How You Can Keep Your Spine Healthy

By Dr. Brent Wells

The spine is a very important part of the body, although many might not pay much attention to it. Because of this, it can be difficult to know just how to keep your spine healthy. This article will explore more behind the importance of the spine and the ways you can work to keep it in shape.

What is the Spine?

The spine is part of the body’s central support structure. It not only helps us to walk upright but is connected to many vital body parts including:

  • Chest
  • Head
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Pelvis

Unlike many other bones, the spine is a very flexible one. This is due to its elastic ligaments which are connected to various discs and nerves.

Why is the Spine a Crucial Part of the Body?

The spine is a crucial part of the body for many reasons.

  • It Helps with Flexibility

The spine is what allows us to move around at different angles. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to move in different directions which could make things, including simple tasks, very difficult to do.

  • It Controls Bodily Functions

Surprisingly, the spine also helps to control many different bodily functions. Because it is connected to the brain, it helps to send messages to various parts of the body. This in return allows us to control our movements and even behavior. For instance, the nerves in the spine send messages to the brain to help us to know when we need to urinate.

  • It Evenly Distributes Body Weight

Without the spine, the weight of your body would be unevenly distributed. This would make it difficult to walk and even cause health problems because the nerves wouldn’t be aligned. The spine helps to prevent this.

What Causes Spinal Problems?

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay 

There are a few things that can cause spinal problems. These include:

  • Poor posture
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Weak muscles
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Stress

When these issues are evident in the body, it can cause your spine to malfunction. This could range from slight issues to more severe ones. If not treated, these problems could eventually hurt your overall health.

Ways to Keep Your Spine Healthy

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

You’ll find many ways you can keep your spine healthy. Below are some methods to consider using.

  • Watch Your Posture

One of the best ways to keep your spine healthy is to watch your posture. Poor posture will not only cause stress on your spine, but could also lead to extreme back pain. Some ways to watch your posture include:

  • Sitting straight
  • Keeping your shoulders align
  • Wearing a brace
  • Do occasional stretches

These methods will work to keep your spine healthy and your body flexible.

  • Wear Spine-Supporting Shoes

Many might be surprised to learn that the type of shoes you wear can actually affect your spine. Poor supporting shoes will lead to a strange spine alignment. This can eventually cause your spine to curve or have extra pressure applied to it. Because of this, look to invest in spine-supporting shoes or inserts you can use.

  • Have Chiropractic Adjustments Done

Chiropractic adjustments can be a great help to spinal health. Adjustments work to prevent restrictions in the spine which can release tension. It also keeps the blood circulation moving which can remove toxins from it that cause pain and inflammation. In addition to this, constant chiropractic adjustments can help to prevent future back pain. Many chiropractic offices also offer massage therapy services such as my own clinic, Chiropractors Wasilla. A massage can help to relieve spinal pain and prevent severe spinal injuries.

  • Do Daily Exercises

Exercising can help to keep your spine healthy in many ways. It will not only work to keep it flexible but prevent it from easily being damaged. These exercises can range from intense aerobic workouts to simple stretches. Another great way to help keep your spine healthy and active is to swim. In fact, many renowned spinal institutes have claimed that swimming helps to keep the muscles in the back strong. However, due to the buoyancy of the water, you can exercise without feeling any strain in your back. This makes this option ideal for those who might already suffer from poor spinal health. Swimming exercises can vary and can span from doing laps around the pool to simply just walking around in the water.

No matter what you choose to do, exercising helps to keep the muscles in and around the spine healthy and active.

  • Use a Spine-Supporting Pillow

Another way to keep your spine healthy is to use a spine-supporting pillow. Many studies have been done that show certain pillows can extend the neck for long periods of time. Because the spine is connected to this, it can create pressure and cause the spine to twist in awkward angles. This is especially so with soft pillows which don’t provide enough support for the head and neck.

You can find a pillow that works to support your specific sleeping style. By doing so, you can sleep in a comfortable position, but one that keeps your spine supported during the night. Sometimes these pillows can also be customized to fit your needs if necessary.

  • Watch How You Lift Things

A common cause of spinal injuries or pain is improper lifting techniques. This can range from weightlifting incorrectly to simply picking up boxes in an awkward way. To properly lift an item, you want to use your leg and stomach muscles. You can bend down to pick items up with these muscles, rather than lean over which can put pressure on your spine. This will help to prevent back pain and severe spinal injuries, including slipped discs.

The spine is a vital part of the body and affects not only your back, but overall health. Because of this, it’s important to keep your spine in the best shape possible. By keeping the information above in mind, you can be sure your spine stays healthy so you can lead a painless and more active lifestyle.

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About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Wells is a passionate chiropractor who takes a different approach to helping his patients. His personal experience showed him how some chiropractors not only focus just on relieving pain in the short-term, some of them take a less personal approach to working with their patients.

Striving to be one of the top Wasilla chiropractors, Dr. Wells takes a more holistic approach to treating his patients. Most patients suffer because of years of improper posture, sitting for hours without stretching or standing, and lack of support for their backs. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Nevada, and his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He had continued to learn since graduation so that he can better serve his patients and address the root cause of problems in a way that will help them reduce or eliminate the pain.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279468/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/is-your-pillow-hurting-your-health

https://www.ispinei.com/2018/12/24/back-pain-relief-swimming/

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Beautiful featured image by

Jairo Alzate


Personal Story - Why We Need to Speak Our Truth

By Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP

I just had surgery to remove a lump in my neck. It was small (about the size of a dime) but had been there for almost 2 years. It revealed itself just after I had my daughter, and my OBGYN said that it was normal - the result of hormonal fluctuations - and that after I was finished breastfeeding, it would probably disappear.

Almost 2 years later, it didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I went back to him asking what we could do. He had a look and did a quick ultrasound with a machine he used for pregnant ladies in his office. He said it was nothing to worry about, but I might consider having it removed. I said yes, please.

To be honest, I hadn't thought much about this lump simply because I didn't have the time or energy to give it. I was raising 2 babies in a foreign land and taking care of them, as well as all the other things that life throws at you was all consuming. I believed my OB when he said it was a normal result of hormone fluctuations following pregnancy and birth - and I was certainly experiencing those in all kinds of ways - so I hoped one day it would simply disappear.

When it didn’t, and several people asked me what was that thing in my neck - I decided it was time to deal with it.

For the first time, I brought my focus to it - this lump in my neck - thinking about what it was, and why it might be there… and suddenly,

I made a connection.

Coming to Costa Rica

Two and a half years ago, my husband and I arrived in Costa Rica with our then eleven-month-old baby boy. The stresses of moving to a foreign country were overwhelming and continued to be so long after we arrived. When we got here, I found out that I was pregnant. I was happy, but the news added a new layer of overwhelming to the picture. I was now going to have to figure out how to go about the delicate business of having a baby in another country.

After a lot of research, I thankfully found a much loved and well-respected doctor. He was willing to deliver the baby at home, without medications and in water which was my preference. I was so relieved. He was less than an hour of where I was living, so I went to my monthly appointments, and everything with my pregnancy went smoothly and I anxiously awaited the arrival of our baby girl.

One afternoon, about 3 days before my due date (which was my birthday, amazingly), the doctor arrived at the house. He said he wanted to check and see how everything was going. We had a big Tupperware bin with an inflatable pool and all the doctor's gear by the door, waiting for when I went into labour. After the doctor checked me out, he said the baby was very low and he could touch the top of her head. He said she would arrive any moment now and that my labour would be very quick, just like my first.

We sat quietly on the couch and he seemed distracted and slightly uncomfortable. I offered some tea. Finally, he looked at me seriously and said he needed to talk to me about something. I said, “ok, of course” - my mind racing. What is going on?, I wondered. He said that he needed to go to a conference in the US - a gynaecological conference he goes to every year and that he had spoken to a colleague who would come and deliver the baby… at this point, his voice got very faint and I wasn’t listening… my mind was all over the place, trying to wrap itself around this new information. I came back and he was finished, looking at me expectantly.

I allowed myself to breathe for a moment and smiled. I said, “well, she is due any day now, when do you have to leave?” He took a deep breath and said: “in the morning”.

I am not exactly sure what happened after that except I felt a surge of emotions flood through me and everything was going in slow motion. I felt like I was on a roller coaster, being lifted up and down, losing my equilibrium. I suddenly felt quite sick and must have grimaced as the doctor said - oh, I think you don’t feel well. And then it slowly became clear. I said - “I think I am in labour.” He looked serious, and said, “yes, I can see that.”

At that moment, everyone scattered. My mother swooped in and took my son to her house (which was down the hill). My husband and the doctor disappeared, and I was left, sitting alone on the couch. Another contraction came and felt like a wave of pain smashing into me. I thought I would have a warm shower which might help the pain.

