Acupuncture

Treating Anxiety with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

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Treating Anxiety with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, you’re very familiar with the symptoms—heart palpitations or the sensation of a racing heart, chest tightness, numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, feeling light headed, shortness of breath, and the general feeling of fear, or that you might die right now.

Anxiety can be a tricky thing.  For some people it seems to come out of nowhere and creep up at unexpected moments.  For others, anxiety is predictable and associated with certain events, fears, or situations.  Things like driving on the highway, eating in restaurants, and spiders all have the potential to create anxiety.

There are a number of causes of anxiety.  Traumatic events top the list.  People who have been exposed to trauma, violence, emotional duress, or threats of any kind know the source of their anxiety. This includes unrelenting stress and worry over a life event or situation that’s not easily resolved.

Unfortunately, many people experience anxiety symptoms and don’t know why, which only makes the anxiety worse.  These are the people who think they’re going crazy because they seemingly have no reason to feel anxious.  However, it’s important to know that anxiety can be caused by physical problems, such as hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, heart problems, and drug side effects.

Anxiety can run in families.  I have found that many of my patients who suffer from anxiety have either a parent or a child who also struggles with anxiety, too.  This may be due to genetic makeup or how a particular family copes with stressful life events. Whether anxiety in families is due to nature or nurture, it’s not uncommon that family members will have similar triggers for their anxiety.

In Chinese medicine, there are three organ systems related to anxiety; the Heart, Spleen, and Kidneys.

The Chinese view anxiety as worry that has gotten out of control.  Each organ system is associated with an emotion, and worry is the emotion associated with the Chinese Spleen.  The Spleen is also your organ system of digestion.  It sifts and sorts what you’ve eaten, takes what is useful, turns it into nutrients to fuel your body, and gets rid of what is not needed.  While your Spleen primarily digests foods, it also plays a role in the sifting and sorting of ideas.  While the emotion associated with the Spleen is worry, it is essentially the same as not being able to sort through and let go of unnecessary ideas.  Worry is a kind of unhealthy rumination, and when it gets out of control, worry becomes anxiety and fear.

While your Spleen is the organ of digestion, your Heart is the Chinese organ of feelings.  We intuitively know that the Heart is an emotional organ.  We feel things with all our heart, have our heart broken, or thank someone from the bottom of our heart. Your Heart is home to the Shen, or your spirit, according to Chinese theory.  Its function is similar to that of your brain in Western biomedicine.  As such your Heart is the home to consciousness, memory, emotions, and thinking.  Whenever someone suffers from any kind of emotional upset or condition, such as anxiety, the Heart is always involved.

Finally, the Chinese Kidney also plays a role in anxiety in a couple of ways.  First, the emotion related to the Kidney is fear, which is the underlying component of anxiety.  Secondly, the Kidney is the deepest and most nourishing of our organs.  It’s responsible for how well you age, your underlying body constitution, and is the source of all the fundamental substances in your body, such as Yin, Yang, and Essence.  Your Kidney is the organ system most damaged by stress and anxiety.  The Western condition of adrenal fatigue (from stress, anxiety, overwork, etc.) correlates to a severe Kidney depletion in Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine and acupuncture can offer a number of strategies to help someone suffering from anxiety.  Your practitioner would work by first calming your Shen using acupuncture. This is an effective first line of defense, as research has documented the positive effects that acupuncture has on brain chemistry.   It has been found that acupuncture increases the secretion of endorphins in the brain, the feel good substance associated with pain relief and runner’s high. This effect accounts for the relaxing and calming sensation patients feel both during and after their treatments.

A  practitioner of Chinese medicine might also address your anxiety by nourishing your Spleen and restoring your Kidney health.  Beyond acupuncture, there are a number of safe and effective herbal formulas that can help calm anxiety. Your practitioner can prescribe the combination of herbs that is most appropriate to your individual needs.

Food therapy and lifestyle changes may also be part of your treatment for anxiety.  This may include at-home calming strategies, avoiding stimulants such as coffee or tea, dietary changes, and breathing techniques—all of which can be effective in relieving anxiety.

By Your Acupuncture Specialist, on March 30th

It’s nearly Spring – Move Your Qi!

