A Brief History and the Many Benefits of Acupuncture

By Dr. Marcia Steingraber

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful featured image photo by Lian Rodríguez from Pexels


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


Can Chinese Medicine Help People with Autism?

By Sally Perkins

Around one in 68 children in the U.S. have autism, and following a diagnosis of their child, parents consider a wide range of options that includes educational interventions and, at times, alternative approaches. Among the many natural approaches utilized with autism, one of the most often discussed is Chinese medicine. Relatively few studies have been conducted on the efficiency of this approach, but those that have been carried out show promising and positive findings for specific symptoms and behaviours.

Herbal Medicine Treatment for Children with Autism

Parents of children with autism often turn to traditional therapies, including behavioural treatments such as applied behaviour analysis (ABA), occupational therapy, and the Early Start Denver Model. Each child or adult with autism has unique talents and challenges, though, and for some parents, combining one or more of these therapies with Chinese medicine has been useful. A 2017 review of existing research on the efficiency and safety of herbal medicines for the treatment of autism found that when used alongside conventional therapies, the use of Chinese medicine in relieving symptoms led to a significant improvement of the patient's Child Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score.

Commonly Used Herbs

Some of the herbs which are commonly used to reduce autism symptoms include Poria cocos, Panax ginseng, Acorus gramineus, Schisandra chinensis, and Glycyrrhiza uralensis. These herbs have been studied in different settings. For instance, Acorus gramineus has been found to have a sedative effect, as has Poria cocos. Researchers have stated that these herbs may aid in the reduction of some behaviours as well as inattention. However, they added that further research would be required to demonstrate the specific behaviours that each herb could address, and to see if polyherbal formulations could wield similar benefits.

The Use of Ukgansangajinpibanha Granule in Children with ASD

One small trial currently being led by S Haeng Lee is focusing on the efficiency of Ukgansangajinpibanha (UGSJB – a legitimately prescribed herb for nervousness, insomni, and night crying) in the treatment of children with ASD. The trial is set to conclude at the end of this year. Currently, the trial has already established that this herbal treatment can reduce aggressive behaviour by suppressing the excess activity of a particular neuron type in the hippocampus. It has also been found to successfully reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Acupuncture for ASD

A review report by academics at Cochrane has found that needle acupuncture might be linked to an improvement for people with ASD, specifically in the area of communication, linguistic ability, cognitive functioning, and global functioning. Other small studies have limited the success of acupuncture to cognitive and global functioning alone. Two additional studies, on the other hand, showed no benefits for acupuncture when compared to conventional treatment, yet acupressure did seem to lead to small improvements.

Although herbs and acupuncture are considered ‘alternative therapies’ for autism, few studies have been carried out on their efficiency. Those that have been carried out seem to indicate the utility of some herbs, and one current trial is seeking to discover that of UGSJB. Acupuncture does not seem to be too effective overall, but as stated by the Cochrane scientists, this may be because we have only a small number of studies to rely on, and all of these have been carried out on children. Further research, therefore, needs to be conducted to see whether or not acupuncture can make a positive difference in the treatment of ASD.

Featured image photo by:

S. Laiba Ali


Chinese Medicine Aids Deep Sleep to Revitalize Mind and Body

By Sally Perkins

It is widely recognized that sleep is essential for good health, and new research confirms that irregular and insufficient sleep can lead to a greater risk of experiencing metabolic disorders. Chinese medicine places importance on preventative measures to help the body remain balanced and free from disease, and its treatments and formulas have been shown to be effective in aiding deep and restful sleep. This is when critical body restoration takes place, resulting in increased immunity, the correction of internal imbalances and the strengthening of organ function. In addition, quality sleep, during which REM is experienced, can help stimulate and heal the mind.

Sleep to Stimulate The Mind

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Reaching the REM stage of sleep is important as this is when neural connections essential to health and well-being are made. REM only takes place after 90 minutes of sleep, so to aid a deeper sleep, jujube seed is often prescribed as it strengthens circulation and calms the mind. REM is also the period of sleep where dreams most often occur, as activity in the brain resembles that seen during wakefulness. During REM sleep, it becomes possible to stimulate lucid dreams where control can be exerted over the unconscious self and the fabric of its surroundings. As the wonders of the mind are explored, lucid dreaming can promote emotional healing, help overcome fears and encourage problem solving.  Occasionally, even when the REM stage of sleep is successfully reached, some people may experience REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) where they act out their dreams physically, so disrupting their sleep. However, studies have shown that, as well as aiding restful sleep, herbal remedies are as effective as tranquilizers and antidepressants in treating RBD.

