Category Archives: Relaxation

Hypertension

I’ve been watching some World Cup matches lately, following the Australia and England teams through their tense encounters. While I haven’t been measuring my blood pressure, I am sure that it was elevated during the games, especially in England’s penalty shootout with Colombia. Excitement, anxiety, anger, fear, worry, shock – all of these emotions have an effect on blood pressure. It is well known that the anxiety of having your blood pressure taken by a doctor tends to elevate the reading.

Hypertension is the long-term elevation of blood pressure, a condition that poses health risks. One of its features is that it has no symptoms, so we can be in danger without even knowing it. Another complicating factor is that there is no clear agreement about what is a dangerous level of blood pressure. Broadly speaking, normal blood pressure is between 90/60 and 120/80. * Above 140/90 is considered hypertension, while anything over 180/120 is considered severe and requiring immediate attention.

Long-term hypertension causes damage to the arteries, with the risk of rupture (aneurysm). This includes possible rupture of the blood vessels of the brain, leading to stroke. The heart is also affected by hypertension with risks of coronary artery disease and possible heart failure.

It’s no wonder that doctors are quick to prescribe medications that will lower blood pressure, but these also have side effects. Ways to lower blood pressure by lifestyle changes include losing weight, lowering fats and sugars in the diet, eating more fibre, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and exercising regularly. Reducing the stressors in your life is key, and you can help this by mindfulness practices, meditating, practising Qigong or Tai Chi. And of course, getting Acupressure treatments.

Early in my career I discovered the power of Acupressure treatments in general, and the use of Gall Bladder 21 in particular, to lower blood pressure. A client regularly monitored her BP before treatment, after treatment, and when she got home. The reading was always lower at the end of the session, but even lower still when she got home after driving on the California freeways!

Since then Gall Bladder 21 has been my favourite point for hypertension, but there are many more. A quick look at my primary references, Deadman and Jarmey, show these 26 points as indicated for hypertension:

Meridian Element Points
Lung Metal 7
Large Intestine Metal 4, 11, 15
Stomach Earth 9, 36, 40, 41
Spleen Earth 6
Small Intestine Fire 3
Kidney Water 1, 6
Heart Protector Fire 6, 8, 9
Triple Heater Fire 5
Gall Bladder Wood 20, 21, 34, 43
Liver Wood 2, 3
Governor Vessel 14, 16, 20, 26

I was interested to note that 16 of these 26 points are in the 51 Point Palette in my Level 1 Five Element Acupressure course, meaning that they are quite common points with other uses. You might also observe that two-thirds of the points are on yang meridians, and that many of the points are used for reducing yang or to descend Qi. This of course addresses the nature of the condition which is one of excess yang.

It doesn’t make sense to use all of these points. For a start, it would make for a very long session and probably too much treatment. When treating, I find it most powerful to use point combinations, a focal point with one hand, while the other hand holds several other related points in succession.

Drawing from the points list above, here are some suggestions for some point combinations that I use often in the treatment room. Most of these points link to previous articles. For the others, consult your point location book or internet search.

Note that Large Intestine 4 and Spleen 6 are forbidden during pregnancy. If you are  treating a pregnant client, omit these points.

Focal Point Related Points
Large Intestine 4 Large Intestine 11,  15;  Lung 7
Stomach 36 Stomach 40,  Spleen 6
Kidney 6 Kidney 1,  Lung 7
Triple Heater 5 Heart Protector 6,  8,  9
Gall Bladder 21 Gall Bladder 20,  34;  Stomach 36;  Large Intestine 4
Liver 3 Spleen 6,  Gall Bladder 34
Governor Vessel Small Intestine 3 + Governor Vessel 14,  16,  20

How do you choose which pattern to use? One way is to consider the person you are treating. Which Element and emotion is presenting? If the person is someone who is predominantly angry, who gets outraged at injustice, or alternatively suppresses anger, then focus on the Wood points of Gall Bladder and Liver. If the person is a caretaker, constantly putting the needs of others before self, or if obesity is a problem, then treat the Earth points of Stomach and Spleen. Or maybe the person is showing their Metal, hanging on, perfectionistic, grieving or suppressing grief, then treat the Metal points of Lung and Large Intestine. If the person’s predominant emotion is fearfulness or conspicuous absence of fear, focus on Water points of Kidney. Or if the person is over-excited and chaotic or heart-broken and joyless, focus on the Fire points of Small Intestine, Triple Heater and Heart Protector. Points of the Governor Vessel will be helpful for everyone.

It is best if you can receive treatment from someone else. That way you can relax into the treatment, focus on your breathing and generally slow down. If you are treating yourself, some of these combinations will be awkward if not impossible, in which case treat the points individually in the order suggested.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to help reduce blood pressure in a natural way that can support a medical approach.  Good luck to your team in the World Cup and hold points during penalty shootouts!

