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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - June 2009 | Issue 63

In this issue you will find:

 

Important PCOM Dates:

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New Financial Aid Options for Our ACCSC Accredited Programs!

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine has always been known for its Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine and Master of Acupuncture degrees. Recently, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSC) has accredited Pacific College’s MSTOM, MSAc, Bachelor’s, Associate’s, and massage certificate programs.

While previously accredited by ACAOM, ACCSC accreditation means that those students that are eligible can now apply for financial aid not only for the MSTOM and MSAc degree programs, but also for the Bachelor, Associate, and massage certificate programs available at Pacific’s campuses. ACCSC is a nationally recognized accrediting agency approved by the United States Department of Education. This is an honor for PCOM, and is symbolic of the school’s dedication to providing quality education and making the success of its students a priority.

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Massage Can Combat Cellulite

Cellulite is the result of fat cells that accumulate beneath superficial layers of skin. Retention of water in these areas of the body makes the connective tissue in the skin stiff, which creates the dimpled appearance of cellulite. Diet and exercise are key components to conquering cellulite, however, sometimes even this is not enough. Keeping hydrated and consistently drinking water is important to keep the skin and connective tissue flexible and to help flush the body of toxins that may contribute to cellulite.

Since sedentary activities like desk jobs and long daily car rides can cause cellulite, improving the blood flow and circulation of the thighs, stomach, and buttocks can improve the resident cellulite found there. Caffeine is known to activate circulation, and applying caffeine-infused lotions to these areas can firm the skin. However, various massages are highly effective in improving circulation, releasing muscle tension and toxins, and loosening up the body to improve future workouts. Some of these massage techniques include lypossage, dermasculpture, and body wraps.

Lypossage is similar to the process of lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage therapy uses light rhythmic massage to increase circulation and lymphatic flow. While it can be used for a variety of conditions when applied to different areas on the body, lypossage is known to reduce water retention and renew blood circulation. In her article “Cellulite Management,” Phyllis Hanlon recommends receiving lypossage in specific zones that target cellulite. Zone one targets the body from the navel to mid-thigh and has been called “the garbage dump of the body.” This area is where extra weight in women is generally kept. Zone two includes the navel to the clavicle and arms for women with larger breasts. The lymph nodes located under the arms can be softened with massage and will then jumpstart circulation for the whole body. Zone three involves the head, neck, and face, and involves lymphatic drainage. Like exercise, keeping massage sessions consistent yields the best results.

Dermasculpture is a form of full body massage. This technique does not use lotions or oils, and the massage therapist uses his or her thumbs, knuckles, and palms to gently knead muscles. This form of massage, in particular, leaves patients feeling energized and invigorated. As Hanlon points out, it is a great addition to a weight-loss program because it brings a patient in tune with his or her body and heightens physical awareness. Promoting physical awareness is important in any form of body firming because it often leads to healthier habits; being more in tune with one’s body makes it more difficult to abuse or neglect.

Body wraps use herbs to cleanse skin tissue and membranes just under the upper layer of skin, where cellulite resides. Especially if used regularly, these wraps hydrate the skin and improve elasticity – increasing firmness. Like massage, having a body wrap applied is a relaxing experience. It can take up to two hours (in which the patient can simultaneously receive a facial or cranial massage), and patients should wait about six to eight hours before showering to ensure the ingredients absorption.

While body wraps operate on the power of absorption, with the skin taking in circulatory-enhancing herbs, certain spas have begun advertising far infrared saunas – a tactic that depends upon the secretion of toxins. In normal saunas, a person can sweat 3 percent toxins and 97 percent water. In a far infrared sauna, 20 percent of toxins can be secreted along with 80 percent water. This type of sauna also functions at a lower temperature, making the experience more comfortable. Ridding the body of toxins via heat dilates the body’s blood vessels and cleanses the circulatory system. Cells receive more oxygen and fat cells can be freed from skin layers into the blood stream to be burned off later. 

Each of these treatments can provide smoother skin and decrease dimples. In conjunction with a healthy diet and increased exercise, these natural remedies can help people achieve their fitness goals without the aid of surgery or chemical enhancement. Self-esteem, youthful appearance, and summer fun will be increased along with circulation and elasticity with these organic techniques.

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The Many Benefits of Chinese Cupping

Traditional Chinese medicine brings to mind acupuncture and the use of natural herbs as healing remedies. Cupping is a lesser-known treatment that is also part of Oriental medicine, one that can provide an especially pleasant experience. One of the earliest documentations of cupping can be found in the work titled A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, which was written by a Taoist herbalist by the name of Ge Hong and which dates all the way back to 300 AD.

Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin. There are several ways that a practitioner can create the suction in the cups. One method involves swabbing rubbing alcohol onto the bottom of the cup, then lighting it and putting the cup immediately against the skin. Suction can also be created by placing an inverted cup over a small flame, or by using an alcohol-soaked cotton pad over an insulating material (like leather) to protect the skin, then lighting the pad and placing an empty cup over the flame to extinguish it. Flames are never used near the skin and are not lit throughout the process of cupping, but rather are a means to create the heat that causes the suction within the small cups.            

Once the suction has occurred, the cups can be gently moved across the skin (often referred to as “gliding cupping). The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage – rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes. This is similar to the practice of Tui Na, a traditional Chinese medicine massage technique that targets acupuncture points as well as painful body parts, and is well known to provide relief through pressure.

Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. For weight loss and cellulite treatments, oil is first applied to the skin, and then the cups are moved up and down the surrounding area.

Like acupuncture, cupping follows the lines of the meridians. There are five meridian lines on the back, and these are where the cups are usually placed. Using these points, cupping can help to align and relax qi, as well as target more specific maladies. By targeting the meridian channels, cupping strives to ‘open’ these channels – the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs, thus providing a smoother and more free-flowing qi (life force). Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected materials. Even hands, wrists, legs, and ankles can be ‘cupped,’ thus applying the healing to specific organs that correlate with these points.

This treatment is also valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a common cold or help to control a person’s asthma. In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common maladies that cupping is used to relieve. Three thousand years ago, in the earliest Chinese documentation of cupping, it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“He who asks is a fool for a short time; he who never asks is a fool forever.”

~ anonymous

 

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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - April 2009 | Issue 62


In this issue you will find:

 

Important PCOM Dates:

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Naturally Curbing the Effects of Tinnitus

Exposure to sudden, loud music or explosive noises can cause tinnitus, a nerve disorder that involves a consistent ringing sound in a person’s ears. At its worse, tinnitus can lead to deafness. Tinnitus affects one in 10 people, and can range from mild to chronic. While it is a common problem for veterans and the elderly, other common causes include whiplash or even dental work. However, there is evidence that if caught early, tinnitus can be improved and eventually cured with the use of natural medicine, such as acupuncture and certain vitamins.

Tinnitus is linked to nerve and touch sensitivity. For some people, clenching one’s jaws or applying pressure to the neck can bring on or dissipate tinnitus episodes. Acupuncture patients with this disorder will have a high response rate to the nerve’s natural response to pressure and the disorder’s sensitivity to certain points. The practice of acupuncture is based on the stimulation of certain points on the body, as well as meridians and channels. Stimulating specific points (which are determined based on the patient’s unique case) can rebalance the qi (one’s life force) and alleviate the source of the problem. It is integral in traditional Chinese medicine to treat the origin of an ailment as well as the symptoms, and TCM has several theories as to what cases tinnitus.

For example, in more temporary cases of tinnitus, high emotional strain or sudden anger can lead to a ringing in the ears. Also, diet can have an effect. Practitioners of TCM believe that excessive greasy foods or irregular eating can lead to Phlegm (a TCM term that commonly refers to a retention in body fluid), which prevents the rising of clear qi to the head (resulting in the “phantom noise” associated with tinnitus). Overworking or excessive physical strain can lead to a nerve disturbance, causing tinnitus. And lastly, trauma is a common cause of the ringing noise associated with this disorder.

A jarring physical episode, especially one that involves explosive noises, can alter a person’s hearing. Veterans are a large population of people suffering from tinnitus. According to the American Tinnitus Association, the number of veterans receiving disability for tinnitus has increased by 18 percent each year since the year 2000. There is also a link between the nerves involved in tinnitus and those involved with TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome), a condition that causes pain and some dislocation in the jaw. Acupuncture can relieve chronic pain, and also help alleviate the root of these two nerve conditions.
Another alternative treatment for tinnitus is to supplement one’s diet with lipoflavonoids. Lipoflavonoids are a combination of B vitamins that can strengthen the blood vessels that deliver nutrients to the hearing nerves. Also, altering one’s diet by limiting salt and caffeine, which may over stimulate ocular nerves, can also help restore the inner ear fluid balance – helping the nerves to function properly. Western medicine is limited in its treatment options for tinnitus; no prescription drug is available for this condition. However, with careful management and the natural remedies found in traditional Chinese medicine, there is a resource waiting to be tapped.

