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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - September 2005 | Issue 12



In this issue you will find: Important PCOM Dates
  • September 14 - Chicago Open House
  • September 21 - New York Open House
  • September 24-25 - NY CEU Event: I-Ching Acupuncture & Taoist Time Acupuncture

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Health Benefits of Tai Chi

Tai chi, an ancient Chinese discipline that integrates mind, body, and spirit. Practitioners use meditation and deep breathing as they move through a series of continuous exercises, called "forms," which resemble slow-moving ballet. Though it originated as a martial art (evolving from qigong), tai chi is now practiced more for its therapeutic benefits, which include reducing stress, promoting balance and flexibility, and even easing arthritis pain.

Tai chi increases strength and promotes calm and harmony by improving the flow of internal energy (or qi ) throughout the body. It is the calming, meditative aspect of tai chi that makes it particularly useful for reducing stress and anxiety.

As an aerobic exercise, tai chi benefits the entire body, increasing muscle strength and enhancing balance and flexibility. People who practice tai chi are also said to exploit the strength of yin (the earth) and the energy of yang (the heavens) through exercises designed to express these forces in balanced and harmonious form.

Tai chi can be used as a preventive health measure, as a way to maintain good health, or to help with a specific ailment. Specifically, tai chi can be used to help:

Arthritis. By strengthening the muscles surrounding an arthritic joint and improving flexibility, tai chi increases range of motion without causing pain. Although tai chi cannot treat bone and cartilage damage caused by arthritis, it can lessen the severity and pain of the disease when started early enough.

Balance. Research shows that practicing tai chi improves balance in older people and thus reduces the risk of falling--a major cause of death and disability in the elderly.

Circulation problems. Tai chi may enable the heart to pump more blood with each beat, thereby improving circulation.

High blood pressure. A recent study done at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions revealed that tai chi lowered blood pressure almost as much as moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in older adults who had been sedentary.

Multiple sclerosis. Preliminary studies suggest that tai chi helps people with MS to increase their physical functioning as well as their mental well-being.

Stress. Although the evidence is limited, some studies have shown that tai chi is as effective as meditation and walking for reducing the amount of stress hormones in the body.

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Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom
Creating Physical and Emotional Health with Acupuncture
by Diane Joswick, L.Ac. (Acufinder.com)

Menopause doesn't have to be a dreaded curse of aging during which we can look forward only to hot flashes and whacked-out hormonal mood swings. Menopause often marks the beginning of a woman's most sexually passionate, creatively inspired, and professionally productive phase of life.

While this may sound like wishful thinking, examine how a woman's lifestyle, emotions, and beliefs are affected by menopause. With the right diet, attitude, and Oriental Medicine women can actually look forward to a resurgence of energy and a revolutionary opportunity for personal growth--one that rivals the hormonally driven period of adolescence.

What is Menopause?
Menopause is a transitional period marking the cessation of ovulation in a woman's body. This time of change may last a few months to several years. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and are brought on as our bodies try to adapt to decreasing amounts of estrogen. Symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, vaginal dryness, headaches, joint pain, and weight gain.

According to Chinese Medical theory, menopause occurs when a woman's body begins to preserve blood and energy in order to sustain her vitality and allow for the maximum available nourishment for her body, especially her kidneys. The kidney is the organ Chinese Medicine sees as the root of life and longevity. Therefore, the body, in its wisdom, reserves the flow of a channel in the center of the body which sends blood and energy down to the uterus. Instead, blood and essence from the kidneys are conserved and cycled through the body to nourish the woman's spirit and extend her longevity. Thus, in the Chinese Medicine, menopause is seen as true change in life from mother to enlightened and wise being.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Menopause
Few areas of women's health stir up as much confusion and debate as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which is normally started when the first symptoms of menopause appear. While they may alleviate hot flashes and prevent osteoporosis, they will also increase the risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, and have a number of significant side-effects. But HRT isn't the only solution. Menopause is an area in which Oriental Medicine shines. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have the ability to detect energetic changes that occur in the body and quickly relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, foggy mind, and irritability.

Evidence that Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine have been used for women's health can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3AD.

Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize menopause as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 women are treated with Oriental medicine for hot flashes, each of these 10 women will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and diet recommendations.

How Acupuncture Works
The mental and emotional symptoms that you are experiencing will help create a clear picture on which your practitioners can create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced. Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect.

The Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture points to treat the emotional and physical effects of menopause are located all over the body. During the acupuncture treatment, tiny needles will be placed along your legs, arms, shoulders, and perhaps even your little toe!

There seems to be little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. Occasionally, there is a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin, but once the needles are in place, most people relax and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments. The style of acupuncture that your acupuncturist has been trained in will play a roll in length of treatment, number of points used and frequency of visits.

Studies on Acupuncture and Menopause
Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are effective treatments for hot flashes, anxiety, insomnia, vaginal dryness and many other symptoms associated with menopause. Recent studies show extremely positive results:

From 1997 to 1999, one of the first studies in the United States to explore the effectiveness of acupuncture in alleviating hot flashes, insomnia and nervousness, conducted by Dr. Susan Cohen, D.S.N., APRN, associate professor of the University of Pittsburgh, it was found that during the course of acupuncture treatments, hot flashes decreased by 35% and insomnia decreased by 50%. A follow-up study revealed hot flashes significantly decreased in those receiving acupuncture, compared to those receiving routine care.

A 2002 pilot study in England found that acupuncture reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes in women being treated with tamoxifen for breast cancer.

While these results are promising and the United Nations World Health Organization has approved acupuncture as a treatment for symptoms associated with menopause, further clinical trials with larger samples are currently underway

A 2003 study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, involves a larger number of participants than previous studies. Participants will be divided into three groups; one will receive menopause-specific acupuncture, one will receive non-menopause-specific acupuncture, and one will receive usual care.

Stanford Medical Center researchers are now studying whether acupuncture can help alleviate hot flashes. During the one-year, placebo-controlled study at Stanford, volunteers may receive 10 treatments over an eight-week period.

Lifestyle and Dietary Instructions
Menopause patients are encouraged lose that extra weight and to follow a diet with a high content of raw foods, fruits and vegetables to stabilize blood sugar. Some foods may exacerbate hot flashes or increase mood swings. Steer clear of dairy products, red meats, alcohol, sugar, spicy foods, caffeine, and don't smoke. Lastly, try to eliminate stress, tension and anxiety or learn techniques to cope with stress so that you can diminish the effects that it has on your body and mind.

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Herb of the Month: Peppermint

(Mentha piperita) oil is refreshing, cooling, and stimulating and is a great anti-nausea and digestive aid. Peppermint oil in water can be a mouthwash or a gargle for a sore throat. For sunburns, add three to five drops of peppermint oil to a tepid bath and splash around. After your bath, add one drop of peppermint and three drops of lavender to a palm full of Aloe Life topical aloe gel and apply to affected area. Peppermint also works as an insect and rodent repellent.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

Friendship is one mind in two bodies."

Mencius (4th century BC) , [Mengzi] Chinese Confucian philosopher