Posts Tagged ‘chinese medicine’
Oct 30, 2013
Most people think that Chinese medicine is used only for chronic health problems, but it can be very effective for acute problems, like relieving and preventing colds. In fact, Chinese medicine has been relieving and preventing colds for thousands of years.
Herbs can help relieve your sore throat, coughing, headaches, fatigue, chills and fever. The key is using the right formula at the right stage of your cold. Before taking Chinese herbs, ask your acupuncturist or Chinese medicine doctor which one is right for you.
Gan Mao Ling- Gan Mao Ling translates to the common cold pills. This herbal formula helps to fight minor colds as well as prevent you from getting a cold if something is going around. It is best to take this formula in the very early stages of a cold, as soon as you feel run down or a little tickle in your throat. You can also take it when travelling or if someone in your office is sick. the herbs in this formula are known to have anti-viral capabilities particularly within the respiratory tract.
Yin Qiao San- Yin Qiao San is the main formula for a cold with a sore throat. In Chinese medicine, the common cold often manifests as a condition we call wind heat. The idea is that the virus or bacteria comes in through the wind and attacks the respiratory system. The main herbs in the formula, Honeysuckle and Forsythia fruit, are release the wind heat and have shown to be powerful anti-viral herbs.
Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Tang- This is a primary formula to help with stomach bugs. It can be effective for a strong stomach bug or for minor food poisoning. The aromatic herbs in this formula address the viruses of digestive system. The aromatic herbs also help the digestive system to return to healthy state after you’ve gotten the bug. You can also take this formula when you are travelling if eat something you should not have.
Ling zhi- in English it is known as Hen of the Woods or Rei Shi. Ling zhi has many positive health benefits such as reducing allergies, treating insomnia, and hypertension. In order to prevent colds, it is a great immune booster. While it is good for boosting your energy, it can also be used for insomnia. I recommend to some patients that get frequent colds to take a small dose of ling zhi daily to prevent a cold that is going around.
Oct 23, 2013
Nobody debates that a healthy diet includes a lot of vegetables. But how to eat them is another story.
Chinese medicine has long been an advocate of eating cooked vegetables over raw. This is because cooked vegetables are easier to digest, allowing the body to more easily absorb the nutrients. And cooked vegetables are easier on the digestive system preventing unwanted symptoms like bloating (more on this below).
In this week’s Times, an article examines how cooking vegetables can improve their vitamin absorbability. As one can expect, not all vegetables or vitamins in the vegetables act alike. For example, boiling and steaming vegetables can help with the release of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, and K as well as the antioxidants. And in tomatoes, cooking helps to release releases lycopene. But boiling does degrade some of the water soluble vitamins like Vitamin C.
This research is difficult to be comprehensive. But it is important to note that many vegetables become more healthy when cooking them.
In the end, it is best to eat vegetables in a way that you enjoy them. Steaming, boiling, in soups can all be delicious. Particularly for fibrous vegetables like broccoli. Of course some of the crunchy vegetables like peppers, lettuce, and arugula taste great in a salad.
Protect the Digestive Qi
Qi, the body’s energy, is actually a very practical concept. We use qi to work, exercise, stay healthy, and digest food. At the same time, digestion is the primary method for creating qi. Simply put, the body uses digestive qi to digest food and make more qi.
Eating vegetables that are cooked helps the digestive qi extract the qi of the food. Raw vegetables that are hard to digest can injure the digestive qi functioning. This sometimes happens when you too many raw veggies that are difficult to digest vegetables.
Photo: Enric Archivell
May 29, 2013
Bacteria are everywhere. In the soil, on our skin, in our guts, in our eyes, and reproductive organs. Everywhere. In fact, our bodies have more than 10 times the amount of microbial life in us than our own cells.
In the last century, bacteria have gotten a bad wrap. Many bacteria are needed for healthy digestion, immune system function, and healthy reproduction among others.
So rather than having a war on bacteria, cohabitation with bacteria is gaining ground in the scientific world. Recently in the New York Times, the author Michael Pollan wrote a piece about our the latest information regarding the microbiome, the life of the microbes that live with us and believed help us stay healthy.
