Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Treatment of Phantom Limb Pain by Scalp Acupuncture

Phantom limb pain, residual limb pain and complex regional pain are common symptoms for patients with limb injuries and amputations. Several studies have shown that approximately 70 percent to 80 percent of patients develop pain within the first few days after amputation. Phantom limb pain is the term for abnormal sensation perceived from a previously amputated limb.
Several theories have been proposed regarding the cause of phantom limb pain. An understanding of the mechanisms underlying phantom pain is likely to lead to new and rational types of treatments. Some studies have indicated that phantom pain is thought to originate from the brain. When the area of the brain that controlled the limb before it was amputated no longer has a function, other areas of the brain fill in for it. There is a reorganization of the primary sensory cortex, subcortex and thalamus after amputation. The reorganization of the sensory cortex currently is considered to be responsible for phantom limb pain.
Conventional medicine has provided limited help in alleviating these types of pains. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is becoming a more popular method of treatment for acute and chronic pain among nonmedical treatment such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, vibration therapy, biofeedback, hypnosis massage, physical therapy, and electroconvulsive therapy.
Scalp acupuncture has been proven to be the most effective technique for treating central nerve damage, including phantom limb pain, residual limb pain, complex regional limb pain, postconcussion syndrome, posttraumatic stress syndrome, among acupuncture treatments such as body acupuncture, ear acupuncture, and hand acupuncture. Scalp acupuncture is a modern acupuncture technique combining traditional needling method with western medicine knowledge of representative areas of the cerebral cortex. Recent studies have shown that scalp acupuncture could be a very effective form of pain relief for a variety of limb pains. Scalp acupuncture often produces remarkable results with just a few needles. It usually relieves pain immediately, and sometimes only takes several seconds to a minute.
The recommended scalp acupuncture areas to be used are sensory area, leg motor and sensory area, tremor area and motor area. The foot motor-sensory areas are known as primary treatment areas to treat limb pain, and bilaterally select the main area to treat all kinds of limb pain. The sensory area is another important treatment area. The upper 1/5 sensory area is unilaterally selected to treat opposing leg and foot pain. The middle 2/5 sensory areas are unilaterally selected to treat opposing arm and hand pain. Tremor areas are classified as secondary areas to treat limb pain, and are bilaterally selected to treat spasm pain on either or both sides.
Proper manipulation techniques are crucial for obtaining the desired results. The needles are usually retained for 30 to 45 minutes with stimulation every one to two minutes using a rotational technique every 10 minutes. The patients often are treated two to three times a week, depending upon the degree of pain.
Although there certainly are other acupuncture techniques that can be effective, such as ear acupuncture and body acupuncture, scalp acupuncture is a more effective model that brings out quicker, often immediate pain relief. In a recent investigation, scalp acupuncture was applied to treat seven patients with limb pains at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., from Feb. 11-12, 2006. After only one treatment for each patient, three of the seven patients instantly felt pain relief and showed significant improvement (43 percent), three patients showed some improvement (43 percent), and only one patient showed no improvement (16 percent), yielding a total effective rate of 86 percent.
Chart I: Total effective rate after one treatment of scalp acupuncture
Scalp acupuncture for relieving pain pie chart.
Chart II: Effective rate after one treatment of scalp acupuncture
Scalp acupuncture for treatment of pain pie chart.
Case Study 1: Phantom Pains
After both legs were amputated for several months, the patient still felt severe phantom pain. Various types of medication provided little relief. The pain interrupted his sleep and caused loss of emotional control. The patient described severe, painful tingling sensations in both of his feet, with his right foot worse off than the left. As soon as he underwent scalp acupuncture treatment, the patient started to feel heat sensations in both his leg, followed by more tingling and an almost electricity-like sensation in his toes. Five minutes later, his phantom pain had diminished considerably; after 10 minutes, his phantom pains had disappeared completely. The patient was worried that his phantom pains might come back after the needles in his scalp were removed and insisted on sitting in the treatment room for a period after he finished the treatment. He was happy to leave the treatment room without any phantom pain two hours after his first scalp acupuncture treatment.
Case Study 2: Residual Limb Pain
This patient experienced severe residual limb pain in his right stump right away after his surgery five months ago. He described his chronic pain like the presence of "a wire tight up his leg" with spasms that resulted in an intolerable state. Scalp acupuncture was applied at the foot sensory, motor area and upper 1/5 sensory area. Fifteen minutes after four needles were inserted into his scalp, followed by stimulation of the needles by the doctor, the patient felt a numb and tingling sensation in his leg. After the initial sensation, his tight leg sensation started to loose up. After five more minutes passed, his tight pain leg spasm was almost completely gone.
Case Study 3: Complex Regional Pain
After being shot twice in each leg during a battle in Iraq, this patient suffered from severe complex regional pain in his right leg. His right leg and foot were so sensitive that even the lightest touch or contact from a thin blanket or sock would induce severe pain the patient could hardly tolerate. The patient lost his ability to stand and walk due to sensitivity on the right foot. As soon as the needles were inserted in his scalp, the patient experienced a "water-bubble-like sensation" moving first from his right hip to his leg, and then to his foot and toes. Five to eight minutes later, his leg and foot pain started to diminish and he was able to make contact with his leg and toes with little discomfort. The patient was so excited to feel the results that he continuingly touched his leg and toes to verify it really was better. He was asked to try to put a sock on his right foot and did so without showing pain or discomfort. The patient then proceeded to take a short nap. The next day, when the doctor returned to the room, the patient was lying on the bed with both socks on. He had very little pain and was much less sensitive to touch. He was able to walk with almost no pain after his scalp was punctured with four needles. Each step he took brought out applause from observers.
The other acupuncture techniques for alleviating phantom pain have been proven effective as well. The more commonly practiced techniques are ear acupuncture, body acupuncture and electronic acupuncture. Commonly used ear points are: shenmen, brain, subcortex, sympatric nerve, and corresponding limb points. Commonly used body acupuncture points are LI4, LV3, LV2, P6 H5, SP10, and UB17. The xi-cleft point also is used in existing limbs which have the same meridian names, such as Hand-shaoyang for Foot-shaoyang or left Hand-shaoyang for right Hand-shaoyang. Some researches have found out those certain circumstances, such as emotional stress, anger, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia, can trigger or enhance the feeling of pain and make them more bothersome. Therefore, the selections of ear and body acupuncture points should be individualized and the treatment setting should be varied among patients according to their symptoms and signs. Electronic acupuncture stimulation of ear points, huantuojiaji extraordinary points, and the sensory cortex of the brain all have very good effects on phantom limb pain, residual limb pain and complex regional pain.
Although few scientific investigations have directly assessed the efficacy of acupuncture treatment in limb pain, our treatments show that 86 percent of patients instantly felt effectiveness with only one treatment. Scalp acupuncture treatment for pain relief is accessible, less expensive, safe, and perceived as having fewer side effects. In the future, it would be helpful to conduct controlled studies of effectiveness of such treatment. Scalp acupuncture not only benefits patients with limb pain, but also significantly contributes to our understanding of phantom pain. Furthermore, it may help to discover the mechanisms of phantom limb and residual limb pain and will lead to the discovery of further advancements in pain management.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cool Off With Delicious Summer Meals

