Ask An Acupuncturist. - Do You Do Acupuncture On Yourself?

Question

As an acupuncturist, do you do acupuncture on yourself?

Answer

This is a good question and I am a bit surprised that I don't get asked it more often. The answer is yes, I do do acupuncture on myself when I really need it. For me, it is always preferable to have an acupuncture treatment performed by another acupuncturist (this is a more relaxing experience), but I certainly do points on myself when I can't get to see an acupuncturist myself.

I used to always travel with needles, but after a few incidents at airports, I am a bit leary of carrying needles with me on airplanes (the TSA is so sassy!), but I usually have a little acupuncture medicine kit with me with needles, herbs and other things like herbal burn cream, ear seeds and moxa for anything that might come up.

I do acupuncture on myself mainly when I have a headache, cramps, digestive issues or a cold or flu. Sometimes it is a bit tricky to get needles in, and because you are doing the work, it isn't the most relaxing experience, but it gets the job done and for me, is always preferable to taking a pill.

There are also theories that propose that when you work on yourself that you are interrupting your own energy, so that any theraputic effects are diminished. I can understand this, as when I do points on myself I am concentrating, and never entirely relax, whereas when you are being treated by someone else, their energy is going to treating you in its entirety, and you are able to take in the treatment completely which is your focus, and you are able to relax.

There are certain things that I cannot easily treat myself like points on the back and neck, but anything else, at least that I can reach I can treat myself. I would always go and have a proper treatment from an acupuncturist if I had the choice, but it is really nice to have the option to treat myself if I need to. :)


Bitter Melon - The Number One Melon for Diabetes

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Li Shizhen (1518 -1593), one of the greatest Chinese doctors, scientists, herbalists and acupuncturists in history ranked bitter melon as the number one melon on earth in his renowned medical textbook, the Compendium of Medical Herbs (1596).

He described bitter melon as cool in nature, bitter in taste and with proven healing properties of expelling evil heat, sharpening vision, improving liver function, promoting heart health and expelling toxic effects in the body.

In recent years, western medical science has confirmed the effectiveness of bitter melon in controlling viral diseases, regulating metabolism and transporting glucose from the blood into the cells, therefore reducing the body’s blood sugar levels. That is why bitter melon is most beneficial to people with diabetes.

Bitter melon is also known to cure a large number of ailments including stomach complaints, skin problems, type 1 herpes simplex virus, measles and chickenpox.

With the many health benefits of bitter melon, it has long been in use by many cultures around the world as home remedies. It is important for people today to know about it and eat more for good health. However, because of its distinctive bitter taste, not too many people really like to eat them. To make them less bitter, it is important to clean out the seeds and white membrane in the middle completely. Cutting them thinly or blanching them in hot water for a couple of minutes before cooking can definitely help. The best approach is to combine bitter melon with meat or seafood to make them delicious. We have many recipes in our website using them for treating various ailments.

Here is a quick and easy recipe to make a delicious dish. It is most palatable and even welcome by children. It is best for preventing and treating diabetes.

Bitter Melon Omelette with Goji-berries and Enoki Mushroom

Bitter melon recipe ingredients

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Detoxifies, clears internal heat and regulates blood sugar.

INGREDIENTS

  • Bitter Melon 涼瓜 – one
  • Enoki Mushrooms 金針菇 – one package
  • Goji Berries – one to two table spoons
  • Chopped Scallions and Coriander– one spoonful each
  • Eggs – two to three
  • Sugar, Salt, Cooking Wine and Sesame Oil

Bitter melon recipe ingredients 2

DIRECTIONS

1.   Wash bitter melon, cut in half lengthwise, and remove seeds and white membrane with a spoon. Cut each half lengthwise once again. Then slice melon thinly, season with one spoonful of salt for about 10 minutes and rinse.

2.   Cut out stems of enoki mushrooms. Cut the rest into short sections and soak with plenty of water for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse and strain.

3.   Soak goji berries for 15 minutes, changing the water a couple of times and strain.

4.   Beat eggs in a bowl with one spoonful of cooking wine and one spoonful of sesame oil.

5.   Warm two spoonfuls of oil in a non-stick pan. Add bitter melon to stir fry for a couple of minutes. Then add one spoonful of salt and sugar and about half a cup of water and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes until melon is tender and there is a little water left.

6.  Add enoki mushrooms, goji berries, scallions and coriander and stir to combine. Let cook for a few minutes.

7.   Add half of the egg mixture to the cooking and let it brown slightly on one side. Then flip over, add the remaining egg mixture and brown the other side. Add more oil to the cooking if necessary. When it is evenly brown, it is ready to serve.

Bitter melon omelette with goji berries and enoki mushrooms

USAGE

No Restrictions. This recipe is best served with rice.


The Raven's Warrior

Chinese Medicine Living friend and contributor Vincent Pratchett offers a teaser from his new novel - The Raven's Warrior. And we are so happy that this, his debut novel, is getting rave reviews (2 of which are included below) - congratulations Vincent!!!

