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Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
We Get Letters & E-Mail
We Have Come a Long Way – But There's a Long Way to Go; Grounded and Connected.
Adjusting the Occiput on the Atlas
You may never see a particular set of patients in your office – the ones who are either afraid of neck adjustments or have had a bad experience. A vast majority of those who had a bad experience did not have a life-threatening vascular event.
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
Online Efforts That Convert Traffic Into Patients
Most chiropractors are using "dinner with the doc," "refer a friend," customer appreciation days, grand openings, health fairs, chamber of commerce meetings, and other networking events to get new patients.
The Easy Way to Learn How to Document ICD-10
The 2015 Work Plan for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) includes a focus on chiropractic services. This means chiropractors can expect to see more audits and reviews in the coming year because private payers pay attention to the OIG's focus as well.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
Joint Supplements for Athletes (Part 1)
Maintaining joint health should be a daily focus for athletes. Joint health is a complex issue for everyone, but for athletes it poses a greater concern.
Connections Worth Making
"If most doctors are like me, [they are] isolated physically and professionally. I do not make the time to connect with other doctors and also a lot of doctors do not want to be connected for a lot of reasons. Dynamic Chiropractic keeps me grounded and connected.
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
Leg Length and Pelvic Fixations
A common component of low back pain is sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Signs of SIJ dysfunction can include fixation with reduced range of motion, and localized pain or joint laxity and inflammation.
A New Era of Injury Awareness Means a New Focus on Prevention
Despite a dramatic Super Bowl last month, the National Football League has taken quite a few hits lately concerning player injuries, particularly concussions.
February, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 02
"Not Now, I Have a Headache!"
By Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc
Sometimes Useful, but Not Inevitable
One of my instructors said that the most difficult part of treating a headache in China is figuring out whether the client has one or not.In China, it apparently is an accepted excuse for calling in sick to work, so many people show up at the clinic for a doctor's excuse.
In the U.S., it seems as if headaches are considered an inevitability of a stressful and busy life. An employer would not likely consider letting someone off work for a bodywork treatment! "Take some aspirin and get back to work!" would be a more likely response to an employee moaning about a headache.
When I interview clients and find they get headaches, they seem surprised when I ask detailed questions. "Can you help with THAT?" they ask, hardly daring to hope for relief. Luckily, it's fairly simple. By asking about the frequency, location, timing and quality of the pain, you can determine what is causing the imbalance and how to treat it. Accurate assessment of the problem is essential to get to the root cause.
You probably already know this, but it bears repeating. If a client comes to you in a state of disease you don't understand, refer, refer, refer! If a headache comes on suddenly, severely or is accompanied by nausea, tell the patient to use the acupressure point at the tip of the index finger to dial 911. I had a 41-year-old female client with those symptoms. She died in the parking lot in front of a hospital from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Other causes of headaches that need medical intervention include meningitis, cerebral tumor, hypertension and ear infections. Be safe and get a medical diagnosis!
Looking at Patterns
In Chinese medicine, to reach an accurate assessment of a client's condition we need to look at the overall pattern based on the five elements and the zang-fu (the energetic actions of the organs); the quality of the pain; what makes it better and worse; and the location of the pain. I will give an example of each and delve more deeply into assessment by location, based on the meridians.
Five-element and zang-fu pattern discrimination look deeply at where the client is physically, emotionally and spiritually. These aspects have never been thought of as separate in Asia; they never suffered the Cartesian mind/body split as we did in the West.
When people have constipation, they are having trouble letting go of physical waste. This may manifest on an emotional level as well, in not being able to let go of waste in their lives. Maybe they are holding on to a lost love or friends that are obviously toxic to them. In Chinese medicine, these are all manifestations of a metal imbalance - encompassing the lung and large intestine meridians. So the treatment is the same, whether they are physically or mentally having trouble letting go of wastes. It's the same imbalance, which could result in headaches. There are approximately 17 different five-element/zang-fu types of headaches, so I obviously can't go into each one in this article.
The quality of the pain is going to give other information. For example, a dull ache indicates a deficiency condition. Slow, deep-but-gentle pressure with the intention to tonify is used to treat this condition. Sharp pain means there is an excess condition; quicker movements are used to disperse, going away from the head.
What makes the headache better or worse also gives useful information. For example, the person who says that their headache gets worse after they have sex has a kidney qi deficiency. If having sex relieves their headache, then it is most likely due to liver fire or liver qi stagnation.
Treating by Location
Determining the location of the headache is essential in developing a treatment plan in conjunction with zang-fu pattern discrimination. The four areas of the head (and corresponding headaches) are listed below:
Taiyang headaches are treated by working on the two taiyang meridians: the bladder and small intestine. It is important to work on local points, like GB 20, as well as distal points on the bladder and small intestine, like BL 60 and SI 3. All of these have a powerful affect on the neck and occiput region. A chronic headache in this region could be due to a kidney qi deficiency manifesting in the bladder meridian.
Temporal shaoyang headaches need gall bladder and triple heater meridian treatment. GB 8 and taiyang are useful local points. The distal points are on the shaoyang meridians - TH 5 and GB 41. I often teach GB 41 to clients with migraines. Someone once told me, "That's so funny! Whenever I have a headache, I'm intuitively drawn to pressing that area of my foot, and it helps!"
The location of this headache follows the course of the gall bladder meridian, which has a very close relationship with the liver. I can guarantee that the liver is somewhere behind the cause of that headache, whether it is liver-fire, liver-yang or liver-wind rising. Keep this in mind when you are doing a more detailed assessment.
Yangming frontal headaches require large intestine and stomach meridian balancing. A common mistake is to treat a headache in the forehead region with bladder meridian points, when in actuality, stomach and large intestine are much more effective. The stomach meridian internal pathway begins at LI 20, and as it goes up alongside the nose, reaches the forehead from BL 1.
Maybe the most famous acupressure point for headaches is LI 4, located on the webbing between the thumb and index finger. It is quite effective for headaches as a distal point, but only for yangming headaches! People that have tried this point with other types of headaches are most likely convinced this acupressure stuff is a bunch of hooey. Along with LI 4, use ST 44 as another distal point. Effective local points for this type of headache are St 8, yintang and ST 3. A yangming headache often is caused by dampness (tx SP 9) or phlegm (tx ST 40). Symptoms pointing to these pathogenic factors are a heavy, muddled feeling in the head, a sticky tongue coating and a rolling pulse. Brace yourself for a long haul, though, since these are the most difficult pathogenic factors to resolve!
Finally, jueyin headaches are at the top of the head. This is related to the liver meridian, which has an internal pathway up to that area. An effective local point is DU 20; an excellent distal point is LV 3. A jueyin headache could be due to deficient qi and blood as well. Best to look at all signs and symptoms.
The above examples are more useful for those who have gone through a complete program of Asian bodywork therapy. ABT is an ancient healing art that allows you access to a person's core being. You aren't going to get it by reading an article. Get out there and learn it! It's a whole new way of being in and relating to the world.
Click here for previous articles by Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc.
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