Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - June 2007| Issue 38
In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates
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Acupuncture for Children
Acupuncture is being practiced more and more in the Western world. Many more Western-medicine practitioners are agreeing that it is a great supplemental therapy for many conditions. It is a great way of treating pain, and it doesn’t have the side effects that pain medications do, like nausea, drowsiness, addiction, etc. Acupuncture is even used to treat children.
Parents may be skeptical of taking their children to a place where they’ll be poked with needles. What child likes needles? What parents will want to watch their child suffer through that process? They may remember the last time their child got his or her blood drawn or their child’s last vaccination shot. Why would they want to sit through that again?
Fortunately, acupuncture is virtually painless. Acupuncture needles are about a quarter of the diameter of the regular 22-gauge IV needles most children are used to encountering. The biggest hurdle in treating children with acupuncture is a psychological battle of the child conquering his or her fear of needles. Acupuncturists can help children get over their fears by, first of all, getting to know the them. Sometimes acupuncturists will spend the time during a child’s first visit by simply getting to know the child and the parent in order to build trust. An acupuncturist can also demonstrate the process on a toy doll or even on the back of his or her hand to show that it doesn’t hurt.
Once acupuncturists work with children on overcoming their fear, acupuncture is a very safe and effective way of treating conditions in children such as asthma, diarrhea, loss of appetite, chronic pain and eating disorders. They can even be used to treat emotional disorders like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. These treatments have also been used to treat symptoms caused by chemotherapy like nausea and vomiting.
If children aren’t able to overcome their fear of needles, there are other alternatives to acupuncture: Shonishin and tui na are two types of treatments, which are similar to acupuncture and can treat the same conditions, but do not use needles.
Tui na massage is a needle-free technique that is very effective in treating conditions. The drawback of tui na when used to treat children is that it takes a longer time to administer than acupuncture or shonishin.
Shonishin is very beneficial for the child’s nervous system. It is great for respiratory and digestive ailments. This technique uses small, metal tools to bring the child’s qi (life force or energy flow) to the surface of the skin. Shonishin uses the same acupuncture points, except it is done by rubbing, instead of piercing, the skin. It is a great technique for children, not only because of its healing capabilities and because of the absence of needles, but also because children look upon it as a game. They can be entertained by playing with the tools while treatment is in process, making the session fun and fast.
Treating children with shonishin, tui na or acupuncture is different from treating adults with these methods. Children respond quicker to these treatments than adults. This is because children’s emotions tend to be less inhibited than adults’ emotions. Children tend to have a better, less restricted flow of qi (energy). Another reason why treating children is different from treating adults is because children’s bodies and minds are still developing. Their meridian points (the path the qi flows through) are not fully developed.
All of the Oriental medical treatments mentioned above are great treatments for existing conditions in children as well as great preventative treatments. They can help to create an emotional balance in children, which is particularly useful in this day and age with the large amount of over-stimulation in our society. Another great benefit of using these treatments is that they are safe and effective and don’t have the negative side effects, as do pharmaceutical drugs.
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Massage for Pain Relief
Each day, more and more Americans are turning to massage therapy to ease pain. Ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome, to chronic arthritis, massage therapy techniques are helping patients of all walks of life get back on their feet again. Just about every culture has used a form of massage to ease pain. Although its healing powers were muted by modern medicine, a growing number of people are returning to its age-old healing properties. The Journal of Rheumatoidology reports that over 70 percent of doctors refer their patients to massage therapy.
Massage eases pain and discomfort in a number of ways. “Manual massage is a long established and effective therapy used for the relief of pain, swelling, muscle spasm and restricted movement, ” as noted in a study at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. First, massage encourages blood flow to the sore, muscles or stiff joints and warms the area. According to a study at Peninsula Medical School, “The mechanical action of the hands on cutaneous and subcutaneous structures is believed to enhance the circulation of blood and lymph resulting in increased supply of oxygen and removal of waste products or mediators of pain. ” Massage also triggers the release of natural painkillers called opiods in the brain, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Third, massage speeds up the flow of oxyctocin, a hormone that relaxes muscles and encourages feelings of calmness and contentment. “Most importantly perhaps, a massage can relax the mind and reduce anxiety, which may affect the perception of pain positively. ” The benefits of a good massage are overwhelming and contribute to overall health and well-being.
Massage therapy is proven effective in easing tightness and pain in lightly to moderately stressed muscles - it is also used in alleviating chronic pain. A 2001 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine discovered that massage was far superior to acupuncture in relieving chronic lower back pain. After 10 weeks, nearly three-fourths of the 262 patients studied said massage was “very helpful” in relieving their pain. Patients who got regular massage treatments were four times less likely to become bedridden due to chronic pain. The authors of the study concluded that “massage might be an effective alternative to conventional medical care for persistent back pain.”
