How Chinese Medicine Can Help Heal Sports Injuries

By Sally Perkins

Chinese freeski champion Gu Ailing won gold at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 – and she attributed part of her victory to Chinese medicine. At just 18 years old, this major accomplishment for Ailing does not just showcase her talent as a skier, but also the powerful results that Chinese medicine can bring about when used in the right way. Modern-day athletes can benefit greatly from Chinese medicinal practice, whether used alone or in conjunction with more westernized remedies.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Ailing is fortunate enough to have an entire team of Sichuan Zheng-style orthopedics behind her to help strengthen the body and prevent injuries from occurring. Orthopedic team leader Zhu Jiangwei uses traditional Sichuan Zheng practices to guide the body with functional exercises, training, and injury prevention. The Sichuan Zheng approach to Chinese medicine is thousands of years old and entails using ancient methods of acupuncture, moxibustion, and massage.

These methods are designed to stimulate blood flow, strengthen the internal organs, and dissolve energetic stagnation. This enables athletes like Ailing to expend more energy over time and creates internal stability that prevents injuries from taking place. According to media reports, the young skier claims, “my back has never felt so good”, even after the spectacular performance she put on during the Olympics.

Chinese medicine always focuses on the potential for healing, regardless of how obstinate the injury or illness might be. Through these processes, Chinese medicine practitioners like Jiangwei can support even the most active and high-performing bodies from a more holistic perspective.

Calming Nerves With Ancient Herbs

The nervous system plays a significant role in the modalities of traditional Chinese medicine. While Ailing’s championship required her to focus more on the practical components of injury prevention and muscle strengthening, the use of ancient herbs is otherwise very prevalent in Chinese medicine.

Traditional healers will use a wide variety of different herbs, roots, barks, and flowers to support the nervous system as well as the bones, organs, and energy – or chi. Calming down nerves is just one of the benefits that these natural medicines can offer when utilized correctly. Staying calm and focused is crucial for any sportsperson and having access to traditional medicine that assists with this is a major advantage.

Ginseng is one of the most commonly used roots in Chinese medicine, used to aid digestion, enhance brain function, and fight adrenal fatigue. The use of traditional Chinese herbs has been found by several studies to alleviate cortisol levels, boost immunity, and promote the production of feel-good chemicals that support both the body and mind.

A Return To Traditions

As more professional athletes like Ailing speak openly about their reliance on traditional Chinese medicine and practices, people from all over the world become aware of the deep healing potential that it possesses.

Chinese medicine is becoming increasingly popular amongst athletes and sports enthusiasts who are craving a more holistic approach to injury prevention and treatment. Any athlete seeking integrative treatment for musculoskeletal injuries, blood flow, and systemic energy release can benefit from the therapeutic qualities of traditional Chinese medicine.


Featured image by Monicore on Pexels


Ancient Chinese Beauty Tips For Flawless Skin

By Sally Perkins

The cosmetics industry has achieved tremendous growth through the years. According to recent data, the anti-aging cosmetics market will hit the $60 billion mark by 2026. Skincare is one of the oldest practices, dating back to ancient history. While beauty enthusiasts are always looking out for the latest innovations in beauty to enhance their skincare regimen, sometimes, looking to the past provides more solutions than the present. And there's no better place to seek traditional beauty secrets than China. The traditional Chinese approach to skincare combines a mix of techniques including herbal, diet therapy, and acupuncture to revitalize the skin. Whether you're searching for ways to get rid of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, or heal acne holistically with traditional Chinese medicine, below are a few ancient Chinese beauty tips for flawless skin.

Drink The Right Herbal Tea

Chinese beauty rituals are mostly based on using the right herbs for treating various skin conditions. Common herbs used in traditional Chinese skincare routines are Goji, Bei Qi, and Huang Qi. While you can apply these herbs topically to achieve skin clarity, slow down signs of aging, and revitalize your skin, you can also steep them to make herbal tea. However, to maintain glowing skin, you must use herbal tea remedies correctly based on skin condition and season. For example, if you're looking to detox, improve your immune system, and achieve a clear and smooth complexion, herbs like Goji and Ju Hua are the perfect choice. For best results, you should use these herbs in summer, when they are more potent.

Use A Jade Roller

For centuries, Chinese women used a jade roller to target acupuncture points in the skin, thus opening up the meridian blockage to enhance blood circulation, boost lymphatic drainage, diminish fine lines, and depuff the skin. Since jade rolling entails applying pressure on the skin, you can combine it with advanced beauty technology, like laser treatments, to treat other skin conditions like varicose or spider veins on legs and arms. Treating spider veins using laser technology and a holistic approach like jade rolling guarantees safety and long-term results, thus boosting one's confidence.

Try Mung Beans

Traditional Chinese women loved DIY face masks and their favorite ingredient was mung beans, which they ground to a paste. Applying mung bean masks helps your skin appear healthy and radiant. Because mung beans contain vitamins and antioxidants, they help reduce blemishes, reduce acne, and heal acne scars. To make your skin flawless, combine powdered mung beans from a Chinese herbal store or pharmacy and mix it with Greek yogurt. Apply the thick mixture onto your face and let it sit for 10 minutes before washing it off with plain water.

