Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - February 2006 | Issue 18
In this issue you will find:
Important PCOM Dates
- February 25 – Chinese New Year Celebration in Chicago
- March 11 – San Diego Open House
- March 22 – New York Open House
Upcoming CEU Events in New York
- February 26 - Mike Berkley: East Meets West in Reproductive Medicine
- March 4-5 - PART II - Yefim Gamgoneishvili: Orthopedics and TCM Series
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Acupuncture: The STRESS BUSTER
By: Kath Bartlett, L.Ac.
Stress. We all have it. The question is, "How do we get rid of it?"
The answer lies partly in eliminating the causes, but also in learning to manage life's curveballs. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are useful in the management end. Lifestyle counseling can help with the causes. How can acupuncture help, and what can you do stop stress in its tracks?
Before answering that question, let's look at what happens when we get stressed. Mostly, we tense up. This tightening causes our qi to get stuck. It's qi that mobilizes our arms and legs to move, our stomach to digest food, our heart to pump and blood to flow. Without qi, we're dead, lifeless.
When qi gets stuck, it builds up, and eventually it needs an escape valve. We might get angry and have outbursts. When qi in the stomach gets stuck, we have digestive problems, like acid regurgitation, or heartburn (qi is stuck, and can't flow down, so it escapes up and out the mouth). Some people get bowel problems, like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) because this stuck qi cannot move food through the intestines properly. Did you ever get angry and feel qi rising to your head (maybe you got warm)? This happens because the stuck qi builds up, and then has to get released. It goes up to the head, and can cause migraine or tension headaches, and high blood pressure.
Acupuncture effectively treats disorders caused by stress, by unblocking stuck qi, allowing it to flow properly throughout the body, and we feel more relaxed. Then food is digested smoothly and moves through the bowels properly. As our tension is relieved, so are the headaches. Instead of being so tense and angry that our blood pressure starts to rise, we remain calm and our blood pressure and our tempers stay even.
A new patient of mine came to me for treatment of knee pain from an old injury. During the initial intake, I discovered that he had acid regurgitation (heartburn) that is clearly worse with stress and spicy food. He told me that his whole abdomen felt large and full after meals (qi is not moving, building up in the stomach). He also had neck and back pain. I used acupuncture points that move qi in the stomach, and clear heat (for the burning regurgitation), and local points for the back, neck and knee pain. I did tui-na, a Chinese style of massage developed to move qi. I also prescribed herbs that he cooked and drank twice a day as a tea. After just three treatments, his stomach problem was nearly resolved, and he felt much less tense and worried. He no longer has back or neck pain, and his knee was much improved. Every person responds differently to acupuncture, but this case shows how well stress related problems are treated with acupuncture. When problems linger, then more lifestyle changes are needed.
Stress is our internal response to outside stimuli. By modifying the way we respond and react to external triggers, and the way we live, we can make a great impact to improving health problems caused by stress. Here are 10 things you can do change your response and eliminate stress.
1) Walk away from it. Walking is a great way to move qi, so it doesn't get stuck. When you have a problem that is making you tense, go take a walk. Get your qi moving. Sometimes while you're walking you'll see a new way to solve the problem. Or, some how in the fresh air, it just doesn't seem so bad, and you'll relax.
2) Exercise regularly. Doing regular exercise will move qi and relieve stress. This could include special Chinese exercises specifically designed to move qi, like Tai Qi, or Qi Gong, but any exercise will work. Swimming, biking, hiking or paddling, it doesn't matter, so long as you're moving.
3) Breathe. When life gets overwhelming, take a deep breath, and then slowly release it. Then another, and one more. Keep going, watching the breath, as it comes in, and as it goes out. I strongly recommend meditation as a stress reduction technique. Meditation requires you to focus on something other than your problems, like your breath, relaxing music or guided imagery. By doing this, you get your mind off your troubles, and when you come back they just don't seem so bad. People with regular meditation practices consistently report that they are calmer and less reactive to stress triggers.