When I got out, my husband was there. I asked where the doctor was? I assumed he had gone out to his car to get something. He said - Oh, he left. I said, left?? What do you mean? Where did he go? He told me he had gone back to the city to get some things.

I sat hard on the couch, confused. Disappointed. Hurt.

"He left?"

He didn’t say a word to me. He didn’t check to see how far apart my contractions were. Talk to me to see how I was feeling. He just left.

Without going into details, what followed was an extremely intense, painful and scary labour and birth. My contractions became very intense and close together very quickly, and my poor husband was frantically blowing up the inflatable pool so that I could get into it and have our baby. The problem was, that because he was blowing up the pool, and the doctor was gone, I was alone. My husband would run in for a contraction summoned by my shrieks, then race out again and continue blowing up the pool. He never did get it blown up...

From the time of my first contraction sitting on the couch to the moment my daughter emerged was one hour and 20 minutes. It was the scariest hour and 20 minutes of my life. I had been alone through a process where I desperately wanted support and comfort, and there was none. I had no friends, and my only family were occupied and not able to help. The pain had been unimaginable, and I am sure this was intensified by my fear and anxiety. Both my husband and I had tried over and over to reach the doctor to ask where he was and were not able to connect to him.

When he did finally arrive, I was crouched on our bedroom floor, holding a screaming baby on my knees, shivering and in shock. I was not able to pull the baby up to my chest because the umbilical cord was so short it would not reach. It was quite a sight. It was almost half an hour after the baby was born.

The doctor helped cut the cord, deliver the placenta and cleaned up, then left. I was still in shock.

I didn’t hear from him for more than a week. I finally texted him asking if he would like to see the baby and make sure everything was ok? He wrote back saying yes, come in tomorrow.

When I went to see him, he acted like everything was fine. The emotions I was feeling were still so raw that I was on the edge of tears the whole time, being angry and hurt at the whole situation. The fact that he had not reached out since had only poured salt on a very open wound.

And here is the connection.

Everything is Energy, & Energy is Everything

In India, the Hindu’s believe we all have seven chakras which are centres of energy. One of them, the fifth chakra, resides in the throat. It is responsible for our ability to express our feelings, needs and desires. To speak our truths. To be honest with ourselves, and express that truth to others.


Here is a chart which briefly describes each of the chakras
Image from Andrew Noske

The symbol for the throat chakra

In Chinese Medicine, the emotions are actually considered a cause of disease.

In Chinese Medicine, there is an acupuncture point that I have used for this exact purpose for many, many years. It is called REN 22 and is located at the base of the throat, on the midline, in the depression between the two clavicles. Using this point clears any stagnation occurring there and helps the recipient to express themselves freely.

Ren 22 Acupuncture Point - From A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman

When Emotions are Unresolved

The pain and trauma of the birth of my daughter lingered, unresolved, and unexpressed. Shock was followed by a deep depression which has lingered and is still with me, like an uninvited friend.

Interestingly, I have been doing a lot of research on grief for a new project I am working on. One of the books I was reading was written by a woman who had lost her infant daughter, shortly after she was born. She never recovered from her death and ended up making a career counselling others suffering with traumatic grief - something she deeply understood. Her story was both heartbreaking and uplifting, and the book was filled with stories of her clients and the horrific stories that lead to their own grief. I found myself crying a lot reading those stories, and some of the times I tried to hold back my tears, something interesting happened.

I felt a pain.

A searing pain, and the epicentre was the lump in my neck.

My grief had literally manifested as a mass right next to my throat chakra.

 

I know this may seem far fetched to some people, and I understand. But from everything I know and have learned in my life and work, and the feelings that came when I made these connections, I believe this is what happened.

Many doctors visits, consultations, tests and ultrasounds later, I did have that lump removed in a surgery a couple of weeks ago. That process alone was an exercise in expressing what I needed and was very cathartic. The surgeon told me that the lump was in fact much bigger and went much deeper than expected, but that the surgery went well and they got everything out. A biopsy revealed that it was benign. Buddha bless me.

My husband tells me that after the surgery when I was still under the effects of the sedative, they brought in a little bottle and showed me the lump itself. He said I looked at it for a long time. I don’t remember anything from those few hours afterwards, which deeply disappointed my husband because he said he was being so wonderful, loving and attentive. Ha.

The Moral of the Story

So, why am I telling you this? I am sharing this story because I believe that it is relevant. I have seen so much of this with the people I know in my life and with my patients over the years. So many of us have things that have hurt us. Demons we are running from, pains that we dragging from our pasts into our present and things that are hurting us in our everyday lives, as we live them. It is unavoidable. It isn't always easy to express those feelings and the thing about our society is that many of us have never been taught how to do so. Emotional intelligence is so important for our health and wellbeing, and yet, so many of us struggle to become aware of how we feel, acknowledge how we feel, and then allow ourselves to feel it.

When I was able to finally take some time and think about this lump in my neck, then look back on what was happening in my life when I first remember it being there, I was able to make the connection. And the more I thought about it, the more obvious it became. This was a hugely painful event that I was not able to verbalize, even to myself. I was trying to be thankful for having a healthy baby girl and not focus on the negative. And this is what we are told. Be positive. Look on the bright side. And while that is all well and good, sometimes there are unpleasant things that are happening, and we must acknowledge that they are there and deal with them, too. I am saying this to myself (maybe more) as much as to you. But it was so clear, that it felt like a huge lesson from the universe, and I am passing it on in the hope that it may help you, too.

P.S.

 


Here is a photo of the scar. It will forever be a reminder of how important it is that I express
my feelings and speak my truth, to others, and to myself. 

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Featured image by

Matt Botsford


Chinese Holistic Medicine Could Be The Ideal All-Round Treatment For Stress

By Sally Perkins

Western medicine has long espoused its own benefits while prescribing treatments from eastern and Chinese medicines as complementary. However, research is beginning to show that Chinese medicine can stand on its own two feet when it comes to certain conditions, including stress, as outlined in an influential study conducted by the University of Edmonton. When conducted with the supervision of experts and in a controlled manner, an anti-stress regimen lead entirely by Chinese medicine can be very effective.

Treatment Without Intrusion

Chinese medicine can effectively mitigate stress without ever requiring the prescription of medicine. Stress is a serious condition that impacts countless people and while many will brush it off on the odd occasion, several flare ups of stress can lead to long term consequences. As stress can strike anywhere – the commute to work being a common place, in addition to the comfort of the home – it’s important to find methods that can be called on for relief at any time. Chinese medicine has long provided for this through routines like tai chi. One article by NBC noted studies that found tai chi could be the best way to improve sleep and reduce long term stress. Most importantly, exercises it provides can be conducted at a miniature scale throughout the day to deal with sharp rises in stress, as well as creating a lower background level.

Using Medication

Stress, when left untreated, can manifest as long term conditions such as anxiety and depression. From here, the best solution is often a mix of western medicine and psychological treatment. As a result, up to 1 in 6 Americans are prescribed with anti-anxiety drugs today. However, what if many people could tackle their stress before it develops into something more?


This photo by Gratisography on pexels.com

It goes without saying that many people are diagnosed with anxiety and depression for reasons other than overwhelming stress, but, for those who are, Chinese medicine can be used early and effectively to help alleviate symptoms and boost recovery. Acupuncture, for example, has been found by studies to have a statistically significant reduction on stress, according to one Metro summary.

A Way of Life

If medicine is not required, then Americans can look to some core beliefs in Chinese society that can help to alleviate stress. American life is very stressful; a Psychology Today analysis found that over 57% of those surveyed reported significant levels of stress. According to Viacom, a lower percentage reported such feelings in China, and a significant amount reported being happier. While there are many factors contributing to these findings, the basics of life seem important. According to Viacom’s research, Chinese people are 60% more likely to than others globally to take simple self-care steps to reduce stress, including walks, listening to positive music and connecting with family.

Stress is a complex condition, but there are more ways to deal with it than just the one. Chinese medicine is a proven way to tackle it holistically, though medication, self-care and relaxation techniques. Try looking at your self-care routines and adjusting them, with the guidance of your physician.


This image from Negative Space on pixels.com

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Featured image from Pixabay


What are Superfoods and Why Should I Care About Them?

By Dr. Kevin Curran of EthnoHerbalist

Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that deliver multiple benefits to our health and well-being.
Each superfood is different, but in general, these foods contain some combination of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial phytonutrients.

At the EthnoHerbalist, we are interested in the cultural history and biology of effective medicinal plants. So, as you move through my list, you will also learn a bit about the cultural history of each superfood.

