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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

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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)