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Do you suffer from foot, leg or calf cramps, forcing you to walk around and, if they occur in your sleep, making you leap from your bed and prance indecorously round the room?
In my experience they happen earlier in the night rather than later, and they can be very painful.
What is the reason for them in Chinese medicine?
There are several contributing causes including the following:
Qi takes an infinite number of forms and in the body it works through Blood to nourish and moisten. If Blood is deficient, the tissues starve and aren't repaired.
Blood itself is manufactured from
Consequently, if what you eat is either of poor quality or is not properly absorbed and transformed into Blood, cramps, including calf cramps may occur.
DIGESTION, STOMACH AND SPLEEN
Magnesium and calf cramps This is where Western nutritional ideas come in, because nutritional science has identified various substances a lack of which may predispose you to cramps. These include Magnesium, for example, (but there are other possibilities).
Hence, many 'Western' approaches to dealing with cramps suggest you take Magnesium supplements. Gradually, nutritional scientists realised that Magnesium supplements on their own are absorbed only with difficulty (see a little story I tell patients here) if at all.
We now know that for better Magnesium absorption you should take it with Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2 and Boron, for example, though exactly how much of each is a moot point. This is a Western solution, not Chinese.
However, it does show that what you eat must be good food and contain adequate supplies of the right nutrients (of which over-farming may have depleted the soil) AND your body must absorb them properly to manufacture good Blood.
If your digestion works poorly, try adding to what you eat or drink a herb long used in Chinese medicine to help it. This is ginger root (not the dried or powdered variety, nor the crystallised version with sugar). Cut a thin slice and pour boiling water over it. Leave for a few minutes until it cools, then sip it from time to time. Taken with food, this helps digestion. That helps make better Blood. It's worth a try!
Stress and calf cramps
A common problem that interferes with the above process of Blood manufacture is emotional and stress, giving Qi stagnation. However, there is more to this than 'just' emotional stress! Many other factors can produce this - see my book 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress'.
Do not forget that it is possible to enjoy the excitement of stress but still to be harmed by it.
Also, if you do too many things at once and don't get enough rest, your body can't recover enough Qi to digest food. So don't eat large meals when you're tired, or just before bedtime.
If you are tired and it's partly because you haven't eaten, as long as it's not within 3 hours of going to bed, eat a snack first. This could be some nuts, or an oatcake or an apple: perhaps some soup.
Then - important! - wait a few minutes. That small amount of food won't overcome your stomach and will produce some energy. That energy may be enough for a larger meal. (It's probably the idea behind the 'starter' which we often eat before the main dish.)
If you are tired and it's late, nearly bedtime, and you haven't eaten for a long time, eat just the snack, not the full meal. When, after sleep, you wake up refreshed, only then eat a larger meal.
Stress also makes people eat faster, chew less, and rush off after eating to get on with the next job. These upset digestion. teach yourself to eat at a more leisurely pace, chewing each mouthful well.
Some medications upset the way your body works and can deplete its resources, meaning Blood deficiency ... meaning more cramps.
So calf cramps can have many causes.
Here there is often either Liver Blood Stasis and/or a history of injury. Injury prevents the smooth flow of Qi and Blood, starving the tissues and leading to calf cramps.
Numbness is a further extension of Blood deficiency.
Here you get what is called Empty Wind, which arises because the Blood, being deficient and not properly flowing, can't prevent 'bubbles' appearing in it.
Please realise that these aren't real bubbles!
They are a figure of speech to explain the idea of Empty Wind. If you have ever seen a river during drought, as the water flows over the river bed there are many small obstacles for it and it makes a noise, as bubbles form and collapse, quite different from the noise of the full river.
Another way of thinking about it is this. If your blood is deficient, it cannot feed your nerves, so they don't send your the correct messages, and you feel numb. By calling it Empty Wind, Chinese medicine identifies the underlying cause which is deficient Blood.
You may feel this as a tingling or slight quiver in your toes or muscles which warns you that they are working up to a cramp.
'Mending' the Blood deficiency leads to improvement in the numbness.
Ageing brings wisdom but, often, physical woes.
One of them is that our supply of Jing gradually reduces. This means that, among other problems, our digestion becomes less efficient. With a less efficient digestion (Spleen and Stomach) we don't make such good Blood.
For more details read the linked pages detailed above.
In general, however, keeping fit helps.
Alternatively, ring him on 07950 012501 or freephone (only free to telephone within the UK) 0800 298 7015.
All the books in the 'Chinese Medicine in English' series should be fully accessible on Kindles and Kindle apps. (Or you can buy the softback print editions, of course.)
('Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine' published 1986, was never available in a Kindle version.)
If, having read one of my books you can write a review - preferably positive - that would help others decide whether to read it.
You can put your review on Amazon or, on this site, here.
And if you think it was terrible?
Well, let me know so I can improve it for the next person. (Ideally let me know before cursing it in public!)
Here are some of the books I (Jonathan) have written.
Subscribers to Kindle Unlimited can borrow the first four for 'free'.
Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine! See Reviews.
Seven Reviews so far for Yuck Phlegm. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)
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