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How Does Moxibustion Work Really?

October 18, 2011 2 comments

Using a form of direct moxa for a chronic shoulder injury

One of the most useful modalities in Chinese Medicine is the herb known as Moxibustion.  Otherwise known as Mugwort, Artemisia Vulgaris, or Ai Ye (chinese pinyin); it can be used in a number of different ways.  It can be taken internally, decocted as a tea, applied as a tincture, burned directly on the skin or indirectly just off the skin.

For the purposes of this article we will primarily be discussing the use of Moxibustion directly on or indirectly above the skin.  Generally moxibustion and Acupuncture go hand in hand, it is an extremely useful modality for a wide range of disorders, stages of trauma and disease as well as all ages, constitutional types and individual persons, all of which add to its intrigue.  How can one simple herb be so beneficial to just about everyone?

Mugwort (the type that we ‘burn’) is cultivated from the underside of the mugwort leaf and is packaged up looking like a spongy cotton ball-like material.  This type is generally used ‘directly’; i.e. on the skin, or placed upon the end of an acupuncture needle.  Indirect moxibustion looks more like a large black piece of chalk.  This type is much more functional in the sense that it is ‘smokeless’ and is held just off the skin to create heat and healing, and lowers the risk of getting burned.

So how does it work, and what can you expect from a Moxa treatment?  I have been using moxa a lot lately, 1) because the weather is transitioning toward winter and moxa is a warming modality and 2) because it is extremely useful in reducing inflammation, promoting healthy tissue regeneration and lately I have been surrounded by chronic unhealed injuries lately.

Many people ask how it works, and my tried and true answer is that it’s like using infra-red radiation to mellow out inflammation.  Unlike using heat just on the surface, Moxibustion, like infra-red, penetrates deep into the tissue, muscle or joint affected and though it’s warm to the feel, has the ability to flush out inflammation and essentially cool off the area.  In addition to just treating inflammatory disorders, Moxa is used to:

  • Reduce pain:  acting somewhat like an analgesic
  • Promotes healthy Immunity: when used at specific acupuncture points
  • Promotes kidney Function
  • Treat ulcers & other gastro-intestinal disorders
  • Fertility and menstrual disorders

Following is a great article, written in Acupuncture Today describing in more detail the how’s, why’s & what’s of using Moxibustion.  This article is especially great because there is some really good research to back it all up which is nice for all of us scientific brains out there who like to know how things work!

Article taken directly from Acupuncture Today:

How Does Moxibustion Work Scientifically?

By Yin Lo, PhD

Moxibustion and acupuncture have always gone together as one compound name in the Chinese classics on treatment of illness. We have explained in previous articles in Acupuncture Today how acupuncture works in terms of modern science.

 How does moxibustion work in terms of modern science? The simple answer is that meridians are like optical fibers that transmit infrared radiation.

Fudan University conducted an experiment on meridians and found the following: A high transparency (76 percent) at a wavelength of 2.66 microns has been measured along the axis direction of the collagenous fiber at the Gallbladder meridian on one lower limb in a human body. Along the fiber axis of the Stomach meridian, the transparency is 62 percent at wavelengths of 9-20 microns. The transparency vertical to the axis is 0.4 percent. There is a difference in transparency of more than 240 times between infrared light along the axis and infrared light vertical to the axis of the meridians.

The most interesting thing I have found out on moxibustion is that although it uses heat, it cools down the problem area, so the healing mechanism of moxibustion is the same as needle acupuncture. It is through qi that moxibustion does the work, not the direct incoherent heat that we associate with burning.

Moxibustion can also lower hot spots in painful areas. Please see the following infrared pictures. The color code for the images is as follows: the highest temperature is in white, followed by red, yellow, green, blue, and black.

Infrared image of back, before treatment. Infrared image of back, before treatment. The validity of moxibustion has been confirmed by many recent scientific studies.* It has effects on the immune system, analgesia, the kidneys, colitis, ulcers, neurons, and gene expression. Let us briefly describe them.

The Immune System

Moxibustion at acupoints qi hai (Ren 6) and tian shu (ST 25) inhibited the expression of IL-1 (beta) and IL-a6m RNA in experiments on rats with ulcerative colitis.

