Thursday, December 24, 2009

Supporting Childbirth With Acupuncture

By Joshua Herr, L.Ac.

A documentary on the state of childbirth in the United States was released this year. “The Business of Being Born” was produced by Ricki Lake and directed by Abby Epstein. In 2006, CNN reported, “The US has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world.” In all other countries, midwives attend 70-80% of births. In 2003, midwives attended approximately 8% of births in the United States.

The rate of cesarean section has increased as a result of the majority of births occurring in hospitals instead of birthing centers or homes. The pharmaceutical pitocin is often used in the hospital to speed the process of labor by increasing the strength and frequency of contractions. This induction of labor can be too soon or too strong for the mother or child and lead to cesarean as the next intervention. To help prevent this cascade of events, choose a care provider who induces labor only for medical reasons.

In 1998, the journal Gynecologic and Obstetrics Investigation published a study titled, “Influence of Acupuncture on Duration of Labor.” Beginning at week 36 of pregnancy, they gave 4 treatments once per week with acupuncture. The comparison group consisted of women who delivered closely before or after the women who were receiving acupuncture.

What they found was that the acupuncture group had a significantly shorter time of first stage of labor, which they defined as 3-cm dilation to full dilation. The average time of the first stage of labor for the acupuncture group was 196 minutes, which is a little over 3 hours. The average time of the first stage of labor in the group that did not receive acupuncture was 300 minutes, which is a little over 5 hours. There was no change in the duration of the second stage of labor, full dilation to delivery. This study suggests that acupuncture is useful in preparation for childbirth and can shorten Stage l of the laboring process.

We are grateful for many of the advancements in science and technology that have saved the lives of premature babies and mothers of high-risk pregnancies. However, the advancements in scientific knowledge do not replace the inherit knowing of the woman’s body.

Midwives recognize this inherit ability of the mother and know how to encourage it emotionally and spiritually during the process of labor. They are also trained on how to assess the need for medical intervention to ensure that the mother and newborn are not in danger during the birth process.

In Germany, many midwives are trained to perform acupuncture in the context of pregnancy and childbirth, because they recognize the benefits.

The practitioners at CAC are well equipped to work with pregnant patients and have many resources to offer including relieving pain during pregnancy, labor induction, assisting with turning a breech baby, and late stage acupuncture for preparation for child birth.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sugar, Sugar Everywhere. Not Sure What To Eat?

By Rachel Nowakowski, L.Ac.

Eliminating sugar from the diet isn’t easy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the per capita consumption of sugar is 44.2 lbs per year! Sweetened items on special occasions and in moderation can make life a little more fun, but there are alternatives to refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

In Chinese Medicine, the sweet flavor is associated with the Spleen energy. The Spleen energy benefits from a small amount of the sweet flavor, as found in whole grains and vegetables. In large quantities, sweet foods weaken the Spleen, impeding the digestive function and causing dampness to accumulate in the body. Just because something is “naturally sweetened” does not necessarily mean it is any better for you. As a general rule: the less sweet, the better. When we read labels on natural food products, we see a variety of different sweeteners.

Here are a few:

Grain Malts like rice syrup, barley malt, and amasake are mildly sweet and do not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. These sweeteners are considered to be among the healthiest sweeteners in the natural food industry.

Stevia is an all-natural substance derived from the leaves of a South American shrub. It has virtually no calories, doesn't raise blood sugar levels, and does not appear to have the same dampness-producing quality of other sweeteners when used in moderation. But because it is considered to be 300 times sweeter than sugar, an overconsumption can lead to Spleen weakness.

Molasses is a thick syrup by-product from the processing of the sugarcane or sugar beet. Black Strap Molasses contains significant amounts of vitamins and minerals and is the least sweet of the varieties. It is considered a Blood tonic because of its high iron content.

Honey is as sweet as sugar. Research has found that honey enhances growth of specific strains of Bifidobacteria, beneficial bacteria in the colon. Honey neutralizes toxins, activates the Lung and Spleen meridians, and nourishes Yin.

Sugar Alcohols (Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol) are derived from the fibers of fruits and vegetables. Excess consumption can have a laxative effect and may produce gas, which implies that they do impact on the Spleen qi.

Many people turn to artificial sweeteners in an attempt to cut sugar from their diet. But what are they really made of? Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) breaks down in the body and converts to formaldehyde! Saccharin (Sweet n’ Low) is a petroleum-based compound, which was temporarily banned in 1977 when a study suggested saccharine caused bladder cancer. Sucralose (Splenda) is chlorinated and other chlorinated substances are known to contain pesticides. With these sweeteners, you may get more than just a little sweetness.

With all the options readily available to us, why not go for more natural, less sweet foods? The best source of sweetness is whole foods, chewed well to bring out their natural flavors.

Baked Apples

2 red apples, cored
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place apples in a baking dish.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all other ingredients.

3. Bring to a boil, and drizzle equally over apples.

4. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover, and continue to bake for 10 minutes, or until apples are tender. Serve warm.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

An In-Depth Look: Stomach Fire & Its Treatment

By Karen Litton, L.Ac.

Gastro-intestinal issues are common complaints in both Western and Eastern Medicine. In Chinese Medicine, the Stomach is one of our most important yang organs. Together with the Spleen, it is the basis of our post-natal Qi (the body’s energy). Post-natal Qi is the Qi we gather after our birth from the air we breathe and the food we eat. The Stomach’s main function is to aid in digestion and the production of food Qi. A hyperactive Stomach, especially when combined with worry, overwork, or emotional problems, or the hot energy from foods or drink, can lead to Stomach fire. Stomach fire can cause the energy of the Stomach to flow upward (instead of downward, its usual course), causing us to feel the symptoms of heartburn, or acid reflux.

The Stomach needs large quantities of yin to help its digestion. If its capacity to hold the yin is damaged (perhaps by irregular eating, or indulging in mental work while eating, or disease), then a form of heat can develop in the Stomach. We call this empty heat, and it can lead to symptoms such as gastric pain, constipation, a dry mouth, mouth sores, toothaches, or a burning pain in the epigastria. Stomach fire can also be considered an excess type of heat, which burns yin fluids, thus obstructing the Stomach. This can result in symptoms of acid regurgitation, nausea or the sensation of wanting to vomit. In addition, fire in the Stomach can affect the mind, causing insomnia.

There are other emotional and physical issues that can impact the state of our Stomach. The Stomach represents our ability to accept nourishment, which can therefore manifest as difficulty accepting support or nourishment from others, or from a spiritual source outside ourselves. Another manifestation of the Stomach is too much worrying. Any of these Stomach imbalances can bring an inability to rest the mind. Lack of exercise can further exacerbate this problem by not supporting the movement of Qi, which in turn can lead to stagnation in the body.

Western conditions associated with Stomach fire include chronic gastritis, gingivitis, acid reflux, and mouth ulcers. In Western Medicine, acid reflux, commonly called heart-burn, is when the liquid contents of the stomach flow upward into the esophagus, the muscular canal connecting the throat to the stomach. This can cause a burning sensation that can damage the inner lining of the esophagus. The proper Western Medical term for acid reflux is Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). The Western Medical treatments for GERD are lifestyle changes, as well as medications, some over-the-counter.

Before we consider the treatment of Stomach fire from a Western approach, let us look at the role of hydrochloric acid in our digestive processes, as many of the Western drugs prescribed for stomach acid problems are designed to affect this acid. Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is important to the pH of our stomach and is necessary for optimal health. HCl is required for protein digestion in our stomach. It also is a protective agent in our digestive system for ingested pathogens, and prevents bacterial or fungal overgrowth in the small intestine. In addition, it encourages the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes, and facilitates absorption of a variety of nutrients necessary to several metabolic processes. Therefore, good health and the presence of immunity depend on the existence of an adequate production of HCl and its presence in the blood stream / fluids of our body. Thus, with a reduction of HCl, we can experience a loss of immunity, an imbalance in our blood chemistry (the pH balance), and poor digestion/assimilation.

Another action that occurs in the body from a reduction of HCl is that the body makes up for it by substituting another acid to maintain the blood pH levels. Acid wastes assume the role of HCl in the blood chemistry. They begin to accumulate in our body and challenge the alkaline reserves – causing those reserves to be depleted – thus impacting this pH balance. This change in the pH balance is another factor in the reduced ability of our body to combat invading micro-organisms. Grave results can then appear in our metabolism. Western Medicine shares the same viewpoint of Chinese Medicine, in that the presence of the emotions of worry, grief, anxiety, and depression can lead to a deficiency in the production of gastric fluids, contributing to these degenerative processes.