By Vincent Pratchett - www.vincentpratchett.com

From Wikipedia

The British historian Joseph Needham and the American historian Robert Temple write that the practice of inoculation for smallpox began in China during the 10th century.[6][7] A Song Dynasty (960–1279) chancellor of China, Wang Dan (957–1017), lost his eldest son to smallpox and sought a means to spare the rest of his family from the disease, so he summoned physicians, wise men, and magicians from all across the empire to convene at the capital in Kaifeng and share ideas on how to cure patients of it.[8] From Mount Emei in Sichuan, a Daoist hermit, a nun known as a "numinous old woman" and "holy physician"—who Temple says was associated with the 'school of the ancient immortals' and thus most likely specialized in 'internal alchemy'—introduced the technique of inoculation to the capital.[9] However, the sinologist Joseph Needham states that this information comes from the Zhongdou xinfa (種痘心法) written in 1808 by Zhu Yiliang, centuries after the alleged events.[10]

From The Raven's Warrior

This Chancellor, once the emperor’s most trusted minister, ambled throughout the palace grounds like a wraith. He had always borne the responsibility of his post well, but now it paled by comparison to the weight that pulled him down and slowed his every step. He was without purpose, a man who knew that in reality his life had amounted to nothing. Sorrow was a heavy burden, and the fact that he would never really know his son added to it greatly.

His regrets were many. Their time spent together was as an official with his heir, he wished now it had been much more as a father with his son. There was no comfort and no solution, and for all his worldly influence, he was now utterly powerless. He had steered his boy away from all things frivolous, but would now give anything just to hear that childish laugh once more.

With no real way to escape his pain, he wandered vacantly to the only place that gave him small respite. As he approached this private spot, he froze when he saw another in his place. He stood quietly and watched carefully to see what the boy had come to steal. Instead he saw the page light an offering before the urn that held the ashes of his son. The smoke rose and circled as the boy bowed three times and thrust the incense into the bowl of alter sand.

An image of chopsticks stuck in a rice bowl came to mind. He walked forward, and at the sound of his closing footsteps, the page’s tear-wet face turned suddenly in his direction. The frightened boy stood clumsily and prepared to flee. “Stay,” the minister bid, and reluctantly but without choice the boy sat once more. “Why are you here?” the chancellor asked, and when the page answered, “I came to visit my friend,” his eyes could not hide their surprise.

He raked through memory for anything his son may have told him about this friendship, but there was nothing. He did remember the distain his boy had of the rough commander, and what once he thought irrational now began to make more sense. Their status was as opposite as night and day, but their ages were similar. In the adult realm of the palace, the minister was starting to believe that his son may have had a secret friend. The Chancellor asked bluntly, “What besides your years could you two possibly have had in common?”

The page responded with an unwavering stare, and with an answer that took the emperor’s highest official completely off guard, “Horses, Sir. Your son loved horses.” There was a time his boy walked into the palace smelling like the stable, and the memory of how he had rebuked his child now scalded him like bitter tears.

Over the course of the afternoon he gleaned many details from the page about a boy that he didn’t know. The minister heard about his son’s dreams of one day joining the military. Proudly he heard that his son was kind to the page and the animals that he tended. In a short time the minister realized that this boy knew his son much better than he did, and he took delight in every hidden detail.

The page eventually apologized but explained that he had his duties to attend to, and that any slip would bring harsh retribution. The minister did not want him to go but understood the workings of the palace. He felt much lighter as he stood to face the page whose position now grew more desperate with every passing moment.

"Sir,” the page intoned with one final recollection, “It was your son’s strongest desire to rid the land of the sickness that came in time to claim him.” With an awkward and uncustomary embrace the minister said, “Goodbye.

The minister walked with new direction, grateful for the gift the young page had given him.  He was clearer in thought and lighter in spirit than he had been since his son’s departure. Once inside his private chamber, he took his position behind his desk. He sat straight and breathed deeply as he looked at the blank silk paper that lay before him. Gathering in mind the spirit of his boy, he dipped the brush and began to write in his beautiful cursive script.

Before assigning his seal, he examined carefully his first official decree since the death of his son, and was well satisfied. The minister had written a summons to physicians, wise men, and magicians from all over the empire, to come to the capital and try to find some remedy.

The official proclamation was sent out across the entire kingdom. It went out over the land like the smoke of the many funeral pyres, and touched the furthest corners of the realm. 

The Raven's Warrior by Vincent Pratchett

Reviews of The Raven's Warrior

The Raven's Warrior is a most fascinating and splendid read! The marvelous Vincent Pratchett has fashioned one of those great adventure novels that literally grab you with the first sentence and never lets go. What a truly wonderful literary ride it is!

The attention to detail, the sense of history and fantasy, the vivid characters who leap off the pages, are all seamlessly integrated to produce a most memorable read. Mr. Pratchett has a magnificent way with a sentence.It is as if there is not a single superfluous word..every word is integral to the whole.

The Raven's Warrior combines so many terrific elements..Celtic history, Arthurian Legend, the supernatural..and all fit in so well in the overall narrative. The adventures and startling life of Arkthar, from kidnapping by Viken raiders and descent into the Baghdad slave market is brought so vividly to life. When Arkthar arrives in the Middle Kingdom..the reader feels as if they have accompanied him on the remarkable journey. Everything a great book should be!