Infrared image of back, immediately after moxibustion. Infrared image of back, immediately after moxibustion at BL 23, BL 25, BL 18, DU 3 and DU 4. The back warms up as shown. A. Moxibustion at acupoint guan yuan (Ren 4) on sarcoma S180 ascitic mice increases the decreased erythrocytic C3b receptor rosette-forming rate, decreases the raised immunocomplex rosette-forming rate, and increases activity of erythrocytic immunosuppressive factor in tumor-bearing mice. Hence, moxibustion strengthens erythrocytic immunity.

B. On tumor-bearing mice, there is an instant elevation of serum ACTH and beta-EP from moxibustion at guan yuan.

C. Moxibustion at guan yuan on tumor-bearing mice promotes hyperplasia of the pituitary and adrenal glands, stimulates the secretion of beta END from the pituitary and adrenal glands, and increases the level of serum beta-END significantly.

Infrared image of back, two minutes after treatment. Two minutes after treatment, the heat due to the warming effect of moxibustion has gone and the back starts to cool off. D. In arthritic rats, moxibustion at acupoint shen shu (BL 23) could lighten local inflammatory reaction, eliminate swelling, prevent or reduce polyarthritises, maintain weight and shorten the course of the disease. It could help with recovery and promote the effects of concanavalin, inducing splenic lymphocyte proliferation in rates. It could also promote interleukin-2 production, and decrease IL-1 contents.

Analgesia

A. Moxibustion-induced analgesia was studied in rats, which were urethane-anesthetized. Single-unit extracellular recordings from neurons in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis were obtained from a micropipette. Suppression was observed on both wide dynamic range and nociceptive-specific, but not on low-threshold mechanoreceptive units. Moxibustion-induced moderate suppression with a long induction time. It suggested that noxious inhibitory controls may be involved in the analgesic mechanism.

B. The analgesic effect of moxibustion was measured by the latency of tail flinch threshold (LTH) in rats. When the surface temperature was modulated within 38-390 Celsius and 43-440 Celsius, LTH increased 17.7 +/- 2.1 percent and 22.2 +/-2.5 percent, respectively, after 5 minutes (p<0.05).

Renal Function, Colitis, Ulcers, Neurons and Gene Expression

A. The effects of moxibustion at acupoints BL 15 and BL 27 were studied on spontaneously hypertensive rats. Urinary volume was increased for BL 15, but decreased for BL 27. Urinary secretion of Na+ was decreased for BL 15 and BL 27. Systolic blood pressure was decreased for BL 15, but not for BL 27. Plasma levels of aldosterone and renin activity were increased, and atrial natriuretic peptide was decreased for BL 15. Plasma levels of aldosterone and atrial naturiuretic peptide were increased for BL 27.

B. The effect of moxibustion at acupoint Ren 4 on the function of MDR gene product P-glycoprotein P-170 in mice with S-180R adriamycin-resistant tumor cells was studied. A weak inhibition was found when moxibustion was performed at Ren 4 alone, and a very significant inhibition was observed in the presence of low dosage of verapamil, but not at high dosage.

C. Moxibustion at shen shu on experimentally induced gastric ulcerated rats was found to reduce the ulcer area significantly (p<0.05), and increase the zinc content in serum significantly. Pre-treatment by moxibustion had a protective effect on the gastric mucosa.

D. Stimulating acupoint zu san li (ST 36) on rats with a moxa stick can increase the activity of cholinesterase (p<0.05), and inhibit hyperactive gastrointestinal motility (p<0.05).

E. The effect of moxibustion on primary sensory neurons in the skin of rats was studied with immunocytochemistry combined with a fluorescent retrograde tracer dye. Moxibustion was found to induce galanin expression by primary sensory neurons containing substance P.

F. Pre-treatment with moxibustion at BL 23 significantly prevented the formation of gastric ulcer in rats.

It is quite clear from the above studies that the heat, or infrared radiation, from moxibustion preferentially transmits through meridians from acupoints to internal organs. Meridians act like a light pipe. This is consistent with our hypothesis that meridians are made up of water clusters (Lo, 2005).

Ask your Acupuncturist about using Moxibustion at your next visit; it is one of the most relaxing and comfortable experiences you will have in the treatment room!

If you’ve had Moxibustion in the past, what do you think of it?  How has it helped you?  Share your stories as they are usually the most helpful for people when understanding the elusive practice of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine!