In treating GERD/Acid Reflux/Stomach Fire with acupuncture and herbal formulas, or with drugs from Western Medicine, it is important to evaluate the function and capability of the Stomach.

Digestion is not just about what you eat, but how well the body is digesting, absorbing and eliminating what you give it. This is an important consideration for both Western Doctors when they prescribe drugs, and for Chinese Medical Doctors when they determine acupuncture treatments and herbal preparations.

Herbs and drugs that alter the pH of the Stomach will affect their absorption. Antacids are predominant used in Western Medicine to treat indigestion, reflecting the opinion that hyperacidity is the cause of the symptoms. The change in pH produced by these drugs, as they interfere with the HCl production, adversely affects the gut’s microbial flora. This has been shown to lead to the promotion of an overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori – the organism linked to ulcers and Stomach cancer. In Western Medicine, the etiologic factors causing a lack of or impaired HCl production are not well understood in Western Medicine. Studies indicate that an important cause of these gastro-intestinal problems could be a lack of HCl secretion.

The Western approach used to treat Stomach acidity includes Axid, Maalax, Mylanta, Zantac, Pepcid and Tagamet, Prilosec (which absorbs HCl acid), and Rolaids/Tums (which neutralize stomach acid). The Western treatment with Tums (which has calcium) blocks the HCl from touching the esophagus. Prilosec and Prevocet work by blocking the production of stomach acid. By reducing the hydrochloric acid of the stomach through drugs, you do not address the underlying cause of the disorder. The situation responsible for creating the fire is still operating, although the symptoms are now repressed. As a result, the Heat can be driven deeper, which may manifest later as a different health problem – such as inflammation, or muscle and joint pain.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, in the form of teas and pills, are useful for resolving Stomach fire by addressing the underlying cause of this condition. By working with the body’s systems overall, harmony is restored in the internal pathways and organs, and the situation leading to the Stomach fire is alleviated.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Food Is Medicine: Roasted Root Vegetable

“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” -- Hippocrates, 460-359 BC
By Karen Litton, L.Ac.

The relationship between food and health has long been explored by both Western and Eastern medicines. Throughout Chinese history, diet has been one of the four pillars of individual responsibility that leads to good health. These pillars are diet, exercise, mindfulness and lifestyle. Food is one of the ways we stay either in balance or out of balance with the world around us. Food can be a contributor to sickness, as well as a main support for a healthy, long life.

As food was studied and analyzed over the millennia, the medicinal properties of different foods were noted. In the Western diet, foods are broken down into their constituents of proteins, calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, etc. In Chinese medicine, one looks for not only vitamins and minerals, but also for the energetic properties of food and the body’s relationship to that energetic. Just as your practitioner prescribes certain herbal decoctions or pills based on your particular needs, different foods are suggested for different people at particular times to support a specific healing path.

The Chinese medicine system is based on observation of nature in all its forms – including the seasons, temperature, movement of the elements, and tastes. In applying these principles to food, we can affect the balance of our body, mind and spirit.

The Stomach and Spleen are the organ systems in Chinese medicine that involve the food we take in, breaking it down, and transporting it through the body. This is part of an important process that produces “post-natal” Qi, which is the energy our body creates after we are born. It is based on the food we ingest and the air we breathe. Different energies from food affect the production of post-natal Qi in various ways. Your practitioner considers a couple of factors when deciding which foods to recommend to you. They are based on the concept of yin and yang.

Many of you have heard of the terms “yin” and “yang” as concepts in Chinese medicine. Yin and yang convey the Chinese approach to balance and healing -- a balance that is always shifting. The Chinese symbol for yin is the shady side of a hill, while the symbol for yang is the sunny side. Therefore Yin qualities include coolness, dampness, and darkness relative to the yang qualities of warmth, dryness and light.

In general, yin foods are more cooling and moistening to the body. Yang foods are more warming and drying. Something that grows in the air and sun is often yang. Those foods that grow in the earth or darkness have a more yin nature. Soft, wet, and cool foods are also yin, like melons. Foods needing heating up (like meat) are usually yang. The summer is a more yang time, while the winter is yin. Thus, foods like salads and other raw foods, which have a more yin effect on the body, are better
eaten in the summer when the weather is hotter and our body may need some cooling. However, these foods are not the best to eat in the cooler months and during the winter when our body needs more warming type foods.

Another factor to consider from a Chinese perspective is to define the nature/energy of foods as hot, cold, warm, cool, and neutral. The energy of foods is its capacity to generate these temperatures in the human body. This energy represents the “effect” of a particular food on our body. For example, green tea, even when drunk hot, has a “cooling” nature on our body.

In light of these principles, it is important to note that a person’s choice of foods can also affect one’s mood. Too much hot/yang food can lead to over-excitement, or even agitation. Too much yin/cold foods can lead to a feeling of lethargy and heaviness in the body. The Chinese idea is to eat both types of food to keep the body in balance. Thus, if you are dealing with a certain situation in life that has you all fired up, or you are a type of person who gets emotionally worked up a lot, then you might find a diet with a lot of yang or hot foods to be too energizing for you. It might be suggested that you limit certain yang foods in your diet.

Though this is just an overview of some of the principles involved in food therapy from a Chinese perspective, paying attention to the foods one eats is an ancient healing modality spanning many cultures. These principles make sense and when put into action. Health is a state of balance in which food choice is a key.

The fall is a transition time, as we are moving from the heat of summer to a cooler time of the year. Some of the vegetables we harvest at this time are squashes, turnips, carrots, beets and sweet potatoes. Let us take a moment to apply the principles we have mentioned to these root vegetables. These foods grow in the soil and are more yin in nature. Energetically, they are warming foods for our digestion. Many, like the squashes, have a sweet taste. They are all very nourishing to our Spleen and Stomach, and help us to build stamina for the coming cooler season.

On the previous page, there is a recipe for roasting root vegetables -- one that is good for your digestion, nourishment and enjoyment!

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How To Roast Root Vegetables

· Cut up any mixture of the following root vegetables: squashes, turnips, carrots, beets and sweet potatoes.

· You can include onions and peppers, if you like.

· Mix all with a light coating of olive oil.

· Add a spice like basil or rosemary, and mix it all thoroughly.

· Spread in a baking dish or cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 90 minutes, depending on how thick your slices are.

Have fun eating and take care of yourself throughout the seasons!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

H1N1 FLU: Panic And More Panic

By Mary Cissy Majebe, O.M.D.

Each of us has heard repeatedly about the new “swine flu” that is approaching. I want to share with you treatment and prevention strategies from a Chinese medicine perspective.

Chinese medicine has a long history of treating epidemics. There are MANY treatment methods. One is based on a system called the Wen Bing School. This school of thought teaches that there are four levels of heat that an illness such as a flu can traverse. These four levels are wei, qi, ying and blood.

When an illness is still at the wei level, major symptoms will be muscle aches, headaches, fever and chills. Sensory orifice symptoms will often be the predominant factor. When the illness progresses to the qi level, the fever will rise, and there will be more signs of heat such as sore throat, mouth sores, dry lips, red eyes and cough. When the illness reaches the ying level, it will also have symptoms of insomnia, night sweats, and agitation. In the last stage, there will be bleeding of some type, whether mild as in bleeding gums, or more severe. At all of these levels, Chinese medicine has the tools to address the illness and restore health.

In case you, or one of your loved ones, develop a flu this winter, there are specific treatments for each of these levels that can assist you in regaining your health. We want you to know that the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic is ready to assist you. At the same time, we will hold the thought that this flu season will be part of the natural ebb and flow and will not manifest with the severity predicted.

I have been asked by many of you if I get a flu shot. In researching the H1N1 flu, at this time it appears that this flu is not as serious an illness as the other more common flu varieties. I question the wisdom of an immunization that bypasses our bodies’ normal defensive system and is introduced at the blood level. Since this appears to be a mild flu, even though it is highly contagious, would it not be better to allow the body to develop some immunity to this flu by getting sick and then allowing the body to recover naturally? I strongly question the wisdom of trying to eradicate ALL illness with either a pill or an immunization.

I wonder what the consequences long-term may be in not allowing children to experience illness and develop natural immunity.

I chose not to get a flu shot, BUT, for those of you who do choose to have a flu shot, I recommend the following:

Therapy After the Flu Vaccine


Food Therapy: Sesame Milk

Grind ½ cup of sesame seeds (black is best), then cook for 15 minutes in 1 cup water and drink the liquid. Do this two times the day of the vaccination and two times the next day. For children, reduce the dosage to one half-cup two times a day for the two days.