Massage is also extremely safe. When performed by an experienced, licensed professional, therapeutic massage can relieve pain, tension, knots and soreness in the body. Those suffering from open wounds, eczema, broken bones or advanced osteoporosis should talk to a doctor before making an appointment with a massage therapist, because some massage may cause further damage in frail bodies. This is especially true with more forceful forms of massage, like shiatsu. Still, massage is overwhelmingly beneficial for most patients and can help ease the majority of aches and pains one may have.
Goats, GC. Massage- the scientific basis of an ancient art: Part 1. The Techniques. British Journal of Sports Medicine
. 1994 Sep;28(3):149-52.
Ernst E. “Massage treatment for back pain. BMJ. 2003 March 15;326(7389):562-563.
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Benefits of Japanese Acupuncture
Like its Chinese counterparts, Japanese acupuncture is praised for its ability to open energy channels within the body, relieve tension and cure other ailments. In contrast, Japanese acupuncture techniques are often gentler and more subtle than the techniques used in China.
Treatment is restorative and helps maintain overall health. Acupuncturists produce a stimulus in each technique, focusing on a specific acupuncture point or “active point.” These points are a living phenomenon with changing natures and locations, so they cannot merely be found by referencing a textbook. The acupuncturist must have the awareness and palpation ability to detect the “active points.” Acupuncturists of the Japanese school put a great deal of weight upon finding these precise locations, which explains their ability to produce effective results without using deep needles or strong stimulation.
Japanese acupuncture treatments have been known to assist helping a range of complaints, including aggravated stress (fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression), localized pain (headache, knee pain, back pain), gastric problems (nausea, acid reflux, gastritis), trauma (sprains, strains, bruises) and even infertility. Traditional Japanese acupuncture is particularly suited to those who are uncomfortable with strong needle stimulus or are fatigued or otherwise weakened. It is well-suited for pediatric treatments and can be done without the use of needles.
A Tokyo study has reported positive effects of Japanese acupuncture on a number of regular ailments, including the common cold. “A significantly positive effect of acupuncture was demonstrated in the summed questionnaire data…needling on the neck using the Japanese fine needle manipulating technique was shown to be effective and safe. The use of acupuncture for symptoms of the common cold should be considered.” Doctors determined the preventive and curative effects of manual acupuncture on the systems of the common cold.
The Anglo-Dutch Institute of Oriental Medicine discovered similar findings, concluding the benefits of Japanese acupuncture on healing neck pain and strain. “Relevant acupuncture with heat contributes to modest pain reduction in persons with myofascial neck pain.” Results proved Japanese acupuncture’s ability to help cure localized pain and release overall discomfort.
Tracing its roots to early seventh-century Chinese texts, Japanese acupuncture has been making ground since the 1920s. Japanese practitioners discussed how parts of the ancient text Nan Jing [c. 250 A.D.] may be applied to clinical practice. These physicians focused on point selection, point location and needle technique, blossoming the beneficial treatments underlying meridian therapy. Today, Japanese acupuncture is beginning to gain as much publicity and credit as Chinese acupuncture.
Kawakita K, Schichidou T, Inoue E. Nabeta T, Kitakouji H, Aizawa S, Nishida A, Yamaguchi N, Takahashi N, Yano T, Tanzawa S. “Preventive and curative effects of acupuncture on the common cold: a multicentre randomized control trial in Japan.” Complement Ther Med.
Birch S, Jamison RN. “Controlled trial of Japanese acupuncture for chronic myofascial neck pain” assessment of specific and nonspecific effects of treatment.” Clin J Pain. 1998 Sep;14(3):248-55.
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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
“The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”
Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC), The Confucian Analects
Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - April 2007 | Issue 36
In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates
- April 28 (Saturday)--World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day
- May 6 (Sunday)--San Diego Healing Arts Festival
- May 15 (Tuesday)--New York Open House
- May 16 (Wednesday)--Chicago Open House MSTOM Program
- May 19 (Saturday)--San Diego Open House
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Benefits of Shiatsu Massage
Shiatsu is a form of massage, based upon the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Shiatsu is a Japanese word meaning, “finger pressure,” and its goal is similar to that of acupuncture or acupressure: to restore the balance of energy (qi) in the body. Practitioners of Chinese medicine and shiatsu massage assert that disease and physical infirmities are caused by blockages or imbalances in the flow of energy throughout the body. Shiatsu practitioners strive to balance positive and negative energies (yin and yang) within the body to achieve balance and homeostasis within the body. A buildup or deficiency of one type of energy can cause illness, pain, or other problems in the body.
