When I was offered a chance to write about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for Alive Magazine, my answer was a resounding, “YES!” If we haven’t met, I’m a huge fan and supporter of TCM, its principles, and its treatments. After all, I’ve been practicing it for over 16 years. The more people who know about TCM and get a chance to try it in some format–TCM consultation, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, TCM food cures, cupping, or simple lifestyle changes based on TCM foundations–the happier I am!
One challenge about sharing information about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it uses a different language than most of us from the West can comprehend. Yin, Yang, Qi, meridians, Damp-Cold, Liver attacking Spleen–say what?! The thing is, many systems and professionals use their own language, from “lawyerspeak” to medical jargon to tech terms. Understand that this is our way of explaining complex principles and diagnostics, and some of our words are not to be taken literally (for example, your liver is not actually attacking your spleen!).
It’s not easy to encapsulate all I want to say about TCM in just one article, but check out my link to Traditional Chinese Medicine: Deep, Historical Roots Offer New Medical Insights in June 2017’s issue of Alive. You’ll find a basic intro, my description of how TCM has been changing and evolving, and some info about how to find a qualified TCM in Canada.
Here I’m going to start with the bad, so I can illustrate the power of something you could call a natural medicine. A study in the 1950s by Dr. Carl Richter involved taking rats and putting them through a forced swim test. Rats can swim, and the rats they used were, as far as they could tell, equally healthy. The rats gave up swimming and sunk (we’ll pretend they ended up ok), fairly quickly–some in mere minutes, some up to 15 minutes. But, if they were removed from the water for a short amount of time before that, and allowed a brief rest while they were held, they could then be put back in the water and swim for up to 60 hours! From 15 minutes max to 60 HOURS!
What?! How could they somehow bring about a Herculean effort to keep swimming for 240 times longer when they would otherwise have given up?
A Natural Medicine
They had hope that they might again be rescued. Hope is a powerful natural medicine. It helps us try more, push harder, and persist longer. And, often, eventually succeed.
So, when I hear from patients that they’ve been told there’s nothing further that can be done–to manage their pain, help them sleep, improve or cure their illness, or simply function and feel better–I’m disturbed by that. Why
That’s why I love Traditional Chinese Medicine and most natural medicine practices. The goal is to discover what combination of imbalances have lead to the health issue at hand, and to help strengthen the body, and thus allow healing. There isn’t always cure. There isn’t always a fast fix. But improvement is possible. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that I’m someone’s last resort. At the very least, I aim to offer hope and support while the body begins the process of healing.
Local newspaper 24 Hours contacted me to ask if I would be interested in writing a short series of articles about alternative/integrative medicine. “Of course!” was my answer. A chance to write about Traditional Chinese Medicine and its role in modern healthcare? Jump!
So, here is a link to part one: Ancient Medicines Find Favour with Canadians (click here for the PDF version)
Think of this, do you brush your teeth regularly because you have cavities…or because you want to prevent cavities?
Yes, I CAN treat illness, injury, and mystery symptoms…but… you could also think of me to be like a figurative toothbrush. I love to help PREVENT illness and injury and mystery symptoms. Some patients come in regularly, like once a month, to help them manage their health and stop little symptoms from turning into more troubling ones. Some need more frequent visits, some need less frequent. Depends on the individual’s situation.
One preventative measure to consider right now is a biopuncture treatment of Pascoleucyn (contains an herbal quantity of echinacea and ultralow dosage of other natural substances) to boost your immune system so you can improve your chances against being dragged down by the flu this season.
If you brush your teeth–and I hope you do!–ask yourself, do you care for the rest of your body at least as much as you care for your teeth?
Prevention of illness is a cure.
I’ll be honest, I’m not terribly impressed by research in general. I’ve worked as a research assistant. I saw that human need, greed, error, and intention can all sway results and what is published (and how it’s published). However, as someone with a science background and two parents in the field of science (Dad: PhD chemistry; Mom: Nurse), I can’t ignore research. So, here are some links to online publications about my fave topic, TCM:
How does acupuncture work?
1. Changes in blood flow
2. Changes in the brain
1. Digestion issues
3. Cardiovascular disease
I recently purchased a new mattress. Ahhhh, how wonderful it is to sleep to well! The thing is, though, I didn’t really recognize that I wasn’t sleeping well until about a month before I decided it was time to buy a new bed. I was waking up feeling stiff. I was having some trouble falling asleep. These were symptoms that are unusual for me.
So, I thought about it. Was I stressed? Not particularly. Was I exercising too hard? No, consistently the same. What else could be going on? … Oh. My mattress was 15 years old!
When I went shopping with my husband for a new one, I asked how long a mattress normally lasts. I was told that it depends on the quality, but probably 7 to 12 years. Well, even new, our old mattress was not on the top quality list, that’s for sure! So, how did we manage to get 15 years out of that thing?
I think that part of it was staying healthy. Eating right. Exercising regularly. Getting tune up treatments.
It makes sense that a body that is well cared for is going to be able to handle stressors more readily. Does it cost money to be healthy? Yes, but in the long run it’s probably saving me lots of money too. No pharmaceuticals. No trips to the hospital. Very few sick days off of work. Few injuries. And a cheap mattress and box spring that lasted us for 15 years!
Am I exaggerating? Sadly, no. But many people are taking this class of medications…NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). You might recognize the names as ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, or celexocib.
“Since the mid-80s, more than 300,000 Americans have died of NSAID complications, and 1.7 million were hospitalized.”
NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal bleeds, actually destroy your joints (though they are often taken for joint pain!), increase cardiovascular risk, and even contribute to erectile dysfunction.
The article details: Healing the NSAID Nation
There are many natural supplements, foods, and treatment alternatives for managing inflammation and pain! Inflammation and pain are major causes of many of the health issues I treat daily. So, if you are taking an NSAID, consider that there are other options!
This morning I just read an article written for the online version of the newspaper The Vancouver Sun. The Sun is a reputable newspaper, but clearly not immune to inaccuracies. Case in point (no pun intended), their recent article called, “The Intricacies of Acupuncture” by Randy Shore.
The question “What is acupuncture?” is posed. The answer they give includes a paragraph that reads, “The theory is that acupuncture unblocks and rebalances the flow of energy, or Qi, through the body. The modern practice of medical acupuncture – as practised by medical doctors – uses wires inserted into known anatomical structures rather than points dictated by ancient philosophy or astrology.”
So much wrong with this last sentence! Acupuncture is medical acupuncture. We treat medical conditions and I don’t follow astrological charts to do so! Yes, acupuncture uses the philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to choose acupuncture points, but just because they are founded on ancient practices doesn’t keep them stuck in a time 3000 years ago. Just as we no longer use sharpened stones as acupuncture needles, so too have we modernized our practice. We learn anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. We recognize the structures that we are needling as acupuncture points and meridians, but also as muscles and other soft tissues.
I have a degree in kinesiology from the University of Guelph where my training in how the body works included anatomy with a cadaver dissection lab, neuromuscular anatomy, basic physiology, respiratory physiology, cardiovascular physiology and applied sciences of human gait analysis and ergonomics. Traditional Chinese Medicine’s “philosophies” are actually observations that were made over thousands of years and came to conclusions about how the body works. The TCM scientists of the time correctly identified many of more modern science’s current understandings.
Many of my colleagues take extra training in modern forms of acupuncture in addition to the 3-5 years of training and 1-3 provincial licensing exams — depending on whether we train to be registered acupuncturists or registered Dr. of Traditional Chinese Medicine, with the latter requiring the most training. Motor point acupuncture, trigger point acupuncture, studies of myofacial tissues, and biopuncture are all modern forms of acupuncture that I trained in that many “medical acupuncture” performing MDs have not studied.
I do not divorce myself of either the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine or the current understanding of the physiological structures of human anatomy. It’s Yin and Yang. Knowledge, recognition, and practice of both strengthens the results.
Where registered acupuncturists (R.Ac.), registered TCM practitioners (R.TCM.P), and registered Dr. of TCM (Dr.TCM) differ from MD “acupuncturists” is that we have MORE training for the practice of acupuncture. And perhaps even more important is that we can use both the 3000 (or more) years of observational studies of the human body as well as the more modern practice and study of current medical knowledge.
So, while I have asked some stars about their thoughts on acupuncture, those stars are human (acting and sport), not the ones in the sky.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/intricacies+acupuncture/6161674/story.html#ixzz1meiRqJ84
To me, this is a “no kidding, of course it is” statement, but it was great to read this article about the statistics of alternative medicine in the U.S.
Read the second page where they describe a nearly 3-fold increase in acupuncture visits since the last study done in 1997.
So, have you had your acupuncture today?