By Carmela (Lina) Yerkes
By Carmela (Lina) Yerkes
By Sue Cook
“Therefore if people pay attention to the five flavors and mix them well, their bones will remain straight, their muscles will remain tender and young, their breath and blood will circulate freely, their pores will be fine in texture, and consequently, their breath and bones will be filled with the essence of life .” The Yellow Emperor’s Divine Classic
Endometriosis is a disorder in which endometrial tissue proliferates outside of the uterus. This tissue most commonly implants within the peritoneal cavity, binding to the surfaces of the organs. It grows and bleeds in response to hormone changes, causing inflammation and scarring. Typical symptoms include dysmenorrhea, dysuria, chronic pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, and infertility. In advanced cases where tissue has implanted outside of the abdominal cavity, there may be nosebleed, coughing of blood, and rectal bleeding. While the etiology is still unknown, the most common theory is that endometrial tissue leaves the uterus through the fallopian tubes in a retrograde form of menstruation and is transported through the body via the lymphatic system. Another theory posits that the tissue develops from peritoneal cells in a type of metaplasia. Endometriosis is typically diagnosed by a biopsy obtained by laparoscopic surgery. Treatment ranges from NSAIDS for management of inflammation, to the prescription of birth control pills to regulate hormone levels. In extreme cases, an artificial menopause may be induced using GnRH agonists. Surgery to remove endometrial implants is also advised, although the tissue usually regenerates. In very extreme cases hysterectomy may be performed .
New research has correlated endometriosis with high levels of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a signaling molecule involved in the regulation of immunity and inflammation. High levels of PGE2 inhibit phagocytosis by macrophages, preventing the destruction of abnormal tissue by the immune system. PGE2 also allows endometriotic cells to synthesis their own estrogen, which in turn stimulates mitosis, producing more aberrant cells. A number of genes that share common markers with tumor angiogenesis are also common to these cells .
Although dietary modification is not a common modality in the biomedical treatment of endometriosis, enriching the diet with natural PGE2 inhibitors and anti-angiogenic foods is a logical step. The Angiogenesis Foundation’s website lists a number of these foods: turmeric, broccoli, cinnamon, green tea, blueberries, pineapple, garlic, ginger, and red wine, to name a few. New research also suggests that eliminating trans-fats and increasing Omega-3 consumption can both reduce risk of developing endometriosis and ameliorate its symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital component of prostaglandin E1, which inhibits PGE2. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and tumor-fighting abilities and may also prove useful . Regular exercise and stress reduction techniques can also help, both by boosting immune response and by modulating pain through endorphin release. Because of its non-invasive nature, Chinese medicine is becoming more and more well-known for its treatment of chronic diseases. Diagnosis is performed through methodical questioning, careful palpation of the pulse and body, and inspection of the tongue. Diseases are typically categorized according to temperature, location in the body, type of pathogenic influence, and organ system. Treatment is based on the “Four Pillars:” acupuncture, herbal therapy, diet, and exercises such as qi gong and tai ji. According to Bob Flaws’ book Endometriosis, Infertility, & Traditional Chinese Medicine, modern Chinese medicine divides endometriosis into four main categories according to symptoms: qi stagnation and blood stasis, accumulation of cold causing blood stasis, heat congestion with blood stasis, and qi and blood vacuity with blood stasis. Qi is an ephemeral substance that powers the body. The functions of qi are to activate, warm, defend, transform, and contain. It provides the force behind the body’s metabolism and growth, sustains the immune system, regulates the production of blood and other bodily substances, and maintains the circulatory system, both by propelling the blood through the body and by restraining the blood within the vessels. When the body’s equilibrium is disturbed, either by external causes such as contagious disease or by internal causes such as emotional turmoil, the qi can become stagnant or weak. Such a disruption inevitably results in disease. Blood is formed by the interaction of qi and the nutrients received from food, water, and air. It has an interdependent relationship with qi. Qi is the commander of the blood, and blood is the mother of qi. Blood can become static, hot, cold, or deficient, usually in combination. The body is seen as an equilibrium of yin and yang. If the body is thought of as an machine, yin would be the oil that cools and lubricates the moving parts while yang is the gasoline whose fiery combustion powers the movement of the engine. Qi is primarily yang, blood is primarily yin. Each balances the other and keeps it in check, as well as containing a seed other the other within itself. If the yin and yang become unbalanced, heat or cold can develop within the organs.
