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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - November 2008 | Issue 58

 

In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

 

Breathing Problems Aided by Traditional Chinese Medicine

Alex A. Kecskes

While breathing is an involuntary function that most people don't think about, many suffer needlessly from some form of breathing problem.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has developed a variety of herbs, prescriptions, and therapies to treat practically any health problem, and that includes breathing ailments. These remedies are often a departure from conventional Western drugs and modalities. Their goal is typically to address the underlying causes of a particular health issue. One can’t stress strongly enough that being able to breathe naturally is critically important in restoring the body’s natural harmony. Traditional Chinese medicine has achieved some noteworthy results in healing many breathing disorders that often fail to respond to Western medicine. Once you have consulted your family medical doctor, you may consider one or more of these therapies or herbs for your particular breathing problem.

Those wishing to improve their lung capacity and to generally improve their breathing abilities can draw on a reservoir of Chinese therapies. Among these is the application of acupressure for coughing spasms. Here, pressure is applied to a point between the shoulder blade and spine; at heart level may provide some relief. Acupuncture therapy can also be effective. An imbalance in the flow of energy to the lungs can be treated by applying needles along the lung meridian on the arms, or along the meridian of another organ with a related rhythm.

Another common therapy for treating breathing problems involves the use of Qigong. This traditional breathing workout manages your breathing to improve your body’s health, mobilize its energy and stamina, and improve respiration. Basically, Qigong is the art of therapeutic breathing, that is, taking a full breath of air into the abdomen. Regrettably, most of us breathe on the shallow side. The key is to breathe deeper. Make it a point to inhale fresh air/qi in through your nostrils all the way down into your abdomen. And don’t forget to exhale through your mouth. Your abdomen should visibly push outward as you inhale and contract back in when you exhale. There are also specific breathing exercises to open the spine, which in turn, support the flow of cerebral spinal fluid.

Deep breathing is very important in maintaining the body’s over all health. It not only serves to properly balance your nervous system, but also boosts oxygen delivery to vital organs and keeps your qi moving. The point is, you have to breathe anyway, so why not do it right.

On the herbal side, Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a number of remedies you can take to improve breathing. There’s plantain seed, which may alleviate the symptoms associated with bronchitis (such as pain, coughs, wheezing and inflammation). For tonsillitis, bronchitis, cough with phlegm, sore throat and hoarseness, balloon flower root opens and disseminates lung quip, dispels phlegm, and offers a number of throat benefits (do not use with chronic cough, bloody vomit, and breathing difficulties). Mashing and water-boiling honeysuckle flowers can be used to help soothe coughs, asthma and sore throats. And finally, gardenia fruit may be used to alleviate congestion and improve nasal breathing.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine and Dry Winter Skin

Steve Goodman

Do you know what the largest organ in the body is? It is not your heart, your liver, or even the lungs – it’s your skin.  Traditional Chinese Medicine understands that the approach to healthy skin in the winter, or any time of the year for that mater – starts from the inside out.

Skin care has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the West, yet most of these products contain drugs or harsh chemicals that often do little to improve the root cause of a skin condition, and in some circumstances may actually exacerbate the problem.
Traditional Chinese Medicine on the other hand uses the same natural remedies and techniques that have worked for thousands of years. In fact “dermatology” is an actual specialty of practitioners of TCM. Rather than simply applying a treatment to the skin, the TCM approach is to address the internal problem, allowing the skin on the outside to then heal itself.

TCM sees the body as system of interrelated parts. In TCM all disorders, including dry or winter skin, which on the surface my seem to be caused by external forces – actually have their root causes in internal imbalances between qi, blood flow, yin, yang, and blockages of different energy pathways within the body. In conditions such as dry or Winter Skin, TCM recognizes that there are external environmental pathological forces at work, but these environmental factors invade the body and influence the internal imbalances. 

To treat Dry Skin the TCM Practitioner would seek to:

  • Strengthen ones immune system, to decrease the body’s sensitivity to the cold and other negative environmental hazards
  • Balance the internal organ systems using herbal medicines and acupuncture to restore internal imbalances and remove blockages of qi that are contributing to or causing the dry or itchy skin
  • Release toxins from the skin, to eliminate the itchy, red skin
  • Build up Yin level in the blood, to nourish and repair damaged skin

Specific Treatments
Wolfberry is an herb that has long been used in Chinese medicine for treatment of dry skin. To TCM practitioners, Wolfberries nourish and restore the liver, kidneys and blood. To western scientists this may not be surprising as the Wolfberry plant contains powerful anti-oxidants including:  Vitamin C, linoleic acid, thiamine, beta-carotene, and riboflavin. Wolfsberry is better known as Goji Berry and is available in many health food stores in liquid and dried forms.