Sesame seeds are high in Omega 3 & 6 oils, which clear heat from the body at the level of essence. We always want to protect the essence level.

Home Health Care: Gwa Sa
After returning home from receiving your flu shot, Gwa Sa the Urinary Bladder meridian to release any latent heat created by the vaccine.

Use a Gwa Sa spoon (Chinese ceramic soup spoon) to scrape downwards on either side of the spine, beginning at the base of the occiput to the bottom of the shoulder blade area.

Acupuncture Care
Telephone the CAC and have a mini-treatment. With acupuncture and gwa sa, this mini-treatment will clear heat that can become latent and create other problems. (The reduced fee for this treatment is $50 to enable us to attend to your health-care needs during this time.)

Protection From the Flu

Essential Oils
Our clinic is making every effort to be pro-active in protecting the health of all of our patients. We have developed an Essential Oil formula that can be applied to specific acupuncture points daily for assisting your body’s Wei Qi (your defensive qi, i.e. immune system) to remain strong.

Essential oils have both anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. To use this formula, apply topically one time a day to Ren 17 (the point directly on your breast bone at the level of the nipples) and Lung 7 to Lung 9 (located on your wrist, thumb-side up). I would like to caution you regarding the use of essential oils that are not medical grade. To ensure good results clinically, it is important to use a medical grade essential oil.

Because these oils have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, we will be diffusing them in the clinic this winter to better protect your health and the health of our staff. The essential oils that we utilize are organic and are extracted without the use of solvents. We will be using a combination of Pine, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree in our office.

Jade Wind Screen
If you want a tonic for this winter’s flu and cold season, we suggest a formula called Jade Screen. This is ONLY to be taken when you are healthy. Do not take this formula if you have any upper respiratory signs or a fever.

Who Is Most At Risk for the Flu & What You Can Do

I have read and studied the information that is coming from the CDC regarding the H1N1 flu. By looking at this information, it is possible to predict which patients will have the most difficulty with this flu and to prepare for the symptoms that might accompany the flu.

Many of you have heard your practitioner speak of Internal and External pathogenic factors. The external pathogenic factors include cold, damp, heat, wind, dryness and fire. From looking at the groups of people that are having difficulty with this flu, we can see some patterns.

Many of the children who have done poorly with this flu have neurological issues such as seizure disorders or cerebral palsy. From a Chinese medicine perspective, each of these conditions has an Internal pathogenic factor of Wind. Wind from our perspective can be due to an excess of internal heat or an insufficiency of fluids. These two factors can exacerbate the onset and course of this flu.

For this reason, it is necessary to nourish the body with fluids. HENCE the statement you always hear to drink plenty of fluids should say, “DRINK, DRINK, and DRINK plenty of fluids!” The second factor, heat, tells us that it is important to REST, as this can also help to keep a fever from becoming too high. This is difficult, because a fever is one of the body’s defenses against both bacteria and viral conditions. It is only when the fever is high that it consumes the bodily fluids that can lead to a more serious condition.

We suggest that you seek care at the beginning of an illness this winter and not delay. On the other hand, we hope to see that you are able to avoid this flu, by remembering these simple suggestions.

The most simple solutions are often the best:

Get a Good Nights Sleep
Eat a Healthy Diet
Engage in Light Exercise
Keep Stress Levels Low

We cannot eliminate being exposed to viral or bacterial invasions, but we can try to keep our immune systems strong in order to ward off illness. I wish you all good health this winter season!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kitchen Recipes for the Fall: Food & Home Therapy for the Colds & Flu of Fall

By Karen Litton, L.Ac.

As the weather begins to get cooler, and the wind changes its nature and starts to feel more "invasive" to the body, it is important to protect ourselves through proper dress and foods. Making sure we are dressed for the weather is important. Wearing a scarf around the neck or protecting the head keeps that "wind" from invading our bodies.

In Chinese medicine, we call wind the Bearer of "100 diseases." It can help the cold to penetrate our bodies; and if our defenses are weak, we can begin to feel those early signs of an impending cold or flu.

An important part of our body's defenses comes from the food we eat. Eating nourishing squashes, hot cereals, and warming grains will help our defenses stay strong.

One way to cook grains that are easily digested is in the form of a "congee." It is a grain-based porridge that is very strengthening for the digestive system. It is cooked in a crock-pot or simmered over very low heat on the stove.

Any number of grains can be used: rice, millet, quinoa, barley, spelt, etc. You can also add sweet potatoes or squashes, various nuts, spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and the flavorings of molasses, honey, rice milk or maple syrup.

You can get creative!

Suggested Congee Grain Combinations:

1 part grain (1/4 cup)
5 parts water (1 and ¼ cup)
Combine in crock-pot & cook on low overnight
(8 hours)
The proportions of grain and water can be adjusted so that you get the consistency you want.

Another way to be prepared for when that "wind" carries some cold or flu past your defenses, is to have on hand at home a remedy for when you first start to feel those signs that you may be "coming down" with something: runny nose, achiness, slight headache, maybe slight chills or a very mild fever.

Directions for the Early Stages of a Cold:

One of the earliest ways to treat these symptoms at home is to brew some tea using spring onions, or scallions, and prepared (fermented) soybeans, which can be bought at your local health food store.

Use 2-5 stalks of the onion with 12 - 30 grams (about a ¼ cup) of the soybeans. Brew for no longer than 10 minutes and drink up to 6 cups a day.

To increase the effect of this "tea" helping to drive the cold back out of the body, lie down and cover yourself with a blanket to induce sweating. Be sure to get plenty of rest and replenish your fluids through drinking enough plain water and herbal teas.

If you are not feeling better, come see us! In the meantime, keep yourself healthy through your food choices and having on hand at home a response to those initial cold symptoms.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Handling Hand and Wrist Pain

By Karen Litton, L.Ac.

Our hands are such an integral part of our bodies that they are easy to take for granted – that is, until they start hurting or our fine motor control is impaired. It is then that we begin to realize how much we rely on our hands to interact with the world.

It is hard to even imagine all the tasks our hands perform for us. We use them in personal care, to engage in athletic endeavors, to work, and this time of year, to garden. With more than 50 muscles to move the 27 bones in the hand and numerous sensory nerves, we use them to touch others and our environment.

In Chinese medicine, the hands are powerful areas of energy and energy exchange. Six of the 12 Primary Meridians either begin or end at the fingertips and connect us to other areas and systems in our body. “Dis-ease” elsewhere in our body can show up in our hands. Thus, our hands can be used to treat other areas of our body.

Hand or wrist pain can occur from a variety of sources and be felt in many ways. There can be pain after local trauma or injury, as a result from straining while lifting, or in exercise, or even while lying in bed with the hands curled awkwardly. There can be pain following over-use or repetitive movements. For many of us, long hours working on the computer can also result in painful wrists or fingers. For others, it can arise after prolonged exposure to cold, heat or dampness.

The quality of the pain can vary. It can be dull and aching or sharp and uncomfortable. It can radiate to or from other areas, such as the forearm or shoulder. There can be a feeling of stiffness and tightness in the ligaments/tendons, or even seem as if there are nodules on the fingers.

Western medicine has various names for these conditions: arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, neuropathy, trigger finger, joint inflammation or degeneration, etc. Drugs are often prescribed for the pain. The difficulty is that they do not address the root cause of the difficulty and therefore do not last. In other words, the benefits of pain medication are only felt as long as the drug is in the system.

From a Chinese medical perspective, most hand pain falls under a general heading of Painful Obstruction Syndrome of the hand channels, which results from the blockage of qi or blood in these channels. As with any syndrome, Chinese medicine seeks to diagnose the probable root cause of the problem and thereby determine the best way to address the symptoms.

Most pain patterns stem from a variety of factors.

An extremely common cause of finger, hand and wrist problems is the contraction of the muscles in the hands or forearms due to overwork or trauma. These sensitive areas in the muscles can be considered “trigger points.” This is simply another way of describing an area in which the qi and blood have stagnated and caused a muscle “knot” or area of contraction and soreness.

An important part of self-care is to figure out what is stressing these sore spots and then to modify or remove those stressors. Repetitive strain injuries are common whatever the activity – even if we are having fun! Whenever we do a motion over and over, without a break, the tension gradually increases in the joints and muscles, and they contract. Unless we do something during or after the activity, such as stretching, these areas remain contracted.

Stretches for Your Hands & Arms:

There are a few simple stretches that you can do for your hands to help ensure that the qi and blood are flowing and the area does not get blocked. This can make a big difference to your hands, especially if you use them a lot.