There are not a lot of potato salads and barbecue in a traditional Chinese diet. That does not mean, however, that you cannot eat tasty, healthy foods during the summer and maintain a proper nutritional balance. Enjoy these recipes while you are relaxing in the sun.
Summer Herbal Cereal
Serves 6
In the summer we tend to drink a lot of cold liquids, which can cause dampness. If the body cannot get rid of the dampness, a person may arthritis or skin trouble or a lack of energy.
This cereal is good for preventing dampness. It also helps to lower blood pressure in hot weather. The lotus seeds can give you some extra energy.
  • ½ cup lotus seeds (Semen Nelumbinis)
  • ½ cup Job’s tears seeds (Semen Coicis)
  • ½ cup mung beans
  • 1 small yam, skinned and cut into cubes
    • These ingredients can be found in a Chinese grocery store or Chinese pharmacy.
Bring 7 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add lotus seeds and Job’s tears seeds, cover and remove from heat. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Bring the seeds and water to a boil again, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for one hour. Add mung means, cover and cook for another 30 minutes, then add yam and cook until tender (about 20-20 minutes).
This cereal is not good for someone with diarrhea.
Snow Bowl
Serves 4
Broccoli is a cooling vegetable that is excellent for removing heat from the body.
  • 1 small stalk broccoli
  • ½ small cauliflower
  • 8 small mushrooms
  • ½ lb. Tofu cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 cup coconut milk or soybean milk *
  • 1 medium red pepper cut into bite-sized squares
  • ½ cup pineapple juice (or use 1 ½ cup pineapple-coconut juice)
    • You need a total of 1 ½ cups of liquid. If pineapple-coconut juice is used, use 1 ½ cups all together. Or use 1 cup coconut milk and ½ cup pineapple juice. Or use 1 cup soybean milk and ½ cup pineapple-coconut juice. Any combination will work fine.
Cut broccoli and cauliflower into bite-sized flowers, discarding the broccoli stems (These can be saved and used for soup stock.). Steam cauliflower for three minutes and remove when tender. Steam broccoli, tofu and mushrooms together for three minutes.
Place red pepper squares on the bottom of a 10-inch Pyrex dish and pour steamed vegetables over them, removing the excess water from steaming.
In a saucepan, mix coconut milk with the arrowroot and cook over a low flame, stirring constantly, until it thickens into gravy. Remove from heat and add the pineapple juice. Pour over the vegetables and serve.
These recipes and much more can be found in Chinese Vegetarian Delights, by Lily Chuang.
An extraordinary collection of delectable vegetarian recipes based upon principals of traditional Chinese nutrition. Rejoice in the absence of meat, sugar and dairy products. Enjoy fresh, mild foods to cleanse the blood and aid in healthy digestion.