There are three main organs involved in gynecological disorders: the Liver, the Spleen, and the Kidneys. The Liver in Chinese medicine is the organ responsible for governing the free flow of qi within the body. It stores the blood and controls the amount of blood released into the vessels. The Spleen regulates digestive function. It transforms food and water into qi and blood and distributes them throughout the body. It is said to hold the organs in place and prevent prolapse. It also prevents the blood from leaving the vessels. The Kidneys are said to store the essential qi that serves as the substrate for all bodily functions as well as to house the ministerial fire that controls the metabolism of water throughout the body. The first diagnosis, qi stagnation and blood stasis, represents a disruption of Liver function. The Liver is especially susceptible to stress, which causes a sort of internal “traffic jam.” When the qi can’t circulate properly, the blood also becomes sluggish. The blood can also become static from trauma causing obstruction in the vessels or from use of birth control medications, which prevent menstrual blood from being fully discharged. Static blood can in turn cause the qi to back up and become stagnant. Symptoms of stagnant qi and blood are lower abdominal distention, lower abdominal crampy pain, premenstrual breast distention, a stuffy, tight chest… stabbing, sharp, fixed, and lancinating pain, clots in the menstrual discharge, the relief of dysmenorrhea after the passing of clots… possible palpable lumps or masses, and poking pain with intercourse. The tongue will have a dark or dusky appearance and the pulse will be wiry or choppy. Treatment will focus on moving the qi and blood. Acupuncture protocols with this aim will select from a combination of points such as: Lv 3, Sp 6, Sp 10, LI 4, Ren 3, Ren 6, St 25, Bl 25. The second category, cold causing blood stasis, is mainly generated by an external cause. Cold can invade the body during exposure to low temperatures, through excessive consumption of cold and raw foods. However, it can also invade when the ministerial fire of the Kidneys becomes weak, generally from severe illness, aging or prolonged overwork, as well as from a lack of Spleen yang. Symptoms include
cold, fixed pain in the lower abdomen relieved by warmth, a dark, clotty, menstrual discharge, aversion to cold… Lumps or masses may be felt on palpation of the uterus and the patient tends to be chilled. The period may be late or excessively long and heavy. The tongue will be pale or purple with a wet coating, and the pulse will be deep and tight. If the Spleen is deficient in yang, there will be signs of digestive cold such as excessive mucus, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and vomiting. In this case the tongue coat will be thick and greasy and the pulse may be slippery. If the Kidneys are deficient in heat, there may be low back pain, sore knees, edema in the lower limbs, leukorrhea, and frequent urination. The pulse in this case may be very thin and weak. The treatment strategy is to warm the uterus, dispel cold, and move the blood. The warming functions of the Spleen and Kidney should be strengthened as needed. Acupuncture protocols will use points such as Sp 6, Sp 10, Ren 3, Ren 4, St 28, St 36, Bl 23. Excessive heat in the body can congeal the blood into stasis. Stagnant qi caused by Liver dysfunction can cause friction, which turns into heat. Heat can also be generated by improper diet or by a lack of cooling yin in the organs. If the heat is a result of depressed Liver function, there will be symptoms like migraine headache, emotional lability, red and painful eyes, itchy vaginal discharge prior to menses, and painful urination. The pulse will be rapid and wiry and the tongue will be red with a yellow coating. If the heat is due to a lack of yin, the patient will experience night sweats, a sensation of heat in the palms, soles and chest, mallar flush, imsomnia, irritability, as well as possible dryness of the mucous membranes. The pulse will be rapid, wiry, and floating and the tongue will be reddish with a dry or very thin coat. The menses may be scant or early and there may be vaginal dryness . The pain will be hot and burning and there may be palpable heat and inflammation in the back and pelvic region. The treatment strategy is either to clear heat and move the blood or to clear heat, nourish yin, and move the blood. In the first case the acupuncture protocol will include a selection from Lv 2/3, LI 4, Sp 6, Sp 10, GB 26, GB 34, GB 41, Ren 3, Ren 6, Bl 18, Bl 19, St 29. For yin deficiency with stasis: Kd 3, Kd 6, Ht 5, Ren 4, Sp 6, Sp 10, St 36. The last pattern, vacuity of qi and blood with stasis, is a particularly common and self-perpetuating cycle. The blood and qi becomes weak due to blood loss itself, poor diet, overwork, stress, or external disease; when there is not enough blood or qi for the qi to flow evenly through the vessels it causes a concurrent stasis of blood and qi, which in turn prevents the generation of more qi and blood. This pattern may be differentiated by whether the qi or the blood is more deficient. If the blood is more deficient, the period will be short and scanty or may stop altogether. The cramps will not be improved as the cycle progresses. The patient may have restless fatigue, insomnia, poor memory, heart palpitations, dry skin, hair and nails, and vertigo. If the qi is more deficient, there will be a dragging sensation in the uterus as the cycle progresses, profound fatigue, and pain made worse by activity. Both types may be accompanied by Spleen cold symptoms such as diarrhea, lack of appetite, abdominal pain during digestion, bloating, and feeling chilled. The treatment strategy is to strengthen qi, generate new blood, and move the static blood. Acupuncture should be accompanied by moxibustion, a modality in which the dried form of the herb mugwort is burned over acupuncture points to supplement the qi and blood. Sample points are St 36, Sp 6, Lv 3, Lv 8, Ren 4, Bl 18, Bl 20. While Chinese herbal therapy has proven extremely useful in treating endometriosis, many patients may resist taking herbs, often for financial reasons. Dietary modification is extremely useful in these cases. It also allows the patient to recover a sense of control over their body, which can relieve the antipathy many chronic pain patients feel toward themselves. Chinese herbal and dietary therapy are both based upon the five flavors: pungent/acrid/spicy, sour, sweet, bitter, and salty. Each flavor corresponds to one of the five elements: pungent is the flavor of metal, the element of the Lung; sour is the flavor of wood, which is the element of the Liver; bitter is the flavor of fire and the Heart; sweet is earth and the Spleen; salty is water and the Kidney. The elements follow a specific cycle in which one generates the next: wood, fire, earth, metal, water. Each element also restrains another: wood, earth, water, fire, metal. Each flavor also has an action: acrid promotes motion, sour preserves and contains, bitter drains, sweet nourishes, and salty dissolves. Herbs and foods also have a corresponding temperature, either hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold. Therefore for a condition of heat from deficient yin and blood with concurrent static blood, the herbs and foods used should be sweet to nourish yin and blood, acrid to move the blood, and a balance of cooling and neutral. When using sweet foods, it is important to include ingredients that boost the digestion, primarily those that are bitter and acrid. Foods that are said to move the blood include adzuki beans, black beans, peaches (both the fruit and the kernel within the pit), hawthorn berries, chestnuts, chives and green onions, eggplant, chili peppers, brown sugar, cinnamon, wine, acrid spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and vinegar. Foods that move stagnant qi and soothe the Liver include oranges, carrots, plums, greens, celery, and vinegar. Herbs and seasonings that move Liver qi include onions, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cumin, rosemary mint, and lemon balm. Raw and sprouted foots can also restore function to a stagnant Liver, especially when there are heat signs present. Foods that strengthen qi, yin and blood are miso, oats, rice, grapes, raspberries, longan fruit, lychee, goji berries, peanuts, beets, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes and yams, molasses, seaweed, kale. Animal products such as dairy, eggs, and meat all build blood as well, but their temperature must be carefully considered. Red meat like beef and lamb are hot in nature, while duck is cool. Pork and most seafood is neutral. In cases with pronounced cold, hot and warm natured foods like garlic, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, lamb, and walnuts should be favored. Conversely, they should be avoided in cases with heat, and cooling foods such as watery fruits and vegetables, mung beans, barley, wheat, and seaweeds should be consumed. Dairy, sugar, and white flours as well as excessively bitter/spicy foods are particularly taxing to the Spleen and tend to contribute to digestive complains as well as damp conditions such as yeast infections and chronic phlegm and should be avoided. It is often overwhelming for a patient to look at a list of foods and try to come up with something to prepare, especially if they are overworked and tired or have little background in cooking. Sample recipes such as those that follow at the end of this essay can relieve this stress as well as giving the patient a sense of responsibility for their own recovery. In Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford recommends a number of supplements for blood deficiency: vitamins A, E, and the B complex, iron and zinc, as well as Omega 3 and 6, chlorophyll and spirulina. Dietary supplements can sometimes be more appealing to patients than herbal which need to be taken several times a day and which often require purchasing a bottle per week. In this case taking a single-herb supplement like turmeric extract should also be suggested. It is interesting to note the overlap between the list of anti-angiogenic foods provided earlier and the list of foods that build and move blood. The Angiogenesis Foundation website also notes the anti-cancer properties of several mushrooms, namely shiitake, wood ear, and Ganoderma, which are said in Chinese medicine to boost the defensive qi, which corresponds to the immune system. Consumption of these mushrooms, either in extract or as food, may also help promote the destruction of abnormal endometrial tissue by white blood cells. A diagnosis of endometriosis from a gynecologist can feel like a life sentence. To be forced to choose between sometimes crippling pain and hormonal treatments with unpleasant side effects, exploratory abdominal surgery followed by excision and cauterization, or even hysterectomy is the harsh reality that often faces these women. In contrast, Chinese medical modalities such as acupuncture, herbs, and dietary therapy can provide both temporary and long-term care in a gentle, self-empowering way. By using the “five flavors,” women with endometriosis can find not just relief, but actual recovery. Sample Recipes: Curried Sweet Potato and Lentils
2 T organic butter or vegan butter substitute (preferably the flax-based type)
1 large purple onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, pounded to a paste or minced
2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated or 1 tsp dried ginger powder
2 large unbroken bay leaves
1 tsp each cumin and fenugreek seeds, powdered
1 tsp turmeric root, powdered
1 large sweet potato or yam, diced 2 cups dried red lentils
water to cover
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
salt or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos to taste
directions: Heat a heavy-bottomed pot, using a pressure cooker if available over a medium flame and melt the butter. Add the onions and bay leaves, stirring frequently until the onion begins to brown, then add the garlic, ginger, and spices, stirring to prevent sticking, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato and lentils and pour in sufficient water to cover by at least one inch. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for approximately one hour until the lentils are soft. Puree if desired. If using a pressure cooker, close the lid and allow to boil until the pressure sensor goes off, then lower heat and cook for 20 minutes. top with fresh tomatoes. Makes approximately 4 2-cup servings. Analysis:
onions, garlic, cumin, turmeric and bay are warm and acrid and move Liver qi and blood; they also prevent gas during digestion of the legumes. butter is warm and sweet and also reduces stagnant blood. ginger and fenugreek are warm and strengthen the yang of the kidneys and spleen and stop abdominal pain. lentils are sweet and neutral and strengthen the essential qi of the kidney, and are rich in iron and B vitamins. sweet potato is sweet and strengthens the qi overall, especially of the spleen, as well as the yin of the kidneys. they balance estrogen levels and are rich in vitamin A. tomatoes are sweet, sour, and cooling. they nourish yin and generate stomach fluids and purify the liver; they are rich in lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant. this recipe would be helpful for cold-type blood stasis, i.e. for the woman who feels freezing cold all the time and has painful stabbing cramps relieved by a heating pad, and who also tends to have diarrhea during her period. it is warming and strengthening without being too drying. in cases of severe cold the tomatoes may be removed.
Roasted Duck with Blueberry Sauce and Shiitake Wild Rice
1 fresh duck
3 T brown sugar
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
one pint blueberries
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 shallot, minced
1 cup brown/wild rice mix
3 cups water
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 T corn starch
directions: preheat the oven to 350. rub the duck with the brown sugar, rosemary, and a pinch of sea salt mixed together, then place in a roasting pan. bake for about 40 minutes covered with foil, then remove the foil. at this time spoon off a few tablespoons of the fat into a saucepan and cook another 20 minutes until the skin is crispy and the temperature of the meat of the thigh is 170 degrees. remove from the oven and pour off the fat into a jar. remove the duck and let it rest. scrape the brown drippings from the pan into a small saucepan.
after removing the foil from the duck and spooning the fat into a saucepan, heat the pan over a medium flame. add the shiitakes and shallot, stirring frequently until brown. add the rice and stir to coat evenly with the fat, then add the water and bring to a boil. cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until all the water is absorbed, approximately 35-40 minutes.
while the rice is cooking, prepare the sauce: dissolve 2 T corn starch in 2 cups of water, then whisk into saucepan with the drippings, the blueberries and about 2 T of the duck fat. reserve the rest of the duck fat in a tightly lidded jar for a sad and gloomy day. let the sauce simmer until thickened. mash the blueberries against the side of the pan. salt to taste.
