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November 25, 2010 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-11-25

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Health & Fitness

ALTERNATIVES

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Traditional Chinese
Medicine And Women

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November 25 • 2010

Ai

s women, we are pressured to
stay slim, a desire encouraged
by the world around us, by
advertising, by magazines, by popular
culture. And yet our bodies change as
we age — mostly beyond our control.
Midlife hormonal
changes require new eating
and exercise habits if we are
to maintain current weight
and shape. Mind and body
conflict with no sense of
balance between the two.
In traditional Chinese
medicine, balance means
a harmonious way of feel-
ing, being and thinking.
Everybody (and every
body) has her own natural
state of balance.
There is a concept in
TCM called the eight perimeters. When
a body is in balance, we feel good. By
observing how we feel and making
comparisons, we determine areas in
our body where we need strengthening
as well as areas where we can eliminate
and "let out steam:'
Consider the symptoms of meno-
pause. Many women experience
extreme heat — hot flashes, night
sweats, vaginal dryness. They may also
feel irritable, short-fused, constipated
or have acid reflux. These patterns and
reactions to excess heat are considered
an imbalance. If these women eat spicy
hot or hot-temperature foods, they will
likely increase their heat symptoms.
However, if menopausal women ate
cooling foods and introduced Chinese
herbs to cool out their system, they
would feel cooler and more balanced.
The first of the eight perimeters
differentiates between deficiency and
excess. Certain symptoms show defi-
ciencies like fatigue, lethargy, difficulty
shedding weight, feeling cold. Other
symptoms show excess: irritability;
headaches, pain, insomnia. Seeing one
set of symptoms, we work to strength-
en. With another, we work to eliminate.
In both cases, the goal is to restore the
body to a healthy state of balance.
A second differentiation is hot vs.
cold. Heat signs in our body may
include hot flashes, high blood pres-
sure, constipation, irritability or being
short-fused. Some midlife women may
feel cold, have low sex drive and have

loose stools. Some vacillate between
these two states of being. Looking at
the symptoms, we begin to see patterns
that we can address through acupunc-
ture, traditional Chinese medicine and
even dietary changes.
A third differentiation is
interior vs. exterior. Is our
imbalance on the surface
(fighting the flu with symp-
toms of chills and body
aches) or is it inside (fever,
fatigue and feeling lethargic).
The last differentiation is
yin and yang, ultimate bal-
ance, a summary of all the
rest. It's a universal phrase
that gives perspective and
a paradigm for viewing our
inner and outer worlds.
There are many ways the
body can get out of balance. There are
also many ways to create balance. First,
begin to understand and appreciate
that every human being has her own
natural state of balance.
Then, accept that balance is always
changing. Creating balance is a dynam-
ic task. Traditional Chinese medicine
(TCM) offers a variety of tools to create
balance, including:
•Acupuncture — balances the
body's qi energy. Through the eight
perimeter diagnostic process, an acu-
puncturist determines where the body
is out of balance and uses acupuncture
to help restore it.
• Chinese herbal medicines are
categorized (cold, hot, strengthening,
reducing) and custom-made formulas
help create balance.
• Eating right for your body type,
guided by the parameters of TCM, can
support and restore good health.
•Active (yang) exercise such as car-
dio, running and swimming, and yin
exercise (yoga, tai chi), work together to
create harmony in the body.
As a woman in midlife who works to
accept my aging body gracefully, I find
these tools very helpful in supporting
my personal and professional journey
in life.



Julie Silver is founder and president of

Acupuncture Healthcare Associates of
Michigan in Farmington Hills. Her e-mail

address is julie@acupunctureinmichigan.

COM.

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