Using the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, shiatsu massage utilizes points along one of the body’s meridians, applying force pressure to the point with hand. These points may be anywhere on the body, including the hands, feet, elbows, back, arms, legs, etc. Shiatsu is a mind-body experience, providing both physical and spiritual benefits. Balanced qi energy promotes physical comfort, improved health, and emotional health and stability.
Shiatsu is not merely a tool of Chinese medicine, but an applicable treatment for common ailments. A study at Drake University proved that shiatsu massage helped alleviate back pain in patients. “Shiatsu was used as an intervention in the study of 66 individuals complaining of lower back pain.” After following a designated number of treatments, subjects showed a great deal of improvement in mobility, energy, and pain in the lower back region. “Both pain and anxiety decreased significantly over time. …These subjects would recommend shiatsu massage for others suffering from lower back pain and indicated the treatments decreased the major inconveniencies they experiences with their lower back pain.”
A Swiss study confirmed these results. “Shiatsu massage can rapidly induce measurable relaxation in distant muscles not directly massaged, and is accompanied by signs of neurovegetative calming.” Clearly, shiatsu massage affects both the body in mind, restoring the body’s energy balance and promoting an overall feeling of satiety and wellbeing.
Whether seeking treatment for ailing muscles, a mental release, or complement to physical therapy, shiatsu massage is an excellent way to relax, align energies, and promote overall wellbeing in the body.
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Strengthen the Heart with Qi Gong
A 4,000-year-old technique may do wonders for heart health. From high blood pressure to cardiac rehabilitation, the ancient Chinese practice of Qi Gong has been proven to strengthen and revitalize the heart.
What is Qi Gong? For those unfamiliar with the traditional Chinese medicine technique, Qi Gong is essentially a system involving physical training, philosophy, and preventative and therapeutic health care. The term Qi means breath of life or vital essence, and Gong means self-discipline, work, or achievement. The art itself combines isometrics, isotonics, aerobic conditioning, meditation, and relaxation. When practiced regularly, Qi Gong allows us to gain control over the life force that courses through our bodies. This may sound far-fetched to Western minds, but it is a time-tested technique proven to help a host of problems, including heart problems, depression, detoxification, osteoporosis, cancer, chronic pain, and stress. By examining inward, the practice urges its students to focus inward and “work with life’s energy.”
Although there are nearly 5,000 styles of Qi Gong catalogued by the Chinese Government, all forms focus on manipulating life energy in a positive way. Medical Qi Gong involves the combination of breathing exercises and meditation to cultivate and deliberately control energy within the body. The two main techniques of medical Qi Gong work hand-in-hand: breathing exercises help induce a state of meditation and vice versa. In meditative Qi Gong states, cares, worries, and daily stresses wash away. It’s similar to getting a relaxing massage, yet much more effective. The technique replaces stress and anxieties with positive images, increased confidence, and enhanced spirit. Eventually, there are no worries, distractions, or fears. In turn, this stimulates the body’s life force – the circulation of blood and qi (life energy).
Qi Gong isn’t as stationary as it sounds. This ancient Chinese practice is also movement-based – extending to an effective martial art. Many Americans are already practicing the mind-body technique of Qi Gong via popular Tai Chi classes at community centers and health clubs. Tai Chi and Qi Gong go hand-in-hand: combining the internal focus and physical movements to increase the body’s overall vitality.
In fact, this art has been proven to positively affect senior citizens when combined with Tai Chi. researchers concluded that the movements associated with Tai Chi helped seniors improve their physical functioning. “It was concluded that the 6-month Tai Chi exercise program was effective for improving functional status in healthy, physically inactive older adults. A self-paced and self-controlled activity such as Tai Chi has the potential to be an effective, low-cost means of improving functional status in older persons.” Most notably, those who took Tai Chi were less likely to fall – one of the largest causes of serious injury for seniors.
Several studies have proven Qi Gong’s effectiveness in treating those with high blood pressure and other heart problems. When practiced alongside conventional Western medical treatments, Qi Gong reduces high blood pressure and aids cardiac rehabilitation through improving balance, coordination, and physical activity.
A Korean study examined the effects of traditional Qi Gong on blood pressure, respiratory rates, and heart rate. “Heart rate, respiratory rate, systolic blood pressure and rate-pressure product were significantly decreased during Qi-training,” according to the 2000 study. “From these results, we suggest that… Qi-training has psychological effects that indicate stabilization the of cardiovascular system.”
