Scar formation is a normal response following any injury or surgery; it is the way the body heals injured structures. Scar tissue may involve only the superficial skin, or it may involve the deeper tissues beneath the skin, including nerves and tendons. Scars can become overly sensitive and can limit motion and function.
Benefits of scar therapy with manual therapy and acupuncture:
An active scar may be red, raised, firm, and thick. While scars are young and in the healing phase (pink, red, raised, thick, and sensitive) they should be protected from the sun (in my opinion medical tape is best) as sunlight cause the scar to hyper pigment or turn darker than the surrounding skin. Keep your scars away from the sun for at least one year following your surgery. Scars have completed the healing process when they are light in color, smooth, supple, and no longer sensitive to touch.
Besides massage and acupuncture, Silicone Scar Sheets help to soften and diminish the appearance of scars. It's cheap and you can get them in any drug stores.
Crabs move sideways. Triathletes spend most of their time in the sagittal plane (moving forwards and backwards) as they swim (freestyle), bike and run. Therefore it is very important to cross train in different planes of motion (side bending and rotating) in order to prevent injuries, increase range of motion, and provide greater stability for your body.
Sports that include side bending or rotational movements work your body in different planes and allow you a break from the repetition of forward and backward movements.
Schedule 3 plane exercises - such as gyrotonics, yoga (You can find specific yoga classes - such as yoga for runners, yoga for triathletes, yoga for swimmers - on YouTube), tennis, basketball - into your weekly routine (Pilates is saggital plane only, same as running and cycling).
Or add a few laps of butterfly or breast strokes to your routine. Balance your training.
You can't afford time off for injuries and you don't want to retire early because of the degenerative effects of wear and tear on your overloaded joints. (Did someone say arthritis?!)
There are different theories on how and why the stabbing pain on your sides develops while running. The explanations range from not having enough breakfast to poor blood supply in the diaphragm resulting in cramps in the abdominal muscles.
In my opinion poor posture, improper breathing techniques or the wrong running style provoke a side stitch.
Let's look at them one by one:
1. Poor posture:
If you sit most of the day or you had an abdominal surgery you develop muscle imbalances, some areas (your hip flexors and low back) are probably incredibly tight and some are not working properly (your abdominals and butt). Most likely you also have faulty pelvic alignment.
How do you run? Do you keep your phone in your hand? Are you involuntarily keeping your upper torso very stiff? If so, - your diaphragm, oblique and intercostal muscles most likely don't get enough oxygen and blood.
With increased speed, your body needs more oxygen. Irregular and shallow breathing can lead to a side stitch. Regulate your breathing. Proper breathing also contributes to relaxation of the diaphragm and respiratory muscles.
Acupuncture and specific postural exercises help you correct the movement patterns that cause the side stitch. You also develop the necessary balance and strength, we work on releasing the facilitated muscles and activate the ones currently under working. A well-trained core and proper posture allow rotational movements in the trunk of the body. The internal organs are actively supported and you are less prone to cramps.
Try this exercise before your run:
- Lie on your back with both legs bent at 90 degree angles on a chair or block. Press your heels down so you are activating the hamstrings.
- Tuck your tailbone under
- Put your right hand under your head and keep your left one on your left rib cage (the right side is stretching).
- Breathe all the air out of your lungs slowly and press your left rib down gently (this activates the left rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the transverse abdominis).
- Hold this position for 5 seconds then breathe in as deeply as you can.
- Repeat 5x.
Play with these while running:
- Breathe in two steps and on the third step breathe out, this improves your breathing depth and the relaxation of the muscles.
- Exhale when you are placing your left foot down
- Breathe in for 5 counts and breathe out for 8.
- Breathe out like you blowing a birthday candle
- Yell "ha" really loud a couple of times
With all of these you can see the exhale is longer. A long exhale helps relaxing the diaphragm.
Yin and Yang
The ancient Chinese recognized that life and health depend on the dynamic balance of opposing yet complementary forces. The terms yin and yang are used to represent this relationship. Yin and yang can never be completely isolated or separated as there is no purely yin or purely yang phenomenon; they are always interdependent. Yin supports yang and yang protects yin when harmony prevails.
The ancient Taoists sought to understand the proper place of humans in relation to heaven and earth, to each other and to ourselves. They studied the cycles of nature and looked to see their reflections within us. They realized that even though our behavior is voluntary, nature has definite laws and boundaries which cannot be transgressed for long without creating disharmony.
A fundamental tenet of Taoist thought and practices is the proper respect for and use of the yin aspects of life. In our culture, many of the yin aspects are feared. Darkness is often equated with evil and death, passivity and receptivity with incompetence and failure, femininity with weakness and dependency.
Our culture particularly values and rewards manifestations of yang nature. Yang nature is revealed in that which is hot, outgoing, active, brilliant, growing, expanding, spending, consuming, displaying, aggressive, light, conscious, rational, thinking and focused. Yang manifestations depend on yin for fuel and support. Without yin, there will be no yang.
The nature of yang is fiery, active and hot. Yin provides the counter balance to activity, for recovery and refueling. If we praise and encourage the activity without understanding or knowing its source, we are in danger of neglecting or over-consuming the elements we are unconscious of.
To properly balance the yang with the yin in our own life, we must know how to do, how to assert, to take action, yet abide in being and remain true to our self. When we try to conform to outward standards and appearances, we lose touch with our inner needs or despise them if they conflict with the outer ideal.
We lose our integrity and our ability to know what is the right path for us. Once that has happened, we substitute the demands of others and current fashions for our own inner knowledge and trust. If we follow external demands with no reference to inner needs, eventually imbalance, illness and unhappiness are the result.
Our culture, in general, is unconscious of the value of yin, except as fuel for yang. This easily creates an imbalance because excessive yang consumes the yin. One example of this attitude is the over-consumption of resources and the damaging of the earth. Each one of us reflects and contributes to the whole. On an individual basis, the cultural pressure toward overvaluing yang and undervaluing yin has certain consequences, both physically and mentally.