Other natural remedies for Dry or Winter Skin include:

  • Add olive oil or oilatum to bath water to lock in moisture
  • Also add some olive oil to your diet, this helps keep your skin looking soft and fresh, and olive oil contains lots of vitamins, nutrients and minerals to keep your skin looking healthy.
  • Drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated.

Skin problems affect millions of Americans, and they can be one of the most frustrating and stubborn conditions to successfully treat. Many pharmaceutical solutions offer quick relief but do little to provide a long-term solution, and can have the additional side effect of weakening the immune system by build up of toxins. More and more people are choosing TCM and other alternative solutions, targeted at naturally and safely attacking the root cause of their skin problem instead of just offering temporary relief each time it occurs.

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Pacific College, San Diego Creates Community Clinic

Kathleen Rushall

Pacific College, San Diego has redesigned its community clinic shift to reflect the original community-style acupuncture model. The high cost of health care has affected many Americans and Pacific College attempts to address this problem by serving patients who many not have the time or the finances to afford a more “private,” in-depth treatment. Pacific College’s San Diego campus will be offering its new community clinic every Friday from 1:30 pm to 4:15 pm and each treatment will be fifteen dollars.

In addition to being less expensive and tine consuming, these community clinic visits are less comprehensive. Each visit will focus solely on one symptom of the patient. The goal of these treatments is to relieve symptoms of one major condition at a time. Acupuncture can alleviate multitudes of problems including allergies; asthma, anxiety, carpal tunnel, headaches, insomnia, neck/shoulder tension, sinusitis, smoking addictions, and can help with appetite control. Each of these ailments can be address in Pacific College’s new community clinic program, and more!

Acupuncture will be the only method used during treatment during this clinic time. Massages, stretches, and cupping can be accessed through the Pacific College clinic during other appointments. Acupuncture is a holistic healing method that can be applied to a wider range of maladies than massage. According to the British Medical Journal, a recent study showed acupuncture to provide greater short-term pain relief and better range of motion than traditional massage. The study consisted of 177 patients with chronic neck pain, all of whom were randomly assigned to treatments of acupuncture, massage, or placebo practices. In their results, the researchers stated that, “individuals treated with acupuncture reported greater reductions in pain both immediately after the first and last treatments, and one week after the last treatment, than those treated with massage.” In this study, acupuncture was deemed especially more effective in regard to pain caused by motion.

Clients may want to consider coming to the community clinic for acupuncture treatments that particularly focus on chronic pain, muscle aches, arthritis, or athletic injuries. The community clinic will not even require the patient to disrobe or lie on a table: the point prescriptions used can be performed in a standard chair. Pacific College has long sought to serve the public and to spread and provide information about traditional Chinese medicine. The new community clinic is a great opportunity for new comers to be introduced to acupuncture and for clients to receive affordable and effective treatments.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

“Like weather, one’s fortune may change by evening.”

~Anonymous, Song Dynasty

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - October 2008 | Issue 57

 

In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

 

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Shonishin

Pediatric massage for children

by Alex A. Kecskes

More commonly known as pediatric acupuncture, Shonishin literally translated means sho for little, ni for children, and shin for needle (though typically no needles are used and nothing actually penetrates the skin).

Tracing its roots back to 17th century Osaka, Japan (and ultimately to ancient China), the specialized acupuncture technique was developed specifically for babies and children up to the age of seven. Practitioners insist Shonishin offers a viable alternative to pharmaceuticals in the treatment of childhood health problems—everything from behavioral and emotional to many physical conditions. It has been used with some success in treating infants and children afflicted with a wide variety of conditions, including colic, indigestion, GERD, constipation, and diarrhea. It has even shown some success in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), allergies, asthma, eczema, hives, bedwetting, and stuttering. Children as young as one month old have been effectively treated.