I must also applaud Mr. Pratchett for the immense amount of research that has obviously gone into THE RAVEN'S WARRIOR..there is quite a bit of fact mixed with fiction..together producing a rollicking adventure..and a must read!

AN OFFICIAL JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB MUST READ

RICK FRIEDMAN
FOUNDER
THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB - 7,150 MEMBERS

 

ForeWord Review

Original review here - The Raven's Warrior - ForeWord Review

Terry Pratchett’s kin crafts a smooth, new branch of the Arthurian legend.

Debut novelist Vincent Pratchett takes readers from Celtic Europe to China’s Middle Kingdom in a fantasy tale that commingles Western European, Northern European, Middle Eastern and Chinese landscapes and cultures. The result is a novel full of spiritual growth, rousing fight scenes, and a respectful use of martial arts in both their philosophical and martial aspects.

Celtic warrior Vincent is taken by Norse raiders to a slave market far from his homeland. Dusty, weak, wounded, and near death, he is bought by a man and his female servant and settled into a wagon. The pair, whose names he mispronounces as Merlin and Sea Lass, are actually Mah Lin, a former Buddhist monk, and his daughter, Selah, a healer and herbalist. Vincent mistakes them for wizard and sorceress on first meeting. As Selah tends his wounds, she reveals their true callings. Vincent has also gained a guardian, of sorts: a raven has followed him since his Norse captors wended their way to that slave market.

On the way to the Middle Kingdom, Mah Lin teaches Vincent the way of the warrior priest and Selah educates him on nature’s warning signals and herbs’ efficacy. Another case of mispronunciation leads Selah to call him Arkthar, which is approved by the raven’s raspy repetition of his new name. His healing way and physical education are, however, in danger: an imperial commander seeks Mah Lin to revenge himself for a long-ago event.

Thus the mystical circle that began with Mah Lin/Merlin finds and joins with Vincent/Arkthar, the connection is made, and the readers know that The Raven’s Warrior is another branch on the tree of Arthurian legend.

Finishing a novel is a challenge; being first cousin to Terry Pratchett, one of the most beloved fantasy writers alive, might add even more reason to expect a well-written debut. Readers are in luck: Pratchett is a natural storyteller and he knows how to structure a fantasy novel that’s much more than that.

Pratchett’s approach to the Arthurian legend is rare if not unique. Katy Moran’s 2010 novel Spirit Hunter has several similarities toThe Raven’s Warrior. Pratchett’s addition of a might-have-been China, an imperial ruler, and the deep knowledge of a martial artist cause a reader to pay closer attention to the story and how it unfolds. A ribbon of concern for the loss of old ways and skills (and their rescue) weaves through the novel as well. This is not your grandma’s Arthurian saga.

From his personal experiences as a traveler across Asia via ancient roadways (the routes of Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, and Marco Polo), a martial artist and instructor, firefighting and teaching, Pratchett has indeed crafted a new branch of the Arthurian saga. The novel flows smooth as silk, the characters are as real as your next-door neighbor, and the setting and pacing are spot-on.

The Raven’s Warrior reads like the work of a mature writer well seasoned with much background material on which to draw. It will be interesting if Pratchett returns to this world for more of his vision of Arthur—the quality of this first foray into novel-length fiction bodes well for such ventures.

Janine Stinson


Escape Fire - The Fight To Rescue American Healthcare - A Review

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Escape Fire is a documentary film that presents a sobering exploration of the US medical system, and how it is largely failing the American people. In a country that spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world ($2.7 trillion annually), it seems that there should be a direct correlation with the amount of money spent and the overall health of the population. Instead of being at the top of the list in life expectancy, the United States is number 50. The film states that in the US, 75% of healthcare costs go to treating chronic diseases that are largely preventable. It is also estimated that 30% of healthcare spending (roughly $750 billion annually) is wasted and does not improve health.

The film presents some of the reasons that the present system is not working and why, despite the enormous amount of money spent, Americans are so unhealthy. The first and most fundamental is that it is a system not based on health, but on disease. Disease is the focus of both medical education and practice and therefore, doctors are not taught basic things like nutrition and prevention and instead specialize into fields where the focus is on disease. This focus on disease means that the entire system does not even enter into the equation until the disease has already manifested, and is thus based on intervention after the problems have already developed.

A Design Flaw in the System

Doctors making money

Another problem with the present system is pay structure. Doctors are paid not for having healthier patients, but by seeing as many patients as possible, making it a numbers game. This leads to frustration for many doctors, as there is not time to flush out the root of the problems they encounter with their patients, so they are only treating symptoms, which means that patients come back with the same problems, again and again. The system is not based on outcomes, no matter how complicated or how much time they spend with a patient, it is based solely on how many patients they see. Doctors are doing what they can, cramming their schedules, but this approach is about quantity, not quality.  Everyone is doing what they think is right, the government pays hospitals to be full, so they try to be full, and pays doctors to see patients, so they try to see as many patients as possible. Everyone is doing their jobs, it is just that their jobs have been designed wrong.