Maintaining flawless skin is a desire all beauty enthusiasts wish to accomplish. Try these traditional Chinese beauty secrets to revitalize your skin for a healthy, radiant glow.


Featured image photo by cottonbro from Pexels


On The Effectivity and Safety of Acupuncture for Reducing Back Pain

“Is acupuncture effective in reducing back pain?”
“Is it safe?”

The following are the two most commonly asked questions when it comes to acupuncture. This article will answer both questions and more. It will discuss everything you need to know about acupuncture. It will help you determine if acupuncture can work for your needs and if it’s actually worth the try.

Is acupuncture effective in reducing back pain?

Yes, acupuncture is effective in reducing back pain. So much so that people who undergo acupuncture can actually be covered by Medicare if their acupuncturist is also a general practitioner. This is the case because more and more people are now relying on acupuncture’s natural and holistic way of reducing body pain.

On Back Pain

People commonly suffer from back pain due to muscular sprains and strains in the lumbar area. Weekend warriors who love DIY-ing their way around home projects often get back pain from too much muscular strain. Pain on the lower back is pretty common because it’s the part of the body that carries the most weight when we move, bend, and twist. Back pain is triggered whenever we overstretch and cause our muscle fibers to be too stretched or torn. Lower back pain is preventable if people do proper stretching and warm-up before undertaking muscle-straining activities.

You will know that you have strained muscles as you would easily see inflammation around the injured area. The inflammation is often accompanied by aches and pains
while moving. People experiencing back pain can also suffer from limited range in movement, limited bodily function, spasms, and cramping.

On Acupuncture and Back Pain

Acupuncturists report having the most number of patients needing help for neck pain and back pain because more and more people now know that acupuncture is effective in reducing body pain. Acupuncture is often seen as a remedy of last resort and patients are always pleasantly surprised whenever they experience its healing wonders. If you’re suffering from back pain and you’re open to experiencing a totally natural and safe alternative mode of healing, you should check out Acupuncture Northcote experts.

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes, acupuncture is absolutely safe. You need not undergo any intrusive medical treatment if you’d undergo acupuncture. You will simply need to lay on your back and relax while your acupuncturist strategically inserts sterilized needles on parts of your body. And no, the needles don’t hurt. People feel very little pain to no pain at all whenever needles are inserted.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture works through the strategic insertion of needles on parts of the body that triggers one’s nervous system to release chemicals like encephalin and endorphins. Such insertion works to trigger parts of the body that have blocked energies. The needles work to activate your body’s qi. Qi is the very core of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi (pronounce “chee”) is the vital energy within every individual that enables
us to physically and mentally function. We experience pain and sickness when parts of our body have blocked qi. All that acupuncture does is help the body have a balanced and harmonious flow of qi. The body functions well and heals well when one’s qi is regulated. People suffering from back pain simply need to have their blocked qi released and regulated.

Acupuncture is not the last resort treatment

Acupuncture has been around for over 4,000 years. It was introduced to the West in the 1970s. It is not something that you only consider when you already feel hopeless and desperate. It is an ancient healing technique that has proven its effectiveness time and time again. Acupuncture is slowly becoming popular because people are now more proactive when it comes to their health. More people now want to treat ailments without the use of medicine. This option is easily possible through acupuncture. With acupuncture, you won’t have to use strong chemicals to heal your body. Acupuncture goes directly to the cause of one’s pain and helps the body to naturally heal itself. All without the need to drink any form of medicine from big pharmaceutical companies.

Acupuncture is a holistic way to manage body pain

Researchers in China and the United States have done extensive studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture in reducing and treating body pain. Studies have been made to document how acupuncture unblocks energies in the nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and muscular systems. A study made by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) revealed that acupuncture may help in easing knee pain, chronic low back pain, and neck pain. The study also showed that acupuncture may also help in preventing migraines and reducing headaches. What is not highlighted by studies is the fact that acupuncture is more than just a way to reduce body pain. It is so much more than that. As acupuncture goes right to the very energy regulation of one’s body, it can do so much more for people. It helps people to truly become well and safe from diseases by ensuring that all parts of the body are fully energized and functioning. It boosts one’s immune system and secures that body is always at its 100% at all times.


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash


Bottomline

If you’re ready to experience a brand new way of healing without the need for strong chemicals as medicines, you should give acupuncture a try. It is highly safe and effective in reducing back pain. Consider booking an acupuncture session now. Your body will thank you for it.

 

 


Featured image photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash 

 


What Can Chinese Art Teach Us about Healing?

By Sally Perkins

“Where the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity,” said Hippocrates, highlighting the fact that medicine is a creative as well as a scientific pursuit. Medical professionals, after all, have a range of tools, knowledge, and experience at hand but often, in order for all these to align in the correct balance, creative choices need to be made. Ancient Chinese art, like ancient writings, are a rich source of information about medical practises, some of which are still used with patients today. They are also testimony to the celebration of humanity in all its facets and an open window into the suffering and joy involved in illness and healing, respectively.

