Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - May 2006 | Issue 23
In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates
- May 16 – Chicago Open House
- May 16 – New York Open House
- May 20 – San Diego Open House
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Massage Therapy Beneficial For Arthritis Pains
There are over one hundred types of Arthritic disease known to modern science that afflict the human body. The manifests, symptoms, and conditions vary based on individual and type of Arthritis (i.e. Rheumatoid, TMJ, Osgood-Schlatter, and Tendonitis). In terms of Western allopathic medicine there are roughly fifty pharmaceutical product lines to treat Arthritis and Arthritic symptoms, all of which have their subsequent side-effects. A considerable number of people suffering from Arthritis today are turning to alternative therapies, specifically massage therapy, to alleviate the pain and discomforts associated with the condition.
Generally speaking Arthritis is an inflammation of joints in the body along with the surrounding tissues—a qualified physician or doctor should be consulted to determine if symptoms are Arthritic in nature. Often times massage therapy patients will attest to the fact that the simple touching of a therapist is a comfort in itself.
Different massage therapists will offer different approaches to the treatment of Arthritis, and it is up to the client/patient to determine which one works best or is right for them. For example, a Reflexology Therapist deals expressly with the trigger points, bones, and joints of the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, and head, so a person suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis may benefit more from them than say a Swedish Masseuse who’s main objectives are to increase blood circulation and relieve muscle tension. There are many massage therapists who offer a variety of therapies and can combine treatments to suit the client’s needs.
Ideally, an MT working on an Arthritis patient will treat the problem specific areas to directly reduce pain, discomfort, and inflammation and then proceed to treat the rest of the body. In the massage therapy outlook no one part of the body can be sequestered without taking into consideration the system as a whole. The conditions of Arthritic disease are resultant of myriad aberrant conditions in the body due to diet, lifestyle, environment, genetics, and accidental circumstance. To promote a healthier and happier body an massage therapist incorporates many body specific techniques (Tui Na, Shiatsu, Gua Sha,) to manually stimulate, with tools or the hands, the natural circulation of blood and nutrient exchange , elevate the activity of the endocrine or glandular system, increase lymphatic drainage to element toxins that collect in the body, balance and unblock the nervous system, and relieve tension in muscles and bones.
Massage therapy utilizes the human system’s innate ability to heal any ailment through manual manipulation and the engenderment of the relaxation response. For Arthritis sufferers any amount of stress or anxiety can exacerbate an already unpleasant physical situation.
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Acupuncture for Hypertension and Stroke
By: Jeff Denny
According to TCM, Hypertension occurs when the body, especially the heart, must work harder to perform daily functions. This is often times subtle and without any viable symptoms, which is why Hypertension is sometimes referred to as a “Silent Killer.” Of the 50 million Americans who have it, 35 percent are unaware. The simplest and easiest way to see if you are at risk or have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked regularly by a doctor or TCM physician. Acupuncture is becoming more widely known as an alternative therapy for curbing high blood pressure.
Modern medicine recognizes to two types of high blood pressure. The first is referred to as Essential or Labile Hypertension. The second is called Organic or Secondary Hypertension. In the case of the former, there is no known cause though some scientists and physicians link it to high stress levels. It is important to note here that stress is a natural biological function related to the Fight or Flight response of the adrenal glands, which regulate the heart beat and support elimination. Stress, due to external and internal influence, in itself is not considered a cause of high blood pressure but rather it is the manner in which an individual handles stress that factors into their susceptibility to high blood pressure; diet, smoking, consumption of alcohol and caffeine, obesity, and genetic proclivities must also be addressed. Only when these as well as diseases, cancers, and tumors of the heart, liver, kidneys, and hormonal system that characterize Secondary Hypertension are ruled out as causations of high blood pressure, can a diagnosis of Essential Hypertension be made.
