Depression and Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine depression is seen as a mental emotional problem and has many different aspects to it. Depression is mainly understood by looking at both the mind and the spirit. I will begin talking about several areas which will include the nature of the mind, the spiritual aspects of the human being, the effects of the emotion on the mind and spirit, as well as the prevention of these problems. The Mind in Chinese medicine is also called the shen and it is the most important part of the body. The word shen means spirit  or soul and creates thinking, worrying, insight, memory as well as how we translate ideas in our individual world. For these reasons alone, it is very crucial that our minds are free and clear as well as open rather than bogged down by many dreary thoughts.

Thinking depends on the Mind. If the Mind is strong than the thoughts will be clear, if the Mind is weak, than the thoughts will be slow and dull. Memory has to do with the ability to  remember thoughts and also depend on those thoughts as a reference. If the Mind is healthy than the Heart will also have a strong consciousnesss and insight. If the Heart is disturbed than the patient will suffer from poor sleep, memory will be weak, their insight abilities will suffer and their conscious will be muddled.

The soul is responsible for maintaining a normal balance in life. Emotions  are part of our normal mental health, although we all experience, anger, sadness, worry, and fear, it is more about the degree to which we tend to have these many emotions. For example, I currently treat a patient who was taking antipressant medicine for about ten months and came to me to try a different approach because of his reactions to his medication and his lack of sexual arousal.  As far as his medications are concerned, I cannot take him off of these since I am not a medial doctor but I can introduce herbs and acupuncture to remedy his situation. He began coming twice a week and was given two Chinese formulas. Over a period of two months, he began to feel less anxious and became much happier and decided to approach his western doctor regarding going down on his milligrams. The doctor, being so impressed with him decided to go along with his requests. During the treatments I requested that this patient begin to exercise as well as monitor the type of foods he was eating. The results were astounding and within three more months the patient was off his medication and smiling quite a lot.

In Chinese Medicine, I have found that it is also the idea of stagnation which creates many problems. By creating physical activities the patient seems to get rid of this tendency. Of course many people are now preaching diet as well as exercise can account for many changes within an individual, although I feel that treatments as well as herbs can really make many profound changes. The idea of all of these protocols together will easily eliminate depression, mood swings, lack of sleep, lack of interest in the world around you as well as the idea of fatigue and diminished abilities of thought. There are also different degrees of depression as well as different reasons for it’s occurrence. Acupuncture has shown positive results in changing the neurotransmitter levels in the brain  which is what several western medications so as well.


It seems that this year so many patients have come in with very bad colds, lingering coughs and signs of bronchitis since their illnesses have gone deeper than normal. The “Prescriptions of the Golden Chest” in Chinese medicine talked about the inability to breathe and a constant cough due to hidden yin or sip cough. It was the first book that described these symptoms due to Phlegm. It indicated the main principle of treatment was to tonify the body’s Qi and in acute cases, expel the pathogen. If the pathogen is not resolved this can lead to a form of asthma, which can also lead to allergies. The main pathology in Chinese medicine is that the phlegm is stored in the Lungs and if the Lungs are not strong this can create an upward movement of Qi, which causes the phlegm to go up rather than down and creates something called rebellious Qi. Many factors can cause this including, weather, diet, wind, cold, emotional stress and overwork. In the American diet there are a lot of cold foods including cold drinks on ice, which can injure the Spleen energy and create a deficiency. This cold injures the Lungs also. Consumption of sour, sweet and greasy foods can contribute to the forming of Phlegm.


A weakened body condition can also lead to the formation of Phlegm. This can go back as far a someone having measles as a child, which is a long illness and can deplete the Lung-Qi. If one was to really look at their medical history they would probably be amazed at all of the illnesses which have taken place over a life time and realize that western medicine really didn’t handle building the system up and tonifying it after any of these illnesses. In fact they would realize that in many illnesses they were given antibiotics, which further breaks down the immune system and helps to perpetuate this entire cycle. The differentiation and treatment for each patient varies due to the medical history involved. It is my experience that many times certain patients who have a weak immune system seem to get sick more often and they are sicker for a longer period of time when it does occur.


Acute bronchitis is the easiest to treat and normally manifests with symptoms of phlegm lodged in the chest. Sometimes this becomes difficult to expectorate but it is characterized as hot phlegm, which is yellow or green. This corresponds to the Lung-Qi and the treatment responds well with Chinese herbs and acupuncture. An improvement can be seen within a few days. It is not necessary at this stage to ever take antibiotics. Chest infections, residual heat in the Lungs, Wind and wheezing can cause chronic conditions but will take longer to heal. The length of treatment will depend on the age of the patient, the duration of the illness and the severity of the disease. Chronic bronchitis should be treated by looking at the root problem and may take months rather than weeks to clear out. If a patient is willing to come long enough their illness will become totally resolved.