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Wood Element:

Emotions: Anger, Stress, Resentment, Pent-up emotions, ability to control all of the emotions
Related organs: Liver (yin)/Gallbladder(yang)
Season: Spring
Taste: Sour
Body tissue: Tendons
Direction: East
Change: Birth
Color: Green
Climatic Qi: Wind
Sound: Shouting
Smell: Rancid
Sense organ: Eyes

Move Your Qi

When our energy does not move, it becomes stagnant. This is true for the body, mind and spirit. Patients always seem surprised when I inform them that the way that we think and feel predetermine the health of our bodies. Somewhere in our lives many of us lost our innocence and forgot how tightly intertwined we are, physically, mentally and spiritually.

When I studied Comparative Medical History, I learned where in history western medicine took on a different path of the world’s other medical practices, including Chinese medicine. The body had become separate from the mind and spirit. This was due primarily to newly instated religious doctrines. The beauty of Chinese medicine is that the body, mind and spirit have always been revered as one entity; never separate entities.

I named my website MOVE YOUR QI because that is what EVERY practitioner of Chinese medicine does. Acupuncture moves qi. Herbs work on qi also, but it also has a more profound effect on the fluids of the body, such as blood and phlegm.

Why is moving qi extremely important? Because qi = energy, which is a very loose translation from Chinese to English. We do not want qi to become stagnant. Stagnant qi is one way for the body’s health to decline very fast.

The standard emotion for the wood element is anger. In my practice, I include the other emotions stated above. It was what my teachers had taught me and what I have observed over the past nine years in practice.

I understand anger, pent-up emotions, stress, resentment, which end up causing me to be unable to control all of my other emotions. I was raised in a home of domestic violence. I read a bumper sticker the other day that stated, “THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.” The statement, driven by a man in charge of his large street-cleaning machine, brought me to grateful tears. I survived my horrid past. My life is pure alchemy. Like a lotus, I have grown and blossomed from the mud that life had dealt me from birth. I trudged in that mud well into my 20s. For those who can relate, we all must know that the only way we can live without stagnant qi is by forgiving the past, EVEN when the person(s) who abused us does not feel that they need or want forgiveness. The only person one requires to accept completely in order to live in good health is one’s self.

One of my first classes in college was a class on building self-esteem. It was a mandatory class required by my university. My homework every day was to look at myself in the mirror and state:

“I LOVE MYSELF FOR WHO I AM. I AM GREAT.”

Because I usually was a very good student, I did my homework. This one, I did not like. I lied to myself every day. I felt angry and ashamed of my past because of too many memories that should never be spoken out loud. My broken heart felt empty. The ruins of my past haunted me every moment and though it looked on the outside like I kept everything together, I did not even know myself well enough to realize how much I allowed my childhood to depress me more and more every day. This simple homework activity was my first exposure in moving my qi. I said that statement every day, initially lying to myself, until I finally believed how much I must love myself if what I really want to do in life is to thrive. My anger and depression began to lift, though at age 18, there were many more years of work to do in order to become completely healthy.

Being a devout child to religion helped me to survive, but it did not cure my hidden insanity. My religion and my faithful practices did not bring me into conscious awareness. God taught me outside His house and worldly doctrines how I would grow into the individual that He had meant for me to become. The people that I had begun to attract into my life moved my qi. Their inspirations showed me the beauty of God’s creation. The moment I decided to let go of all stagnation in my life, the right people at the right time in the right places came to me. Chinese medicine came to me. There was something in Chinese medicine that made me whole. There was nothing wrong in my personal religion and there was nothing missing in my worship. What was missing was a complete understanding of how only I can allow my qi to move. God can only give a person the tools to heal. It is up to the individual to use her freedom of will to allow herself to heal.

