PAINFUL OBSTRUCTION IN CHINESE MEDICINE

Painful obstruction means that the qi is blocked and obstructed and cannot flow smoothly. This means that in the body the energy is not moving and this can in turn cause pain, itching, numbness and paresthesia, or weakness of the hands and feet similar to atrophy. However, atrophy (which is the total loss of feeling), is related to internal causes which can be from blood deficiency or blazing fire in the body. In Chinese Medicine this is caused by an external pathogen such as wind, cold, damp or heat, which then enters the system because the individual has an underlying weakness that allows it to enter into the system.

 

In the Classic Chinese Tradition, in the spring it is the sinews which are affected, in the summer, the vessels, in the late summer, the muscles, in the autumn it is the skin, and in the winter it is the bones. This is where the pathogen enters since at these times the parts of the body are more vulnerable. In general, wind and dampness affects the upper body with stiffness and numbness of the shoulders, neck, hands and wrists. Damp and cold affect the lower part of the body with the legs and feet feeling heavy. With wind, the pain moves around in the body, with heat, there is inflammation, and with cold there is severe pain and stiffness of the whole body. With dampness there is usually swelling and edema with a heaviness involved.

 

Painful obstruction with cold is indicated when the body cannot get warm along with coldness in the limbs. The treatment principle in this case would be to get rid of the cold and begin to warm the body up with acupuncture, herbs and also a treatment with moxabustion and a heat lamp. The patient will begin in time to have better circulation and their Qi will begin to circulate in a more fluid way. For the past couple months I have been treating a woman who had back surgery about ten years ago who now has no feeling in her feet and her feet when she first cam in to see me were actually purple. I have not only done acupuncture on her weekly, but also have given her two formulas to take and also some revisions in her diet. As of yesterday we both noticed that her feet are no longer purple and she is beginning to feel better. This is a fairly short time considering that she has had this for so long.

 

When the obstruction is in the bones, there is a heavy sensation with difficulty in lifting the limbs. It resonates with the kidneys and creates a weakness in the legs, knees and feet. I have a patient who is a man in his forties that when he was three years old he had nephritis, which is a disease of the kidneys. Since this happened to him at such a young age he had developed a kidney weakness that has gone on to create a deep deficiency over a period of forty years. This was treated with western medication at the time although it was never treated with alternative medicine, which at the time would have begun to build his kidney energy back up. I find this to be the greatest difference between eastern and western medicine. The western approach will give medications to resolve a situation but the eastern approach tries to figure out why this has happened so that they can treat the actual cause and begin to create balance in the system.

 

Several years ago this man who was now in his early forties was lifting a rather heavy mirror in his bedroom when his disks around his kidney area totally ruptured. At this time he had surgery where they fused the disks and he has now many years later has almost no feeling in his legs and his feet. I believe that this goes back to his original illness at the age of three years old that created a kidney deficiency thereby causing his disks to rupture. This patient is now coming in again and beginning the feel some energy moving in his legs and feet. Through treatments and herbs I can begin to build this patient back up again.

 

Over time the painful obstructions become chronic causing even more pain and numbness and becomes harder to treat. It is always best to come in at the onset of a problem and even better to get treatments so that these types of problems do not occur. Please don’t wait to create health and well being in your body until it becomes too late.

OSTEOPOROSIS AND CHINESE MEDICINE

In my practice I have recently seen a number of women who are postmenopausal and are experiencing a lower than normal bone density problem. Postmenopausal osteoporosis is the result of two concurring phenomena: loss of bone mass linked with age, and the acceleration of the process as a result of menopausal estrogen deficiency. Preventive treatment should consist of a combination of modalities including: chinese herbs that are called blood tonics (which provide an estrogen stimulant), herbs that correspond to the kidneys which begin to get deficient with age and need to be built up with tonics and acupuncture which can tonify the kidneys and bones. These three things can provide what western hormone therapy tries to achieve. It is believed that bone tissue depletion is the result of an imbalance between the osteoplasts and the bone reabsorption in order to activate bone formation. Reduction in the bone mass leads to bone fractures, hip problems, as well as vertebrae problems.

