Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas and et cetera

Everyday Health is taking the next two weeks off. Enjoy your holidays, whatever they might be, and have a great new year! We'll see you on January 1st!

Friday, December 19, 2008


This article from Singapore is about a group of people who practice a type of qigong / daoyin / yangsheng in the Botanical Gardens in order to be near plants.

Not to be confused with qigong, the traditional Chinese discipline of circulating energy within the body, "tree-gong" is rooted in the Tao Te Ching (a classic Chinese philosophy text) and ancient Chinese principles of energy flow, said Ms Law's instructor, Mr Thomas Kwan.

The 50-year-old said that the energy from plants and trees aids the human body in "getting rid of 'congestion' that makes us feel unwell".

At Yosan we learn something similar - it's a simple meditation where you find a tree that you like and sit beneath it for 30 minutes a day. That's it! The benefits are reduced stress, lower blood pressure, a sensation of peace and overall well-being.

It might sound too simple, but the mere fact that there isn't anything to "do" is what makes this exercise unique. Turn off your cellphone. No reading books or magazines to pass the time. Don't try any special meditation techniques. Bring a chair if you like, be comfortable.

Finding and picking the right tree is most of the work. Some of us are lucky enough to have one right outside our doors. If you live in the city like me you might have to travel for a bit to find a tree that you vibe with. Also, rotate trees after a month or so.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Detroit Native Loses Over 250 Pounds at Chinese Weight-Loss Clinic with the Help of Acupuncture

Here is an interesting article from USA Today about obesity in China. The focal point of the article is Alonzo Bland, who won a year-long stay at the Aimin Fat Reduction Hospital, courtesy of China Connection, a firm that promotes medical tourism to China.

Side note: mixed in with the straight-ahead reporting is a curiously out-of-place bit of chest-beating propagandizing. Apparently China was "kept thin by poverty and communist policies in the 20th century" rather than rice farming and vegetable eating. It's even funnier when you consider the whole quote:
The once-slim Chinese nation, kept thin by poverty and communist policies in the 20th century, is now on the fast track to a U.S.-style obesity crisis.

Gee, who should we cheer for? The Chinese government, which has finally seen the light and unleashed capitalism, prosperity, and therefore obesity on the people? Or America? (still the world leader in something! Obesity, in this case)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Asthmatic Cat Treated with Acupuncture

This dramatic picture comes to us courtesy of the Daily Mail, a U.K. newspaper. Kiki has been treated with acupuncture for asthma and cough.

Previously: Veterinary Acupuncture

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dao of the Day

Words of truth are not beautiful;
Beautiful words are not truthful.
The good do not argue;
Those who argue are not good.
The wise are not extensively learned;
The extensively learned are not wise.
The Sage is not mean.
Simply doing things for others he feels greater fulfillment.
Simply giving to others he feels he has gained more.
The Tao of heaven benefits and does not harm.
The Tao of the Sage is to accomplish without competing.

-Lao Tzu: My Words Are Very Easy to Understand by Cheng Man-Ching and Tam Gibbs, Chapter 81

Words to trust are not refined.
Words refined are not to trust.
Good men are not gifted speakers.
Gifted speakers are not good.
Experts are not widely learned;
The widely learned are not expert.

Wise rulers for themselves keep naught,
Yet gain by having done for all.
Have more for having freely shared;
Do good not harm is heaven's Way;
The wise act for and not against.

-Dao De Jing: The Book of the Way by Moss Roberts, Chapter 81.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I'm not sure the origin of these pictures, but they were found at, one in the family of lolcat websites.

One of the principles of Daoist medicine is that the body is a microcosm of the universe. Just as there are five planets visible to the naked eye, so there are five major organs in the body, each corresponding to one of those planets (Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, Mercury to go with the Liver, Heart, Spleen/Pancreas, Lung, and Kidney). Click here for a fun website where you can check other Five Phase correspondences.

