Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring is Here!


Spring brings us more sunshine, less cold, blooming flowers, lush green in every corner, and unfortunately for many, allergies as well. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are very effective tools for boosting the immune system, preventing and diminishing allergic reactions and treating the symptoms that Spring brings. It is best to begin treatment even before the symptoms begin, so if you know you are one of the many victims of Spring allergies or just need help transitioning your body into the time change and seasonal shift schedule yourself a treatment as soon as you can. Below is an article providing more information on how we view Spring through the lens of TCM. 
Happy Spring Everyone!
-Heidi 
The Spirit of Renewal: Spring and Traditional Chinese Medicine
By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

Spring: It is the long-awaited change of winter to spring. Seeds sprout, flowers bloom, and the sun warms the earth. There is a sense of renewal and new life all around.

While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings, and a renewal of spirit.

The Principle of the Five Elements 

The five elements refer to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in Eastern philosophy. The Principle of the Five Elements (known as the Wu Hsing in Chinese) describes the flow of Qi and the balance of yin and yang. 

According to the principle, all change — in the universe and in your body — occurs in five distinct stages. Each of these stages is associated with a particular time of year, a specific element in nature, and a pair of organs in the body. Change links together the seasons of the year, aspects of nature, and your body’s organs and bodily processes. A practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine uses this principle to diagnose and treat health problems, linking specific foods, herbs, and acupuncture points to the restoration of yin-yang and Qi.

SPRING:

Spring is the ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenation for overall health and well-being. As spring is represented by the wood element and includes theliver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder, these two organs are usually the primary targets for springtime cleansing and health regimens. 

  • Element: Wood
  • Color: Green
  • Nature: Yang
  • Organs: Liver, Gallbladder
  • Emotion: Anger
Learn more about the Liver and Liver Qi Stagnation

Put Some Spring into Your Step

Spring corresponds to the "Wood" element, which in turn is conceptually related to the liver and gallbladder organs. According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health this spring, move your Qi!

Stretch - The liver controls the tendons. According to Chinese medicine, the liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining tendon health and flexibility. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Try yoga or tai qi.

Eye Exercises - The liver opens into the eyes. Although all the organs have some connection to the health of the eyes, the liver is connected to proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when looking at a computer monitor for extended periods of time and do eye exercises.

Eat Green - Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants - fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses - can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of qi.

Taste Sour - Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the liver's qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing. Garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle. 

Do more outdoor activities - Outside air helps liver qi flow. If you have been feeling irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver qi stagnation. Try hiking or take up golf.

Enjoy milk thistle tea
Milk thistle helps protect liver cells from incoming toxins and encourages the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances, such as alcohol, medications, pesticides, environmental toxins, and even heavy metals such as mercury.

Get Acupuncture treatments- Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration, which are often associated with liver qi disharmony.

Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year can serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems.

https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/The+Spirit+of+Renewal+Spring+and+Traditional+Chinese+Medicine

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sugar vs. Honey


This is a great article describing the health benefits for choosing honey over sugar. Towards the bottom there is a link to a related article, five major health benefits of honey. Some of these benefits are covered in this article as well; digestive support, topical healing and immune supportFor those of you who struggle with seasonal allergies, regular consumption of honey would be a beneficial addition to your diet. "If it is local honey, it will pick up small amount of local pollen which may help to "immunize," or desensitize an overly active immune response to these environmental triggers."

At the bottom, I also added a chart describing the negative impacts of the consumption of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). It is important to have an awareness of the metabolic processes of the food and non-food we consume on a daily basis. HFCS is found in many processed foods and beverages. There are many negative health impacts associated with the consumption of HFCS. 


