Tag Archive for: Chinese Medicine

Sara Crispino, L.Ac.

Do you ever feel like moving through your daily activities is hard?

Like you’re wading through sludge to get your chores done? Or if Steve from accounting chews his breakfast with his mouth open again, you might lose it?

You might have stuck energy! 

Stuck energy, aka Stagnation in Chinese medicine, can feel different to everyone but the most common sensations are: a feeling of being pent up, sluggishness, tiredness, anxiety, frustration, or even heaviness. 

What is Aggressive Energy?

In Chinese medicine, the concept of Aggressive Energy, or AE, comes from the idea that we need a balanced flow of energy between each organ to feel well. When we have AE, the organs are out of balance and our energy flow becomes stagnated. 

Aggressive Energy is energy that is pathological (meaning it’s causing trouble) and can range from something like a common cold, an injury, or from an emotional upset caused either internally (negative self talk or beliefs) or externally (a situation, past or present, causing emotional stress).

Aggressive Energy is something distracting or bubbling under the surface that prevents the body from healing or balancing efficiently.

Some other emotional experiences that can be considered Aggressive Energy are:

  • Relationship difficulties
  • Family challenges
  • Dietary struggles
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hyperfixation

None of these experiences sound enjoyable, do they? 

It’s important to make sure our bodies are cleared from these more ‘surface level’ energies so that we can influence the deeper and more constitutional difficulty that allowed us to be so affected in the first place. 

Aggressive Energy Treatment

An Aggressive Energy treatment is often utilized as an initial acupuncture treatment. This helps us assess the individual organs and clear any “blockages” that could prevent future treatments from working as well. 

If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t expect to hike a 14er without getting the cast off and doing a little PT first, would you? This treatment is like removing the cast and strengthening the leg a little bit before doing more intensive rehab. 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each organ of the body has an associated emotion or aspect of our mental experience or spirit. There are five main emotions and organs that we tend to focus on:

Aggressive Energy Treatment

As you can see, each organ has an emotion associated with it. It may be true that you’re noticing a little more frustration than usual; maybe you’re feeling extra snappy, or you suddenly have road rage like never before…

This would imply that something is off with your Liver organ system and we’d likely see a lot of “sha”, or redness, at the point associated with the Liver.

After the treatment you may notice a change in your road rage (hopefully for the better).

What is the treatment? Does it hurt?

The points of this treatment are chosen from a group of points we refer to as Back Shu points.The word “shu” literally means “to transport” which suggests that these points transport energy directly to or from their corresponding organ. We needle these points shallowly so the needle is just barely within the skin.

This technique is very gentle and causes minimal discomfort as the goal is to activate the Qi gently.

Signs You Have Aggressive Energy

Needling the specific points of this treatment can give us tons of information about what’s going on internally. The most telling sign is when we see something called “sha”. Sha is a change in the skin around the acupuncture needle, often seen as a red, histamine response.

It’s really the body giving us a resounding “YES, this way! That’s where the problem is! ”. Which brings me to the concept of Aggressive Energy. 

What to expect during an Aggressive Energy Treatment

There are lots of opinions about how this treatment should be done, some traditional and some less so. The less traditional and more adaptive way is based on super special, magical, intuitive, sensing of the person on the table…

Kidding…kind of. 

It’s true that acupuncture can be like a conversation with the body, and every body communicates differently, so taking time to sense is important!

With this treatment it’s like we’re telling the organs “wake up, we’re coming to clear and balance energy and we want your attention!”

After one or a few treatments (sometimes we have a lot of Aggressive Energy, so one treatment isn’t enough), each organ should be standing at attention and ready for their close up.

This way the body is able to slowly warm to the idea that it’s time to let go of some of this energy and maintain a balance.

An important note about after treatment

This treatment can be like opening the door to a room full of things we forgot we had… 

Basically, it can cause our body systems to stir a bit. This can look like many things but commonly: a little bit of stomach gurgling or change in digestion, going to the bathroom more than before, changes around your menstrual cycle, or an increase in emotions and potentially emotional release. Sometimes this happens as the treatment is happening, sometimes after the fact. 

However uncomfortable this may seem, it’s actually a good thing! It means your body is letting go of things preventing you from feeling better which means we’re on our way to balance!

If you think you or a loved one has stuck energy, maybe an Aggressive Energy treatment is for you!

Book a free 15 minute telemedicine consult with us to see if an Aggressive Energy treatment is a good treatment for you. You’ll get a chance to tell us what you need help with, and we’ll let you know how we can help, how many treatments we recommend for you, and what to expect.