Until next time ~

Erin

Sources: 

Lo, Y. (2005). How does moxibustion work scientifically. Acupuncture Today, 06(02), Retrieved from http://acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=30023

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Moxafrica

February 7, 2011 2 comments

'Mugwort' By, Barry Cornelius @flickr.com

While Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV are not two diseases that we consider epidemic in industrialized countries (the US); they have reached epidemic proportions in other, less developed countries.  In the US, we are fortunate enough to have access to health care, sanitary conditions, education, vaccines & nutrition; and due to our high stress lives we are much more likely to get completely preventable diseases like heart disease & type II diabetes.  So, while we get carried away dealing with the stresses and strains of our busy, overworked lives, there is a huge contingent of people suffering & dying from diseases that can be treated & possibly prevented; but don’t have the means or access to any of it.  Fortunately there are people out there using ‘new’, or in this case, very old treatment modalities to help those in impoverished areas to ease their suffering.

One modality we use in Chinese Medicine is Moxibustion; Moxa for short.  It’s an herb by the name of Mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris, you may know of it or even see it growing in your yard.  It is a particularly powerful herb and can be used in a number of different ways.  You can take it internally, or topically as a plaster, salve or rub; but most commonly this herb is burned either directly on the skin, just above the skin or on an acupuncture needle.  There are many different kinds of moxa as well, they are generally processed differently; some more pure than others, some more smoky than others.  Like anything, it depends on where you get it, who you get it from and what your intention is for using the herb.  Like most things in Chinese Medicine, I find myself talking about it and think to myself, this sounds a little crazy and weird and possibly barbaric.  Yes, we do burn this herb on your skin, however, it isn’t a burning sensation you feel but a calming & very relaxing warmth over an area of the body or a specific point.  It’s really quite nice and therapeutic in more ways than one.  Some common uses include the treatment of digestive disorders, musculoskeletal disorders (acute trauma and chronic pain), asthma & chronic immune compromising infections to name a few.  In general it has a warming effect on the body and works very well to bring blood supply to the area, increase the healing capacity of the tissue, as well as emit a systemic improvement in your bodies natural immunity.  The power of Moxa (or mugwort ) is much more than a sensation of warmth on the skin (which in itself is nice), it goes much deeper than that and causes a plethora of positive reactions deep to the tissue effecting the whole body and not just one area.  For more information on Moxa and its different uses complete with pictures and video; check out this Facebook page:  Moxibustion:  The Power of Mugwort.

Moxa therapy has been shown to increase immune function, specifically increase white blood cell counts, anti-inflammatory cytokines & anti-body production.  In addition to just improving your immunity and helping when you are simply feeling a bit down, it has proven to be particularly helpful in treating (you guessed it) TB and HIV.  Ever wonder how we treated disease before there were vaccines and pharmaceuticals?   When TB swept the country of Japan back in the 1930’s their primary treatment method was Moxa therapy.  It proved especially helpful in improving life expectancy (of both the sick and the healthy), decreasing the symptoms associated with TB and raising the spirits of those who were afflicted by the disease as well as those who weren’t.

Presently moxa is still used in China & Japan as well as by Acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine practitioners across the United States and the world.  In Japan it is so ‘popular’ that there are many who practice only Moxibustion therapy, (Moxibustionists) and there are many different levels of licensing for practicing Moxa.  In addition to its therapeutic relevance, Moxa therapy is also cost-effective and easy to access; two very important aspects that a developing country, stricken by large numbers of TB and HIV could benefit from.  One organization recognized the benefits of Moxa and is bringing this wealth of knowledge to Africa to help treat those suffering from both TB and HIV.  The organization is called Moxafrica & originated in 2008:

It arose directly from a feasability and fact finding trip last December to Lyantonde, a truck stop town four hours from Kampala on the main route connecting Rwanda and the Eastern Congo to the whole of East Africa. Lyantonde has an unfortunate reputation as a focus for prostitution and HIV/AIDS, the town being home to the first ever officially recorded case of AIDS in Africa.

Our aim was to assess how they would feel about the idea of burning something on the skin, and whether they would consider it an acceptable therapy to try out in their own work places. Additionally we wanted to assess how easy it might be to teach African health workers basic moxa skills.  We soon had them all rolling moxa, both making and burning tiny cones with impressive dexterity.