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Iyengar Yoga Shows Promise for Stroke Recovery

In the United States over 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year--two thirds are 60 and older. Many need help to restore their mobility and resume their daily lives. Most who have suffered a stroke report a general decline in overall health due to their decreased level of physical activity. Yoga practitioners insist that the gentle alternative exercises of a well-structured yoga program can be easily adapted for post stroke sufferers. Followers of yoga believe that individuals who have suffered a stroke and who are limited in mobility and stamina can benefit from this ancient healing art. One particular branch of yoga seems ideally suited for, and has demonstrated promise in, post stroke rehabilitation: Iyengar yoga.

What is Iyengar yoga? It’s a form of yoga developed by B.K.S Iyengar. Considered the world's greatest living yoga master, Iyengar was born in 1914 and suffered from tuberculosis and typhoid at a young age. He developed a classical form of yoga using supports and props, which allowed older individuals with reduced mobility or disease to improve their general health and well-being. Using props allows individuals to accurately align their posture for maximum physical, physiological, and psychological benefit. It also allows older individuals to maintain these ideal postures for longer durations so that they can benefit from them. The proper sequence of the different postures also contributes to the overall benefit of this particular type of yoga.

The important point of difference with Iyengar yoga is that it focuses more intensely on the precise postures and controlled movements than other forms of yoga. This slower and less dynamic approach is ideal for older and/or post stroke individuals, allowing them to gain the full benefits of yoga without strain or exertion.

A yoga-based exercise program for individuals with chronic post stroke hemiparesis (a weakness on one side of the body) can be beneficial. In a pilot study with poststroke patients, a gentle yoga exercise program adapted for people who had recently suffered a stroke showed some benefit. This was a preliminary investigation of the effects of a yoga-based exercise program on people with chronic (greater than 9 months) post stroke hemiparesis.

The pilot study included four individuals with chronic poststroke hemiparesis. The primary outcome measures were the Berg Balance Scale (14-item scale designed to measure balance of older, impaired people with brain injury). Also used was the Timed Movement Battery (designed to measure the range of mobility in elderly individuals). Finally, the Stroke Impact Scale  (a test to assess changes in impairments, disabilities and handicaps following a stroke) was also administered. The baseline testing phase varied for each individual and ranged from four to seven weeks. The eight week intervention phase was made up of 1.5-hour yoga sessions, twice a week in the person’s home. The results: three of the four individuals showed an improved range of mobility, and two individuals showed improved balance. These results, although demonstrated on a small percentage of poststroke individuals, suggest that yoga may be beneficial to people who have had a stroke.

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Herbal Therapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine

When most people think of Chinese medicine they think of acupuncture, and perhaps some have heard of other techniques such as Qi Gong. Indeed, these modalities are all part of Chinese medicine, more accurately referred to as traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM. However, an equally important, if not more important, aspect of TCM is the use of herbal medications in conjunction with these other practices.

Western medicine tends to ridicule the efficacy of nutritional supplements and herbal medication. However, over 50 percent of so-called modern pharmaceuticals are derived from botanical substances. There are about 600 different herbs that are most commonly prescribed by Chinese herbalists. Yet the Chinese pharmacopoeia lists over 6,000 different medicinal substances by their properties and by the qi disturbances they can help to correct.

In TCM all things, especially living things, have qi (a life force). Herbal medicinal formulations are not only created to treat specific qi disorders, each herb and plant has its own qi, which forms the basis of its mechanism of action. In TCM, herbs are categorized by their natural makeup; their qi. The herbs are described and organized by “Temperature” and “Taste”. Herbs are either cold, cool, hot, or neutral, and/or spicy, sweet, and bitter. Herbs are also designated by the four directions, based on quadrants of the body related to the specific areas they treat.

Unlike other forms of herbal medicine, the Chinese herbalist will rarely prescribe a single herb for the treatment of an illness. Chinese herbs are almost always used in combination. It is the herbalist’s ability to diagnose and the skills with which the practitioner creates these formulations, that gives the herbs their healing power. Each herb itself is often a mix of temperature and taste, and therefore doesn’t posses a single property. It is up to the herbalist to weave them together like the notes of symphony to deliver a cure.
 

How are Chinese Herbs Taken?

The traditional way that Chinese Herbal Medicines are administered is in an infusion, or decoction, a concentrated form of tea. However, there are practitioners that will create herbal pills or capsules of herbal formulations. You may find some practitioners who will also use tinctures and granules, but the tea is still the more common, and some would say the most effective.

What Are Chinese Herbs Used to Treat?