Dr. Andrew Weil, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Arizona, says

“What’s wrong with medical education is that it simply doesn’t address whole subject areas that are absolutely essential to understanding human beings, health, illness, and treatment. An obvious one is nutrition which is almost omitted from medical education.”

In 1994 Dr. Weil started a fellowship to retrain people who had been through medical school. In the fellowship, he exposes them to a broader way of seeing their patients, and arms them with a deeper understanding of healing, thus giving them a wider range of tools that they can use to help their patients.

Lifestyle Chioces

Healthy Eating

Dr. Dean Ornish, President of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute has spent more than 30 years conducting studies that show that heart disease can be reversed by what we eat, how we respond to stress, how much we exercise and the amount of love and support we have in our lives. He believes that the underlying causes of chronic disease are largely lifestyle, and therefore both preventable and reversible. In his model, the doctor acts as quarterback and assembles a team to work with the patient - a nurse, yoga instructor, exercise physiologist, registered dietitian and clinical psychologist. In this way, the patients empower themselves to change their lives and regain their health.

Love support friendship

After 16 years of trying to get Medicare to recognize his program, it was finally announced in August 2010 that Medicare would reimburse Dr. Ornish’s heart disease lifestyle program. Dr. Ornish said that getting Medicare to recognize his work and agree to cover his program was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life, but thanks to his tireless work, his program will be covered and the information and treatment will hopefully spread, giving people another option to surgery and drugs for not only heart disease, but eventually for all diseases.

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Pill Person

The US spends a staggering $300 billion a year on pharmaceuticals, almost the amount of the rest of the world combined. In the 1950’s people were taking pharmaceuticals at 10% the rate they are now. So, what happened? It turns out that there are only 2 countries that are allowed to advertise pharmaceuticals. The United States is one, and New Zealand is the other and these ads seem to drive demand. The ads always  say, “Ask your doctor!” and apparently, people do. People ask their doctors about that new drug that is supposed to be wonderful for high cholesterol, or elevated blood pressure, and doctors, wanting to help their patients, prescribe it. As a result, the US has turned into a hugely overmedicated society, and the pharmaceutical industry is raking it in.

Prescription drugs have also become a huge problem in the military. Soldiers’ use of prescription drugs has tripled in the past 5 years and has lead to other problems like an increased number of suicides. In fact, according to Pentagon statistics, the US military set a record - 350 suicides among active-duty troops. That’s more than the number that died in combat in Afghanistan, and more than double the number of reported suicides from a decade ago.

Acupuncture in the Military

The Military

Dr. Wayne Jonas, President of the Samueli Institute for Military Medical Research says:

“15 years ago a consensus conference at the NIH (National Institute of Health) asked a question: “Do we have good evidence to show that acupuncture is safe and effective for any condition?” They said, “Absolutely, it’s been demonstrated that acupuncture is safe and effective, especially with postoperative and injury pain.” He continues, “Fifteen years later you can’t walk into your average hospital and get acupuncture. Its not that it doesn’t work, it is that we haven’t figured out how to get it into the system.”

Dr. Richard Niemtzow, who is Director of the US Air Force Acupuncture Center has been using auricular acupuncture (acupuncture of the ear) to reduce pain in troops, some of whom were originally on a number of painkillers and has experienced great success with this program.

Ear Acupuncture in the Military

The military is looking into using acupuncture on injured soldiers being evacuated to medical centers in the United States, as it would reduce pain and the number of medications needed, thus avoiding the risks of dependency and overdose.

It may seem strange that something like acupuncture, which comes from Eastern medicine with its emphasis on a holistic system that seeks to balance  mind, body and spirit, could coexist inside an institution like the hard core military. The explanation, according to Dr. Jonas, is that the military has seen unprecedented numbers of soldiers suffering from drug addictions, psychological problems like PTSD, both of which have lead to an dramatic  increase in the number of suicides. It was this alarming trend that drove the military to seek out other treatment options like acupuncture.

There is an exciting program that is showcased in the film at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where troops are sent when they return from combat with injuries. The program incorporates yoga, meditation and acupuncture in their recovery. The film follows one soldier who returned from Afghanistan where he lost many of his men and was suffering from physical injuries as well as PTSD. His journey through the program illustrates that healing is needed not just on a physical level, but on all levels and that the program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is getting results.

Military Meditation

A for profit business

All of these statistics lead us to believe that something is terribly wrong. Sick people are not getting the care they need, and despite the enormous amount of money spent, Americans are not healthier and do not live longer. So something needs to change, right? Well, to find out why that change has been so slow to arrive, we need to look at who is benefitting from the system in its present incarnation. In a for profit system, the emphasis will always be on profit, and not health. The ones benefiting are the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies and the lobbyists in Washington who have a huge influence on policy making due to their deep pockets and generous campaign contributions.

