Fibromyalgia: A Chinese Medicine Point of View

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Explanation of Fibromyalgia Symptoms According to Chinese Medicine

Fibromyalgia simply isn’t the great mystery doctors make it out to be nor is any other disease. All disease follows a pattern as predicated by the foundations of Chinese Medicine. In fact, there can be many causes of fibromyalgia symptoms which can be accurately assessed and effectively treated by an experienced Chinese Medicine practitioner.

Causes according to Chinese Medicine may include:

  • Blood Deficiency
  • Qi Deficiency
  • Qi and Blood Deficiency
  • Dampness
  • Disharmony of Spleen, Kidney, Heart

These causes may be further influenced by drug use, stress, dietary or other factors.

 

The Truth about Fibromyalgia

Western medicine doctors diagnose fibromyalgia by process of elimination.

“Fibromyalgia” is often diagnosed when no other condition, such as arthritis, can be positively identified by objective medical tests.

The cardinal feature of fibromyalgia is chronic, widespread pain that is not explained by another rheumatic or systemic disorder. Explicit in this definition is the exclusion of other conditions that can present with widespread pain.

Low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism), polymyalgia rheumatica, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme disease, Restless Leg Syndrome, major depression, Myofascial Pain Syndrome can all cause symptoms that may be diagnosed as fibromyalgia.

Symptoms include pain which may appear in several or many areas of the body. The same areas of the body may not be painful all the time and precipitating factors can increase the intensity or frequency of painful episodes. Symptoms may also get worse with fatigue, inactivity, changes in the weather, cold or drafty conditions, overexertion, hormonal fluctuations (such as just before menstruation or during menopause), stress, depression, or other emotional factors.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:

  • Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms or tightness
  • Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
  • Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
  • Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Tension or migraine headaches
  • Jaw and facial tenderness
  • Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
  • Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
  • A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet

 

Western medicine views certain symptoms categorically as “fibromyalgia” symptoms while other symptoms may not have any specific relationship to fibromyalgia making a definitive diagnosis difficult. If the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms can go on indefinitely, or they may disappear for months and then recur.

Fibromyalgia Pain: A Chinese Medicine Point of View

Quite simply, where there’s pain, there is lack of sufficiently flowing energy (qi) or blood.

Pain is caused by the stagnation of energy or fluids (blood). When flow is restrained or interrupted, pain occurs, alerting us to a problem. Three causes of pain are:

1. Obstruction (The flow of qi or blood becomes blocked in a specific area of the body due to injury, swelling, oversupply.)
2. Constraint (Qi and/or blood can become restricted and fluid flow inhibited due to emotional, or psychological factors.)
3. Deficiency (There is insufficient qi to promote the flow of blood or, there is insufficient blood volume to support all the body’s natural functions.)

Successful treatment for fibromyalgia symptoms requires consultation with a skilled practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). To effectively address fibromyalgia symptoms, the TCM physician must accurately diagnose the root cause of the pain. This is done largely according to by tongue and pulse examination which can provide substantially more information than any blood tests, or MRIs.

Practitioners of Chinese Medicine assess symptoms related to fibromyalgia very differently than Western medical doctors. Fibromyalgia, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is not a disease, but one or more specific patterns of imbalance, each with very distinct symptoms that can be traced to the dysfunction of specific internal organs. Western doctors, unaware of these patterns, diagnose collective symptoms as “fibromyalgia”.

One specific pattern according to Chinese Medicine is described as “dampness”, or the accumulation of fluids in various parts of the body. If these fluids accumulate in the head, for example, they can cause unclear thinking, a sensation of heaviness, vision problems, or vertigo. Fluids that collect in the muscles and joints can cause pain and stiffness, even to the point of immobility.

Historically, Acupuncture, Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Herbal Therapy have been very successful in eliminating the root causes of fibromyalgia.

Alternative Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Asian Bodywork Connection

qua·le – [kwah-lee, kwey-lee] –noun, plural -li·a [-lee-uh] Philosophy. A sense-datum or feeling having a distinctive quality.

How can anyone adequately describe an experience of a personal nature unless the persons you’re speaking to have an adequate frame of reference with which to relate such an experience?

The symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are a result of a traumatic experience as unique to any individual as the experience itself. Can any drugs or therapies “cure” someone of an experience?

