Beating Dehydration – Water and Health: Part 3 5/5 (37)

Woman_Drinking_Water-blog-67-lIt’s been seven weeks since I began researching and writing this series about Chronic Dehydration. Drinking 3 liters of water has been life-changing on so many levels.

  1. Personally, I feel fantastic! Aches and pains have diminished, brain function has improved, and my digestive system feels so clean. The added BONUS–I’ve lost 30 pounds!
  2. My patients are happy. Most people know how important it is to drink water–but having a gentle reminder with evidence to reinforce this important healthy lifestyle habit goes a long way. I have copies of “New Year’s Resolutions…They can be Hard to Swallow! Part 1” in my waiting room. I insist everyone read it.
  3. AcuGraph analysis of patients over a one-year period taught me how to better analyze the effects of Chronic Dehydration in my patients.

Let’s take a look at two patients.

Case Study #1:

Symptoms: Chronic hives, pain in the liver, low back pain, headaches which pulsate through the eye, muscle twitching, chronic phlegm, obesity.

TCM Diagnosis: Spleen Qi Deficiency; Liver Qi Stagnation with Phlegm Damp leading to Liver Yang Rising and Toxic Heat.

This patient has been treated 2-3 times per month for the last year. Acupuncture and herbal medicine make a shift in this patient’s general health, but lifestyle choices bring the symptoms back–even though the patient is committed to consistent acupuncture. Progress is slow because we seem to take one step forward in the clinic and then she takes one step backward before her next treatment.

After reviewing over a year’s worth of graphs, I found some interesting parallels.

Chronic Dehyd 1

The majority of the time the Spleen channel measured HIGH.

  • The spleen was high 17 times within the last year.
  • My experience shows that a high Spleen channel usually related to dampness.
  • It is the Spleen’s job to transform the food we eat into the proper nutrients for the body. If the Spleen is EXCESS, meaning the channel is overloaded and full, food cannot digest properly. This leads to swelling, edema, poor digestion, etc.

The majority of the time the Stomach channel measured HIGH.

  • The Spleen and the Stomach are paired organs, which means they are supposed to work together as a team. When food is consumed, the Spleen is supposed to help transform it by expelling nutrients and creating qi for the body.
  • In her case, the Spleen could not adequately support transformation and transportation of food substances, which leads to excess sitting in the Stomach channel.
  • When excess undigested food sits in the stomach for too long it begins to fester and heat accumulates in the stomach. Heat accumulation leads to the formation of toxins.

The majority of the time her Triple Energizer measured LOW.

  • The Triple Energizer has an important role to play in fluid transformation—including the movement of fluids throughout the body, transporting hormones, and movement of fluid in the interstitial spaces around the organs.
  • The Triple Energizer is weak because it is overworked. Imagine the Triple Energizer as a pump, responsible for moving fluids. Without enough fluid, the pump works full time without an abundance of water.  For this patient, the pump is TIRED.
  • This patient has an accumulation of toxins in her body, which are manifesting in hives, headaches and obesity. Movement of fluids is crucial for eliminating toxicity.

The majority of the time the Liver channel measured LOW.

  • The liver is in charge of blood and movement of qi in all directions. Because the blood isn’t moving very well, neither is the qi.
  • Because the blood isn’t moving, there is an accumulation of heat, which is manifesting in hives and internal wind (muscle twitching).

I am convinced that if this patient drank more water, a lot of problems would be resolved. Water would help to flush dampness, phlegm and toxins out of the system–and create better blood flow. Blood and qi have a synergistic relationship—when one moves the other follows.

Results: At the beginning of the year, this patient and I sat down and had a serious conversation about water. The patient promised to drink 3 liters of water per day until the next treatment. Within two weeks, hives diminished considerably and the patient reported feeling very little pain. (*The graphs didn’t change dramatically, but that is okay.  We have begun the process of flushing out the patient’s system.) After four weeks of daily increased water intake, the hives were nearly non-existent.


Case Study #2:

Symptoms: Fibromyalgia–chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, low back, arms, and knees; acid reflux; irritability; dry skin; dry eyes; headaches; muscle spasms.