 

The contemporary term for menopause in Chinese is qing mian qi. The word means to change, to modify, and to take the place of and refers to age and Qi as a means of time, period, or phase. Deficiency of Kidney Qi and Yin is manifested when the Essence begins to diminish around 49 years old and is therefore the root of menopause and osteoporosis. This creates an imbalance of the Blood and Essence which become insufficient. Women develop symptoms and because of this deficiency develop imbalance in the other organs as well. The kidney has to do with water in Chinese Medicine and since it gets depleted over time it is called Kidney Yin deficiency, which means there is a deficient type of heat burning in the body, and this internal deficient heat is responsible for burning up the internal fluids. The internal fluids is what keeps someone with good bones and fluid to hydrate their skin, nails etc. and as this begins to dry up it affects the hormones as well as the ability to maintain bone formation. In Chinese Medicine this Yin can be built up using herbs and acupuncture and in time help with osteoporosis.

 

As women get older even past the menopause phase the Kidney Yin becomes exhausted and the Essence and fluids continue to diminish. This means the bone marrow is no longer nourished, resulting in the pathological phenomena of osteoporosis. However, each individual is different and may require different herbs and treatments to facilitate changes during this time of life. The idea is to restore balance of the yin and tonify the Qi and Blood. A daily calcium supply is also necessary although there are many different products and it becomes important to make sure that whatever is being given is absorbed into the system. I have one patient who is sixty-three years old that was having trouble with her bone density test and I put her on several different products including specific calcium magnesium, two Chinese formulas, and acupuncture once a week. After a full year she went back in for a bone density test and she actually scored higher than a year ago. By building up the kidney, which is bone in Chinese Medicine, nourishing her blood and giving her the right supplements, she experienced great success. There is a lot of research on changing one’s diet once there is bone loss. The recommended calcium inhibitors are: coffee, refined sugar, alcohol, red meat, excess salt and too little or too much exercise. It is important to create good bone health and if you are experiencing some problems it is best to address them as soon as possible with the proper treatments and herbs.

 

HANDLING LOSS IN CHINESE MEDICINE

 

It has been a year filled with great loss for me. In April my best friend of 30 years passed away from lung cancer at the age of 58 years old, in September, my brother-in-law passed away from pancreatic cancer at 56 years old and now my mother is being taken from the hospital to go home to round the clock hospice nurses and she is 84 years old. She has cancer and also a tumor on her brain. Throughout all these illnesses, I have not only used acupuncture and herbs myself but have also treated many people faced with similar situations. I not only write this article form a place of sickness which leads to dying but also from a place of shock when others have lost loved ones in an immediate situation of accidents and immediate deaths.

 

There are so many levels of grief and loss and I will go on to talk about Chinese Medicine and how it treats the individual on many different levels. The Lung channel opens up to the Corporeal Soul. Loss and sadness leads to a deficiency of Lung-Qi and may manifest in a variety of symptoms such as tiredness, depression and crying. It also affects the heart qi and controls the entire upper body.   There is a wonderful point on the wrist, which helps to release the effects of sadness, worry and grief. To experience loss affects many channels. The Lung rules the throat and the strength of the voice and the Heart governs the tongue and the speech. The Heart channel is very affected by shock of any kind and during treatments acupuncture can treat the “shen” which is the spirit of the Heart.

 

The best combination of acupuncture points would be to move the Qi (energy), calm the Mind, and lift the mood and also to calm the mental restlessness which many people experience during this time. All of these points can be used for shock, prolonged worry, grief and pensiveness which all cause stagnation of the Qi. I believe most individuals experience loss on the physical, mental and emotional levels. Physically, most people have very low energy, are not sleeping much and feel deeply depleted. Mentally many times people are very scattered and confused. Emotionally it becomes such a deep feeling and the loss of someone creates an ending and a deep feeling of sorrow.

