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Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
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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