"In the classical Chinese [medicine] approach, a disease is rather a disorder, an imbalance with no clear limits between a healthy and unhealthy condition other than the seriousness in lack of equilibrium."
The following article is a great introduction to the basic operating principles of classical acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. If you have any questions, please ask.
It's high time that I address one of the questions that I get the most: Can acupuncture help me stop smoking? Rather than giving a simple "yes" or "no," I've chosen to answer this question by explaining the process, shedding light on how acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help you kick the habit.
Oriental Medicine is a simple, practical approach to helping you give up cigarettes, alcohol, or other addictive substances. Consider this: if you sought the help of an acupuncturist because you were having digestive issues and your practitioner suggested that you make dietary changes in order to assist in the healing process, chances are that you would do your best to make these changes. Smoking cessation is no different. If one makes a strong effort to quit, then, with the assistance of Oriental Medicine, your chances are good. Your desire to quit must be unwavering.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help with smoking cessation by calming jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness, and by alleviating coughing, shortness of breath, and more. Each patient is treated according to their unique patterns of disharmony and relationships with the habit. Some people only smoke socially; some when they're hungry or after meals; others smoke when they're stressed, or perhaps in the evening with a cocktail. Through the specific diagnostic and treatment methods of Oriental Medicine, the underlying mechanisms behind each patient's habits and symptoms are addressed.
Smoking is a stimulant for some, and a relaxant for others. It just so happens that acupuncture can have the same effects on the body, providing both increased levels of energy and relaxation, but in a healthy and side-effect-free way compared to cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol. Western medications to help with smoking cessation, such as nicotine patches, antidepressants, electronic cigarettes, and drugs like Chantix®, are often fraught with unwanted side-effects such as nausea and vomiting, dizziness, nervousness, chest pain, memory loss, seizures, depression, weight gain, and more. Not only is acupuncture much safer to use, it also provides a whole host of side benefits like improved quality of sleep, reduction in pain, smoother digestion, etc. Wouldn't you rather spend your hard-earned money on something that is good for you?
It's very important to note that the more frequently you are able to come for acupuncture, and the more consistently you take your herbs, the sooner the benefits can be seen. If you smoke or drink daily, regularly throughout the day, and yet only receive acupuncture treatment once per week or less, your chances of quitting are not as good as someone who is actively working to cut back the amount they smoke or drink and is receiving treatment much more often.
The following is a list of positive changes that your body goes through when you quit smoking:
In addition to utilizing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, here are some more tips for making quitting easier:
For more information about this topic, please contact Great Nature Oriental Medicine at (618) 694-5189.
Stress often works on us slowly, eating away at our health little by little until some big event happens -- a heart attack or stroke. The stress response occurs naturally when we are threatened. Even a perceived threat -- a non-life threatening situation, such as your boss yelling at you -- can trigger the stress response. Once activated, the stress response causes your adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream, which in small doses can actually be beneficial to us. But, when we are chronically in a state of "fight or flight," not allowing our bodies to recover, then our risk of obesity, insomnia, digestive disorders, heart disease, and depression rises considerably.
Stress often manifests first on an emotional level. When you are "stressed out" you may feel frustrated, and even the smallest problem can seem like a huge burden on a cognitive level. However, stress can, and does, affect any system of the body, and is most certainly not just "in your head." The effects of stress can be seen in the following systems of the body:
The good news is that you can do something about stress. Apart from lifestyle changes aimed at making more time for hobies, meditation, or other enjoyable activities, Oriental Medicine -- acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine -- can help reduce the adverse effects of stress and help you face stressful situations with more resilience by doing the following:
A single treatment with can produce remarkable results, even for the most stressed individuals. People often feel much more relaxed and have an increased sense of well-being after their initial treatment. Usually, a longer course of treatment is necessary to address many of the functional disturbances in the body that are attributed to stress. For more information, please contact Great Nature Oriental Medicine at (618) 694-5189.
Note: This blog post is based on episode 21 of the Heavenly Qi Podcast, which was an interview with Dr. Jimi Wollumbin. Dr. Wollumbin practices Chinese Medicine at Holistic Family Healthcare in NSW, Australia. He is also the founder of One Health Organization, which focuses on treating chronic diseases in vulnerable communities within Australia and internationally. The following is my summary of the main points discussed during the interview.
Ancient humans paid very close attention to what was happening in the natural world around them, both in the heavens and on the earth. The particular phenomena occurring in the four directions, as well as during the four seasons, greatly influenced how they lived their lives with regards to everything from their belief systems to their medicine. The four cardinal directions and the four seasons were assigned representative animals, colors, and more that have evolved over time. These symbols, while maintaining their original poetic and abstract feel, have concrete applications in the diagnosis, treatment, and comprehension of illness.
