Monday, April 30, 2012

Rejuvenate Naturally: No Drugs, Hormones, or Surgery

Your body was designed to heal itself, and it can rejuvenate naturally—without drugs, hormone replacement, or invasive surgery. You can live a long, healthy life by using the natural secrets of the Chinese medical tradition, which can revitalize your body, slow the aging process, and activate your body's built-in regenerative powers.

1. Green tea combats Alzheimer's

If you replace your morning cup of coffee with green tea, you'll get more than a fleeting pick-me-up. Studies suggest that green tea may actually protect against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of mental degeneration. Green tea is packed with polyphenols, antioxidants that have been found to increase cognitive acuity and learning ability.

One particular polyphenol is responsible for these beneficial brain effects: catechin. The concentration of catechins in green tea is four times that of black tea. Researchers aren't exactly sure why, but the minimal processing used for green tea may help to preserve a higher concentration of the antioxidants. Another bonus to green tea? Studies suggest that you can lose more belly fat when you add green tea on top of your weight-loss exercise regime. So drink up to reap long-term benefits for your brain.

2. Magnesium for more energy

Magnesium is an essential mineral that mitochondria—the tiny power generators in your cells— require to help your body produce energy. Most of us don't get enough magnesium because two common dietary habits leach magnesium from our bodies: too much dairy and too much salt. And most of us just don't get enough magnesium to begin with due to the popularity of overprocessed foods. For example, rice bran contains an ample supply of the mineral, but bran is only found in brown rice. White rice has none. In the same way, wheat germ has plenty of magnesium, yet there's none in white bread and white pasta.

So keep eating whole grains for maximum magnesium intake. You can also get plenty of magnesium from nuts and seeds. Have a daily handful of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, and cashews. Magnesium also helps your heart health, relieves muscle cramps, and protects your skin from UV damage. If you prefer capsule form, try taking 500 mg magnesium daily.

3. Try chai for revitalization

The herb that gives chai tea its main flavor is cardamom, a spice that has long been valued in Asia for its ability to increase circulation and improve energy. Cardamom is a stimulant that positively affects your overall well-being, as both a revitalizing tonic for the body and as an antidepressant for emotional disorders. Orchid bees are drawn to cardamom, and use it to synthesize pheromones.

Because of this combination of properties, cardamom is routinely prescribed by Chinese doctors—generally in doses up to 5 grams per day—to rekindle sexual desire. But that's not all! Cardamom also reduces fever, eases indigestion, and combats intolerance to grains. So add some to your cereal or bake it into breads and cakes for a tasty treat free from digestive issues. And of course you can always drink the tea for this myriad of benefits.

4. Ease nervous eating with magnolia

Millions of Americans experience the symptoms of chronic stress: nervous tension, restless sleep, irritability, difficulty focusing—and eating disorders in particular. Who hasn't responded to stress by reaching for convenient comfort foods? Many people respond to situational stress by eating ice cream, cookies, and chocolates. When the stress becomes chronic, overeating becomes a habit—with predictable results.

To break the pattern, natural Chinese medicine uses magnolia, boasting a bounty of versatile benefits. Magnolia bark regulates appetite, improves digestion, and reduces swelling and bloating. The flower is a powerful remedy for allergies and sinus conditions. Studies have found that magnolia contains a phytochemical, honokiol, which is equipped with anti-stress properties that are helpful with appetite control and weight management. You can take a magnolia supplement by itself or in formulations with other herbs, in capsule form or as a tea, available in health food stores, online, and from acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists.
Bring these new rejuvenating secrets into your life on a regular basis, and you'll have amazing results. I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Treating Breast Disorders Using Chinese Medicine

When a woman visits a Chinese medicine practitioner, a question that must be asked is about her menstrual situation. The menstrual situation tells a Chinese medicine practitioner about the general health and condition of the woman. Most Chinese medicine practitioners know the importance of a normal menstrual situation for women’s health, but not all of them know exactly “why” unless the practitioner has a deep understanding about how the body mechanism works from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the nutrients in breast milk are the direct source of menstruation. This can be proved by two observations. One is that a mother does not have a period when she’s breastfeeding due to the milk given to the baby. The other is that most women experience fullness and bloating of their breasts before their periods come. Not until their periods end do they feel relief. From this point of view, the flow of milk nutrients through the meridians to the ovary and uterus is crucial to avoid disease. If the milk nutrients are not totally going down to the ovaries and uterus and, instead, get deposited in the breasts, combining with qi and blood stagnation, breast lumps or cancer can develop. If breast milk reverts, milk nutrients will accumulate in other organs. This may cause other health problems or cancers in the future. Some of the cancers include liver cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and lung cancer.
From the above explanation, you can see why having a normal monthly “period” is important for a woman’s health. Through menstruation, milk nutrients can be eliminated and are not deposited in the body causing future health problems. Women no longer menstruating need to have good daily bowel movements in order to eliminate milk nutrients from the body.
In menstruation, the heart plays an important role. Good Heart Yang energy will keep good breast circulation and send milk nutrients down to the ovaries and uterus. This will prevent breast milk nutrients from depositing, so no lumps or cancers can form.
A lot of women have Internal Cold that remains untreated. This can also lead to a lot of future health problems, including breast cancer. Some symptoms of Internal Cold include having cold hands or feet and always feeling chilled. This Internal Cold is developed by physical constitution with the weakness of Heart Yang energy or other factors including never fully recovering from the common cold or flu and a diet consisting of too many cold foods and drinking cold beverages. It should be obvious why people with Internal Cold are more susceptible to tumor growths. Because of Internal Cold, there is no good circulation in the body. It is easier for any toxin to stay in the body and for blood to get clogged. With all uneliminated toxins, excessive nutrients, and blood clots, tumors can more easily form.
Besides physical pre-conditions that can cause breast disorders, emotional health can also play an important role in women’s breast health. There are some channels connected to the breast including the Kidney, Stomach, Spleen, Liver and Pericardium channels. According to the Five Elements theory, emotions such as joy, anger, Anxiety, melancholy, sorrow, fear and fright, are related to different internal organs. Any excessive emotion will have a negative impact on the proper functions of related organs. In other words, any of those excessive emotions may disturb the harmonious vibration of energy channels. This will lead to energy blockage or even cause the malfunction of organs. Those subtle emotional energies could store in our body, which may not only cause problems in the physical but most of time also in the spiritual level.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a natural and effective way to deal with breast disorders including breast lumps or cancers. The treatment principles are unlocking the energy blockage with related channels using acupuncture and strengthening the Heart, eliminating excessive milk nutrients, attacking and melting out the lumps or cancers with herbal medicine. Besides treatment for the physical level, people are encouraged to go for emotional health and spiritual uplifting to enhance the healing process.
Reference: Classical Chinese medicine treating breast disorder from Dr. Hai Sha Ni

Water Element Balances Fire, Inside and Out

In Chinese medicine we always seek balance, in nature as well as within the human body. As the Fire element was recently predominant in our environment, its complementary element, Water, was needed. If the Fire element in our body, represented by the Heart, is too strong (manifesting in insomnia, Anxiety or heart disease), the Water element, represented by the Kidney, needs to be strengthened. Kidney, with a capital K, refers to the Kidney system rather than to the specific organ. In Chinese medicine, Kidney, Heart, Liver, Lungs and Spleen do not refer to the actual organs. Because Chinese medicine is holistic, the function of the organs has a broader definition that includes the relationship with the other organs. The primary function of the Kidney is to store and control our essence, or Jing, the foundation of chi, or energy. Kidney Yin is responsible for restoration and revitalization. In the drama of an over-stimulated life, we may fail to refresh our core Vitality, which causes Kidney Yin Deficiency. Symptoms include soreness of the lumbar region and knees, dizziness, hearing problems and dry mouth. Fortunately, a key piece of building Kidney Yin is nutrition. First, drink plenty of water. Eat beans, as they are seeds and have new life potential. The colors blue and black correspond to the Kidney element, so blueberries and blackberries are recommended. Also eat fish, pumpkin, black sesame seeds, walnuts, eggs, millet and green leafy vegetables. Since salty is the flavor that correlates with the Water element, foods such as sea salt, miso and tamari are beneficial. Try planning a Kidney Yin-building day by avoiding distractions and getting in touch with your inner self. Take time to be aware, to breathe, to walk and to meditate. You can harmonize your inner emotional fires by creating inner “rain” or stillness.

