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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - August 2005 | Issue 11

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In this issue you will find:

Important August Dates

  • August 13: San Diego Open House
  • August 14: New York Graduation Ceremony
  • August 21: San Diego Graduation Ceremony

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Oriental Medicine For Insomnia

Insomnia is more serious than an inability to fall asleep early and has more debilitating effects than are commonly recognized. An estimated 32 million people suffer from insomnia in the U.S. Oriental medicine, with its focus on healing whole syndromes rather than individual symptoms, has shown great success treating those who experience insomnia.

Insomnia may present itself in different ways. For some, the inability to fall asleep is the most noticeable symptom while others are unable to reach a deep level of sleep and are startled awake by every noise. Any insomnia symptom would frustrate most sleepers, but night after night for months or years, the most serious issues of insomnia accumulate - the daytime effects. These can include physical tiredness, difficulty concentrating and feeling depressed, irritable or lethargic. Oriental medicine is effective for treating insomnia. It focuses on patients' individual symptoms and builds a whole-healing plan from each symptom. It also has been widely successful in treating depression, stress and physical pain.

Acupuncture and herbs have shown to be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of insomnia by treating the root of the problem. Insomnia may have a number of causes, including stress, depression or anxiety; irregular work schedules; medications, drug or alcohol abuse; major life changes; chronic pain, hyperthyroidism or arthritis.

A study published recently in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, reports that patients who received acupressure and transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) experienced a significant improvement with their symptoms, including problems of fatigue, sleep quality and depression. The results from this study suggest that acupressure or TEAS might have an important role in managing patients with fatigue, poor sleep quality and depression.

By addressing all of the contributing factors using acupuncture and herbs, a patient can completely resolve their sleep disturbances. Oriental medicine helps do this by treating the whole person and focusing on bringing the entire body into balance.

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Classical Five-Element Acupuncture
By: Neil R. Gumenick

For thousands of years, the Chinese have recognized that the Five Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water exist in everyone, everything, and are essential for life. In the seasons of the year, for example, we can clearly see the elements in their never-ending cycle of change and transformation.

In spring (the season of the Wood element), new buds appear, animals awaken from hibernation, and a new growing cycle begins summer (the season of Fire), sees the buds expand into full fruits and flowers. Summer is the season of maximum fruition and fullness. Late Summer (the season of Earth) is harvest time, the season in which Mother Earth offers us of her bounty to gather and store Autumn (the season of Metal) is nature's time to let go of what is no longer necessary, clearing the way for the growing cycle to come. Winter (the season of Water) is a time of rest and recharge, its energy latent and potent for the explosive energy of rebirth in spring.

The ancient Chinese lived and worked in nature. They observed that in order to have a harvest, there must be a balance of the five elements: fire, earth metal, water, and wood. There must be enough sunlight and heat, soil in which the plant can root and draw sustenance, a proper amount of minerals and trace elements, the right amount of water, and a seed capable of growth. Too much or too little of any of these would mean that the harvest, and life itself, would be in peril. They recognized that the same elements that operate in nature also operate in human beings. We have the same elements within us, manifesting as our organs and functions - physically, mentally, and spiritually. When the elements are in balance, we harvest radiant good health.

Classical Five-Element Acupuncture asserts that every human being is born with, or develops early in life, an imbalance in the natural functioning of one of these elements. This imbalance becomes the root cause of illness at all levels.

Each of the elements contains specific organs or functions (e.g. Heart, Lungs, Kidneys, Spleen, etc.) When an element is imbalanced, so must the organs and functions residing within it become imbalanced. Within a space of time, this primary imbalance will spread disharmony throughout the system and affect all other elements, as well as their corresponding organs and functions. Therefore, Classical Five-Element Acupuncture considers that any symptom can be the result of imbalance originating in any element, as they all are invariably connected and affected.

The Causative Factor
The job of the Classical Five-Element practitioner is to determine which element is the primary imbalance. Once it is correctly identified and treated, all the other elemental imbalances will resolve naturally. Classical Five-Element Acupuncture is thus set apart from other systems of acupuncture by its fundamental premise of diagnosing and treating a patient's Causative Factor: his/her root imbalance.

The Causative Factor is assessed by way of information provided by the body itself. Each of the elements has a corresponding color, sound, emotion, and odor, which can be perceived when a particular element is out of balance. While it is relatively easy to memorize these associations, developing the skills to truly see, hear, feel, and smell these imbalances requires focused study, practice, and skilled guidance. Accurate diagnosis and treatment of the Causative Factor is the key to Classical Five-Element Acupuncture.

Energetic Blocks
There are, additionally, a number of energetic blocks, which can overlay the Causative Factor and must be removed before work on the Causative Factor element will be effective. Practitioners are trained to identify and remove all such energetic blocks.

Using Points for Treating the Spirit Directly
In addition, this elegant system recognizes that the health of each individual's body, mind, and spirit must be taken into account to fully understand and treat the cause of disease. Each acupuncture point has a unique spiritual gift, suggested by its point name, that it is capable of delivering (e.g. Spirit Storehouse, Great Esteem, Abundant Splendor, etc.). These points, when used at the right time and in conjunction with their respective elemental diagnoses, can literally turn the course of disease.

Regardless of the presence of physical symptoms, the vast majority of patients are imbalanced at the level of the spirit. To reach a patient fully means reaching all of him or her: body, mind, and spirit. With this medicine, we have the means to treat, not only the body, but also the mind and spirit directly, according to the unique needs of each patient. Thus, we assist nature to heal from the inside out.

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Recipes for Sunburn Relief

Prepare for the hot days of summer by making your own herbal sunburn remedies:

Aloe Vera gel
Break off one leaf from an aloe vera plant. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the outside skin and the thin latex-like membrane that is attached to the skin (this part can cause intestinal distress if mixed into the gel).

Place the remainder of the leaf in a small bowl. Use a spoon to "mush" the leaf until it is gel-like. Apply directly to burn. This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a week. 

St. John 's Wort oil

1/2 cup dried St. John's Wort (medicinal species; not from your yard)

3/4 cup olive oil

Fill a small glass jar with the dried herbs. Fill the jar almost to the top with olive oil. Return the lid and shake the mixture well.

Continue to shake once a day for two weeks and allow it to sit at room temperature. After two weeks, squeeze the mix through a cheesecloth. What has been strained is then ready for use. Apply directly to the affected area. This mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a year.

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Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"Life is finite, while knowledge is infinite. "