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Acid Reflux

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. 2 comments

It is summer, and in Texas that means barbeque, brisket, beer, tortillas, and a number of other grilled foods. With the temperature blazing away above 100 degrees, outdoor exercise is unlikely, but you still want to get together with your friends and neighbors. Then it hits, a painful burning sensation in your gut. You have just had a bout with acid reflux!

Acid Reflux is an irritation that is caused by a back flow of stomach acid into the esophagus. While occasional acid reflux, also called heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is nothing to worry about, a more chronic occurrence can be a serious problem.
What can Acupuncture do to help?
Acupuncture can help this condition by:
  • strengthening organ function to relieve symptoms
  • give dietary suggestions and herbal supplements
  • treat the cause(s)
Causes:
Acid reflux is caused by either too much food in the stomach (via overeating), or too much pressure on the stomach (usually from pregnancy or obesity). Issues that compound these factors are:
  • Stress
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Smoking
  • Excessive Alcohol intake
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Scleroderma
  • Cancer
  • Certain medications such as
      • Anticholinergics (e.g., for seasickness)
    • Beta-blockers for high blood pressure or heart disease
    • Bronchodilators for asthma
    • Calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure
    • Dopamine-active drugs for Parkinson’s disease
    • Progestin for abnormal menstrual bleeding or birth control
    • Sedatives for insomnia or anxiety
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
Symptoms:
  • Feeling that food is stuck behind the breastbone
  • Heartburn or a burning pain in the chest (under the breastbone)

    • Increased by bending, stooping, lying down, or eating
    • More likely or worse at night
    • Relieved by antacids
  • Nausea after eating

Less common symptoms are:

  • Bringing food back up (regurgitation)
  • Cough or wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hiccups
  • Hoarseness or change in voice
  • Sore throat
What can I do?
1. If severe you may need to check with a gastroenterologist on some tests that can be done to secure a proper diagnosis.
2. If you suspect your medication is the culprit, speak with your doctor about it.
    3. You may wish to consider a dietary change. While I have been touting the Paleo diet, which is heavy on meats, it is not about greasy food. Pay attention to the oils you are using for cooking as well as what foods set you off. You may wish to consult with a nutritionist.
  1. Address any stress or insomnia issues in your life. Acupuncture can help with these factors as can a good psychologist, counselor, or hypnotherapist.
  1. Address any smoking or excessive alcohol intake. Like the fourth point, acupuncture and other modalities can help with these issues.
  2. If you suspect this is an issue from excessive weight, there are a number of fitness therapies, from my qigong articles (especially those dealing with the spleen and liver), to finding a trainer, or going to a gym.
7. If you suspect this is due to overeating, learn portion control. Your stomach is usually satiated about ten minutes before the ‘full’ feeling hits so slow down and allow the food to be processed a bit before you go all the way through a big meal.
I help people to go through their lives pain free and with greater energy, if you or someone you know someone would benefit from my services, please give me a call or e-mail. I look forward to working with you.
References:

Cancer

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. one comments

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancer occurs when normal cells multiply too quickly, or when natural cell death stops. Cancer can develop in almost any organ or tissue, such as the lungs, colon, breast, skin, bones, or nerve tissue.

What can Acupuncture do to help?
Acupuncture by and large is best used as a supplementary treatment for cancer, a preventative treatment, or to address the side effects of other cancer treatments. An acupuncturist can:
  • improve ones overall energy and immune system
  • prescribe herbal and dietary supplements to prevent cancer from occurring and treat the side effects of cancer fighting drugs
  • treat other effects of cancer, such as aches, pains, digestion issues, etc.
Causes:
Cancer is caused by
  • Benzene and other chemicals
  • Drinking excessive alcohol
  • Environmental toxins, particularly aflatoxins which are found in peanuts
  • Excessive sunlight exposure
  • Genetic problems
  • Obesity
  • Radiation
  • Viruses

However, the cause of many cancers remains unknown.

Types of Cancer:
Some of the many types of cancer are:
Symptoms:
The exact symptoms of a particular cancer will vary but there are a few symptoms that seem to be universal to any cancer. These are:
Stages of Cancer:
This is a broad and simplistic overview of the stages of cancer.
Stage 1 usually means a cancer is relatively small and contained within the organ it started in.

Stage 2 usually means the cancer has not started to spread into surrounding tissue, but the tumor is larger than in stage 1. Sometimes stage 2 means that cancer cells have spread into lymph nodes close to the tumor. This depends on the particular type of cancer.

Stage 3 usually means the cancer is larger. It may have started to spread into surrounding tissues and there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the area.

Stage 4 means the cancer has spread from where it started to another body organ. This is also called secondary or metastatic cancer.