Delicious Weight-Control Foods

Many fad diets may promise instant, significant weight-loss results, but most of them rely on depriving your body of nutrients and disrupting the natural function of your body's metabolism.
Chinese medicine considers obesity to be the result, in part, of declining function of the metabolic Kidney 'fire'; thus, a diet that provides a well-balanced array of nutrients is key to healthy weight loss. Here are five food suggestions to help you achieve a healthy weight.
Millet - This non-glutinous whole grain is over 10 percent protein and has high amounts of fiber and B-complex vitamins. It is easy to digest because it is not an acid-forming food.
Asparagus - When losing weight, it is important to eat chlorophyll-rich foods. Asparagus is a nutrient-rich vegetable packed with folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. Asparagus contains a carbohydrate known as inulin (not to be confused with insulin) that promotes healthy bacteria in the large intestine, which in turn makes for healthier digestive function.
Pomegranates - Pomegranates are a wonderful example of a healthy, nutritious fruit that has antioxidant properties that can help prevent cancer. As with all fruits, it is important to eat the whole fruit rather than drinking fruit juice. Whole fruit contains very important fiber that maintains digestive health and helps assuage hunger pangs.
Pine Nuts - Chinese medicine uses pine nuts to improve gastrointestinal and digestive function; pine nut oil is used for appetite suppression. Pine nuts and other nuts are a tasty part of a well-balanced diet for weight management.
Green Tea - Caffeine in large amounts can lead to increased appetite, stress and food cravings. Green tea is a wonderful alternative to coffee … although it does contain a small amount of caffeine, it also contains beneficial antioxidants. So drink up!

The Healing Power of The Healing Power of Herbal Tea

Tea goes back to China almost 5,000 years ago. Herbal teas were specially blended from plants that exhibited medicinal properties to maintain health and prevent illness. Find out what makes tea so beneficial and how you can craft your own custom blend to stay healthy!
What is tea?
Technically speaking, tea is the dried and processed leaves of Camellia sinensis, and includes four main varieties: black, oolong, green, and white tea.
Black tea, produced when tea leaves undergo an oxidizing process that turns the leaves black, has the strongest flavor and the highest content of caffeine — about one third the caffeine you would get from the same cup of coffee. Oolong tea is slightly less oxidized and has less caffeine. Green tea is steamed, rolled and dried immediately after harvest, which halts the oxidation process, allowing the leaves to retain their green color. White tea undergoes the least processing — the young tea buds are picked and then air-dried. All of these varieties have different health benefits, with green tea and white tea leading the pack.
Experts believe that flavonoids are the key health-promoting ingredient in tea. These polyphenol antioxidants are present in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been found to help prevent cell damage. Recent research suggests that tea may protect against heart disease and many types of cancer.
What about herbal tea?
Well, herbal tea is not really tea at all, but actually an infusion or tisane made from various leaves, flowers, fruit, or herbs. Herbal tea is sometimes enjoyed for its delicious taste and many times enjoyed for its medicinal properties.
While real "tea" boasts many healthy benefits, a major pro to herbal tea is that it is caffeine-free. Also, you can tailor your tea to your needs by selecting herbs and plants that address the health issue you want to target.
The list of tea recipes that follow are just a few combinations to help you heal.
1. Warming tea for cold hands and feet
For a warming tea from head to toe, make cinnamon and clove tea by putting 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 teaspoon of cloves in 3 cups of water and boil for 15 minutes. Strain and drink 3 cups each day. Drink one cup in the evenings to warm your insides, which encourages a good night's sleep.
2. Pore-opening tea for combating a cold
This is a traditional Chinese remedy for a "wind cold," which usually occurs during seasonal changes and is often a result of exposure to drafts. At this early stage, Chinese medicine suggests that perspiration is helpful in removing the pathogens from the skin.
Boil one chopped garlic clove, three slices of ginger, one chopped scallion, some basil, and a pinch of cinnamon in 24 ounces of water for five minutes. Drink the tea hot and go to bed. Cover up and prepare to sweat. Sweating opens the pores, releasing trapped pathogens from the skin. Drink at least 3 cups of tea daily until symptoms subside.
For "wind heat" type of cold, which is characterized by high fever, sweating, sore throat, cough, headaches, and a yellow nasal discharge, you would see a Chinese medical practitioner for an herbal blend that is individualized for your needs.
3. Alertness-Enhancing Tea
The next time you need to spice up your concentration, instead of reaching for harsh stimulants like coffee, try the potent yet gentle energizers in your spice rack. Studies have found that compounds in everyday herbs and spices can increase mental function and physical Vitality. All these herbs and spices contain volatile oils that stimulate your senses and increase alertness: dill, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, sage, bay, peppermint, ginger, garlic, parsley, cinnamon, onion, chives, garlic and leek. Make a tea from any combination and drink whenever you need a pick-me-up.
4. Herbal Hearing Aid Tea
The traditional Chinese remedy for diminished hearing is to make a tea from herbs that gently restore the ear. Make a hearing aid tea by boiling together for 15 minutes: 4 cups of water, 1 heaping tablespoon each of oregano, cilantro, rosemary, and sage, combined with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 3 slices of fresh ginger. Drink three cups a day for three weeks and hear the difference.
5. Stomach-Settling Tea
Ginger has been shown to soothe the digestive lining and balance gastric juices. Make ginger tea by slicing fresh ginger root into 2 inch long slices and boiling in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Strain out the ginger and sip the tea slowly. Drink ginger tea as often as you need to settle your stomach and keep nausea away.
Or steep 1 teaspoon each of mint, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, sage, and basil in a cup of hot water. Drink after each meal to soothe and prevent bloating.
Brewing Tips
Follow these tips for best benefits:
  • Tap water affects the taste of tea. It is best to use fresh filtered water.
  • To extract the most beneficial compounds from the tea leaves or bags, let them steep for three to five minutes.
  • It is best to drink tea unsweetened and without milk, which can minimize some of the health benefits.
  • Forgo the sugar and try instead honey, stevia products, or a stick of cinnamon.
  • For maximum health benefits, I suggest you work with a licensed acupuncturist or traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to find an herbal blend tailored specifically to your needs.

