Meg's Guide to Breast Health

Meg’s Guide to Breast Health

According to Chinese Medicine



Chinese medicine has been discussing breast health and breast disorders such as breast lumps, pain, swelling, and what we now understand as cancer for thousands of years…and it offers an interesting and unique perspective on the topic.


One of the keys to breast health is maintaining proper Qi circulation through our energetic meridians, especially those that flow in the chest.  In order for there to be proper Qi flow, there must be enough healthy Qi to circulate, and enough bodily ease and relaxation for energy to move without struggle.  Think of our meridians like rivers that run through the body.  If the river is clogged, water stops flowing to certain areas and instead builds up and overflows others.  Essentially, lack of Qi flow causes accumulation in some areas and lack of nourishment in others.  Ultimately, free flow of Qi is crucial in preventing and resolving imbalance and subsequent disease.  There are a number of meridians that pass through the chest and breasts, but the meridians most closely connected to breast health are the Liver meridian, the Kidney meridian, and the “extraordinary meridians” called the Ren and Chong.


The Liver meridian is in charge of all Qi circulation, and plays a special role in regulating the menstrual cycle and overall female reproductive system.  The Liver meridian is weakened by frustration, anger and pent up emotions, and is nourished by relaxation, peace of mind, and moderate physical exercise.  The Kidney meridian is where all of our Qi originates.  We are all born with a fixed amount of Kidney Qi - naturally, as we live our lives we use and deplete that Qi.  The Ren and the Chong blossom from the Kidney and are responsible for keeping the female reproductive system healthy and happy.  It is important that we have enough Kidney Qi to nourish these channels and that we replenish our energy regularly.


Now, there is more to breast health than just Qi flow.  Chinese medicine also looks at patterns that can lead to imbalance.  The most common patterns that can disrupt our breast health are phlegm accumulation, Qi and blood stagnation, and toxic heat.  Phlegm accumulation is caused by poor fluid metabolism resulting from excess worry and overconsumption of phlegmy substances like dairy, sweets, and greasy foods.  Blood stagnation is a result of long term Qi stagnation, as Qi is responsible for moving blood throughout the body smoothly.  It can also be caused by long term tension and a sedentary lifestyle.  Stagnant Qi and blood over time can turn into excess toxic heat trapped in the body, which can create major health problems.  


All of this may be a lot to take in! Chinese Medicine is amazing, but it is also very complex.  Fear not, it is an acupuncturists job to understand the meridians and what patterns are at play in each unique individual…below is a simple list of lifestyle tips to keep yourself healthy and balanced, and to keep your meridians flowing with ease:




1.     Listen to your body. Know when to push yourself and know when to rest.


2.     Get regular cardio exercise (yoga, walking, running, swimming, whatever form of movement you enjoy that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat) to keep Qi and blood circulating smoothly. And remember to wear a loose-fitting bra to avoid constriction.


3.     Eat organic whole, hormone-free foods - avoid dairy, greasy foods, refined sugar, and processed food. Eat lots of variety within the color and flavor spectrum, making sure to include dark leafy greens, fruit, lean protein, and warm nourishing broths.


4.     Let your feelings out, breathe deeply, create a process that helps you let go of frustration, anger, and worry.  Try meditation or doing a soothing activity when you are feeling stressed.


5.     Get Acupuncture – it corrects energetic imbalances, calms the nervous system, improves blood circulation, balances hormones, and benefits your immunity and overall health.


6.     Take Herbs (as prescribed by a licensed herbalist) – there are a number of herbs that regulate hormones, focus on breast health, and allow the body to heal itself. 




Minding Your Memory

We've found that many of our patients suffer from poor memory and foggy thinking, and I think most people can relate!  Chinese Medicine has a unique approach to increasing mental clarity and focus, in addition to helping prevent memory loss...


