Welcome to the latest issue of the Pacific College Newsletter! In this issue you will find:
• Important January Dates to Remember
• After Vioxx: Oriental Medicine's Role in Pain Therapy
• Shed Unwanted Pounds with Chinese Medicine
• Herbal Naturopathy
• Balancing Yin & Yang using aromatherapy
• Top Ten Winter Warmers
• Chinese Wisdom
• January 3 - Winter 2005 Semester Begins for San Diego , New York & Chicago
• January 13 - New York Open House
• January 19 - Chicago Open House (MTOM Program)
• January 24-30 - Healthy Weight Week
Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra - there's distressing news for people taking what were considered to be safe drugs for long-term use. It turns out that while a widely-used class of drugs called COX-2 inhibitors can produce less gastrointestinal damage than common anti-inflammatories such as aspirin and ibuprofen, all users do not enjoy the benefit. What's more, COX-2 use may greatly increase cardiovascular problems. This news is frustrating for the consumer. It is estimated that 70 million Americans have some form of arthritis. According to IMS Health, forty million COX-2 prescriptions were written in the first nine months of 2004.
Effective remedies for pain, however, may lie with a therapy that has been around for a very long time. Acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners have been treating pain for thousands of years. Beneficial analgesic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and regenerative effects may occur by stimulating key energy points on the body through acupuncture. From a western perspective, research has shown acupuncture's ability to trigger release of endorphins and enkaphalins - the body's opiate-like chemicals. In 2004 a Swedish study ( Clinical Journal of Pain ) showed improvement with acupuncture for hip osteoarthritis, and a Spanish study ( British Medical Journal ) showed improvement in knee pain with acupuncture over drug therapy alone.
Acupuncture can balance your energy to lessen symptoms, and herbal preparations can keep the inflammation in check and reduce sensitivity to pain. Additionally, joint pain can be substantially affected with consistent gentle exercises such as qi gong, tai qi, and long walks . Qi (chee) is the Chinese term for the body's energy flow. Suggestions for pain may well include developing more comprehensive ways of dealing with mental and emotional stress.
Now that the holidays are over and the long nights of eating and merry-making are behind us, Lose Weight and Feel Great Month this January reminds us that now we need to shed those extra pounds we probably gained.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 97.1 million adults are overweight, and 39.8 million of those people also meet the criteria for obesity. Approximately 280,000 deaths and 39.3 million missed workdays are attributable to obesity each year.
While Americans spend $33 billion annually on weight-loss products and services, the prevalence of obesity increased by almost 30 percent between 1991 and 2000. Those seeking an alternative to diet fads and short-term solutions are turning to lifestyle changes that often include the use of acupuncture and tai chi.
When attempting to diet, many people experience withdrawal, or cravings, because of a lack of endorphins. The need to eat is often so strong that dieters binge on food. This is one reason why diets often cause people to gain more weight rather than lose it.
Acupuncture and tai chi counterbalance these cravings by releasing endorphins in the brain, which actually alleviate the withdrawal symptoms many dieters experience and eventually succumb to.
Weight gain can also be caused by stress, which increases cortizol levels in the body. This increase in cortizol can alter metabolism, thus causing stressed people to gain weight. As with cravings, the endorphins released by acupuncture and the gentle motions of tai chi also help reduce stress, which can reduce the need to overeat.
Both tai chi and acupuncture can also stimulate the hyopthalamus. This induces weight loss because the hypothalamus regulates the body's thyroid and hormone levels, which in turn regulate metabolism.
In addition to regulating the body internally, tai chi also provides the benefits of exercise by building strength, restoring balance and increasing flexibility. Tai Chi's gentle movements and low physical impact make it a great activity for aging bodies, those recovering from injury, or people looking to change up their exercise routine.By: Malcolm Simmonds
Herbs and naturopathy are two approaches that complement one another to form a whole system of healthcare - herbal naturopathy. To see how, it is useful to look at some of the significant features of the two individual disciplines.
For thousands of years herbs were the principal form of medical treatment. They have overshadowed only in the last hundred years or so by western science-based medicine, which views the body as a set of chemical reactions rather than an organic whole. Modern medicine tends to use drugs to suppress the symptoms of illness. Herbs, on the other hand, aim to assist the body's own healing processes which, by definition, work on the body as a complete whole.
Herbal means of promoting health are becoming more and more popular and people are becoming increasingly distrustful of the powerful and frequently toxic drugs prescribed by mainstream medical practitioners. Newspaper and magazine articles dealing with herbs appear with increasing frequency, and herbal treatments are becoming more accepted among some general practitioners and other members of the medical profession.
Sometimes a strong herbal remedy is required and in these cases it is necessary to consult a practitioner who has an extensive herbal training. These stronger remedies can provide a very effective treatment, but they can be costly and time-consuming.
Milder herbal products can be found at health food shops or mail-order suppliers of which Specialist Herbal Supplies is one. These products can be used safely without the need for supervision. Being milder in their effects, however, they are likely to be more effective when combined with naturopathy.