Acupuncture and Adrenal Gland Functions

Coincident with the equilibrium theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, many studies have demonstrated that acupuncture treatments contribute to the maintenance of the balance of biological chemicals such as serotonin, endorphin, dopamine, cortisol, and many other hormones in the central nervous system. Endocrine glands secrete hormones directly into the lymph and the bloodstream. The endocrine system is an orchestra that requires all of its players to be fully engaged. The quick alleviation of symptoms of various diseases by acupuncture is partially fulfilled via the simultaneous improvement of the functions of endocrine glands, such as adrenal gland, provided that there is no structural abnormality in the endocrine system. The following is a brief summary of some scientific evidence that acupuncture can optimize adrenal gland function.
1. Anti-inflammatory function of adrenal gland
RX Zheng published a paper in the Journal of Alternative Complement Medicine regarding acupuncture’s effect on adrenal gland function. Electroacupuncture at 10 Hz significantly reduced chemically induced hind paw edema in rats. The effect was partially blocked by adrenalectomy (removing adrenal gland). Electroacupuncture significantly increased plasma levels of cortisol but caused no noticeable signs of stress, such as increased blood sugar level. Electroacupuncture at 10 Hz may activate the hypothalamus-pituitary- adrenal axis and enhance adrenal gland function to produce more endogenous cortisol.
2. Balancing different hormones from the adrenal gland.
Dr. HS Lee of the Republic of Korea did extensive research on the effects of acupuncture on water metabolism and high blood pressure. Applying manual acupuncture on the UB15 decreased plasma levels of aldosterone (a chemical stimulating the body to retain more water and sodium), whereas acupuncture on the UB23 decreased plasma renin activity (a chemical stimulating blood vessels to constrict in order to increase blood pressure). Both points helped lower blood pressure. These results suggest that acupuncture on specific points may have site-specific regulatory effects on hormone levels and that the meridian points, UB23 and UB15, are associated with the regulation of body fluids and of electrolyte balance to optimize the blood pressure level.
3. Optimize cortisol level
Acupuncture can also reduce stress-induced increases of the blood cortisol level. QG, Yang et al. conducted some research on a group of people undergoing heart and lung surgery. Thirty patients with atrial septal defects were divided into 3 groups: the general anesthesia group (A), the acupuncture anesthesia group (B), and the group of general anesthesia combined with electroacupuncture (C). Peripheral blood samples were collected at times before anesthesia, before surgery, and 30 minutes after surgery to determine the levels of plasma ß-endorphin, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) (a hormone that stimulates the adrenal gland to produce more cortisol), serum cortisol, and blood glucose. Plasma beta-endorphin, ACTH, and serum cortisol increased significantly in both Groups A and B 30 minutes after surgery, but there were no significant changes in Group C. Blood glucose increased in all the 3 groups 30 minutes after surgery but increased much less in Group C. When our bodies go through surgeries, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, the important stress coping system, will act up. Thus, cortisol and glucose levels will generally increase because of stress. This response can lead to suppressed immune function and therefore infection, high blood sugar levels, or other complications after surgery. Combining acupuncture with general anesthesia can inhibit this stress response so that the stress hormone cortisol is adjusted to precisely the right level: not too high to cause tissue damage and not too low to create chronic inflammation. People can even recover from the open-heart surgery more quickly.
How can acupuncture increase cortisone level in one condition and reduce the same hormone in another? This happens because acupuncture can generally balance thyroid, adrenal gland, and other gland functions so that the levels of the different hormones are optimized. When inflammation continues, our bodies need more cortisol. Acupuncture stimulates the adrenal gland to produce more by enhancing its function instead of exhausting it as caffeine does. When our bodies produce too much cortisol to cope with stress, acupuncture reduces cortisol production by eliminating the stress factor and enhancing liver and kidney function to quickly discharge the extra stress hormones. H. Mori of the Department of Acupuncture at the Tsukuba College of Technology, Japan used electroacupuncture to stimulate a rat’s hind paw with different intensities. He found that the adrenal gland could produce more or less adrenaline depending on what kind of manipulation is applied to the points. This mechanism may be associated with improved adrenal gland function. Generally, hand manipulation tends to relax people more than electrical stimulation. If the main purpose is to lower stress levels and the patients are already very tight with a lot of blocked energy, mild hand manipulation should be used to help reduce the stress hormone. If the patients are exhausted from chronic illness and the adrenal gland is depleted with a very low production of cortisol, then, an application of low frequency electrical stimulation will enhance the adrenal gland function.
In Chinese medicine, the kidney is a very important organ closely related with reproductive function, bone formation, urinary function, and hormone balance. Many kidney points are located on the foot. When we stimulate these points, most patients say they become more energetic even with the same amount of sleep. Perhaps this is the result of a temporary increase in cortisol level. Although we just mentioned that high cortisol levels are not good, a normal adrenal gland can only increase cortisol levels within a certain range that does not cause any tissue damage. Acupuncture adjusts the adrenal gland function to produce the optimized amount of adrenaline in order to dilate the trachea and increase heart rate when our body is physically challenged. If people have too much adrenaline, they will end up with palpitations or a panic attack. If adrenaline is insufficient, people will have exercise-triggered asthma attacks. Since the adrenal gland plays such an important role in our lives, a famous scientist, Dr. Omura, conduct a lot of research to determine how the adrenal gland correlates with the Chinese meridian systems. He found that the Pericardium meridian, running along the midline of the ventral part of the arm and the chest area, is closely associated with adrenal gland function, and that the Triple Burner meridian, running along the midline of the dorsal part of the arm, shoulder and head area, is associated with ovary or adrenal gland function in the female and with testes or adrenal gland function in the male.

Sleep Solutions from Chinese Masters

Nearly two out of three Americans are affected by insomnia and other sleep disorders. With that many people resting poorly, it is a wonder anyone gets through the workweek—let alone their whole life! While there are many pharmaceuticals available to induce sleep, there are centuries-old traditional techniques that can get you your zzz’s naturally.
The traditional Chinese medical view on sleep
In Chinese Medicine, nighttime is considered yin time—the time when your body takes care of itself instead of your desires. Proper sleep is necessary for your body to repair itself and regenerate. It is also critical for the proper functioning of organs such as the liver, which performs most of its detoxification at night while you are sleeping.
Insomnia is one of the most common conditions I see in my practice, usually as part of a pattern of imbalances. Excessive worry, Anxiety, and depression all negatively affect the delicate balance of the liver, spleen, and heart, disturbing the spirit and activating the mind. Once the mind is active, it becomes increasingly difficult to fall asleep. To reach deep, restful sleep, your spirit and heart must be calm and your liver and spleen networks must work together to process nutrients.
Four traditional, time-tested ways to reach deep, restorative sleep:
1. Acupressure for sleep enhancement
Acupressure is an ancient healing technique, in which you use your fingertips to press key points on your body to stimulate natural healing. Here are two acupressure points you can press to induce restorative sleep:

Inner Gate, known technically as Pericardium-6 is three finger-widths above your wrist crease, between the two tendons on the inside of your left forearm. Apply moderate pressure with your right thumb, holding for 5 minutes and breathing deeply. Repeat on the other arm.

Pericardium 6
Bubbling Spring, also known as Kidney-1, is on the bottom of your foot, at the center of the indentation below the ball of your foot. Press down with your thumb, hold for 30 seconds, relax for five, and again continue for five minutes.

Kidney 1
For a deep, calming sleep, try to do 10 minutes of acupressure each night.
2. A traditional sedative: Jujube seed
In Chinese medicine it is thought that the heart houses the spirit. When the heart is weak, the spirit becomes restless and cannot properly rest at night, which you experience as insomnia or poor, unrefreshing sleep. The herbal remedy for this condition is the seed of the jujube date. A traditional sedative, jujube seed calms the spirit, strengthens the heart, and supports a good night’s sleep. Research has shown that this seed is rich in saponins, which promote relaxation and sleep while reducing irritability and Anxiety. A typical dosage is 500 mg a day. Look for jujube seed in health food stores, online, and from acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists, where it is often combined in a formula with other natural herbs.

3. Empty your mind before sleep
Rumination, the emotion of the spleen network, concentrates energy within the brain. For example, when one continually ponders problems, the most frequent symptom experienced is insomnia. In this case, the energy stays in the brain at night instead of following its normal course of descending to the lower part of the body, which allows one to sleep peacefully. Try writing in a journal every night to get thoughts and worries out of your mind and down on paper. Another way is meditation, which has long been practiced to get beyond the thinking mind and into a deeper state of relaxation.