Take a moment and stretch your arms out in front of you. While the arms are outstretched, pull the hand back toward your body with the other hand. Hold for five seconds. Then do the same motion bending the fingers and hand toward the ground.

Then make circles with first your hands, and then your arms, to get the blood flowing in those areas. Take each finger and gently bend it to the side and backwards as you stretch the finger tendons.

Simply flexing and extending the fingers with an open then closed fist can be helpful to getting blood to flow into the area.

Since pain in the hands can be referred pain from the shoulders or neck, it is good to stretch these areas, too. That can be done by rolling the shoulders up toward the ears and letting them drop down, as well as by making windmills with your arms.

Herbal Liniments for Pain Relief:

There are some wonderful liniments at the Clinic, which you can rub on your hands. Zheng Gu Shui will feel warming to use. Two with more cooling qualities are White Flower Oil and Po Sum On. Be careful not to get these oils into your eyes. We also have a tendon soak made with raw herbs, which have been boiled to make a soak for your hands. For arthritis, you can also soak your hand in hot apple cider every night.

Take care of your valuable hands and fingers, and come see us if you have difficulties.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chinese Medicine for Autism: Exploring an Eastern Approach for Helping Children

By Dr. M. Cissy Majebe, O.M.D.

The treatment of Autism with Chinese Medicine (CM) first began to interest me in 1993 when a parent brought a three-year-old, non-verbal child into the clinic. I acquired a special interest in the treatment of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders from working with this child.

Currently, Autism is recognized as a developmental disability with primary symptomology affecting social interaction and communication skills. Autism is a behaviorally-defined syndrome.

Within a Western framework, there are no clear causes of Autism, although it is believed to be a biological neurological disorder affecting brain function. There are strong indicators for a genetic basis, and there is also a growing concern that environmental toxins and pollutions may be contributing factors, as well as viral infections.

Currently, there are no medical tests for the diagnosis of Autism. In regard to treatment, the only real option Western Medicine offers is intervention with early educational programs.

For those of you who may have little experience with Chinese Medicine, let me begin by saving that Chinese Medicine is a comprehensive health care system that has its own system of diagnostics. It includes not only acupuncture, but also herbal medicine, nutritional therapies, Tui Na (massage techniques), aromatherapy, spinal manipulations and lifestyle counseling. CM, as a system, allows the practitioner to utilize different combinations of techniques, based on the constitution and specific needs of the individual.

The World Health Organization recognizes Chinese Medicine's ability to treat many common disorders, including disorders of the bones, muscles and joints, respiratory, gastrointestinal, circulatory and urogenital disorders, addictions, eye, ear, nose and throat disorders and emotional and psychological disorders. It is this history of the effectiveness of CM with psychological and neurological disorders that provides a basis for the effective treatment of Autism.

In CM, Zang-Fu is a term for the organs of the human body. Many of the organ names are familiar terms. These terms refer not only to a physical organ but to the energetic functions of the organ as well. Each organ relates to an emotional response, sensory organ, and soft tissue. Autistic children often experience difficulties with sensory integration. In the treatment of Autism, the three primary organ systems of concern are the Heart, Spleen, and Kidneys; these organ systems are associated with speech, hearing, and taste, respectively.

"On an emotional level, the state of the Heart determines a person's capacity to form meaningful relationships." This quote from The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, by Giovanni Maciocia, is paramount to the understanding of Autism within the framework of CM.

According to Chinese Medical theory, autistic individuals suffer from a Heart imbalance that inhibits connecting on an emotional level with other people, including their immediate families. A person with Heart imbalances might manifest a lack of joy in life, anxiety or inappropriate laughter and talking. A person with a Heart Qi disorder could either manifest with excessive talking or aphasia (problems with speaking or an inability to speak).

Children diagnosed with Autism may present with digestive anomalies that may be deemed irrelevant by Western Medicine Physicians. In CM these children exhibit signs and symptoms associated with Spleen Qi Deficiency. On an emotional level, persons with extreme Spleen Qi imbalances often manifest obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Autism is usually diagnosed before the age of three. CM sees this disorder as having a Pre-natal origin, compounded by a Post-natal weakness. The Pre-natal component would translate as genetic influence, whereas the Post-natal aspect would relate to all that has occurred since birth. Pre-natal factors in Autism indicate Kidney involvement. Kidney Qi is important for brain development, along with Heart and Spleen, according to Chinese Medical theory.

Basic methods of diagnosis include observation of the patient, such as listening, smelling, examination by questioning and physical examination by palpation. Observation includes CM specific skills such as tongue, pulse and facial diagnosis. It also includes close attention to how the patient relates to and moves in the world.

In CM, imbalances arise from three different sources: external factors, internal factors and miscellaneous factors.

Wind, Heat, Fire, Cold, Dryness and Dampness are external pathogenic factors in CM. These factors create imbalances that lead to disease.

In CM, Internal Pathological Factors are the Seven Emotions. Each of these emotions is associated with an organ system. Those that relate to Autism include: fear or shock that weakens the Kidney, over-pensiveness that weakens the Spleen and shock and anxiety that weakens the Heart. The over-pensiveness that is discussed in classical Chinese writings is related to the obsessive behaviors or obsessive thought patterns that often manifest in Autism.

Miscellaneous factors include genetic influences, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and excessive mental stimulation, such as an inordinate amount of television viewing. Air pollutants, food additives and preservatives are other miscellaneous factors. Antibiotics and Immunizations are also considered miscellaneous factors.

Phlegm is the primary pathological factor related to the development of Autism in CM. In regard to Autism, Phlegm is generally an External Pathogenic Factor, but it can also manifest from Internal and miscellaneous causes. Phlegm is said to be either substantial or insubstantial, meaning that it can either be the mucous we expectorate and drool or a kind of "fog" that blocks the sensory organs. This "fog" would present itself as poor concentration or hearing, a lack of response to external stimuli, etc. In CM, the diagnosis of Autism generally can be classified as either Phlegm Misting the Heart or Phlegm Fire Harassing the Heart.

The Autistic child will have symptoms that are linked to Heart, Spleen and Kidney imbalances. The Heart imbalance relates to the difficulties the child has in establishing meaningful emotional relationships with others, and communication and speech difficulties. The Spleen deficiency is linked to digestive anomalies that contribute to the development of Phlegm. Kidney involvement is related to the young age at which this condition develops.

The development of Autism is a multi-faceted pathway. There is no single direct cause and effect for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Chinese medicine, although there are a set of co-factors that must be present. Recall that in CM imbalances are related to External, Internal and Miscellaneous factors. The External and Internal factors can be a source of difficulty, but a major focus in Autism is on the Miscellaneous factors. Genetic factors can set the stage, but there must be other co-factors in order for Autism to develop. Nutritional and lifestyle factors must be addressed in the treatment plan. The manifestations of Phlegm and the root cause of Phlegm must be addressed. It is due to the very different pathways in the development of Autism that makes it difficult to assign causality.

As I stated previously, Chinese Medicine treats the constitution and specific needs of the individual, not the disease. With a behaviorally-defined syndrome, such as Autism, such treatment is especially appropriate, because the practitioner is able to accurately diagnosis and treat a patient who may be manifesting any number of diverse and seemingly unrelated symptoms. The foundation for effective treatment in CM would use a multi-tiered approach that includes synergistic CM modalities, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, Tui Na (massage), nutrition, aromatherapy, and manipulative therapies. This multi-tiered approach should include the intervention with early education treatment that Western medicine recommends.

Originally published as an article in various publications in 2002.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Native Plant Turns Fate of Breech Pregnancy

By Joshua Herr, L.Ac.

The cesarean rate for diagnosed breech presentations rose from 12% in 1970 to more than 95% today. A fetus that is in a breech position has its head at the top of the uterus instead of down against the cervix. This can create complications during delivery. For women who are planning on having a vaginal birth, this is a shocking statistic.

The trend began in 1959 when Dr. Ralph Wright called for mandatory cesareans for women with a baby in the breech position. The move towards mandatory cesareans for breech babies is affecting the clinical training of obstetricians and midwives, as fewer are having the chance to witness a vaginal breech birth. Coupled with the threat from malpractice insurance companies to not provide coverage for hospitals that permit planned vaginal breech births, the clinical skill is in jeopardy.

Acupuncturists are turning fate around for women with a breech presentation. A common plant found in the mountains and abandoned plots around North Carolina is the method of choice. The plant is called Artemisia vulgaris and has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to stimulate acupuncture points with heat. The plant is dried and repeatedly ground and sifted until it forms into a soft, golden fluff called moxa.

