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Expanding Access, Branch by Branch
The big news coming from Capitol Hill isn't merely the recent introduction of a pair of bills designed to expand chiropractic services in the Veterans Affairs and military health care systems; after all, similar legislation has made its way through Congress before, never reaching the Oval Office for presidential signature.
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!
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.
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.
Avoid Random Treatment of Trigger Points (Part 2)
We must acknowledge that the fascia, which surrounds literally everything in our bodies, including every muscle fiber, is more than just a covering.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Low Back Pain: Posture and Movement Analysis
When performing static and dynamic movement analysis of the lumbopelvic hip area, begin with standing visual posture analysis of the pelvis, and then perform lumbar range of motion and assess what you might see during normal versus abnormal lumbar flexion motion.
A Reality Check – and a Chance to Educate
Imagine working in the public relations department of nutrition retailer General Nutrition Corporation (GNC) and reading the The New York Times announce...
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.
Primary Spine Care: Addressing Concerns & Criticisms
The Dec. 1, 2013 issue of Dynamic Chiropractic included an article describing the implementation of a training program for primary spine practitioners (PSP) within a metropolitan region and supported by a large BC/BS plan.
Help Update the LBP Practice Guideline
The Council on Chiropractic Guidelines and Practice Parameters has announced the release of an updated Clinical Practice Guideline for Chiropractic Management of Low Back Pain for stakeholder review and comment.
Atypical Femoral Fractures and Bisphosphonate Use: What to Watch For
Bisphosphonates (BP) are popular drugs, with more than 8 billion in sales in 2008; however, profits have declined as patents began expiring. Nonetheless, BP remain the most commonly prescribed drugs for patients at risk of osteoporotic fractures, with several million prescriptions written every year.
Interpersonal Skills 101: Enhancing the Value of Our Patient Interactions
Recently, I read an interesting article in our local newspaper titled "The Value of Human Interaction." The article presented comments from a senior editor for Fortune magazine who discussed "Civility in the Business World."
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.
Impacting Chiropractic's Future With Technology
When it comes to electronic health records (EHR), Robert Moberg and Dr. Steven Kraus are two of the leading industry experts on the topic.
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.
February, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 02
Helping Babies Heal from Difficult Births with CranioSacral Therapy
By Janine Blanchard
Newborns and infants express themselves by gurgling, crying and wailing. But what if you feel like you can't satisfy their needs or simply don't know what's going on? In CranioSacral Therapy, we "listen" to what a baby has to say with our "thinking, feeling, seeing, knowing fingers," a term that the founder of Craniosacral Therapy, W.G. Sutherland, coined. We use touch to learn how trauma or difficult experiences have left their mark on the baby. This gives us important information about what's happening with a baby who seems upset or unhappy.
As a CranioSacral Therapist, I work with different tides in the body associated with a child's nervous system. I am able to palpate subtle rhythms in the body, similar to, but more subtle than the breath and heart beat. This helps me discover what might be inhibiting a child's balance or state of well-being. For example, with my knowing hands and fingers, I can find restrictions in parts of the skull. These can occur where a complicated or long birth process causes cranial bones to move and position themselves on top of each other. I can then help the body correct these problems.
Take newborn Amelia, for instance. Her family brought her into my office because she was in respiratory distress after birth. She spent weeks in the newborn intensive care unit so that her breathing could be monitored. After examining Amelia, I concluded that her breathing was shallow. Her little lungs felt like they were not using the room they had to unfold and breathe deeply. Her ribcage was not expanding all the way. We call these "underinflated" lungs. I see this in cases when the baby will attempt her first breath while the torso is still in the birth canal and only the head is delivered.
I worked to settle Amelia's lungs. First, I placed my fingers on her sternum and confirmed the "under-inflated" feel of the tissues under my fingers. I sensed the shock and trauma involved in this part of her body. I could feel pent-up energy, which I worked to release. After this, Amelia took a deep breath and fell into a deep relaxation. To help heal Amelia's trachea, which was irritated by medical procedures, I brought the tissues involved into a "point of balanced membranous tension," a physiological process that allows the tissues to relax. The next time I saw Amelia, the newborn didn't show symptoms of respiratory difficulties and all family members were less worried about their baby.