I mention religion because people come to me for help with their health issues and I ask them, “What do you think is the lesson to learn from this issue? Why do you think life is teaching you this lesson?” The natural response for most devout religious worshipers is, “I don’t know. I have no clue why God is doing this to me. This must be what He wants me to go through.” It is as if many of us succumb to the idea that God wants us to suffer without trying to think outside of the box to help heal ourselves. I believe that God gave us many languages to make us a more colorful world. I believe that God gave us many types of healing therapies as a way to help us work together in order to find the different keys that open up the pathways to authentic healing. I do not believe that when we are afflicted with a disease, no matter how slight or severe, that we are meant to surrender to our bodies’ afflictions. I believe that when disharmony happens in our bodies, it is God saying to us, “Listen to what I am telling you. There is a lesson to learn from this. I am giving you an opportunity to learn, grow and transform.” So many of us push ourselves emotionally and physically to the point that we are helplessly exhausted. The law of detachment does not resonate with some of us. When someone offends us, we take it so personally that the initial offense causes us to create unnecessary resentment. Unchecked resentment easily leads way to anger. Anger, like fire, can move so fast and affect every aspect of our lives. Fire diminishes water. Yang consumes yin. There is no more balance in a person’s body. The origin of the disharmony began with the emotions being unchecked. It would be ideal if before our health declines, we ask ourselves if being angry is worth the suffering that we may eventually experience. Why do so many of us behave self-destructively? We see this on an individual level and as a behavior of empires. In the midst of chaos, we rarely see clearly that self-righteousness is the nemesis to humility. Which is more important to you? Is it more important to be justified, while holding on to anger, resentment and an air of self-righteousness or to develop healthy and happy relationships with those you care about most and possibly with people who may end up becoming good friends?

We can fight for a cause without letting anger consume us. Diplomacy is the key. We can practice this in our daily lives, make our point and live more healthily than if we argue to a point where it causes headaches, migraines, indigestion, menstrual issues, miscarriages, fertility issues, hypertension, congenital heart disease and a myriad of other serious health issues. We do not always have to be right. This is not an ideal world, though hopeful people like me believe that trying is better than full-speed destruction. There are people like me, even if few, who believe that letting go of anger and resentment brings a dichotomy of ideas together and can eventually lead to peace of mind, freedom of the individual and ultimate healing of the spirit. The spirit leads the mind and the mind leads the body. The body shows manifestations of disharmonies in the spirit and mind.

Imagine a world where our spirits are detached from anger, resentment, depression and the inability to control our emotions. It is a healthier world. A happier world. A world where qi moves freely and nothing is stagnant. And it could only happen with one person at a time.

Move your qi. It is the healthy way to live.

~By Anna at Elements In Harmony

5 Ways Acupuncture Creates Lasting New Year’s Resolutions

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5 Ways Acupuncture Creates Lasting New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Rejuvenation

It is the beginning of a new year and, once again, a time to reflect on what changes we can make to improve our lives. If you are intent on improving your health this year, acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be the very thing you need to “stick” to those resolutions.

Here’s how acupuncture can help you achieve your goals:

Resolution 1: Reach Target Weight and Stay There

Losing weight is the #1 most common New Year’s Resolution. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine can help you reach your goal weight and maintain it by promoting better digestion, smoothing emotions, reducing appetite, improving metabolism, and eliminating food cravings.

From an Oriental medicine perspective, the acupuncture points, foods and herbs that are chosen to assist with weight loss directly influence the Qi of the Spleen and Liver systems to treat the root imbalances that are causing the weight gain.

From a Western perspective, acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been shown to have an effect on the function of the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system, food cravings, and metabolism. All of which can help to energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite, and reduce anxiety.

The beauty of acupuncture is that each treatment is catered to the needs of the individual patient. Acupuncture points on the body will be chosen for overall well being with the objective of increasing circulation of the blood and Qi (stimulating the metabolism) and calming the nervous system.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are powerful tools for healthy weight loss, by themselves or as a supportive treatment in conjunction with other weight management programs.

Resolution 2: Stay Sharp

Your New Year’s resolution may be to learn a new language or take a class at your local college. However you choose to exercise your brain, acupuncture can help. Numerous studies suggest that acupuncture can help improve memory, mental clarity, concentration and cognitive function.

One recently published study (see below) shows how acupuncture can be used to treat memory impairment induced by diabetes and cerebral ischemia. Other studies have looked at how acupuncture affects the performance of students during an exam, post-menopausal “brain fog”, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. All results, thus far, have been positive.