Ancient Chinese Remedies For Arthritis

As the population of Asia and America ages, the most common health concern of physically active baby-boomers is the condition of their joints. It is estimated that 70 million Americans have some form of arthritis. Furthermore, countless Americans undergo surgical procedures for joint injuries every year. Besides obvious traumas, common causes of arthritis include heredity, infections, aging and environment. If left untreated, arthritis and joint problems can be crippling and vastly affect one’s quality of life.
Chances are you or someone you know has arthritis. Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in the U.S. and is the leading cause of disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three Americans is affected by one of the more than 100 types of arthritis. These include conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome, lupus, Lyme disease, ankylosing spondylitis, bursitis, tendonitis and fibromyalgia to name a few.
The cause of most types of arthritis is unknown. Scientists are currently studying aging, genes, environment and lifestyle factors that contribute to the development of arthritis. The most common symptoms involve pain, stiffness and swelling around the joints or soft tissue. This can contribute to difficulty in daily activities that require movement. Other symptoms may include fatigue, fevers, depression and weight gain.
The one common characteristic of any arthritic condition is inflammation. The inflammation is an immune system response to a foreign invasion (virus), injury or dysfunction (auto-immune response). Conventional treatments include anti-inflammatory agents, steroids and other immuno-suppressant drugs complemented by physiotherapy. The side effects of conventional treatments can be immense and often trouble arthritic patients for the rest of their lives.
There is another way to obtain relief from arthritis without the side effects of taking drugs—the Chinese medicine way. This alternative to western medicine is several thousands of years old with a strong track record of good results.
In Chinese medicine, arthritis is called a “Bi” or “stagnation and stasis” condition. We categorize “Bi” conditions according to their symptomatic characteristics such as location, intensity of pain, amount of heat or inflammation and amount of swelling and disability. For example, arthritic pain that moves from joint to joint is called “Xin Bi” or moving arthritis.
Both external and internal factors can cause arthritis. External causes include invasion by pathogenic factors such as wind, cold or dampness that obstruct the normal flow of Qi and blood, thereby resulting in swelling, stiffness, numbness and pain of the joints and soft tissues. Internal causes include emotional stress weakening the defensive ability of one’s immune system and depletion of the Kidney/ Vitality system resulting in degeneration of one’s bones, tendons and cartilage.
Treating arthritis in Chinese medicine focuses on ridding the body of the invading pathogens, restoring normal circulation and flow of blood and Qi, promoting emotional harmony and fortifying the Kidney/ Vitality system. Effective treatments include acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal and dietary therapy, exercise therapy, cupping and massage.
Acupuncture has been found to be clinically effective in reducing arthritic pain and improving mobility and circulation. Often, localized acupuncture therapy directly on the joint or tissue itself, with or without electrical stimulation or moxa (heat therapy with the herb mugwort) can be extremely helpful in managing arthritis. This obviously requires obtaining treatments from a licensed acupuncturist.
Herbal Therapy
Herbal therapy is useful in reducing inflammation, nourishing joints and soft tissues and improving one’s energy. It may also be a useful replacement for anti-inflammatory drugs that some people find upsetting to their stomach. Besides relieving arthritic symptoms, it is as important to nourish and prevent the onset of arthritis. There is good news for arthritis sufferer unable to access acupuncture treatments.
Traditions of Tao, a company dedicated to the research of herbal products for modern needs formulated Healthy Joint and Arthritis Elixir to help people nourish and promote the proper function of their joints. It also offers relief of symptoms of arthritis.
The Healthy Joint and Arthritis Elixir is specially formulated based on long years of Ni Family clinical success in helping their patients with joint conditions.
This proprietary formula contains licorice root and peony root, which soothe pain and spasms; notopterygium root and Korean ash bark dispel dampness from the joints and restores flexibility; eucommia bark and mulberry stem nourish the joints; dang gui root, sheng di root and Szechwan lovage root promote proper lubrication of the joints; astraglus root modulates and balances the immune system; Chinese lovage root, peach kernel and safflower support proper circulation; and finally poria root helps proper stomach and digestive function.
Dietary Therapy
Dietary Therapy advocates avoiding foods that produce dampness or mucous that may further obstruct the flow of qi and blood in the channels, therefore exacerbating the arthritis.
Foods to avoid:
  • cow milk products (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, etc.)
  • night shade vegetables (tomato, eggplant, peppers, potato)
  • deep fried and fatty foods
  • processed and refined foods
  • cold and raw foods (salads, fruits)
  • wheat
  • red meat
  • alcohol
  • coffee
  • sugar
Exercise Therapy
Exercise Therapy focuses on joint mobility, increasing circulation and strengthening tendons, ligaments and muscles. The best types of exercise include water exercise, taiji, qigong, gentle yoga, stationary bike, walking and light weight-training.
Cupping and Massage
Cupping and Massage are treatment modalities designed to vastly increase circulation to affected areas, ridding toxins and waste products that aggravate inflammation and introducing the joints and tissues to fresh nutrients and oxygen. These techniques are effective for reducing swelling, stiffness and pain.
There is no reason why you cannot live a full and active life, even if you suffer from arthritis. The therapies listed above, either alone or in combination can vastly improve your quality of life if you practice them diligently.

Acupuncture and Diaphragm

The diaphragm character
The ancient character for 鬲


The diaphragm and its constriction caught my attention some years ago as I noticed that most of the patients coming to the “infertility” treatments had their diaphragm constricted, coldness of abdomen, cold womb and many of them had acid reflux.
Physically the diaphragm is a sheet of muscle separating thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity. The diaphragm plays important role in respiration, and is also involved in vomiting, expelling feces and urine. The pressure from diaphragm helps esophageal hiatus to preventing acid reflux. The muscular structure is also connected to ligaments of vertebral column.  The diaphragm is innervated by phrenic nerve formed from nerves coming from C3-C5.

