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The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
April, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 04
The Five Elements of Depression, Part I
By Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc
In the last two issues of Massage Today, I have talked about headaches and other physical complaints. Pain relief may be the most common reason clients seek shiatsu and other Asian bodywork therapies, but it certainly is not the only benefit they can receive.A physical problem will bring a client in, like the woman's headaches in the example I use later on in this article. But we need to look beyond the physical manifestation at our client's emotional and spiritual climate, to explore and treat the person, not just the symptoms.
When we do any form of Asian bodywork therapy (ABT), we are working with Qi -- the vital force that moves us through the dance of life. Qi is not only involved in every emotional and physiological process of our bodies; it also binds us together as individuals and connects us spiritually, reverberating through every being on this earth. This awareness of the interconnectedness of all, along being present and compassionate, are more essential than ego-based, "clever" techniques.
Keeping this in mind, we are looking beyond any Western diagnosis our clients may have come to us with, to see the energetic relationships within themselves and to the world. An excellent paradigm for doing this is the Five Elements. The five elements are a poetic but scientific way of using natural phenomenon, like the changing of the seasons, to explore and treat our psyche, spiritual state, anatomy, physiology, and the dynamics of the disease process as a whole.
Often, clients come to us with the Western diagnosis of depression. A major depressive episode implies a prominent and relatively persistent (nearly every day for at least two weeks) depressed or dysphoric mood that usually interferes with daily functioning, and includes at least five of the following nine symptoms:
So what do we do with a diagnosis of depression? Is there a magic point that cures depression? Wouldn't that make it easy! The beauty of shiatsu and Asian bodywork therapy is that we have the tools to see people as a vortex of natural forces, as great works of art, with their life force as an integral part of that picture. We have to see the symptom of depression as part of a whole being, manifesting differently in everyone. The five elements allow us to look at the person's individual "climate." Depression could lie in any of the five elements; often, it's a combination of the dynamic relationship between two or more elements.
The Wood Element closely relates to the season of spring. The energy of the flowers pushing through the still frozen ground upward resembles the force of wood. It's a powerful, yang force within our bodies, responsible for moving the Qi upward. It has an energy that can flare up quickly and move rapidly, often like wind.
The wood organs, Liver and Gall Bladder, are related to the ease and flow of Qi and the emotions, particularly anger. Wood also gives us the ability to make decisions. Wood gives us flexibility in our tendons and sinews, which manifests on an emotional level as well. Someone who is very "woody" may be rigid, inflexible and have issues about being in control. Their anger will flare upward easily; they will hold themselves and others to a high standard of perfection. The eyes relate to the wood element -- not just physically, but in having a life vision and plan. When thwarted, their energy can get stuck or stagnate, causing resentment, repressed anger and, over a long period of time, depression.
Let me give you an example of a typical dark, moody, wood-type of depression. I had a client who was a single mother in her 40's. For years, she worked in a job that she didn't like, with a demanding boss. She got angry, but she always stifled it because she was afraid to lose her job. Her kids had a lot of behavior problems that caused her even more stress. She often spoke of how frustrated she was and how she felt like she had no control in her life. She felt as if she had no options. She would ineffectually explode at her kids and then get mad at herself for doing so. Her physical symptoms included menstrual cramps, PMS and temporal migraines. (Do you remember shaoyang headaches?) Her pulse was wiry and the sides of her tongue were red. Her doctor diagnosed her with mild depression and suggested that she try Prozac, but she wanted to wait a bit longer, trying shiatsu as a last resort recommendation from a friend.
Don't you hate it when you are a last resort? I'd much rather have seen her years before she got into such a desperate state! Luckily, she responded very quickly to shiatsu. Not only was that due to the wood element's easily changeable nature, she also realized that she was spiraling downward and she was committed to making changes in her life.
I focused treatments on the wood meridians, Lv and GB, and the shaoyang meridians, which are Gall Bladder and Triple Heater. I also supplemented the treatments with the Water or Earth meridians intermittently as a precaution. Point combinations that I used were Lv 3 and GB 34. I also held both GB 20s with one hand as I thumb pressed down the TH meridian, stopping and holding TH 6, then TH 5 on one side with Pc 6 on the other. I worked on the TH and GB meridians on the temples, around the ears, occiput and shoulders. In the side position, I worked on the ribs, hips, the outside and the inside of the legs, ending with work on the feet including GB 41 and Lv 3. I also included many meridian stretches.
I recommended that she take a yoga class, which she did. Stretching literally "cools you out" by opening up the meridians, allowing heat to be released. A wood depression due to stagnant liver Qi often starts to generate heat, which can cause irritability, restlessness and insomnia. The stretching not only helped her become calmer, but also more flexible at all levels.
I suggested that she cut out fatty, greasy and spicy foods. Due to her schedule, she relied far too heavily on fast food. She also cut back on coffee and alcohol, which previously had just added fuel to her fire.
She didn't quit her job, but she got better at not letting her boss get to her. She started communicating with her kids more effectively, and they responded by acting out less. Her moods improved, and her headaches and PMS symptoms became less frequent.
This woman's particular case was a straightforward, classic wood case with little complications from other elements. This is unusual. More often than not two or more elements are involved. Deficient water can cause a wood imbalance in the shen-growth cycle. Wood can overact in the ko-control cycle, causing the earth element to be affected and dampness to accumulate.
In future articles, I will give examples of how depression manifests in the other elements. I am hoping that this series will spark your interest in further study. Are you getting tired of hearing this yet? This is just a taste - it in no way takes the place of actual training!
Click here for previous articles by Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc.
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