The war on bacteria
Since we’ve known about germs, they have become a target to eradicate. And of course this has been very successful and saved many lives. But it is possible we’ve gotten rid of too many microbes, the ones that helps us as well as the ones that hurt us.
Bacteria are helpful in digestion, our immune system, reproduction, and other bodily functions. People in cultures that do not use or have access to industrialized food production and industrialized chemical cleaners, and therfore a higher exposure to the plethora of bacteria, have a much lower rate of atopic eczema, asthma, allergies, IBS, and other chronic diseases (of course lack of access to modern medicine produces other medical dangers like severe infections).
So how do we live together in harmony?
A symbiotic relationship
In acupuncture and Chinese medicine we understand the need to live in harmony with the environment. Bacteria are part of this environment inside and outside our bodies. Now it is looking like we need to life in harmony with our microbes.
What can we do to cultivate a healthy relationship with our bacteria? The research is still being done, so there is no strict prescription. But using common sense, we can gain a few simple recommendations.
1. Eat whole foods. Plant based whole foods that have a lot of fiber and nutrients are not only good for you but also for your gut bacteria. These are called prebiotic foods because they stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. In the long run, they are much better than taking probiotics. Different forms of fiber (soluble and insoluble) may help encourage healthy bacteria in different parts of your digestive system. You can’t go wrong with eating whole foods, its healthy in many other ways such as providing vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
2. Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are foods which bacteria, yeast, and fungi have processed. Fermented foods have been a part of human culture probably as long as we have had culture. Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and sour pickles contain naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria, which is what probiotics are. These foods will provide a large variety of lactic acid bacteria increasing your microbiome diversity,
They are delicious and you can make them at home!
Apr 24, 2013
Skin diseases are one of the most common reasons to see your doctor. Yet, they are often stubborn conditions which do not respond to medications. Or even worse the medications have side effects. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offers a natural and effective treatment for many skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, perioral dermatitis, and others.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been treating skin diseases for at least 3000 years. The treatment of many skin diseases were discussed in the first known book of Chinese medicine, The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Huang Di Nei Jing). In the thousands of years since, Chinese medicine doctors and scholars discussed and debated the best approaches to treatment of skin conditions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Understanding of Skin Conditions
The key to effective Chinese medicine treatment of skin diseases is diagnosis of the underlying imbalance causing the condition. Not everyone with a given skin condition will have the same symptoms. The different symptoms reflect the imbalance which needs to be corrected. My teacher of Chinese Medicine Dermatology, Mazin Al-Khafaji, describes this as Chinese medicine’s method of assessing various types of inflammatory processes causing the skin condition.
Let’s take eczema as an example. Some eczema may presents with wet, weeping, and crusty lesions. In this case, the imbalance is Heat and Damp Eczema. In other cases, the eczema is dry and red. This type of eczema is understood to be caused by Heat and Dryness. The Chinese medicine practitioner will use this imbalance to guide the writing of the acupuncture and herbal prescription.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment Approaches
The acupuncture and herbal formula must address the imbalance causing the skin condition. To do this, the herbal ingredients and acupuncture points are tailored to the specific imbalance causing the disease. Let’s return to the eczema I described earlier. Eczema caused by Heat and Dampness must be treated with herbs that remove heat and damp, such as huang qin and long dan cao, among others. Acupuncture points such as GB 34 and Sp 9 may be used to reduce dampness and heat. While the eczema caused by heat and dryness will require herbs that clear heat and moisten the skin including sheng di huang and mu dan pi, among others. In this case, acupuncture points such as LI 4 and LI 11 may be used to drain heat from the body.
By correcting the underlying imbalance, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can lead to long term improvement.
Here are a number of articles which explain Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of skin conditions.
- Eczema Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Psoriasis Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Acne Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Perioral Dermatitis Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Apr 4, 2013
Spring has sprung. Well not quite yet with this cold weather here in NYC. But my patients are already telling me that their allergy symptoms are coming back.
Acupuncture can help reduce allergies. For those with severe allergies, it is better to start treatment before the allergies season to prevent the intensity of the symptoms.
