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News in Brief
Foundation for Chiropractic Progress Enrolls Second Group Member; Focus on Chiropractic Education at WFC-ACC Conference in Miami; Are You Ready for Another "Have-a-Heart" Campaign?
The McGill Approach to the Lower Back (Part 1)
Stuart McGill, PhD, brings a unique combination of tools to the table. He is a scientist who also functions as a clinician. He describes himself as a medical consultant who is referred challenging patients. He is both evidence based and practical.
Eight Ways to Help Manage Your Content
You have just completed your last session for the day, checked your voice mail and emailed a new patient about their appointment, but something it gnawing at you, something you just can't quite put your finger it on.
Giving Chiropractic Some Much-Needed PR
Public relations has not always been the chiropractic profession's strong suit, a shortcoming that has subjected the profession to countless attacks on its legitimacy and seemingly perpetual confusion among the public and the health care world as to the skills and services doctors of chiropractic provide.
Hon Lee: Scholar, Warrior, Spy, Teacher and Healer
It was fun. Growing up in New York's Chinatown was like living in a Chinese village that had been transplanted to a five square block area in southern Manhattan. The thing I liked most about the city, and still do, is it's rich cultural diversity.
Behavior as Symptoms of Energetic Imbalance
Karen and Josh said they wanted me to help them fix their marriage. That is why they were sitting on the couch in front of me, complaining about each other. She was too domineering, he said, overly controlling and bossy.
"Turn, Turn, Turn"
Many people are credited with saying, "If you remember the '60s, you really weren't there." Given the fact I didn't become a teenager until 1970, I actually do remember the '60s (or at least part of it). And as a child of the '60s, I was, of course, influenced by the music.
The Power of Positioning
During the evening, I like to relax while either reading a book or watching television. One of my shows, NCIS, has the main character always drinking coffee. Everyone knows it is a Venti from Starbucks because of its distinctive color and style.
What TCM Never Had to Deal With
You probably started getting a sense of it when you were in school. The professors would talk about diabetes as "wasting-and-thirsting disease" and you had a thought that you didn't know anyone who was wasting away in any way, shape or form.
Ancient Chinese Medicine Meets Modern Anatomy Dissection
Have you ever thought it would be beneficial to explore under the skin and examine qi deficiencies in every system of the body? Would you like to see traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis patterns as they relate to western biomedical symptoms and conditions?
Yo San University Celebrates, Supports Community Clinic
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine recently celebrated 25 years of teaching excellence and serving its community by awarding actor Pierce Brosnan the Robert Graham Visionary Award and raising money for its popular community clinic.
Treating Our Veterans with PTSD
As July 4th, Memorial Day and Veterans Day continue to pass year in and year out, we honor our veterans from past wars with parades, BBQs and a day off from work, but our veterans live daily with the spiritual scars of war.
MUIH Launches Doctoral Degree Programs
Maryland University of Integrative Health recently announce it will now offer doctoral degrees.
Body and Skin Rejuvenation Through Inner Balance, Equals Outer Beauty
First of all, I will draw a line in the sand. You know how there is often a big divide between the methods of Western medicine and holistic or energy medicine?
The Bottom Line ... From a Surgeon Who Knows
Regardless of individual relationships between providers, there continues to be a type of Hatfield-McCoy feud between the philosophies of medicine and chiropractic, particularly when it comes to musculoskeletal ailments.
Drug War Rages in Wisconsin
Based on its actions over the past 15 years (review the sidebar in the app version of this article), controversy and the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association seem to go hand in hand.
The Art of Observation
How many of us spend time just watching our clients walk, climb in and out of cars, rise from a chair or navigate a flight of stairs? Spontaneity is the key. Along with a subtle ability to observe without the client knowing or being made to feel like a lab rat.
Alcohol Consumption Strongly Linked to Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Alcohol intake is one of the primary risk factors for many human cancers, and is strongly associated with cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, and notably, the colon and rectum.
The Power of Vitamin K
You may have heard rumblings in recent years that vitamin K helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, and is administered intravenously by some integrative medical doctors who combine it with high-dose vitamin C in cancer treatment.
Cultivating Our National Strength
The time has come to seriously look at the state of this profession and its influence in the U.S. Where are we? What has happened? Where do we go from here?
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!
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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