4) Eat in a calm, relaxed environment. Eating on the run can cause digestive problems. Take time to chew thoroughly, taste and smell the aromas. Don't eat and work. Take a break, relax and enjoy your meal. I put my eating table by a window with a bird feeder outside. So I sit at the table and watch the birds. It's a fantastic stress-buster.
5) Do one thing at a time. Resist multi-tasking. Trying to do to many things simultaneously inherently causes tension. Prioritize, and then calmly and efficiently go down the list.
6) Shorten the list. When you're overwhelmed because of too many to-do's, cross some off the list. Taxes can be extended, deadlines can be post-phoned, and some things will just have to wait.
7) Get help. Often we feel there's just too much to do, and not enough hours in the day. When that happens, don't try to be superwoman (man). Let people know that your plate is overflowing, and enlist aid to get the must-do's done. This may include hiring personal services, like tax accountants, housecleaning or gardening. Or delegating at work. Often people around us are not aware that we need help because we're not telling them that we do.
8) Attend to your financial health. Financial stress can be insidious, affecting our emotions, sleep and physical well-being. Work out a budget to manage your expenses so that you know what your bills total and how you will pay them. If your income fluxuates, be sure you are saving enough during the higher months to cover the lean ones. Make sure your nest egg is large enough to cover unexpected expenses, or sudden changes in employment (this is usually 8 months expenses kept in cash in the bank). Having a plan and knowing that you are in control of your finances can go a long way towards relieving this kind of pressure.
9) Laugh. Laughter is the best medicine, and there's nothing like a good laugh to break the tension. Go to a comedy club, or rent a funny movie, and laugh long and hard. You'll find some of your troubles will melt away.
10) Have fun. What's life but to be enjoyed? When you troubles are mounting, go do something you love. It's hard to be tense when you're enjoying yourself. So whether it's dinner with friends, watching a favorite movie, or a bubble bath, remember to make fun part of your routine.
Courtesy of Pulsemed.org
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TCM Theory: Shen
Shen can be translated as "Spirit" or "Mind", and implies our consciousness, mental functions, mental health, vitality, and our "presence".
Shen lives in the Heart, where it retires to sleep during the night. If the Shen is disturbed, there may be insomnia. Shen is specifically said to live in the Blood Vessels (part of the system of the Heart) and to be nourished by the Blood. In TCM pathology, therefore, deficient Blood may fail to nourish the Shen. Alternatively, Heat (of various Organs) may disturb the Shen.
State of the Shen is said to be visible in the eyes. Healthy Shen produces bright, shining eyes, with vitality. Disturbed Shen produces dull eyes, which seem to have a curtain in front of them - as if no one were behind them. Often seen in those with long-term emotional problems or after serious shock (even a shock that occurred a long time ago.)
Healthy Shen depends on the strength of the Essence (stored in Kidneys) and Qi (produced by Spleen and Stomach). Thus, Shen is dependent on the Prenatal Jing and the Postnatal Jing. If Essence and Qi are healthy, the Shen will be nourished. As mentioned above, the Shen lives in the Blood Vessels, part of the Heart system in TCM. Blood is closely related to Qi in TCM, and is formed from the Postnatal Jing derived from food and fluids, hence Blood formation is simultaneous with that of the formation of Qi.
Jing, Qi and Shen are the "three treasures" in TCM. They represent three different states of condensation of Qi, ranging from Jing (more fluid, more material) to Qi, more rarefied, and Shen, more rarefied and immaterial.
This triad corresponds to the Heart, Stomach/Spleen and Kidneys.
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Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for American Heart Month
February is American Heart Month and Cardiac Rehabilitation Month. Acupuncture and herbs treat many forms of cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer in the U.S.
In 2002 the World Health Organization reported on the therapeutic effects of acupuncture for heart disease. Researchers at a traditional Chinese medicine hospital in China concluded that the herbal Buyang Huanwu Decoction is an effective remedy for patients suffering from coronary heart disease.
Chinese medicine has also been proven to lower high blood pressure. High blood pressure directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease, leading to heart attack or stroke. A University of California, Irvine study found that electro acupuncture treatments lowered high blood pressure in rats by as much as 50 percent.