Serve the duck over the rice topped with the sauce. This can feed two people for several meals or a group of 4-6 once.
Analysis: duck is sweet and cool and nourishes kidney yin and essential qi. blueberries are sweet, cold, and nourish kidney yin; they are also anti-angiogenic and full of antioxidants and fight cancer. brown sugar moves and tonifies blood; it contains B vitamins. rosemary is warm and acrid and moves qi; it is also anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory. shiitakes are sweet and neutral and strengthen the lungs and stomach; they are anti-angiogenic and boost white blood cell counts and fight cancer. shallots are sweet, acrid, and neutral. they strengthen the qi of the lung and stomach and help to break down the fats in the meal. turmeric is warm and acrid and moves liver qi and breaks up static blood. wild rice is cool, bitter and sweet, brown rice is sweet and neutral. they strengthen qi overall and contain B vitamins to build blood and strengthen the nervous system. this recipe is well suited for a woman with a mixture of yin/blood/qi deficiency. she would feel hot, irritable, restless and exhausted before, during, and after her period. this would be a particularly suitable meal for winter months as it is extremely nourishing. if she has difficulty digesting heavy foods, orange or tangerine zest may be added to the sauce to help break down the fats and prevent stagnant qi in the belly.
By Karen Vaughan, L.Ac., Registered Herbalist (AHG)
By Kimberly M. Davis
Practicing Oriental Medicine in the U.S. needs to be about educating the patient as much as it does about treating the patient. As practitioners of TCM we have spent years learning a way of thinking about medicine that is essentially different and foreign to most of the western world. For this reason it is often of no surprise to us that our patients don’t understand what we are doing and how we are making decisions about how to best care for them. However, in order to get our patients to comply with our instructions, heal, and return to us for proper follow up it is imperative that as we treat them, we also educate them.
Certainly we can’t provide them a 4 year education in Chinese medicine, but we can and should educate them as well as treat their maladies. Often a first-time patient will come to us out of desperation or curiosity. If we do not sufficiently educate our patients at that visit, we may never see them again and may fail to fully open the door to the healing they desire.
As a student of Pacific College of Oriental medicine, rarely does a day go by that I don’t see missed opportunities for educating our patients. Patients who don’t understand our methods are patients who answer our questions inappropriately. It’s not necessary to give a time consuming explanation of every pattern or treatment you use, but it is necessary to give the patient some inkling of why we do what we do and what we are looking for.
Early on in each patient visit we ask a series of 10 questions. Frequently patients have no idea why we ask these questions or what we’re looking for. Simply telling them a bit more about what we’re looking for may be of tremendous help. For example, a first time patient might be asked, “How is your digestion?” To most Americans, “poor digestion” simply refers to any food that gives them indigestion. Most patients will answer my digestion is fine or telling you about a specific food that upsets the stomach. In reality we’re looking for more information than they are likely to provide by simply asking this question. Instead we might want to consider asking more probing questions such as “Do you feel you eat too much?” “Are you hungry all the time?” “Do you find you burn through the food you eat or do you find that regardless of what you eat you still seem to gain weight?”
Asking more probing questions such as these will help patients focus in on what we’re looking for. A simple explanation of why we’re asking a question or what a pathology looks like might also help patients elicit the responses we need. Doing so might also help patients discover that what they perceive as normal may just not be so. Take the example of bowel movements. Many of our patients may experience one every few days and believe this to be completely normal. Instead of just writing this down and using it to identify a pattern, I would suggest we tell them why having a more regular bowl movement would be advantageous. We should also explain to them how we will help them achieve this goal. An explanation might be something like “these needles I’m inserting on the legs will help with this or that’s exactly what this herb formula is intended to do.”
Still another area that needs to be addressed with education is herbs. Many patients assume that herbs, like pharmaceuticals, should be taken until the bottle is empty or taken indefinitely. Most often this is not our intention. We should be sure to explain to patients that as herbs build up in the body they may get the desired effect and that overdoing it will not be helpful and may indeed be counterproductive. Herbs may need to be discontinued at some point, either temporarily or permanently. We need to make sure patients know, that as their condition changes or improves, the herbal formulas they require will change as well. Therefore it is important to for them to get our advice as recommended. They should be advised against procuring additional bottles of herbs and taking them indefinitely or without adequate practitioner monitoring.
As student practitioners we should consider a clinic visit from the patients view as well as our own. Often students have a list of steps to check off that takes them away from the perspective of the patient. Every effort should be made not only to follow the clinic protocol but to notice what is happening from the patient’s perspective. Patients may not understand what a specific treatment is or what “Qi” or “dampness” is. A simple comment like “Qi is what we call the energy that moves things in the body” may be all it takes to give the patient a little better idea of what we’re talking about. Sometimes there is a tendency to talk over the patient’s head using our Chinese medical terminology. Doing this is really inappropriate, doesn’t impress the patient and often alienates them. Instead we should be using every visit to gradually educate them so they are better prepared to take responsibility for there own health. If we accomplish this, we will not experience fewer patient visits, but instead have patients visiting us when they should. Additionally we will find our patients recommending us to others as caring knowledgeable professionals who take the time to educate and explain things to patients in a manner they can understand and appreciate.
By Anthony Harrison
By Patrice Berg
Massage was used by primitive man to treat aches, strains and gastro-intestinal disorders. Tui Na developed alongside mans evolution, probably stemming from daoyin, the pressing and rubbing of one’s own limbs to ease pain and stiffness.