What can I do?
  1. Make sure that you have done the proper tests and treatment.
  2. Become very informed and aware of your environment. Cancer can be linked to various chemicals and one will probably need to make life style choices to thoroughly treat this disease.
  3. Be aware of what you are ingesting through your diet, and air quality. Many chemicals break down into alcohol in the body. A proper diet can do wonders for your symptoms and is a great preventative. I recommend the Paleo Diet which you can find out more details about from: http://whole9life.com/2012/01/whole-30-v2012/
  4. Get environmental testing done on your living space and place of work if you suspect chemicals from there as being the cause. The Environmental Health Center can give you the name of some good testers and check you for any sensitivities you may have developed. http://www.ehcd.com/
  5. Qigong exercises can help with fatigue and other issues stemming from the cancer and are fairly gentle on the body. You can look over some of my previous articles:
    or contact me for specific information on your unique case.
  6. A more radical treatment approach, and one which I would recommend as either a preventative or in conjunction with a more standard treatment, is to take the Pan Alone Enzymatic Support for the immune system. This is best for people who have found they have bio-markers that predispose them to getting cancer within the next 10 years, but can help those who already have cancer. Please note: the research behind this treatment is not as fleshed out as it should be at this time and one needs to work with an entire protocol of sauna and coffee enemas to make this work. Failure to do so could result in severe, negative effects. Do not attempt this without consulting a medical practitioner who is knowledgeable about the process.
  7. Other alternative therapies, such as energy healing, reiki, naturopathy, radonics, and orgone therapies, etc. I am personally of the opinion that these make for useful supplemental therapies that some have had astounding results from. That said, I DO NOT endorse using these therapies exclusively and finding a good practitioner can be difficult. Cancer treatment needs to be integrative between standard and traditional approaches. A good energy healer would be Deborah at: https://www.ahealingplace.org/
  8. Develop a positive attitude. This one may be a very difficult task, however people with a better outlook on their health tend to have better responses to treatment.
Your health is in your hands and I can help you to improve your life. I look forward to assisting you on your journey.
References:

http://invigorating-acupuncture.blogspot.com/2011/12/five-organ-qigong.html
http://www.aehf.com/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002267/

Blood Stasis

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

Blood Stasis
Blood Stasis is most classically defined as the bruising one develops after one’s knees find locate a piece of furniture in a dark room. More broadly, blood stasis in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is any impairment of blood circulation, which can have a variety of causes.
What can Acupuncture do to help?
Acupuncture can help this conditions by:
  • improving one’s sleep so one does not feel the need to explore a room in the dark
  • improve circulation
  • prescribe herbal medicine to supplement other treatments
  • treat underlying causes
Causes:
Blood stasis is caused by either some form of injury resulting in localized bruising, or by organ dysfunction, normally the Liver or the Spleen in TCM. The circulation of these organs can be impaired by:
  • insufficient nutrition
  • emotional stress
  • trauma
  • chemical stress
  • repetitive action (such is the case for carpal tunnel)
Symptoms:
  • sharp pain (usually aggravated by cold and pressure.)
  • numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • bruising
  • purple tongue
  • low energy
  • cold sensation in the hands or feet
What can I do?
1. If blood stasis is due to trauma, it will usually resolve on its own. Ice the area for the first 48 hours following the injury then start using heat. Start massaging the area gently to get the blood flow moving.
2. For more chronic blood stasis, especially if you suspect it is linked to emotional stress, check out my articles on Qigong, in particular pay attention to spleen, and liver patterns.
    3. If this is a chronic condition such as Multiple Sclerosis, or simply long term pain, consider a dietary change. Reduce or eliminate gluten (wheat), fruit intake, greasy food, spicy food and dairy as these tax your organs and can result in chronic inflammation which will impair your circulation. A paleo diet will help with this. Please note, while this will be a lifetime process, you don’t have to skip out on tasty treats all the time.
  1. Drink some red wine. In moderation. This will help with your circulation.
  2. If your condition is due to repetitive motion on a computer, such as carpal tunnel, consider voice recognition software to assist you. There are also ergonomic keyboards. http://www.nuance.com/for-individuals/by-product/dragon-for-pc/index.htm
  3. A TENS unit can work wonders, as can a cupping set. I can treat you with either or show you how to use them yourself. http://invigorating-acupuncture.blogspot.com/2011/11/cupping.html
  4. Warm baths can help.
  5. Proper stretching and recovery time after workouts is important and will reduce your chances of developing shin splints and damaged muscles.
  6. Get at least 8 hours of sleep. Proper sleep will help your body recover from daily stresses and improve your ability to heal.
  7. If this has been a long term issue, without a clear cause, check out my article on the works of Dr. Shoemaker or consult with Dr. Rea.
Your health is in your hands and I can help you to improve your life. I look forward to assisting you on your journey.
References:

Adrenal Insufficiency and Adrenal Fatigue

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

Adrenal insufficiencyis a condition, which can be diagnosed by blood tests, where the production of hormones by the adrenal glands has decreased. This can result in symptoms of chronic worsening fatigue, muscle weakness, and several others.
Adrenal fatigue is a set of non specific symptoms, such as fatigue, nervousness, body aches and others, which is often attributed to a mild form of Adrenal insufficiency brought on by chronic stress.
What can Acupuncture do to help?
Acupuncture can help both of these conditions by:
  • increasing one’s energy
  • improving circulation
  • prescribing herbal medicine to supplement other treatments and address stress
  • assist you in planning an appropriate diet and exercise program
  • treat other symptoms
Causes:
Primary adrenal insufficiency is caused by damage to the adrenal glands resulting in decreased levels of cortisol and aldosterone. This is also called Addison’s disease and it effects about 1 to 4 people per 100,000.
Secondary adrenal insufficiency is caused when the pituitary gland does not produce enough adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol production drops with the decrease in ACTH and the adrenal glands shrink, which will eventually decrease aldosterone production as well. Secondary adrenal insufficiency is much more common than primary adrenal insufficiency.
Adrenal fatigue,being a rather vague set of symptoms, is not a well accepted medical diagnosis so the cause is not well known. That said it is possible that the symptoms of adrenal fatigue could be caused by chronic stress, depression, or fibromyalgia.
Full list of symptoms:
Adrenal insufficiency:
The symptoms of adrenal insufficiency usually have a gradual onset. The most common symptoms are:
  • chronic, worsening fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