In Chinese medicine

In classic medical texts the problems of diaphragm are usually seen more as symptoms of disease than the source of the problem. Most of the classics speaks of heated, cold, full or distended diaphragm. The symptoms mentioned in connection are mostly of vomiting, constipation/diarrhea, food retention, qì rebellion and breathing difficulties.
However the problem is much deeper. For example physician named Yùchāng (喻昌) wrote in 1645 in Yùyìcǎo (寓意草) how the dàlùo of Stomach and the qì of Lung go through the diaphragm. Because of moving and transformations of jīng, blood and qì the constricted diaphragm is seen to cause serious problems as it is “Not only the womens disease but also the child [in womb and while breatfeeding] loses it nourishment”.
When we look at the channel pathways we can see something very interesting:
  1. The Stomach channel coming downwards from the throat goes downwards and goes through the diaphragm area. The dàlùo of stomach goes from stomach to lungs passing the through the diaphragm as it goes.
  2. The Spleen channel likewise go through the diaphragm as it ascends. One branch that enters the spleen and stomach rise from stomach through the diaphragm and enters the Heart.
  3. The Lung channel beginning from the middle burner descends to the lower burner and ascends again passing the diaphragm before entering the lungs.
  4. The Large intestine channel after ascending the arm goes from Li15 to Du14 and goes to qūepén area where it branches. The descending branch enters the lungs and penetrates the diaphragm before entering the colon.
  5. The Heart Channel starts from the Heart and descends through the diaphragm to small intestine. The Heart also has network of connection to every Zàng-organs and most of these connections has to go through the diaphragm.
  6. The Small intestine channel after rising the arm branches at the qūepén area. The descending branch goes to Heart and descends further through the diaphragm to small intestine.
  7. The Kidney channel goes through diaphragm area while ascending before it dives to the Lungs and Heart.
  8. The liver channel after ascending from toes to abdomen enters the liver and gallbladder and continues to ascend through the diaphragm to costal region and finally to throat.
  9. The Gallbladder channel descends from qūepén area down the chest passing the diaphragm and enters the gallbladder and liver.
  10. The Sānjiāo channel branches after reaching qūepén area and the one part of it goes down to chest connecting Xīnbāo and descending trough the diaphragm to connect all the three burners.
  11. The Xīnbāolùo Channel starts from the chest and descends through the diaphragm to join the three burners.
  12. The Rènmài  pass through the diaphragm and the rènmài 15 is seen as a lùo-point of Rèn as from there the channel branches and the branch disperses to diaphragm.
  13. Chòngmài as it rises from womb it passes through the diaphragm. Chòngmài is responsible of red blood transforming to white milk during the breastfeeding.
There are also numerous other connections from different branches of the main channels. And as the diaphragm is a muscle it is very important to note that the Stomach, Spleen, Heart and Xīnbāo muscle channels all connect to the diaphragm.
From this it becomes clearly understandable why the diaphragm plays such important role upon all the ascending and descending within the energy system.

In alchemy

The diaphragm in Chinese language is 膈 (gě). Today the character for diaphragm is written with flesh radical (月 + 鬲) and the whole character is translated as diaphragm. The older form of character omits the flesh radical and the simple 鬲 translates as iron cauldron or earthen pot. This older name reveals much clearly the function of the whole diaphragm.
All the six fǔ-organs and three of the five zàng-organs reside below the diaphragm. Only the Heart and Lungs reside above it. The diaphragm stands between the upper and lower, separating them. The qì and jīng are below and the source of blood (Heart) is above. Water (Kǎn) below and Fire (Lí) above. In cultivation practices the diaphragm is very important as it controls the rising and descending of fire and water. It mixes the yuan qì and post heaven qì. The earthen pot is the whole abdominal area where the cooking of alchemical herbs is done.
In inner alchemy the diaphragm is connected to following “parts of the body”:
  1. Squeeze the spine pass (夾脊關 - Jiājǐguān) in the back
  2. Doves tail (鳩尾 - Jiūwěi) and Crimson palace (Jiànggōng) in the front
  3. The Great gate tower (巨闕 – Jùquè) within.
In emotional level the diaphragm works as an emotional shield and bridge between the unconscious and conscious emotions. It can block the emotions stored in the lower abdomen from over-flooding the Heart and consciousness. Its functioning can be easily observed in children. When the emotions are too hard to deal with the diaphragm becomes tense and whole upper stomach get tense. The sobbing, crying or vomiting are biological ways of relieving the formed tensions. Quite common result of diaphragmatic tension is digestion problems or diminished appetite. One very common manifestation of this blockage is that there is cold and possibly qì masses or even blood stagnation masses below while there are heat and fullness above manifesting as symptoms like feeling of stuffiness at the chest and throat, nausea and acid reflux.
It also seems that many common anti depression medicines block the diaphragm. This also might explain some of the most common side effects like nausea and heart-burn. Sometimes you can see how medicated bodies express strange division where rest of the body still show the emotional strain while the facial expressions seem tranquil and rationally distant. In these cases the certain caution is in place while treating the area.

Acupuncture and diaphragm

One commonly used acupuncture point is called 膈俞 (Bl 17 – gěshū).  In Nánjīng reads “血會鬲俞”, meaning that the Blood meets or collects in Gěshū. The point is seen as “master of blood” as the Heart above produces the blood and the liver below stores it. This point is commonly used in many Blood related diseases and it is great for moving blood and qì. Shū point are places from where channel branches to fill places/organs with qì. The great meaning of point is revealed while applying moxa here as it results in warming the whole abdomen or the cauldron for alchemical cookings.
The point lateral to Gěshū is much less used point called 膈關 (Bl 46 – Gěguān). It is a great point to open the diaphragm and open the lid upon the cauldron. This point is better for opening the diaphragm than the Gěshū.
In front we have Ren 14 Jùquè (巨闕). The name means the great gate tower. It is the mù (募) point of the Heart. It is the watchtower to protect the imperial city. At the back there is also hidden points called 巨闕俞, the shū point for this watchtower.
In emotional problems with constricted cauldron one of my favorite ways of opening the diaphragm is to first needle Gěshū and Gěguān in intention of first stirring the cauldron and opening the lid. Then using qìgōng at Jùquè to very genty open the gates to the Crimson palace of Heart.
One good point for very prolonged blockage is Ren 15 – Jiūwěi (鳩尾). Jiūwěi means Doves tail. It is also called  Shéns treasury (Shénfǔ 神府). The point is yuán point for gāo (膏) and the point has a great effect to all the Zàng-organs. This point is also the lùo-point of Rènmài. The lùo merges to the diaphragm. It is said that when one descends from here he/she becomes tangled in emotions and thoughts of later heaven and when one ascends from here one returns to the Palace of Shén.
These are just a few points affecting the diaphragm. Other common points include other local points (mostly stomach and kidney channel points). Also because the fact that diaphragm is a muscle and the courses of muscle channel pathways the distal points of Spleen, Stomach, Heart and Xīnbāo channels are also effective.
It is very important to be very gentle while trying to open the diaphragm. Any tension or forcing will easily prevent the opening from happening. The opening is sometimes accompanied with involuntary laughter, crying, sobbing and/or shaking. Care must be taken that the emotions have time to settle down before leaving the patient.