PTSD cannot be categorized as specifically emotional or psychological. The nature of this imbalance is emotional, psychological and pathological. “Pathological” meaning changes occurring in the tissues or organs. Anyone can be susceptible to long term effects resulting from a traumatic experience. Even an infant can suffer a lifetime of physical and psychological effects caused by a single frightening event.

From the aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine, pathological changes resulting in illness are due to imbalances in the collective function of the internal organs. These imbalances may manifest as any combination of emotional, psychological or physical ailments which vary from person to person according to their constitution (a conglomerate of inherent strengths and weaknesses).

According to Chinese Medicine the heart acts as an “Emperor” in a manner of speaking. The heart is responsible for coordinating the functions of all other internal organs (Ministers) and has a profound influence over the conscious and subconscious mind. Each organ has a unique association with specific emotions and bodily functions in addition to a distinct and balanced correlation with various facets contributory to the integrative aspects of a complete and healthy mind.

When one experiences sudden fright, the energy (Qi) allocated to the heart scatters. The resulting feeling of energy trying to return to the heart can best be described as a tingling sensation in the chest. Depending on one’s constitution (inherent strengths or weaknesses) the full amount of scattered energy may not return to the heart. As a result, the Emperor loses the ability to appropriately dictate to the Ministers. Hence, a Dominant Minister, as dictated by one’s constitution, will struggle to subjugate the other organs until the organ becomes depleted. The resulting turmoil as another Dominant Minister struggles to gain control perpetuates a continuous cycle of imbalance affecting all-inclusive aspects of the body. The resulting emotional changes vary to include overwhelming fear, anger, worry, sorrow and confusion. Continuous emotional and psychological turmoil often give rise to physical ailments such as heart problems, digestive disorders, skin disorders, migraines, immune system problems- even cancer.

The organs depicted in the diagram are Yin organs. Each has a mutually paired Yang organ directly influenced by any internal imbalances. Each organ pair has a distinctly related emotion.

PicPTSD

Heart         Small Intestine  (Joy)
Spleen           Stomach     (Worry)
Lung     Large Intestine (Sorrow)
Kidney                Bladder     (Fear)
Liver         Gall Bladder    (Anger)

Improvements to health conditions can be made by positively influencing emotional, psychological or physical aspects of the body. However, since one cannot directly touch the emotions or mind, the physical body is a sensible area to begin therapy.

Asian Bodywork Therapy can help safely restore proper order to the imbalances associated with PTSD and substantially compliments all other therapies. Any effective treatment plan should vary according to each individual’s specific needs at any given time. Chinese Medicine concedes that the body is constantly changing in accordance with outside stimuli. As such, an Asian Bodywork treatment will be different every time.

The definition of Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) as defined by the AOBTA (American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia) is…

“…the treatment of the human body/mind/spirit, including the electromagnetic or energetic field which surrounds, infuses and brings that body to life, by using pressure and/or manipulation. Asian Bodywork is based upon Chinese Medical principles for assessing and evaluating the body’s energetic system. It uses traditional Asian techniques and treatment strategies to primarily affect and balance the energetic system for the purpose of treating the human body, emotions, mind, energy field and spirit for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health.”

Advantages of ABT:

  • No drugs
  • Non invasive
  • Cost effective
  • Individualized therapy
  • Accurate holistic assessment/ therapy
  • Safe adjunct therapy
  • Self-help inclusive
  • Alleviates related ailments
  • No negative side-effects

* Logical comparisons cannot be made between Western medicine and Chinese medicine diagnoses and therapies. Terminology cannot be adequately equated and basic foundational theories are radically different.

How Chinese Herbs Work

In this day and age there are few, if any, texts providing adequate information about the function of Chinese herbs in terms the average person can comprehend. Quite simply, Chinese herbs work by providing the body with nutrients vital to the body’s natural healing processes; nutrients not found in many common food sources.  Over the course of several thousand years the Chinese have cultivated and refined the knowledge of which natural plants and minerals have specific effects on the body’s many functions. The practice of treating illness with dietary and herbal therapy has played a vital role in Chinese culture for many centuries and is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a whole. Both an art and a science, Chinese Medicine dictates, logically, that an initial assessment be made to determine the area of functional and energetic imbalance related to the internal organs. Specific herbs or herbal combinations are then applied to correct this imbalance. Chinese herbal therapy is a safe, viable and cost effective alternative to pharmaceuticals.

