Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - March 2005 | Issue 3
In this issue you will find:
Important March Dates to Remember
- March 20 - First Day of Spring
- March 23 - New York Open House
- March 23 - Chicago Open House (Massage)
- March 26 - San Diego Open House
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Acupuncture and Athletes: A New Trend in Sports Medicine
Acupuncture has been a growing trend in the world of sports. Athletes use it to ease tension caused by overtraining, heal and prevent future injury and to cope with the stress of competition. Standard medicine initially treats injury with the R.I.C.E. method -- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation -- but elite athletes are discovering that acupuncture can help speed the healing process.
Physical wellness is an important factor in athletic performance. Acupuncture creates a healthy, balanced body when used in conjunction with other therapies such as massage. Acupuncture can also decrease swelling, bruising and muscle spasms. It shortens healing time by improving blood supply to the affected area and increases the range of movement -- especially in the treatment of joint injuries -- by removing body waste products that cause swelling.
Acupuncture compels the body to create its own natural painkillers, anti-inflammatory and anti-stress hormones. Every athlete will respond differently to different types of treatments and therapies, and it is up to the physician to determine which combinations will work best for individual athletes, but from tennis elbow to twisted ankles to stressed knees, acupuncture can aid every type of athlete.
While most athletes are treated for body pain, mental effects of competitive sports are as important as physical aspects. According to Matt Callison, a faculty member at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and licensed acupuncturist in San Diego , Calif. , "After acupuncture treatment, the athlete feels the effect on the nervous and proprioceptive systems. The common response is less pain and a feeling of structural integrity; therefore, a side benefit is a psychological one, as the athlete subjectively knows he/she is getting better and able to compete again. In addition, by balancing the meridian systems with acupuncture, the sympathetic and parasympathetic reach homeostasis. This has a calming affect on the mind -- a direct benefit to injury rehabilitation."
Acupuncture's potential for athletic enhancement is massive, and its role in the world of sports is key for athletes and sports professionals who are anxious for that optimum performance.
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Back to Basics: Sleep
By: Jennifer M. Moffitt, MS, L.Ac., Dip. OM
While everyone understands the importance of a good night's sleep, many people in our culture are chronically sleep deprived, and don't realize that they either 1) don't get enough sleep or 2) don't benefit from the sleep they receive. The Good
First before we cover anything else, let's define what constitutes a good night's sleep. Generally speaking, most people need 7-10 hours of sleep (surprise, surprise). The sleep should be deep, continuous and uninterrupted. Upon waking, you should feel rested and refreshed. Generally, it is considered normal to get up at night one time to urinate, but you should be able to fall back to sleep easily and quickly. The Bad
Frequent sleep patterns I observe in patients that are not healthy, and that are problematic:
**You find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep (It should not take 2 hours!)
**You wake frequently during the night, or don't achieve a deep sleep
**You wake early in the morning (4 AM and can't go back to sleep)
**You need to urinate more than once per night
**You don't feel rested in the morning
**You have frequent active dreams or nightmares
**You suffer leg cramps or pain that make it difficult to sleep The Western Medical Perspective
Now from the perspective of western medicine, insomnia is defined as the following:
**Difficulty falling asleep
**Waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep
**Waking up too early in the morning
Do you fit any of these categories? Surprisingly, the number of hours you sleep is not a determining factor in diagnosing insomnia. Rather, it is the quality and regularity of sleep that is most important. In allopathic medicine, it is generally accepted that people over 55 generally have shallower sleep that is more fragmented, with frequent waking and decreased daytime alertness.
Many patients with chronic pain or illness are surprised to discover that what they consider a "normal" sleep cycle may be very poor indeed. In my clinic, almost without exception I find that patients with pain, inflammatory conditions and chronic fatigue have poor sleep patterns, and that their subjective experience of pain is almost double that of someone who sleeps well. Like it or not, in order to achieve the best health possible, some time and attention must be given to improving your sleeping habits. Sleep deprivation can make you fat.
In our discussions of qi and vital energy , it makes sense that if you don't sleep, then you don't get enough rest to recharge your batteries. But it is much more complex than that - chronic sleep deprivation interferes with the chemical messengers (called hormones) that the body uses to communicate on a cellular level. Now most of us think of hormones as those pesky critters that cause problems in personal relationships, a lá Mars-Venus, or what changes during menopause, pregnancy, etc. But there are literally dozens of hormones used by the body to communicate between systems - we understand a mere fraction of how they interact with each other. But to disrupt the endocrine system means that even if you give the body the best nutrition and supplements in the world, it may not recognize the fuel that you give it or be able to use it appropriately. The body's failure to recognize its own fuel it may explain some of the overeating patterns seen in our society today.
Researchers at the University of Chicago found that they were able to induce a pre-diabetic state in their healthy male subjects (ages 18 - 27) merely by limiting their sleep to 4 hours per night for one week. They found that the metabolic and endocrine changes from significant sleep debt mimic the aging process, and suggest that chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset but also the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss. (1,2,3) These metabolic changes were particularly strong when tested in the morning, with glucose tolerance tests that were consistent with the diagnostic criteria for impaired glucose tolerance, an indication of early-stage diabetes. Furthermore, patients with chronic sleep deprivation had higher circulating levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) with implications for inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. (4)
The good news, however, is that all study patients returned to baseline levels after spending more than 12 hours in bed, with added benefits noted when they consistently spent more than 8 hours in bed per night. The studies suggest that our health may be improved by getting more than 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Turn off the computer.
When working with a new patient, before I consider herbs or other measures, I find it helpful to consider behavior when it comes to bedtime and sleep. How do you typically spend the evening hours? Believe it or not, our activities in the evening have a profound impact on our ability to have restorative sleep, and minor activity changes can yield dramatic results with little other intervention.