 

There are many beneficial herbal combinations that address the stagnation of sitting and waiting in a day to day illness whereby it helps to break up stagnation den also gets the kidney energy moving form sitting a lot during these times. A lot of people experience stiffness and pain in their kidney area, which also has to do with the emotion of fear. With the acupuncture and the herbs the energy can be moved around and begin to circulate again. The Mind also is obstructed on an emotional level and someone can begin to feel blunted and somewhat numb. It is amazing to give treatments during this time since it is a time of great need and it helps a patient feel more grounded and more open spiritually. There is a point on the bottom of the foot that is a kidney point and there are ear points which together help the patient just be calm and present.

 

Losing track of time and days, not sleeping, having to deal with many family dynamics, feeling overwhelmed and being on the edge emotionally is all happening at the same time. There are many acupuncture points, which clear the mind, end the restlessness, open the heart and move the Qi. There are also herbal formulas, which can help as well in conjunction with the acupuncture. Recently I had a female patient who came in during the time her mother was ill and she felt very out of her body and almost “twisted” as she described. She has now been coming for two months since she has taken care of her mother and claims that both the herbs and the acupuncture has kept her grounded and very calm. I gave her a heart formula to calm her shen and a liver formula to move her Qi. Being the total caregiver has put great stress on her and she realizes that it is very important to also take care of herself at this time. I also recommended to her to go outside and take a walk in nature and just breathe deeply even if it’s for a short period of time.

 

Please remember to take care of yourselves during this emotional time and if I can be of any assistance throughout your journey I would be truly honored. To those of you who have lost people close to them, I send my heart out to you. It is a journey filled with many mixed feelings and thoughts and throughout it we can be very challenged on many levels. My sincere sympathies to you all.

HORMONE TESTING AND CHINESE MEDICINE

Over the past seventeen years I have seen many patients who are going through all levels of menopause. Menopause can be both a lack of estrogen and also a decrease in progesterone. There are many other deficiencies, which can occur during this time such as pregnenolone, testosterone, androstenedione, cortisol and dhea levels. The signs and symptoms vary according to the excesses and the deficiencies which present themselves. In Chinese Medicine menopause is a natural transition in a women’s life from a reproductive age to a non-reproductive age. It is very important to get treatment during this time especially when symptoms become severe. The main problems a woman is likely to experience are: headaches, tiredness, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia hot flashes and dryness. There is also the component of compound stress posed on women through work and family. In Chinese Medicine, it does not matter whether these are estrogen or progesterone deficiencies since the underlying pattern in most of them is a Kidney deficiency pattern.

 

In the last six months I have been using a 24-hour urine sample and have been using a lab in Portland that makes Homeopathic and Chinese Herbs in order to balance out my patients symptoms. Along with these herbs and acupuncture I have also prescribed numerous other supplements in the Western area. During this time I have had a 100% response to all of my patients symptoms and they have all gone away. It has taken me over seventeen years to formulate this combination of treatment and I feel totally confident in the results. The 24 hour urine test is not inexpensive but it has taken out years of treatment protocols which makes it a miracle test and very specific. There are two patients, which stand out for me with very different protocols.

 

The first patient is 61years old and came to me with severe migraine headless, very low sex drive, dryness, and very stressed out from work. After taking the test, I put her on two Homeopathic and Chinese Herbs; one was for estrogen deficiency and the other a suppository to help her sexually. I also put her on dhea and a pregnenolone supplement and after a period of three weeks, she no longer has had any symptoms, including not one headache. The results have far surpassed our wildest dreams and the supplements have been very easy to take and not that costly. The other patient is 53 years old and is going through changes in her cycle over the past year. Her test indicated very high amounts of estrogen and no progesterone at all. Along with these findings, I discovered that her cortisol levels were off the charts, I have put this patient on an alternative progesterone supplement which combines Homeopathics and Chinese Herbs as well as Vitamin Bcomplex, Vitamin B6 to help with her stress levels, and a cortisol supplement which helps to lower her cortisol levels. She is also looking at her diet, which is very high in estrogen rich foods. I have recently added a liver support formula to help bring her estrogen levels down even more. This patient has had to make some lifestyle changes as well since her stress levels were off the charts. Within three days of taking this protocol this patient felt much relief.

