment
- ignorance; not having been taught preventative health measures or how to utilize common sense judgement when making choices
Ways to support your immune system
Listening to the Seasons
Part of supporting our lungs and strengthen our immune system/Wei qi is living in harmony with the seasons. In recent research it was actually found that approximately a quarter of our DNA changes with the seasons, with inflammatory gene expression increasing in the winter time when we have more colds and flus in the Northern hempisphere (1). Preparing for and living in harmony with the seasons allows our bodies to adapt and find balance. These are simple practices like making sure you dress properly for the seaons, eating seasonal foods that balance the nature of the climate, honouring the tides of yin and yang and choosing our activities based on their ebb and flow.
In Fall this means;
- covering out necks
- eating warm foods that nourish the lung (cauliflower, almonds, daikon radish, potatoes, turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, apple, pear, rice, oats, sesame seeds, onion, garlic, and white peppercorns)
- allowing our bodies to adjust to the coming chill by not over heating out homes or vehicles
- slowing down our activities and contemplating what we need to let go of
- working through our grief and sadness
In Winter this means:
- covering our low back and kidney area
- eating warm foods that nourish the kidneys (eggplant, black sesame seeds, black beans, kidney beans, wood ear mushrooms, plums, figs, dates, seaweed, miso, seafood, bone broths and bone marrow)
- going to bed early and rising late
- spending time in the quiet stillness
- working with our fears
In Spring this means:
- not undressing to quickly and keeping our bodies warm
- eating seasonal fresh foods that nourish the liver (leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beets, carrots, chives
blueberries, goji berries, grapefruit, strawberries, eggs, liver, pork, venison, crab, crayfish, lobster, mussels, oysters, shrimp, squid, trout, whitefish, flax, pine nuts, sesame, cayenne, garlic, onion, vinegar, turmeric, olive oil)
- getting outside and moving our bodies more
- rising earlier
- working with our anger and being creative
In Summer this means:
- avoiding too much heat and direct sun
- protecting the skin while staying cool
- eating fresh foods that nourish the heart (celery, cucumber, lettuce, mushrooms, lemons, mulberries, schisandra berries, chia seeds, jujube seeds, brown rice, oats, whole wheat, cow and goat milk, ghee, basil, chamomile, dill)
- rising early and staying up later
- being active and spending time in community
- expressing our joy
In Late Summer this means:
- dressing for the weather in layers
- eating more warming foods that nourish the spleen (cooked and fermented vegetables, brothy soups, cabbage, carrots, corn, onions, peas, string beans, sweet potato, yams, apricots, apples, cantaloupe, dates, figs, grapes, papaya, beef, chicken, duck, eggs, fish (bass, carp, herring, mackerel, sardine), goat, goose, lamb, spleen, veal, venison, amaranth, brown rice, sweet rice
coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, vinegar)
- finding and expressing our gratitude
Supporting your Wei Qi
There are several things along with living in harmony with the seasons and following a lifestyle of moderation and emotional regulation that specifically support our wei qi, these include herbs and supplements, qi gong, acupressure and acupuncture and calming our shen (spirit/nervous system). Below I will offer you some of my favourite ways to support you immune system and prevent yourself from getting sick.
- Qi gong is a form of meditative movement that helps us to connect with our bodies and move our qi. It is a simple and powerful and encourages movement in the body without overdoing it. You can even learn to bring qi in from your environment to supplement qi lost. I especially like to do my qi gong in the morning outside but any time that you can make your own is perfect. There are three specific practices that help support the immune system and build your wei qi. You will find them here in these videos: qi gong for the metal element, qigong for autumn, qigong to strengthen the lung.
- Acupressure to support wei qi: acupressure is a simple technique that involves pressing and massaging specific acupuncture points to bring balance to the meridians and organ. As the wei qi is dispersed by the lungs, but built from our digestive and air qi along with our jing qi from our kidneys we will work with lung, stomach and kidney points. I recommend taking some quiet time and if you like light a candle and set an intention to balance your body and build your wei qi and then go through teach pair of points rubbing them at the pressure that feels best for as long as you feel neccesary. If you are unsure 1 minute is always a good bet.