Chinese herbal medicines are a pillar of TCM and, therefore, are used to treat any and all ailments. However, Chinese herbs have proven to be very effective in treating colds, digestive disorders, arthritis, and those who suffer from allergies. There has been a recent and growing interest in the anti-aging benefits of various Chinese herbs as well.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

~ Confucius

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - February 2009 | Issue 61


In this issue you will find:

Important PCOM Dates:

 

• March 12th: (Thursday) Chicago Open House
• March 12th: (Thursday) New York Open House
• March 25th: (Wednesday) San Diego Program and Application Workshop

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Acupuncture Eases Battlefield Pain

Chronic pain is one of the most common ailments that acupuncture can relieve. The United States military has recently incorporated this Oriental health benefit into their offered medical services. Andrews Air force Base in Maryland has begun using this ancient Chinese technique to treat wounded troops for chronic pain. This is the first high-level endorsement of acupuncture by the traditionally conservative military medical community, and marks a milestone for Oriental medicine's increasing popularity and accessibility.

The use of acupuncture is proving so successful in the Air Force that a class about "battlefield acupuncture" is scheduled to commence in the New Year. Physicians deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan will soon be adding acupuncture to their list of medical remedies. Auricular acupuncture (acupuncture of the ear) is the primary technique that will be taught. This method can alleviate wide ranges of pain (even unbearable, sharp chronic pain) for days at a time. Patients who have been suffering in a daze of drug-induced sleep as their only means at pain reduction can begin to emerge from that state into fuller consciousness without pain.

Individuals treated with acupuncture report greater reductions in pain both immediately after the first and last treatments, and one week after the last treatment. It is important to have acupuncture treatments consistently for the treatment of chronic pain. Another reason acupuncture may work so well for wounded troops is because it is deemed especially effective in regard to pain caused by motion. Acupuncture is a safe form of treatment for people with chronic neck pain and offers clear clinical advantages over conventional massage or prescribed medication in the reduction of pain and improvement of mobility. It doesn't just attack the symptom as drugs do but, rather, the cause of the pain, thus improving the patient's range of motion and sense of well-being.

Acupuncture can also reduce anxiety, something many wounded troops deal with daily. Battlefield acupuncture has been effective among patients suffering from a combination of combat wounds and psychological injury. Auricular acupuncture, in particular, is known to help patients relax, de-stress, and can greatly improve a patient's sleep pattern. Lastly, this practice is well suited to military bases and physicians on the go because it requires no bulky equipment, and can provide quick relief.

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Qi Gong For Revitalizing and Restoring Qi

Qi, pronounced "chee" and alternatively spelled "Chi" and less often "Ki," is the fundamental basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Qi in TCM is the most basic force or energy of the universe, of the body, and of life itself. Qi flows through the body much like blood and other fluids, to and from the vital Zang organs. In TCM, all ailments are caused by blocked, depressed, or inadequate Qi flow. All TCM modalities are designed to enhance or improve Qi, but perhaps none so profoundly or effectively as the ancient art of Qi Gong.

Literally translated "Qi" means "vital force" or "vital energy." "Gong" refers to a skill that is gained through years of practice. So, Qi Gong literally means to gain mastery over your vital energy. And this is why Qi Gong is such an effective form of healing in TCM and other methods in the emerging practice of Energy Medicine.

Much like Tai Chi, Qi Gong is an exercise regimen, a kind of moving mediation that stimulates and regulates the flow of Qi. Qi Gong can be internal - performed by oneself, or external - exercises administered to the patient by a Qi Gong master. The movements of Qi Gong are designed to emulate the rhythms of nature, especially the flow of water, or trees swaying in the breeze. In doing so, according to TCM, areas of Qi stagnation become unblocked, and key energy pathways are stimulated. For centuries, Western medicine has denied the Mind-Body connection and scoffed at practices such as Qi Gong and Yoga that purport to heal by bringing on changes in emotional or psychological states. However, there is mounting scientific evidence that the mind body connection is very real, and whether you accept the concept of "qi" or not - practices such as Qi Gong are undeniably effective in reducing stress. And stress is a very real component of many ailments.