Traditional Chinese medicine and autoimmune disease

In ancient text there seems to be accounts of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and many other autoimmune diseases. In most cases presented in classics we cannot possibly know what the disease truly was. From short list of symptoms we do not know if the disease was for example lyme borreleosis or multiple sclerosis, or was it non-autoimmune form of arthritis or rheumatic one. What we know is some of the methods diagnose and treat. And in some cases we even know the results… if we can trust our sources.
Traditional Chinese medicine still relies old form of diagnosis done by looking, asking, listening, smelling and taking pulse. The diseases are then differentiated using for example eight principles and Zangfu-theory. The diagnosis and treatment will depend on school and expertise of the practitioner. The most commonly used diagnostics and treatments are based on Zangfu, Five phases, Bi&Wei-syndromes and Wind-syndromes. One of the best books with this approach is Treating Autoimmune Disease With Chinese Medicine written by Wanzhu Hou, Guangpi Xu and Hanjie Wang (ISBN 978-0-443-06974-1).
To illustrate this approach we take an example from the book. According the authors the aetiology and pathology of Systemic lupus erythematosus can be presents to be caused by one or all of the following:
  • Deficiency of Yin as the internal cause of lupus
  • Invasion of pathogenic factors as the external cause of SLE
  • Blood stasis, Phlegm and Fluid are pathogenic substances, as well as one cause of SLE, and an aggravating factor in existing SLE
The Systemic lupus erythematosus can be differentiated by symptoms to following main categories:
  • Domination of Heat-toxin
  • Internal Heat due to Yin deficiency
  • Blood stasis and Heat stagnation
  • Spleen and Kidney Qi deficiency
  • Fluid retention due to Yang deficiency
The book prescribes different points and herbs for possible treatment and includes couple of case studies.
In light of element theory most of the autoimmune diseases have characteristics of various degrees of Yin deficiency, heat and phlegm (turbid dampness). This approach works greatly to relieve the symptoms and sometimes this can provide a cure for disease itself. In many cases of autoimmune diseases this approach only works to relieve the symptoms. In many cases this relieving symptoms is already very great achievement. For example in multiple sclerosis the myelin is destroyed in relapse phases and if this relapse can be shorten or stopped the amount of damage to nervous system is minimized and the body has time to recover during remissions. This can slow down or even stop the advancement of multiple sclerosis and at least the symptoms during the relapse are eased.