 

The solution is very straightforward and works. Given these two different patients, one can see that these symptoms, no matter how severe can be monitored and women can get full relief. There is relief out there and alternative natural solutions to help with all of your symptoms no matter how severe.

HAY FEVER AND CHINESE MEDICINE

Allergic Rhinitis is due to an antigen-antibody reaction in the nasal mucosa. If the antigens responsible are only pollen particles then it is called seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever. In hay fever the interaction between the inhaled allergen and the antibodies adhere to the surface of the mast cells, which line the nasal passages, and creates an explosion in the mast cell with a massive release of histamines. A higher number of mast cells are present in the nasal mucosa of individuals with hay fever and they probably increase as allergen stimulation continues. It seems to be this time of year since many of my patients are now coming in with slight reactions to the outdoor pollens.

 

In Chinese Medicine, hay fever is due to an over activity of the immune system to certain allergens. This is due to a deficiency of the Lungs and the Kidney’s Defensive-Qi systems, combined with the retention of chronic Wind in the nose. The deficiency of the Lung and Kidney are either due to heredity or due to problems during pregnancy or childbirth. Repeated invasions of Wind if untreated can lead to chronic conditions of Wind in the nose. As we know it is the Wind that stirs up the pollen. The Kidney channel emerges from between the Kidneys and flows up the spine to the top of the head and then down the nose and lips. So the Kidney’s are responsible for not only breathing but also for sneezing.

 

It is the hyperactivity of the immune system, which creates the reaction of the hay fever. It’s important in Chinese Medicine to give herbs in order to expel the Wind and to also build up the immune system over time so that the individual’s reaction can begin to change in response to the pollen. Usually in the condition of Wind-Cold the phlegm will be clear and watery. This indicates Lung deficiency, which also leads to Kidney deficiency as its root problem.

Hay fever often begins in early childhood although here in Sonoma County many people have moved up here and then started getting hay fever within a year or so of being here. The explanation of this occurrence still stems from a weak immune system as well as an inherent deficiency in both the Lungs and the Kidneys. This becomes a progressive decline of the Kidney-Qi.

 

As for the differences between seasonal and perennial hay fever, the latter simply occurs when there is a more severe Kidney deficiency. In patients over 50 there can be other factors such as Spleen deficiency, which produces more phlegm and can make things a bit more complicated. I have many patients in my office, which present with this combined problem. One in particular has been coming to me for five years now because she had such bad hay fever that she would get severe headaches and feel as though there was a band around her head. This is a very good example of Wind, a compromised immune system as well as a deficient Spleen since she was unable to get rid of her phlegm naturally and it would just seem to build up over time. I not only treated her with acupuncture but also put her on two herbal formulas. One to build her immune system and the other to build up her Spleen. Over time, she now no longer suffers from headaches or severe allergies and has very little response to the seasonal changes.

 

In seasonal hay fever I adapt the treatment according to the season. During the pollen season, attention is directed at treating the manifestation such as getting rid of Wind Cold. Outside the summer season, attention is directed at treating the Root such as notifying the Lung and Kidney Defensive-Qi energies and strengthening the Kidneys and the immune system. The best time to do this is towards the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn. In women it is necessary to strengthen the Kidney energy especially as they grow older since this seems to get more deficient over time. Herbs can help to notify the Kidney energy as well as the Spleen energy. I believe that this can only be strengthened with acupuncture and herbs and not western medications. I have had great success with hay fever with many patients over the last nineteen years so if you are having problems in this area and are uncomfortable I urge you to try acupuncture and herbs for some lasting results.