To understand how Shonishin works, one must first realize that a child’s bio-energetic systems are in the “yang” phase and not fully developed, which means their energy (Qi) moves very quickly. Due to their rapidly growing bodies, infants consume large amounts of Qi. This often depletes the organs most responsible for producing Qi, which can result in hyperstimulation and offers a fertile ground for health problems. Enter Shonishin.  Its gentle, mostly non-invasive treatment techniques involve non-inserted needles — the enshin, the teishin and the zanshin. Experienced practitioners rhythmically stroke, rub, tap and press the skin to produce a variety of gentle stimulation sensations. Rounded tools, including stones, shells, silver, or gold rods are typically used. Sometimes a press sphere—a tiny round ball—is taped in place and left for a few hours to stimulate an acupuncture point. These techniques serve to harmonize and boost a child’s vital energy.

There are many variables to consider in the application of Shonishin treatment.  The frequency, dosage and strength of therapy, for example, will depend on the individual practitioner, as well as the age, health or illness of the child. Keep in mind that a child’s treatments will usually be short in duration, generally taking only one to five minutes—with older children usually requiring longer treatments. Shonishin is administered quickly, usually within 15-20 minutes, and is typically performed with the child clothed or just wearing a diaper. The technique is most effective when given several times per week until the symptoms are alleviated. Once the primary health concern is addressed, treatments may continue on a limited protracted basis to prevent recurrence. While only skilled acupuncturists administer initial treatments, many procedures can be performed by the child’s parents at home (a silver teaspoon makes an ideal home-based Shonishin tool). The techniques are quickly and easily learned, allowing parents to perform daily treatments between visits.

Regardless of treatment type or length, practitioners frequently develop a kind and gentle rapport with the child. In fact, regular Shonishin treatments help strengthen the parent-child relationship and can improve the spiritual and emotional development of the child. Regular daily preventative massage done by the parents may increase circulation of Qi and blood, and may strengthen the child’s immune system. The soothing, relaxing massage can also improve sleeping and eating habits. In some cases, Shonishin can even help children to be more sociable and better disposed.

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Improving Vision with Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Steve Goodman

It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. In TCM the eyes are more accurately described as the window to the inner workings of the body, for in TCM the eyes are connected to all of the internal organs.   

In Chinese medicine each part the eye is associated with a particular element and corresponding zang organ. The iris is represented by the liver zang. The heart zang relates to the corners of the eyes or the canthi, the upper and lower eyelids correspond to the spleen, the conjunctiva the lung, and the pupil the kidney.

TCM recognizes six environmental or external pathogens that can lead to vision loss. A person’s resistance to environmental pathogenic factors is based on how healthy their immune system is, which in turn is a function of Qi. This balance between vital Qi and external pathogens forms the basis for all aspects of TCM, with degenerative eye diseases and vision loss being no exception. According to TCM a person with poor Qi flow or imbalances in Qi in any of the zang organs relating to the parts of the eye will have decreased resistance to the six specific environmental pathogens that can influence vision.

Environmental Pathogenic Factors Affecting the Eyes

  • Heat – Leads to swelling, inflammation, and the redness commonly found in many eye diseases such as conjunctivitis
  • Cold – Will yield pain and slow vision loss over time, as in chronic degenerative conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma
  • Wind – Results in sudden and dramatic onset of vision loss
  • Dampness – Causes secretion of mucus, and swelling
  • Dryness – Results in dry itchy eyes and redness
  • Summer Heat - Inflammation and mucus discharge

Of these six external factors, wind and fire bring on “Yang” conditions of the eye. As the eyes look out onto the world they are susceptible to the attack of wind pathogens that enter the body through the eye. Wind born eye disorders are characterized by rapid onset of acute conditions. The result of Fire pathogenic invasion is indicated by inflammation, ulceration, and redness.

The other environment pathogens, cold and dampness, result in “Yin” conditions. According to TCM the most common cause of poor vision is exposure to cold and dampness, which results in poor circulation to the eyes. The invasion of cold blocks flow of Qi, depriving the eyes of vital warmth and nourishment. Coldness also settles into the muscles, vessels, and skin around the eyes, resulting in further degeneration of visual acuity.

