Celebrate Chinese New Year! In this issue you will find:
- Important February Dates to Remember
- Chinese New Year: Year of the Rooster
- Pacific College Celebrates Chinese New Year
- Properties of Oriental Medicine Herbs
- Journal of Chinese Medicine Celebrates 25 th Year
- Common Chinese Herbal Formulas for Pain Due to Trauma
- Chinese Herbal Prozac: Depression and Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Chinese Wisdom for February
- February 7-13 - Cardiac Rehabilitation Week
- February 9 - Chinese New Year
- February 11 - New York Campus Celebrates Chinese New Year
- February 12 - San Diego Chinese New Year Open House
- February 26 - Chicago Chinese New Year Open House
Welcome to the year of the Rooster! The Chinese Lunar New Year is the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2600 BC. The Chinese calendar is a yearly one, with the start of the year being based on the cycles of the moon. Therefore, the beginning of the year can fall anywhere from late January to mid February. This year it falls on February 9, 2005.
A complete cycle of the calendar takes 60 years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each. Each of the 12 years is named after an animal. Legend says that Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from the earth. Only 12 came to say farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person was born has a profound influence on his/her personality. The Chinese Zodiac consists of the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
In the Lunar Calendar, the Rooster is considered to be the most misunderstood and eccentric of all the signs. People born in the year of the Rooster are hardworking, resourceful, courageous and talented. Outwardly, Roosters are self-assured and aggressive, but at heart can be conservative and old-fashioned. Their powerful personalities can lead them to be vivacious, amusing, and the life of the party. However, Roosters can be conceited creatures, with a tendency to be vain and boastful.
Though Roosters are practical creatures, they are also born dreamers. Roosters have a tendency to become so completely caught up in the dreams they create, they are often disappointed when reality fails to compare to their fantasies.
Cautious, skeptical and perceptive, Roosters make excellent trouble shooters and take pride in working hard and following the rules. Their inbred organizational skills enable Roosters to keep everything neat and tidy, with all of their affairs in order, accounts up to date, and documents systematically filed away. They function best in an environment where everything is organized and their schedules programmed. Their biggest strength is management of finances both on a personal and professional level. When it comes to money, Roosters are prudent and careful, and are brilliant managers of other people's money. The Rooster has the reputation of finding money in the most unlikely place, like drawing blood from a stone.
When it comes to making decisions of any kind, Roosters prefer to carefully consider all sides of a situation before coming to a conclusion. In conflicts, Roosters will push to the extreme, but flee before open hostilities break out. Their reflective and analytical abilities sometimes get the better of them. They must constantly question their point of view to ascertain its validity. Yet, there are no hidden depths to the Roosters character. They are simply honest and straightforward creatures. This makes Rooster the most devoted friends, who are always true to their word. Roosters are the most loyal sign of the zodiac. Once settled in a permanent relationship, Roosters are highly unlikely to deceive or cheat on their partners.
Those born under the Rooster are colorful and controversial people, who will never fail to leave an impression. October is the month of the Rooster, and their direction of orientation is west. The color of the Rooster is peach. The Snake, Ox and Dragon understand Roosters and would make ideal partners. They would gain much from a friendship with the Monkey and Boar. The introverted Rabbit does not trust the Rooster and won't put up with his boasting. Power struggles and miscommunications may erupt between the Rooster and the Tiger. The Rooster and the Rat are competitive rivals and completely incompatible.
In celebration of Chinese New Year, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine will be hosting free events on each of our three campuses.
On Friday, February 11, 2005, Pacific's New York campus will be holding a free community style acupuncture clinic from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. All are invited to attend, with appointments being taken on a drop-in basis.
In San Diego , Pacific College will be hosting an Open House and Chinese New Year celebration on Saturday, February 12, 2005. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include complimentary stress reduction acupuncture and massage treatments, workshops on Tai Ji and Qi Gong, and informational lectures. Lecture topics include, "The Profession of Chinese Medicine," "Cold & Flu Prevention," "Healing the Spirit," and the "Therapeutic Benefits of Oriental Massage." A certificate for a $10 acupuncture treatment will also be presented to those who attend.
Pacific's Chicago campus will be holding a similar Chinese New Year celebration, Saturday, February 26, 2005 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event will include complimentary acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation, stress reduction, weight loss, and well being, as well as 15-minute massages. The event will also include Qi Gong demonstrations, and an informational lecture titled, "Introduction to the History of Chinese Medicine." Those who attend will receive a free Chinese New Year celebration gift.
