Bunions: More Information From A Chinese Medicine Perspective

More About Bunions!

I have received many e-mails about my bunion blog with questions about how to circumvent the combined procedures I recommended to properly address bunions. Look at it this way. You wouldn’t ask a brain surgeon to eliminate important procedures to save time or cut costs, would you?

Temporary pain relief can be gained by following one or another of my recommendations but, I’d like to explain in more detail the vital importance of each as part of a combined therapy.

First, let’s review. A bunion is a deformity characterized by lateral deviation of the great toe, often erroneously described as an enlargement of bone or tissue around the joint at the head of the big toe (metatarso-phalangeal joint).

Diagram B

There is disagreement among medical professionals about the cause of bunions; some see them as primarily caused by the long-term use of shoes, particularly tight-fitting shoes with pointed toes, while others believe that the problem stems from genetic factors that are exacerbated by simply wearing shoes.

People from cultures that do not wear shoes do not get bunions!

 

How Bunions Occur From a Chinese Medical Perspective

Neck 1All muscles including the muscles that hold the bones of the foot in place may weaken due to the inability of the Spleen to properly nourish muscle. Arches fall as a result of weakened muscles and the toes begin to “spread out”. When feet are repeatedly forced into shoes that used to fit, deformity occurs.

Headboundskull

As the toes spread out they become “molded” by the shoes in a process that occurs slowly over time.

The lack of circulation and irritation in the local area from walking in shoes that no longer fit properly results in a “bunion”.

The “bump” itself is partly due to the inflamed and swollen bursa. The largest part of the bump is the distal head of the first metatarsal bone where it joins with the proximal phalange which has been projected laterally to cause its protrusion. In cases where poor systemic blood circulation is an issue, mineral deposits can form in the area enlarging the joint and lending to stiffness and persistent pain.  Similar deposits often occur in other joints of the hands or feet. Left without treatment this situation can cause the joint(s) to become immobile. The described deformity of the foot can occur over such a long period of time that it is not noticeable until it is causing intense and frequent pain. At that point, it is imperative to obtain properly fitting shoes.

FallenArch

One function of the Spleen in Chinese Medicine is to nourish the muscle and tissues that “hold things up and in place”. In these terms, it means that the Spleen is responsible for preventing the weakness of muscle and tissues that cause typically result in hernias, hemorrhoids, prolapsed uterus or bladder, rectal prolapse and varicose veins. So, if you have bunions you may have an imbalance that can cause other problems. Some of the symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency might include extreme sleepiness after meals, heaviness and lethargy, easy bruising, loose stools, a gassy and bloated feeling after eating, other digestive problems.

Often Spleen Qi Deficiency is seen in combination with an imbalance specifically related to a   deficiency of the Kidneys. So, it is not uncommon for bunions to accompany kidney stones or diabetes.

What’s the worst that can happen?

When standing, the feet support the weight of the entire body and act as the foundation for other structures. The body is a living structure. As such, it will adjust in the attempt to compensate for structural deficiencies.

When a building starts crumbling at its foundation the rest of the building will follow suit. But, the damage is not confined to only the area where the foundation caves in. The visible damage spreads to the ceiling and walls of various parts of the house because the beams and other support structures connected to the foundation shift.  Over time, a similar reaction can occur in the human body.

Problems

How Chinese Medicine Addresses Bunions (or any other ailment)

Chinese Medicine considers the body as a functioning whole; not individual parts. All areas must be addressed with equal importance to achieve the most desirable effect. My initial recommendations for effective treatment of bunions were made with this in mind.

My Personal Therapeutic Recommendations for Bunions

This combination of therapies is what I recommend because I’ve tried other ways and this is what I’ve found to be the most effective therapy for bunions… so far.

Moxibustion Moxa Zigarre

Moxa in stick form is applied to the Spleen meridian of both feet and ankles for up to an hour paying extra attention to an acupuncture point known as Spleen 3. Moxa is one of the best therapies for bunions. Its warming action “activates” the Spleen meridian and restores flexibility to tendons. The heat promotes the movement of stagnant Blood and Qi away from the area allowing fresh Qi and Blood to revitalize the local area and stimulate the anatomic Spleen.