The first written successful case using Tui Na along with acupuncture is recorded in the Records of the Historian. Around 500BC the physician, Bian Que, rescued a dying crown prince of the Zhao State, which won him admiration.
Tui Na Therapy continued to play a significant role in medical treatment. Through 220AD writings on Tui Na appeared in Ten Volumes of Tui Na Therapy by Huang Di and Qi Bo, which was lost, but its existence is noted in the History of the Han Dynasty. Documented advances are found in Cannon of the Tuina Therapy, Classic of Daoyin and General Treatise on the causes of Symptoms and Diseases.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-907) a Tui Na department was set up in the Imperial Health Administration, where there was a training program and masseurs held different ranks. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279) the rulers dismantled the massage department and although massage remained popular, it did not advance again until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Tui Na gradually became the main form of massage and was used to treat infants. Developing further into the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) it was among the thirteen medical branches at the Imperial Health Administration. However, in the later years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Tui Na and Acupuncture were discriminated against and dismissed from the Imperial Health Administration by the rulers. This continued through the Kuomintang regime (1927-1949) and was not accepted again until the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.
Since then, it has made progress, having departments in hospitals and training Tui Na practitioners in schools. Since many western doctors have learned Traditional Chinese Medicine, there have been many books written on traditional massage and contributed to the development of Tui Na.
By Erin Silver Piccola
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the standard of care in Western biomedical cancer treatment. Depending on the tumor size, location, and level of metastasis, these therapies are used singly or in conjunction. Chemotherapy uses chemical agents to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy has the ability to treat widespread or metastatic cancer, while radiation therapy treats cancers confined to more specific areas. Chemotherapy is immunosuppressive and myelosuppressive, meaning it suppresses bone marrow function of producing all blood cell lines. A patient who has undergone chemotherapy is therefore more susceptible to infection, anemia, and bleeding disorders. In addition, there is often liver and kidney damage from the processing of toxic chemotherapy agents in the body.
The drugs used in chemotherapy attack cancer cells by targeting a certain part of the growth cycle. Because cancer cells grow faster then normal cells, this helps minimize damage to the rest of the body’s healthy tissue. Unfortunately, healthy tissue will still be damaged in chemotherapy. In particular, hair follicles, skin, and cells lining the gastrointestinal tract are some of the fastest growing cells in the human body and are therefore most sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy. This helps explain common side effects like hair loss, rashes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to damage the DNA of cells, thereby killing the cancer cells, or at least stopping them from reproducing. Radiation also damages normal cells, but because normal cells are growing more slowly, they are better able to repair this radiation damage than are cancer cells. Side effects are directly related to the area of the body being treated and may include reddening of the skin, hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, fatigue, and weakness.
From a TCM perspective, chemotherapy and radiation therapy weaken the body’s reserves. Depending on the patient, there may be specific relative deficiencies, but overall, cancer and its treatment can deplete Qi, blood, yin, yang, and Jing. More specifically, chemotherapy drains the body’s Jing and Yuan Qi by attacking the marrow, as well as the body’s defenses (Wei Qi) by suppressing the immune system. Radiation creates heat and damages the yin. The side effects of these treatments reflect the presence of heat from vacuity (mouth ulcers, reddening and dryness of the skin, nausea and vomiting), Qi deficiency (diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, susceptibility to infection), blood vacuity (hair loss, fatigue, weakness, anemia), and Jing deficiency (hair loss, fatigue, weakness). The Eastern treatment approach to cancer patients, especially those enduring chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, is to nourish and maintain healthy tissue while encouraging the cleansing of heat and toxins from the body. Of course, treatment should also be geared towards amelioration of the various side effects of chemo and radiation therapy. Cancer patients can use food to take a proactive role in their own healing process. The proper food choices can not only help patients nourish their bodies throughout the treatment and recovery process, but can also help empower a patient to regain an element of control over his/her own well-being. Below are some key ingredients to be included in a cancer recovery diet. Carcinogenic diseases are thought to arise from an overly acidic environment within the body. Millet is an alkaline-forming grain, making it a good choice in an anti-cancer diet. Millet is also a rich source of fiber and silica, which detoxify the intestines, making it especially useful in the overall cleansing process that is a part of cancer treatment. The nature of millet is cool, sweet and salty. It strengthens the kidneys to help fortify the Jing, benefits the spleen and stomach to boost Qi, and builds yin fluids to help clear heat.
Mushrooms possess a classic Doctrine of Signatures in regards to their usefulness in the treatment and prevention of cancer; like cancer itself, mushrooms are parasitical, fungus-like, and fast-growing. Mushrooms have been extensively studied for their usefulness in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Mushrooms, especially reishi and shiitake, are rich in germanium, an oxygenating element that promotes healthy tissue repair. Mushrooms in general neutralize toxic residues in the body left over from eating too much meat. Recent research suggests that mushrooms actually have anti-tumor potential. Studies by Daniel Silva at the Cancer Research Laboratory in Indianapolis demonstrated the anti-tumor potential of one species of reishi mushroom, Ganoderma Lucidum. More recent studies at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences isolated a fraction of the shiitake mushroom responsible for its observed antitumor activity. These are just two of many studies that have been done to uncover the mechanism behind the power of mushrooms. Regardless of the science behind it, mushrooms have been used as a medicinal remedy for centuries to preserve human vitality and promote longevity. Shiitake mushrooms have a neutral, sweet nature. They benefit the stomach and are a natural source of interferon, a protein that induces immune response against cancer and viral infections.
