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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.
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.
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.).
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?
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
March, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 03
Yin and Yang Deficiency, Part VI
By Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc
This is the last of the series of articles on yin and yang deficiency, By now, you should have a pretty good idea of the primary organs involved and how to differentiate between the two conditions.
Always remember: Before looking at details, go back to the larger picture.Yin is cool, dark, relaxed, quiet, reflective and receptive; yang is warm, light, restless, exciting, outgoing and relatively more aggressive. When comparing the two, yin has a more substantive nature, whereas yang is more energetic. Yin and yang are relative terms; neither exists in isolation. They are in constant dynamic balance.
So, if you keep that in mind, all you are doing when treating yin or yang deficiency is readjusting the relative balance of yin and yang in the body, which is more important than quantity. Depending on the time of day or the season, we all feel different yin or yang qualities, but sometimes we get noticeably out of whack. In the case of a yin deficiency, the opposite back to the body, and determining how yang became so depleted in the first place.
Characteristics of yin are present, i.e., a relative excess of yang. In the case of yang deficiency, look for symptoms you might consider yin, but are actually representative of a relative lack of yang. A person might feel cold day and night, summer and winter, not because of an excess of cool/yin, but because, for some reason, his or her yang has been depleted or damaged. In this case, the treatment plan would have to include adding yang.
Let's start by discussing how to treat yang deficiency with Asian bodywork therapy (ABT); Later on, we'll address lifestyle, diet and environmental changes. I find ABT is often better than acupuncture in the case of deficiencies, because it can be extremely nourishing, tonifying and relaxing. Often, needles can be depleting if overstimulated and left in too long.
General Yang Deficiency Treatment
Anytime there is a yang deficiency, the primary treatment principle involves using moxa or a TDP lamp to tonify and warm yang. Make sure you are correct in your assessment, because you don't want to do this if the person has any excess heat! I don't use heating pads, hot water bottles or hot rocks, because they have no herbal penetrating energetic quality.
A TDP lamp is a strange, expensive device I call a "Chinese magic lamp." I don't think the lamp actually has supernatural powers, and I really don't know why it works - but it does. And every Chinese acupuncturist that I respect uses one. It's a heating lamp made with mineral plates that have the same penetrating action as moxa. It actually adds something into the body energetically that other therapies don't. You can get TDP lamps at any acupuncture supply store, but shop around, because they can be pricy.
To use a TDP lamp, heat it up first, then place it over the point you want tonified. For any yang deficiency, I would place it over Du 4 and Ren 6 for at least 15 minutes each. Make sure not to put it too close for too long, or you will burn the patient. If he or she gets a headache afterward, or if sensory feedback is compromised in any way, stop using it. Common sense rules.
The same goes with moxa. I would caution you not to use any kind of moxa unless you have been properly trained. You can cause serious burns or misgauge treatment, which is not only bad for business, it's not great for your karma or your client's health, either.
A moxa box is easiest, but it's also the smokiest, which can be a problem if you are sensitive to smoke or share your office, particularly since it smells a bit like marijuana. People give me side glances after using it, and I have had police come to my door inquiring about the strange smell. It is a box with no bottom but a screen in the center. You fill it with crude moxa, light it, and set it over an area such as the abdomen or lower back.
A moxa pole is also fairly easy to use. You gently circle over the point, visualizing spiraling the energy into the person's body. Don't overheat it; we are talking tonification here, so, as you know from my previous articles, be gentle, gentle, gentle, like you are petting a cat. Encourage the qi to come to the area.
I am not crazy about big, fat cone moxa that you knock off when it is too hot. It's fine if you like that technique and are good at it, but try to remove the cone before the patient starts screaming.
Since I was trained in Japan, I prefer another way of using direct moxa. I use an ointment called shiunko: a sesame- to rice-grain-sized, super-refined gold moxa cone, lit with incense and burned down to the ointment. It is somewhat labor-intensive, particularly compared to a TDP lamp, but it is quite effective once you know what you are doing.
You can use any of these techniques to warm Ren 6 and Du 4. Using either the pole or direct moxa, warm all of the Du points from Du 2 to Du 14, going up the spine, repeating a few times (general back treatment protocol). This is a powerful technique for tonifying yang; people will jump off the table warm and full of energy. As the Sea of Yang, the Du meridian is the best place to start to access the yang of the body. Warming Du 4, Ren 6 and Du 14 are general ways to tonify and warm yang. Utilize them in any session in which you are using that treatment principle, adding the specific treatment protocols below.
Kidney Yang Deficiency
Start the session with the back protocol above. Po Sum On is an herbal ointment you can rub on the client's lower back and sacrum before hand so the warm feeling lasts longer. Moxa Ki 3, Ki 7 and Bl 52, while the patient is face-down, gently and repeatedly warming each point. Next, hold the lower back area at the level of Bl 23 and Bl 52 with your fingers and heel of your hand, in a "bye-bye" squeeze. As you are holding, gently thumb press up each Kidney meridian on the legs, concentrating on Ki 3 and Ki 7. I suppose you could do this on the table, but the way I do it is on the floor, sitting between the client's knees, supporting their leg up on my knee, working one leg at a time. Obviously, this is not a position you would use unless the client is fully clothed! When the person is supine, moxa Ren 6. At the end of the session, reach under and cup both Bl 23s as you hold both Ki 27s with thumb and forefinger for a few minutes (mu-shu combo).