 

FROZEN SHOULDER AND CHINESE MEIDICINE

Pain and stiffness of the shoulder joint is an extremely common complaint. Acupuncture gives excellent results in both acute and chronic cases. One morning a couple weeks ago I was getting out of bed in the morning and realized that I could not move my left arm or shoulder. Since it was a workday for me I got dressed and into work hoping I could get a couple treatments from associates of mine. Within a half hour a friend of mine was at work and I asked her to give me a treatment. Twenty years ago I had a shoulder problem in acupuncture school and my Chinese teacher did a point on my lower leg and had me constantly move my arm and shoulder as she stimulated the needle. Even though it was painful it seemed to work.

 

My friend knew these points and did this for about fifteen minutes although she said I had frozen shoulder and it would probably take three months to heal. After this treatment I was about 50% better. In looking at the diagnosis there are a few things, which stood out. About two weeks ago I had gotten some rock for my driveway and I spent about two hours laying this out. The constant repetition of movement involving the shoulder joint creates stagnation of Qi in the shoulder. Also accidents can predispose the shoulder joint to local stagnation of blood as well as cold contracting the muscles and sinews and therefore creating pain and stiffness. I realized that the combination of laying the rock in the cold weather along with the repetition of movement was probably what caused the frozen shoulder to occur.

 

In Chinese medicine the shoulder joint has to do with three channels running through it. The Large Intestine channel is on the front of the shoulder. The difficulty in this channel would be if you couldn’t raise your arm sideways from your waist up to your shoulder. The Lung channel would be a problem if you couldn’t touch your other shoulder and cross over. In this case the acupuncture would also include some lung point with the treatment. The third problem would be a Small Intestine channel if you couldn’t move your hand to your back and touch your scapula. This scapula-humeral joint is involved a lot with shoulder pain and limitation of movement.

 

Later on in the day another friend of mine gave me a balancing treatment with all of these organs and I got up after the treatment with hardly no pain at all. Some of my movements were a bit limited. During this entire process I took a Chinese formula every hour and also put liniment on my shoulder five times during the day to move the Qi and Blood. The following day I received two more treatments and by the end of the day I was entirely healed.

 

I realized in two days I had received five treatments and a lot of herbs but it were all worth it since I didn’t have the frozen shoulder for three months and was totally healed. The two people who had frozen should did not move their shoulder for months so the stagnation continued to build. It is always good to get treatments right away so that things don’t linger.

BONE FRACTURES AND CHINESE MEDICINE

Bone in Chinese Medicine has to do with the kidney meridian. The matrix of bones, bone marrow, brain and spinal cord are all generated by the kidney essence. The marrow is the basis for the formation of bone marrow, which nourishes the bones. Thus the kidneys also govern the bone marrow and bones. If the kidney essence is strong, the bones will be strong, and the teeth will be firm. If the kidney essence is weak, the bones will be brittle and the teeth loose. The Kidney-Essence has also an important influence on vitality and mental vigor. This means that the Kidneys determine both the physical and mental strength of an individual. They also determine our will power. This article is very personal for me because in the beginning of December I fell at a local grocery store and fractured my right hand, specifically the long bone on my pinky and the attachment to the fourth finger. The fall was so bas that my tissue damage was severe and the pain was excruciating due to the fact that the long bone continued to move and could not be stationary for a period of over two weeks.

 

There are so many components to being injured. There is the physical pain, the emotional felling of being scattered as well as the psychological implications of being out of work and feeling so vulnerable and actually not being able to care for one self. The main problem of an injury that happens immediately is pain and usually swelling which is followed by the response of the physical body almost turning off to protect itself. It is a very important time to not only see a medical doctor to confirm the fractures or injury but is also a time to get the body’s Qi functioning again. It helps to get an acupuncture treatment just to reestablish the balance and to also get things moving. The herbs are also very important at this time since they can be taken three times a day and can help the body with its inflammation responses, bruising and also pain. I am not an advocate of western pain medication since I feel that there are so many alternatives that work that are beneficial.

