Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yeast Infections, Antibiotics and Chinese Medicine

By Eric Aufdencamp, D.O.M., L.Ac.

Chinese medicine is very successful at treating yeast infections. The most effective way to treat yeast infections is to create an environment in which the yeast cannot reproduce. An overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus, called candida albicans, can result in conditions such as vaginal yeast infections, fatigue and digestive disorders.

Candida are naturally occurring cells found on the skin and on the mucous membranes. They only cause infections when they multiply due to the absence of beneficial bacteria. When found in the mouth, usually in infants, it is called thrush. It can occur on the skin in infants as "diaper rash" or in the vagina as vaginal yeast infections.

A primary cause is the use of antibiotics, which are used to kill harmful bacteria, but also end up eradicating beneficial bacteria. Other medications that contribute to yeast overgrowth include: hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, chemotherapy, and cortico-steroids.

Anti-fungal medication is usually prescribed, and the use of antibiotics, as well as any medications that contribute to this condition, are discontinued during this time, if at all possible. Often, once anti-fungals are discontinued, the symptoms will recur. This illustrates the necessity to approach not just the symptom of the yeast, but also the underlying cause.

Chinese medicine always aims at treating the source of disease. Any overgrowth of heavy, thick fluids is "phlegm" or "dampness." When it combines with "heat," it is called "damp-heat" or "phlegm-heat." Dampness or phlegm is always considered a symptom, and the root cause of the dampness needs to be addressed for effective treatment.

In Chinese medicine, the Spleen transforms and transports the foods and fluids we eat. When it is weak, the normal fluids of the body become pathological, creating dampness or phlegm. If the discharge is thick and white, with little smell, then it has not yet combined with heat. If it is strong-smelling, yellowish and burning, then it has become "hot."

Acupuncture, herbs and dietary therapy all work toward strengthening the body so that heat is cleared, dampness is eliminated, and the food and fluids are transformed.

Dietary Therapy

Foods that contribute to dampness include:
alcohol, greasy and fried foods, sugar, juices, fruits (especially tropical), peanuts, dairy products, fermented foods, and wheat-based products such as pasta and breads.

Foods that help eliminate dampness include: vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens; beans like mung beans, adzuki, and lentils; grains, including millet, basmati or jasmine rice, and barley.

Herbal Therapy

Once a diagnosis is made, a formula can be prescribed to address the specific cause of your condition. Additionally, a vaginal herbal douche can be made and applied at home for more immediate relief. Yin Care wash, a pre-made herbal solution, can also be used as a vaginal douche at home.

Stress, whether chronic or acute, weakens the immune system, disrupting the natural balance of the body. This may be a contributing factor for recurrent yeast infections. Relaxation techniques and slowing down are important for strengthening the immune system.

Acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary therapy are all important components for effectively treating and preventing yeast infections.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gardening: What Is Cultivated By Us Is Also Cultivated Within Us

By Rachel Nowakowski, L.Ac.

After a long winter indoors, many of us are ready to reconnect with nature and get the garden started. In addition to creating beauty around us, we can use gardening as an opportunity to cultivate a balanced life. Self-cultivation comes through awareness of our daily thoughts and actions and the simple act of tending a garden can be one way to practice. Think about how you feel when in a beautiful garden: relaxed, quiet, tranquil. Gardening can help us achieve that feeling in our daily lives.

For centuries, gardens have been sacred places of meditation and prayer. In the spiritual traditions of the east, Taoist gardeners use garden design as a means of self-development through their connection with nature. The Tao Te Ching, written in the 6th century BC, discusses the cycles of yin (dormancy) and yang (action). In the garden, we see the yin aspect of this cycle as plants hold their energy inward at the roots to rest for winter. As the days warm up, the yang energy is seen in everything blooming and coming back to life. When we observe nature’s phases, we are reminded that we should balance our hectic schedules with time for rest and renewal.

Gardening slows us down so we are able to see the Five Elements in action. As we work the soil (earth) with our tools (metal) we are able to grow our plants (wood) with the help of the rain (water) and sun (fire). Early gardeners and farmers recognized that the elements we see in nature also exist inside our bodies. This idea of the body as a microcosm of the universe is the basis of Chinese medicine theory.

Gardening puts us more in touch with nature and reminds us about:
Balance. Find time to rest between activities to balance the yin and yang energies.
Patience. There are things we cannot rush. We need to slow down and let it happen.
Gratitude. Be thankful for the beauty around us, in the garden or wherever we find it.

Exercise: Breathing in Beauty
(From The Inner Garden, by Diane Dreher)
The next time you are in the garden (or anywhere outside), practice this simple exercise.
1. Pause, take a deep breath, and look around you, slowly breathing out.
2. Look for something beautiful: a tree, a flower, the sky overhead.
3. Take a deep breath and breathe in its beauty. Then slowly breathe out.
4. Smile and open your heart as you take another deep breath and release.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chinese Acupuncture Clinic To Participate in USDA Research Project Growing Chinese Herbs in the US

By Mary Cissy Majebe, O.M.D.

High Falls Garden, one of the leading producers of Chinese herbal products grown in the United States has requested assistance from the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic for a United States Department of Agriculture Research project. M. Cissy Majebe will be on the Advisory Board for this 5-year project focusing on Specialty Crop Research.

There is a strong movement to grow Chinese herbal medicines in the United States. As one of the leading private clinics in the United States, the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic will share information and expertise guiding this project towards cultivation of herbal products in the U.S.

Yin Qiao, a basic formula that many of you may use for Wind Heat invasions, has many ingredients that you are already familiar with, as they are plants that grow in our area. Some of the ingredients of Yin Qiao are bo he, jin yin hua and lian qiao. These names may seem foreign and exotic, but when we translate them, we see that they are simply mint, honeysuckle and forsythia, which are familiar to most of us.

It is not that the Chinese have entirely different ecosystems from the U.S., but the Chinese do have a highly developed system of medicine that has developed herbal remedies over a period of thousands of years. It is our hope that by participating in this project, the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic can help to create more opportunities in the United States for the cultivation of medicinal plants.

Due to our new computer systems put in place by Joshua Herr, we are now able to track which herbs are being used the most in our clinic. We are excited about our clinic's participation, as well as Cissy's role on the Advisory Board, for this United States Department of Agriculture project. Hopefully, it can lead to more cultivation and farming of Chinese medicinals in the United States.