Common Signs Your Body is Accumulating Toxins: Simple Acupuncture Wisdom
A major focus in holistic medical systems like acupuncture is disease prevention. It’s clear why this is so important. None of us want to get sick. Also, conditions are much easier to treat before they manifest into a full-blown crisis.
In Chinese Medical practice there are many ways to detect potential disease, catching it when it’s in the beginning stages. The body shows when we have toxic overload, or when our physiological processes are beginning to fall out of balance. Many such “signals” from our bodies seem insignificant, so we ignore them. But, we must listen to our bodies: they are constantly communicating with us, trying to save us from catastrophe.
Symptoms such as jaw tension, dental problems, blocked sensory function (nasal congestion, swollen glands, blocked ears, eye crust, irregular bowel movements, frequent urination) or pain in our muscles, joints and bones can be signs the body is accumulating toxins. Mental-emotional symptoms can also indicate we have toxic overload in our bodies: obsessive thinking, anxiety, depression, irritability. Our general energy levels and sleep patterns also provide a lot of information about our physiological balance. Insomnia can indicate mild anemia or hormonal imbalance; it can also be the result of an acidic environment inside our bodies – too much inflammation.
Signs the body may have toxic overload:
- muscular, joint or skeletal pain – especially pain that comes and goes.
- recurrent skin conditions such as eczema, itchy-redness, bleeding skin ulcers.
- teeth, jaw and gum issues – bleeding, swelling, pain, degeneration.
- frequent and recurrent mood disorders – generalized anxiety, depression, irritability.
- irregular bowel movements (constipation or diarrhea) and frequent urination.
- problems with the sense organs -diminished sensory function, swelling, dryness or discharge.
- insomnia or cyclical irregularities such as irregular menstruation.
- frequent fatigue or hyperactivity.
Chinese Medicine is modernly used to alleviate symptoms such as pain, to support greater quality of life. Its widespread use as preventative medicine is under-utilized. What is actually happening when acupuncture treats pain? Many Western doctors think acupuncture’s success comes from stimulating endorphins which are natural pain-killers. This is only partially true. Acupuncture is so effective in reducing pain because it stimulates a natural detox reaction, releasing accumulation of toxins in the tissues and organs.
Our body responds to accumulation of toxins by eliciting feelings of pain or dis-ease. Accumulations of any kind block the natural flow of body fluids and physiological energy. Stagnation causes pain: the “rivers” of the body get dammed-up and pressure results. Heat builds up from the stagnation, damaging body tissues and heating the blood. We begin to feel toxic, overheated and irritable. Too much inflammation over time will consume the tissues of the body, creating damage to the body’s form as well as its function.
To clear stagnations and blockages as they are being created is the ultimate goal of acupuncture. Cancer is an example of a stagnation that has reached a difficult crisis state. A tumor can be a late-stage result of something that began as mild stagnation of blood, fluids or body energy. Tumors create a highly toxic state within the body. They block the normal flow of body humors; they also rob the tissues of nutrients and blood, they also poison the body terrain with their waste. Some tumors are very difficult to break up; and the process ingrained in the system perpetuating the tumor can be challenging to reverse. This is why cancer is seen as such a scary and difficult disease.
Cancer is a severe solidification of stagnation in the body. Stagnation hardens into fixation until the body becomes overwhelmed and ultimately fails. It is unfortunate that most of us wait until a crisis before we address the problem. We go years ignoring signs our body has shown us that we are stuck, accumulating toxins. There is a time when its too late to turn back to health. The most ideal medical model catches a problem before it manifests in physical form.
How do we know if our body is accumulating toxins? How do we know if our body’s energy is getting stuck? How do we know if our bodies have adequate detoxification capacity? One of the first signs that we are accumulating toxins shows up on our tongues. If you look at the very back of your tongue, you may see small red upraised bumps. This is a classic indication that the intestines in your body are not adequately expelling toxins. Things are starting to accumulate.
Another sign the body is accumulating toxins are intermittent symptoms that come and go: pain, skin conditions, emotions, ect. To Chinese Medicine, symptoms that come and go are often seen as more worrisome than those that are always present. The reason being, things that come and go are spending a lot of time hiding in the body. The condition may progress to a point where it disappears altogether. This is known as a latent-lurking condition. Symptoms may disappear, but the problem is not gone. The toxins can accumulate in a deep hidden place in the body, building up more pressure until the body can no longer contain them and they leak back out, causing serious uncontrolled problems. This is often the case with serious conditions that seem to appear out of nowhere.
Toxic accumulation weakens the body, creating degeneration over time. Body function diminishes, tissues break down. We begin to age at a more rapid pace.
As an acupuncturist, I diagnose by feeling a patient’s pulses on their wrists. This is the most common classical diagnostic tool used by the acupuncturist. The pulses show how blood, fluids and functional body-energy are flowing in the body. Through the pulses, we can feel how the circulatory system, immune system and hormones are moving. We can see how well the body is digesting food, and how well it is eliminating waste. The pulses show us how healthy the body is and where it may be stuck. With the pulse we can gain an understanding of the body’s tendencies: where we accumulate, what needs to be detoxed and where we need to be strengthened.
Chinese Medicine acknowledges that the digestive system is the root of all strength and regeneration in the body. It is the system that builds the blood, replenishes the hormones, supports the immune system and rebuilds all of the body tissues. The root of degenerative diseases is commonly seen as weakness and accumulation that is rooted in the digestive system. Digestive weakness and malabsorption syndrome are probably the most common problems in America. They can lead to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other degenerative diseases.
How does acupuncture help promote better health? Because it has the capacity to help the body circulate blood, which keeps the tissues healthy and alive; it moves the hormonal system – blood and fluids. When you move body humors via acupuncture, this promotes new production of blood, fluids and energy, it also eliminates the old, worn out material – the basis of toxins.
Fluids and blood not only nourish the body, they also act as mediumship for carrying toxins out of the body. We need adequate body resources to be able to detox. The body needs proper movement to be able to create new resources. To move and flow is to thrive. To remain “light” and vital we need to be able to let go and rid ourselves of that which is worn out, toxic or weighing us down.
There’s a common saying in Chinese Medicine: a free-flowing river never dies. When our body has adequate movement and flow, disease cannot manifest. It is only when things start to get stuck that we accumulate toxins. Pain is the first sign that something is stuck. Better to treat the blockage when it’s just an annoyance before it turns into a real problem. Spend some time with your body, see if you are accumulating. You may be due for a detox.