Resolution 3: Relieve Pain Naturally

If pain is keeping you from living your life to the fullest, acupuncture can help.  Increasingly, people are looking for more natural approaches to help relieve painful conditions instead of relying on medications. Acupuncture has no side effects and can be helpful for all types of pain, regardless of what is causing the pain or where the pain is located. Some studies have shown the pain relief it provides can last for months.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain before and after acupuncture treatment for pain shows dramatic decreases in activity in the pain centers of the brain – up to 70%.

In addition to reducing pain, acupuncture also hastens the healing process by increasing circulation and attracting white blood cells to an injured area.

Resolution 4: Quit Smoking

Acupuncture has turned a growing number of cigarette cravers into permanent ex-smokers. In fact, researchers say that acupuncture is a promising treatment for all types of addiction from cigarettes to heroin.

In one study, a team from Yale University successfully used auricular (ear) acupuncture to treat cocaine addiction. Results showed that 54.8% of participants tested free of cocaine during the last week of treatment, compared to 23.5% and 9.1% in the two control groups. Those who completed acupuncture treatment also had longer periods of sustained abstinence compared to participants in the control groups.

The acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation focus on jitters, cravings, irritability, and restlessness; symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.

Resolution 5: Eliminate Stress

Stress reduction is always on the top ten list for New Year’s resolutions and for a good reason. Stress is often the cause of illness and the deterioration of health. Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and lowering blood pressure

In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.

Needless to say, if the stress in your life is throwing you off balance, consider coming in for a treatment to regain peace of mind and stay healthy.

Contact Sabeeha Kurji and Andrea Lamont to see how Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you with your New Year’s Resolutions!

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

Treatment of Neurological Disorders with Acupuncture

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Treatment of Neurological Disorders with Acupuncture
By: Acufinder Staff Writer

A neurological disorder refers to a problem with the nervous system, which is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates the body’s activities. Nerve pain can arise from trauma, inflammation, stroke, disease, infection, nerve degeneration, exposure to toxic chemicals, and nutrient deficiencies.

Nerve pain is usually a sharp shooting pain or a constant burning sensation. Typically occurring in the same location with each episode, it can often be traced along the nerve pathway. Sometimes weakness or impaired function in the affected area occurs and the skin may be either overly sensitive or numb.

Some common neurological disorders acupuncture treats include:

Peripheral Neuropathy – damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body. Neuropathy caused by diabetes often affects the feet.

Trigeminal Neuralgia – facial pain, sometimes called Tic Douloureux, affects the trigeminal nerve which is responsible for impulses of touch, pain, pressure and temperature sent to the brain from the face, jaw, and gums.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – also known as median nerve entrapment, it occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve.

Headaches – Headaches that can be treated with acupuncture include migraines, tension headaches, headaches occurring around the menstrual cycle, sinus headaches and stress-related headaches.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been found effective as a conjunctive therapy for neurological disorders and in treating pain and inflammation.  Visit Glow Acupuncture & Wellness Center today to learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your neurological health plan!

Read more about acupuncture and Oriental medicine for neurological disorders:

Acupuncture for Neurological Pain

Treating Peripheral Neuropathy with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Headaches

Staying Healthy in Autumn: Part 2

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In Part 1 we learned why autumn is a great time to work on getting healthier in the lungs and large intestine, and a few tips on how to do it. In today’s follow up post, we’ll find out even more ways to stay healthy when the leaves begin to fall.

Dr. Elson Haas in Staying Healthy with the Seasons uses a holistic approach and suggests we can use autumn’s characteristics to boost our immune systems. The following is merely a synopsis so if any of it resonates with you, the book would definitely be a good investment!

Autumn Cleansing

A week-long juice cleanse in early to mid-autumn will give us a boost of energy and eliminate any potential illnesses we’ve stored away by flushing out excesses or by improving organ functions.

Since this is harvest time, we’ve got a plethora of fruits and veggies to choose from, including the Master Cleanse recipe (lemon juice, cayenne pepper and organic maple syrup). Apples, pears and grapes are in season, and Doc Haas even suggests eating only grapes for a week coupled with a daily lemonade if the juices are too sweet.

Also, try a teaspoon of cold-pressed olive oil twice daily, as well as one cup of an herbal laxative tea (see below for some choices) on rising and before bed to keep the intestines moving.