4. Four Exercises that target insomnia
The famous Taoist physician Ge Hong, who lived during the Han dynasty in the third century, promoted this set of exercises as prevention and treatment of insomnia. Chinese studies indicate that these moves effectively improved the sleep quality of chronic insomniacs when practiced nightly for two to four weeks. Now you can try them.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Use your hands to pull your knees toward your chest and breathe naturally. Hold the position for one minute, then relax, straighten your legs, and rest your arms and hands at your sides.
  2. Remain on your back, inhale, and stretch both arms up above your head. As you exhale, bring your hands down and massage your body from your chest to your abdomen, then rest your hands at your sides. Repeat with every breath for one minute.
  3. Still on your back, make fists with both hands. Place them under your back as high as possible toward the shoulder blades, one fist on either side of your spine. Take three complete breaths, then reposition your fists downward one notch and repeat, moving downward every third breath until your fists are at waist level. Take five breaths here. Now put your fists on either side of the tailbone and take five more breaths.
  4. Lie face down and place your hands under your abdomen. Slowly inhale, filling your abdomen and chest, and feel the energy permeate your whole body. Then slowly exhale and visualize negativity leaving your body. Pause after each exhalation and relax every muscle. Do this for one minute.
5. A Taoist sleep position: The Deer Sleep Posture
Ge Hong recommended following the four anti-insomnia exercises above with this particular sleeping posture. Turn partway over to sleep on your right side. This is called the “deer sleep posture” because it looks similar to the position of a deer asleep in the wild. Bend your right arm at the elbow, with the palm facing up in front of your face. Rest your left arm with your elbow on hip, hand dropped down in front of your abdomen. The right leg is naturally straight, and the left knee is bent, resting on the mattress in front of your right thigh.

Diabetes & Traditional Chinese Medicine

Diabetes is treatable! Chinese medicine has already provided a solution dated back 2000 years ago! Do you suspect that you could have diabetes? If you are having the following symptoms you may already have diabetes: some diabetes symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, and irritability.

Western medical professionals do not know the real cause of diabetes. The solution for people with high blood glucose is providing them with medication for lowering the blood glucose levels. Doctors are directing their treatment towards the symptoms of diabetes instead of the source of those symptoms. Since the treatment is not addressing the root of the problem you would need a greater dosage later on when the current one can no longer keep the blood glucose at a normal state. Once the medication is unable to control the rising of blood glucose an insulin injection would then be required. The side effects of those medications will be extremely toxic for your body, especially your liver and kidneys. If kidney failure develops you will then be required to go on dialysis treatment 2-3 times a week. The toxins in the liver will eventually cause blindness. Your whole quality of life would dramatically drop once the complication of the diabetes has developed into this advanced stage.

Chinese medicine has already had the solution for diabetes dated back 2000 years ago! In one classical Chinese medical text, compiled around 100 B.C. by Huandi Neijing, it mentions the condition know as Xiaoke, which is referring to diabetes as Wasting-Thirst syndrome. According to this ancient text the symptoms of Xiaoke or diabetes arise from consuming too much fatty, sweet, or rich food. Improper diet and sleeping after finishing a late dinner are the main contributors for the development of diabetes.

In another classical Chinese medical text written around 220 A.D. by Jingui Yaoluem it has a detailed description of symptoms and characteristics of uncontrolled diabetes. There are also two formulas given in this book for diabetes treatment.

What can the Chinese herbal treatments do for diabetes? When we can get a deep understanding of diabetes and the symptoms it causes we can then use customized formulas based on the teaching from those ancient Chinese medical texts. These medical practices can also diagnose and get an understanding of people on an individual basis. The formula could be slightly altered to target a person with individual needs. These methods are not practiced by most Chinese medical practitioners nowadays. They have been somewhat lost due to the western medicine influences on Chinese teachings.

What are some of the differences between the traditional Chinese treatments and the western approach? According to western medicine the high blood glucose will damage the kidneys. From the point of view of Chinese medicine the high blood glucose and the treatment will damage the kidneys. Once your spleen and your pancreas start having problems the next major organ to be targeted is your kidneys. From the perspective of the high blood glucose causing the problem the west and east pretty much have the same point of view but the treatment of the diabetes is where the two systems differ. In Chinese medicine we use herbs to strengthen your kidneys so the high blood glucose won’t cause damage to the kidneys. These herbs will also resolve the problem of frequent urination. The main reason someone will experience excessive thirst and hunger with diabetes is the increase in speed of the intestine and stomach squirm. This creates a lot of heat and friction in the digestive tract resulting in a need for food and liquid replenishment sooner than normal. This heat then starts causing problems to the nearby pancreas so it also won’t be able to function normally. Herbs have the ability to cool the excessive heat and add nutrients to the digestive system. This will then calm down the intestines and stomach and bring the pancreas back to a normal state resolving the issue of excessive thirst and hunger. Once the disharmony in the organs is taken care of your blood sugar will go back to normal. In cases that the diabetes is in an advanced stage, having tingling and numbness in your hands, legs, and feet, and blurred vision, the herb treatment can help with this as well.

How long does it take for the herbal treatment? It really depends on the complications of your diabetes. For type II diabetes it generally takes 2-8 weeks for a raw herb treatment. For some people it may take a shorter time, others it may take longer. After the raw herbs we will use herbal powder or tablets for about a month to solidify the treatment. For type I diabetes our treatments may not be able to recover the normal function of the pancreas, but it will help to strengthen your organs to prevent further complications. It will also reduce the blood glucose level so the insulin injection dosage can be reduced to prevent more harm to all of your organs.

Will it come back again? If you still keep bad diet habits and take too many drugs to damage the spleen and pancreases the disease may come back again later on. We want to point out that the real cause of type II diabetes is the bad diet habit and many harmful drugs introduced to your system. If the cause of the disease can not be avoided chances are the disease will come back later on in your life. In conclusion we are trying to emphasize using the traditional Chinese medicine treatments that have been practiced for over 2000 years is the best and most proven way to combat diabetes.

Acupuncture Marketing

Do You Make These 4 Critical Email Marketing Mistakes? 

A lot of acupuncturists who decide to try out Email marketing make the deadly mistake of believing any kind of Email marketing is beneficial. This simply just isn’t true.
There are a few key mistakes acupuncturists do when setting up the Email marketing campaign.
Here are 4 examples…

  1. Letting your Emails get marked as SPAM
  2. Not following up with people who want to get treated by you
  3. Not being prepared for an increase in patients
  4. And finally… Not marketing to an ultra-specific target audience
CRITICAL MISTAKE #1: We’ll start with SPAM. Spam has pretty much turned into a pandemic sized problem for a lot of acupuncturists. People get their inbox’s flooding with Spam every single day from all around the world. And one of the worst things you can do is become another shady online sales person who might give them a virus. Staying out of the Spam folder isn’t all that hard. One way is by giving your readers useful content to read rather than just a flat out advertisement for your services. There are a handful of keywords that you can avoid using in your Emails to not be labeled as Spam. Here are a few of those words…
  1. Spam
  2. FREE
  3. ACT NOW!
  4. Offer
  5. Risk Free
  6. Urgent
If you want to use those words all you really have to do is put a (.) in between the letters.
Here are some examples…
  • S.pam (I wouldn’t even use this word if I were you.)
  • FRE.E
  • ACT N.OW
  • O.ffer
  • U.rgent
These words won’t always trigger the Spam filters but it’s a good idea to use (.) in between letters just to make sure you’re in the clear.
CRITICAL MISTAKE #2: Not following up! This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people doing. If you’ve got people who have asked you for more information or have already had a treatment done by you, you NEED to follow up with them. By following up you stay in the forefront of their mind and when they want to get another acupuncture treatment or want to recommend someone to get treatment you are the FIRST person they think of.
Following up also develops a relationship. And when you develop that, you’ve dramatically decreased the chances of people leaving your clinic to go to another one. They trust you, like you and in their head, have made a new friend. People want to be treated like as if they really are appreciated. If you’ve ever seen the old show called “Cheers” you’ll remember when Norm (characters name) would walk in and the ENTIRE bar would scream “Norm!” That is what you want your clinic to be like. A place where “everybody knows your name” (part of the Cheers theme song).
CRITICAL MISTAKE #3: Not being prepared for more patients. A lot of people, acupuncturists included, set up their Email marketing campaign and try to drive more business to their clinic but never actually prepare for when that business come in. You need to be ready to ask them how they heard about you and automatically thank them for coming in. If someone comes in just from you Email newsletter or from an online search they’re taking a risk. They don’t know you yet and are instilling their trust in you. That really does take a lot out of people and they should be commended on their bravery.
It’s also important to make sure your staff is ready to make appointments for your prospective patients and get them “in” as quickly and painlessly as possible. Remember. they are taking a big chance in coming to you so make them feel like you’ve got everything under control and they’re taken cared of.
CRITICAL MISTAKE #4: Not targeting a specific group of people. If your target is anyone with a pulse then you’re probably going to have a very hard time differentiating yourself from the other 22,000+ acupuncturists just in the United States. When you target a specific group of people you can quickly become the “go-to” person. And since your practice is in a local city or town you are even more likely to dominate your specific niche.
Acupuncturists with a smaller yet more qualified group of people will do FAR better and make FAR more money than an acupuncturist trying to treat everyone in the world.
To implement a Email marketing system you’ll need an autoresponder service. The service I use is Aweber (