 

To suffer a severe injury is very difficult on the body and the body needs to get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet that is filled with vital foods and also honor the process of truly healing. There is a very old remedy for swelling and pain that entails using hot water, not more that 98 degrees and cold water and alternating these two for five minutes at a time so that the body begins to pump blood and begins to move a bit more. It can also help with remaining swelling that won’t go down. Aside from acupuncture, if the patient is too sensitive, there is an electro-stim machine, which can be used with adhesive patches to help the healing process instead of needles. This healing process is so important since if this does not occur fully than it can develop into degenerative joint disease, arthritis, or even carpal tunnel syndrome. In the case of the pinky it is called ulnar compression, which can not only lead to arthritis but also can also shorten the length of the finger due to the injury and cause the finger to not close properly on the hand.

 

The hand is one of the most important mechanisms of human expression. In the hand-foot pair, the hand represents the yang aspect, which enables us to act on the world, to transform it, to seize it, but also to protect us from it. The hand expresses ideas in action, as well as power and domination, strength and authority. Square in shape, it is centered on the point Heart 8 and symbolizes creation and potential. In every tradition, the hand is always linked to knowledge. The heart is linked to intuitive knowledge; the hand itself is linked to experimental knowledge. It is interesting to note that the word hand in Latin means manifestation. The hand is and expression of the Heart as we can see in fine paintings. The hand is also linked to an energetic micro system. Through the hand we exchange between the human Qi and the outside world. In Chinese medicine it can again be broken down into Yin, Yang, Deficiency, Excess, Cold and Heat in order to form a correct diagnosis. There are acupuncutre points which do not have to be applied at the site but can be used as distal points in order to heal. There are formulas for fractures as well as healing the kidney energy and mending the bones so that they heal strong and don’t cause problems down the line. In Chinese Medicine even if someone has an old injury, they can be built up and strengthened over time.

 

It is very important to handle our bodies gracefully and take the time and energy to heal properly. My own healing has not only been profound but has also enabled me to heal many personal things on a deep level given the opportunity of truly seeing things in a different light. Please honor yourself and your body by making sure it gets the right treatments, herbs and nutrition during such an important time.

FOOT PAIN AND CHINESE MEDICINE

The foot is primarily associated with walking, movement toward the outside world, from yin to yang, and constitutes one of our modes of communication. In supporting the principle of the body in the walking mode, the foot is not only the symbol of grounding, but also of our inner strength in the sense that it supports the upright position and also our vulnerability. The feet our first stage of development is standing and walking and the foot establishes contact with the earth. The footsteps we leave on the ground bear witness to the path we are on, either good or bad.

 

In my practice I have worked with so many different types of foot problems such as tendonitis, cold feet, neuropathy, bone spur and plantar fascitis. These are just several of the many aside from toe pain that is sometimes involved. All of these disorders are diagnosed in accordance with the Qi. Most often plantar heel pain indicates a yin access and can be eliminated by needling certain kidney points. It can also be an excess problem in some cases and that would involve draining certain points around the foot. Tendonitis can be an athletic injury and can range in its severity, however, when untreated a minor injury can quickly turn into a severe injury. There are three places that tendonitis can occur along the heel. This pain needs to be distinguished from bone spur and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Bone spurs are treatable with acupuncture and herbs. Since this has to do with the bone, in Chinese medicine it is related to the Kidney energy, which is in charge of building bone. Bone spur is a common problem on the foot and is an overgrowth of bone most commonly seen at a joint, the place where the two bones meet and allow for movement. Abnormal motion at the level of the joint over the course of time will cause the spur to form. You can also have spurring of the joint as a result of excessive tension on the bone from where the tendon attaches. Normal aging will also cause bone spurs to form. The most famous bone spur occurs on the heel. I have had good luck combing acupuncture and also I use a Chinese formula, which has worked wonders on many patients. Personally I have seen too many botched surgeries and I am not one to condone cortisone shots.