- Lu9-Taiyuan- Supremem Abyss- source point of th lung channel, tonifies the lung and the wei qi
- Ki7- Fu liu- returning current- metal point on the kidney channel, replenishes energy esp kidney yang that helps produce wei qi
- Rn12- Zhongwan- supreme granary- command pt for the stomach- gathers energy of all the yang channels and harmonizes the centre, promoting digestion and ying qi that helps build wei qi
- Moxabustion- moxa is dried mugwort that gets burned over points in order to increase heat and tonify qi. When placed over specific points it can strengthen different kinds of qi including wei qi. You will need a moxa stick (which you can get this from me or your local acupuncturist) and you will light it until it glows and then hold it over the point below until it gets hot, switching to the other side continuing for about 10- 20 mins.
- St36- Zusanli- Leg three mile- earth point on the stomach channel- tonifies the digestion, wei qi and overall strength of the body
- Herbs – In Chinese medicine there are many herbs and formulas that work with the lung qi, wei qi and supporting us in creating harmony in the system based on your individual pattern, so here i will offer you two herbs that have been studied quite extensively and are often used to support the immune system. It is always advised to see a practitioner when you are unsure of what herbs you can and should take.
- Astragalus- Huang Qi- is adaptogenic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It has been used in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and is well tolerated by most but those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, on immunosuppressant drugs or have an auto-immune disorder shoulde consult their practitioner. It has been shown to increase white blood cell production(2) and help fight bacterial and viral infections (3, 4)
- Cordyceps- Dong chong Xia cao- a caterpillar and fungus used for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine has been shown to increase natural killer T cells (5) and increase macrophage phagocytosis, along with may other immune factors (6)
- Supplements- A healthy and balanced diet and good digestive system to breakdown and absorb these nutrients is always the best way to get key immune building vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B6, D, E, zinc, selenium. Here is an helpful list of what these nutrients so and where you can get them in your food and a podcast talking about common immune supplements.
- Probiotics- There is amazing new research coming out on the microbiome and how crucial it is to the functining of all of our systems but especially the immune system. I highly recommend checking out this podcast, this article, and this book for more of the incredible way that microorganisms support our health.
- Staying as relaxed and stress free as you can. Many of the above measures can help with this especially the qi gong and acupressure. Other things you can do are: spend time in nature, with those you love or doing something you love, getting lots of rest and moving your body.
- And of course getting acupuncture will help support your wei qi, balance your emotions, reduce stress, anxiety and fears.
I hope this supports you in being proactive in caring for yourself and keeping your family and community healthy. Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I am always available for in-person acupuncture, shamanic healing and online consultations.
by marikare | Mar 21, 2021 | Acupuncture, body wisdom, chinese medicine, Five elements, mental wellbeing, nervous system, resilience, Self-Love, Soul wisdom, traditions |
We find ourselves once again at the turning of the wheel, where light balances dark and we are called to see what it in and out of balance in our lives. The equinoxes are my favourite times of year, heralding a great change from yin to yang and yang to yin. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are blessed to be moving into spring and here on the West coast the world is singing with fertility and life. when I go on my morning walks, the birds are singing their merry tunes and the daffodils are waving hello, the cherry blossoms wave in the wind releasing their intoxicating scent. We are reminded that are that died away in the fall has given rise to this new life and so I hope for you that what you released in the fall has given rise to new and fresh dreams within you.
For those of you who wish to take a little quite time and reflect at this powerful time. Find a quiet space and time, take a few deep breaths, light a candle and call on your guides and take some time to consider these questions:
- What has happened in your life since the fall equinox?
- What was revealed to you in that time?
- What feels out of balance in your life?