"This suggests that acupuncture can be an excellent complement to other medical treatments,” said Dr Longhurst, the study’s lead researcher. “Especially for those treating the cardiac system.”
These studies suggest that acupuncture triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that dampen the response of the cardiovascular system. This decreases the heart’s activity and need for oxygen, which as a result could lower blood pressure. Therefore, acupuncture could promote healing for a number of heart conditions including heart attacks and hypertension.
“Our goal,” Longhurst said, “is to help establish a standard of acupuncture treatment that can benefit everyone who has hypertension and other cardiac ailments.”
Traditional Chinese medicine views heart disease as arising from heart weakness or blocked energy flow. Standard treatments may include herbal remedies, massage, acupuncture and dietary recommendations. In addition, Tai chi and Qigong have shown excellent results reducing high blood pressure and stress.
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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.
Analect ( Lun Yu )
Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - December 2005 | Issue 16
In this issue you will find:
Important PCOM Dates
- January 2 – First Day of Winter Term
- January 17 – Chicago Open House
- January 29 – Chinese New Year (Year of the Dog)
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WHAT IS MIEN SHIANG?
By: Patrician McCarthy
The age-old Taoist practice of Mien Shiang is an art and a science that means literally face (mien) reading (shiang). It is an accurate means of self-discovery, and a great way to help us understand others. As the ancient Taoists said, the face records the past, reflects the present, and forecasts the future.
What we look for when we read a face are the characteristics associated with the sizes and shapes and positions of each facial feature, as well as the lines, shadings and marking that appear on the face. Simply by looking at someone’s face, we can determine his or her character, personality, health, wealth potential, social standing, and longevity.
Our Faces Accurately Record Our Chronological Passages Of Life
Certain facial traits are inherited from our parents and our ancestors, while others are acquired. These acquired lines, shadings and shapes should be celebrated as ‘proof’ that we have learned our life lessons. If we don’t do our life’s work at the proper times, we can suffer emotionally, physically, and spiritually. So, it’s good to see those markings of passage appear on our faces. People don’t value wisdom if they don’t value aging.
The Face Is a Puzzle With Perfect Pieces
Every part of the face reveals something significant. There are five to ten unique face shapes, the two sides of the face, the three primary zones, and the twelve principal features.
|Each of the 12 principal facial features, the
|| · ears
· brow bones
· lips and mouth
tells something specific about the person.
Learning to read the face shapes, the two different sides, the significance of the dominant zone, and all of the features together, is an intricate art.
Here’s Looking At You
Mien Shiang is not about reading facial expressions. Many people have good poker faces; they are experts at covering up their feelings by controlling their expressions. A good bluffer can easily change a look or a movement to fool others. But shapes, positions, lines, shadows, and other facial markings tell the truth. They are foolproof signs, if you know how to read them.
Because Mien Shiang is such a vast, extensive study that can take years to learn - for example, we could easily analyze 30 different types of eyebrows or 47 types of mouths - let’s start off with the bigger picture.
The Two Sides of the Face:
- the left side represents the true, inner, private self.
- the right side represents the outer, public self.
Suppose you meet someone who has a great smile, but you notice that the right side of their mouth goes up. That is probably someone who is “putting on a good face” - chances are they don’t feel, inside, as happy as they look, on the outside. See? Already, you can read a face!
Who Uses Mien Shiang?
We all have instinctive responses and reactions to people, but Mien Shiang is more than a gut level reaction. Mien Shiang recognizes that every facial shape, size, feature and position has a significant meaning. Each line, shading and marking reveals a little bit more to the whole face reading.
Facial features each have distinct characteristics regarding character, personality, health, longevity, wealth, and social status.
Let us first define each of the 12 major features’ general characteristics:
· ears - risk taking ability, longevity
· hairline - socialization
· forehead - parents’ influence
· brow bones - control
· eyebrows - passion, temper, pride
· eyes - receptivity
· cheekbones - authority
· nose - ego, power, leadership, wealth
· lips and mouth - personality, sexuality
· chin - character, will
· jaw - determination
Now look in the mirror and see how much risk-taking ability you have.
