resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
January, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 01
Freeing the Heart: The Role of the Autonomic Nervous System
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
This series of "Freeing the Heart" has evolved to offer our profession and other touch and movement therapies a conceptual framework for how we may collectively contribute to slowing the progression of cardiovascular disease.These ideas are extrapolations of my clinical experience that have assisted clients with cardiovascular problems and those that present with persistent chronic somatic problems. A descriptive summary of the concepts "Enhancing Central Circulation" is detailed at the end of this article.
From my point of view, the basic problem the human body faces in the aging process is that many variables combine to slow the "return of raw blood products to the heart" in the process of freshly oxygenated blood being reconstituted and delivered to all tissues and cells. Both the "quantity and the timely delivery" on both ends of the vascular system are key functional components of the heart's capacity to contract 100,000x's a day and to send blood efficiently over the estimated 60,000 miles of vessels.1 Obviously, the build up of fats inside the walls of these vessels is a primary component of the resistance to the efficient flow of blood, which I propose happens for most of us, not just some.2
Here is an anatomical interpretation of the progression of cardiovascular disease and I propose that the autonomic nervous system (ANS) has evolved three cards to play in its efforts to offset the inefficient flow of blood back to the heart.
I also propose that most progressions toward pathology will be accompanied by a decrease in the volume of freshly oxygenated blood. Whether it be a chronic somatic dysfunction, chronic illness, cancer or cardiovascular decline, such progressions reflect a compromised capacity for the body to manufacture in a timely manner and to deliver the nutrients, hormones and oxygen so desperately needed to maintain our health, contribute to our vitality and support our capacity to move, dance and sing.
In this theory, the autonomic nervous system has basically three cards to play at its reflexive disposal to keep up with the demands of producing and delivering freshly oxygenated blood. I am further proposing that these typically occur in sequence over the course of one's life. First, The heart works harder, and in some people, the left ventricular muscular wall may become thicker and stiffer and is most often identified as left ventricular hypertrophy. Second, the blood vessels narrow to push the blood through faster which, in many people, is identified as hypertension or high blood pressure. And third, the delivery of freshly oxygenated blood to "all body tissues" is decreased. My premise is that this latter progression is related to many chronic somatic conditions associated with the aging process, including most joint degradations, and might play a role in setting the stage for other illnesses including cancer.
Let's examine the concept of the heart working harder first. This happens when we exercise. It's normal, up to a point. However, if the resistance to the heart's expansion increases and, especially when this happens over a period of years, then the muscular wall of the heart's left ventricle thickens in its attempt to pump more blood. Many factors may contribute to the creation of this condition: internal tensions within the thoracic cage, atheromatous plaques made up of fat and cholesterol, scar tissue, extrinsic myofascial tension, reflexive righting reflexes and emotionally related identity and stress factors combine in my experience to provoke the dual innervation of the heart to strain in its efforts to provide enough push to send the blood throughout the vascular system and back to itself. Again, the time required to complete the loop and in sufficient quantity are the crucial variables that maintain circulatory efficiency.
At a certain point in the thickening of left ventricular wall, the additional effort of the heart actually decreases the amount of the blood being ejected. This is why left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is considered a very real risk factor in the progression of cardiovascular disease.3 In my view, increasing the force of the heart's contraction is the first card that the ANS plays as it spans both normal function and the possible progressive stages of dysfunction into pathology.
Considering hypertension and high blood pressure, what I sense has been overlooked is that the 60,000 miles of our human vasculature is principally innervated by the sympathetic division of the ANS as contrasted to the heart's innervation by both the vagus nerves from the brain and the sympathetic nerves from the spinal cord.4 This suggests to me that the narrowing of the vasculature system is the second card that the ANS plays in its reflexive efforts to push and rush blood back to the heart/lung complex in order to keep up with the process of producing freshly oxygenated blood. There appears to be no question that high blood pressure is a significant risk factor in potentially provoking plaque to break free and thereby triggering a heart attack or stroke.5
The third card that the ANS has to play is to prioritize moving the blood back to the heart as it's end goal and, by necessity, sacrificing the delivery of freshly oxygenated blood to some tissues along the way. Might this be reflected in the frequency of chronic somatic dysfunction that increases as we age? Further, this might contribute to the predominance of joint problems including the need for spinal surgeries, hip, knee and shoulder replacements as we age. I speculate that this is an under-recognized variable in the progression of many persistent chronic somatic dysfunctions. The consistent delivery of fresh blood containing its full constituents (oxygen, nutrients and hormones) is necessary to maintain vital human function and the health of all our various tissues.
Defining the problem more clearly often leads to targeting possible solutions. The following is an updated distillation from the previous article, "Enhancing Central Circulation" from the August 2012 issue of Massage Today.
The take away here is for us to turn our attention toward enhancing the central circulation of the human body. In the many and varied ways that touch and movement therapies have evolved and continue to improve their effectiveness, each may contribute their measure. Let us all commit to this direction and seek to assist as many clients as we can.
Author's Note: Many thanks to Annie Dundon, Glenn Gaffney, Katie Truax-Alexander and Dr. Ed Charlton for their editorial support and guidance.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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