Read more about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can reduce you allergies.
Dec 4, 2012
Qi is the body’s energy (Qi is pronounced “chee,” and is sometimes spelled “chi.”)
There is a mystical aspect to qi. In Chinese philosophy, qi is the building blocks of the universe. Energy combines and multiplies. It is the universal energy present in all living things as well as nature.
But there is a practical aspect to qi as well. Qi is the energy we use to keep us healthy. It allows us to work, grow, exercise, and reproduce. Imbalances in the qi can lead to many health issues.
Qi needs to be abundant and circulate through channels in the body or else illness occurs. In Chinese medicine, it is said “When the qi flows there is no pain, when qi stops, there is pain and illness.” Lifestyle habits such as poor diet, overwork, and stress or a person’s constitution can affect the amount and flow of qi. Chinese medicine and acupuncture focus on correcting these imbalances.
Imbalances of Qi
The main imbalances of Qi are Qi vacuity, or too little Qi or the Qi circulation in the channels can be impaired. This is called qi stagnation.
Those with too little qi may experience the symptoms of frequent colds, fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, soft voice, poor digestion, a weak pulse, and pale tongue. This is also true often for people with chronic respiratory infections or autoimmune conditions, such as asthma, eczema, chronic bronchitis, or sinusitis and chronic sinus headaches.
Qi stagnation, when the qi is not circulating well, can also cause frequent colds and makes it difficult to fight them off. Those with qi stagnation will often get a cold after a stressful or emotional situation. They also may be prone to headaches, irregular bowel movements, ribside pain, and painful menstrual cramps.
Oct 3, 2012
Every year in early October I blog about home remedies for the common cold. That’s because every year my patients come into the office coughing, sneezing, and with sore throats and ask me what to do.
Fortunately I don’t get a cold this time of year because I know a few techniques to prevent it.
Why do people get colds during the change of seasons?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine explain that you are more susceptible to a cold because body’s energy, or qi, is stressed. The qi is responsible for your immune functioning. So when your qi is taxed, your immune system is also slightly run down.
How to boost your qi?
The good news is that there are many techniques to boost your qi.
Acupuncture for the common cold can be effective for boosting your qi to prevent a cold or help you get over it faster when you have a cold.
There are many Chinese herbs that help treat a cold. Ling zhi, a medicinal mushroom, is excellent for boosting your immune system. Gan mao ling, the common cold formula, is effective for treating the first stages of the common cold.
Eating delicious aromatic vegetables can help prevent you from getting a cold. Trying making a vegetable soup for the change of seasons.
Other home remedies, such as gargling with apple cider vinegar or salt are effective for making the environment of your throat and respiratory system inhospitable for viruses.
Oct 2, 2012
Eye twitching is annoying. A fluttering eye will buzz on and off throughout the day causing distraction and frustration. Sometimes, the fluttering can be quite strong leading to total closing of the eye and impairing your vision.
Most often eye twitching is caused by stress, fatigue, use of alcohol, or irritation of the eye. In some, the eye twitch becomes chronic which is called benign essential blepharospasm. Benign essential blepharospasm not only is annoying but can lead to periodic trouble seeing.
In a very small number of individuals, chronic eye twitching is a sign of a neurological condition. If the eye twitching goes on for many weeks, it is best to consult a physician or healthcare professional.
Acupuncture and acupressure are very helpful for reducing eye twitches.
How does acupuncture understand eye twitches?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has beautiful imagery to describe health and illness. Health is a state of balance within the body as well as between the body and the environment. Environmental factors such as cold, heat, and wind can cause illness. These environmental factors also represent certain illness within the body.
Eye twitching is caused by wind. Just as the leaves in the trees are rattled by wind, the rattling in the body is caused by wind as well. We use acupuncture points along the proper channels to remove this wind from the body.
What is the root of the wind? This is from inhibition in the flow of qi.
The body’s qi or energy flows through channel and meridians. Stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep disrupts the flow of qi throughout the body leading to what we call stagnation. The stagnation causes pressure to develop and leads to the development of wind. This is why acupuncture treatment also should include points for moving the qi.