While Western medicine views all Hypertension as an illness, Traditional Chinese Medicine sees it as a warning indication of unharmonious conditions and dis-ease in the human ecosystem. In the Eastern view of a body with high blood pressure, there exists a state of imbalance of blood, Qi, and moisture being supplied to the organs of the body. For example, excessive Qi flow to the liver has been referenced as a cause for high blood pressure.
Since high blood pressure is so ambiguous when it comes to its cause, an Acupuncturist must first determine where the imbalance is most volatile before ever inserting a needle. General treatments based on case studies in which needles are inserted at Acupuncture Points (ST 9, ST 16, LR 3, GB 20, etc.) along with lifestyle and dietary changes are often times used and have proved successful in many instances. This is especially true when high blood pressure is detected in its early stages before the point at which arteries begin to harden, blood clots form, and heart attack or strokes may occur, but each individual differs so at times more specialized treatments must be initiated.
There is a saying in TCM that says Qi follows the mind and blood follows Qi. So when a disruption in energy flow occurs, a disruption of blood and moisture traffic is soon to follow. If the liver or kidneys are working overtime—as is the case with heavy alcohol consumption, high salt intake, and obesity—to detoxify the blood they will need more energy or Qi to do so. This energy doesn’t come without its cost of depleting and causing excess in other areas and organs of the body such as the heart and digestive system. Regardless of where the spike or trough is taking place in the body, it will adversely affect the way energy from nutrients such as food, air, water, and light are assimilated and transported through the blood stream and the manner in which wastes are expelled. Remember here what the adrenals are responsible for, when pumping blood and excretion of toxins become more difficult they must produce more adrenaline. This is stressful to the body and causes constrictions in muscles, tissues, nerves, etc. throughout.
Supposing high blood pressure can exist in a vacuum state where all external and internals stresses can be ruled out as a cause, what can Acupuncture do to help with Hypertension? Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into specific points in the body. These points lie on energy channels or meridians and do not necessarily correspond to underlying tissue or organs. When inserted, the needles send a neuro-chemical message via the nervous and endocrine systems to the portion of the brain that corresponds to the area of the body that is unbalanced. You may hear the Acupuncturist express this disturbance in terms such as excess Wind, Fire, or Water, among other diagnoses. The brain sensing something is amiss triggers the releases of endorphins (natural pain killers) to areas under distress. These endorphins are received by opioid receptors which tell the organ(s) to relax and return to normal functioning levels. In turn, the rest of the system can then return to normal status, including regulation of blood pressure. Adding all other influences of high blood pressure, Acupuncture can help to slow the entire system with the release of endorphins to engender a more tranquil state as in meditation. Used regularly, Acupuncture has the potential of reducing high blood pressure causing stress long term.
A trained Acupuncturist can recognize the origins of high blood pressure by observing certain symptoms. Headache, dizziness, eye disorders, and numbness suggest a Liver imbalance. Palpitations, poor memory, and insomnia represent Heart distress. And ringing in the ears and accumulation are resultant of Kidney disorder. Patients’ subjective feelings and experiences become very important in this instance. If a patient says, “Something just isn’t right,” it probably isn’t in the eyes of an Acupuncturist. Bodily language along with tongue and urine analyses is also used to determine cause of high blood pressure.
In a study at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California Irvine conducted by Dr. John C. Longhurst, clinical studies of the effects of Acupuncture on Hypertensive rats were initiated. The results supported the above information, linking endorphin release with decreased heart activity and lower blood pressure levels. Needles charged with low frequency electrical stimulation were also proven effective. TCM Dr. Zhu Qiang has also experimented and had success with electrical stimulation of Acupuncture points in terms of high blood pressure. He markets a device called a BP Regulator that attaches to Acupuncture points on the ears.