The following day we were invited to demonstrate moxa treatments on two patients, one of them a very sick man co-infected with TB and HIV. He was terribly wasted by the two diseases, cared for by his sister who was vainly trying to administer his daily medication. After we had finished treating him, using the minimum possible stimulation of moxa because of his dreadful condition, we used a trainee to help us explain to his sister how to use moxa and how to locate a treatment point, leaving her clear instructions on a simple protocol to follow every day, building up dosage if he strengthened.

What we suspect we witnessed at this moment was something we had not even considered previously – that teaching the carer of such a sick person a simple moxa protocol fundamentally offered her something meaningful to do for her brother, and was offering her something maybe even more important as well – hope.  We’re not sure yet how significant this might turn out to be.

To our knowledge this was the first time that a moxa protocol for TB from the 1930’s has ever been used to treat anyone co-infected both with TB and AIDS anywhere in the world. Two weeks after we got back we got the following extraordinary feedback:  “Frank’s response was truly fantastic. I wish you had seen the joy in his sister/attendant as she explained to us how he had improved. I think everyone was just so excited, as he seemed so ill.”

Two days after the treatment began, it transpired that Frank was out of bed, walking tentatively in the ward, and eating.

Cautiously, we found ourselves asking whether this simple treatment might really be able to make the sort of difference we hope it might (www.moxafrica.org, Feb. 6, 2011).

And thus, the project began and continues to inspire those afflicted by disease in an impoverished community.  To continue reading about the program & additional studies regarding Moxa, please check out their website and if you feel so inclined, please donate to the cause.

Link:  Moxafrica.org

In addition to this organization there are a number of others up and running in Africa as well as other countries including our own (the US) that I’ve written of in previous posts:

The Flying Needle: An organization also based in South Africa, helping those with HIV/AIDS

Acupuncturists Without Borders: An organization set up to help with traumatic events; i.e. Katrina and the 911 incidence

The Acupuncture Relief Project:  A project stationed out of Nepal which was founded by a fellow OCOM graduate

Until next time, ask your Acupuncturist about Moxa treatment & as always…

~Be well~

Erin

Sources:

Moxibustion: the power of mugwort fire. (2010, February 6). Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/pages/Moxibustion-The-Power-of-Mugwort-Fire/127985768455?v=wall

Moxafrica. (2010, February 6). Retrieved from http://www.moxafrica.org/index.html

Wilson, Carla, Breaking the Silence in South Africa, www.acupuncturetoday.com, Dec. 1st, 2009The Flying Needle Project, Dec. 1st 2009




You Are What You Eat

June 12, 2010 4 comments

 

KISS By, Anirudh Koul @flickr

Have you ever heard the saying “you are what you eat”?  Well, if you haven’t I’d probably call you a liar… but the bigger point here, is how often have we heard this yet don’t really take it for what its worth?  I challenge you to take a good look at the food you are putting in your body and tell me if you think (honestly) that it’s all nutritious and devoid of preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, heavy metals, and other chemicals we can’t pronounce that are slowly changing the way our bodies utilize fuels and metabolize properly.  Why do you think cancer rates continue to rise at such a fast and scary rate?   

This idea always makes me think of those Breyer’s Ice Cream commercials that market themselves as having 5 ingredients all of which you can pronounce and are actual whole food ingredients.  How did we get so caught up in thinking that chemicals in our food; that are in fact causing damage to our bodies but make our french fries taste just a little more flavorful are better for us than just plain nutritious and delicious real vegetables?! 

It brings me to the reason for this post.  As a sports trainer and studying health practitioner, diet is a HUGE part of your health and wellness.  Our bodies are fine tuned machines that run most efficiently on the best sources of fuel!  You wouldn’t put crappy oil and gas in your car to prolong its lifespan would you?  Unfortunately, I think many of you reading this would second guess your answer to that question, but let’s reiterate; if money were no object, you would use only the best of the best and ironically using high quality over the long run will save you more money in the end as you’ll have preserved the wellness of your car… so you see where I’m going with this.  Why would you compromise your own health and wellness now by putting crappy foods with no real whole food nutrition in them into your body, and risk not only feeling crappy, but it’s been linked with tendencies of depression, fatigue, and a higher risk & frequency for illness just to name a few.  