Acupressure for Eye Twitching
For many people with periodic eye twitching, acupressure can help stop the annoying twitch.
The acupressure point to start with would be San Jiao 5 (SJ 5). This point is located on the outside of the arm, 2 thumb widths up from the wrist between the radius bone and the the large tendons (extensor digitorum tendons) on the back of the arm.
Start by pressing this point for 30 seconds.
After finishing with SJ 5, GB 34 is the next point to treat. This point is located on the lateral aspect of the leg just below the knee. It is just below and in front of the head of the fibula. Press this point for 30 second on each side.
What’s Acupuncture treatment like for Eye Twitching?
For those with stronger, more persistent eye twitching, acupuncture may be needed. The acupuncture points for eye twitching are on the arms and legs. These points will help to reduce wind, promote the flow of qi, and are on the channels that address eye problems.
The channels of the San Jiao and Gallbladder both go to the eyes. Acupuncture points such as SJ 5 on the arm, GB 34 and GB 39 on the leg can help with the wind. Liver 3 and LI 4 on the hands and feet help to remove the stagnation.
Jul 11, 2012
Acupressure is the massage of acupressure points and channels. I often use acupressure and tui na (Chinese medical massage) combined with with acupuncture in my NYC acupuncture clinic.
Acupressure in context
To really understand how acupressure works, we have to see it as part of the whole of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Chinese medicine dates back thousands of years. The first book of Chinese medicine is called the Huang di nei jing, or the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Cannon.
The book is a conversation between the Yellow Emperor and his doctor, named Qi Bo. Qi bo explains that health comes from a state of balance within the body, and between the body and the environment. To prevent illness, people should live a balanced life. It is a very simple idea.
Chinese medicine uses many therapies, including acupuncture, acupressure, and Chinese herbs to bring balance to the body by regulating the nervous system, decreasing inflammation, and improving circulation. Once the body is in balance, it can work to heal itself.
Acupuncture channels, called the jing lou in Chinese, connect the body. These channels provide a pathway for the circulation. Qi flows through the channels, warming the body and protecting it from disease.
Acupressure and acupuncture manipulates these channels to bring you back to a healthy state.
May 22, 2012
Itching is an annoying and curious phenomenon. Your body feels an annoying sensation so you irritate the skin by scratching. It makes you feel extremely uncomfortable.
This causes pain. The pain trumps the itching sensation and you no longer feel the annoyance. But the scratching causes inflammation and irritation in the area. The scratch causes more itch and the cycle continues.
Pain trumps itch because the sensations are felt through many of the same nerve endings. Although researchers looking at itch specifically are finding more itch specific pathways in the spinal cord and brain.
Itching takes a toll on people’s lives. This annoying symptom keeps people awake at night, distracts from daily activities, and leads to habitual irritation of the skin.
The causes of itching
Itching can be caused by several conditions. Sometimes you know what causes the itch such as a mosquito bite. Or it may occur from inflammatory skin diseases like eczema. It may occur in other conditions such as psoriasis and even acne sometimes. In lichen simplex for example, itching is caused by anxiety or being nervous. Elderly patients may have pruritus which from unknown causes. Some serious diseases such as cancer, liver disease, and HIV can cause itching.
But even seeing another person scratch or thinking about itching can cause an itch sensation.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Causes of Itch
Acupuncture and TCM discusses has long discussed the many causes of itching. Chinese medicine imagines a complex interaction between the environment and the body.
Imbalances in the body or the environment cause the itch. Common causes of itching are heat, dampness, and wind. These are descriptions of different presentations of the disease.
Each herb or acupuncture point is chosen to correct that specific imbalance. If the skin is red and dry, then heat may be predominating. If there is swelling and weeping, then it may be caused by dampness.
Acupuncture can be used for treating acute itching in atopic dermatitis as well as other conditions. I like to use auricular acupuncture and magnets which help to reduce itch in between sessions. Acupuncture may work to stop itch through similar mechanisms as pain relief.
photo: Tambako the Jaguar