Other symptoms can include

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • low blood pressure that falls further when standing, causing dizziness or fainting
  • irritability and depression
  • a craving for salty foods due to salt loss
  • hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose
  • headache
  • sweating
  • in women, irregular or absent menstrual periods

Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, can occur in Addison’s disease but not in secondary adrenal insufficiency. This darkening is most visible on scars; skin folds; pressure points such as the elbows, knees, knuckles, and toes; lips; and mucous membranes such as the lining of the cheek.
Because the symptoms progress slowly, they are often ignored until a stressful event like an illness or accident causes them to worsen. Sudden, severe worsening of symptoms is called an Addisonian crisis, or acute adrenal insufficiency.
Symptoms of an Addisonian or “adrenal” crisis include

  • sudden, penetrating pain in the lower back, abdomen, or legs
  • severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • low blood pressure
  • loss of consciousness

If not treated, an Addisonian crisis can be fatal

Adrenal Fatigue:
  • excessive fatigue and exhaustion
  • non-refreshing sleep (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake fatigued)
  • overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors
  • feeling rundown or overwhelmed
  • craving salty and sweet foods
  • you feel most energetic in the evening
  • a feeling of not being restored after a full night’s sleep or having sleep disturbances
  • low stamina, slow to recover from exercise
  • slow to recover from injury, illness or stress
  • difficulty concentrating, brain fog
  • poor digestion
  • low immune function
  • food or environmental allergies
  • premenstrual syndrome or difficulties that develop during menopause
  • consistent low blood pressure
  • extreme sensitivity to cold
What can I do?
Adrenal insufficiency:
1. Check out my articles on Qigong, in particular pay attention to spleen, kidney, and liver patterns.
  1. Consult with a nutritionist about developing a proper diet with the correct amount of salt intake and sugar intake. Most likely a modification of a diet for Type II diabetes is in order.
  2. Be aware of any medications you are taking and what they interact with. Certain blood pressure medications, high or low, do not interact well with others. Be particularly aware of any hormone replacement medications you are taking as well as corticosteroids.
  3. Keep hydrated.
  4. Be careful about your use of stimulants as these further tax the adrenals.
Adrenal fatigue:
  1. Most of the steps mentioned for Adrenal insufficiency would be a good baseline for you.
  2. If you notice that symptoms consistently worsen after eating certain foods or you go to certain places, avoid those foods and areas. If the area is at your home or office consider having environmental and or mold testing done (see my review of Dr. Shoemaker’s works: http://invigorating-acupuncture.blogspot.com/2012/04/review-of-works-of-dr-ritchie-shoemaker.html). You may find other information in there which is useful to you, feel free to call me if you need some interpretation.
  3. You may also wish to consider environmental testing. Consider: http://www.ehcd.com/
  4. Talk with a nutritionist about supplements to regain energy.
Your health is in your hands and I can help you to improve your life. I look forward to assisting you on your journey.
References:

Spleen Qigong Part 1

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

As stated in the article ‘Five Organ Qigong’ there are various Qigong exercises for different organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  This series of article will explain further exercises that one can perform to assist the Spleen.
Explanation of the Spleen:
The spleen is seen as important in the processes of:
  Digestion
  Circulation
  Adding muscle mass
  The sense of taste
  Counteracting the effects of prolapsed organs
  Memorization and the analytical intellect
Going deeper into the energetic aspects of the Spleen this organ in TCM is responsible for sending memories to the Kidneys, which process the memories for the short term, and then the Kidneys send the memories to the Heart for long term storage.  The Heart is in control of the Shen which, for purposes of this article, is responsible for long term memory.  For those who believe that the body stores pain, be it physical or psychological, the Spleen is the organ which registers and holds this pain.
The spleen is energetically damaged by worry or pensiveness which can manifest as obsessivness, remorse/regret, and self doubt.  If the spleen is functioning correctly, then a trusting, balanced, and open personality will manifest.
When the spleen’s function is compromised the symptoms are usually:
          Fatigue
          Edema
          Weakness
          Loss of appetite
          Loose stools
There are other symptoms which we will go into with specific Qigong exercises.
 Some TCM providers will label the Spleen as the Pancreases since most of the biological functions for which the spleen is invoked are actually functions of the pancreases.
In the Western Medical viewpoint the Spleen is responsible for
           Cleaning the blood
          Immune response by activating White Blood Cells
          Storing and releasing blood
Please note that in TCM there is a distinction between organs and meridians.  The spleen Organ can be removed (splenectomy) but to entirely remove the spleen Meridian would be impossible.  Removal of the organ would change how the meridian functioned, but would not prevent the meridian from being used.
Opening Exercises:
The following exercises should, in general, be used before any of the major Spleen Regulation exercises are used.  Think of these as a warm up to an exercise routine.
Pulling down the Heavens:
Stand in a normal posture with your hands resting on your hips, palms facing in.  Inhale and float the hands up in a circular motion turning the palms out as you pass your shoulders. 
At the apex of your comfortable reach, exhale and push the hands back to their original position moving along the torso.  Separate the hands slightly and return to your original position. Do three times.