Onions and garlic are rich sources of quercetin, a potent anti-cancer bioflavanoid. Onions inhibit malignant cell growth and garlic contains antiviral, antibiotic, and antifungal properties. Garlic is a very pungent member of the onion family, and should be minimized in those with heat signs. The onion family in general promotes warmth and moves energy in the body, which can be helpful with tissue repair. Onions also resolve blood stagnations, which can be a contributing factor in tumor growth, and detoxify the body. Among its many functions, garlic promotes circulation, removes obstruction, inhibits viruses and microorganisms associated with cancer and promotes growth of healthy intestinal flora.
Bok Choy is cooling and cleansing. Along with other green, leafy vegetables, it can help balance the heat left in the body from chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatment. Miso is fermented soybean paste that comes in many varieties and colors. Miso contains an amino acid pattern similar to meat along with some B12, making it a good source of protein. It also contains live lactobacillus (just like yogurt) that helps with digestion and assimilation. Miso is alkaline-forming in the body, which promotes resistance to disease and neutralizes some of the toxic effects of things like smoking, air pollution, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Studies in China have shown that Huang Qi/Astragali Rx can reduce recovery time from both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is sweet and slightly warm and functions to raise yang Qi, tonify Qi of the spleen and lung, stop sweating (from Qi deficiency), and promote tissue healing by generating flesh and discharging pus.
Hong Zao/Jujubae Fructus, or Chinese Date, is sweet and neutral. It enters the spleen and stomach to tonify Qi of the middle burner, nourish blood, generate fluids, harmonize the middle and moderate toxic effects of other herbs.
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By Dr. Te-Hsin Lo & Master Joseph Zeisky
The Taoist approach of the Three Dantians (Elixir fields): Quite often, when the phrase Dan (elixir) tian (field) is circulated amongst the TCM community, one thinks of the lower Dantian only, an area about three inches below the naval and one inch inside, which also includes the hui yin cavity in the perineum area and the mingmen (gate of life) cavity in the lower back. These three areas/cavities connected together makes-up what is generally referred to as the lower dantian. It is where the Yuan qi resides, where life begins and the physical area that was formerly connected to the heavenly energy.
In Taoist energy arts, there is the concept of the three Dantians; the upper dantian, the middle dantian and the lower dantian. These elixir fields function on a more subtle level than the body's more physical manifestations such as blood, lymph, muscle, tendons and bone. The dantians are not hard tangible zones but rather places where the mind can feel a clearer sense of empty space, especially during and after the practice of meditation, so efforts to delineate them into more solid structures and or locations would only be mere approximations.
The UPPER Dantian / House of the Spirit Realm is located in the head (between the eyes and back towards the center of the brain). This is where the wisdom mind can perceive lighter energies associated with the heaven sphere, especially if one is emotionally calm and peaceful. It is an impersonal space where the psychic abilities of the mind can better perceive the more subtle vibrations and frequencies being emitted by the earth, planets and stars; from where one is more capable of tapping into a higher a consciousness and knowledge. However, because great amounts of energy can gather, intensify and or stagnate in this region, usually because of too much thinking, it is highly recommended to focus on proper abdominal breathing methods that naturally lead the breath and qi back down to the lower dantian, resulting in a smoother flow of energy.
The ability of the mind’s intention to produce thoughts and control the body movements is extremely beneficial for survival. The mind has the incredible ability to initiate an idea or use intention to either make a physical movement or an internal rumination. This is useful but all the thoughts behind these actions take an incredible amount of energy output without preserving energy or energy input. This is why one is often exhausted after worrying about a situation. The more we immerse ourselves in thoughts the less energy is given to the rest of the body. This is extremely common in a culture that respects the minds intellect as a high level of accomplishment.
If the mind is overactive, it consumes the body’s qi. As the qi is directed to feed the mind and upper dantian, the middle and lower dantians will suffer. The internal organs and bowels will not have enough qi to function properly and smoothly. In order to improve the health of an individual, one has to learn to unlearn the ideas of the mind. By doing this one will be giving his/her mind a rest. While it is beneficial that one is able to use his/her mind in a constructive way, one must learn to quiet the mind daily with such practices as meditation. When the mind is quiet, the qi that would normally be used to feed the upper dantian will be used throughout the body more evenly.
The Middle Dantian / House of the Human Realm Located in the solar plexus/center of the chest area, its field of energy also naturally extends into both palms. It is considered by the ancient Taoist, Tibetan Buddhist and other spiritual traditions to be the seat of one's soul and the root of the ego's sense of self and individuality. It's a place where raw earthly powers from below mix together with the detached sublime heavenly forces from above, creating a distinct kind of emotional energy usually only associated with human beings — it is the heart's energetic capacity to express feelings and show compassion.
Since the middle dantian is considered the house of the human realm, the heart is thought to be the main organ occupying this elixir field. The heart has the nature of fire on a physical as well as an emotional level. It is encased by the lungs, a cooling system for the heart when she gets stirred up or too emotional. Due to the intimate physical and energetic ties of the heart and lungs, the two will often affect each other. When the heart is roused it often affects the breathing and when one has trouble breathing, it automatically affects the heart. This explains why anxiety and agitation often will cause one to become upset and sad.
The Lower Dantian / House of the Earthly Realm is located in the navel area (three inches below the navel and one inch inside) physically connecting to its source the earth, via the feet and legs. This zone is primarily responsible for one's physical strength, sexual vitality and over-all health. It is directly nourished by the quality of one's daily intake of clean air, water and food and more subtly by Nature's trees, mountains, rivers, oceans and sky. On an esoteric level, this area deals with comparatively slower vibrations of energy and denser forms of matter, which result in physical manifestation of objects and worldly accomplishments. On a practical level, the strength and health of the lower dantian is extremely important for both women and men. For women, it is the house of the creative force of the uterus/ovaries and the beginning of the Chong, Ren and Du. For men, it is house of the creative force of the semen/testes. The lower dantian is responsible for the health of the Jing-essence of the body, which produces the qi-breath/energy that further transforms and refines itself into shen-spirit. It is primarily the strength of the lower dantian that is responsible for the maintenance of the middle and upper dantian. Anatomically, the lower dantian is the physical center of the body. The naval being the connection of life to the mother, it is where the Yuan qi originates and resides because it is the area that is dominated by the water energy. Without water, there is no life since the origination of life started with none other than that of water.