So how does Chinese Medicine view the mind, known as the "Shen"? And how does it explain decline in memory and mental alertness? Well, the quality of our memory depends on four vital organs and their corresponding energetic meridians - the Kidney, the Heart, and the Stomach/Spleen.

The Kidney, which is the origin of our "essence" (life force) is the basis for the mind and all of our mental processes. As it is said, "If the essence is strong, Qi flourishes, if the Qi flourishes, the mind is whole." Our essence is the chief resource fueling our energy, thought process, and ability to perform daily activities. As we age, our essence begins to wean and our memory likewise declines. While our essence gives us the fundamental ability to recall short term memories and helps us feel clear minded and focused, our Stomach/Spleen maintains and nourishes our memory over time. In other words, the Stomach/Spleen creates the Qi that allows us to replenish and sustain our essence and maintain mental agility as we age. Now, in TCM, the Heart is where our mind and memory resides. Our long term memories are protected and maintained by the Heart. (Because the Heart is sensitive to stress and emotional upset, it is obvious why stress can make our mind and memory feel cloudy). According to Chinese medical texts, "If the Heart is strong and blood abundant, there will be normal mental activity, a balanced emotional life, a clear consciousness, and a good memory." 

With the tips below, you can focus on nourishing your area of weakness - long term memory, short term memory, or both. However, it is important to keep all of the organs discussed above and their energetic meridians balanced and healthy as we age...


Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are super effective for improving memory and clearing away mental fog. In addition, below are some at-home suggestions for keeping the Kidney, Stomach/Spleen, and Heart happy, plus a delicious recipe from "Ancient wisdom, Modern kitchen" to improve memory...



Kidney - avoid excess alcohol, caffeine, and overexertion, eat black foods like black sesame seeds and black beans, as well as walnuts, seaweed, and kidney beans.


Stomach/Spleen - avoid excess worrying and overthinking, mindfully eat regular meals full of warm bland foods like rice and pearled barley, mung beans, and sweet potatoes.


Heart - stay calm and reduce daily stressors as much as possible, seek joy and laughter, eat red foods like goji berries, beets, red dates, and cinnamon.


"Memory Drink"

1/4 cup walnuts

1/3 cup dried soybeans

3 tablespoons black sesame seeds

2 tablespoons honey

6 cups water



1. Soak soybeans for at least 10 hours at room temperature, then drain

2. Place soybeans, walnuts, black sesame seeds, and water in a blender or food processor and blend well

3. Strain the mixture to remove solids

4. Transfer liquid to a heavy pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, lower heat to a simmer and stir for 8 minutes

5. Stir in honey and serve warm




Winter Season

The winter is upon us and I think we can all agree that the short days and grey skies can be draining, mentally and physically. Many of you know that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help with feelings of depression and lethargy, as well as boost immunity to keep away the cold and flu. Still, it is important to understand the winter within the context of the four seasons so that we can better utilize and even appreciate the winter months.


Let's first discuss the theory of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposing energies that complete each other and create balance in our bodies and the universe.  According to the ancient Chinese medical text, the Huangdi Nejiing, "...the change of yin (rest) and yang (activity) energy throughout the four seasons is the root of life, growth, reproduction, aging, and destruction. By respecting this natural law it is possible to be free from illness." Essentially, we are a part of nature, and the external environment we are exposed to affects the internal environment we maintain. Listening to our bodies and getting in tune with the season can help to promote health and longevity.


WINTER - According to Chinese medicine, there are a series of characteristics that are associated with each season. During the winter months all things in nature "wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting period, just as lakes and rivers freeze and snow falls." The philosophy of the season is conservation, storage, reflection, and retreat. This is a time when yin energy dominates over yang energy. For this reason we should focus on embodying yin and preserving yang. This allows us to feel well and properly embrace the coming Spring, a time of yang energy. Winter is a time to get cozy indoors with those you love, eat some warm and nutritious foods, and store up your energy and resources.


