Articles

Basic Theory of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Basic theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) includes alternative health practices including herbal medicine, Chinese medicine diagnosis, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, cupping, moxibustion and diet.

Decision Making, A Function of the Gallbladder

decisionmaking.jpg In traditional Chinese medicine, the decision making process is dependent on the strong energy of the Gallbladder. When the Gallbladder energy is weak, a person may have trouble making decisions.

In Chinese medicine theory every organ has a physical and a mental function in the human body. The organs are paired according to yin and yang theory. The Liver and the Gallbladder are a yin yang pair. The Liver influences our capacity to plan our life and find a sense of direction. The Gallbladder influences our courage and conviction to make decisions to carry out that plan. When the Liver and Gallbladder are in balance, mentally and spiritually we are focused and decisive about our purpose in life.

A person with a diagnosis of Gallbladder deficiency may appear nervous and timid. They may lack courage and initiative and may be easily startled. Physical symptoms may include dizziness, blurred vision, panic attacks and insomnia. Gallbladder deficiency may be congenital and actually describe the character or personality of an individual. Gallbladder deficiency may result from traumatic childhood experiences. And Gallbladder deficiency may also result from a severe deficiency of Blood. Although extreme cases may warrant psychotherapy treatment, Chinese medicine has a lot to offer people who may fall into this pattern of imbalance.

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Chinese Herbal Formulas for the Common Cold

Common Cold
In the following article, Dr. Jake Fratkin discusses the many Chinese herbal formulas that can be used to treat the common cold and flu. Consult a licensed practitioner of Chinese mediicne to determine which formula should be used in any given situation.

Treating Acute Common Cold
BY
Dr. Jake Paul Fratkin

One of the great contributions Chinese medicine offers the West is the availability of herbs and herbal formulas that directly attack viral heat toxins causing the common cold, influenza, upper respiratory infections, and common pediatric diseases. Here, western medicine is at a total loss, offering at best bed rest and fluids, and at worse, antibiotics. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections, doing nothing to alter the severity of symptoms or the time frame of an infection. However, they do negatively impact the body’s immune system by destroying the beneficial gut bacteria that neutralize harmful toxins. By destroying gut bacteria, one’s immune system becomes depleted, doing the work that would have been done by beneficial bacteria.

While western herbology offers several antiviral herbs such as echinacea and dandelion (Taraxacum), the Chinese herbal materia medica has at least 30 strong medicinal herbs that can destroy pathogenic viruses. Modern clinical research in China has validated their efficacy against the viruses that cause common cold, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, respiratory, encephalitis, meningitis, herpes, and hepatitis. Herbs with antiviral effect used in the classical formulas included Lonicera Jin Yin Hua, Forsythia Lian Qiao, Taraxacum Pu Gong Ying, Isatis Ban Lan Gen, Isatis Da Qing Ye, Oldenlandia Bai Hua She She Cao, Smilax Tu Fu Ling and Lasiosphaera Ma Bo.

Although not discussed in the classical literature, certain herbs have emerged in the last fifty years that are also effective against viruses. These include Ilex Mao Dong Qing, Andrographis Chuan Xin Lian, Evodia San Cha Ku, Houttuynia Yu Xing Cao, Patrinia Bai Jiang Cao, Polygonum Hu Zhang and Viola Zi Hua Di Ding.
When we evaluate the appropriateness of an herbal formula in fighting a viral disease, one benchmark is the inclusion of one or more of the herbs listed above.

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Acupuncture for Common Colds and Flu

In the following article, Dr. John Amaro identifies common acupuncture points that can boost the immune system to alleviate the symptoms of, and may even prevent the common cold.

An Extremely Effective, Simple Treatment for Colds and Flu
BY John A. Amaro, DC, FIAMA, Dipl. Ac., LAc

Some years ago, a group of esteemed scientists from the People’s Republic of China were invited to visit the United States by the American scientific community. This event ushered in an exchange of ideas and an opportunity for two great nations to be able to corroborate on a number of issues vital to the health and welfare of the world.