Harvest ‘Metal Energy’ to Improve Health

The swinging movement of a pendulum on a grandfather clock can be used to illustrate how metal interacts with the other elemental energies. To understand this, it is useful to know that centrifugal force is the expanding energy that makes rotating bodies move away from the center of rotation and centripetal force is the contracting energy that makes rotating bodies move toward the center of rotation. Stated in terms of the elemental energies, metal is the force that keeps the pendulum in motion, as it comes into play at the point where the pendulum starts its swing back toward the center. Therefore, metal - and water, the energy contained in an object's original state - is classified as part of centripetal force, wood and fire, the expansive energies, are classified as part of centrifugal force.
Like the other five elemental energies, metal has many manifestations. Fall, the season in which dividing energy is condensed - as the word "fall" literally indicates - is classified as metal. In the summer, trees send nutrients to the leaves and branches. But in the fall they are stored in the roots. This is why herbs harvested in the fall, like arrowroot (chik), are regarded to have an abundance of nutrients and be more effective in treating diseases. According to oriental philosophy, autumn symbolizes maturity and fruition. These two characteristics, associated with hope and glory, are represented by "white." Therefore, autumn, maturity, fruition and white all fall into the category of metal. The sun, hanging in the middle of the sky during the day, starts to move west as it begins to set in the evening. Accordingly, "west" and evening are classified as metal. On the contrary, morning and afternoon are classified as "wood" and "fire," respectively.
The expanding energies present before evening are classified as "yang" and condensing energies which take over between evening and dawn are "yin." If you experience insomnia, doctors of oriental medicine (OMD) would classify your problem as an excess of yang energy. People with this condition are advised to eat herbs and wild greens such as bracken or brake fern (gosari) or bellflower or Chinese balloon flower (toraji) to reduce yang energy.
The lungs and large intestines, which play a major role in gathering energy in the body, are categorized as metal. Among all the organs of the body, the lungs are categorized as the most important because they prevent the life force, or "chi", from slipping out of the body. People with lung dysfunction and those who have difficulty breathing should stick to a diet high in bracken and bellflower. OMDs also believe the lungs are greatly affected by the fall, so people with lung dysfunction should be extra careful during this season. Nuts, especially those harvested in the fall, like ginkgo (eunhaeng) and walnut, are considered excellent for those suffering from breathing problems such as asthma and excess phlegm. People with these disorders should eat 3-4 ginkgo nuts - cooked until they turn brown - as well as 2-3 walnuts a day. Orange peels also works well for people with breathing disorders. They are advised to make a tea with 10 grams of orange peel and 1 liter of water and drink it as often as possible. Because of its sweet flavor, this tea is especially good for children who don't like the taste of bitter medicine. Lastly, hot, spicy flavors tend to condense the energy in the body. Because of this, red pepper, onion and Welsh onion (pa) are commonly used by OMDs to cure or prevent breathing diseases. If you come down with a cold, try bean sprout soup with powdered red pepper and onions. Eating this will induce sweating, and help you to completely recover very quickly.

Meridian Lines: Pathways to Prevention

The meridian lines in the body are the main pathways through which chi, or life force energy, moves and flows. In fact, all of nature, including humanity, is dependent upon this vital force.
When chi is flowing smoothly, all of life's processes operate rhythmically and harmoniously. Therefore, in Oriental medicine, sustaining this pure chi energy is more important than anything else in order to keep the body strong and healthy. Our body has three major systems: the circulatory, nervous and meridian systems. Through the circulatory system, every part of the body is supplied with essential nutrients. The nervous system, which is closely related to the circulatory system, plays an important role in controlling each organ, muscle and tendon in the body. Because the circulatory and nervous systems can be seen, it is much easier to predict and find problems in them than in the meridian system, which is invisible to the naked eye.
The meridian system protects our internal organs just as the skin protects our body from harmful virus invasions that cause diseases. There are twelve meridians in the body which protect the organs and provide life force energy to them. And, in addition to these twelve meridians, which connect the surface of our body to our internal organs, are eight special meridians called "life lines.” Among these life lines are two major meridian lines: the governal and functional meridians.
Chi circulates through these lines in a full circle. It flows in the governal line from the "hwayoom" located between the anus and reproductive organs - up the back to the "injoong" - located in the head, just above the soft palate at the roof of the mouth. In the functional line, it flows from the injoong down the front of the body to the hwayoom, completing the circle. Doctors of Oriental medicine believe that the strength of our immune system to fight disease is completely dependent upon how powerfully and quickly chi moves in the meridian system in the body. It follows, then, that people whose chi energy moves in the body without obstructions are less likely to have health problems.
To better grasp this concept, think of the traffic lanes on a highway. It usually takes longer to get to one's destination on a one-lane road than on a four-lane road as, due to the decreased space, there is more of a chance of extreme traffic congestion. This makes for a not so pleasant driving experience. One of the main culprits in weakening the meridian system is emotional trauma. The meridian system can be easily damaged by excessive emotional swings as well as an unhealthy diet and viruses. When strong emotions - more potent than those touched off by shallow, superficial everyday problems - emerge, the meridian system is the first to be affected, and in a very negative way. And if the underlying cause of the trauma is not found and emotions continue to flare, the negative effects spill over into the two other systems, causing serious health problems.
People who have damaged the meridian lines controlling the function of the heart due to emotional imbalance are likely to feel intense pain in the center of the chest or at the elbows. In worst cases, overlooked first stage symptoms of emotional disorder can result in serious, sometimes incurable diseases. It goes without saying, therefore, that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." And keeping the meridian system free from emotional disturbances as well as strengthening it makes it possible to lead a healthy and happy life.
OMDs, before making any diagnosis or prescribing treatment, touch and press down on several acupuncture points in order to check the condition of the heart and emotional state as well as to see where problems are located. In traditional acupuncture treatment, touching is one of the five major examination methods, which also include looking, listening, smelling and asking. During an acupuncture treatment, points linked to major organs are stimulated through the insertion of long thin needles into the skin. This acts to unblock meridians and increase the flow of chi through them and, thus, promote better health.

