The ability to adapt to the stresses of life is fundamental to life itself. Adaptability is the root of evolution and the rate limiting factor to biological success. Fortunately, human beings are one of the most adaptable creatures on earth. We have adapted to almost every climate. People live in some of the hottest, driest, dampest, coldest, and most barren parts of the earth.
In this age, a healthy person easily adapts to a wide range of normal stressors, such as changes in weather, nutrition, emotions, or physical activity. Success could be measured by how well we handle stress. Those who manage stress well generally take on greater challenges, overcome more obstacles, and get more accomplished.
Successfully adapting to change is the truest way to grow in experience, knowledge, and wisdom. The more adaptive an individual, the more vigor with which one can meet the challenges of life, and the greater that person's heath.
But if we lose this fundamental ability, we stiffen and lose our ability to change. Therefore, we easily become imbalanced and stagnant, and dangerously susceptible to disease.
Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of flowing with nature's changes; constantly harmonizing, always maintaining balance to avoid the extremes. By knowing when you have gone far enough, you will lead a less stressed, less draining life. Additionally, by living close to nature and changing gracefully with your environment, you can avoid disaster and slow down aging.
One of the greatest secrets of a satisfying and happy life, according to traditional Chinese medicine wisdom, is to focus on promoting health instead of managing disease. Physical health is irrelevant if it is accompanied by unhappiness, trouble, or failure. It is necessary and possible to cultivate an attitude of holistic health so the body, mind, and spirit can flourish. Total success takes determination, knowledge, and discipline.
But we don't have to do it alone. While we already have excellent adaptive systems in place, such as the work done by our liver, kidneys, and digestive tract, sometimes we can use a tune up to function optimally. Regular acupuncture and tonic Chinese herbs are wonderful resources to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Traditional Chinese medicine can help you look and feel your best. Try out a system of healing that's full of wisdom and perfect for the modern age.
Inspiration: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs, Ron Teeguarden
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
Recently, I saw an Under Armour ad showing Michael Phelps receiving fire-cupping. It's a cool ad showing the training, strength, perseverance, and recovery required to be an Olympic athlete. Watch closely at 44 seconds in and you'll see it as part of Phelps' recovery!
Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine technique used to treat many different conditions. Acupuncturists commonly use cupping as an adjunct to acupuncture, but cupping on its own also provides great benefits.
Cupping involves creating a vacuum-like seal on the skin using bamboo, plastic, or glass cups. There are different techniques to creating this vacuum, such as lighting an alcohol soaked cotton ball inside the cup to create heat or using suction cups.
This suction can affect tissues up to four inches deep- effecting blood vessels, muscles, fascia, and scar tissue. For athletes, cupping speeds recovery after workouts and competitions. No wonder Phelps is using it!
Benefits of Cupping:
Conditions for Cupping:
What most people recognize about cupping are the circular marks left on the skin. These marks are caused by the cellular waste stuck in the muscles being pulled up and deposited under the skin where it can be drained away via the lymphatic system. From an acupuncturist's perspective, the darker the mark, the more waste there is stuck in the muscle. Eventually, with consistent treatments, a person will not have any marks after cupping.
Despite the marks, receiving cupping feels like a pulling away of tension from tight and stiff areas on the body. It can range from gentle to "hurt-so-good."
Have you tried cupping? Any questions before you do?
I have been getting this question a lot recently, especially at my Ft. Morgan location. Patients want to know the difference between dry needling and acupuncture. So, I have created this chart to compare the two modalities.
Acupuncturists, Doctors, Physical Therapists, did I overlook anything? Patients, what has been your experience, good or bad, with either modality?
Neiguan is one of the most important points in traditional Chinese medicine due to its many different functions.
It opens the chest, and therefore, can be used for any chest problems causing pain, stuffiness, or tightness.
It helps to harmonize the stomach and subdue the upward rushing of energy manifesting as nausea or vomiting. It also helps with acid regurgitation, belching, dizziness, and hiccuping.
Neiguan has a powerful calming action on the mind and can be used to help with anxiety or irritability. It is excellent to promote restful sleep and help with pre-menstrual depression and moodiness. Not only does it help you digest food but emotions as well.
Interestingly, this point is effective in alleviating neck aches originating from the back of the head, especially in women.
Lastly, an acupuncturist might choose this point to help regulate irregular or painful menses.
Use Neiguan for pain management, stress, and digestion. Let me know if you've tried it and how it worked.