With an internal cleanse, we might want to pay some attention to facilitating the cleansing process. Dr. Haas says to:

  1. Brush our teeth and tongue (there will be more coating during a cleanse), and to floss regularly.
  2. Bathe daily and brush our skin with a loofa sponge or skin brush to remove dead skin cells and to stimulate the clearing of toxins.
  3. Exercise, with a good sweat, is beneficial to cleansing before bathing.
  4. At the end of bath or shower, use cold water to close the skin pores and prevent heat loss and vulnerability to colds, as well as stimulate skin circulation.

Garlic

This plant and herb is a lung aid that also facilitates cleansing and healing; it’s been used for centuries by many cultures as a food and medicine for a variety of ailments. The health benefits of garlic deserves its own post, so for now, Dr. Haas says if it’s eaten regularly, it can help prevent colds, flus and other infections.

Try taking a couple of cloves a day, pressed into water or juice (it’s so potent it needs to be diluted), or as garlic capsules, taking two twice daily. Chewing parsley will help balance the strong breath odour. When your body begins to eliminate garlic odor through the skin, it’s said this is when you’ve had enough.

I’ve tried a few of the interesting recipes found in Staying Healthy with the Seasons (like this tonic made with garlic), yet one of the best has to be garlic olive oil!

Garlic Oil

  1. Peel and chop enough cloves to fill a half of a quart jar.
  2. Cover the cloves with cold-pressed olive oil to about one or two inches above the garlic and place in a sunlit window for five to seven days, shaking once daily.
  3. Strain it well through cheese cloth, and you have strong smelling garlic oil.

The soaked cloves can be refrigerated and used in cooking. The garlic oil will last for months and can be used both internally (like on salads) and externally (like rubbing it on a congested chest or even on the soles of the feet to prevent or remedy early colds)!

Colon Hydrotherapy

This autumn cleansing tip is controversial but Dr. Haas is a believer in its benefits. He says,

Many doctors have stated that constipation is one of the main causes of disease, and I feel that aging and death may well begin in the colon… Constipation can create a backup of toxicity through the body, and affect the muscular or nervous system, creating tensions and exhaustion.

Colon hydrotherapy is a non-toxic method of cleansing the large intestine and has been used for thousands of years as a natural internal bath. Before today’s machines, it was done by entering a river or lake and using a hollow reed or bamboo tube to allow water to enter the rectum.

Meditation

This section alone is worth the cost of the book! Meditation is a deep subject and Dr. Haas does a fantastic job in explaining the mind’s potential and using meditation to develop the different parts of our brain for better functioning.

For instance, he talks about how the bimodal character of our brain is crucial to how we experience life. One mode is active, thinking, time-oriented, and attempts to organize and manipulate our world. The other is receptive, sensing, timeless, and perceives and understands our external and internal environment without judgement.

Meditation is a practice which helps expand awareness and moves us to a new balance, which is neither active or receptive. It takes us to the center to experience both of these realms and has been used over the centuries to enhance sensory awareness and alter perception of the environment and oneself. Haas says,

It is important to staying healthy as it facilitates a greater communication between our inner and outer worlds, and allows a deep state of rest and rejuvenation. Physiologically, meditation lowers the respiratory rate, increases the frequency of alpha brain waves, and facilitates muscular relaxation.

Try setting aside 15 to 30 minutes once or twice a day for quiet conscious relaxation and clearing your mind of old and congested thoughts. Many people like to do this in the morning to set their day off right. Just avoid meditating on a full stomach.

Haas even hints that meditation will strengthen our will power: “You may learn how to guide your energies rather than being controlled by your impulses.”

Drugs

Another fascinating section of this chapter in Staying Healthy with the Seasons, Dr. Haas says that drugs can be helpful but should be reserved as a last resort because they all affect our physical, mental, and emotional states. The use of drugs as medicines is part of the same picture as using drugs to alter psychological states.

He suggests that therapeutic options should be:

  1. Lifestyle changes first
  2. Natural therapies second
  3. Drugs last

Short-term use of any drug may lead to weakened resistance to illness and more vulnerable to colds, flus, hepatitis, lung and skin problems. Long-range effects help create many of the degenerating and chronic diseases through toxin build up in the body, and by weakening specific organs and systems.