Stacking the Bones
After performing the previous exercise deeply relax your body and regulate your breathing.  As you do this, start to visualize your bones.  Start from your toes and work your way up feeling all tension release as you deeply check and connect each of your bones.  Once you have finished with the skull you are ready to begin the major exercises.
Major Exercises
These exercises are used to treat various spleen and spleen meridian troubles.  You do not need to do all of them, just those that are most pertinent to you.
Spleen Massage
Spleen Massage and Point Respiration are a pair of exercises used for people with an enlarged spleen, painful digestion, or poor appetite.
Place your hands over your spleen (right over left for men, left over right for women).  Gently massage the area in twelve circular motions to the left and then another twelve to the right.  Breathe slowly and evenly.  Visualize a yellow light coming from the spleen and moving with your hands.  Imagine light from the heavens coming into you and your spleen.  Allow any turbid energies in the spleen to release but maintain the healthy light in the organ.



Point Respiration:
Leave your hands where they were in the last exercise.  Inhale and move the hands just off of the body, allowing yellow healing light to saturate your spleen.  Exhale and press into the spleen, allowing the light to go from the organ into all other tissues.  Perform twelve repetitions.
Healing Sound Exercise
This exercise is used to assist in circulation and when one feels bloated.  It is also useful for restlessness, anxiety, and depression.  Can be used for a feeling of heat, heaviness in the limbs, fatigue, constipation, or loss of appetite.
Stand in a normal posture, with your hands above your head, palms up and fingers interlocked.
Inhale, expanding your abdomen, and close your eyes.  Bend from the waist to the right.
Exhale, contracting your abdomen and say ‘Who’ (much the same way a yogi would say ‘Om’).
Return to starting position. 
Do thirty six times.

References:
Jerry Alan Johnson, Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy Volume I Energetic Anatomy and Physiology
Jerry Alan Johnson, Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy Volume II Prescription Exercises and Meditations, Treatment of Internal Diseases


Insomnia

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. one comments


What is it?:
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia) or difficulty staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia).  This is normally viewed as a symptom for a larger condition.  Finding the cause of this symptom and making the appropriate changes will usually correct the issue.
Causes:
There are a variety of causes for insomnia, for the sleep onset variety there is:
           Anxiety, tension, or emotional arousal of any variety
          Environmental change
          Disruptions
          Pain
          Caffeine or alcohol use
For sleep maintenance insomnia there is:
           Depression
          Environmental change
          Hypoglycemia
          Sleep apnea
          Restless legs
          Pain
          Drug use (prescription or otherwise)
          Alcohol
Other causes include:
  • Going to bed at different times each night
  • Daytime napping
  • Spending too much time in bed while awake
  • Working evening or night shifts
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Using the television, computer, or Smartphone in bed
  • Getting used to certain types of sleep medications
  • Some cold medications and diet pills
  • Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disease
  • Feeling sad or depressed. Often, insomnia is the symptom that causes people with depression to seek medical help.
Please note that with age sleep patterns tend to change. Many people find that aging causes them to have a harder time falling asleep and they wake up more often.
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
            Traditional Chinese medicine can work on both types of insomnia and also works for individuals with vivid dreams.  In my experience, treatment for vivid dreams usually shows results immediately.  There are a variety of patterns by which insomnia can be diagnosed and treated, usually involving herbal formulas.
What can I do?
  1. Look over the ‘causes’ list and find anything which is pertinent to you.  Eliminate that factor or make other adjustments as necessary.  If you believe it is a medication issue, especially if you are taking benzodiazepine, talk with your doctor.
  1. Press on the point Heart 7
This is one of the major points to treat for insomnia in TCM.
  1. When you are going to sleep, concentrate on your breathing.  Bring your awareness to your toes and consciously relax any tension there.  Slowly work your way across the soles of your feet, up your ankles, legs, claves, hips, etc. until you reach the top of your head.  Feel yourself relaxing more with each breath.  Allow your worries to melt away as your body grows more relaxed, heavy, and at peace.
  1. Magnolia bark, or magnolia supplements, can help with insomnia.  Passionflower, valerian, skullcap, and chamomile are all reported to be sedatives.  Take these about 45 minutes before going to sleep.
  2. Vitamins B3, B6, magnesium, and melatonin all help.
  3. If you suspect or know you have low blood sugar or a significant drop in blood sugar at night, eat some oatmeal, whole grain cereal, or muffins before going to sleep. 
  4. Play calming music at a low volume when you are going to sleep.
  5. Read a really boring or highly technical book.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
1.       The causes of insomnia are quite varied and as such one should seek to isolate and eliminate any causes for this condition.  As such there are many professions which can help with sleep issues, but they are cause specific.
2.      For most behavioral issues which may result in insomnia, a good hypnotherapist, psychologist, counselor, or psychiatrist, would be a step in the right direction.
Some Notes:
Insomnia is usually seen as a symptom of a larger pattern and can be related to many things.  If you have insomnia there is a fair chance that more is going on which needs to be addressed.  Furthermore I have as of yet to find a way to trick a person’s physiology into believing that 4 hours of sleep are just as good as 8, especially for extended periods of time, so we just need to budget our time wisely.
Getting proper sleep, with harmonious alignment of your circadian rhythms is vitally important for optimum health and will allow you to have greater resistance to pathogens, clearer thought processes, and greater emotional stability.
I look forward to working with you, please call or e-mail when you wish to schedule and appointment, ask for a consultation, or need a referral.
References:
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised 2nd Edition: Murray, Michael N.D. and Pizzorno, Joseph ND
When you are tired, I will help you carry on.
Erik Jackson, L.Ac