Moxa is burned at a safe distance from the skin to gently stimulate selected acupuncture points. For women with a breech diagnosis, the point chosen is called Zhi Yin (Reaching Yin) and is found on the outside edge of the little toe.

In 1998, JAMA published a study led by Dr. Cardini, which demonstrated that moxibustion applied to Zhi Yin for 1-2 weeks beginning at the 33rd week of pregnancy resulted in the fetus turning head-first after treatment and at delivery. Cardini's group demonstrated over a 75% chance of success using the moxa technique.

Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for women during pregnancy. Acupuncture can resolve muscular pain that occurs during pregnancy and is a treatment of choice for a mother concerned about taking pharmaceuticals.

Women with severe morning sickness are also finding that the holistic approach of acupuncture is the best approach. Incorporating breathing and relaxation exercises along with acupuncture treatment, an expectant mother with morning sickness can keep food down and nourish her body, as well as her baby.

Induction of labor can also be performed with acupuncture. When using acupuncture to induce labor, contractions increase gradually, which gives the mother's body time to safely transition into active labor.

The current age of medicine has brought a tremendous wealth of skills and knowledge, both old and new. As science moves forward with new medical breakthroughs, it is also important to keep old methods of effective procedures alive. A medical community that thoughtfully integrates innovation with antiquity will have the resources available to meet the future's healthcare needs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Come Join Us for Our 25th Anniversary Celebration & FREE Open House!


September 19, Saturday

1 pm - 5:30 pm at the

Chinese Acupuncture Clinic

369 Montford Ave, Asheville


ENJOY Healthy FOOD, Live MUSIC, FUN for kids & GREAT Company!

PRIZES Awarded Every 30 Minutes,
Including FREE acupuncture treatments & FREE massages!

***

SCHEDULE:

1-3 pm
Experience Chinese Medicine
Manual Therapies
Sign up for one demo of
cupping,
gua sha (spoon massage),
tui na massage, or
auricular (ear) acupuncture

2-2:30 pm
Outdoors Qi Gong with
Junie Norfleet, L.Ac.
A self-cultivation Qi exercise

3-5 pm
LIVE MUSIC by Free Planet Radio
Featuring Musicians…
Eliot Wadopian,
River Guerguerian,
&
Chris Rosser

3:30-4:30 pm
Balloon Animals for Kids
Voted 3rd for Mountain Xpress's
"Best Children's Entertainer" in WNC for the Year

5 pm
Authentic Chinese Dragon Dance

***

For more information, please call (828) 258-9016.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In Depth: Moxibustion


By Rachel Nowakowski, L.Ac.

As you walk into the Clinic, you often notice the familiar smoky odor of moxa. New patients usually ask, "What's that strange smell?" Some people love it, others do not.

What is moxibustion and what is it used for?

Moxibustion is a method of heating specific acupuncture points on the body by burning an herb material close to the skin. This technique can be used alone or in combination with acupuncture. In fact, the Chinese character for acupuncture literally means "acupuncture-moxibustion." The basic purpose of moxibustion is to warm the meridians to promote circulation of qi and blood.

What is moxa made of?

The herb material used is mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris, Ai Ye) an invasive weed, which grows in many climates, including Western North Carolina. Mugwort has a long history of use in folk medicine. It is believed that the Romans planted mugwort by roadsides to make it available to travelers to put in their shoes to relieve aching feet and protect them from exhaustion. Added to bath water, it is a soothing treatment for relief of muscle and joint aches - perhaps due to its ability to enhance the movement of qi and blood.

Mugwort gets its botanical name from the Greek moon goddess Artemis, a patron of women, and is a wonderful herb for gynecological conditions. In Chinese Herbal medicine, it is categorized as an emmenagogue, an agent that stops bleeding. Internally, it is used for heavy menstrual bleeding and uterine bleeding. It also increases blood circulation to the pelvic area to treat menstrual pain. Taken internally, it can warm the uterus and is used for threatened miscarriage. Moxibustion has successfully been used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth by increasing fetal movements.

Why mugwort and not some other herb?

Some sources say that mugwort is used because of its acrid, spicy odor. This property makes it able to travel through all of the meridians, regulate qi and blood, and expel cold. In addition, its bitter nature helps to resolve dampness. One of mugwort's active components, borneol, is commonly used in topical therapies for its analgesic effects.

Other explanations for the use of mugwort, as opposed to some other herb material, is that it grows easily in many places, is inexpensive, holds its shape when rolled or pressed, and burns slowly.

An additional benefit of moxa is that the smoke may help to prevent transmission of diseases when used in acupuncture clinics. In hospitals in China, incense made of artemisia and other herbal ingredients has been used to inhibit viruses and to reduce the bacterial count in the air.

What is moxibustion used for?
  • To warm meridians and expel cold. Cold slows the flow of qi, resulting in stagnation and pain. Moxa is used for pain that is worse with exposure to cold or damp weather, as with some types of arthritis pain.
  • To promote the smooth flow of qi and blood. Used on the abdomen, moxa helps with digestive problems or menstrual pain due to stagnation. It can be used to promote circulation over areas of chronic pain or muscle tension.
  • To guide qi and blood upward or downward. Energies in the body must flow in the correct direction. Disruption of this movement results in disease. For example, moxibustion at the point Kidney 1 (on the sole of the foot) guides qi downward and is used to treat disorders caused by excess energy in the upper body, like headaches or dizziness.
  • To strengthen yang from collapse. Yang collapse refers to extreme exhaustion, shock and fainting. Moxa can be used to restore the yang and revive the patient.
  • To prevent diseases and maintain health. Moxibustion can be used as a tonification treatment to help strengthen the organs and immune system.
What are the different techniques of moxa?

In the Clinic, we mostly use indirect types of moxa: needle moxa, stick moxa and moxa bowls. With all moxa, the patient feels a mild to moderate heat sensation on the area being treated.
  • Needle moxa: a rolled piece of moxa is placed on the end of an inserted needle and ignited.
  • Stick moxa: a moxa stick (about the shape and size of a cigar) is lit and held close to the skin.
  • Moxa bowls: pieces of moxa are inserted into a small disk that is placed on the skin.
Moxa can also be used with other substances to give different effects. For example, a piece of moxa can be placed on top of a slice of fresh ginger for severe cases of digestive weakness. Moxa can be placed on top of salt applied over the belly button to treat hernia pain or prolonged diarrhea.

Another type of moxa is direct moxa. In direct moxibustion, a small cone of moxa is placed directly on an acupuncture point and burned, but is extinguished or removed before it burns the skin. The patient experiences a heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin, but should not experience any pain, blistering or scarring.

Traditionally, direct moxa involved scarring moxibustion. The moxa would be placed on a point and left on the point until it burns out completely. This would lead to localized blisters and scarring after healing. The prolonged healing process is thought to increase qi and blood flow to the point, making the treatment stronger. This type of moxa therapy is not done at the Clinic.

Any type heat applied to the body can increase the flow of qi and blood. Heat lamps, heating pads or warming liniments can give a similar effect to moxibustion. But the heat combined with the powerful healing properties of mugwort gives moxibustion a proven advantage.

References:

Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1987.

Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., 'Moxibustion: Practical Considerations for Modern Use of an Ancient Technique'

www.acupuncturetoday.com/abc/moxibustion.php

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Relieving Menstrual Cramps

By Joshua Herr, L.Ac.

Many women experience uterine cramping with their menstrual cycle. For some, these are mild cramps that can be alleviated by having an herbal remedy on hand such as the Seven Forest herbal pill called Corydalis 5, which relaxes the uterus and relieves pain. For others, the uterine cramping can be so severe that it limits normal activity. This type of relentless, severe menstrual cramping is a medical condition called dysmenorrhea.

The conventional treatment for dysmenorrhea includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS such as aleve or ibuprofen) and hormonal therapies like the birth control pill. These medicines can be effective, but have side effects such as stomach bleeding, nausea, weight gain, and mood changes. Acupuncture can provide effective lasting relief of dysmenorrhea without side effects.

In 1987, Dr. Helms published a study titled Acupuncture for the Management of Primary Dysmenorrhea . The study compared a true acupuncture group, a sham acupuncture group and two control groups of patients who received treatment for three months. Ninety percent of the patients who received true acupuncture showed improvement compared to 10% and 18% in the two control groups. In addition, there was a 41% reduction in analgesic medicine in the women who received real acupuncture compared to no change or an increase use of analgesic medicines in the other treatment groups. Chinese Medicine understands that the symptom of menstrual cramping indicates that the mind, body, spirit is out of balance. There are several different patterns of imbalance that can be identified.