Chinese herbal formulas have proven especially effective for:

Acne *  Allergies * Alzheimer’s *  Arthritis * Asthma *  ADD/ADHD *  Back Pain * Bleeding *  Bronchitis * Burns * Cancer *  Cholesterol * Celiac Disease * Colds/Flu * Constipation * Cough * Cysts * Diabetes * Depression * Detox * Diarrhea * Digestion * Eczema * Energy * Epilepsy * Erectile Dysfunction * Eye Problems * Fertility * Fibromyalgia * Fungus * Gall Stones * Hair Loss * Headache * Heart Problems * Herpes Hepatitis * Hemorrhoids * High Blood Pressure * Irritable Bowel * Infertility * Insomnia * Kidney Stones * Memory * Menopause * Morning Sickness * Muscle Pain * PMS * Prostate * Shingles * Skin Problems* Stress * Thyroid * Weight Loss * Yeast Infection

Health Problems Caused By Poorly Fitting Bras

                          

  • Fibromyalgia symptoms
  • Circulation problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Migraines

In the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine I find it abundantly necessary to examine and manipulate the muscles and tissues of the back and other areas of the torso in order to establish good blood and Qi flow from the top of the body to the bottom. Time after time I encounter blockages of blood and Qi in the upper torso; often in the same places. For some time now I have been postulating about contributing factors to the location of these blockages and came up with one distinctly common factor… poorly fitting bras.

I have consulted with experts in fashion and women’s undergarments and found that the most beneficial information comes from sales associates at Soma Intimates.

  • More than 60% of women are wearing a bra that is of the incorrect size.
  • As many as 80% of women who wear bras are wearing them incorrectly or improperly adjusted.
  • Most women have never been properly measured or fitted for a bra.

After being educated by a Soma Intimates sales associate as to the attributes of a quality product, I asked myself why anyone would consider buying anything else. A properly fitting bra is just as important to health and well-being as having properly fitting shoes. By wearing improperly fitted garments and accessories you run the risk of injuring your body. Without the knowledge of proper fitting you may find yourself pondering the reasons for various aches, pains and, in some cases, disfigurement.

Upon close inspection I found that Soma Intimates bras differ from the run-of the-mill bra in almost every way; fit, fashion, construction, and materials being the key differences.

Whether you have any of the above mentioned health conditions or not, it is still beneficial to be properly fitted and educated by a professional.

This is important enough for health reasons that I refer all my clients to Soma Intimates for free custom fittings. Their experienced sales representatives will see that you are properly measured and fitted regardless of whether you decide to purchase their products or not.  Drop into a local store, call to make an appointment or contact online. I think you’ll be amazed at what you may learn about your undies.

Chinese Medicine for Colds

Seasonal Colds Are Preventable!

 

With the most recent changes in the weather many people have the propensity to develop the common cold or flu.  Sudden fluctuations in temperature can contribute to the possibility of catching a cold or flu. Yin Qiao Chieh Tu Pien, an herbal formula known widely as Yin Qiao (pronounced yin chee-ow), is renowned in Chinese Medicine not for curing colds but, for preventing them and keeping them from manifesting as a full blown episode characterized by cough, itchy throat, watery eyes, mild fever, and runny nose. If you have the nature to develop sinus infections and respiratory infections in conjunction with the onset of a cold, Yin Qiao may inhibit complications. Yin Qiao can also be taken as a preventative when exposure to conditions is imminent.

Taken within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, Yin Qiao has been known to entirely alleviate cold symptoms. This is one formula I always have on hand (at home and at work) and it’s kept my children from missing school on more than one occasion. For young children, tablets can be crushed and mixed with food.

“Pick up a bottle of Yin Qiao today! You never know when you’ll need it.”

Preventive measures when the weather becomes cold:

Cover up. Your body becomes stressed and you risk compromising the integrity of your immune system whenever you go outside improperly dressed. The Chinese say that pathogenic cold enters the body from the back of the neck and shoulders. Keep these areas covered well. A hat is a sensible additional measure.