Stroke or cerebro-vascular accident is categorized as one of four types. Ischemic is the most common and is a blockage of a cerebral blood vessel or vessel leading to the head. Thrombosis is a blockage of a vessel within the head or neck. An embolism is a migration of a blockage to the head region. Stenosis is a severe narrowing of an artery leading to or in the brain. It is recommended that Acupuncture treatment be initiated a week after Stroke. The sooner it is taken up the more effective it will be as the brain and bodily tissues atrophy over time.
One particular Acupuncture treatment of Stroke that has been known to be greatly efficacious in the improvement of motor and cognitive skills is that of Scalp Acupuncture. Much of the current method was developed and popularized by Professor Ming Quing Zhu, a 1964 graduate of the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In this treatment, needles are inserted directly into the scalp according to a map of brain functions. The needles alter blood and hormone levels that effect brain activity and blood flow to portions of the brain related to other body parts damaged from Stroke. They can be left in for anywhere from two to seventy-two hours. In addition, manual movements of the affected area of the body or visualization accompanied by Qi-Gong breathing exercises are prescribed while the needles are in place under the skin. This is also true in traditional Acupuncture, which can be beneficial to Stroke victims.
It has been noticed that Stroke victims are often times affected more on one side of the body than the other. Their facial features sometimes can appear frozen or locked. This is directly connected to which hemisphere of the brain the Stroke occurred. The release of endorphins from Acupuncture can help to relax the muscles and tissues of the face and the rest of the body. Tension in the muscles and tissue hinders the free flow of moisture, blood, and other bodily fluids. It is especially important in cases of Stroke that Qi flow be restored as everything follows in its path. Acupuncture along with conscious participation of the patient can help expedite this process.
Auricle Acupuncture points as in the ones utilized to lower high blood pressure have also shown to be effective in treating Stroke. The ears have more nerve endings and capillaries than any other portion of the body. In TCM, parts of the ear are linked to all other areas of the body. The theories and case studies seem to support that Acupuncture treatments performed in closer proximity to the brain are the most beneficial for Stroke victim recovery.
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The Benefits of Green Tea
Made from the dried leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, green tea came from China between 4,000- 5,000 years ago. The legend is told that an ancient Chinese Emperor was boiling water and some leaves fell into his pot. Today, green tea is popular all over the world, not only for the taste but also for its many health benefits. For centuries Chinese medicine has used green tea for headaches, digestive problems, lack of energy, and immune enhancement, to name a few. Today green tea is available flavored or natural- a taste that is pleasing to anyone.
Why don’t other teas have similar health-giving properties? It is all in the making. Although all tea comes from the same botanical source, green tea is produced in a different process. Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. All of these teas go through a heating and fermenting process. What makes green tea special is that it is never fermented, instead its leaves bypass the fermenting process and are steamed, baked or pan heated. The way in which they are processed and not fermented prevents the EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) compound from being oxidized. This process is what makes green tea so beneficial to our health and beauty.
Numerous scientific observations have also linked green tea with remarkable preventative disease properties. Gargling with green tea has been shown to inactivate the flu virus, as has drinking a cup each day to activate the polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) that are also suspected to work well against both colds and flu’s.
Here are just a few known health benefits of drinking green tea:
- Substances in green tea are destructive to cancer cells, yet they have never been found to cause harm to healthy cells.
- Fat burning properties- raises the metabolic rate and speeds up fat oxidation
- There are powerful antioxidants within green tea leaves
- Improves cholesterol levels
- Stimulates immune-system cells- boosting the immune system
- Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Contains fluoride and is believed to help fight plaque on teeth and prevents bad breath (with the advantage of tasting good if it is inadvertently swallowed)
- Beneficial for the skin- green tea leaves are used in a number of beauty products from deodorants to body cream
- Slows the aging process
Though studies are just emerging on the amazing benefits of green tea, it is becoming widely viewed as one of the superfoods of the future in the United States, as it has been in China for thousands of years. From your local coffee chain to grocery stores, green tea is becoming widely available and highly desirable.