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Treating Winter and Fall Allergies with Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Alex A. Kecskes

Winter and Fall allergies can cause a great deal of discomfort in many people, young or old. Symptoms include sneezing, congestion, runny nose and red, itchy eyes. Western medicine typically prescribes antihistamines, decongestants, or drugs that act on the nervous system. Dovetailing these efforts are steps to avoid the allergens altogether. While these may be effective in treating the allergic response, they often have undesirable side effects, such as drowsiness, immune system suppression or over-reliance on medications.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can offer an alternative to these Western approaches, treating the whole person and recognizing that people with chronic allergies often show signs of spleen or kidney deficiency, even lung problems. TCM considers allergies or hay fever as a manifestation of Wind invading the upper body. This occurs because one’s Wei (or protective Qi) has been weakened, which explains why a Chinese herbalist may address these allergies by building up the body’s defensive Qi. The goal is not only to treat one’s acute symptoms and provide immediate relief, but to treat any underlying immune system imbalances, which may be the real cause of one’s allergy problems. Such treatments may take the form of acupuncture and revising one’s diet, including the addition of specific herbal formulas.
There are many holistic Chinese herbal formulas that TCM practitioners use to treat allergies. Xiao Qing Long Wan or Minor Blue Dragon is one often-prescribed formula. It is usually taken when one suffers from a sensitivity to cold, or to treat chills, fever (without sweating), body aches, wheezing, a cough that produces clear to white mucus, congestion in the chest, and a thick white coating on the tongue. The pills should be taken with plenty of water and for short duration only.

Astra 8, another herbal formula, combines the advantages of an immune system enhancer with an energy tonic. It contains astragalus (huang qi), a herb that some believe can enhance the body’s immune system and offers some antiviral properties. What’s more, the herbs in Astra 8 are Qi tonics that support astragalus to boost the immune and energy systems. Other formulations include Pei Min Kan Wan, which can relieve the discomfort of fall allergies, and Fang Feng Xin Yi Wan, which may help those suffering from hay fever.

Besides these formulas, TCM further advocates replacing coffee with catechin-rich green tea, which provides anti-allergy actions. Even Chrysanthemum tea—made from dried flowers—can also help reduce allergy symptoms. Some TCM herbalists may recommend quercetin, a bioflavonoid, which has been shown to stabilize mast cells (this slows down the body’s release of histamine and other chemicals related to allergic symptoms). Lest we not forget radishes; they cool and moisten, which makes them ideal for treating dry, itchy allergy eyes. They can also help clear the sinuses, drain mucous and ease sore throats.

Those sensitive to ragweed and similar fall blooms, should boost their immune system before the fall allergy season arrives. That means seeing one’s TCM practitioner about acupuncture now, for it can take awhile for these procedures to help with allergic symptoms. People who wait until they start sneezing or suffer from a sinus headache, will find they’ve acted too late. Building immunity to fall allergies is best done weekly for four to six weeks. Those who suffer from ragweed allergies should begin treatment immediately.

We recommend in all cases that you consult with a trusted health care professional before taking any nutritional supplements or discontinuing any medication.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.

~Anonymous

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - September 2008 | Issue 55


In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

 

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Acupuncture Improves Athletic Performance

By, Kathleen Rushall

The Summer 2008 Olympics were held in Beijing, China, in the country where acupuncture originated thousands of years ago. Perhaps it is no surprise then that this ancient practice is gaining further interest and media attention now that China has hosted a world-class athletic event. The Olympic Village in Beijing offered free acupuncture to athletes and officials of the games – making it the first Olympic Village in history to do so. Since the presence of the Olympics in China, acupuncture is finally gaining the recognition it deserves as a remedy for sports ailments.

Especially when combined with Western therapy, there is little that acupuncture cannot do to help improve sports injuries. Acupuncture can quickly lessen inflammation, as well as to release pressure and improve blood circulation. Long used for the relief of chronic pain, acupuncture not only provides instant relief from painful injuries, but can also accelerate the healing process by reducing swelling, boosting the immune system, and providing energy and serenity to the patient. Acupuncture has been found to be especially effective in treating tendon and ligament sprains, which are common injuries for athletes.

One of the differences between Chinese medicine and its Western counterpart is that an Oriental medicine diagnosis always focuses on the root of the problem, rather than merely symptoms of the problem. Chinese medicine focuses on the athlete and the injury; in the West, treatment is usually more geared towards just the injury. By centering on the problem’s origins, more complex issues can be resolved and a complete sense of well-being can be achieved through acupuncture. A traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis will include taking the athlete’s history of past injuries into account as well as other health issues, sleeping and eating patterns, and the strength of various systems throughout his or her body.