 

Neuropathy is another peripheral vascular disease that can be a very serious problem. This is also called the diabetic foot and is sometimes overlooked until it accelerates to a total loss of sensation. As diabetes progresses many diabetics lose sensation in their feet but it can also present as relentless burning, tingling or numbness. I have treated many patients over the last ten years and they have all experienced a difference with the combination of acupuncture and herbs. This is also related to the kidney but I have seen the liver and spleen meridians involves as well. In the foot in Chinese medicine there are the Liver, Gall Bladder, Kidney and Spleen meridians that all run through different parts of the foot. So many times through a diagnosis I can decipher the problems as an organ problem it the presentation goes right down a specific channel. Also I have noticed that many patients can present the same problem but it will demand a different diagnosis depending on the patient.

 

The last common complaint is Cold feet. In addition to cold weather, a poor functioning thyroid, blood deficiency, Raynauds disease, rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure, many people need to change their diet and stay away form cold foods, caffeine and smoking in order to allow their Qi to move through their body into their feet. Cold damp weather with further restricts the blood flow that goes to the toes. I also have many patients who work outdoors and need to protect themselves better from the cold. Circulation and blood flow are the main things to increase with cold feet. Chinese medicine does not usually refer to western terms but rather the patient comes in and presents their symptoms and the acupuncture treats them according to what they see, their pulses and their tongue are the diagnostic tools.

 

Through its transport points, the foot is a place of exchange between human Qi and universal Qi. It is one of the branches of the body. I believe rehabilitation can take place without surgery and there are many different approaches through the use of acupuncture and herbs that are extremely effective.

FOOD ALLERGIES & CHINESE MEDICINE

Allergy describes a hypersensitivity reaction in which the body displays an excessively or abnormal sensitive response. Sources of allergens vary from person to person and may include various foods, dander, pollens, molds and yeasts. In foods, some reactions are immediate while others do not take place for several hours. Asthma, itchy eyes, rash, swelling, tiredness and acute gastrointestinal distress are common presentations of this type of immediate response. Delayed food reactions are thought to be more common than immediate food response. Poor diet, stress, infection, chemicals, drugs, environmental toxins and genetic predisposition are possible contributing factors to the development of allergies.

 

In Chinese Medicine, food allergies can be both an excess and a deficient syndrome. It is up to the Spleen and Stomach to provide transformation and transportation of all foods which enter the body. I remember seventeen years ago one of my Taoist teachers said “if you don’t know what to treat you can always treat the Spleen/Stomach and get good results.” Hippocrates said more than 2000 years ago, “All diseases begin in the gut.” We have to look at the digestive system when we try to treat any degenerative disease no matter how unrelated it may seem to the condition. I have seen in my practice that the patients who have long standing problems, such as headaches, allergies and excess phlegm, have all been allergic to some food, which they eat almost daily. Several of them recently went through a food allergy test and one patient suffered form a severe allergy to garlic while the other one suffered from an allergy to milk. Since having the food allergy test both have done incredible with the results and changes they have made.

 

The role of the enteric nervous system is to manage every aspect of digestion from the esophagus to the stomach, small intestine, and colon. The connection between the brain lies at the heart of many woes both physical and psychiatric. Ailments like anxiety, depression, irritable bowel, ulcers and constipation manifest as symptoms at the brain and gut level. The majority of patients with anxiety and depression will also have alterations of their GI tract. In Western diagnosis, gut flora protects your immune system. In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen/Stomach suffers and then the immune system is thrown off and is responsible for the allergic reaction. When this occurs due to a deficiency with the organs, the reactions become hyperactive and the person starts reacting to foods and the environment. The emotion for the Spleen is over-worry and over-thinking and these two help create a deficiency in the organ system. I believe in our society that this is a common response to stress and work. The Stomach during these times cannot perform its function properly due to this type of emotion. The Spleen/Stomach has three basic physiological functions: digestion of food, absorption of nutrients into the body and keeping toxins out of the body.