The classics like Shānghán lùn (Treatise on cold damage), Sùwèn and Língshū are more concentrated on our energetic structures and their resonance with cosmic forces than classification of symptoms to elementary correspondences. These classics describe how the pathogenic factors travel in our systems and how the diseases patterns develop and change. These theories, especially Shānghán lùn theory, are usually used to explain acute diseases with emphasis of cold pathogen. The energetic structures and possible ways the disease may develop apply also to other diseases.
In chapter 6 the Sùwèn explains how the three Yang and three Yin together make six continuous looping channels. The 31th chapter explains how a cold disease develops and travels through this channel system. The Shānghán lùn uses this six channel theory from Sùwèn and explains symptoms and principles of healing in much greater depth. The depth of the six channels are, from superficial to deeper, Tàiyáng (small intestine and bladder channels) → Shǎoyáng (sānjiāo and gallbladder channels) → Yángmíng (large intestine and stomach channels)→ Tàiyīn (lung and spleen channels) → Juéyīn (xīnbāo and liver channels) → Shǎoyīn (heart and kidney channels). The disease progresses through these levels usually in different order. The primary order of progression in Shānghán lùn is Tàiyáng → Shǎoyáng → Yángmíng → Tàiyīn → Shǎoyīn → Juéyīn (1) . After getting to Juéyīn the disease may even result in death. The difference between the depths and progression order is due channel pathways. The disease advances from Tàiyáng to foot portition of Shǎoyīn (kidney meridian). From kidney meridian it travels to Juéyīn ending up to Xīnbāo – or hand/yang portion of Juéyīn. In English literature the Xīnbāo is commonly translated as Heart protector or Pericardium. Xīnbāo is intimately connected to the Heart and true Heart-channel. We have to remember that what is commonly called as the Heart-channel is in fact only a superficial branch of the true Heart meridian. The real Heart-channel lies deep with and cannot be pierced and have no points on it. This is also the reason why the Heart channel is not mentioned in oldest of texts and why the Xīnbāo-channel was sometimes called the Heart-channel. It is said that if the pathogens could get into True Heart-channel the Shén or spirit would leave and death would follow. So the True Heart channel is protected by Xīnbāo.
In regards of autoimmune diseases these theories of depth and progressions provide few very interesting points. The Shǎoyáng (Sānjiāo and gallbladder) is the axis of all Yang channels. Diseases in this level are considered to be in between states. They are not fully internal nor external. They have characteristics of moving and changing. They can manifest as shaking, chills, intermittent fevers, uncomfortable breathing and constantly changing pains. Gallbladder channel is responsible of peripheral nervous system and is connected also to Marrow. Marrow in Chinese medicine also includes spinal cord and brain. The master or meeting point of all Marrows lays in gallbladder channel (GB 39). Sānjiāo connects the brain to the three Dantian. It is also deeply connected to harmonious working of all endocrine glands which control the hormonal balance of body. Shǎoyáng is the harmonizing axis of all Yang channels that are responsible of all activity of body
The Juéyīn is more connected to the Liver, Detoxification, Blood, tissues, body and form. The Xīnbāo portion is also connected to thymus responsible for “educating” the T-Cells which plays key part in adaptation of immune system. It is the utmost Yin. If this level gets affected the Yin becomes disharmonious and cannot transform to Yang. This can cause deformity and dysfunction of tissues. In more serious level the separation of Yin and Yang can happen, meaning death.
The autoimmune disease can be seen as breaking of this fundamental harmony. In classics these states are seen as result of diseases that were not fully healed. In Western medicine it is also accepted that certain prolonged diseases can trigger autoimmune response. And even improper use of medicals (like antibiotics) can cause autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease (2).
This theory also applies to other diseases arising from foreign chemical entering the body. Recently in Finland there has been cases of narcolepsy caused by swine flu vaccinations(3). Even though the narcolepsy is not considered autoimmune disease the cases seem very similar in the eyes of Chinese medicine diagnostics as the Shǎoyáng is responsible for harmonizing the activities of Yang channels. The Sānjiāo and Gallbladder channels are often used to treat diseases of brains and more generally the whole nervous system. The points from gallbladder (ie. GB38) and Xīnbāo (ie. XB8-9) channels are used for example to treat penicillins induced allergic reaction. The gallbladder channel and its corresponding Zang-organ liver are responsible for muscle and tendon level of body, the very same depth the vaccines are injected into. The liver belong to the Juéyīn-level and is responsible for detoxifying the body.