Lung-cough can persist for a long time and can be treated by looking at what other organ may be involved. Usually this cough is caused by the Spleen-Stomach not being able to move the phlegm through the system. The skin is also related to the Lungs so when an external pathogen enters the system such as Wind and Cold, it automatically progresses to the Lungs. When the Lungs are deficient or obstructed, the energy will fail to descend and will then repeatedly move upwards in the form of a cough. If the Phlegm is not dispersed it will create a continuous cough. If the Lungs are dried up from heat, the cough will be without Phlegm. At any rate, a cough is reversed Qi since it moves upward. The combination of interior and exterior Cold causes cough in the Lungs. The “Complete Book of Jing Yue” distinguishes cough caused by invasion of an external pathogenic factor due to internal disharmony. Worry is a frequent emotional cause of cough and affects the Lung directly. The acupuncture points vary according to the diagnosis. All Lung problems have the ability to go very deep into the system so it is always best to get treatments during the initial phase of symptoms although all ailments can be treated at all times and can be permanently cured.


Chinese Medicine and Constipation

The term constipation refers to the slow movement of the bowel and could also imply small hard stools. The following are examples of constipation in Chinese Medicine: bowel movements, which do not occur daily, dry stools, difficult defecation and abnormal shape of stools. Views on what constipation is vary widely. However, now it is believed that a bowel movement two or three times a day is normal. The bowels should open every day and the stools should be light in color and roughly cylindrical and a few inches long. Some people believe that it should come out the shape of the colon to be really healthy.


In Chinese Medicine there a five pathologies to look at that influence the bowel. To begin with “Diet”plays an important role. Excessive consumption of hot spicy foods dry up the fluid in the body thereby drying up the stool. Excessive consumption of cold foods may block the Spleen’s ability to transport the stool and move downwards. Aside from what is eaten, the lack of sufficient fiber may cause constipation in the western diet. The second important item is “ Emotional Stress.” In Chinese Medicine the bowel movements are affected through the Liver and the Spleen. The Liver energy is problems of anger, resentment, or frustration over a long period off time. This creates Liver-Qi stagnation and thereby obstructs the smooth flow of the Lower-Burner, which is the lower half of the body. Also excessive mental work and over thinking affects the Spleen energy, which in turns damages the smooth flow of the bowel going downward. Liver constipation is one of excess while the Spleen constipation is one of deficiency.


The third reason for constipation is “ Lack of Exercise”, which is very important in western society. The exercise stimulates the peristalsis of the Large Intestines and the lack of exercise weakens the Spleen energy. Over a long period of time the Qi becomes deficient and cannot move the stool through the intestines. The fourth reason for constipation is “overwork and childbirth.” Excessive overwork weakens the Spleen and the Large Intestines as well as injures the muscles, which is related to Spleen energy. Also a similar thing happens in childbirth where it could damage the Spleen and cause a deficiency. Overwork with long hours weakens the Kidney energy and can cause dryness as well as constipation. This also can lead to a syndrome called internal cold since the kidneys are in charge of the fire gate which accounts for the warmth in the lower half of the body.


The last reason for constipation is “Febrile disease.” When someone gets ill it is sometimes caused by external heat, which enters the body and turns to internal heat. This heat is responsible for burning up the fluid in the body and can affect the Lungs and the Stomach channels. It can cause fever, perfuse sweating, a red tongue, and a rapid pulse. This type of heat dries up the stools quickly thus causing constipation. In Chinese Medicine the treatment principle would be to cool down the system and move things downwards. When the stomach channel is hot it causes energy to go up rather than down. The same thing occurs with the Spleen energy as well. Both like to be warm and both like to descend.


Three months ago I had a 45-year-old female patient come into my office who literally went to the bathroom once every five days and it had been an age-old problem for her. In treating her she not only had constipation but also had acid reflux and pains in her stomach. In her diet she never ate vegetables and in her job she had a great deal of responsibility and drove an hour to work and back. As mentioned earlier she had a combination of Stomach heat, Spleen deficiency and Liver Qi stagnation. We got her on a Chinese formula which helped with the acid reflux, got her to start eating vegetables, and soothed her Liver energy with some herbs as well. She was given two different detox programs during this time as well as an acupuncture treatment once per week. When she first came to my office she had very red skin on her face, red and glassy eyes and also looked very tired. After three months of treatment she is now regular and has no redness on her face, has energy, and the glassy quality in her eyes has completely disappeared. She no longer has any acid reflux and has no stomach pain at all. Her western doctor told her that she would never get better. It is so important for everyone to be regular since this also gets rid of all the toxins in your body and the waste. Chinese Medicine is able to split these pathologies up into organ systems and thereby create a more long-term change. There are many examples of healing that occur when the system begins to function properly. This is the idea of true health.