Over a period of two months, the Chinese scientists visited virtually every major research facility in the nation, followed closely by their American hosts, who were furiously taking notes and promoting discussion on matters from nuclear physics to aerospace, medical research and treatment approaches. The visit culminated in a banquet at Princeton University in honor of the Chinese scientists, which was attended by a virtual “who’s who” of the North American scientific world.

During the banquet, the moderator of the event posed the question to the chief Chinese scientist as to what he felt was one of the most significant things he had learned in America; what had impressed him the most about the United States that he would return to China and share it with his colleagues who were not present on this historic visit? The scientist rose from his chair, strode to the microphone, gazed over the crowd and stated in understandable English: “The number one thing that has impressed me the most about America is the common belief by the common person that there is no cure for the common cold.” The American scientists were totally caught off guard with this statement, as it was perhaps the farthest thing from anyone’s mind. It was not what they had expected to hear.

Even though the names of devastating flu are often Asian in character, and China has been credited or blamed with the development of some of the most deadly flu epidemics in the world, the Chinese – through effective acupuncture approaches – have had a major impact in altering the extreme symptomatology that accompanies both the flu and the common cold.

The following illustrated acupuncture approach is extremely effective in not only alleviating the symptoms associated with cold or flu but, if used early enough, may potentially prevent the symptoms and condition from developing at all. All of the points shown may be stimulated with noninvasive stimulation devices such as the teishein, electronic stimulation or laser, in addition to needles. One of the most effective approaches to successful treatment is to copy the images below and provide them for your patients for self-stimulation of the points throughout the day. Remember, this may be one of the most powerful effects for cold and flu you will ever learn.

ColdFlu_Pic01.gif ColdFlu_Pic02.gif

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Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs for Kidney Stones

kidneystones.jpg
In the following article, Dr. Jake Fratkin gives us an acupuncture protocol to help pass kidney stones during an acute attack. He also, talks of an herbal product that he himself has formulated to treat and prevent kidney stones.

Treating Acute Kidney Stone Attack
BY
Jake Paul Fratkin, OMD

I created AMBER STONE FORMULA as a variation on PASSWAN, a Chinese patent medicine for the treatment of kidney stone from Bai Yun Shan Pharmaceutical Manufactory in Guangzhou. PASSWAN has become generally unavailable in the United States, and few American companies have elected to offer a kidney stone formula. The original name, PASSWAN, I suppose is a Chinese-English variation for Pass (the Stone) Wan (Pill). Its Chinese name is te xiao pai shi wan, which translates as “Specially Effective Expel Stone Pill”. The formula is certainly “Specially Effective.” I have heard of cases of acute stone impaction that would release within 30 minutes of taking the pill.

The Herbal Formula. The original formula had the following composition:

Desmodium Jin Qian Cao 25.0 %

Lygodium Hai Jin Sha 20.0

Angelica Bai Zhi 10.0

Andrographis Chuan Xin Lian 10.0

Achyranthes Niu Xi 7.5

Ficus Wu Zhi Mao Tao 5.5

Rheum Da Huang 5.0

Millettia Niu Da Li 5.0Succinum Hu Po 5.0

Sha Niu * 4.0

Notoginseng Tian Qi 3.0

*(Unknown herb. Translates as Sand Cow, and in fact could be stones or sand from a cow’s bladder or kidney.)