                                                     WINTER CHARACTERISTICS

Nature: Yin

Element: Water

Climate: Cold

Direction: North

Emotion: Fear

Taste: Salty

Grain: Millet

Organ: Kidney

Color: Black


Here are a few nuggets of ancient wisdom on how to behave during the winter months:


   Retire early and get up with the sunrise

   Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep your pores closed/avoid sweating

   Soak your feet in warm/hot water, this warms and activates the Kidney channel, the channel most affected by the cold (the Kidney channel originates on the bottom of the feet)

   Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad to your low back (this warms the Kidneys directly)

   Eat warming foods (hearty soups, stews, congee) ginger, cinnamon, whole grains, squash, root veggies - carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, garlic

   Use immune boosting essential oils - eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, thyme, lemon


Points for a Pain-Free Period

Sorry to burst your hot water bottle bubble, but Acupuncture is even better at treating menstrual cramps…


Growing up I had the worst cramps. I dreaded my period each month, but I accepted cramps as a “normal” part of womanhood, as did my sisters and many of my friends. It wasn't until an acupuncturist explained to me that cramps, pain and discomfort during my period wasn’t “normal”….that cramps were a message from my body telling me that I was out of balance, hormonally and energetically. She explained that a healthy and balanced body should have a relatively comfortable period, cramp free. This news shocked me. Even more shocking was that after 3 months of getting regular acupuncture treatments and taking Chinese herbs, my cramps were totally gone. Inspired, I decided to earn my degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and to focus on treating women's health conditions with Acupuncture. Now, I get to be the one to inform other women that they don't have to be in pain!


First, let’s talk a little about how this all works...


The menstrual cycle is a delicate process that is easily disrupted by stress, overwork, fatigue, and diet. A woman’s cycle involves a number of hormones working in harmony, and if one hormone is out of balance, it creates a cascade of imbalance that can result in cramps, pain, and symptoms of PMS.


In TCM terms, there are meridians (energy pathways) that flow to the female reproductive organs. For the ovaries and uterus to be in balance, the kidneys, liver and spleen meridians must also be in balance. Additionally, for natural hormonal transitions to occur throughout the menstrual cycle, our energy (Qi) and blood need to circulate smoothly. When Qi and blood circulation is sluggish or obstructed, our hormone transitions become disrupted, causing significant discomfort. Acupuncture encourages the smooth flow of Qi and healthy blood circulation. It also stimulates the body’s own healing process and natural production of hormones, helping to restore health and harmony to the entire reproductive system.


In addition to getting regular acupuncture treatment and taking Chinese herbs when prescribed, here are some suggestions to make your period a more comfortable, less dreaded time of the month…



1.     Get regular cardio exercise, especially during the week before your period. This moves Qi and blood and smooths hormonal transitions.

2.     Avoid alcohol, coffee, salt and processed foods, especially during the week before your period. This reduces inflammation.

3.     Eat plenty of vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens. Prioritize unsaturated fats such as olive oil and whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal. This ensures healthy hormone production.

4.     Apply castor oil packs to your low abdomen before and during your period to improve blood circulation and reduce cramping in the area.

5.     Take the following vitamins, as needed: Magnesium 200mg/day for cramps, bloating and sweet cravings, Vitamin B6 60mg/day for cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings, Turmeric 1 capsule/day for cramps and bloating, Rhodiola 200mg/day for hormone regulation and anxiety, Fish Oil/Omega 3 2000mg/day for cramps, Calcium 1200mg/day for weepiness, Vitamin E 400mg/day for breast tenderness


Interested in learning more?  Contact us and ask about booking a free consultation.

Natural Alternatives Radio Program

I had the pleasure recently of being featured on the Natural Alternatives radio program on WUSB 90.1 FM this past friday evening with Dr. Zampieron and Dr. Kamhi.  If you are interested in listening to this discussion of acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine, click this link here to download a .mp3:



Originally published November 30, 2015.