Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dietary Principles According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese medicine proper diet is an important component of health. All foods are categorized into temperature, from hot to cold and flavour, pungent, spicy, sweet, sour and salty. Different temperatures and flavours of food influence the body in specific ways. One should try to include all flavours and a balance of temperatures in every meal. If too much of one type of food is consumed it can create an imbalance with in the body.
Traditional Chinese medicine believes how we eat our food is also very important. It is very common these days to eat in our car on the way to work, eat at our desk while working or have the television on while eating, this weakens our digestive energy.
It is important to
  • Sit down to eat
  • Chew food well
  • Pay attention to eating, turn off the television, get away from the work desk
  • Eat organically and locally
  • Eat seasonally
  • Do not skip meals
Traditional Chinese medicine views the stomach and spleen as a cooking pot that breaks down the food that is eaten and turns it into energy and blood for the body. The stomach is the cauldron and the spleen is the digestive fire that warms up the pot. The stomach cooks and breaks down the food, sending the pure part of the food to the spleen to be distributed to the rest of the body and eliminating the waste as feces and urine. It is important to maintain this digestive fire and too many cold and raw foods can put out the digestive fire, weakening and slowing the digestive system.


The digestive system is slowed down is by foods that are damp in nature; this dampness can slow down the transformation of clear energy and blood.
Some symptoms of dampness in the body are
  • fatigue, body heaviness, sluggishness
  • excess weight
  • cysts, tumours
  • yeast infections
  • bloating and gas
  • unclear thinking
  • chronic sinus infections
  • cloudy urine
  • foul smelling stools
  • thick tongue coating
Foods to Avoid or Limit
  • dairy
  • wheat
  • cold drinks
  • fruit juice
  • processed foods
  • refined flour, pastry, pasta, breads
  • cold raw foods
  • refined sugar and sugar substitutes
  • coffee, alcohol
  • deep fried foods
  • peanuts and peanut butter
  • bananas, avocado
Foods to Add
  • organic lightly cooked vegetables, corn, celery, watercress, turnip, pumpkin, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, radish, caper
  • brown rice, barley, amaranth, rye, oats
  • legumes, kidney beans, adzuki beans, lentils
  • small amount of lean organic meat, poultry and fish, tuna
  • small amount of whole fruits, lemon
  • sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • seaweed, kelp
  • green tea, jasmine tea, raspberry leaf tea

Yang Deficiency

The yang energy is responsible for warming and activating bodily functions. Some symptoms of yang deficiency include
  • sensation of coldness
  • cold hands and feet
  • frequent pale urination
  • low libido
  • low back pain or weakness
  • pre menstrual lower back pain
  • profuse cervical fluid
  • low basal body temperatures
  • shortened luteal phase
Foods to Avoid
  • cold food and liquids
  • raw foods especially in the fall and winter
  • damp producing foods as seen above
Foods to Add to Tonify Yang
  • raspberry, peach, strawberry, cherry
  • walnut, chestnuts, pine nuts, pistachios
  • lamb, venison
  • lobster, mussels, prawns, shrimp, trout
  • black pepper, cinnamon bark, clove, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, sage, turmeric, thyme, horseradish, cayenne, nutmeg
  • chai tea, jasmine tea

Yin Deficiency

The yin is responsible for moistening and cooling. When the yin is depleted the body begins to show signs of heating up. Some symptoms of yin deficiency include
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • ringing in the ears
  • prematurely grey hair
  • lower back pain
  • scanty cervical fluid
  • shortened menstrual cycle
Foods to Avoid
  • hot spicy foods
  • stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs
  • sugar
Foods to Add to Tonify Yin
  • barley, millet
  • adzuki beans, kidney beans, black beans, black soya beans, mung beans
  • beef, pork, duck, oyster, clam, crab, octopus, fish
  • sesame seeds, black sesame seeds and walnut
  • asparagus, artichoke, pea, potato, seaweed, sweet potato, yam, tomato
  • egg
  • apple, pear, pomegranate, watermelon, banana, avocado

Acupuncture Found Effective in Treating Chronic Low Back Pain

The American Journal of Epidemiology endorses acupuncture as a viable treatment option for patients who suffer with chronic low back pain. Acupuncture treatment was found to ease pain and improve back function in a cost effective manner. The journal referenced the largest study to date of acupuncture in the treatment of back pain.
Research showed that patients experienced significantly better back function and a pronounced decrease in pain during treatment and for a period of three months after receiving treatment. Acupuncture is considered one of the most conservative treatment options for back pain. This is especially true when acupuncture is compared to the risks of surgery and the debilitating effects and short lived benefits of using anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers.

Migraine Headaches & Acupuncture

Acupuncture Relieves Side Effects of Breast Cancer

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Acupuncture Is The NFL's Secret For Top Performanc

How about having your own traveling acupuncturist?  That’s the height of luxury for most of us but, for some, flying your acupuncturist to your location is a necessity. If you are a professional football player whose body is treated violently every week, you will do almost anything to reduce your pain and increase the length of your career.  I don’t think of football players as people who generally embrace alternative medical treatments but 40 of the top players in the NFL scheme to get onto the acupuncturist’s schedule as close to game time as possible. 

The New York Times (11/30/10) profiled Lisa  Ripi, an acupuncturist who travels around the country to treat her football player patients and reduce their soreness, pain, and bruising. Ripi focuses on sore areas, using her needles to increase blood flow, thereby relaxing the player’s tight muscles. Acupuncture has long been known for its effectiveness in treating pain and, as an added benefit, these athletes don’t have to worry about side effects or having drugs in their system.

Another NBA Star Turns To Acupuncture

I imagine that when you are an NBA star and have a contract worth millions, you take your injuries seriously and are willing to be open to new therapies. Certainly, that is the case with Mickael Pietrus, the famous NBA player for the Phoenix Suns who sought treatment at the Shaolin Temple in China. This Temple is well known for it's Eastern medicine approaches. While he was there he received acupuncture, massage and other traditional remedies performed by the Shaolin monks.

Pietrus is not the first basketball star to receive treatment here, both Abbot Shi Yongxin and Shaquille O'Neal have also come to the Temple. Not to mention the many other
NBA players who have tried acupuncture elsewhere.

When Pietrus recently left the Shaolin Temple he said he felt better. That his knees no longer had pain and he would resume practice soon.

Read more

Chinese Medicine PMS

I know that many of you have questions about herbs - the content of tablets and the quality control of ingredients, in particular. Good. It is important to be particular. That is one reason why people need to work with a skilled practitioner. I've investigated many brands and varieties of herbal formulas and have found companies and people who I can depend on. Cathy Margolin, L.A.c., a practitioner who I met several years ago, has developed  formulas for specific ailments. her formulas for sleep and PMS  are very popular. Here is an excerpt from an article she wrote for the Huffington Post that explains how helpful Chinese herbs can be for relieving PMS, with research to back it up.

"Herbs have been around longer than mankind. Through the ages every culture has discovered the healing properties nature provides; this has been a universal phenomenon. The Chinese began embracing natural botanicals and documenting their medicinal value circa 300 BC. The Yellow Emperor's Inner Cannon was one of the first ancient Chinese medical texts from this era and the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica Classic) was the first to index 365 medicinal plants and compiled circa 100 AD. Some 2,000 years later, these same medicinal plants are still in use and have been extensively studied and dissected by Western science looking for keys to how they work.

A study by the Cochrane Library -- an international, not-for-profit, independent organization which promotes and disseminates systematic reviews of heath care interventions -- found evidence from 39 clinical trials involving 3,475 women, that
Chinese herbal medicine can be used safely and has merit as therapy for women suffering with menstrual cramps also known as primary dysmenorrhea: "Chinese herbal medicine gave significant improvements in pain relief when compared to pharmaceutical drugs. It also reduced overall symptoms. The research revealed that Chinese herbal medicine was also better at alleviating pain than acupuncture or heat compression."(1)

"All available measures of effectiveness confirmed the overall superiority of Chinese herbal medicine to placebo, no treatment, NSAIDs, OCP, (oral contraception pills) acupuncture and heat compression, and, at the same time, there were no indications that Chinese herbs caused any adverse events," said lead author Xiaoshu Zhu, who works at the Center for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.(2)"