 

* BP is expressed as a measurement with two numbers, with one number on top and one on the bottom. For example, 120/80 mm Hg. The top number refers to the amount of pressure in the arteries during the contraction of the heart muscle (systolic). The bottom number refers to the pressure between heartbeats (diastolic).

Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Point

Dadun – Big Mound – Liver 1

horary-clockI’ve been holding my big toes this week.

On a recent trip to Sydney, I stayed in accommodation that was a toxic soup of chemicals: outgassing Ikea furniture, polished wooden floors and highly scented linens. This severely challenged my liver which had difficulty detoxifing the heavy load of chemicals. One of the effects of this has been waking up every morning at 1 am in a state of somatic agitation and unable to go back to sleep until 3 am.

This was a clear message that the Liver official was struggling because this time of day, 1 am to 3 am, is the time when the high tide of the wei Qi passes through the Liver. Ongoing disturbance of any kind at this time of day calls for treatment. One of the best points to use in this case is the Element of the Element point. Liver is the yin organ of the Wood Element so the point to hold is the Wood point of this Wood meridian. This point is Dadun, Liver 1 which is on the big toe.

In Five Element Acupuncture and Acupressure, this is known as the horary point, from the Latin word hora meaning hour. Treating the Wood point on a Wood meridian at the Wood time of day is a powerful treatment. When it is done in the Wood season of spring it is even more effective. And for a person of Wood constitution such as myself, it is like getting five bells up on a slot machine.

So when I’ve been waking at 1 am, I’ve been holding these points on my toes for a few minutes. The points have been quite sore which indicates a congestion of Qi and is confirmation that they need treatment. Last night I held the points when I woke at 1 am and was able immediately to go back to sleep for the first time in a week, indicating that the stress on Liver is lessening.

Gall Bladder is the yang partner of Liver. Its high tide is 11 pm to 1 am. Many people have difficulty going to sleep at this time. If this is a problem for you, then holding the Wood point of Gall Bladder at this time will help to calm the Woody agitation and assist in falling asleep. This point is Foot Above Tears Gall Bladder 41 which we looked at previously. You can read about it here.  Make sure you are in bed and horizontal by 11 pm. It won’t help much if you’re still watching TV.

Location of Liver 1

lv-1

 

The point is at the lateral side of the corner of the big toe nail. Draw lines along the lateral border of the nail and the base of the nail. Where these lines intersect is the LIver 1.

Navigating Winter Waters

Foggy lake

At the launch of my books at Ngeringa in the Adelaide Hills last week, I talked about ways that we can use the winter to support our Water Element. For those who couldn’t make that talk, and as a reminder for those who did, here are some ways to strengthen your Water this winter.

Embrace Yin.

Winter is the time of the Great Yin. Qualities of the yin polarity include darkness, depth, moistness, cold, receptivity and stillness. Our modern, productivity-oriented world tends not to value such qualities, rather driving us to year-round yang behaviour. While this posture is supported in the yang half of the year (spring and summer), if we do not adapt to the yin energy of winter, we need a lot of effort to keep going at full speed. Failure to heed nature’s rhythms is one of the reasons that there is so much sickness in the winter.

Sleep more

Unless you live at the equator, winter nights are always longer than those in summer. Where I live there are almost 5 hours more darkness at the winter solstice compared to the summer solstice. More time to sleep! Going to bed earlier will save on your energy bills and also allow you to generate more personal energy. An extra hour of sleep in the winter nights will deeply support your Water. Then, when the spring comes, you’ll have much more petrol in your tank to fuel new plans and projects.

Do less

If you’re spending more time in bed, you’ll need to take one or two things off your To Do list. Otherwise you’ll be cramming more into less space. Whether it’s turning down the invitation to a party or turning off the computer and TV earlier, do less and turn into bed.

Keep warm

The Kidneys are the yin organs of the Water Element. When external cold penetrates the body it injures the Kidneys, so it is really important to avoid cold invasion. Wearing a hat and a scarf are good. Also, make sure your lower back and abdomen are well rugged up. Keep your shirt tucked in and wear extra layers where necessary. The Japanese have a garment called a haramaki or belly warmer designed to warm the abdomen and lower back. You can also warm yourself by putting a hot water bottle or heating pack on your tummy just below the navel.

Go inward

The movement of the Water Element is inward, and indeed the long winter nights invite introspection. Sit by a fire looking into the flames, or if you don’t have a fire, look into candle flames. Fire gazing is a deeply relaxing activity and allows us to contact the less conscious parts of ourselves. Belly breathing meditation is also a great way to go inside. What’s more, by breathing into the belly centre (also known as the hara or lower dan tien) you can accumulate Qi which is then stored in the Kidneys. You warm yourself at the same time as filling your personal petrol tank.

Treat yourself

Two acupoints that are very supportive of Kidney and the Water are the source point (Kidney 3) and shu point (Bladder 23) of Kidney. Here are links to those points from previous winter blogposts.

Kidney 3

Bladder 23

Next time I will share a meditation that deeply supports the Kidneys, the Water Element and the Central Channel. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the winter season.

Hibernating bear