This is a vast topic, and what follows is a brief introduction to an organizational system known in Chinese Medicine as the Five Phases or Five Elements. We can use this ancient wisdom in order to aid our understanding of the psychological perspective a person has towards their disease, and in order to know where along the cycle of disease development the person is stuck. In the same way that the seasons come and go, waxing and waning, so too does one's state of health and symptom picture, physical and mental.
The western direction is associated with the white tiger, and the season of autumn. The white tiger is a predator and killer. The sun sets in the west, which represents the dying of the day in the same way that autumn represents the ending of the fullness and warmth of summer -- the transition into winter. This is a deep, dark, often subconscious place where we let go of our old situation and move towards the discovery of something new and precious.
In the north we find the black turtle, and correspondences with the season of winter. Turtles represents longevity and preservation, as they move about very slowly and always withdraw their heads and limbs into their shells whenever a threat arises. The northern days are shorter and nights are longer; it is cold and there is less food available to eat. During winter you're required to go inside in order to survive, which provides time for introspection. This darkness and fear of the unknown is what fuels our will to live.
Looking to the east we find the blue-green dragon, and the season of spring. The blue-green dragon is a mythological being flying through the air, guiding us, and encouraging us to follow our dreams. Sunrises evoke feelings of hope and inspiration for the new day, just as the returning of the light out of winter encourages new buds to grow on the trees and plants.
Finally, in the south we see the vermillion bird, as well as the summer season. This bird, perhaps a phoenix, represents transformation -- rising forth from the ashes of winter and flying high in the sky. As you move south, or as the summer season grows, there is more warmth, more joy, and longer days. There is a happiness and freedom that comes from the realization that we don't have to chase external things, and that we should trust the process and development of life. Summertime teaches us to appreciate the dark and cold conditions of winter, and to respect the role this plays.
All of this change revolves around a still point, the yellow dragon of the center. The yellow dragon is often used to refer to the emperor, the stability on which the empire runs, changes, and develops, and yet remains unchanged himself. Transitioning from season to season, day to day, illness to health, etc., requires a grounded, mountain-like surface on which we can stand and do the work that needs to be done in order to take care of ourselves. This is the originally healthy, stress-free, and pain-free part of all of us that we have lost touch with, but it is always present.
Note: This is an edited version of a blog post titled "The Trouble with Cold" originally published on August 3, 2016 by Dr. David White, owner of Classical Acupuncture Sydney.
The classical Chinese Medicine approach to the body is very unique and unlike any other medical system in the world. It always takes into account the body's relationship with the external environment and climate. In the early medical texts, disease names were often attributed to natural phenomena, such as "wind," "heat," "cold," etc. Cold is considered to be the most harmful, but what exactly does a cold disease look like in the human body?
A cold-natured illness in Chinese Medicine does not always mean that real, palpable cold is present, but of course this can be the case. Rather, an illness may simply have characteristics of cold -- tissues which are in a state of contraction or constraint, impeded movement, etc. In Chinese Medicine this is called Bi 痺 (pronounced "Bee"). Bi is often translated as "pain", "numbness," or "paralysis" in modern Chinese, but it is much more than that in the classical sense of the word. If we look at what happens to us when we are exposed to the cold of winter, or whenever we consume large amounts of cold food and drink, we can get a sense of what the old texts are referring to when they use the term Bi -- we shiver, our muscles tighten, our energy level drops, etc.
Cold illness can include what is often referred to as the "common cold," with symptoms such as chills, fever, pain, sweating, thirst, nasal congestion, sore throat, etc. These exterior disease patterns may be seen at anytime of the year, not only in winter, and many patients are chronically stuck within an acute-type of presentation where they feel better for a while and then their symptoms return again. The period of time when they are not dealing with their symptoms and seem to be cured is actually another manifestation of a cold, damaged body that must be repaired before the situation worsens.
Cold can damage any part of the body, including the internal organs themselves. Pain and tightness may be still be a part of the symptom picture in this case, but other specific signs will manifest as well. These may include copious, clear urination; diarrhea; rumbling sounds in the abdomen; a lack of desire to drink water; shortness of breath; etc.
How do we treat cold or Bi presentations? This is not a simple task. Warming the area may help, which can be done in a variety of ways, but what is most important is that we address the proper level(s) within the body in which the disease is found. Our treatment principles change according to how and where illness is occurring. We must thoroughly investigate the acupuncture channel terrain -- which includes the skin, bones, organs, and so forth -- in order to choose the proper methods for treating the person at that particular time, and on that particular day.
For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Great Nature Oriental Medicine, please contact Clint at (618) 694-5189. Thanks for reading!
In Good Health,
Clint Cain, L.Ac.
This page is intended to serve as a source for links to blogs and articles about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine that both new and returning patients may find informative and/or entertaining. It is also where I will share information about the history, principles, and benefits of this awesome medicine.