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Mikhaila–this ones for you.

Growing up I had a friend who frequently clenched her jaw and rubbed her teeth together unknowningly when she slept.  Sometimes when we had sleep overs, I could hear it.  And I tried to record the sound because although her whole family knew she did this, she never believed us.  (Unfortunately, I never got the sound on tape.)

And we always thought teeth grinding was the strangest thing.  We could never figure out why she did this.  So when I happened to come across grinding teeth in my Chinese Medicine Diagnostics textbook, it was pretty exciting.

According to Diagnostics of Traditional Chinese Medicine, “Grinding teeth in sleep is often due to stomach heat or parasitic infection.” Further explanation from my teacher is that stomach heat is the more common explanation in adults, while parasites is more likely in children.

While I can’t say specifically about my friend, as that’s been years now, I’m guessing hers may have been stomach heat.  We grew up in a very hot, very dry place; everyone jokes there are 2 seasons: hot and hotter.  Not exactly a haven for parasites and much more likely to be caused by heat in the stomach.

Without going into herbs or acupoints, the simple way to clear stomach heat is to eat more ‘cooling’ foods: cucumber, bitter melon, green tea or chrysanthemum tea.  While for getting rid of parasites there are lots of herbal remedies to buy online, many of which I’ve taken and can recommend if necessary; otherwise, eat papaya seeds and pumpkin seeds.

But so fascinating to have the TCM explanation to something that was such a big mystery for years.

Photo credit: Flickr user Justin

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