TCM Diagnosis: Liver Blood/Yin Deficiency, Spleen Deficiency, Stomach Fire.

This patient has been treated 2-3 times per month for the last two years. She leads a high-stress life. Acupuncture relieves her pain and reduces her stress for a time. She eats fairly well–not a lot of sugar or processed foods. She comes in regularly to “get back on track.”

Sometimes this patient’s graph looks like this.

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 10.45.12 AM

Often the averages are too low to get an accurate reading.

  • Regardless of probe pressure, measurements just won’t go up. You can “hear” the hesitation while graphing each channel. It sounds like a hard-working motor that just isn’t getting anywhere.
  • Her channels are too empty to get a good reading.
  • Low graph readings are common when patients are not drinking enough water. It’s hard to measure electrical skin conductance when there isn’t enough water in the body.

Her analysis for the last year looked like this.

Chronic Dehyd 2

The Spleen channel fluctuated from high to low–but was nearly ALWAYS out of Balance.

  • Even though she eats a fairly healthy diet, her spleen is taxed. It’s in charge of transforming and transporting the food nutrients.
  • Water is a necessary ingredient to help in this process.

The majority of the time the Stomach was high.

  • She suffers from stomach heat quite often–not because of a poor diet.
  • Again… More water would cool the stomach.

The majority of the time the Triple Energizer was Low.

  • This fits the same analysis as for the previous case study.
  • The Triple Energizer is in charge of waterways. If the waterways have dried up, then the pump is tired.

The majority of the time the Liver was High.

  • Liver qi is supposed to move all directions in the body. Qi follows blood. If the blood isn’t moving the way it should, then qi doesn’t move either.
  • When Liver qi is forced to become stagnant for too long, it flares up and causes all kinds of havoc: anger and irritability, headaches, etc.

Drinking more water is so important for this patient!

Results: Early in January, I sat down and had “The Talk” with her about water. I sent her home with a copy of Part 1 of this series.  She made a commitment to increase her water intake to a minimum of 2 liters per day. What happened? Her energy level improved, her disposition improved, her headaches diminished, and her fibromyalgia pain decreased by half.

I love having the ability to analyze my patients graphing history. By looking at a year of graphs, I was able to distinguish chronic problem areas and make logical decisions for changes in my treatment strategies. I can’t wait to see what the upcoming year will bring for my Chronic Dehydration patients in the way of graph analysis.

AcuGraph continues to help me analyze my patient’s needs so I can give the best treatment possible.

Thanks for joining in my quest for further knowledge. The next thing on my mind is the effect of sugar on the body. We’ll have to see where I go with that one. Stay tuned…

Have a great week!


Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.

Acupuncture Research Analyst




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Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac.

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac. is a US licensed acupuncturist in the state of Idaho and certified in the treatment of acupuncture, Oriental medicine and Chinese herbology by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Kimberly wears multiple hats in the acupuncture community. She owns her private clinic, Meridian Family Acupuncture. She has spent the last 10 years working for Miridia Technology as an acupuncture Research Analyst–where she helps plan, develop, and integrate modern diagnostic and treatment tools for the ever-evolving scientific world of acupuncture. Kimberly is a world-renown teacher, blogger, columnist, and mentor in the acupuncture community.

11 Replies to “Beating Dehydration – Water and Health: Part 3

  1. Gostei pelo facto de mais uma vez falar-mos sobre o elemento mais essencial para a existência da vida. Pois sem a qual ela não é possivel! Acabo só relembrando de que é o elemento mais presente em quaquer ser vivo!….

    I liked the fact that once again we talk about the most essential element for the existence of life. For without which it is not possible! It reminds me that this element is present in everything that lives! ….

  2. Hi Kimberly, it’s an interesting topic, water. I’ve just read “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water”, which says chronic dehydration is the underlying cause of many health problems. Pain, of varying types, is said to be a sure-fire indication of chronic dehydration.

