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Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
CCE Finally Takes a "Baby Step" Toward Reform
During a 16-month period from October 2010 to February 2012, I devoted four separate columns to the heavy-handed attempt by the Council on Chiropractic Education to radically change the chiropractic profession through the accreditation process.
Waking Up the Gluteus Maximus
In previous articles in this series, we expounded on the importance of the gluteus maximus (GM) in athletic performance and protecting the knee from injury. We also know there is a link between iliotibial band syndrome and GM weakness.
A Vibrating Capsule for Constipation? Relevance to Your Chiropractic Practice
The relationship between gastrointestinal (GI) complaints and back pain is not typically written about or discussed.
9 Common Causes of Thyroid Imbalance and How You Can Help
How you sleep, how easily you wake up, and how much energy and stamina you have during the day are directly related to levels of the thyroid hormones.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Chiropractic Research in Review
Chiropractic Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis; Cost / Benefit Analysis: Different Doses of SMT for Low Back Pain; Imaging for Occult Rib and Costal Cartilage Fractures; Treating Neck Pain: Thoracic Thrust Manipulation vs. Non-Thrust Mobilization.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Pain Underfoot: Metatarsalgia
Foot pain can interfere significantly with normal activities and severely limit participation in sports. Metatarsalgia is foot pain involving the metatarsal bones in the forefoot – the complaint of pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot.
Why Young People Need Chiropractic Now More Than Ever
According to a recent study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, "It is now widely acknowledged that neck pain (NP), mid back pain (MBP), and low back pain (LBP) (spinal pain) start early in life and that the lifetime prevalence increases rapidly during adolescence to reach adult levels at the age of 18."
Don't Turn a 2 Into a 10
The Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale1 is so useful because it can be used by almost anyone. Patients can use the numbers associated with the faces depicted on the scale or select the face that demonstrates their current level of pain from 0-10.
MPA Media Wins 7 Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Dynamic Chiropractic and DC Practice Insights, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecedented seven publishing awards by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
June, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 06
Road Maps of Our Lives: Navigating the Eight Extraordinary Vessels
By Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc
More than pathways of qi, meridians are said to be roadmaps leading us to our destiny. The meridian/collateral system, called the jingluo, includes the major highways, which are the 12 main meridians you are familiar with from charts.Then there are the luo vessels, the lesser-traveled blue highways, which transversely connect the main roads, sometimes paralleling them. The detours are the divergent meridians, keeping pathogens from going deeper into the organs by rerouting them into the joints, thus manifesting as pathologies such as arthritis. There are also cutaneous regions and sinew meridians, connecting in same polarity yin/yin, yang/yang pairs.
Today I will discuss the Indian trails, which are there before any other roads, influencing how the whole system eventually develops. These are the eight extraordinary vessels (EEVs), our original blueprint formed in utero. These vessels circulate essence/jing, our potential. This essence includes not only our genetic make-up, but also the possibilities in our lives on a metaphysical level - namely, what we can be!
The essence contained in the eight extraordinary vessels is the precursor and generator of qi. Qi circulates in a daily rhythm, whereas essence moves much more slowly in cycles of 7-8 years, depending on gender. These cycles mark development points in our lives, such as puberty and the best time to bear children. Thus, essence controls our growth, development and reproduction.
The potential that essence contains can be compared to the packed, dense energy found in a sunflower seed. All of the possibilities, such as that big tall plant and huge beautiful flower, are all there contained in that seed. Just like us, that potential needs to be realized, cultivated and nurtured.
Since they also connect the main meridians, the extraordinary vessels also serve as a bridge between pre-natal and postnatal qi. As the root of yin and yang, essence transforms into qi and blood, which will anchor and support the shen or spirit. Intrinsic in the transmutation from essence to spirit is the knowing that all possibilities do in fact occur.
The extraordinary vessels are formed before any other part of the jingluo network. It is theorized that the Ren and the Du Mai evolve from the first split of the zygote (cell created from egg and sperm), creating the central axis and midline of the body on the front and back. The Chong Mai and the Dai Mai are formed when the cells split into 4. The Chong makes the internal vertical axis and the Dai forms an external, horizontal axis circling around the waist like a belt. When the cells of the embryo split into eight, then 16, the Yang Wei/YinWei Mai are formed, controlling the pathways traveling back and forth interiorly/exteriorly. The Yin Ciao/Yang Ciao Mai are formed at the same time, moving qi in an upward and downward direction.