Celebrations at each campus will provide refreshments and an open invitation to the public to tour the campus. Staff and faculty will also be available to further attendees' knowledge of Pacific College 's programs and the field of Oriental medicine.
Bitter, Pungent, Salty, Bland, Sweet, Astringent, Sour, Warm, Cold, Neutral, Hot and Aromatic.
To use herbs within the scope of Chinese Herbology, one must first understand the properties (the personality which dictates how an herb will function) of each herb beyond the scope of its category. Properties are tastes, temperatures, and qualities of an herb. The possible tastes are sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, bland, salty, astringent, and aromatic. It may have other qualities such as toxic. The possible temperatures are cool, cold, warm, neutral, and hot.
It is very important to understand that herbs do not possess one quality. They are most always a combination of properties and temperatures and may reach one to as many as twelve organ systems. These combinations of qualities give each herb their character, and if you understand the functions behind the properties, than you can surmise what an herb is capable of before even becoming acquainted with it. Learning to combine the appropriate formula for each patient is a medical art which takes years to develop. A tremendous amount of respect should be given to those who do it well.
Sweet: If an herb is sweet, it can do one of a few things. This depends on it category and the other tastes and qualities it is combined with. For example, an herb which is sweet and cold and falls within the yin tonic category will tonify yin. These herbs are usually sticky and can not be mistaken for much else. However, an herb which is sweet and cold can also promote urination. These herbs are found within different categories. It is a quality an herb may possess in addition to its category. Another function of herbs which are sweet and cold is promoting fluids. This is a common function of herbs in the quell fire category where water is needed to put out the fire. Warm herbs which are sweet are found in the tonify Yang category. This is another example of sweetness which is tonifying in nature. The Qi tonics share these properties with the exception of a few neutral temperatured herbs. The digestive category is also filled with sweet herbs because most of these herbs have other functions which are moving (digestive) in nature and the sweetness helps to strengthen (tonify) as the other properties function to digest. A good herbalist understands that sweetness tends to be sticky, and therefore, will clog things up if they are not moving well. To prevent this kind of clogging, these herbs must be combined with herbs which are moving in nature to protect against this side effect.
Bitter: This quality functions to descend, to dry, to detoxify. Many herbs in the pharmacopoeia are bitter. This taste is one which spans numerous categories. If one looks closer at each individual herb, if it contains a bitter quality, it will serve one of the above functions. It is important to note that because this taste has a drying quality to it, It is prudent to protect against it in preexisting conditions of dryness, such as yin deficiency. Because bitterness descends, it is also prudent to beware of this quality in pregnant women as the fetus could be encouraged to descend as well with the use of such herbs.
Pungent: This is a moving force used for such things as moving Qi, ridding the body of phlegm, or expelling pathogens from the surface of the body outward. It is often seen in the anti-rheumatic category (also known as the Wind-Damp category) to eradicate painful joint conditions which Oriental Medicine recognizes as a Wind-Damp pathogen lodged in the interior. This is because an herb which is pungent in nature possesses the power of movement. It is present in numerous other categories where movement is a function of the category. One must be careful in those who are weak, or dry, or even pregnant in using such herbs. It is also important to remember that movement, like us when we exercise, creates warmth. So if you use an herb which is pungent and cold in nature, don't be surprised if some warmth results despite the cold temperature of the herb.
Salty: A salty herbs has the ability to detoxify (sore throat for example), dissolve (nodules, for example), and carry herbs to the Kidney system. Most herbs which from animal products or sea products are salty. If they are from the sea, they are almost always salty and cold. Salt, as we all know may encourage the retention of fluids in the body, so other herbs must be used to guard against this tendency so as not to disrupt the fluid balance of the patient.
Bland: Bland herbs are mostly only seen in the drain damp category. This group is made up of sweet and cold herbs (which we stated previously promotes urination) and sweet and bland herbs which accomplish the same task. Bland herbs are said to be mild and without taste, hence their name.