Spleen Yang Deficiency
Start the session with the general back treatment protocol. Use bilateral thumb pressure on Bl 20, 21 and 22, gently sinking in and holding each point. When your client is face-up, you can use a moxa box or TDP lamp on Ren 6 while you moxa Sp 3, Sp 6, Sp 9 and St 36. If you are using pole or direct moxa, continue up to Ren 9, Ren 12 and St 28, then gently thumb press up the Spleen meridian, one leg at a time, focusing and lingering at Sp 3, Sp 6, Sp 9, using your mother hand on Ren 6. Hold St 36 with firm thumb pressure as you hold Ren 9, Ren 12 and then St 28 bilaterally. Do the same with the other side. End the treatment by cupping your fingers and the heel of your hand under the patient's back, holding Bl 20 and 21 with one hand and Ren 12 with the top hand. Hold for a few minutes. Keeping your bottom hand in place, holding each Lv 13. Again, by doing this, you are holding the Spleen and Stomach shu and mu points simultaneously.
Heart Yang Deficiency
With the client prone, moxa up the Du meridian, as noted in the general back protocol. Go back and moxa both Bl 14s and 15s. Repeat moxa on Du 14, as it is particularly indicated for Heart Yang Deficiency. With the client's palms up, moxa Ht 5 and Pc 6 on each side. Hold Ht 5 with your thumb as the "mother thumb," press up the Heart meridian, ending at Bl 15s, holding Ht 5 with Bl 15s for a few minutes. Go back and hold Pc 6 with your mother thumb, then gently press up the Pericardium meridian as far as you can go, ending as Bl 14s and holding this combination for a few minutes. Repeat these two meridians on the other side. When the person is supine, moxa Ren 6 and Ren 17. Palm press the yin aspect of the arms while holding Ren 17.
It's always a good idea to suggest ways clients can support their health between sessions. For example, if they repeatedly expose themselves to cold weather, yang deficiency may persist. Make sure you tell your clients to bundle warmly, particularly around the waist. In Japan, they wear haramakis, which means "belly wrap-ups," to protect against cold.
The exercise you might recommend for yang deficiency would be any self-cultivation techniques, such as qigong or taiqi. Either one is gently tonifying and warming. If the client has lower back pain caused by yang deficiency, recommend exercises, in addition to stretching, to strengthen the back. If the client participates in more vigorous exercises, such as aerobics or running, and feel tired afterwards, suggest that he or she think about cutting down, stopping or switching to a more gentle form of exercise. Yoga is great if done properly. Again, if the client feels awful afterward, he or she is probably overdoing it. It's not about how great you feel while in class, or how far you can stretch; it's about how good it can help you feel in your everyday life.
Besides exercise, challenges and accomplishments tonify yang. This is one reason many people who retire start to become yang-deficient soonafter. They need to find something else that gives themselves purpose and adds meaning to their lives. Having goals, outside stimulation and activity nourishes yang.
Having sex too often also can deplete yang, especially that of the Kidney; however, Felice Dunas notes that being sexually rejected repeatedly over a period of time will also deplete yang. Continuous rejection can decrease sexual desire to the point of impotency or frigidity, which are symptoms of yang deficiency. When I see a client with a pronounced yang deficiency, I ask if he or she (or the partner) is depressed, and if so, if it has affected their sex life. If either is the case, I highly recommend they seek counseling.
Feng Shui is sometimes referred to as "acupressure for the home." Hope Karan Gerecht, author of Healing Design, says:
Diet is a factor in yang deficiency. Repeatedly eating cold foods inhibits our body's warming function, eventually depleting yang. This includes ice cream and other frozen foods, iced drinks and an excess of raw foods and fruit. Antibiotics are also considered cold and can be damaging if taken over a long period of time.
According to Daverick Leggett, author of Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Chinese Food Energetics, cooking food longer will increase its warming function and will encourage the heat to penetrate deeper into the body. Don't make the mistake of thinking "the hotter, the better," however. Food that is too spicy will cause us to sweat and we will begin to cool off, illustrating how yin and yang transform into their opposite in extreme situations.
Yang tonics tend to be sweet, pungent and warming. Choose foods such as: basil; garlic; lamb; sage; cinnamon; dried ginger; lobster; raspberry; thyme; chestnut; clove; kidney; nutmeg; rosemary; shrimp; and walnut.
Finally, encourage your clients not to rely heavily on stimulants to create the fiery yang vitality in their lives. Eventually, their body's ability to generate yang will be depleted. It's hard to keep going and keep pace with the demands of life. Bringing balance into our lives with self-awareness and self-care allows us to rise to life's challenges when needed ... and take a well-deserved rest afterward!
Click here for previous articles by Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc.
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