Rejuvenation for Boomers: Restore Energy and Regain Your Youthful Glow

"Aging gracefully" is a euphemism for getting old naturally: Gray hair, sagging skin, lost muscle tone, and sinking energy levels are what usually come to mind. Here are some tips for aging naturally that defy the usual expectations! Invigorate your energy, regain your youthful glow, and encourage cell rejuvenation with these 4 tips.
1. Revitalize growth hormones with squats
The term "human growth hormone" may bring to mind images of athletes and bodybuilders. In reality, HGH, which is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain, maintains healthy cell growth for everyone. When we're young, we secrete a lot of this hormone to build bones and develop muscles. After age 25, HGH production wanes, and our bodies tend to have less lean tissue, more fat, and thinner skin; hair begins to fall out and mental function declines -- all this happens because our cells aren't replacing themselves as efficiently as before. I do not recommend using artificial HGH supplementation, with its possible side effects of joint discomfort and blood sugar imbalance.
Instead, you can stimulate your body to produce more HGH on its own by doing squats to exercise the large muscles. In one study, squatting exercise caused an eightfold increase in HGH levels. You can also do leg presses at the gym. At home, simply grasp a heavy object, bend your knees, keep your spine straight, squat down and hold the position, count to 10, then come back up. Of course, be mindful of your knees and don't do this if you have knee issues.
2. Restore your youthful hair
You can use natural methods to help remedy hair issues. A Chinese herb for graying hair is "Shou wu" (also called "fo-ti" or polygonum root). Found in a hair nurture supplement available in Asian herb stores, it's used to restore hair growth and reverse graying. Eating black sesame seeds, black beans, and walnuts are thought to reverse graying hair, too.
You can also cover up the gray by using natural colorants to dye your hair. Chamomile and lemon juice can color light hair. Henna works well for shades of light brown and red. Coffee or black tea can be used by brunettes. Here's how: Brew two to four cups of strong coffee (or tea), and allow to cool. Pour over dry, tangle-free hair. Thoroughly saturate your hair, and use your fingers to work through. Leave on for ten to twenty minutes and then rinse out. Be mindful of staining carpets and other items. This method is a way to naturally dye your hair over time, but its temporary, and must be repeated regularly. For a dark black hair coloring, you can make the coffee mixture and add in some squid ink.
If hair loss is your concern, you can replenish hair growth with the Chinese herb arbovita (also called Platycladus orientalis and Semen Platycladi). Apply arborvita to stimulate follicles, improve blood flow, and strip away root-clogging oils. I have used this herb for my patients over the last twenty years with very good success. A natural herbal blend that combines herbs to nourish hair follicles and promote healthy hair is Hair Nurture Formula.
3. Tone your skin with a do-it-yourself facelift
We have been successfully treating patients with facial-toning acupuncture in our office for 25 years. If you decide to seek out this treatment, be sure to work with practitioners who are specially trained in acupuncture for the face. In the meantime, bring the benefits home by learning to do acupressure on yourself. Using your fingers, you can tone your facial muscles and stimulate the natural production of collagen in the skin. Press firmly with your fingers, working your way methodically along the following points:

Point 1: GB 14 to relax the forehead
Point 2: Yintang to ease furrow between the brows
Point 3: Taiyang to get rid of crows feet around the eyes
Point 4 and 5: LI 20 and ST 3 for minimizing smile lines
Stimulate these points in the morning and again at night.
4. Up your energy with magnesium, Bs, tea, and tai chi
I have many patients that complain about one of the hallmarks of aging: waning energy. Here are some energy-enhancing strategies:
  • Magnesium is an essential mineral that mitochondria, the tiny power generators in your cells, require to help your body produce energy. Many people don't get enough of this essential mineral, because two common dietary habits leach magnesium from our bodies: using too much salt and eating too much dairy. You can get your fill of magnesium from eating whole grains (such as brown rice, oats, millet, and whole wheat products, like bread and pasta) and a variety of nuts and seeds. Have a daily handful of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, and cashews. If you prefer capsule form, try taking 500 mg of magnesium daily.
  • Fatigue can also come from a deficiency of B vitamins. Get your B's from eggs, fish (especially shellfish), orange juice, leafy green vegetables like spinach and collard greens, and sunflower, sesame, and other seeds. Or take B vitamins as a daily supplement -- just be sure the product includes the whole complex and is formulated to avoid imbalance.
  • For a pick-me-up, drink 2 to 3 cups of ginseng tea a day. Unlike coffee, which stimulates the central nervous system, ginseng elevates energy gently.
  • Start practicing tai chi, qigong, or dao-in yoga, which are gaining popularity in the United States. These gentle exercises promote energy, balance, and a calm mind. Many recent studies have confirmed their balancing action for blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol, equilibrium, and other organ functions. Though these exercises will make you feel younger than your years, they can be practiced at nearly any age -- my own tai chi teacher was 90 years old. Find a teacher in your area, or learn with an instructional DVD, such as Attune Your Body with Dao-In DVD and Self-Healing Qi Gong DVD.
I hope you have found ways to rejuvenate! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Chinese Herbs for Acne

While studying my face in the mirror this morning I was forced to recall a painful old memory. A tender red spot on the outer edge of my nostril was growing. It was a prominent zit forming in an old familiar place; and with it came memories of being fifteen, and what a hard time that was for me. Throughout my teenage years, I struggled with a bad case of acne. It’s too bad that back then I didn’t know anything about using Chinese herbs.
Acne is an all too common skin problem affecting the oil producing areas of the skin where lesions (pimples) and redness appear. This occurs mainly on the face and upper body. Though acne is usually associated with teenagers and young adults, it can happen to anyone at any age. Apparently, I am proof of this.
Though no one considers acne a serious disease, it can, as I well know, be a source of awkward self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and great Anxiety. These “side effects” can be serious, sometimes leading to depression and other life altering mental afflictions. It’s best to treat acne early and aggressively.
Western medicine and Chinese medicine treat acne very differently though they agree on one point. Dirty skin does not cause acne. In fact, too much scrubbing can make matters worse. In the Western view, acne is caused by a combination of surface bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes and an oversupply of androgens, which are hormones exuberantly produced during puberty.
Chinese herbalists see acne as an internal condition called damp heat in the Lung / Large Intestine. Though this may sound strange, it makes perfect sense within the logic of Chinese medical theory. To understand it, just think of the dampness as pus and the heat as inflammation. The Lung/ Large Intestine refers to the skin, because Chinese medicine understands that the lung controls the pores and by extension, the skin. Also, the Lung and Large Intestine channels (aka meridians) cross the face and chest where acne most often develops.
Fortunately, you need not understand this or even have heard of the herbs used to treat acne. You only have to use the medicine. The herbs work and, in my opinion, they work better than Pro Active©, PhiSoHex©, Clearasil©, or any corticosteroid, antibiotic or other potentially dangerous pharmaceutical prescribed for this condition.
This may be because acne is an internal condition rather than a topical one. Chinese herbs are taken internally, either by pill, powder, or decoction (brew). The herbs are always used in formulas and rarely used as single herbs. These formulas create powerful synergies by combining two or more herbs having similar but not equal properties. Combining herbs also can be used to negate the harsh side effects of single herbs.
Herbal formulas used to treat acne mainly use herbs from four categories: Herbs to Clear Heat, Herbs to Dry Damp, Herbs to Relieve the Surface, and Herbs that Move Blood. The proportion of cooling herbs to drying herbs will most often depend on the degree of inflammation (redness) vs. the amount of purulence (pus)
Some of the most common herbs used are: Honeysuckle (jin yin hua), forsythia (lian qiao), chrysanthemum (ju hua), pearl (zhen zhu), and gypsum (shi gao). All of these clear heat.
Scutellaria (huang qin), coptides (huang lian), and philodendron (huang bai) all clear heat and dry dampness, so they are especially useful for this condition. You’ll find at least one of them in most anti-acne medicines.
You’ll also find mild dampness draining herbs such as job’s tears (yi yi ren) and poria (fu ling) included in most acne formulas. Another powerful combination allies astragalus (huang qi) with Chinese angelica root (dang gui) to drain pus. Stronger systemic drying herbs like white atractyodes (bai zhu), red atractylodes (cang zhu), or pinellia (ban xia) are used only when acne presents with other damp symptoms such as diarrhea, phlegm, or a lot of pus.
Since acne appears on the surface of the body, herbs that Relieve the Surface are also included in most acne medicines. Used in this way, they’re called messenger herbs and lead the action of the other herbs to the skin. The herbs siler (fang feng) and schizonpeta (jing jie) are two favorites in treating skin conditions.
Mild Herbs that Move the Blood such as red peony root (chi shao) or moutan (mu dan pi), are utilized because moving the blood will clear heat. Imagine that you’re in a warm room. Simply moving the air by turning on a fan will actually make the room cooler. Or remember that your car’s engine is kept cool by moving water through the engine block. Stop the flow of water and you’ll overheat in only a few minutes.
These are not the only herbs you can use. There are scores of herbs that can help. It just takes training to choose them. OTC Chinese patent medicines are sometimes helpful, but since they do not conform to your individual pattern, they may be less than reliable. Clearly the best treatment depends on diagnosing the underlying conditions that can produce damp heat in the Lung/ Large intestine.
For those who lack access to professional help, the following acne formula employs safe and universally well-tolerated herbs. People who can’t get a precise Chinese medical diagnosis can use it. Phellodendron - Huang bai – 15%
Scutellaria - Huang qin – 15%
Coix - yi yi ren – 10%
Astragalus - huang qi – 10%
Angelica Sinensis - dang gui – 10%
Schizonepeta - jing jie – 10%
Moutan - mud an pi – 10%
Peonia Rubra - chi shao – 10%
Licorice root - gan cao – 5%
Pearl – zhen zhu – 5%