Why You Should Ditch Sugar In Favor of Honey

Why Honey Is Far Better Than Sugar
While honey and sugar share similar degrees of sweetness, the differences in the way our bodies respond to them are profound.
Technically, honey and sugar (sucrose) both exist because they are food for their respective species.
In the case of sugarcane, a member of the the grass family (Poaceae) which includes wheat, maize and rice, sucrose provides energy for its leaves and is an easily transportable source of energy for other parts of the plant, such as the root, that do not produce their own energy.
Honey, of course, is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers solely for the purpose of food.
Beyond this obvious similarity, the differences between honey and sugar, however, are much more profound.
First, honey is a whole food and sucrose is not.  In other words, sucrose is an isolate – technically only one chemical compound – lifted from a background of hundreds of other components within the whole plant, whereas honey is composed of an equally complex array of compounds, many of which are well-known (including macronutrients and micronutrients, enzymes, probiotics and prebiotics, etc.), others whose role is still completely a mystery.
Even the "sugar" in honey, which we might mistakenly equate (due to caloric and nutrient classification equivalencies) to the "sugar" from sugarcane, is a complex mixture of the monosacharrides (one-sugars) glucose and fructose, and at least 25 different oligosaccharides (which are sugars composed of between two to ten monosaccharides linked together), including small amounts of the disacchardide sucrose, as well as trisaccharides (three-sugars) like melezitose and erlose.[i]
Interestingly, if you were to isolate out the fructose from honey, and consume it in isolation in American-size doses (over two ounces a day), it would likely contribute to over 70 fructose-induced adverse health effects; primarily insulin resistance, fatty liver, obesity, hypertension and elevated blood sugar. But place that fructose back into the complex nestled background of nutrient chemistries we call honey, and the fructose loses its monochemical malignancy to our health. Food is the ultimate delivery system for nutrition. Reduce whole foods to parts, and then concentrate and consume them excessively, and you have the recipe for a health disaster that we can see all around us today in the simultaneously overnourished/malnourished masses who still think a 'calorie is a calorie,' and a 'carb is a carb,' without realizing that the qualitative differences are so profound that one literally heals, while the other literally kills.
But the differences between honey and sugar are not simply based on their respective chemical and nutritional compositions, but also the length of time we humans have had to adapt to them as a source of energy and nourishment.
Honey was the primary concentrated sweetener consumed by humans until after the 1800's when industrial production of sugarcane-derived sugar was initiated.  While the first written reference to honey is found on a 4,000 year old Sumerian tablet,[ii] and depictions of humans seeking honey have been found in cave paintings at in Spain that are at least 8,000 years old, we can assume that our love affair with the sweet stuff graciously provided by the bee goes back much further, perhaps hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years ago.
bee honey gatherers
8000 year old cave painting from the Araña Caves in Spain.
Regardless of the exact date of its introduction into our diet, from the perspective of evolutionary biology and nutrition, it is clear that our body has had infinitely more time to adapt to honey than sugar.  It is instructive, as well, that sugarcane is in the same grass family whose seeds in the form of "cereal grains" we now consume in such plenty that, arguably, we are now slowly digging our graves with our teeth (particularly, our grain-grinding molars). After all, we have only been consuming them for 10-20,000 years, and in some cases less than 10 generations - a nanosecond in biological time, even if from the lived perspective of a single human lifespan, or even cultural time as a whole, it may seem like "forever."
For those skeptics who consider this reflection on the differences between honey and sugar mere theory, there is now plenty of clinical research confirming their significant differences.
A double-blind, randomized clinical study titled, "Effect of honey versus sucrose on appetite, appetite-regulating hormones, and postmeal thermogenesis," published in 2010 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, compared the effects of honey or sugar on appetite hormones (ghrelin, peptide YY) and glycemic and thermic effects after a meal, in 14 healthy, nonobese women.
The researchers found that the group given 450 calorie (kcal) honey in their breakfasts had "A blunted glycemic response may be beneficial for reducing glucose intolerance," and saw positive modulation of appetite hormones, i.e. delayed the postprandial ghrelin response and enhanced total peptide YY levels.[iii]
Another study published in Journal of Medical Food in 2004, which compared honey to dextrose and sucrose, found that natural honey was capable of lowering plasma glucose, C-reactive protein, homocysteine in healthy, diabetic and hyperlipidemic subjects.[iv]
Animal research also confirms that, when compared to sucrose, honey is more effective at promoting lower weight gain, adiposity (fat accumulation), and triglycerides.[v]
Healer Bee