Many studies using brain mapping and MRI's have shown that practices such as Qi Gong and meditation trigger what is known as the "relaxation response". The relaxation response is the opposite of the "fight or flight response." The concept has been the basis for Qi Gong for thousands of years but the phrase was first coined by researcher Herbert Bensen, M.D. during his studies of practitioners of Transcendental Meditation (TM). The relaxation response is best described as a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress. According to Dr. Bensen, "Repeated activation of the relaxation response can reverse sustained problems in the body and mend the internal wear and tear brought on by stress." Once achieved, the Relaxation Response:

 

  • Causes metabolism to slow
  • Causes the heart to beat slower and your muscles to relax
  • Causes your breathing to become slower
  • Lowers your blood pressure

 

EEGs taken while people where practicing Qi Gong indicated that the cerebral cortex enters a state of calm unknown in most people even during sleep. Qi Gong turns off the "fight or flight" mode of the nervous system, and switches on the parasympathetic branch, or the nervous system's healing mode. Furthermore, studies show that Qi Gong activates and stimulates neurons and the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which can result in significant memory improvement, learning, and enhancement of the physiological functions controlled by the brain - or as TCM would put it - enhance and restore your Qi.

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Acupuncture Can Reduce Side Effects of Cancer Treatments

Millions of patients undergo chemotherapy as part of their cancer treatment. Though controversial, chemotherapy uses very powerful drugs in an attempt to kill cancer cells. Although this may control some types of cancers and possibly prolong the lives of some patients, chemotherapy has many negative side effects. Among these are nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, anemia, body ache, headache, night sweats, stomach cramps and diarrhea. This has caused many patients to refuse this marginally effective and life-debilitating treatment. For those who still believe chemotherapy is worth pursuing, acupuncture can provide some relief in controlling the many undesirable side effects of chemotherapy.

Women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, for example, have found that acupuncture can be effective in managing such common side effects as hot flashes, night sweats, and excessive sweating. Compared to conventional drug therapy, acupuncture produces no side effects, according to a study presented in 2008 at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 50th Annual Meeting in Boston.*

Regrettably, a majority of women suffer from hot flashes after being treated with chemotherapy and/or anti-estrogen hormones, such as Tamoxifen and Arimidex. Hormone replacement therapy is often used to relieve hot flashes, but breast cancer patients can't avail themselves of this therapy due to an increased risk of a cancer's return. This leaves many women with the unpleasant alternative of being treated with steroids and/or antidepressant drugs. Unfortunately, these drugs have undesirable side effects, such as nausea, weight gain, constipation and fatigue. One of the most common drugs used to treat hot flashes, an antidepressant known as venlafaxine (Effexor), is plagued with side effects-including decreased libido, insomnia, dizziness and nausea.

A randomized clinical trial compared acupuncture to venlafaxine for 12 weeks to determine which was more effective in reducing night sweats, hot flashes, and sweating in breast cancer patients receiving hormonal therapy. The study involved 47 patients who received either Tamoxifen or Arimidex and suffered from at least 14 hot flashes per week. The Results were quite promising and showed that acupuncture reduced hot flashes as effectively as venlafaxine, with no side effects.*

Acupuncture also offers a number of positive benefits, including an increased sense of well-being, more energy, and in some cases, a stronger sex drive. Breast cancer survivors enjoy these benefits with a drug-free therapy that has no side effects. What's more, these benefits last longer than many drugs commonly used to treat night sweats. It's also more cost-effective for insurance companies.

Acupuncture uses thin, sterile needles inserted in specific points on your body to redirect energy through key channels (or meridians). During the procedure, you may experience a brief discomfort as the needles penetrate your skin, but once the needles are in place, most people relax and many even fall asleep. The number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes and may be administered once or twice a week.

Always consult your medical doctor before beginning any acupuncture therapy, or altering any physician-prescribed drug or other treatment program.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

"If you know, recognize that you know. If you don't know, then realize that you don't know: That is knowledge. "

 ~ Confucius

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - January 2009 | Issue 60


In this issue you will find:

 

Important PCOM Dates:

•  January 26th: (Monday) Chinese New Year
•  January 31st: (Saturday) New York Chinese New Year Celebration/ Open House 10:00am - 12:00pm
•  January 31st: (Saturday) Chicago Chinese New Year Celebration/ Open House 10:00am - 1:00-pm
•  February 7th: (Saturday) San Diego Chinese New Year Celebration/ Open House 3:00pm - 4:00pm

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Pacific College Celebrates the Chinese New Year

In celebration of Chinese New Year and the commencement of the Year of the Ox, Pacific College has planned free events that are open to the public on each of its three campuses.

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York will be hosting an Open House and a free celebration for the public on Saturday, January 31, 2009. The open house will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and is an admissions information session for prospective students. From 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., the campus will hold a Chinese New Year Celebration, which will include complimentary acupuncture treatments for relaxation. Additionally, a lecture titled, "Chinese Astrology: Year of the Ox" will be presented. Qigong workshops will be held, and a lecture about health tips for winter will also be given. This event is free and open to the public.