Here are some traditional Chinese medicine inspired tips to be happy and healthy all summer long. The driving principles are awareness and balance. Happy Summer!
1. Be active
By being active in the summer, you are complementing the extra Yang energy that is available this time of year. Exercise keeps blood and oxygen circulating so that nutrients are more able to nourish the body. Since summer is associated with the heart and the fire element, this is a perfect time to pay attention to start or boost your exercise.
2. Be social
Characteristics of the fire element include joy, communication, and connection. Hanging out with friends or engaging with strangers is an excellent way to tap into these characteristics. Nurturing these qualities not only makes summer more fun, but also eases the transition to introspective autumn and winter.
Every element has an emotion and its expression. Fire’s emotion is joy and its expression is laughter. So tell the jokes, laugh at other’s jokes, and fuel your fire.
4. Enjoy “cool” foods
Summer is the one time of year where it is OK to cool down foods. It’s not a license to chug ice cold water all day or eat raw salad at every meal, but cooler foods, such as raw fruits and veggies, are better tolerated in the summer.
5. Hang out near water
All elements in TCM keep each other in balance, and none so apparent than water balancing fire. Being physically near water in the summer is grounding and reminds us of the interconnectedness of life.
With more daylight and social events, sometimes sleep is not a priority in the summer. But sleep is a function of the heart (the organ system of summer), and keeping a regular sleep schedule helps prevent imbalance in the heart.
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.
Autumn is a time when nature rids itself of what is no longer needed. Leaves fall from the trees to compost and enrich the soil, ensuring that the upcoming spring will have the nutrients needed to flourish. It is also a time to harvest the abundance that grew during the summer to store up for the winter.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the season of autumn is a time to organize, work hard, and finish the projects you began in the spring and summer. This is because autumn is associated with the metal energy, governing the mind, organization, setting and protecting boundaries, and order. While the summer was spent in more external activities, the autumn is a time where we tend to be more introspective. It is a time to contemplate our lives and prepare for the winter season ahead.
Emotionally, autumn is associated with grief and sadness. Therefore, it is important to let go of lingering negative emotions, which can impact health more strongly during this time.
Physically, autumn corresponds to the lungs, skin, and large intestine. These organs are responsible for respiration, digestion, and elimination. Common imbalances manifest as frequent colds and sinus infections, shortness of breath, dryness, skin issues, and constipation.
A beautiful aspect of traditional Chinese medicine is as a tool to live harmoniously with the seasons. To fully enjoy and benefit from the energy of autumn, consider a traditional Chinese medicine treatment.
The body’s hormonal balance, and overall homeostasis, is thrown into disarray during menopause. Most women assume that hot flashes are inevitable. However, hot flashes are actually a symptom of an imbalance occurring between organ systems of the body. And once the imbalance becomes balanced, the hot flashes will disappear.
Hot flashes usually get acupuncturists thinking about Kidney energy. In TCM-style acupuncture, the most common approach is to address Kidney Yin deficiency with Heat. Many symptoms of menopause can fall into this category: night sweats, emotional instability, insomnia, headache, and dryness.
Acupuncture points and herbs that nourish Kidney Yin and clear Heat are a safe bet, but sometimes further analysis is required. Kidney Yin deficiency often appears in conjunction with other organ energy deficiencies, such as Liver or Heart.
If you want to experience a more comfortable transition through menopause, try incorporating acupuncture and Chinese herbs into your lifestyle.
Ching Wan Hung is an herbal first aid ointment. Many Chinese herbalists carry it, and it can be found in most Asian markets. This ointment smells like Chinese cooking (from the sesame oil), but works wonders on relieving pain from burns and healing the skin.
Ching Wan Hung is beneficial for many types of skin damage. It is used in Chinese hospitals to soothe burns due to heat, chemicals, or radiation. It has been successfully used to help with eczema, psoriasis, and bedsores. It is also commonly used to heal mucosal tissue, such as around the nose or anus.
Another use for Ching Wan Hung is to prevent scarring. Keeping a wound or burn moist with Ching Wan Hung will reduce scabbing, resulting in less scar tissue formation.
Traditional herbal formulas for first aid help the body when it is most in need. Ching Wan Hung heals tissues quickly to minimize damage to the skin from burns and slow healing sores. It is available at Herbs and Acupuncture Clinic.
Thoughts and practical tips to protect your health based in the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
Posts by Topic