Tag Archives: insomnia

Holding Jet Lag at Bay

A forthcoming trip to the northern hemisphere has put me in mind of the acupressure treatment for jet lag.

Long haul jet travel has a profound effect on the daily rhythm of the body’s Qi by switching time zones very quickly. Symptoms of the condition include fatigue, insomnia, disrupted sleep and digestion, constipation or diarrhoea, and general malaise. It can take up to a day to recover for each time zone crossed, so a trip from Sydney to London can take a week or more to adjust. Eastward travel is more challenging to the body than westward.

There is an acupressure treatment protocol that can help you adjust to local time more quickly and avoid some of the more difficult symptoms of jet lag. It is not a simple one-point treatment but requires you to hold points every two hours throughout your journey. But the efforts will pay off.

The treatment protocol is based on the Chinese Clock which shows the movement of the tide of Qi through the 12 meridians over a 24 hour period. While there is Qi moving through all the meridians at all times, there is a high tide that moves around the meridian system. Disruptions to flow in a meridian can produce symptoms and conditions that relate to that meridian.

When we change time zones quickly, this diurnal rhythm is thrown out and takes time to adjust. But we can speed up the adjustment by holding the Element of the Element points of each meridian in turn. These are also known as the Horary points. These points encourage the Qi tide to change as we travel, and we arrive at our destination more in sync with local time.

How to treat yourself

When you are in the departure lounge waiting for your flight, set a clock to the time at your destination. I suggest you use a 24 hour clock otherwise you may become confused. If the country where you are going to has daylight saving, take this off as we need to set the clock to local sun time. For the duration of your flight, you will hold the Horary point of the meridian whose time shows on your destination clock, first on the left side of the body, then on the right for 2 to 3 minutes.

The Chinese Clock

 For a great chart with pictures of point locations, created by Mary Golob, click here.
For those who have good anatomical knowledge, here are more precise descriptions of the locations.

Time at destination Point Location
3 – 5 am LU 8 1 cun proximal to the wrist  in depression at base of styloid process
5 – 7 am LI 1 0.1 cun from the radial corner of nailbed of index finger
7 – 9 am ST 36 3 cun below the patella and a finger width lateral to crest of tibia
9 – 11 am SP 3 Medial side of foot proximal to head of first metatarsal
11am –1pm HE 8 On palm where little finger rests when a fist is made
1 – 3 pm SI 5 Ulnar side of wrist in depression between ulna and triquetral bone
3 – 5 pm BL 66 Lateral side of foot at the base of the little toe
5 – 7 pm KI 10 Medial end of popliteal crease between tendons; locate flexed
7 – 9 pm HP 8 On palm where middle finger rests when a fist is made
9 – 11 pm TH 6 3 cun proximal to the wrist between ulna and radius
11pm-1am GB 41 Dorsum of foot at the junction of 4th & 5th metatarsals
1 – 3 am LV 1 0.1 cun from the medial corner of nailbed of big toe

Let’s say you are leaving Sydney at 10 pm and flying to London which is 10 time zones earlier. Set your clock to 12 Noon. This lies in the Heart section of the Chinese Clock, therefore you hold Heart 8 in the palms of your hands. You need to hold the points at least once during the two hour period, and more will be helpful.

Keeping an eye on the London clock, somewhere between 1 pm and 3pm, hold the Small Intestine Horary points, SI 5. Proceed around the clock, holding the relevant points every two hours until you arrive at your destination. Ideally you should continue holding points for 24 hours after you arrive, but since you’ll be sleeping some of that time, it’s ok to miss some.

Feel free to let me know how it goes for you. Safe and healthy travels!

My illness is my friend

rock-hole-blue-lakeYesterday I received the news that one of my most influential teachers, Bob Duggan, has passed away. Bob was an acupuncturist but he was also a wellness visionary, seeing ways of bringing health and healing outside the treatment room.

In 1991 I was fortunate to be part of a group of 20 who made up the SOPHIA training in San Francisco. Bob, along with Diane Connelly, Julia Measures and John Sullivan, made seasonal trips from Maryland to teach us about using the wisdom of the Five Elements to support change and healing in all areas of life, not just in the treatment room. My own path owes a great deal to this training. My acupressure courses, my books and my direction in life were profoundly influenced by Bob’s view of the world.

When I received the news about Bob’s change of vibration, I went Googling and found a short interview with him from 2009 which I recommend to you. In it he tells this story:

I’ve practised acupuncture for 35 years now and some 30 years ago a man came back into me and he said, “I never thought asthma would be my friend.” I said, “Charlie what are you talking about, asthma is your friend?” And he said, “Well before I came to you I was in and out of the emergency room, I was constantly on prednisone. Now I pick up the wheezing about three days earlier and if I pay attention I realise I’m overtired, I’ve had too much caffeine, I’m having a fight with my wife. And if I change the life circumstances I don’t ever get an asthmatic attack.” That story has stayed with me. I’ve told it to virtually every patient since then and found that people say to me, “My body’s very smart.”

This reminds me of what I already know but try to forget. My headaches are my friends, my neck stiffness is my friend, my insomnia is my friend. These symptoms are kindly pointing out the ways that my life is out of balance. I just need to investigate and find out what needs to change, whether it is what I’m eating, what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling. Or not feeling.

As a practitioner it reminds me that my role is to support my clients to discover these things for themselves. And that if I simply “fix” their problems and nothing more, then I am doing them a great disservice. If I help them to turn off the fire alarm without finding the fire that triggered the alarm, then the change that the alarm is suggesting will not happen.

Thank you Bob Duggan for your wisdom and guidance. Thea Elijah called you a radical healing provocateur. I hope that you continue to provoke healing in whichever dimension you inhabit.

bob-duggan

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.