Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - May 2007 | Issue 37
In this issue you will find:
Spring and Traditional Chinese Medicine - 5 Elements Theory
Chinese Medicine. It is based on the observation of the natural cycles and interrelationships in the environment and within ourselves. For example, there are five environmental elements – fire, earth, metal, water and wood – each corresponding with certain body organs, such as the heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines, stomach, urinary bladder and gull bladder. The five different elements are associated with different times of the year: fire with summer, Earth with late summer, metal with autumn, water with winter and wood with spring.
The five elements interact with each other (they depend on each other). For example, the liver, belonging to the Wood element, directly affects the spleen, which belongs to the Earth element. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners try to maintain a balance among the body’s organs
Spring is associated with the Wood element, which governs the liver and gall bladder. Strong winds are typical during spring. The blowing of wind in spring could over-strengthen the liver, which in turn could affect the spleen. If so, a disharmony of the liver and spleen occurs. TCM practitioners may detect this imbalance by observing symptoms such as stomach pain, acid regurgitation, stomach distention and diarrhea.
Allergy problems are abundant during spring. If the liver is not healthy, it could affect the spleen and the lungs. Symptoms of this disharmony between organs include: chest congestion, sneezing, running nose, itching eyes and other symptoms that are associated with allergy problems. It is very important, especially during spring, to cleanse the liver and lungs and to bring a balance among them and other body organs. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help to accomplish this balance.
TCM practitioners pay attention to weather, especially very extreme weather, like an unusually windy spring. Extreme or unusual weather can cause health imbalances in people. Health problems tend to occur during or immediately following certain seasons. The liver, which is said to “open into the eyes” in TCM, is associated with cases of infectious hepatitis and cases of pink eye, which tend to be more numerous in the spring.
TCM practitioners believe that a person should cater his or her diet to the seasons. Because spring is associated with the liver, it is important to have a diet that strengthens and cleanses the liver. There are many foods serving the purpose of soothing and cleansing the liver. Green is the color of the liver and of spring. Green and leafy vegetables, especially if the plants are young, help by cleansing and freshening the body. They benefit the liver’s overall well-being. Dandelion also works well as a spring cleanser. A balanced diet with a variety of juices such as citrus fruits, pear, apple, celery and carrot is very helpful. Sprouts from seeds such as beans, mung, and radish are valuable for spring use, as well.
Acupuncture and its Affects During and After Pregnancy
Acupuncture, a Chinese medical practice, has been used for thousands of years to treat many conditions in women during and after pregnancy. Many more women are discovering acupuncture during their pregnancies in search of safe, drug-free treatments for their conditions. Years of practice have shown that acupuncture treatments throughout pregnancy enhance the health of the mother, prevent complications and influence the development of the baby.
Morning sickness is just one of many conditions that acupuncture is able to treat. An Australian study reported that of 593 women less than 14 weeks pregnant, those who received traditional acupuncture treatments reported having less frequent and shorter periods of nausea than the women who received no acupuncture treatments, according to Pregnancy Today. These improvements were felt immediately and lasted throughout the study’s four-week duration.
Acupuncture also treats conditions during the second trimester; it can alleviate heartburn, hemorrhoids and stress. Acupuncture can bring relief from sciatica, backache, pubic and joint pain and even carpal tunnel syndrome during the third trimester.
Acupuncture is also used to treat depression during pregnancy. Up to 10 percent of women will experience depression during pregnancy. Women who are already predisposed to depression are at increased risks during pregnancy because of endocrine changes. Untreated depression in pregnant women might lead to adverse effects for both mothers and infants. Also, postpartum depression is more likely to occur if depression during pregnancy goes untreated. Depression that goes untreated may lead to poor maternal health behaviors, such as substance abuse; recklessness; poor eating, sleeping habits. Also, there is evidence that depression in pregnancy is a risk factor for postpartum depression.
Antidepressant therapy is not recommended for pregnant women, because antidepressants may harm the fetus. Many pregnant women are reluctant to undergo pharmacological treatment for their depression because its side effects. This is why many more women are turning toward acupuncture to treat depression during pregnancy.
A Stanford University study did show that women who responded to acupuncture treatment reported significantly less depression at 10 weeks postpartum. Overall, 69 percent of the women responded to the acupuncture specific for depression, a rate comparable to the 50 percent to 70 percent response rates in clinical trials of standard depression treatments. The study concluded that acupuncture holds promise as a safe and effective treatment of depression during pregnancy.
Besides treating depression, acupuncture can turn beech babies. Moxabustion, a type of acupuncture, was applied to 130 pregnant women with breech presentations. Moxabustion significantly increased the number of headfirst births, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Acupuncture is used during labor, itself, to reduce pain and boost energy. It can also help stimulate contractions without the use of drugs.
Acupuncture is even used after birth. It restores the mother’s energy levels after the stress of birth, alleviates depression and anxiety. It is also used to relieve backache and other kinds of pain once the baby is born.
Chinese medicine identifies more than 2,000 acupuncture points connected with pathways called meridians that conduct vital energy or qi throughout the body. Illness or symptoms are associated with an imbalance of this vital energy. Acupuncture uses hair-thin, disposable needles to stimulate specific areas associated with organ functions in order to restore balance and help the body maintain its own health.
Acupuncture for Addictions
Did you ever think that heroin addiction could be treated with acupuncture? Few of us have. Acupuncture has been used for 3,000 years for everything from allergies to chronic pain, but since 1973 there has been an increase in using acupuncture as a treatment for addictions.
Acupuncture works on the concept of yin and yang- two complementary and opposing dynamics found in nature. When we are healthy, our yin and yang is said to be in balance. Addicts are found to be lacking in yin, and since yin is like water and yang is like fire, a shortage of yin means the fire of yang can grow out of control.
As a treatment or therapy, acupuncture needles stimulate certain locations in the body to improve the corresponding problem area. Research has shown that acupuncture raises endorphin levels, which are natural painkillers, found in and produced by the body. It was noted that addicts were better able to curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms when endorphin levels were kept high.
In the 1970’s, the first acupuncture detoxification clinic in the United States opened at the Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York City. Since that time, there have been detoxification clinics opened in San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, and other cities across the US. Acupuncture is a natural treatment with no side effects. Acupuncture is beneficial in treating addictions to a wide range of drugs including barbiturates, cocaine, and nicotine.
The non-verbal first steps of ear acupuncture have proven successful in getting patients to a point where they feel more in control. That, in turn helps them to become more involved in their own rehabilitation. Acupuncture plays a big part in their eventual success.
Chinese Wisdom: Quote of the Day
“When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.”
Book of Odes