Five Seasons Healing November Newsletter

November/December 2010
Five Seasons Healing Newsletter

Fall Harmony

Needles pic

In This Issue
Foods to Support Thyroid Function
Living in Harmony with Fall
Treating Thryoid Issues
Treating Seasonal Depression
Quick Links

Cold & Flu Season Already?!

Ready or not, we are moving into cold and flu season. Chinese Medicine offers effective treatment and prevention for colds and flus. And, the best time to start implementing these tools is now! Schedule an appointment for an acupuncture treatment and/or an herbal consultation. I am happy to develop a customized treatment plan to boost your immune system so that you can smoothly sail through this Fall and Winter. 


Go Ahead: Sleep In

Have you been wanting to sleep more? It’s completely normal for our bodies to need more sleep now that Fall is upon us. Honor this need by getting to bed a little earlier.  Our natural cycles are not just responsive to day turning into night, but also Spring and Summer turning into Fall and Winter.  This is our time of year to slow down, reflect, and preserve our energy so that we can burst forth again with vigor in the Spring.  Acupuncture and herbs during this season can an important part of your restorative self-care.

Three Foods to Support Thyroid Function   

Seaweed – Iodine is an essential element that assists the thyroid in producing thyroid hormone. By increasing iodine intake, patients have seen an increase in the production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The best natural source of iodine is kelp, bladderwrack and other seaweeds.


Coconut Oil – Virgin coconut oil is praised by health experts for its ability to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. It is made up largely of medium chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are known to speed metabolism, promote weight loss, and raise basal body temperatures.


Brazil nuts and walnuts – These nuts contain high amounts of selenium. Many hypothyroid patients have been found to have deficiencies in this trace mineral.


How to Monitor Your Basal Body Temperature

Blood tests may not be sensitive enough to detect milder forms of hypo- thyroidism. Monitoring your body’s basal (resting) temperature is often used to identify a thyroid hormone deficiency.

Here is how to track your basal temperature accurately:

  1. Get a Basal Body Thermometer and place it where you can reach it without getting out of bed.
  1.  In the morning, before you get out of bed, take your temperature.
  2.  Keep a record of your temperature for at least ten days. (Women should do this during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, as their basal temperature may rise during the latter half.)

Normal basal body temperatures fall between 96° F and 98° F. If your basal temperature is consistently low in that range, you could be mildly hypothyroid.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4 as a main course

* about 2 lbs butternut squash (or substitute with acorn squash, delicata squash, pumpkin, etc.)
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 large ripe tomato, chopped
* 2 cloves of garlic, minced
* 2 cups vegetable stock
* 1 can of coconut milk
* 3 teaspoons curry powder or garam masala
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, or more, to taste)
* salt and pepper to taste
* 2-3 tablespoons olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Save for another use or discard. Spread about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on the bottom of a roasting tray and place the squash halves cut side-down on the tray. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh feels soft when poked and it has shrunken away from the skins a bit. Flip over and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out all the flesh and reserve in a bowl.

2. Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed pot with another tablespoon or so of oil and sautee the onions over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder, optional cayenne, chopped tomato and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, another 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the roasted squash, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Stir to combine thoroughly and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes or so.

4. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to a smooth consistency (this can also be done by transferring the soup in batches to a food processor or blender.) Taste for seasoning. Add additional stock or coconut milk if it’s too thick to your liking. Once the soup is to preferred taste and consistency, stir in the lemon juice to taste and serve.

I appreciate your referrals. If you have enjoyed your experience with my practice, and know of anyone who may benefit from my care, please send them my way!

I always appreciate reviews on Yelp or Citysearch. If you are on Facebook, become a fan of Five Seasons Healing. Or, if you would like to offer a testimonial for my website, email me, and I will happily post it.

Thanks so much for your support!
Sharon Yeung, MS, L.Ac., Doula
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Dear All,

The change of seasons is upon us – the weather is crisp and cool, the leaves are falling and the days are getting shorter. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when we live in harmony with the seasons, we ensure harmony within our bodies. Observing the seasons, we believe that there are certain foods to eat, required amounts of rest, and certain emotions that arise for each season and during the seasonal transitions.
In this newsletter, I discuss the importance of slowing down in order to live in harmony with this season. We’ll take a look at how to best manage seasonally affected depression.  And I also wanted to take this opportunity to talk about how Chinese Medicine treats thyroid issues – a condition I am seeing more and more of in my practice.


To schedule an appointment, please email or call 917.538.5755

 Living in Harmony with the Seasons: Fall

Staying healthy in the Fall means letting go of the active, playful long summer days.  Fall is a perfect time to celebrate our accomplishments of the year and gently reflect and acknowledge the changes we have made. It is a time to wear more layers, go to sleep earlier, and transition away from raw salads and other cooling foods.  

In Chinese Medicine, Fall is the season of the Lungs. Lungs are the first line of defense against illnesses like frequent colds and flu, allergies, asthma, chronic cough and bronchitis.  The Lungs are associated with the emotions of sadness and grief.  Suppressed grief damages the Lungs and makes us prone to disease.  Everyone deals with grief in their own way. Some suggestions include journaling, talking to close friends, working with a therapist, art therapy, meditation, taking long walks, praying or participating in support groups. By acknowledging these emotions in a healthy way, we allow ourselves to fully heal so we can live a full, balanced life. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can powerfully support and strengthen all aspects of the Lungs to keep the body balanced.  

Mother Nature Knows Best: What to Eat in the Fall

It’s no surprise that the foods that are best for our health are the ones that are seasonal.  As the days grow colder, it’s best to eat less of the cooling, raw summer foods such as salads, juices, and many summer fruits. Frozen foods and drinks are too cold for this season.  Add warm foods such as squash, carrots, chestnuts, corn, okra, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and turnips. Some great grains and beans to try are amaranth, barley, quinoa, spelt bread, kidney beans, and white and navy beans. As for nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts and sesame seeds are good, and these can be used as butters also. Pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and hazelnuts are also beneficial. Some Autumn spices include cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and anise.