Rest to Repair The Body

Sleep is vital for the body to grow and repair muscles, organs and other cells, so ensuring a good night’s sleep is essential to avoid serious health issues. For over 2000 years, a variety of Chinese medicines and formulas have been successfully used for the treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders. In Chinese medicine, insomnia is typically linked to heart function and so the heart tonic Fu Ling is recommended as it also has a sedative effect. As well as herbal remedies, studies show that acupuncture can improve the quality of sleep. It triggers the release of neurotransmitters including serotonin, which helps to regulate sleep patterns and induce REM sleep.

Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

A good night’s sleep is vital for health and well being. Herbal medicines and alternative treatments aid restful sleep, and once the body and mind are relaxed, balance and health can be restored.


Featured image photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash


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Thunder God Vine to Prevent Arthritis Woes Among the Elderly

By Sally Perkins

Are you experiencing a sudden joint pain, unexplained swelling and redness, or stiffness around the knees or wrists? Have you been experiencing a persistent dull joint pain for the past two weeks? Some seniors transitioning to an assisted living facility may find sufficient help with activities of daily living from professional healthcare workers. But with about 54.4 million adults in the United States experiencing some form of Arthritis, seeking alternative treatments such as Chinese herb thunder god vine may provide just the right solution.

The Role of Inflammation in Arthritis

Inflammation is our body’s defense mechanism against injuries, irritations, and germ invasion characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and increased temperature. With arthritis, inflammation happens because of several factors such as obesity, joint injuries, and genetics. Among older adults, aging cause cytokines, a chemical messenger of our body’s immune system, to add further to the body’s inflammatory state. Medical treatments such as DMARDS, NSAIDs, and Acetaminophen prevent swelling and pain in arthritis.

Lesser Swelling and Pain

Peking Union Medical College Hospital did a research on using thunder god vine (Triptergium wilfordii Hook F) with methotrexate (an anti-rheumatic drug) among 207 patients. Results showed patients who took both treatments expressed 77% of the ACR 50 response (American College of Rheumatology 50 response). Older adults may require assistance with daily living as they age throughout the years. Home remedies such as hot and cold therapy and consumption of food rich in omega-3 fatty acid with other organic supplements may prevent further progression of inflammation or flares.

Better Joints for Better Mobility

Older adults with arthritis do various range-of-motion exercises as part of their preventive therapy. In nursing homes, various physical activities such as swimming, stretching, and cycling custom-made for seniors. Some of these facilities also consider alternative medicinal treatments in combating age-related diseases such as arthritis. But with constant friction, cartilages wear out over time hence leading to joint pain and swelling. Using topical thunder god vine contains immunosuppressive properties to protect your cartilages. It is best to discuss this with your healthcare provider first before using.

Seniors with cancer may also experience chronic inflammation and pannus, a tumor-like formation in the joints. Triptolide, a component found in thunder god vine, prevents the growth of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASFs). By taking this herb regularly, it may help prevent cartilage damage and progression of arthritis.

A Good Complementary Treatment

Healthcare providers often see this as a ‘complementary’ treatment. Meaning, this would work best if taken with a drug prescribed by your doctor. Should you take thunder god vine with your current treatment, consult your physician and give an overall picture of your health before proceeding to prevent drug interactions and adverse effects. With exercise and proper diet, you may find yourself living a better and pain-free life in the long run.

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Beautiful featured image by Dids on Pexels


Essential Oils for Health & Wellness

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

A Brief History of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used by traditional cultures for thousands of years, and were some of the most highly valued possessions of traditional peoples, along with jewels and precious metals. Essential oils are considered to be the distillation of both the intelligence and spirit of the plants they come from. They have been used throughout history for their medicinal, emotional, aromatic and spirit enhancing effects. In recent years there has been a revival in the use of essential oils, many people use them in their homes, healthcare practitioners use them to offer patients an alternative to conventional treatments like medications, and companies are using essential oils in their products as natural alternatives to chemical ingredients.

My own experience with essential oils goes back as far as I can remember. Long before I became an acupuncturist, I used them in my home for things like cleaning, for making skin and hair care products as well as aromatherapy, and in my medicine cabinet to help heal a wide variety of problems. When I began treating patients as an acupuncturist, essential oils were a vital part of my toolbox. I have always loved the versatility that essential oils afford the person and certainly the practitioner. They have been an invaluable part of my practice, and I am always humbled at how powerful they can be to correct a huge number of imbalances and heal on a multitude of different levels.