Pacific's Chicago campus will be holding a similar Chinese New Year celebration, Saturday, January 31, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The event will include information about Pacific College's master's, associate's and bachelor's programs, as well as Massage and Body Therapy programs. This festive event will also include acupuncture and Asian Bodywork demonstrations, and qi-building practices. Free acupuncture treatment coupons will be available for all attendees and refreshments will be served.

Pacific's San Diego campus will be hosting a free event for the public on Saturday, February 7, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. From 10:00 am to 11:45 am, there will be a Program Information Session for prospective students. From 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm there will be a Community Outreach Event. This celebration will be highlighted by free treatments that will last until 3:00 pm, including acupuncture for smoking cessation and stress relief, as well as massage and various Asian body therapies. There will also be Tai Ji and Qigong workshops. Festive refreshments will be served!  This event will also include an informational lecture titled, "A Discussion on Integrative Medicine and its Profession." This lecture will lead to discussions regarding integrative medicine and the professions of Asian body therapy, Thai massage, women's health, pediatrics, and complementary family practice.

For more information on any of these events, or to RSVP, please call (619) 574-6909 ext 130, or visit http://www.pacificcollege.edu/campuses/open_house_dates.html

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Chinese New Year: Year of the Ox

The year of the Ox is about to commence! 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 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 January 26th, 2009. Chinese New Year starts on a New Moon and ends with the lantern festival on the full moon 15 days later.

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.

So, for the first time since 1997, the year of the Ox presents itself in 2009. People born in the year of the Ox are known for their patience, strength of character, and their ability to inspire confidence in others. Ox people can also be eccentric and anger easily. While they may have fierce tempers, they are not easily provoked, and are respected for their patience. Although they tend to speak little, when they do express their opinions they are often eloquent. Ox people are generally easy-going and are mentally and physically alert. They can be extremely stubborn, but are also great listeners. People born in the year of the Ox are particularly compatible with Snake, Rooster, and Rat people.

There are many traditions that accompany the Chinese New Year. This celebration is also known as the Spring Festival, and is the longest and most celebrated event in the Chinese calendar. The celebrations last 15 days and are some of the most festive of the year. Preparations usually begin about one month before the New Year. Homes are thoroughly cleaned to sweep away any traces of bad luck. Doors and windowpanes are given a new coat of red paint and hung with paper scrolls decorated with themes of happiness, wealth and longevity, a practice believed to keep away ghosts and evil spirits. Many traditional Chinese homes also have live blooming plants and flowers symbolizing rebirth and wealth such as peony flowers and kumquat trees.

Great care is taken to set a good tone for the upcoming year. It is believed that one's behavior during New Year's can decide the mood for the rest of the year; words that sound like unlucky or undesirable events, such as death or poverty, are not to be spoken. Arguments, scolding children, crying and breaking things are also taboo. During this time, it is typical to wear something red, as this color is believed to ward off evil spirits. Black and white are avoided, as these colors are associated with mourning.

The Chinese use the New Year as a time to express their appreciation for protection and good fortune during the year. It is also a time of reconciliation when debts are paid and old grudges are easily cast aside. Although celebrations of the Chinese New Year vary, the underlying message is one of peace and happiness.

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The Ancient Benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong

For almost 3,000 years, millions of people in China have used Tai Chi and Qi Gong as a form of daily exercise. More and more Americans are trying and reaping the health benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong: two of the most effective balance and coordination conditioners in the world.

Developed more than six centuries ago by Taoist monks, Tai Chi consists of a series of gentle moves carried out in a slow, continuous manner that allows every part of the body to exercise. Suitable for individuals in varying degrees of health, Tai Chi and Qi Gong requires no special equipment and takes only 8-20 minutes to perform.

Much like acupuncture, Tai Chi and Qi Gong release blocks in the body's energy channels. Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises consist of gentle movements carried out in a continuous, non-strenuous and systematic manner that allow every part of the body to exercise. The rhythmic movements of the muscles, spine and joints remove the tense state of muscles, allowing qi and blood to circulate freely throughout the body.

Tai Chi and Qi Gong also provide the benefits of exercise by building strength, restoring balance, increasing flexibility and reducing stress. A low-impact exercise, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are believed to: boost the immune system; slow the aging process; lower blood pressure; reduce the incidence of anxiety, depression, fatigue and overall mood disturbances; minimize the effects of chronic conditions such as allergies and asthma; and improve breathing capacity. Tai Chi and Qi Gong have also been recommended as an adjunct therapy for people suffering from chronic pain, arthritis, insomnia, asthma, high blood pressure, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and psychosomatic illnesses. Other benefits of Tai Chi include building strength, restoring balance, increasing flexibility and reducing stress.

Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises can alleviate stress symptoms by releasing endorphins, the body's own natural painkillers, and improving the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids, which brings fresh oxygen to body tissues. This increased oxygen flow eliminates waste products from inside the body and enhances recovery from diseases. Tai Chi and Qi Gong can also decrease the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and relax muscle tissue.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 70 percent of all illness is due to unmanaged stress. Because mind/body therapies can treat or prevent these illnesses, the integration of tools such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong into our health institutions could save the U.S. $700 billion per year, and save trillions per year worldwide. Tai Chi and Qi Gong's gentle movements and low physical impact make it a great activity for aging bodies, those recovering from injury, young children or people looking to change up their exercise routine.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

"People with virtue must speak out. People who speak are not all virtuous. "
~ Confucius

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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - December 2008 | Issue 59



In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

 

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Going Green for the Holidays

by Alex A. Kecskes

With the holidays upon us, it's time to think green-in food, decorations & gift-wraps, trees, and anything else that helps sustain our planet for generations of holidays to come.

There are thousands of holiday recipes. And you no doubt have your favorites. But keep in mind that you can create some eco-friendly holiday baked treats and snacks using healthy, earth-conscious ingredients. First off, shop for ingredients that are Certified Organic and Certified Fair Trade chocolate, flour, fruit (fresh and dried), popcorn, and nuts, as well as and wine for those adult beverages and baked goods. For treats that contain meat, dairy, or eggs, consider a vegan alternative. (Studies show that raising livestock may be more detrimental to global climate than driving your car.) Consider using eco-sweeteners like honey, which has vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Sugar has little nutritional value and its production as an agricultural crop can be harmful to the planet.

Concerned about all that wrapping paper and the trees that gave up their lives to bring you those rolls? You no longer have to wrap presents in last week's funnies or cut up a Ralph's grocery bag to be eco-conscious for the holidays. Sustainable alternatives include hemp paper, recycled post-consumer waste products; even discards like old calendars and maps are among this season's feel-good replacements. You can also go fabric-including cotton--which is ideal for gift bags and a creative way to wrap presents with flair.

That said, if you love paper wrap, here's a guide to help you select the right paper this season. First off, just because a paper product claims to be 100% recycled doesn't mean it is eco-friendly. Check the paper's post-consumer waste content (called PCW), which tells you the percentage of actual refuse vs. scraps of new paper are in the mix. To make sure your paper comes from responsibly managed forests, look for FSC and SCI certifications. You should also make sure your paper is processed chlorine-free using green energy (Green-e Certified) and environment-honoring practices (look up the manufacturer on the web and see). Finally, make sure the ink they use is petroleum-free and vegetable- or soy-based-it's easier to recycle. Other paper sustainable steps you can take include cutting up old greeting cards to use as gift tags or place cards, adding fresh double-sided tape or glue to make last year's ribbons and bows sticky again, or framing attractive old greeting cards to hang on your walls as holiday accents.

Now we come to the one thing that makes most eco-conscious holiday observers feel the most guilt pangs-the Christmas tree. Getting a real tree is actually better for our planet (and our homes). Tree farms ensure that millions of trees are planted annually, which supports both farmers and eco-systems. They are a renewable resource. But it's important to remember that as an agricultural product, most are grown with conventional farming methods, although there are a few organic tree farmers out there. Fake trees can't compete on the eco-front, because they aren't biodegradable and most are grown in factories from petroleum-based (and unsustainable) plastic, PVC, aluminum, or other less-than-green materials. Solution? Grow your own. If you have the outdoor space, start a tradition now of planting a new evergreen tree every year. After a few years, you'll be able to decorate them outdoors.

If you choose to bring your Christmas tree indoors, there are a few things you should remember. Cut off about 1-2 inches of the trunk before you place it into a stand. The stand should accommodate one quart of water for each inch of the trunk's diameter. This lets the tree absorb sufficient water to keep it fresh. Check the water level daily; if the water drops below the trunk, the trunk may seal itself and not be able to absorb water (and don't add sugar or a sugary soft drink to the water). Keep your tree away from heat sources, like fireplaces, TVs heaters. Don't overload electrical circuits when you add tree lights. Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.