- How would you like to bring new balance to your life until the next equinox?
In Chinese Medicine we have fully entered into the season of wood. Wood is ruled by the Liver and the gallbladder and helps us to dream, plan and take action in our lives just like the little sprouts that are pushing up towards the sun. Wood is resilient when it is flexible, breakable when it is too rigid. It harnesses the deep nourishment of the stillness of winter and the water element to help guide its dreams and create change with loving kindness. You may find that if you wood element is excessive, you become dictatorial, forcing life to happen and raging when it doesn’t go the way you want it to causing your body to tighten and ache from the tension and if it is deficient, you may lack the drive to dream or plan, be stuck in a depression and feel lost in the world.
In order to support your wood element, I offer you hear some tips and tricks;
- begin each morning with a room temperature glass of water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in to awaken your liver and continue it’s digestive processes
- try not to eat any fat or protein rich foods until afternoon, instead eating fruits and salads (ensuring these are room temperature or even warm if its still cold where you are)
- start to add in fresh spring greens; nettles (here is one of my favourite nettle recipes), dandelion, arugula, chickweed, wild mustard and other bitter foods
- move your body daily (go for a walk, dance, do some yoga, or qi gong….) Here is one of my favourite qi gong sequences for the wood element.
- take time to dream, plan, and create; make art, draw, do a vision board
- apply some bergamot essential oil to the following acu points: Liver 3 and Gallbladder 13
For those of you who would like to go on a little journey to tap into the energies of spring and the medicine it has for you. Check out this Drum Journey I recorded last year.
I wish for you a spring filled with renewal, dreaming, planting and creation.
Many Blessings to you and yours
by marikare | Apr 17, 2020 | Acupuncture, body wisdom, chinese medicine, distance healing, research, shamanism |
Prayers, intentions and healing energy have been sent out into the universe since humans began to form cosmologies of the world. Traditional practices performed by Shamans, Qi gong masters, Priests and Rabbis have always included connecting with the divine within all of us and asking for help to heal the sick, boost the crops, protect the people, etc. With the Scientific Revolution, there was a move away from this form of healing and a focus on the physical manipulation of the body and the planet. But in the last few decades a growing number of people have been recognizing the validity and importance of prayer, intention and energy healing in our lives. During this time of physical distancing there has never been a better time to begin practicing these powerful techniques.
What is Distance Healing?
Distance healing is a form of energy healing or prayer that is sent from one person to another person, place or people; like a mother sending loving thoughts to her children, a friend lighting a candle for the safe passage of a baby or a group of people gathering to send energy to a war zone, disaster area or dying individual and their family. The power of the healing is in the heart felt intention and focus of the person sending the energy and the connection that we all share through spirit, the divine, god, the collective unconscious,… With practice we can learn to sit with our prayers and intentions tap into the collective and focus that energy.
How Does it work?
Whether you are using Reiki, Shamanic Healing, quantum healing, Prayer or any other form of energy medicine they all tap into the same collective energy field that we all share. The universe is made up of energy, Daoists call in Qi, Yogis call it Prana, Hebrews call it Ruah and Quantum Physicists, well they call it energy. Much research has gone into If and how distance healing works, while most studies show that it does work none have been able to explain how it works from a Western scientific view point. A well designed 2008 study looking at 36 couples, 22 with one of the couple having a cancer diagnosis and 14 healthy couples, found that directed intentional healing thoughts made a significant difference in the activation of the Autonomic Nervous System, which is necessary to keep our bodies in balance and all of our unconscious bodily functions operating, and the more they sent the intentions the more strongly the Autonomic Nervous System responded.