Astringent and Sour: Sour is very similar to astringent in its function and many herbs which are astringent are sour, and all herbs which are sour have some sort of astringent function. Let us clarify this issue. There is an entire category of astringent herbs some of which are sour and there are many sour herbs which astringe slightly, but not strongly enough to be primarily categorized as an astringent. Sour herbs "gently preserve" (hence the expression preserving Yin) while astringents actually "restrain" (as in urine, sweat, semen, etc...)! Bai Shao (Peoniae Albae), for example, is sour. It is definitely not an astringent herb, yet it does gently astringe the blood it is used to supply. Its primary function is to nourish blood and this is its primary category. Its secondary functions are based on the fact that it is sour.
Hot: In the Chinese pharmacopoeia, there is one basic group of hot herbs. This is the interior warming category. These herbs are used for conditions of severe and often acute internal coldness. There is only one exception to this rule. There is one Yang tonic which is hot. Hot is obviously warming and moving as well. Unlike cold which contracts, heat expands.
Warm: This temperature will create movement and of course warmth. It is important not to use warm herbs with patients with warm conditions unless the formula is very well balanced as not to exacerbate the hot condition. Warm herbs are also drying in nature and may dry up the Yin if not combined properly with the appropriate herbs in such circumstances.
Cold: Coldness does inside the body exactly what it does to us when we are exposed to it outside. It contracts! It slows down and contracts. This is not a temperature you want to use if stagnation is a problem, unless of course, you are combining the cold herbs with other herbs that move so as to prevent against this side effect.
Neutral: There are not too many neutral herbs in the pharmacopoeia These herbs are said to be neither hot nor cold and are often considered more gentle because of this.
Aromatic: Aromatic is drying, transforming, and moves upward and outward. Many of the herbs which are used to release exterior syndromes (as with the common cold) are assisted by the aromatic quality which assists their already pungent nature in releasing the pathogenic invasion from the body. Other herbs which are aromatic are herbs used to transform dampness. These herbs are focused on treating damp conditions and transforming (drying and moving it) this dampness. The aromatic quality, as I said, is ascending in nature which assists in the "awakening" of the Spleen which in turn will naturally rid the body of its damp condition.
In 1979, Oriental medicine in the Western world was still in its infancy. With few books on Chinese medicine written or translated in the English language, it was difficult for a practitioner to find new material exploring the theory or practice of Oriental medicine in any depth. Until Peter Deadman, a newly qualified practitioner began a small journal titled, the Journal of Chinese Medicine.
The first few years of the journal produced a primitive home based publication that read like a basic textbook. Early issues focused on presenting clear, detailed information on basic Chinese medicine theory that had previously been unavailable in English.
Working as a pioneer to bring in-depth material to the mainstream audience, the journal spent its formative years as a fairly small and novel publication. However, as time passed and Oriental medicine began to grow as a profession, the journal continued to develop as a resource tool for those in the industry.
Now marking the success of its 25 th year, the Journal of Chinese Medicine has become deeply imbedded within the Oriental medicine profession throughout England and Europe, and more recently in the United States . The Journal of Chinese Medicine is recognized as the premier English language journal on all aspects of Chinese medicine. As other journals have come and gone through the years, the journal has managed to maintain its high academic standards, which has enabled it to remain distinctly different than its counterparts.
"Today the change in the journal is pronounced from what it once was," said Peter Deadman, Publisher of The Journal of Chinese Medicine. " We have built up an enormous body of back content, which has proven invaluable as more Western medical practitioners of Oriental medicine seek to become experts in various areas of TCM. Material written 20 years ago is still valid today."
Perhaps one of the most beneficial tools the Journal provides is a comprehensive CD-Rom, which features all of the Journals issues from the beginning. The CD-Rom also provides an extensive amount of research on everything from Oriental medicine, to tai chi, and diet and exercise and lifestyle behavior.
"The Journal CD-Roms compile the same material that would be covered in 20-30 textbooks," said Deadman. "We have a vast and constantly growing body of references on the CD-Rom."
With the Journal continuing to expand its horizons to keep up with the growth of the Chinese medicine profession, the Journal is committed in providing the most recent and comprehensive information to enable practitioners to keep learning.
"Since our humble beginnings, the Journal like the Chinese medicine profession in the West has come along way," said Deadman. "Looking towards the future we want to keep moving forward, hold our own, and be respected. People need to keep growing and learning. A good journal is the best way for people to do that."