Weather and Emotions Affects the Flow of Chi

The word chi literally means "breath" and "air," as well as "energy." And all forms of life in the universe are animated by this essential life force. According to the tenets of Oriental medicine, humans and all other living things stand between "heaven," the source of chi, and the earth, which gives life to all things on the planet. And the energy of weather, which is called "celestial energy" as it also springs from heaven, passes through the human body system like electricity moves through a conductor. Chi circulates across the surface of the body, just below the skin, protecting the entire organism from invasion by extremes of environmental energy such as heat, cold, dryness and wind.
It follows, therefore, that the human energy system - the meridians through which chi flows - is strongly influenced by the various types of environmental energy and, in particular, weather conditions. When certain climatic conditions become extreme, specific internal organs are directly affected. The energy of cold, for example, attacks the meridian associated with the kidneys, so extreme cold can cause kidney malfunction.
In addition, the energy of strong wind or brutally cold weather has a negative influence on life force energy in the body, keeping chi from flowing smoothly in the meridian lines. This sometimes causes bodily aches and pains that seem to have no other apparent cause, and in many cases brings on the symptoms of a second-stage cold like headache, chills, and fever, with no evidence of viral invasion.
It goes without saying that working outside for a long period of time in the summer or winter, exposed to extreme temperatures, is harmful to one's health. Symptoms of this type of overexposure include fever, dry lips, constipation and heaviness in the chest. Some people who sit in damp grass or get caught in the rain experience headaches, arthritis, and bodily swelling, as extreme moisture can block the flow of chi in meridian lines.
Sudden shifts in emotions can also trigger a chain-reaction of energy imbalance throughout the body. And these reactions are just as strong as those caused by extreme climatic conditions. It is a well-known fact that a person suffering from extreme personal grief, such as the death of a spouse, becomes highly vulnerable to all sorts of disease. Fear is a symptom of temporary kidney dysfunction, but prolonged chronic fear can actually cause permanent kidney damage. Frequent fits of anger reflect liver problems, but a person who is almost constantly angry will damage an otherwise healthy liver. This then generates even more anger, creating a vicious psychosomatic circle. So, when you are angry, try to stop thinking about what is making you angry. You can do this by meditating, sitting in a quiet place, or simply listening to calming music. In the same sense, mental shock or psychological disorders - which can stem from anything from bad childhood experiences to watching too many horror movies - can also hinder the growth of the body. When the pathways and meridian lines of chi are disturbed by mental illness, they directly influence the condition of the bones, disrupting or even stopping normal growth.
Chi energy moves similar to how electricity moves through a computer, along a well-defined circuit, the meridians. And this energy can be manipulated to release blockages and increase health through meditation, acupuncture and moxibustion therapy. With moxibustion, moxa (artemisia) sticks are burned close to the skin over certain points on the meridians. Moxibustion and acupuncture are especially effective in treating breathing problems, pains in the chest and the back as well as disturbed chi circulation caused by an imbalance of energy in the meridian lines. These Traditional Chinese medicine modalities can be very helpful for many other health conditions that are caused by either weather or emotions.

Tai Chi Helps Fibromyalgia Patients

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August, Fibromyalgia patients have a new hope: Tai Chi.
In the clinical study performed at Tufts University in Boston, MA, researchers randomly divided a group of 66 patients into two even groups of 33. The control group received 60 minutes of stretching and wellness information, while the other was taught Tai Chi. Researchers gave both groups a questionnaire that gathered information on physical pain, mental strain and overall quality of life. Additionally, patients were assessed by physicians. After 12 weeks, the same questionnaire was given, and they found the Tai Chi group experienced significantly better results over the control group. At 24 weeks, they again gave the questionnaire and found that the positive results of the Tai Chi group had been maintained. Furthermore, one third of that group stopped using their medications compared with one-sixth in the control group.
Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder marked by pain throughout the body, fatigue, insomnia and depression. Though it is not well understood, it is very real. It affects about 10 million people in the United States alone— most of them women. Tai Chi is a multifaceted practice, incorporating physical movement with mindfulness in a social environment. It is generally practiced as a form of Chi Gong—more for its healing and strengthening properties than its fighting application.
As such, it makes up one of Chinese medicine’s five branches. When combined with the other four: acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage and nutrition, it can be very effective in healing many chronic conditions.

9 Spices for Health, Energy and Longevity

The colder weather is beckoning us back to our kitchens. Break out the spices to bring warmth, robust flavor, and a bounty of health benefits, including higher energy, increased immunity, and other life-enhancing surprises.
Considered to be dried seeds, fruit, roots or bark, spices have been valued for centuries by ancient cultures for their culinary and medicinal properties. For instance, a traditional Indian beauty trick was to spread turmeric paste on the skin to beautify it and prevent pimples. And Chinese doctors have used ginger since ancient times to cure aches and pains.
1. Garlic wards off heart disease
In addition to warding off Count Dracula, garlic, the spicy favorite in Italian fare, has been shown to improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure. According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, consuming half to one clove of garlic daily may reduce cholesterol by nearly ten percent. Your breath might suffer, but your heart will thank you. As an antibacterial, garlic is often used to treat minor infections.
2. Spotlight on cinnamon
Another ancient spice to recently come under scientific investigation is cinnamon. In the United States, cinnamon is usually thought of as the delicious spice in apple pie filling, but in other parts of the world, especially India and Asia, cinnamon has been used as a healing herb for centuries. Research is finally catching up to the wisdom of the East; many clinical studies have linked cinnamon consumption to lowered blood sugar. Both in vitro and human studies show improvement in insulin sensitivity with cinnamon polyphenols, as well as improvement in total and LDL cholesterol. Cinnamon is also thought to detoxify the system and stimulate brain function. Its antiseptic properties give it the ability to fight bladder infection, and if taken in the first 48 hours, a cup of strong cinnamon tea might just nip a bladder infection in the bud. Keep in mind that mixed study results make it difficult to prove these benefits on paper -- but it doesn't hurt to sprinkle a teaspoon into your next bowl of oatmeal.

3. Curry for joint health
Are your aching joints not jumping for joy in these autumn days? Try sprinkling some curry on your veggie omelet. Curry, a staple spice combo in Southeast Asian cuisine, contains turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its distinctive color. The active component in turmeric is called curcumin. If you are a fan of curry, you will be happy to know that this substance is associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-amyloid properties; amyloids are plaque-like proteins that build up in brain tissue, and are responsible for diseases like Alzheimer's and rheumatoid arthritis. In one randomized control study 107 patients with knee osteoarthritis received either 800 mg per day ibuprofen or 2 grams per day Curcuma domestica extract. Both groups showed improvement in pain on level walking and climbing stairs.
4. Star Anise aids digestion
As the name suggests, star anise is indeed star-shaped. Though it is not actually related to anise, star anise shares a similar licorice flavor, due to its content of anethole. Used to bring out flavor in slow-cooked meat dishes and long-simmered soups, this spice frequently makes an appearance in Indian cuisine and is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. Star anise has been used in a tea to remedy rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion.
5. Cardamom improves energy
Found in curries, rice dishes, herbal teas, and breads, cardamom is the spice that gives chai tea its main flavor. In Asia, cardamom has long been valued medicinally for its ability to increase circulation and improve energy. Considered an aphrodisiac in the Middle East, cardamom may also improve digestion, asthma, bronchitis, halitosis, and even help improve a bad mood.
6. Clove curbs cramping
A delicious addition to cooked fruit, roasts, sweet vegetable dishes, and teas, clove has been used since ancient times in India to improve digestive function. You may chew on some to alleviate toothaches, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
7. Cumin boosts immunity
An excellent addition to meat curries, stews, vegetables, seafood, and sauces, cumin is thought to boost the immune system and also to improve liver function, reduce flatulence, and aid in digestion.
8. Fennel Seed soothes your intestines
Often used to spice up recipes with meat, beans, or legumes, fennel helps digestion in two ways: It stimulates the production of gastric juices and also soothes the nervous system, regulating the action of the muscles that line the intestine.
9. Ginger: Remedies aches and nausea
A perfect compliment to vegetables, marinades, and sweets, ginger is also delicious in tea. Ginger may help relieve nausea, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps, and muscle soreness.
A word of warning: always discuss with your physician before treating conditions with spices to avoid any adverse interactions; for example, because garlic and ginger possess natural blood-thinning properties, individuals about to undergo surgery and those taking blood thinners should take extra precaution.
To maintain peak flavor, use spices within six months -- but the spice police won’t come knocking at your door if you keep them longer. They like to hang out in a cool, dark place in your pantry to preserve their oils and prevent loss of pungent flavors.

Acupuncture Changes Brain's Perception and Processing of Pain

 Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers have captured pictures of the brain while patients experienced a pain stimulus with and without acupuncture to determine acupuncture's effect on how the brain processes pain. Results of the study, which the researchers say suggest the effectiveness of acupuncture, were presented November 30 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
"Until now, the role of acupuncture in the perception and processing of pain has been controversial," said lead researcher Nina Theysohn, M.D., from the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Neuroradiology at University Hospital in Essen, Germany. "Functional MRI gives us the opportunity to directly observe areas of the brain that are activated during pain perception and see the variances that occur with acupuncture."
fMRI measures the tiny metabolic changes that take place in an active part of the brain, while a patient performs a task or is exposed to a specific external stimulus.
In the study, conducted in close collaboration with the Department of Complementary and Integrative Medicine at University of Duisburg-Essen, 18 healthy volunteers underwent fMRI while an electrical pain stimulus was attached to the left ankle. Acupuncture needles were then placed at three places on the right side, including between the toes, below the knee, and near the thumb. With the needles in place, fMRI was repeated while electrical currents were again directed at the left ankle. The researchers then compared the images and data obtained from the fMRI sessions with no acupuncture to those of the fMRI sessions with acupuncture.
"Activation of brain areas involved in pain perception was significantly reduced or modulated under acupuncture," Dr. Theysohn said.
Specifically, fMRI revealed significant activation in the contralateral supplementary motor area, somatosensory cortex, precuneus bilateral insula and ipsilateral somatomotor cortex during electrical pain stimulation without acupuncture. During acupuncture, activation in most of these pain-processing areas of the brain was significantly reduced.
According to Dr. Theysohn, in addition to the assumed specific effects on the pain signal, acupuncture also affected brain activation in areas governing the patients' expectations of pain, similar to a placebo analgesic response.
The anterior insula, for example, plays a role in transforming pain sensation to cognition and represents a subjective component of pain sensation. The reduction in activation of the primary somatosensory cortex and the insula during acupuncture indicates an acupuncture-induced modulation of the sensory encoding of the painful stimulus.
"Acupuncture is supposed to act through at least two mechanisms -- nonspecific expectancy-based effects and specific modulation of the incoming pain signal," Dr. Theysohn said. "Our findings support that both these nonspecific and specific mechanisms exist, suggesting that acupuncture can help relieve pain."

How Cupping Can Help Your Pain

What is cupping?

Cupping is a simple method of pulling “stuck,” stagnant, and congealed blood and fluids out of the injured area. Plastic or glass cups are placed on the skin and then applied using suction. Cups are kept on from three to fifteen minutes, according to the judgment of the acupuncturist. Cupping releases tight, painful muscles and increases blood circulation.

How does cupping help my injury?

After any injury, areas that you hurt are areas that now have a blockage of blood and body fluids. Injured joints become swollen and painful. Backs become stiff, painful and difficult to move. This blockage of blood and body fluids that accompanies an injury is like a beaver dam. The force of the accident or injury creates the initial obstruction – the sticks, mud and leaves of the dam. The free flowing water of the mountain stream is slowed down to a small trickle as stagnant water backs up behind the dam. And like the water of a beaver dam, which can cause flu like symptoms for those who swim in it, the stagnant blood and body fluids that occur at the injury can cause pain and inflammation. Just as the still waters of a beaver dam heat up in the sunlight, stagnant blood and fluids in our body are heated up by our naturally warm body temperatures.

Eventually, with time, the body may be able to unblock these injured areas and return to healthy circulation. Sometimes, even after surgery, the injured area continues to hurt, and never feels completely the same. That’s why you come to get acupuncture and therapy – to speed up the rate at which you heal, and to increase your body’s ability to heal itself completely. But to do this, the beaver dam has to be moved so that blood can flow through the injured area, healing the injured muscles, joint, tendons, and bones. If the area is still blocked and "dammed up" then the body cannot properly heal.

A good example of blood and body fluids that are "dammed up" or stagnant is a blood clot. After an accident, small blood vessels are ruptured, causing blood to collect in muscles. This blood then is heated up the body temperature, and begins to act like glue. The muscles, which have tightened up in response to the accident, now have "glue" holding the muscle fibers together even tighter. The joints, which have joint fluid, stuck blood, and white blood cells, minerals, nutrients all congealing in the area, become stiff and painful as these do not move along back into circulation a week after the injury, but instead begin to stick in the joint area, and sometimes even swell up. Tears and sprains are not able to heal as circulation is not repaired, and as the area is painful to use, one tends to keep it as still as possible…and not using the injured area at all can also prevent blood flow from circulating properly and thus healing the injury.

Acupuncture uses acupuncture needles to increase the flow of blood to the area so that an injury can heal faster and better than it would without acupuncture. But if the area is badly dammed up, and circulation is increased, the dam just begins to get bigger and bigger. Increasing circulation actually makes it worse but only because first, the dam needs to be moved, and then increasing the circulation of the water (the injury) will assist the body’s healing process. This is where cupping really helps.

What is the real purpose behind cupping?

One purpose of cupping is to relieve the pain of tight and sore muscles. This is done by pulling the muscle fibers into the cup. This loosens the muscles and relieves pain. It also pulls the stuck blood within the muscle onto the surface of the skin. This occurs when an injury ruptures small blood vessels within the muscle fibers, causing blood to collect in the muscle and "glue" the already tight muscle fibers together. Cupping is able to pull the congealed blood out of the muscle and onto the surface of the skin.

Another purpose of cupping is to pull blood and body fluids up to the surface of the skin, removing it from stuck areas like swollen knee joints or frozen shoulders. As a result, cupping will often produce a red or purple circle upon the skin that may take a few days to heal. These circles are only dark colored if the area that is cupped has "stuck" body fluids and blood. You should expect some circular discoloration or bruising if you are cupped. Keep in mind, this is only occurring because stuck fluids and blood congeal and act like glue, keeping joints stiff and swollen and gluing muscle fibers. These circular discolorations and bruising occur in the process of drawing these stuck fluids and blood out of injured areas – they are part of the healing process.

As you improve with each treatment, the circular discolorations will become less and less red. Everyone heals at their own pace, and some of the healing will also depend on how physically active you are, how well you treat your body (diet, posture, stress levels), and how often you come to therapy. Bottom line, this is your healing process, and your treatment, so you have to honor your body and accept however long it takes to get better.

What should I be cautious about?

If you are very concerned with bruising or discoloration, cupping may not be the right therapy for you. Since cupping marks take a few days to heal, please consider if you are going to the beach or to an event where you will be revealing the cupped area.

If you are pregnant, have a circulation disorder, hemophilia, lupus, or diabetes, cupping may not be appropriate for you. Although cupping does release tight muscles and increase blood circulation and move congealed body fluids, bruising and bleeding may sometimes occur.