One of the theories trying to explain distance healing proposed by Dr. Swanson in Synchronized Universe suggests that the molecular level of DNA to the biophoton field of the body, to the biohologram and to the torsion field, which is integral to the aura, connect each of us to the cosmos. According to Swanson’s SUM model, torsion field research findings and theory may provide a scientific basis to understanding how higher, non-material dimensions of consciousness can continue beyond the physical plane. The gist of this research and other research implies that healing energy doesn’t actually travel from one person to another but the intention, prayer, healing energy of the sender shifts the energy field of the receiver simultaneously in nonlocal space. This connects to the idea that we are all connected and are aspects of spirit. So when one aspect shifts another shifts at the same time.
From both a Daoist and Shamanic Perspective we are all an aspect of the Dao or Creator and our spirit comes directly from this aspect. When we are thrown out of balance whether from direct trauma to the physical body, an emotional response to life circumstances or an energetic trauma to the psyche the spirit will often flee the body leaving us feeling disconnected, anxious, fearful, and numb in body or mind. Energy healing works by connecting to the collective or the spirit realms and identifying the imbalance, clearing the body, mind and emotions of the imbalance and welcoming the spirit back into the body. As this is all done energetically there is no need to be in the physical presence of the receiver and in fact I find distance healing allows for the space to let go of the judgements and preconceived notions of the mind and flesh and create a greater opening to the healing forces of the universe.
Start sending Healing Energy
If you know someone who is struggling right now whether from pain, grief, anxiety or any other physical or emotional imbalance, here are some simple steps to get you started in sending them some healing energy. You can also use this technique on yourself.
- Begin by finding a quiet space
- Take some deep breaths in, focusing on your heart beat
- Picture the person, place, or people you wish to send energy to
- Ask spirit if it is ok for you to send energy to them and what kind of energy they need
- Take a minute and really listen. It may come as a feeling, word, image, knowing
- Begin to cultivate the energy they need in your own heart and imagine it filling their heart and flowing out through their body
- Spend as much time as you can focus on this. Could be 2 mins or 10 all is good.
- Keep sending and build up those distance healing muscles.
Please let me know how this goes for you in the comments below and share it with anyone you know who may benefit from this practice.
If you are interested in receiving your own healing please check out my offerings
by marikare | Mar 31, 2020 | Acupuncture, astrology, birth, body wisdom, chinese medicine, death, family, Friends, grief, Ritual, Self-Love, Soul wisdom, traditions, wild food |
These are extraordinary times we are living in and they call for us to gather up all our strength and tools to navigate them. In shamanic traditions it is believed we are constantly dreaming our world into being and advances in the world of quantum physics we are beginning to see how true it is. So I challenge you at this time to begin to allow yourself to dream. Think on all the things in your life that aren’t working for you and begin to paint a picture of how they can improve, think on all the things you love in your life and how you want them amplified, expand your thought to your family, friends, community, city, country and out across the whole world.
Here is mine:
I want to live in a world that is ridiculously accepting, generous and loving.
Where children can feel safe to play in their communities
Where everyone can feel safe to be who they are
Where people touch, hug, kiss and express their love, joy and gratitude for each other
Where everyone’s perspective is welcome
Where we know ourselves as the stewards of mother earth and care for all her children
Where we use only what we need and share what we have
Where people are connected to their dreams, their spirit guides, their ancestors and their higher selves
Where life is regarded as a true miracle and death is regarded as the next step in a well lived life
Where ritual marks each day and the initiations we pass through are honoured and celebrated, allowing for time and space to mourn and grieve
Where we care more about the quality of the food we eat and where it comes from than our latest new gadget
Where integrative and traditional medicines are valued just as highly as modern medicine
Where companies give back to the communities they work in, take from and are responsible for the full life cycle of the things they create
Where our elders are seen as the bearers of great wisdom and the passers down of memory
Where each choice we make takes into consideration the next seven generations
Where every person has enough food, water, clothing, a warm, cozy, safe home, access to the tools needed to practice their passions, hobbies, work and art
I’d love to hear your dream! Please share in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
by marikare | Mar 19, 2020 | Acupuncture, body wisdom, chinese medicine, death, family, Friends, grief, research, traditions, wild food |
Wow, what a time we are living in!! I have to remind myself daily that this is the world we have dreamed and it is truly amazing to see how people are coming together, how the pollution of the world is down, how we are being asked to move more slowly in such a fast paced world. I really and truly see it as a gift we are being offered and not one to take lightly. Below you will find some information on covid-19 that perhaps you have not come across and some resources to help you through this and all the other challenges life has in store for us.