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Natural Foot Care

by Kathleen Rushall

Winter means many things, some of them not as positive as hot cocoa and holidays. Cold, dry weather can wreak havoc on the skin, and one place often requires special attention is a person's foot. Feet are often neglected when it comes to lotion and other skin care methods that the rest of the body daily receives. In winter, foot eczema is a common occurrence. Eczema is the result of extreme dry skin that forms into a scaly, red, often itchy rash.

Oriental herbs can effectively treat eczema and provide fast relief. Herbs that prove helpful for this condition include Flos Ionicerae (Japanese honeysuckle), Herba Mentae (peppermint), Cortex Moutan (root bark of a peony tree), Atractylodes Rhizome (the underground stem of the Atractylodes herb), and Cortex Phellodendri (Amur cork-tree bark). A licensed practitioner of Oriental medicine can prescribe and concoct a mixture of these five herbs, which can be taken orally (the extracts are placed into a pill capsule) once daily

Bunions are another common foot problem that has a natural solution. A bunion is an inflammation found on a toe that can increase in size and hardness and be painful to the touch. Consistent pressure causes bunions. Wearing shoes that are too short, high, or narrow can inflame the skin area and cause a bunion to form. Chinese medicine recommends treating the bunion internally with homeopathic silica to reduce inflammation and restore the body's balance. Also, drinking chamomile tea and then using the tea bag for external relief by placing it on the bunion can lessen swelling.

Athlete's foot is a highly contagious fungus that thrives in moist areas (heavy socks and shoes worn in winter can make a foot sweat and encourage this fungus). Chinese medicine encourages the use of tea tree oil to combat this irritation. Dilute the tee tree oil in water (50/50 or 25% oil will work), and soak feet in this mixture for five minutes twice a day and the fungus will disappear between one week and one month.

 

 

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Anxiety Disorders and Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Alex A. Kecskes

Anxiety is a mental disorder that affects literally millions of people. It's an illness that often dovetails with depression and alternates from mild discomfort to almost uncontrollable panic with physical symptoms. While some medications have been known to ease anxiety, they may also suffer from undesirable side effects, suppressing the symptoms while making individuals chemically toxic.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to anxiety problems is to treat them as disorders of Shan You Si, which are believed to affect the Zang Organs. The Heart Zang stores the Shen or spirit and each Zang Organ is responsible for one's emotions. The Liver Zang is tied to anger, the Spleen Zang to excessive worry, the Kidney to fear, and the Lung with grief and anxiety. A disturbance in one or more of these Zang Organs can cause an imbalanced emotional state.

TCM classifies the cause of a specific mental disorder according to how much each Zang Organ has been disturbed and how its Qi is affected. The flow of Qi, or energy, can be interrupted by several factors, including anxiety, stress, anger, fear or grief. Acupuncture seeks to restore any imbalance between Yin and Yang. By inserting needles into the fine points of energy, the body's own healing process is stimulated to restore its natural balance. Treating depression and related conditions such as seasonal affective disorder or dysthymic disorder (chronic depression) with TCM requires the proper evaluation of the signs and symptoms of these conditions. Specific acupuncture techniques are advised to treat each condition. Changes in lifestyle and the adoption of self-help recommendations are also part of the healing process.

Sometimes, even Tong Ren Therapy may be used. This therapy is designed to internally heal a patient's energy system using the collective unconscious. Patients sit, relax and quietly receive the healing energy. There are no special diet, exercises or religious beliefs required to practice Tong Ren. As more people practice Tong Ren healing, the stronger the healing force becomes. All participants become part of the collective unconscious state and are thus able to benefit from Tong Ren's healing energy.

Supplementing these methods with changes in one's diet can also help. Too much refined sugars, for example, can cause wild fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, which can significantly affect one's mood and mental health. They also deplete B vitamins from the body, which can affect the nervous system. Excessive amounts of caffeine can create "toxic heat" in the liver, causing a rise in anger and anxiety. As an adrenal stimulant, caffeine can ultimately lead to adrenal exhaustion and depression. Substituting refined sugar and caffeine with low glycemic foods and beverages can result in a reduced anxiety.

TCM methods to treat depression and anxiety also involve the use of Chinese herbal medicine. These have slowly been accepted in the West, primarily because of the non-toxic nature of the treatment. Chinese medicines have been used to treat stress and to reduce the effects of the body's aging process. Herbal medicines are combined in creams, gels, ointments, serums, powders, and tonics. The Chinese herb formulations used most often to treat anxiety are:

  • Polygonum Root
  • Jujube Date,
  • Rehmannia Root
  • Polyrachis Ant
  • Duanwood Reishi
  • Ginseng
  • Licorice Root
  • Dang Gui Root
  • Cynomorium Herb

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”

~ The Book of Odes

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