Haas says it’s time to break the patterns of relying on drugs (including sugar as a stimulant!) to make us feel better:

Understanding your natural cycles will help you see the importance of creating healthier bodies by the use of good foods, exercise, and eliminating toxins in your life. Pleasure drugs are a lazy way to alter and control your energy. And the body will not be able to re-experience this relaxed or stimulated state without drugs unless you take the time to tune your machine to its most healthful state.

Autumn Diet

If you have habits or addictions you’d like to overcome, it’s helpful to change other aspects of your life, such as diet, exercise and attitudes. (And as we learned, meditation may also help strengthen your mind and resolve for change!)

After the week-long juice fast (or, in my case, I just started a month-long mini-cleanse), an autumn diet is a bit heavier and builds on the late summer diet. For meat eaters, this means more meats and dairy products. For vegetarians, autumn requires an increase in grains, nuts, beans and seeds, and eggs and dairy if used.

Although we need these heat-producing foods to combat the colder weather, too many congesting foods (or simply overeating) tends to keep our internal state at the level of physical sensations and indulgences.

How do we know how much of what to choose?

Dr. Haas says diets are totally individual and related to personal character, activity and to the climate in which you live. We must listen to our bodies for clues as to its preferences. This Food Balance Breakdown might help when choosing certain food types, combinations and proportions:

  • Builders: Animal proteins and beans
  • Cleansers: Fruits and vegetables
  • Congestors: Sweets, cheese and breads
  • Lubricators: Nuts, seeds, and their oils

While there are less fruits available in the autumn, an abundance of veggies helps us balance out our diets.

Exercise

The longer nights make the season and our energy more yin (quiet, inward and contracting) so Dr. Haas says we might want to concentrate on staying loose and relaxed:

Stretching, calisthenics, running, and hiking will all help. A strengthening program using weights and isometric exercises will build more muscles from your higher protein meals. Exercise keeps your weight in balance, too, with the heavier autumn diet. It is natural to gain a few pounds during autumn and winter, so turn some of it into muscle as well as a little fat to keep you warmer.

Herbs

In the colder months, just as our energy turns inward, so does the energy in plants. To gain energy in autumn and winter for us, we use root herbs. Dr. Haas suggests quite a few herbs, mainly those that facilitate cleansing in the lungs, skin and large intestine.

For instance, burdock root and comfrey root can both be used as tonics, the former for skin disorders and the latter for intestinal lining, mucous membranes and the lungs. He also suggests simmering fresh ginger root for 15-20 minutes (which I do regularly since reading this book) for more body heat and clearer lungs.

To tone and clear out the intestine, casara sagrada is an effective laxative and tonic. So is licorice root and oregon root.

Dr. Haas imparts a wealth of knowledge and many more tips in his chapter on staying healthy in autumn. Try these out and when you’re ready, get the book  so you can stay healthy throughout the year!

Are you doing an autumn cleanse or juice fast? I’ve got ginger, pumpkin, squash, olive oil and garlic so far on my shopping list for this week!

by Head Health Nutter

A short history of a long history of healing

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History

 

The Compendium of Materia Medica is a pharmaceutical text written by Li Shizhen (1518-1593 AD) during the Ming Dynasty of China. This edition was published in 1593.


Acupuncture chart from Hua Shou (fl. 1340s, Ming Dynasty). This image from Shi si jing fa hui (Expression of the Fourteen Meridians). (Tokyo: Suharaya Heisuke kanko, Kyoho gan 1716).

The first traces of therapeutic activities in the territories that are now considered China date from the Shang dynasty (14th-11th centuries BCE). Though the Shang did not have a concept of “medicine” as distinct from other fields, their oracular inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells refer to illnesses that affected the Shang royal family: eye disorders, toothaches, bloated abdomen, etc., which Shang elites usually attributed to curses sent by their ancestors. There is no evidence that the Shang nobility used herbal remedies.

Stone and bone needles found in ancient tombs have made Joseph Needham speculate that acupuncture might have originated in the Shang dynasty. But most historians now make a distinction between medical lancing (or bloodletting) and acupuncture in the narrower sense of using metal needles to treat illnesses by stimulating specific points along circulation channels (“meridians”) in accordance with theories related to the circulation of Qi. The earliest evidence for acupuncture in this sense dates to the second or first century BCE.