Why Consuming Honey Raw Is So Important

Raw honey contains enzymes and probiotics which are destroyed when heated or used in cooking applications.  These compounds are of no small significance and contribute directly or indirectly to honey's many well-known health benefits.  Take the active starch-digesting enzyme amylase, for instance, found only in the raw form of honey in a form known as diastase, which is believed to contribute to clearing antigen-antibody immune complexes associated with allergies to pollens, while also reducing mast cell degranulation associated with histamine, and related inflammatory hormone, release linked to allergic symptoms. Also, if it is local honey, it will pick up small amount of local pollen which may help to "immunize," or desensitize an overly active immune response to these environmental triggers. There is also the enzyme in raw honey known as glucose oxidase, which produces hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid from glucose. The hydrogen peroxide formed as a result of this enzyme is associated with honey's well-known wound sterilizing and healing properties.
Honey is also rich in prebiotics, as attributed to some of the oligosaccharides already mentioned (e.g. FOS), and probiotics that contribute to supporting the healthy flora in our gut as well.
Recently, in fact, an abundant, diverse and ancient set of beneficial lactic acid bacteria were discovered within the honeybee gut.  Researchers found a collection of 50 novel species from the generaLactobacillus and Bifidobacterium from a single insect. Further investigation of these strains indicated that the association between these bees and the bacteria are at least 80 million years old.[vi] Consuming raw honey, therefore, likely significantly impacts the microbiota within our own gut, and is one way to reconnect to ancient symbiotic relationships with flora that in our modern, sterilized, pasteurized, irradiated, poisoned, cooked, and bleached world, are all but eradicated from our environment, soil, food, and therefore bodies.
Honey's ability to support the growth of beneficial bacteria was recently demonstrated in a study published in Letters in Applied Microbiology in 2000, where researchers compared the stimulatory effect of honey with sucrose on the multiplication of lactic acid bacteria in in vitro conditions and found "[T]he number of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum counts increased 10-100 fold in the presence of honey compared with sucrose." Animal feeding of honey to rats also resulted in significant increase in counts of lactic acid bacteria.[vii]
The probiotic-boosting properties of honey may provide an explanation for why it is such an effective anti-infective agent and has been proven to heal many gastrointestinal disorders.
For a full list of honey's medicinal properties visit our honey health benefits research page. Also, feel free to explore our article on 5 Honey Health Benefits.

A Final Word on The Bee

A full appreciation of honey inevitably leads to a full appreciation of the bee, as well as an awareness of the precarious relationship presently existing between our species. While shallow, the bee's role in pollinationhas been estimated to have over several billion dollars of economic value annually. The reality is that we are far more dependent on this insect than it is on us, which is why when we use "pesticides" and various agrichemicals to radically transform the bee's natural habitat and microbiota, or use antibiotics, feed themhigh fructose corn syrup, and add other various amendments in its hive, the resulting collapse of immune function, and secondary infections that emerge, we pretend are a novel new disorder whose origins are unknown, i.e. bee colony collapse disorder, much in the same way that we blanket over our own self-poisoning with various idiopathic syndromes that are actually iatrogenic or environmental in origin.
Bee products, including venom, wax, propolis, royal jelly, etc., have been found to provide potential medicinal solutions for over 170 different health conditions (see Bee Products), expressing over 40 distinct beneficial pharmacological actions. This growing body of research should awaken in us greater respect for this sacred insect -- even if only for selfish reasons -- and when we say sacred, we mean this both entomologically and etymologically, as the word sacred means "to make holy," and the word holy shares the same root meaning as the words whole and heal.
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Food, Inc.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why Acupuncture Works - Scientific Breakthrough