The Chinese Medicine doctor’s role is to simplify the myriad of symptoms and understand them in simple terms such as excess, deficiency, hot or cold. By identifying the pattern the doctor can formulate an acupuncture therapy, differentiate the most beneficial herbs, and most importantly educate the patient on preventative self-care strategies. When the patient understands her Chinese medicine diagnosis, she can make diet and lifestyle choices that create internal harmony and eradicate the symptom of menstrual pain.

References:
Obstetrics and Gynecology. "Acupuncture for the management of primary dysmenorrhea." Helms JM. 1987 Jan;69(1):51-6.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Acupuncture & TMJ

By David Trevino, L.Ac.

Temporo Mandibular Joint syndrome (TMJ) is a condition that is related to the muscles and tendons connecting the jaw to the skull. People who suffer from TMJ often experience jaw pain that may radiate to the neck and shoulders, difficulty opening and closing the mouth, popping and clicking of the jaw, facial pain, headaches, ear pain and ringing in the ears.

There are several causes of TMJ, including overstretching the jaw during dental procedures/surgery, injury, repetitive movements, movement and misalignment of teeth and jaw, and clenching and grinding of the teeth.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), about 25 million Americans may experience some or all of these symptoms during their lifetime. Women are more likely to experience TMJ than men.

Western medical treatment options include anti-inflammatory medications, mouth guard or oral splints, even surgery.

In 1997 the NIH created a panel of pain specialists, who concluded that, "Acupuncture may be an acceptable alternative to treat TMJ." Today TMJ is treated successfully with acupuncture.

Acupuncture meridian theory provides a good explanation for the treatment of TMJ. For example, the meridians that cross along the jaw area are related to the energy of the Stomach, Gallbladder and Small Intestine. When the energy of these pathways is blocked, pain results.

The pain can be relieved by inserting needles into specific points on the body, which facilitates the flow of energy in the blocked pathways. The trick is to determine which pathways are blocked, so that the acupuncturist can then attempt to open them up to relive the pain. Utilizing pulse diagnosis can help the acupuncturist determine which channels are most likely to be involved in creating the condition.

The approach for the treatment of TMJ with acupuncture varies. Some practitioners prefer to place needles locally in the affected area of pain and focus on placing needles around the ear and along the jaw. Other methods include using points distally along the ankles, big toe, elbows and knees.

Specific points along the body may be included to treat the underlying cause of the problem. In some cases, electrical stimulation of the acupuncture points is used in order to help the jaw relax. Herbal medicines may also be prescribed. If the TMJ has been chronic, several treatments are usually necessary.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Migraines and Chinese Medicine: Study Supports the Efficacy of Acupuncture Treatments

By Eric Aufdencamp, L.Ac.

The results of a study published in March 2008 in Headache Journal, conducted at the University of Padua in Italy, confirmed that acupuncture significantly reduces migraines and works better than drugs alone. Chinese medicine is extremely effective at treating the root causes of migraine headaches. All disorders in Chinese medicine require differentiating the cause of the disharmony. In other words, for every disorder, there can be multiple causes. Treating illness in this way allows us to treat individuals according to their unique pattern and constitution. Evaluation tools such as tongue and pulse diagnosis allow us to individualize our treatment plan.

Diagnosis can include using symptoms associated with each meridian, and from this information create an acupuncture point prescription. For example, in Chinese medicine, pain that is one-sided or goes from side to side is often related to the Gallbladder meridian. The Gallbladder meridian is paired with the Liver meridian. Together they form a yin-yang pair; what affects one, will affect the other. Pain around the eye, near the temples or top of the head relates to the influence of the Liver pathway. Each pathway has a part of the body it 'opens to', and the eyes 'open to' the Liver. This association explains the light sensitivity or visual auras that often precede migraines.

The Liver and Gallbladder meridians can become 'stagnant', or congested due to many different factors. Emotions can be a major contributor. Specifically, anger, frustration, irritability, and resentment can cause a disruption in the meridian causing pain or discomfort. Nausea and vomiting associated with migraines is due to the Liver meridian adversely affecting the Stomach Qi.

There are many combinations of patterns that can be present. The goal of the practitioner is to determine the main ones and treat accordingly, as well as provide diet and lifestyle guidelines for homecare.

***

Below are just a few self-care guidelines for the treatment of headaches. If your migraines continue after instituting these changes, please call our office for a consultation.

Migraine Relief Prescription:

1. Walk slowly and mindfully outside every day. Walking is the movement that best helps circulate Qi throughout the Liver and Gallbladder meridians.

2. Gradually reduce and eliminate coffee consumption. In Chinese dietary theory, coffee is hot and drying and aggravates the Liver. Coffee can symptomatically relieve migraines for some, as it moves the stagnation, but daily use is detrimental.

3. Use lavender essential oils topically on the temples. It helps to calm the mind and is beneficial to Liver qi congestion.

4. Perform self-massage techniques:

LI 4: Between the thumb and index finger in the webbing, press towards the bone of the index finger.

LV 3: Press between the big toe and second toe about two fingers away from the webbing towards the ankle.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cool Tips for a Hot Summer

By Eric Aufdencamp, L.Ac.

This article focuses on several common home remedies you can use to deal with the heat of summer season.

In Chinese medicine, the summer season corresponds to the Heart. The flavor of the Heart is bitter. Fire is the element associated with the Heart, and red is the color. Fire tends to go upward in the body, just as we know that heat rises in a building.

In herbal medicine, the bitter taste causes descent. When there is excess heat, bitter can help to drain that heat downward. When we prescribe a formula to clear excess heat, we tell our patients that mild diarrhea or loose stools can occur. Heat is being cleared through the bowels. Excess heat in the body dries up the fluids, so it’s important to keep it in check.

Sweat is considered a by-product of the blood in Chinese medicine, so for people with blood deficiency (weak constitutions), it’s important not to sweat excessively or for prolonged periods of time.

Summer-Heat Exhaustion:
If you are out in the sun too long, a quick short-term food therapy you can utilize is watermelon. It is extremely cooling and is excellent at treating severe heat exhaustion. The white meat that is close to the peel is the strongest heat clearing part of the melon. It helps the yin that was depleted from sweating too much.

Pink-Eye (Conjunctivitis):
Make a compress of chrysanthemum or chamomile tea and place over the affected area 3 to 9 times a day depending on the severity of the condition. These two herbs are bitter and have anti-bacteria and anti-viral properties.

Diarrhea:
In Chinese medicine, strong-smelling diarrhea that occurs in the summertime, is often due to damp-heat. The patent remedy Huo Xiang Cheng Qi Tang is an excellent short-term remedy. It can often times be effective for diarrhea from other causes, especially the stomach flu. This remedy is in the first-aid and travel kit sold at the Clinic.

Burns:
For burns of any kind, the Clinic’s burn cream is an excellent remedy that can usually prevent blistering and soothes the pain very quickly. It can stain, so be careful to protect your clothes or sheets. Another remedy that is excellent for burns is lavender essential oil. It is suggested that only medicinal grade oils be used for topical application. The Clinic only sells essential oils that are medical grade and have not been adulterated.

Insect Bites:
White flower oil is a liniment used for inflammatory pain that is worse with heat. It is also an excellent remedy to apply to insect bites. It can help soothe the itching and irritation. It may even be applied for prevention. The strong odor helps mask the natural body scent that attracts most insects.

Poison Ivy:
Due to rising carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, poison ivy abundance has increased. Studies have shown that increased carbon dioxide levels have also created stronger strains of urushiol, the oil from the plant that makes the skin itch.

A product called Tech-nu Extreme is great to have at home in case of exposure. Tech-nu Extreme is sold at CVS. Use it to wash all the areas that have been, or have possibly been, in contact with poison ivy. The soap is very effective at washing away the urushiol.

The Clinic has blended an essential oil, which is very effective at soothing the irritation and helping the skin heal, if the urushiol has been in contact with the skin long enough to cause an irritation.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tips for Childhood Immunizations

By Cissy Majebe, L.Ac.

With each new school year, there is a lot of attention given to the vaccinations that are required for the year. Many parents have requested information regarding our recommendations when your child is receiving immunizations.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, an immunization introduces the "medicine" directly into the blood system, where it bypasses the bodies first defense system known as the Wei Qi, or Protective Qi, that is active to help protect us from pathogenic factors. It is this direct introduction into the blood system that can create a negative reaction for some children.

To lessen the chances here are some simple suggestions:

1. Do Not Give your children immunizations when they are already sick. If your child is ill, wait a week and then have your child immunized.