Suffering for a Higher Good

The work Moxibustion, a hanging scroll by the Song artist Li Tang, depicts an itinerant doctor conducting moxibustion - a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials (moxa) are burned close to or on the surface of the skin, to invigorate the flow of Qi through the body and to eliminate toxins. In the beautifully detailed scroll, the man being treated contorts his face in pain and others hold onto him or try to accompany him during this difficult time. The work is not only illustrative of the importance of balanced Qi but also a symbol of the sacrifices that must be made to achieve it and the pain this can involve. In order to be healthy of mind and body, everything from one’s choice of diet to one’s breathing and exercise habits must work in unison since prevention is always better (and less painful) than cure.


Photo by Jade Lee on Unsplash


The Harmony of the Eight Brocades

The Eight Brocades are a set of qigong exercises that focus on a different meridian, once again focusing on a different meridian to encourage the optimal flowing of qi through the body. The work Illustrated Album of the Eight Pieces of Brocade, created by an anonymous artist during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) portrays the eight exercises as well as breathing exercises. In the illustrations, both the beauty of the human form and the peace and joy that result from prioritizing health, are evident. In some postures, the subjects open their mouths to breathe but also seem to smile, their mouths turned upwards and their eyes both concentrating and enjoying the moment they are in.

Recreating the Beauty of Ancient Chinese Art

Art in itself can be a means of healing. It can inspire one to lead a healthier lifestyle and aspire to a higher ideal of health - a holistic, all-encompassing state of body and mind, one in which Qi is unblocked. If you wish to follow the example laid out in ancient Chinese art, begin by drawing the human face and body, paying special attention to proportion and perspective. If you are a beginner to drawing and you wish to express pain, joy, peace, and other qualities through the eyes, take advantage of online resources to hone the basics of eye sketching. Basic steps include making and joining curved lines, adding the iris, and adding color and details. As your skills improve, you can start to include more people in your drawings and create more sophisticated compositions.



Photo by volc xia on Unsplash


Following the Examples Set in Ancient Chinese Art

You can also visit exhibitions featuring medical and health subjects to enlighten you on how to lead a healthier life. From studying the different positions and breathing techniques of qi gong right through to learning more about healing herbs, diet, and traditional medicines, you can balance the vital force of energy within you and feel more invigorated. In this state, it is easier to embrace creativity in everything from your work to your leisure time.

Art and science have a strong link and nowhere is this more evident than in highly praised objects of ancient Chinese art. The latter displays suffering, treatment, and healing methods. It also shows the importance of breathing and exercise to strengthen the body and enable Qi to flow as it needs to.


Featured image photo by Lisanto 李奕良 on Unsplash - photo from Sanxia District, New Taipei City, Taiwan


How Acupuncture Can Make You Sleep Better

Acupuncture is an ancient practice where needles are strategically inserted into the skin by a professional, stimulating specific parts of the body. Acupuncture is still popular today to treat many conditions, including insomnia. Therefore, acupuncture could potentially help people sleep better.

How Does Acupuncture Affect Sleep?

Many people believe acupuncture is a neuromodulator, meaning that it can tone down the perception of the brain’s sensory signals, even the pain signals. Various parts of the brain will light up on functional MRIs. Therefore, it is fairly easy to see how acupuncture influences the brain.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

How Acupuncture Can Help You Sleep

Experts are not exactly sure about how effective acupuncture is for insomnia, as there is not enough research done on it yet. However, that does not mean that it is not helpful, nor does it mean there is a lack of studies. Some physicians are skeptical of it, but there is a lot of evidence that can suggest acupuncture can be beneficial. Some doctors who specialize in sleep medicine practice acupuncture on their patients and see good results. While more research would be required to prove that it is truly effective, acupuncture could help alleviate or treat symptoms like:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Depression
  • Pain

Many professionals like to offer acupuncture to their patients because the potential benefits far outweigh the small risks. In most professional’s eyes, they notice more benefits than side effects, and the patients at least feel calmer after an acupuncture session, helping them sleep well for a few days.

General Insomnia

Many people find it hard to sleep on occasion, but insomnia is a real condition many people deal with. It can impact how a person functions throughout the day due to poor sleep. Symptoms of insomnia can appear for several days, but they can last for months or even longer. Some common symptoms can include:

  • Waking up in the middle of the night, difficult going back to sleep
  • Finding it difficult to fall asleep
  • Waking up earlier than expected

Some common reasons why insomnia can occur include:

  • Medical conditions like sleep apnea
  • Chronic pain
  • Mental health disorders like anxiety
  • Improper sleep schedules

Many doctors enjoy offering their patients options, so offering their patients a safe alternative or addition to their medication can make them feel better, at least mentally and emotionally. Moreover, it has fewer risks compared to drug therapy. The current research suggests that acupuncture could help obstructive sleep apnea, anxiety, insomnia and restless legs syndrome. However, the evidence should not get exaggerated because they are somewhat mild to moderate, but it is still there.

