Tag Archives: toxins

Wood Work

Spring is here again. I know this not just from the calendar, the change in temperature, the blossoms on trees, lambs frolicking and all that. I know it from my bodymind.

To start with, I feel an irresistible urge to tend to my compost pile which has been languishing, cold and stagnant over winter. Yesterday I dug out tools from the shed and turned it all over into the sunshine to dry out and aerate. Getting into the mood, I weeded and fertilised the peas and garlic. Before long I’d lost track of time as I cheerfully tended to tasks I’d been shirking all winter. What was happening? Spring’s Wood energy was rising up my body, fuelling action.

Another way I know it’s spring is that my liver and gall bladder are talking to me again. I feel a slight pressure in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, my liver reminding me that I ate too much gluten and dairy when I travelled interstate last week. Chiming in is gall bladder, giving the occasional squeak as it squirts bile into the duodenum. These are the organs of Wood which can manifest symptoms when this Element isn’t balanced. For someone of a Wood constitution like me, these organs are particularly susceptible. They are a source of information for monitoring my health.

At a recent course I taught, one of the students was having a challenging time around these organs. During several treatments, he experienced a strong vibrating sensation in the upper right quadrant which we tracked to the acupoint Liver 13. This is the alarm point for Spleen but it also reflects the Liver itself. The student revealed that he was going through a significant stage, one requiring a pivotal decision about the fundamental direction of his work life. He also noticed that working on Liver points on another person triggered these same sensations in his own body. And when it came time to make a firm decision in the days after the course, the sensations became extreme.

The capacities of planning and decision making are the province of the Liver and Gall Bladder Officials respectively. This person’s physical symptoms were reflecting what was happening at the psycho-emotional level. And all of this was arising in the springtime when Wood energy is at its highest. There is a long tide which moves around the Five Element Cycle over the course of a year, the high tide passing through the corresponding Element of the season and pushing up against anything that isn’t harmonised. Like a high tide that strains boats whose anchors are too tightly set.

There are a number of other signals that can indicate that Wood is out of balance. These derive from the resonances of the Element. The following table shows some of these resonances of the Wood Element.

Season Spring
Climate Wind
Colour Green
Sound Shouting
Odour Rancid
Emotion Anger
Taste Sour
Sense Vision
Sense Organ Eyes
Yin Organ Liver
Yang Organ Gall Bladder
Tissue Tendons/Ligaments

These resonances are vibrations. For example, spring is the Wood Element vibrating as a season while anger is Wood vibrating as an emotion. When our Wood is out of balance, we may find that our bodymind shows the imbalance through these resonances. Here are some ways this might be revealed:

• Getting sick at the start of spring
• A strong dislike of wind
• Feelings of irritability or outbursts of anger
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Difficulty making plans
• Difficulty making decisions
• Aversion to or craving for sour foods
• Visual disturbances or other eye problems
• Easily nauseated by fatty food
• Congestion in the upper right of the abdomen
• Headaches, especially at the back of the head
• Neck and shoulder stiffness or pain
• Hip and outer leg pain
• Tight tendons
• Stiff joints
• Restlessness, can’t keep still

If you find that you have several of these conditions, your bodymind may be showing you that Wood is calling for attention. These symptoms can appear at any time, but they are more likely to show up in spring when the high tide of the Wood phase pushes up against things that are out of balance. The good news is that by addressing them in the spring, you will have the support of the ambient energy of nature. Here are some ways to work with your Wood.

Add more green foods to your diet: kale and other leafy greens, broccoli, peas and so on. The darker green the better. Eat more foods that are sour in taste: lemon, lime, grapefruit, sauerkraut and other fermented food.

Detoxify. The liver is responsible for cleansing the body of toxins. Doing a liver cleanse by eating simple foods and taking cleansing herbs will be well supported in the springtime. If you’ve been thinking of doing a gall bladder flush, then spring is the best time to do it.

Move. Wood likes to move so get plenty of movement. Walk, hike, run, jump, skip, ride, row, garden, build… whatever makes you feel good in your body. Make sure to stretch before leaping into action.

Shout! Sometimes when Wood is stuck, movement is not enough to dislodge the congestion. Shouting can discharge the energy that has been suppressed. Shout into the wind or in your car on the freeway. Don’t shout at others.