 

Asian Bodywork Therapyfootsies

In combination with other therapies, expert manual manipulation serves to restore proper circulation and placement of the toes while improving flexibility and range of motion. Certain techniques can be employed to separate muscle fibers to permit nourishing fluids to permeate areas where blood flow has become restricted due to poor circulation. Cumulative deposits of minerals which may impede movement and cause sharp pain can be located easily, gently disintegrated and reincorporated into the circulatory system and properly eliminated with the help of recommended adjunct therapies. Only a trained professional can reposition the toes and facilitate proper movement without causing injury.


TigerToothTopical herbs

I abundantly recommend application of one of my specially formulated liniments (Tiger Tooth) to strongly move Qi and Blood to reduce the pain and inflammation of bunions. This particular liniment works immediately to alleviate pain. Prolonged and proper use has profound healing effects for any injury. Formulas with similar properties are mentioned on the internet in many articles. They do not work nearly as well.

herbs 1

 

Diet and Internal herbs

Cold foods, raw foods and processed sugar are really, really bad for the Spleen. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan is the traditional base formula administered to nourish the Spleen in the event body structures are “sagging” or out of place due to lack of nutrition being provided to the muscles. Modifications to this formula can be made by a knowledgeable herbalist to address the specific health needs of any individual. Increasing the daily intake of water assists in removing mineral deposits built up in the affected joints.

 

Orthotics

Arch Correction

What I’ve seen people purchase most often to provide temporary relief are cushions of various kinds, a myriad of “splinting” devices and arch supports. These devices may certainly help lessen pain between Asian Bodywork Therapy sessions and will contribute to the long term therapeutic effect; however, there is no amount of liniment, herbs or energy work that will support the weight of your body until your foot heals. You must have a structural support!

A pedorthist can determine if other deformities are prevalent and provide appropriate foot care advice.

“Certified Pedorthist” is the title of a specialist educated in the use of footwear and supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs. They are trained in the assessment of lower limb anatomy and bio-mechanics, and the appropriate use of corrective footwear including shoes, shoe modifications, foot orthoticsand other pedorthic devices. There is absolutely no need to waste hundreds of dollars on ugly shoes and “off-the-shelf” orthotics. Many “off-the-shelf” orthotic products may suit your needs and your budget but, it’s best to have a professional make that determination. In the United States, there are a number of states requiring professional licensure. See the State Licensure Map.

Chinese Medicine for Bunions

“Can Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Medicine help my bunions?”

I often get asked how Asian Bodywork Therapy and Chinese Medicine can help a condition that surgery has been recommended for. Bunions and hernias are two common examples.  Let’s discuss bunions from a Chinese Medicine point of view.

Many people struggle to make associations between the foundations of Chinese Medicine and Western medical principles as they have come to be understood. The easiest read on the subject is Between Heaven and Earth by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold. Chinese Medicine originated thousands of years ago. No x-rays. No blood tests. It’s “Duh!” simplistic in theory, but it works.

Chinese Medicine Cause of Bunions 

From a Chinese Medicine point of view my definition of a bunion is as follows:

A “bunion” is a localized area of pain, swelling, redness on the foot directly resulting from the combination of: a deviation of the big toe (or any toe) possibly involving other structural deformities of the foot due to a weakness of muscle and connective tissue caused by a deficiency related to the Spleen organ and wearing improperly fitting shoes.

All muscles  including the muscles that hold the bones of the foot in place may weaken due to the inability of the Spleen to properly nourish the muscles. Due to this deficiency the arches fall and the toes begin to “spread out”. As the toes  spread out they become “molded” by the shoes. The lack of circulation and irritation in the affected area results in a bunion. The described deformity of the foot can occur over such a long period of time that it is not noticable until it is causing frequent pain. At that point, it is most important to wear properly fitting shoes.

A function of the Spleen in Chinese Medicine is to nourish the muscle and tissues that “hold things up and in place”. In these terms, it means that the Spleen is responsible for preventing the weakness of muscle and tissues that cause typically result in hernias, hemorrhoids, prolapsed uterus or bladder, rectal prolapse and varicose veins. So, if you have bunions you may have an imbalance that can cause other problems. Some of the symptoms might include extreme sleepiness after meals, heaviness and lethargy, easy bruising, loose stools, gassy and bloated feeling after eating, other digestive problems.