The eight extraordinary vessels work together as form paired sets, as shown:
There are many different ways of treating the extraordinary vessels, but the most popular is to use the master/couple point combinations presented above. It is interesting to note that accessing them in this way is a relatively modern technique, originating in the Ming Dynasty. (1500s) Previously, it was thought that these vessels were inaccessible.* I personally would not recommend using them in this way until a certain amount of rapport is developed with your client and clarity has been cultivated in attention and presence. I also have a respect for these meridians and don't haphazardly call on their "special powers," unless the condition is serious and long standing.
(*Jeffrey Yuen, lectures from 1994-2001.)
Since you can't hold all four points bilaterally (unless you are Shiva) I recommend holding the master point of the meridian you would like to affect (beginning on the right for women and on the left for men) with the master point of the couple vessel on the opposite side. Then hold the two coupled points, then the opposite master/ couple, then the two masters, ending with the original pair, each time holding for about a minute until you feel a pulse. So for the Ren Mai, use this sequence on a woman:
Using this pattern of an infinity sign has a profoundly balancing affect on the meridian without depleting it. This is something you have to be particularly sensitive to with the EEVs because of the difficulty in replenishing our core essence.
Development and Clinical Uses
When clients come to us with congenital or childhood issues, these are the meridians we want to address. You will notice that Ren, Du and Chong Mai are the first to be activated, as the baby will bond to his or her mother along the path of the Ren Mai. The baby connects first with his or her eyes to Mom's eyes, mouth to Mom's nipples and chest/abdomen to Mom's. Pathologies along the Ren can manifest later in life depending on that initial bond. If the mother was "smothering" this is often seen resulting in asthma, commonly treated with the Ren Mai master point, and the coupled point which helps activate it. (Lu 7/Ki 6) If there was little or no bond, the person might spend their whole life trying to re-create it by nurturing and "treating" that pathway by connecting with others, over and over, from their lips down to their genitals.
The Du Mai becomes more activated when the baby lifts his or her head to look at the world, then moves towards stimuli. A lack of development of that channel will result in someone who, since childhood, holds themselves back, lacking the yang motivation to look around the world and move forward. There can also be an imbalance in the other direction, in someone who is more comfortable "doing" rather then "being." Yang propels them through this world at such a dizzying rate that the thought of stopping, even for a moment, is the most terrifying notion imaginable. Du Mai disorders are commonly treated with the SI 3/ Bl 62 combination.
I have to credit Jeffrey with love and gratitude, for much of what I teach and practice concerning the EEVs. Kiiko Matsumoto and Alex Tiberi have also contributed to this article through their lectures. Circling the waist, the Dai Mai is the "closet" of the body. That's where the injustices of our lives are stuffed until they can be dealt with later. Unfortunately, when the closet starts to bulge from being over full, the channel starts to expand as well, until we deal with the issues that are being kept there. This may manifest as a disproportionately large waistline or as "leaks" oozing dampness such as leukorrea. Treating GB 41/TH 5 helps open that closet and clean it out.
The Yang Wei/Yin Wei Mai link the different milestones in our lives. You may see clients that are investing a lot of energy in re-living those moments or living a fantasy of the future. Being out of the moment can be deeply depleting.
The Yang Ciao/Yin Ciao Mai create our stance in the world. If your client is not clear about where they stand or even worse, would rather be someone else rather than who they are, you may want to address these meridians. Jin ShinDo®
Another way to learn more and work with the extraordinary vessels is to study Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure. Because the intention is to release armoring, thereby opening blockages of qi, rather than to tap into or direct the jing (essence), there is not nearly as great a risk of exhausting these vessels with JSD. One of the functions of the EEVs is to balance the qi in the meridians. JSD uses local points in the areas of chronic tension with distal points along the related EEV. As the emotional holding patterns release, the EEVs carry the qi that was bound in that chronic tension back into the "natural" flow. By allowing the body to do what it needs to do, we can return to our original nature.
Author's Note: the five-element chart that appeared in my previous article (May 2001 Massage Today) was reproduced from the Acu-Coloring Book with the permission from Loren Nelson, (619)280.7786.
Click here for previous articles by Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc.
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