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Treating Symptoms of Climate Change with Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

In all corners of the globe, across every continent and within every city, the effects of a rapidly changing climate are becoming more and more pronounced in the daily lives of all people.

Though the news most often chronicles only the biggest and most obvious effects (the uptick in extreme weather events, the blazing wildfires and the melting of the polar ice caps), climate change is affecting peoples’ health in more subtle ways as well. Often times people are unaware of how their un-wellness is linked to the climate.

At Madison Square Wellness, we use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to understand the ways that a changing environment affects your health— and through acupuncture, we treat the maladies that arise as a result. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine and balance 

At its core, TCM is concerned with maintaining health by restoring the movement of “qi,” or the body’s energy sources that are responsible for the functioning of physical systems. This is done through the maintenance of “yin” and “yang,” two complementary forces with differing characteristics. Balancing these two forces within the body is the primary responsibility of TCM practitioners.

Yin and yang are present in different activities, foods and environmental conditions. For example, yin is present in activities like sleeping, foods such as yogurt and temperatures that are cold. In contrast, yang is present in activities like exercise, foods such as ginger and temperatures that are hot.

For more info, check out MSQW’s guide to TCM diets here: Traditional Chinese Medicine: Warm & Cool Foods

Balancing the two forces in the body is of utmost importance for maintaining wellness— when these two forces are severely out of balance there are predictable symptoms that follow.

Climate change and the yin yang relationship

Understanding yin and yang helps break down why climate change and the associated fluctuations in temperature and weather can lead to unbalanced qi and negative health outcomes. Typically, predictable changes in the seasons would lead people to change their habits almost unconsciously to remain in balance with their environment. 

As an example, imagine how much you crave ice cream (yin) in the summer (yang). This is a normal adaptation to the seasonal energy changes as your body seeks balance between the two forces.

But climate change disrupts this by creating unpredictability in temperature and significantly altering the conditions of each season. In some areas of the world, seasonal differences are growing larger; in other areas, the differences between seasons are shrinking. Hot days when it should be cold, or cold days when it should be hot are intense external events that create unbalance in our qi. In either case, when the yin and yang of the seasons are disrupted, the effects on our bodies are clear. 

The most commonly reported problems in the New York City area seem to come from unexpected warm periods in winter. When warm weather presents a higher concentration of yang (associated with heat), patients typically complain of:

  • Headaches, and especially heat sensitive migraines
  • Fever and intense colds
  • Irritability, depression and mental health issues
  • Exacerbated hot flashes, especially for women in menopause
  • Problems with digestion
  • Dermatological issues such as eczema, rashes or acne breakouts
  • Asthma flare-ups

Madison Square Wellness can help you treat all of these symptoms and more

The first step to righting the energy imbalances caused by climate change is undergoing a proper diagnostic evaluation of symptoms and qi. 

TCM practitioners at MSQW are experts in diagnosing each and every patients’ unique constitution to determine a treatment plan for rebalancing their body. No two patients are alike, and after undergoing examination each patient receives a unique treatment plan to address their specific needs.

Acupuncture is a powerful tool for rebalancing qi, and at MSQW our expertise in the 2,500 year old practice can help you overcome symptoms that the changing climate afflicts upon the body. We work with each patient to ensure that our acupuncture sessions are aimed at the most important areas of need based on information about lifestyle, diet and more. 

To learn more about our approach to acupuncture, visit our FAQ page here. To schedule a consultation appointment with one of our expert practitioners, visit our contact page here, or give us a ring at (212) 696-9355!