2. After your child has received an immunization, make sure that they eat well, get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water. (Notice I said water, not fluids, juices or tea are not as useful as water for nourishing the yin fluids of the body.

3. After an injection, give your child a warm bath with 5 drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil and ten drops of Pine in a bath. These essential oils can also be used when your child appears to be coming down with an upper respiratory infection.

4. Learn Gua Sa from one of the practitioners at the office. After immunizations, gua sa the area from the base of the occiput to the bottom of the shoulder blades approximately one inch to each side of the spine.

5. FOOD THERAPY: After immunizations, grind one half cup of black sesame seeds and then cook them for 15 minutes in one cup of liquid. These seeds are high in Omega oils and are useful for clearing heat.

6. A good "over the counter" herbal remedy after immunizations is Yin Qiao San in a tincture form. (Ask your practitioner for dosing.)

If, AFTER all of the above, your child gets a runny nose or a fever, bring them in for an appointment.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Understanding GMP and Quality Control of Chinese Herbs

By Ann Wolman, L.Ac., & Joshua Herr, L.Ac.

Many people are aware that China has made headlines in the last several years for allowing unsafe products to be placed in the marketplace. This has led several patients of the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic to ask about quality control of the herbs that we use.

The Chinese Acupuncture Clinic Dispensary would like to address this concern by informing you about where our Chinese Herbal Products come from and explaining about the quality control of the products we are using. As you know, we have numerous brands of pills, whole herbs, granules, tinctures and essential oils.

Our tinctures and essential oils are the two items we dispense that are not manufactured in China. A company in New Mexico produces the tinctures. Our manufacturers of essential oils are located primarily in Europe. We have concentrated on obtaining the highest quality, internal grade essential oil collection. These essential oils are extracted without the use of solvents, which creates a product that is more potent and suitable for multiple forms of use.

Our manufacturers of pills, whole herbs and granules have been internationally as well as China GMP certified. GMP stands for current Good Manufacturing Practice. This international term is recognized worldwide and is used for the control and management of manufacturing and quality control testing of foods, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. It first appeared in the U.S. as part of the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

GMP certification means that the facility and methods used in the production of products has been subject to a thorough quality control investigation and is certified to be in compliance. This covers all aspects of manufacturing, including inspection of the building and grounds, the air and water purification systems, the handling and processing of raw herbs, the product manufacturing process, the operation and cleaning of equipment, the training of personnel as well as quality control testing and documentation.

By June of 2010 the manufacture of all dietary supplements in the United States will be subject to national GMP requirements.

The companies that import the herbs we use are responsible for ensuring that manufacturers are adhering to GMP standards. Testing includes moisture content and amounts of heavy metals and mold found in sample batches. An example of how Lanzhou Foci Herb factory reports to Mayway, the company that imports herbs for sale at the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic can be found on the web at www.mayway.com.

Each herbal product manufactured in China is licensed, as drugs are in the U.S., and is produced according to stringent Chinese Pharmacopoeia guidelines and government sanctioned references. This assures that the products are sourced, formulated, extracted and tested according to laboratory and clinical parameters. The high standard for quality control insures consumer safety. Additionally, the FDA monitors the safety of herbal products coming into the country. Chinese herbs are routinely held and inspected, often causing backorders and delays.

The Chinese Acupuncture Clinic Dispensary is dedicated to providing the safest and most effective herbs and herbal products available. We are updated on a regular basis by our distributors and professional organizations regarding herbal medicine safety issues and changes to FDA rules and regulations. We put our patients first when making decisions regarding our herb supply. If you have any questions regarding our products do not hesitate to call the clinic at 828-258-9016.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quieting Your Mind and Making Friends With Your Experience Through Contemplation

By Ann Wolman, L.Ac.

As practitioners of Chinese medicine, we tell our patients every day about the importance of relaxation and stress reduction. We encourage them to take time each day for quiet contemplation. Many people are motivated toward contemplative prayer, but they are worried that they will somehow do it wrong or fail at the task. Contemplation and relaxation are not jobs that we need to complete or endeavors we can fail.

I would like to encourage you to do some contemplative prayer or meditation with the simple idea of slowing down and making friends with your mental process. There is no single way to quiet the mind.

Every religion in the world encourages some form of prayer or meditation. Some traditions suggest prayer in order to cultivate a relationship with God, others offer meditation as a way to focus our minds and tame our emotions. Numerous studies have shown relaxation to have a beneficial effect on mood, blood pressure, pain control, digestion and sleep.

If you take the time to watch your mind, you see that the nature of thoughts and feelings is to rise and fall. Even if we want to, we cannot hold them or make them permanent. This is often compared with the nature of waves rising and falling on the surface while the ocean depths remain calm.

As you pay more attention, you may notice that there are short gaps of silence between thoughts and moments of peace between the waves of emotion. The notion is to attend less to our thoughts and ideas about our feelings, and more to the silent awareness that is always present within us. We become less identified with our mental state and more grounded in silence.

There are an endless variety of relaxation techniques. Generally speaking, these techniques offer a reference point for the mind. This can be focusing on one's breath, a sound, or a saying, such as an affirmation or prayer, or even something else. In any case, the idea is to spend time quieting the mind itself.

The Nobel Peace Prize winning monk Thich Nhat Hanh offers a simple introductory meditation practice that I have taught to numerous patients. Just to emphasize: you cannot do this wrong. If you can only sit for 5 minutes, you have been successful. If you run screaming from the room and your own craziness, you have done it right, and if you fall into a deep sleep, it is just fine.

***

This is a breathing meditation and ideally you will begin with trying it for 5 minutes a day. Watching your breath, you will say to yourself a short word or phrase with each "in" breath and with each "out" breath. You can say the words out loud or not, whichever you prefer.

It goes like this:

IN BREATH / OUT BREATH:
IN / OUT
DEEP / SLOW
CALM / EASE
SMILE / RELEASE
THIS MOMENT / PERFECT MOMENT

Spend 5 or so minutes with each sequence pair (IN/OUT, DEEP/SLOW) for a total of 20 minutes or so. It can be done sitting down, lying down or even walking. You can't do it wrong.

You are likely to notice that within what seems like a nano-second, your mind will begin to wander. You will think about all the things you should be doing. You may congratulate yourself for your work at this meditation thing. You may berate yourself for some past mistake. Mental chatter is endlessly varied.

Your mind may wander down long roads of the past and the future. It may take a long time to realize that you are no longer thinking IN/OUT, DEEP/SLOW, etc. No worry. You will realize it, and when you do, just gently label whatever flights of fancy you are indulging in "thinking" and come back to the meditation.

Begin to notice the space between the words, when nothing is occurring, and give it attention. You may find that peace and quiet are always present; we need only attend to them.

If you need more information on relaxation techniques, ask your practitioner at the Clinic for guidance.

Enjoy the peace.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chinese Medicine & the Treatment for Heartburn

By David TreviƱo, LAc

According to the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, in 2007, 19 million people in the United States reported symptoms of heartburn, the most common symptom caused by Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). As a result, about 60 to 70 million Americans who suffer from GERD spend approximately $107 billion yearly on drugs and antacids in an attempt to ameliorate the pain and prevent damage to their esophagus.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) maintains that the cause of acid reflux is still unclear, but two anatomical abnormalities -- malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and hiatal hernias -- seem to be related to GERD. Other factors contributing to GERD include genetics, Helicobacter bacterium, obesity, smoking, pregnancy, certain foods, medications such as aspirin, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, calcium channel blockers, asthma drugs, and hormones. Complications from heartburn may include esophageal stricture, bleeding, pain during swallowing, ulceration and Barrett's esophagus (a pre-cancerous lining of the esophagus).

Western medical treatment for GERD includes calcium tablets (TUMS) and proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Acifex, and Protonix. Long term use of these overly prescribed medications include constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, abdominal pain, dizziness, headaches, nausea, rashes, breast enlargement in men, anemia, and bone loss. For many individuals who discontinue the use of these medications, the heartburn symptoms return as the underlying imbalance is not corrected. Chinese Medical modalities such as acupuncture, herbal medicines and lifestyle education have been used for centuries as effective and natural treatments for GERD.

According to Chinese Medicine, the most common reasons that create energetic imbalances resulting in GERD are emotional upset and eating the wrong foods.