Benji (my boyfriend; who is also a trainer and nutritionist extraordinaire) just sent me this article from Consumer Reports on protein drinks and what exactly is in them.  It’s a tough game, since these protein supplements are sold as “health food” at health food stores and approved by the FDA and many people use them as a convenient way to lose weight and get on a healthy diet regimen.  It creates quite a contradiction!  Here’s something healthy, but really were just poisoning you slowly…  So, how do you really know what you are getting?  Well, finding a good honest and trustworthy source is VERY important as well as informing yourself about the products you use.  Especially considering the following stat; Food and Drug allows there to be a 40% difference between what is in the bottle and what is listed!  Here is a link to the article;  How About Some Heavy Metals With That Protein; & they aren’t talking about rock music! 

For the full report: 

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/july/food/protein-drinks/overview/index.htm

& a quick reference of the formulas tested:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/july/food/protein-drinks/whats-in-your-protein-drink/index.htm

 In Chinese Medicine, we use a lot of food therapy much like diet therapy and recommend to patients  to eat certain foods and not others based on their individual diagnosis.  Naturopaths on the same hand use nutritional therapy as well basing their regimen on the quality and quantity of vitamins and minerals you get from specific foods.  The point is, what we eat has a tremendous effect on the function and wellness of our bodies and we should treat ourselves & our bodies with respect. 

When shopping for supplements & protein, it’s nice to have sources you can trust & that have done all the research for you so you feel confident that you are getting a high quality source every time.  The two following sites are my go-to sites for supplements of all kinds; they are both from highly informed professionals whose goals are to provide you with the information, the goods and the ease of knowing  you have spent your money well!

www.marksdailyapple.com

www.mercola.com

Since we are on the topic of information and you are looking for good sources:

www.ewg.org

www.consumerreports.org

Till next time!  Hope this helps and be well!

Erin

Now That’s Spooky Action At A Distance!

May 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Check out this extraordinary image of the supernova (from Reuters):

In this ultraviolet image (upper L), several weeks-old Supernova 2007uy is seen in galaxy NGC2770, taken on January 7, 2008, with a close-up, X-ray image of that supernova beneath. New Supernova 2008D (R) appears onto the scene in these images taken January 9, 2008, giving scientists the unique opportunity to witness the birth of a supernova. Thanks to a fortunate observation with NASA’s Swift satellite, astronomers, for the first time, have caught a normal supernova at the moment of its birth–the first instant when an exploding star begins spewing its energy into space, transforming into a supernova that during its brief lifetime will shine brighter than billions of stars combined (ScienceDaily.com, 2010)

 

Recently I have been listening to Sirius Radio, thanks to my dad for loaning me his fancy truck for a month, and have twice listened to Deepak Chopra’s channel.  At first I thought, man, I don’t know if I can listen to this guy, he’s so monotone… but then I realized how awesome the topic was and couldn’t stop listening let alone stop thinking about it since. Two times I turned on the station and both times was the same professor talking about Quantum Mechanics and how it relates to our physical and spiritual/emotional bodies in the universe.  Without bending your brain too much, he mentioned the phenomenon, “spooky action at a distance” which Einstein originally introduced, he came across this spooky phenomenon when studying the action of two molecules of the same entity, the interesting thing about it was that no matter the distance these two molecules were pulled apart, whatever actions one expressed in one place, the other did the exact same (but opposite; meaning they spin in different directions, one left & one right) at a distance.  Simultaneous action and reaction without direct contact!  So what is it that connects the two and delivers the call to action?  To the naked eye, there is no connection, no communication… there isn’t even a variable of time during which to illicit a response.  This idea brings to question a whole plethora of ideas, going against basically everything science can directly explain, which is in a sense mind-blowing!  Still there is no explanation for this phenomenon, but there right in front of our (these quantum mechanic’s) eyes, the molecules are acting and reacting, every time as if they are of the same ‘mind’.  The reason it is so interesting to me is because I am studying the enigmatic medicine of Acupuncture.  Currently there are researchers studying in great detail the mechanisms by which acupuncture works, but have yet to pin point an exact action.  There are theories, for example, the fascia theory: in short, this is the idea that every cell in our body is connected by fascial membranes (connective tissue) and we can access certain pathways (meridians) through the use of needles; affecting different parts of the whole body through the use of specific acupuncture points.