All life is connected, in fact our bodies are literally made up of bacteria and viruses. They help us break down our food and bolster our immune systems and challenge us to evolve physically, mentally and spiritually. Viruses are especially fascinating as they require a host cell to replicate and so parts of our DNA are actually virus DNA.
We can not escape this truth nor can we escape interacting with these microorganisms. It is a part of being human. But many of us view these tiny beings we share the planet with as something to be eradicated. I think however it is more about harmony than war. Our bodies are innately clever and built to decide which organisms are friend and which are foe. Our greatest defence against organisms that threaten our lives is in our immune systems and part of the immune system is built up of good microorganisms.
In traditional Chinese medicine pathogens are broken down into wind, cold, hot or toxins often with accompanying dampness. In order to expel the pathogens we need strong wei Qi and Zheng Qi (immunity) which are built out of kidney and and stomach fluids. If we are stressed, depleted, or weak than we won’t have enough Qi to defend our bodies and the sicker we will become.
So how can you boost your immune system firstly through diet, eating warm wet foods- porridge, soup, broth, stew, avoiding cold, damp building foods like candy, ice cream, dairy, processed foods. We can also take supplements, herbs and at home practices that have been shown to improve our immune systems.
Chaga and reishi mushrooms
Finally we need to release the fear, anxiety and stress as it is one of the primary things that weakens our immune system. Here are a few suggestions
time in nature.
talking with loved ones,
Meditation ( sign up for my newsletter to download my tree of life meditation)
All of this goes far beyond just the virus, the incredible amounts of change that are being asked of us are unsettling to our instinctive centre. Residing just below our root chakra, our instinctive centre remembers all of our early childhood, ancestoral and past life traumas. Whenever anything is unsettling to it, whether it be childhood trauma, an ancestor who died of the spanish influenza or our own death many life times ago from another epidemic, our body remembers and the fear rises up, even if we rationally know the fear is not justified by the circumstances our bodies don’t know that and we are sent into a fight, flight or freeze response. The best ways to manage this are with breath, bringing awareness into your body and your environment to remember you aren’t in immediate threat, smudging yourself with tobacco, palo santo or sage and getting shamanic healing to clear the fear and realign the body, mind and spirit.
Remember all challenges are opportunities, For the first time in years you can hear the birds singing in Wuhan, there is no smog in the skies of major cities like LA, people are coming together online to support those less fortunate in need. We are truly at a time of writing a new dream for humanity. I personally am incredibly excited about this opportunity! In Shamanism, there is a practice of dreaming our worlds into being, most shamanic cultures believe that everything we believe comes true and so each moment we have a chance to dream a new and better world into being. Through practices like mindfulness this is what we are doing, we are becoming aware of our surroundings, our actions and our reactions and learning to change them, creating a new reality for ourselves. What better time to try and do this then when we are asked to change our lives and are given the time and space to rest, reflect and dream.
I hope you take this time to dive deep, walk in nature, move slowly, enjoy time with your loved ones and really imagine what a better world would be like.
To help you I have recorded a tree of life mediation which is part of my morning routine and is excellent at releasing fear, worry, anxiety and stress, grounding oneself and realigning body, mind and spirit with all that is. You can get your free copy when you sign up for my email newsletter.
I am also offering sliding scale distance shamanic healings. A powerful way to reset our systems, clear our fears and begin to dream again. $30-60/session
I will be available for a limited number of acupuncture and shamanic acupuncture sessions for those in need.
I am also available by email if you have any questions or concerns.
