Archive for September 2012

High Blood Pressure? Know your options.

I wrote this article for my TCM colleagues, but the info is really for all of you…people who want to be healthier and know your options!

Researchers from the University of British Columbia looked at data from more than 8900 people using four gold standard (randomized placebo-controlled) studies. The subjects all had mild hypertension—systolic blood pressure of 140-159 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of 90-99 mm Hg. The medications investigated included beta-blockers, thiazide, and thiazide-like diuretics. The studies lasted between four to five years and some patients were taking more than one of these drugs at a time. Compared to placebo groups, there were no measurable benefits in coronary heart disease, cardiovascular events, or mortality. One study showed a trend toward reduced risk of stroke (0.3% with anti-hypertensives vs 0.7% control group).

However, there were significant side effects for those on the drug treatment. Five times more people dropped out of the studies because of adverse events than those taking the placebo and 9% of the drug-treated group experienced negative side effects.

As TCMs, we know that there are effective alternatives to the pharmaceutical approach. Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs dan shen, shan zha, and hou po are examples of herbs that have research supporting their anti-hypertensive potential. Most of us have also witnessed that acupuncture can also lower blood pressure, and the American Heart Association journal also notes the benefits of acupuncture in lowering blood pressure. One of the mechanisms for this may be a lowering of sympathetic response.

Do you know your blood pressure? Ask your doctor, ask me when I see you next, or go to a pharmacy to check it out. Then know your options. One of them may be a TCM treatment.

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Injured? Bruises, swelling, sprain, strain

I treat people daily for various injuries. Most of them are old injuries or repetitive strain injuries. But occasionally I also see new injuries: sprains, strains, bruises, and swelling. And sometimes I need to treat my own injuries. I recently wrote up a blog about a fall that I took, a lesson on the Grouse Grind.

I fell on my knee, leaving it bruised and swollen. I bruised my leg and my arm. And I sprained my finger. Luckily I have some remedies to treat this! To the right here is a picture of my treatments. Of course my first fix was icing my injuries to take down the swelling. But as soon as I got home I started applying Traumeel cream alternating with Lymphdiaral cream (only because I have both and depending on which was closer to me at any given time).

I also started using Lymphdiaral ampoules right away. I use these as injectables at work, but since I didn’t have any syringes at home, I drank them. The next day my homeopath friend gave me some arnica tablets, so I started taking that. Acupuncture has also helped!

Though my sprained finger is still swollen, these treatments have sped up my healing so that I was able to go kayaking a week later and do the Grind again the week after. And return to my regular yoga classes.

While I don’t want to injure myself again, it’s been a good chance for me to practice what I preach! So, if you happen to injure yourself, don’t wait until it becomes a chronic nagging issue, address the problem right away for faster healing!

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More Lessons from the Grind

Do you believe that every event can have a little (or big) lesson in it? I do. Obviously it would be tough to pay attention to every single event in our lives, but sometimes a lesson can slap you in the face (or knee or finger).

Lesson #1: Simply do my best


My last blog posting was about coach John Wooden, whose dad taught him many lessons. One of those key lessons was not to try to be better than someone else; instead, to simply do one’s best. I should have listened. Having clocked my first Grind time at 57 minutes, I found out that a 20-something-year-old spinning instructor I know had done 46 minutes. Hmmm…I thought. I could aim for that! Not wise.

I’m not in my 20s and have only done a spinning class once. That was in my 20s. And I got off of the bike with wobbly legs and haven’t tried it again since. Also, I later found out that she had been climbing the Grind a few times a week and that was her best time.

I would have been better served to try to simply do my best.

Lesson #2: Communication

As I was aiming for a faster time, I needed to pass some people. When I got stuck behind a couple of people, I moved to the left, then to the right. I thought they would “feel” my presence behind them and allow me to move past. I could have said, “excuse me.” But I didn’t. I decided to run past them when I found a brief opening. Run, run, trip…fall! Owwwww!

That’ll teach me! My knee banged up and swollen, for several minutes I couldn’t even move my leg. Finally, being just past the halfway mark, I

realized that if I didn’t start to move soon, my knee would stiffen up further and there’d be no way for me to keep going. It was only later that I realized that I had also sprained my finger.

Had I spoken up instead of thinking that others would be able to read my mind/vibe; had I set a reasonable pace that allowed me to do my best without pushing beyond myself in order to better someone else; then I would have avoided more damage to my body.

At the top, I bought a year’s pass for the Grind and this was the first use of it: holding the ice on my knee as I drove home.

The good news is that I do learn from life lessons and won’t repeat this on the Grind, and hopefully not in life either.

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