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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - October 2004 |

Welcome to the latest issue of the Pacific College Newsletter! In this issue you will find:

•  Important October Dates

•  PCOM October Events

•  Depression & Mental Health Month

•  Relax.the Thai Way !

•  Autumn Health Notes

•  Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day


Important October Dates to Remember:

•  October 12-17 U.S. Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament

•  October 21 Chicago Open House (Massage)

•  October 21 New York Open House

•  October 24 North American Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day

•  October 24-30 Massage Awareness Therapy Week


PCOM Students Serve Up Bodywork to Help Disabled Athletes

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine body therapy students will be providing massage to an estimated two hundred players during the 2004 United States Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in San Diego, October 12- 17. This is the sixth year that Pacific's students will volunteer their services to the Tennis Championship to help the athletes endure the demanding schedule of competition.

The U.S. Open Wheelchair Tennis Championship is the premier wheelchair tournament in the United States , and one of the prestigious events in the disabled sports world. Top athletes from all over the U.S. , as well as those representing 19 different countries will participate in this year's event.

For over 20 years, wheelchair tennis has been one of the most challenging, rewarding, and exciting of all wheelchair sports. The game follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis as endorsed by the United States Tennis Association and the International Tennis Federation, except the wheelchair tennis player is allowed up to two bounces of the ball. Competitive divisions have been established based upon factors such as gender, skill level, disability and age

There are approximately 60 countries with wheelchair tennis programs, and approximately 100 wheelchair tennis tournaments throughout the world Wheelchair tennis has its own annual version of international country versus country competition, called the World Team Cup, (equivalent to the Davis Cup/Federation Cup). Additionally, players have and opportunity to represent their country and compete for a gold medal at the Paralympics (equivalent to the Olympic Games). With each year, the game of wheelchair tennis continues to enjoy tremendous growth and popularity

North American Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day

It is estimated that as many as 43% of Americans have used or are currently using some form of complementary or alternative therapy such as acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Additionally, studies show that people are making more visits each year to alternative care practitioners (629 million times per year) than to primary care physicians (386 million). The National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have cited acupuncture as an effective system of healthcare. Fifteen million acupuncture treatments are performed safely each year in America , and the number is growing rapidly. Acupuncture therapy is beneficial for problems such as: pain, arthritis, asthma, upper respiratory conditions, digestive and urinary disorders, insomnia, depression, post-stroke paralysis, addictions and more.

In recognition of these statistics, and in support of North American Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day on October 22, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego will be hosting a free lecture for the public at 7pm titled, "Medical Benefits of Choosing Acupuncture and Oriental Body Therapy." North American Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day is part of an effort to increase public awareness of the progress, promise, and benefits of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.  Pacific College 's Clinic will also be offering discount coupons in celebration of this day, for a $10 acupuncture treatment (new patients only) and $10 off acupuncture treatment for current patients.

National Massage Therapy Awareness Week

National Massage Therapy Awareness Week is October 24-30. Sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), this week is designed to raise public awareness of the benefits of therapeutic massage and encourage people to take the extra time to care for their health through massage. This year's theme is "Managing Pain with Massage".

Chronic pain affects about 80 million Americans and is the third leading cause of impairment in the US , after cancer and heart disease. (Source: Oregon Health and Science University ). Chronic pain has been said to be the most costly health problem in America . Estimated annual costs, including direct and indirect costs, reach nearly $50 billion.

Popular among all age groups, massage is effective for relaxation and stress reduction, as well as medical reasons, including muscle soreness/stiffness/spasms, injury, headaches, pain reduction, blood and lymph circulation and improved immune system function. Massage has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate and increase endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. More than one in four Americans report having had a massage from a massage therapist in the past five years, spending a total of between $4 and $6 billion on 114 million visits each year. (Source: Massage Magazine). Doctors are now prescribing massage to their patients, and sports teams are hiring massage therapists as well. A growing number of businesses and organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice, are also offering massage in the workplace to decrease job stress and increase productivity.

During National Massage Therapy Awareness Week, Pacific College encourages those interested in massage as a career to take part in our Student For A Day Program. Prospective students can take a tour of the campus, speak to students and faculty, as well as sit in on classes such as Acupressure, Foot Reflexology, Jin Shin, Shiatsu, Tui Na, Thai and Swedish massage. Pacific College offers certification as a Massage Technician, Massage Therapist, Oriental Body Therapist, and Holistic Health Practitioner. Pacific College also offers an affordable massage and acupuncture clinic that is open to the public. Pacific College students perform massages on Thursday evenings and cost $35. For an appointment please call (619) 574-6932.  