Marika Reid Hall RAc HDP BA
by marikare | Oct 25, 2019 | Acupuncture, birth, body wisdom, chinese medicine, doula, Flower Essences, grief, midwifery, postpartum, traditions |
It is believed in Chinese Medicine that proper healing in the postpartum period can lead to a graceful menopause, greater health overall and even recovery from previous illness and chronic dis-ease. The body, mind and spirit go through tremendous changes in pregnancy and these changes don’t stop once baby is in the outer world. We must grieve our lives from before, we must learn to communicate and support a whole new human who is utterly dependent on us, we must find a new rhythm and our bodies must find a new normal. This takes time, lots of patience and support from our greater village and can lead to amazing, almost magical transformation in our bodies, beliefs and perceptions.
While most put lots of emphasis on the birth plan and what the nursery will look like, not many think about those tender weeks, months and first year of recovery and transformation, love and grief, confusion and joy. It truly takes a village to support a new family in this period of time and I encourage all my clients to sit down and make a plan in advance. Asking friends and family to help cook food, do chores, run errands and give a family space to find their new groove.
In many traditional practices including traditional Chinese medicine, the mother and baby were left from one moon cycle up to 6 weeks to recover and build their bond. Family and friends would bring food, clean, keep mom and baby warm and away from cold, wind and the outer world, in order to protect the new family from illness, over exertion and emotional overwhelm. In some cases the mother was not even allowed to bath. Her only job was to eat, rest and learn the language of her new baby. In our modern world we know it is good to bath on occasion and getting some gentle exercise is very important to help in both physical healing and mental wellbeing. But the general principles behind these practice are still important to keep both moms and babies healthy, encourage recovery and bonding and lead to long term health outcomes.
In this article I am going to go through some of the key elements to work with postpartum that I have learned in my studies, practice and life.
Building up the blood and yin
“Qi is the commander of blood and blood is the mother of qi”
It takes Yin, Qi and Blood to make a child. Yin the material form of all life gives rise to the anatomy of the body; its organs, tissues, muscle, skin…. Qi the energetic form of all life gives rise to the physiology of the body; digesting food, breathing, thinking, moving,… Blood, a yin substance connects the mother and baby, nourishing the fetus in the womb and then turning into breastmilk after the baby is born. Labour requires an extraordinary amount of qi to birth our babies and with the birth mothers lose some blood and with it more qi. Thus it is essential to build up the yin and blood to restore mama to her full strength and to make the milk that baby requires.
The best way to build up yin and blood is through the food and drink that we consume. Bone broths, liver, red meat and red fruits and vegetables are the best for building the blood. Whole grains, nuts, seeds and spices help build up the milk. Warmly cooked and neutral foods are easiest to digest. Here are a list of foods that are great to give a new mama.
Bone broths (my favourite recipe)
Red Meats and Liver to replace Iron
Beets and Red fruits esp. Chinese red dates aka jujubes, goji berries, raspberries, strawberries and cherries to build the blood
Oats, Barley, Peas, Legumes, walnuts, almonds, sunflower, flax, pumpkin and hemp seeds to nourish the milk
Fennel, anise, dill, coriander, caraway and cardamom to aid digest and increase breast milk.
Keeping the body warm aka mother roasting
All that qi and blood that gets used in labour can leave one feeling chilled and more vulnerable to invading pathogens like wind and cold. Thus it is essential to keep both mom and babe (who can’t regulate their temperature yet) nice and warm. There are several ways to do this.
- Wrap mom and babe in warm clothes and blankets
- keep windows closed, especially if there is a cold wind.
- Feed mom warm teas and foods
- Moxa!! An amazing medicine in my tool kit. Moxabustion is made of Chinese Mugwort, one of the only ways to increase qi and Yang (heat) from an external source. I give all of my postpartum clients a moxa stick to use three days after birth (six weeks after a cesarean) The stick is lit and held over the womb space and slowly moved over the abdomen in circles, spirals or figure eights until the skin becomes slightly red and warm. This feeds the qi, warms the body, moves the blood to prevent stagnation and clotting and generally feels amazing!