Our formula for Golden Flower is as follows:

Desmodium Jin Qian Cao 15 %

Lygodium Hai Jin Sha 15

Imperata Bai Mao Gen 12

Pyrrosia Shi Wei 12

Lonicera Jin Yin Hua 9

Millettia Ji Xue Teng 8

Notoginseng Sheng Tian Qi 8

Dianthus Qu Mai 7

Succinum Hu Po 7

Talcum Hua Shi 7

The original formula has 11 ingredients, while ours has 10 herbs. Five herbs are the same. The lead herbs are Desmodium Jin Qian Cao and Lygodium Hai Jin Sha. These two herbs together act synergetically to dissolve stone, and offer a significant contribution to the treatment of kidney stone. Western medicine currently employs ultrasound to crack a stone, but this approach shatters the stone into small pieces which injure local tissue as they are expelled. The combination of Jin Qian Cao and Hai Jin Sha actually dissolve the stone, allowing expulsion without damage.

Millettia Ji Xue Teng is a both a blood tonic as well as a blood mover, but in this formula it is included to relax spasm, a chief feature of acute stone obstruction. Notoginseng Sheng Tian Qi helps to stop bleeding. The last shared herb of the formula is Succinum Hu Po, or amber pine resin, which is used synergestically with Desmodium Jin Qian Cao and Lygodium Hai Jin Sha to treat urinary obstruction and dissolve stone.

In my formula, I also added herbs to reduce kidney and bladder damp heat, namely Pyrrosia Shi Wei, Dianthus Qu Mai and Talcum Hua Shi. Damp heat is the underlying condition that allows stones to form in the first place. The heat congeals stones, and it is important to clear heat to address the root cause. These damp heat herbs specifically go to the kidney and bladder.

The final herbs of the formula treat specific aspects of a kidney stone presentation. Imperata Bai Mao Gen reinforces the effect of stop bleeding, and also helps to heal damaged tissue following an acute attack. Lonicera Jin Yin Hua inhibits infection, which often accompanies the damage of a kidney stone.

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The Lung in Chinese Medicine

yin yangThe Lung in Chinese medicine is a yin organ. It is paired with the Large Intestine, a yang organ. The most important function of the Lungs in Chinese medicine is to govern respiration – the inhalation of air, or pure qi. This pure qi inhaled by the Lungs is combined with the food qi extracted from food by the Spleen to produce the “gathering qi” that supports the functioning of the whole body after birth.

The Lungs assist the Heart in the circulation of Blood. Qi and Blood flow together in the blood vessels. If the Lung qi is weak, it will not be able to push the Blood through the channels, and the limbs may feel cold, especially the hands.

It is a well known fact in Chinese medicine that acupuncture points to treat various diseases can be chosen based on their anatomical location. For example, acupuncture points for bone disease are located close to bones. Acupuncture points close to tendons are powerful to treat tendon diseases. The source acupuncture point on the Lung meridian is Lung-9, located at the wrist crease lateral to the radial artery. This point is called the meeting point of the Blood vessels and is used to treat many circulation disorders.

Because the Lungs are the connection between the human body and the environment, they are said to be the most exterior and delicate of the yin organs. Therefore, the Lung is the organ that is most easily affected by environmental factors such as wind, heat, cold, damp and dryness. The Lungs also have the function of dispersing qi. In Chinese medicine there is a type of qi called the Defensive qi that exists all over the body and is located between the skin and the muscles. This concept most closely correlates to the immune system in western medicine. The Lung is responsible for dispersing this Defensive qi. When the Lung qi is weak, the Defensive qi is weak, and a person is more susceptible to catching cold easily.

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Master Tung Acupuncture for Upper Back Pain

upperbackpain.jpg Upper back pain is a condition that I commonly treat in my acupuncture practice. Often this type of pain is related to occupational repetitive motion injuries. Dentists, teachers, hairdressers, and band directors have sought my help in addressing upper back pain. Sometimes this type of upper back pain is associated with a cervical disk nerve impingement that may also cause neck pain and pain radiating to the shoulder and down the arm. Stress related neck and shoulder tension may also be the culprit.

Usually my patients have already seen their physicians for diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of their upper back pain from a western medicine perspective. This is important to rule out the remote, yet critical possibility, that their pain is related to heart disease or a tumor causing the nerve impingement. When the pain is strictly a muscular-skeletal issue, it responds very well to acupuncture treatment.

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Back Shu Acupuncture Points

acupuncturepoints.jpg A collection of twelve very important acupuncture points called the Back Shu, or Back Transporting points are located on the Bladder meridian along the spine. There is a Back Transporting point for each of the six yin organs and each of the six yang organs. They are called “transporting” points because it is said that they transport “Qi” to the inner organs.

These acupuncture points are located on the inner Bladder meridian path, which is about an inch and a half from the mid-line of the spine. The Back Transporting points affect the organs directly and are especially important in the treatment of chronic diseases. Each of the points is named after the organ that it is associated with. For example, Bladder-13 connects with the Lung and is called Lung Shu. The Back Shu points also have the ability to affect the sense organ associated with the organ it is named for. For example, Bladder-18, the Back Shu point of the Liver is often used to treat eye diseases, because it is said that the Liver “opens to the eye”. Bladder-23, the Back Shu point of the Kidney can be used to treat tinnitus and other chronic ear problems related to Kidney deficiency.

The Back Shu points are acupuncture points where the Qi and Blood of a particular organ meet. These points not only treat diseases of their associated organs, they can also be diagnostic in nature. Sensitivity upon palpation indicates a pathology of that organ. A sharp pain elicited with pressure on the point indicates an excess condition and a dull ache with palpation indicates a deficient condition.

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Congee A Porridge with Healing Power

congee.jpg Congee is a thin porridge or gruel most often made from rice. Congees strengthen the Spleen energy and nourish Blood. Congee is very commonly eaten for breakfast in China. Because of the nourishing properties of congee, and the fact that it is very easily digested, congees are often prescribed for elderly or chronically ill patients with weak blood and low energy. Congee made with brown rice is often given to nursing mothers to increase milk supply. The therapeutic properties of congee may be enhanced by adding traditional chinese herbs or other nutritional foods with properties known to address specific health issues.

To make a rice congee, use at least six times the amount of water as you do rice and simmer covered for at least one hour. One cup of rice usually makes two or three servings. Crockpots are great to prepare congee. Set the crockpot on low and leave for at least four to six hours. It is better to use too much water than too little. The longer the congee cooks, the more powerful the nutritional benefit.
Chinese herbs or other foods may be added to the congee. For example, aduki beans in chinese medicine are a diuretic and may be helpful to treat edema and gout. Carrots added to the congee may eliminate flatulence.

Here is a sweet congee recipe that may even be eaten for dessert.
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The Spleen in Chinese Medicine

100x100yin-yang-yellow.gif The Spleen in Chinese medicine is a yin organ. The Spleen is partnered with the Stomach, a yang organ. Together they are responsible for transforming food and drink into Qi and blood during the digestion process.

When the Spleen energy is strong, appetite and digestion are good. When the Spleen function is weak, there may be poor appetite, abdominal bloating, water retention and weight gain, and loose stools.

The Spleen controls the muscles and four limbs. When the Spleen is strong, nutrition from food is extracted efficiently and energy is distributed to the muscles. When the Spleen is weak, a person feels fatigued, especially after eating. Muscles will be weak. In severe cases, muscles may atrophy.
The Spleen not only distributes the essence of food to the body, it is also responsible for the transformation of fluids. Poor distribution of fluids may result in edema or the production of phlegm. The Spleen dislikes dampness. Dampness can hamper the function of the Spleen whether this is due to diet (too much cold or raw food) or weather. High humidity and cold, damp weather may affect the Spleen. Women in particular are prone to an invasion of exterior Dampness especially during the menses or following childbirth.

The Spleen not only plays an important role in the production of Blood from food, but is also said to control the Blood. When the Spleen energy is deficient and this function of controlling the Blood is impaired, a person may bruise easily. Nosebleeds and heavy menstrual periods may also occur due to Spleen qi deficiency.

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