The bigger your ears, the bigger your risks; the smaller your ears, the more cautious you probably are.
Are your eyebrows dark and thick? If so, it is quite feasible that you have a lot of passion and anger. What about your eyes? The more open your eyes, the more open your heart. Do you have high, prominent cheekbones? If you do, you are likely to be authoritative. (Some might even call you bossy!) What if your left eyebrow is thicker than the other? Remembering that the right side of the face represents the outer, public self and the left side represents the inner, private self, you can see plainly that your face reveals that you are apt to feel more anger (inside) than you show (on the outside). Take a closer look at your ears. Are they the same size? The same shape? Even the same height? It’s not unusual for our ‘matching features’ to be different, though most of us do not notice such differences, on ourselves or on others, unless we are looking for them. If, indeed, your right ear is bigger, or more prominent in shape or position, it means that you appear to take more risks than you actually do take.
Interestingly, if our right side features are so much more distinct, or prominent, than the left features, we will sometimes ‘act out’ a certain behavior even though it may go against our inner nature. For instance, some people who have a more prominent right ear find that they take more risks than they actually feel comfortable taking.
Keep looking in the mirror. See if you can establish how much character and will you have, how determined you are, how much ego you have, and how outgoing you are. Do your features match your feelings? Do you think others see you as you really are?
The Marks of Wisdom and What They Mean
As we age our face changes. We get wrinkles and lines, dark spots and shadings. And though we tend to resent them, these signs of experience are good because they are recording our chronological passages of life. They are visual proof that we have been feeling the emotions of our experiences, struggling through our difficult times and learning the lessons of life. We can celebrate them as marks of wisdom that come with age.
Most markings appear on an area of the face that represents the age that the emotional experience first occurred.
The Face Represents a Chronological Map of Experiences:
- left ear rim - conception to early childhood
- right ear rim - mid childhood to adolescence
- hairline to eyebrows - adolescence through the 20s
- eyebrow area - early 30s
- eye area - mid to late 30s
- nose - 40s
- mouth area - 50s
- chin - 60s
- jaw - 70s and beyond
Facial lines and markings generally appear first on the forehead and work their way down to the bottom of the chin over the years. Take a close look at your own face, at your parents’, your children’s, siblings’, friends’ and co-workers’ faces and see if their marks of passage correspond with their ages.
Using Mien Shiang we read the face by interpreting the appearance of the lines and marks. We look for placement, size, shape, depth, color and shading of each line and marking. Lines between the eyes usually appear in the early to mid 30s and are frequently the first lines we notice on our own faces as well as on others. In Mien Shiang we call this area the Seat of the Stamp, or Yin Tong, and issues with father or the dominant parental figure are marked here.
Yin Tong Markings
- a single, vertical line can mean that one has difficulty getting or staying appropriately angry.
- a single, but stronger and deeper, vertical line indicates estrangement from father
- 2 vertical lines means one tends to anger easily
- 3 or more vertical lines suggest the ability to stand up for oneself and use anger appropriately.
- horizontal lines also represent separation from father, or son, or one’s own yang (male) side, as well as women who were never allowed to get angry
- a dark mark, or discoloration, indicates that one is backing off from their power.
The mouth is another area we tend to notice. Though the predominant
lines and markings generally appear in one’s 50s, they often occur as early as one’s 20s. Pursing the lips creates lots of tiny lines cutting into the lips, both top and bottom. Those lines show all the hurts that have been held on to, that have never been forgotten. They belong to the person who has ‘done all the right things’ but hasn’t been ‘rewarded’ for her ‘goodness.’
There are so many, many more lines that appear on the face that reveal our experiences or tendencies. Like the Grief Line than runs down the center or the cheek, or the Fa Ling Lines that show whether or not we are on our Golden Path. The telling lines around the eyes that warn us of an inclination for unfaithfulness, or reveal the pain of unshed tears. As you notice the lines and markings on your own face, as well as on others’, remember . . .
