With 4.5 million Americans currently living with knee replacements, it is fast becoming in extremely common procedure. While improved technology and surgery techniques are making this procedure much more successful, patients are still not well informed as to the reality of post surgery recovery. One study of patients undergoing physical therapy post knee replacement showed the majority of patients only completed eight weeks of physical therapy, and at this point their mobility was worse than before the surgery. The recovery is even worse for people who are obese, elderly, have multiple joints replaced or multiple joints affected with pain. Acupuncture is an approach that has been used very successfully post-surgery and many more studies are showing acupuncture helps this process by reducing inflammation and pain post surgery. However, when people only look at scientific articles it is difficult to translate this into what this actually means for your recovery post surgery, specifically what are you actually going to feel and be able to do with your new knee. For this reason here is a story of two patients who came in for knee problems post knee replacement surgery. The first patient came in immediately after surgery, the other six months after.
For patient #1, while their knee was sore and swollen like it typically is post replacement, they were only a week out of their surgery and everything lay before them as they endeavored to do everything they could to recover well. For patient #2, it had certainly been “the worst of times.” Six months out from their knee replacement adhesions had formed all around the knee, walking was a continually painful exercise and the tension and pain was not only worse than it had been before the surgery, but now the hip, the back and the opposite knee were also starting to become very painful. This all despite the fact both patients were undergoing physical therapy for their knee directly after their surgery.
When treating patient #1 immediately after their surgery we did not do acupuncture and massage directly over the replaced knee as the risk of infection is still high in the initial stages. The treatment consisted of acupuncture points above and below the knee, points in other areas of the body, which are beneficial for pain and healing of the knee, and massage on the leg, hip, back. In general, the treatment was designed to not only help the affected knee, but to also treat other areas of the body to help the muscles and tissues not become tight and sore from the compensation of walking with a limp post surgery. As the treatments went on we were able to treat more directly on the affected knee and electrical stimulation was applied to further decrease pain and increase circulation through the affected area. After only four weeks patient #1 was able to ride a bike, have nearly 110o of flexion in the knee, and perform many different weight bearing exercises. Not only that, but the opposite knee(which the doctors advised replacing in the future) was having no problems and felt better than it had in years. At six weeks the knee would feel some soreness post a heavy workout, but otherwise felt mostly recovered. At eight weeks the knee felt as good as it had in years. At this point was when I saw patient #2 who was six months post surgery, walking with a cane and having problems throughout their back, hip and other knee. Immediately we began a similar procedure as in patient #1 with the addition of massage to break apart the scar tissue and adhesions that had formed. After 4 weeks the patient was recovering well, they had increased movement, were riding a bike daily and had a decrease in their pain, however the knee still would get sore after a mild workout and it took a few more months before they began to see the improvements that patient #1 saw after only 6 weeks.
These stories are by no means singular cases. While anecdotal case studies are not an depth scientific analysis as to the physiological mechanisms involved in post surgical care, they are perhaps more relevant to you the patient. Through hearing these stories you can know what you should expect post surgery, and more importantly what kind of treatment you should be receiving. Too often I see patients come in many months post surgery in the same state as patient #2 because they were never told what their options were for optimal recovery. Inevitably when I explain to them what there recovery plan should have looked like they are frustrated they didn’t receive the information beforethe surgery. So, if you are looking at getting a joint replacement, or any surgery for that matter, please seek a qualified acupuncturist, massage therapist and physical therapist. It will be the difference in recovering twice as fast with little to no complications.
How many of you out there suffer from Allergies? How many of you are tired of continual allergy shots and allergy medication?
Currently the CDC reports 6.7 million people suffered from hayfever, 8.3 million from respiratory allergies, 4.1 million from food allergies and 9.5 million from skin allergies last year. The odds of a child who is born to 1 parent with allergies also suffering from allergies are 33%, and for children born with both parents suffering from allergies the odds are 70% the child will as well. Clearly, allergies affect most of us in the US and the problem is not going away anytime soon. However, there is good news out there for allergy sufferers. A revolutionary technique called NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique)© can completely eliminate your allergies. Yes, I know it sounds too good to be true, and just like me, you probably are very skeptical of any treatment that claims it can eliminate your allergies, but the truth is it works.
