Tag Archive for: Qi

Acupuncture for Grief: How It Can Help

Last week we had to say goodbye to our sweet, best good boy, Murphy Dog. He was a certified old geezer at 15 years old, but it still broke my heart.

If you’ve ever lost a beloved pet, you know how hard it is. To make things even harder, our sweet Murphy passed on the two-year anniversary of the day my dad died.

I can’t decide if this makes things extra difficult, grief-wise, or if it’s actually very efficient. However you look at it, the grief has been heavy.

Grief Sucks

It really, really sucks. It hits you right in the chest, almost knocking the wind out of you. Makes your whole body contract, and makes your heart literally ache.

The way grief comes in waves is a relief when it subsides, or it can knock your feet out from under you. Sometimes, I just feel so thankful for having had that sweet, loving dog in our lives. Other times, I forget he’s gone and expect him to come running for greetings and love when I walk in the door.

All the little things that you take for granted, from when they come to wake you up in the morning for breakfast, to even feeling sad that there’s so much less poop to scoop in the yard now that he is gone.* (Murphy had enviably good digestion. Also, my husband thinks this is very weird that it makes me sad, lol, so it’s ok if you do, too. It’s just another sign he isn’t here to me.)

As an acupuncturist, I know that all emotions are good and healthy, as long as they don’t get stuck in our bodies.

Grief According to East-Asian Medicine

Grief is said to “knot the Qi.” I feel that..like all the energy is tied up, almost making it hard to breathe. Grief is related to the Lung and Large Intestine (Metal Element), which govern taking in energy through breathing and letting go appropriately through the breath and Large Intestine.

So while it is important to feel your emotions, it is equally important to keep them from getting stuck in our bodies. When grief gets stuck in our bodies, it can weaken our immune systems, cause tightness in the chest and lungs, constipation, and cause a lot of stagnation in our whole body/mind/spirit.

This is where acupuncture and herbal medicine can help.

How Acupuncture Can Help Manage Grief

And while acupuncture and herbal medicine can’t take away your grief (nor do I think we’d totally want it to), it CAN help keep it from getting so stuck in your body.

And of course, I always recommend a good therapist to help with this, too. But sometimes the grief is also stuck in our bodies, and acupuncture and herbal medicine are some of the best remedies for that particular aspect of grief (or any other stuck emotion).

Acupuncture will calm the feeling of overwhelm, and help you breathe a little easier, help get things moving that are stuck. And it will help you feel better right there on the table during your treatment. And because acupuncture is cumulative, taking care of yourself with a series of treatments will help you even more.

This is important because it helps us to move forward in our own lives, not by avoiding or burying our grief, but by helping us grow with it. It can help us get out of that “stuckness.”

A few days ago, I had a wonderful acupuncture session with Sarah at our office. I felt “tied up” emotionally and even physically. That treatment helped soften my whole body and being. And it reminded me how thankful I am for this medicine, and all it can do.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine work best when used weekly, for the cumulative effect, for Grief, and most other things, too.

At Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness, we offer acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy, craniosacral therapy, and visceral manipulation to help you manage and heal your whole being, from emotional issues to chronic pain.

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

Acupuncture for Grief
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.


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