The goal of most athletic acupuncture treatments is to increase one’s flexibility, circulation, and mental clarity, usually with a specific competition or game in mind. It’s important to have a set mental goal to achieve regarding one’s performance. The acupuncture treatment will not replace an athlete’s warm-up, but rather, complement it. Knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses is key, because the acupuncturist will focus on bolstering specific weaknesses in the body or performance. With the proper questions and diagnosis, a good practitioner can even help alert an athlete to their own physical prowess or areas in need of improvement. Every observable factor is taken into account for a treatment – the athlete’s anxieties, temperature, and fatigue are a few examples of this. If nervous, the athlete will be soothed by the treatment. If already prepped and warmed up, the treatment will focus on flexibility.

A recent 2008 edition of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine published a study regarding the effects of acupuncture on cyclists. Twenty young (between 18 and 30 years of age) male cyclists participated in this study. These men underwent three tests per week, riding a stationary bike for 20 kilometers as fast as possible. Before each biking session, they received a treatment: some received acupuncture, some received a sham treatment, and some received none, once each in a random order. The statistically significant result was that acupuncture gave higher RPE scores compared to the other tests. The men receiving the real acupuncture treatments completed their cycling tests at a higher acceleration than the others.

Another important draw that acupuncture holds for athletes is the fact that it goes above and beyond merely alleviating an injury. Consistent acupuncture treatments can improve performance and provide more energy. Treatments can support the body during training, help to build muscle mass, promote liver glycogen storage, and to lend the body those bursts of energy that are so integral to a great performance.

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The Many Benefits of Chinese Cupping

By, Kathleen Rushall

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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Relieve Infant Colic with Massage

By: Michelle Fletcher

For some, it appears constant crying is a normal occurrence in newborns. But is it? Colic is one of the most common reported ailments in infants aged 3 weeks to about 3 or 4 months. Extended periods of loud crying lasting longer than an hour are trademarks of the ailment, and are most frequent after being fed or late into the evenings.

Colic stems from problems with the infant’s immature digestive system. Trapped gas may cause the baby’s stomach to become distended, resulting in pain, bloating, the inability to pass gas, and frequent crying or screaming. Luckily, stimulation of the digestive process through careful massage may help ease the pain and urge relief from colic.

A study printed in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics supported the effects of massage on colicky infants. The researchers claim that massage therapy stimulated melatonin secretion and rest-activity rhythms in full-term infants. “Massage therapy by mothers in the prenatal period serves as a strong time cue, enhancing coordination of the developing circadian system with environmental cues.” In essence, massage helped relax infants and urge them to sleep, observing the natural circadian rhythms.

A Danish study further supports the claim that massage and reflexological treatments eased symptoms of colic in infants. The purpose of the study was to investigate and treat infants with colic by conventional medicine, followed by an investigation of the effect of reflexological treatment. “Infantile colic had a significant cure rate at pediatric consultation and the children who did not benefit from this intervention had a significantly better outcome after reflexological treatment than had the observation group.” The addition of massage to treatments in the study proved more effective than traditional medicine alone.

Massage for colicky infants is simple and stress-free. A few minutes of your time is enough to soothe the child, relieve symptoms of colic, and help create a tighter bond between parent and child.

The first step is called the paddlewheel. You may want to use a little massage oil or lotion on your hands before beginning. Place your palm under the infant’s chin, with fingers pointing towards the child’s shoulder. Draw your hand downward along the chest, towards their diaper. Repeat with slow, gentle motions.

In the second step, place your infant’s heel next to their bottom by bending the knee. With the leg still bent, move the thigh towards their stomach until it rests on their tummy. Move the other leg to this position as well. Slowly and carefully move the legs in a bicycle pattern. The infant may be confused at first, but they grow to love it.

Part three is also simple. Using as much of your palm and fingers as possible, circle the belly button in a clockwise motion. This motion will move the gas around, making it easier to pass for the infant.

For most parents, only five minutes per diaper change is enough to encourage a healthy digestive system, ease symptoms of colic, and promote a quiet and restful evening.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

“A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers”
~ Anonymous

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - October 2008 | Issue 56

 

In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

 

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Traditional Chinese Medicine Helps Those With Developmental Disabilities

By Alex A. Kecskes

In both America and China, a variety of studies have shown that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)-acupuncture, supplemented with herbs and special exercises-may be effective in the treatment of cerebral palsy. What is equally important is that the sooner treatments begin, the better the results.

In a random control trial, tongue acupuncture administered to 33 cerebral palsy children resulted in improved motor function. Another study showed promising results based on the application of a combination of combined therapies. These included TCM, Western medicine, and family supplemental therapy. The result showed that139 patients (over 99.3%) improved their motor capacity and 133 patients (over 95%) improved their social adaptation capacity.