Taoists teach that the real dantian is at the center of the abdominal area, which also happens to be the physical center of gravity in the body. It is the strength of this center point that provides the foundation for the rest of the body. Physically, this space is mostly occupied by the intestines. This emphasizes the importance of the digestive system in the generation of qi. The expansion of the belly while breathing creates room for the zang viscera and most importantly the fu bowels to function and eliminate. In Western medicine, the majority of nutrition absorption takes place in the intestines and in Chinese medicine, an effective and clean digestive system is able to transform and generate substance into clean qi.
By Margarita M. Truong, L.Ac.
There are 11 points on the Hand Taiyin (Lung) channel among them Taiyuan (LU-9), the Yuan-Source point, is located at the wrist joint, in the depression between the radial artery and the tendon of abductor pollicis longus, level with Shenmen (HE-7). It is also the Hui-Meeting point of the vessel and well-known as specific for TCM (Traditional Chinese Medical) pulse diagnosis.
The location of Taiyuan is particular in the fact it is located in the radial groove at the wrist joint right next to the radial artery, and TCM pulse diagnosis is thought to exploit this anatomical feature for the exploration of the pulse qualities for pulse diagnosis. However, because TCM deals with the Qi, the selection of LU-9 for pulse diagnostic purpose must be viewed from a qi hua üÜ âª approach other than from a barely anatomical one.
I. TCM, A PHILOSOPHY MEDICINE THAT DEALS WITH THE QI
TCM deals with the Qi. In the Qi view point, human body’s anatomical basic structure is channel pathway and physiologic construction is Qi and Blood.
The Qi is the process that sustains living beings. In our surroundings in a one-day cycle, the Qi moves in a sine wave pattern: it starts to rise at 3:AM – 5:AM when the Sun is rising in the East. It continues to rise and reaches the extreme at noon time, then begins to fall when the Sun is setting in the West, to reach the bottom at 1:AM – 3:AM, and then starts to rise again at 3:AM – 5:AM for a new day cycle to begin.
In our body, the Qi consistently rises and falls in a twelve-hour circadian clock cycle rhythmically to the movement of the Qi in the surroundings. It starts to rise when flowing through the Lung channel (3:AM – 5:AM), reaches the extreme when flowing through the Heart channel (11:AM – 1:PM), then starts to fall and reaches the bottom when flowing through the Liver channel (1:AM – 3:AM), and then starts to rise again when arriving to the Lung channel as for a new day cycle to begin.
Qi exists everywhere, permeates everything, and there is a communication in term of Qi flow between living things in this cosmic space. Chinese philosophical concept of Qi regards a human being as the most intelligent creature, whose Qi communicates with the one of the Sky above and of the Earth below (êlé“ ë¥ìVínîV_ âAózîVå ãSê_ îVò å‹çsîVèGüÜñÁ). This is known as the Tian Di Ren ìVínêl Theories (the Theory of Heaven-Earth-Man).
According to the Tian Di Ren Theory, an object can be examined on its three levels, an event can be viewed under three stages, or a fact can be influenced by three different forces. That can be three-jiao-level examination in a diagnostic pattern; three positions cun, guan, chi or three layers, superficial, middle, deep in pulse diagnosis; three degrees of severity, excess, normal, deficient of a morbid condition, etc. In a cosmic scale, that can be three levels, Heaven, Human Being, Earth among them the Human Being level, the middle one, is where the Qi from the Heaven and Earth exert their force (êlé“ ë¥ìVínîV_).
The Qi flow in our body is governed by the Lungs.
II. THE LUNGS, THE MEETING POINT OF HUNDRED VESSELS („Ûí©ïSñ¨)
1. Lungs govern the Qi:
One of the five principal functions of the Lung is governing qi and controlling respiration: the Lung is the site of exchange between the Qi within and outside of the body; it takes in clear, natural qi and expels turbid qi.
Thanks to these two functions, “ the Lungs govern the Qi of the whole body ” and “ all qi is subordinate to the Lungs”, the True Qi ê^üÜ is generated. It is the product from the Lung zang, a combination of the Inhaled Air ê¬üÜ from the environment and the Food Qi íJüÜ of the Spleen, and then integrated with the Essential Qi ê∏üÜ of the Kidneys. 2. Lungs, the meeting point of hundred vessels
Elementary Questions (Su Wen) states, “Vessel qi flows into the channel, and channel qi returns to the lung; the lung faces the hundred vessels.” This means that the blood of the whole body must pass through the lung channel and the lung proper (Nigel Wiseman & Feng Ye, p.374).
Anatomically, blood vessels are organized into circulatory routes comprising of systemic circulation and pulmonary circulation. The systemic circulation carries oxygenated blood to specific organs in the body while the pulmonary circulation takes deoxygenated blood to the lungs and returns oxygenated blood to the main circulation stream. Or differently said, the deoxygenated blood returns from body organs & tissues to the pulmonary circulation then passes through the lungs, where the exchange of gas for oxygenation takes place, to be oxygenated then carried to the systemic circulation for a new circulatory cycle to start. It can be stated, using TCM terminology, that “the Lungs govern the Qi”, and “the Lungs are the meeting point of hundred vessels.”