Zangfu Theory & Cellular Memory

The Huang Dei Nei Jing is the oldest and most important medical book to originate from China. Its author and origin is unknown, but is thought to have been written during the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.) by numerous authors (Yanchi 1995, p2).
From this ancient classic comprised of two books; the Suwen ‘Plain Questions’ and the Lingshu ‘Miraculous Pivot’, came the basic foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It introduced the five-element theory, Yin & Yang, causes of disease, the pathology and physiology of the Zangfu organs, interaction of Blood and the channel system. All subsequent texts built upon the foundations laid down by the Huang Dei Nei Jing.
The theories of the Huang Di Nei Jing still lay at the core of clinical practice today. In this essay, we shall look at the importance of Zangfu theory and its application in orthodox medicine and society, notably cellular memory.
Cellular memory is defined as the cells of living tissue having the capability to memorize characteristics of the human they relate to. Over the past half-century, advances in orthodox medicine have allowed us to perform organ transplants. Recently recipients of donated organs have begun to report newfound memories, thoughts, emotions and characteristic preferences perceived to be those of their donor.
In orthodox medicine, it is mainly the heart, lung, liver and kidneys that are transplanted, all of which are Zang (Yin) organs according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Can the theory of the Zangfu within the Huang Dei Nei Jing shed a new light upon this modern finding known as cellular memory? The aim of this essay is to answer that question.
The Zangfu consist of five Yin (Zang) organs and five Yang (Fu) organs. Each Yin organ has a function, associated organ, taste, emotion, spirit, tone, planet, animal, season, element, colour, etc and are categorized in appendix A. In this essay, we will be concerned with each organ’s emotion and spirit in relation to cellular memory. See Table 1.
Zang Organ Emotion Spirit
Liver Anger Hun (Ethereal Soul)
Heart Joy Shen (Mind)
Spleen Pensiveness Yi (Intellect)
Lung Grief Po (Corporeal Soul)
Kidney Fear Zhi (Will)
Table 1. The Zang emotions and spirits.
TCM is a holistic medicine that views the body and mind as one and is based upon the theory of Yin and Yang as introduced medically in the Huang Dei Nei Jing. Within this theory, everything is made up of two opposing forces, each containing the seed of its opposite. Therefore, everything contains the essence of the whole. As the Su Wen states in chapter 5:
Yin and Yang are the guiding principles of all things. In the mutual victory or defeat of Yin and Yang, the situation will be of numerous varieties, so, Yin and Yang are the parents of variations” (Wu and Wu 1997, p31).
The theory of Yin and Yang is the same as its modern western equivalent -- the holographic principle -- and is the basis of cellular communication with the body-mind in dynamic interplay. As Gerber (1996, p48-9) points out, the holographic principle is that ‘every piece contains the whole’ and can be seen in the cellular structure of all living bodies. Every cell contains a copy of the master DNA blueprint. From these two identical theories, we may conclude that although each Zang organ contains its own function, emotion, spirit and so forth, each organ also contains the functional essence of all the characteristics of the Zangfu organs and the body as a whole.
Looking selectively at the spirit and emotion of the Zang, we can see that each organ ‘houses’ its own respect spirit and emotion. Based upon the theory of Yin and Yang each Zang organ also houses the essence of all the other organs’ emotions and spirits within the body. For example the heart in TCM, ‘houses’ the Shen (mind) and is the organ that controls all the Zangfu. This is because it also ‘houses’ the seed or essence of the rest of the Zangfu and the body as a whole. The Su Wen chapter 8 stated that:
“The heart is the sovereign of all organs and represents the consciousness of one’s being. It is responsible for intelligence, wisdom, and spiritual transformation” (Ni 1995, p34).
Since the seed (cell) contains components of the whole then we need to look closer at what actually makes up the cells of the Zangfu. The word ‘cell’ derives from the Latin ‘cellula’ meaning ‘small chamber’. Every cell is 99.999% empty space with sub-atomic bundles of energy travelling through it at the speed of light 
As Gerber (1996, p69) points out at the quantum level of subatomic particles, all matter is literally frozen, particularized energy fields (i.e. frozen light). Complex aggregates of matter (i.e. molecules) are really specialized energy fields. Just as light has a particular frequency or frequencies, so does matter have frequency characteristics as well. The higher the frequency of matter, the less dense, or subtle the matter. Yin and Yang are in essence light. They make up everything that is matter, i.e. the physical cells, when light vibrates at a lower frequency and everything non-matter, i.e. the emotions and spirits, when light vibrates at a higher frequency. The emotions and spirits metaphorically trickle down from the non-physical to the physical cells via the transportation of light.
When an organ i.e. the heart is transplanted, the energy or cellular memory housed in the cells of the tissues also carries the higher frequencies of light (energy held within the forces of Yin and Yang). This can be attributed to Einstein’s infamous equation, E=mc2. This viewpoint sees the human being as a multidimensional organism made up of physical/cellular systems in dynamic interplay with complex regulatory energetic fields (Gerber 1996, p68). If each cell contains 99.999% energy then the cell is in essence light. This allows the cell to contain the seed of the whole organism. Each of the Zang spirits can also contain the seed of each other and are able to communicate with each other at a higher frequency of light. Therefore, if a heart is transplanted, the memory at the cellular level and at the spiritual level, the Shen, will be moved with the donated organ. In addition, the cellular essence or seed of the remaining Zang organs and their relative spirit will also be transplanted with the heart. Literally, the seed of the Hun, Yi, Po and Zhi from the donor will be transported to the recipient of the donated organ. The Shen of the heart is the sovereign of consciousness and in essence is made of higher frequencies of light and is reiterated in Chuang Tzu’s ‘The Fasting of the Heart’, 
“Look at this window; it is nothing but a hole in the wall,
but because of it the whole room is full of light.
So when the faculties are empty, the heart is full of light.
Being full of light it becomes an influence
by which others are secretly transformed”.
Orthodox research has shown a theory of how the Zangfu’s emotion and spirit can be related to cellular memory. Pert (1999, p141) states that peptides and other informational substances are the biochemicals of emotion. This theory is further supported by Pearsall, Schwartz and Russek. Pearsall et al. (2002, p191-192) suggest that the recurrent feedback loop of energy exists in all atomic, molecular and cellular systems and store information and energy to various degrees.
Supporting evidence appears in the findings of Miles Herkenham (cited in Pert, 1999, p139) that less than 2 percent of neuronal communication actually occurs at the synapse. If so then the communication of various parts of the organism to other parts of the body is conducted by the release of emotions that are stored in the body via the release of neuropeptide ligands, and that memories are held in their receptors (Pert 1999, p147). Neuropeptides are found all over the body; the heart, lung, brain, etc. When a receptor is flooded with a ligand, it changes the cell membrane in such a way that the probability of an electrical impulse travelling across the membrane where the receptor resides is facilitated or inhibited, thereafter affecting the choice of neuronal circuitry that will be used (Pert 1999, p143).
Further supporting evidence appears in the study by Schwartz and Russek (1997, 1998a, 1998b) (cited in Pearsall et al. 2002, p192) that the rejection process seen in organ transplants, might not only reflect the rejection of the material comprising the cells, but also the cellular information and energy stored within the cells. As Pert (1999, p141 and 192) states, emotional expression is always tied to a specific flow of peptides in the body, repressed traumas caused by overwhelming and chronically suppressed emotions (especially those involved in the traumatic experience of death) result in a massive disturbance of the psychosomatic network and can be stored in a body part.
All of the following are reports taken from donor’s relatives and recipients who have undergone heart transplants. The first report comes from a 19-year-old donor who was killed in an automobile accident. The recipient was a 29-year-old woman diagnosed with cardiomyopathy secondary to endocarditis. The donor’s mother reported that before her daughter died she kept saying how she could feel the impact of the car hitting them. The recipient reported that she could actually feel the accident that her donor had been in (Pearsall et al 2002, p198). This report corresponds to Maciocia’s (1993, p11) theory that the mind (and therefore the heart) can ‘feel’ emotions. From a holographic perspective (Yin and Yang) all the Zang related emotions and spirits of the donor, especially the strong final emotions of her injury that lead to her death, will be transplanted with the cells of the heart. Maciocia (1993, p11) goes on to explain that the emotions affect all the other organs too, but it is only the mind that actually recognizes and feels them. Only the heart can feel it because it stores the mind, which is responsible for insight. This is an accurate account of the heart, yet viewed from the holographic/Yin and Yang perspective, the heart contains the essence of all emotions housed within the body. The heart transplant will also bring about the transplant of the other Zang characteristics, just as much as if a kidney was transplanted with its prevailing emotions and spirit. The importance of the heart is reiterated in chapter 8 of the Su Wen:
“As the heart is the monarch in the organs, it dominates the functions of the various viscera.” (Wu and Wu 1997, p56).
The second report comes from a 34-year-old donor who was a police officer and was killed while trying to arrest a drug dealer. The recipient was a 56-year-old college professor diagnosed with atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease. The donor’s wife reported that her husband was shot in the face by a man with long hair and a beard. The last thing he must of seen was a terrible flash. The recipient reported that he began to have dreams a few weeks after receiving his donated heart. He would see a flash of light right in front of his face that began to feel really hot and would burn. And just before that time he would get a flash of a man that looked like Jesus (Pearsall et al 2002, p202). Again, we can see that the heart transplant brought some of the donor’s memories. Could it also be that the Hun (ethereal soul) ‘housed’ within the liver has a portion of itself within the heart and that the traumatized ethereal soul unable to express its suppressed emotion (due to the death of its host) will express it within the body, the Shen of the recipient?
With the unveiling of cellular memory, the medical world has concluded that the use of immunosuppressant drugs and the stress of surgery have lead to these findings. I disagree. The idea of organs having emotions and therefore memories is not a new one and has been with us for thousands of years. It seems to be taking humankind longer than that to believe it can be true.
A few questions arise from this essay. Can TCM assist the recipient in the second report with his disturbed sleep and release or balance the unexpressed emotion of his donor? Moreover, could TCM help overcome the rejection of donated organs?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Ankle Sprains