Essential Oils At Home

I think that many people may not be aware of the enormous versatility of essential oils that you can use in your home to make everyday products. In an age where we are bombarded by toxins (you can read more about this here - 5 Toxins to Avoid for Better Health - essential oils offer the ability to make these products knowing they are pure, health-promoting and toxin free. You can make household cleaners, skin and hair products (some of the worst offenders in terms of toxicity), soaps and lotions as well as using a diffuser to gently release certain oils into the air to detoxify, cleanse the air and for health reasons - like certain oils that act as decongestants when you or your family are suffering with a cold. There are oils for relaxation and stress, you can add them to the bathtub to help calm - I use this often for my very high energy 2-year-old baby boy, and it works smashingly. Oils can also be put into laundry soap, on rags in the dryer instead of dryer sheets, and a drop or two placed onto a pillow or bed sheets to help freshen things up or aid with things like insomnia, stress or depression.

This lovely photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

Essential Oils In Health Care

I use essential oils every day in my clinic with my patients. They are simply another tool that I have in my healing toolbox. There are many ways in which to use essential oils for healing. In Chinese Medicine theory heat and cold are properties that contribute to health and disease. Essential oils also have heating and cooling properties, as well as having affinities for certain organs and meridians, so with this knowledge, I am able to use them on patients depending on both their constitution as well as what is ailing them. There are many ways that I use them - sometimes I apply them to specific acupuncture points, sometimes I mix them into massage oil to massage into certain points of areas of the body and sometimes I put oils into the diffuser for a more subtle effect. I often prescribe their use for patients at home, suggesting adding them to a bath, or massaging them into specific points when certain symptoms appear. For patients to participate in their own healing is the goal and essential oils are a wonderful way to help the process.

Using Essential Oils with Children & Babies

Since I have had children - and I have two, a two-year-old and a six-month-old - I have found that massage and essential oils are the most useful things I have to deal with everyday health matters. They also serve calm an excited child before a nap or sleep at night, dealing with anxiety, excessive crying in a colicky baby, and just keeping a chaotic house as relaxed and delicious smelling as humanly possible. Acupuncture is difficult on small children mostly because they have a hard time sitting still, so essential oils have been my go-to for everything that has to do with my babies, from their overall health, the state of their emotions and their wellbeing.

But, because they are so small and their systems so delicate, dosages and dilution are very important. You would always use way less of an oil on a child compared to an adult, and a good rule of thumb is to put any oil you are using medicinally into a carrier oil (I use coconut oil most of the time) and apply it to the feet as they are the farthest away from important organs. When my son gets a cold, I use various oils in this way which always helps clear his congestion, makes him more comfortable and I find that he gets over things a lot faster. With my baby girl, I tend to put a few drops of various oils into the diffuser when she isn't feeling well and I always find this helps her feel better, calmer and helps her sleep (which when you have 2 babies in your house is vital!!).

The other thing I have found is how powerful our olfactory senses are and the connection they have to our health and emotions. I find that just a drop of my favourite scent on my pillow after a long, intense day with 2 small children has a hugely calming effect on my nerves and psyche. A few drops on the sheets freshens up the room and makes for better sleeps. Some lavender on the temples helps you relax and all that tension you had in your jaws, neck, and shoulders, seems to just melt away. The therapeutic effects of essential oils are really limitless, and I know I am so grateful to have an arsenal to help me keep my children healthy without toxic chemicals while also being kind to the environment. Win/win!

Essential Oil Safety

It is important to remember that essential oils are medicine, and need to be used with caution. Like herbs, they can be very powerful and it is important to educate yourself about the oils properties, as well as any contraindications before using them therapeutically. Most commercially produced essential oils are used in the food and perfume industry (about 95%). However, when using them in your home for cleaning, skin or hair products or anything that will come in contact with your body, please be sure that you use high quality, therapeutic grade oils, that are extracted in a clean way and not using toxic chemicals. Here are some very good safety guidelines for using essential oils. When using essential oils directly on the body (and the best advice is to never use them directly on the body without diluting them or using a carrier oil) is to be careful of how much you are using or how much to dilute them. This is especially important when using them with children. You can find useful information at the link above about how to dilution ratios.

Natural Medicines

I am a firm believer that the cure for every disease that exists on this planet is available in its forests, rainforests, and jungles. Natural medicines have been healing human beings since the beginning of time. So many cultures have the wisdom to cure using these natural, plant-based medicines. This wisdom has largely been forgotten by Allopathic (Western) medicine that chooses to use petroleum-based pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms that are the result of our modern diseases.

This beautiful photo by Trần Anh Tuấn on Unsplash

From everything that I know about Chinese medicine, and indeed many of the wisdom traditions that have been around for thousands of years, the key to staying healthy is to live a healthy and balanced life. This has been increasingly difficult because many of us live in an unbalanced, toxic culture. For us now, I believe that living in the most natural way possible is the key to health. Eliminating toxins, eating clean, natural, fresh foods, drinking clean water, getting enough sleep and when we do become sick, using natural medicines to get us well again. Acupuncture, herbs, exercise, a healthy diet (using food as medicine) as well as things like essential oils are the best ways I know of to keep us all healthy, and if we fall ill, to bring us back to health again. Incorporating as many of these into our lives and our homes will ensure that we stay as healthy as we can, and empower us to heal ourselves when we are sick.

This beautiful photo by Vero Photoart on Unsplash

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Featured image photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


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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Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea for Liver Detoxification

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Liver/ Gallbladder Disease

The liver is the sole organ in promoting and detoxifying the blood. Promoting liver health is similar to promoting blood. Spring is the best season to address liver health because it is the beginning of a new cycle of growth and the liver needs to produce more blood to support the growth. To protect and improve liver health, we need to observe the following guideline:

1. Drink More Water

Water is important to keep fluid moving and to clean out toxins from the body. Water helps in digestion, circulation of nutrients and detoxification of blood. The more toxins we can clean out of the body, the lesser burden it will be for the liver. Green color foods can increase the detoxifying function and mung bean is the best choice. Cooking mung beans in boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes and drink the green water regularly throughout spring and summer is best to support detoxification and can cool down internal heat.

2. Eat A Regular, Balanced Diet

Both overeating or under eating can cause abnormal production of digestive enzymes and bile by the liver, therefore affecting its normal function. Foods should be bland in taste in spring and not too hot or spicy. It is best to eat more fruits and vegetables.

3. Not Too Much Alcohol

Moderate drinking can uplift liver yang energy but too much alcohol can damage the liver by giving it too many things to detoxify.

4. Stay Positive and Be Happy

Anxiety, anger, sad and worry are the emotions that can cause suppression to liver energy and damage the liver. Controlling these emotions can give positive and uplifting energy to the liver so that it can work at its best.

5. Get Adequate Exercise

Light outdoor exercise in spring such as hiking, jogging, and tai-chi can promote blood circulation which is good for promoting liver function.

6. Eat Foods That Benefit The Liver

Foods such as chrysanthemum, animal's liver, goji-berries, angelica, etc. can lower liver heat and enrich the blood. Eating some sour taste foods can help to promote liver health but overdoing it can suppress liver energy.

The Liver in Environmental Illnesses

The importance of the gut flora in ill health is becoming increasingly obvious as it is implicated as a cause of an increasing number of illnesses. The health of the gut has a substantial impact on the health of the liver as everything absorbed from the intestines passes through the liver so that harmful substances can be detoxified before the rest of the body is exposed to them.

In one study by doctors at Biolab UK, 61% of sufferers of undiagnosed chronic illnesses with predominant fatigue were found to have overgrowth of both bacteria and yeast in the gut1. As a result of their normal metabolism, these micro-organisms produce waste products that in increased amounts can be harmful to the liver and the person’s health as a whole. Yeast in particular produce a large amount of ethanol (drinking alcohol) which is highly toxic to the liver, in fact, alcohol is the single most toxic substance to liver cells. As well as producing increased amounts of toxic substances for the liver to deal with, yeast or bacterial overgrowth also causes damage to the intestinal lining causing 'leaky gut'.

Increased gut permeability results in even more potentially toxic substances from the gut being absorbed to put further stress on the liver's detoxification pathways. A study of liver disease in alcoholics found that only the patients with a leaky gut developed cirrhosis of the liver2. This points to the possibility that in people with gut dysbiosis, not only is there chronic ingestion of alcohol but the leaky gut caused by bacterial and/or yeast overgrowth leads to more severe effects on the liver from the alcohol produced. If the liver is overwhelmed by toxins from the gut and from chemicals in everyday use it won't function correctly and may even become damaged and inflamed. As a result, not all toxins entering the liver are detoxified and gain access to the bloodstream to travel anywhere in the body. These toxins and the excess of free radicals (highly reactive forms of oxygen) caused by poor liver function can cause direct damage to tissues and also initiate allergic or auto-immune reactions. Un-neutralized toxins are also expelled into the bile in this situation and can further damage the intestinal lining, setting up a vicious cycle in which gut dysbiosis and leaky gut cause poor liver function which in turn worsens the gut dysbiosis and leaky gut.

As mentioned earlier, the liver requires large amounts of energy and nutrients to function efficiently. If the liver is overwhelmed by toxins, these nutrients can become depleted and the liver will function inefficiently resulting in numerous symptoms and problems throughout the body. Many of these nutrients can be replaced by supplementation, improving the functioning of the liver. There are also a number of herbs and other methods that can heal a damaged liver and improve detoxification functions.

Herbs for the Liver

Milk Thistle (Silymarin)

Milk Thistle for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from medicinalplantsindia.com

The milk thistle plant contains silymarin and related flavonoids which are some of the most potent liver-protecting substances known. These flavonoids are powerful antioxidants so protect the liver from damaging toxins and free radicals. They also stimulate healing and the production of new liver cells and cause the liver to increase production of glutathione, the bodies most important antioxidant and detoxifying substance. Silymarin has been proven to both protect liver cells and repair existing damage in animals intoxicated with mushroom toxins, medicines, heavy metals or toxic organic solvents3. Human studies have also shown decreased mortality in patients with alcoholic liver damage who are treated with silymarin3. Milk thistle is commonly available in capsule or tincture form and a common dose would be 200mg 2/3 times per day. For hepatitis and cirrhosis doses of 400mg or more 3 times per day are common.

Burdock

Burdock for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from commonsensehome.com

Burdock contains a number of nutrients important to liver function. These include vitamins B1, B6 and B12 which are essential for the function of phase 1 liver detoxification's pathways, vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant and sulphur which is essential for a number of important phase 2 liver detoxification pathways in which potent toxins created by phase 1 detoxification are neutralized. Phase 2 pathways requiring sulphur include those utilizing glutathione. Burdock also contains other substances such as arctiin which act to improve liver and gallbladder function.

Dandelion

Dandelion for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from smallfootprintfamily.com

Clinical studies have shown dandelion extract to have protective effects against lipid peroxidation and free radicals, both damaging products of a poorly functioning liver4. Like burdock, dandelion contains a wealth of nutrients important to liver function, especially the B vitamins. It cleanses the liver and increases the production of bile. Dandelion is often used as a herbal treatment for all liver diseases of the liver including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and jaundice.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an infection or inflammation of the liver due to viruses of "A", "B" and "C". Drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated seafood can result in hepatitis A. It can easily spread through person-to-person contacts. Hepatitis B is usually contracted from bad blood or infected needles or sexual activity. Hepatitis C is always acquired from blood transfusions. The major symptoms are fever, flu-like symptoms, weakness, poor appetite, fatigue, dark urine and light-colored stools. Most people who got hepatitis can eventually recover with proper nutrition and complete rest. However, liver disease caused by alcohol can lead to death.

Chinese medicine sees hepatitis as damp heat invasion causing spleen dampness, liver energy congestion, blood coagulation, disharmony of liver and spleen, and liver-kidney yin deficiency. An Infectious virus, excessive alcohol consumption, and irregular eating habits can impair the normal functions of the spleen, therefore affecting liver and gallbladder's ability to regulate bile. Bile will then deposit in muscles, skin, bladder, creating yellowish eyes, face and urine. Treatments focus on clearing heat, removing dampness, harmonizing spleen, and nourishing yin. Herbs commonly prescribed are capillaris, atractylodes, aconite, persica, and carthamus.

Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowish pigmentation of the skin. Jaundice is often seen in liver diseases such as hepatitis or liver cancer. It may also indicate obstruction of the biliary tract, for example by gallstones or pancreatic cancer. Turmeric in yellow curry is effective in treating jaundice.

The diet for people with liver disease should be low in protein, low fat and avoid raw fish and shellfish. Avoid spicy and highly processed foods. Sweet potatoes can lower the yellowish color in the skin. Foods that are diuretic, such as job's tear, are useful in removing dampness. Drinks made of bitter melon and dates are tonics for the liver. Dandelion and burdock are effective in cleansing the liver and the bloodstream. Licorice is used for treating viral hepatitis. Honey can promote proper functioning of liver cells, lower liver fat and promote proper circulation of blood and lower blood pressure. Green pepper and bitter melon are best for releasing liver fire with symptoms of red and dry eyes. White turnip soaked in vinegar can promote bile movement and help to secrete gall bladder stones and kill cancer cells.

Gallstones

Gallstones are formed by stagnant bile flows, secreted by the liver and passed to the gallbladder for storage. First, it formed sludge and then stones. When the stones are small, they will pass through into the intestines and out. If they are large and got stuck in the bile duct, they will cause a sharp, stabbing sensation. Most elderly people have gallstones due to excess cholesterol, high sugar and fat diet and overweight. Women on the pill are more likely to have gallstones. The symptoms are bloating, upper abdominal discomfort, flatulence and food intolerance.

Diet plays an important part in preventing the formation of gallstones and reduces the frequency of their attacks. The preventive diet consists of fruits, vegetables, fiber, no sugar, and little saturated or unsaturated fat. A vegetarian diet is recommended. Lemon juice with olive oil before bedtime will help to eliminate gallstones. Apple juice, pear juice, and beet juice are good for cleaning out the system. Sour white turnip promotes the production of bile and prevents the formation of gallstone. Walnut and celery can help to pass out small stones and so is sour plum juice.

Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea

Chrysanthemum Flowers for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Chrysanthemum Flowers 

SYMPTOMS:

Eyes with white secretions at both corners of the eyes, especially upon waking up in the morning.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Lowers liver heat and clear toxins in the eyes and liver.

Licorice Root : Chinese Medicine LivingLicorice Root : This lovely image from Mountain Rose Herbs

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chrysanthemum (ju hua) 菊花 – 30gm
  • Licorice (gan cao) 甘草 – 15gm

1.   Rinse herbs and cook both ingredients with 3 cups of water over medium heat down to one cup of tea (about 15 minutes).

2.   Strain and drink tea.

USAGE:

No restriction.

The beautiful featured image photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash


Alignment - Part 2

By Steven Lubka

There are many ways to begin addressing spinal alignment, infinite ways really. I am going to outline some basic habits that can produce tremendous benefits. These are simple modifications to one’s lifestyle that one can implement immediately and don’t require complex explanation nor the learning of technique. Later I will delve into technique, but for now it’s best to start at the beginning. I will also describe how to perform a basic cranial-spinal reset.

The easiest way to begin restoring the muscular-skeletal systems of the body is through awareness, sitting postures, sleeping habits, and the mouth. If one can say that posture starts anywhere, it starts in the mouth. Many people never touch on this component and those that do address the mouth neglect the other parts of the body. Malocclusion, the development of a bite in which teeth do not properly connect and poor oral posture have existed as long as civilization has existed. Hunter Gatherer populations typically have excellent bites and good oral posture. This creates well balanced and beautiful facial structure. Civilized populations often have poor oral posture and misaligned teeth. There are many explanations for this but no definitive conclusion for why this is.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

See the difference?

Addressing oral posture keeps the skull sitting properly on top of the spine. Atlas chiropractors have found that by bringing the Atlas Vertebra into alignment it balances the rest of the musculoskeletal system.

To do this one must maintain a consistent awareness of their oral habits. Correct oral posture involves keeping the mouth closed, the back molars touching, and tongue on the roof of the mouth. The tip of the tongue should rest on the bump just behind the front teeth. To find this location simply make the sound “nah-nah-nah-nah”. The spot your tongue goes to is where the tip should rest. One should also attempt to raise the posterior part of the tongue so that it is pressing up on the palate. This is incredibly important but also very difficult for most people at first. It is important to simply do what one can do , if it’s only the tip at first start there, eventually you will be able to raise the whole tongue. One should hold this mouth posture at all times when not eating or breathing, but this is something you will work towards. By doing this you will not only take huge steps to balancing your spinal alignment but will over time improve the form of your facial structure.

By pressing upwards with the tongue while keeping the jaw closed you create an upwards force which moves the maxillary bone of the skull forward and a downward force which unsticks the jaw  and allows it to hinge properly. This can greatly help in alleviating TMJ and other jaw disorders  as well as improving breathing. This technique also helps train one in a practice of consistent body awareness which even on its own is a powerful restorative force.

Developing new sitting postures will confer great benefit as well. The most useful posture to learn is a resting squat. This will help to align the spine and bring greater health and mobility to the joints. A resting squat means the heels are flat on the ground and your butt is as low as it will go. For the purpose of a sitting posture it doesn’t matter if your spine is straight or curved. Find whatever way of positing your feet is comfortable for you, there is no one correct way.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

For most this may be challenging at first, but it will come easily eventually. A great way to make this posture one of comfort and ease is to spend 30 minutes a day for 30 days in it. The 30 minutes are a cumulative time goal, you simply do a minute or two many times throughout the day. Soon it will be easy. Try watching the sunrise every morning in a deep squat, with your bare feet on the earth. This will bring many benefits. The first is that it will ensure proper circadian rhythm which is crucial to your whole system. The second is that it will put you in touch with the electromagnetic field of the earth while developing your squat. It is important that you view the sunrise without glasses or contact lenses in as the early morning UV light will not penetrate glass or lenses. It is crucial this early morning light reaches your eyes because it is the signal which turns all your daytime metabolic and hormonal processes on. This will influence everything from mental health and dopamine levels, to proper melatonin production, reduce the risk of alzheimer's and dementia, and combat diseases such as diabetes, MS, and autoimmune disorders.

There are many other sitting postures one can use that will bring benefit. The traditional Japanese meditation posture where one’s legs are folded underneath oneself and you are sitting on top of your ankles is a good one. The half and full lotus meditation postures can also be useful if they are comfortable for you. There are many variations one could use, the most important thing is to simply start sitting on the ground and allowing your body to support itself instead of using chairs and furniture.

Along with sitting habits it is important that one also begins to develop the ability of the body to hang. Simply grab a tree branch and hang from it passively. If this is too hard to do with a tree start with a standard pull up bar.

Sleeping habits are the next key area to address. It is imperative that you get rid of your mattress and transition to a firm sleeping mat on the ground. All primates suffer from musculoskeletal problems however nature has given us a way to correct this. However one cannot take advantage of this while sleeping on a mattress. It is similarly important to get rid of one’s pillow but take one step at a time. Many of these sleeping postures create a mechanism where the diaphragm movement during sleeping in these postures resets the vertebra of the spine.

The first involves sleeping on the side using an externally rotated arm as a pillow. The shoulder that is used as a pillow is hunched and the feet are relatively pointed. One can also sleep with one’s head directly on the ground if the shoulder is hunched properly.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

The second involves using both folded arms as a pillow.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

The third and my personal favorite creates an unwinding of rotational imbalances of the spine.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

These all make fantastic sleeping and resting postures that will yield tremendous benefit simply from relaxing in these poses.

Here is what I was able to achieve in 2 years, from age 19 to age 21. I am now 23 at the time of writing this and have continued to experience great benefits from these kinds of practices. I did not even learn about the oral posture work until well after the photos displayed below. It held the key to correcting my forward neck posture.  

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

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White Mulberry for Diabetes, Obesity and High Cholesterol

By Dr. Kevin Curran

A New Superfood?

The White Mulberry Tree Helps with Diabetes,Obesity and High Cholesterol.

Diabetes has been steadily increasing for decades. The latest estimates by the IDF report that 8.3% of the global population is currently suffering from diabetes. Unfortunately, this trend is predicted to continue. Any natural remedy that can assist in the prevention or treatment of diabetes is currently in great demand.

For this reason, the White Mulberry tree (Morus alba) has been gathering quite a bit of attention. The renewed interest with this plant is largely due to a series of publications demonstrating the benefit to adding white mulberry to your diet. By ingesting white mulberry before or with meals, you can avoid the spikes in blood-sugar that are common when eating carbohydrates. You can either eat the plant as a dried fruit or else you can take mulberry extract in capsules. Both forms impart the health benefit of the plant. The fruit actually tastes quite nice, the flavor is somewhere between a sweet fig and a raisin.

Ok, so how exactly does white mulberry relate to diabetes? Well, if you remember from your last biology class, it’s the excessive amounts of sugar in our blood that can often lead to diabetes (T2D). High blood-sugar levels demand that the pancreas works extra hard to keep up. The pancreas releases large amounts of the insulin protein. The job of insulin is to convert extra sugar in our blood into glycogen, a storage molecule. But when we overload our body with sugar, this pancreas/insulin/glycogen machinery cannot keep up. The pancreas begins to fail as an organ, and more often than not, the symptoms of diabetes set in. Yuck!

Nobody wants this…

White Mulberry : Chinese Medicine Living

So, how do we avoid it? Well, for starters, we should be out exercising and we should be limiting the amount of carbs in our diet. Okay, fair enough, but we all know that already. In addition to these lifestyle changes, there is also great interest in a natural, food-based remedy that can help prevent these issues from occurring.

Clinical results have shown that by adding a few grams of white mulberry extract to your diet, you will keep your blood sugar levels lower. In one study, conducted with the fruits of white mulberry, the authors explored the benefit white mulberry offers to diabetics. Mahmoud et al. used diabetic rats in their experimental design. One group of diabetic rats ate their regular carbohydrate diet, while another group made 5% of their diet consist of white mulberry fruits. The blood-glucose level of the both groups were then tested 4 weeks after the experiment began. The scientists found that the diabetic rats who ate white mulberry fruits as 5% of their overall diet, experienced a significantly lower blood-glucose level as compared to diabetic rats with no white mulberry. Similar results have also been reported in human patients.

white Mulberry : Chinese Medicine Living

But that’s not all…

The White mulberry plant is rich in multiple phytochemicals that impart various health benefits. Reports have highlighted the plant’s ability to act as a powerful antioxidant, this has implications for anti-aging. Additionally other reports highlight the capacity of white mulberry to combat high cholesterol, specifically high LDL cholesterol. If you remember correctly, LDL is the bad cholesterol, it’s the one we don’t want. HDL is the cholesterol we do want, and in fact White Mulberry has shown to boost HDL levels.

In summary, white mulberry offers multiple health benefits. And for this reason, the plant is now regarded as a superfood. As we look forward, diabetes is predicted to afflict approximately 582 million people by 2035. Let’s hope that more natural remedies, like white mulberry, continue to yield positive results regarding the suppression of high blood-sugar levels.

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Kevin Curran holds a PhD in molecular biology and currently serves as a professor at the University of San Diego, teaching courses on Cell Biology and Plant Biology.