By: Robert Chu, L.Ac
Throughout my many years in my sports and martial arts, I have come across many trauma (known in Chinese as dit da, literally "fall and strike") prescriptions for herbal liniments, powders, plasters, and decoctions. Many Chinese are familiar with herbal liniments that are used for bruises, sprains, strains, fractures, and other trauma, due to a blow or fall. These formulas can all be used by weekend athletes and others who have to visit their sports medicine doctor. Beware of claims, "My secret formula is the best!" In the past, I stared with amazement and almost revered the brown, smelly liniment as I rubbed it into my bruises and training aches and pains.
After studying Chinese medicine and learning the fundamental principles, etiology of disease, methods of diagnosis, herbology, massage, acupuncture, moxibustion and cupping, I learned that a Chinese medicine practitioner must tailor treatments to the individual, and no set method is used to cure everyone or every injury. Indeed, one liniment I used regularly for bruises did heal my bruises in a few days, but always made me break out in a rash that lasted for two weeks! It always seemed to me that the cure was almost as bad as the injury or worse!
I later analyzed the prescription's individual ingredients and, through diagnosis, found my personal constitution had a lot of heat. Although the traditional formula has some very toxic and warm herbs in it, based on my constitution, these herbs were not for me. The result of having a warm constitution, living in a warm climate ( Los Angeles ), plus using warm herbs was inflammation, a rash.
Tradition or not, this prescription was not for me. Instead, I substituted the prepared versions of the above herbs and the effect was more agreeable for my individual constitution. Most experienced herbalists take a base formula and customize it for the individual. Thus, there is not one true, secret, ultimate trauma prescription! So beware of such claims.
Generally speaking, commercial forms of Chinese herbal trauma formulas like Xiao Huo Luo Dan (small invigorate collaterals pill), Bai Hua Yu (white flower oil), Tian Qi Jiu (first aid antiseptic), Yunnan Bai Yao ( yunnan white powder), and Zheng Gu Shui (correct the bone liniment), are safe and effective for most everyday injuries. Many Chinese would rather use these herbal formulas first for a minor injury. I would certainly advise readers to seek proper medical attention in case of serious injury.
Xiao Huo Luo Dan is taken as a pill, and generally used for backaches, muscle strains, and broken bones. This is available prepackaged with directions for use. Like all herbal medicines, it is best to use as directed on the package.
Bai Hua Yu is a fragrant analgesic oil, used for stiff muscles and strains as a result of "over doing it." I usually refer to it as "Chinese Ben Gay." Avoid getting the oil on your face, as it can irritate the eyes.
Tian Qi Jiu is an herbal liniment for bruises. Usually, the person using it rubs it on topically into bruises or contusions.
Yunnan Bai Yao is a powder that stops bleeding immediately and is used when you have minor cuts or scrapes, or if you cut yourself shaving. During the Vietnam War, soldiers were given a supply of this powder for firearm wounds. It was so precious that soldiers referred to it as a "gold they wouldn't trade." Dramatically, this powder can stop bleeding instantly and promote healing with little to no scarring.
Finally, Zheng Gu Shui is a fine liniment for minor bruises, strains, and minor fractures to the fingers or toes. It also helps stop the pain that may occur due to minor sports injuries. It is also best to avoid on the face as it can irritate the eyes.
All of these commercial patents are available at your local Chinatown drug store or Chinese herbalist. If your goal is hard training, or you have sustained a more severe injury, it is better to visit a Chinese herbalist to create a formula based on your individual constitution, climate, and type of training or injury. Just because herbal formulas are natural, does not mean they are not dangerous medicine when used incorrectly. Many immuno-comprised individuals and pregnant women should avoid herbal trauma prescriptions as the herbs may be somewhat toxic or have affects regarding blood flow and may lead to miscarriage.
By: Brian Benjamin Carter
In clinical setting we frequently see patients who are taking antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Effexor, and Wellbutrin. Chinese herbs like Albizzia may be an alternative to psychiatric drugs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic medicine- it has never separated the mind and body, and so can comprehensively treat conditions with both physical and mental symptoms.
Causes of Depression
As with all disease, we need an accurate diagnosis before we can begin treatment. Depression has many causes. Not all of them will be helped by antidepressants. If your self-esteem is intact, your mood does not vary during the day, and you are not impaired socially, your depression may have a physical cause.
Some physical/biomedical causes of depression are: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, normal grief, vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, folate deficiency anemia, viral disease, connective tissue/collagen disorders (arthritis), an organic brain disorder, drug side-effects, cancer, and endocrine abnormalities. Chinese Medicine can enhance the health of anyone with any of these conditions.