Often Spleen Qi deficiency is seen in combination with an imbalance specifically related to a deficiency of the Kidneys. So, it is not uncommon for bunions to accompany kidney stones or diabetes.

Qi & Blood

First, for the purposes of this discussion, “Qi”, pronounced “chee”, refers to the “vital energy” in all living things. In a healthy body Qi flows harmoniously and influences the smooth and even distribution of Blood. Obstructions to the flow of either are seen as a cause of illness.

Secondly, “Blood” spelled with a capital “B”, is the closest and most commonly used word to describe all of the liquids of the body in Chinese Medicine. The capitalized term is meant to distinguish between the blood of the circulatory system and all other vital fluids.

Human beings have an ideal operating temperature. If the body is too cold the movement of Qi and Blood will be sluggish. If the body is too hot in areas Qi and Blood will congeal causing disruptions to proper flow. The therapeutic measure of “moving Qi and Blood” in the area of the bunion and in the affected organs simultaneously removes blockages, dissipates heat accumulations, and restores healthy bodily functions. Similarly,circulating coolant in your car’s cooling system keeps the entire engine running properly at an ideal temperature. When the coolant in your car is not circulating properly or is of insufficient quantity, other parts of the engine overheat causing the oil to congeal and burn creating friction and even more heat eventually resulting in engine failure. Conversely, when an engine is cold not all components are functioning at their peak. The same thing happens physiologically to people.  

Yin and Yang

Chinese Medicine dictates that there is a law governing opposing forces that exists in every aspect of nature. This concept is referred to as Yin and Yang. “Yin” could be described as dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting and weak. “Yang” is said to represent bright, active, upward, hot, expansive and strong. That being said, the type of deficiency leading to bunions creates an excess elsewhere in the body and can manifest as either a Yin or Yang condition with Yin or Yang symptoms.

As a result of Spleen Qi deficiency, Blood cannot circulate properly to the extremities and provide nourishment to muscles and tendons. We can look at the emerging symptoms in terms of Yin and Yang or, deficiency and excess.

A Yin aspect can be seen as lack of proper nourishment leads to weakness in the muscles and tendons of the foot and may present as pronation, fallen arches or plantar fasciitis. This weakness in the muscles and tendons of the foot can lead to a variety of foot deformities including those responsible for the formation of bunions.

An Yang type set of symptoms (acute redness, localized heat, swelling, pain) could be characterized in Western medical terms as gout. Limited circulation of Blood allows mineral deposits to accumulate in the lower extremities the same way that silt settles to a river bottom. Over time deposits of calcium and other minerals can become hard causing sharp pain and limiting movement of joints.

My Personal Therapeutic Recommendations for Bunions

This combination of therapies is what I recommend because I’ve tried other ways and this is what I’ve found to be the most effective… so far.

Moxibustion. Moxa in stick form is applied to the Spleen meridian of both feet and ankles for at least 1 hour paying extra attention to an acupuncture point known as Spleen 3. What is moxa?  Google “moxibustion”.  Moxa is one of the best therapies for bunions. Its warming action “activates” the affected channel, in this case the Spleen channel, by initiating the movement of stagnant Blood and Qi in the local area and stimulating Spleen function.

Asian Bodywork Therapy. In combination with other therapies, expert manual manipulation serves to restore proper circulation and placement of the toes while improving flexibility and range of motion. Certain techniques can be employed to separate muscle fibers to permit nourishing fluids to permeate areas where blood flow has become restricted due to poor circulation. Cumulative deposits of minerals which may impede movement and cause sharp pain can be located easily, gently disintegrated and reincorporated into the circulatory system and properly eliminated with the help of recommended adjunct therapies. Amount of daily water intake is increased as part of a regimen to assist in removing this “waste” material from the body.

An effective therapy session takes about 2 hours.

Topical herbs. I recommend application of one of my specially made liniments (Tiger Tooth) to strongly move Qi and Blood to reduce pain and inflammation.  My liniment works immediately to alleviate pain and prolonged and proper use has profound healing effects for all injuries.  Other formulas are mentioned in many articles. They do not work nearly as well.

Diet and Internal herbs. Occasionally, I will recommend a few dietary changes. I can help isolate which foods may be contributing to a problem in individual cases, and determine foods that will benefit recovery. Cold foods, raw foods and processed sugar are BAD for the Spleen. Additionally, I may recommend Chinese herbs as a supplement to one’s diet to reinforce the benefits of other therapeutic methods. I provide these supplements in pill form because they are the most convenient to take.

Orthotics

What I’ve seen used the most are cushions of various kinds and a myriad of “splinting” devices and arch supports to temporarily make the situation less painful. These devices certainly help lessen pain between Asian Bodywork Therapy sessions and contribute to the long term therapeutic effect.

A foot specialist can determine if other deformities are prevalent and provide appropriate advice. For assistance in orthotic selection I recommend you see a certified pedorthist. In San Antonio, Texas I recommend a consultation with a pedorthist at Foot Solutions.

“What Else Can I Do?”

1.)    Drink more water- the best quality water available. Water is essential in cleansing waste material from the body. If you don’t drink enough water waste material has a tendency to accumulate in the body. Eight 8oz. glasses per day is a good general guideline.

2.)    Wear properly fitting shoes. Have your feet properly measured if it hasn’t been done recently. Children’s feet should be measured frequently to prevent future foot problems. Arch supports can help prevent the falling of arches that can progress to form bunions.

3.)    Be proactive about taking care of your feet. Inspect your feet on a regular basis especially if you’re predisposed to foot problems. Immediately address any abnormalities.

Don’t wait until you have something that looks like this!

4.)    Don’t ever put ice on bunions. The application of ice to an injury directly opposes the natural healing process. Ice impedes circulation which prevents healing. Ask me about my Tiger Tooth Liniment.

“Does Chinese Medicine therapy completely cure bunions?”

The theory behind the therapy is sound and I’ve seen significant relief in as little as one session. After the first two sessions at Sacred Healing Tree and advice on home care, many people are so relieved they feel that ongoing sessions are not necessary and surgery can be avoided. Even if complicated by arthritis or other complaints, Chinese Medicine is a viable alternative to surgery for bunions.

Chinese Medicine for Osteoporosis

Western Medical Explanation

“Osteoporosis” is the medical term used to describe reduced bone density and degeneration of bone microstructure. Osteoporosis does not necessarily exhibit specific symptoms but renders the body at a much higher risk of bone fractures due to poor bone structure. 

Simply put, osteoporosis is the result of an imbalance between bone resorption and bone formation. In the body, bone undergoes a constant turnover in which osteoclast cells remove its mineralized matrix and osteoblast cells deposit new bone. As we age, bone resorption can become more dominant over bone formation and lead to bone loss.

Chinese Medicine Explanation

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bones are governed by the Kidneys, a primary source of essence of life and of the Yin and Yang energies. Thus, a strong Kidney function provides ample nutrients that promote the formation of strong bones. When the Kidney function is weakened bone loss occurs faster than bone formation. Prolonged or severe Kidney weakness is the cause for osteoporosis.

What your prescribed medications do?

There are two types of osteoporosis drugs. The majority are Biphosphonate drugs, like Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva.

These drugs work by inhibiting natural healing processes.

Ordinarily, osteoclasts are supposed to resorb old, infirm bone and osteoblasts deposit new bone in a continuous process. So when you take these medications, your bones may not lose density, but they will be composed of a higher amount of old, poor quality bone cells which makes them brittle and weak over time. Spontaneous fractures of the hip and jaw are common  results because the bones are no longer properly nourished.

Biphosphonate drugs do not increase bone density. These drugs actually create weak bones. Do your own research! You’ll find this is true.

One drug called Forteo was developed that worked not by turning off the creation of osteoclasts so that bone cells weren’t resorbed into the body, but worked by increasing the activity of the osteoblasts to lay down more bone. Test results proved it causes bone cancer in rats but it was still approved for short term use in humans.

Some prescription drugs block the absorption of calcium into the bones leading to osteoporosis. Prednisone and other steroids do this. They are commonly used to treat autoimmune, asthma, and inflammatory diseases.

The anti-coagulant Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, works by inhibiting vitamin K production. It is often prescribed for reducing high blood pressure, to keep blood flowing where there are obstructions of the arteries. One role of vitamin K is to take calcium in the blood and to direct it to the bones. When vitamin K is turned off, less than adequate calcium may be directed to build healthy bone.

Factoid: Warfarin was originally marketed in the early 1950’s as a pesticide to kill rats.  

What does Chinese Medicine do?

Strengthening the Kidney function is considered to be a key principle in TCM to treat osteoporosis. As a result of enhanced Kidney function, the process of continuous bone nourishment can occur naturally and reverse osteoporosis. Although it has yet to be proven by modern biomedical studies, Chinese herbal formulas that follow the principle have shown satisfactory results in stopping bone loss and increasing bone mass in clinical studies in China. (I encourage you to find this information on your own if you’re interested.) The reason I have not provided specific information because there are many variables to these studies (different formulas, different ingredients, different dosages, unique individual variances).

Ultimately, there’s no single, most effective Chinese herbal therapy. There are many different herbal formulas available comprised of multiple herbs with specific functions tailored to individual needs. Addressing the “root” of the problem (Kidneys) is the key to reversing osteoporosis and therapy can be approached from different angles with the same goal in mind.

Sacred Healing Tree

12402 Toepperwein Road

Live Oak, Texas 78233

(512) 351-0021

Staying Healthy in Winter

rouge-gorge en hiver

The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment. Changes in the weather provoke changes in the body. The body requires time to adapt. Difficulty in adapting to weather conditions is often a contributing factor to seasonal illness. With the wind, rain, and snows of winter come the colds, flu, aches, and pains.

Winter is inactive, cold and damp by nature. The cold and darkness of winter cause a natural slowing of the body’s internal processes; a form of hibernation if you will. Everybody wants to instinctively stay under the covers on those cold, blustery winter days.

According to Chinese philosophy winter is ruled by the Water Element, which is associated with the Kidney and Bladder organs. The Kidneys are considered a vital source of all energy within the body. They also store reserve energy to be used in times of stress and change, to heal, prevent illness and age gracefully. Winter is the time of year to reflect on our health, replenish our energy, and conserve our strength in preparation for the burst of new life and growth in the spring.

Winter Foods

The body is conditioned to store fat in the winter in preparation for ideal developmental and growth conditions in the spring. So, wintertime is not the ideal time to begin a weight loss diet. People gain excessive amounts of weight in winter because they do not change their eating habits accordingly. Overindulging is common during the holidays, however, exercising a little restraint goes a long way towards maintaining a balanced health model.

Raw foods, clod foods and heavy, rich foods tax the digestive system more than normal and deplete energy reserves. Avoid raw foods during winter as much as possible.

During winter emphasize the warming foods (like grandma used to tell you).

  • Soups, stews and chili
  • Root vegetables
  • All kinds of beans
  • Spices like garlic, cloves, ginger and cinnamon
  • Teas and other warm drinks

A Few Simple Tips to Stay Healthy This Winter

A few good habits during wintertime can make the transition much less taxing and promote good health throughout.

  • Cover up. Chinese Medicine doctrine dictates that cold  that can lead to illness enters the body from the neck and shoulders so, it is very important the keep your neck and shoulders warm when outdoors. Most body heat escapes through the head. Consider wearing something to cover your head. Do not let parts of your body come in direct contact with cold surfaces. Pathogenic cold can enter the body through direct contact with cold surfaces causing roaming aches and pains that are aggravated by cold temperatures. This particular syndrome is impossible to detect via conventional medical methods and often mistaken for other illnesses.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Getting plenty of sleep (at night) enables your body to conserve energy used for healing and warming the body when exposed to colder climates.
  • Don’t eat too much. Your body’s natural tendency is to store fat in winter. Eating less will prevent excessive weight gain. Eating smaller more frequent meal will help maintain energy levels and moderate blood sugar levels.
  • Reduce stress. As difficult as it may seem, find a simple way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Meditation or taking a long hot bath… choose your own method. Stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can easily deplete the immune system allowing illness to invade the body more easily.

 

Fibromyalgia: A Chinese Medicine Point of View

OWIE

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

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.

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?