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 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.

Asian Bodywork Therapy vs. Massage Therapy

Tuina

What’s In a Name?

“Asian Bodywork Therapy” and “Massage Therapy” are indeed two different things. There has been much debate between professionals and professional organizations about what techniques, philosophies and descriptions cross over from one modality to the other and where certain seperations lie.  “Bodywork” is a general term that applies to a vast group of manual manipulation forms.

Asian Bodywork refers specifically to the application of manipulation techniques for the purpose of moving /balancing Qi to maintain or restore health and whose origins stem from Asia. Asian Bodywork Therapy is one of the four branches that comprise Traditional Chinese Medicine. The other three branches are Acupuncture, Medical Qigong, and Chinese Herbal Therapy. Professionally accredited practitioners of Asian forms of manual manipulation refer to their practice as “Asian Bodywork”. Under this broad umbrella are several uniquely individual “forms”.

Asian Bodywork forms officially recognized by the AOBTA are:

Acupressure, Amma, AMMA Therapy, Chi Nei Tsang, Five Element Shiatsu, Integrative Eclectic Shiatsu, Japanese Shiatsu, Jin Shin Do, Bodymind Acupressure, Jin Shou Tuina, Macrobiotic Shiatsu, Medical Qigong, Nuad Bo ‘Rarn (Traditional Thai Bodywork), Shiatsu Anma Therapy, Tuina, Zen Shiatsu

“Massage” is the manipulation of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. Massage therapy forms have many, many names; Swedish Massage, Reflexology, and Rolfing for example. Many other names indicate intended purpose, place of origin or the addition of adjunct therapies covered or not otherwise excluded by the massage therapy scope of practice.

Aromatherapy Massage, Chair Massage, Deep Tissue massage, Equine Massage, Fijian Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Sports Massage

Certain establishments advertise “Asian massage” or ”Oriental massage”. These terms are misnomers or perhaps even a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers. These inferences to therapeutic bodywork are often NOT massage or Asian Bodywork establishments as defined by the Texas Department of State Health Services. They may, in fact, be one of the many establishments that engage in activities of a sexual nature that specifically use these terms to cloak illegal enterprises that legitimate bodywork professionals do not want to be associated with.

Requirements to Practice Asian Bodywork Therapy or Massage (In Texas)

The Department of State Health Services has set forth the requirements to practice bodywork in the state of Texas.

Asian Bodywork Therapists are excluded from any license requirement (in Texas) but, must meet minimum education requirements and hold a certification from American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) or Asian Bodywork diploma from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

Massage therapists must meet minimum education requirements, pass an exam administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSTMB) or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB) and are required to have a State issued license.

How to Tell the Difference According to Terminology

Buzz words are an indicator. They tell you something about the person you are listening to. Buzz words can tell you whether or not you are listening to a trained professional Asian Bodywork Therapist or Massage Therapist.

There are always new buzz words with ties to massage – “myofascial release”,” cranio sacral”, “trigger points”, “ lymphatic drainage” are a few of the newer ones. The terms are too many to list and are constantly changing. New terms are typically added to specify techniques or generate renewed interest in the art by redefining or remodeling to accommodate the needs of consumers.

Asian Bodywork Therapy originated thousands of years ago and traditional terminology has changed very little. A few of the most commonly used terms in Asian Bodywork are: “Yin”, “Yang”, “balance”, “imbalance”, “qi”, “excess”, and “deficiency”.

The Key Similarity

Massage therapy and Asian Bodywork therapies use techniques of physical manipulation that promote the proper flow of Qi and Blood. Stagnant Qi and Blood are the source of all illness according to Chinese Medicine theory.

The Fundamental Difference

Asian Bodywork Therapists are specifically trained to ascertain areas of energetic imbalance that are the root cause of illness according to Chinese Medicine theory and provide specific therapies to bring about the balance necessary to restore health. Asian Bodywork Therapists are trained to assess and provide specific therapy for internal disorders even if the disorders are undetectable or undefined in Western medical terms by moderating and balancing energy (qi) flow.

Massage therapists are not specifically trained to assess or address the root cause of systemic illness in a direct manner.

Changing Times

Massage related therapies are routinely adapted and modified to fit the demands and changes in thinking associated with current times. That’s why there are so many massage forms. In fact, modern day massage has roots in the Orient that go back more than 5,000 years.

Asian Bodywork principles have changed very little over the centuries.  There have been very few changes because the theory and correct application of techniques has remained sound over many centuries and is still effective in this day and age. But, now is the time to make necessary changes to accommodate modern health concerns and evolve Asian Bodywork Therapy to a higher level.

Cultural changes over the centuries, modern thinking and the demand for clear and concise alternative therapy options warrants the development and implementation of legitimately revised forms of Asian Bodywork Therapy. The revisions to these ancient forms should address modern day health concerns and include explanations that reasonably explain how the therapy works. Changes or modifications to traditional techniques should reflect a modern understanding of how the body functions. Technological advances require that practitioners be able to provide clients with the assurance that these therapies that can safely be used in conjunction with modern therapies reflecting an appropriate level of growth and understanding by practitioners and patrons. Just as Summer or Winter cannot last forever, so must the face of Chinese Medicine transform to accommodate the freshness of expansion and growth required to remain viable and effective for centuries to come.

The overwhelming effectiveness of acupuncture has only recently prompted investigation into how principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine work scientifically. The results have inspired a new found respect for the usefulness of ancient healing arts. However, there remains an element of unidentified origins which lends an air of mystery to the effective application of Asian Bodywork Therapy. Society is only now beginning to reach with some degree of blind faith towards alternative forms of healing because of growing disdain for the modern medical establishment and the stories of those who have had miraculous healing experiences with alternative forms of therapy.