In some systems of Daoist meditation and cultivation, there are techniques for bringing the universe inside yourself, harmonizing your energy with that of the universe, and ultimately gaining the awareness that there is no separateness between your "self" and everything else that is.

These lofty ideas have not been included in modern, materialist TCM and certainly would seem out of place in any American university science course - it sounds too much like astrology. The closest you'll find is the idea that the weather has an influence on your health. If it's cold, you could catch a cold. But the link is there - if the sun, at least 91 million miles away, can grow plants here on earth, why shouldn't Jupiter and Mars have some kind of influence on us as well? Why not the moon, smaller and colder but so much closer? We already know the moon influences the tides and menstrual cycles.

It's easy to dismiss these ideas because there is no scientific evidence for them yet, but it's quite possible that our instruments just aren't advanced enough yet. In the Daoist tradition, your body can be the most finely tuned instrument in the universe, and physical practices such as qi gong and dao yin are the methods of refinement.

Medical traditions across all cultures, until recently, put higher value on the doctor's ability to wring information from the body with her questions, hands, eyes and nose than the ability to order tests. What will you do if you have no X-rays, no MRI machines? Throw up your hands and give up? In TCM, we learn to pull information by palpation, feeling the abdomen and the pulse, looking at the tongue, even observing a particular patient's odor. There is a wealth of information there - it's just a matter of sorting and ordering it with this system we call Chinese medicine and giving a diagnosis, which then gives us a roadmap for treatment.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Battlefield Acupuncture

Stephen M. Burns, a specialist in acupuncture, inserts a needle into the ear of Lt. Col. Catherine A. Reardon to treat her headaches and hand pain. (Baltimore Sun photo by Glenn Fawcett / December 9, 2008)

Col. Anyce Tock, chief of medical services for the Air Force Surgeon General, said two days ago that the service has authorized 32 active-duty physicians to begin "battlefield acupuncture" training. They announced today that they will begin teaching their physicians deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan early next year.

This endorsement of acupuncture by the traditionally conservative military medical community is very exciting news!!

Acupuncture has been used effectively in acute trauma and chronic pain, and even for analgesia during surgery. It is relatively easy to administer, requiring only a trained professional and a pack of needles, with little to no side effects. It has a wide range of applications, effective in reducing physical pain as well as emotional and psychological trauma. Acupuncture works best, with the most pronounced results, in the acute stage of injuries and when administered often.

There is an entire arsenal of tools that can be used in the battlefield when it comes to TCM traumatology and martial arts medicine. Besides acupuncture, there are highly effective herbs that can be used externally in conjunction with conventional pharmaceutical pain killers, and tui na body manipulation and bone setting techniques to treat physical disorders like dislocated limbs or broken bones.

The use of Chinese medicine to treat our wounded soldiers immediately after injury on the battlefield would offer them a bit of reprieve from their pain and suffering while in transit from the field to a medical facility. It can then be used to help them in rehabilitation after their necessary surgeries and other medical procedures. It's wonderful that the military is exploring the use of Chinese medicine to complement and enhance the treatment of our nation's service men and women.

Some excerpts from the Baltimore Sun story below:
Battlefield acupuncture has been especially effective among patients suffering from a combination of combat wounds, typically a brain injury or severed limbs, burns and penetrating wounds along with severe disorientation and anxiety.

But neither does acupuncture provoke the kind of adverse side effects, allergic reactions and potential addiction associated with powerful psychotropic drugs often used to dull the pain of the severely wounded.

"This is one of the fastest pain attenuators in existence - the pain can be gone in five minutes," said Niemtzow, a physician, acupuncturist and senior adviser to the Air Force surgeon general.

"We use acupuncture as an adjunct" to traditional therapy, said Niemtzow. "The Chinese have used it for 5,000 years. It works, and it's powerful."

"Acupuncture has been very helpful for people for whom other treatment has failed," said Lt. Col. Terri L. Riutcel, an Air Force psychiatrist who deployed to Iraq last year where she treated victims of roadside bomb blasts, among other injuries.