People Over Profit

The Solution

It seems obvious that the present healthcare system is not fulfilling its job of caring for the health of the American people, so what is the solution? The film suggests that the problems are not small or easy to fix and that it would be a complete restructuring of the system from the ground up that is needed. Medical education needs to be reevaluated and changed from a disease focus to a focus on health and prevention, or perhaps a healthy balance of the two. And perhaps most importantly, the public needs to become engaged, and incite change with their actions and more importantly, their dollars. If patients go to their doctors asking for nutritional advice and information about vitamins and supplements, then doctors will be compelled to give it. As it stands, the system is broken, but the United States still has amazing resources, doctors and hospitals.  It is second to none in critical care, emergency medicine and complicated surgeries and there is incredibly important medical research being done in this country. So it is not that it isn’t possible, it is how the care is being delivered, pay structure, and a lack of prevention or focus on a healthy patient. The present healthcare system tends to be implemented after there is already a problem which is in contrast to other models (like Chinese medicine) which are focused on prevention, and empower the patient to be the master of his own health.

The good news is that, despite the problems the United States faces with healthcare, one of the most amazing and powerful things that is built into its foundation is democracy and the ability for the people to enact change on a large scale. Even though it seems that large corporations like insurance companies, big pharma and lobbyists are holding all the cards, an engaged and educated public can change the entire system, and it seems that perhaps, that time has come. :)


How To Be A Gardener - 1. Know Your Plot

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

One way in which we can all live in accordance with Chinese medicine principles is to be connected to the earth. One wonderful way to do this is by gardening. When you garden you are literally digging in the dirt, and connecting to the planet. It is, for many, an incredibly healing and grounding activity.

It is not easy for some of us to garden as we may live in cold climates, or in apartments with limited or no outside space, but even having plants, life, in your home is a wonderful way to connect to nature and add life to your environment.

There is a wonderful series of shows by the BBC called - How to be a Gardener. There are eight episodes in the series and they offer practical, simple insights on the basics of gardening, and no one is more serious (or sassier) about gadrening than the Brits! So, even if you don't have a huge yard, these tips can help you to understand the basics of growing and perhaps inspire you to get out there and create something beautiful of your own.

Here is the information about episode 1 - Know Your Polt - from the BBC website.

Episode 1 - Know Your Plot

Assessing Your Plot

Just like you, your garden is unique and has character. It is this character, a distinctive set of conditions that work together, which determines what you can grow successfully.

Understand your garden’s character and you’re well on the way to becoming a blossoming gardener. That’s what we’ll be doing over the next few pages.

We’ll look at the following range of conditions and show you how to discover what they are in your garden:


Ask an Acupuncturist. - Why are you putting that point there?

Question

I have been going to an acupuncturist (who is Chinese and speaks very little English) for my terrible headaches, and I am just wondering, why he is putting needles in my legs, stomach and hands and not in my head?

Answer

Ha. Good question. This is particularly confusing to those of us who grew up in the West with the Cartesian model of medicine where we tend to treat the part that is giving us problems directly (if we are suffering with headaches, we look for problems in the head, etc..). The Chinese medical model however, has a different approach. Because it is based on a holistic system, it is the entire body that is assessed to discover where the imbalance is that is creating the headache, instead of treating the head directly. In TCM there are many, many reasons that one may suffer from a headache, and each person's headache must be flushed out and the root of the problem discovered so that it can be treated. Often, the cause of headaches can be an excess of yang or fire energy in the body which flares upwards causing things like headaches, red eyes, anger, and bitter taste in the mouth. To treat this, the yin, or water energy of the body must be supplemented which is often done with points in the lower legs, we would also often treat the lower part of the body in an attempt to draw the heat down and anchor it which would alleviate the symptoms.

So, although in Chinese medicine there are many causes for headaches, the acupuncturist is always looking for the root cause so that it can be corrected, so that often means treating points in other parts of the body and not the head directly.


Dandelion - A Gift From Mother Nature

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Dandelion is a very common perennial herb that grows wild in fields all over the world. It has tooth-edged leaves and yellow flowers. People in Europe and Asia commonly use dandelion as food and medicine. In foods, dandelion is used as salad greens, in soups, wine, and teas. The roasted root is used as a coffee substitute. In medicine, the whole plant is used to make herbal concoctions or herbal extracts.

Clinical studies have shown dandelion has protective effects against lipid peroxidation and free radicals, both damaging products of a poorly functioning liver. Like burdock, dandelion contains a wealth of nutrients important to liver function, especially the B vitamins. It cleanses the liver and increases the production of bile. Therefore, it is often used as a herbal treatment for all liver diseases including hepatitis, cirrhosis and jaundice.

Chinese Medicine defines dandelion as cold in nature and bitter and sweet in taste. It benefits the liver and stomach. The therapeutic effects include clearing away heat and detoxifying blood. It is used as weight-loss aid because of its diuretic effects. Dandelion reduces swelling and dissolves clots and is used for treating food poisoning, inflammation of liver and gallbladder, kidney and gallbladder stones, tuberculosis and clots in the lungs.

Dandelion Cancer Prevention Recipe in Chinese Medicine

In recent years, dandelion has been found to be most effective in preventing cancer when used in combination with another herb called Radix angelicae pubescentis (du huo). It is because the main characteristic of dandelion is that it is very light in weight and can travel and spread easily. So it is used as a chaser as well to send the medicinal effects throughout the body.

The following is the recipe to make this cancer prevention tea. It is very easy to make and costs very little because you can pick dandelion for free almost anywhere. You just need to pick them from a clean and wild environment so that they have no pesticides or chemical pollution. Rinse the whole plant clean and put them to dry under the hot summer sun for 2 to 3 days before storing away.

The tea is bitter in taste but it can do wonders to our health. We should accept what Mother Nature has given us with grace and give dandelion the credit that it deserves.

Cancer Prevention Dandelion Tea

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Prevents cancer by clearing internal energy blockages and blood stagnation so that the cells can breathe and function properly.

Cancer Prevention Dandelion Tea

INGREDIENTS

Dandelion 蒲公英 - 7 gm
Radix angelicae pubescentis (du huo) 獨活 – 5 gm

DIRECTIONS

1. Put the two herbs with 2 cups of water in a pot.
2. Bring water to a boil and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Strain and drink tea only.

USAGE

Take 1 cup in the morning and the other cup in the evening. Take regularly as tea with no restrictions.

Cancer Prevention Dandelion Tea


7 Most Common Acupuncture Side Effects

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

For those unfamiliar with acupuncture, or with limited experience, there are some side effects that everyone should be aware of. This is why it is always good to do your research and make sure you have all the information before taking the plunge. Below is a list of the most common side effects of having acupuncture treatments, and some of them might surprise you.

wellbeing

1. An Overall Feeling of Wellbeing

By far one of the most common things heard by acupuncturists from their patients is that they feel an overwhelming sense of wellbeing. I believe the reason lies within the very foundation upon which Chinese medicine in built. Because Chinese medicine is a holistic system, when you come in for an acupuncture treatment, it is not just the ailment that is being treated, it is the entire person on every level. This is in contrast to the Western model which functions in more of a reductionistic way, honing in on the part of the body that is seen to be malfunctioning and treating it, often in isolation. In Chinese medicine, the entire body is seen to function as a whole and no one part can be separated from the others, it is one, everything acting synergistically. This is why people often feel a euphoric sense of calm, peace and wellbeing when receiving acupuncture treatment, as the entire being is being healed and rebalanced which is what the body really needs. The feeling of wellbeing is your body’s way of saying thank you.

2. Improved Sleep

Sleep is something that most of us don’t get nearly enough of. I have seen this over and over again in practice, we certainly seem to be a sleep deprived culture. Everyone is under pressure to get a lot done and there never seems to be enough time. Sleep, unfortunately, is the thing that often suffers. Thankfully, one of the wonderful things about acupuncture (and there are many) is that it is incredibly relaxing to the body and benefits the nervous system allowing us to have better quality sleep.

3. Feeling More Relaxed

Acupuncture is incredibly relaxing to the body. For anyone who has never had acupuncture before this may seem a strange statement. How, you may ask, could the body relax when it is full of needles? But, it is true. The tiny acupuncture needles release endorphins that cause a pleasant feeling of euphoria and are extremely beneficial to the nervous system causing the body to feel relaxed. Many people become so relaxed on the table, that they pass out cold. This is extra nice because it helps with number two - getting a bit of a nap is an added bonus.

acuface

4. Other Negative Symptoms Disappearing

The intake process is involved and great care is taken to collect both a medical history and other relevant information about the patient's health on every level. During this process there is usually a chief complaint which is the reason that the person has come to see you. After the information is collected, a diagnosis is formulated and a treatment plan put together. As treatment begins, something wonderful happens... the patient will say things like, “you know I was coming to you for my terrible migraines, but I had been having this awful constipation for years. I forgot to mention it to you, but it has completely cleared up.” It is very common for symptoms that are perhaps not the reason you sought treatment to resolve themselves, and the reason goes back to number one. Because Chinese medicine is based on a holistic system, it is not treating symptoms, it is treating the entire human being, therefore, the whole body is being balanced out meaning that symptoms that you may have been struggling with, will disappear.

5. Heightened Senses & Awareness

Acupuncture has the ability to heighten the senses and bring greater awareness to the patient. There are many people out there who are not entirely connected to their bodies and have a difficult time describing how they feel. Acupuncture helps them to reconnect with their bodies as they learn to feel the qi moving around inside them. There are many different sensations that can be felt while having acupuncture, and most are the movements of qi inside the body. For those who are more embodied, people who practice yoga, martial arts and athletes for example, this awareness has been developed and acupuncture can serve to heighten that awareness. For those who are not as connected to their bodies, acupuncture can be an introduction to their bodies and create an awareness that will help them maintain balance and health in the future.

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6. Increased Energy

Many people come to have acupuncture for various kinds of stagnation. Stagnation is a common term in Chinese medicine and basically means a blockage of some kind in the body. It can be a blockage of blood, or of qi (the body’s vital energy). Stagnation is one of the main causes of pain in TCM, and acupuncture and herbs are excellent for moving stagnations. One of the side effects of moving blockages in the body is that it frees up all the energy that has been pooling around the blockage, and people will often find that their energy increases once the stagnation starts breaking up and things are flowing freely again. This is especially true of people experiencing pain which is very exhausting to the body. Once the stagnation, which is the cause of the pain, is moved, the body is no longer being drained and the energy stores are freed up for more constructive and pleasant bodily processes.

7. Clear Thinking and Better Concentration

A very nice side effect of acupuncture treatments is that people often report that they are able to think more clearly and are better able to concentrate. In this age of multitasking, long hours and lack of sleep we can all use all the help we can get. Acupuncture helps us to rebalance. When there is an imbalance in the body, our qi is disrupted. Often times, due to hectic schedules, improper nutrition and lack of sleep, we simply do not have enough qi to provide us with the energy we need, and the result often manifests in decreased cognitive abilities like dull thinking, forgetfulness and difficulty remembering. Because acupuncture treatments are rebalancing the entire body, it ensures that all the organs are functioning properly, making all the qi we need so we have plenty to think clearly, concentrate and remember. I think the term side effects has been sullied by the media. We are bombarded on a daily basis with commercials from drug companies that sing the praises of some new drug while quietly listing a myriad of side effects that are often worse that the symptom you are taking the drug for. This is what I think many people associate with the term side effects. But, in this case, I present to you a list of side effects which do not take away from the overall pleasantness of an acupuncture treatment, but enhance them exponentially.


High Blood Pressure? Eat More Celery.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Foods are an integral part of health and medicine in Chinese culture. Nutritional therapy is a vital part of the Chinese medical model, and each food is seen to have a temperature, specific organs that it affects and healing properties making the art of food therapy an important aspect of Chinese medicine.

One of the many wonderful things about Chinese medicine is the use of ordinary things that we use in our everyday lives to combat health problems when they arise. Food or nutrition therapy is an integral part of Chinese medicine, and eating with the seasons and with foods wide array of healing properties in mind can build the immune system to keep us healthy, and also help to rebalance us when we are sick.

Celery is considered sweet, bitter and is cooling in nature. It is particularly beneficial to the spleen, stomach and liver. Celery is used to treat many conditions, but in particular, it has been used for centuries to effectively lower high blood pressure.

Blood pressure, or hypertension, is the measurement of the pressure exerted against the arteries as the blood leaves the heart. Fluctuations in blood pressure are normal, but it is when the blood pressure remains high that is can be dangerous to our health and increase the risk of problems like heart attack and stroke. One of the main concerns is that high blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer because there are often no symptoms until the damage has already been done and it is too late, so anything we can do preventatively to keep our blood pressure at healthy levels is always a good idea!

Blood pressure measuring studio shot

Blood pressure is measured by two different numbers - the systolic and diastolic pressure. The first, the systolic, is the measurement of the pressure of the blood leaving the heart as it pumps. The second number - the diastolic, is a measurement of the pressure of the blood when the heart is at rest. A normal blood pressure reading is approximately 120/80.

Celery, a common vegetable and available at almost every grocery store is one of the best foods for lowering high blood pressure. Celery contains active compounds called phthalides (butylphthalide). These compounds naturally function to relax the muscles in and around the walls of the arteries, causing the vessels to dilate, thus creating more room for the blood to flow and lowering the pressure. Phthalides also are shown to reduce the levels of stress hormones (called catecholamines) in the blood. These stress hormones also raise blood pressure because they cause vessels to constrict. Celery has the added benefit of benefiting and soothing the nervous system and many patients with nervous system disorders in TCM are encouraged to add celery to their diets.

In a recent study by the University of Chicago Medical Centre, the father of a medical student who was diagnosed with hypertension decided to try the Chinese medicine remedy of eating celery to see if he could lower his blood pressure without medication. He ate 4 stalks a day for a week, and then taking 3 weeks off before resuming the regimen. Within a week his blood pressure fell from 158/96 to 118/82. The man and his son brought the findings to researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center where they isolated the compound (3-n-butyl phthalide) and injected it into rats to see if they could reproduce the results. Not only did the rat's blood pressure drop 13 percent in a week, but the rats' cholesterol levels also dropped by seven percent. The high fiber in the celery helped to lower the cholesterol levels in the animal experiment. *

The common wisdom is that 4 stalks of celery a day can significantly lower blood pressure in less than a week. It is important to note however, that having a healthy diet and trying to restrict the amount of processed salt that we eat will hopefully keep high blood pressure from getting out of control, but the addition of celery into our diets is an excellent preventative strategy that we can all use to keep our blood pressure at healthy levels.

Here is a delicious recipe for Spring Greens with Shaved Celery Salad from Bon Appetit. Enjoy!

Spring Greens and Shaved Celery Salad

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*A note on the approach of science and how it differs from Chinese medicine. One of the things that makes Chinese medicine so effective is its view of the whole. The whole person, the relationship of the person to nature and the universe and that the body functions synergistically, as a whole, each part benefitting the other so that the entire organism may work in harmony. In my opinion, it is celery in its entirety that has the amazing healing properties it possesses, and extracting certain compounds, even if you can scientifically prove their efficacy, will undoubtedly diminish the effectiveness of their healing properties as a whole. The beauty of Chinese medicine is that it sees the symbiotic relationship between people and the food they eat to be mutually beneficial, and we are only now being able to prove with science the ways that these mechanisms function, even though they have been used by the Chinese and other Asian cultures for thousands of years.

 

 


Ask an Acupuncturist - Osteoporosis

Question

I am trying to decide if I want to continue taking Fosamax or Boniva for osteoporosis. I haven't been the best at taking it for the past 8-10 years, partly due to laziness, partly what I read about the meds and partly because of the expense. I have now been denied by 4 insurance companies because of the osteoporosis, and I wonder if you have any advice on what I should do?

Answer

This is a great question and something many women (and men) wonder about.

Osteoporosis is the gradual loss of bone density that causes the bones to become brittle, thus increasing the risk of fracture. Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis because of the steady loss of estrogen after menopause. There are some risk factors that contribute to your chances of developing osteoporosis and they are:

  • Age - bone density decreases naturally as we age
  • Heredity and genetics - osteoporosis tends to run in families
  • Being thin with fine bones increases your risk
  • A diet high in sodium
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Stress
  • Dieting
  • Caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Excess sugar intake
  • Certain medications such as the birth control pill and drugs for hypothyroidism weaken bones
  • Lack of exercise - weight bearing exercises cause the body to lay down new bone, increasing bone mass
  • A diet lacking in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D
  • Too much animal protein in the diet can leach calcium from the bones
  • If you have broken many bones in your adult life, you are more susceptible

Although some of these risk factors cannot be avoided, many can and things like diet and exercise are vital to the health of your bones. Eating a diet high in calcium and balancing that with adequate levels of vitamin D which is responsible for the absorption of calcium, are important for the strength and density of bones. Most people associate dairy products with foods high in calcium, but for those who prefer not to eat dairy, there are many foods that are extremely high in calcium. Here is a list of non dairy sources of calcium.

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Non Dairy Sources of Calcium

  • Tofu
  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Sesame seeds (ground or pulverized for better absorption)
  • Tapioca
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Bok Choy
  • White beans
  • Figs
  • Black eyed peas
  • Broccoli
  • Sardines with the bones
  • Seaweed
  • Turnip greens
  • Oranges

sardines

Vitamin D & Calcium Absorption

Getting enough vitamin D is crucial to absorption of calcium. Common wisdom says that 30 minutes of sunshine a day is adequate for the average adult. Note that people with a diet high in animal proteins will cause calcium to be absorbed poorly, so if you are trying to build up calcium and strengthen bones, consider limiting your intake of animal proteins. It is also important to note that if we are not getting enough calcium in the diet, the body will take the calcium it needs from the bones, so make sure you are getting enough! The recommended daily amount is between 800 milligrams - 1200 milligrams for lactating women.

Fosamax and Boniva

Fosamax (Alendronate) and Boniva (Ibandronate) belong to a group of drugs called bisphosphonates. They alter the cycle of bone formation and breakdown in the body, decreasing the rate at which bone cells are absorbed. They are both commonly prescribed to postmenopausal women for osteoporosis.

Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs

Although sometimes drugs like this are a good option if your are suffering from severe bone loss and your bones have become dangerously brittle, my suggestion would be to always try to rebuild bone naturally. Medications often just treat symptoms and do not tackle the underlying problem which is what Chinese medicine is all about. Of course there are times when medications are necessary, but even so, I would always encourage a patient to be working towards balance so that eventually they did not need the drugs.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been shown to be extremely effective for osteoporosis. There have been many clinical trials that show that both acupuncture treatments as well as Chinese herbal formulas that treat the kidneys (in Chinese medicine the kidneys govern the bones, growth and maturation) are very effective in building bone mass making the bones less brittle and susceptible to fractures.

Exercise

Weight bearing exercise is what the body needs to lay down new bone and this type of exercise is prescribed for people with osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise is defined as exercises one does on your feet working the bones and the muscles against gravity. While that doesn’t mean going to the gym and pumping weights, there are many types of exercises that fall into this category and will improve bone health.

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  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Dancing
  • Climbing stairs
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Golf
  • Gardening or working in the yard

As you can see, these are activities that almost anyone can do. Exercise is not only good for osteoporosis, it is also vital to our overall wellbeing. I always encourage patients to try to go outside every day, take some deep breaths and spend time in nature. It is a very grounding activity and often pulls us out of our heads and reminds us of what is important.

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In conclusion, my best advise in regards to your question on what to do about osteoporosis is to make changes to your diet, including as many calcium rich foods as possible, as well as making sure that you are getting adequate vitamin D to ensure that the calcium you are eating is being absorbed fully. Remove things like excess salt, sugar and alcohol from your diet and try to limit caffeine. Take some time every day to exercise, even if it is going for a walk to give your bones a workout which will stimulate them to lay down new bone and increase your bone density. And last but certainly not least, I would highly recommend seeking out an acupuncturist for regular treatments with the addition of Chinese herbs which are excellent for building up the kidneys and building strong healthy bones.