For more information on the health benefits of tea, visit www.RoyalDynastyTea.com
Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
"Love from one being to another can only be that two solitudes come nearer, recognize and protect and comfort each other."
-- Han Suyin (Chinese writer and physician)
Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - April 2006 | Issue 21
In this issue you will find:
Important PCOM Dates
- April 11 – Chicago Open House
- April 29 – World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day
- May 6 – San Diego Healing Arts Festival
Upcoming CEU Events in San Diego
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Tea Promotes Good Health
The Better the Tea, the Greater the Benefits
Courtesy of www.RoyalDynastyTea.com
In September, 1998, a group of scientists from around the world met for an International Symposium at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. on Tea and Human Health, co-sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association, the American Health Foundation, and others.
Dozens of new studies reaffirmed earlier work done in Europe and Asia that three or more 6 oz. cups of tea a day help fend off cancer, reduce heart disease, fight the negative effects of aging, and promote elimination of dietary fats, among other health benefits.
Mainstream researchers are now taking age-old wisdom about tea seriously. Funding for studies has come from groups such as the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health. Tufts University, the University of Arizona, the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Kansas, Indiana University School of Medicine, Rutgers University, the USDA, and others are now studying tea and health.
According to the USDA, the antioxidant activity of tea is more potent than that found in 22 fruits and vegetables including orange juice, carrots, and broccoli
Laboratory studies have concluded that tea can reduce cancer incidence by as much as 50%. Areas of the world where tea is consumed regularly have significantly lower death rates from all types of cancer, but particularly for stomach, esophagus and liver cancer.
Tea has more antioxidant protection than even vitamins C or E. Antioxidants help prevent cancer, heart disease, and delay the aging process by preventing free radical production in the body.
Tea also reduces harmful cholesterol in the blood by preventing the build up of LDL cholesterol or "bad cholesterol."
Heart disease and stroke studies show that tea can lower fatty deposits in artery walls, decrease blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and reduce the clotting tendency of blood.
Tea can impede the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme, which causes high blood pressure.
Studies have shown that tea can help control blood sugar levels and prevent the incidence of diabetes.
For more information on the health benefits of tea, visit www.RoyalDynastyTea.com
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Herbs for Women: Alternatives to Prescription Medications
Prescription medications are fast becoming part of the American woman’s daily routine. We are taking meds that even our moods, replace hormones, increase fertility, ease body pain, lower blood pressure, help us sleep and treat a variety of other ailments. We don’t often slow down to consider natural alternatives, which are often free from side effects and benefit our bodies in a more complete way. Herbal therapy creates a balanced health system that empowers women to kick the routine of symptom treatment and begin the process of whole body healing.
According to a study published in Women’s Health journal, women take more medications than men. They also respond differently to medications and are more likely than men to suffer medication-related problems. The most common health issues for women include endometriosis, cervical dysplasia, breast health, PMS and menopause. Side effects of these, such as depression, insomnia and physical pain are often treated with prescription medications that merely mask symptoms.
Herbal remedies can replace many of these drugs, as well as prevent illnesses that require them. Herbs are a staple of Chinese medicine, a system built on the premise of whole and balanced health. Over 5,000 medicinal substances are taken from plants, minerals and animal by-products. Eight to fifteen ingredients are combined into formulas in which they work synergistically. The most common way to ingest herbs is through a tea. However, pills, powders, liquid and dried extracts and syrups, are other effective forms. Herbs produce little to no side effects, giving them strong appeal over prescription drugs. Chinese medicine practitioners are constantly updating and modifying their patient’s treatment in order to optimize results and heal from the source.
The primary herbs for women in the Chinese tradition are medicines made from minerals and earth, plant roots, stems, bark and fruits. The Asian healing systems developed in an era of individual relationships between practitioner and patient, and the only tools available were those of the natural world and of the nature within. This concept has remained in today’s practices. Endometriosis
Herbal remedies are ideal for modern female ailments such as endometriosis. Among American women in their twenties, endometriosis is the leading cause of infertility after fibroid tumors. Although traditional Chinese medicine has no disease category for endometriosis, it does recognize, categorize, and effectively treat each endometriosis symptom. Women with endometriosis generally require three to six months of intensive Chinese herbal therapy. The pain associated with endometriosis will decrease right away, however, and the benefits will be long lasting.