Below is an excerpt of my alphabetical list of superfoods, click here for the full list.

Açai

Açai is a small purple berry from the rainforests of South America.
Indigenous tribes living in the Amazon basin have eaten these berries for
thousands of years. The Shuar tribe, a group native to Ecuador and Peru,
used the açai berry for medicinal purposes (immune strength, vitality). We
now know that these bright colored fruits contain lots of powerful
antioxidant pigment molecules called anthocyanins. Antioxidants have
been researched in regards to fighting certain cancers, reducing
cholesterol and heart diseases. Açai also contains oleic acid, the same
healthy fat that’s found in olive oil. Try buying unsweetened açai and
working the material into a fruit smoothie.

Almonds


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Almonds have always been highly regarded by humans. In ancient Egypt,
almonds were a prized ingredient in breads served to the Pharaohs.
Explorers transported this nut along theSilk Road, from Asia into the
Europe. Soon, almonds were flourishing amidst the Mediterranean
climates of Spain and Italy. In the 1700s, Spanish missionaries
introduced almonds into California. Today, almonds are a multi-billion
dollar business in California.
In the nut world, almonds are about as superfood as it gets. They offer
generous amounts of nutrient per serving. Almonds are especially high in
protein, fiber, B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, calcium, iron,
magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, choline, and potassium. They’re
also enriched with dietary fiber and various polyunsaturated fats that
may help lower LDL cholesterol. Try switching from peanut butter to
almond butter. It’s only a few bucks more per jar and you’re getting a
much more nutritious nut.

Amaranth

Amaranth has been used as a food source for about 8,000 years. The
Aztec people of ancient Mexico ate this plant often and even incorporated
amaranth into their religious ceremonies. It’s now regarded as a
superfood grain. Amaranth is high in protein and delivers a lot of energy
per serving. More importantly for people with gluten intolerance,
amaranth is one of the gluten-free grains.
Amaranth is also high in lysine, which is an amino acid often missing from
other popular grains.

Avocado

Avocados are the gift that keep on giving. You can eat them right out of
their skin or blend them into guacamole. The superfood is native to

central Mexico and have been enjoyed in this region for the past 10,000
years. The word avocado originates from the Aztec word for
testicle, ahuacatl. Clearly, these ancient Mexicans were referencing the
oblong, pear-shape of the fruit. A cup of avocado supplies you with high
amounts of fiber, protein, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, and
potassium. A clinical study found that eating avocados can improve the
lipid profile of both healthy people and people with high cholesterol levels.

Beets


Photo by FOODISM360 on Unsplash

Beets are the large root from the beet plant, Beta vulgaris. The original
beet, called wild seabeet, grew natively along the Indian coastline. Upon
discovering its thick edible roots, many cultures began domesticating the
beet throughout the Middle East. This purple superfood vegetable is
packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help strengthen our
body. In addition, preliminary research indicates that beetroot juice can
lower blood pressure in hypertensive animals. This opens the possibility
that beets can help people battle cardiovascular diseases.

Click here to see my entire alphabetical list of superfoods.

Question:
What is so special about garlic and broccoli and colorful fruits and veggies?
Answer:
Phytochemicals

To put it simply, phytochemicals are chemicals that are naturally
produced in plants. The prefix "phyto" means plant.
Phytochemicals are a collection of different chemical compounds that
can deliver all sorts of health benefits to the humans that eat
these plants.

You may have heard of some of these chemical groups:
 carotenoids
 flavonoids
 phytosterols
 fiber


Photo by Heather Seymour on Unsplash

Garlic is packed with allicin.
Broccoli and the other cruciferous veggies are enriched with glucosinolates.
Carotenoids and flavonoids are present in many of the colorful fruits and
veggies - including carrots, grapes, and blueberries.


Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

These phytochemicals are not as well known as the vitamins and minerals
that are also found in plants. We are just starting to figure out the
various ways phytochemicals interact with our body. Recent studies
demonstrate that phytochemicals offer multiple health benefits to our
body:

 antioxidant activity
 anti-inflammatory
 anti-diabetic
 lower LDL cholesterol

I think this is an exciting time in nutrition science. We are starting to
sort out all the ways phytochemicals interact with our own cell biology and physiology.
To learn more, read this article I just wrote. I summarize the actions of the main phytochemical groups.

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Delicious featured image photo by Maja Petric on Unsplash


Not Even The Chinese Doctor Can Save Him! The History of Chinese Medicine in Cuba

by John Voigt

The History of Chinese Medicine in Cuba

Throughout Cuba there is a common slang expression people use when someone is thought to be incurably sick: ¡A Ese No lo Salva, Ni el Medico Chino!  - Not Even The Chinese Doctor Can Save Him!

Not many know the origins of this phrase, or the man behind it. But that phrase and that man helped lay the foundation for an alternative healthcare revolution within a revolutionary country. In China he was born Chang Pon Piang. Having trouble pronouncing it,  Cubans called him Cham Bom Biam. Then to give himself a Spanish sounding name he called himself Juan Chambombián. We begin with a summary of the adventures of his life:

His Early History

Chang Pon Piang was born as one of the Hakka people, an ethnic group found in the Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau areas of southeastern China.  In the mid-nineteenth century these areas, along with most the rest of China, were in chaos: the last of the Opium Wars with Great Britain still raged; technological changes to the farming system put many out of work; there was a dramatic increase in the size of population. All that along with widespread political discontentment, natural disasters, banditry, and ethnic strife led many young people to look for work overseas.

Chang grew fascinated with the advertisements he saw that promised a better life by working in Cuba.  All that was needed was to sign an eight year contract. (Only men could sign. Chinese women were not allowed to enter Cuba.)

What was not mentioned on the posters was that this was no more than a scheme to trap unsuspecting young men into an eight year long indentured servitude at the pay of four pesos a month. Once in Cuba the émigré was usually sent to large sugar plantations and once there was treated like a indentured slave, (or “coolie” - 苦力; pinyin: kǔlì) meaning "bitter work" or "bitter use of force.”

The situation was so severe that in 1873 the imperial Chinese government sent investigators to Cuba to investigate the large number of suicides by Chinese laborers, as well as allegations of abuse and breach of contract by plantation owners. Shortly after, the Chinese labor trade was prohibited and the last ship carrying Chinese laborers reached Cuba in 1874. By 1877 a treaty was signed between China and Spain completely banning the contracting system. [Source]

In 1854 Chang Pon Piang entered Cuba with a contract for agricultural work in the province of Guamacaro, in the western province of Matanzas. Chang as many other Chinese of the time was familiar with herbal medicines. He had a working knowledge of the healing properties of certain herbs, roots, bark, leaves, grasses, fruits, even shells. Legend has it that as a field worker he was able to prepare medicines made from the roots of shrubs and tubers that saved many lives.

In 1858, four years before the contract was supposed to be over, somehow he escaped his servitude and began practicing medicine in Havana. His knowledge of botanical medicine served him well for the preparation of herbal teas, poultices, ointments, powders, soaps, and healing incenses.

He also knew about arsenic, mercury, and opium. This knowledge may have lead to his eventual downfall.

He grew successful in Havana; not only Chinese, but now Spanish, Afro-Cubans and people of mixed blood came to him for help. Other doctors began losing patients and because of that, along with a jealousy  triggered by Chambombián’s successes, they began a series of law suits against him. In 1863 Juan Chambombián was accused of the illegal practice of medicine. It was claimed that he was  practicing medicine without a license (which was probably true), and that he had just received a consignment of medicinal drugs from Chinese suppliers in San Francisco, California. To his accusers the techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) seemed bizarre, no more than unbelievable occult garbage. (“Imagine making medicine out of weeds, such utter nonsense.”) But what really made it unacceptable for the other doctors is that these “bogus” methods all too often worked better than their own!

in 1864 he was placed on trial. The judge and jury agreed with the doctors and Juan Chambombián was found guilty.  He lost his home and was forced to stay with Chinese friends. He soon he relocated fifty-six miles away to Matanzas and undaunted again began practicing Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM).  There he lived on 11 Calle Mercaderes (11 Merchants Street) in the Chinese district of that city. Again the allegations of practicing illegal medicine were raised; to his enemies he was no more than a charlatan, a mountebank, an unscrupulous foreigner cheating other people. With new court trials pending against him—and because of his having few patients—in either 1871 or 1872 (accounts differ) he moved to  Cárdenas, which had a large Chinese population. There he continued to develop his own medicines. He is said to have used rhubarb, aconite, sulfur, arsenic, and opium— along with folk medicines native to Cuba, and especially to its Afro-Cuban population—in his extensive collections of healing formulations along with the TCM medications he still continued to import from San Francisco.  He also worked at and operated a Chinese pharmacy, which gave him a way to make money and to find more patients for his private practice.