Explore your anger. Most of us learn from an early age that anger is a bad thing because it hurts others. But suppressed anger becomes stored in the body, specifically in the liver, and then starts to hurt us. Anger is seen as bad because it is equated with violence. But anger is not violence. It is the frustration that can arise from operating in a world of limits and boundaries. Try to understand why you are angry. Feel that anger without suppressing it and without venting it. The energy that you get in touch with can be powerful fuel for action.

Hold some acupressure points. Any points that relate to the Liver (LV) and Gall Bladder (GB) will be useful and are more powerful at this time of year. Here are links to some good points discussed in previous blogs:

Acupoint Some Uses
LV 1 Calms restlessness, agitation. The Wood point, it deeply supports the Element.
LV 3 Treats allergies, fatigue, nausea, eyes, irritability. Supports immune system.
LV 13 Promotes smooth flow of Liver Qi, relieves abdominal distension.
LV 14 For vomiting, rib pain, depression, hopelessness.
GB 1 Treats eye pain, migraines, lack of clarity.
GB 15 Treats headache, eye pain, confusion, lack of perspective. Eliminates wind.
GB 20 Treats headache, neck pain, irritability. Eliminates wind.
GB 21 Treats anxiety, irritability, hypertension, headaches, shoulder stiffness.
GB 30 For lower back and hip problems, sciatica, stiff joints, irritability, frustration.
GB 34 Master point for tendons and ligaments. Timidity, headache, hypertension.
GB 41 Relieves headache, sciatica, frustration, indecision.
BL 47 Supports psycho-emotional and spiritual aspects of Wood.
GV 16 Eliminates wind, treats headache, stiff neck, colds and flu, fever.

And finally, use the uprising energy of the Wood season to make plans for the future. See where you are going, map out your path, plan the stages of the journey, decide how to get there and take the first step. Your inner Wood will provide you with the gifts of imagination, creativity, vision, wise judgement, and motivation to help you on your path.

Go boldly!

For more suggestions on working with your Wood, see that chapter of my book
The Way of the Five Seasons.

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.

Battle of the Bulge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA common problem of the spine is the bulging disc that occurs when the cushioning disc of connective tissue between two vertebrae bulges out, causing inflammation and putting pressure on the nerves that emanate from the spine. A more serious development is a herniated disc which sees a tearing of the outer layer of the disc. 95% of spinal disc herniation cases occur in the lower lumbar region at L4-L5 or L5-S1. Interestingly, the first of these positions is the location of a point on the Bladder meridian that relates to the Large Intestine.

Dachangshu – Large Intestine Shu can be of great benefit to those suffering from these disc protrusions and other painful conditions of the lumbar region. It is also useful in treating sciatica which originates in the lumbar region and radiates along the pathway of the sciatic nerve, through the buttocks, down the back of the leg and sometimes into the calf and foot.

As the shu point of the Large Intestine, Dachangshu exerts a strong influence over the organ as well as the functions of the official. When there is stagnation in the intestines, there can be a build up of waste material resulting in constipation, causing the abdomen to distend and bulge. This in turn creates abdominal discomfort and pain, and sometimes noisy gurgling of the intestines known as borborygmus.

On the other hand, the intestines may be loose, producing loose stools and diarrhoea. When waste moves too quickly through the Large Intestine, water and important minerals cannot be reclaimed and are lost. The Large Intestine shu point is helpful in treating conditions at both ends of this constipation – diarrhoea spectrum as well as treating rectal and anal prolapse.

The outer shu points are the points that treat the psycho-emotional dimension. As there is no outer shu point for the Large Intestine, this inner shu point can serve. Where a person is emotionally constipated, holding on to things, people, ideas or beliefs that are no longer of value, or even toxic, Dachangshu can assist in the process of letting go. Alternatively, when a person is unable to retain what is valuable and needed to live a healthy life, and lets go of or throws away things and people that are of value, this point is called for.

Location of Bladder 25

BL 25Located 1.5 cun lateral to the spine at the level of the junction of the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae, the point is tucked into the space above the sacrum and inside the ileum. Apply direct pressure. For treatment of lumber pain, press both BL 25 points and apply lateral pressure, thereby spreading the tissues of the low back. This treats the acu-points and releases the fascia of the region.

 

This is an extract from John’s forthcoming book on the Five Elements to be published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers www.jkp.com