Primary Insomnia

Photo by Ashley Byrd on Unsplash

Some evidence suggests acupuncture could treat insomnia if it does not have specific causes. While there needs to be more research before there is a conclusive answer, many patients who have insomnia can benefit from getting it done. Traditional acupuncture is when the needles do not get inserted far into a person’s skin. One study had 72 people who had primary insomnia get this treatment 3 times a week for about 4 weeks. The results found that it was effective at enhancing total sleep time, sleep efficiency and insomnia symptoms during the sessions. Another double-blind study involved 180 patients who had primary insomnia. In this study, they noticed that traditional acupuncture had good results when it came to daytime functioning and enhancing sleep quality compared to sedative medication and sham acupuncture.

Sleep Apnea

OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea, is when a person stops breathing when they sleep, which is a dangerous condition. Even if a person sleeps all night, it causes oxygen deprivation that makes them feel tired the following day. Several studies suggest that acupuncture could alleviate sleep apnea symptoms. However, the evidence is not solid enough to make it a viable treatment option for sleep apnea.

Mental Health Disorders and Insomnia

People who have depression and anxiety are more likely to have trouble sleeping. Limited research is available to state that acupuncture can help. However, one study with 90 people who had insomnia and depression found that electroacupuncture (acupuncture with electro currents) 3 times a week for about 8 weeks experienced:

  • Better sleep efficiency and quality
  • Depression
  • Total sleep time

There are no big studies that study acupuncture’s effects on people who have insomnia and anxiety. However, one review of the 20 studies of the effects of acupuncture on anxiety showed that it can improve anxiety symptoms, so it is not a complete loss.

Pain and Insomnia

Certain people can find it hard to sleep because of chronic pain. Chronic pain is pain that would last for 3 months or longer. One review was done for nine studies that had almost 1,000 participants with insomnia that was from chronic pain. The review found that acupuncture offered better results at enhancing sleep quality when compared to medication and sham treatment.

Acupuncture for Sleep: What Should You Expect

You can expect a few things when you visit an actual practitioner, which includes:

  • An hour-long session
  • A very thorough intake from the practitioner, which would include medical history
  • Around 20-30 needles were inserted in different points
  • The practitioner may palace seeds or needles in your ears

Before any session, practitioners in the acupuncture clinic diagnose what the potential root cause of the patient’s problem would be. For instance, they will try to figure out if stress causes your sleep problems so that they can choose acupuncture points to correspond to the diagnosis.

All in All

Acupuncture could help patients who have insomnia. While there is no conclusive evidence yet, it definitely has more benefits that outweigh the small risks of acupuncture.


Featured image photo by bruce mars on Unsplash 


Ancient Chinese Medicine Secrets For Younger Looking Skin

By Sally Perkins

Skin aging is a common concern among millions of people all over the world, and some people won't hesitate to spend a lot of money to keep their skin looking young. According to a survey, most people spend over 25 percent of their beauty maintenance budget on their face alone. Moreover, it was found that more women in their 30s choose to invest in anti-aging products and facial moisturizers than any other age group. Using pricey creams and serums may give your skin a youthful glow, but traditional Chinese medicine and therapies may be even better to prevent and combat wrinkles, fine lines, and other visible signs of skin aging. Here's are some ancient Chinese medicine secrets for younger looking skin.

Almonds to reduce fine lines

Photo by Nacho Fernández on Unsplash

Several factors, such as constant exposure to direct sunlight, lifestyle habits, and an unhealthy diet can cause skin aging. Having dry indoor air can also result in dry skin and make it look older than it really is. This is why it's important to increase the moisture in the air with a humidifier to keep your skin looking supple and young. Apart from adding humidity to your indoor air, another thing that you can do to keep your face smooth and wrinkle-free is to use almonds as part of your beauty regimen.

Almond oil has been used in ancient Chinese practices to help soothe and soften the skin. Since it contains Vitamin A, it can also stimulate the production of new skin cells and reduce fine lines. You can use a small amount of almond oil as a facial moisturizer, or use it as a makeup remover. You can also try using ground almonds as an overnight mask. Prepare an ancient Chinese skincare recipe by soaking almonds in water and peeling the brown skins off. Grind the peeled almonds and mix with one egg white. Apply to your face and leave it overnight; rinse it off in the morning with cool water to reduce fine lines.

Acupuncture for wrinkle-free skin


Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Acupuncture can stimulate the body's healing responses, depending on where the needles are inserted. To improve wrinkles, an acupuncturist will insert needles in certain facial points to trigger the production of collagen in the body. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, but as we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen, which can result in wrinkles and older looking skin. By increasing the body's collagen stores, acupuncture can help to give you that radiant glow that you once had. Avoid reversing the effects of facial acupuncture by limiting your exposure to direct sunlight, avoiding smoking, and refraining from eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Soy to increase skin firmness


Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

Food therapy is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine since the food we eat can have an effect on the way we look and feel. Soy products such as tofu and soy milk have always been consumed by women in various parts of Asia, which may explain why their skin looks younger than their years. Studies show that the nutrients in soy can increase the production of elastin in the body, which can make the skin stronger, firmer, and less likely to sag. You can include tofu or miso in your everyday meals, or mix warm soybean milk with a little ground almond, and drink it in the morning to enhance your skin's firmness.

