resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 2
A talented young woman presented herself with emotional mood swings, which included being nervous, anxious and jittery.
July, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 07
Freeing the Heart: The Importance of the Vagus Nerves/Cranial Nerve X
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
In my clinical work involving clients who typically present with chronic somatic problems, it is truly a joy when markers emerge that reflect, "the means by which" their healing experiences occurred.Since beginning to write this series of articles on "Freeing the Heart," more and more of my clients are regaining their quality of life more quickly.
Additionally, for those clients who have progressions of degenerating physiological function, their bodies are expressing their symptoms in more classic medical ways allowing for clearer and more appropriate diagnosis and treatment. And, for those whose bodies have held sub-clinical infections, many for multiple decades, they are responding so fast that I am in true amazement.
My latest premise about human aging is that the vagus nerves, for many possible reasons, cedes the functioning of the digestive system to the enteric nervous system which is probably overseen by the celiac plexus. The ceding of this responsibility is proposed to be the result of the need for the organism as a whole to concentrate its efforts toward running of the heart/lung complex and its contributions to our ability to speak.
The progression of cardiovascular disease is an exceedingly subtle one until, it isn't. Let's be clear, our bodies are not that different from how we organize our lives. We prioritize and distribute our energies as the obvious needs present themselves, disregarding what we can and delegating to others what we must.
Consider this analogy: Life gets hectic in the family, more money is needed to make ends meet and one or both parents take on a second job to financially keep up with the expanding needs, wants and desires of their children. As a result, one or more of the children is assigned the cooking responsibilities or even does the shopping, planning, clean-up and taking out the trash to accommodate this loss of parental skill and supervision. Most everything gets done but without the finesse, organization or thoroughness of an adult. It's a crude analogy but, in the ballpark for our purposes.
So it is when our autonomic nervous system is evolutionarily focused on the higher priority of getting the next breath and pumping freshly oxygenated blood, digestion becomes a secondary priority. Thus, without the brain's monitoring the Gastrointestinal tract, digestion, assimilation of nutrients and waste removal all happens, but with less coordination and efficiency.
Two years ago, a former student of mine had sent me an article that referenced that the Vagus Nerves were composed of 90% afferent fibers and 10% motor nerves.1 This information was novel, but it floated by in my consciousness without me acting upon it. Then, more recently, I happened upon a book that validated much of what I have asserted over many years regarding the importance of the length and tone of the esophagus and also restated this 90%/10% ratio between sensory and motor supply inherent within the vagus nerves.2
It suddenly dawned on me that the style of stretching I had developed to vent pressure from the thorax might also be stretching the filaments of the vagal nerves. This technique was described in the "Equalizing the Pressure" article of this series (Massage Today, February 2012). Could it be that these gentle stretches might be stimulating the vagal afferent fibers such that the brain was again coordinating the body as a more unified organism? And, could it also be that the immune system was also being stimulated to wake up and began to recognize deteriorating physiological progressions and aggregations of bacteria and viruses that it previously had been too overloaded to notice? Admittedly, it is a curious idea yet, it has very significant positive implications.
Might this be "the means by which" such improvements for clients were being realized? It is a very possible therapeutic response to my constant mantra of the past few years, "if one can restore nerve and blood supply, then almost any healing can occur." Full credit is given to Dr. Richard MacDonald, DO, for presenting this maxim from his long Osteopathic teaching career when I assisted him in his Functional Anatomy courses in 1989 & 1990.3
Let's return to the notion of 90% afferent vagal fibers and 10% vagal motor fibers. Stimulating the afferent filaments is being proposed as a method to assist the central nervous system in re-engaging its full attention to coordinating physiological function inclusive of a more alert and responsive immune system.
The next proposal is that reducing the compressive forces upon the vagus nerves motor fibers is also a part of this re-engagement of normal vagal function. Based on my clinical experience with clients, the most frequent places in anatomy where this compressive force is most plausibly obstructed is where the vagus nerve exits the cranium through the jugular foramen and in the superior sympathetic ganglion immediately lateral to C1, C2 and C3 where there exists an intimate relationship between the sympathetic fibers and the parasympathetic vagal fibers.
The successful long history of upper cervical adjustments by osteopathic and chiropractic physicians in addressing a plethora of somatic and visceral dysfunctions bear testimony to the importance of these anatomical relationships. Then, when one adds myofascial stretching to the fibers of the esophagus and to the stretching of the pleural, pericardial and peritoneal sacs, this is how the proposed stimulation of vagal fibers as they descend into the abdomen is effected. I share these observations and ideas, not because of my certainty that they are absolute facts, but because I desire to stimulate other practitioners in our field to join with me and explore whether these ideas can be reflected in our choices of skill sets and techniques which collectively comprise our profession. Thus, producing more effective results for our respective clients. In doing so, anatomy is our common language.
It has long been my instinct that our profession can make a number of significant contributions to how healing may be realized. It is my prayer that this concept of "Freeing The Heart" may simply be one of many more to come.
Author's Note: Additional credit to John Upldeger, DO, developer of CranioSacral Therapy, for his healing paradigm of lowering sympathetic tone and assisting parasympathetic outflow; to Dr. Jean Pierre Barral, DO, for his premise about the importance of re-establishing normal pressure differentials between the body's three great cavities in its role toward enhancing normal circulatory efficiency; to Lansing Barrett Gresham, founder of Integrated Awareness® for his postulation that since the visceral organs are functioning well before the skeletal muscles are capable of moving the body in a coordinated fashion, that the tensional patterns of the visceral suspensory ligaments play a major role in the eventual range of motion for most of the body's joint structures; and finally to Frank Lowen, LMT, for his contributions as I have an indelible memory of his fascial stretching between the thorax and the abdomen in 1991 in West Palm Beach that I know was part of the inspiration to develop these techniques.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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