When newborns like Amelia experience difficult births, they can move away from what CranioSacral Therapists view as the ideal state: to be in the here-and-now, grounded in the present. Babies can move away from this state before and during the birthing process if they're exposed to fear. Fear can cause infants to disconnect from the present moment and function in the "fear" mode — worried and unsettled. They operate under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system, the system that kicks in the fight-or-flight response when in danger.
This process can begin in the womb. Imagine your baby in your womb. The close physiological connection between mother and her embryo influences the unborn and may set the stage for how the baby perceives and responds to challenging situations throughout life. This connection is known as prenatal programming. It is possible that a mother with constantly raised levels of cortisol, released under stress during her pregnancy, may well produce a child with hyperactivity or behavioral problems.
For this reason, it's important for pregnant mothers to reduce stress during pregnancy. What's more, creating the right birth environment is critical. Leaving the womb is an intense process and, ideally, babies should enter an environment that's as similar as possible to the physical environment of the womb. Babies should be welcomed by soft light, familiar voices and the warmth of the mother's arms. Such conditions stimulate the production of oxytoxin – also called the "love hormone" – to reaffirm the bond between mother and child.
A baby's first moments have an enormous influence on the weeks and possibly years or decades after labor. Ideally, we want mother and baby to feel as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. This also will release oxytoxin, a neuro-hormone that is naturally released in an intimate relationship. It is the hormone produced during orgasm, and it is an important hormone for breastfeeding mothers. This magical love hormone is stimulated in the mother by her infant's scent or by pheromones (chemicals sensed by smell).
When we don't provide a nurturing birth environment, the baby can experience trauma, physical problems and emotional imbalances. When baby cannot be close to mom after birth and is exposed to strangers, sharp light and loud noises, baby falls into a state of fight-or-flight. But the child is too small to react the way adults would. The baby's sympathetic system stays in high alert and the newborn in high stress and anxiety. This can result in symptoms like restlessness, digestive problems or sleeping difficulties.
Since a baby's nervous system is growing so rapidly at this point, the negative experiences can biologically follow the child through life, making it hard for the child to adapt comfortably to change and new beginnings. It is always amazing for me to see and feel how infants can slowly let go of their history of trauma and move back toward health. In a CranioSacral session, babies can unwind, which is a term for moving one's own tissues into a more adaptable state. Babies can literally re-experience parts of their birth process, "telling" us their birth story. Sometimes they will move their bodies the way they did coming through the birth canal, but this time giving their tissues the opportunity to avoid getting stuck or traumatized.
Tony, for example, had to be delivered by vacuum extraction because of birth-related complications. He was a rather fidgety, restless newborn and had digestive problems. Medical findings were inconclusive. In our first session, I noticed tension in his cranial bones. There was also an irritation on the vagus nerve, which is the major nerve for controlling our digestive system and parasympathetic nervous system. I treated him by releasing tension in the cranial bones, freeing the vagal nerve and regulating the autonomic nervous system to function freely. During the session, Tony's system settled and his little body relaxed.
The tension in Tony's system was most likely caused by direct pressure on his head from the vacuum extraction. A natural birth usually involves less direct and more equal distribution of force. After a few more sessions working with other birth-related issues in his system, Tony became more content in everyday life and his digestive system started to settle. It's possible this therapy helped him avoid problems later in life. For example, we often find food sensitivities and attention disorders in children who experience births like Tony's.
In a therapy session, we have the opportunity to provide the most nurturing environment, correcting the initial traumas the body innocently embraced. In this way, babies' sense of presence is strong and healthy again. They no longer operate in the fear state. By re-establishing proper states in the body, old, unhealthy patterns fade and the infant is set to welcome new experiences and opportunities for growth and love.
Janine Blanchard is a European Osteopath and CranioSacral Therapist in Portland specializing in pre- and postpartum care, infants and children. For more information about her work, visit www.janineblanchard.com.
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