Having younger looking skin doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Try these traditional Chinese remedies to get rid of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging, and enjoy having beautiful and healthy skin as you age.


Featured image photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash


5 Tips to Help Fight Colds & Flu This Winter

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I know that we are all pretty worried about COVID-19 right now and that it has been dominating the news, our psyche's and our thoughts for almost a year. Viruses seem to be a part of the human experience and have been around for a very, very long time. Without going into an in-depth discussion about viruses and COVID-19 in particular, let's focus on the fact that we will still have to think about how to manage colds and flu's this season. Below are some of the best ways that I know to help us stay strong and healthy so those nasty viruses can never take hold, and if they do manage to sneak in and make us sick, there are some ways to flush them out as quickly as possible and get back to a healthy state.

A Virus. A microorganism that is smaller than a bacterium which is unable to grow or reproduce outside of a living cell. Viruses invade living cells and replicate themselves by using their host cells' chemical machinery to keep themselves alive.

What's the Difference Between A Cold & The Flu?

A good place to start the discussion is to talk about the difference between a cold (common cold) and the flu (influenza). What is the difference?? It's often hard to tell, but both colds and the flu are caused by viruses. Someone with a cold generally has milder symptoms, that come on more gradually, and someone with the flu generally has symptoms that are more severe, are more systemic and come on quickly. Influenza can be more dangerous as in people with compromised or weakened immune systems they can lead to complications like pneumonia. Below is a chart that lists the difference in symptoms between influenza and the common cold.

This fancy chart was made by Chinese Medicine Living. Yay!

As a mother of two small children, I am acutely aware of the realities associated with influenza and the common cold. There are many factors to consider like climate, the changing of the seasons, staying hydrated, dressing warmly enough, eating well, getting enough sleep and proper hygiene to name a few. In our hectic world, it is near impossible to stay on top of everything and ward off illness all the time, but there are certainly things you can do to keep your immune system built up and keep yourself as healthy as possible in these challenging times. Below are the things that I use, and have found to be the most effective for prevention, or at the first signs of a cold or flu, helping to push it along quickly, shortening its duration and severity.

1. Diffuse Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree, also known as melaleuca, is an essential oil that comes mainly from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil has been widely used throughout Australia for its medicinal properties for at least the last century and is well-known for its powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties as well as its ability to kill many strains of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Tea tree oil is very versatile - it can be used to make homemade cleaning products, diffused to kill toxic mould that’s growing in your home, and applied topically to heal acne, cuts, and scrapes and treat skin infections. Tea tree’s natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions make it one of the most beneficial essential oils for health and healing making it a powerful addition to your medicine cabinet. If you would like to learn more about Tea Tree Oil, its health benefits and recipes, you can read this article - Tea Tree Oil - Benefits, Uses & Recipes.

Tea Tree Oil Steam

This is one that I have used for as long as I can remember, long before I ever became an acupuncturist. At the first signs of a cold or flu, get a large bowl (metal or glass), put 6 drops of high quality, organic tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil into the bowl. Boil some water (filtered if possible as you will be breathing in the vapour). Get a towel. Put the bowl with the tea tree oil on a table, and sit in front of it. Put the towel over your head. Pour the boiling water into the bowl. Put your face over the bowl - be careful as the steam will be very hot and the tea tree oil will be strong - cover your head with the towel and breathe deeply for about 20 minutes. If you do this early enough, the cold/flu will not progress.

Tea Tree Oil Diffuser

When anyone in our house is sick - especially my children - I diffuse tea tree oil. You can also add other essential oils depending on what is happening - I often use lavender as it is soothing and helps my children sleep. You have to be careful in children under 2 years old as essential oils are extremely concentrated, but diffusing 4-6 drops of high-quality tea tree and 4-6 drops of lavender essential oil will often stop a cold or flu in its tracks, especially if you react early enough. If you have a full-blown cold or flu, diffusing tea tree will also help with congestion, cleaning out your sinuses as well as purifying the air in your room and lessening the length and severity of the illness.

2. Acupressure

**There are certain points in the body that are strongly moving and are contraindicated if you are pregnant as they can induce labour. Both Spleen 6 and Large Intestine 4 are in this category so not for pregnant mamas.** 

Acupressure is basically acupuncture without the needles. Awesome, yes? There are hundreds of acupuncture points on the body, and there are a few that are particularly good for giving the immune system a boost as well as treating symptoms if we do come down with a cold or flu. I have chosen 3 powerful ones that I think will be the most beneficial, and have included images so you can find them. When using acupressure, you apply pressure to each point with your finger or thumb for 30 seconds to a few minutes and then rotate to the next point. Most acupuncture points are bilateral, meaning they are on each side of the body except for the ones that are on the midline that runs up the front and down the back of the body. All the points below are bilateral - located on each side of the body.