Psychiatric Drug Therapy
Controlling depression with pharmaceuticals usually requires weeks or months of experimentation with various drugs at different dosages. During this experimentation, the patient experiences physical and mental side-effects which can range from the annoying to the unbearable. Chinese herbal medicine, properly practiced, does not cause side-effects and so may ultimately be preferable to psychiatric medications.
However, there are many grave situations where psychiatric pharmaceuticals are essential, and not taking them can endanger the well-being, or even the life of the patient. More and more M.D.'s are now working to minimize the amount of pharmaceuticals taken by each patient, and some are even working with OMD's to utilize acupuncture and chinese herbs to slowly take the patient off of drugs and cure the root problem.
How Chinese Medicine Diagnoses Depression
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we always conduct a thorough evaluation of the patient. Symptoms and other diagnostic findings are like the pieces of a puzzle. The puzzle is a diagnosis that describes a patientps particular imbalances. Treatment arises naturally from this diagnosis. In TCM (unlike western biomedicine) there is a treatment for every diagnosis.
One simple way to understand depression is to use TCM's 5-Element system. The 5 Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each element is associated with a particular strength, weaknesses, color, sound, etc. Three common 5-Element types in depression are Earth, Water, and Wood.
Earth-Type Depression Water-Type Depression
"Can't keep up"
"Can't get it up"
"All bunched up"
Digestive Problems, Weight Gain, Fatigue, Loose Stool
Impotence, Morning Diarrhea, Knee and Low Back Problems, Frequent Urination
Eye Problems (red, painful, dry, etc.), Wiry build, Pain in ribcage area, Headaches on top or sides of head
Irritability, Frustration, Anger, Short Temper
Earth Types : can't keep up. They often experience digestive deficiency, become tired and overwhelmed easily, and are prone to worry and weight gain. They become depressed as a result of deficiency.
Water Types have deficiencies in their 'root' energy. This is most associated with old age, or extreme chronic illness.
Wood Types get depressed because they are all bunched up. They are easy to anger. When anger is focused inward, it turns into depression. They are irritable, have short tempers, and tend to be skinnier than the Earth Type. Wood types become depressed as a result of stagnation.
Of course, a TCM diagnosis must be much more specific than this before treatment can begin. Then the practitioner moves from diagnosis, What is the disease?
To treatment principles, What strategies should we use to balance the patient? For example, they may want to increase the patient's energy, move stagnation, and calm the spirit. Herbs and herb formulas are chosen that fit the patient's symptoms, diagnosis, and the practitioner's treatment principles.
Albizzia - Chinese Herbal Prozac Alternative?
Cortex Albizzia Julbrissin (mimosa tree bark) is a TCM herb in the åNourish the Heart and Calm the Spiritp category. It is traditionally used to calm the spirit and relieve emotional constraint when the associated symptoms of bad temper, depression, insomnia, irritability and poor memory are present. It also relieves pain and dissipates abscesses and swelling due to trauma (including fractures).
The flower of the mimosa tree is also used to relieve constrained Liver qi, and calm the spirit when the associated symptoms of insomnia, poor memory, irritability, epigastric pain, and feelings of pressure in the chest are present. Research has shown that the flower of the mimosa tree has a sedative effect.
German scientists assert that mimosa tree bark is part of the heavily-guarded Coca Cola recipe (a concoction that has been making people happy for decades!).Understanding the meaning of åSpiritp
In Chinese Medicine, åspiritp is conscious awareness, the more emotional and elusive aspect of being. The body must be in a good state of health, and there must be sufficient nourishment and balance for the spirit to be at peace. When improper diet, extreme emotions, trauma, and external diseases injure the body, the spirit does not have a comfortable place to rest. To address this problem, we balance the underlying problem, but in the meantime we also calm the spirit. Thus, in TCM, we treat the cause of the depression AND we calm the spirit so that the patient feels happier and more at peace.
It is safe to say that there are people on anti-depressant medications that do not need them. More exacting diagnosis by all healthcare practitioners will lead to more appropriate treatments. Psychiatric medications often cause unwanted side-effects. Proper TCM treatment does not cause side-effects. Because TCM is a holistic medicine that integrates the body and mind in its diagnostic process and treatment strategies, it is a viable solution for the treatment of depression.
Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day
"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power."
Lao-Tzu (6th century B.C.) , Legendary Chinese philosopher