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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