NAET© was developed by Dr. Devi Nambudripad after her experience in curing her own allergies. She, like many of you has suffered from allergies her entire life. Hers were so severe she was not able to eat anything other than white rice and broccoli and wear any clothes other than silk. One day though, after a particularly bad reaction to carrots she gave herself a treatment with acupuncture and fell asleep. When she woke, she felt surprisingly better. She bravely decided to eat the carrot again and amazingly had no reaction. As it turns out when she did the treatment on herself and fell asleep she still had the carrot in her hand. From that point on she looked into this concept more and more, and through her combined disciplines of chiropractics, western medicine and acupuncture she developed NAET©. Today there are practitioners of NAET© throughout the world treating not only allergies, but many different intractable diseases that are now known to have an allergic root.
The concept of NAET© stems from the idea in Chinese Medicine that energy travels through all things in the universe. For one reason or another, the energy of your body can become incompatible with that of any other thing in the world. Then, when your body comes in contact with the dissonant energy of the allergic object the energy of your body begins to flow abnormally. As stated in the basic principles of Chinese Medicine, each energetic pathway is connected with specific organs and tissues in your body so when the energy in a particular channel is flowing abnormally it will then begin to negatively affect the corresponding organ and tissue. Therefore, in order to treat the allergy we need to harmonize the energy of your body with that of the object you are allergic to. For example, if you are playing piano or guitar and one string is out of tune, but all the rest are in tune, every time you try and play a chord using that string it will sound horrible. The chord will be dissonant and the notes don’t resonate together in the way they should. In order to fix the disharmonious chord you must adjust the particular string so it is in tune with the rest of the instrument again. The same is true with your body. When we are doing an NAET© treatment we are performing the treatment in the presence of the allergen, and by using various pressure points and acupuncture points throughout your body it will bring the affected energy channel and the energy of the offending object back “in tune” with the rest of your body. Perhaps the most remarkable results of this is not just the reduction in your symptoms, but with continual treatment it is possible to visually see on any lab test the allergic markers being reduced.
If you are interested in eliminating you allergies or if you have symptoms that have been unsuccessfully treated come in today and explore the possibilities of NAET©. For more information on this treatment visit www.naet.com and click on the link for patients.
►With $2.6 trillion in healthcare costs, the US has the highest in the world.(2)
►Americans are some of the unhealthiest and most obese in the world.(3)
►38% of Americans are now using Complementary and Alternative Health.(1)
►Regular use of CAM therapy can improve your health and lower your healthcare costs!!(5,6)
As the economy around the world continues to stagnate, and healthcare reform in the United States battles onward, everyone is worrying about healthcare costs. Some are saying healthcare reform will hurt costs, others say it will help; the only thing for certain is the US health system needs to change. Despite the fact that the US spends the most money on healthcare we are still some of the unhealthiest people in the world. Overall, the 2000 World Report by the WHO ranked the US healthcare system as #37 in the world. A large part of the problem is the fact that because healthcare in the US is expensive many people can’t afford the care they need. As more and more Americans become disenfranchised and can’t afford US healthcare they begin to use Complementary and Alternative Medicine(CAM). Now, studies are being done showing that these people who use CAM medicine such as acupuncture, massage, herbs and supplements are making a smart financial decision. It turns out these people tend to have lower healthcare costs.
A recent study done in Washington state where 90% of people use CAM therapies showed “that CAM users with low back pain, fibromyalgia, or menopausal symptoms had lower average expenditures compared to non-CAM users ($3,797 vs $4,153, P=0.0001). The most impressive difference in expenditures was seen in patients with the highest disease burden, wherein patients with the poorest health cost an average of $1,420 less annually if they were CAM users compared to those who were under the care of conventional providers exclusively (P<0.0001).” This means not only do people save money when they use CAM therapies for mild things such as colds, flus, minor aches and pains, digestive conditions, but they actually save even more money when they use CAM therapies for serious chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. In many more studies done throughout the United States and the world various Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) techniques have been shown to be cost-saving. “Some examples of cost savings were seen for acupuncture in reducing breech presentation in the Netherlands, acupuncture for low back in the United Kingdom, manual therapy for neck pain, vitamin K for preventing osteoporotic fractures, and adjunctive use of antioxidants for preventing cataract formation.” Another study reviewing 12,036 treatments for back pain showed patients using CAM therapies saved an average of $796 on their total annual medical health care costs. Most importantly, however, this study also found “CAM users did not add to the overall medical spending in a nationally representative sample with neck and back problems.” Considering, back problems are the number one reason for workman’s compensation claims and the number one reason for missing work this is a huge finding. It essentially means people using CAM to treat their back pain did not have to seek professional medical help from places such as the emergency room. Right now some of the biggest healthcare costs in this country are due to people not being able to pay their medical bills due to either a lack of insurance or the bills being too expensive. In this study these people consistently paid their bills, paid a lower bill and did not add to the growing problem of government funded health costs.
Right now everyone is trying to figure out how to save money on healthcare and now studies show we can save money on healthcare by covering CAM therapies. Seems like we have a win-win situation here, and yet this is never mentioned in the healthcare debate and insurance companies continue to not cover it. Why? Unfortunately, we are fighting against a very entrenched status quo here. Not only are there thousands of doctors who have been trained to practice medicine in a certain fashion, and have been doing so for decades, but the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in selling their type of medicine and not an alternative one. Furthermore, insurance companies and the medical industry is generally a for profit industry and less money is made in covering healthy individuals using good supplements and successful CAM treatments. To be fair, insurance companies have become much better at covering CAM treatment, however it is still nowhere near where it should be compared to the prevalence of CAM usage in the United States. Another reason often cited for the lack of coverage of CAM, is the lack of evidence to support the efficacy of CAM therapies. However, we have now created a “self fulfilling prophecy.” First, we say there is not enough research to support CAM treatment, then we don’t give the money needed to support CAM, therefore there is not enough money to do more research on CAM treatments. This circle goes on and on where the majority of the money spent on medical research is spent by pharmaceutical companies on proving the efficacy of their treatments, and not by institutions studying techniques and modalities of care that have existed for millennia before modern pharmaceuticals even existed. However, there still is hope, in that despite this huge discrepancy in research spending, more and more high quality studies are being published on CAM. The only problem now is that doctors and insurance companies are not choosing to look at the new data that supports CAM and simply sticking to their status quo of treatment options.
So, what needs to be done to change this? Truly, the only thing that will make a difference is you. If each person who wants to use CAM talks to their insurance company, and talks to their medical practitioners then slowly the culture around medicine will change. The proof is that in several states certain CAM treatments are mandated by the state government to be included in healthcare coverage. For example, acupuncture coverage is mandated in California, Florida, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Massage therapist coverage is mandated in Maryland, New Hampshire, Utah and Washington. Naturopath coverage is mandated in Alaska, Montana, Vermont and Washington. As everyone knows, dealing with politics and insurance companies is about as fun as a trip to the DMV, however, in the end it not only could save you a significant amount of money, but more importantly it can improve your health and quality of life. So, please exercise your political voice by speaking to your legislators and voting for CAM treatments. Vote with your dollars and continue to support CAM. While you’re paying for your supplements, or your acupuncture treatment, it may seem like you’re spending more money than when you pay a $20 copay, but annually it will actually save you money by having to see the doctor less and not having to pay for more serious and expensive procedures. Most importantly though, talk with your insurance company or human resource department to get CAM included in your insurance coverage so you can just pay a $20 copay. For while most of these treatments are based on ancient wisdom, only modern science, continued activism and future budgeting will allow them to flourish.
1.Barnes, Patricia MA, et. al. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007 National Health Statistics Report. Dec. 10, 2008
2.Beamesderfer, Adara and Usha Ranji. US Healthcare Costs Kaiser Health news http://www.kaiseredu.org/issue-modules/us-health-care-costs/background-brief.aspx. Feb, 2012
3.Knox, Richard. U.S. Ranks Below 16 Other Rich Countries In Health Report http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/01/09/168976602/u-s-ranks-below-16-other-rich-countries-in-health-report. January 09, 2013
4.Musgrove, Philip et al. The World Health Report 2000: health systems: improving health World Health Organization, 2000
5.Martin BI, et. al. The association of complementary and alternative medicine use and health care expenditures for back and neck problems Med Care. Dec 2012;50(12):1029-36
6. Tais, Setareh ND and Erica Oberg, ND MPH. The Economic Evaluation of Complementary and Alternative Health, The growing importance of including naturopathic doctors in healthcare reform Natural Medicine Journal. Feb 06, 2013.
Whenever I’m giving a massage I get the question, “How come if I hurt myself in one spot, it begins to hurt in another spot?” Or, in a related question, “How come if I hurt here you’re massaging over there?” In response, I will always tell people “Everything is connected and when muscles get tight they invariably pull on other muscles that are connected.” This is a short explanation of a much larger concept that forms the whole theory of, not only massage, but stretching, physical therapy and even basic reflexes such as the knee jerk response, or walking.
When describing our body we always talk of separate muscles, connective tissues, tendons and ligaments, but in reality all of these tissues can be seen as not separate tissues, but one myofascial system. This system is comprised of muscles which are surrounded, and connected to fascia, which then form the tendons, which then flow into the periosteum (the covering around the bone) from which arise the ligaments, joining to the subsequent periosteum, to the next tendon and so on and so forth. The connective tissue surrounding the muscles and bones is like a continuous sheet of saran wrap throughout the body wrapping all these structures. Just like a plastic pouch where the two sheets of plastic are sealed together at either end, so to does the fascial system surround the muscles and bones then fold and join together in various specific places. In fact these folds and areas of joining tend to run vertically throughout your body from the toes to the head, and from the fingers to the head. Around these folds and places of attachments it is much easier for the muscles and surrounding tissues to become knotted and therefore not move easily. Normally, the fascia and all the muscles have a certain amount of lubrication around them, but when they become stuck and knotted, circulation in the area decreases and the amount of lubrication decreases making the area even more stuck and painful.
These knots are areas where circulation has decreased and toxins have accumulated in the muscles and surrounding tissues. These toxins, such as lactic acid, and various proteins cause the muscle to contract and the tissues to become stuck together. The problem is then aggravated when the nerves running through the myofascial system begin to sned incorrect signals. Normally, nerves continuously send signals to the brain about how tight the muscles are and where the position of these tissues are in space. However, when the tissues become stuck, and the muscles contract for a long period of time the nerves begin to send false signals to the brain. The nerves adapt to the pathological length and tension so the brain begins to think the muscles and tissues are at the correct length and tension when in reality they are too tight and not moving correctly.
All the techniques we have in massage are used to affect this whole myofascial system. Massage, frees up the areas where tissues are stuck, circulates out the toxins accumulating in the area and resets the nerves so the brain can signal the muscle to relax and allow the tissues to move freely again. Where these techniques are applied are usually along the folded and attached areas within the myofascial system where one area of stuck tissue has pulled on another, and another and therefore restricted the whole system. So, next time you pull a muscle or have a painful “knot” in your body and that whole side of your body begins to hurt understand that everything is truly connected. Then, in order to work out the problem use massage, stretching and physical therapy to affect every link in the myofascial chain that is painful.
Whenever people ask me what I do, I always tell them I practice acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Inevitably they know what acupuncture is but are often unsure as to what Chinese Medicine is. Given that most people don’t know that acupuncture is only one part of Chinese Medicine, and aren’t familiar with Chinese Medicine as a whole, I figured I’d give a brief explanation as to what this type of medicine is.
Chinese Medicine has five main branches of treatment modalities, acupuncture, massage (tui na the Chinese form of massage), herbal medicine, nutrition and exercise. Acupuncture also includes more than the use of hair-thin needles to stimulate points throughout the body, and includes the techniques of moxibustion, gua sha, or scraping, and cupping. In fact the Chinese word for acupuncture is zhen jiu which literally translates to acupuncture-moxibustion. Most people in the West, when they think of the acupuncture system only picture the channels, or meridians, and acupuncture points that and don’t realize that Chinese Medicine is in fact a whole system of medicine with its own unique physiology and diagnostic system. This is why it takes 3-4 years of graduate level education, just like in traditional Western Medical education, to learn how to properly treat someone using these techniques. First, we have to learn the basic ways in which the body functions, then we have to learn the ways in which those functions become diseased, and finally we have to learn how to treat them. Not only that, but we learn this from both a Western and Chinese viewpoint.
For example, from the view of Chinese Medicine everything, and everybody, has a balance of yin and yang. Yin qualities are all the cooling, moistening, physical, substantial, nutritive qualities, whereas yang are all the heating, warming, energetic, moving, metabolizing aspects. Everyone must maintain this balance of yin and yang, because if either becomes more or less than the other disease will result.
Yin and yang can further be subdivided into the five elements. The elements correspond to the specific functions each organ must carry out in the body and the various processes which take place not only through the day but throughout our lives as well. The word “element” in Chinese is translated from the word xing, which actually translates better to a fundamental process and not a static thing. For example, the word xing is used for pedestrian as well. If any one of these “elements” is not balanced with the rest than these fundamental processes in the body break down and disease will result. To connect everything further, the elements, the organs and the yin yang balance is all tied in through an energetic flow within channels, or meridians. There are twelve main meridians that distribute all the energy and various substances through the body. Just like yin and yang and the five elements if any of these is not balanced with the rest, or if any become blocked than disease results.
Overall, these processes and systems are connected in very specific ways. They are affected by the food we eat, the activities we do and the environment around us. It is very important to know exactly what system is affected by what and how to arrive at a proper diagnosis to figure out the best treatment to bring it all back into balance. This treatment at its core is preventative. Therefore it is always our goal to use the tools available to us to prevent disease before it becomes a bigger problem. This is why even though we will often use acupuncture, herbs and/or massage, nutrition and exercise are in reality the most profound treatments. Nutrition and exercise are the simplest and easiest ways that you can prevent disease on a daily basis. This is reflected in a basic tenant of Chinese Herbal Medicine medicinals that can be taken on a daily basis with no risk of side effect, i.e. food, are considered the most superior forms of medicine, as opposed to the medicinals consumed for a short period of time because they have a high risk of side effects are considered the most inferior forms of medicine. This idea of food as medicine is very important in Chinese Medicine and every person should have a basic understanding of what they should or should not eat depending on who they are as a person and what type of illness may be affecting them. Exercise is also very important in China where, even in the largest cities, there are many beautiful parks with walking paths, there are parks with outdoor exercise equipment on many corners and every morning you will see people doing exercises such as qi gong and tai qi throughout the parks and in their homes. Ultimately, when you take care of your body on a daily basis with nutrition and exercise you may only need to see a practitioner for massage, acupuncture and/or herbs once in a while.
During the SARS epidemic “health workers (took) herbal formulas to boost their immune system and combat the virus. Equally, patients treated with Chinese herbal formulas were achieving a much higher success rate compared to the Western medical approach of using the antiviral ribavirin combined with steroids.” (Reuters, April 21, 2003)
As this quote shows Chinese Herbal Medicine has been highly effective at treating epidemic diseases such as SARS and the same holds true for other diseases that are simpler such as the common cold and flu. In fact, Chinese Herbal Medicine is not the only form of herbal medicine that has demonstrated effectiveness in treating these diseases and many other traditions of herbal medicine throughout the world also contain efficacious herbs. There is a certain sense of irony as each year fear over a flu pandemic grows, and yet there have been effective herbal treatments for this and other infectious diseases.
One of the most important qualities of herbal medicine that makes it highly effective in treating these diseases is the differing diagnostic criteria compared to Western Medicine. For example, in western medicine to treat influenza the same treatments are always used. First, one must provide an influenza vaccination to prevent influenza, and if a person contracts the virus and is in a vulnerable state then treat the symptoms. Unfortunately, as recent history demonstrates the efficacy of these treatments is not always that great because there is limited ability to treat the virus itself. Herbal medicine on the other hand treats illness according to each person’s unique set of symptoms and therefore different herbs are used at different stages of disease. There are always going to be similarities and differences in each disease presentation, but whereas western medicine may diagnose the same illness in two people and therefore prescribe the same treatment, herbal medicine may view the same disease as having two differing diagnoses.
When we are discussing colds and flus in Chinese Medicine there are two main criteria for diagnoses, cold and heat. In Chinese Medicine humans and nature are inseparable parts of the same whole and under the same influences. Therefore, out in nature there are many influences upon the environment such as cold, wind, heat, humidity and dryness and these influences can also affect your body. For example, if you have contracted the flu and you have chills, very achey muscles, possibly a headache, some nausea, a runny and congested nose with clear mucus then these symptoms are most likely due to cold. Cold causes things to contract and be tight and aching so those are the main symptoms experienced and one must use warming herbs to disperse the cold.. On the other hand if you have a severe sore throat, a headache, nausea and a fever this is most likely due to heat and “light and fluffy” herbs that float to the upper body and release the cold through the surface are used. While there are many different formulas and herbs that could be used I will focus on a few that have been shown to be highly effective.