So what is it we are overlooking when we undervalue yin? Yin has the qualities of earth and water. Yin is substantial, cohesive and gives depth and weight. It is passive, open, yielding and hidden. It's only resistance is its own nature: weight and inactivity. Left to itself, yin is static, or will flow downward with gravity. Yet it holds and contains, collects and stores and therefore, nourishes and sustains. It is the abundant valley of the world. Yin endures.
If we are over-consuming our yin (whether due to over-activity, or because it was deficient to begin with), we begin to lose our endurance and reserves. We become over-reactive and hypersensitive. Growth slows or even stops (this is more physical in children and more psychological and spiritual in adults). We lose the dimension of depth and life becomes more and more superficial. The sense of flow, the feeling of support and having what we need fades.
Signs of Yin DeficiencyPhysically, it becomes difficult to relax and rest, even to the point of insomnia. We start to dry up inside which causes dry skin, hair, eyes, lips, nose, throat and mouth. Aging is accelerated, causing gray hair and deterioration of the skin. Vision and hearing become less acute. Low grade fever or flushing of the cheeks, unusually warm hands and feet (or they may switch from warm to freezing and back again), sweating at night, fatigue, knee or back pain and weakness, bone deterioration, anxiety, poor memory and restlessness are all indications of serious yin depletion. The physical signs are usually more advanced, the early signs are more emotional and psychological.
The way we use our mind and emotions has a strong effect on our store of yin. If we habitually use anger, worry and anxiety as methods of action, the hot, yang, hyperactive nature of these emotions will over-consume yin. Forced use of the intellect, especially at night, will eventually drain the yin. The use of stimulants or will power to force the energy up and out of the body, drains our reserves. At first, forcing our yin outward feels great and exciting, fueling the yang, but as our reserves dwindle, we will need stimulants just to get out of bed in the morning.
The less yin we have, the more easily agitated and disturbed we become. Minor inconveniences can become quite painful as we lose our shock absorbers. Fun is more and more difficult to find. Constant tension, feeling burned-out, being easily hurt or offended, a constant sense of dissatisfaction, feeling like your nerves are raw, are early signs of yin depletion. They continue to worsen as the physical signs emerge.
For most of us, the simplest way to conserve yin is to refrain from certain activities. In fact, we will naturally do so as yin is consumed because we lose our support for yang activity. However, because of our cultural biases, we have a strong tendency to over-ride our natural warnings and inclinations. Most of us will push ourselves beyond our natural level of activity without also promoting the extra yin reserves to support it. Activity under those conditions invariably becomes less and less satisfying and our normal response is to lose our desire to do it.
A subtle sign of gradual depletion is that you feel pretty good in general except that there are a number of activities you no longer engage in due to pain or weakness. You have settled into a definitely curtailed range of activities as a way of balancing the deficiency. An opposite sign is dependence on stimulants and willpower to maintain a level of activity you originally engaged in because it was rewarding. It becomes a chore instead.
Yin Deficiency and Aging
You may have noticed that a lot of this sounds like getting old. It is. Most of the typical problems of aging are due to the fact that eventually, our yin reserves are depleted by living. So to some extent, it is inevitable. But we do accelerate the process unnecessarily, or at least in ways which can be minimized or prevented and with some effort even reversed. The physical deterioration that has become so common at such surprisingly young ages, is not inevitable.
The ancient Chinese in observing and recognizing the dependence of yang on yin and yin on yang, developed methods to supplement and build the body's reserves. Exercises and movement such as Tai Chi and Chi Gong gather and move the chi or vital energy in the body, invigorating the yang aspect. The primary methods for restoring or preserving the yin reserves are conservation, proper diet and nutrition, and Chinese Herbal Therapy, particularly tonic herbal therapy. Since the nature of yin is substantial, it requires actual physical supplementation.
Yin and Yang operate at every level of the body. The root of all yin and yang is called Jing, or Essence. The essence of the body is the most powerful source of life energy. This includes the endocrine system and all of the hormones, bone marrow, spinal cord and brain. The depletion of Jing which is the deepest yin of the body, results in aging. Jing is one of the Three Treasures: Shen (spirit), Qi or chi (energy) and Jing (Essence). Guarding the Three Treasures and replenishing them whenever possible is the way to build the yin and keep the yang strong. The Chinese search for longevity is based on this.
Opposite qualities are being defined as one entity. Yin and yang arise together and create each other. The goal is always balance. Supplements, herbal therapy and foods all work on the various aspects of yin, yang, blood and chi. But the yin aspect and the Jing are always where the reserves are stored and collected. Draining our reserves is always creating a kind of yin deficiency. The yang substances are the more activating supplements and foods. Over consumption of those can deplete the yin.
Herbs that build yin are usually moist, oily or otherwise heavy and substantial. This is true of foods that build yin as well. The effect is similar to the effect of compost on the soil. Yin tonics promote flesh and fluids, plumping up the tissues and moistening and soothing the mucus membranes. They engender fullness to the tissues and skin, and promote healthy blood, bones and brain.
The tonic herbs are a concentrated form of nutrition. They retain the biological complexity and synergy of food yet exceed the ability of food to build reserve energy beyond our everyday energy needs. The yin tonics are not at all stimulating.
The herbal tonics can be employed along with other herbal formulas to relieve specific symptoms such as chronic pain, poor digestion, elimination problems, skin disorders or other specific organ malfunctions. There are tonic herbs which promote chi (energy), blood, shen (spirit), yin and yang, as well as Jing.
These herbs are often combined into formulas to address the specific imbalances and deficiencies that are present. It is important to consult a trained herbalist when using the tonic herbs, as depending on the type of imbalance, taking an incorrect formula can definitely make the condition feel worse, or it may simply be ineffective.