 

It is my experience that people who have never had allergies often become allergic after sustained damage to their Spleen/Stomach. If a patient is eating something everyday that they are allergic to than these systems are becoming depleted over time. In Western Medicine, when the immune system is not functioning properly the mucous membranes start over-producing mucus and there is an overabundance of phlegm that just hangs out in the body. Because the system is breaking down, the Spleen/Stomach can no longer transform and transport this phlegm and it gets lodged in the body. Our immune system can malfunction in at least three ways. First, it can be weakened so that it cannot mount up an adequate response to fight off usual stresses as seen in cancer. Second, it can overreact in a way where it is hypersensitive to normal stimuli, as occurs in asthma, migraine or food allergies. This result is not only using up the immune reserves of the body, but it may cause immune reactions that create tissue injury. Third, it can go on as mentioned to create auto immune reactions against our own tissues. In either way, a food allergy test along with acupuncture and herbs can help rebalance the system back into a healthy, vibrant individual. I am continuing to be amazed at the transformation that my patients are experiencing due to these types of changes.

EMOTIONS AND CHINESE MEDICINE

In my previous articles I have discussed the benefit of acupuncture and herbs for physical problems. Recently I have seen many patients who have been experiencing some major shifts in their lives due to relationship problems, the economy and also their work. At this level of acupuncture it is important for me to ask some vital questions, “Who is this unique and individual patient? How is this patient? What does this patient need to become whole and complete on all levels?” It seems that for now I am interested in my patients mental and spiritual well-being. Any symptom can be the result of imbalance and once there is imbalance in one organ, there is imbalance in all of them. In Chinese Medicine all the organs have an emotion attached to them. For instance the Liver is connected to anger and anxiety, the Heart is connected to joy, the Spleen is worry, Kidney is fear, and the Lungs are grief. When someone gets in the position of over using these emotions, they create excess in that particular organ. My job is to balance out the organs so that my patient feels a sense of balance and relief.

 

In Chinese Medicine, emotions are mental stimuli, which disturb the Mind and the Ethereal and Corporeal Souls. These in turn alter the balance of the internal organs, which affects the harmony of the Qi and Blood. The Heart’s fear anxiety and pensiveness injure the Mind…the Spleen’s worry, injures the intellect, the Liver’s sadness and shock injures the Ethereal Soul, the Lung’s excessive joy injures the Corporeal Soul and the Kidney’s anger injures the will-power to move forward. In some cases, guilt may also arise from repressed anger and may go inwards and cause an attitude of self-punishment. An imbalance starts on an emotional level and/or mental level and begins to disturb “the shen” which is the heart. This in turn causes Qi stagnation and /or blood stagnation that affect our spirit as well as our organs.

 

I recently treated a patient who is in her thirties and whose companion was called to work in another city for an extended period of time. This arrangement brought up so much fear for her due to the fact that everything was changing and she began to feel unneeded, lonely and very emotional and this in turn created doubts regarding the relationship, her home and her work. She began to feel tremendous stress and became so stagnant that she didn’t even have the energy to get up in the morning. She claimed that even when she was young she felt this type of extreme sensitivity and was very emotional. It seems amazing for these emotions to come up so strongly and also to be so tied into one’s past and to see how someone still can respond in a similar way but they are thirty years older. Perhaps this becomes a time to heal past responses. For this patient I worked on the Kidney energy, which has to do with fear and also the Heart energy, having to do with the deep emotional upsets.

 

There are very good Chinese formulas that can calm the heart and nourish the Kidneys. Along with the treatments and the herbs I also changed her diet and gave her an exercise routine where she could get out in the morning. After two treatments she began to feel more stable and began to look at what she could do during this time to strengthen her own needs and become happier within. In three weeks she was able to create a healthier state of peace within herself and transform some old ideas about herself. I do not think this is an easy thing to do but I do feel that whatever is given us to handle is the very thing that we need to look at and embrace so that we can experience our own individual transformation. This is an important time for many people to do this type of work so they can move out of the old and into the new.