It was said he had a number of miraculous cures of clients said to be terminally ill by western doctors: those who had been blind could now see: those with paralyzed arms or legs could now move them. His fame began to spread throughout Cuba. Most likely it was during this time that the expression, Not Even The Chinese Doctor Can Save Him!—(meaning that a person was in such bad shape that not even a miracle worker such as Juan Chambombián could help them)—appeared.

To promote his own medical and business activities he would travel back and forth the ninety-seven miles between the cities of Cárdenas, Matanzas and Havana. In a Matanzas newspaper the following appeared:

CHAMBOMBIAN, this old Chinese doctor, authorized as a botanist by the government, sent a card to a newspaper of Matanzas in which he announced that he had invented a medicine to cure fevers and a patch to treat rheumatism. He also announced that he would next visit Matanzas, a city where he was well known and to whose inhabitants he offered his services, from his home at Calle Dragones 94 in Havana.

A month later in the same newspaper the following appeared (one should not be surprised if the enterprising Juan Chambombián had written both of these notices himself and paid for their publication):

Your enlightened mind and gifts exalt

your knowledge and appliance,

intelligence, and science,

to win applause from the world of thought;

a monument to you well wrought

where your historic fame will rest,

where memories will be the best

the living spirit to preserve;

itself enriched it will observe

with the laurels of your glorious quest.

Signed: Some friends.

Dr. Juan Chambombián was described as a tall statuesque man, with a solemn, if at times, bombastic bearing. He had small penetrating eyes, a slightly drooping mustache and a small skimpy goatee at the end of a long sloping chin. He spoke Spanish and some English with a quirky Chinese accent in a formal but artificial literary style. He dressed professionally in the manner of a western doctor: jacket, top-hat and loose fitting linen frock coat, which he often carried formally draped over his arm.  But he never forgot his humble past: when people came to him for medical treatments he would say, “If you have the money you pay. If you have no money you do not pay. I am no more than one simple man giving medicine to someone else.”

His Death: Was He Murdered?

One morning in 1872 (the exact date is unknown) Juan Chambombián was found dead in his home, in Cardenas.  He lived alone. He had seemed perfectly healthy the day before, and no cause of death could be determined.

Rumors began to spread. Given the lack of any physical trauma to his body it seemed likely that he had been poisoned—but by whom? There were many possibilities:  perhaps an irate local doctor infuriated that Juan Chambombián had taken away his clientele. Or perhaps by the relatives of a patient whom he was not able to save with his herbal medicines. It was possible that the death was accidental, that he was trying one of his newly prepared experimental medicines and it proved deadly. Or perhaps seeking longevity he prepared and drank some exotic version of a Daoist elixir of immortality—but the recipes for such elixirs might contain toxic substances such as lead, arsenic, and mercury, all chemicals which he owned. Or possibly he as many other Chinese in Cardenas became depressed and committed suicide.

And there had been whispered stories of a love affair gone wrong. He had children by eight different concubines. (No one knew the total number of lovers he had throughout his life. There are no extant records of his ever having married. At that time it was illegal for any Chinese person to marry a Caucasian; and back in China having many concubines was a common custom for rich men.)  One popular story had it that he was secretly murdered by one of his jilted mulatto concubines by her use of some secret African poison. Rumor also had it that it was she was the same person who had taught him the use of certain medicinal herbs. Others said she had brought about his death by the use of a Santeria curse. (Santeria is a cult like religion, a fusion of Yoruba [Nigerian] gods and goddess with holy figures taken from the Catholic Church.)

Santeria Central Havana / Author Bernardo Capellini / Source - Wikipedia Commons

A recent source  says that he is buried in the Chinese Cemetery in the Nuevo Vedado section of Havana (at Calle 26 & Zapata, Calle 26), and that the grave site is often covered with flowers or other offerings left by people hoping to be cured of some incurable disease.

It is no surprise that such a flamboyant and exceptional person as Dr. Juan Chambombián—along with the TCM that he practiced—would have its critics,  especially among the privileged upper classes. For example, sixteen years after his death he was mentioned in the lowest of terms as being a faith healer (which he was not) in a speech at the meeting in Havana of the Anthropological Society on March 4, 1888:

Even today among the most civilized nations abound in the lower classes of people, healers who exploit the innate good faith in men to cure diseases with a mixture of empirical remedies, and religious or mystical formulas that are a real medicine imagination; such as examples the treatment of erysipelas [an acute bacterial infection of the skin] saying prayers and making crosses on the diseased part, the various cures of Lourdes, trumpeted in all shades, and among us, not long ago, the supposed wonders of Chinese famous Chambombián.

Source: Revista Cubana: periódico mensual de ciencias, filosofía ... Volumen 7.

 

NOT EVEN THE CHINESE DOCTOR CAN SAVE HIM!  Began to be used to refer to other famous Chinese physicians of the 19th Century, although none ever would gain the legendary status of Juan Chambombián.  

Kan Shi Kom lived in at the corner of Rayo and San Jose streets in Havana. He died in 1885. According to historian Antonio Chuffat Latour the great pomp of his funeral made history in the city.

However not all stories about Chinese doctors are favorable.  According to one such fanciful tale, an unnamed doctor (some say it was Kan Shi Kom, others that it was Juan Chambombián—actually it is unclear who the doctor was or even if the story is true). In any case, the doctor is said to have made a decoction using the stems of the tronquillos verdes plant, which people called “chopsticks” because of its appearance.  He taught the preparation to a colleague, a Spanish doctor who soon after made some, drank it and died.  In the story, the inscription on the tomb of the unfortunate dead man read, "Here lies, against his will, Pancho Perez Vitaluga:  Good husband, good father, bad drinker. Died by helping the Chinese doctor." When the Chinese doctor, whoever it was, heard about the death, he was nonplused. Without showing any concern for the other man and just being concerned about his own medication all he said was, “Carumba! It seems that stick is poisonous.”  (¡Calamba, palece que ese palito son veneno! ).  And so was born another popular Cuban slang expression. [Source]

Chang Bu Bian - Don Damián Morales.  Some say this man was the Chinese doctor referred to in the saying “Not Even the Chinese Doctor Can Save Him!”  Beginning August 20th 1856 a series of Apocalyptic earthquakes accompanied by torrential rain storms struck Santiago de Cuba. To the inhabitants it seemed as if the world was ending. Many others from all over the island came to help, but unknowingly they brought with them cholera.  Throughout October the disease quickly spread. November brought new earthquakes and storms and even more occurrences of the disease. (By the end of the epidemic 2,000 people had died.) City Health employees refused to move the corpses to the cemetery. Sometimes the bodies of the victims remained for days crushed under the bricks of fallen buildings. Prisoners had to be brought from Havana to remove the rubble and bury the bodies in mass graves.

Near the peak of the epidemic, and seemingly in answer to the prayers of those still alive,  there appeared an apparent miracle worker: an Asian man claiming to be a doctor; but he didn’t give out any pills or powders, he only used a strange kind of massage never seen before. In fact what he was practicing was his version of tuina (massage) techniques he learned from a classic Chinese text of the sixteenth century, the  T'uei na pi-kieu, or Treaty of Massage.   

His massage was tortuously painful. With his index finger and thumb of his left hand he pressed certain tender points and tendons in the armpits of the patient and forcibly vibrated the flesh. At the same time with his right hand he pulled the skin over the larynx (Adam’s apple) producing a hematoma (a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues). He then would vigorously rub the patient’s shoulder blades and spine with his arms, elbows and knees. The patients suffered, but many of them were healed. [Source: “Cuban Characters.” thecubanhistory.com]

Chinese Siam - Juan de Dios Siam Zaldívar. Coming from Beijing in 1840 he originally was known by the names “Sián” or “El Siam”, or “Chinese Siam.” Unlike most other Chinese immigrants, he entered Cuba with 20,000 Spanish gold pesos. Using his version of TCM he brought about many cures, which not surprisingly frightened certain inhabitants of Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, the city in which he lived. Rumors spread that he was some sort of a black magic wizard in league with strange demonic forces. But all that changed when during a religious procession, El Siam unexpectedly knelt before a statue of the Virgin of Veracruz; after which he was considered a Christian.  He made it official by being baptized on April 25, 1850, taking on the name Juan de Dios Siam Zaldívar—but remaining true to ancient customs, he signed his new name with a Chinese calligraphy brush. He had two families, one with his wife, a white woman, and another with a black mistress. Today descendants of both branches are proud of their famous ancestor. Possessing a great fortune, he died in 1885.

[Source]

These legends about the outstanding Chinese doctors of the nineteenth century helped create a foundation for the widespread use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in 21st century Cuba. This is addressed in my next article, Traditional Chinese Medicine in Today’s Cuban Health Care.

This entry originally appeared as part of “Traditional Chinese Medicine in Cuba” in Qi Journal, vol. 26/3; autumn 2016. 

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Images

Juan Chambombián in Chinese clothing.
Source: https://www.artsy.net/show/taikang-space-portrait-hot-taikang-photography-collection

Juan Chambombián as a young man of about 20 years old soon after his arrival in Havana in 1854.
The photography was damaged in a hurricane.
Source: http://hojassdeprensa.blogspot.com/2011/09/cham-bom-bia-el-famoso-medico-chino-de.html

Juan Chambombián in his western doctor suit.
October 20, 2010 Opus Habana Magazine.

Santeria Centro Habana / Author Bernardo Capellini
Source: Wikipedia Commons

Author John Voigt in Havana at a paladar (a small private restaurant in a family home) mulling over
the cause of the death of Dr. Juan Chambombián.
Source: Author.

Chinese cemetery in Havana where Juan Chambombián is buried.
Source: Tripadvisor.  

 



Osteoporosis: Western & Eastern Medicine

Osteoporosis in Western Medicine

By The National Council for Aging Care

Are you one of the 44 million people at risk for Osteoporosis?

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 44 million Americans aged 50 and older either have or face the threat of developing osteoporosis. Projections put this number at more than 60 million by 2020. Across the world, a fracture due to osteoporosis happens about once every three seconds, causing nearly 9 million fractures—just from stress being put on weak bones.

Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that causes the loss of bone mass and bone tissue.

There are little to no symptoms of the disease, so easily breaking a bone may be the first sign that you have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis can develop from a wide range of reasons, including:
• Menopause
• Cancer
• Poor diet
• Autoimmune Disorders
• Medications
• Excessive alcohol consumption
• Tobacco use
• Inactive lifestyle (not regularly exercising)
• Diet lacking in vitamin C and vitamin D

Continue reading to discover the symptoms, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Defined: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments - By The National Council For Aging

Osteoporosis in Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

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.

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

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

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

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.

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

  • 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.

Acupuncture and Osteoporosis

In conclusion, my best advise 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.

*Beautiful featured image photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash


Cancer & Chinese Medicine - Part 3

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Treatment of Cancer with Chinese Medicine

Because of the way that Chinese medicine looks at health and the human body, the treatments for any disease in Chinese medicine are varied and complex. In Chinese medicine, a practitioner is not treating cancer, they are treating YOUR cancer. And they are not in effect treating the cancer, they are treating you. In essence, Chinese medicine works to treat the person, not the disease. And although this might sound like a nice tagline, it is the way Chinese medicine works, and why it is so effective.

When a patient comes in with a diagnosis from a Western doctor of cancer, the first thing we do, is to look at what is happening in the body and what is causing the cancer. We do not just treat the cancer, because if you treat the cancer without fully understanding why it has occurred in the first place, then even if you do manage to get rid of the cancer, the factors that created it are still present and the cancer will return. This is the reason why looking at absolutely everything about a persons health, be it physical, emotional and especially their lifestyle is integral to successfully treating any disease in Chinese medicine. The cancer is the symptom, so we must, as practitioners, find the root.

There are literally an infinite amount of factors that contribute to diseases, especially one as complex as cancer, so the search for the cause or, more likely, causes is not an easy task. Many factors are things I wrote about previously in this article - nutrition, toxins, unresolved or unexpressed emotions, the quality of our water, stress, the list goes on. This vast ocean of potential causes is the reason why the practitioner of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) does such a thorough intake and asks many questions at each session, trying to collect as much information as possible. Something I always tell my patients when we are talking is that they should tell me everything, no matter how silly or seemingly irrelevant it may seem, because in my experience, everything is significant and is another piece of the puzzle that I am trying to create for each patient to get to the bottom of their present condition.

As a side note, this is why many times patients will ask why, if they have come in for sleep problems, would I be asking about their digestion or emotional state? I tell them it is all connected and we do not draw distinctions in a holistic model of medicine. It is not the reductionist model of allopathic or Western medicine that likes to reduce the body into parts, focussing on each if it breaks down. In a holistic system, every part functions synergistically with all the others, they cannot function in isolation. Every part affects every other part. This is the reason that we need a picture of the whole to determine what is going on, and why it works so well, because treatments are tailored to the individual. Cancer can arise from a myriad of reasons, so we need to understand why the cancer has manifested, correct those imbalances and the body will readjust to a healthy balance and the cancer should disappear. Chinese medicine believes in the body's powerful and innate healing abilities, so when we are diagnosing we must ask ourselves: "what it is that is blocking the healing process? Why is the healing not being allowed to occur?" Chinese medicine also believes that if the body has everything it needs, then health and certainly healing will be the result. Disease is just the body's way of telling us that something is missing, and needs attention. This is why listening to your body is also so important for your health. Your body will always tell you when things are not right. At the beginning when the imbalance is only minor, it may only be a whisper, which gradually moves to a full blown yell by the time we get to a very severe imbalance which is what we see in cases like cancer. Learning to listen to the subtle communications of your body is such a good way to be able to correct things before they become more serious and practice what Chinese medicine is all about - preventative medicine.

Self Love and Loving Kindness

One of the biggest things that practicing Chinese medicine has taught me has not been about medicine at all. It has been about the pain and the immense struggles that human beings go through in life, and often, on a daily basis. The things that I have heard from my patients over the years about what they have been through have been humbling to say the least. As I am a highly sensitive person who can strongly feel what others are feeling simply by being in the room with them, this information, at least at first, was very difficult to process. Hearing stories of such pain and suffering took a toll emotionally and I quickly had to learn to manage those feelings so that I would not be consumed by them (because they could also make me sick!). This also taught me something very valuable. That I could never, ever judge someone from what they were projecting on the outside, because I realized that I had no idea what was going on in their life and what struggles they were facing. It gave me enormous empathy for people, especially ones who were rude or otherwise unpleasant to be around. It also made me realize why people get sick as I began to see a correlation with these struggles and pain, and the kinds of illnesses that people develop. Many people are suffering alone because they feel they have to. Many people have no outlet for such problems or simply do not want to burden others. I think this is what we desperately need from each other. We need each others kindness, love and understanding. We need to really listen to each other and not just wait for our turn to speak.

The other part of this is that I think we need to be kinder to ourselves. To look at any TV reality show or movie you would think this was insane. From what we see in the media, it seems that we are a hedonistic bunch, very capable of looking after ourselves, and only ourselves, and that is certainly the culture we are living in these days. It feeds this kind of narcissism. But, in my experience, overwhelmingly, people are working hard, sleeping less, and struggling more. It seems to be getting harder, certainly in the last generation or two, to get ahead and be able to live a simple life and provide for our families. Gone are the days when someone could have the same job working at the same company for their entire lives or that a married couple could survive, and even thrive on the salary of one working person. Children now leave school saddled with so much debt that they cannot afford to leave home, and things like social security are something my generation and the ones after will never see. It is these things, these stresses in our lives that contribute to disease. We must all have hope. We must all believe that we can achieve our dreams and make a life for ourselves if we are smart and work towards that goal.

Self love is a hard thing for a lot of people, and it is something I talk to a lot of my patients about. We are all energetic beings, and when we are so stressed and exhausted by modern life, it is difficult to find the time to take proper care of ourselves. And this is so important for our health. Having the intention of being kind to ourselves, eating well, spending time with our friends and people we love, doing things that feed us energetically and make us happy are just as important to health as herbs and acupuncture. And this goes back to listening. If you have had a particularly stressful day at work, or have had a particularly negative interaction with a stranger on the way home, recognize how it is making you feel and take the time to cleanse that energy and feed yourself to build yourself up again. Take a walk in the park and breathe deeply the cool, clean air. Have a hot bath and read that book that you have been meaning to start for weeks. Make yourself something delicious and eat it mindfully, really savouring it. These are the things that recharge batteries and let your body and psyche know that you love it and are taking care of it. In the cases of cancer that I have treated and indeed in so many of the illnesses that I treat, there is a definite connection to this loss of self love and care. Think of these personal acts of kindness as medicine of prevention. It is your health insurance policy, a way to make sure you never get sick.

In conclusion, when it comes to a disease as complex as cancer, there are many factors at play both in its development and treatment. In a holistic system like Chinese medicine, it is not the cancer that is important, it is determining why the cancer has manifested and making corrections necessary so that the cancer is both able to resolve itself, as well as not be recreated in the future. In contrast, in a Western model of medicine, giving chemotherapy or radiation without any investigation to the causes, the factors at play in the persons life, no nutritional counseling, no inquiry to the persons emotional life might lead to a temporary remission of the present cancer, but it will no doubt return as the circumstances that created it are still present. This is not to say that Western medicine does not have its benefits, not at all. I only say that the approach to healing is different, and in my opinion, by not looking at the system as a whole, there is so much that is missing. Treating cancer, like any other disease is a delicate balance of searching for the reasons that it has manifested, dealing with them thoroughly especially any emotional ones, rebalancing the system and giving the body, mind and spirit everything it needs to thrive allowing us to regain our health so we can be healthy, happy human beings.


Cancer and Chinese Medicine - Part 2

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Nutrition - The Biggest Weapon Against Cancer

It is always amazing to me that patients receiving conventional treatments for cancer (chemotherapy and radiation) are given little to no information about what to eat. I know because I always ask if there was any nutritional counseling that went with the other therapies and more often than not, the answer is no. This shows an alarming lack of understanding about how important what we eat is to our health, and especially in the case of cancer.

I think that the correlation between what we eat and our overall health is understood by many industries, and certainly by many informed people, but the cancer industry (and I say that because it has turned into an industry), seems to be decades behind. Now, without getting into why that might be (which would be a whole other article), let's just say that there is a tonne of evidence to suggest that our food can both give us cancer and help keep us healthy so that we never get cancer. Food is also a powerful weapon in detoxing the body and healing from a cancer that already exists.

Foods to Avoid

Sugar

In my opinion, the number one thing to know concerning diet and cancer is to stop eating sugar. Completely. It is literally the food that cancer eats. The tests that Western medicine uses to find and diagnose cancer in the body, called PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans, actually inject glucose - a type of sugar - and watch the cancer gravitate to it because sugar is what cancer eats. Eliminating sugar from your diet is the most important thing to do if you are either struggling with cancer, or having health issues in general. Sugar is a poison to the body, and most people in the developed world eat far too much of it. Now, let me be clear, I am talking about refined sugar which is in a huge amount of our foods, especially processed foods. There are naturally occurring sugars in things like fruits, and although we need some of these, it is a good idea to cut back when you are trying to heal from cancer. Refined foods of all types should be avoided whenever possible, and refined sugar is the worst of all.

Chemicals

We also have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of chemicals used in our foods, many of which are untested on human beings and cause harm to not only us, but pollute the earth we live on, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Our food becomes more and more processed all the time with the addition of these dangerous chemicals, and our bodies are not designed to deal with them. There are also the dizzying amounts of chemicals in other products that we use in our homes, like makeup and personal care products, soaps and detergents, cleaning products, gardening products, etc.. not to mention toxic chemicals that are the byproducts of industries which are released into our soil, water and air.

It is a good idea BEFORE you get sick to have a look at how many of these chemicals you have in your home and are coming into contact with on a daily basis so that you can eliminate any that are not absolutely necessary. I would always recommend eating fresh, local, organic food (more about that below), using completely natural beauty and personal care products free of toxic ingredients, make sure the water you are drinking is as clean as possible and limit any environmental toxins that you can. All these toxins combine to place a huge burden on our immune systems which we need to be at full strength to keep us disease free.

Eat Real Food

Because of the philosophy of living as harmoniously with nature as possible, this obviously bleeds into the foods we consume as well. I believe that many of our current health problems as a society are due to the UN-natural nature of the foods that we eat. Small farms are disappearing and being replaced by large-scale factory farms, our soil is depleted of essential vitamins and nutrients, and men in hazmat suits spray toxic herbicides and fungicides on the foods we are supposed to confidently feed our families. It is becoming increasingly difficult to even understand food labels, and corporations spend billions of dollars to keep what is actually IN our foods off the labels, which is certainly a worrying trend and not designed to make us feel confident about what is being put into our food.

My solution is to keep it simple. Eat as few processed foods as possible (this means anything in a box or can that has been altered from its natural state), eat as many fresh, local and organic foods as possible. Keep your diet mostly plant-based, especially if you have cancer. If possible, grow as much of your food as you can in a backyard or front yard garden. Vertical gardens are awesome for this! If you have limited space or live in an apartment, make friends with a local farmer, or frequent a farmers market. Also, take time to lovingly prepare meals for you and your family. Energetically, this is important too. Be mindful and thankful to the food you are eating for sharing its life force with you. Being grateful is also a powerful tool and beneficial to your health and the way you feel.

Acid & Alkaline Foods

Disease thrives in an acidic environment and cancer is no exception. As a culture, we eat a disproportionate amount of acidic foods (as you will probably see the list below) and precious few alkaline ones. Use the information below as a guide and a good way to begin is to slowly start replacing acidic foods with alkaline ones. It may seem hard at first (because who doesn't love a burger every once in a while?), but you will soon notice how much better you will feel, as that you will no longer have the cravings for the fatty, sugary foods that are so acid forming once they have been out of your system for a while. I promise you will definitely feel a difference!

Acidic Foods

**Note - there are different ways to measure the acidity and alkalinity of foods, but this one - from Energise for Life - makes the distinction of measuring a foods acidity and alkalinity AFTER it has been ingested - therefore, how it is affecting your body. If you would like to have a copy of a good few charts detailing acid and alkaline foods, you can find them here - Energise For Life.

Below is a list of acidic foods. If dealing with cancer, cut out as many of these as possible (I would recommend ALL) and introduce alkaline foods as an alternative. Remember, cancer thrives in an acidic environment.

Acidic Foods

Look yummy? *sigh*, I know. But these foods are highly acidic. Try eating some cucumber instead!

MEAT

  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Clams
  • Corned Beef
  • Eggs
  • Lamb
  • Lobster
  • Mussels
  • Organ Meats
  • Venison
  • Fish
  • Oyster
  • Pork
  • Rabbit
  • Sausage
  • Scallops
  • Shellfish
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Veal

DAIRY & EGGS

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Whey
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts & Seeds!
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Oils!
  • Cooked Oil
  • Solid Oil (Margarine)
  • Oil Exposed to Heat,
  • Light or Air
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Ice Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Soy Cheese
  • Eggs

FRUIT

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Grapes
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tropical Fruits
  • Berries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberries
  • Currants
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Orange
  • Pineapple
  • Plum

NUTS & SEEDS

  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts

DRINKS

  • Alcohol
  • Black Tea
  • Coffee
  • Carbonated Water
  • Pasteurized Juice
  • Cocoa
  • Energy Drinks
  • Sports Drinks
  • Colas
  • Tap Water
  • Milk
  • Green Tea
  • Decaffeinated Drinks
  • Flavoured Water

SWEETENERS

  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Carob
  • Corn Syrup
  • Fructose
  • Processed Sugar
  • Saccharine
  • Sucrose
  • Sucralose
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup

OILS

  • Cooked Oil
  • Solid Oil (Margarine)
  • Oil Exposed to Heat,
  • Light or Air

SAUCES

  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Soy Sauce
  • Pickles
  • Vinegar
  • Tabasco
  • Tamari
  • Wasabi

OTHER

  • Mushrooms
  • Miso
  • White Breads, Pastas,
  • Rice & Noodles
  • Chocolate
  • Chips
  • Pizza
  • Biscuits
  • Cigarettes
  • Drugs
  • Candy

Alkaline Foods

Some super yummy alkaline foods. They look fresh, cleansing and delicious, don't they? ;)

VEGETABLES

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Chilli
  • Capsicum/Pepper
  • Courgette/Zucchini
  • Dandelion
  • Snow Peas
  • Green Beans
  • String Beans
  • Runner Beans
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Wakame
  • Kelp
  • Collards
  • Chives
  • Endive
  • Chard
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet Potato
  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrot
  • Beetroot
  • Eggplant/Aubergine
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Watercress
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Broad Beans
  • New Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish

FRUIT

  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Fresh Coconut

GRAINS & BEANS

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Brown Rice
  • Chia/Salba
  • Kamut
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Nuts & Seeds!
  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Flax Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Oils!
  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Flax Oil
  • Udo’s Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Lentils
  • Lima Beans
  • Mung Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Red Beans
  • Soy Beans
  • White Beans

GRASSES

  • Wheatgrass
  • Barley Grass
  • Kamut Grass
  • Dog Grass
  • Shave Grass
  • Oat Grass

NUTS & SEEDS

  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Flax Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds

OILS

  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Flax Oil
  • Udo’s Oil
  • Olive Oil

BREADS

  • Sprouted Bread
  • Sprouted Wraps
  • Gluten/Yeast Free
  • Breads & Wraps

SPROUTS

  • Soy Sprouts
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Amaranth Sprouts
  • Broccoli Sprouts
  • Fenugreek Sprouts
  • Kamut Sprouts
  • Mung Bean Sprouts
  • Qionoa Sprouts
  • Radish Sprouts
  • Spelt Sprouts

This comprehensive list of acid and alkaline foods came from a great chart I found from energiseforlife.com There is an 8 page PDF that you may download with more information which can be found here - Acid & Alkaline Food Information.

Water

Water is also something that I don't think people think about enough in terms of health. I think there is a misconception that if we are drinking bottled water and not water out of the tap that we are somehow safe from many pollutants that may be in our waterways and make their way into water processing plants. Unfortunately, this has been shown not to be true, and many bottled waters' are just as unhealthy as drinking straight out of the tap. If you must drink tap water, find out from your local city or town, what they are adding to it. Is there flouride in it? What levels of certain contaminants are acceptable as far as they are concerned? Do some research. If you have a water filtration system, again, do your research and get one that filters out as many undesirable chemicals as possible. Water is incredibly important for our health and it is worth the effort to be drinking the healthiest and cleanest water possible. The good news is, that there are many good water filtration systems out there that will allow you to enjoy clean, healthy water which is essential for a strong, healthy body.

Emotions

Expressing emotions freely is just as important to our health as a strong, flexible body.

I really feel that the emotions do not get enough attention or recognition for the role they play in our health. This is another area that seems often entirely left out of the diagnostic as well as the healing process in Western medicine. In Chinese medicine, the emotions are just as important as what is physically happening in our bodies. The two are inseparable and when someone is going through the intake process with a doctor of Chinese medicine, there are a lot of questions inquiring about a person's emotional life. You may be wondering how much of a role the emotions can play in a disease as devastating as cancer. My answer is - a HUGE one.

In my experience with my own cancer patients, the emotions are often where it starts. Complex and serious diseases often begin with extremely stressful, difficult, and emotionally devastating events that the body is simply not able to cope with. Preceding almost every case of serious disease I have treated, there was either one or a series of extremely stressful/emotional or difficult events that the patient had to contend with. I have made this observation over and over again. The body can handle a lot, but it has its limits, and the way we live along with the pressures and stresses we are under often are too much for our bodies and psyches to bear which can result in disease and illness.

In terms of how this relates to the emotions I want to be clear, it is not HAVING emotions that can make us sick, in Chinese medicine, it is how we deal with our emotions that is the key. In modern culture, at least in North America, we are not taught what I like to call "emotional intelligence". We spend decades in school learning how to live in this world, but I find that so many of the most important things that we need to be healthy and happy in our lives are missing. How to express our emotions in a healthy way is one of them. This expression is important not only to our health but to our happiness and well-being as well. So often our emotions can come out in hurtful or destructive ways to ourselves or the people around us, or worse, they are held in where they fester and eventually turn into disease. So, find healthy ways to express the emotions you are having. Write, talk to a friend, acknowledge them, process them in a healthy way and let them go. They are taking up precious space, that, once they are dealt with and let go, can be replaced with lovely things like love and light, happiness and feelings of joy and gratitude.

Managing Stress

Stress is something we hear about a lot and I believe is also a huge factor is our health and well-being. Stress is something I ask every single patient about both in our initial consultation, and at almost every visit. I give it a one to ten scale and ask patients to rate where their stress is in relation to that scale. Most people are at the top end, and many have become resigned to living there. Stress is difficult to avoid, but what we do have control over is how we deal with it. Managing the stress we are feeling is the key, not eliminating it altogether. I am not even sure if that is possible considering the world we live in. I have seen patients doing everything right - eating the right foods, exercising, sleeping enough, really taking care of themselves and still they get sick. Those cases very often lead back to stress. You can't work hard to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle but be in an unhealthy relationship that is driving you crazy or going to a job that you hate every day and still expect to be the picture of health. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work like that. In Chinese medicine, as in life, it is all about balance.

One of my keys to managing stress is meditating. Now the thought of meditating can be intimidating for some people and I understand that. This doesn't mean having to give up all your worldly possessions, shaving your head and going to live in a cave in the Himalayas. That is totally cool if that is how you want to do it, but what I am talking about for the rest of us is just taking some time for yourself every day to sit quietly and try to empty your thoughts. In our hectic, modern lives, we hardly ever get a chance to do this. Stop. Listen. Relax. Breathe deeply. Meditating is like a gift you give yourself. It benefits your brain, your nervous system, your heart and your psyche. Think of it as preventative medicine. I think we all need to start thinking about medicine and health differently and Chinese medicine can teach us how to do it. Do small things every day. Tend your garden (the body and spirit), and disease will never develop. Disease cannot thrive in a healthy garden.

If you would like to read about a bit of a hardcore immersion into meditation (and the amazing benefits that it yielded) you can read about my two intense Vipassana meditation retreat experiences. They are not quite the shaving your head and disappearing into the Himalayas, but they were definitely the most intense meditation experiences I have ever had. They were also the most edifying and positively life-changing experiences of my life.

 


Integrative Approaches to Cancer Palliative Care

By Dr. Kevin Curran

Dr. Kevin Curran, a cell biology professor, and Dr. Walter Tsang, an oncologist, have co-written a summary about integrative approaches to palliative care. Serious diseases, like cancer, often lead to some incredibly uncomfortable side effects. Often, there are no traditional medicines available to treat these issues. In these moments, it is good to remember that there are alternative remedies that can be very effective in relieving the problem.

A Review of Effective Treatment Options for Cancer - Related Palliative Care

By Walter Tsang MD and Kevin Curran PhD

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a form of medical care that is focused on providing relief from the symptoms of a serious illness.

A serious illness, such as cancer, creates many stressful and uncomfortable symptoms (nausea, fatigue, anxiety). These symptoms may be caused by the biological progression of the disease or they may be the side effects of the treatment.

Palliative care seeks to improve the quality of life for the patient and the patient's family by providing relief from the symptoms of an illness and the side effects of treatment.

An integrative approach to palliative care includes both conventional and alternative treatment options.

  • Conventional therapy includes:  prescription drugs, surgery, chemotherapy
  • Alternative therapy includes:  herbal supplements, vitamins, diet, probiotics

It makes sense to be open to the best possible palliative care. Often, the best treatment includes a combination of both conventional and alternative therapy. Below, we summarize the most effective integrative approaches to common symptoms experienced by patients struggling with a serious illness.

Read Full Article Here - A Review of Effective Treatment Options for Cancer - Related Palliative Care

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Featured image photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash


Cancer and Chinese Medicine - Part 1

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Cancer and Chinese Medicine

I get a lot of people writing to me, telling me that someone they love has been diagnosed with cancer and asking if there is anything Chinese medicine can do. This is a good question, but it has a complex answer. It means looking at a disease like cancer in a completely different way than we have all been taught to look at it through the eyes of science, which is difficult especially if the world science is all you have ever known.

To begin a discussion about cancer and Chinese medicine, we must first gain an understanding of where Chinese medicine came from, the philosophy behind it, and a little bit about how it works. Let us begin.

The Proliferation of Cancer in Modern Society

For at least the last fifty years there seems to have been an explosion in cancers, especially in industrialized nations. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed and 600,920 cancer deaths in the US in 2017. According to a WHO report, there has been an alarming increase in cancer rates all over the world. The report also states that:

"Globally, life expectancy has increased from 45 years in 1950 to 66 years in 2000, but the population of the world is aging rapidly—the median age will have risen from 23.5 years in 1950 to 36.5 years in 2050. By 2050, more than 20 percent of the population will be 60 years and over, versus 10 percent in 2000. By comparison, the number of cancer deaths increased by 35 percent during the period 1985-1997. The report states that “[w]hile extending life expectancy is desirable in itself, it is equally important that increased expectancy is accompanied by freedom from any prospect of years of suffering as a consequence of chronic diseases, pain or disability.”

Why is There So Much Cancer?

Why is this? Why has there been such an apparent increase in the numbers of people getting cancer in the world? Perhaps our diagnostic methods have gotten better, and there is certainly truth in that. Perhaps people are taking better care of their health and going for regular checkups more than they have in past years and that is also probably true. But would these factors account for the explosive numbers of cancer diagnoses in the past half a century?

Living in an Unhealthy Way

In my experience and opinion, these are not the main factors contributing to the huge numbers of cancer being diagnosed every year, it is the way we are LIVING. And what you may ask, do I mean by that? Well, that is what I am going to try to tell you. Most human beings on this planet, save a few communities scattered around the world, are living in a way that is not conducive to health. This lifestyle becomes more toxic every year resulting in more disease, mental health problems, addictions, violent crimes, and suicides. We are an unhealthy and deeply unhappy culture.