There has been a sharp increase of memory loss in my patients over the past year so I have decided to write an article on how Chinese Medicine cures this problem. Memory depends on the state of the Spleen, Kidneys and Heart organs and there is an overlap among these meridian(pathways) functions. The Spleen houses the intellect and influences memory in the sense of memorization, studying and concentrating. Over-thinking and over-worrying causes the Spleen to become deficient.


The Kidneys house will-power and influence the brain since the kidney essence nourishes the Marrow, which nourishes the brain. The Kidneys are responsible for memory in the sense of everyday events, names and faces etc. In Chinese Medicine will-power also means memory.

The Heart controls memory because it houses the Mind. There are usually associations between the Heart and the Kidney since they communicate a lot with each other. However, in terms of memory it has to do with long-past events rather than every day like the Kidneys.


In Western terms, it is also believed that lifelong exposure to toxic agents like pollution and tobacco can damage brain tissues and impair circulation to the brain. It is my experience that acupuncture, herbs and nutritional supplements can improve mental function and help prevent long term damage. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables provides antioxidant protection essential for cognitive function and overall enhanced longevity. The formulas in Chinese Medicine that help people would be: tonics, phlegm reducing, blood regulating, calming and liver supportive. The Spleen promotes the upward circulation of the Qi to the brain and converts food to nutrients. Weak Stomach/Spleen can lead to the accumulation of phlegm, which can obstruct the channels, and lead to disordered thinking. It is believed that sadness, which is the emotion of the spleen, can also damage the movement of Qi to the brain.


The brain is an extension of the marrow so my treatment would include tonifying the Kidneys and nourishing the Essence. This usually occurs with people fifty years and older. Along with Kidney herbs, I have used blood-regulating formulas to improve microcirculation. Kidney deficiency can lead to progressive dementia as well as slow responses. I currently have a patient who is 80 years old and the treatments over a period of two months have helped her increase her memory and also have more energy. Her eyes are no longer dull and she is taking a combinations of Kidney herbs, ginseng and build blood formulas.


Heart Deficiency creates poor memory of past events and forgetting names. In this case I would notify the Heart and strengthen the Mind. The treatment also entails building the Qi using a special point with moxa, which is a stick of herbs that is lit with a match and held over the patient. Many older patients like the moxa since it creates heat and they struggle with being too cold. It’s also important to move the Qi and create greater circulation throughout the entire body. When you open the meridians of the Heart it helps to brighten the Mind.


All of these treatments must be given for several months since the Kidney is built up over time, the Spleen begins to settle down and relax and the Heart gets enough Qi circulating to open up the meridian. The effects of my treatment have been profound and most of my patients not only feel more energy but also remember more with each treatment. It has not only improved their cognitive functions but has also improved their mood as well as any pain, which resides in their bodies.


Chinese Medicine and Tiredness

Tiredness is one of the most common ailments in Western patients. Very often it is the only symptoms, which the patient complains about. In Chinese Medicine the term used is “exhaustion” meaning there is an underlying deficiency of the body’s Qi (better known as energy or life force). However, in some cases it may even be an Excess condition. Some forms of tiredness come when someone has the flu or cold and other times it may be a function of their immune system or even a lack of sleep.


In the depletion of skin (lung) the hair falls out. In the depletion of blood vessels (heart) the blood cannot nourish the internal organs. In the depletion of muscles (spleen) these become weak. In the depletion of the tendons (liver), they cannot support the body. In the depletion of bones (kidney) these begin to wither. Exhaustion or tiredness can be an overexertion of the body thus leading to the depletion of Qi, Blood, Tendons, Bones, Muscles and Essence.


Many practitioners believe that if there is a weakness in the Stomach and Spleen area that this is the first place to treat. These organs are responsible of digesting and transforming all foods into the body, so if this system is not working correctly than someone will not be receiving nourishment in the proper way. They will also not be able to move foods through their body properly. In this case I would strengthen the Spleen and Stomach through acupuncture and also herbal supplements. It has been amazing for me to realize how many individuals suffer in their digestive systems alone and that clearing this one thing up can help patients transform tremendously.