From a Chinese Medicine point of view “cold” can also invade the body from the feet or any other part of the body directly exposed to cold temperatures. This holds true for coming in contact with cold surfaces. This type of cold invasion is characterized by roving aches and pains that are worse when it’s cold. So wear those bunny slippers or socks… Just cover up!

Drink warm liquids. Your body uses energy that takes away from your body’s defenses to warm cold drinks to body temperature.

Get enough sleep. Poor sleep lowers your immune system.

Eat sensibly. Don’t overeat when it’s cold. Digestion of large meals taxes your body when the weather is cold. Try some of those soups and stews your grandmother always made.

Eric Hoffer: A Noteworthy Quote

The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.

–Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1902 – May 21, 1983) was an American social writer and philosopher. He produced ten books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983. Hoffer was among the first to recognize the central importance of  self-esteem to psychological well-being.

FAQ: Medical Qigong

I incorporate Medical Qigong therapy into Sacred Healing Tree Therapy. Sacred Healing Tree has a unique from of Qigong associated with it that I have developed over the years. I get questions about Medical Qigong frequently enough to have written this article years ago. I think it is still relevant.

If you have any questions, do some independent research or feel free to contact me. Good reading!

What is Medical Qigong?

Medical Qigong is the oldest of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It provides the energetic foundation from which acupuncture, herbal therapy, and Chinese massage therapy emerged. Medical Qigong employs specific methods to purge, tonify and otherwise balance the body’s energy, or Qi for therapeutic benefit. In Chinese Medicine, where there is energetic imbalance within the body, illness will develop.  Effective Medical Qigong therapy relies on a practitioner’s ability to detect imbalances of Qi and correct them by directing Qi with the mind, the hands, or perhaps a ritual object, without necessarily touching the body.  Qigong exercises are often prescribed to clients to further enhance the healing process. Qigong exercises combine breathing techniques, movement, creative visualization and intent to improve physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What is Qi?

 Qi or Chi, (pronounced “chee”), does not translate well into one English word. Qi is a concept. Chinese philosophy does not distinguish between matter and energy, but Qi is considered matter on the verge of becoming energy, or energy at the point of materializing into matter. Herein lies the concept of Yin and Yang. In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, it is often referred to as the “energy” present in the Meridians and the organs of the body. It is the fundamental life force or energy that is found in all living things and is formed from the interaction of Yin and Yang energies.

Qi serves 5 main functions in the human body. Some sources describe the functions slightly differently but I think all basic functions are included here:

1.        Nourish growth and development
2.        Warm and maintain appropriate temperature
3.        Defend against external pathogens
4.        Control blood and vital fluids
5.        Transform Yin and Yang; transform blood and vital fluids

How is Qigong different from “Medical” Qigong?

There are many facets to Qigong and every practitioner has his or her own style and traditions. The absolute most concise differentiations are as follows:

Qigong is a self-help modality, much like tai chi. Qigong exercises combine breathing techniques, movement, and visualization to improve physical, energetic, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Medical Qigong involves the balancing of a person’s Qi to alleviate illness and restore health by a person trained and experienced in feeling and moving Qi. Medical Qigong involves the balancing of a person’s Qi to alleviate illness and restore health by a person trained and experienced in feeling and moving Qi.

Who can benefit from Medical Qigong?

In Chinese Medicine, any illness is caused by an imbalance of Qi in the body. Western medicine does not ascribe to this concept, making many diseases difficult or impossible to diagnose or cure. Medical Qigong therapy has been used successfully, often in addition to other therapies, to safely and painlessly addressdifficult or chronic conditions as well as aid in preventive care. This form of therapy can help alleviate most ailments and, at the hands of a seasoned professional Qigong practitioner, has the intrinsic ability to adress psychologically and emotionally rooted diseases.

In other words, anyone can benefit from Medical Qigong therapy.

Medical Qigong may be used for some of these most common ailments: high blood pressure, mihgraines, fibromyalgia, insomnia, cysts and tumors, stress disorders and stroke.

I’ve heard of Qigong massage. Is it different from Tuina or other forms of Asian Bodywork?