A 2006 study conducted at the Himalayan Institute of Medical Science in Uttaranchal, India proved similar results. Researchers compared mental relaxation and slow breathing as adjunctive treatment in patients of essential hypertension by observing their effects on blood pressure and other autonomic parameters like heart rate, respiratory rate, and skin temperature. “Even a single session of mental relaxation or [Qi Gong] can result in a temporary fall in blood pressure.”
Doctors in Hong Kong evaluated Qi Gong and progressive relaxation in improving cardiac patients’ quality of life. “Progressive relaxation and Qi Gong exercise improved the quality of life for cardiac patients with reference to certain physiologic and psychologic measures. … The Qi Gong group demonstrated greater improvement in psychologic measures in addition to reduction in systolic blood pressure.”
Finally, a 2005 Italian study examined instances of high blood pressure in those suffering from hypertension: “Slow breathing reduces blood pressure and enhances baroreflex sensitivity in hypertensive patients. These effects appear potentially beneficial in the management of hypertension.”
Practicing Qi Gong lowers pulse rate, blood pressure, metabolic rates, and oxygen demand. The sense of serenity Qi Gong activates qi, improves blood circulation, and balances the body’s life energies. After reducing hypertension and blood pressure, Qi Gong goes on to surprise us with more and more benefits to the human body.
Li, F., et al. “An evaluation of the effects of Tai Chi exercise on physical function among older persons: a randomized control trial.” Annuals of Behavioral Medicine., 2001Spring; 23(2):139-46.
Li F. 145.Myeong Soo Lee, Byung Gi Kim, et al. “Effect of Qi-training on blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. Clinical Psychology 2000: 20(3),173-176
Myeong Soo Lee, Byung Gi Kim, et al. “Effect of Qi-training on blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. Clinical Psychology 2000: 20(3),173-176.
Kaushik RM, et al. Effects of mental relaxation and slow breathing in essential hypertension. Complementary & Teoretical Medicine. 2006 Jun;14(2):120-6. Epub 2006 Jan 10.
Hui PN, et al. An evaluation of two behavioral rehabilitation programs, quigong versus progressive relaxation, in improving the quality of life in cardiac patients. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2006 May;12(4):373-8.
Joseph C.N., Porta C., et al. Slow breathing improves arterial baroreflex sensitivity and decreases blood pressure in essential hypertension. Hypertension. 2005 Oct;46(4):714-8. Epub 2005 Aug 29.
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Green Tea Reduces Prostrate Cancer Risk
Prostate cancer also referred to as the “Hidden Cancer” is one of the primary causes of death among American men. It is estimated that drinking green tea regularly reduces the risk of prostate cancer by two-thirds.
Several studies have supported the fact that drinking six to 15 cups of green tea daily can significantly reduce the chance of developing prostate cancer.
Some researchers believe that the antioxidants present in green tea may have a protective effect against certain cancers. A study conducted on men at increased risk of developing prostate cancer demonstrated that the substances present in green tea known as catechins, are quite successful in preventing the development of prostat cancer. Catechins are the major group of polyphenols in green tea. The most important catechin present is EpiGalloCatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG). EGCG may cause cancer cells
to die as normal cells do. It may stop the angiogenesis process, i.e. formation of new blood vessels, cutting off the blood supply to cancer cells, without harming healthy tissue. The polyphenols present in the tea, effect the cells exposed to testosterone, the male hormone, which usually stimulates prostate cancer. However, the effect depends on the dosage.
According to research published in the December 2005 issue of Cancer Research, Green Tea Polyphenols prevent Prostate Cancer development at multiple levels. The polyphenols present in green tea, prevent the spread of prostate cancer by targeting the molecular pathways that shut down the proliferation and spread of tumor cells.
Green tea is mainly consumed in Japan, China, and other Asian nations. Its benefits have made green tea popular in the Western countries as well. Asian countries typically consume three cups a day or more of green tea.
Green tea extracts are also available in capsules. It is recommended to take three capsules of green tea extracts daily to avoid prostrate cancer. However, the amount of green tea to be consumed daily has yet to be determined for beneficial effects.
Green tea is made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis plant. The difference between black tea and green tea is that black tea is fermented and processed and removes most of the protective phytochemicals. Green tea is unfermented usually brewed using 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried tea in a cup of boiling water or steeped for 3-15 minutes. Green tea is also promoted as an herb that can prevent certain bacterial infections, stomach problems, vomiting, and diarrhea. It also helps reduce tooth decay, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blockages of the blood vessels in the heart, which can lead to heart attacks.
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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”
- Book of Odes