Deficiency takes place in the following organ systems: Lung, Spleen, Heart, Stomach, Liver and Kidney. The Lung deficiency manifests with breathlessness as well as childhood whooping cough and the usual symptoms look like catching a cold and cough often. The Spleen deficiency manifests as lack of appetite, muscle weakness and loose stools. It can also look like someone is always hungry even after they have finished eating. The Heart deficiency presents itself as tiredness, depression as well as slight palpitations. The Stomach deficiency presents itself as gas or bloating as well as indigestion. Kidney symptoms are mental depression lower back pain and lack of will-power. The Liver deficiency manifests as easily startled, cramps, blurred vision and dry skin.


Excess patterns of tiredness usually occur with the Liver. In many cases I have not only done acupuncture and herbs for this excess but will also put my patients on a Liver detox a couple times a year to keep them cleaned out and more vital. When the Liver becomes excess it looks like frustration, anger, stagnation and also tightness around the diaphragm area and ribs. It can also look like a lot of phlegm and dampness, which lodges in the body in the forms of sinus and even headaches. As I have mentioned in other articles, the Liver is the one organ, which needs to have a smooth flow of Qi in order for it to operate well. Phlegm and Dampness also cause tiredness by themselves because they obstruct the smooth flow of Qi. The Liver really controls and regulates all of the body parts and organs and regulates the entering and exiting of the Qi in the body. So one can see how the symptom of tiredness can not only be derived from a deficiency but also from the impairment in the movement and circulation of Qi caused by Liver-Qi stagnation. This is why even if someone has no ailments it is always good to get a treatment to just move your Liver-Qi energy and keep it flowing smoothly.


There are several reasons for tiredness, which vary from all the above organ systems. The main one is from a Weak Constitution. This has to do with the parents hereditary as well as the age that the parent conceived. It is also believed that most everyone comes in with some sort of deficiency although in Chinese Medicine it is the job of the practitioner to find out what this weakness is and to build it up and tonify it. I think this is the greatest difference between Western and Eastern Medicine. It is believed that the deficiency can be transformed and made stronger. Here are some examples of weak constitution and organ systems: Heart looks like sleeplessness and nervousness, Lungs look like chest diseases, Spleen looks like poor appetite and digestion, Liver looks like headaches and amenorrhea in women and Kidneys look like infertility, sterility and poor bone health.


Chinese Medicine can work with all of the presentations and can also cure patients of life long problems so that the patient can transform and prosper into a healthy life. I have seem many miraculous examples of all of the above symptoms being totally cured. The idea is to nourish, strengthen, and bolster the system to health and attain full energy and vitality whereby the true radiant being is restored to its true self.


According the World Health Organization, more than 10 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer every year, and more than 6 million die from cancer. It is projected in the next 20 years these numbers will increase by 50%. The primary objectives of cancer treatment are cure, prolongation of life and improvement of the quality of life. Treatment with Western medicine may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy. The treatment with Chinese Medicine involves acupuncture, herbs and dietary changes. Traditional Chinese medicine has produced extremely promising results in dealing with the adverse affects and complications occurring during chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I have been working with cancer patients over the last eighteen years and while I was in acupuncture school I was diagnosed with melanoma on my face so I spent five years of my education focusing on many different types of cancer along with alternative means of treatment. I have also had experience with two major oncologists at St. John’s Hospital for three years assisting them and working with their patients both in the clinic and in the hospital.


The past several years I have treated many types of cancer and many different stages of cancer. I have found that Chinese medicine works synergistically with Western medicine methods to alleviate symptoms of a physical nature, disease stages, pathology and possible complications. I have noticed that my patients who are going through chemotherapy have done very well regarding theory nausea, tiredness and excess internal heat. The treatment in Western medicine seems to injure the Vital Qi and the acupuncture, diet and herbs seem to balance out many of the symptoms and helps the patient regarding their recovery. My job is to balance the immune system and also balance the Yin and Yang in the body. I have found that chemo and radiation both create and extreme amount of internal heat so acupuncture supports the Vital Qi, clears the heat, relieves toxicity, invigorates the blood, softens hardenings, dissipates lumps and corrects the inharmony.