Chinese Medicine views reflux as rebellious energy (Qi) that is rising up into the esophagus rather than descending to the small intestine. Two common energy imbalances related to acid regurgitation include Stomach Fire and Liver Qi invading the Stomach. Stomach Fire occurs when too much heat overflows into the Stomach. Liver Qi invading the Stomach occurs when the Liver energy impairs the Stomach descending function resulting in acid regurgitation. Specific acupuncture points are used to treat each of these energetic imbalances.

Combining acupuncture with Chinese herbal formulas is recommended as these medicines can be used to cool the Stomach Fire or to regulate the overbearing Liver energy. For most who suffer with GERD regaining a balanced and healthy digestive system includes dietary, lifestyle changes, exercising regularly and learning relaxation techniques. Lifestyle recommendations include: quitting smoking, eliminating or reducing alcohol, refraining from eating before going to bed, avoiding fast foods, and consuming four to six light meals a day, instead of two or three large meals. Finally, avoid common food triggers such as dairy products, tomatoes, citrus fruits and beverages, garlic, peppermint, and fish oil supplements.

If you are experiencing acid reflux, call the Clinic at 828-258-9016.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

FREE Public Talk TOMORROW: Migraine Relief With Chinese Medicine

Free Public Talk:
“TREATING MIGRAINES WITH
CHINESE MEDICINE”

Presented by:
Eric Aufdencamp, D.O.M.

(Doctor of Oriental Medicine)
Monday, AUGUST 10
5:30 - 7 PM

Earthfare Community Room,
Westgate Shopping Center

Join Eric to learn how Chinese medicine can help you be free of migraines. He will share how many of his patients have received relief from their migraines by using Chinese medicine.

In this talk, you will learn how:
· Chinese medicine theory explains and treats migraines
· Emotions impact your health
· Chinese herbs play a key role in treating migraines

After this evening, you will have tools you can use to reduce migraines:
· Stress-reduction techniques
· Application of essential oils
· Simple dietary guidelines
· Acupressure points for pain relief

Question and answer session to follow talk.


Eric received his Master’s of Oriental Medicine in 2001 from Southwest Acupuncture College in Albuquerque, NM. He completed an advanced internship in Beijing in 2000. Since 2002, he has been practicing at the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic in Asheville.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Foods for the Summer Season

By Junie Norfleet, L.Ac.

According to Chinese medicine theory, the summer season is associated with the element Fire, which corresponds to the Heart, Small Intestine, San Jiao, and Pericardium organ systems. The Heart system is the Sovereign Ruler, enabling us to see clearly and to serve with compassion. The Small Intestine system assists in digestion and assimilation of the foods consumed by separating pure and impure and extracting nourishment from ingested foods. The Pericardium system is the "Heart Protector," while the San Jiao system is responsible for the movement of fluids in the body.

The fire element is symbolic of yang, and is manifested as heat, great activity, reaching outward and moving forward in our lives and in nature. Since the fire element rules the heart, mind and spirit, the summer is a time to pacify and nourish our spirits and to find joy in hot summer days and warm summer nights. A balance in the fire element provides a strong and healthy heart, a mind that is calm, sleep that is refreshing, and proper absorption of ingested foods.

To maintain good health, food choices change with the seasons. Summer is a time of growth and maturation of flowers and vegetables. The qi of the plant is the most vital when the plant blooms. It is also a season of increased heat and activity.

The foods that we consume in the summer should help to keep us cool and energized. Foods with cool properties can clear heat, reduce toxins and generate body fluids. Eating more organic, locally grown raw fruits and vegetables at this time of year is ideal, particularly if you have strong Spleen and Stomach systems.

Foods that are cooling tend towards the green end of the color spectrum. Lettuce, cucumbers and watercress are some of the coolest. Fish and seafood are more cooling, whereas most meats are warming.

Below are some suggestions for foods to be sure to include in the summer diet. Be aware that melons are very cooling, and when eaten alone, can produce dampness. If eaten as a part of the meal or as a dessert, their cool nature can also slow the digestive process of the meal.

Fruits:
Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Lemon, Orange, Peach, Apricot, Pear

Vegetables:
Snow Peas, Asparagus, Spinach, Bamboo, Sprouts, Bok Choy, Watercress, Broccoli, Summer Squash, Cucumber, Chinese Cabbage, Corn, White Mushrooms, Seaweed, Winter Melons

Legumes:
Mung Beans, White Lentils

Spices:
Cilantro, Mint, Dill

General Guidelines for Summertime Eating:
  • Increase foods with the yin qualities of being moist and cooling. The most yin of foods are fruits followed by vegetables. Overeating yin nourishing foods can create dampness by taxing the Spleen system. Chinese medicine recognizes that dampness can help to hold health conditions in place, so be cautious not to eat only yin nourishing foods.
  • Reduce the foods with the yang qualities of concentration and heat. These are proteins such as meats, nuts, seeds, beans, fats, dairy products, eggs and whole grains.
  • Have a variety of colors on your plate and an abundant variety of vegetables.
  • Cook lightly, steaming or simmering foods as quickly as possible.
  • Use little salt and more water.
  • Drink hot liquids and take warm showers to induce sudden sweating and to cool the body.
  • Drink flower and leaf teas like chrysanthemum, mint and chamomile. (See recipe on previous page.)
  • Slice a cucumber or lemon and place it in a pitcher of water. Sip it through the day for a nice, refreshing drink that is tasty and cooling.
  • Avoid iced drinks and ice cream as the cold temperature causes the digestion to slow and depletes the Spleen's energy.
  • Avoid heavy foods such as meats and too many nuts, seeds, and grains, especially on hotter days, since these can cause sluggishness.
Strive to Acquire the Following Eating Habits:
  • Chew your food well.
  • Stop eating when you are seven-tenths full to enhance digestion and to support the body's ability to properly process waste products.
  • Eat in a quiet, non-stressful atmosphere.
  • Finish your last meal of the day three hours before bedtime.
  • Eat a diet of primarily lightly cooked foods, especially if you have weak digestion.
Remember to eat colorful, lightly prepared meals, to be active and outgoing, and to nourish your mind and spirit as you enjoy your summer.

****

Cold Chrysanthemum Tea for the Summertime

The recipe below was published by Diane Joswick, L. Ac. This tea is especially good to quench thirst. I have modified the amounts of the chrysanthemum green tea and water in the recipe to make a smaller amount.

Ingredients:

15-20 White Chrysanthemum Flowers
1 teaspoons of Jasmine Yinhao Green Tea
Honey
1 liter of water

Instructions:

Wash the chrysanthemum.
Put chrysanthemum and tea into a cook pot.
Pour in 1 liter of water and bring it to boiling.
Reduce heat and continue to cook for 20 minutes.
Put in the honey.
Remove pot from the heat and allow tea to cool till room temperature.
Strain the tea and put into refrigerator.

Serve the tea slightly chilled.

Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Body Scan for Self-Cultivation

By Junie Norfleet, L.Ac.

Many of us get home from work stressed from the day’s activity. A way to speed the relaxation process and shedding the day’s stresses is to take ten minutes to do a body scan. This scan can also be done a part of the routine preparation of bedtime to assist falling asleep more quickly.

Sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes and begin this exercise by noticing where there is tension in the area of the head. Notice the lips, the jaw muscles, the eyes, the space between the eyebrows, the scalp, the occiput, and the neck. You are just noticing any place in the region of the head where you feel tension, tightness, or that energy is not moving. Take one deep breath for each of the spaces in which you noticed tension, and image the breath going into the space in which you feel that energy is not moving, or that there is tightness or tension.

Next move to the region of the chest. Notice where the ribs meet the sternum, the space between the ribs, the area of the collar bone, and the shoulder joints. Again, once you notice where the tension and stagnation are, image one breath going into each area to help create space and relax the muscles and tissues.

Now move your attention to the abdomen and the area below the navel. Notice the abdominal muscles, the muscles of the groin and the thighs, the knee joints, the calf muscles, the ankles and feet, especially between the many bones in the feet. Once again, use the breath to create space and relax the area. Continue this exercise by moving to the back of the body.

Pay attention to where the ribs join the spine, the low back and sacral areas, and the hip joints. The sacrum has four small holes on each side in which a great deal of stagnation can gather, and the spine tends to stiffen with tension as we go through our day. Once you have used the breath to help move stagnation and tension and create space in these areas you will feel rejuvenated and relaxed -- ready to enter the routine of “home.”

This exercise can be done on three levels. You can just notice the tension on the surface of the body, which is pretty easy for all of us. As you do this exercise more and more, you will begin to notice tension in the deeper levels of the muscles, and then begin to notice tension and stagnation in the organs of the body. Using the breath to help relax the body in all three of these levels may take more than ten minutes, but will add years to your life.