You know that feeling of mind-body staleness after a bout of stress or a binge on greasy foods? That’s not just the pizza and panic talking. Your body is begging to expel that extra energetic junk — known in traditional Chinese medicine as stagnation.
Left unchecked, stagnation can lead to moodiness, mental blocks, breakouts, inflammation and pain. But clearing out that energetic clutter can reignite inner vitality and a level vibrancy you didn’t even know existed.
What Is Stagnation?
Stagnation pretty much means inflammation. In Chinese medicine, inflammation can express itself in multiple ways. There can be inflammation, which means lack of flow in the muscle layer, in the blood or even in fluid metabolism causing water retention. Our unique approach to resolving stagnation lies in the proper diagnosis. Stagnation in Chinese medicine can arise due to a few reasons:
”Qi” or Energy Stagnation. This is usually stress induced, causing a sensation of feeling “stuck” emotionally or even fatigue.
Blood Stagnation. This usually occurs after a traumatic incident or if someone is anemic, doesn’t eat enough, doesn’t move around enough or there isn’t enough “umph” in the body to move the blood.
“Damp” Fluid Stagnation. This can happen when someone eats too much greasy, fried food, even too much cold/raw food. The body’s fluid congeal and there isn’t enough healthy hydration to move the fluid around easily, causing sticky, toxic water accumulation.
How To Spot A
Stagnation and inflammation create a domino effect on the body. The way we like to explain it in traditional Chinese medicine is by understanding that the blood vessels in the body are like highways, main streets and side streets. We have big ones and smaller ones. We need to eat well, sleep well, move well and process well in order to avoid building up traffic in our body. When you see congestion due to an accident on the highway, it is jam packed with energy that looks like stagnation before the “accident.” After, you see emptiness. What we see there is excess stagnation and deficient flow. On one end, there’s too much, on the other there is too little.
Common symptoms of stagnation include:
Feeling of distention in the body – it can be in the chest, upper stomach or the entirety of the abdomen. This sensation can also move from place to place.
Emotional sense of depression, irritability.
Frequent mood swings.
Sharp pain or constant dull pain.
An overall sensation of something in the body that isn’t changing but you don’t feel like yourself.
I always suggest getting acupuncture regularly to reset the nervous system. Exercising is also very important. I have a few tips that help get the energy, blood and fluids moving to remove stagnation from the body.
3 Ways To Squelch Stagnation
Eat warming foods: Start your day with warming foods to help your nervous system rev up for the day and keep things moving. What does that exactly mean? It means when you feel super stuck, it’s best to put down those cold smoothies, iced coffee and teas and opt for more warming breakfast foods, like eggs with avocado toast and dates or a delicious, nourishing oatmeal with hemp seeds and chia. When we put cold foods and drinks in our system in the morning, it shuts down our metabolism. Our metabolism starts warming up in the morning and we need to support it as much as we can!
Hydrate with citrus: Enjoy a drink (preferably tea) with citrus in it throughout the day. We created our own herbal tea blend to help move all three of the above categories: It has orange peel, lemongrass, schizandra berries to keep your energy, blood and fluids moving. The formulation builds nutrients in the blood, assisting the blood in natural detoxification.
Take proper supplements: Take adaptogen-filled herbal supplements. Adaptogens assist the body in “adapting” to stress, which helps balance out the nervous system so it can function optimally (learn all about it here!). We’ve created a collection of herbal supplements that have adaptogens to reset the nervous system: one is for stress, one is for restlessness and mind-racing issues, and one is for those who feel their body is sluggish and feel they need a reset.
Do it all daily: Incorporating these three techniques — eating warm, hydrating and drinking citrus throughout the day, taking proper supplements — will assist in creating a balance throughout the body and clearing stagnation.