Although the term 'naturopathy' is only beginning to become more widely recognised, many of its methods are familiar and include the following:
- Relaxation, including some psycho-therapeutic approaches such as meditation or counselling
- Moderate exposure to sunshine
- Hydrotherapeutic (water-based) treatments, such as hot baths, alternating immersion of parts of the body in hot and cold water, and hip baths for the pelvic areas
- Bowel cleansing through enemas or colonics, and liver cleansing
- Bony and soft tissue manipulation
Naturopathy uses various combinations of these methods to promote health. Here is more detail on some of these.
Health can be improved in a variety of ways with the help of dietary changes. One of the simplest improvements to make is to increase the quantities of fruit and vegetables in the diet. A mixed salad with each main meal is a simple and extremely beneficial way of increasing the quantity of minerals, vitamins and enzymes consumed each day. The health-giving properties of a salad can be enhanced by using a dressing that includes, among other ingredients, extra virgin olive oil, organic cyder vinegar, fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper and mustard.
Although not usually considered to be part of a diet, fasting allows the energy usually expended on digesting food to be diverted to the body's natural self-healing processes.
There are a number of options when fasting. The most severe method is to abstain from eating food completely for a number of days. This fast should be supervised by a naturopath. A milder version of fasting is to eat only fruit, or drink nothing but fruit juice for two or three consecutive days. Several pounds of fruit or several litres of juice, plus additional water to drink, would be needed each day. If you are basically well, you can safely use these milder forms of fasting on your own, and repeat each two weeks for two or three days. Otherwise a naturopath's help is again recommended.
Three considerations when carrying out any type of fast are:
1. Plan to have extra rest.
2. Expect some headaches at first - especially if you suddenly cut out drinking tea and coffee. Headaches can occur as extra toxins pass from the tissues into the blood stream. This is much more likely if you suddenly withdraw from caffeine consumption. It is better to slowly reduce then eliminate tea and coffee over a week or so. The likelihood of headaches reduces each time you fast.
3. After the fast, take a day to gently re-introduce starchy foods and protein to allow your body to get used to them again.
It is surprising how many people take virtually no exercise other than walking around in the normal course of their lives. This contributes to widespread heart problems and obesity. For many people, introducing moderate exercise - such as taking up a sport, having a long walk twice a week or learning to dance - would greatly benefit health. Exercise increases the circulation of body fluids that carry nutrients to, and waste products from, every organ, muscle and tissue in the body.
With exercise, there is the same range of options of 'mild' to 'extreme' that are found in the in the other naturopathic activities listed above. Exercise needs to be carried out, but not to the point where it's distressing.
Exercise need not cost anything. Although it's possible to join a gym, you could do at least as well by taking a long walk every day which would cost you nothing.
Combining mild herbal products with naturopathy results in a valuable and effective system. The more specific nature of the herbs, which are aimed at particular organs or areas of the body, complements the generally helpful effects of naturopathy on the body's overall health.
But where do you start?
One way is to decide which area of your life you would benefit most from improving: your eating habits, exercise, stress management or working habits. Or perhaps you would like to make some changes in more than one of these areas. Set a day when you are going to start implementing these changes.
Then, choose which areas most need herbal support. If you are generally in good health, then you would probably benefit most from colon cleansing and liver cleansing. These are two of the main organs which eliminate toxins from the body, and so you will benefit from cleansing these organs.
Keep Yourself Healthy
If you are ill, do visit a practitioner for a consultation and treatment plan. But if you are healthy and want to keep well, herbal naturopathy is a practical and empowering approach which will help you to care for your own health.
There was a constant reminder that we 'are part of Nature and channeled into the cycles of Nature'. Hence the Five Element theory which provides us with a set of correspondences by which we can link our physical and
psychological characteristics with the seasons, the elements, times of day, specific foods, animals and so on. In ancient rural China this was a far simpler process than in modern Western highly urbanized society and, yet, the rules remain unchanged. The health and sense of well-being of the individual is in direct relationship with his or her social and environmental matrix. This includes such factors as the quality of our food and water, the air we breathe, weather conditions, relaxation, sleep, work, exercise and relationships of all kinds.
In our current attempt to control, manipulate and exploit both natural and human 'resources', often solely in the search of short-term profit, we are violating laws that will only lead to a rising incidence of physical and mental ill-health. Many of our illnesses today are related to stresses, such as increased pressure in working and family life and the increasing toxicity in our food, air and water in the form of complex cocktails of chemicals and radiations. As individuals, we have certain immediate choices we can make in regard to our health, such as how much we choose to smoke or drink or how much exercise we take. Ultimately, however, we may have to look further at the wider political and economic structures if we are to achieve a society which is more in tune with natural forces and more caring of our health and well-being.
If we look at the principles of Chinese medicine we see that, like everything else in the universe, our bodies can be classified according to the two distinct forces of Yin and Yang. These forces are in constant interplay. The Yin force is more substantial and is associated with the interior front and lower parts of the body. It moistens and cools. It is associated with night and darkness and promotes relaxation and sleep. Yin is more heavy and material and will condense and contract. It is associated with the earth, the moon, autumn, winter, decrease and inwardness. A person who is deficient in Yin may suffer slight fever or feelings of heat in the late afternoon, night sweating and a dry throat at night, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and restlessness. The tongue will be red, peeled and cracked. This is because the cooling moistening grounding aspects of Yin are not apparent. Oils such as the rose and geranium support the function of Yin. These oils are often used during the menopause when the Yin energy of the woman is depleted.