Large Intestine 4

Large intestine 4 is an extremely powerful and versatile point. It is located on the fleshy part between the thumb and first finger of the hand. The best way to locate it is to put your thumb and first finger together so they are touching and the point is at the top of the mound that is created. If you press on it, it is often quite sore. Large intestine 4 is the pain point for the entire body. Whenever there is pain, you use large intestine 4. It is the command point of the head and face, so any problems in this area, this point is appropriate. Its other functions are that it builds qi, strengthens the immune system, stops pain and induces labour - so please DON'T do this point if you are a pregnant mama! (see note above).

Below are some symptoms that large intestine 4 can help to alleviate.

  • headaches, dizziness, congestion, body aches, nosebleeds, toothaches, swelling or pain in the eyes
  • aversion to cold, fever
  • painful periods, lack of periods, difficult/painful labour and childbirth
  • gastric pain, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea
  • pain anywhere in the body and especially in the head/face
  • excellent point for the flu (releasing wind-heat in Chinese Medicine)

LARGE INTESTINE 4

Acupressure for Large Intestine 4

Apply pressure to large intestine 4 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is usually quite sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other hand. Then move on to the next point in the group - spleen 6, then stomach 36.

Spleen 6

Spleen 6 is also extremely powerful and versatile, which is why it is on this list. It is located on the inside of the lower leg, about 3 inches above the ankle bone or medial malleolus. The way we measure the three inches above the ankle bone is to put the 4 fingers of your hand together and place them on the ankle bone and the width of those 4 fingers is approximately where spleen 6 is located. It is just behind the tibia or shin bone. A good rule of thumb is to feel for the tibia and then just roll off and the point is located just behind it. This point is also often tender, especially on women, and even more so when they are menstruating. Because this point crosses the liver and kidney meridians, it can treat many conditions related to all three organs. Spleen 6 is a powerful point to treat gynaecological issues, digestive problems and problems with the emotions. **This is a strongly moving point and is contraindicated in pregnancy so do not do this point if you are pregnant.**

Below are some symptoms that spleen 6 can help to alleviate.

  • irregular, painful or lack of menstruation
  • masses in the abdomen, prolapse of the uterus, infertility and nocturnal emissions
  • impotence, premature ejaculation, hernia, testicular atrophy
  • digestive problems of the spleen and stomach
  • diseases of the skin
  • insomnia, headache, dizziness

  SPLEEN 6

Acupressure for Spleen 6

Apply pressure to spleen 6 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is often sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other leg. Then move on to the next point in the group - stomach 36.

Stomach 36

Stomach 36 is perhaps the most powerful point in the entire body for strengthening blood and qi and fortifying the body to boost overall health. The point is located on the lower leg, about 3 inches below the kneecap. To locate it, place your 4 fingers starting just at the lower border of your kneecap. This is the level of stomach 36, then it is located about one fingerbreadth on the outside, or towards the outside of the tibia or shin bone. The image below illustrates its position.

Stimulating stomach 36 is said to give you energy equal to eating an entire chicken or to walk another three miles (its name zusanli translates to leg three miles). It is command point of the abdomen therefore many problems in the abdominal area are treated with this point. Whenever you can feel a cold or flu coming on, start doing acupressure on this point as it will boost your immunity and help build your external defences which are called our wei qi in Chinese Medicine.

Below are some symptoms that stomach 36 can help to alleviate.

  • vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal distention, abdominal pain, acute mastitis
  • heart palpitations, shortness of breath, low energy, dizziness, insomnia
  • cough and asthma
  • calms the spirit
  • stops pain

STOMACH 36

Acupressure for Stomach 36

Apply pressure to stomach 36 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is also often sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other leg. You can do this set of 3 points, on each side two or three times a day when you are sick, or once a day or week for building immunity and general health.

3. Wear A Scarf


Photo by Kiyun Lee on Unsplash

Now, this one may seem a bit overly simplistic, but according to Chinese Medicine, wind is the master of 100 diseases and it tends to enter the body the most easily at the neck. So, the simple act of wearing a scarf in windy, wet or cold weather protects you against an invasion of wind-cold. It is basically the same as bundling up and staying warm when the weather is cold, wet or windy because these are ways that we can easily weaken our immune systems which make us more susceptible to colds and flus. And we don't want those. I think I may always have been destined to be a practitioner of Chinese Medicine because I have always loved scarfs, and I always seem to have one with me just in case I get chilly. I find it makes a big difference and is like always having protection from external invaders. I have also instilled this love of scarfs in my children, and we try to make it fun, finding scarves that they love (dinosaurs!!) so they WANT to wear them.

4. Eat Warming Soups & Bone Broths

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If you know anything about the spleen in Chinese Medicine, you know how important it is and how many responsibilities it has. If you don't, then you can read these articles to learn a bit more about it -

Loving Your Spleen with Chinese Medicine

How to Strengthen Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Worry and the Spleen

Dampness and the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

What is Spleen Qi Deficiency?