Some studies have shown that acupuncture improved physical function or resulted in a notable therapeutic effect in people with cerebral palsy. In one particular study, 75 children were treated with a comprehensive meridian therapy. This included functional training, scalp and body acupuncture, acu-point injection and auriculo-point stimulation supplemented with acu-pressure and massage. Treatments ranged from 10 sessions within twenty days to 120 sessions within a year. The children's physical abilities and social adaptability were evaluated. This comprehensive treatment yielded improvement in the children's physical capability and also raised their IQ. Another study even suggested that acupuncture could be useful in managing pain associated with muscle spasms in Athetoid cerebral palsy.

So how do TCM and its complementary therapies work? What is the underlying mechanism that produces these observable results? Simply put, it is TCM's "holistic" approach, firmly rooted in yin-yang theory, that regards disease as an imbalance of energy. Acupuncture stimulates a body's acupoints, linked through a system of 14 meridians, to create neural signaling, enhanced electromagnetic energy, and neuro-immunomodulatory and neurochemical-hormonal effects. Stimulating the traditional acupoints on the scalp and body by massage and electrical means has shown some effectiveness in treating children with brain dysfunction. This stimulation may also improve a child's overall functional abilities.

TCM has even been shown to be effective in treating autism, a complex developmental disability that can severely affect a child's social interactions and communication skills. Here, acupuncture may improve the dysfunction by activating vital connections in the brain. The technique involves repetitive stimulation of specific tongue acupoints, which may re-signal neural circuits through the body's neurotransmitters. This works much like serotonin/5-HT, dopamine, and neurochemicals like cortisol. Applying these repetitive stimulation techniques may reverse the basic dysfunctional pathways in autism. The result may improve a patient's attention, emotion, or hyperactivity levels, and also allow communicative or cognitive skills to be introduced.

Finally, a new acupuncture method, pioneered by Professor Virginia Wong of the University of Hong Kong, has shown promising results. Brain imaging techniques showed that stimulating regions on the tongue affected areas of the brain related to autism. Children who were treated by this method showed improvements in language and social skills, cognition, hyperactivity, attention span and aggression.

It should be noted that an interdisciplinary approach-one involving Western and Chinese medicine-may provide an exciting new framework for the treatment of autism and cerebral palsy.

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Japanese Acupuncture: The Difference and the Benefits

By, Michelle Fletcher

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.

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Oriental Medicine and the Power of Touch

By, Michelle Fletcher

Using Western and Eastern medicine in conjunction can often lead to the best health results, but there is one aspect all types of medicine have in common, one over-arching step towards serenity and well being. That common factor is touch. The healing power of touch is not to be underestimated as a powerful source of healing, although it is often overlooked.

Touch itself is an ancient form of healing that permeates various religions and societies, and that is gaining attention today in the form of massage, Reiki, and acupuncture. It is universally acknowledged that touch can simultaneously ease pain, lessen anxiety, promote healing and hope, and help one to take the obstacles in life in stride.

An instantly lowered heart rate and dropped blood pressure are just two of the physical benefits of touch. Psychologically, touch relaxes the mind as well as the body. Similar to socializing a puppy with a lot of physical activity, making it a point to get massages or touch therapy can help to subconsciously lessen a person's suspicious or tense nature promote a comfortable and warm demeanor in the patient. Comfort and care can often be best expressed in a silent manner with the use of touch.

Promoting physical contact in your life can be as simple as giving more handshakes or reading to children and grandchildren while sitting next to one another rather than across the room. Giving goodnight kisses to family members, hugs to friends, and even placing a hand on the shoulder of someone in grief can make a difference.

In Oriental medicine, touch is a powerful component of the practice. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation which is administered by "laying on hands," showcasing the practitioner's healing touch. The practice of Reiki is similar to acupuncture in that it is based on the idea of an unseen life force (much like one's qi) that consistently flows through the body. If one's qi, or life force, is low or blocked in any way, illness ensues (or, the illness can actually be the cause of the problematic qi flow).

In Reiki, much like in traditional Chinese medicine, the higher the level of one's life force indicates the higher the level of potential happiness. The name "Reiki" is made up of two Japanese words - "rei" which translates to 'God's wisdom,' and "ki," which means 'life force energy.' Patients of Reiki describe it as a glowing radiance flowing through and filling up one's physical being. It is natural and safe, and is a form of spiritual healing - one in which human touch is integral.