The herbal tonic methods were originally developed by the Taoist sages and physicians in their search for immortality, or at the least, healthy longevity, for themselves and for the emperor and his court. Thousands of years of experience and observation have resulted in a well-developed and effective means to retard aging and restore resources to an exhausted body. The traditional time to engage in strong tonification is during the winter.
The Challenge of Winter
With the approach of winter and the receding of the warm, expansive and luxuriant energies of summer, the more hidden and deeper aspects of our being, mentally and physically, begin to emerge. Our skeleton self and shadow selves may step out and command our attention. Just as when the falling leaves reveal the underlying structure of the trees, and as when a receding tide uncovers many things the high tide has hidden, winter brings us face to face with issues or imbalances which the high tide of the summer energies have allowed us skim over.
The power and consciousness which is potentially available to us must often be gained at the price of seeing ourself perhaps more clearly than we would wish to. When our boat grounds out on the rocks of winter, for many this is seen as pain, illness, depression, despair or fear. If we look closer, we may find the key we have been seeking in our quest for growth and healing.
When we understand the great opportunity we have to see inside and underneath our own appearances, and to develop and heal on those deeper levels, we can turn apparent adversity and loss to form the seeds of new growth. Winter is the time when all energies return to the roots. It is the best time to build stored reserves and Jing and create a strong foundation.
This process is known as tonification. To tonify means to feed, build up, and strengthen. Tonification in winter is important to give the energy and heat to resist the cold and dark and to store up reserves for the demands of the spring and summer expansion and growth. Failure to guard and nourish the Three Treasures in winter can give rise to pain in spring such as joint pain and headaches, liver or rib pain, dizziness and fatigue.
The first line of defense in strengthening and preserving the body's reserves is to avoid draining what you have or hope to gain. This means curtailing certain activities and increasing others. The main activity to increase is resting and sleeping. Many people feel that there is something wrong with them because they wish to sleep more and lose much of their desire to do many things during the winter. But this is completely normal and right for the season.
Winter's sleep is the deepest and most restful of the year. Get it while you can! Spring will change all of that. The excitement and ambition of spring can take hold as early as February which only gives you two or three months of optimal rest and retreat time. Learning to say no to new projects, classes or other taxing activities during this time can make a huge difference in improving fatigue.
A main activity to avoid is mental work and studying at night. Instead, do it as early in the day as you can. Listen to music, watch movies or do light crafts or artwork at night. It is also best to avoid cold drinks or raw, cold foods. Instead, drink spicy warm herb teas, eat soups and stews and other cooked, warm, substantial foods. Avoid stimulants of all kinds: caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and all drugs legal or illegal. Try to cut back on your projects and work until the end of January when the energies of spring begin to rise.
The strongest Chinese herbal tonics are best tolerated during the winter. Some of the most strengthening and powerful tonics such as ginseng, astragalus, dang gui, deer antler and others can be difficult to take at other times of the year and may cause headaches, insomnia or skin eruptions when taken then or if there is significant yin deficiency.
The Chinese herbal tonics are unique in their variety and sophistication. However, it is best not to take tonics without proper supervision as they are strong enough to aggravate some conditions when taken improperly. Never use tonics when fighting any kind of flu or infection as the tonics can retard full recovery when used at the wrong stage of the illness.
Tonics can take from one to four weeks for the effects to be felt as they are not stimulating but work by giving extra support and nourishment to the internal organs. Often the first noticeable effect will be a desire to sleep more than usual. The more this desire is indulged, the faster the sleepiness will pass to be replaced by more endurance and eventually, greater energy. But do not spend all of your new found energy or you will not gain the rejuvenating benefits which are possible. Keep some energy for yourself.
written by http://www.tvernonlac.com/chinesemedicine.html
My mom broke her rib back in May when she fall while gardening. Every time she took a breath, moved, sneezed, coughed or laughed she was in a great deal of pain. She had difficulty standing, sitting, sleeping, bending, turning… basically existing.
Her conventional solution (both my parents are western doctors) was ice and a super potent painkiller, that took her to la la land and also made her groggy. “Broken ribs heal on their own within six weeks” - she said over the phone.
Thankfully she's open to acupuncture and herbs so I was able to Fedex her liniments and herbs that I use at my clinic.
She started with two Trauma Pills a day for three days (Trauma Pills are meant for the treatments of acute traumatic injuries to the body. The herbs in it increase circulation, promote healing while reducing stagnation and inflammation). The herbs don't taste great, but her pain was unbearable so she was willing to take them.
Overnight she put a plaster of San Huang San (used when the tissue is swollen, bruised and inflamed. Composed of cooling herbs that reduce inflammation and kill pain while increase local blood flow. It helps circulation and healing) on the affected area.
On day four she started the Rib Fracture Formula twice a day. I’m from a small town, with no acupuncturist there so my mom went to see a massage therapist we have in town to help her release the intercostal muscles, that were in spasm.
The massage therapist used the Trauma Liniment (this liniment contains herbs that stops pain, reduces swelling & inflammation and increases local blood flow, just like San Huang San) The massage greatly reduced her pain and enabled her to move around and breathe more freely.
Over the next two weeks she went for massage 3x/week, used the Trauma Liniment and took the Rib Fracture Formula, and by the end of the second week she was pain free with most daily activities. The only remaining pain she had upon waking for an other week.
Overall it took her to heal three weeks, which is half of her self prognosis of six weeks.
(if she were here I would of additionally needled her intercostal Motor Points to reset her muscles, needled around the injury site to increase blood flow to help healing the fracture and Traditional Acupuncture Points to promote healing and reduce swelling and inflammation in the area)
Again, Yay for Chinese Trauma Medicine.