Herbs can promote tissue healing through a blend of effects. In addition to using phytoestrogens (plant compounds that have estrogen-like effects) and other hormone-balancing plants, herb therapy aids circulation to and from areas of damage. Nutritive herbs provide building materials for the cells. Particular hepatic herbs may eliminate toxins. Improving immune-system function with herbs helps white blood cells cluster around and eat up debris or imperfect cells.
Danazol (Danocrine), alternatively, is a powerful Western drug similar to the hormone testosterone. It is taken for six to nine months at a time to control endometriosis. Like many Western drugs, it can cause uncomfortable side effects. Women who use it may experience pseudo-menopause, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, joint pain, weight gain, acne, depression, irritability, fatigue, decreased breast size, mood swings, liver malfunction, carpel tunnel syndrome, adverse effects on lipids, ankle swelling, muscle cramps, bleeding between periods, and voice changes. In extreme cases, side effects may include masculinization. There is a high rate of recurrent pain after pregnancy for those who conceive after this treatment. In addition, over 30% of these women have some kind of problem with fertility later on. While there are Western drugs for endometriosis that carry fewer side effects, herbal treatments offer effective, side-effect free alternatives.
Chinese herbs for menopause have demonstrated, via numerous in vivo and in vitro studies, a significant effect on the endocrine system to provide hot flash relief, alleviate vasomotor instability, loss of bone mass, and other conditions associated with menopause. Most importantly, they are much gentler and safer on the body.
Two herbal menopause formulas are frequently used: Three Immortals, which addresses the general patterns associated with the menopausal transition, and Great Yin, which is used for women who exhibit heat symptoms like hot flashes.
Many traditional Chinese herbs have been used to supplement the Kidney yin in menopausal women. Some symptoms of Kidney yin deficiency include hot flashes, dryness and greying hair. Dioscorea, a mountain yam similar to the Mexican yam, is a popular ingredient for menopausal symptoms. The main formula for Kidney yin deficiency is Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, or Six Herbs Earth Yellow Pill (or Six Flavor Teapills). There is a modification of the Six Flavor Teapills called Eight Flavor Teapills (Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan), which is used in cases where more heat is present. For night sweats and disturbed sleep, Zizyphus Formula (Suan Zao Ren Tang) is sometimes more effective.
Hormone replacement therapy, the standard Western medical treatment for menopause, involves possible risks that include breast, ovarian and uterine cancer. Hormone replacement therapy is usually started after the early signs of menopause appear. It can create uncomfortable side effects that can be difficult to deal with over long periods of time.
Cervical Dysplasia, PMS and Uterine Health
According to Chinese medicine, cysts and tumors occur as the result of long-term blood stagnation. Herbal formulas for blood stagnation are commonly used for pain in the area of the uterus, such as Blood Palace Dispel Stasis Decoction (Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang). Many formulas and treatment approaches exist for painful blood stagnation in the uterine area, and a qualified practitioner will help find the right formula.
It is believed that various natural herbs and supplements can improve the odds of early stages of cervical dysplasia (abnormal, precancerous cells in the cervix), helping abnormalities return back to normal cells. Studies have found that women with cervical dysplasia show a high frequency of general nutritional deficiencies, as high as 67% in one survey. Particular vitamin deficiencies most closely associated with cervical dysplasia include beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin B 6.
Some practitioners of herbal medicine feel that a class of herbs known as emmenagogues can be helpful in cervical dysplasia. These include squaw vine, motherwort, true unicorn, false unicorn, black cohosh, and blessed thistle. Also, maintaining a balanced diet, which is a focus of Chinese medicine, can help heal and prevent symptoms of cervical dysplasia.