Tui na is another Oriental healing practice that centers on touch. Tui na has been in use for over 2,00 years. It is a Chinese hands-on body treatment that involves acupressure (pressure by the hands on the same points on the body used during acupuncture) and strives to bring the body into balance. Tui na focuses on the soft tissues of the body (including muscles and tendons), and along with acupressure, Tui na uses manipulation techniques to realign bone and muscle relationships within the body. And, of course, there is traditional massage work, a consistent success in the calming of the mind, body, and spirit through the use of human touch.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart."

~ Confucius

Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - August 2008 | Issue 54



In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates

 

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Massage Therapy Can Ease Children’s Musculoskeletal Problems

By, Alex A. Kecskes

Nearly 90 percent of school-age children have computer access at home or in school. They typically spend up to three hours a day in front of a computer, putting them at high risk for musculoskeletal problems. Some researchers have suggested that children are at even greater risk because computers and peripherals are designed for adults' larger proportions. Computers, keyboards, mice and furniture rarely accommodate the needs of children, since their bones and muscles are still developing. As a result, pre-teens and teens often experience discomfort in the neck, upper back, wrist and knees, especially when using laptop computers (laptops generally lack the adjustability required to ergonomically fit most children).

When a muscle is repeatedly placed under physical stress—during constant computer keyboard typing, for example—the muscle connecting to the tendons tightens. Over time, this can damage the muscle, the nerves that flow through it, and the tendon and fascia surrounding the tissue. The resulting damage is known as Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). One of the most common types of RSIs is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome—which causes pain and tingling in the wrists. Another common RSI among children is neck and back injury caused by poor posture. This occurs because children often slouch in front of their computers, especially when playing video games for hours on end; or when children use an adult workspace and strain to look up at a computer screen.

Shiatsu massage therapy may often help RSIs. Widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, this therapy applies gentle finger and hand pressure to specific points on the body to relieve pain and enhance energy flow (called qi) through the body's energy pathways (called meridians). Shiatsu massages can soothe muscles, heal soreness, improve joint movement and stretching, reduce tension and stress, remove toxins and improve circulation. Massage therapy puts the body's parasympathetic nervous system to work, counteracting stress, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, even releasing endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.

Using rotations, soft tissue, and manipulation techniques, a Shiatsu massage can improve mobility and postural alignment, restoring greater mobility and functioning to wrists and hands. Headaches and migraines caused by repeated and prolonged computer use can also be relieved with this type of massage therapy. Depending upon the origins of the condition, a variety of techniques can be used, including pressure, stretching, acupressure, soft tissue manipulation, rotations, postural alignment techniques as well as more subtle holding techniques.

In addition to massage therapy, children who spend long hours in front of a computer need to take frequent breaks.  They need to get up and stretch their fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, neck and back. They should also walk around to stimulate blood circulation and relieve the strains and pressures of prolonged sitting. Combined with massage therapy, these steps may prevent or reduce the discomfort or pain associated with extended computer use.

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Acupuncture for Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

By, Steve Goodman

In today’s fast paced, stressed-out world insomnia and sleep disorders are on the increase. The proverbial good night’s sleep seems more elusive than ever. So many people are facing many sleepless nights, and yet they fear the side effects and addictive nature of sleep medications – as well they should.

Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes the importance of adequate sleep for physical, psychological, and spiritual well being. In traditional Chinese medicine, insomnia is an imbalance of Zang (Heart) functions. Stress and poor diet produce stagnation of Qi, and this stagnation of Qi travels as fire to the heart Zang, which is also the repository of the mind and spirit. The damage done by the fire can result in insomnia and sleep disorders.

TCM practitioners have used acupuncture very effectively to treat insomnia, without any of the side effects of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. Improved sleep is only one of the benefits reported by people who have used acupuncture to treat insomnia. As in all things, TCM acupuncture for insomnia does not just treat a symptom – but attacks the root disharmony in the body causing the condition. Therefore, those who use acupuncture for insomnia achieve not only better sleep, but also an overall improvement of physical and mental health.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the surface of the body. These points lie along the energy conduits, of Qi flow also called the meridians. With acupuncture, the points are stimulated, and flow “unblocked” producing beneficial physical and emotional changes in the body.

