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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.
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 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.
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.
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?
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
April, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 04
Freeing the Heart Part IV: Reducing Resistance to the Heart's Expansion
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Studying anatomy and reflecting upon what helps my clients to feel and function better are the foundation for what I am writing in this series. With that said, let's delve into the anatomy of the esophagus a bit further to set the stage for understanding the implications of its postulated tendency to re-set its resting length in response to physical injury or intense emotional experience.
The superior esophageal fascial mooring is anchored directly to the spheno-basilar junction to my perception through the buccopharyngeal fascia/pharyngeal raphe.1 This anatomical interpretation suggests that the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract (GI) is suspended downward and forward of the cranium. Consider this notion and its implications. My speculation is that a shortened esophagus with a superior strain being pulled on from below by any manner of GI disturbance will eventually contribute to the incompetence of the hiatal sphincter. It also makes sense to me that hiatal hernias might be the natural evolution in the progression of dysfunction to such opposing tensions over many decades. The maximal strain point of the esophagus is proposed to include the portion of the tube enfolded by the heart just before it pierces the diaphragm muscle.
The association of heart troubles and GI disturbance are considered a possibility by some2 yet, most often in the literature heart troubles and esophageal dysfunctions are described as if they are completely unrelated. This defies common sense to me. The intimacy of the anatomical enfolding of the heart around the esophageal tube is a related variable; structurally, if the esophageal fibers are contracted or go into spasm and, as a chemical irritant, when chronic gastric reflux is considered.3 Since no one pays attention to such variables, this might be one way that we may contribute to our clients' quality of life, as well as to possibly slowing the advance of cardiovascular disease.
Another implication of such strain along the length of the esophagus is that its tension can literally pull the head down upon the neck and is an influence contributing to the head being pulled forward which will inevitably activate the extensor reflexes of the spine.4 Might this be related to your clients chronic neck and upper back pain? Let's remember that the superior sympathetic ganglia and the vagus nerve have their most intimate communication between the occiput and the 1st cervical vertebra, the atlas.5 Compression of this autonomic interface can have far reaching influences on sympathetic and parasympathetic coordination of physiology, including that of the heart function to my sensibilities. Enhancing the ease within the space between the occiput and the atlas is one of my most reliable markers that a therapeutic effect has been achieved during a bodywork session.
With the head being pulled forward and the extensors of the upper back reflexively tightening, guess which segments of the spinal cord provide sympathetic supply to the heart, T1, T4 or 5? Could both of these compressions add to an over stimulation of the heart neurologically, a kind of structural squeeze play that begins with a functionally shortened esophagus. How many of your clients present to you with pain and muscle spasm between their shoulder blades? Loosening the tension of the pericardial sac is another contribution to "freeing the heart." My proposed definition of stress has been that in response to the intensity, repetition or duration of what is experienced by an individual as a stressor will result in the body sacs cringing and that the tubes within organs and between organs will shorten and narrow.6 This might happen either in response to a sudden occurrence or insidiously, over a long period of time which might include multiple events.
Many technique orientations might assist the pericardial sac to loosen. Those which I most commonly employ are unwinding and recoil techniques. The basics of unwinding were learned from Dr. John Upledger, developer of CranioSacral Therapy and the recoil techniques from Dr. Jean Pierre Barral the developer of Visceral Manipulation.7,8 Dr. Barral would want me to acknowledge the he learned recoil technique from, Dr. Paul Chauffour, the developer of the Mechanical Link approach to osteopathic manual therapy.9
A rather curious phenomena has occurred five times over the past 10 years where I actually felt the heart shift its position between my anterior-posterior placed palms when using a combination of unwinding and recoils techniques in a rhythmic fashion. The reason I mention it is the exceptionally positive response of the clients for whom this happened. All reported fewer somatic ailments and increased energy in their daily lives. Whether this was a shifting of position between the esophagus and the heart or a rotation, side shift or caudal or cranial slide of the heart as a whole, is unclear. Yet, it did happen and the clients felt much better. In this series, I am recounting what may be possible, not what can be predicted.
Another technique I have found to be helpful to lessening resistance within the thorax is the fascial stretching of the pleural sacs of the lungs. This is accomplished by softly anchoring the pleural dome of the lungs and caudally stretching the tissues adjacent to the sternum and just above and below the breast area. The intention here is to assist the sliding of the pleural sacs and to assist the ease of movement between the pericardial and pleural sacs.8 Reducing the resistance within the thoracic cage is the therapeutic goal. If the heart has less resistance to its expansion, it is my conjecture that it's coronary arteries are more likely to expand as well which may reduce the speed or quantity in the build-up of plaques within these crucial arteries. A river with a steady current has less sediment accumulation. Are our arteries really that different from other natural containers of moving fluid? To reprise, my clinical experience suggests that applying our palpation efforts to the structures "inside" the thoracic cavity is the most efficient way toward easing the tensions that the heart must overcome during its expansion phase. Such efforts positively contribute to "freeing the heart."
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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