    The book says for working out the amount of water you need each day you halve your body weight (LBS) and that’s how many ounces of water you need.

    If you’re 180lbs drink 90 ounces of water a day. Plus 1 more glass for each coffee, soda or alcohol you drink. That’s potentially a lot of water so it also says to increase salt intake – use organic sea salt, not ordinary table salt. Signs of salt insufficiency include cramps in unexercised muscles and possibly dizziness and fainting.

    Other recommendations in the book are to increase water intake slowly if you are not used to drinking much, i.e. start with a couple of glasses a day and add 1 or 2 till you reach your required amount. Plus, to be aware of signs that your body is not coping with the increase in water, e.g. urine output is not increasing with the increase in water and urine color remains dark instead of clear to pale yellow.

    Also, don’t drink too close to meals – a glass of water 30 minutes before meals benefits digestion and waiting 1-2hrs after meals so as not to interfere with digestion.

    Just thought I’d contribute this to the topic.

    1. Hello Matthew,

      It’s always nice to hear your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

      I have had multiple people question me regarding this blog on the subject of how much water is right for each person. There are a lot of things to consider–weight being one of them. I know that when I first started, I began with 4 liters of water. I tried to up my intake to 5 liters at one point, and it was just too much for me. I felt like the water was just moving into my interstitial spaces. Four liters seems to be a good amount for me–probably because I still have a little weight to lose.

      It’s very interesting that now I can’t go through my day without enough water. I feel the signs of dehydration immediately if I’m lacking. That just shows how quickly our bodies adapt. I find many patients who are chronically dehydrated and surprisingly they aren’t thirsty often. I think this is a protective mechanism–possibly sympathetic/fight or flight mode. Once our bodies feel secure that we are fulfilling the basic needs, our bodies move back into a parasympathetic state and utilizes the water as it should–thus we feel the signs of dehydration faster.

      Have a great day!


  3. I just wanted to thank you for your articles on dehydration. I am also an acupuncturist and got heat stroke many years ago while playing golf. Long story short, it led to a massive collapse of many yin organs. I ended up in a Western hospital nightmare with heart and kidney failure, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and seizures due to the lasix they gave me for the H/K failure. Now that I have recovered, no pharmaceuticals by the way, most of my issues are either gone or nearly so. I am using Ming Mu… and Master Tong points to aid my recovery but my inner voice keeps telling me that the root of my problem is dehydration first ldue to heat stroke and second due to the drug, lasix. Yin at one level is first and foremost water and finding your article has validated me so much. I raised my intake a few weeks ago but now that I read your info, I know I can comfortably go to half my body weight in ounces or the 3 to 4 liters. I felt compelled to let you know how grateful I am to you for putting out your research and personal experience. Thank you so much.

    1. I regret to inform readers that Linda Makari DeBoer recently passed away from causes not yet learned. It goes without saying that my heart is broken.

  4. Hello Kimberly,

    If you don’t mind my asking, how are you able to collect the data you are presenting in the graph?
    Is it through questions & answer sessions with your patients, or is it via something technical such as
    a machine, etc.

    Regards 🙂

  5. Also,

    How do you recommend someone up their water intake.
    I currently drink water first thing in the morning. I can consume 16 or 24 oz. I wait 30 minutes to an hour, then eat breakfast.
    I next drink 2 hours after breakfast.
    I drink 2 hours after lunch.
    I don’t drink much after dinner.

    I’m currently only consuming maybe 32 to 48 oz. daily which is merely 1 liter to 1.5 liters.
    We’re still within the chilly end of the winter/early spring seasons here in the NE.
    I can drink a bit more in the Summer, but even the cold of the A/C hinders my thirst.
    Any ideas?

    Best regards 🙂

    Also, currently I am finishing off antibiotics for pneumonia, and I am suffering terrible effects.
    The dehydration symptoms are massively uncomfortable. I am consuming warm soup broth, and
    I eat steamed vegetables as well.

  6. And my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beloved friend Linda Mkari DeBoer. May she rest in blessed peace. And may her fond memories bring you joy and peace.

So, what do you think about it?