Qigong “massage” is not a form of manual manipulation per se. It is a term ascribed to a particular technique exclusive to the practice of Medical Qigong.  Therefore, it is not the same as Tuina, Shiatsu or any other form of Asian Bodywork Therapy. When Qigong massage is performed, the practitioner’s hands lightly skim the surface of a client’s body. The light skimming action is used to dredge Qi from the channels and eliminate pathogens. It is not unusual for a highly trained practitioner to combine therapy methods.

A Medical Qigong practitioner is going to “move my Qi” to make me feel better. What is that experience like?

I always recommend that clients lie down in a comfortable position. The more relaxed a person is the easier it is to achieve the desired results. After an assessment is made by the practitioner the session begins. Some clients may actually feel nothing in early sessions especially those with conditions of deficient Qi.  Some common sensations may be best described as areas of numbness or tingling, changes in temperature, sensations of heaviness or lightness. The sensation of stagnant or disease causing Qi prior to therapy manifests as a dull ache or pain.  The gentle movement of Qi will often induce a deep sense of relaxation, to the point of falling asleep. It is not unusual for someone to momentarily and involuntarily twitch as channels become unblocked and flow more freely with Qi. I think that 30 minutes per session will usually provide adequate relief for most complaints. 

How do I choose a qualified Medical Qigong practitioner?

First, you’ll have to find a practitioner. Finding a practitioner may prove difficult via conventional avenues.  You may start your search on the internet, of course, or your local acupuncture school.                                                

No regulatory body operates to accurately assess a practitioner’s qualifications or competency, largely because of the esoteric nature of this healing modality and the difficulty presented by attempting to quantify results of an energetic therapy. Various certifications are awarded through schools that teach Medical Qigong, however, no licensure or certification is required to practice.Because Medical Qigong remains unregulated in the United States, skill level cannot be ascertained by obtaining individual certification or professional licensure information.

Since no conveniently available assessments exist to ensure significant health benefits from any Medical Qigong practitioner, I have listed a few things I find most important when choosing one.

1.)     There is no substitute for intuition. By this statement, I am referring to the intuition of both client and practitioner.

As a client, ask yourself,”Does this person feel right for me? Is he or she confident and compassionate? Smiling? Do I feel comfortable with the presence and demeanor of this person?”  A spring in the step and a twinkle in the eye are clues to a healthy constitution; essential for guiding Qi. Does this describe your practitioner?  There’s no problem with trying a number of practitioners. Every individual is unique, so a practitioner who would appeal to one person might not necessarily appeal to another.

As far as practitioner intuition, not all practitioners have the same skill level, education and training. Some people are “naturally” more sensitive to Qi and it’s movement and can detect very subtle changes and may be able to tell you what symptoms you may be experiencing even before inquiring. For others, intuition must be developed with time and closely supervised training.

2.)   Good communication skills. There’s nothing more aggravating than a health care professional that doesn’t understand what you need help with. Good listening and observation skills are a must and valuable aids in diagnosis. Mastery of the art of subtle observation leads to keen intuitive skills.

3.)    It is important for Medical Qigong practitioners to have knowledge of all four branches of Traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, medical qigong therapy, and Chinese bodywork therapy) and knowledge of Western medicine, in order to understand the relative strengths and limitations of various therapies and be able to select the most effective and appropriate treatment modality for each client. This knowledge will enable the practitioner to make appropriate referrals for additional treatment or medical assessment.

4.)   Of course, check references whatever they may be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. An experienced practitioner won’t have any problem answering questions and should be able to provide thorough explanations. Some good questions:

“How long have you been practicing Medical Qigong?”

“Where did you receive your training?”

“What certificates or credentials do you hold?”

Most commonly, control, sensitivity, and experience making assessments are developed with practice over a long period of time. Some, truly gifted individuals are the exception.

5.)   If you’ve had a Medical Qigong therapy session before, ask yourself if the last session you had was beneficial to your physical, spiritual, or emotional health. Did you feel good about it? Did it meet or exceed your expectations? Would you seek treatment from the same practitioner or refer friends and family to him or her?

New Clinic Open at 12402 Toepperwein, Live Oak TX 78233

Sacred Healing Tree located at 12402 Toepperwein Road in Live Oak, TX 78233 will be providing services in the form of Traditional Chinese Medicine only without the use of acupuncture needles. Hope you’ll come by and see!

Open Sundays for appointments! Open Monday thru Thursday until 8 p.m. by appointment.