Because TCM pulse diagnosis is to explore the characteristics of the Qi flow inside a human body, the point selected for this purpose must be the one of the greatest Qi force on the channel of the Lung zang (that governs the Qi).
III. TAIYUAN ëæï£ (LU-9), THE SUPREME ABYSS 1. Yuan-Source of a Yin Channel
An acupuncture point on a channel is the site where the Qi of the channel gathers. On each yin channel, the 5-shu points are the 5-phase corresponding points, among them, the Shu-stream point also Yuan-Source point is used to explore the qi of the yin within yin (zang) of this channel. Taiyuan is the Yuan-Source of the Lung channel. One of the indications to use this point is to explore the Qi of the Lung zang.
A Yuan-Source point on a Yang channel, in a contrary, is not used to explore its yang organ but expel pathogenic factors and/or release excess patterns instead; therefore, Yuan-Source points on Yang channels are not considered suitable for pulse diagnosis.
In addition to being a Yuan-Source of a yin channel, because Taiyuan is on a channel where the force of Qi flow in the hundred vessels can be explored, it is on the primary focus for pulse diagnosis. However, this point still acquires some particularly philosophical features to meet the required criteria as the best point for pulse diagnosis.
2. The Philosophy in TCM Pulse Diagnosis
The Yuan-Source points of the zang organs in a human body are Taiyuan (LU-9, Supreme Abyss), Taibai (SP-3, Supreme White), Shenmen (HE-7, Spirit Gate), Taixi (KI-3, Supreme Stream), and Daling (PC-7), three of them, Taiyuan, Shenmen, and Daling are located on the arm.
According to the Tian Di Ren Theory, the Ren level is where the Qi from the Heaven and Earth meet and apply their force. Consider a human body as a whole, the head corresponds to the Tian level, the legs the Di level, and the trunk and/or the upper extremities, the Ren level. In a smaller scale, an upper extremity as a whole, the arm corresponds to the Tian level, the hand the Di level, and the forearm the Ren level. Therefore, the forearm is taken into consideration.
A joint is where the movements of a limb take place thanks to a strong qi flow passes, a point located in a joint must have significant Qi accumulated. There are two joints attached to the forearm, the elbow and the wrist. Because the elbow has narrower range of motion in comparison to the wrist, a point in the wrist joint will meet the criteria.
But, among the three Yuan-Source points on the wrist joint, (Taiyuan, Daling, and Shenmen), Daling is not significant because there is not much Qi gathered in it, based on the narrowest range of motion it has. For the other two candidates, Taiyuan and Shenmen, Taiyuan is better. Why Taiyuan?
3. Geomancy in a Human Body
A xue åä is defined as a geographic site where the Qi from Heaven & Earth gathers. In a plain of land, xue can be found on a hill, mound, etc. On a mountain area, xue can be found in a valley, canyon, gulf, pit, crevice, fissure, etc. The deeper and larger a valley is situated next to a higher mountain, the more significant a xue can be found in this valley.
A human being is a cosmos in miniature. Because of this, many of the acupuncture points are named following the geomancy view point: marsh (LU-5, Cubit Marsh), abyss (LU-9, Supreme Abyss), valley (KI-2, Blazing Valley), stream (KI-3, Supreme Stream), pool (LI-11, Pool at the Crook), mound (ST-26, Outer Mound), valley (ST-43, Sunken Valley), spring (KI-5, Water Spring), sea (HE-3, Lesser Sea), mountain (UB-60, Kunlun Mountain), etc.
For the 3 Yuan-Source of the Yin channels on the arm, LU-9 (Supreme Abyss), PC-7 (Great Mound), and HE-7 (Spirit Gate), every point has its name going by its geographic landmark, the most impressive one is LU-9, Supreme Abyss.
4. Why Taiyuan ëæï£ ?
In a sum, LU-9 is the unique selected candidate for the site for TCM pulse diagnosis because it meets all of the requested criteria, that:
- it is found on the channel, the zang of which has the function of governing the Qi (the Lungs)
- located on the channel where hundred vessels meet; therefore suitable for the exploration of the quality of Qi flow inside the whole body (hui-meeting of vessels)
- endowed an important Qi flow that passed on (yuan-source point on a yin channel) - appropriate for the exploration of pathologic changes (located on the Ren level [of the upper extremity] because diseases are particular for Human Being but not for the Heaven neither the Earth. Therefore the points on the head and leg areas are not selected for pulse diagnosis of disease patterns; some points on the legs are, however, used for a different type of pulse diagnosis)
- “geographically” qualified as an amazing xue: • location: in a larger and deeper “valley” (the radial groove) in comparison to its counterpart HE-7, which is located on the other side of the wrist joint, in a smaller and shallower “valley” (the ulnar groove)
• environmental significance: next to a larger “water stream” (the radial artery) in comparison to a smaller “water stream” on the other side (the ulnar artery)
• environmental significance: located beside a bigger “mountain” (the radial styloid process) in comparison to a smaller one on the other side (the ulnar styloid process)
• environmental significance: its location is nearby another big “mountain”, the thumb, the range of motion of which is larger and wider in comparison to a smaller “mountain”, the little finger at the other side, the range of motion of which is limited
- and finally, the wrist area is the site where a TCM practitioner can elegantly gets in touch with his/her clients for an access to disease pattern differentiation
TCM is a distinguished medical discipline as it is a philosophy medicine. This can be perceived by the way an acupuncture point name is coined. The concept Tian Di Ren ìVínêl from the theory of Harmony of Man with the Nature (Tian Ren He Yi ìVêlçáàÍ) provides a corner stone for the understanding of the idea existing behind an acupuncture point name.
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