turns out, some don’t like it hot

Inflammation, a normal adaptive response of the organism to challenge, is important for survival. But it’s run amok today, spurring an epidemic of chronic inflammatory conditions that morph into maladies as diverse as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, allergies, ADHD, reflux, and inflammatory bowel disorders.

From the perspective of Chinese medicine, modern life generates excess Heat. In Western terms, this is a result of sympathetic overdrive—too much cortisol and adrenalin—that set the stage for inflammation.

The solution in Chinese medicine is to restore the inner terrain, supporting host resilience. By nourishing the yin (moisture, blood), the overstimulation that produces excess yang (heat) is tempered.

Whenever the homeodynamic balance in the body is overtaxed, there’s an up-regulating metabolic process that raises internal temperature. This is the progenitor of inflammation. The fight or flight response raises blood pressure, elevates heart rate, and releases glucose into the blood stream. When stress becomes chronic, these reaction patterns become entrenched.

Chinese medicine explains that prolonged stress breeds congestion–stagnation of qi and blood and the formation of phlegm. This disturbs circulation (hot head and trunk and cold limbs). A general increase in metabolic heat ensues, drying secretions, making them sticky and difficult to discharge.

The concept of phlegm explains a primary cause of illness and poor health. Degradation of the quality, viscosity, and distribution of body secretions interferes with three critical functions: circulation, breathing, and cognition.Inflammation pic2

When phlegm and heat accumulate, they transform into a fog-like mist that rises upward, obstructing the organs of perception (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, tongue). “Phlegm Heat misting the Mind” translates as an impaired ability to see, hear and think clearly, to learn, or make intelligent choices.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine clear heat and phlegm, replenish healthy substances (blood, moisture, essence), and thereby reduce stress and inflammation. Physiological and psychological equilibrium are restored, rebooting the body’s ability to cope with challenges. Whether you have anxiety, high cholesterol, sinusitis, cough, headache, or an irritable bowel, Chinese medicine works!


Here are ways in which some key body systems react.

    1. Nervous System – when stressed, physically or psychologically, the body suddenly shifts its energy resources to fighting off the perceived threat. In what is known as the “fight or flight” response, the sympathetic nervous system signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make the heart beat faster, raise blood pressure, change the digestive process and boost glucose levels in the bloodstream. Once the crisis passes, body systems usually return to normal.
    2.  Musculoskeletal System – Under stress, muscles tense up. The contraction of muscles for extended periods can trigger tension headaches, migraines and various musculoskeletal conditions.
    3. Respiratory System – Stress can make you breathe harder and cause rapid breathing – or hyperventilation – which can bring on panic attacks in some people.
    4. Cardiovascular System – Acute stress, stress that is momentary, such as being stuck in traffic, causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contraction of the heart muscle. Blood vessels that direct blood to the large muscles and to the heart dilate, increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body. Repeated episodes of acute stress can cause inflammation in the coronary arteries, thought to lead to heart attack.
    5. Endocrine System
      Adrenal glands – when the body is stressed, the brain sends signals from the hypothalamus, causing the adrenal cortex to produce cortisol and the adrenal medulla to produce epinephrine – sometimes called the “stress hormones”.
      Liver – When cortisol and epinephrine are released, the liver produces more glucose, a blood sugar that would give you energy for “fight or flight” in an emergency
    6. Gastrointestinal System
      Esophagus – Stress may prompt you to eat much more or much less than you usually do. If you eat more or different foods or increase your use of tobacco or alcohol, you may experience heartburn or acid reflux.
      Stomach – Your stomach can react with “butterflies” or even nausea or pain. You may vomit if the stress is severe enough. Bowels – Stress can affect digestion and which nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how quickly food moves through your body. You may find that you have either diarrhea or constipation
    7. Reproductive System – In men, excess amounts of cortisol, produced under stress, can affect the normal functioning of the reproductive system. Chronic stress can impair testosterone and sperm production and cause impotence. In women, stress can cause absent or irregular menstrual cycles or more painful periods. It can also reduce sexual desire.