Even though we don’t understand the exact mechanism of Acupuncture, or why one molecule of a cell in one place will simultaneously affect another miles away without contact or means of communication (at least as far as we can perceive); this doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed happening or affecting the body and our own cells on a level that we just can not understand (at least presently). 

On this same note, I recently just watched a great TED talk in my Pathology class about a woman, Jill Bolte Taylor who had a Hemorrhagic Stroke in her left temporal lobe and lived to talk about her experience.  It is a remarkable video and leaves you emotional and inspired to make a difference in your attitude and your relationship with humanity.  Talk about ‘spooky action’!  She has an experience wherein the left hemisphere of her brain is completely shut off.  Her ability to communicate and use her physical body shuts down little by little yet she remains conscious the entire time, perceiving a reality that is unbeknownst to you and me.  I know, it sounds crazy right… but don’t take my word for it, listen to her story & I guarantee it will change your perception of reality, or at least leave you in wonderment! 

Jill Bolte Taylor: A Stroke of Insight  TEDtalks.com

Chinese Medicine is largely based on the idea that we are a part of nature, and we change as nature does.  We are made up of the same particles as the atmosphere and the earth around us, nitrogen, oxygen, water, iron, etc.  I just recently attended a talk by an Astrologist who is currently writing a book on Chinese Medicine and Astrology.  She’s spent a lot of time researching Astrology, Astronomy and has been studying a bit with a well renown Acupuncturist here in Portland.  One bit of information that goes along with my topic for the day was a discussion on the death of a Supernova; “when a star dies and explodes in an extraordinary fashion” (ScienceDaily.com, 2010).  In  january of 2008, astronomers caught a glimpse of this, the first ever witnessed event.  You can read the article here.  What really caught my attention was not the actual event itself (though that in itself is quite amazing), it was the realization of the event as an action/reaction of the whole universe.  It’s easy to think a star died, it blew up and there are a million other stars out there to take its place, and that’s it, but it is so much more than that.  Those stars are made up of gasses and different compounds, like our own atmosphere and bodies.  When a star is about to die, it essentially has burned up all its gasses except for its iron core (which can not burn anymore).  So, the star explodes into little bits into the universe and all those different elements are spewed out into the rest of space and made into something else, some new combination of elements and gaseous compounds.  Yes, somewhere along the way, all these little bits are made into a part of ourselves, so one could say, we are in essence, pieces put together by the stars… the iron in our blood, the nitrogen, the hydrogen… (crazy isn’t it!) 

Till next time…

~be well~

Erin

Sources: 

Graham, Nicholas. (2008, May 21). Stars supernova death witnessed by scientists. The Huffington Post, Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/21/stars-supernova-death-wit_n_102959.html

Institute of Physics (2009, March 4). ‘Spooky Action At A Distance’ Of Quantum Mechanics Directly Observed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 12, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090304091231.htm

Taylor, J.B. (Speaker). (2008). Jill bolte taylor’s stroke of insight. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

Health & Happiness

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By, Bahman Farzad @Flickr.com

 
“No one will ever be more invested in your own mental or physical health than you. The more you take an interest in your own health and what supports it and the more responsibility you take for your own health and well being the less expensive and the more effective your own true health care will be” ~ Nora Gedgaudas
 
I just loved this quote and wanted to share it with the “masses”; and to ask you, my readers, a question…
 
What do you do to take responsibility for your health, and does it make you happy?
 
For me, it’s a lot of little things, but the two main things at the moment are getting regular chiropractic adjustments (meaning at least once every couple of months) and seeing one of my teachers for Chinese Herbs.  Both these things are a big commitment of time, energy and money, and believe me, I don’t have a whole lot of extra time in my schedule; but I’ve made a commitment to myself and my practitioners and ultimately it makes me happy.  It also gives me the sense that I am actively taking part in my own healing process which is super empowering.  It’s easy to make excuses as to why we can’t spend the money on our own healthcare, but when it comes down to it, if our minds and bodies aren’t healthy, then what else is there? 
 
~be well~
 
 
Erin

Help Haiti Heal!