Sleep is critical to maintain Qi and to keep a body in harmony. Lack of sleep causes the body to overproduce “stress hormones” such as adrenaline and cortisol, which cause people to be nervous and more aggressive. Increased levels of Cortisol due to chronic stress is also linked to high blood pressure, suppressed immune system and weight gain. Not enough sleep leads to poor job performance, impaired judgment, and serous accidents when driving or operating machinery.

Unlike Western medicine, there is not one “prescription” for using acupuncture to treat insomnia. Each TCM practitioner will use acupuncture for insomnia, effecting a different combination of meridians or points specific to the patient’s individual problem.
Just as no two violins vibrate at exactly the same frequency and produce exactly the same sound - each person’s body is considered unique in TCM with its own individual Qi flow and resonance. Therefore, there are as many forms of acupuncture for the treatment of sleeplessness as there are insomniacs.

According to a study published by researchers at the Shandong Provincial Hospital of Shandong, a newer form of acupuncture known as Electro-Acupuncture has been shown to be helpful for improving the quality of sleep in patients suffering from insomnia. The study indicated that acupuncture treatment for insomnia might result in better quality of sleep than medication alone to treat insomnia.

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Treating Heartburn with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Heartburn is a burning sensation that radiates from the upper chest when acidic stomach contents irritate the unprotected lining of the esophagus. It’s a symptom of a medical condition called Gastroesophygeal Reflex disorder (GERD), which occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter fails to stay closed. GERD may also cause nighttime wheezing, coughing, hoarseness, a need to clear the throat repeatedly, or a sensation of deep pressure at the base of the neck.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the liver, gallbladder, spleen and pancreas work in balance to help the stomach digest food. An imbalance in these organs causes excess stomach acid travel up the esophagus and the result is heartburn. Traditional Chinese medicine helps restore this balance through acupuncture and herbs. Applied properly, these traditional remedies may not only reduce the symptoms of heartburn, but help treat the cause of GERD by reducing gastric acid, controlling esophageal pressure, and restoring balance to the digestive organs. Chinese practitioners have for thousands of years applied the following treatment regiment to reduce heartburn—its symptoms and causes:

  • Change what you eat—Avoid peppermint, coffee, acidic fruit juices, sour, hot spicy, fatty and fried foods, alcohol and chocolates and tomatoes.
  • Change how you eat—Eating slowly and chewing completely increases the food’s surface area and allows the amylase in your mouth (for digesting starch) to prepare the food for the stomach. Have dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime. Sit in an upright chair and rest 20-30 minutes after eating before engaging in any strenuous physical activity.
  • Change how much you eat—Avoid eating big meals. (Follow the Chinese discipline of eating till you are 70% full, then stop.) Eat 5-6 small meals daily.
  • Change your stress level—Manage it with Tai Chi, Qigong, Meditation and deep breathing techniques.
  • Change your posture—During sleep, raise your upper body by 5 - 6 inches or try sleeping on your left side. Don’t stoop after a big meal.
  • Change to an Herbal Tea—Try Tuo Cha, which consists of Reishi Mushroom (known as "Lin Chi" in Chinese), Ginseng & Yunnan Tea leaf. Tuo Cha is best to drink as a hot tea plain or with a small mount of honey. It is a healthy substitute for coffee or regular ice-tea or soda with any meal or throughout the day.
  • Change to Acupuncture—Australian researchers have found that electrical stimulation of an acupuncture point on the wrist cut the number of times a specific muscle in the esophagus "relaxes," which might prevent upset stomachs. When this muscle band, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weak or relaxes inappropriately, stomach acids can flow up into the esophagus and cause heartburn. So reducing LES relaxations may keep stomach acids in their place.

A particularly bad eating habit that has crept into American culture is the consumption of ice-cold soft drinks with meals—especially lunch—and the eating of ice cream for dessert. Chinese medical theory opposes this practice, since it wreaks havoc with the digestive process. Thus, a critically important measure to controlling acid reflux and accompanying heartburn is to refrain from ice-cold liquids or deserts before, during, or within two hours after meals. Ice cream is the worst offender, because it’s not just cold, which tends to immobilize stomach muscles, but it also introduces heavy loads of protein, fat, and carbohydrates—all of which overburden your digestive system. It’s not surprising that traditional Chinese medical practitioners recommend drinking only warm teas or soups/broths before or with a meal and avoid drinking excessive amounts of liquid with meals.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
~ Confucius