Using Chinese Medicine along with surgery treats the local systemic system and helps to create an anti-cancer environment throughout the body. There are certain protocols for before, after and during cancer treatments, which help to nourish the body so it is not depleted. I have found that it is best for a patient to avoid anxiety, banish tension and create daily activities that move the Qi and are nourishing. The diet is also important to avoid heat-producing foods so that the Spleen is fortified and the Kidneys are boosted. Over the past ten years I have a created a protocol of vitamins, herbs, green drinks and American ginseng tea to help move a patient into remission and true health.


I have recently been treating a patient who had many cancerous tumors in her abdomen and was diagnosed with third stage cancer. Throughout her two-year journey of pain and discomfort she kept telling the doctor that something was wrong and it went undiagnosed until she experienced severe pain. Working with the oncologists many patients kept telling their doctors that something was wrong and they were never really examined until it was third or fourth stage cancer and many doctors just said it was nothing…please insist if you feel that something is wrong that the doctor takes further tests no matter what they may think. The melanoma on my face went undiagnosed until I insisted the dermatologist took a skin sample and sent it off to the lab. I was the one who insisted on the test, she claimed I was fine. The results of my patients surgery has been very rough on her, To begin with she had an allergic reaction to her treatments and had to be rushed to the hospital, She also has experienced severe weight loss, sores down her esophagus, severe burns under her arms and swelling in her legs. Through acupuncture, herbs and diet she is doing much better and her moods and outlook have been lifted as well. I even found her a Chinese crème that totally healed under her arms in two days.


It is an important time to take our own health into our own hands and take responsibility for our lives. Through the guidance of alternative healers we can assist the treatment of cancer and have a variety of methods available to us for our healing. Please create a system of health for yourselves where you are being nurtured on a deeper level than just the western system. These two work very well together and help to heal a person from the inside out so that their health is forever alive and well. It is my experience that offering this range of treatments will provide a major improvement in your quality of life and enables you to fight against your illness with more determination. My treatments balance the meridians, increase the immune system and also enhance the healing process as well as protect the body from future reoccurrences of cancer.

Back-Ache and Chinese Medicine

Last month I wrote an article on Sciatica and got so many phone calls that I have decided to do a few more articles on back problems. The statistics on back pain are staggering. It is estimated that over 50% of people in Western countries will suffer from back pain at some time in their life. Chinese medicine and in particular acupuncture, gives excellent results in the treatment of this complaint. This article will focus on pain in the sacral area, which is below the kidneys on the back and is right above the buttocks and forms a “v” shape. It is still considered part of the spine although there are sacral points involved.


There are three diagnoses that present themselves in the sacral area. Stagnation of Qi and Blood is characterized by severe, stabbing pain which becomes worse with rest and better with light exercise although it would be worse with overexertion. It is tender to touch, does not respond to changes in weather and is much worse standing or sitting. It is also unaffected by the application of heat. There is a marked feeling of stiffness and rigidity in the muscles and an inability to flex and turn at the waist. Stagnation of Qi and Blood in the back in an acute case is due to a sprain. In a chronic case the sprain causes recurrent attacks of backache, especially if there is a background of Kidney-deficiency.


Kidney-deficiency is the cause of chronic back-ache. In many instances a patient will have one or two outbursts of pain and not attend to this problem and over time it manifests and will eventually end up with the patient throwing out their back during a simple event such as tying their shoes. In Chinese medicine this type of problem is best addressed when it occurs in the beginning, otherwise down the road it turns into a chronic and deeper problem. I also notice that some of my patients who are older complain about an old problem whereby they have thrown out their back maybe once every two years or so. This leads to repeated sprains and takes longer to heal and Chinese herbs must be taken over a period of time in order to build up the Kidney-deficiency, which has taken place over time and with age.


Younger people can also experience Kidney-deficiency and this can be from overexertion, work patterns, or from a hereditary Kidney-deficiency. Ballet as well as farm work before someone reaches the age of thirteen can weaken the Kidneys and the back. It can be combined with poor posture, performing excessive exercise and the enormous increase of people traveling in cars and not walking or biking to strengthen the spine and joints.


There is one more condition of back-ache which is the retention of Damp-Cold whereby the pain is worse in the morning and better with light exercise. This pain is relieved with heat and worse when the weather gets cold and damp. When Cold prevails there may be stiffness and contraction of the back muscles and the pain is more aggravated by rest and improved by movement. It also responds to heat. When dampness is involved there may be swelling, numbness and a feeling of heaviness.


All these problems can be cured with Acupuncture and Herbs. They do not need to be lifetime problems. In my twenty years of practice I have witnessed back pain totally resolving itself. You do not need to live with pain and you do not need to live on pain medication. Please call if you have any questions. I work with low income families and offer a free 10 minute consultation.