Read the full article

Rheumatoid Acupuncture

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common chronic inflammatory joint disease. It is classified as an autoimmune disorder, which is a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. I find it fascinating that our immune system, which protects us from so many pathogens on a day to day basis, would attack itself. Essentially what happens is that our body designates one of its own cells as a foreign cell. How could this happen? Throughout our lifetime, and even before we are born, we accumulate environmental toxins, hormone disruptors, and other agents that have become part of what it means to live in a modern society. It is practically unavoidable. With all these components of non-self that are now integrated into our bodies, it is understandable why the body would be confused! These toxins don’t belong there but have become part of our inner landscape none the less. Thus, when managing cases of rheumatoid arthritis, we not only need to regulate pain levels, but we need to support the proper functioning of the immune system and try to uncover what has caused it to wage war on our own tissues.
It is believed that the tendency to develop rheumatoid arthritis may be genetically inherited. It is also believed that certain infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses (i.e. Epstein–Barr virus, parvovirus and bacteria such as Proteus and Mycoplasma) or environmental factors may trigger the activation of the immune system in susceptible individuals. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, and in women, an adverse pregnancy outcome or never having children. It is more prevalent in female populations, which suggests a hormonal component. Factors supporting this hypothesis include the observed protective effect of the oral contraceptive pill, the increased risk in women who are nulliparous (never having given birth to a child), and the increased susceptibility to disease during the first three months postpartum. More research is needed on the role of hormones and genetics, but some of the risk factors for developing RA are preventable with proper health education and good choices.
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the same joints on both sides of the body, which results in progressive destruction of the joints and surrounding tissues.  Often symptoms appear suddenly, and include tenderness and stiffness in the joints, early afternoon fatigue, low-grade fever, deformities and rheumatoid nodules.
Western medicine approaches treatment with rest and passive exercise until the inflammation is controlled. There are numerous pharmacological interventions. NSAIDs are generally the first option. Gold sodium thiomalate and penicillamine are used to block the inflammatory process. Hydroxychloropuine is an antimalarial medication that blocks inflammation by an unknown mechanism. Sulfasalazine blocks the activity of certain enzymes that release inflammatory compounds. Corticosterioids have dramatic short-term relief, but their benefit diminishes over time and they do not prevent the progressive destruction of the joints (see Acupuncture versus Cortisone Injection for the Treatment of Pain).
From a more natural perspective, it is important to take the diet into consideration, as there may be food allergies. Food allergies can cause inflammation in the gut which allows food particles to pass through the intestinal lining and into the blood stream, where they can travel all over the body and cause more inflammation. Vegetables in the nightshade family, including potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, are inflammatory and should be avoided. Plant and fish oils that are high in omega-3 fatty acids help control inflammation, as do carotenoids, which give fruits and vegetables their color.
Acupuncture has received wide spread attention for its ability to decrease pain. In fact, the proportion of chronic pain relieved by acupuncture is generally in the range of 55-85%. This compares favorably with that of potent drugs, such as morphine, which helps in 70% of cases, and far outweighs the placebo effect, which is demonstrated in about 30-35% of cases. (WHO; Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials) However, since its therapeutic actions are achieved by mobilizing the patients’ own potential for healing, acupuncture does not produce adverse effects like many drug therapies. Instead, it is believed that acupuncture decreases pain by increasing endorphin levels, which block pain. This makes it an excellent treatment option, especially in chronic conditions, because most people do not want to take a pill for the rest of their life. In addition, drug interactions are potent causes of illness in our modern society, so keeping the number of medications to a minimum is a high priority.
Rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as Bi (Bee) Syndrome in Chinese Medicine. Most pain conditions fall into this syndrome, including osteoarthritis, rheumatic fever, gout and sciatica. ‘Bi’ means obstruction or blockage. Bi syndrome describes a set of syndromes in which the invasion of external pathogens such as Wind, Cold, Damp, and Heat obstruct the flow of energy and blood in the body. This affects the tendons, bones, muscles and joints, presenting symptoms of pain, soreness, heaviness, numbness, limited range of motion, redness or swelling. Depending on the symptom presentation, Bi syndrome will be classified as heat, cold, wind, or damp dominant. In heat dominant Bi, there will be more redness and burning. Cold dominant will present with limited range of motion with severe fixed pain that is alleviated by warmth. Wind dominant is primarily in the upper half of the body and presents with fairly mild pain that changes location. Damp dominant pain will usually feel heavy and swollen. Each of these will be aggravated by their respective environmental condition. For example, arthritis that is worse in the cold months is usually a Cold dominant Bi.
Acupuncture points, modalities, and Chinese herbs will be selected depending on which syndrome type predominates. If the diagnosis is Cold dominate Bi, moxibustion is an excellent choice. Moxibustion involves burning Mugwort, Artemisia Vulgaris, either directly on the skin or indirectly over acupuncture points.  Doing so decreases inflammation by increasing white blood cell count in the area. Research by Xiao et al. (1992) has shown that moxibustion increases interleukin-2, an immune modulator, which in turn stimulates the proper functioning of the immune system. Thus, not only does acupuncture and moxibustion decrease pain, but they also treat the root cause of the pain, which in the case of RA, is a dysfunction of the immune system. Another study by Li et al. (2006) demonstrated a significant difference between a control group using methotrexate and NSAIDs to treat RA and a treatment group using the same protocol as the control group plus acupuncture and moxibustion. The effectiveness in the treatment group was 60% higher than the control group with less side effects. Thus, attempting to decrease the inflammation and subsequent pain by using natural methods before heading to pharmaceutical intervention is an excellent option.
In conclusion, the use of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a viable option for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Supporting the proper functioning of the immune system while decreasing inflammation will produce more lasting results than simply masking the pain with NSAIDs. In addition, a thorough health history and dietary education may provide insight for the patient on how their actions contribute to their health and vitality, thereby giving them the power to take their healing into their own hands.