Thousands of people from all walks of life twist and sprain their ankles every day. Whether you tripped on a sidewalk or landed on someone else's foot in a basketball game, a sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries around. Of course, everyone knows they typical advice: R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). In other words, most people will advise you to just lay in bed as much as possible and ice your ankle until the swelling goes down and you can walk again. Fortunately, a new understanding of the body reveals this is not the best way to heal such an injury. In order to understand why, you need to know a little bit more about how the body works.When you have an injury, the body immediately tries to protect that area to prevent further injury. Inflammation is one of the body's best ways to protect the injured area from further movement and harm. So, in the case of ankle sprain, you will find a lot of inflammation, which means you will barely be able to move your ankle at all as the joint swells up to a softball. And it will take many weeks if not months for the inflammation to slowly decrease enough for you to walk normally again. But, as the inflammation decreases, another phenomenon will occur. Your body will produce scar tissue around the injury. Your body does this to help strengthen and protect the weakened joint from future injury. This is the body's natural response to injury if you just rest.

But, there are a number of problems with the natural healing process left to itself. One, it takes a very long time. Inflammation goes down very, very slowly and does not readily allow for the flow of fresh blood and nutrients into the injured area. It is also very hard to remove the waste from the cells in the injured area. So, although the inflammation protects the area from movement, it takes a great deal more time to heal the injury, because the ligaments and cells cannot get fresh blood and nutrients and also cannot remove waste efficiently. In other words, the inflammation blocks the free flow of healthy blood into the area as well as blocking the free flow of waste products produced from the injury out of the body. In addition, the development of scar tissue inhibits the movement of a joint, which means that in the future, your joint will be much less flexible and capable of strengthening itself.
In a nut shell, the body, if left to just rest, will heal itself as best it can, but will actually keep your ankle weak and inflexible which puts it at greater risk of injury in the future. So, here is how the body generally heals itself if left on its own:
1) Inflammation response - to protect the area from further injury which is very slow to fully heal and reduces the flow of blood and fresh nutrients into the area.
2) Produces scar tissue around the injury to help protect the injured area in the future, but also dramatically reduces flexibility and strength in the joint.
Rehabilitation, on the other hand, still allows the body to rest most of the day, but also actively moves the joint to help dramatically reduce the inflammation and avoid the build up of scar tissue. That means that the ligaments will heal much faster and better, because they get fresh blood in and can move the waste out. Also, the movement will help reduce the adhesions developed by scar tissue which will significantly strengthen your ankle joint and keep it flexible.
In fact, most people find that with proper rehabilitation, their ankles are far more flexible and strong then before they injured their ankles in the first place. Of course, this puts you at a much lower risk for injuring it again in the future. Remember, it is not working against the body, just helping the body to heal more efficiently. Joints that only rest and do not move get rusty and an injured joint, such as a sprained ankle, needs to continue to be moved, stretched and strengthened to retain it's flexibility. For example, if you were to dislocate a finger, your doctor will tell you to keep moving it (one common exercise is to make a fist and then open it and spread your fingers out as wide as possible in a sink filled with warm water). They will explain to you that rehabilitating your finger is the key to insuring you maintain its flexibility and strength in the future. But, for some reason, when you twist or sprain an ankle, everyone just says to rest. It is bizarre that people recognize that rehab is important for one joint but not another.

And now come to the point, In my experience, acupuncture can be very helpful in reducing acute swelling and pain and facilitating re-mobilization of a sprained ankle (as long as there is no complete ligament tear, fracture or joint derangement, which require orthopedic physician care). The sooner acupuncture is applied after the injury, the better. Electro-stimulation of the acupuncture needles (electro-acupuncture) is also often helpful. Additional modalities of cross-fiber acupressure at points such as UB 62, K 6 and GB 40, as well as rehabilitative calf-strengthening and stretching exercises, are also important.  Acupuncture/electro-acupuncture can also treat chronic pain from an incompletely healed ankle sprain or ankle joint degeneration.

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