Digestive Health & Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

In a nutshell, the spleen is the main organ of digestion, and it uses digestive "fire" to power all the work it has to do to break down the food we eat and turn into the energy we need for our bodies and minds to function. But, it doesn't stop there. The spleen is also responsible for "digesting" all the stimulus that comes in from our sense organs, and, in a culture of multitasking, heavy mental work, long hours and little sleep, the spleen is a hard-working little organ. To put it simply, when we are compromised and our immune systems take a hit, we need to be gentle with our bodies. Because all that digesting that the spleen is doing requires energy, eating soups that are already well cooked and take very little energy to digest, they take some of the burdens off of the spleen. And that way your spleen, and all the other hard-working organs in your body can focus on fighting invaders and getting well. But when you are healthy and want to fortify yourself against an external (or internal) attack, then eating soups and bone broths, in particular, is an excellent way to build the immune system, warm your system and strengthen your body so that colds and flus don't have a chance.

In Chinese Medicine, the bones are associated with the kidneys, our bodies' most fundamental energy and the source of our yin and yang. Therefore, eating bone broth is strengthening to both the bones and the kidneys, whose element is water, emotion is fear and whose season is winter which is the best time to tonify the kidneys for health and longevity.

5. Good Hygiene

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Wash Your Hands Often & Don't Touch Your Face

If the recent proliferation of COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has brought our awareness back to the basic importance of good personal hygiene. There probably isn't anything better you can do to keep yourself healthy and stop the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses than simply washing your hands often and trying to be conscious not to touch your face. With two small children around it is frightening to see how unaware they are of things that are logical to adults like not putting dirty things into our mouths, not always washing their hands after going to the washroom, picking random things up outside, just to name a few. So teaching them to wash their hands, not to touch their faces but most importantly WHY we need to do these things is a huge step in the prevention of preventable illnesses like colds and flu. Things like showering often especially when you or someone in your house is sick, wiping surfaces, changing clothing and doing laundry often are also ways to reduce our exposure to germs and help us stay healthy all year round.

 



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The Positive Impact Of Chinese Medicine On Men’s Health

By Sally Perkins

There is an undoubted disparity in how men and women engage with healthcare globally, with the global life expectancy of men five years lower than that of women, according to The Lancet. With this disparity more present in highly developed countries than the converse, this indicates that the problems are not merely related to gender but are actually a holistic reflection of the lives men are leading. In this respect, the all-encompassing approach of Chinese medicine can have a wonderful impact on men’s health.

Mental Health

Mental health is a key driver behind many of the problems impacting men. From simple mental illness to heart disease, there are a wide range of problems in men of which the risk factors are enhanced by mental health conditions. As one influential study published by The College of Family Physicians of Canada found, the idea of being masculine and keeping a stiff upper lip contributes to this. The impacts of mental health can filter into several areas of life that you might not expect. For instance, even a relatively mild diagnosis of depression can lead to weight loss or gain, feelings of resentment for family and physical conditions such as erectile dysfunction. The spiritual basis of Chinese medicine provides a good remedy to mental health conditions; Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism all provide a philosophical and spiritual basis on which to live life and ultimately keep people feeling mentally healthy.

Protecting the Heart

Mental health and the heart have a symbiotic relationship, and using Chinese medicine to protect against vascular disease and stress can have an all-round positive impact. Tomatoes, beef, cherry, saffron – there’s a long list of foods that will benefit the heart and also produce a feeling of wellness and content. With this feeling the body can protect against the types of stress that men will often harbor when not paying close attention to their mental health. In turn, this can provide a safety jacket against the stresses of the world as a whole and improve health overall.

Relieving the Strain

Prevention is one matter; remediation another. A powerful way that Chinese medicine can rectify issues is through acupuncture, which is noted by The Mayo Clinic to have studies showing it’s efficacy. The act of acupuncture itself is often described as relaxing and stress-relieving, and the impact after the fact is long-lived and has a great benefit on all-round health. Men can work towards all-round areas of health that intersect, like the heart and mental health, and likely feel greater ranging benefits as a result of the holistic treatment.

In holistic treatment lies the key to improving men’s health. The issues that predominantly impact men and lower their life expectancy have an impact on one another, with vascular and mental health being particularly interlinked. Reducing stress and protecting those vital systems is an ideal pursuit for Chinese medicine, and can possibly help to close that life expectancy gap wherever men are in the world.


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Man image Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash
Tomato image photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash



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A Brief History and the Many Benefits of Acupuncture

By Dr. Marcia Steingraber

The history of acupuncture may not be as straightforward as is generally accepted. In fact, the first evidence of the practice (which is assumed to have originated in China) can be found in passing mentions in texts from around two centuries prior to the dawn of the 'Common Era' (or B.C.). The first mention of the practice that is beyond argument can be found in the medical text 'The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine' which was published in China in around 100 BCE (around BCE - or 'Before the Common Era'). There is evidence that sharpened bone slivers from much further back in history might have been used in acupuncture - however, it is recognized that these may have been used in other ways such as the drawing or letting of blood. Whatever the case, acupuncture has a long history as a treatment for a variety of ailments.