Hypothyroidism

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. one comments


What is it?:
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not secrete enough of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4). 
The release of T4 is regulated by the hypothalamus which releases the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to release T4.  T4 is then converted by the liver into triiodothyronine (T3) which is the active form.   Elevated TSH levels are used to establish a diagnosis for Hypothyroidism, however the blood work for this may also determine:
  • Anemia on a complete blood count (CBC)
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Increased prolactin
  • Low sodium
Symptom categories:
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
           Dull facial expression
          Hoarse voice
          Drooping eyelids
          Swollen face and eyelids
          Pale or dry skin
          Fatigue
          Nervousness
          Weight fluctuation
          Brittle nails
          Constipation
          Infertility
          Low immune function
          Depression
          Cold intolerance
          Mental sluggishness
          Carpal tunnel syndrome
          Heavier menses
          Joint or muscle pain
          Decreased senses of taste and smell
          Goiter
          Enlarged heart
Causes:
Hypothyroidism can be caused by:
  • Congenital (birth) defects
  • Radiation treatments to the neck to treat different cancers, which may also damage the thyroid gland
  • Radioactive iodine used to treat an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland, done to treat other thyroid problems
  • Viral thyroiditis, which may cause hyperthyroidism and is often followed by temporary or permanent hypothyroidism
Certain drugs can cause hypothyroidism, including:
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
TCM can help to balance the body so that health is restored.  There are a few different patterns for this condition so proper diagnosis will have to be made before any in depth treatment is preformed.  The herbal component, as well as any qigong exercises (if prescribed) will be as big a component as the acupuncture, if not more so.
What can I do?
  1. Become very educated about how TSH, T4, and T3 are used in the body and their synthetic supplements.  This will help to ensure that you are getting the right treatment and that your supplements are the proper ones for you.  Ultimately, a person with hypothyroidism needs more T3, but it is the lack of T4 from the thyroid which is causing the issue.
  1. Read the article titled Fibromyalgia Part 1 on this website: http://www.dentonholistic.org/  for further thoughts
  1. While unlikely, if your hypothyroidism is due to an iodine deficiency, start eating kelp and seaweed, or take an iodine supplement.  Check with a nutritionist first before starting on this however.  Peanuts, provided one is not allergic, may also help.
  1. Cinnamon can help with hypothyroidism.
  1. One TCM practitioner recommends “A classical recipe that  is also very appropriate for hypothyroidism: add pepper, 3g; ginger, 20g; and tangerine peel, 10g to about half a pound of fresh carp. Cook with an appropriate amount of water, and simmer for one hour over a low flame. Eat three servings a week.”  *Please note, the Chinese would have been addressing people with more of an iodine deficiency, however if one leaves out the fish and makes this into a tea or stir fry it may still yield results.*
  1. Vitamins A, B12, C, and E as well as magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc are all worthy of consideration.  C and Magnesium will help with constipation issues.
  1. Soy can boost thyroid output.
  1. L-tyrosine, is an amino acid which is converted into T4, you can supplement with this and DHEA.
  1. Spleen and Kidney Qigong Exercises, possibly also Liver, may help.  http://invigorating-acupuncture.blogspot.com/2011/12/five-organ-qigong.html
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
      1. Someone, either an MD or a nutritionist, with a deep understanding of the thyroid, its hormones, effects, and how to properly manipulate them.
      1. Someone who can test to see if there is a mineral/vitamin deficiency. If this deficiency can be addressed the problem will often be mitigated.
Some Notes:
Please realize that confident diagnosis of hypothyroidism can only be attained via blood tests.  Secondly this condition tends to mimic common signs of aging; however it can happen to anyone.  Proper dietary regulation, along with body balancing techniques, can help to mitigate the effects of this condition and keep you well. 
I look forward to working with you, please call or e-mail when you wish to schedule and appointment, ask for a consultation, or need a referral.
References:
Disease Prevention and Treatment Expanded Third Edition from Life Extension Foundation.
When you are tired, I will help you carry on.
Erik Jackson, L.Ac

Diabetes Mellitus

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

What is it?:

Diabetes Mellitus, more commonly referred to as Type II Diabetes, is a condition which occurs when, either the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin, or the body’s cells become resistant to insulin. Either way blood sugar is prevented from being absorbed by the cells which leads to several complications.
People with Diabetes Mellitus are typically not insulin dependent.
Symptom categories:

The classic symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus are

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive appetite

In TCM there are four symptoms commonly associated with Diabetes Mellitus

  • Big sweat
  • Big pulse
  • Big fever
  • Big thirst

These are commonly referred to as The Four Bigs.

Other symptoms include

  • fatigue
  • poor wound healing
  • blurry vision
  • altered mental status
  • easily susceptible to yeast and UTIs
  • unexplained weight loss
Long term effects of Diabetes Mellitus include:
  • Stroke
  • Amputation
  • Blindness
  • Impotence
  • Neuropathy
  • Cardiovascular disease

Predisposing factors:

Obesity, and the factors that come with it, are heavily linked to development of Type II Diabetes. Indeed the poor circulation of blood through the body, due to excessive weight, can bring about most of the long term effects of this type Diabetes all on its own.
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
In recent years there has been a significant amount of research in various integrative modalities to find effective ways of treating Diabetes, particularly Type II. TCM is no exception. There are a number of well known formulas that can be prescribed and, while individual cases will need to be assessed, this is a fairly common ailment that is well treated.
What can I do?
  1. Eliminate or severely limit intake of alcohol and cigarettes.
  2. Exercise, see my article on obesity: http://invigorating-acupuncture.blogspot.com/2011/12/obesity.html for ideas. More directly the Spleen exercises of the Five Organ Qigong may be beneficial http://invigorating-acupuncture.blogspot.com/2011/12/five-organ-qigong.html
  3. Lead a lower stress life. Physiologically, stress will raise the blood sugar, which a diabetic body cannot process well, which will lead to a nutrient cost that the body will have a hard time paying. See also my article on stress http://invigorating-acupuncture.blogspot.com/2011/10/stressanxiety.html
  4. Make some dietary changes. Eat small to moderate amounts of protein, lots of fiber, and several smaller meals throughout the day. There are a number of Diabetic cook books around that can help you in this endeavor. Antioxidant foods, such as green tea and certain berries would be a good idea.
  5. Vitamins E and C, as well as CoQ10, B3, Magnesium, and L-lysine are all vitamins to consider. Ginger works as well and helps to reduce cholesterol.
  6. If circulation is starting to become impaired in your feet massage and soak them in an Epson Salt foot wash.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
      1. A nutritionist will be able to go in to greater depth and give you more ideas about dietary regulation as well as what vitamins you should consider taking.
      1. A hypnotherapist, counselor, or psychologist can help with any behavior patterns that may have led to weight issues or troubles with adjusting your stress levels or diet. A life coach may also help with this.
      2. A therapeutic fitness instructor would be a wise investment of your time.
Some Notes:
There are many people in the US who are either prediabetic or have Diabetes Mellitus, but are undiagnosed. As a TCM provider, I cannot make a Western Medicine diagnosis and a clear diagnosis of Diabetes is only attained by a properly administered glucose test. Proper dietary regulation is key to treating this condition, however TCM can make strides to helping you reach a stable condition, improve your energy levels, and help with other symptoms. TCM therapy and diet, along with any behavioral therapy that may be needed, make for an excellent synthesis for treating this condition and getting you back to a state of stable wellness.
References:
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised 2nd Edition: Murray, Michael N.D. and Pizzorno, Joseph ND
Disease Prevention and Treatment Expanded Third Edition from Life Extension Foundation.
http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_mellitus/article.htm
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral.
When you are tired, I will help you carry on.
  • Erik Jackson, L.Ac

American Ginseng

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

 
Chinese Name: Xi Yang Shen (also Hua Qi Shen, Xi Shen, Yang Shen, Guan Dong Ren Shen)
Latin Name: Panax Quinquefolium
English Name: American Ginseng
Category: Qi Tonifying Herbs
Taste: Sweet, bitter, cold
Channels: KD, HT, LU
Part of plant: Root (berries)
Actions: Tonifies Qi and Nourishes Yin
Clears Fire and Generates Body Fluids
Sedates Heat in the Intestines and Stops Bleeding
Bio indications:
CNS suppressant
Anti fatigue
Anti diuretic
Increases resistance to hypoxia
Rejuvenative
Adaptogen
Mild stimulant
Bitter Tonic
Antioxidant
Aphrodisiac
Weight normalizing
Hypoglycemic activity (lowers blood sugar if administered before the intake of sugar 1-9g of ginseng, 40 minutes before glucose)
  • The berries of American Ginseng have hypoglycemic activity and weight normalizing functions as well as the root
  • Reduces side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer of the nasal cavity
  • Preventative for colds (have fewer of them, fewer days with a cold, and less severe symptoms)
  • Reduces plasma creatine kinase production after exercise
  • Reduces plasma prolactin levels
  • Chronic cough
  • Enhance cognitive function (geriatric)
  • Enhance vitality (geriatric)
    Native American usage
  • convulsions
  • palsy
  • tonic and expectorant
  • colic
  • weakness of the womb
  • nervous affections
  • thrush
  • asthma
  • vomiting
  • rheumatism
  • earache
  • anorexia
  • sore eyes
  • worms
  • diaphoretic
  • hemostatic
  • short windeness
American Dispensatory:
      – loss of appetite
    • weak stomach
    • nervous dyspepsia
    • mental exhaustion from overwork
Cautions and Contraindications:
  • not for people with cases of excess fire with stagnation or Stomach damp cold
  • incompatible with Li Lu (veratrum root and rhizome)
Drug interactions:
  • potential synergistic effects with cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, paclitaxel, tamoxifen, and doxorubicin in inhibiting breast cancer
  • may add to the action of insulin
Dosage:
Decoction and infusion: 2.5-10g per cup of water with 1/4th-1cup of the tea administered 3x per day
If for a formula: 3-6g, usually decocted separately from other herbs to ensure complete extraction due to cost
Dry herb: 0.25-10g 3x per day, up to 6x if acute It can be candied
Tincture: prepared with 30-60% ethanol. 1:2 or 1:3 in 30%, 3-5mL 3x per day, up to 6x for acute conditions
Small animal
Dried: 25-300mg/kg (divide total and give 3x per day)
Decoction: 2.5-10g per cup, 1/4-1/2 cup per 20lbs, (divide total and give 3x per day)
Tincture 1:2-1:3, in 30%: 0.5-1.5ml per 20lbs (divide total and give 3x per day), dilute or combine w/ other herbs. Higher doses may be appropriate if herb is used on its own.

Chemical composition:

Quinquenoside R1
Ginsenoside Rb1-3
Ginsenosids (Rc, Rd, Re, Rf2, Rg1, R0; Rh1, Rg3)
pseudo-ginsenoside F11
quinquefolans A-C
essential oils
rutin
Preparation:
Growing:

Ginseng is a fleshy rooted herb, native to well drained, cool, shaded hardwood forests. Ginseng does not grow in full sunlight, so the natural place to plant it is in hardwood forests, where the trees provide the needed shade. Ginseng is a perennial plant but unlike other perennials it lies dormant some years and does not grow new tops each year. The roots do not die, but lie dormant until the following year.
Ginseng, in the wild, grows about 1 foot tall and blooms in the summer. It ripens in the fall or late summer with bright red berries, each berry usually containing 2-3 seeds. The seeds may be kept in damp sand for 1 year and used for replanting or they can be sold. In the wild, it takes about 6 to 8 years for ginseng to grow to the point where its roots are large enough to harvest. If it is cultivated using fertilizers and pesticides, you can start harvesting the roots in about 4-5 years, but wild ginseng gets a much better price.
The most important thing is to start and to plant seeds or roots every year. Each year you will have more and more ginseng roots and seeds. Also, if you plant every year, when you do begin to harvest, you will have a harvest every year.
If you decide to grow ginseng in your backyard, lots, or in the woods, keep it in a mostly shady area. Plant the seeds and cover it with about 1 inch of rotten leaves or mulch. Plant the seeds in the fall and they will sprout in the spring. If you plant seeds in small plastic trays or peat trays you can transplant them when they become a couple of inches high. When planting in pots, use pots that are at least 8 inches deep and use only plastic pots as clay pots seem to dry out more easily. You can acquire seeds at:  
http://www.ginseng-seed.com/

How To Grow Ginseng in Hardwood Forest:
Ginseng can be planted in any hardwood forest or backyard that is mostly shade. Plant seeds or roots in the fall from Sept. 1st through February and they will sprout in the spring. Ginseng will not grow in a open field like corn or soy beans. It needs about 70%-80% shade along with a mulchy area.
Seeds can be planted individually throughout the woods. The closer conditions are to the plant’s natural environment the more it will have the characteristics of wild ginseng. When planted under lath sheds or other artificial shade the roots are heavier in weight, are shaped differently, and they grow faster.
Another method being used more extensively within the last few years is to find a well shaded place in the woods and rake all the leaves to the side and broadcast the seed lightly, then rake it in a little and cover it with mulch or use the leaves that you raked to the side. Do not use OAK leaves because they are too big and tough for the new plants to come up through. This method is much less time consuming than planting in rows. When planting in larger amounts, it is best to grub out the brush where you are going to plant.
When planting in rows, plant the rows 8 to 10 inches apart and the seeds about 4 to 6 inches apart in the rows. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. As soon as they are planted, seeds should be covered with woods dirt. hen planting in rows, plant the rows 8 to 10 inches apart and the seeds about 4 to 6 inches apart in the rows. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. As soon as they are planted, seeds should be covered with woods dirt. hen planting in rows, plant the rows 8 to 10 inches apart and the seeds about 4 to 6 inches apart in the rows. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. As soon as they are planted, seeds should be covered with woods dirt. hen planting in rows, plant the rows 8 to 10 inches apart and the seeds about 4 to 6 inches apart in the rows. Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. As soon as they are planted, seeds should be covered with woods dirt. Seeds must never be left to get dry or they won’t grow. After being planted and covered, cover the seeds with about 1 inch of mulch so the plant can come through in the spring. That should be all you have to do to keep it growing. The next fall should take care of the mulching by itself from the leaves falling if you picked a good natural forest area. Rotted leaves are best for mulch, never use straw or hay there are too many other seeds in it that will grow like grass, weeds, and clover seeds. Mulch helps prevent heaving by frost and keeps ground from drying out and baking. It is good to leave some mulch on all the time. When planted throughout the forest, this is usually taken care of by nature.

Soil:
Ginseng can grow in any soil except southern Florida. If you live in the USA or Canada and you’re not sure if you can grow it, you can look at the zone map. For American Ginseng, zones 3 through 7 is fine. Zones 2 and 8 are border line.

Washing

Once the roots are harvested, the next step is to wash them. Since ginseng roots should always be washed when they are fresh, it is preferable to wash roots as soon as possible after harvest. There are as many ways to wash ginseng roots as there are tools to dig them. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to over wash the roots. Too vigorous washing will damage the fragile skin of the root. 

The simplest root washing method is to fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and wash the roots by hand, swishing them in the bucket and gently rubbing (not scrubbing) to remove any loose soil. A little dirt in the grooves of the roots is preferable to a completely clean, white root, which can be far less valuable, particularly if it is damaged.

While many people simply hand wash their roots, others spread them on a screen and spray them with a hose.

After you have washed the roots, it is a good idea to lay them out on a screen to air dry for a couple of hours. Do not expose the roots to direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time at any point during the washing and drying process.
Drying:
    No matter what drying method is used, it is critical that the roots not be dried too quickly, as that will lower the overall quality of the finished product. It is important to maintain a consistent air temperature and adequate airflow around the roots while they are drying. Most growers construct racks with screens to dry their roots, thereby ensuring that the entire root is exposed to adequate airflow. Roots should be spread out so they are not in contact with each other, and should be rotated occasionally to make certain that air and heat is getting to all sides of the root. Variables such as temperature, weather, humidity, and type of heat will all affect how long roots take to dry. Safe temperature ranges for drying ginseng are between 70F and 100F. Depending on conditions and technique, it may take from 1 to 2 weeks for roots to completely dry with an air temperature around 70F.

    Regularly inspect roots throughout the drying process. Any discoloration or mold on the roots indicates a problem, suggesting the need for adjustments in the temperature, humidity, or airflow. As ginseng roots dry, they will begin to shrink, but often will remain spongy at least partway through the drying process. To determine if roots are completely dried, sample a few roots by breaking them. Properly dried roots snap easily into two pieces. Carefully inspect the inside of the root for any discoloration; a properly dried root should be entirely white inside. Drying too quickly will often create a brown ring inside the root, while drying too slowly will create moldy sections.

Harvesting:
Harvest ginseng after a minimum of 3 years, though commercially most people wait at least 9 or 10. The only limitation to personal preference in harvesting tools is that the tool must allow the roots to be removed from the soil intact.
If you are growing ginseng in the wild-simulated fashion, harvesting the crop will be much like hunting and digging wild ginseng. It is likely that between the time you planted seed and the time you harvest roots, your plants will have produced offspring from seed. Therefore, you will likely find yourself working in an environment that has many mixed-aged plants, and you will need to select only the mature plants for harvest, allowing the younger ones to continue to grow.
In essence, harvesting involves working through the planted area, digging the mature roots one at a time. Wild-simulated plantings most often allow you room to move among plants, since the plantings tend to be much thinner than more intensive methods of producing ginseng in the forest. It takes approximately 300 fresh wild-simulated roots to equal one pound of dried ginseng, and it takes several hours to harvest each pound.

Note:
This is AMERICAN ginseng. There are Chinese, Korean, and Siberian ginsengs as well. Make sure that when you are working with ginseng you know which variety you are working with. There are almost certainly other attributes of this plant which I missed and this is a cure all type plant so do your homework before using it to treat your ailment. American ginseng is a potentially lucrative investment, however it takes time to cultivate and the plant in it’s native environment is endangered.

References:
Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, John K. Chen, Tina T. Chen
Veterinary Herbal Medicine, Susan G. Wynn, Barbara J. Fougere

Diverticular disease

Erik Jackson, Lic. Ac. No Comments

What is it?:
Diverticular disease: the condition of having multiple diverticulum (diverticulosis) that are inflamed (diverticulitis). This happens in 10-25% of the people with diverticulosis.
Diverticulosis: multiple diverticulum, which are small pouches in the lining of the large intestine generally the lower part, which is referred to as the sigmoid colon, that bulge outward through weak spots in the intestinal lining. Roughly 50% of all Americans over the age of 60 have diverticulosis.
Diverticulitis: when inflammation occurs in a diverticulum
Symptom categories:
Diverticulosis:
If an individual has diverticulosis in general they will not have symptoms, however there can be:
Discomfort in the lower abdomen
Bloating
Constipation
Diverticulitis:
Symptoms of diverticulitis include:
Abdominal pain usually in the lower left side of the abdomen. The intensity and duration can vary but it is in general severe and with a sudden onset. Other symptoms include:
Cramping
Nausea
Vomiting
Fever
Chills
Change in bowel movements
Please note that IBS, Chronic Ulcers and other conditions can have similar symptoms to diverticulosis so proper diagnosis is key.
What can Traditional Chinese Medicine do to treat this?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can work on many of these symptoms and there are specific formulas for addressing the various stool issues. TCM can help to reharmonize the body’s metabolic processes and move the stool along. The herbal component of TCM will play a significant role in treatment of this condition.
What can I do?
  1. Add more fiber to your diet. The working theory at this point in the medical community is that a low fiber diet is most likely the culprit for diverticular conditions. You may want to buy a book on more Vegetarian, Asian, or Indian cooking styles. Organic food is also going to be gentler on the body and have less toxins, which are something to avoid in general and certainly with this condition.
  1. If you are having constipation, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and Rhubarb will all help to move your stool.
  1. Exercise. There is a connection between sedentary lifestyles and the formation of diverticulam.
  2. Get a TENS unit and place the electrodes over your lower abdomen, apply gentle stimulation to help move any potential blockages.
  3. for food suggestions.
  4. Get examined for hernias. While they are not the same as the conditions mentioned the process by which they are formed is similar in some aspects and if you have weak spots in the intestinal lining it is possible to have weak spots in the abdominal lining as well.
  5. Spleen and Liver Qigong
    may help with digestion and bowel disorders.
Aside from an acupuncturist who can I talk to?:
      1. A nutritionist. They will be able to give you some ideas about dietary changes. You may also want to do this on general principle if you already have some dietary restrictions.
      1. An MD. If caught early, these can be merely inconveniences, however it is my advice that you take precautions to make sure that there are no complications. Sometimes the diverticulam can become infected, abscess, or tear. These can lead to rectal bleeding, fistula formation, and possibly peritonitis. Precautions taken at the beginning prevent the need for surgery.
      2. Someone in the fitness industry. This can be a personal trainer, yoga instructor, life coach, dance instructor, or most anyone else in that field. Someone that will help motivate you to exercise and eat well. Make the exercise relevant and fun for you.
      3. If there are certain behavioral issues preventing appropriate lifestyle changes a hypnotherapist, counselor, or psychologist may be a good referral.
      4. A person who knows how to do abdominal massage.
      5. Someone to test for mineral or vitamin deficiency. While this not as bad as Celiac Disease, one should be aware that one’s ability to absorb nutrients could be impaired by this condition.
Some Notes:
This is a condition which, while I am confident that TCM can treat it, I would want to be sure that there are no complicating factors as these could be quite serious and require surgery. TCM can treat all of the symptoms that were listed but any dietary or lifestyle changes would have to come about on the part of the patient. I am in a partnership with you to assist you to be as healthy as possibly, but I can only do so much without work from you.
References:
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/diverticulitis-topic-overview
Feel free to call or e-mail me at any time to set up an appointment, ask for a consultation, or request a referral.
When you are tired, I will help you carry on.
  • Erik Jackson, L.Ac

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