Peace, Love & Acupuncture Button : Chinese Medicine Living

White Mulberry for Diabetes, Obesity and High Cholesterol : Chinese Medicine Living

 


Why Acupuncture Works for Seniors

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

For more than two years I worked at a pain clinic that happened to be attached to a long term care facility inhabited by elderly patients. Many of them were my patients, and although their treatments at the clinic were multidisciplinary (seeing many types of doctors and receiving different types of treatments depending on their issues), I found that acupuncture really worked wonders on the eldery patients from next door.

Older patients present some unique problems. Firstly, many of them are on a myriad of medications for a wide variety of conditions. I found that I really had to sit down with them and take the time in the initial consultation to document what medications they were on and then research and make sure that none of them could be reacting with each other and causing any of the problems they were coming to see me for. I was really amazed at how many medications my elderly patients were taking. Many of them weren't sure what they were for, and others had been on them for so long that they had forgotten why they had been given.

In Chinese medical theory, as a person ages, their vital energy, life force or "Jing" is seen to be in a gradual decline. This is healthy and a natural part of aging. However, we are only born with a finite amount, and the way we live our lives determines how it is used, wheather it is wisely, or not. This is illustrated by a person who has lived hard, done a lot of partying, drinking, drugs... they usually have a worn out appearance and often look older than they actually are. They have been depleting their Jing, and it is aging them prematurely.

The other thing that I noticed about the seniors that I treated, was what a huge difference taking some time to sit and speak with them made. Making a connection and showing that I was really listening to them made a huge difference in their treatment and ultimately, their prognosis. This may seem obvious, that a little kindness goes a long way, but often in the medical profession, and in particular with seniors, doctors don't have (or take) the time to really listen. Of course, they are the experts on disease and illness, but who knows their body better than the patient? Allowing a patient to relay to you their experience of what is happening, what is out of balance or causing them pain is an important aspect of the treatment and subsequent healing process.

Another thing that I noticed is that my senior patients were rarely touched. Touch is such an important part of our lives. Important physiologically for things like the nervous system, and emotionally for a feeling of connectedness, affection and purpose. I found that sometimes they would hold my hand while telling me how they were doing just to feel a connection to another person. So, I always tried to incorporate some massage into the treatment which they always loved. Because stagnation occurs often in the elderly, massage (and acupuncture of course) are very moving and stimulating to the body helping to move stagnation and keep things flowing freely.

Why Acupuncture is So Good for Seniors

Because of all these factors acupuncture works very well for seniors. You don't have to worry about drug interactions (which are especially dangerous in the elderly), and it can be applied in as gentle a fashion as needed depending on the patients requirements.

Because many seniors exhibit long standing deficiencies, they are not as sensitive and by the time a symptom is felt, it is often very serious (children are the opposite), and acupuncture is a powerful tool and able to be used on sensitive or very deficient patients. It's many modalities are also useful like dietary therapy (I found many seniors were not eating a balanced diet), emotional wellness (which I was attending to by speaking with them and allowing them to express what they were feeling), and the importance of exercise. Many did not get out or even do much moving around. As part of their treatment I always advised walking, even if it was around the halls, but going outside and getting some fresh air and being out in nature is always preferable. This is good for moving energy, getting the blood flowing and improving mood.

We had a physiotherapist in the clinic and we set up a program for her to go next door 3 times a week to do an exercise class with the seniors. It was so popular the class was always packed and the staff noticed a marked improvement in the overall health and mood of the residents.

Another common problem is depression. Often senior citizens are living in facilities like this because they are unwell, unable to take care of themselves, and have lost a spouse. These all take a toll on our psyche, so depression is common. Any of these on its own is a huge adjustment, but they often come together so it isn't hard to imagine that many people become depressed when these major life changes occur. Some withdraw and shut down, some become angry and frustrated at their situation, and some become sad and depressed. I found that the more connected to the world and other people, the better they did. If they had visitors, saw their friends and children, or went on outings, they were happier and more balanced and overall, healthier.

Thankfully, acupuncture and Chinese medicine have many ways to deal with depression. Like everything in TCM there are many types of, and reasons for depression to take up residence, but a thorough intake and accurate diagnosis can help the patient on their way to recovery. I saw many patients improve dramatically, and seeing their healing was perhaps the most rewarding of my career. My senior patients were some of the most interesting (the stories! They have seen so much of history!), most kind hearted and appreciative patients I have treated.

We live in a society that does not value its older citizens the way most cultures do. In many cultures around the world the oldest members of the family, village, or town are the most revered as they have something the younger people do not... wisdom. And wisdom is something that can only be gained by living, so the oldest among us are the wise. In our culture in the West we do not have the same reverence for our elderly, and they are often put into homes, abandoned and forgotten when they have so much to offer and to teach us. I learn so much from all my patients, but I think I have learned the most from my senior patients who have lived longer, seen more and experienced life to an extent that I have not, at least not yet... ;)