Turning to Alternative Therapy for Depression and Mental Health Month

Depression is a national problem, but drugs are not always the answer. According to recent studies, acupuncture and massage may be a valuable adjunct therapy for those suffering from depression during National Depression and Mental Health Month this October.

An estimated 18.8 million American adults are clinically depressed. Even more disturbing is the link between depression and physical illness; many people who are ill or have been diagnosed with chronic diseases become depressed as a result. Numerous studies by the National Mental Health Association and independent clinic trial organizations also show that depression can lead to other health problems. Up to one-half of all visits to primary care physicians are due to conditions that are caused or exacerbated by mental or emotional problems.

As a prescription-oriented society, the Western medical community's first response to helping patients overcome depression is to provide patients with drugs like Zoloft and Prozac; as a result approximately 7 million Americans now take some form of antidepressant.

However, in a study of 2,318 patients conducted by the University of Colorado , only 20 percent of the patients taking these drugs were found to improve as a result. Furthermore, studies show that these drugs may even increase the risk of suicide rather than decrease it.

Acupuncture and massage provide safe, effective alternatives to controversial antidepressants. According to Chinese medical practitioners, qi, or energy, is conducted between the surface of the body and internal organs along pathways called meridians. It is qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of qi is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, disease can result. Acupuncture and massage keep the flow of this energy unblocked.


Relax...the Thai Way !

Massage is a generic term that encompasses a wide range of techniques and styles of bodywork. They can range from relaxing to invigorating, and may include hot stones, hot and cold packs or other tools to facilitate therapeutic effects. While some types of massage are applied directly on the skin with oils or lotions, others are given with the client fully clothed. Depending on the style, massage can be applied with a practitioner's feet, elbows or knees in addition to their hands.

The bodywork techniques commonly known as Thai Massage, or Nuad Bo'Rarn, are an important component of Traditional Thai Medicine, a 2,500-year-old system of natural healing developed in the ancient kingdom of Siam , now modern Thailand .

Examining the term "Nuad Bo'Rarn" is helpful in developing an understanding of this type of bodywork from the Thai perspective. The Thai word "Nuad" means to touch with the intention of imparting healing. The word "Bo'Rarn," derived from the Sanskrit language, means something that is ancient, sacred and revered. Clearly, the intention is to describe something that encompasses a Western notion of massage, but extends far beyond a description of a series of techniques applied to the surface of the body.

Practitioners of Thai massage are taught to be sensitive to the client's body, and the massage is given in a meditative and concentrated state of mind. Before beginning each massage, the practitioner may say a short chant, or Puja, to summon up energy and focus to concentrate on the health of the patient.

Traditional Thai Massage is based on an energetic paradigm of the human body/mind. Energy is thought to travel on pathways throughout the body called "Sen," with specific points of energy on these pathways called "nadis." In the tradition of Ancient Thai Massage, there are 72,000 Sen, but in practice, there are 10 that serve as the foundation of all the energy lines. This energy regulates a person's spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When energy flow is disrupted through poor health habits or other circumstances, pain and/or disease can result. Thai Massage's aim, then, is to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked. Thai Massage improves the patient's health both physically and spiritually by rebalancing and strengthening the body's immune system.

According to Dr. Richard Gold, an internationally known Thai massage practitioner/teacher and faculty member at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, "Thai Massage differs from Western-style massage because it does not primarily work with the physical body, but rather with the energetic body." The kneading of muscles and tissue manipulation, which dominates Western-style massage, is absent from Thai Massage. In Thai Massage, the bones and joints are not worked or pressed directly. Instead, point pressure, muscle stretching and compression are performed in a rhythmic movement of gentle rocking.

Thai massage also differs from Western-style massage because it is an interactive therapy. Often referred to as "assisted yoga," many aspects of a Thai session resemble those of yoga postures. Whereas most Western massage instruction begins with technical procedures, Thai Massage instruction begins with the essential that the practitioner work in a concentrated and meditative state of mind, fully present in each moment. Through touch, this level of consciousness can then be transmitted to the recipient, which heightens Thai Massage's interactive therapeutic effects.