It is important to establish an evening sleep ritual. Parents of young children already know this - my friends with young children jealously guard regularity and bedtime like mother tigers. This does not change as we age - the body likes and needs regularity, and you can actually help re-train the body to sleep by following the same patterns every night before bed.
Make a rule with yourself to turn off the computer or stop studying/book work by 9 PM or so. Many times, folks who work on the computer or in the office until it's time for bed are surprised when they cannot fall asleep. From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, analytical work causes the qi to rise to the head, which can lead to the mental-hamster-wheel that so many of us experience in the evening. If this seems unrealistic, remember that the time sacrificed working in the evening is often made up for by greater productivity and better health during the day. Whatever benefits you may have derived from working or studying late are soon wasted after a night tossing and turning. Other supportive practices include:
**Take a hot bath or shower, and give yourself a nightly massage on the feet with pure therapeutic grade lavender oil to help to calm the mind and move the qi out of the head. (I stress pure lavender oil here because perfumed soaps and lotions do not have the same medicinal properties that pure plant extracts do. Therapeutic grade oils can usually be found at Henry's, Whole Foods, or your local health food store. Young Living Essential Oils makes a very pure Lavender oil which you can purchase online. Young children and folks with sensitive skin should dilute pure lavender oil with olive oil before rubbing onto their feet.)
**Avoid any caffeine, soda, green tea or chocolate after 5 pm.
**Go to bed on an empty stomach!! This one is HUGE: the body's digestive processes slow down at night, and a heavy meal such as roast beef, gravy, french fries and cheesecake can keep your stomach busy digesting for over 8 hours. You won't sleep as soundly during this process, and some of my patients don't sleep at all. A low-fat meal such as fish and veggies can be digested in a few hours, and you can facilitate this by the use of a digestive enzyme. For folks with heartburn, hiatal hernia, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), this is even more important. If scheduling is a problem, then you might choose to make lunch your biggest meal, and eat more simply in the evenings to avoid the "boa-constrictor-like" lump that will sit in your tummy and interfere with sleeping.
**For my patients with nocturia (frequent urination at night) it is often helpful to avoid beverages after 7 PM until we strengthen the bladder and kidneys.
**Gentle, slow moving hatha yoga or qi gong can help relax the body and calm restless mental chatter. Be careful to maintain slow ground postures which do not induce sweat or strain. The focus should be to clear the mind and relax the body rather than a work out or strengthening.
**Go to be a little earlier to take advantage of the Yin energy available before midnight.
Remember that we described yin as cooling, night, inert, and in TCM theory, sleep is described as falling into "the envelope of yin," which is at its peak before midnight. The most beneficial sleep is, in fact, that which is achieved before midnight, with every hour before worth 2 of the hours afterwards. Whether that is literally the case remains to be seen, but it is generally harder for the body to slip into that "cool mantle of yin" after 12 AM.
If you take all these steps and still do not have restful sleep, accept the fact that you may need to get some outside help to restore the body's sleep cycle. For patients with chronic disease and pain, this is even more important.
Acupuncture and oriental medicine can be extremely helpful for treating many types of insomnia, and you may want to start there.
Remember that chronic insomnia disrupts many areas of the body's chemistry, so it will take time and patience to see results, sometimes several months. Don't stop treatment before the miracle happens. most of my regular senior patients now sleep better than I do.
1. Plat, L., Leproult, R., L'Hermite-Baleriaux, M., Fery, F., Mockel, J., Polonsky, K.S., & Van Cauter, E. (1999). Metabolic effects of short-term elevations of plasma cortisol are more pronounced in the evening than in the morning. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 84, 3082-3092, http://endocrinology.uchicago.edu/facultypages/fac_cauter.html
2. Spiegel, K., Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (1999). Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. Lancet, 354, 1435-1439
3. Van Cauter, E., Leproult, R., & Plat, L. (2000). Age-related changes in slow wave sleep and REM sleep and relationship with growth hormone and cortisol levels in healthy men. Journal of the American Medical Association, 284, 861-868.
4. Redwine, Laur, Richard L. Hauger, J. Christian Gillin and Michael Irwin. Effects of Sleep and Sleep Deprivation on Interleukin-6, Growth Hormone, Cortisol, and Melatonin Levels in Humans The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 85, No. 10 3597-3603 ( http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/85/10/3597 )
5. Pathophysiology of the Endocrine System ( http://arbl.cvmbs.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/ )
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Spring Health Notes
In Traditional Chinese Medicine our bodies and our selves reflect the natural world we live in. Being in harmony with the seasons increases health and well being.
Spring is a great time to start or move forward with new projects, exercise programs, and creative endeavors. With spring cleaning - "Keep it if it helps you grow; if you don't need it let it go."
The color for spring is green. Eating green vegetables and hiking in green woods are especially beneficial at this time of year, helping you to increase flexibility which is especially important in the spring. Stretching protects your tendons and sinews.
Qi gong movement and breathing exercises can help you to achieve optimal physical and emotional balance, easing irritability and anger that can arise at this time of year. Take a class, or ask your practitioner to demonstrate.
Wind rises in the spring. Keep the back of your neck covered on windy days to prevent spring cold/flus.
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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
"True knowledge is when one knows the limitations of one's knowledge." ---Confucius
Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - February 2005 | Issue 2
Celebrate Chinese New Year! In this issue you will find:
Important February Dates to Remember
- 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
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Chinese New Year: Year of the Rooster
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.
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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.
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Properties of Oriental Medicine Herbs
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.
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The Journal Of Chinese Medicine Celebrates It's 25th Year
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." Common Chinese Herbal Formulas for Pain Due To Trauma
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.
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Chinese Herbal Prozac: Depression and Traditional Chinese Medicine
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.
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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