Chinese Medicine and the Importance of Lifestyle

Our culture, with its ambitions, innovation, and reliance on technology as well as its obsession with bigger, faster and MORE has largely become disconnected from the way we were designed to live on this planet. We have, as a people, become disconnected from our true nature. This idea goes far beyond the reaches of Chinese medicine, this is a human being issue that touches each and every one of us regardless of religion, race, gender or nationality. But for the purposes of this discussion, let us talk about Chinese medicine, and how it views the human being and how it is designed to live in a harmonious and healthy way. I feel like the name Chinese medicine really limits the seemingly endless wisdom that encompasses what it represents. People think, oh yes, Chinese medicine means things like acupuncture and smelly herbs, but in fact, Chinese medicine grew out of Eastern philosophy that had been explored and understood for thousands of years, a wisdom that many people seldom encounter in their day to day lives. Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher credited with developing Taoism (or Daoism) is where much of Chinese medicine wisdom springs from. In Taoist philosophy, the person is connected to every other living creature, the planet and the universe itself. They are all one energy and indivisible. You cannot separate them into parts, or you would be hurting the sum total. Whatever happens to one part, also happens to the whole.

this incredible illustration from theawesomedaily.com

Our Relationship with Nature

What people have been doing (and only really for about the last 10,000 years, starting after the beginning of agriculture by then hunter gatherers), is that we decided in our wisdom that we did not belong in the throng with the rest of the plants and animals, living harmoniously within the perfectly balanced web of life. We began to have delusions of grandeur and wanted more for ourselves. It was at this point in history that people removed themselves from the food chain and started to grow crops, and begin to have more than they needed. This move also began a long descent into a relationship with nature that was no longer symbiotic and mutually beneficial, human beings began to try to dominate and control nature for their own personal gain.

A Medicine of Prevention

According to the philosophy behind Chinese medicine, a person doesn’t wait until they get sick in order to correct the illness. This philosophy teaches a way of life. The philosophy is intensely pragmatic, understanding (in a way that many modern people have forgotten) that living in a healthy way, or preventatively, is a much better approach to health that waiting until things become catastrophic (i.e., a disease) to correct the problem. So how did Chinese people live preventatively? Well, for the sake of explanation I love to use the analogy from the wonderful book Between Heaven and Earth - that the body is like a garden. You must tend your garden for it to flourish and grow. You must go out into your garden every day, pull weeds, water and inspect your plants to see what the garden needs. Small changes every day are much easier than large changes every few years, often when it is too late. This, in a nutshell, is the philosophy of Chinese medicine and part of what makes it so effective. That said, because of the ways that Chinese medicine describe the body, the organs, qi and their relationships, it is also excellent for correcting diseases when they do arise, and this is why it is so effective, even after 5000 years, at treating modern diseases in the Western world.

Waiting Until It's Too Late

In the West, we tend to wait until something is quite wrong before we seek medical attention. We wait until something hurts, there is a pain we can no longer ignore, a lump or some other symptom before we go to the doctor to get it checked out. We are not taught the value of living in a healthy, balanced way and instead, we rely on doctors, surgeons, and pharmaceuticals to cure our ills when they come up. It is a different approach, and we are not entirely to blame because it is the way we were taught by our parents before us and that thinking is galvanized by advertising as well as the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry. This reliance on medications and complex surgeries seems to have increased also in the past fifty years (and is increasing all the time) as we become more and more disconnected from nature, each other and ourselves. In a country like the United States where people spend more than any other country on health care, they are some of the sickest people on the planet. Do you see something wrong there? In a PBS newshour report published in July of 2016, the United States saw a rise in healthcare spending that reached a mind boggling $3.35 trillion dollars which works out to $10,345 for every man woman and child. The report also stated that US healthcare spending is wildly unbalanced reporting that about 5% of the population, which encompasses the most frail and ill, accounts for nearly half of all healthcare spending in any given year.

this amazing illustration from theawesomedaily.com

A Healthy Way of Life

To give a brief overview of the “way of life” that the Taoists were talking about and Chinese peoples subscribe to, as I said above, Chinese medicine is a medicine of prevention. This means that there is a constant awareness of what is happening in (and out of) the body and that you learn to really LISTEN to what your body is trying to tell you. Does this sound strange? It may, but your body talks to you all the time. Consider your last headache after a long stressful day, pains in your stomach when you knew you had a presentation at work, the hair that stood up on the back of your neck when that person got on the bus behind you, the sense you got that maybe you shouldn’t eat that piece of sushi… there are all ways that your body speaks to you. And it is speaking to you all the time. Are you listening?

Living in Harmony with Nature

Because the Chinese were living in a way that was much more in tune with their natural environment, the way they lived changed in subtle ways according to the seasons. The foods they ate, their daily activities including how much and when they slept and how much physical activity was appropriate were ways in which they were able to stay healthy. Foods were eaten that were available at that particular time of year and grown locally, as these were the healthiest according to Mother Nature and her wisdom, and the people recognized this. The amount of sleep a person would strive for depended on how much energy would be exerted during the day. If a persons energy was to be conserved (as in winter) or expressed freely (as in summer). Internal practices were also important as things like Qi Gong and Tai Chi were a way to keep the body and mind supple and agile well into old age. 5000 years ago there was no retirement, a person had to work until they were no longer able, so keeping your body and mind in the best shape possible was the main motivation.

The Importance of Emotions

Another thing and this is unique to Chinese medicine and very different from how we view health in the West, was and is the importance of the emotions. A healthy emotional life was just as important as a strong, flexible body. The emotional life of a human being is complex, just as complex, it seems, as the workings of the human body. And being emotionally healthy has a great deal to do with a person's overall health. The fascinating part is that in Chinese medicine each emotion is associated with a specific organ so that an imbalance in that emotion can point to a problem in its respective organ and vice versa, an imbalance in an organ can point to problems with a particular emotion. It is all interrelated. So, being able to understand, and freely express emotions was and are an important part of overall health.

this image from huffingtonpost.com

Chinese Medicine and the Organs

Without getting too deep (because we could get so SO deep into this), let me explain a little bit about how the organs work in Chinese medicine and how important they are in the process of diagnosis. One thing that is important to note, is that the organs in Chinese medicine have very little similarity with the organs and their functions in Western medicine. This causes a lot of confusion when explaining things to patients so it is good to clear that up right away. There are certainly some similarities, but there are far more things that are completely different and unique to the organs in Chinese medicine. The organs in Chinese medicine each have a list of responsibilities. Processes in the body that they are responsible for. The organs are also, all connected. So, if there is a problem with one, then you must look at them all to discover where the root of the problem lies. This is another unique feature of Chinese medicine, is that everything is connected and nothing, be it physical, emotional or spiritual, exists in isolation. This is why as a practitioner, you have to have a very solid understanding of, well everything before you can begin to understand anything that might be happening to your patient. Our intake procedure and questioning are thorough and complex, and this is why.

How Symptoms Point to Specific Organs

Knowing each organ, its associated emotion and its list of responsibilities help one to understand what might be going wrong when problems arise. If someone is struggling with the loss of a spouse and having lung symptoms, in Chinese medicine, this would make perfect sense, as grief is the emotion of the lung. If a particularly angry person comes in with symptoms of red eyes, headache and bitter taste in their mouth, this would point to excess heat in the liver as anger is this organs corresponding emotion. Understanding the connection that the organs have to each other is also important as an excess or deficiency in one can spill over to the next in the cycle, affecting it adversely. Time also is very relevant, as the longer an imbalance has been active, the worse the imbalance will become, creating more severe symptoms and being more difficult to correct.

Location is Important

In a disease like cancer, we are always looking at where the cancer has been found which can tell us a lot about why it has come about in the first place. It is because of the way Chinese medicine sees the organs, their responsibilities, and their interrelationships that the location is so important. In treating my own patients with cancer, it became obvious after the initial consultations why the cancer had presented itself. Often, in listening to a patient's history it is clear that there have been particularly severe stresses on either the body, the psyche or both that have pushed the body to its breaking point, and cancer is the result. There is also often a long history of signs and symptoms that the patient has had but has either not been aware of or unable (or unwilling) to deal with for various reasons.

Having an understanding of the philosophy of Chinese medicine and the organs and their functions can do a lot to help you to stay healthy, and be able to recognize warning signs; ways that your body is telling you that something is not right. Cancer in many cases is the result of many years of imbalance that started small, building into something larger and more complex and thus, is more difficult to treat.

Resources

WHO report - increase in cancer rates: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2003/04/canc-a26.html