Today the practice of acupuncture (which consists of inserting thin needles into the skin at various depths) is an important part of holistic medicine. It has been accepted by medical researchers that acupuncture can be of enormous benefit to those who are experiencing chronic pain. However, the many other benefits of the practice that are claimed by those who administer acupuncture are still under investigation. One of the challenges of the ongoing research is that those investigating the benefits of the practice are still unsure of exactly how acupuncture works - does it (as is claimed by many traditionalists) balance the bodies' vital energies and improve the flow of 'Chi' (spiritual energy) through the insertion of the needles at the various meridians (there are 350 acupuncture points) of the
body, balancing out the opposing forces of 'yin' and 'yang' or does it have a measurable neurological effect (which would fit in more neatly to the Western concept of medicine).

Whatever the reason - as far as pain and discomfort is concerned, acupuncture works - and practitioners (as well as many beneficiaries of the practice) believe that it can be used to treat a multitude of diverse conditions, including persistent headaches [2], high (or low) blood pressure, dysentery, Biliary Colic, symptoms of ulcers and gastritis and a variety of conditions that affect mood and mental wellbeing such as depression. It has also been shown to be useful in the treatment of lower back and neck pain which is increasingly prevalent in Western society as a result of a sedentary lifestyle.

The idea that acupuncture may affect neurological systems [3] is one that is attractive to the adherents of modern medicine. the meridian points that are stimulated in traditional acupuncture are, in many cases at the nexus of nerve transmission and also places where muscles and various classes of connective tissue can be stimulated. This is turn stimulates the body's secretion of endorphins - natural painkillers and can also increase blood flow (which can reduce swelling and stimulate the repair of damaged internal structures).

For those who are suffering persistent pain, acupuncture provides an alternative to Westernized medicine and its focus on drug-fueled treatments. It is a holistic approach that is growing in popularity as consumers become more aware of the potential dangers of medicinal drug use.

Sources:
1. The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (2008);
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2287209/
2. Acupuncture for Chronic Headaches - An Epidemiological Study (2006);
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16643558/
3. Acupuncture Effect and Central Autonomic Regulation (2013);
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3677642/

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Dr. Marcia Steingraber is a practicing acupuncturist with a Doctorate in Acupuncture, specializing in Family Medicine with an emphasis in Fertility. Her focus is treating chronic pain, failed surgeries and internal disorders. Marcia’s true passion is rejuvenating her patients by relieving them of chronic pain or injuries.


How Acupuncture Can Relieve Swimmer’s Shoulder

By Sally Perkins

Swimming is a popular activity that is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, but it can have disadvantages one of which is shoulder impingement affecting 40-91% of competitive participants. Swimmer’s shoulder is a painful condition that has an impact on your daily activities. In addition to therapy and pain-relieving medications, acupuncture can also relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of swimmer’s shoulder. By targeting central pressure points, acupuncture is a safe and convenient method of dealing with shoulder impingement.

Swimming and Certain Risks

Swimming is a life skill that everyone should learn. It does not only save your life when you are in the water but is also an effective form of cardio exercise as it requires every muscle in your body to move. Swimming helps you keep fit and even lowers the risk of early death by 28% boosting life expectancy. Unfortunately, overdoing it can also have negative repercussions on your body such as the swimmer’s shoulder.

The condition which is common in swimmers and people who use their shoulders a lot is characterized by a sudden pain in the shoulder when the arm is lifted overhead or backward. Other signs of swimmer’s shoulder is mild to constant arm pain and shoulder or arm weakness. Its diagnosis involves a physical exam to exclude a pinched nerve condition. An x-ray may also be ordered to rule out arthritis or spur. For serious rotator cuff injuries, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered.

Acupuncture for Pain Relief

Acupuncture works by releasing chemical compounds in the body to relieve pain or by overriding pain signals. It also allows Qi or energy to flow through the body. A study by Rueda and Lopez indicates that the use of acupuncture to treat the symptoms of shoulder impingement is safe. It is a reliable technique to achieve significant results and can be considered as a therapy option.

Depending on the severity of swimmer’s shoulder, the most common treatments include physical therapy and exercise, the use of an ice pack, and medication. Another alternative and effective treatment is acupuncture. Supraspinatus tendon inflammation is a common symptom of swimmer’s shoulder which can be caused by overtraining or even by poor stroke techniques. The supraspinatus muscle, one of the 4 muscles in the rotator cuff, is a common source of shoulder tendonitis.

Precise acupuncture treatment is focused on the belly of the muscle and the tendon where local needling can occur. Treatment to the infraspinatus — an adjacent muscle — also helps. The belly of the muscle is in the suprascapular fossa, which is in area of the acupuncture point small intestine (SI) 12. It is also the site of the trigger point and the motor point 3. Active trigger points in the muscle belly contribute to the pain. On the other hand, the muscle-tendon junction is in the area of the large intestine (LI) 16. Since the supraspinatus tendon must pass under the acromion which is a narrow fossa, a swollen tendon gets impinged which causes the sudden sharp pain. Pain from impingement is difficult to locate but is between LI 16 and LI 15. Hence, acupuncture is performed at the sites SI12 and between LI16 and LI15.

Swimmer’s shoulder can be uncomfortable and may prevent you from doing daily activities including swimming and sports. In many cases, you might just need to rest and do some physical therapy. The good news is acupuncture, as an alternative therapy, can assist in relieving symptoms of impingement.

 

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