Acupuncture "is very well tolerated and there are very few side effects," apart from occasional bruising, she said. "I think it has tremendous potential for military medicine."

Battlefield acupuncture caught the eye of U.S. Army Rangers, who often operate in remote locations. At their invitation, Niemtzow and his team trained some Rangers last summer.

Nonetheless, advocates of the practice recognize that they must overcome skepticism within the ranks of military doctors.

"Oh, sure, some haven't gotten the word," said Burns, the clinic chief. "We are very much ahead of the curve."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chinese Pharmacy Pictures

As long as we're looking at pictures, here are some beautiful pictures of traditional Chinese pharmacies.

Credits: Eric Lafforgue, solemnyeti, cblee, *Alexander*, Holly Gilbert. All these and more found on flickr.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From the Life Archive

This photo was made by Carl Mydans in 1941 near Chongqing in Sichuan. Take a look at how long the needles are! Most of the Life Magazine photo archives have been released and are searchable on google image search. Take a look at these photos of an herb doctor who specializes in tiger medicine - he keeps a live tiger in a cage. There are lots of images from the past century on all kinds of subjects.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

AAAOM First Professional Doctorate Survey

Hello all TCM students and practitioners! Please take a moment to share your thoughts with the AAAOM about a first-professional doctorate.

I think it's high time that we have a first-professional doctorate. We have so much training, so much to share with our communities, so much to contribute to the health of all Americans and people around the world, our title should match our expertise. It's frankly a little ridiculous that we go through so much school and end up with a master's degree. Here's a little comparison:

MBA 2 years Summers off
JD (law degree) 3 years Summers off
MD 4 years Summers off
MSTOM (Chinese medicine degree) 4 years STRAIGHT THROUGH FOR 4 YEARS!!!

What if I'm already licensed? Won't I look bad compared to the new TCM doctors fresh out of school? People who already have licenses shouldn't worry - we already have so many school hours, it will only take two or three more classes to get our L.Acs grandfathered in as doctors. I myself am about to graduate, so I won't benefit from this right away. It's for the benefit of the field as a whole.

I just spent two years and a whole lot of money getting my DAOM - why should I support this? The DAOM program is incredibly valuable. People who get the DAOM have gone above and beyond the requirements to advance the field. My vision is that the DAOM program will live on as a post-doctorate training program for people who want to be at the forefront of TCM research and integration with modern health care.

I'm an administrator at a TCM school - I just spent three years and countless meetings and hair-pulling getting our DAOM program up and running and accredited. Now you want me to throw that all away? As stated above, the DAOM program should become a post-doctorate research and integration degree. This is extremely valuable work for the field and essential to advancing the field. Not everyone wants to be in the public eye - some people just want to have a private practice and care for people. The DAOM should become the degree of choice for people who want to work in hospitals alongside M.D.s, in public policy alongside people with an MPH degree, in research for the NIH and yes, even private companies.

Even if you don't agree with me, take a moment to make your views known to the AAAOM. And leave a comment!

Monday, December 8, 2008

FDA Warning on Advair: Death, Other Side Effects Possible

Chinese medicine is especially effective in treating asthma in children and adults. Acupuncture, moxibustion, and Chinese herbs can all be used to treat both chronic and acute asthma.

One of the best base formulas for acute asthma, Bai Guo Ding Chuan Tang, uses Ma Huang (ephedra) as one of the ingredients. This is an example of the correct use of Ma Huang to dilate the bronchi and make breathing easier.

Unfortunately, because of the abuse of Ma Huang and other Chinese herbs by unethical supplement companies, who promoted ephedra as a weight-loss drug (with terrible consequences), we have lost the use of Ma Huang in clinical herbal practice in the United States. It is essential that the Chinese medicine community stand up in defense of our pharmacopoeia. No one knows what will be banned next because of misunderstandings and lack of knowledge about Chinese herbs. I've heard rumors that Fu Zi (aconite) and even the innocuous Chen Pi (tangerine peel) may be banned next.

Students and practitioners, I urge you to join your state and national organizations, pay your dues, and tell your Herbal Advisory Committees to defend Chinese herbs. Do it now before the FDA decides that we aren't allowed to use herbs at all. It only takes a second and costs less than you think.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Better Than Chemotherapy

Qing Hao 青蒿 has been shown to be much more effective at killing human cancer cells than chemotherapy drugs.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, this medicinal herb is more specific in killing cancer cells than current pharmaceutical therapies. Current chemotherapy drugs destroy one normal cell for every five to ten cancer cells, whereas Qing Hao was shown to kill 12,000 cancer cells for every one normal cell. Development of a treatment utilizing qing hao could potentially lower the risk of undesirable side effects, allowing more of the compound to be taken safely, as well as being lower in cost to produce. A mature artemesia takes only about five months to mature from seed to harvest.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Acupuncture Beats Aspirin for Chronic Headache

A new, large study has confirmed that acupuncture is more effective than aspirin and other drugs for chronic headache.

"Acupuncture is becoming a favorable option for a variety of purposes, ranging from enhancing fertility to decreasing post-operative pain, because people experience significantly fewer side effects and it can be less expensive than other options," Dr. Tong Joo Gan, who led the study, said in a statement.

"This analysis reinforces that acupuncture also is a successful source of relief from chronic headaches."

Acupuncture for Migraines

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

To Learn More About Diabetes and Xiao Ke

Thank you all for following along with American Diabetes Month. As we've seen, diabetes is a huge public health problem with staggering economic repercussions. Fortunately, many of the more serious symptoms can be controlled with proper diet and exercise. One of the most important parts of managing any chronic disease is a positive outlook. If you live with diabetes, reach out to others in the same situation. Start a running club, share recipes, and do your best to be happy.

Here is a short list of some of the many resources out there for diabetic patients and health care practitioners:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Xiao Ke - Lower

Lower Xiao Ke falls under the pattern Kidney Yin Depletion. Typical symptoms include frequent urination, copious turbid milky urine, dry mouth and lips, thirst, high fluid intake, weak aching lower back and knees, dizziness and vertigo, blurred vision and red cheeks. The tongue is small and red with little coating, the pulse is deep, rapid and thready. The treatment method is to nourish kidney yin.

The prescription for this pattern is the famous Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (Six-Ingredient Rehmannia Pill).
Shu Di Huang 24g (prepared rehmannia)
Shan Zhu Yu 12g (cornus fruit)
Shan Yao 12g (dioscorea root)
Ze Xie 9g (alisma)
Mu Dan Pi 9g (moutan)
Fu Ling 9g (poria)

This prescription is easily modified for many different presentations. For deficiency heat, Huang Bai (phellodendron) and Zhi Mu (anemarrhenae) are added. For eye irritation, add Gou Qi Zi (goji) and Ju Hua (chrysanthemum).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Xiao Ke - Middle

The second basic pattern for Xiao Ke is Stomach Fire. People with this pattern diagnosis often have ravenous hunger with high food intake, dry stools or constipation and thirst. You might often get the feeling "if I don't eat soon I'll die!" The tongue has a yellow coating and the pulse is slippery and forceful. The treatment method is to clear the stomach, drain fire, nourish yin and generate liquid.

Prescription: Yu Nu Jian (Jade Lady Brew)
Shi Gao 30g (gypsum)
Shu Di Huang 15g (prepared rehmannia)
Mai Men Dong 12g (ophiopogon)
Zhi Mu 9g (anemarrhena)
Niu Xi 9g (achyranthis)
Huang Lian 6g (coptis)
Zhi Zi 9g (gardenia)

As we noted last week, this is only a basic pattern. Often patterns are combined and there are many different ways of treating Xiao Ke. Only a qualified TCM practitioner is eligible to diagnose and treat with Chinese herbs.

American Diabetes Month: Extended Version!

In order to finish up our posts about Xiao Ke, we'll be extending our posts on diabetes for the next few days.