A Traditional Thai Massage is usually performed with the recipient wearing loose-fitting clothing while lying on a cotton mat on the floor. No oils or lotions are used. By performing the massage on the floor, Thai Massage allows for many more movements and procedures that cannot be performed on a Western-style massage table, and enables the effective use of the practitioner's balanced body weight. Working on the floor also allows consistent pressure on the body's energy lines and pressure points in conjunction with a variety of stretching movements.

Typically, a Thai massage practitioner will start by applying palm pressure to the legs, arms and back. This palm pressure is intended to both loosen and relax the patient. Pressure is applied with the practitioner's palms, thumbs and feet, and they work with straight arms and a straight back so that the strength and balance of applied pressure comes directly form the weight of the practitioner's body. In Thai Massage, much of the work is done with the ball of the thumb because it covers a larger area and the pressure it applies comes from the whole arm.

In addition to pressure and stretching, Thai Massage also emphasizes deep abdominal procedures, referred to as "Hara." The Hara is located in the lower abdomen, approximately four fingers under the navel. In Thai medical theory, all the major energy pathways of the body have their origins in the abdomen near the navel. It is believed that the health and vitality of the eyes, ears, nose and mouth are dependent on the health of the abdominal organs and the unobstructed flow of energy through and away from the abdomen. To keep energy flowing smoothly, Hara massage s trokes involve a light, but deep, pressure in and around the abdomen. Often, the Hara is performed in clock-wise circles, working from outer to inner abdomen and ending at the navel. The Hara is useful for working through energy blocks, stored emotions, gynecological issues and gastro-intestinal problems such as bloating, gas, constipation and poor digestion.

All of the techniques of Thai massage are applied very slowly. The slowness of the practice facilitates the tendency toward mindfulness. Because many of the techniques require heightened flexibility of both the practitioner and recipient, the minimal speed also significantly reduces the chance of injury. With the practitioner working in such a way, they can be aware of any resistance and discomfort experienced by the client and can able to stop or amend the procedure before injury occurs.

Thai massage has been utilized for centuries as an important healing tool in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments, such as musculo-skeletal problems, internal medical problems, neurological complaints and emotional distress. Thai massage is especially beneficial for those who find themselves stiff, sore and tired from over-exertion or from arthritis or other debilitating diseases. It allows patients to effortlessly receive all the benefits of yoga and stretching without expending any energy, leaving them more relaxed and energized. Even for a novice, Thai massage can provide a good opportunity to achieve a state of deep mental and emotional equanimity, profound stress relief and moments of sweet bliss.

While there is currently no official registry of Thai massage practitioners in the United States , as a general guideline Dr. Gold recommends practitioners who are a licensed Massage Therapist with a minimum of fifty hours of classroom instruction in Thai massage. To help locate a qualified Thai massage practitioner in your area, contact Pacific College of Oriental Medicine at (800) 729-0941, or your local chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) or the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) for a referral


Autumn Health Notes

In Traditional Chinese Medicine our bodies and our selves reflect the natural world we live in. Being in harmony with the seasons increases health and well-being.

.Fall is the time to gather and protect our energy. It is a time of abundance, but also one of contraction. It is a time to internalize our focus.

.Fall is a great time to strengthen your immune system for the coming months. Eat more cooked and less raw foods. Sour, astringent foods like lemons, limes, pickles, vitamin C, seaweeds, and sourdough breads; spicy/pungent foods like onion, garlic, radishes, horseradish, and cabbage; and hearty concentrated foods like root vegetables, soy products and barley can all benefit your health in the fall. Pumpkin, winter squash, and sweet potato are great fall choices as well. Almonds, apples, and pears (especially Asian apple pears) are beneficial to the respiratory system.

.The colors for fall are white, yellow, and orange.

.Fall's primary element is metal, the element of boundaries, organization, and letting go of what it is time to release. The primary organ systems are respiration and elimination.

.As the weather changes, it is easy to catch colds and flu's. Protect the back of your neck from the winds with a scarf or collar. Massaging the upper back and the chest is especially helpful this time of the year.

.Deep breathing and singing can support your physical and emotional health, and can balance the sadness that may arise in the fall. Repressing grief can lead to health problems; expressing it can bring relief.


.....Did you know that Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat.... Allergies; Anxiety, Depression & Stress; Asthma, Bronchitis; Constipation; Diarrhea; Headaches; Frequent Colds, Flu's and Cough; Hair loss; Irritable Bowel; Low energy; Sinus trouble; Skin problems; & more.


Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day

"In the perception of the smallest is the secret of clear vision;

in the guarding of the weakest is the secret of all strength.

Lao Tse