- Get a full Mother Roasting treatment! For more info
Of course you do not want them to get to hot either, so in summer do be mindful of the ambient temperature of your rooms.
Reducing pain and inflammation
The body’s natural response to going through the hard work of labour, the stretching and sometimes tearing of tissues, the hours of squatting and pushing is to send fluid and immune cells to these tissues to repair them. This insurgence causes inflammation which causes pain. In order to reduce the pain we want to reduce the inflammation by helping the healing of tissues. Good nutrition as mentioned above is key to repairing the skin and building new vessels and cells, especially helpful is bone broth and collagen. Other helpful nutrients are vitamin A, C and zinc which are crucial to building new collagen and blood vessels, Rutin and grape seed extract are antioxidants that help vitamin c enter the cells and prevent scar tissue formation. Also taking natural anti-inflammatories like bromelain or turmeric can reduce inflammation, pain and speed healing.
One of my favourite and safest ways to speed healing, reduce inflammation and pain is with acupuncture. Acupuncture works by stimulating neurotransmitters that modulate pain, release tight muscles and helps the body find the optimum path to healing. Ideally, having acupuncture in your home three days after your delivery is best to promote healing and well being. But it can be done at any time even months after delivery to help heal scar tissue and residual aches and pains.
Homeopathics are gentle yet potent medicines that hold the vibration of the plants, animals and minerals they are made from and help the body find its return to health by itself much like acupuncture. For pain and inflammation: arnica Montana 200c, calendula officinalis 200c, staphysagria 200c and hypericum perforatum 200c are taken one tablet at a time up to every half hour.
Keeping the emotions balanced
In TCM, Our emotional well-being is controlled by the liver who is responsible for the smooth flow of all our mental, emotional and physical energy, as well as bodily fluids. So if we get stuck in a mental or emotional rut or don’t move enough our qi becomes stagnated causing the liver to become upset and stagnate further. As we know post birth there has been lots of qi and blood lost and the change in our hormones, sleep schedules and need to rest can lead to further qi stagnation and emotional imbalance.
Acupuncture excels in balancing the emotions. In fact, in Chinese medicine each emotions is associated with a different organ. Long term emotional imbalance can injure the organs as can injury to organs lead to emotional imbalance but lucky it is quite easy to help the qi move smoothly and find the correct path again, relieving anxiety, depression, worry, sadness, fear, shock, anger and over stimulation.
Some other ways to help process and balance your emotion are:
Support groups- We are never alone in our experiences, though we are each unique we also share so much especially in the world of birth and parenting. We were all born and were parented and many will go on to birth and parent themselves. Finding others who have gone through birth and parenthood or are going through it helps us to remember we are not alone and allows us to express our feelings and thoughts and hear from others perhaps gleaning some nuggets of wisdom, tools or compassion for ourselves and others.
Counselling- seeking out a trained counsellor who has experience in working with birth and parenting and can offer tools and insights can be a real game changer. I am especially fond of somatic and mindfulness based approaches.
Placenta pills are made from your placenta. The placenta is cleaned and dehydrated and then powdered and encapsulated, some also make a tincture or eat their placenta whole. The placenta is full of minerals, especially iron and hormones from pregnancy and labour. Some women find that consuming their placenta helps balance the hormones and emotions after they drop on the third day postpartum. Others find they are too sensitive to it and can’t take it. When looking for someone to encapsulate your placenta always make sure they have training in blood borne infections and proper clean technique.
Rescue remedy is a combination of five flower essences created by Dr Bach. Like homeopathics they contain the vibrational imprint of the flowers and are especially good at balancing emotions, releasing grief and trauma, reducing anxiety and fear and reconnecting the spirit withe the body. Four drops can be taken at a time as often as needed.
Information in this post and on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a result of practice experience and research by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem.