New Research Shows Salicylic Acid Targets A Pathway To Cell Death In Parkinson's, And It's Better With Licorice!
April is Parkinson's Awareness month! This post highlights some exciting new research in Parkinson's Disease (PD) at Cornell University.
Researchers found that the main ingredient in aspirin may stop the process leading to cell death in PD. The published paper can be found here. The compound is called salicylic acid and is found naturally in many plants. Scientists were studying its effect on cell death in plants when they noticed its similarities to a medication called selegiline, used to prolong the anti-parkinson activity of levodopa.
To understand its potential to treat PD, the researchers know they would need to study it in human cells. They tested three forms of salicylic acid (plant-derived, synthetic, and a form from Chinese medicinal herb licorice) to see if it could prevent cell death in human cells.
This research shows that salicylic acid may interact with an enzyme linked to PD to stop cell death in laboratory settings. This opens the door to development of compounds that are similar to, but more effective than, aspirin. Undoubtedly, more research is needed. Note, although salicylic acid is a main component of aspirin, aspirin itself has not been shown to be beneficial in PD.
In this study, a medicinal Chinese herb was as effective as a synthetic compound, and more effective than aspirin itself. Meanwhile, eating licorice for these therapeutic purposes is not recommended. The licorice used in this study is a specific form derived from Chinese medicine.
About licorice root:
Licorice root, Radix Glycyrrhizae, is traditional Chinese herb that tonifies energy, especially in the digestive and respiratory systems. In combination with other herbs, it releases cramps and alleviates pain, is used as a poison antidote, can lessen the harsh and toxic nature of other herbs, and enhances the overall effects of an herbal formula.
Source: Parkinson Disease Foundation
Spring has arrived, which means many of us will begin a seasonal spring cleanse. A gentle and thorough spring cleanse is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine. The goal is to remove any stagnation left over from the conservation of winter, lighten our systems in preparation for the high activity of summer, and become more vibrant and focused. Additionally, a spring cleanse helps us to decide what is important and what to let go of in pursuit of greater wellbeing.
Spring is characterized by expansive energy that promotes growth and change. It is important to exercise, be in nature, and practice deep breathing exercises to align with this energy and gain its benefits. For more information, read this article on how to spring forward into health.
What I want to discuss is how your body works during the cleansing process.
First, metabolic waste is pushed into the circulation system. This process is led by the liver where the blood, which carries metabolic waste, is stored and filtered. From the liver, blood flows into the right atrium of the heart, also where the lymph system empties. With contraction, the blood and lymph enters the lungs to become oxygenated. Initial cleansing side effects at this stage include symptoms of cold/flu, congestion, or coughing.
The blood then flows back to the left heart. There is a strong connection between the heart and mind in traditional Chinese medicine. This connection correlates to emotional release, insights, or insomnia as waste is removed from the heart.
Waste is then circulated through the digestive system. A functioning digestive system is able to eliminate some waste with defecation. If the digestive system is weak or stagnant, the waste can become stuck and common side effects are bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or flatulence. As the blood continues to circulate, it reaches our kidneys which eliminate some waste via urine. Waste that is not able to be excreted travels back to the liver.
On one hand, this cycle can be quite fast- your heart circulates blood approximately 1400 times per day. But we can also become stuck at one part of this cycle for weeks or months, making this process much longer. It is valuable to note what symptoms you experience during a detox, as this can help you understand where health issues originate and where they progress to.
To recap: waste is drained into the circulation system, which is eventually excreted via sweat, breath, urine, bowel movements, and emotional release. With any cleanse, it is important to move gradually so the body can efficiently manage the discharge of waste.
By clearing waste and preventing reabsorption, we make room for the body’s natural process of regeneration and rejuvenation.
To make your spring cleanse as beneficial as possible, consider incorporating some acupuncture or herbs to harmonize your body’s energy and expedite the rejuvenating process.
Why do I always wake around 3:00 am? Why is it so difficult to get up in the mornings? Why is it harder to fall asleep after a large dinner? While googling these questions yields interesting reasons, such as stress, supernatural powers, or demonic possession, they can also be answered with the traditional Chinese medicine body clock.
The TCM body clock reflects the cyclical ebb and flow of energy in your body over a 24 hour period. Energy moves in two hour intervals through each organ system. From 3:00 am until 3:00 pm, the energy is focused in the outward moving organs whose functions reflect movement, digestion, and elimination. From 3:00pm until 3:00 am, the energy moves inward to support the internal organs associated with rejuvenating and maintaining your body, such as filtering waste and cleansing.
Best time to... Best time to...
3:00-5:00am Lung Sleep deeply 3:00-5:00pm Bladder Drink tea and work
5:00-7:00am L. Intestine Wake and drink H2O 5:00-7:00pm Kidney Eat dinner
7:00-9:00am Stomach Eat breakfast 7:00-9:00pm Pericardium Go on a date
9:00-11:00am Spleen Work and workout 9:00-11:00pm Triple Warmer Get ready for bed
11:00-1:00pm Heart Eat lunch with friends 11:00-1:00am Gallbladder Be asleep
1:00-3:00pm S. Intestine Organize and problem solve 1:00-3:00am Liver Sleep deep and dream
Tips based on the TCM body clock:
The chart shows the optimal time of each organ system. Also, when one organ system is at its peak energy, the organ system 12 hours away is at its weakest. The goal is to plan your daily activities to maximize an organ system’s energy while avoiding actions that strain the organ system on the opposite side of the spectrum. Here are some lifestyle habits to help harmonize your energy:
· Liver: During the night, the liver stores and detoxes the blood. Too much alcohol, prescription drugs, or poor diet habits can overwhelm the Liver energy and cause you to wake during these hours. The weakest organ at this time is the Small Intestine, which is responsible for the assimilation of key nutrients from food and drink. Eating a heavy meal late at night means that food is not digested well and the Liver is less efficient at filtering the blood. Therefore, the more time that passes between the last meal of the day and 1:00am, the better the Liver will be at accomplishing its functions.
· Large Intestine: Make sure to give yourself enough time in the morning to allow for the normal elimination of the large intestine. Going on a brisk walk and drinking lots of warm water help facilitate the process.
· Stomach / Small Intestine: Try to eat heavier meals at breakfast and lunch to utilize the expanding and warming energy as it peaks at 12:00pm. These earlier, larger meals help to deliver nutrients to the Small Intestine when it is strongest, aiding in digestion and absorption.
· Kidney: The Kidney energy is aligned with the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands secrete hormones that help us wake with energy in the mornings. The Kidney energy is weakest from 5:00-7:00am, which can explain why people with depleted Kidney energy have a difficult time waking in the mornings.
Another way to maximize this energy is to incorporate acupuncture and Chinese herbs into your lifestyle. Acupuncture and herbs can help to balance your energy, creating a smooth transition of energy within your day.
It is called Taichong, or Great Rushing. Located between the first and second metatarsal bones, it is the source point of the Liver channel. Source points are acupuncture points where energy from deep in the body surfaces and concentrates. These points modulate organ function.
Activating this point helps to improve any stagnation, any time of year. It is extra beneficial during the springtime to address issues like itchy, watery eyes or headaches. Spring Forward Into Health has more info about the Liver and spring connection.
Starting at your toes, run your finger between the metatarsal bones toward your ankle on both feet. The point is located at the pronounced depression before the junction of the metatarsals. Apply pressure in the area until you discover a tender spot. Then, apply firm pressure until it feels a little achy. Repeat until the achiness disappears.
It's Parkinson's Awareness Month!
Nearly one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease. Up to 85% of people with Parkinson’s report pain as a major complaint. In Parkinson’s, most pain is a result of injured tissue from persistent tremor, muscle rigidity, dystonia, or musculoskeletal injury.
Untreated pain can interfere with daily activities and quality of life. The level of pain a person feels is influenced by emotional factors, how he or she views the pain, and how he or she pays attention to it. Feeling helpless, or reacting to pain with a high level of stress, can worsen pain.
The best pain management choice includes both pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches. Traditional Chinese medicine treatments are one of many options to choose from. Not only can acupuncture and herbal medicine decrease muscle tension, but it also helps with factors that compound pain, such as poor sleep, depression, or anxiety.
Source: Parkinson’s Disease Foundation
While winter was a time to rest and go inward, spring is a time of renewal and regeneration. In traditional Chinese medicine, spring is associated with the liver and its energy is expansive and outward moving.
When liver energy is balanced, we are able to make decisions and follow through with our creative visions, our tendons are flexible, and our eyes are clear and bright. When the liver is out of balance, we may notice foggy thinking, tight tendons, red and itchy eyes, or increased agitation.
Four tips to put some spring in your step:
When spring arises, if you begin to feel out of balance, consider receiving a traditional Chinese medicine treatment. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs can help to improve the health of your liver, as well as harmonize with spring’s energy.
Thoughts and practical tips to protect your health based in the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
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