- the right side of the face presents the outer, public self, and that it represents the mother’s influence
- the left side of the face presents the inner, private self, and that it represents the father’s influence.
And remember the significant characteristic and trait that belong to each facial feature. Now look in the mirror and combine what Mien Shian has taught you, so far, about each side of the face, each of the 12 major facial features, and the different lines and markings and their placements. Does Mien Shian help piece together the puzzle of who you really are?
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Why Herbal Tea Really Is Good For You
According to new research, there's more to a cup of chamomile tea than you may think.
Scientists have just discovered that chamomile - renowned for its soothing, calming qualities - can also ward off colds and acts as a mild sedative to ease muscle cramps.
Used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, the herbal tea, made from the scented flowers and leaves of the chamomile plant, now has scientific analysis behind its healthy reputation.
Researchers at Imperial College, London, gave 14 volunteers, both men and women, five cups of chamomile tea daily for two consecutive weeks.
It was found that drinking the tea increased levels of hippurate, a by-product of certain plant-based compounds known as phenolics, some of which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity.
This helps explain why the tea appears to boost the immune system and fight infections.
Drinking chamomile tea also increased levels of glycine - an amino acid known to relieve muscle spasms, including menstrual cramps, through relaxing the uterus.
Lead researcher Dr Elaine Holmes, says: 'This is one of a growing number of studies that provide evidence that commonly used natural products really do contain chemicals that may be of medicinal value.'
GREEN TEA AND WHITE TEA
For centuries, green tea has been hailed as a wonder drink, and science has recently been unraveling its mysteries. Green tea can help maintain health because it's so rich in antioxidants.
These mop up and destroy free radical cells in the body, the cells that go haywire under everyday influences such as smoking, overexposure to sunlight and pollution.
White tea is made from the bud of the tea plant rather than the leaves and contains an even greater potency of antioxidants than green tea. Research by the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University shows white tea to have a better protective effect than green against colon and rectal cancer.
A regular intake of green or white tea can also accelerate weight loss.
Clinical studies conducted by Dr Abdul Dulloo, of the University of Geneva in Switzerland concluded that green tea raised metabolic rates and speeded up fat oxidation by up to 4 per cent.
Last year, a team at the University of Newcastle's Medicinal Plant Research Centre - led by Dr Ed Okello - found that both green and black tea inhibited the activity of enzymes connected with the development of Alzheimer's.
Green tea continued to have its inhibitive effect for a week while black tea's properties lasted a day.
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Curing The Winter Blues
To everything, there is a season. Our physical and emotional health is no exception. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is nationally recognized during the month of December, is an example of how a change in seasons can affect our wellbeing.
Between 4 and 6 percent of the U.S. population suffers from SAD. It is more commonly observed in those who live at high latitudes (areas farther away from the equator to the north and south). Seasonal changes are generally more extreme in these regions, supporting the idea that SAD is caused by changes in sunlight availability.
Seasonal Affective Disorder can occur during summer with limited symptoms such as weight loss, trouble sleeping and decreased appetite. Winter symptoms tend to be more severe. They include fatigue, increased need for sleep, decreased energy levels, weight gain, increase in appetite, difficulty concentrating and increased desire to be alone.
The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine states that, “People and nature are inseparable.” The winter months, which represent the height of the yin cycle and the water element, can cause those whose constitution tends toward yin to feel the effects of this season more acutely. Energetic imbalances, which are associated with emotional and physical disturbances in the body, can become more pronounced after a change in weather and sunlight. Western medicine currently treats seasonal affective disorder with light therapy and sometimes with antidepressants. The downside to these therapies is that they carry side effects such as eyestrain, headache, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, palpitations, high blood pressure and reduced libido. Also, these therapies do not address the underlying problems, but merely offer symptom relief.
Acupuncture, which has shown promising results treating depression by releasing serotonin and noradrenaline-norepinephrine, has no side effects. Together with a treatment plan created by a licensed acupuncturist, acupuncture can improve balance of mood and energy, relieving the patient from the burdens of a depressed, unbalanced system.
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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
“To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage."
Lao-Tzu (6th century B.C.)