Since autumn is a dry season, we need to protect ourselves from the cold air and the evaporation of moisture from our skin by eating foods that properly nourish our fluids without causing dampness. Dampening foods such as greasy, refined and fried foods and dairy cause build up in our digestive tracks, which can eventually lead to ailments such as sinus infections, cough with mucus, and stuffy nose. To add warmth and moisture to food, it’s best to prepare foods by baking, roasting, braising and slow-cooking.

Treating Thyroid Problems with Acupuncture


When functioning properly, the thyroid gland secretes just the right amount of thyroid hormone to regulate almost all the metabolic processes in your body. Too much or too little of these vital body chemicals and it can drastically influence energy levels, body weight and your mental and emotional health. With over 20 million Americans living with some form of thyroid disease, much attention has been given to the many ways that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can treat thyroid problems.

The thyroid is an endocrine gland, which is responsible for energy, metabolism, hormone regulation, body weight and blood calcium levels. Thyroid disorders stem from either an overproduction (hyperthyroidism) or underproduction (hypothyroidism) of thyroid hormones. When your thyroid is not functioning properly, your body can experience a variety of symptoms.


  • Weight loss despite increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate, heart palpitations, higher blood pressure, nervousness, and excessive perspiration
  • More frequent bowel movements, sometimes with diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness, trembling hands
  • Development of a goiter (an enlargement in your neck)
  • Lighter or shorter menstrual periods


  • Weight gain
  • Lethargy, slower mental processes or depression
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands
  • Development of a goiter (an enlargement in your neck)
  • Constipation, heavy menstrual periods or dry skin and hair

Commonly, I see patients coming in with hypothyroidism after having suffered for many years with hyperthyroidism.  When the thyroid ‘burns out’ from over-activity, it can leave one with a tired, worn out thyroid.  Many years of overwork, stress, drug abuse, or poor lifestyle choices can wear one out, quite literally.

Both Western and Eastern medicine offer various methods to restore thyroid hormone levels. Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments aim to restore immune function as well as balance the production and release of thyroid hormones through a variety of approaches ranging from acupuncture and herbal remedies to lifestyle changes and special exercises.

In the treatment to thyroid problems, acupuncture can be used to restore hormonal balance, regulate energy levels, smooth emotions and help manage sleep, emotions and menstrual problems. There are several powerful acupuncture points on the ear and the body that can be used to regulate the production of thyroid hormones. Treatments take all of your symptoms into account and are aimed at balancing the energy within the body to optimize health.

When it comes to lifestyle changes, a diet rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, and iodine helps support thyroid function while certain foods known as goitrogens may interfere with thyroid hormone production and should be limited. These include cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), peanuts, and soy. Stress reducing exercises such as yoga or tai chi can also be beneficial.

Adapted from Qi Mail

Treating Seasonal Depression with

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Clinically referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the winter blues can weigh you down during the dark months of the year. An estimated ten million Americans (two-thirds of them women) suffer every year. Symptoms include depression, irritability, headaches, fatigue and lethargy, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, difficulty concentrating, and decreased libido.


In the Western world, it is thought that because people have less exposure to sunlight, they experience a decrease in melatonin levels in the brain. Genetics, hormones, stress and other factors may dictate how one is affected by SAD. Western medicine practitioners often to turn to light therapy, and, in some cases, antidepressants to alleviate symptoms.


The Traditional Chinese Medicine approach explains this SAD as the result of a yin-yang imbalance. While yin, the feminine energy, relates to nourishment, it is also associated with cold and darkness. Yang, by contrast, is the male energy, associated with heat and light. Around this time of year, it is natural to feel an increase in yin-related tendencies such as isolation and sadness.


As the coldness of Fall and Winter months profoundly challenge our core energy, it is not surprising that many of us find ourselves craving quick-fix, high-calorie energy sources. This extra energy can be stored as fat in order to help keep the body warm. We use a lot of energy in Winter fending off the cold, which can make us feel drained, and we may notice ourselves become more emotionally and physically sensitive to our own surroundings. Stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep many of us are too familiar with due to hectic schedules (not to mention drafty apartments and overzealous radiators) further deplete energy, leading to both a depressed immunity and mood.


While a few individuals may require psychotherapy or medication, there are many other ways to treat SAD. Make sure you have proper nourishment and rest as well as a comfortable living environment.


  • Stock your kitchen with vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables (try dark leafy greens and baked root vegetables) as well as “warming” foods like whole grains, nuts and seaweed to use in soups and other hearty dishes.
  • Give yourself time, space to rest and to be reflective, a natural inclination we experience in the winter months.
  • Make sure your thermostat (if you have one) is set to a comfortable temperature. Invest in a space heater or humidifier if necessary.
  • Try to go to bed early and wake up early.
  • Work by a window if possible, in order to get some direct sunlight.
  • Moderate exercise can also boost one’s mood.  Stretching, yoga, and tai chi can do wonders to boost the immunity. It is important to stay active without overstraining the mind or body.
  • Acupuncture, especially when combined with heat therapy and yang-fortifying (or “warming”) herbs can be very effective in treating SAD symptoms. It helps guide the body back to balance and regulate the neurological and endocrine systems. Marie and I can prescribe the herbs that will best complete your personal treatment.

Taking these simple steps can help you stay well all winter. A strong mind and body are your best bet for braving the elements.

Adapted from Qi Mail

Five Seasons Healing
Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
80 E.11th St., Suite 211
    New York, NY 10003