The first group of herbs I will discuss are ones that are better at treating what in Chinese Medicine is known as heat. The most common symptoms seen with this pattern of diseases usually includes sore throat, fever and cough with colored mucus and is most often treated with a formula in Chinese Medicine called Yin Qiao San. Within this formula are 10 herbs, some of which I will discuss later, but the main herbs for which the formula is named after are Jin Yin Hua(Honeysuckle) and Lian Qiao(forsythia). The overall formula inhibits viruses and enhances the immune systems ability to attack against pathogens. It is anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy and enhances the phagocytic ability of macrophages. The main herbs in this formula, Jin Yin Hua and Lian Qiao have these effects and more. They are also effective at relieving cough and Lian Qiao is highly effective against the influenza virus. Two other herbs within this formula Jing Jie and Mint both contain high quantities of menthol or menthol like chemicals which have effects at alleviating pain, inhibiting bacteria, decreasing inflammation and reducing fever. Mint, in its various forms has been an herb highly valued in Western Herbal medicine for many centuries. In the Bible it is described as being used as a tithe to the Pharisees. The form used in Chinese Medicine differs slightly to that used in Western Herbal medicine but both have similar constituents and activities. Two other herbs which are being used more for there powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects are ban lan gen(isatis) and Huang Qin(Scute). Ban Lan Gen’s effectiveness has been demonstrated in numerous studies to be effective at treating many different infectious diseases from bacterial endotoxins to lyme disease and influenza. Huang Qin has also been shown to be highly effective at treating many forms of infection as well as being anti-inflammatory and slightly sedative. In fact, the form of scute used in western medicine differs from that of Chinese version and is used primarily as a sedative.
Several western herbs are worth mentioning here as well, namely goldenseal, chamomile, olive leaf, oregano and thyme. Goldenseal contains a highly antiseptic ingredient called berberine. Along with thyme, the essential oil of oregano and olive leaf these herbs are extremely effective at treating bacteria and viruses. Chamomile is an herb that is used for many differing complaints from digestive upset, to nervousness and irritability but also contains constituents which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects that would help in treating colds and flus. A Chinese herb, Ju Hua(Chrysanthemum) has similar effects to chamomile and is traditionally used for similar complaints.
As mentioned before however, there are differing symptoms a person may have when they contract a common cold or flu. When these infections take hold it is possible one may not have a sore throat, but instead have muscle aches, more chills than fever, clear mucus and possibly a headache. These symptoms are associated with a different pattern in Chinese Medicine and while the aforementioned herbs may help there are different herbs that are used more effectively. The herbs used in this situation tend to be “warmer” according to Chinese Medcine. These are herbs such as Ma Huang(ephedra), Gui Zhi(cinnamon) and Sheng Jiang(ginger). In western medicine herbs such as thyme, garlic, the already mentioned ginger and oregano fall in this category. Interestingly, all these herbs demonstrate anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects. However, these herbs also have differing effects on increasing superficial circulation, inducing sweat and relieving pain which assists in relieving the aching feeling and enhancing the immune systems abilities to fight infection. Some of these herbs such as ma huang are highly effective at dilating the bronchioles in cases of respiratory inflammation, reducing fever, and assisting the immune system as well. Overall, depending on what symptoms and what area of the body is more affected one can use differing herbs.
Often these herbs are combined with other herbs to further enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off infection during a cold or more importantly to prevent an infection from taking hold in the first place. One main formula for this purpose in Chinese Medicine is Yu Ping Feng San or the Jade Windscreen. There are only three herbs in this formula one of which has become extremely popular in both western and Chinese herbal medicine, Huang Qi(Astragalus). This herb is used in enhancing the immune function not only in respect to preventing colds and flus, but is commonly used in China during cancer treatment to prevent the damaging effects on the immune system. Echinacea is a common herb in Western herbal medicine that is used for a similar purpose. It has been shown to have marked effects on increasing the white blood cells function of fighting infections.
Overall, the most important thing to keep in mind when treating and/or preventing the common cold and flu is to treat the symptoms as they are presenting in you. For example, you may be a person that always gets a sore throat when you get sick or you may be different and instead always get achey joints and chills. Depending on who you are different herbs may be more effective. When in doubt seek a qualified herbal practitioner in order to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Parkinson’s Nutrition Advice
Parkinson’s disease is a condition caused by degeneration of nerves within the brain that produce dopamine. In Chinese Medicine Parkinson’s is considered to mainly be a deficiency of “yin.” Nerves are considered a yin substance and yin is the cooling, moistening, nutritive, grounding aspect of the body. So, in Parkinson’s it is very common to see symptoms such as tremors, difficulties with balance and dizziness from the lack of grounding substance; a degeneration of the nutritive aspect of the body such as the nerves; dryness and constipation. One yin substance in the body referred to as Blood, is also often deficient in Parkison’s. Blood is the nutritive substance within the body that is made from the combination of the energy of the digestive processes and the essence, or jing, within the body. Therefore, it is important to nourish the yin and Blood of the body. In order to do this one must not only consume food, which from a Chinese Medicine perspective nourishes yin and Blood, but also consume food which boosts the digestive energy in order to enhance production of Blood as well.
Nutrition for Healthy Nerves and Yin
Western Nutrition agrees with Chinese Medicine
From a western medicine perspective consuming foods that enhance the nerves ability to produce dopamine, reduce the possibility of further nerve damage and provide the nutrients the nerves need to continue to function and grow is what is most recommended. Western medicine often emphasizes supplementation and individual chemical nutrients in order to assist with symptoms of Parkinson’s, however these nutrients are contained in many common foods. In fact as shown below these nutrients are contained in the foods listed above which Chinese Medicine has promoted for the last several thousand years.
Fall is now upon us and that means falling leaves, cooler weather, Halloween costumes and of course those dreaded colds and flus. During this time of year I treat many people for their runny noses, sore throats and coughs and thought it would be beneficial to give a few tips from Chinese Medicine on how to stay healthy this season.
In Chinese Medicine there are five main elements that not only govern the world around us, but also our bodies within. Fall time is associated with the metal element which corresponds to the Lungs in Chinese Medicine. Traditionally, humans would use metal tools in order to perform many functions such as defending themselves from attack, reaping the crops for the harvest, or pruning back the plants in preparation for the winter. These functions are all attributed to the Lungs as well. The lungs are in charge of your bodies defenses and must mount a proper immune response and they must harvest the oxygen and nutrients from the air through the process of respiration. They must also prune back the waste material and rid the body of carbon dioxide and also rid other waste products through the paired organ of the Large Intestine. Just as the tress must shed their leaves each year so must your body shed unwanted and used material on a regular basis.
Chinese Medicine uses acupuncture, herbs and nutrition to support all these functions of the Lungs in order to maintain a healthy system and fight off any viruses that may be trying to take hold. First of all, receiving regular acupuncture if you’re prone to getting sick or if you are already experiencing symptoms can boost your immune system and reduce the time it takes to kick that cold. Secondly, there are many very classic herbal formulas that have been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries that support the immune system, actively fight off bacteria and viruses and reduce any symptoms such as cough, sore throat or a runny nose. Finally, proper nutrition is essential for maintaining your bodies immune system and can even reduce any symptoms that you may be experiencing. Some specific foods such as mushrooms are great for boosting the immune system and keeping your body strong. Apples, pears and almonds are all fruits that are harvested in the fall and extremely beneficial to the lungs. During this time of year, especially in Colorado, the lungs are prone to dryness and we easily get that dry sore throat, sticky sputum that is difficult to cough up and causes irritation and cough. Foods such as apples, pears and almonds help moisten the lungs, soothe that dry and irritated throat and reduce coughing. A traditional recipe from China calls for an Asian pear cut in half and scoop out a small section in the middle of each half. Fill with slivered almonds, rock sugar and cinnamon and place in the oven at 400 degrees until soft. (If rock sugar is not available use good quality local honey.)
So, remember while you’re enjoying those beautiful fall colors and trying to stay healthy to eat healthily and treat any symptoms that come up before it manifests into a severe cold.