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

 

     On Wednesday February 3rd, Acupuncturists Without Borders will be sending a group of practitioners to the Dominican Republic!  They will be there to help the victims of the recent earthquake, assist other health organizations, street clinics, The Dominican Republic Red Cross, local hospitals etc.  I just received an email with all the details & so far they’ve managed to raise just over $10,000 in monetary donations as well as $2,400 in Acupuncture supplies.  Please help out with whatever you can, our goal is to raise about $7,500 more!  Please click on the Poster and the Website links below to find out how to donate and help! 

Acupuncture is such a wonderful medicine during traumatic times like these, it’s cheap, easy, effective and travels well! 

Website:  Acupuncturists Without Borders

Poster:  Haiti Poster color

~be well~

Erin

New Years Resolutions…

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

by, janoid

Happy New Year and post Holidays!  I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve been busy on vacation & getting refreshed for the new year and the ominous winter quarter that is upon us at OCOM (Oregon College of Oriental Medicine).   Winter quarter has just about every student dreading the next few months, you may think this is due to the gloomy skies and dark rainy days but it’s not.  Every winter quarter is packed full with extra classes and more time spent in books; it makes methink that they do this on purpose since the days are so short and generally gloomy or way or they are just sadistic.  Either way, it’s a rough few months ahead of us which makes it all the more necessary to work on balance, relaxation and ways to de-stress. 

And, since it is the new year, I thought I’d share at least one of my many new years resolutions: Do more Qi-Gong… and more specifically, Do Qi-Gong twice a week outside of class (Qi-Gong is an elective class that we can take once a week).  I just was reading one of my favorite websites, www.mercola.com and there was an article about Meditation and how it’s been shown to lower blood pressure & reduce a persons affinity towards hypertension in the future.  So one could extrapolate that it could reduce your chances of developing heart disease as well?!  There have been many studies on the effects of Meditation practices on our health, a regular practice has been shown to have positive effects on stress management, blood pressure, diabetes, sleeping habits, pain management, memory, gastro-intestinal disorders & the list goes on. 

A just-published study suggests the practice of meditation may bring cardiovascular and mental-health benefits.

The research, followed close to 300 students, half of whom practiced transcendental meditation for 20 minutes once or twice daily over three months. A subgroup of subjects in the meditation group who were at increased risk for hypertension significantly lowered their blood pressure and psychological distress, and also bolstered their coping ability.

The average reduction in blood pressure in this group — a 6.3-mm Hg decrease in the top (systolic) number of a blood pressure reading and a 4-mm Hg decrease in the lower (diastolic) number — was associated with a 52 percent reduction in the risk of developing hypertension in the future.

Meditators who were not at increased risk for hypertension saw a reduction in psychological distress, depression, and anxiety as well as increased coping ability.

QiGong is a Chinese practice of energy healing and exercise.  It means to work (Gong) with the life energy (Qi).  It is the practice of learning how to control the flow and distribution of qi to improve the health and harmony of mind and body.  The aim is to eliminate the impure by using the breathe and specific movements and to inspire the pure to enhance ones health.  There are many different forms of Qi-Gong, many of which are passed down through families and used for different reasons.  Many Chinese Medical Doctors prescribe Qi-Gong to their patients as a means of self healing; it’s something their patients (not to mention themselves) can do everyday to maintain a healthy body and mind.  (Cohen, 3-5).

This study is a great reminder for me, that yes, I NEED to commit to my new year’s resolution and do as much Qi-Gong as I can this quarter and every quarter (let alone for the rest of my life).  If there are this many health benefits associated with something so easy, cheap and non-time consuming, shouldn’t we all just take 20 minutes out of our days and find our own way to meditate, whether it be through Qi-Gong, Meditation, or Yoga (just to name a few).  With this post, I am holding myself accountable for my resolution and I hope it sparks some inspiration in you to learn how to de-stress, relax and improve your health from the inside out.

If you are in the Portland, Oregon area, and want to try some Qi-Gong classes, there are classes available to the public through OCOM, if you are interested please let me know or visit the school website or contact the school for more information.  www.ocom.org 

Till next time,

~be well~

Erin

Sources:  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/01/09/Try-Meditation-to-Lower-Your-Blood-Pressure-and-Protect-Your-Heart.aspx, Jan. 12th 10; Cohen, Kenneth S. The Way of QiGong New York, Ballantine Books 1997

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