Yang is associated with the back, exterior and upper parts of the body. It is energizing, moving and less substantial. It is hot and dry and associated with day, the sun, spring, summer, increase and expansion. If Yang in the body is deficient, the person may be cold, pale, depressed and lethargic. The tongue will be pale with a white coating and the pulse weak. Essential oils which promote Yang in the body are warm tonifying oils such as ginger, rosemary, thyme and cinnamon. These are herbs and spices we instinctively use in winter to counteract the cold Yin time of year along with warming, cooked food.
If Yang is in excess, there will be too much heat and activity in the body resulting in fever, burning pains, inflammation, dryness, red tongue and rapid pulse. The differences between excess Yang and deficient Yin is that one is a 'full' overactive condition and the other an 'empty' depleted condition. Essential oils to counteract excess Yang are cooling, moistening oils such as lavender, lemon, camomile and melissa. Our diet should have a preponderance of raw, cooling foods such as salads and fruit.
1. Skin brush every morning on awaking to feel re-invigorated. Skin brushing improves blood circulation and lymphatic circulation. Not only increasing body temperature but also improving general immunity.
2. Mustard, Ginger & Cayenne powder added to your bath. Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of this mixture to running bath water. This remedy is especially helpful to those suffering with colds and flu. The diaphoretic (sweating) action of these warming herbs can also balance the circulation. (In other circumstances, they are also valuable for 'sweating out' a fever.)
3. Exercise . Gentle or otherwise (especially 'Cardio vascular' stimulants such as running, skipping, swimming) gives a boost to the circulation, Immune System and body temperature.
4. Drink Ginger Root Tea . Ginger Root tea is a great winter warmer. Ginger is slow acting but it's warming effects tend to last longer than the powerful initial 'hit' that Cayenne gives. Ginger teas can be found in your local supermarkets in convenient tea bags. However, using the fresh root (found in all good supermarkets) grated, gently simmered for 5-10 minutes and strained, makes a superior and cost-effective tea, if you've got the time to make it.
5. Add a pinch of Cayenne powder to food and drink. Cayenne Pepper is available in powder from all good supermarkets. Just a pinch or even a few grains mixed into foods and drinks will increase body temperature and blood circulation. If used regularly, you will get more used to it, and you will gradually be able to use more and more of this fine herb.
6. Make sure your ankles and wrists are always well covered. If these sensitive areas of the body are exposed to the cold, your hands and feet will naturally become colder too, and your whole body is soon affected. Cover them well.
7. Use multiple layers of clothing . In cold weather, layered clothing is essential. At least three layers should be worn. The layer closest to your skin should be very warm, but soft and comfortable such as thermal underwear, longjohns etc. Next, comes a padded or cushioned layer which is quite thick e.g. woollen jumper or fleeced jumper. This traps air which is a great insulator. Finally, the outer layer which helps to keep the insulating air within the middle layer. This outer layer needs to be appropriate to your situation a light jacket for inside, or waterproof jackets and trousers of some sort if outside.
8. Maximise your chances of keeping warm by always wearing your 'winter set' .
Q: What is a 'winter set'?
A: Hat, Scarf and Gloves.
A high percentage of heat is lost via your head, so, wearing a hat will minimize this loss. Your throat is the easiest pathway for bacteria and viral infections to enter the body. Your immune cells work more efficiently at higher temperatures. This is the reason why your body produces a fever during infections and why it is a mistake to try and lower the fever with aspirin (unless it gets dangerously high.) So keep your neck and throat warm with a scarf. If your hands are cold then the rest of your body will eventually feel very cold. Improving blood circulation will help to keep extremities warm.
9. Eat warming foods . This covers a large spectrum of foods. There are the hot foods which give a napalm blast but then the warming effects are over fairly quickly. For example, Chili con carne; Vindaloo; Mexican tacos; Chili sauce; Tabasco sauce; Horseradish sauce etc. More gentle but longer lasting warming foods would include Porridge oats; all winter root vegetables i.e. swede, turnip; Garlic; Ginger; Onions; Barley; Soups; Stews/Casseroles; Raw foods (this may seem strange, but more heat is produced through digesting raw foods then eating cooked foods).
10. Keep your Kidneys warm. Your Kidneys are in the small of your back just underneath your rib cage. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Kidneys hold the life force the 'chi' of the human body. Therefore these small but crucial organs need much care and attention which for the most part is rarely undertaken by their owners! The Kidneys are related to the Winter element, and Water. They are involved in rheumatism or arthritis and weakness in the knees or ankles.
Keep your Kidneys warm with extra padding, a belt or scarf wrapped around your middle, or sleeveless jacket, or just ensure your clothing is tucked in so there is no space for a draught. This will help to keep your whole body warm throughout the winter months.
"He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever."