Recipe for Health & Longevity - Ginseng Congee

Invigorating the Qi Recipe - Ginseng Congee

This recipe is for invigorating the Qi, increasing the function of the immune system, increasing your adaptability adapt to the environment and strengthening the function of tissues and organs in the body.

Symptoms of Qi deficiency:

Fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale complexion, sweating with little or no exertion, poor appetite, stomach distention, loose or soft stools, diarrhea, cold extremities and frequent urination.

Ingredients

*Ginseng - 10g / 1/3oz

Polished Round Grain Rice - 100g / 3.5oz

Water - 3 cups

Instructions

1. Cut the ginseng into small pieces.

2. Soak the ginseng along with 3 cups of water for 60 minutes in a ceramic or glass pot.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 1 hour.

4. Add the rice to the ginseng soup.

5. Boil and simmer again for 40 minutes.

6. Separate into 2 portions and take one in the morning and one in the evening.

 

*Ginseng Types

Ginseng is a sweet and slightly bitter root well known for its ability to strengthen the body. There are 3 types of ginseng, Chinese, Korean and American. They all have different natures and healing properties depending on where they are grown and how they are prepared. Wild ginseng which is collected in the mountains and forests is the most prized and most expensive.

When cooking ginseng, it is important to use only glass, ceramic or porcelain cookware rather than metal. One should avoid drinking tea, or coffee or eating radishes or turnips immediately before or after eating ginseng as they decrease its effectiveness.

Chinese Ginseng

Chinese ginseng is slightly warm and is especially beneficial to the lungs and digestive system. Its warm nature makes it excellent for treating cold conditions and deficiency syndromes. Chinese ginseng strongly tonifies the lungs and is used to treat breathing problems, cold extremities, profuse sweating and a weak pulse. It also strengthens the digestive system and is used to treat symptoms of fatigue, lack of appetite, and chest and abdominal distension. It is able to promote body fluids so it used to treat dryness and relives mental stress. It also benefits the heart and is used to treat palpitations (racing heart) insomnia, amnesia and irritability which are all due to a deficiency of the body's Qi and Blood.

Korean Ginseng

Korean ginseng is produced in Korea and has the same properties and functions as Chinese ginseng, although it is considered hot and should be used very cautiously.

American Ginseng

American ginseng is produced in the United States, Canada and France, with the best quality coming from the state of Wisconsin in the United States. It is cool in nature, , sweet and slightly bitter in flavour. It benefits the lungs, heart and kidney. American ginseng is used for strengthening the digestive system, promotes the body fluids so helps with dryness and is excellent for heat problems and general weakness of the body.

 


Treating Infections with Herbal Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

We all occasionally succumb to infections. Thankfully nature always gives us ways to heal and recover. I am continually amazed at the healing properties of plants and am convinced that every ailment out there has a plant based cure.

Herbs can be used in 2 ways to treat infections; through their anti-microbial action they work directly against microbes and in addition, they increase and the body's defences helping it to better fight things on its own. Fortunately, in most cases they will be performing both functions at the same time.

Myrrh is an example of an herb which combines direct toxic action on bacteria with the ability to stimulate our body's production of white blood cells - or leucocytes - which are an integral part of the immune system and do the majority of the defensive work in the body. Other actions that are indicated in treating infections are those that help to eliminate toxins, such as diaphoretics (things that make you sweat), laxatives and diuretics. Any accumulation of waste materials and toxins are the perfect environment for microbes to breed in. Most herbs can play a role in treating infections.

When treating infections, it is always important to treat the underlying cause and not the symptoms. This is at the root of Chinese Medicine as well. The symptoms are the clues that tell you what is happening in the body. For example, a fever should not be seen as something that needs to be stopped immediately, the fever is often a symptom of the healing process which should be supported, not suppressed. The body has an incredible intelligence and most often knows what to do without our interference. Here is a basic mixture that helps the body work through a fever.

Herbal Remedy for Fever

Boneset - 2 parts
Yarrow - 2 parts
Echinacea - 1 part

Parts refers to the amount of herb mixture used per cup of water. 1 teaspoonful of the mixture per cup of water should be simmered for 10 minutes to make a decoction. Drink half a cup as hot as possible every 2 hours.

Echinacea is included to help the body deal with any microbes, but the simple use of diaphoretics (things that make you sweat) like Boneset and Yarrow are often enough. If the diaphoretic strength needs to be increased, you can add a pinch of Cayenne. If the glands are swollen indicating lymphatic involvement, thenMarigold or Cleavers can be included. If the mucous membranes are involved, Golden Seal can be added as a useful general tonic and is specifically helpful to dry things up. If there is a lot of restlessness, then nervine relaxants like Chamomile and Skullcap can be included. These mixtures can be used not only in fevers where the cause is not clear, but also in diseases such as chicken pox, measles or scarlet fever.  This is because herbs do not simply stop the disease, they bring balance to an unbalanced system. Thus the same herbs  may suit a range of  people with a range of infectious diseases.

If the skin is itching, the irritation may be eased by sponging the body with diluted distilled Witch Hazel. In more intransigent viral infections such as glandular fever, a most beneficial mixture that can help even if the problem has turned into a low level, debilitating weakness  that might go on for months is as follows:

Echinacea - 2 parts
Poke Root - 2 parts
Wild Indigo - 2 parts
Wormwood - 2 parts
Myrrh - 1 part

Parts refers to the amount of herb mixture used per cup of water. 1 teaspoonful of the mixture per cup of water should be simmered for 10 minutes to make a decoction. Drink half a cup as hot as possible every 2 hours.

The mixture should be drunk 3 times a day. If you do not like its unpleasant taste, you can mask it with the use of Licorice.

In any infection, you should increase your intake of vitamin C to at least 2g daily. Vitamin B complex should be included and Garlic (preferably raw) should be added to the diet. Garlic is especially helpful when you feel the first signs of illness. You can take a clove and crush it into a spoon and swallow. This will usually fight off what is trying to take up residence. A diet of fruits, fruit juices and vegetables is important for nutrition. Sometimes fasting is advisable during an infection (but not if you have never fasted before). It is best to continue with the medication for a short while after recovery to make sure that the body is fully rebalanced.

Definitions:

Diaphoretics

Diaphoretics aid the skin in the elimination of toxins and promote perspiration.

Laxatives

Laxatives promote the evacuation of the bowels

Diuretics

Diuretics increase the secretion and elimination of urine.

Herbs

Boneset

Boneset is perhaps the best remedy for the relief of the associated symptoms that accompany influenza. It will speedily relieve the aches and pains as well as aid the body in dealing with any fever that is present. Boneset may also be used to help clear the upper respiratory tract of mucous congestion. Its mild aperient activity will help clear the body of any build up of waste and ease constipation.

Part Used:

Dried Aerial Parts

Collection:

Boneset should be collected as soon as the flowers open in late summer or early fall.

Yarrow

Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs and is a standard remedy for aiding the body to deal with fevers. It lowers blood pressure due to a dilation of the peripheral vessels. It stimulates the digestion and tones the blood vessels. As a urinary antiseptic it is indicated in infections such as cystitis. Used externally it will aid in the healing of wounds. It is considered to be a specific in thrombotic conditions associated with high blood pressure.

Part Used:

Aerial Parts

Collection:

The whole of the plant above ground should be gathered when in flower between early summer and early fall.

Echinacea

Echinacea is the prime remedy to help the body rid itself of microbial infections.It is effective against both bacterial and viral attacks. It may be used in conditions such as boils, septicemia and other infections of that sort. In conjunction with other herbs it may be used for any infection, anywhere in the body.  For example, in combination with Yarrow or Bearberry it will effectively stop cystitis. It is especially used for infections of the upper respiratory tract such as laryngitis, tonsillitis, and for catarrhal conditions of the nose and sinus. In general it may be used widely and safely. The tincture or decoction may be used as a mouthwash in the treatment of pyorrhea and gingivitis. As a lotion is helps septic sores and cuts.

Part Used:

Cone Flower, Roots

Collection:

The roots should be unearthed in the fall. It is suggested that the fresh extract is more effective than the dried root.

Poke Root

Poke Root has a wide range of uses and is a valuable addition to many holistic treatments. It may be seen primarily as a remedy for use in infections of the upper respiratory tract, removing catarrh and aiding the cleansing of the lymphatic glands. It may be used for catarrh, tonsillitis, laryngitis, swollen glands (adenitis), mumps, etc. It will be found of value in in lymphatic problems elsewhere in the body and especially where it is long standing. Care must be taken with this herb as in large doses it is powerfully emetic and purgative. Externally, as a lotion or ointment, it may be used to rid the skin of scabies and other pests.

Part Used:

Root

Collection:

The root should be unearthed in the late fall or spring. Clean it and split lengthwise before drying.

Wild Indigo

Wild Indigo is an herb to be considered wherever there is a focused infection. It is especially useful in the treatment of infections of the nose and sinus. Taken both internally and as a mouthwash  it will heal mouth ulcers, gingivitis, and help in the control of pyorrhea. Systematically, it may be helpful in the treatment of  enlarged and inflamed lymph glands (lymphadenitis) and also to reduce fevers. Externally an ointment will help infected ulcers and ease sore nipples. A douche of the decoction will help leucorrhea.

Part Used:

Root

Collection:

The root is unearthed in the fall after flowering has stopped. Clean the root and cut; dry well.

Wormwood

Traditionally, Wormwood has been used in a wide range of conditions, most of which have been vindicated by analysis of the herb. It is primarily used as a bitter and therefore has the effect stimulating and invigorating the whole of the digestive process. It may be used where there is indigestion, especially when due to a deficient quantity or quality of gastric juice. It is a powerful remedy in the treatment of worm infestations, especially roundworm and pinworm. It may also be used to help the body deal with fever and infections. Due to the general tonic action it will be of benefit in many diverse conditions  because it benefits the body in general.

Part Used:

Leaves or Flowering Tops

Collection:

The leaves and flowering tops are gathered at the end of the flowering period between mid summer and early fall.

Myrrh

Myrrh is an effective anti-microbial agent that has been shown to work in two complementary ways. Primarily it stimulates the production of white blood corpuscles (with their anti-pathogenic actions) and secondarily it has a direct anti-microbial effect. Myrrh finds specific use in the treatment of infections in the mouth as well as the catarrhal problems of pharyngitis and sinusitis. It may also help with laryngitis and respiratory complaints. Systematically it is of value in the treatment of boils as well as glandular fever and brucellosis. It is often used as part of the treatment of the common cold. Externally, it will be healing and antiseptic for wounds and abrasions.

Part Used:

Gum Resin

Collection:

The gum resin is collected from the bushes that secrete it in the arid regions of East Africa and Arabia.

This info and recipes from The Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman. One of my herbal bibles, it is a wonderful book and offers a huge variety of ways to keep yourself healthy with herbs.


Interview with Andrew Schlabach - Co-Founder & President of The Acupuncture Relief Project

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Andrew Schlabach, who is co-founder and president of the Acupuncture Relief Project, kindly agreed to sit down and answer a few questions about his organization and all the good things they are doing with their clinic in Nepal.

For those who don’t know about your organization, could you tell us a little bit about it?

Acupuncture Relief Project (ARP), along with our local partners, operates a small primary care clinic in a rural village of Nepal. Founded in 2008, Acupuncture Relief Project provides healthcare practitioners of various disciplines an opportunity to gain valuable field experience while making a positive impact on the local community. Our efforts include the treatment of patients living with HIV and AIDs as well as people suffering from extreme poverty and social disenfranchisement. We are a completely volunteer-based project and rely on a grassroots approach to sustainability and community support.

Why did you choose Nepal? Did you have a personal connection to it, or did you think it would be the place that would most benefit from this type of clinic?

I had the privilege of working as a mountaineering instructor at the notorious Himalayan Mountain Institute in Darjeeling India and participated in several expeditions in Nepal, Tibet and Northern India. Through this experience I fell in love with Nepal and its people. Later when I trained as an acupuncturist I envisioned a program which would not only provide service to a community that had very little access to medical care but would also provide an opportunity for healthcare practitioners to experience the complexities and hardships of the developing world. Hopefully providing an experience which challenges practitioners to connect to a deeper understanding of their medicine and foster the growth of compassionate wisdom.

Were the local Nepalese people open and receptive to coming to the clinic to get acupuncture, or did it take some time for them to warm up to it?

We don't characterize ourselves as an "Acupuncture" clinic even though we are primarily staffed by acupuncture physicians. Mostly we are just a primary care clinic... a place where anyone can come to get medical care and advice. Like anywhere in the world, some people are very open-minded about acupuncture and some are very skeptical. Once we establish trust, it doesn't really matter whether we are using acupuncture or allopathic medicine, people know they can come in and we will do our best to help them. It is very difficult to describe to people in developed countries what it means to live without access to care. Many times our job is more about patient education, assessment and referral than it is about any particular treatment modality. Just the fact that we can assess whether a child's fever is manageable or an emergency provides the community with a priceless resource.

Acupuncture Relief Project

Did the locals have any prior knowledge of what acupuncture was?

Not really. We get asked many times a day "what kind of medicine is on the needle". We explain that there isn't any and that we are simply assisting their body in healing itself. That is probably a bit mystifying but then, after couple treatments, they start getting better. Then they bring their whole family.

You have a group of wonderful local interpreters who work with the practitioners. Is the language barrier still difficult?

Our interpreters are world class professionals and they continue to improve. Several of them have worked with us since the beginning. The difficulty for both us and the interpreters is the limitation of the language itself. There are three common languages in the area in which we operate. Nepali, Newari, and Tamang. Each language has it's own unique limitation. For example in Newari there is only one word for the torso which translates in English to "heart". A patient may come in complaining of "Heart Disease" which for us only narrows it down to the torso. They could be suffering from anything from indigestion to angina to hepatitis. They don't have specific words or an understanding of internal organs so our interpreters do the best they can and we rely on many non-verbal cues and diagnositics to direct our assessments.

What are some of the conditions that you treat most?

People in the village are mostly subsistence farmers and they work very hard throughout their lives. About 65% of patients that we see are coming in for chronic pain. Low back, neck and knees particularly. This is something acupuncture is quite good at addressing and we see very good results in getting people back to work so they can take care of their families. We also see a multitude of other conditions including digestive disorders, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, febrile stroke, uterine prolapse, asthma, tuberculosis and typhoid. We also sometimes deal with social issues like domestic violence and substance abuse.

Do you only use acupuncturists?

No. We primarily use acupuncturists because this treatment modality allows us to treat a large number of people for very little money or overhead. The clinic also hosts herbalists, Tibetan traditional practitioners, homeopaths and massage therapists. We have also had several allopathic and naturopathic physicians work with us. We try to provide as much care as possible and we find that we do very well without the overhead of a pharmaceutical dispensary. We do utilize a small stock of antibiotics and other drugs when we need to but we will try to get a patient to an appropriate facility a patient has a serious or emergency condition.

Acupuncture Relief Project

What were some of the things that surprised you about running the clinic in Nepal?

I think what continues to amaze me is how much impact a small clinic can have on so many people. Not only our patients who of course benefit from our care but also our interpreters who have meaningful jobs supporting their own communities. Additionally our volunteer practitioners continuously report to us the effects of their experience in Nepal. Many have shared how they have gained a new appreciation for patient care and that has carried forward into their own practices and communities.

About how many people do you treat a day?

The clinic sees about 80-120 people per day. We also conduct several outreach clinics in outlaying villages each week.

Do you have any idea how many patients you have treated since the clinic began?

Well over 100,000 patient visits.

Is the clinic operational full time, or only at certain times of the year when you can bring volunteers?

Yes. There are practitioners at the clinic year round, however the clinic runs at varied capacity depending on the availability of volunteers and other resources. Organizationally, we focus particularly on our training program which operated from September to March every year. During this time the clinic opperates is at it's maximum capacity. The availability of healthcare in the winter months is particularly critical to the village so we prioritize our efforts for this time of the year.

Acupuncture is very cost effective compared to Western medicine. How much does it cost to run the clinic?

Again, we characterize ourselves as a primary care clinic and not an "acupuncture" clinic. We utilize a variety of modalities (including Western medicine) and attempt to determine the "best" care for a particular patient. In many cases, acupuncture is the "best" care.  The total cost of operation including all of our herbal and western dispensary, we provide primary care year round for about $4.80 USD per patient visit. I don't wish to take anything away from other types of service projects but for sake of comparison, you can compare us to a visiting medical/dental camp which operates in Nepal for a few weeks each year which costs $24-30 USD per visit. I will say that the dental services that they provide are worth every penny to the communities they serve.

Acupuncture Relief Project

What is the most difficult thing about running the clinic?

I think with any service project there are constant stresses around resources. There is never enough money, time or volunteers to accomplish everything you might envision. Also, as a US based non-profit there are many logistical complexities of operating a clinic half way around the world. All of these are relatively minor in the grand scheme but they must be constantly addressed in order to insure our long term sustainability.

What would you like to see the Acupuncture Relief Project do in the future?

Training local practitioners is our ultimate goal and one that we are actively trying to solve. In 2011, we fully funded a scholarship for one student only to be setback as the only Oriental Medicine school in Nepal became defunct. We have now adopted an apprenticeship program for two students and we are also exploring the possibility of sponsoring a student to study in the US, Canada, Australia or China. Our major obstacle is a lack of legitimate accreditation and licensure in Nepal so obviously this issue will be on our list for awhile.

Acupuncture Relief Project

Here is some more information about Andrew from the Acupuncture Relief Project website...

Andrew Schlabach MAcOM EAMP

Andrew Schlabach is the co-founder and President of the Acupuncture Relief Project having received his Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in 2008. His master’s research project founded a Practice Based Research Network for Oriental medicine practitioners and researchers in Oregon and Southwest Washington in collaboration with the Helfgott Research Institute. Now practicing at Healthwerks - Acupuncture Wellness Clinic, Vancouver Washington he is the author and publisher of the Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine - Clinic Survival Guide. Mr. Schlabach also served as President and Creative Director of Split Diamond Media, Inc. of Portland Oregon for 15 years. Specializing in business-to-business advertising, Split Diamond Media pioneered digital publishing technologies and internet services for a variety of regional and national companies. Mr. Schlabach is also an accomplished mountaineer with expedition experience in the Himalayas, distinguishing himself as an instructor at the prestigious Himalayan Mountain Institute in Darjeeling India. Having travel extensively in central Asia, Mr. Schlabach has become a student of world theology, Tai Ji and yoga. As a veteran of the U.S. Army, he received an Army Commendation Medal for distinguished service to his unit.

To learn more about The Acupuncture Relief Project and the wonderful work they are doing, please visit their website at www.acupuncturereliefproject.org

And be sure to watch the 30 minute documentary, Compassion Connects about their clinic in Nepal. It is incredibly inspiring!


The Needle Fear...

Why a fear of needles shouldn’t discourage you from trying acupuncture

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

It is a terrible thing to admit, but I, an acupuncturist, hate needles.

Whenever I have to go to the doctor to have blood taken, I surprise even myself with the creative ways I manage to not make it down to the nurse to have my blood drawn. My doctor knows this about me, and I am always getting the sass.

The truth is, having blood taken hurts (it hurts me anyways). The needles they use are hollow point, and it usually takes them a few tries before they can get a vein. I am always left with bruises, and this is why I don't like needles.

Acupuncture needles however, are not like the hollow point needles used to take blood or give injections. They are very fine - 4 times thicker than a human hair in fact (the thickness varies, but they are pretty small), and in most cases, the patient can barely feel them. They are also disposable, and one use only.

I have often had patients over the years who reluctantly came to see me, not committing to a treatment, but wanting to talk about their fear of needles. I always say "no problem, have a seat." I explain that the needles that acupuncturists use are not the type used by medical doctors, and that they are tiny in comparison. I take out one out, open it and hand it to them so they can feel it, touch it, and this helps with the fear. I then roll up my sleeve and tap the needle gently into my arm to show them how it works, and that I am not screaming in pain. I explain that I am very gentle, and if they would like to try, I can put a needle into the same spot on their arm. I tell them if they feel anything uncomfortable, or painful for even an instant, then it comes out.

I have never had anyone after the demonstration, not try one needle. Once they see that acupuncture is not painful, we continue with an intake, and then a treatment. People often have to ask me when I will be putting the needles in when I already have put in several.

Here is a chart that illustrates the difference in size between different objects and an acupuncture needle.

 

In my experience, there is a difference in the old school Chinese style of acupuncture which emphasizes strong stimulation of the needles (twirling and twisting the needles to achieve a "qi sensation"), and a gentler style that is better suited to Western patients.

When in China, I got to visit a hospital that offered both Western and Chinese medicine and saw some of the acupuncture techniques used. They were a lot more hard core than most patients are used to here in the West. In China, this is what is expected, but if you are catering to Western patients, gentler and kinder is the way to go. It is relatively new here, so it should be introduced gently to those who are trying it out, and especially those who are a bit nervous about needles.

As a kid I went to a Chinese acupuncturist who was incredibly gentle. I never felt any pain from the needles, and I have always fashioned myself after her. There is an intimate trust relationship between an acupuncturist and their patient. They must trust you, and their body must trust you, which you can feel when you are putting in the needles. At first there is often resistance which decreases as time goes on. Eventually, the body accepts the treatment and trusts that you are doing it good and mean it no harm.

So, if you are curious about acupuncture but haven't gone to have a treatment because of a fear of needles, I would say find an acupuncturist and go and speak to them. Most are aware that fear of needles is common and will do their best to explain and show you so that you can start to reap the wonderful rewards offered by acupuncture. I know I am very glad that I did. :)

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Featured image taken by Jordan Francisco / Flickr
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The Needle Fear : Chinese Medicine Living


Acupuncture and Addiction

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

Acupuncture has been successfully used to treat addictions for many years in the West. It has been used in hospitals in conjunction with standard Western treatments, like methadone for heroin addictions, and many addiction clinics operate using acupuncture to combat the symptoms and root causes of addiction.
The ancient healing art of Chinese medicine has been used to treat illness and disease for thousands of years, but it is only relatively recently that it has been used in the West to specifically combat the effects of addiction. Acupuncture has been proven effective for treating many types of addictions, from cocaine and heroin, to nicotine and even overeating.

A Tale Of Success

There is excellent clinical evidence that acupuncture is effective in treating addictions. The first acupuncture detoxification clinic in the United States, called The Lincoln Clinic, opened in 1974 in the South Bronx borough of New York. At first, heroin addicts were being treated with a combination of acupuncture and methadone. The acupuncture treatments proved so successful however, that methadone was dropped from the program. According to Dr. Michael Smith, the clinic’s director, the success rate using acupuncture is substantially higher than with other, more conventional programs.

Here is some information about The Lincoln Clinic, taken from an article about Acupuncture and Addiction:

The Lincoln Clinic

The Lincoln Clinic in New York City is the premiere detoxification center utilizing acupuncture in the U.S. Its director, Dr. Michael Smith, says the need for effective substance abuse treatment in the clinic's neighborhood is evident:

The South Bronx is a racially marginalized, high poverty, high unemployment, high crime, high infant mortality, low literacy neighborhood devastated by several decades of substance abuse.
When the doctors at the Lincoln Clinic read in 1974 that a neurosurgeon in Hong Kong, Dr. H.L. Wen, had noticed a reduction in the withdrawal symptoms of opiate-addicted patients to whom he had been giving acupuncture treatments, they decided to experiment with the procedure at what had been until then a methadone clinic. Over the years they developed a protocol that they have taught to more than 500 clinicians in 150 different programs.

The Lincoln Clinic protocol relies on four major tools in helping serious addicts recover: acupuncture detoxification, urine testing, individual counseling, and participation in 12-step group-based therapy. Smith argues that the advantages of integrating acupuncture into more traditional treatment programs are overwhelming. The primary value of acupuncture, however, is that its immediate effect is often a cessation of withdrawal symptoms, encouraging patients to come again for treatment in the future.

Smith cites a few remarkable statistics to support the effectiveness of the Lincoln Clinic method. Among pregnant women with a history of abusing crack cocaine, those who receive acupuncture have higher birth weight babies than those who do not receive the treatment. Mothers with more than 10 visits have babies with an average weight of 6lbs. 10oz, while those with less than 10 visits have babies weighing an average of 4lbs. 8oz.

A seven-day inpatient drug treatment program in Delaware using the Lincoln Clinic method reported a decline in rates of recidivism from 87% to 18% one year after the date of admission.

Dr. Smith attributes this effectiveness to a number of factors. One of acupuncture's greatest strengths, he argues, is that it forges a bond between doctor and patient even before verbal communication is established: "acupuncture will be just as effective even when the patient lies to us." Unlike verbal counseling, during which the patient may be in denial or feel angry or intimidated, acupuncture's immediate effects are not dependent on the cooperation of the patient.

As stated previously, acupuncture's primary effect is to stimulate relaxation. "In addition to reducing withdrawal symptoms acupuncture provides a strong calming effect on substance abusers and substantially reduces drug craving. Clients describe the effects of acupuncture as allowing them to feel relaxed yet alert," according to Dr. Smith. That feeling of relaxation is the essential benefit of the acupuncture protocol. Unlike methadone treatment, acupuncture affects the patient's state of mind during withdrawal, not the body's need for a drug.

Addicts enrolled in the program reported a marked reduction in cravings for drugs, feeling more relaxed and less anxious, relief from symptoms of withdrawal and improved sleep. The success of The Lincoln Clinic and its results have inspired the opening of publicly funded acupuncture detoxification programs across the country and abroad.

addiction

How and Why it Works

Auricular - Acupuncture of the Ear

Addiction treatments with acupuncture are done with acupuncture points (specific anatomical locations) in the ear. There is an entire branch of Chinese medicine dedicated to treating the body and its disorders using only the ear. Acupuncture practiced specifically on the ear is called auricular acupuncture. An important discovery occurred in 1955 by a French doctor - Dr. Paul Nogier, who, by testing electrical activity on the surface of the skin found that every traditional acupuncture point had a corresponding point on the human ear. Through his discovery, auricular acupuncture was created. Auricular has been the most effective treatment for addictions, and has the advantages of not requiring privacy (no need to remove clothing so points can be applied), and thus, the ability to treat many patients in the same room at the same time. Many standard auricular addiction protocols have been developed, and their ease of use makes them easy to teach to both physicians and acupuncturists.

Western Medicine

In Western medical terms, the positive effect of acupuncture for treating addiction can be attributed to the fact that research has shown acupuncture to raise endorphin levels in the nervous system. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and are similar in structure and function to opiates (heroin) which also have a strong analgesic effect. Research suggests that combating the strong withdrawal symptoms for people suffering from addictions to drugs is to raise endorphin levels in the nervous system. The desire to eat is also mediated by endorphin levels, which would also explain why acupuncture has a beneficial effect on people trying to lose weight by helping to control their appetites.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine has its own way of explaining why it is so effective in treating addictions. Chinese medicine is a holistic system where every part of the body works synergistically. It is a unified system. The concept of yin and yang is at the core of Chinese medical theory. Yin and yang are two opposing forces, and when a person is in good health, yin and yang are seen to be in relative balance. Yang is the “fire” aspect, and yin is the “water”. Yang is substance, yin is function. Yang consumes and yin nourishes. Addicts are very often deficient in yin. Physiologically, an excess of yang causes hyperactivity, restlessness and an excess of frenetic energy, behaviours which push an addict to constantly seek out drugs. Psychologically, excess yang causes anxiety, agitation and anger.

These yang attributes are dominant because there is not enough yin (or water) in the body, to balance, or tame the yang (or fire). An abundance of fire (yang) drives the addict to use, which exacerbates fire and depletes yin (water). Narcotics also are considered yang, which continues the cycle. Addicts feel anxious and restless, seeking out drugs to make them feel “better”, which in turn introduces more yang into the body, further depleting the yin they desperately need to rebalance the system. A vicious cycle.

The treatment involves nourishing yin by doing acupuncture points in the ear. There are several protocols, but usually 1-5 points are needled in each ear and retained from 30-45 minutes. The patient can be lying down or seated, and most patients find the treatment is very relaxing and calming to the mind and body, adding to a sense of well being which is so often absent for the anxious patient suffering with addiction. As an adjunct, and especially helpful in treating addiction, ear seeds are used in between treatments. These are tiny metal balls, or natural seeds (vaccaria seeds are most often used) applied to the acupuncture points of the ear with stickers, and patients are told to press on them to stimulate the points in between treatments to help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Points on the ear for treating addiction include the lung, kidneys and liver, the major organs of elimination that aid in removing toxins from the body, imperative in treating addiction.

The frequency of treatment for addiction depends on the substance. People addicted to “hard drugs” are advised to have treatment daily until they are clean and then a couple of times a week thereafter until they feel able to manage cravings on their own and are not tempted to use. Alcoholics also receive daily treatments in the initial stages of treatment, and it tapers off as their symptoms decrease. Interestingly, alcoholics receiving acupuncture rarely suffer from seizures during the withdrawal period.

Nicotine addictions are in a different category as nicotine is seen as a milder drug. It does not produce the dramatic physical effects “hard drugs” do, but is more prevalent and may be seen as more insidious. Treatments are usually not needed daily and smokers usually notice a drastic decrease in cravings for nicotine after the second or third treatment. Duration of treatment is dramatically less for smokers, and the average length of treatment is 2-3 weeks. After 4 or 5 treatments spread out over a 2-3 week period, 7 out of 10 patients have kicked the habit. Others will have drastically cut down on the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Ear seeds will be applied to the ears with instructions for patients to apply pressure to them often which will help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms in between treatments.

The Desire to Quit

The desire to quit cannot be overstated. As with most things, change cannot happen without first the acknowledgement of the problem, and the desire to make that change. Acupuncture, or any other treatment cannot be effective without the participation and desire of the patient. Treatment is always a joint effort, and the patient's desire is paramount for a favourable outcome.

For treatment of something as complex as addiction, acupuncture cannot exist in isolation. Addiction is not solely a physiological issue, it has deep psychological implications which must be addressed for recovery to be achieved. Acupuncture in conjunction other modalities such as therapy which addresses the psychological aspect as well as a strong support system are important parts of a complete treatment program. The relapse rate for addicts is high, so it is important that these treatments exist not only during the treatment itself, but remain afterwards to support the recovering addict on the long and often difficult road to recovery.

*Footnotes
“The Lincoln Clinic”
http://www.ndsn.org/sept95/guest.html


Summer Recipe - Artichoke, Zucchini & Olive Pasta

This light, delicious pasta is perfect for summer. All ingredients are beneficial for us in the summer season.

Ingredients
Artichoke hearts - 1 can (even better if you can get fresh)
Green olives with pimento - 1 cup
Zucchini - 1 medium, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Red wine vinegar - 1/4 cup
Fresh Oregano & Basil - 1 tbsp. each
Pasta - 1lb
Olive oil - 1/4 cup
Garlic - 6 cloves, smashed
Salt & pepper - to taste
Red pepper flakes - 1 tsp
Corn starch - 2 tbsp.
Water - 1 cup

Instructions
1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add a tsp oil so pasta doesn’t stick.
2. Wash, cut in half, then slice the zucchini
3. Drain artichokes, and slice. Take olives and slice in half
4. In heavy pot, add olive oil and heat on low. Add smashed garlic and stir so it doesn’t burn. Wash and add oregano and basil. Add red wine vinegar & water.
5. When water boils, add pasta.
6. Add zucchini, olives and artichokes and turn heat up to medium, stir constantly. Add salt.
7. Cover and let zucchini soften, about 10 minutes.
8. Once Zucchini is soft, add pepper, and more oil/red wine vinegar to taste if necessary. Add red pepper flakes.
9. Put corn starch in small glass and add enough water to cover. Stir. Add to sauce and keep stirring to thicken. About 2 minutes. Taste sauce and make sure it is delicious.
10. When pasta is done, drain and add into sauce. Stir well until all pasta is coated.
11. Serve and top with fresh grated parmesan or Romano cheese if you wish. Enjoy!

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If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Summer season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Summer Season in Chinese Medicine.


Healing the Gallbladder with Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Gallbladder in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the Gallbladder has many important functions. Firstly, it has a very close relationship to the Liver. The Gallbladder is a Yang organ and the Liver is its Yin organ partner. The Gallbladder stores and excretes bile governs decision making and planning, controls the sinews and effects dreams. On a deeper emotional level, the Gallbladder is responsible for our passion for life, inspiration, action, and assertiveness. When we are having problems being assertive, making decisions or following through, are lacking passion, feeling timid or uninspired, we are experiencing an imbalance of the Gallbladder. When the Gallbladder is balanced and its energy is flowing freely, we are happy, healthy, assertive and passionate.

In TCM, organs are categorized as either Yin or Yang. Yin organs are defined as organs that produce, transform, regulate and store fundamental substances, such as Qi, Blood and body fluids, and in general, the Yin organs are not empty cavities. They are function versus form. The Yin organs in TCM are the Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lungs, and Kidneys. The Yang organs are organs that are mainly responsible for digestion and for transmitting nutrients to the rest of the body. Usually, they are organs with empty cavities and have a connection to the outside of the body. The Yang organs in TCM are the Gallbladder, Stomach, Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Bladder and San Jiao (Triple Burner).

The Gallbladder is unusual in the sense that it is the only Yang organ that does not have direct contact with food and drink or a direct connection to the outside of the body. Because of this, it is also considered an extraordinary organ.

Just as in Western medicine, the Gallbladder receives bile from the Liver which it stores until it is needed in the digestive process. When the Gallbladder releases bile, it is considered to be regulated by the energy of the Liver, or Liver Qi. When digestion is smooth, so is the Liver Qi. The Gallbladder also needs the Liver Qi to be able to release its bile smoothly. If this relationship is impaired, it can adversely affect digestion and cause problems like vomiting, regurgitation, belching and hiccups, which are all symptoms of rebellious Stomach Qi.

It is common in the modern age to see many patients who have had their Gallbladders removed because of gallstones and other problems. In ancient China, the organs were never removed. That has remained the thinking in Traditional Chinese Medicine today, and if a patient is having problems with their Gallbladder, the practitioner of TCM would always explore dietary options, herbs and acupuncture, and possibly cleanses before considering surgery as a last resort.

Why Do So Many People Have Problems With Their Gallbladders?

So, why do so many people have problems with their Gallbladders? It is a good question. I believe that one reason is diet, and the other is stress. These are 2 of the things that affect the gallbladder the most. Another, in Chinese medicine, is the emotions. Each organ in TCM is associated with an emotion. And the Liver/Gallbladder’s emotion is anger. Now, experiencing emotions is a healthy part of life and one of the things that make us human. But in TCM, the philosophy is that having a healthy emotional life is just as important to our health as eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping your Qi strong (your immune system) so that you can fight off pathogens. The effect of anger on the Liver/Gallbladder works 2 ways.

1. If you repress anger, hold it in and never express it, it will eventually hurt the Liver/Gallbladder and cause imbalance, which will lead to disease.

2. If you are experiencing unusual levels of stress because of things going on in your life (a traumatic event, death, an illness, breakup of a relationship), or stress at work, and/or are eating badly (lots of greasy, fatty, rich or spicy foods), then eventually, the Liver/Gallbladder will become impaired and can cause an excess of anger which can manifest in symptoms like red face & eyes, irritability, angry outbursts, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and migraines. These are symptoms of Liver Fire (excess heat in the Liver).

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

So, How Can You Take Care of Your Gallbladder?

Here are some things that you can do to keep your Gallbladder healthy and happy.

1. Avoid Greasy, Fatty, Rich or Spicy Foods

Sharp abdominal pains after eating these types of foods point to Gallbladder stones and other problems. Because the Gallbladder is responsible for releasing bile which helps break down fats, you want to keep intake of these foods to a minimum and not overload your Gallbladder.


Photo by Robin Stickel on Unsplash

2. Express Emotions Freely

This may be easier said than done, but any stagnation or blockage in TCM is what causes disease and pain. This includes emotions, so it is important to have a healthy emotional life, and always try to express what you are feeling instead of allowing it to build up. Emotions specific to Gallbladder are anger (frustration, resentment, etc..) associated with its partner, the Liver. Emotional changes such as depression (which is considered anger turned inward) can also point to a Gallbladder imbalance.

3. Eat Foods Grown Locally and in Season

This is a big one in Chinese Medicine, and, if you look at history, it is the way we are designed to eat. Our digestive systems have evolved to digest the foods that people were able to grow once we were able to leave our nomadic roots and start farming. People only ate foods that were available to them and grew in the present season. With the recent proliferation of air travel, we have been spoiled by being able to have whatever foods we want, any time of the year (strawberries in winter, blueberries in the tropics, mangoes in the far North...). And although this is wonderful, it is not the way our digestive systems were designed, so we are overloading them with too many kinds of foods at all times of the year. To be kind to your gallbladder, try to eat foods that grow locally and are available in the season you are presently in.

Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

In Chinese Medicine, nutritional therapy is a huge aspect of the medicine. What better way to heal the body than to use the food that we eat 3 times a day? In TCM, every food has a temperature, that interacts with your body, adding heat, cold, or keeping it neutral. Foods also all have healing properties, so the Chinese felt it very important to eat the proper foods when they became sick to help rebalance them so they could recover. I will include a list of some foods beneficial for the Gallbladder at the end of this article.

4. Exercise. Keep Moving!

The Gallbladder meridian runs bilaterally along the body starting at the outside corner of the eye (at the end of the eyebrow) and runs along the side of the body, ending at the corner of the nail bed of the 4th toe. Therefore, any exercise that stimulates the sides of the body are beneficial for the flow of Qi and to help remove any blockages in the Gallbladder organ and meridian. Side stretches are ideal. There are many Chinese internal as well as external martial arts that are excellent for mind, body, and spirit. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are 2 examples of internal martial arts that are beneficial for moving Qi in all of the meridians, as well as strengthening the body and the mind. Kung Fu is a bit more rigorous, but has an emphasis is circulating Qi throughout the body to maintain physical and mental health. Movement is the most important aspect for keeping your Qi from stagnating, so if Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Kung Fu are a bit more physical activity than you are used to, just simple things like walking are a wonderful way to keep Qi moving.

 

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

5. Be Kind to Your Gallbladder in Spring

Spring is the season related to the Gallbladder, and its partner the Liver.
The Spring element is wood, the taste, sour and the colour is green. So you can imagine after a lengthy winter, the new bright green shoots of plants breaking through the ground representing new life after a long, cold slumber. This is the reason that it is especially important to give the Gallbladder and the Liver a rest from things like caffeine, alcohol and other intoxicants during this time. It is also beneficial to cleanse these organs by drinking lots of water and eating things like fresh greens to nourish the Gallbladder and Liver, especially in the spring.

6. Know What Time It Is

In Chinese medicine, every organ is seen to have 2 hours out of every 12 where its Qi is at its peak. The time when the Gallbladder’s energy is it's most abundant is between 11pm-1am. During these 2 hours, it is helpful if you can refrain from drinking alcohol or other intoxicants, as they place unnecessary stress on the Gallbladder. It also helps the Gallbladder if you can rest the body as much as possible in these 2 hours.

Foods that are beneficial to the Gallbladder

  • Broccoli
  • Rocket
  • Beetroot
  • Oranges
  • Jasmine tea
  • Green tea
  • Radishes
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne (this may seem contradictory, but Cayenne is very moving for qi. Just remember moderation!)
  • Dill
  • Chive
  • Cardamom
  • Lemon
  • Dandelion root
  • Licorice root
  • Cumquat
  • Grapefruit
  • Kale
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Peppermint tea
  • Chrysanthemum tea
  • Tea with orange peel

 

Photo by Helena Yankovska on Unsplash

Foods that hurt the Gallbladder

  • Deep fried food - (Greasy)
  • Alcohol - (Damp)
  • Spicy foods - (remember moderation is important!)
  • Hot foods - Foods that are considered “Hot” in TCM are:
    • Lamb
    • Beef
    • Curry

If you are experiencing any Gallbladder symptoms, or have been told by your doctor that you should consider surgery, I encourage you to seek out a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and explore the non-surgical options to rebalance your body and heal your Gallbladder.

The wonderful thing about Chinese medicine is that it was developed to be a system that focuses on prevention. That is why, it is not only the oldest medical system on earth, but it teaches an entire way of life, teaching how to live in harmony with nature, eating with the seasons, moderation in work and play, exercise and emotional wellness. By practicing these basic principles, Chinese medicine teaches that you can maintain optimum health so that illness never has a chance to develop.

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If you suspect you are having problems with your gallbladder and would like an expert opinion, Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP offers skype consultations. For more information and pricing, see our Skype Consult Page.