And of course, you can also just book a treatment with us, too! 

Sara Crispino, L.Ac.
Acupuncturist Centennial
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness

So it’s Winter.

Are you one of the many who say they hate this time of year? It’s cold. It’s still getting dark too early. There isn’t much going on. It can feel blah all around.

Plus, most of us are pretty worn out after the busy holiday season, wishing we had a little more space, a little more time to rest, catch up and just breathe!

That, my friends, is the lovely hidden gift Winter offers us… time to rest and breathe and dream. Most importantly, Winter offers us space, if we’ll just take it.

So I have a challenge for you…Let’s reframe Winter!

What if, instead of feeling cranky about this time of year, we go with the flow?

Let’s rest and sleep in and get cozy. Curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and a book, or have movie days with your family. Even better let’s spend time dreaming about what we want to bring to life this year.

At its core, Chinese Medicine teaches us about living in harmony with the world around us. One of the most powerful ways to truly live in balance is to honor the rhythm and wisdom of the seasons.

While Spring is about awakening and new beginnings, Summer teaches us to revel in growth and the fullness of life, and Autumn reminds us of the necessary skill of letting go.

And Winter…Winter teaches us to go within.

To recharge ourselves with rest, reflection, and stillness. It is the antidote to the never-ending to-do lists, the running-ragged-busyness that rules our modern lives. Winter is a beautiful opportunity to replenish our physical and emotional reserves.

Winter is the Yin to the Yang of our busy lives.

Winter is the time to gather your strength and renew and rebuild your Willpower to accomplish your goals in the year ahead.

So how can you embrace the gifts of Wintertime?

And maybe even learn to savor this quiet and inward-focused season? Chinese medicine has a lot to teach us about using this time of year to create healthy reserves for the whole year to come.

6 Easy Ways to Replenish Yourself in Winter

1. Rest!

In Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys, Bladder, and Adrenals are the organs associated with Winter. Taking extra time to rest, so you can replenish, restore and recuperate, is one of the most important things you can do for yourself in the Winter. So go to bed a little early, sleep in a bit when you can, and take an afternoon nap here and there. Let this quieter time of year help you give your adrenals a break, and just slow it all down for a few weeks.

2. Reflect

Let your New Year’s goals, planning, and dreaming stretch out a bit into January. Take time to dive deep into your dreams and think about how you want to manifest them into your world this year. No rush, no pushing, just sit with it all and see what comes up. Make space for your heart and mind and see what they have to say!

3. Water Therapy

Water is the element associated with Winter in Chinese Medicine. Water symbolizes the depths of us, deep within. Along with taking space for reflection, water therapy can be deeply regenerative and healing at this time of year.

Visiting hot springs are a great option, but you can take a nice hot bath with Epsom salts right at home anytime. Light some candles, turn down the lights, put in a few drops of your favorite essential oils, and let yourself sink into that delicious, enveloping warmth. It will help relax your muscles and mind, and support your whole being.

4. Nourish Yourself!

This time of year calls for warming, nourishing foods. Think soups and stews, bone broths, root veggies, and warming herbs and spices like rosemary, garlic, ginger, onions, turmeric, black pepper, nuts, and seeds.

Black and dark foods are especially beneficial according to Chinese medicine, like black rice, black beans, and purple sweet potatoes. So warm up with a nice spicy Chai in the morning and enjoy some curries or your favorite homemade soup to warm you from the inside out.

5. Moderate movement

While rest is the most important aspect of nourishing ourselves in the Winter, it is always important to get moderate exercise every day to avoid stagnation and keep yourself healthy.

The key to exercise in Winter is moderation…this is not the time of year to push yourself as hard as you can. Think long walks, pilates, yoga, and moderate weight training. Better yet, go for a hike…always a personal favorite!

6. Stay Warm!

Last but not least, keep yourself warm in the Wintertime! (looking at those belly-baring sweaters out there…) First, keep your head, neck, and chest warm and covered when you’re out in the cold. In Chinese Medicine, it’s super important to keep the cold wind off these areas.

Time for fuzzy socks and all the cute scarves! Keep blankets handy on the couch, and snuggle up often. Lastly, keep yourself warm on the inside with all those warming spices we talked about.

    I hope you find some time and space to settle into the rhythm of the season this Winter to fill yourself back up. It will serve you well for the rest of the year.

    For personalized support with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, or for your free 15-minute initial telemedicine consult, book an appointment with Dr. Jennie.

    Book a massage anytime here.

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac 
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness

    Can you feel it? The sun warm on your skin, the daylight lingering a bit longer, the crocuses are in bloom, and trees and bushes are beginning to bud.