New scientific breakthrough proves why acupuncture works

New groundbreaking research shows that the insertion of an acupuncture needle into the skin disrupts the branching point of nerves called C fibres. These C fibres transmit low-grade sensory information over very long distances by using Merkel cells as intermediaries. Dr. Morry Silberstein of the Curtin University of Technology will publish his research in the Journal of Theoretical Biology later this year.
We have never really had a scientific explanation for how acupuncture actually works,” he said. In the absence of a scientific rationale, acupuncture has not been widely used in the mainstream medical community. If we can explain the process scientifically, we can open it to full scientific scrutiny and develop ways to use it as a part of medical treatments.”
Dr. Silberstein mentions that they have known, for some time, that the acupuncture points show lower electrical resistance than other nearby areas of the skin. His research specifically pinpoints that the C fibres actually branch exactly at acupuncture points. Scientists don’t know exactly what role C fibres play in the nervous system, but Dr. Silverstein theorizes that the bundle of nerves exists to maintain arousal or wakefulness. The insertion of the acupuncture needle disrupts this circuit and numbs our sensitivity to pain.”
Acupuncture for pain relief is actually being taught to American Air Force physicians deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (2009) by Dr. Richard Niemtzow MD, PhD, MPH and editor of Medical Acupuncture. His technique called “Battlefield Acupuncture” relieves severe pain for several days and is a variation of acupuncture, which inserts very tiny semi-permanent needles at specific acupoints on the skin of the ear that blocks pain signals from reaching the brain.
"This is one of the fastest pain attenuators in existence," said Dr. Niemtzow, who is the Consultant for complementary and alternative medicine for the Surgeon General of the Air Force, and is affiliated with Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda. "The pain can be gone in five minutes."
It has taken quite a long time for Western medicine to embrace acupuncture even though it was introduced in the early 1970’s after contacts with China improved.
Professor Tsuei mentions: “In 1972 the respected New York Times columnist James Restonunderwent an emergency appendectomy while in China. He later wrote about acupuncture treatment for post-operative pain that was very successful. This report attracted attention and many American physicians and researchers went to China to observe and learn acupuncture techniques.”
Since then, only a few controlled studies were done in the West. Yale researchers proved its effectiveness for cocaine addiction in 2000 and published their findings in the August 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
A North Korean researcher, Kim Bonghan, published papers in the early 1960’s and his research was confirmed by the Japanese researchers Fujiwara and Yu in 1967. Unfortunately his research took almost 40 years to be confirmed through studies done on rats, rabbit and pigs with Stereo-microscope photographs and electron microsopy.
The amazing photo shows the stereomicroscopic image of acupuncture meridians:
“Assemblies of tubular structures 30 to 100 micro-meters wide (red blood cells are 6-8 micro-meters in diameter). Apparently these structures have remained undiscovered for so long because they are almost transparent and so thin that they are barely visible with low-magnification surgical microscopes. They are also easily confused with fibrin, which coagulates and obscures these structures when there is bleeding in dissected tissues. Now that they have been rediscovered, researchers are investigating their composition and function. The tubular structures that make up Bonghan channels contain a flowing liquid that includes abundant hyaluronic acid, a substance that cushions and lubricates the joints, eyes, skin and even heart valves. Also visible in the photographs are small granules of DNA or microcells about 1-2 micro-meters in diameter that contain chromosomal material highly reactive to stem-cell antibody stains. When these cells were isolated and then induced to differentiate, they grew into cells of all three germ layers. These may be our body's natural source of pluripotent adult stem cells, with the potential to develop into any cell in the body”
Russian researchers in 1991 at The Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Novosibirsk, USSR, in a research project lasting several years, discovered how the human body conducts light. They found that the light conducting ability of the human body exists only along the meridians, and can enter and exit only along the acupuncture points. Dr. Kaznachejew, a professor of physics said:
“This seems to prove that we have a light transferal system in our body somewhat like optical fiber. It appears that the light can even travel when the light canal is bent, or totally twisted. The light appears to be reflected from the inner surface, appearing to go in some sort of zigzag track. You can explain this through traditional electromagnetic light theory as it is used in optical fiber communications.”
This finding has been confirmed by a 1992 study in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicineand a 2005 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine where moxibustion and infrared thermography were used to trace meridian pathways.
http://www.examiner.com/article/new-scientific-breakthrough-proves-why-acupuncture-works

Friday, June 8, 2012


"For people (doctor's) who do things well, their actions should be square and their knowledge should be round. Their hearts must be small and their gallbladders large".
善为行者。行欲方而智欲圆,心欲小而胆欲大。
Author: Sun Si Miao - Tang Dynasty
Book: Jin Tang Shu - Ben Zhuan
Doctor Meng Jing Chun Explains: Here round knowledge refers to, nothing being left unknown, while square action refers to making selective (calculated) actions (in clinic or life). This sentence tell us doctors, we should not only have noble ethics and a warm serving spirit, but also to have a solid understanding of basic medical theory coupled with abundant clinical experiences. In clinic we should examine and diagnose patients carefully, analyze pathogenesis seriously, and differentiate syndromes accurately. This is so when we treat patients, we can judge the right time to give proper treatment, attack when we need to attack and tonify when we need to tonify. Only by this way can we act square and think round in order to improve our clinical effects.
BeTCM Notes: To have a small heart here refers to being careful and thinking things through. Conversely the gall bladder in chinese is related to ones courage. Therefore having a large gall bladder refers to, after critical thinking, to follow through with the treatment confidently. So, think things through carefully but act with courage.