Several herbal formulas have been designed specifically for common menstrual complaints. Free and Easy Wanderer's Powder (Xiao Yao San) is one. It serves to smooth the liver in order to take care of cramping and emotional afflictions during the menstrual cycle. Some women, especially if they have other supporting signs and symptoms, benefit from extended use. This formula has very impressive results for many women, though it is not for everyone. It increases serotonin levels, leading some women to call these their "happy pills." Yet it doesn't have the common side effects of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), such as weight gain and loss of sex drive.
In the area of breast health, nature has provided rich sources that help nurture and protect the body. Herbs and botanicals offer many benefits -- some support the immune system, some have antioxidant action, some are hormone modulators, some help the body adapt to stress, and some support the liver, allowing it to do its essential job of detoxifying the body.
Vitex fruit, for example, is a hormone modulator. It specifically acts to balance the levels of protective progesterone and prolactin in the body with no adverse side effects. Low levels of progesterone and high levels of estrogen set the stage for all estrogen-sensitive cancers, so balance in this area is particularly important. Vitex's hormone modulating benefits also help reduce uncomfortable PMS and menopause symptoms.
Astragalus herb has been used as a tonic in China for thousands of years. Modern research confirms that it is a potent immune system stimulator, and in addition possesses an anti-tumor effect. Regular use of astragalus supports the spleen and increases bone marrow reserves. It also encourages the production of immune-enhancing interferon in the body. Recent studies confirmed that the use of astragalus increased, by ten times, the body's ability to kill cancer cells. As an added benefit, astragalus supports the adrenals, thus helping the body to ward off the effects of stress and sustain healthy production of progesterone.
Because medications affect women more adversely, it is important to be proactive about medication use. We should take responsibility for our health and ask clinicians about diagnosis, treatment, and medication use. It is important for women to understand the need for each medication we are prescribed and to know about alternatives. Becoming informed about medicine’s purpose and effects can help us be more proactive about our own treatment systems so we may benefit from side-effect from safer alternatives when Western drugs might not be necessary.
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Pacific College Celebrates World Tai Chi & Qigong Day
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine is one of many institutions around the world to recognize World Tai Chi and Qigong Day (WTCQD). Beginning at 10 a.m., Saturday April 29 in New Zealand and spreading across time zones, World Tai Chi and Qigong Day will see people in over 50 nations gather to practice these disciplines.
World Tai Chi and Qigong Day provides teachers, schools and Tai Chi and Qigong associations with many free tools and services to educate communities about the potential benefits of these disciplines. It is also a day to promote worldwide wellbeing.
Qigong has a long history. In ancient China, people believed that through controlled body movements and mental concentration, paired with various breathing techniques, they could balance and enhance physical, metabolic and mental functions. Qigong exercise relies on the traditional Chinese belief that the body has an energy field, known as Qi. “Qi” in Mandarin Chinese means breath or to breathe and “gong” means work or technique. The pairing of the two is the basis for the art of Qigong.
Tai Chi is also a centuries-old Chinese discipline that aids health, relaxation, balance, flexibility, strength, meditation, self-defense and self-cultivation. It is referred to as moving meditation. The practice began as a martial art and is based on the principles of the Yin Yang symbol, called Tai Chi in Chinese, meaning “grand ultimate.”
Activities at most events include Tai Chi and Qigong exercise demonstrations, and many feature prominent masters leading exercises. Events are free and open to the public. A good way to find events in your area is to check with the nearest Oriental medicine school. In stressful times such as these, a day such as WTCQD is much needed. It can bring both relaxation and a sense of community and shared peace. It also brings people together across economic and geopolitical lines to celebrate health and healing.
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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
"All things in the world come from being. And being comes from non-being."
Lao-Tzu (6th century B.C.), Legendary Chinese philosopher