Next time you break your rib and want to cut your healing time in half keep acupuncture in mind :-)
The black and blue spot that we call a bruise is actually a hematoma, a pooling of blood from broken blood vessels inside the muscles and tissues of the injured area. Although bruises get better on their own, it is best to treat all contusions as they can interfere with daily activities or sports performance for weeks or even months.
Recover from injuries quicker and maintain your competitive edge:
Did you know that most of the time, when your back “goes out", your back is not actually going anywhere?
Although it may feel that parts of your back have moved, that something needs to be put back in place, however, there are no bones or discs moving from their regular position, so there’s nothing to “come back in.” Instead, what most often you’re experiencing is an injury to the muscles or ligaments around the spine.
The low back was designed to bend forward, backwards and to the side. It wasn't designed for rotational movements. Most often Strain occurs when you are rotating while bending forward your spine. The muscles and tendons are overstretched or torn, causing an inflammatory response. Often, the muscles in the front of your body (abdominal & hip flexor muscles) that help to stabilize the lumbar vertebrae also go into spasm as part of the body's protective response, leaving you stiff and in agony.
The conventional treatment involves a prescription for anti inflammatories and muscle relaxants. However if you are interested in a natural way of pain relief here are the steps you should follow:
1. Don't panic! Take deep breaths - inhale to a count of 10 and exhale to a count of 10 - and realize that you’re most likely not in any serious danger. The breathing muscle (diaphragm) has connective tissue attachments to the lumbar spine, so breathing actually helps loosening the tightness in your low back.
2. Lie on your back with both legs bent at 90 degree angles on a chair or block, hands by your side. Let the lower back relax. Hold this position as long as it is comfortable.
3. Massage & Trauma Liniment: Injury=inflammation. But stay away from the ice pack. (Read the blog post on why acupuncturist don't use ice). Turn to massage instead. Rub the tissue around the injured body part with Trauma Liniment. Initially use gentle pressure, but as swelling and pain decreases and the muscles start loosening up go deeper. Massage breaks up accumulations, loosens the tissue and helps improve blood flow while reduces swelling and pain. Trauma Liniment is used by martial artists all over the world, as the number one treatment for sprains, bruises, contusions and fractures. This liniment contains various herbs that stop pain, reduce swelling & inflammation and increase local blood flow without the unwanted side effects produced by icing.
4. Take herbs instead of anti inflammatories. Trauma Pill is the internal counterpart to Trauma Liniment. The pill helps preventing blood from congealing in the tissues of the injured area therefore facilitate the return of normal circulation, allowing the injury to heal. Take 1 pill twice a day for 2-3 days.
5. Get acupuncture: Stimulation of the motor points with acupuncture needles can be used to help retrain neuromuscular function lost due to muscle inhibition following injury or surgery.
6. Stay hydrated. Water helps hydrate your disks (the shock absorbers of the spine) and flushes toxins from the injury out of your system.
7. Movement: let pain be your guide. Don’t run the marathon the day after you throw out your back, but also don’t be afraid of moving around. Do simple range of motion exercises and stretches that do not aggravate the injury. Movements prevent muscle atrophy, restore normal function and help you return to your desired activities quicker.
8. Continue to take it easy for the first twenty-four hours. Rest as much as you can with your legs up on the chair (see point 2.) You should start to feel some easing of the pain now, and some renewed ability to move.
If you’re still unable to move much after 48 hours or if you feel numbness or shooting pain down your leg, or have bowel problems, please get to your doctor as soon as you can. In most cases, however, the combination of steps listed above will bring you gradual relief. After the first 48 hours, continue to gradually increase your movements, but give yourself 1–3 weeks to fully recover.
Prior to Conception: The Role of an Acupuncture Protocol in Improving Women's Reproductive Functioning Assessed by a Pilot Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial.Cochrane S1, Smith CA2, Possamai-Inesedy A3, Bensoussan A2.
The global average of couples with fertility problems is 9%. Assisted reproductive technologies are often inaccessible. Evidence points to acupuncture offering an opportunity to promote natural fertility. This study asked whether providing a multiphasic fertility acupuncture protocol to women with sub/infertility would increase their awareness of fertility and achieve normalisation of their menstrual cycle compared with a lifestyle control. In a pragmatic randomised controlled trial sub/infertile women were offered an intervention of acupuncture and lifestyle modification or lifestyle modification only. There was a statistically significant increase in fertility awareness in the acupuncture group (86.4%, 19) compared to 40% (n = 8) of the lifestyle only participants (Relative Risk (RR) 2.38, 95% confidence interval (CI) of 1.25, 4.50), with an adjusted p value of 0.011. Changes in menstrual regularity were not statistically significant. There was no statistical difference in the pregnancy rate with seven women (adjusted p = 0.992) achieving pregnancy during the course of the study intervention. Those receiving the acupuncture conceived within an average of 5.5 weeks compared to 10.67 weeks for the lifestyle only group (p = 0.422). The acupuncture protocol tested influenced women who received it compared to women who used lifestyle modification alone: their fertility awareness and wellbeing increased, and those who conceived did so in half the time.
Harvard Study Reveals What Meditation Literally Does To Gastrointestinal (Bowel) Disorders - (By Collective Evolution)
The hits just keep on coming when it comes to the health benefits of meditation. Research is now emerging that would justify implementing this practice within hospitals and schools (some already do) as well as including it in treatment recommendations for various diseases.
Not long ago, an eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brains grey matter in just eight weeks. It was the very first study to document that meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter. Now, they’ve released another study showing that meditation can have a significant impact on clinical symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study showed that elicitation of the relaxation response (a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress) is a very big help.
The study comes out of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). This is the very first study where the use of the “relaxation response” was examined in these disorders, and the first to investigate the genomic effects of the relaxation response in individuals with any disorder. The report was published in the journalPLOS-ONE. (source)
Given the two studies cited above, and all of the other documented health benefits of meditation, this should open the door for more studies to examine the benefits of meditation for a wide range of diseases.