    Spring is here in the Northern hemisphere!

    Even in high-altitude places like Denver, Colorado, where we’re likely to get snow well into May, we’re also blessed with 60º days and bluebird skies in between the snowstorms. You can feel the change in season everywhere you look.
    In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is rooted in the Taoist philosophy of living in harmony with the world around you, the change in seasons has a big impact on your body, emotions, and even your state of mind. 
    Spring is the time of year when the “Yang” is rising…things are waking up from the stillness and inward focus of Winter. It’s a time of regeneration, renewal, and potential. We can see it in ourselves as “Spring fever,” the feeling that we want to go out DO something!

    Each season relates to one of the five elements in TCM, and the Wood element is associated with Spring.

    The nature of Wood is growth, reaching out like the tulip bulbs pushing out of the earth. Its nature is in bringing our intentions out into the world. The organ systems associated with Wood are the Liver and Gall Bladder. 
    The Liver is the Yin side of Wood energy, called the “Little General” in TCM. It’s the energy behind your long-term Vision and direction for your life.  Healthy Liver energy helps you plan, set goals, and see the big picture. If it’s depleted, you may have trouble with both your metaphorical and physical vision (eyesight) as well as sore, tight tendons and ligaments. Excessive Liver energy can lead to irritability, frustration, and feeling pent-up, along with migraines, high blood pressure, and tinnitus. 
    The Gall Bladder in TCM is the Yang side of Wood. Healthy Gall Bladder energy is about taking that Vision into the world with action, decision-making, and using wise judgment. Weak Gall Bladder energy can show up as overwhelm, unable to make decisions, or take action, and even feeling fear about moving forward.

    So how can you best support your body, mind, and spirit as we transition from Winter to Spring?

    So glad you asked! TCM gives us a great guidebook for being our healthiest and living into our potential at each season. Everything in Spring is about supporting growth and movement, but doing it with ease.

    1. EAT GREEN!

    Green is the color of the Wood element, and it’s also the best kind of food to eat in the Spring! (I’m not talking about green beer, people.) Fresh Spring vegetables are the very best thing you can eat this time of year, and it’s the tastiest time of year for them, too. Sour foods like citrus and pungent foods like garlic are also excellent in supporting the Liver.
    Fill your plate with things like….
    • Fresh baby greens, like spinach, arugula, lettuce
    • Peas
    • Asparagus
    • Artichokes 
    • Fresh Spring herbs like Chives, Parsley, Mint 
    • Spring onions
    • Radish
    • Lemons
    • Grapefruit
    • Oranges
    • Limes
    • Ginger
    • Garlic
    Sounds like a lovely Spring meal, doesn’t it? It’s also important to not overburden your Liver by keeping alcohol, greasy foods, and sugar to a minimum. 


    The Wood element governs the tendons and ligaments, so stretching is one of the best things you can do for your body in the Spring. Staying flexible in your body helps you stay flexible in your mind, too. If there’s anything that will irritate your Liver, it’s being inflexible, preventing natural movement and growth.
    It’s good to get moving, too, especially out in nature. Just be mindful not to overdo things. It’s a great time to do some yoga, go for a hike, maybe some Tai Qi in a park. It’s a time to start rebuilding your strength and flexibility after Winter.


    Take advantage of our natural tendency and start planning and acting on anything that’s been percolating over the Winter. What goals do you have? What lights you up and gets you excited for life? A healthy Wood element helps you to have a clear Vision for yourself and your life, and to make a doable plan to make it happen.  Take some time to sit down and dream big! Then write it down and start to make a plan. The energy of Spring is supporting you!


    Acupuncture is so helpful if you’re feeling stuck in any way in the Springtime. It gets your Qi moving and balances out your whole being. In the Spring, it’s common to see an increase in migraines and other headaches, vision problems like increased floaters, blurriness, or just weak vision. We also see a big uptick in frustration, irritability and feeling stuck or pent up. 
    Acupuncture can also help tame your Spring allergies, eczema, and itching, and help you get healthy in time for Summer. Chinese herbal medicine and supplements like quercetin, stinging nettle, and NAC can make a huge improvement, too.
    Book your acupuncture appointment with Dr. Jennie today. Whether it’s for overall wellness and stress relief, or to treat something specific like chronic back pain, she’ll get you feeling better fast. You’ll leave each appointment feeling better than when you came in, and see big improvements over the course of treatment.
    Let it be easy, and start taking care of yourself now!

    Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
    Acupuncturist Centennial
    Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness