TCM Sports Medicine:”Ice for an Injury, How Could It Be So?”

 

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?” ~ Dr. Seuss

Now, Dr. Seuss isn’t a sports medicine physician but if you ever find yourself sitting with an ice pack on an injury you should be asking yourself, “Why, WHY?”. Read more.

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

Tiger Tooth Liniment for Arthritis

Arthritis

Expanding on a line of natural health care products prepared locally, Tiger Tooth Liniment Company is unveiling  a topical liniment specifically for arthritis pain.

This formulation, like all forthcoming Tiger Tooth products, has been meticulously produced and thoroughly evaluated for effectiveness, ease of use, and aesthetic properties. The Arthritis Formula contains many of the same potent ingredients as the Tiger Tooth: Signature Formula but has been crafted to stand out above all similar products.

  • All natural
  • Alleviates pain quickly
  • No unpleasant smell

There was no cutting corners; no compromises made to spare expense in the preparation of this product. Tiger Tooth Liniment for Arthritis is indeed all natural. The base is grain alcohol- as opposed to the isopropyl alcohol most companies use to manufacture topical liniments inexpensively. Herbs are acquired from FDA approved sources. The creation process of all Tiger Tooth products combines time proven wisdom with modern technological prosesses to deliver exceptionally highly concentrated herbal products. Tiger Tooth: Arthritis incorporates the finest essential oil of lavender available; soothingly aromatic and leaving a fresh, silky finish on the skin.

Regular application as directed can have a profound impact on arthritis pain however, having your particular condition assessed by a pracitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine is highly recommended to address the root cause.

Tiger Tooth products are currently available at: Sacred Healing Tree and the Good Stuff store.

Colds, Allergies, Bronchitis, Asthma, Pneumonia and Upper Respiratory Infections

Sneeze

You don’t have to suffer from symptoms, take allergy test and shots, or consume medications on a long term basis. There’s a very simple explanation of these ailments and an even simpler solution; Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medical diagnosis can determine a cause specific to the individual and a very specific treatment directed at resolving the root cause the afflication.

An experienced practitioner of Chinese Medicine can identify the root cause of any condition. This root cause is a temporary imbalance in normal body functions and may be described as acute or chronic. According to one’s own inherent strengths and weaknesses (constitution) certain people are predisposed to coming down with specific ailments. In any case, bodywork and herbal therapies provide a safe, effective, cost-efficient alternative to modern medicine.

According to Chinese Medicine, the Lungs and Spleen comprise a substantial working portion of what is referred to as the “immune system” in modern medicine. These organs are the last to develop in children and their strength is determined early in their stages of development.

In adults the more common taxations on the immune system are stress, exposure to extreme variances in temperature, poor diet, lack of sleep… Often, people choose just to offset the symptoms because they can’t change their circumstances or environment. Easy peasey!

In the case of my own daughter… she was born with exceptionally small lungs and predisposed to illnesses related to the lungs. When she was 5 years old she had strep throat seven times in one year. She was taken to the doctor and prescribed antibiotics each time. That was my wife’s idea. During her seventh doctor’s visit for the same ailment it was recommended that her tonsils and adenoids be removed. My wife deliberated the matter at length and decided against the procedure to remove tonsils and adenoids.

After 90 days of herbal therapy she has only had strep once in 7 years subsequent to her last day of herbal treatment. The cost… about $100. That’s less than the co-pays for all the doctors visits and medication, not to mention time off work, and- NO SURGERIES! Heck of a deal! Don’t you think?

So, whether you suffer from allergic rhinitis or viral/bacterial pneumonia, schedule an appointment and let’s get that taken care (for good) so you can get on with your life!

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.

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.

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.