“Our results suggest exciting possibilities for further developing and implementing this treatment in a wider group of patients with gastrointestinal illness. Several studies have found that stress management techniques and other psychological interventions can help patients with IBS, at least in the short term; and while the evidence for IBD is less apparent, some studies have suggested potential benefits. What is novel about our study is demonstration of the impact of a mind/body intervention on the genes controlling inflammatory factors that are known to play a major role in IBD and possibly in IBS.” – Brandon Kuo of the gastrointestinal unit in the MGH Department of Medicine, co-lead author of the report. (source)
For those of you who are unaware, IBS and IBD are chronic conditions that produce similar symptoms which include; abdominal pain, and changes in bowel function, like diarrhea. IBD also includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which leads one to suffer from severe inflammation in all or part of the gastrointestinal tract. Science has shown us that stress intensifies these symptoms, which is why this study regarding meditation and these diseases holds a great deal of importance.
The relaxation response has been subject to several studies that clearly show that its regular practice (induced by meditation) directly affects physiologic factors such as oxygen consumption, heart rate, blood pressure and again, stress and anxiety. It was first described over 40 years ago by Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute and co-author of the paper presented in this article.
The study had 48 adult participants, with 19 of them being diagnosed with IBS and 29 with IBD. There was weekly relaxation response training, as well as in their home for 15 t0 20 mintues each day.
The study enrolled 48 adult participants — 19 of whom had been diagnosed with IBS and 29 with IBD — who participated in a nine-week group program focused on stress reduction, cognitive skills, and health-enhancing behaviors. Each of the weekly sessions included relaxation response training, and participants were asked to practice relaxation response elicitation at home for 15 to 20 minutes each day. Along with aspects featured in other group programs offered at the Benson-Henry Institute, this program included a session specifically focused on gastrointestinal health.
“Both in patients with IBS and those with IBD, participation in the mind/body program appeared to have significantly improved disease-related symptoms, anxiety, and overall quality of life, not only at the end of the study period but also three weeks later. While there were no significant changes in inflammatory markers for either group of participants, changes in expression were observed in almost 200 genes among participants with IBS and more than 1,000 genes in those with IBD. Many of the genes with altered expression are known to contribute to pathways involved with stress response and inflammation.” (source)
MEDITATION AND HOW TO DO ITA common misconception about meditation is that you have to sit a certain way or do something in particular to achieve the various benefits that it can provide. All you have to do is place yourself in a position that is most comfortable to you. It could be sitting crosslegged, lying down in a bed, sitting on a couch etc, it’s your choice. That being said, I do not doubt that sitting in a certain position allows energy to flow more freely through you body, but above all (in my opinion) comfort is of utmost importance.
It’s not about trying to empty your mind, and as the first study cited in this article states, it’s about the “non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.” Let the thoughts, feelings and emotions that pop up present themselves, don’t judge them, and let them pass. Make peace with whatever you are experiencing.
I also believe that meditation is a state of being/mind. One can be engaged in meditation while they are on a walk, for example, or the time they have right before they sleep. Throughout the day, one can resist judging their thoughts, letting them flow until they are no more, or just be in a constant state of peace and self awareness. Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way to meditate.
For more articles from Collective Evolution on meditation you can click HERE.
All sources are highlighted throughout the article.
Courtesy of Collective Evolution
"Incidence of adverse events associated with acupuncture/pharmacopuncture treatment was low, and most cases were not serious. Still, however rare, avoidable adverse events can and should be prevented through education and corrective action"
Safety of Acupuncture and Pharmacopuncture in 80,523 Musculoskeletal Disorder Patients: A Retrospective Review of Internal Safety Inspection and Electronic Medical Records.Kim MR1, Shin JS, Lee J, Lee YJ, Ahn YJ, Park KB, Lee HD, Lee Y, Kim SG, Ha IH.Author information
We investigated the range and frequency of significant adverse events (AEs) in use of pharmacopuncture and acupuncture using large-scale, single-center safety data as evidence supporting safety of acupuncture with pharmacopuncture, used extensively in Asia, is scarce. Status reports (nurse records in ambulatory and inpatient care units, and administrative event records) as a part of an internal audit at a Korean Medicine hospital specializing in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, patient complaints filed through the hospital website, and medical records of patients visiting from December, 2010 (inception of internal audit) to October, 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. A total 80,523 patients (5966 inpatients and 74,557 outpatients) visited during this period. Inpatients received an average 31.9 ± 20.7 acupuncture, 23.0 ± 15.6 pharmacopuncture, and 15.4 ± 11.3 bee venom pharmacopuncture sessions, and outpatients were administered 8.2 ± 12.2 acupuncture, 7.8 ± 11.5 pharmacopuncture, and 10.0 ± 12.3 bee venom sessions, respectively. AEs associated with acupuncture/pharmacopuncture were forgotten needle (n = 47), hypersensitivity to bee venom (n = 37), presyncopic episode (n = 4), pneumothorax (n = 4), and infection (n = 2). Most cases were mild requiring little or no additional intervention and leaving no sequelae. Although serious AEs including infection (n = 2) and anaphylaxis associated with bee venom treatment (n = 3) were also reported, incidence was rare at 0.002% in infection and 0.019% in anaphylaxis. Incidence of AEs associated with acupuncture/pharmacopuncture treatment was low, and most cases were not serious. Still, however rare, avoidable AEs can and should be prevented through education and corrective action. Further prospective studies on the effect of error reduction strategies on incidence of adverse effects are warranted.
People who practiced acupuncture or the Alexander Technique had greater pain reductions than those who got standard treatment
Two alternative therapies get a boost of scientific legitimacy in a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Acupuncture, the ancient practice of needle insertion, and the Alexander Technique, a program that teaches people how to avoid unnecessary muscle tension throughout the day and improve posture, coordination, balance and stress, are two complementary therapies often used to help treat neck pain. Treating it is often difficult, and it’s common for people to seek out alternative therapies.
The researchers wanted to see how well two of these worked. They assigned 517 people, all of whom had neck pain for at least three months (and sometimes many years), to the standard care for neck pain, which involves prescription medications and physical therapy. Some of the patients were assigned to also receive one of two extra treatments: a dozen 50-minute acupuncture sessions or 20 private Alexander Technique lessons—which focus on teaching people how to move their body to avoid or correct muscular pain.
A year after the start of the study, people in the groups doing acupuncture and the Alexander Technique had significant reductions in neck pain—pain was assessed by questionnaire—compared to those who just got usual care. Both groups reported about 32% less pain than they had at the start of the study, which is far greater than the 9% typically associated with physical therapy and exercise. The interventions also gave people in the groups more self-efficacy, which were linked to better pain outcomes.
The study adds to growing evidence suggesting that acupuncture is effective against pain; a landmark review in 2012 involving almost 18,000 people with chronic pain concluded that acupuncture was better than standard care and sham acupuncture (which proved the effect is not due to placebo of simply sticking needles in the body.)
“You get a two-fold effect with acupuncture for pain: a natural pain-relieving effect and an anti-inflammatory effect,” says Jamie Starkey, lead acupuncturist at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, who was not involved in the new study.
Acupuncture manipulates the nervous system, she says, activating the release of pain-relieving endorphins. “With neck pain patients, a lot will get steroid injections or take a non-steroidal anti inflammatory, like ibuprofen or a prescription medication,” says Starkey. “Those medications or injections have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, but the acupuncture needles can do that naturally.”
The influx of new research has helped legitimize alternative therapies like acupuncture, says Starkey. “That’s really brought acupuncture to the forefront of people’s minds and attention, and physicians are a lot more willing to refer their patients to an acupuncturist.”
I posted about this a while back - read it here - Chinese Medicine does not advocate fasting or frequent detoxification regimes because these practices tend to deplete the body’s vital energy. Fasting stresses the body, forcing it to operate on stored nutrients. Just eat healthy and exercise so you won't ever have to detox. (What is exactly a healthy diet?)
Below is a great New York Times article on Juices and Colon Cleanses:
Misconception: Juice cleansing can remove toxins from your system.
Actually: To say that drinking juice detoxifies the body isn’t quite the same as claiming leeches suck out poisons, but it’s fairly close.
The practice of cleansing has become as ubiquitous as the use of hand sanitizer. Celebrities do it. Spas offer it. Fancy food stores sell pricey bottles of juice to accomplish it, and a $700 juicer will soon facilitate the process for those who are not satisfied with the current D.I.Y. options. But what is it that everybody is trying to remove from their bodies? Is there any science behind it?
“People are interested in this so-called detoxification, but when I ask them what they are trying to get rid of, they aren’t really sure,” said Dr. James H. Grendell, the chief of the division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. “I’ve yet to find someone who has specified a toxin they were hoping to be spared.”
Toxins exist. Doctors typically define them as something that enters the body that has a damaging effect on its own — like pesticides, lead or antifreeze — or in large quantities, like alcohol or medications such as acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.
But for the most part, the body handles toxins just fine on its own.
“The human body is well designed to eliminate wastes and toxins, and a number of organs play a role,” Dr. Grendell said.
The kidneys and the liver do the main removal work. They draw substances out of the bloodstream and process them for the body to excrete as feces and urine.
When asked what about this process would be helped by juice, Dr. Grendell seemed at a loss.
“It’s hard to understand because there is no good scientific evidence that a juice cleanse, or any other food for that matter, is particularly relevant to removing toxins,” he said.
This isn’t to say that drinking vitamin-rich, antioxidant-filled vegetable juice can’t be beneficial for one’s health, he added, or function as an effective tool for weight loss or resetting one’s habits. It’s the vague talk of toxins that reminds doctors of leeches.
Dr. Antoinette Saddler, a gastroenterologist at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, agreed to read through one of many blog posts available online about cleansing. She said she was perplexed from the beginning.
A juice diet rests the stomach, it claimed.
“Why does the stomach need resting?” she asked
She read further. Juices require less of the stomach’s digestive processing, it said.
“Who said that was beneficial?” she said.
And then she got to the inevitable detox claim: Juicing “allows the body to have more of the resources it needs to support the phases of detoxification, and even to begin to help remove the cumulative toxins stored in the body.”
“What does that even mean?” she said. Exasperated, she stopped reading.
The blog post was actually written by a doctor, Dr. Woodson Merrell, the author of the book, “The Detox Prescription.” Reached by phone in his Manhattan office, Dr. Merrell, who practices a mix of Western medicine and indigenous traditions, such as Chinese medicine, seemed resigned to dismissive attitudes from gastroenterologists.
Dr. Merrell said what it comes down to for him is that Americans need to eat more vegetables, period. If juicing is the path to that, great.
“The whole thing about juice is it makes that easier to get. And it’s easily digestible and absorbable,” he said.
As for resting the stomach, he believes well-chewed food is as good as juice, but most people don’t chew well.
“I’m a fanatic about chewing,” he said.
For Dr. Merrell, juice — like any healthful food — provides nutrients that help the liver process toxins, much like grease on a gearshaft. He warned that juice should be thick and contain all parts of the fruit or vegetable, including fiber.
“I’m not talking about some thin watery juice,” he said.
But he also acknowledged that cleansing “has been so overly hyped. Lots of people making wild claims of things.”
Similar confusion enters the realm of the colon cleanse, another planet in the detox galaxy. But colon cleanses, which can come as herbal remedies in the form of pills or teas or blended drinks, and sometimes as enemas, don’t push out toxins any more than juice.
“I understand the intuitive appeal of using these colon cleanses — ‘Get the toxins out, make your abdomen feel better,’” Dr. Saddler said.
But that intuition leads one down the wrong road, scientifically.
Stool is actually beneficial to the lining of the colon. Increasingly, doctors are even tapping into its benefits, she said, for example transplanting stool from healthy people into the guts of sick people.
“The idea that stool is somehow poisonous and toxic is very misguided thinking,” she said.
What is Cosmetic Acupuncture?
Cosmetic Acupuncture is a non-surgical method of reducing the signs of aging while simultaneously revitalizing the whole body. It is a holistic approach that will leave you looking younger and feeling re-energized.
Who would benefit from it?
Anyone who is interested in restoring their skin to its youthful glow naturally may consider it. The procedure is also suited for people concerned about deep wrinkles, fine lines, sagging, puffiness, large pores, dry skin and acne.
What is the course of treatment?
10 treatments are recommended. Usually results are visible around the 6-7 treatments, but the full 10-week session is recommended for lasting results. After the 10 treatments, a maintenance program including less frequent but continued cosmetic acupuncture sessions, self-facial massage, diet, exercise and lifestyle counseling are recommended.
Treatments are scheduled twice a week for 5 weeks. If you need results faster, ask about other possible schedules.
That's just a 10 hours commitment to looking younger!
What are the effects?
Treatments can erase 5-15 years from the face by improving muscle tone, firming skin, and filling out wrinkles. The procedure also enhances metabolism to reduce puffiness, eases tension to improve fine lines and promotes overall improvement of complexion to bring out an innate healthy youthful glow.
Is Cosmetic Acupuncture a new and trendy technique?
For thousands of years, the Chinese have known that beauty comes from the inside. Even for those unfamiliar with the principles of Chinese Medicine, it is known that increased circulation helps the body to look and feel better.
Does it really make a difference?
Yes! The International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture reported that among 300 people who received facial acupuncture, 90% saw visible results after one treatment. Our experience suggests similar results with patients reporting improvement in the appearance of wrinkles, complexion and overall rejuvenation.
Why choose acupuncture over a surgical face-lift?
Acupuncture is an excellent alternative to cosmetic surgery. It is far less costly and safe, virtually painless, has no side effects or risk of disfigurement. While it is not a replacement for surgery if one is trying to reshape a nose or chin, it will take years off of your face safely and naturally while improving your overall health.
Are there any contraindications?
Cosmetic Acupuncture is contraindicated for some pituitary disorders, heart disorders, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, individuals who have a pacemaker or who have a problem with bleeding or bruising, or who currently suffer from migraine headaches. Also it should not be done during pregnancy, during a bout with a cold or flu, during an allergic attack, or during an acute herpes outbreak.
This research has found that acupuncture lowers cortisol levels—the stress hormone that's ultimately responsible for the majority of illnesses today—in the body.
Acupuncture is successful with smoking cessation and has turned a growing number of cigarette smokers into permanent ex-smokers. Treatments take all of your symptoms into account and aim at balancing the energy within your body to optimize health.
Here at The Holistic Athlete NYC we doubled up the fun and offer smoking cessation treatments in the infrared sauna.
Acupuncture treatments focus on jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness; all symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.
The needles used are hair-thin and are superficially inserted into various points in the ears and body to assist with smoking cessation. In between treatments, small pellets are taped to the acupuncture points on the ear. When the craving hits, gently pressing on the pellets stimulates the acupuncture points to calm the mind and eliminate your cravings.
And sweating is good for you. Seriously, sweating is one of the body’s safest and most natural ways to heal and maintain good health. Ridding the body of toxins through a natural sauna detox may help further relieve your symptoms, prevent future illness and increase your overall health and vitality. Far infrared saunas are believed to be more effective in moving toxins through the skin than traditional saunas because in a far infrared sauna only 80 to 85% of the sweat is water with the non-water portion being cholesterol, fat-soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals, sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid. Far infrared saunas are highly effective in detoxification because of their highly-efficient and patented Solocarbon far infrared heating technology – the only technology proven to raise core body temperature by two-to-three degrees. Rather than simply heating the ambient air to draw out toxins, this sauna detox will heat your core to expel them. 👂🏻🚬🚫📌
Cupping is an ancient technique that involves placing jars on the skin, suctioning out the air and creating a vacuum. The purpose of cupping is to improve circulation, loosen tissues and help relieve pain. A nice alternative if you prefer not to be treated with needles.
Sometimes, after treatment, round, red or purplish marks are found just where the cups had been. Contrary to popular belief they are NOT bruises. These marks are the expression of internal stagnation and congestion brought to the surface of the body. They do not appear on everyone, only on those with a significant amount of congestion, poor blood flow and lymph drainage.
Those who are relatively healthy will not express them, while those with severe muscle tightness, headaches, painful periods and various kinds of musculoskeletal pain will promptly show them.
The marks are both therapeutic - as they bring the stagnation out of the tissues and to the surface where they resolve- , and diagnostic - the amount and nature of the discoloration gives an insight into the patient’s condition.
Over 2-4 weekly sessions as you improve the marks will be less visible and you will feel less tired, stressed and have less tightness and pain in your back.
In the late 1940s, the steroid cortisone, an anti-inflammatory drug, was first synthesized and hailed as a landmark. It soon became a safe, reliable means to treat the pain and inflammation associated with sports injuries (as well as other conditions). Cortisone shots became one of the preferred treatments for overuse injuries of tendons, like tennis elbow or an aching Achilles, which had been notoriously resistant to treatment. The shots were quite effective, providing rapid relief of pain.
Then came the earliest clinical trials, including one, published in 1954, that raised incipient doubts about cortisone’s powers. In that early experiment, more than half the patients who received a cortisone shot for tennis elbow or other tendon pain suffered a relapse of the injury within six months.
But that cautionary experiment and others didn’t slow the ascent of cortisone (also known as corticosteroids). It had such a magical, immediate effect against pain. Today cortisone shots remain a standard, much-requested treatment for tennis elbow and other tendon problems.
But a major new review article, published last Friday in The Lancet, should revive and intensify the doubts about cortisone’s efficacy. The review examined the results of nearly four dozen randomized trials, which enrolled thousands of people with tendon injuries, particularly tennis elbow, but also shoulder and Achilles-tendon pain. The reviewers determined that, for most of those who suffered from tennis elbow, cortisone injections did, as promised, bring fast and significant pain relief, compared with doing nothing or following a regimen of physical therapy. The pain relief could last for weeks.
But when the patients were re-examined at 6 and 12 months, the results were substantially different. Over all, people who received cortisone shots had a much lower rate of full recovery than those who did nothing or who underwent physical therapy. They also had a 63 percent higher risk of relapse than people who adopted the time-honored wait-and-see approach. The evidence for cortisone as a treatment for other aching tendons, like sore shoulders and Achilles-tendon pain, was slight and conflicting, the review found. But in terms of tennis elbow, the shots seemed to actually be counterproductive. As Bill Vicenzino, the chairman of sports physiotherapy at the University of Queensland in Australia and senior author of the review, said in an e-mail response to questions, “There is a tendency” among tennis-elbow sufferers “for the majority (70-90 percent) of those following a wait-and-see policy to get better” after six months to a year. But this is not the case for those getting cortisone shots, he wrote; they “tend to lag behind significantly at those time frames.” In other words, in some way, the cortisone shots impede full recovery, and compared with those adopting a wait-and-see policy, those getting the shots “are worse off.” Those people receiving multiple injections may be at particularly high risk for continuing damage. In one study that the researchers reviewed, “an average of four injections resulted in a 57 percent worse outcome when compared to one injection,” Dr. Vicenzino said.
Why cortisone shots should slow the healing of tennis elbow is a good question. An even better one, though, is why they help in the first place. For many years it was widely believed that tendon-overuse injuries were caused by inflammation, said Dr. Karim Khan, a professor at the School of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia and the co-author of a commentary in The Lancet accompanying the new review article. The injuries were, as a group, given the name tendinitis, since the suffix “-itis” means inflammation. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication. Using it against an inflammation injury was logical.
But in the decades since, numerous studies have shown, persuasively, that these overuse injuries do not involve inflammation. When animal or human tissues from these types of injuries are examined, they do not contain the usual biochemical markers of inflammation. Instead, the injury seems to be degenerative. The fibers within the tendons fray. Today the injuries usually are referred to as tendinopathies, or diseased tendons.
Why then does a cortisone shot, an anti-inflammatory, work in the short term in noninflammatory injuries, providing undeniable if ephemeral pain relief? The injections seem to have “an effect on the neural receptors” involved in creating the pain in the sore tendon, Dr. Khan said. “They change the pain biology in the short term.” But, he said, cortisone shots do “not heal the structural damage” underlying the pain. Instead, they actually “impede the structural healing.”
Still, relief of pain might be a sufficient reason to champion the injections, if the pain “were severe,” Dr. Khan said. “But it’s not.” The pain associated with tendinopathies tends to fall somewhere around a 7 or so on a 10-point scale of pain. “It’s not insignificant, but it’s not kidney stones.”
So the question of whether cortisone shots still make sense as a treatment for tendinopathies, especially tennis elbow, depends, Dr. Khan said, on how you choose “to balance short-term pain relief versus the likelihood” of longer-term negative outcomes. In other words, is reducing soreness now worth an increased risk of delayed healing and possible relapse within the year?
Some people, including physicians, may decide that the answer remains yes. There will always be a longing for a magical pill, the quick fix, especially when the other widely accepted and studied alternatives for treating sore tendons are to do nothing or, more onerous to some people, to rigorously exercise the sore joint during physical therapy. But if he were to dispense advice based on his findings and that of his colleagues’ systematic review, Dr. Vicenzino said, he would suggest that athletes with tennis elbow (and possibly other tendinopathies) think not just once or twice about the wisdom of cortisone shots but “three or four times.”
In an Italian trial reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Lesi et al found that the addition of acupuncture to enhanced self-care improved hot flashes, climacteric symptoms, and quality-of-life measures in women with breast cancer.
In the trial, 190 women were randomized to receive enhanced self-care with (n = 85) or without (n = 105) acupuncture. Both groups received a booklet with information about climacteric syndrome and its management to be followed for at least 12 weeks. The acupuncture group also received 10 traditional acupuncture treatment sessions involving predefined acupoints.
The primary outcome was hot flash score at the end of treatment at week 12; the score was calculated by multiplying the mean number of daily hot flashes during the week before assessment by mean daily severity (1 = mild, 2 = moderate, 3 = severe). Climacteric symptoms and quality of life were assessed by the Greene Climacteric and Menopause Quality of Life scales.
The acupuncture group had a significantly lower mean hot flash score at the end of treatment (11.3 vs 22.7,P < .001) and at 3-month (14.0 vs 21.9, P = .0028) and 6-month (12.6 vs 17.3, P = .001) post-treatment visits. Acupuncture was associated with fewer climacteric symptoms at 12 weeks (P < .001), 3 months (P = .0063), and 6 months (P < .001) and better quality-of-life outcomes at all time points in vasomotor, physical, and psychosocial domains (all P < .05). No differences were observed in the sexual domain.
The investigators concluded: “Acupuncture in association with enhanced self-care is an effective integrative intervention for managing hot flashes and improving quality of life in women with breast cancer.”
The study was supported by Osservatorio Medicine Non Convenzionali Regione Emilia Romagna.
Giorgia Razzini, PhD, of Civil Hospital, Carpi, is the corresponding author of the Journal of Clinical Oncologyarticle.
The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.