The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, the oldest received work of Chinese medical theory, was compiled around the first century BCE on the basis of shorter texts from different medical lineages. Written in the form of dialogues between the legendary Yellow Emperor and his ministers, it offers explanations on the relation between humans, their environment, and the cosmos, on the contents of the body, on human vitality and pathology, on the symptoms of illness, and on how to make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions in light of all these factors. Unlike earlier texts like Recipes for Fifty-Two Ailments, which was excavated in the 1970s from a tomb that had been sealed in 168 BCE, the Inner Canon rejected the influence of spirits and the use of magic. It was also one of the first books in which the cosmological doctrines of Yinyang and the Five Phases were brought to a mature synthesis.

The Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders and Miscellaneous Illnesses was collated by Zhang Zhongjing sometime between 196 and 220 CE, at the end of the Han dynasty. Focusing on drug prescriptions rather than acupuncture, it was the first medical work to combine Yinyang and the Five Phases with drug therapy. This formulary was also the earliest Chinese medical text to group symptoms into clinically useful “patterns” (zheng 證) that could serve as targets for therapy. Having gone through numerous changes over time, it now circulates as two distinct books: the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders and the Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Casket, which were edited separately in the eleventh century, under the Song dynasty.

In the centuries that followed the completion of the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, several shorter books tried to summarize or systematize its contents. The Canon of Problems (probably second century CE) tried to reconcile divergent doctrines from the Inner Canon and developed a complete medical system centered on needling therapy. The AB Canon of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Zhenjiu jiayi jing 針灸甲乙經, compiled by Huangfu Mi sometime between 256 and 282 CE) assembled a consistent body of doctrines concerning acupuncture; whereas the Canon of the Pulse (Maijing 脈經; ca. 280) presented itself as a “comprehensive handbook of diagnostics and therapy.”

Famous historical physicians

These include Zhang Zhongjing, Hua Tuo, Sun Simiao, Tao Hongjing, Zhang Jiegu and Li Shizhen.

 

Autumn: Time for Sour Flavors

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Autumn marks the turning point between the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The cooling weather ushers in the harvest and heralds the dying cycle in nature. The seasonal change also causes the respiratory system to constrict, leading to cough, asthma, bronchitis, and even pneumonia. Chinese medicine has always associated autumn with the lungs and large intestine. The Yellow Emperor advises early to bed and early to rise, practice breathing exercises, avoid pungent flavors but increase sour ones in the diet, drink fluids and eat soups, and remain calm and relaxed to avoid the diseases typical of autumn.

Some Important Autumn Foods

Apples

The apple, a universally loved fruit, has long been a symbol of passion and temptation – and now, scientists have confirmed that it also contributes to a healthy heart. Eating two to three apples per day results in decreased cholesterol levels, thanks to the fruit’s rich pectin content. Pectin also helps prevent colon cancer, which ranks among the top causes of death in adults over the age of sixty.

Sweet Potatoes and Yams

These powerhouse foods contain higher amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C than carrots, more protein than wheat and rice, and more fiber than oat bran. Sweet potatoes and yams also happen to be a rich source of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). This is a precursor hormone – a substance that remains latent until it converts into a hormone that the body needs. DHEA can become estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone, all essential for your body’s ant-aging defenses to work. As one ages, however, the body’s level of precursor hormones like DHEA drop precipitously.

Oats

Oat bran, the outer coating of oats, contains high concentrations of soluble fibers, which help trap cholesterol and move it quickly through the intestines. Unfortunately, most people eat their oats in the refined form, which contains very little of the precious bran that contains beta-glucan and saponins. Whole oats are also rich in the antioxidants that stop cholesterol oxidation, the process that enables it to stick to artery walls.

More benefits: oats prevent colon cancer by binding toxic minerals and acids; they balance the body’s blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates; and the saponins in oats increase production of “killer cells,” a critical part of the body’s immune surveillance system. Try substituting a warm bowl of whole oats for your cold cereal in the morning. Your body will thank you – for years.

Excerpts from Dr. Maoshing Ni’s book, Secrets of Longevity Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100

Article By Dr. Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., Ph.D. via Acupuncture.com